Give Us Back Our Catholic Church!

There are a number of Catholic bloggers and sites that are ringing some very loud alarm bells these days. The question is being asked: What is happening in our Catholic Church that heresy is being tolerated, and (dare I say it?) even defended, whilst those Catholics who stand firmly by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church’s teachings are being bullied, silenced and scorned! That these things should happen coming from those outside the Catholic Church is only to be expected – we know the ‘Bride of Christ’ will always be “a sign of confrontation between the forces of good and evil” in the world – but here we are talking of certain members of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy itself, and baptised fellow Catholic laymen, who are not upholding the Church’s doctrinal teachings.

Take a look at this Remnant video that uncovers clearly just some of the troubles. It is placing a lot of the blame on the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, who appears to be doing nothing to confront any of these issues, sorry to say.

Three days ago the Catholic Herald reported that almost 500 priests of England and Wales are petitioning the Holy Father and the next Synod on the Family that doctrine and practice must ‘remain firmly and inseparably in harmony’ . This has been discussed in further detail by Catholic bloggers here, here and here… among others I might add, including the great canonist, Ed Peters. These are good and faithful priests, but why should it even be necessary for them to have to voice such an appeal? And why are some of them not receiving loyal back-up from their bishops or cardinals?

John Henry Westen, Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of is a strong defender of Life, the Family, and Catholic orthodoxy; he has this to say:

“Right now, confusion is spreading among Catholics “in an alarming way.”

Those are the startling words of Cardinal Raymond Burke, from LifeSite’s in-depth exclusive interview with him published yesterday.

The Cardinal’s statement may seem stark, but unfortunately, I think he’s right.

Like the Cardinal, every day I read and hear of more and more people who are claiming that the Catholic Church has somehow changed Her perennial teachings on issues like marriage, homosexuality, contraception, abortion, and divorce.

Of course, we know that’s not true, and that those teachings will never change. But that doesn’t change the fact that this widespread confusion is seriously damaging the Church’s efforts to build a Culture of Life, and to save souls!

Just take a look at a handful of the unbelievable stories we’ve had to report on in just the past few days:
* A New Jersey bishop supports a Catholic school that fired a teacher because she defended traditional marriage on her personal Facebook page, even citing Pope Francis as a reason for the firing!
* San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone faces outright mutiny from his Catholic teachers, simply because he clarified that they must follow Catholic teachings.
* The general secretary of the Ontario bishops assembly openly supports the province’s new sex-ed curriculum, which promotes gay unions and “gender identity” from the earliest grades.
* For the first time in the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade’s history, a group of homosexual activists marches under their own banner, which Cardinal Dolan, the grand marshall of the parade, called a “wise decision.”

And these are just the tip of the iceberg!

At LifeSiteNews, we have been doing everything in our power to cut through this confusion, and to defend the Truth! That’s why we have been significantly stepping up our coverage of Catholic issues over the past year.”

[N.B. I do not know if my Team-mates agree or not to the views I have expressed in the introduction to this article, or to the article’s content and links, or to the Remnant video I post here. Any disagreement should be directed towards me and not towards them.]

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The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we celebrate the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Mother of the Saviour co-operated in the Mystery of the Redemption. It shows her in this season of the Passion at the foot of the Cross where Christ is dying. “An ineffable union is established between the Oblation of the Incarnate Word and that of Mary; the Divine Blood and tears of the Mother flow together and are mixed for the redemption of the human race” – (Dom Guéranger, “The Liturgical Year”: Friday in Passion Week.)


Collect for Holy Mass today in the Extraordinary Form: “O God at whose passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of sorrow pierced the most sweet soul of the glorious Virgin and Mother Mary; grant in Thy mercy that we, who call to mind with veneration her soul piecrced with sorrow, through the glorious merits and prayers of all the saints faithfully standing by Thy Cross, may obtain the blessed result of Thy Passion. Who livest and reignest.” *

History of the Devotion

The purpose of the Devotion of the Seven Sorrows is to promote union with the sufferings of Christ through union with the special suffering that Our Lady endured because she was the Mother of God. By uniting ourselves with both the Passion of Christ and His holy Mother, we enter into Jesus’ Heart and honour Him greatly; He is more honoured because we have so honoured His Mother.

The Seven Dolours are taken from Scriptural events and the devotion has a long history, although it was not officially promulgated by the Church until the early nineteenth century. Before Pope Pius VII’s formal approval, the Servite Order had permission in 1668 to celebrate the Feast of the Seven Dolours because the Order was instrumental in popularising the Seven Sorrows Devotion.

Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows

Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows


1. The prophecy of Simeon. (Lk 2: 34-35)
2. The flight into Egypt. (Mt 2:13-14)
3. The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple. (Lk 2: 43-45)
4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross. (Lk 23:27)
5. The Crucifixion. (Jn 19, l8-30)
6. The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross. (Mk 15, 43-46)
7. The burial of Jesus. (Jn 19, 41-42)

John 19:25-27 : “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.”

