Discussion about Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong on EWTN’s World Over

Cardinal Zen has tirelessly deplored the persecution of Christians by the Communist regime of the People’s Republic of China, and about the attempts of the Vatican to “get along” with the Chinese Communist leaders. Over the years of his pontificate Pope Francis has met with numerous cardinals and bishops, including those of disputable repute, but has continually refused to meet with this loyal prince of the Catholic Church.

The criminal trial of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun has been delayed in Hong Kong Monday, after a judge in the case tested positive for coronavirus. NINA SHEA, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at The Hudson Institute, and FRANK WOLF, Commissioner of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom discuss this delay and the ongoing injustice meted out to Cardinal Joseph Zen.

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When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England

The following article was published here on CP&S in 2011 with permission from the author. It had originally appeared in the UK Catholic Herald the previous year. Today 24th September, the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, we are happy to republish it.

by Edmund Matyjaszek

This was a prophecy – or was it a promise? – given by Pope Leo XIII about the time when he asked the English Bishops in 1893 to consecrate their country to Mary, the Mother of God, recalling the ancient title the land enjoyed of being “Our Lady’s Dowry”.

Walsingham, a peaceful and very English village in North Norfolk, well off the beaten track nowadays, was the site in medieval times of the greatest shrine in Christendom – effectively Europe then – dedicated to Our Lady.  Norfolk then was one of the richest and busiest counties in England. For a time Norwich was the second city in England after London.

But as you drive or cycle or walk nowadays through its beautiful, sparsely populated countryside, it is hard to see this. But something quite unusual and extraordinary is stirring in Walsingham, pregnant with significance not just for our church but for our country. and indeed our  identity as a nation and a people.

The particular focus is the anniversary this year – the 950th anniversdary to be precise – of the traditional date of the vision that gave rise to the shrine. A local noble woman, Richeldis de Faverches (the surname is Norman, the first name, it appears, more Frankish or French), widowed but possessed of land and status, wished to do some “work” to honour Our Lady. In a vision she was taken to the Holy Land and shown the house at Nazareth where the angel Gabriel announced to Mary she was “full of grace” and was to “conceive a son”. Richeldis understood her “work” was to build a replica, or in the words of a ballad printed by King Henry VII’s printer Richard Pynson in about 1495, a “lyklynesse” that was to be a “newe Nazareth”.

But this “Pynson Ballad” as it is known, goes on to state far more:

O Englonde, great cause thou haste glad for to be,
Compared to the londe of promys syon
Thou atteynest my grace to stande in that degre
Through this gloryous Ladyes supportacyon,
To be called in every realme and regyon
The holy lande, Oure Ladyes dowre;
Thus arte thou named of olde antyquyte.

This claim, to be Our Lady’s Dower, or Dowry – confirmed by Pope Leo XIII in 1893 – is an extraordinary one, shared by no other land. Neglected, forgotten, even scorned, but still prayed for and hymned in both Catholic and Anglican denominations at various levels, this is possibly the source of that sense of England being “special” that gave rise to poems such as Blake’s “Jerusalem” and informed Shakespeare’s stirring patriotic verse:

“This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”

The concept is that England is set apart  as a gift (dower or dowry comes from the Latin word dos that gives us words like donor or donation – it simply means “gift”) for the Mother of God alone. It is hers, as a “dower” house belongs to a widow, say. The “domaine” of Walsingham became a “holy lande”. In fact modern research, examined in a historical conference at Walsingham earlier in March that was a prelude to the year’s celebrations known as “Richeldis 950”, showed how the whole of the region around Walsingham was replete with wayside chapels, marker crosses,  pilgrim “entry points” in King’s Lynn, and buried trackways that even now centuries later are visible through the woods. Being brought back to life are the very contours of this ancient pilgrimage, like a lost and buried land surfacing into view.

But the interest and focus of the this anniversary year is not confined to a kind of  ecclesial antiquarianism. Walsingham never was that. It was and is a potent source of spiritual help and “socoure”, as the old ballad says, “to all that devoutly visyte in this place”. In fact the power it held over the imagination of both royals and commoners – every King from Herny III in the 13th century to Henry VIII in the 16th , visited – was such that it was singled out for that reason for particularly vituperative – and one might add misogynistic –  destruction in 1538 by Thomas Cromwell’s  “Taliban”, in an attempt to eradicate all memory of the “witch of Walsingham” and her “idolatrous” beads, images and statues.

The shrine was wiped from the map. Its priests disembowelled. The Holy House burnt to the ground. But its memory proved harder to destroy.. The tale of its survival and re-emergence is a wonderful story in which both Anglicans and Catholics played a part. That is what this year of celebration proclaims, and with not just a pious hope but a real confidence and dynamism, given a startling contemporary impetus by the Ordinariate being proclaimed as that of Our Lady of Walsingham.

There are events, both national – at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday March 26th  Archbishop Vincent Nichols will celebrate Mass with the restored statue that Pope John Paul II had on the altar at his Mass at Wembley in 1982 being carried in by the new contemplative order “Community of Our Lady of Walsingham”, a modern example of how the spirituality of Walsingham is inspiring an inner transformation and renascence; then later flower festivals, historic exhibitions, concerts, readings and performances, culminating in the Dowry of Mary pilgrimage on Sunday September 11th followed by the closing ceremony on the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham on Saturday September 24th.

But the keynote comes with the opening, appropriately enough, on the Vigil of the Annunciation on March 24th, with ecumenical vespers, followed by services in both shrines on March 25th, “Lady Day” the ancient start of the new year, the feast day of the  “great joy of my salutacyon” as Our Lady said to Richeldis 950 years ago.

In the word “ecumenical” (the Greek word means “home”) lies the real significance of this year and of the shrine now. After its destruction, the restoration was made in the 19th and into the 20th century by both Anglicans and Catholics. I do not think it is fanciful to see in the burgeoning Ordinariate the fruit of the prayers made by both “shrines” in this one place and the beginning of the institutional recovery of the unity of English Christianity.

It is not without controversy of course; it is not without difficulty. But the key element, spiritually, in Pope Benedict’s vision for the Ordinariate seems to be this open recognition of the Anglican patrimony as a “shared treasure”. This is a new note to strike, and makes the national narrative a common property of all Christians whatever their denomination. That is its contemporary significance, that the very desecrated “holy lande” of Walsingham is becoming the common ground of a restored love of place and country under God that puts spiritual values and their defence at the heart of the “English” endeavour. This healing of divisions that Walsingham and the Ordinariate represent holds out an immeasurable promise. From the healing of the church will come the healing of the nation. One day this will all be in the history books, but we can help make that history now by reclaiming our past with a view to making it our own, and the way to do it is to pack your bag, buy
your ticket, and like your ancestors of old set off on pilgrimage to Walsingham, to visit, as the promise of “olde antyquyte” still holds true:

The holy lande, Oure Ladyes dowre


The Feast of the Assumption celebrates the taking of Mary body and soul into the presence of God, into Heaven, at the end of her earthly life. It reassures us, as Mary is entirely human, that we too can entertain that hope for our eternal destiny.

There are many shrines and places where she has since made her presence known – in visions, in apparitions – and opened a gateway between heaven and earth. There is however only one country that entirely, as a country, is considered hers alone.
That is England, and it is the devotion that acknowledges it as her “Dowry” that does so.

This devotion is still widespread, summarised in the prayer “Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gracious Queen & Mother, look down in mercy on England thy Dowry”. On this feast of her Assumption it may be right to ask:
where does this devotion come from; and what, if any, is its meaning today?

The first thing is to dispel any uncertainty about the use of the word “Dowry”. It does not mean in this instance the dowry of a bride; it comes from the Latin word “dos”, meaning gift, or donation. The original legal meaning is “that part of a husband’s estate, which, on his marriage, he set apart for his wife’s maintenance should he leave her a widow. The land assigned for this purpose was considered a perpetual and inalienable gift”. The term “Dower House” is from the same root. England as Our Lady’s “Dowry” is therefore the place set apart in perpetuity for her use alone.

