St. Michael and Our Lady of Fatima: Why 2017 is Such a Critical Moment

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Will you join me in special prayer this year, the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions?

Msgr. Charles Pope

I have written elsewhere about why I think that 2017 will be a critical year. I believe it will be a year of hidden blessings or one of something so shocking that it will usher in a blessing that will only be understood later. It has been 100 years since the apparitions at Fatima and 500 since the Protestant revolt. The 1517 revolt ushered in a shocking, wrenching pruning of the Church. So did the apparitions in 1917, when Our Lady warned of great suffering if we did not pray and repent. God seems to permit (not cause) such things either as penance or as purification.

The last 100 years have seen horrifying warfare, death tolls in the hundreds of millions driven by ideological conflict, abortion on demand, the destruction of marriage and the family, sexual confusion and misbehavior, and the rise of the culture of death (the demand for the right to die and the right to kill). Indeed, Christendom in the West is in the midst of a great collapse: tepid and compromised faith, a tiny minority who attend Mass, and the growth of militant secularism. Who among us can deny that the Church, especially in the affluent West, has been under attack. We have preferred to sleep through most of it and make one compromise after another. Who among us can deny that we need another “counter-reformation”?

Two significant prophecies warned us of these events if we did not repent. For indeed, Scripture says, Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). And while many apparitions occurred (some approved, some not), two in particular stand out:

imageFirst, it is said that in 1884 Pope Leo XIII had an experience during which he heard God say that he would permit a period of 100 years that would test the Church in Job-like fashion. This alarmed Pope Leo enough that he penned the well-known Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and asked that it be prayed at the end of Mass throughout the universal Church. Some dispute the accuracy of this and call it mere legend, but it is hard to deny that the attack/test occurred. But when and what is the hundred-year period? That leads to…

Second, in 1917, Our Lady appeared in the region of Fatima, Portugal to three young children: Jacinta, Francesco, and Lucia. Mary indicated that the horrific First World War was soon to end, a war that featured the use of chemical weapons so devastating that an international agreement was developed banning their use. However, she warned that an even more terrible war would ensue if people did not repent and pray. Our Lady went on to say that in the aftermath of the war, Russia would spread the errors of atheism and materialism, leading to grievous suffering for the Church and many of the faithful. She also prophesied that there would be a final warning of light in the sky just prior to the onslaught of this new war.

In order to provide veracity to her message, Our Lady promised a miracle at her final apparition. On Oct. 13, 1917, the “Miracle of the Sun” took place, and as many as 70,000 people witnessed the sun dancing about in the sky and moving toward the earth.

In January 1938, a display of the aurora borealis vividly lit the skies far south of its normal reach; newspapers throughout the world reported the event. Later that same year, Germany entered Czechoslovakia, and in 1939, Poland was invaded; the Second World War was under way, a consequence of our failure to repent.

More than 60 million people were killed in World War II. At the end of the war, Russia dropped the Iron Curtain and atheistic communism held sway in the Eastern Bloc. Churches were closed, clergy and religious were killed, and great suffering came to all who would not acquiesce. The prophesies of 1917 proved to be sadly and vividly true.

Another prophecy of the Fatima apparitions was kept secret until the year 2000; it spoke of the murder of a pope as he walked past martyrs up a hill toward a cross in a ruined city. In 1981, St. John Paul II, nearly killed by an assassin, attributed his survival to the prayers of many who did hear the call of Our Lady to pray. Cardinal Ratzinger, in his commentary on the “third secret” of Fatima, called it the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) of an entire century. Indeed it was: ruined cities, martyrs, and the long shadow of a cross over those years for the Church and the world.

A final aspect of the Fatima apparition came to light in 1981 when Sister Lucia wrote to Msgr. (now Cardinal) Carlo Caffara at the Vatican to thank him and to assure him of prayers for the founding of the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family. In the letter she also related something she heard from Our Lady: a final battle will signal the end of the period in which we now struggle. Sister Lucia recounted Our Lady’s words as follows:

The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid, … anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. … However, Our Lady has already crushed its head.

I think the period of 100 years of trial seen by Pope Leo is coming to its culmination. My premise is that, though it was foreseen by Leo in 1884, it actually began in 1917 with the warning of Our Lady. Her message was clear: pray and be converted or else suffer grievously the consequences of human sinfulness. It is clear that we have suffered grievously for our failures.

Attempting to follow Our Lady’s direction in 1917 at Fatima, three popes (Pius XII, John Paul II, and Francis) have consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But arguments go back and forth about whether any of these was “valid” (e.g., Was the wording just right?). But no technicality can eclipse our failure to repent and pray; I believe that repentance and prayer are the true heart of Our Lady’s message.

And so here we are at the culmination of the battle. Though it is disheartening, the battle in the Church over the sanctity of holy matrimony has reached the highest levels, just as our Lady said. Cardinal is pitted against cardinal, bishop against bishop. In the wider culture, marriage has been redefined; biblical and natural law teachings have been set aside. At this point I don’t think that our culture has a definition of marriage at all; it’s whatever anyone wants to say it is. This is no minor error; it is a civilization killer.

Something tells me that this year of 2017 is going to be critical and that we had better pray — a lot more than we have in the past. Repentance is also crucial. Being sleepy in the battle cannot be an option. We are at a turning point. Perhaps the hundred years of trial are ending; they might end well or they might come to a dreadful conclusion. That is why we must pray.

Cardinal Ratzinger, in the same Vatican document referenced above reflecting on Fatima, said:

The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction. Therefore, we must totally discount fatalistic explanations. … Rather, the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them.

Will you join me in praying with special fervency this year? In my own parish, we will be observing the First Saturday devotions that were requested by Mary at Fatima. This will be a communal way to engage the call to prayer. It involves attending Holy Mass, praying the Rosary, and going to confession (that day or within one week) on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. Others also add the wearing of the scapular and/or making a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Such a communal observance ought not to eclipse personal prayer and conversion; it is merely to augment it. Are there devotional practices you can undertake, such as the daily Rosary, the Angelus, or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy? Are there sins you need to make special effort to avoid? Are there lawful pleasures you can set aside?

What will you do? This is a critical moment; I am convinced of it. Will you join me in special prayer this year, the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions?

 

 

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Feast of St Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

St Agnes

St Agnes

Father Willie Doyle, SJ:

“Even as a child I was convinced that one day God would give me the grace of martyrdom. When quite small I read and re-read every martyr’s life in the twelve volumes of Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and longed and prayed to be a martyr, and I have often done so ever since. As years went on, the desire grew in intensity, and even now the sufferings of the martyrs, their pictures, and everything connected with their death, have a strange fascination for me and help me much.”

COMMENT [by Pat Kenny on ‘Thoughts for January 21 (St Agnes) from Fr Willie Doyle‘]

In today’s quote, Fr Doyle tells us that he – just like St Teresa of Avila and St Catherine of Siena – was deeply influenced by the lives of the saints as a child. We should encourage devotion to the saints amongst our children; even toddlers can learn important lessons and virtues from the lives of the saints.

Undoubtedly one of the martyrs that Fr Doyle read about in Butler’s Lives of the Saints was St Agnes, whose feast it is today. St Agnes, who was just 12 or 13, reminds us that even the young can have an ardent love of God and a willingness to die rather than offend Him.

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From ‘Butler’s Lives of the Saints’:

“ST JEROME says that the tongues and pens of all nations are employed in the praises of this saint, who overcame both the cruelty of the tyrant and the tenderness of her age, and crowned the glory of chastity with that of martyrdom. St. Austin observes that her name signifies chaste in Greek, and a lamb in Latin. She has always been looked upon in the church as a special patroness of purity, with the Immaculate Mother of God and St. Thecla. Rome was the theatre of the triumph of St. Agnes; and Prudentius says that her tomb was shown within sight of that city. She suffered not long after the beginning of the persecution of Diocletian, whose bloody edicts appeared in March, in the year of our Lord 303.

We learn from St. Ambrose and St. Austin that she was only thirteen years of age at the time of her glorious death. Her riches and beauty excited the young noblemen of the first families in Rome to vie with one another in their addresses who should gain her in marriage. Agnes answered them all that she had consecrated her virginity to a heavenly spouse, who could not be beheld by mortal eyes. Her suitors, finding her resolution impregnable to all their arts and importunities, accused her to the governor as a Christian, not doubting but threats and torments would overcome her tender mind, on which allurements could make no impression. The judge at first employed the mildest expression and most inviting promises, to which Agnes paid no regard, repeating always that she could have no other spouse than Jesus Christ. He then made use of threats, but found her soul endowed with a masculine courage, and even desirous of racks and death. At last terrible fires were made, and iron hooks, racks, and other instruments of torture, displayed before her, with threats of immediate execution. The young virgin surveyed them all with an undaunted eye, and with a cheerful countenance beheld the fierce and cruel executioners surrounding her, and ready to dispatch her at the word of command. She was so far from betraying the least symptom of fear that she even expressed her joy at the sight, and offered herself to the rack. She was then dragged before the idols and commanded to offer incense, “but could by no means be compelled to move her hand, except to make the sign of the cross,” says St. Ambrose.