The Blessed Virgin Mary grants seven graces to the souls who honour her daily by saying seven Hail Mary’s and meditating on her tears and dolours (sorrows). The devotion was passed on by St. Bridget. Find out more.

Consecration to Our Lady of Sorrows

“Most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, Mary, would that I could be in Heaven, there to contemplate the honours rendered to thee by the Most Holy Trinity and by the whole Heavenly Court! But since I am still a pilgrim in this vale of tears, receive from me, thy unworthy servant and a poor sinner, the most sincere homage and the most perfect act of vassalage a human creature can offer thee. In thy Immaculate Heart, pierced with so many swords of sorrow, I place today my poor soul forever; receive me as a partaker in thy dolours, and never suffer that I should depart from that Cross on which thy only begotten Son expired for me. With thee, O Mary, I will endure all the sufferings, contradictions, infirmities, with which it will please thy Divine Son to visit me in this life. All of them I offer to thee, in memory of the Dolours which thou didst suffer during thy life, that every thought of my mind, every beating of my heart may henceforward be an act of compassion to thy Sorrows, and of complacency for the glory thou now enjoyest in Heaven. Since then, O Dear Mother, I now compassionate thy Doluors, and rejoice in seeing thee glorified, do thou also have compassion on me, and reconcile me to thy Son Jesus, that I may become thy true and loyal son (daughter); come on my last day and assist me in my last agony, even as thou wert present at the Agony of thy Divine Son Jesus, that from this painful exile I may go to Heaven, there to be made partaker of thy glory. Amen.”

A final word from the saints:

“As mariners are guided into port by the shining of a star, so Christians are guided to Heaven by Mary.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

“Love Mary!… She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.” – St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

“Let us ask the Lord to grant us one very special grace—to love Our Lady, especially through all the work we do for Jesus, with Jesus, and to Jesus. We must ask him to deepen our love for Mary, making it more personal and intimate. We want to: Love her as he loved her. Be a cause of joy to her as he was. Keep close to her as he did. Share everything with her, even the cross, as she did when she stood near the cross on Calvary. We must love her unconditionally, trust her fully, abandon ourselves to her totally and without reserve. Nothing is impossible for those who call Mary their mother. During the day, let us often raise our hearts to her and ask her how we can love God as she loved him, that we, too, can love him with her heart.” – Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

(Ed. The Collect has been substituted for the earlier-quoted Introit.)

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Meditation Ten – The Soul’s Choice of a Devout Life

And so we reach our tenth and final meditation in Chapter XVIII from the “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales in our preparation to make a good and worthy Confession in time for Holy Week.


1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God.2. Humble yourself before Him, and ask His Aid.

1. Once more imagine yourself in an open plain, alone with your guardian Angel, and represent to yourself on the left hand the Devil sitting on a high and mighty throne, surrounded by a vast troop of worldly men, who bow bareheaded before him, doing homage to him by the various sins they commit. Study the countenances of the miserable courtiers of that most abominable king:—some raging with fury, envy and passion, some murderous in their hatred;—others pale and haggard in their craving after wealth, or madly pursuing every vain and profitless pleasure;—others sunk and lost in vile, impure affections. See how all alike are hateful, restless, wild: see how they despise one another, and only pretend to an unreal self-seeking love. Such is the miserable reign of the abhorred Tyrant.
2. On the other hand, behold Jesus Christ Crucified, calling these unhappy wretches to come to Him, and interceding for them with all the Love of His Precious Heart. Behold the company of devout souls and their guardian Angels, contemplate the beauty of this religious Kingdom. What lovelier than the troop of virgin souls, men and women, pure as lilies:—widows in their holy desolation and humility; husbands and wives living in all tender love and mutual cherishing. See how such pious souls know how to combine their exterior and interior duties;—to love the earthly spouse without diminishing their devotion to the Heavenly Bridegroom. Look around—one and all you will see them with loving, holy, gentle countenances listening to the Voice of their Lord, all seeking to enthrone Him more and more within their hearts.
They rejoice, but it is with a peaceful, loving, sober joy; they love, but their love is altogether holy and pure. Such among these devout ones as have sorrows to bear, are not disheartened thereby, and do not grieve overmuch, for their creed2Saviour’s Eye is upon them to comfort them, and they all seek Him only.                         3. Surely you have altogether renounced Satan with his weary miserable troop, by the good resolutions you have made;—but nevertheless you have not yet wholly attained to the King Jesus, or altogether joined His blessed company of devout ones:—you have hovered betwixt the two.
4. The Blessed Virgin, S. Joseph, S. Louis, S. Monica, and hundreds of thousands more who were once like you, living in the world, call upon you and encourage you.
5. The Crucified King Himself calls you by your own name: “Come, O my beloved, come, and let Me crown thee!”