But what is the origin of this devotion? Its formal recognition was as early as 1381, in an attested ceremony in Westminster Abbey by King Richard II, that dedicated England as Mary’s “dos” or dowry. But the devotion was considered of “common parlance” even then. There is a tradition it dates back to Edward the Confessor, in whose reign Westminster Abbey was founded, and, in 1061, the Shrine of Walsingham. It was given papal approval in 1893 by Leo XIII who requested the English Bishops to re-consecrate their country to Our Lady.

Our Lady’s presence pervades English life and history: “Our Lady for her Dowry” was a battle cry at Agincourt; numerous flowers – marigold, Ladysmock – bear her name; pubs called the Salutation refer to the Annunciation; and of course Walsingham itself – ranked with Jerusalem, Rome and Compostella as one of the 4 great medieval pilgrimage shrines, but the only one dedicated to Our Lady – supremely attests to this devotion. Each September, there is still the “Dowry Pilgrimage” to Walsingham, at times led by the Cardinal.

But where did the devotion come from? What purpose does it serve? And why England?  To answer that we need to look at the origin, not just of the devotion, but of England itself; and to ask if by origin, or by analogy to Mary or to her own life, there is something particularly apt or appropriate in our country being her Dowry?

The “English” began to come here with the Anglo-Saxon invasions of the 5th & 6th centuries after the Roman legions withdrew. By the late 7th Century, there were emerging seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms: Kent, Wessex, Northumbria, East Anglia, Essex, Sussex, Mercia. By the late 700s, there are references to Offa of Mercia as “Rex Anglorum” or King of the English. But by common consent the country took its shape as a unified kingdom under the descendants of Alfred the Great of Wessex in the 10th & 11th  Centuries. It was then too that the word “England” as a country came into regular use in church and legal documents.

In fact, that is only half the story, and the lesser half. For England had already been in full administrative existence during these centuries, but as a purely ecclesial entity.
As early as 672 or 673, at the Synod of Hertford, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore, had convened the bishops of all these various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms     (excepting Sussex, still to be converted), and they met under his overall authority and agreed a unity as one spiritual and ecclesiastical realm. I can find no other country, administered as such, as a united ecclesial realm, fully three centuries before the same borders her bishops observed became united under a single ruler. Quite simply, England was an ecclesial, a spiritual reality before she was ever a physical kingdom. Her spiritual existence pre-dated her political reality. She was conceived in the womb of the church before she became a realm in law.

Where else do we find this pattern where the spiritual precedes the physical,
where something is conceived in the heart and the mind before it is made full in the flesh? Why, in the very life of Mary as para 488 of our current Catechism proclaims, quoting the Second Vatican Council’s Lumen Gentium “The Father of Mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by consent on the part of the predestined Mother”. And the Catechism later adds, quoting St Augustine “ Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than because she conceives the flesh of Christ”.

Is this, by analogy with Mary’s own life, and based on the clear historical evidence of England’s emergence, the “reason” so to speak for the devotion? Furthermore, it was Mary’s assent, her free choice, as the Council Fathers re-asserted, that opened for us the doors of salvation. Has it not also been this same human freedom to choose, this liberty which is so precious to every man and woman, that her Dowry, England, has upheld down the centuries? Not just in ancient times with Alfred and the Danes, but in 1588, in 1805, in 1914 and of course, supremely, in 1940.

Is her Dowry, then, the place where the pattern of her life is to be mirrored and nurtured, in liberty and in free compliance with the law, not by fear or compulsion, but only by consent – given, never forced – as hers was? Is this the key to England?

A poet asked at the time of World War 1:

“Who stands if Freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?”

And as Churchill said in his first broadcast as Prime Minister in May 1940:

“I speak to you in a solemn hour for the life of our country…..and, above all, of the cause of freedom.”

Were they illuminating the heart of England’s mission, what it means to be the Dowry of Mary?

True to her origin, is England’s role as the Dowry of Mary to be found in being that particular place on earth where the truths of Mary’s life and of her Son’s, where the reality of spiritual values, of the spiritual realm, are to be forever upheld? That is, I would say, one reason, perhaps the reason, why England is her Dowry. Our task may well be to understand this, to love our country as her Dowry, and to uphold the values she stands for, with all the strength that God and his good Mother can give us, especially on this, the great feast of her glory.

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St Padre Pio: An “Alter Christus” at the Altar when celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

According to some estimates, approximately 20 million people have attended Holy Mass celebrated by Padre Pio.

Concerning the value of the Mass, Padre Pio said: “If men only appreciated the value of a holy Mass they would need traffic officers at church doors every day to keep the crowds in order.”
Padre Pio was asked what celebration of Mass meant to him. He responded: “It is a sacred participation in the passion of Jesus. All that the Lord suffered in His passion, I suffer, to the extent that it is possible to a human being. And that is apart from any merit of mine, but entirely due to His goodness.”

Before Padre Pio offered the unconsecrated host on his Paten, he would run his fingers around the host to make sure there were no loose particles.

  • “Every holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvellous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we, ourselves, do not know. It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”
  • “I am going to the wine-press of the Church, to the holy altar, where from the Blood of that delightful and unusual Grape, is distilled the sacred Wine with which only a few fortunate people are permitted to become inebriated.”
    On July 25, 1915, Padre Pio wrote a letter to Annita Rodote on how to properly attend the Holy Mass:
  • “The Divine Master calls the church the house of prayer. In order to avoid irreverence and imperfections I exhort you in the Lord to: Enter the church in silence and with great respect. Take the holy water and make the sign of the cross carefully and slowly. Before God in the Blessed Sacrament genuflect devoutly. At your pace, kneel down and render to Jesus the tribute of you presence. Confide to him all your needs, and those of others. Speak to him with filial abandonment. Be very composed when standing up, kneeling down, and sitting. Carry out every religious act with the greatest devotion. Be modest in your glance. Don’t turn you head here and there to see who enters and leaves. Don’t laugh. Don’t speak to anybody, except when requested for charity or other strict necessity. Say the words distinctly, observe the pauses, and never hurry. Behave in such a way that all those presentare edified by you. Don’t leave without asking Jesus for his blessing, and forgiveness for your shortcomings. Leave the church recollected and calm.”

From his own handwriting to his spiritual directors and the spiritual daughter Cleonice Morcaldi, we know that Padre Pio experienced during Mass the Passion of Jesus, including the Agony in the Garden with the sweat of blood, the scourging, the crowning of thorns, the hostile crowds, the Via Crucis, Veronica, Simon of Cyrene, the Crucifixion, the seven words, the sipping of the gall, even death and deposition.