The governor seeing his measures ineffectual, said he would send her to a house of prostitution, where what she prized so highly should be exposed to the insults of the debauchees. Agnes answered that Jesus Christ was too jealous of the purity of his spouses to suffer it to be violated in such a manner, for he was their defender and protector. “You may,” said she, “stain your sword with my blood, but will never be able to profane my body, consecrated to Christ.” The governor was so incensed at this that he ordered her to be immediately led to the public brothel, with liberty to all persons to abuse her person at pleasure. Many young profligates ran thither, full of the wicked desire of gratifying their lust, but were seized with such awe at the sight of the saint that they durst not approach her-one only excepted, who, attempting to be rude to her, was that very instant, by a flash’ as it were, of lightning from heaven, struck blind, and fell trembling to the ground. His companions, terrified, took him up and carried him to Agnes, who was at a distance, singing hymns of praise to Christ, her protector. The virgin by prayer restored him to his sight and health.

The chief prosecutor of the saint, who at first sought to gratify- his lust and avarice, now laboured to satiate his revenge by incensing the judge against her, his passionate fondness being changed into anger and rage. The governor wanted not others to spur him on, for he was highly exasperated to see himself baffled and set at defiance by one of her tender age and sex. Therefore, resolved upon her death, he condemned her to be beheaded. Agnes, transported with joy on hearing this sentence, and still more at the sight of the executioner, “went to the place of execution more cheerfully,” says St. Ambrose, “than others go to their wedding.” The executioner had secret instructions to use all means to induce her to a compliance, but Agnes always answered she could never offer so great an injury to her heavenly spouse, and, having made a short prayer, bowed down her neck to adore God, and received the stroke of death. The spectators wept to see so beautiful and tender a virgin loaded with fetters, and to behold her fearless under the very sword of the executioner, who with a trembling hand cut off her head at one stroke. Her body was buried at a small distance from Rome, near the Nomentan Road. A church was built on the spot in the time of Constantine the Great, and was repaired by Pope Honorius in the seventh century. It is now in the hands of Canon-Regulars, standing without the walls of Rome, and is honoured with her relics in a-very rich silver shrine, the gift of Pope Paul V, in whose-time they were found in this church, together with those of St. Emerentiana. The other beautiful rich church of St. Agnes, within the city, built by Pope Innocent X (the right of patronage being vested in the family of Pamphili), stands on the place where her chastity was exposed. The feast of St. Agnes is mentioned in all Martyrologies, both of the East and West, though on different days. It was formerly a holyday for the women in England, as appears from the Council of Worcester, held in the year 1240. St. Ambrose, St. Austin, and other fathers have wrote her panegyric. St. Martin of Tours was singularly devout to her. Thomas a Kempis honoured her as his special patroness, as his works declare in many places. He relates many miracles wrought and graces received through her intercession.”

 

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Reflection for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

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The readings for this Sunday are: Isaiah 9:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17-18; and Matthew 4:12-23.

Both today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah (8:23-9:3) and the Gospel passage (Matthew 4:12-23) keep alive the memory of Christmas for us. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them a light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2). The choral section from the Nativity cycle of Handel’s Messiah never ceases to move me each time I listen to Isaiah’s prophecy set to hauntingly beautiful music – words that reach their crescendo in the announcement of the birth of a child who will be called: “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Isaiah’s prophecy forms the first reading that we hear proclaimed each year at the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

The powerful words of consolation were addressed to those who were in darkness and anguish, those who lived in the Galilean areas of Zebulun and Naphtali, lands located between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. In today’s Gospel, Isaiah’s prophecy of the light rising upon Zebulun and Naphtali (Isaiah 8:22-9:1) is fulfilled in Jesus’ residence at Capernaum. Since so much of Jesus’ ministry takes place in Galilee, and around the Sea of Galilee, it is important for us to have some historical and geographical understanding of the whole region. We must know something about the Old Testament history of the land that Jesus made his own.

A land of deep darkness

Immediately preceding chapter 9, Isaiah’s testimony has built up a frightening picture of the darkness and distress about to descend upon both Judah and the northern kingdom. What is this terrible fate and darkness of the people and why? After King Ahaz and his people have clearly rejected the Word of God (cf. Isaiah 7:10-12; 8:6a) the Lord declares that he will hide his face from the house of Jacob (8:17) as an indication of his dismay and anger. In a time of anguish and panic due to the wrath of God, people have taken recourse only too easily to mediums and wizards (8:19). But Isaiah observes that it is ridiculous to consult the dead on behalf of the living. In Isaiah 8:16-22 we read of the terrible fate that could overtake the people: “there is no dawn for this people” (8:20). Instead there is hunger, thirst, and misery showing itself in physical as well as spiritual deprivation. People’s hearts are darkened and their spirits are greatly disturbed. They get enraged and curse their sinful king and the God whom they have forsaken. They live without hope and any consolation. Whether they turn their faces upward or cast their eyes down to the earth, they will see only distress and darkness while they themselves will be thrust into thick darkness (cf. Exodus 10:22; Deuteronomy 28:29).

Such darkness penetrates right into the heart and soul and renders the continuation of human life impossible. But that darkness and distress were not Isaiah’s last words. Precisely upon this land has shone a great light. A recurring theme in the Scriptures is the fact that God acts in the unexpected context, in the unexpected place, in the unexpected time, in the unexpected way.

Isaiah’s hope for the northern peoples

Chapter 9 of Isaiah stands in total contrast to chapter 8. The opening line of 9:1 forms a transition from the darkness of 8:22. The prophet proclaims a message of hope and consolation as darkness and gloom give way to light and joy. The great light comes decisively into this profound darkness. It tears people away from their confusion and emptiness, from the violence and tyranny of the oppressor. The message of 9:1-7 is directed to those people who were in anguish.

The darkness and gloom that had settled over the land penetrates right into the heart and soul and renders the continuation of human life impossible. But this darkness and distress were not Isaiah’s last words. The prophet proclaims a message of hope and consolation as darkness and gloom give way to light and joy. On the inhabitants of a country in a shadow as dark as death, light has blazed forth!

The first result of this great light over the peoples will be the fall of the oppressor – Assyria, who must be defeated no less decisively than Midian had been (Judges 6). Only after such a decisive defeat can disarmament take place and peace reign. The symbols of the Assyrian oppression – the yoke of their burden, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor – shall be broken (Isaiah 9:4). The garments of war shall feed the flames (9:5). The destruction of war-like equipment heralds an age of peace symbolically described in 2:4, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Jesus’ ministry along the Sea of Galilee

In order to accommodate Jesus’ move to Capernaum to Isaiah’s prophecy, Matthew speaks of that town as being “in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali” (Matthew 4:13), whereas it was only in the territory of the latter, and he understands the sea of the prophecy, the Mediterranean, as the sea of Galilee. As Jesus moved along the shore of Sea of Galilee, and on the Sea itself, he shed light onto the lives of many people who had experienced the ravages of war, invasion, occupation, and violence in the whole area of Zebulun and Naphtali.

In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, that first encounter with disciples is told very briefly (Mark 1:16-20; Matthew 4:18-22). Walking along the shore, Jesus meets Simon and his brother Andrew. They are casting their nets from the shore, probably hoping to catch some of the fish hovering about the warm springs that empty into the Sea. He summons them: “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately, we are told, they leave their nets and follow him. A little further along, he sees James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They are sitting in their boats, mending the nets. Wearied, perhaps, after a nightlong bout with the sea. Jesus calls them in the same way; they leave their father and the rest of their crew and follow him. For Jesus and for those whom he called, the Sea was a place and a moment of conversion. It is along the Sea that Jesus calls others to join him in his prophetic ministry and outreach to the poor and the sick. Pastoral ministry that is authentic and prophetic enters those areas acquainted with strife, pain, anguish, war, and violence, and always reaches out and invites others to follow.

Jesus fulfilling the words of John the Baptist

At the beginning of his preaching (Matthew 4:17) Jesus takes up the words of John the Baptist (3:2) although with a different meaning; in his ministry the kingdom of heaven has already begun to be present (12:28). The call of the first disciples (4:18-22) promises them a share in Jesus’ work and entails abandonment of family and their former way of life. Three of the four – Simon, James, and John – are distinguished among the disciples by a closer relation with Jesus (Matthew 17:1; 26:37). In verses 20 and 22, as in Mark (1:16-20) and unlike the Lucan account (Luke 5:1-11), the disciples’ response is motivated only by Jesus’ invitation, an element that emphasizes his mysterious power. There is always a before and after in the lives of those who are called by Jesus. For some, the conversion of heart is often a gradual process that takes time. For others, the conversion is an unexpected and all-encompassing lightning bolt experience.

Even though the call to follow Jesus was a privilege beyond imagination, there is no attempt to pretend the disciples were ideal people. They were very real people – contentious, weak at times, often baffled by Jesus. Even when they understood Jesus and his teaching, the disciples were capable of rejecting and failing him. The gospel portrayal of the disciples is compassionate because it makes a place for people who struggle to reach their dreams, for people who at times forget their call to greatness. People like us! Following Jesus is a risk, as every new way of life is. Each of us is called to teach as Jesus taught and to heal boldly and compassionately as he did.

Relationship between the Old and the New Testaments

Today let us continue our reflections on Verbum Domini, Pope Emeritus Benedict’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the World,” and consider the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments (#40-41):

Moreover, the New Testament itself claims to be consistent with the Old and proclaims that in the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Christ the sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people have found their perfect fulfilment. It must be observed, however, that the concept of the fulfilment of the Scriptures is a complex one, since it has three dimensions: a basic aspect of continuity with the Old Testament revelation, an aspect of discontinuity and an aspect of fulfilment and transcendence. The mystery of Christ stands in continuity of intent with the sacrificial cult of the Old Testament, but it came to pass in a very different way, corresponding to a number of prophetic statements and thus reaching a perfection never previously obtained. The Old Testament is itself replete with tensions between its institutional and its prophetic aspects. The paschal mystery of Christ is in complete conformity – albeit in a way that could not have been anticipated – with the prophecies and the foreshadowings of the Scriptures; yet it presents clear aspects of discontinuity with regard to the institutions of the Old Testament.