The Choice.
1. O world, O vile company, never will I enlist beneath thy banner; for ever I have forsaken thy flatteries and deceptions. O proud king, monarch of evil, infernal spirit, I renounce thee and all thy hollow pomp, I detest thee and all thy works.
2. And turning to Thee, O Sweet Jesus, King of blessedness and of eternal glory, I cleave to Thee with all the powers of my soul, I adore Thee with all my heart, I choose Thee now and ever for my King, and with inviolable fidelity I would offer my irrevocable service, and submit myself to Thy holy laws and ordinances.
3. O Blessed Virgin Mother of God, you shall be my example, I will follow you with all reverence and respect.
O my good Angel, bring me to this heavenly company, leave me not until I have reached them, with whom I will sing for ever, in testimony of my choice, “Glory be to Jesus, my Lord!”

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News Nightly

I have just been blown away by the great quality of this Catholic News video programme. Well done EWTN and thank you. I shall watch you again more often!

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Love Chooses You

This fantastic video was written by David Wells and Animated by Tree Behrens for CYMFed Flame 2, and is a really powerful way of telling the story.

From Catholic Youth

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Meditation Nine – The Choice Upon You Between Heaven And Hell

We come to our penultimate meditation taken from “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales as preparation to make a worthy General Confession before Easter.

Chapter XVII: Ninth Meditation – On the Choice Upon You Between Heaven and Hell

Guardian Angel - Murillo

Guardian Angel – Murillo

1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God.2. Humble yourself before Him, and ask His inspiration.

1. Imagine yourself alone with your good angel in an open plain, as was Tobit on his way to Rages. Suppose the Angel to set before you Paradise, full of delights and joys; and on the other hand Hell, with all its torments. Contemplate both, kneeling in imagination before your guardian Angel. Consider that you are most truly standing between Hell and Paradise, and that both the one and the other are open to receive you, according to your own choice.
2. Consider that the choice you make in this life will last for ever in the next.
3. Consider too, that while both are open to receive you according to your choice, yet God, Who is prepared to give the one by reason of His Justice, the other by reason of His Mercy, all the while desires unspeakably that you should select Paradise; and your good Angel is urging you with all his might to do so, offering you countless graces on God’s part, countless helps to attain to it.
saints-e1319499533695-300x2864. Consider that Jesus Christ, enthroned in Heaven, looks down upon you in loving invitation: “O beloved one, come unto Me, and joy for ever in the eternal blessedness of My Love!” Behold His mother yearning over you with maternal tenderness—” Courage, my child, do not despise the Goodness of my Son, or my earnest prayers for thy salvation.” Behold the Saints, who have left you their example, the millions of holy souls who long after you, desiring earnestly that you may one day be for ever joined to them in their song of praise, urging upon you that the road to Heaven is not so hard to find as the world would have you think. “Press on boldly, dear friend,”—they cry. “Whosoever will ponder well the path by which we came hither, will discover that we attained to these present delights by sweeter joys than any this world can give.”

The Choice.
1. O Hell, I abhor thee now and for ever; I abhor thy griefs and torments, thine endless misery, the unceasing blasphemies and maledictions which thou pourest out upon my God;—and turning to thee, O blessed Paradise, eternal glory, unfading happiness, I choose thee for ever as my abode, thy glorious mansions, thy precious and abiding tabernacles. O my God, I bless Thy Mercy which gives me the power to choose—O Jesus, Saviour, I accept Thine Eternal Love, and praise Thee for the promise Thou hast given me of a place prepared for me in that blessed New Jerusalem, where I shall love and bless Thee for ever.
2. Dwell lovingly upon the example set before you by the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, and strive to follow where they point you. Give yourself up to your guardian Angel, that he may be your guide, and gird up your courage anew to make this choice.

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The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – 25th March


Today we celebrate a very great feast day of the Church, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the moment when our Lord Jesus was conceived, and when the Divine Word and Son of God was incarnate into flesh, and assumed the form of Man through the intermediary of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. On this day we commemorate the day the Archangel Gabriel came to the small, poor and humble village of Nazareth in Galilee, to break the news regarding the end of the long wait for the coming of the Lord’s Promised Messiah, the Good News announced to the world through Mary. Is this not the most wondrous of mysteries, when Heaven touches Earth, and sinful Man is rescued by a Loving Saviour Who had promised our first parents He would not leave us in our sinfulness?

When the time appointed for the redemption of mankind had come,
our Lord Jesus Christ entered this lower world,
descended from His heavenly throne, and,
without receding from the glory that He had with the Father,
took flesh by a new means, by a new birth:
invisible in His own nature,
He became visible in ours;
being incomprehensible,
He willed to be comprehended;
remaining before time began,
He began to exist in time;
the Lord of the universe veiled the glory of His majesty
and took the form of a servant;
impassible God
did not disdain to become a suffering man;
and immortal God
subjected Himself to the laws of death.”  – (Pope St. Leo the Great)

“Let Him Find You Ready! Receive today the Divine Victim into yourselves, even as the Virgin of Nazareth received Him into herself. Let Him find within you a sanctuary for the offering of His Sacrifice, an altar for His immolation, and an adoring silence worthy of His divine liturgy. Even more, let Him find you ready for His immolation, not as spectators looking on in awe, but as souls wholly abandoned to the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost.” – (The Benedictine monks of Silverstream Priory in Ireland)

Lord Jesus Christ, 
Divine Victim hid in the sanctuary of Mary’s womb
and immolated upon the altar of her heart,
unite us to Thyself:
our bodies to Thy Body,
our blood to Thy Blood,
our souls to Thy Soul,
our hearts to Thy Heart,
so as to make us with Thyself
one Priest and one Victim 
offered to the glory of the Father,
out of love for Thy Spouse, the Church,
and in reparation for the sins by which
Thy Sacrifice is scorned,
Thy presence dishonoured,
and the brightness of Thy glory dimmed
in the sight of men 
who, even without knowing it,
yearn to gaze upon the beauty of Thy Face.