“My Mass is a sacred accomplishment of the Passion of Jesus.”
“In knowing the Passion of Jesus, you will also know my Passion.”
“The Mass is the complete union between Jesus and me.”
“All of Paradise is close to the altar when I say Mass.”
“The angels attend my Mass In legions.”
“The angels around the altar adore and love.”
“The Holy Virgin assists me.”
“During the Consecration a new, awesome and wonderful annihilation and creation happens.”
“I suffer all what Jesus suffered, from the Garden to the Cross.”
“I inadequately suffer to the extent a human creature can possibly suffer.”
“I suffer the agony of death like Jesus in the Garden Gethsemane.”
“The sufferings are so acute that they can neither be described nor imagined.”
“I suffer the bitterness of gall very often during the Mass.”
“I suffer the most from the Consecration to Communion.”
“My suffering is insignificant compared to the suffering Jesus experienced.”
“I don’t want my Calvary to be alleviated; rather to make it harder. We must suffer.”
“The offertory is the moment when the soul becomes detached from all that is profane.”
“I suffer the crowning of thorns during Holy Mass and also before and after it.”
“Without the crown of thorns the immolation would not be complete. The thorns are around the whole head.”
“The crown of thorns is never taken away. The head and the heart are the wounds that hurt the most.”
“I suffer the scourging from the beginning to the end of the Mass, but more intensely after the Consecration.”
“I also speak the “seven words” that Jesus stated on the Cross.”
“During the Way of the Cross I am Jesus Himself. Jesus Himself helps me like Simon of Cyrene and Veronica”
“At Calvary, there were screams, blasphemies, loud clamoor, and threats . . . that was really an uproar.”
“I find my rest on the Cross.”
“In His last gaze the dying Jesus looked towards His Holy Mother.”
“I put my last gaze on my brothers in exile.”
“In Holy Communion I ask the Lord to let me be another Jesus, all Jesus, always Jesus.”
“My Communion is a fusion. Like two candles that fuse together and cannot be distinguished one from the other.”
“I die mystically, at Holy Communion. Communion is the culminating point of my suffering.”
“In Communion Jesus put his delight in his creature.”
“The Eucharist gives an idea of the union we will have in heaven.”
“How could I live failing even for a single morning to receive Jesus in Holy Communion?”
“Help me carry the cross. I want to carry it for all.”
“O Lord, don’t strike my poor brothers, strike me.”
“I want to expiate the sins of all, like Jesus did on the cross.”
“I take all iniquities on myself, as it is part of the Divine Sacrifice.”
“I see all my children who come to the altar, as if in a mirror. I tell Mary: Here are the children of your Son.”
“If we only knew how God regards it, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.”
“The Mass gives to God an infinite glory.”
“Mass is redemption of your soul and reconciliation with God.”
“Listen to the Mass the way the virgin Mary stood at Calvary”
“The holy Mass regenerates the world.”
“The fruits that we receive at Mass cannot be enumerated. We will know it only in Paradise.”
“I want to save my soul at any cost.”
“I live for Jesus Christ, I live for his glory, I live to serve him, I live to love him. If it depended on me I would never leave the altar.”

On September 20th, 1968, Padre Pio celebrated his last Mass, giving glory to God before his death – This coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the appearance of the Stigmata.

Prayer of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina after Holy Communion

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.

Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak
and I need Your strength,
that I may not fall so often.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life,
and without You, I am without fervor.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light,
and without You, I am in darkness.

Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.

Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice
and follow You.

Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You
very much, and always be in Your company.

Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.

Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is,
I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of love.

Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes;
death, judgment, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength,
so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You.

It is getting late and death approaches,
I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows.
O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!

Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all it’s dangers. I need You.

Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the bread,
so that the Eucharistic Communion be the Light which disperses the darkness,
the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.

Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You,
if not by communion, at least by grace and love.

Stay with me, Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it,
but the gift of Your Presence, oh yes, I ask this of You!

Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.

With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth
and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity.    Amen

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Abp. Viganò: Belgian bishops are rejecting the Catholic Faith with homosexual ‘blessings’

Archbishop Viganò said the Catholic bishops of Belgium were promoting a ‘sacrilegious rite’ after they published a document containing a ‘blessing’ for same-sex couples.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

With great scandal for the salvation of souls and the honor of the Church of Christ, the Bishops’ Conference of Belgium has approved and published a rite for the “blessing” of homosexual unions, brazenly contravening the immutable teaching of the Catholic Magisterium, which considers such unions “intrinsically perverse” and which, as such, not only may not bless them but rather must condemn them as contrary to the natural Moral law.

The ideological basis of this sacrilegious rite is indicated in the subtly deceptive words of Amoris Laetitia, which states that “every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration.”

RELATED: Catholic bishops in Belgium publish blessing ceremony for same-sex couples 

The process of doctrinal and moral dissolution carried out by the Bergoglian sect continues at an unstoppable pace, heedless of the confusion it causes among the faithful and the consequent incalculable damages to souls.

It is now evident, beyond all doubt, that it is absolutely impossible to reconcile the teaching of the Gospel with the deviations of these heretics who abuse their power and authority as Pastors, using it for the very opposite purpose for which Christ instituted the Sacred Hierarchy in the Church.

And what is even more evident is the perverse role reversal that is taking place, in which he who sits in Rome has the task of formulating heterodox principles opposed to Catholic doctrine, and his accomplices in the Dioceses have the role of scandalously applying them, in an infernal attempt to undermine the Moral law in order to obey the spirit of the world.

The shameful excesses of some exponents of the Hierarchy find their origin in a deliberate and intentional plan that comes from the top, which by means of the “synodal path” wants to make the rebellious Episcopate autonomous in spreading errors of Faith and Morals, even as it uses authoritarianism to prevent the faithful Bishops from proclaiming the Truth of Christ.

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Let Church Bulletins Keep Silence

H/T to Father Z

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Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle — Jesus Said ‘Follow Me’

SAINTS & ART: ‘Jesus saw a man named Matthew’ and told him, ‘Follow me.’ And Matthew did.

Caravaggio, “The Inspiration of St. Matthew,” 1602

by John Grindelski

Just like St. Bartholomew, St. Matthew’s primary New Testament claims to fame are his call to be an Apostle and his listing among the Apostles. Apart from that, there’s not much said about him in the New Testament.

He was a publican, a tax collector in Capernaum. Jesus encounters him at his tax collecting post (Matthew 9:9-13), calls him, and Matthew follows. He has a dinner at which, along with Jesus, “many tax collectors and sinners” were present, i.e., the circles in which Matthew had moved. The Pharisees, who despised publicans (as we shall see in an upcoming Sunday Gospel), are outraged: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” To this comes Jesus’s famous reply: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.”

When we hear a particular Gospel at Mass, we are usually unaware of the context of that passage within the overall Gospel. Before the call of Matthew, Jesus does two things immediately relevant to today’s Gospel. First, he exorcises two possessed men (Matthew 8:28-34), driving the demons into a herd of swine that then kills itself. That tells us two things: that evil makes men pigs, and that the Evil One likes to kill, as Jesus elsewhere tells us (John 8:44). Second, he heals a paralyzed man by telling him, “your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:1-8). That statement infuriates the Pharisees because they observe — correctly — that only God can pardon sin. That’s Jesus’s point: He is revealing who he is and, as proof of that claim (“so that you may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”) he heals the man. However, that healing is not just a “proof” of his Divinity. Jesus came so that — as St. Irenaeus put it — man can be “fully alive,” healed from sin and its consequences. Jesus not only proves his divinity but discloses his mission, tells us what redemption means.

And then he focuses on Matthew.

“He saw a man named Matthew” and told him, “Follow me.” And Matthew did.

Salvation is not something generic: Jesus saves humanity. Yes, Jesus makes it objectively possible for mankind to be saved, but salvation comes to individual men and women who encounter God and follow him. The two possessed men. The paralyzed man. Matthew.

So, when Jesus tells the Pharisees, who already don’t like what they see in Jesus, that he came to “call sinners,” we have three examples in a row, culminating with Matthew and his dinner banquet, as proof.

When we discussed St. Bartholomew last month, we noted that he was sometimes also identified as Nathaniel. Something similar occurs with Matthew, who is occasionally also called “Levi.” The tradition has generally identified them. “Matthew” means “Yahweh’s gift,” i.e., God’s gift. […]

Matthew’s Gospel contains particular characteristics that suggest the Evangelist was writing for an audience of Jewish Christians. Remember that Christianity originated in a Jewish cradle. The first Christians were Jews. Christians spread from “Jerusalem, from Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth” (see Acts 1:8). As controversies related in the Acts of the Apostles (e.g., Acts 15) indicate, it took a while before the early Church recognized that one did not have to first be a Jew before one could be a Christian though, as Pope Pius XI recognized in recognizing Christianity’s origins in Judaism, “we are all spiritual Semites.”