These considerations show the unique importance of the Old Testament for Christians, while at the same time bringing out the newness of Christological interpretation. From apostolic times and in her living Tradition, the Church has stressed the unity of God’s plan in the two Testaments through the use of typology; this procedure is in no way arbitrary, but is intrinsic to the events related in the sacred text and thus involves the whole of Scripture. Typology “discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son.” Christians, then, read the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen. While typological interpretation manifests the inexhaustible content of the Old Testament from the standpoint of the New, we must not forget that the Old Testament retains its own inherent value as revelation, as our Lord himself reaffirmed (cf. Mk 12:29-31). Consequently, “the New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old. Early Christian catechesis made constant use of the Old Testament (cf. 1 Cor 5:6-8; 1 Cor 10:1-11).” For this reason the Synod Fathers stated that “the Jewish understanding of the Bible can prove helpful to Christians for their own understanding and study of the Scriptures.”

“The New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old is made manifest in the New,” as Saint Augustine perceptively noted. It is important, therefore, that in both pastoral and academic settings the close relationship between the two Testaments be clearly brought out, in keeping with the dictum of Saint Gregory the Great that “what the Old Testament promised, the New Testament made visible; what the former announces in a hidden way, the latter openly proclaims as present. Therefore the Old Testament is a prophecy of the New Testament; and the best commentary on the Old Testament is the New Testament.”

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St. Padre Pio on Purgatory (and two rare videos)

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Anyone who met Padre Pio believed that he had a direct connection with the afterlife. When asked about a dead relative or friend, it was fascinating the good Padre always had an answer.

Padre Pio said of Heaven: “Heaven is total joy, continuous joy. We will be constantly thanking God. It is useless to try to figure out exactly what heaven is like, because we can’t understand it. But when the veil of this life is taken off, we will understand things in a different way.”

” . . . at night when I close my eyes the veil is lifted and I see paradise open up before me: and gladdened by this vision I sleep with a smile of sweet beatitude on my lips and a perfectly tranquil countenance . . . “

“More souls of the dead from Purgatory than of the living climb this mountain to attend my Masses and seek my prayers.”

“The souls in Purgatory pray for us, and their prayers are even more effective than ours, because they are accompanied by their suffering. So, let’s pray for them, and let’s pray them to pray for us.”

“You will be surprised to find in Paradise souls you never expected to be there.”

“Most of the saved pass through Purgatory before arriving at the fullness of beatitude.”

Gerardo De Caro had long conversations with Padre Pio in 1943. In his written notes, he testifies: “Padre Pio had an exact knowledge of the state of a soul after death, including the duration of the pain until it reached total purification.”

The Venerable Pope Pius XII (March 2, 1876 - October 9, 1958)

The Venerable Pope Pius XII
(March 2, 1876 – October 9, 1958)

Pope Pius XII died in Castelgandolfo on October 9, 1958. On that day, Padre Pio told a friar: “Pius XII is in heaven. I saw him during Mass.”

One night Padre Pio was sitting alone absorbed in prayer in a room at the convent when an old man entered and sat next to him: “I looked at him but never thought of how he managed to get in the friary at that hour. I asked him, ‘Who are you? What do you want?’ The man answered, ‘Padre Pio, I am Pietro di Mauro, nicknamed Precoco. I died in this friary [in a fire] on September 18, 1908, in room number 4. I am still in Purgatory, and I need a Mass to free my soul from it. God has given me permission to come to you and ask for your prayers.’ After I had listened to his story, I said, ‘You can rest assured that I will celebrate Mass tomorrow for your liberation.'” Padre Pio reported: “I was agitated. I told the superior Father Paolino da Casacalenda what had happened and asked to celebrate the Mass for Pietro.” Father Paolino gave the permission and later went to consult the registry at City Hall. In that date, a fire had killed a man with that name.

[…]  Continue reading on TradCatKnight

 

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Below are two fascinating videos that give a rare glimpse into the life of this particularly devoted and holy follower of Christ, St Padre Pio:

1) At his monastery

This first video was filmed at Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary, located in Italy’s Gargano mountains, where St. Padre Pio lived from 1916 until his death in 1968. The whole video is worth watching, but here are a few particularly noteworthy moments:

– From 0:55 to 1:43 you can see the monks dealing with the huge volume of mail for St. Padre Pio.

– At 4:23, you can see St. Padre Pio celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass.

– At 8:01, he playfully hits the cameraman with his cincture as he’s walking by!

2) The last Mass he celebrated

This second video is of him celebrating his final Mass on September 22, 1968 – the day before his death. You’ll notice that he walks only with help, and that he celebrates much of the Mass sitting down.

Most interestingly, though, is that starting at 3:22, with the camera zoomed in on him for the Eucharistic prayers, you can see that he’s wearing fingerless gloves. He did this to cover the miraculous wounds of his stigmata, which he had for 50 years.

 

(Adapted from HERE)

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A Postage Stamp from the Vatican to “Commemorate” Luther’s Revolt?

Today I got a message from some Catholic Irish friends, saying (more or less):

“It’s OK guys – looks like it’s been a false alarm! Below is the final design for the stamp to be issued by Vatican City to mark the 500th anniversary of Luther’s rebellion. An appropriate depiction of heresiarch, Martin Luther, one we can all get behind – right?  Nothing more than what Catholics would expect from the Magisterium of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church to commemorate such a massively evil deed of far-reaching consequences – right?….”

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UNFORTUNATELY IT WAS A JOKE!….

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Nick Donnelly for EWTN News (January 18) gives the shameful real news:

Vatican to issue a commemorative stamp featuring Martin Luther

Illustrative stamp issued by Finland in 1967.

Illustrative stamp issued by Finland in 1967.

The Vatican plans to issue a stamp featuring the face of the heresiarch Martin Luther to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The Vatican’s Philatelic and Numismatic Office has announced its philatelic publications for 2017 that indicates that it will issue the commemorative Martin Luther stamp immediately after issuing a stamp celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Marist Brothers schools. The Martin Luther stamp will be followed by a stamp celebrating the 600th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Samogitia. Other highlights for the Vatican’s philatelic publications for 2017 include a stamp celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and a stamp celebrating the 300-year anniversary of our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil.

The Vatican’s Philatelic and Numismatic Office 2017 list does not refer to Martin Luther but instead states “The fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation.” The Vatican confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Martin Luther will be celebrated with a postage stamp in 2017.

In January 2017 the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Christian Unity issued a document recognising Martin Luther as “a witness to the gospel”.

[Nick Donnelly’s] Comment

Martin Luther is a heresiarch, the founder of a heresy. Heresy is a rupture that wounds the unity of Christ’s Body, that does not occur without human sin. (CCC 817). As canon law defines it, “Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith”. (Can. 751).


CP&S Comment

How are Catholics expected to take this incredible and treacherous action of the Vatican’s? How can a revolution that brought about the breaking apart of Christendom, the catalyst that has led untold millions into heresy, opened the doors to Secularism and spiritual death, now call the heresiarch who instigated the whole revolt, “a witness to the gospel”? And then issue a stamp to “celebrate” the occasion. It’s an absolute scandal!

 

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Fathers! You are the mighty enemies of our enemy, Hell!

We publish a great post from Father Z’s blog yesterday that is based on a Must Read post from Crisis. It can never be repeated often enough, the importance of being always in a state of grace, for we ‘know not the day nor the hour…’ 

GO TO CONFESSION!

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What a victory for the demons of Hell it has been to run down the Sacrament of Penance until it is barely thought of in some parishes.

Fathers, if you are parish priests and have the obligation to hear confessions, hearing confessions can help to keep you out of Hell. If you are parish priests and you don’t hear confessions or you won’t teach about confession, you will probably go to Hell. Just try to deny it. Just. Try.

At the ever-valuable Crisis there is a piece entitled: “The Spiritual Roots of the Church’s Crisis

Certainly we can identity many factors, both within the Church and from outside the Church. This article, however, starts with this:

[…]

Lack of Confessions
Any examination of conscience for Catholics today needs to begin literally with our lack of examination. I live next to a large, suburban parish, which has 30 minutes of Confession a weekend. How could such a short period of time suffice for thousands of people? It seems as if parishes have resigned themselves to serving the small percentage of Catholics who desire to go to Confession. [Yes, indeed. There is a less than virile prostration before the ways of the world in this, isn’t there? A kind of cowardice?]

When we speak of mercy, it has to begin in the Confession, with the sacrament that Christ gave us to bestow his mercy on us. When we look at the numbers, it appears that Catholics are rejecting or are simply unconcerned about receiving God’s mercy. [And these numbers don’t seem to have changed a lot over the last few years.] A report from CARA, Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, conducted almost a decade ago shows that “three-quarters of Catholics report that they never participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation or that they do so less than once a year.” Frankly, this statistic alone demonstrates the heart of the spiritual crisis facing the Church. The Church has been given the enormous grace by Christ to forgive sins, but people just aren’t very interested.