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Meditation Eight – Paradise

We continue our meditations taken from “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales to prepare ourselves to make a worthy General Confession before Easter.

Chapter XVI: Eighth Meditation – On Paradise


1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God.2. Invoke His Aid.

1. Represent to yourself a lovely calm night, when the heavens are bright with innumerable stars: add to the beauty of such a night the utmost beauty of a glorious summer’s day,—the sun’s brightness not hindering the clear shining of moon or stars, and then be sure that it all falls immeasurably short of the glory of Paradise. O bright and blessed country, O sweet and precious place!
2. Consider the beauty and perfection of the countless inhabitants of that blessed country;—the millions and millions of angels, Cherubim and Seraphim; the glorious company of Apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and saints. O blessed company, any one single member of which surpasses all the glory of this world, what will it be to behold them all, to sing with them the sweet Song of the Lamb? They rejoice with a perpetual joy, they share a bliss unspeakable, and unchangeable delights. php_heaven_03

3. Consider how they enjoy the Presence of God, Who fills them with the richness of His Vision, which is a perfect ocean of delight; the joy of being for ever united to their Head. They are like happy birds, hovering and singing for ever within the atmosphere of divinity, which fills them with inconceivable pleasures. There each one vies without jealousy in singing the praises of the Creator. “Blessed art Thou for ever, O Dear and Precious Lord and Redeemer, Who dost so freely give us of Thine Own Glory,” they cry; and He in His turn pours out His ceaseless Blessing on His Saints. “Blessed are ye,—Mine own for ever, who have served Me faithfully, and with a good courage.”

Affections and Resolutions.
1. Admire and rejoice in the Heavenly Country; the glorious and blessed New Jerusalem.
2. Reprove the coldness of your own heart for having hitherto so little sought after that glorious abode. Why have I so long lingered indifferent to the eternal happiness set before me? Woe is me that, for the sake of poor savourless earthly things, I have so often forgotten those heavenly delights. How could I neglect such real treasures for mere vain and contemptible earthly matters?
3. Aspire earnestly after that blessed abode. Forasmuch, O Dear Lord, as Thou hast been pleased to turn my feet into Thy ways, never will I again look back. Go forth, my soul, towards thy promised rest, journey unweariedly to that hoped-for land; wherefore shouldest thou tarry in Egypt?
4. Resolve to give up such and such things, which hinder you on the way, and to do such others as will help you thitherwards.
Give thanks, offer, pray.


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Forebearance has nothing to do with four bears, even if they appear to be praying.

We all have crosses to carry, and

Everyone’s life is too brief.


Let us have no cross words between us, except the words of the Holiest Liturgy,

Nor cross swords, except to cut each other’s disabling bonds.

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Cardinal Nichol’s Homily at Requiem for King Richard lll at Holy Cross Priory, Leicester.