Among the Jewish characteristics of Matthew’s Gospel are his tendency to cite the Old Testament (“as was said through X the prophet”); to record original Aramaic or Hebrew words (e.g., “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani”) and to constantly allude to Jewish practices. These features are either minimal or absent in the other Gospels, making the case that Matthew was writing for Christians who were Jews to make it clear to them that they were not “converting” or “changing” their faith as much as bringing it to the fulfillment God intended.

Of Matthew’s subsequent life, we know little. Tradition holds that he preached in what today is the area of Iran around the Caspian Sea, where he opposed local superstition. That region was called “Ethiopia” (to be distinguished from the eponymous place in Africa). The tradition has it that he was murdered during celebration of the Eucharist, though The Catholic Encyclopedia observes only that “there is a disagreement as to the place of Matthew’s martyrdom and the kind of torture inflicted on him, therefore it is not known whether he was burned, stoned, or beheaded.”

Today’s saint is illustrated by Caravaggio’s 1602 oil painting, “The Inspiration of St. Matthew.” It’s one of three Caravaggio masterpieces connected with Matthew, the other two being “The Calling of Saint Matthew” and “The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew.” I chose this painting, even though many art historians would focus on “The Calling of St. Matthew” instead because, beginning in Advent on Nov. 27, the Church will take most of its Sunday Gospels from Matthew. 

The painting depicts two figures: Matthew and an angel. Indeed, the attribute of St. Matthew is an angel: that is usually the symbol we will see for Matthew and his Gospel (alongside Mark’s lion, Luke’s bull, and John’s eagle). Caravaggio’s characteristic use of shadow and light is on display in this painting, as is his Baroque features, e.g., the large, muscular figure of Matthew, the dynamic, large and colorful angel who is God’s messenger.

Unlike other paintings of Matthew writing his Gospel (and, apparently, a non-extant earlier version of Caravaggio’s painting) there is respectful space between the angel and the Evangelist. The angel is not “whispering in Matthew’s ear.” Caravaggio captures an important truth about Biblical inspiration.

The Bible is revelation: God disclosing who he is and what his plans are for us. God must reveal himself, because we cannot reach God. God must descend. This therefore involves inspiration, i.e., the collaboration of Divine and human authors in any written product.

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Intermission: Last Post for Christian England

O death, where is thy sting?

By Paul Kingsworth

I spent much of the day, along with several hundred million other people around the world, watching the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth on TV. It was full of remarkable, beautifully choreographed and often moving moments, as you would expect of an event which has been prepared for since the 1960s. A lot of things don’t work very well in Britain anymore, but this kind of pageantry is something we can still do well. We will not see its like again, I don’t think.

I say ‘pageantry’, but this is a dismissive word. What happened today was a rolling, dense mat of symbolism, replete with historical meaning, anchored in a very particular nation and time period. What did it symbolise? Above all, I think, it symbolised something that our culture has long stopped believing in, and as such can’t really process effectively, or even perhaps quite comprehend. This was brought home to me by one particular moment in the ceremony. 

You can see that moment in the photograph above. It’s a view from the height of the tower of Westminster Abbey, looking down onto the Queen’s coffin below. The Abbey is, of course, laid out in the shape of the cross, and the coffin was set down at the meeting point of the nave and the transept, where the two arms of the cross meet. At one point in the proceedings, the camera showed us this view, and then focused in on the scene, and the impression was that of some energy flowing down from above and into the coffin, then out across the marble floor and into the gathered crowd. 

It struck me then that this was an accurate visual image of the world which this Queen’s death marks the final end of, and it struck me too that this must be one of the reasons why her passing has had such a huge impact – one way beyond the person she actually was. What we were seeing as the camera panned down was a manifestation, through technological trickery, of the ancient notion of sacral kingship. 

This notion was the rock which the political structure of all medieval societies was built, and in theory at least it is still the architecture which supports the matter of Britain, whose bishops still sit in parliament with the power to amend laws, and whose monarch’s crown is adorned with a cross. Authority, in this model of society, flows downward, from God, and into the monarch, who then faces outward with that given power and serves – and rules – his or her people.

Forget for a moment whether you’re a Christian, or a monarchist, or indeed whether you just think this is so much humbug designed to disguise the raw exercise of power. I’m not trying to make a case here: I am trying to understand something that I think at least partly explains how we have got here. 

The point of the model of sacral kingship is that all true power resides in and emerges from the great, mysterious, unknowable, creative power at the heart of the universe – the power which we call, for want of a better word, ‘God.’ Any power that the monarch may exercise in this temporal realm is not ultimately his or hers. At the end of the funeral today, the orb and the sceptre, symbolising the Queen’s spiritual and temporal authority, were removed from the top of her coffin, along with the crown, and given over to the care of the church. At that point, Elizabeth became symbolically what she had always been in reality, and we all are – small, ordinary people, naked before God. 

This notion – that any power exercised by a human ruler ultimately derives from the spiritual plane – is neither British nor European. It is universal. Pharaonic Egypt recognised it, and so did Native America. The Anglo-Saxons believed it and so did the Japanese Emperors. Cultures large and small, imperial and tribal, on all continents over many millennia, have shared some version of this understanding of what the world is. Power, it tells us – politics, it insists – is no mere human confection, because the world is no mere human confection. There is something – someone – else beyond it, and if we are silent, in these cathedrals or in these forests, we can hear it still. Those who take power in this world will answer to it at the end. It is best that they know this now. 

What is meaningful about this royal death is that the late Queen really believed this. So, I think, does her son, the new King. But the society around him very much does not. The understanding now is that authority flows upward from below, from ‘the people’ and into the government, which supposedly governs on our behalf. In this model there is no sacred centre, and there is no higher authority to whom we answer. There is no heavenly grant of temporary office which will one day be returned, and a tally made. There is only raw power, rooted in materiality, which in itself has no meaning beyond what we ascribe to it. There is only efficiency. There is only management. There are only humans.

And yet: watching the vast, snaking queue that all week has spreadeagled across London, as the crowds came to bow their heads before the coffin; watching the emotions on display today, and the massed crowds again across the country, bringing something to this event that perhaps they didn’t even understand themselves, I thought: no. We don’t really believe that there is nothing else. It is just what we think we have to say. Look: we believe in a bigger story. It is still there. It never left.

My point is not to argue for the return of medieval monarchy. Like I say, I’m not making an argument here. Still, like Jonathan Van Maren, who makes a similar case in a moving essay today, I feel that this death is meaningful to so many because, whether we know it or not, it marks the final passing of this worldview. There is no sacral kingship now, and our leaders don’t even bother to pretend otherwise. Perhaps, as some do, you celebrate the passing of such an antiquated notion. What I am thinking this evening though is something I reflected on many months ago as I began my essay series here. 

I am thinking that there is a throne at the heart of every culture, whether we know it or not, and that if we cast out its previous inhabitant – and the entire worldview that went along with it – we had better understand what we plan to replace it with. Someone, or something, is going to sit on that throne whether we know it or not. I can’t think of any societies in history which have believed – as ours does – that all that matters is matter. That nothing resides above the spires of the Abbey. That there is no throne. If there were any cultures like that – well, they didn’t last to tell us about it.

As I say, I am not making an argument. I am just watching. I am just looking down from that height, onto the nave and the transept and the coffin draped in the standard, and I am thinking: I have just heard the last post sounded for Christian England. We are in a new land now. We should pray that we find our way.


On another, perhaps related, matter: I’m giving a live online talk this coming Wednesday evening, at 7pm UK time, on the coming transhuman future, and my notion of what a Christian response might look like. You can watch it live at the link below.