[…]

He also points to…

* Irreverence toward the Eucharist
* Minimal Penance
* Bad Catechesis Leads to Dissent and Disbelief

Toward the end we find…

[…]


In the 1980s a book pushed a cardinal to international prominence as he put his finger on the controversy of faith in the Church following the Second Vatican Council: The Ratzinger Report. I found another interview book with a cardinal helpful in refocusing us on the true task at hand: Cardinal Sarah’s God or Nothing.

[…]

If you haven’t read it yet… or if you haven’t given it to your parish priests yet…

(Links to Cardinal Sarah’s book(s) are at Father Z’s site)

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Malta Bishop threatens priests who refuse Holy Communion to civilly remarried

Cdl. Burke: Priests ‘must refuse and face the consequences’

GOZO, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com)

2017-01-19-eliMalta’s priests will be the first clerics to ever face suspension for refusing Holy Communion to divorced Catholics who have remarried outside the Church.

Bishop Mario Grech of the diocese of Gozo, Malta, is saying he will strip all priests of their priestly faculties who do not follow his new guidelines, claiming he is implementing the papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia. He reportedly has taken this severe position upon returning this week from his visit to Rome.

The guidelines Bsp. Grech co-published on January 8 with Abp. Charles Scicluna of Malta’s archdiocese read, “If … a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages … to acknowledge and believe that he or she is at peace with God, he or she can not be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.”

The focus of Malta’s guidelines are on the consciences of the civilly remarried who come forward at Mass to receive the Eucharist. No mention is made of the priest’s conscience who’s attempting to follow Church law as contained in the Code of Canon Law.

Canon 915 mandates that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” This judgement is based on the couple’s objective situation called the external forum and is completely independent of their subjective feeling of guilt which is part of what’s called their internal forum.

An experienced canonists, Dr. Ed Peters, recently emphasized that priests are commanded by Holy Mother Church to follow this canon and not admit to Holy Communion couples who publicly live in a state of objective mortal sin:

In administering Holy Communion to a member of the faithful, Roman Catholic ministers are bound not by guidelines supposedly fashioned from a single, ambiguous and highly controverted papal document but instead by the plain and dispositive text of another papal document, called the Code of Canon Law (especially Canon 915 thereof), and by the common and constant interpretation accorded such norms over the centuries.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, patron of the Knights of Malta, in an interview last May called it a “grave injustice” for bishops to order their priests to do this very thing which in conscience they couldn’t do. Burke added, “If someone tells the priest that he has to do these things, he simply must refuse and face the consequences.”

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Malta – Another perspective

Needless to say, the Maltese Bishops’ guidance on AL has not been received with joy throughout the Church (see here, for example).

In the Irish Catholic another view is expressed here.

This is the key part of the argument (my emphasis):

An emphasis on conscience is at the heart of the Maltese bishops’ guidelines, with the bishops concluding that a divorced-and-remarried Catholic cannot be denied Reconciliation and the Eucharist if, as a result of a suitably sincere and thorough discernment process, he or she “manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she [is] at peace with God”.

In no way should this be equated to a merely subjective ‘feeling’. On the contrary, time and again in recent decades when liberal Catholics have sought to justify disobedience to papal teachings, they have done so on the grounds of ‘conscience’, only to be rightly rebutted by more orthodox Catholics pointing out that only a properly formed conscience has such authority.

Now, though, too many are reacting to the Maltese calls for their clergy to enlighten consciences and for enlightened consciences to be respected, by saying this would mean a sacramental free for all. We can’t have this both ways. Either we respect properly formed consciences or we don’t.

The emphasis on properly formed conscience is key to their argument: a properly formed and enlightened conscience should accord with the teaching of the Church on faith and morals.

The problem, in my opinion, with such an approach is that catechesis in the West is something of a failed project, with priests and catechists ignoring the moral teaching of the Church. How can one have a properly informed and enlightened conscience if no-one has bothered to teach and proclaim the Gospel and the teaching of the Church?

The position in Malta may be different (after all, they only legalised divorce in the last couple of years, on a very tight referendum result), but in the rest of the West ‘properly formed and enlightened consciences’ would probably only exist after a long process of remedial catechesis.

In short, I can (kind of) see where the Maltese bishops are coming from, but I see their approach as having harmful risks if it is applied in the casual, slap-dash manner beloved of clerics in the UK and US.

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A Surprising German Editorial: A De Facto Schism in the Church

By Maike Hickson at OnePeterFive:PinterestPocket

article-2276884-17841a9a000005dc-22_634x815Out of Germany there now come to us some newly unexpected and surprisingly strong words. For, the candid source is that same national Catholic newspaper, Die Tagespost, and that same Rome Correspondent – Guido Horst himself – whom we had just a few days ago politely criticized for his claim that the debate about Amoris Laetitia is – and should be – now over and closed.

To do justice to this new important 16 January editorial statement from Germany, I shall therefore present a translation in full of Horst’s somewhat short but incisive statement concerning the current situation in the Church:

Editorial: A De Facto Schism

by Guido Horst

Whoever these days walks through the Vatican and speaks with individual clergymen about the broadening of the conflict concerning Amoris Laetitiameets with speechlessness; it is a speechlessness which also can – depending upon the intuition of the individual clergyman with regard to theological succinctness and the weight of doctrine – even broaden itself out into a complete bewilderment. With his own vote – as he presented it on Italian television – according to which certain ambiguities of the eighth chapter of the post-synodal document are “not a danger to the Faith” and thus a correction of the pope is impossible at this moment, Cardinal Gerhard Müller has likely made a quite consequential decision. There will not be any answer now coming from Francis to the questions, respectively as to the doubts of the four cardinals. Otherwise, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith would not have spoken so unambiguously. But the answers are coming now from other directions. The Church of Malta is a small local church at the periphery of Europe, but the Archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna is a respectable man who as a leading collaborator with the Congregation for the Faith had a decisive role at the time of the abuse scandals. When he – together with the bishop of Gozo – now instructs the pastors of his own small island state that every remarried divorcee may deal himself with the dear God as to whether he may go to Communion (see page 5 [of Die Tagespost]), then that means very clearly that each local church may now do as it pleases. The furrow grows deeper. Florence against Rome, Poland against Argentina, Malta against Milan. That is what one calls a de facto schism. 

The Vatican which once was able – for example, in the case of the German system of counseling pregnant women in need – and after a long struggle to implement a decision dedicated to the clarity of the witness – at the time for [the sanctity of human] life – is now not any more capable to ensure such clarity. The pope is silent concerning the letter of the [four] cardinals and thus indirectly refuses to give a clear statement according to which the controversial paragraphs of Amoris Laetitia must be read in light of the proclamation of the previous popesThat, too, is an answer. And the Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith declares that the debates concerning the requested papal clarification is now at an end. Rome is not any more a clarifying authority, but a quiet observer who silently keeps watch on how – and while – the unity of the Church’s pastoral care breaks into pieces.

As so often happens, this takes place on the back of the “small people.” In this case, there are the many pastors who will have to explain to the faithful – and then also to those standing at a distance from the Church – what exactly has now changed. The morality, the Sacraments, the pastoral care? The good intention of the pope – namely that sinning and weak people do not excommunicate themselves any longer, but now recognize that there is also still a place in the Church for them – thus threatens to drown itself in the midst of the cluelessness of the pastors and with an increasingly venomous ongoing controversy between theologians and bishops. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra (see page 5 [of Die Tagespost]) is right when he says that this is especially a burden for the priests – a burden which they cannot bear. But, now they are left alone. [my emphasis]

We wholeheartedly commend Guido Horst for such a loyal witness to, and such a courageous defense of, the truth.

In a similar vein – and as an addition to Horst’s words – Carl Olson, the editor of Catholic World Report, also criticizes Pope Francis for his causing so much moral confusion. Olson says in a 14 January article:

The current papacy of sentimentality has produced confusion and conflict. As Cardinal Caffera states in a recent interview, “Only a blind man can deny that there is great confusion in the Church.” The clarity that Cardinal Müller speaks of so strongly is not just lacking, it seems to be absent altogether. There are directly competing interpretations of Amoris Laetitia: some by “conservative” prelates who refer to the perennial teachings of the Church and some are by progressive bishops who refer only to Amoris Laetitia and are published in the Vatican newspaper. The Pope’s Exhortation may not always be clear, but his intentions and goals are increasingly so. [my emphasis]

In light of these forthright and stirring comments written by Guido Horst and Carl Olson, it might be noteworthy to make reference also to an article published today on the official website of the German bishops, Katholisch.de. The article is written by Björn Odendahl and rebukes the conservative Catholics for their perceived moral resistance toward Amoris Laetitia, saying quite assuredly that their words “are becoming more and more absurd.” He even sees “hatred” coming from that direction. (In one rather indirect quote, he even seems to refer to Guido Horst’s own above-translated article.) The importance of this polemical article, however, lies in its last paragraph:

In one aspect, the conservatives are right: the words of the pope are not always clear enough. He should raise once more his voice and soon put an end to these goings-on which damage the Church.  [my emphasis]

While Odendahl – who himself not long ago had made a stir because of his demeaning remarks concerning the African Church’s opposition to any permissive laxening of the Church’s moral teaching – might now also wish that Pope Francis put an end to the irritant conservative resistance, we do actually agree with him on at least one essential aspect: It is up to the Vicar of Christ on earth once more to raise his authoritative voice and to clarify Amoris Laetitia. Here Odendahl even effectively agrees with the three bishops of Kazhakstan who have just made an eloquent public appeal for exactly that same intention.