Full text of Cardinal Nichols’ homily: This evening we fulfil a profound and essential Christian duty: that of praying for the dead, for the repose of their eternal souls. Here we pray for King Richard III, ‘King of England and France and Lord of Ireland’ to use a title he ascribed to himself. This is a remarkable moment. The prayer we offer for him this evening is the best prayer there is: the offering of the Holy Mass, the prayer of Jesus himself, made complete in the oblation of his body and blood on the altar of the cross, present here for us on this altar. This is the summit of all prayer, for it is made in and through the one person, the eternal Word, through whom all created beings have life. It is a prayer that arises from the very core of creation, the cry of the Word returning to the Father and carrying within it the totality of that creation, marred and broken in its history, yet still longing for the completion for which it has been created. It is, therefore, such an important Catholic tradition to seek the celebration of Mass for the repose of the souls of those who have died, especially for each of our loved ones whose passing we mourn. Let us not forget or neglect this great gift. During this week, Mass is being offered in many Catholic Churches for the repose of the soul of King Richard III. Rightly so. That is exactly what he would have wished, having himself set up at least one chantry chapel for Masses to be celebrated for the dead of both sides of the Battle of Towton in 1461. This was a most violent conflict, marking the defeat of Henry IV, a single day on which between 10-20,000 Lancastrians were killed and a stark demonstration of the tragedy of civil war. Prayers were indeed needed. Surely we can be confident that, despite the haste and the violent confusion of the time, this same Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated by the Greyfriars for the repose of the soul of the defeated King at the time of his burial in their church here in Leicester in August 1485. Indeed we know that Richard was a man of anxious devotion who kept and marked his own book of prayers and who must have attended Mass throughout his life. Remarkably we also know that this vestment that I wear this evening is recorded as belonging to the royal wardrobe of Richard III. We may reasonably speculate that Richard participated in the celebration of Mass at which this same vestment was being worn. Richard was not a man of peace. The times in which he lived and the role into which he was born did not permit that. But now we pray for his eternal peace. Richard was a man who sought to offer to his citizens justice through the rule of law. He brought in important changes to the administration of law, including the institution of the Court of Requests at which poor people could bring their grievances to law. He improved the conditions of bail, enabling people to defend their property in the period before trial and he ordered the translation into English of written laws and Statutes again to make them more widely available. His role and arbiter and judge appear strongly in contemporary records and he twice asserted, in one legal dispute, that ‘we intend, nor will none otherwise do at any time, but according to the King’s laws.’ His actions did not always match those words. But this evening we pray that the merciful judgement of our loving God is extended to him in every degree, for we know that it is only the gift of God’s mercy that protects us from the demands of God’s justice. I am much relieved that this evening we are not required to come to any such judgement ourselves. Indeed the judgement of our fellow human being is only of passing consequence for we know how fickle that judgement can be. This we see most clearly as reflection continues on the dramatic years of the House of Tudor in both fiction and historical research: saints are recast as sinners and sinners can become saints. But that is not our business. Ours is to beseech of our loving Father the embrace of his mercy for this our brother who lived and died so long ago but who through such strange circumstances is again at the centre of public attention and human judgment. We pray for him as a sinner, like every other person, even if his life was lived on a more spectacular scale and in a more public arena than most. Today then we seek not to assert the greatness of Kings but the greatness of God’s mercy towards them and towards us all. Richard, we know was not the physically most handsome of men. We know he suffered a brutal death, suffering ten fierce blows to the head. We know that his body was subject to humiliation after death, paraded from the field of battle by being thrown naked over the back of a horse and there receiving further wounds from a hostile sword. But we also know that he had been baptised into the death of Christ and so received the promise that he would rise with Christ to new life. The words of the Holy Gospel, then, invite our trust, not only for ourselves but for all who have departed this life with a trusting faith in God. We know that the Lord has gone to prepare a place, a home, for us. This promise of a heavenly home was made to Richard. In his day, a ruthless and violent age, especially in the upper reaches of society, a home certainly had to be a castle, strong, well-fortified and easily defended. Otherwise it provided no safety at all. But the home promised to us by the Lord is of a different nature. In it peace comes only through the victory of Jesus over the last of all enemies, death itself. Protection too is ensured by that victory which has dethroned the powers of evil once and for all, even though they are still to be found within the fashioning of every human endeavour. The entry to that heavenly home, its open gates and sweeping drive, the royal road of life, is none other than the person of Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. This evening we pray that this promise of the Lord is indeed fulfilled. We offer this holy Mass that even while his remains are lying in the Cathedral nearby, his soul is united with God in the glory of heaven there to await the final resurrection of all things in Christ. This was the hope he held in his heart. This is the hope we hold for ourselves and our loved ones too. We share this one hope and the faith and love which accompany it. In this grace we pray for this dead King and we pray that the kingship in Christ, given to us all, may truly guide our lives and make us builders of that eternal Kingdom here in our world today.

  • The top of the chasuble
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The Veil of St. Veronica


According to ancient tradition, Veronica was from Jerusalem and was one of the pious women who encountered Christ on the Via Dolorosa to Mount Calvary. Deeply moved by His suffering, looking into His face pouring with sweat and blood, she wiped it with her veil – and found His portrait imprinted on the cloth when He returned it to her. The white, almost transparent veil measures about 6.5 by 9.5 inches and bears dark red features of a bearded man with long hair and open eyes. The face on the veil is that of a young man who has suffered greatly. He looks tired. The marks of blows that have struck him are clear: bruises and other scars on the forehead, clotted blood on his nose, one pupil slightly dilated. Yet, in spite of the evident signs of suffering and pain, the look is that of a serene man enduring his suffering with patience.

Jesus took the veil in His hand, wiped His bleeding face, and returned it with thanks. Veronica kissed it, and placed it under her cloak” – (Visions of Blessed Anna Katharina Emmerick).

This event is now immortalised in the Sixth Station on The Way of the Cross. “Your face, Lord, do I seek. Hide not your face from me” (Ps 27:8-9). Veronica embodies the universal yearning of the devout men and women of the Old Testament, the yearning of all believers to see the face of God. On Jesus’ Way of the Cross, though, she at first did nothing more than perform an act of womanly kindness: she held out a facecloth to Jesus. She is the image of that good woman, who, amid turmoil and dismay, shows the courage born of goodness and does not allow her heart to be bewildered.