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Why British and Commonwealth Catholics Venerate their Protestant Monarch

The Queen’s coffin arriving at Windsor Castle for a committal service at St George’s Chapel

The United Kingdom and her Commonwealth have paid a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth II, with a state funeral and military procession.


by Joseph Shaw, PhD (LMS Chairman)

I have discovered over the years, a degree of incomprehension and even hostility to the institution of monarchy which is not limited to the ravings of the far-left led by The New York Times in America. It even extends to some Traditional Catholics.

I want therefore in this piece to take the opportunity to try to give an explanation and defense of the British monarchy, at least to traditionally-minded Catholics, who should be more open-minded about it than “the gray lady” of New York. I will do so in three stages. First, I will say something about the role and importance of human traditions; then about the monarchy as an institution; and finally, specifically about the British monarchy, and Queen Elizabeth.

Human Traditions

I start with human—that is, non-divine—traditions because the anti-traditional attitude is so powerful in secular culture, that even some Catholics who accept the importance of divine Tradition with a capital “T”, as a source of Revelation in Catholic theology, can be dismissive of any other kind of tradition. It’s one thing (they might say) to acknowledge that Jesus Christ revealed things to the Apostles which were not written down in Scripture, which therefore come to us by Tradition; it is quite another to feel obliged to do (or believe) things simply because some fallible humans in the past happened to choose to do (or believe) them. And that’s what human traditions are, aren’t they?

Well, not quite. I would define traditions as those practices which have been performed by our predecessors (ancestors, predecessors in the Faith, previous incumbents in the roles we fill, etc.), which (a) have been continued over time by successive generations (not necessarily without breaks), and (b) have been regarded as significant, and are therefore (c) regarded as binding to some degree on the present generation.

Thus it is likely that we feel that we ought, in some sense, continue various inherited cultural practices, such as Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas trees, attending Shakespeare plays, and so on. There may be reasons why it is impossible on a particular occasion, and it may be that we were not ourselves inducted into the tradition in our own families, but if we see ourselves as members of a cultural group that is historically characterised by some practice, we can adopt or revive it.

These things have value because things characteristicof a cultural group are markers of identity. They give members of the group shared experiences and a sense of belonging, both synchronically, with other living members of the group, and diachronically, with previous generations. Discussions about the origins of the practices are usually besides the point. If members of a group identify them as things they ought to perform, because they are members of the group, they will function as markers of identity. A cultural group must by definition have traditions to distinguish it from other groups.

We want to be members of cultural groups because it gives us a sense of belonging. We could meet our physical needs in a bland, impersonal hotel, but what we want to live in is a home. Home is where we can relax and be ourselves; it is characterised by things that distinguish it from other people’s homes. Some of these markers of identity will be specific to one’s nuclear family, others to wider groupings of which one is also a member. These locate one in a group which may be of practical assistance (say, in a calamity), in terms of who we feel ourselves to be, and where we are located in history. They prevent us from being, in Pope John Paul’s striking phrase, “prisoners of the present” (Orientale lumen (1995) 8).

Ecclesial and political institutions include a range of cultural groups, but also have a cultural manifestation of their own. Cultural identities can be combined: one can be Irish, an American citizen, and a Catholic, culturally, all at once. If the Church or political institutions were to weaken as cultural identities, this would weaken members’ sense of unity, their solidarity.

Traditions teach and manifest values, and one’s induction into traditions is at the same time an induction into the values of the group whose traditions they are. A group with shared traditions, accordingly, is a group with shared values. Human beings do not absorb values as abstractions, but as embedded in what they do.

This being so, not all traditions are good. Traditions are subject to reappraisal, renegotiation, and development. This can happen naturally and spontaneously, or in a self-conscious way, but if all the traditions of a group were permanently in dispute, they would lose their value as markers of identity, and the cultural group will be dissolved.

This is all to say that, if you see in the United Kingdom a high degree of concern with traditions connected with the political community, this is an indication of a state with a correspondingly high degree of solidarity. It is not despite but because of the power of the markers of identity belonging to the state, that the state can successfully incorporate into itself different cultural groups, without destroying either them or itself.

The Monarchy as a Constitutional Institution

Political institutions are themselves traditions, under my definition. Unless they are brand new, they are passed to us from our predecessors, and those under their authority characteristically feel they ought to continue the practices associated with them: elections, assemblies, and so on. If they are highly abstract, without ceremonial or culturally resonant appendages, they will find it more difficult to serve as centres of solidarity.

Monarchies are particularly good as serving this function, because they are surrounded by traditions which serve as markers of identity and convey shared values. They cannot be created out of thin air; their historical rootedness is part of their value. But where they exist, they can perform the function of political institutions exceptionally well. For this reason the many constitutional monarchies of the modern world, such as those of Japan, Thailand, and Belgium, serve as stabilising elements in their societies. States which have suffered a period of national trauma have restored their monarchies, such as Spain and Cambodia. And monarchies have proved resilient in times of constitutional crisis: obvious examples are Spain in the failed coup of 1981, the constitutional crisis in Australia in 1975, and, behind the scenes, in the UK in 1968.

The values embodied in the Christian symbolism of monarchy should have a special appeal to Catholics, for the same reason they have aroused the hostility of political radicals. The Christian monarchies of Europe found a model in the Old Testament, in which it is emphasised that the King is in a sense appointed by God, and rules as God’s deputy: his “vicegerent.”

This might sound like a recipe for arbitrary rule, but properly understood, it is the opposite. The kings of the Old Testament were subject to God’s law, and were held up to the mark by priests and prophets. A leader who claims to be the delegate of the people, on the other hand, can commit all kinds of crime in their name: whether because, as he claims, they desire it, or for their benefit. What prevents any constitutional leader from ruling tyrannically is a sense in which there is a higher law, something that limits his actions, that ensures both fair play in politics and justice to ordinary people. This obligation, ultimately, is to God, and is expressed more clearly by a head of state who is appointed by God, as it is generally expressed, than one appointed by “the people.”

The religious symbolism of monarchy, therefore, should not be seen as the co-option of the Church to serve the State, but as the State’s subordination to principles of justice which are ultimately interpreted by the Church. Stalin and the French Revolutionarieswere perfectly happy to co-opt the Church; what they did not want to do was to obey the Church.

It remains true that a wide range of constitutional arrangements are compatible with the Faith, and have historically been blessed by the Church. The point is not that monarchy is the only legitimate form of government, just that it embodies in a uniquely clear way a Catholic understanding of political authority.

The British Monarchy

None of this is to say that the British monarchy, or its recent incumbents, are perfect. Obviously, since 1558, with a brief respite from 1685 to 1688, our monarchs have been Protestant. Some were responsible for great suffering by Catholics. However, the experience of Cromwell’s Commonwealth (1649-1660), in its treatment of Ireland, does not give us any grounds for thinking that other forms of government would have been better. The problem was not that the British Isles was governed by hereditary monarchs, but that the state was for so long dominated by an intolerant Protestant elite. When this elite was confronted by a more Catholic-friendly monarch in the 1640s, and an actually Catholic monarch in the 1680s, it was the elite that triumphed, not the monarch.

Queen Elizabeth II was a devout Protestant, preferring a fairly low-church style. The pageantry of the monarchy, supplemented for some members of the Royal Family by the ceremonial of Freemasonry, seems to have taken the place of what the original High Anglican, Archbishop Laud, called the “beauty of holiness.”

To echo the martyr St Robert Southwell, when he was asked whether he wanted a Spanish invasion, I would like the Royal Family and the whole political elite to convert to Catholicism of their own free will. This is something for which Catholics in the United Kingdom pray and do penance. In the meantime, we must live with current realities.