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Maltese Bishops surprised at “conservative” Catholic criticism of their “guidelines”!

According to an unashamedly biased article in the “Times of Malta”, entitled: Bishops’ guidelines on divorced Catholics stir ire of conservatives, but support elsewhere
Guidelines issued for priests to understand Amoris Laetitia, we read:

The bishops have stirred the ire of conservatives within the Church for their guidelines dealing with divorced and remarried Catholics, but they have won praise from a LGBTIQ support group.

Note how naming faithful Catholics as “conservatives”,  the article is intending to imply that this group is unbending and intolerant! (In fact, is there anything negative in desiring to conserve what is beautiful and true?)

Yet the journalist trips himself up in the second half of the sentence! Would any sane Catholic want to be “praised” by the advocates of the sordid LGBTIQ support group? Doesn’t say much for these Maltese bishops choice of allies! The article continues:

The guidelines were released last Friday to enable priests to understand Pope Francis’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which provides an opening for Catholics in family relationships deemed irregular by the Church.

Look at the can of worms you have opened up, Pope Francis!

But according to American Canon law expert Edward Peters, holder of the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, the bishops concocted a “Maltese disaster”.

Indeed! A “disaster” and a betrayal of all Maltese Catholics placed in their care.

Sharing the view of the four conservative cardinals who have taken the Pope to task over the confusion they claim Amoris Laetitia causes, Dr Peters said the Maltese bishops went beyond what it permitted and accused them of inviting Catholics to commit “a number of gravely evil acts”.

It evidently does. That’s what the four Cardinals’ dubia asking the Pope for clarification and a restatement of Catholic doctrine is all about. The Maltese bishops have gone one step even further! With no correction forthcoming from either the Pope or the CDF so far – is it no more than wishful thinking that any “correction” will ever appear? – the bishops have produced some so-called “guidelines” that permit this sacrilege with only the feeble, subjective condition that the adulterous couple be “at peace with God”. (How can anyone truly be at peace with God when they disobey His Commandments?) The bishops have willfully chosen to completely ignore the Encyclicals of Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI that deny any such “condition” exists.

Have these Maltese bishops forgotten Our Lord’s strong words condemning such scandal to “these little ones who believe in Me”?

The rest of the article is HERE.

Deploring this situation, Mundabor opines:

“Tellingly enough, AL is the only “basis” of the apostate bishops’ reasoning, without any regards to (real) Catholic doctrine. It is as if a Catholic Bishop in Nazi Germany had justified the Nuremberg Laws with a reference to… Mein Kampf.

There is no other way to put it: the two Maltese Bishops have renounced the faith, and have officially repudiated it in the name of something that – in reality or in interpretation – goes head on against it.”

The Maltese bishops’ have bowed to the secular agenda, in their denial of the Catholic Church’s instructions in Canon Law, the Catechism, Magisterial documents of holy Popes, theologians and scholars: altogether the wisdom of 2000 years of Church teaching. Unless there is a prompt correction of Amoris Laetitia, they will not, we fear, be the last to succumb to a heterodox interpretation of AL’s obscure meaning.

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Meltdown in Malta

From The Catholic Thing

By Father Gerald E. Murray 

One of the most troubling and questionable affirmations in Amoris Laetitia is found in paragraph 301: “The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.”

But how can anyone be so sure of the truth of this counter-intuitive assertion when applied to a particular case of an adulterous union? Isn’t there a greater probability that a Catholic who has separated from his spouse and entered a second “marriage” in a civil or non-Catholic ceremony, and then committed acts of adultery with someone who is not in truth his spouse, would be aware that his behavior was condemned by Our Lord Himself: “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.” (Lk 16:18)

And would he not thus would be guilty of offending God by his freely chosen sinful behavior?

Is it possible that he never heard of this teaching? Didn’t he attend Pre-Cana classes before marrying his spouse in a Catholic ceremony in which he vowed fidelity until death in the indissoluble bond of marriage? Isn’t it the reality that he couldn’t celebrate a Catholic ceremony for his second “marriage” because the Church does not consider a second union, while his spouse is still living, to be a marriage, but rather an adulterous union?

The Church’s discipline of denying Holy Communion to those living in a public state of sin is not uniquely based on her duty to prevent public scandal. It is also based on the plainly reasonable assumption that someone who freely commits objectively grave violations of God’s law in a matter with which they have sufficient familiarity (in this case, the recognition by a Catholic who has been married in a Church ceremony that he is never allowed to commit adultery) is, in fact, guilty of intentional violations of that law and thus has fallen into mortal sin.

Can a Catholic married man who, following a civil divorce from his wife, “remarries” and has ongoing sexual relations with a woman who is not his wife safely assume for any reason whatsoever that he is not guilty of mortal sin, and thus is free to approach the altar to receive Holy Communion?

Of course not! The Church is not in the business of supplying “get-out-of-jail-free cards” to people who violate God’s law and then search for excuses why that law does not apply to them in their particular cases. To do so is to treat God’s law on marriage, or any other matter, as merely a suggestion, subject to personal ratification before becoming obligatory.

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna and Bishop Mario Grech of Malta
Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna and Bishop Mario Grech of Malta

The bishops of Malta have regrettably embraced the get-out-of-jail-free mentality. They recently chose to instruct their faithful as follows:

If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).

Thus Maltese Catholics who are living in an adulterous second marriage are now being told by their bishops that they can engage in gravely sinful behavior that is publicly known and not be denied Holy Communion when they “acknowledge and believe” that they are “at peace with God.”

What did Our Lord ever say that gave the bishops the impression that being at peace with God includes committing acts that are explicitly and strictly forbidden by God? Did Our Lord tell the woman caught in adultery “Go and sin no more, unless you have convinced yourself that you are exempt from obeying the Sixth Commandment, and that adulterous behavior in your case is pleasing, not displeasing, to God and should therefore be embraced as good for you by the rest of the Church community, including any spouse aggrieved by this behavior.” No. He simply said: “Go and sin no more.” (Jn 8:11)

How should Maltese priests who hear confessions respond from this point on to divorced and remarried Catholics who seek absolution without a firm purpose of amendment? Are they to cooperate in what is plainly an act of non-repentance of adulterous behavior, as in the case of a man who tells the priest in confession that he plans to continue committing acts that he was taught were mortally sinful but now, thanks to this new document, he believes he is at peace with God?

Are priests now to accept without question the “at peace with God” claim of divorced and remarried Catholics who come forward for Holy Communion in their parishes? Is there no harm and scandal given when publicly known behavior reprobated by God is treated as a matter of indifference by the Church – so long as the person engaging is such behavior has decided, against the plain words of Our Lord, that he is just fine with God. Or thanks to his bishops, he is now sure that God has no problem with his behavior, which he has judged to be good for himself in his concrete circumstances? Clearly, this is scandalous and destructive of faith and morals.

Should Pope Francis answer the dubia of Cardinal Burke et al.? The Maltese Bishops’ document is undeniable evidence that in the absence of a papal reaffirmation of the Church’s constant discipline and teaching about marriage, divorce, adultery, and the reception of the sacraments the integrity of the Church’s teaching and mission will be undermined by her own confused shepherds.

Unless the pope acts, we will witness a global fragmentation of what was once consistent, universal, faithful Catholic teaching.

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Our Lady of Pontmain – feast day January 17

“Pray, my children; God will soon answer your prayers,” was the message of the Blessed Virgin

image

OUR LADY OF PONTMAIN

On January 17, 1871, Paris was besieged; two-thirds of the country was in the power of the Germans. The battle of Le Mans had laid Mayenne and Brittany open to the invaders. In this time of direst trouble, prayer was rising from different parts of France as from one heart and from one voice, most earnestly near that spot where the invader’s next attack was expected. This spot was Laval, chief town of Mayenne.

Then it was that Pontmain, a hamlet of some five hundred inhabitants, was to become for ever memorable, because of the heavenly favour bestowed upon it that night. Even its geographical position on the borderland between Brittany and Mayenne was to assume historical importance. Seen by the light of the celestial drama about to be enacted above it, it was to appear as a sentinel guarding Brittany.

imageThe four children who were visited by Our Lady that evening were Joseph Barbedette aged 10, and his brother Eùgene aged 12, Francoise Richer aged 11, and Jeanne-Marie Lebrosse aged 9. The two boys had been helping their father in the barn when the eldest, Eùgene, walked over towards the door to look out. As he gazed at the star studded sky he noticed one area practically free of stars above a neighbouring house. Suddenly he saw an apparition of a beautiful Lady smiling at him. Their father saw nothing except three large bright stars forming a triangle in the sky, but Joseph also sees the Lady!

There is nothing to it, declare the parents, and the boys are to get on with work and then come in for supper. After a quick meal, the boys still see the beautiful Lady, so the Sisters of the school are called. Again, they see nothing. The Blessed Virgin Mary smiled constantly and remained motionless in the same position until 9 p.m. The children, parish priest and parishioners have gathered together, Father Guerin commences to pray the Rosary with them. At this moment the Lady becomes larger and the stars on Her cloak multiply and a lighted banner is unfurled under Her feet. Later, the two girls from a local school, Francoise Richer and Jeanne Marie LeBosse, were brought and could also see the Lady, while a growing crowd of sixty adults had gathered.