Tabacchetti and Giovanni d'Enrico, Christ on the Road to Calvary (1600)

Tabacchetti and Giovanni d’Enrico, Christ on the Road to Calvary (1600)

“Blessed are the pure in heart”, the Lord had said in his Sermon on the Mount, “for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). At first, Veronica saw only a buffeted and pain-filled face. Yet her act of love impressed the true image of Jesus on her heart: on His human face, bloodied and bruised, she saw the face of God and His goodness, which accompanies us even in our deepest sorrows. Only with the heart can we see Jesus. Only love purifies us and gives us the ability to see. Only love enables us to recognise the God who is Love itself. When considered in the light of Christ’s words about the last days, many will ask: “Lord, when did we ever do these things for you?”. And Jesus will reply: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (cf. Mt 25:37-40). In fact the Saviour leaves his imprint on every single act of charity, as He did on Veronica’s cloth.


This past Sunday, known as “Passion Sunday”, the Lenten station is kept at the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican. At Vespers on this day the Veil of St. Veronica, displaying the Image of Christ’s Holy Face, is exhibited to the public for about two minutes, a solemn ritual that has been celebrated for centuries from the balcony overlooking the temple from the pillar of St. Veronica. The choir proceeds to the front of the altar, to the singing of the hymn Vexilla Regis, while two canons of the Basilica ascend to the balcony of the pillar of St. Veronica. 220px-Saint_veronica(Each of the four pillars that support Michelangelo’s massive dome was built also with a staircase inside it, and a balcony from which one of the principal relics of the church could be exposed on solemn occasions such as this one.) An antiphon and versicle are sung by the choir, followed by the prayer of the Veil of St. Veronica. A set of silver bells are then rung, and then the Veil is shown to the faithful from the balcony.

(Fr. Z refers to this event in his Sunday LENTCAzT podcast meditation.)

The prayer of the Veil as currently used at St. Peter’s is as follows:

Deus, qui nobis signatis lumine vultus tui imaginem tuam relinquere voluisti: per passionem et crucem tuam tribue nobis, quaesumus; ut sicut nunc in terris per speculum et in aenigmate ipsam veneramur, ita facie ad faciem venientem judicem te securi videamus. Qui vivis.

“God, who didst wish to leave Thy image to us, who are marked with the light of Thy countenance: through Thy passion and Cross grant us, we beseech Thee; that as now upon the earth we venerate it through a glass darkly, so in safety may we see Thee face to face when Thou comest to judge. Who livest etc.”

The original version composed by Pope Innocent III in 1208 is:

Deus, qui nobis signatis lumine vultus tui memoriale tuum ad instantiam Veronicae sudario impressam imaginem relinquere voluisti, per passionem et crucem tuam tribue nobis quaesumus, ut ita nunc in terris per speculum et in aenigmate ipsam adorare et venerari valeamus, ut facie ad faciem venientem iudicem te securi videamus.Qui vivis.

“God, who didst wish to leave as a memorial of Thee to us, who are marked with the light of Thy countenance, an image impressed upon a cloth at the urging of Veronica: through Thy passion and Cross grant us, we beseech Thee; that we may now upon the earth be so able to venerate and adore it through a glass darkly, that in safety may we see Thee face to face when Thou comest to judge. Who livest etc.”

[N.B. Various existing images have been claimed to be the “original” relic, or early copies of Veronica’s Veil, but the lack of firm historical evidence of the authenticity of the cloth held in the Vatican must prompt us to point out that this devotion is not comparable to that shown to the Image of Christ on the relic of the Turin Shroud – the reputed burial shroud of Our Blessed Lord.]

(Information taken mostly from Bible Probe, New Liturgical Movement, Catholic Defense, Fr. Z, and YouTube.)

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Meditation Seven – Hell

Continuing our meditations taken from “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales, to prepare ourselves to make a General Confession before Holy Week, we come to Chapter XV: the Seventh Meditation –  Hell


1. PLACE yourself in God’s Presence.                                2. Humble yourself, and ask His Aid.                                3. Picture to yourself a dark city, reeking with the flames of sulphur and brimstone, inhabited by citizens who cannot get forth.

1. Even so the lost are plunged in their infernal abyss;—suffering indescribable torture in every sense and every member; and that because having used their members and senses for sin, it is just that through them they should suffer now. Those eyes which delighted in impure vicious sights, now behold devils; the ears which took pleasure in unholy words, now are deafened with yells of despair;—and so on with the other senses.
2. Beyond all these sufferings, there is one greater still, the privation and pain of loss of God’s Glory, which is for ever denied to their vision. If Absalom cared not to be released from exile, if he might not see his father’s face, how much sorer will it be to be deprived for ever of the blessed vision of God?
3. Consider how insupportable the pains of Hell will be by reason of their eternal duration. If the irritating bite of an insect, or the restlessness of fever, makes an ordinary night seem so long and tedious, how terrible will the endless night of eternity be, where nought will be found save despair, blasphemy and fury!

Affections and Resolutions.
1. Read the Prophet’s descriptions of the terrors of the Lord, and ask your soul whether it can face them—whether you can bear to lose your God for ever?
2. Confess that you have repeatedly deserved to do so. Resolve henceforth to act differently, and to rescue yourself from this abyss. Resolve on distinct definite acts by which you may avoid sin, and thereby eternal death.
Give thanks, offer yourself, pray.