King Charles III beside the coffin of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at her funeral today 19th September, 2022

First, it is clear to all but a lunatic fringe that Britain’s new King, Charles III, is the legitimate head of state of our country. He deserves the loyalty of citizens like any head of state. Many French traditional Catholics join the French military, because they believe in France, even if they aren’t particularly keen on the Revolution which created the Republic. In the same way, British Catholics, even under persecution, have wanted to give the lie to the accusation that their faith implied disloyalty, by serving the Crown. Should we pray for the King? Of course we should. At the traditional Mass, in England we have said special prayers for the monarch since the beginning of the long process of “Catholic emancipation” in 1778. It should be noted, that since the 18th century the Holy See has recognised the British monarchy as the legitimate Monarch, reversing the more strict policy of St Pius V. Since emancipation especially, Catholics have worked to convert their society and sovereign from within.

Second, while the monarch and the Royal Family get drawn in to politically fashionable causes, and while their role means that they studiously avoid political partisanship, they remain an important cultural force. King Charles, for example, has lent his significant weight to combatting ugliness in architecture, and is patron of the Prayer Book Society, which defends traditional Anglican worship. If the British monarchy disappeared it would be a calamitous setback for cultural conservatives of all kinds, with repercussions all over the globe.

Third, the ceremonial of the British monarchy has preserved its ancient Catholic character in a way that even the Catholic monarchies of Europe have not. The kings of Spain and Belgium, for example, do not even have coronation ceremonies. We will see how mutilated our own next coronation turns out to be, but the historic Catholic content will be greater than zero. In many other ways, including simply by existing, the monarchy embodies and preserves our Catholic heritage. For example, the monarch personally gives alms to the poor on Maundy Thursday in a ceremony which preserves a Catholic tradition abandoned in the Church’s liturgy in 1955, when giving alms was removed from the Mandatum.

Can a Catholic be a republican? That is the wrong question. The default setting should be to support the existing constitution of one’s country, if it is working reasonably well. The British monarchy has associations and resonances in Ireland which it does not have elsewhere, but even there the bitterness of the past is, increasingly, now in the past.

The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales is organising a Requiem Mass for her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth, as the discipline of the Church allows, and I hope we’ll have a Mass of Thanksgiving for the coronation. As Britons we honour our head of state; as Catholics we do that, in part, through the liturgy.

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Sunday Readings and Reflections

Sunday, September 18 
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Roman Ordinary calendar

St. Thomas of Villanova

Book of Amos 8,4-7.

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! 
“When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! 
We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!” 
The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done! 

Psalms 113(112),1-2.4-6.7-8.

Praise, you servants of the LORD, 
praise the name of the LORD. 
Blessed be the name of the LORD 
both now and forever. 

High above all nations is the LORD; 
above the heavens is his glory. 
Who is like the LORD, our God, who is enthroned on high 
who looks upon the heavens and the earth below? 

He raises up the lowly from the dust; 
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor. 
To seat them with princes, 
with the princes of his own people. 

First Letter to Timothy 2,1-8.

Beloved : First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, 
for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. 
This is good and pleasing to God our savior, 
who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. 
For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, 
who gave himself as ransom for all. This was the testimony at the proper time. 
For this I was appointed preacher and apostle (I am speaking the truth, I am not lying), teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 
It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument. 

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 16,1-13.

Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. 
He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ 
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. 
I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ 
He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ 
Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ 
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” 
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. 
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? 
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? 
No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” 

Saint Gregory Nazianzen (330-390) 
Bishop and Doctor of the Church 
Homily 14, On love for the poor, § 23-25 ; PG 35, 887 

“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones”

       You should know where your own existence comes from, breath, intellect, and what is most precious of all: knowledge of God; from where comes hope of the kingdom of heaven and of beholding the glory that, at present, you see only dimly as in a mirror but that, tomorrow, you will see in all its purity and brilliance (1 Cor 13:12). From whence does it come that you are a child of God, inheritor along with Christ (Rm 8:16-17) and, dare I say it, that you yourself are a god ? Where does all this come from, and through whom ?

       Again, to speak only of things of lesser importance, those that are obvious: who granted you sight of the beauty of the heavens, the movement of the sun, the cycle of the moon, the countless stars and, in it all, the harmony and order governing them ? (…) Who gave you the rain, the cultivation of the land, food, art, laws, cities, a civilized life, close relationships with people like yourself ?

       Isn’t it from He who, before all else and in return for all His gifts, requires of you to love humankind ? (…) When He, our God and Lord, is not ashamed to be called our Father, are we going to deny our brethren ? No, my brothers and friends, do not let us be dishonest stewards of the good things confided to us.

Traditional Latin Mass Readings for this Sunday

Click here for a live-streamed Traditional Latin Mass

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Serenity in This Life

CP&S Comment: In these times of increased stress, anxiety, depression, conflicts, due to multiple causes – including primarily the loss of Faith, but also due to the COVID pandemic, the war in Ukraine, persecution of Christians, economic deprivations, etcetera – the voice of Our Lord and Saints of the Church are a calming balm for the soul. Today we bring to our readers the wise and hope-filled advice of the beloved St Alphonsus Liguori to help us carry these burdens on our pilgrim journey through life.

Acting according to this pattern, one not only becomes holy but also enjoys perpetual serenity in this life.  Alphonse the Great, King of Aragon, being asked one day whom he considered the happiest person in the world, answered:

“He who abandons himself to the will of God and accepts all things, prosperous and adverse, as coming from his hands.”  “To those that love God, all things work together unto good” (Rom. 8:28).  
Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God.

Afflictions do not mar their serenity, because by accepting misfortune, they know they give pleasure to their beloved Lord: “Whatever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad” (Prov. 12:21). Indeed, what can be more satisfactory to a person than to experience the fulfillment of all his desires? This is the happy lot of the man who wills only what God wills, because everything that happens, save sin, happens through the will of God.

There is a story to this effect in the “Lives of the Fathers” about a farmer whose crops were more plentiful than those of his neighbors.  On being asked how this happened with such unvarying regularity, he said he was not surprised because he always had the kind of weather he wanted.  He was asked to explain. He said: “It is so because I want whatever kind of weather God wants, and because I do, he gives me the harvests I want.” If souls resigned to God’s will are humiliated, says Salvian, they want to be humiliated; if they are poor, they want to be poor; in short, whatever happens is acceptable to them, hence they are truly at peace in this life. In cold and heat, in rain and wind, the soul united to God says: “I want it to be warm, to be cold, windy, to rain, because God wills it.”

This is the beautiful freedom of the sons of God, and it is worth vastly more than all the rank and distinction of blood and birth, more than all the kingdoms in the world. This is the abiding peace which, in the experience of the saints, “surpasseth all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). It surpasses all pleasures rising from gratification of the senses, from social gatherings, banquets ands other worldly arguments; vain and deceiving as they are, they captivate the senses for the time being, but bring no lasting contentment; rather they afflict man in the depth of his soul where alone true peace can reside.

Solomon, who tasted to satiety all the pleasures of the world and found them bitter, voiced his disillusionment thus: “But this also is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Eccles. 4:16). “A fool,” says the Holy Spirit, “is changed as the moon; but a holy man continueth in wisdom as the sun” (Eccles. 27:12). The fool, that is, the sinner, is as changeable as the moon, which today waxes and tomorrow wanes; today he laughs, tomorrow he cries; today he is meek as a lamb, tomorrow cross as a bear. Why?

Because his peace of mind depends on the prosperity or the adversity he meets; he changes with the changes in the things that happen to him. The just man is like the sun, constant in his serenity, no matter what betides him. His calmness of soul is founded on his union with the will of God; hence he enjoys unruffled peace. This is the peace promised by the angel of the Nativity. “And on earth, peace to men of good will” (Luke 2:14). Who are these “men of good will” if not those whose wills are united to the infinitely good and perfect will of God? “The good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2).