Joseph Barbadette, afterwards became a priest of the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (while his brother Eùgene became a secular priest, and Jeanne-Marie Lebossé, became a nun.) Joseph described the apparition as follows:

In the air, seven or eight metres above Augustin Guidecoq’s house, I saw a woman of extraordinary beauty. She appeared to be young—about eighteen or twenty years of age—and tall of stature. She was clad in a garment of deep blue. When we were told to describe exactly the shade of this blue, we could only do so by comparing it to balls of indigo such as laundresses use for rinsing linen. Her dress was covered with gold stars, pentagonal in form, all of the same size, and brilliant, but without emitting rays. They were not very numerous, and seemed to be scattered over the blue without regard to method. The blue garment was ample, showing certain strongly marked folds, and without girdle or compression of any kind from neck to the feet. The sleeves were ample and long, falling over the hands. On the feet, which the dress left uncovered, were chaussons of the same blue as the dress, and ornamented with gold bows. On the head was a black veil half covering the forehead, concealing the hair and ears, and falling over the shoulders. Above this was a gold crown resembling a diadem, higher in front than elsewhere, and widening out at the sides. A red line, from five to six millimetres wide, encircled the crown at about the middle. The hands were small and extended toward us as in the ‘miraculous medal,’ but without emitting rays. The face was slightly oval. To the freshness of youth was added the most exquisite delicacy of feature and of tint, the complexion being pale rather than otherwise. Smiles of ineffable sweetness played about the mouth. The eyes, of unutterable tenderness, were fixed on us. I give up further attempting to describe the beautiful figure of her who looked down upon us and smiled. Like a true mother, she seemed happier in looking at us than we in contemplating her.”

During the improvised liturgy, in the biting cold (the Rosary, litanies, Marian hymns, etc.), Our Lady silently unfolded a simple message spread under her feet:

“Pray, my children; God will soon answer your prayers,” was the message of the Blessed Virgin, conveyed in words of gold on a band of glowing white light.

At the seventh prayer, the “Parce Domine”, an expression of suffering and pain appears on The Blessed Virgins Face and a crucifix is formed which She holds with both of Her hands. Both the cross and Jesus are red. Above the crucifix is a small beam on which appears: “JESUS CHRIST” in letters of blood, whilst Our Lady’s deep sorrow radiates out over the crowd. A star breaks loose from the sky and extinguishes the four candles which surround the Lady. She never takes Her eyes off the Crucifix when the parish priest of Pontmain commences the “Ave Maria Stella” the crucifix vanishes and Our Lady returns to Her original pose. Two small white crosses now appear on Her shoulders where they seem to be inplanted. Slowly a large white veil floats upwards, to finally cover the apparition completely. The Lady then disappears totally.

On the evening of that ever-memorable January 17, 1871, the commander of the Prussian forces, having taken up his quarters at the archepiscopal palace of Le Mans, said to Mgr. Fillion, bishop of that diocese: “By this time my troops are at Laval.”

On the same evening, however, the Prussian troops in sight of Laval stopped at half-past five o’clock, about the time when the apparition first appeared above Pontmain, a few miles off. General Schmidt is reported to have said on the morning of the 18th: “We can not go farther. Yonder, in the direction of Brittany, there is an invisible Madonna barring the way.”

This sudden and inexplicable stopping of the German forces in sight of Laval, and their equally inexplicable retirement the following morning, meant, together with the saving of Brittany, the turning back of the tide of conquering soldiery from that part of France, the war was practically at an end. Twelve days later the armistice was signed at Versailles.
After that the devotion to the Blessed Virgin under the title of that of Notre Dame d’Esperance de Pontmain, Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain, was authorised by the ecclesiastical authorities, and the confraternity of that name has been extended all over the world. Signal favours, both spiritual and temporal, have been granted by Heaven through it. What message, indeed, can be more consoling to hearts in the midst of hardship and tribulation everywhere, than the tender promise of the Blessed Mother, “Pray, my children; God will soon answer your prayers”?

The message of Pontmain very clearly shows us the effect of the prayers of even a small Parish community. One should turn to prayer, especially in times of trails.

We remember Our Lady’s message in Pontmain very clearly. We can look at Her as She appears in the words of the hymns. ‘Mother of Hope, protect us…..pray for us’. Mary raises Her arms whilst She looks at the small Red Cross on her Heart: This shows Our Lady to be very closely one with Her Son on The Cross, thus She is Our Mother of Redemption who intercedes for us.

During the “Parce Domine” Mary pleads with us to offer Holy Mass as thanks to God Our Father for His Son Jesus Christ Our Lord, the Redeemer. The red cross with the red Corpus, the bloody letters and the lighted candles on either side point once more to The Holy Mass. Finally during the “Ave Maris Stella” the children see Her as She appears on the Miraculous Medal, giving very generously and the two small white crosses implanted in Her shoulders, speak to us of ‘Triumph’ though God’s Intervention. At Pontmain, Our Lady shows us that She can intercede for us if we listen to and obey Her Messages.

A large basilica was built at Pontmain and consecrated in 1900.

“This apparition in Pontmain is fully approved by the Holy See: February 1875”

[Adapted from the accounts in ‘The Glories and Triumphs of the Catholic Church’, Benzinger Brothers, 1907, and ‘Marypages‘.]

—–

Mother of Hope

Mother of Hope

Prayer to Our Lady of Hope

O Lady of Mental Peace, Mother of Tranquility and Mother of Hope, look upon me in this time of my weakness and unrest. Teach my searching heart to know that God’s Love for me is unchanging and unchangeable; and, that true human love can only begin and grow by touching His Love. Let your gentle Peace which this world cannot give be always with me. And, help me to bring this same Peace into the lives of others. Our Lady of Mental Peace, Pray for us.
Amen.

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Break Your Silence: Speak About Amoris Laetitia!

By Thomas Peters* on CatholicVote

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It has been 600 days since I last composed a blog post, but this is so important I am breaking my hiatus.

Almost exactly 1600 years ago, in the midst of the Pelagian heresy which threatened to engulf the Church, St. Augustine wrote that when Rome has spoken, the case is closed (paraphrased: “Roma locuta est, causa finita est”).

Today, precisely because the pope has not spoken, the Church is facing a crisis, and the case remains open.

I refer of course to the confusion surrounding how to interpret Chapter 8 of Pope Francis’ encyclical Amoris Laetitia (AL) concerning Communion for the divorce-and-remarried.

This confusion escalated with the release of the directive of two bishops in Malta which says in plain English (emphasis mine):

If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).”

The bishop of San Diego and bishops in Argentina have taken a similar stance, but never in quite-so-plain terms.

Meanwhile, numerous other bishops, including Archbishop Chaput and Archbishop Sample, following the teachings of Saint John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio and Veritatis Splendor, and Cardinal Ratzinger’s CDF in 1994, disagree that AL allows for Communion for the divorce-and-remarried, as Carl Olson writes.

There are now dozens of bishops across the world telling their priests contradictory things about what the Church holds when it comes to Communion for the divorce-and-remarried.

There are now thousands of priests around the globe who are telling the Catholic faithful contradictory things about this same disputed question.

There are now millions of Catholics worldwide who are living in a parish where there is a contradiction between what the pope has written recently about marriage and what is preached by the pastor.

As Cardinal Caffarra poignantly said, “only a blind man could deny there’s great confusion, uncertainty and insecurity in the Church.”

The fact that there is deep and widespread disagreement about what the teaching is represents a real and present crisis, because the truth matters, and only the truth will set us free.

Thus the Roman Pontiff has a responsibility to articulate the Catholic faith in a knowable way.

And as Cardinal Caffarra also pointed out, how can we be obedient if we don’t know what the teaching is?

That’s why we have to keep asking the pope to clarify what he means, and in the meantime share our own opinion about AL in whatever mediums are available to us.

Conversely, this is why Fr Antonio Spadaro and Austen Ivereigh are so wrong when they call for the debate over AL to end. It is impossible for this debate to end before the pope more clearly defines what he means.

I don’t understand why the “latitudinarians” (as I call the “reformers” who want to see the Church’s teaching interpreted with wide and inconsistent latitude) don’t want the pope to clarify his teaching. If they are so confident he shares the exact same beliefs as them, why hide this light under a bushel, or, in this case, a footnote?

Instead, the latitudinarians are focused on shouting down those who continue to ask questions.

That leads to my next point: I am dismayed that so many of the JPII-generation and Pope Benedict-loving Catholics remain silent on the sidelines. The debate over AL is, if not the most important, at the very least, the most contentious theological dispute of the past half-century …and yet so many under-40 Catholics have seemingly nothing to say or share.

If the pope is waiting to find out who is more passionate about forming the Church’s future, silence speaks volumes, and what those volumes say is not reassuring.

That’s why I’m urging more young priests, religious and theologians to speak up about AL.

You were formed under the papacies of Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. You went to school for this. You serve as pastors, teachers and counselors. So, speak up!

My father, the canonist Ed Peters, wrote yesterday that the Maltese directive makes answering the dubia issued by the four cardinals even more urgent.

I would add that it makes our responsibility to speak up and ask the pope to clarify his teaching even more urgent as well, and to share our own opinion in the meantime.

So, I’m breaking my silence. Now it’s your turn.


* THOMAS PETERS

Thomas Peters, 31, grew up in Southern California and attended college in Michigan. He has two graduate degrees in theology. He began his award-winning American Papist blog in 2006, which went on to become one of the most popular Catholic blogs in America. He was one of a handful of Americans invited to the Vatican’s first-ever Bloggers’ Meeting in Rome. Peters has appeared in dozens of TV, radio and online media outlets over the years discussing the intersection of Catholicism and political activism, debating topics related to life, family and religious freedom, in addition to writing and speaking about the future of social media and online organizing. Since 2010, he has served as an advisor to CatholicVote.org. He and his wife Natalie live in Washington DC. You can follow him on Twitter @AmericanPapist.