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How the Cistercians Can Help Us Disentangle the Washing of the Feet


Every year, we come back to the Holy Thursday ceremony of the washing of the feet — and all the inevitable controversy that surrounds it when women are included among the group whose feet are washed, in spite of the use of the masculine word viri in the liturgical rubrics. Sadly, we seem to be living in a time where liturgy so often becomes another socio-political statement, thanks to a pervasive disregard for the wisdom of Catholic tradition and the simultaneous conviction that we ourselves are the masters and possessors of the liturgy, that we know better than our benighted forebears. Liturgy then risks turning into a declaration of our preconceptions, priorities, and politics. How many people consider themselves bound to do things the traditional way because they have a fundamental trust that this way is good, holy, wise, greater than I am, and ready to teach me spiritual lessons if I but apprentice myself to it?

I would like to suggest, however, that in regard to the Holy Thursday mandatum ceremony, we can learn a valuable lesson from the Cistercian tradition, one that could resolve even this particular dispute in a surprisingly sympathetic manner.

First, we must recognize that Our Lord’s washing of the feet has a double aspect to it, which, it seems to me, accounts for some of the confusion we have managed to introduce by not thinking through how these two aspects are related. One aspect is the washing of the apostles’ feet at their ordination and the first Mass. Here, the accent is definitely placed on the apostolic college as the kernel of the new ministerial priesthood of the new covenant. The other aspect, of course, is the washing of the feet as a symbol of serving one’s fellow man in general, even as Christ came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Thus we have something of a paradox here: a symbolic action of universal application is nevertheless being given at a very particular event in salvation history with a very special group of men—not just any human beings, not just any male individuals, but the first priests and bishops of the Church. The Virgin Mary was holier than all of them put together, she offered her Son most perfectly the next day at the foot of the Cross, and she guided the nascent Church in profound ways we will understand only in heaven. And yet she was not called upon to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice nor to govern local churches, as the Apostles and their successors did; nor was she among the men whose feet were washed at the Last Supper. This tension in the mandatum between the universal charity symbolism and the particular apostolic/priestly symbolism makes it necessary to choose ONE or the OTHER as the prime symbol. Yet there is an assymetrical relationship between these. If you mix in the women, you are opting for the universal charity message and excluding the ordination message; whereas if you simply have men, as the rubrics specify, you are opting for a reenactment of what Christ did that evening at the first Mass, but you are not excluding the charity symbolism. After all, the very heart of the sacrifice of Christ was His burning charity for God and man, and this is the love the apostles, as His priests, are to carry into the world. In any case, the way the ceremony is done should not, as it were, garble the message so that one ends up severing the universal message from its original sacramental context.

Here is where the Cistercian tradition can be so helpful. Historically, these related but distinct aspects of the Holy Thursday washing of the feet were highlighted in analogous but still separate monastic ceremonies, as Terryl N. Kinder explains:

While many activities related to water took place in the gallery nearest the fountain, the mandatum was performed in the collation cloister. The weekly mandatum, or ritual washing of the feet, takes its name from the commandment of Jesus (John 13:34), which was also the text of an antiphon sung during the ceremony: “Mandatum novum . . .” (“A new commandment I give you . . .”). The ritual was a reminder of humility and also of charity toward one’s neighbors, whether those in the community or those outside. It was obviously inspired by Christ washing the feet of his disciples, and it was commonly practiced in the early church as a simple act of charity, recommended by Saint Paul (1 Tim. 5:10).
The community mandatum took place just before collation and Compline on Saturday afternoon, and, as specified in chapter 35 of the Rule of Saint Benedict, the weekly cooks—incoming and outgoing—performed the ceremony. The cooks who were leaving their week’s duty were responsible for heating the water in cold weather. The monks sat along the benches in this gallery, and the ritual began when the abbot (or cantor in the abbot’s absence) intoned the antiphon Postquam. After the abbot took off his shoes, the community followed, but as foot modesty was very important, the brothers were instructed to keep their bare feet covered at all times with their cowls. The senior (in monastic rank) of the two monks entering his week’s kitchen service washed the abbot’s feet first, while the junior incoming kitchen brother dried his feet; this pair continued washing and drying the feet of all the monks sitting to the left of the abbot. At the same time the senior of the cooks leaving his weekly service washed the feet of the brothers to the abbot’s right, the junior outgoing cook drying; the pair finishing first went to the other side to help. The cooks then washed their hands along with the vessels and towels, and everyone put their shoes back on before the collation reading began.
On Holy Thursday preceding Easter, this ceremony had a special form, the mandatum of the poor. The porter chose as many poor men from the guesthouse as there were monks in the monastery, and these men were seated in this cloister gallery. The monks left the church after None, the abbot leading and the community following in order of seniority, until each monk was standing in front of a guest. The monks then honored the poor men by washing, drying, and kissing their feet and giving each one a coin (denier) provided by the cellarer. Later the same afternoon, the community mandatum was held, and it, too, had a special form on this day. In imitation of Christ washing the feet of the twelve disciples, the abbot washed, dried, and kissed the feet of twelve members of the community: four monks, four novices, and four lay brothers. His assistants then performed this ceremony for the entire community, including all monks from the infirmary who were able to walk, and all lay brothers.
We see, then, that the activities carried out in the gallery parallel to the church were activities of a spiritual nature—much like those carried out in the church itself. In every case they emphasized the Christian life in community, whether directed inwardly to oneself (the collation reading) or, in the mandatum, shared among others. The weekly mandatum recalled the unity-in-charity of the monastic community; the Holy Thursday mandatum linked that community to Christ and his disciples; and the mandatum of the poor symbolized the responsibilities of the community to the world of poverty and suffering beyond the abbey walls.[1]