By uniting themselves to the divine will, the saints have enjoyed paradise by anticipation in this life.  Accustoming themselves to receive all things from the hands of God, says St. Dorotheus, the men of old maintained continual serenity of souls. St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzzi derived such consolation at hearing the words “will of God,” that she usually fell into an ecstasy of love. The instances of jangling irritation that are bound to arise will not fail to make surface impact on the senses. This however will be experienced only in the inferior part of the soul; in the superior part will reign peace and tranquility as long as our will remains united with God’s. Our Lord assured his apostles: “Your joy no man shall take from you…your joy shall be full” (John 16:22, 24).

He who unites his will to God’s experiences a full and lasting joy: full, because he has what he wants, as was explained above; lasting, because no one can take his joy from him, since no one can prevent what God wills from happening.


[This article is taken from a chapter in Uniformity with God’s Will by St. Alphonsus which is available from TAN Books.]

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Bishop Athanasius Schneider Cautions About Interreligious Meeting the Pope Attended

by Edward Pentin

Kazakhstan Bishop, Athanasius Schneider, spoke with EWTN about the gathering in his country, which concluded yesterday

Bishop Athanasius Schneider in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan — A large interreligious conference Pope Francis attended in Kazakhstan this week had the welcome aim of promoting peace and harmony, but also risked giving the impression of a “supermarket of religions” that relativizes the one true religion of the Catholic Church, Bishop Athanasius Schneider has said. 

The auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, who took part in the Pope’s Sept. 13-15 visit to the Central Asian country, said the meeting’s aim, to promote harmony and peace, was “good,” but added “there is also a danger that we the Catholic Church should not appear simply as one of the many religions.”

“We’re not one of the many religions, we’re the only one true religion which God commanded to all people to believe,” Bishop Schneider told EWTN’s Alexey Gotovskiy in Nur-Sultan, the nation’s capital. “There is no other way to salvation.” 

The Pope visited Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) primarily to address the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. The meeting, held every three years, brought almost 100 delegations from 60 countries, and included representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism.

In his comments to Gotovskiy, Bishop Schneider voiced his concern that when Church leaders take part in such events, they are giving the impression that the Church belongs to “a supermarket of religions — everyone is there and you can choose what you want. But Jesus Christ is not in the supermarket of religions. He is the only one [true God].” 

He advocated finding ways to improve such meetings, and recommended it would be better to have local meetings on a “human level,” thereby mitigating “the danger of relativism, indifferentism and syncretism.” 

Bishop Schneider voiced similar concerns in his 2019 bestselling book Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the AgeHe told the journalist Diane Montagna that by not preaching the truth of Christ clearly to members of other religions, he believed clerics today were committing a “great sin of omission.” 

Since the Second Vatican Council, he continued, interreligious dialogue has created the impression that all people are “traveling on parallel tracks to the same God and will all reach the same end,” but he believed that was a “betrayal of the Gospel.” If the Apostles had used that method, he said, “they would not have converted so many people to Christ” and would have died “not as martyrs but in their beds.”

Pope Francis takes part in the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions on Wednesday

During the congress, the Pope, who was seated alongside other religious leaders as one among the many others, shared with them his hope that the meeting would lead to a “fraternal” pathway toward peace built on “respect, sincere dialogue, respect for the inviolable dignity of each human being and mutual cooperation.” 

“Religions remind us that we are creatures; we are not omnipotent, but men and women journeying towards the same heavenly goal,” he told the participants in a keynote address on Wednesday. In concluding comments to the congress the following day, he urged all religions and societies to involve women and young people in the quest for world peace.

Remarks to Reuters

Bishop Schneider has publicly criticized the Pope in the past, but he told reporters in Nur-Sultan Sept. 15 while waiting for Pope Francis to arrive at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral for a meeting of bishops, clergy, religious and laity, that such criticism is an expression of “collegiality” and helpful for the Church. 

“We are not employees of the Pope, the bishops. We are brothers,” he said, according to Reuters. “When in good conscience I feel that something is not correct or ambiguous I have to say it to him, with respect, fraternally.” 

Bishops who disagree with the Pope have to be forthright, he continued, and should not be caught in “adulations and incense” or “behave like an employee to a boss,” Reuters reported.

  • Pope Francis has said in the past that he welcomes such “constructive criticism,” and is known to value frankness and honesty among his friends and associates, but he has criticized “those who smile while stabbing you in the back.”
  • (CP&S comment: Really? Looks like to us that he criticizes anyone who disagrees with his his way of thinking whether they smile or not.)
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Queen Elizabeth II and the Popes



Elizabeth II’s Reign Reflected a Change in Britain’s Relationship With the Church, Says UK Ambassador to the Vatican

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The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Christ became obedient for us unto death: even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath exalted Him, and had given Him a name which is above every name.

Alleluia, alleluia. Sweet the wood, sweet the nails, sweet the load that hangs thereon: for thou alone, O holy Cross, wast worthy to bear the King and Lord of heaven. Alleluia.

(Phil. 2:8-9 – Gradual of the Traditional Latin Mass)

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Marvels Mark Fatima’s September 13 Apparition

Our Lady highlights her instructions and heaven presents a miraculous preview show for October’s upcoming miracle

By Joseph Pronechen

The apparition of Our Lady in Fatima on September 13, 1917, held surprises for more than 20,000 people who flocked to the Cova da Iria. There were heavenly phenomena that were like a tiny preview of what was coming on October 13. Let’s start at the beginning.

Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco — now Servant of God Lucia and Sts. Jacinta and Francisco — had difficulty reaching the holmoak tree where Our Lady would appear to them around noon. In her Memoirs, Lucia explained, “The roads were packed with people, and everyone wanted to see us and speak to us.”

Once they knew the children were coming, many tried to push through the crowds to get close to the children. It was not a case of curiosity to get a glimpse of them. Lucia recalled how “they threw themselves on their knees before us, begging us to place their petitions before Our Lady. Others who could not get close to us shouted from a distance: ‘For the love of God, ask Our Lady to cure my son who is a cripple!…And to cure mine who is blind…To cure mine who is deaf…To bring back my husband, my son, who has gone to the war…To convert a sinner…To give me back my health as I have tuberculosis!’ and so on. All the afflictions of poor humanity were assembled there.”

As some men kindly opened the way for the children, the three shepherd seers listened to the petitions even shouted to them from people who had climbed trees and stood atop walls. The children even helped people kneeling on the dusty ground to stand up.

When she was older, Lucia reflected, “If these people so humbled themselves before three poor children, just because they were mercifully granted the grace to speak to the Mother of God, what would they not do if they saw Our Lord Himself in person before them?”

Marvel Announcing Our Lady

At the holmoak, the three children knelt as usual and started praying the Rosary. All those gathered at the site also knelt down to pray along with the children and implore Our Lady. Then Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco saw the flash of light that announced Our Lady.

There was also a surprise for the people. In Father Alphonse Cappa’s well-researched book Fatima: Cove of Wonders with its primary sources including a priest who worked directly with the bishop of Leiria and with Sister Lucia herself (who had final correction of his manuscripts), Father Cappa described what the people also saw:

“The sun suddenly lost its splendor. The hue of the surrounding atmosphere changed to a yellowish gold. Then a delightful cry went up from the multitude: ‘She comes! Look! There!! There! How beautiful!’”

“A small luminous global cloud was recognized immediately as the footstool of the invisible Lady. It moved in from the East toward the West slowly and majestically. Slowly it descended to rest, hovering above the holmoak, the tree of wonders.”

Something similar happened on August 13 when the children were whisked off to jail while up to 18,000 people waited in the Cova for them. Learning the children were imprisoned, the crowd grew angry but were quickly calmed by heaven. Many described hearing what they thought was an explosion or thunder coming from the cloudless blue sky, and after it, a flash of brilliant light. Then the “sun paled,” the atmosphere turned “a yellowish gold, and a small cloud, most beautiful in its ethereal form, came and hovered over the forlorn looking holmaok…’Look! Look! It is a sign from Our Lady’” the August crowd shouted. Now they again saw the phenomenon.