 

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“What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:3)…. a good question considering the mind-boggling size of creation

Another thought-provoking post by Fr. George W. Rutler, parish priest of St. Michael, NYC. Take a step back to ponder on the vastness of the Universe and the mystery of time, with the unique dignity and love bestowed by God on Mankind. It should calm our fears and worries in troublesome moments. Fr Rutler reminds us: “From the perspective of eternity, our Lord is infinitely patient in replying: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now”.”

—–

imageWe do not need Einstein to tell us that time is variable, or can “bend.” A half hour having a tooth pulled is much longer than a half hour having a drink with friends. Here in New York on New Year’s Day, the Q line extension on Second Avenue was opened, saving subway commuters a couple of minutes to travel about two miles. It cost billions of dollars, as did the Number 7 extension that saved a few minutes from Grand Central to us in Hudson Yards. It is rather like last year’s computer that seems impossibly slow compared to the latest model. This is not quite what physicists mean by the relativity of time, but you get the point.

The Psalmist asked, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:3) It is a good question, considering the mind-boggling size of creation. Light travels 5,865,696,000,000 miles per year. The star closest to us is about four light years away. The edge of the universe is about 15 billion light years away.

Constellation of Cygnus

Constellation of Cygnus

Early in the third century, when the first native African emperor of Rome, Septimius Severus, was massacring Christians in Alexandria, Egypt, two stars collided so far away that the light from that cataclysm will be visible to us only five years from now. This “Red Nova’ will shine in the constellation Cygnus, and its light will have existed more than a century before the bishops at Nicaea gathered to formulate words to express the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

The Church has celebrated the coming into time of the Eternal Word who made time. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). The Church now enters Ordinary Time, and the most extraordinary thing about it is precisely that it is ordinary: it is ordered by the divine mind that speaks through Jesus, who has no beginning or end.

Saint Paul knew no more about natural physics than Thales of Miletus or Aristarchus of Samos, but he encountered the risen Christ, and then declared by holy inspiration:

The Annunciation - Pskov State United Historical, Architectural and Fine Arts Museum-Reserve, Pskov, Russia

The Annunciation – Pskov State United Historical, Architectural and Fine Arts Museum-Reserve, Pskov, Russia

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). Given all the ups and downs of history, one might ask why Jesus waited so long to come among us. It is a loftier way of asking why we need to wait so long to go from Times Square to 11th Avenue. From the perspective of eternity, our Lord is infinitely patient in replying: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12).

[emphasis and images from CP&S]

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Bishop Schneider Offers Hope Amidst Crisis Permitted by “Divine Providence”

From: One Peter Five

Image result for Bishop Schneider

As the ecclesiastical crisis continues to deepen in 2017, I have found myself facing a certain exhaustion; a feeling that, while knowing the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, that Christ will have the final victory, there is no respite from the near-constant series of assaults from the enemies of God’s truth. I know that many of you feel the same way. While we here at OnePeterFive believe we have an obligation to continue to cover the news of what is happening within our beloved Church, however unpleasant, there is also need for reassurance, a rediscovery of the most important elements of being a Catholic no matter what comes. We must at all times remind ourselves of why we fight, and what treasures we have that can never be taken from us.

With this in mind, I reached out to Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who is not only one of the most learned and fearless prelates in the Church today, but also, in my opinion, one of the most holy. I have enjoyed a few private conversations with him and assisted at his Masses; I have also had the unique honor of him baptizing my youngest child. In my observations of the man, I have sensed not only a quiet fearlessness, but a deep and abiding love of Christ, His Church, the Sacraments, and the souls of every person entrusted to her maternal care. He is a man who exudes the peace of Christ, even while being among the most outspoken in his analysis of the gravity of our present situation. In short, he seemed the perfect man to tell us: How should we handle this? Where do we go from here?

In the following interview, I sought to ask him the questions I thought many of you would also wish to ask. His answers do not disappoint. I ask that in thanksgiving for his faithfulness, you pray ardently for this true apostle and all those valiant clergy who now, despite being outnumbered, do all that they can to preserve the Holy Catholic Faith.


Steve Skojec: Many of the faithful feel exhausted and beaten down. There seems to be an endless succession of scandals or even insults coming from Rome, where they are accustomed to looking for consolation and guidance. What would you tell people who find themselves losing hope, or beginning to doubt the Church during this time? 

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: This time of an extraordinary grave crisis in the Church is a permission of Divine Providence. God in His omnipotence permits this crisis in order to bring out a greater good. It is for us a trial of faith and of the supernatural hope. We have to hope apparently against hope. Our faith and hope in the Divine character of the Church and in the fact, that Christ Himself guides His Church in midst of such an immense confusion, is purified like the gold in the fire (cf.1 Pe 1, 7). When Catholics begin to doubt the Church during this time, it is a sign that their faith and their hope is not strong enough.

SS: Many Catholics were encouraged by Cardinal Burke’s suggestion that if Pope Francis will not answer the dubia, a formal correction may be in order. Some fear that this correction will never come, or that it will never be made public, and that they will be abandoned by their shepherds to the wolves. In this moment of confusion and crisis, should the faithful pin their hopes on a such a correction, or should their focus be elsewhere? Should they be patient even though they feel that the situation is an emergency?

A fraternal correction to the Pope, made on behalf of some members of the Episcopal or Cardinalitial College, is an extreme and last measure in the Church. It happened in the history, even though rarely. The first case was the formal public correction to Saint Peter made by Saint Paul. A fraternal correction is considered in moral theology as a part of the love for the neighbor. God oftentimes makes towards us a paternal correction and the Holy Scripture says that this is a sign of the love of God towards us (cf. Hebr 12, 6). The Holy Spirit says: “Whoever heeds correction is prudent” (Prov. 15, 5) and “Correction gives wisdom” (Prov. 29, 15). A correction has no automatic positive effect, but depends on the humility and docility of the person to whom the correction is addressed. The faithful should therefore not pin their hopes on such a correction, but focus on prayer for the Pope, because only God can ultimately touch the mind and heart of a person.

SS: I have spoken with priests who seem unable to know how best to handle the implications of Amoris Laetitia on a pastoral basis. Some are approached by people who are living in these so-called “irregular unions” and who feel emboldened to approach the sacraments because they believe the pope supports this. Some fear that they will come into conflict with their bishops if they do not give themselves up to this new regime of “mercy”. I spoke to one recently who really didn’t know what to make of it, or what he could do. What advice would you give to priests about living their vocation in fidelity to Christ while under the obedience of a bishop who may want to follow the more heterodox interpretation of Amoris Laetitia?

BAS: To admit the so called divorced and remarried persons, who have no serious intention in stopping their adulterous acts, to Holy Communion, is against Divine law. Therefore, no authority in the Church has the competency to allow such a sacramental practice, because it contradicts de facto and evidently the Divine law of the absolute indissolubility of a valid and consummated marriage and contradicts at the same time the absolute Divine prohibition of committing sexual acts outside a valid marriage. It is evident, that no real Catholic priest can obey a command of his superior to give Holy Communion to adulterers who have no intention to stop with their adulterous acts. Such a command would represent a glaring abuse of power to the example of the Pharisees and Scribes. A priest has to prefer to be punished or banished rather than to collaborate with the evident impiety of such a “pastoral” practice, which in reality is an extremely non-pastoral practice, because it confirms and leaves the poor adulterous sinner in the unhappiness of the sin and in the real danger of losing his eternal salvation.

SS: It is an unfortunate reality that because of the controversy surrounding Pope Francis, many Catholics have begun to express their belief that he is not the pope, that he has abdicated due to heresy, that Pope Benedict remains the true pope, and so on. What would you say to these people? How should a faithful Catholic respect not just the office of the papacy but the man who occupies it when they feel that his actions and words are harming the Church and the souls entrusted to her care? 

BAS: Pope Francis is without any doubt the legitimate Pope. To deny this is just wishful thinking and a misrepresentation of the juridical facts. We have to keep a sober attitude with a healthy common sense. A Catholic should not be too much focused in his daily life on what the Pope says and does. Such an attitude is not sound, but helps to increase an unhealthy “pope-centrism” and a mundane personality cult. We have to believe that the real Head of the Church is Christ, that the real soul of the Church is the Holy Spirit, that the mother and the heart of the Church is the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Pope is only the visible Vicar of Christ. There had been times in the history of the Church, when during two or three years the Church had no Pope, as e.g. in the beginning of the 4th century there was twice a period of two years without a pope (304-306 and 309-311): in this time lived Saint Anthony the Great, Saint Athanasius in his youth; there was no pope from 1268-1271, from 1292-1294, from 1314-1316, from 1415-1417: despite of this in these periods of time the Church existed and even flourished. There lived in this “pope-less” times for example Saint Albert the Great, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Louis King of France, Saint Raymond of Penafort, Saint Gertrud the Great. There are no significant indications of complaints about the “pope-less” years on behalf of these Saints. These Saints did simply their work: they prayed, they were teaching the Catholic doctrine, converting sinners and striving for holiness. It seems that they had no time to observe the deeds or actions of the Popes or debate the theme of the papal election, which was indeed a very serious issue in that time. Likewise we shall remain more calm and do each of us his duties and pray, teach and defend the Catholic faith, convert sinners and live a life in deep union with our Lord. The Lord will surely intervene in this current crisis.