Could we not think of ways in which to imitate and adapt the monastic custom in its thoughtful distinction of the two aspects of the mandatum? Could there be a washing of the feet of (e.g.) prisoners or the elderly or the handicapped that was not embedded, misleadingly and acontextually, in the liturgical commemoration of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday? It seems to me that we may be victims of a too limited imagination when it comes to the way the liturgy (and the rich symbols of the liturgy) can spill out into parish activities, outreach programs, or other domains of Catholic life. Are we trying to jam everything into the Mass? We will certainly end up making a mess of it, if that’s the line of thinking we are following. Whereas if we allow the powerful deeds of Christ to sink into our consciousness, we will, like the Cistercians, develop a plethora of ways to express the inexhaustible richness of the Gospel, like streams branching off of a river.


[1] Terryl N. Kinder, Cistercian Europe: Architecture of Contemplation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans; Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 2000), 136-37. To read more about how the Cistercians at Heiligenkreuz live out this practice even today, see this article by Fr. Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.

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Meditation Six – Judgement

Continuing our daily meditations, taken from “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales, in preparation for making a truly Holy Confession before entering Holy Week.

Chapter XVI: Sixth Meditation – Judgement

Resurrection of the Flesh - Luca Signorelli

Resurrection of the Flesh – Luca Signorelli

1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God. 2. Intreat Him to inspire you.

1. When the time comes which God has appointed for the end of this world, and after many terrible signs and warnings, which will overwhelm men with fear,—the whole earth will be destroyed, and nothing then left.
2. Afterwards, all men, save those already risen, shall rise from the dead, and at the voice of the Archangel appear in the valley of Jehoshaphat. But alas, with what divers aspects! for some will be glorious and shining, others horrible and ghastly.
3. Consider the majesty with which the Sovereign Judge will appear surrounded by all His Saints and Angels; His Cross, the Sign of Grace to the good and of terror to the evil, shining brighter than the sun.
4. This Sovereign Judge will with His awful word, instantly fulfilled, separate the evil and the good, setting the one on His Right Hand, the other on His Left—an eternal separation, for they will never meet again.
5. This separation made, the books of conscience will be opened, and all men will behold the malice of the wicked, and how they have contemned God; as also the penitence of the good, and the results of the grace they received. Nothing will be hid. O my God, what confusion to the one, what rejoicing to the other! Consider the final sentence of the wicked. “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Dwell upon these awful words. “Go,” He says—for ever discarding these wretched sinners, banishing them for ever from His Presence. He calls them “cursed:” O my soul, what a curse: a curse involving all other maledictions, all possible evil, an irrevocable curse, including all time and eternity; condemning them to everlasting fire. Think what that eternity of suffering implies.
6. Then consider the sentence of the good. “Come,” the Judge says—O blessed loving word with which God draws us to Himself and receives us in His Bosom. “Blessed of My Father”—O blessing above all blessings! “inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.” O my God, and that Kingdom will know no end!

Affections and Resolutions.
1. Tremble, my soul, at the thought. O God, who will be my stay in that hour when the pillars of the earth are shaken?
2. Abhor your sins, which alone can cause you to be lost when that fearful day comes. Surely I will judge myself now, that I be not judged;—I will examine my conscience, accuse, condemn, punish myself, that the Judge may not condemn me then. I will confess my faults, and follow the counsels given me.

Thank God for having given you means of safety in that terrible Day, and time for repentance. Offer Him your heart, and ask for grace to use it well. OUR FATHER, etc.
Gather your bouquet.

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Mission Impossible

A highly unorthodox portrayal of cruciformity.

Your mission J, if you decide to accept it, is as follows:

1) Infiltrate unobtrusively. If you are perchance discovered by some astrology/celebrity nuts, still proceed with your mission. Follow your cover agents’ every word (ie Mum and Dad).

2) Stay undercover for ~30 years. Form a cadre of agents to help you from then on.

3) Spread the “Mission Statement” by all rhetorical means for three years to all-comers. Teach your agents how to multiply your work.

4) Prove your provenance by accepting unjust execution, like a lamb, then return from death.

5) Reunite with your agents, confirm them in their mission and then exfiltrate astoundingly so they never forget.

This message will not self-destruct in five minutes, or ever, in fact. Beware of counterfeits!

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