On September 13, present again, “The kneeling, ecstatic figures of the children were transfigured in a light that seemed to change the spot into a Holy of Holies, filled with the majesty of God.”

Of course, only the three children saw Our Lady.

Our Lady’s Message

“Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war,” were the first words of Our Lady.

For the fifth apparition in a row, she gave this instruction not only to the children but to everyone there and to us down through the years. “Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war.”

Then for the third time in a row, Our Lady prepared the children for her appearance the following month, on October 13, and what they would see. She said:

“In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Dolors [Sorrows] and Our Lady of Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world.”

When she said Our Lady of Mount Carmel would be there, it was a signpost about the importance of the brown scapular. This preview would become unmistakably clear the next month.

Then came encouragement for the children, and a reminder to us, when Our Lady said, “God is pleased with your sacrifices.”

At the same time, she added something that pertained to the three children and their sacrifice of wearing a rough rope around their waists as a penance for the reparation of sin and the conversion of sinners. The rope often hurt.

When Our Lady told them, “God is pleased with your sacrifices,” she continued, “He does not want you to sleep with the rope on, but only to wear it during the daytime.”

Lucia then remembered the petitions of the people. “I was told to ask you many things, the cure of some sick people, of a deaf-mute…”

“Yes, I will cure some, but not others,” Our Lady answered.

Then for the third time, as she did in July and August, Our Lady repeated, “In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

After this conversation, Our Lady began to rise. Lucia called out, “She is going away now!”

Father Cappa described how the ball of light rose toward the sun and slowly disappeared.

First-time Miraculous Extra

During the apparition there was a heavenly sign which happened for the first time, and which is rarely mentioned although it was surely spectacular sign and tiny preview of whatever the promised miracle of October might be.

Father Cappa gives a splendid description in his book deserving of being fully quoted:

“[T]here occurred a most singular phenomenon, never before witnessed by the assembled people in the Cova.

“From the pale but cloudless sky there came a shower of white petals, resembling snowflakes, but melting before they touched the ground, or the bodies of the astounding people.”

“Later on, in various pilgrimages, and on the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin, this phenomenon was repeated, as attested and confirmed by reliable witnesses, including the bishop of the diocese to which Fatima belongs.”

“Furthermore, as proof of the incontrovertible evidence, on May 13, 1924, Antonio Rebelo Martins, vice-consul in the United states, produced a photographic plate of the supernatural prodigy, verified by legal testimony…”

As Our Lady appeared, heaven smiled and got people to look up and be ready for the great miracle of October 13.

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The Most Holy Name of Mary

The feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary originated in Spain and was approved in 1513.  In 1683, Pope Innocent XI extended the celebration of the feast day to the universal Church, to be celebrated on September 12th, four days after the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Mother.  With the revisions of the Roman Missal in 1970 following the Vatican Council II, the feast day was removed from the universal calendar, although the Votive Mass remained.  However, Pope John Paul II in the third edition of the Roman Missal, issued in 2003, reinstituted the feast day, technically as an “optional memorial.”

The name Mary is rooted in various ancient languages: in Hebrew Myriam; in Aramaic Maryam; in the Greek Old Testament, Mariam; and in Greek and Latin New Testament, Maria.

Modern philological studies of ancient Egyptian suggest that Mary means “lady, beautiful one, or well-beloved.”  Some scholars of Ugaritic texts (ancient Syrian) suggest the name mrym derives from the verb rwn, thereby rendering the meaning of “high, lofy, exalted, or august.”  These root meanings fit well with the message of the Archangel Gabriel: “Hail, Mary, full of grace [or Rejoice, O highly favored daughter]!  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:28).

Of course, the name “Mary,” being the name of the Blessed Mother, deserves special respect and devotion, and is thereby celebrated in four ways: First, Mary is a name of honor, since the faithful praise Mary as the Mother of our Divine Savior; she is rightfully called “Mother of God,” for Jesus true God, second person of the Holy Trinity entered this world becoming also true man through Mary who had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Second, Mary is a most holy name, because the very mention of her name reminds us she is full of grace, has found favor with God, and is blessed among all women.  Third, Mary is a maternal name, because she is our Mother, whom our Lord gave to us a He was dying on the cross (cf. John19:26-27).  Finally, Mary is a name of the mother who responds to all of our needs, protects us from evil, and prays “for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

The holy name of Mary has been revered in many ways.  St. Louis de Montfort (d. 1716) said, “The whole world is filled with her glory, and this is especially true of Christian peoples, who have chosen her as guardian and protectress of kingdoms, provinces, dioceses, and towns.  Many cathedrals are consecrated to God in her name.  There is no church without an altar dedicated to her, no country or region without at least one of her miraculous images where all kinds of afflictions are cured and all sorts of benefits received.  Many are the confraternities and associations honoring her as patron; many are the orders under her name and protection; many are the members of sodalities and religious of all congregations who voice her praises and make known her compassion.  There is not a child who does not praise her by lisping a ‘Hail Mary.’  There is scarcely a sinner, however hardened, who does not possess some spark of confidence in her.  The very devils in hell, while fearing her, show her respect.”

Finally, the feast date of September 12th also has special significance.  In 1683, the Moslem Turks, under the leadership of Sultan Mohammed IV, once again began their aggression against Christian Europe.  Just a few years earlier, they had been stopped at Poland.  A huge army of Muslim Turks, estimated at around 300,000, marched through Hungary (parts of which had been under their control for 150 years) towards Austria.  They ravaged Hungary, and were partly successful because of a Calvinist named Thokoly who incited rebellion against the Catholic rulers; for his traitorous dealings, Mohammed IV named Thokoly “King of Hungary and Croatia,” but with the understanding that he was simply a vassal to his Moslem overlord.

The Moslem aggression continued on to Austria.  Emperor Leopold fled from Vienna.  By July, 1683, the Grand Vizier Kara Mustapha laid siege to Vienna, defended by an army of only 15,000 Christians.  The papal nuncio as well as Emperor Leopold begged King Jan Sobieski, who had defeated the Moslem Turks at the Polish borders and had earned the title “Unvanquished Northern Lion,” to come to their aid.  Sobieski did not hesitate.

In August, Sobieski began his campaign.  As he and his troops passed the Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa, they begged the Blessed Mother’s blessing and intercession.  At the beginning of September, they crossed the Danube and met with the German armies.  On September 11, Sobieski was outside of Vienna with an army of about 76,000 men.  The hussars lured the Moslem Turks into thinking they were on retreat, and then with reinforcements attacked.  The Moslem Turks retreated, but were followed by Sobieski’s calvary.  The vanquished Moslem Turks fled Austria (but only after slaughtering hundreds of hostages).  Vienna and Christian Europe were saved.  The Moslem standard proclaiming “Death to the Infidel” was taken by Sobieski and delivered to the Pope.

Worshiping at a Holy Mass of Thanksgiving, Sobieski fell prostrate and with outstretched arms declared it was God’s cause and praised Him for the victory saying, “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit.” meaning “I came, I saw, God conquered,” which he also wrote in a letter to Pope Innocent XI.  On September 12th, Sobieski triumphantly entered Vienna.  Pope Innocent XI thereupon declared September 12th as a date to honor Mary, whose maternal intercession had saved Christendom just has it had over 100 years earlier at the Battle of Lepanto.  As for Kara Mustapha, Mohammed IV had him strangled for being defeated by the Christians.  Pause for a moment: Only the ignorant would not see the connection between September 11, 1683 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

As we celebrate this feast day, let us remember the opening prayer for the Mass: “Lord, our God, when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, He gave us as our mother the one He had chosen to be His own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs.”  May our Blessed Mother continue to protect us, especially those Christians suffering under Islamic persecution this very day.


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