SS: You have made comparisons between our present situation and the Arian crisis of the 4th century. What was life like for the faithful of that time? How did your namesake, St. Athanasius, console them? What did it take to return the Church to her senses after, as St. Jerome famously said, “the whole world groaned and marveled to find itself Arian”? 

BAS: There is a famous letter with which Saint Athanasius consoled the faithful in midst of the huge confusion and the infidelity and political correctness on behalf of the overwhelming majority of the episcopacy of that time. We quote a part of this letter: “May God console you! What saddens you is the fact that others have occupied the churches by violence, while during this time you are on the outside. It is a fact that they have the premises – but you have the Apostolic Faith. They can occupy our churches, but they are outside the true Faith. You remain outside the places of worship, but the Faith dwells within you. Let us consider: what is more important, the place or the Faith? The true Faith, obviously. Who has lost and who has won in the struggle – the one who keeps the premises or the one who keeps the Faith? True, the premises are good when the Apostolic Faith is preached there; they are holy if everything takes place there in a holy way. You are the ones who are happy; you who remain within the Church by your Faith, who hold firmly to the foundations of the Faith which has come down to you from Apostolic Tradition. And if an execrable jealousy has tried to shake it on a number of occasions, it has not succeeded. They are the ones who have broken away from it in the present crisis. No one, ever, will prevail against your Faith, beloved Brothers. And we believe that God will give us our churches back some day.”

SS: You have spoken about your experiences growing up in the Soviet Union, and have indicated that you see the spread of Russia’s errors even now. You have said that “We have to pray that the Pope may soon consecrate explicitly Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary”. As we now embark on this centenary year of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, do you believe Our Lady’s warnings will come to fruition? How urgently is the consecration needed?

BAS: We have to take it at serious when God sends us His Immaculate Mother to warn us. If we hear the admonitions of Our Heavenly Mother, Her Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ will make miracles, as He did at the wedding in Cana. A solemn act of consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on behalf of the Pope in moral union with all bishops will undoubtedly cause the pouring out of abundant graces for the Church and for all mankind, as it foretold Our Lady in Fatima. It is tragic that prophetic appeals are heard oftentimes too late. Let us pray and ask the Holy Father to do what Our Lady asked in Fatima.

SS: You are an apostle of the Eucharist and a champion for truly sacred liturgy. There are rumors now stirring in Rome that the Vatican has an eye toward demolishing the 2001 instruction on liturgical translations, Liturgiam Authenticam, and possibly also the “correction” of Summorum Pontificum. In that letter, Pope Benedict XVI said that the ancient liturgy had never been “juridically abrogated” and insisted that “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.” Should Catholics who love the venerable rite of the Roman liturgy be concerned?

BAS: It is not very much realistic to assume that Pope Francis will abolish the traditional form of the Liturgy, since Pope Benedict XVI said that the ancient liturgy had never been “juridically abrogated”. As a last resort there could be issued norms, which would practically restrict the possibility of the celebration of the ancient liturgy. However, I don’t believe in such a possibility, since Pope Francis is in favor of a regional and ritual pluralism in the Church. In any case, the faithful and especially the youth should defend this inestimable treasure of the Church and spread it ever more. The traditional liturgical form of the Holy Mass became already the very Mass of the youth. The liberal minded nomenclature in the administrative power in the Church of our days should not stifle or silence the voice of the youth, who seriously demand the celebration of the traditional form of the Mass, otherwise it will lose all credibility and reveal itself as displaying an ideological and rigorist attitude, throwing stones upon these honest and deeply believing young people.

SS: You have urged Bishop Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X “not to delay his acceptance any longer” to bring the Society into full, canonical communion with Rome. Why do you believe that now is the time? Can the Society trust Rome at this moment, when so much else in the Church appears subject to the scalpel of novelty?

The more the general doctrinal and liturgical confusion is increasing, the more we do need the combined and united strength of all good forces inside the Church. This is the order of the day in these highly critical hours of the history of the Church. This did Saint Athanasius when in 362 he assembled a synod of union in Alexandria, to which he invited even the good minded and sincere semi-arians, the so called “homoi-ousians”, in order to combat the generally spread Arianism and the heretical semi-arianism. Some radical opponents of Arianism, as e.g. Lucifer, bishop of Cagliari, who was a friend of Saint Athanasius, an intrepid fighter for the true faith and who suffered in exile, declined the invitation of Saint Athanasius. Contrary to the attitude of Saint Athanasius, Lucifer of Cagliari accepted no other explications than the “homo-ousios” of the Council of Nicaea, and wanted to “save” the Church with his group, which isolated itself considering itself as the only “healthy” part of the Church. When the FSSPX will follow the principle of “trust in Rome”, it will demonstrate by this a quite human attitude and a lack of the supernatural view of the Church. We have not to trust in the person of a concrete Pope and in his collaborators, who all change more or less quickly (even the time of 30-70 years is a very short time in the eyes of the 2000 years of the Church and in the eyes of God all the more). The famous historian Ludwig von Pastor, the expert and pious author of the chef d’oeuvre “History of the Popes” said: “However different the personalities of the popes might be, it is always the same Peter whom we venerate”. We can find in the catacombs the following painting: a lamp in the shape of a ship; in the ship is sitting the Lord who commands the storm and the waves; Saint Peter stays at the rudder of the ship; and there is this inscription: “Peter does not die”.

SS: You recently observed that the Masonic goal of corrupting morality to defeat the Catholic Church has become very relevant again. The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita was written now over a century ago. Have they achieved their stated aims? Have they infiltrated the Church at the highest levels? How can we fight back?

BAS: It seems that the well known and historically proven Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita from the 19th century achieved their stated aims to a very large extent. Yet the Freemasonry, the ultimate enemy of Christ and of His Church, is not taking account of this one truth: “The gates of the hell will never prevail against the Church”. The freemasons don’t take account of this, because they don’t believe in the words of Christ. Even priests, bishops and even popes are unable to destroy the Church, because they are ultimately powerless in the face of Christ who is always the chief commander in the ship of His Church. We can fight back ultimately and most efficaciously with the spiritual weapons of prayer, penance, fasting, with the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the special devotion and invocation of the Holy Angels, in first place of Saint Michael the Archangel, using often the prayer and the general exorcism against Satan and the evil spirits, which composed Pope Leo XIII.

SS: In 2014, you gave a talk in which you said that you thought there would be “an interior split in the Church of those who are faithful to the faith of their baptism and of the integrity of the Catholic faith”. But you also said that “we have all the beauty of the divine truths, of divine love and grace in the Church. No one can take this away, no synod, no bishop, not even a Pope can take away the treasure and beauty of the Catholic faith, of the Eucharistic Jesus, of the sacraments. The unchangeable doctrine, the unchangeable liturgical principles, the holiness of the life constitute the true power of the Church.” Is the split now upon us? Should the faithful be worried about this split, or should we focus, as you said, on the beautiful things of divine origin that no one can take away? How should a Catholic weather this storm? Where should he take refuge?

BAS: The split inside the Church exists already for several decades. It became more acute and manifest in these our days after the Publication of the Papal document Amoris laetitia. There is not a formal exterior split or schism, but an interior split between those who still are keeping the integrity of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith and those who have already denied this faith regarding some essential truths, as e.g. the universal and absolute validity of the Sixth Commandment of God and of the indissolubility of the marriage, the uniqueness of the salvation through Christ and His Church. These heretics are not canonically schismatics, because some of them occupy powerful ecclesiastic positions. They are carrying however heresy and schism in their souls. When a future Pope or Ecumenical Council will demand from these, nowadays interior schismatics, an unambiguous and integral profession of the Catholic faith, they could out themselves and become formal schismatics. Our refuge we should take in the meantime in the Blessed Virgin Mary, our heavenly Mother, the victress over all heresies.

SS: Our Blessed Mother seems to be the key to so much of what troubles us. She stood by Jesus during every moment, including His Passion and death on the Cross. Is this moment, where the Church appears to be joining in the Passion of her Mystical Spouse, also perhaps a time for the promised Triumph of the Immaculate Heart? How should we plead for her intercession? What should we pray for?

BAS: We should pray and spread with a renewed zeal the prayer of the Holy Rosary, the devotion to the Immaculate Heart and we should put again Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist in the center of our life and of the liturgical life of the Church. The Church can be renewed authentically only with Mary, the Mother of the Church, and with the Eucharist, the foundation and the heart of the Church.

SS: Do you have any final words of encouragement for the faithful?

BAS: In this time of an extraordinary crisis of faith inside the Church we should be ever more convinced and be proud of the integrity and beauty of the Catholic faith and of the Catholic liturgy. We should be proud of the holiness and the powerfulness of the little ones in the Church, of the hidden Saints of our days, the hidden victim souls from all levels: religious, celibate persons in the world, mothers and fathers of family, young people and even children. From these treasures of the beauty of the faith, of the liturgy and of the victim souls, who live in midst of us, nobody can separate us, not even persecution and death (cf. Rom. 8, 39). God is the truth, and we serve His wonderful creation, the Church, the most and best through the integral and unadulterated truth. This our fidelity will keep us with the grace of God free and strong in the eyes of God. Only the view of God matters. And we shall say: my greatest honor are not the praises of this world, nor ecclesiastical titles, but to live and to die as a true Catholic.

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