Mission Impossible

A highly unorthodox portrayal of cruciformity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lectio Divina: 5th Sunday of Lent, Year B

Giotto – Lower Church at Assisi

We Want to See the Infinite: the Thirst for God’s Face

Paris, March 20, 2015 (Zenit.org) Monsignor Francesco Follo

1) See the good Face of Destiny: Jesus Christ.

Days fly by and even the forty days of Lent are about to end. Next Sunday will be Palm Sunday and the following one, finally, will be Easter Sunday. In this approach to Holy Week (that the Ambrosian rite calls True Week) and to the day of Resurrection, today’s Gospel tells us what we must do to see Jesus. First of all, we must have the desire and go to him as some “Greeks” (= pagans, then non-Jews) did. Second, we must understand why Christ instead of saying “look at me”, replied that “the time has come” (Jn 12, 23) of his “death that gives death to death” (see Hos 13:14). Continue reading

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Meditation Five – Death

Continuing the daily meditations of our Lenten journey, taken from “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales, today we contemplate the prospect of death.

Chapter XIII: Fifth Meditation. On Death

Last Moments, by Frederic Peyson

Last Moments, by Frederic Peyson

1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God. 2. Ask His Grace. 3. Suppose yourself to be on your deathbed, in the last extremity, without the smallest hope of recovery.

1. Consider the uncertainty as to the day of your death. One day your soul will leave this body—will it be in summer or winter? in town or country? by day or by night? will it be suddenly or with warning? will it be owing to sickness or an accident? will you have time to make your last confession or not? will your confessor or spiritual father be at hand or will he not? Alas, of all these things we know absolutely nothing: all that we do know is that die we shall, and for the most part sooner than we expect.
2. Consider that then the world is at end as far as you are concerned, there will be no more of it for you, it will be altogether overthrown for you, since all pleasures, vanities, worldly joys, empty delights will be as a mere fantastic vision to you. Woe is me, for what mere trifles and unrealities I have ventured to offend my God? Then you will see that what we preferred to Him was nought. But, on the other hand, all devotion and good works will then seem so precious and so sweet:—Why did I not tread that pleasant path? Then what you thought to be little sins will look like huge mountains, and your devotion will seem but a very little thing.
3. Consider the universal farewell which your soul will take of this world. It will say farewell to riches, pleasures, and idle companions; to amusements and pastimes, to friends and neighbours, to husband, wife and child, in short to all creation. And lastly it will say farewell to its own body, which it will leave pale and cold, to become repulsive in decay.
4. Consider how the survivors will hasten to put that body away, and hide it beneath the earth—and then the world will scarce give you another thought, or remember you, any more than you have done to those already gone. “God rest his soul!” men will say, and that is all. O death, how pitiless, how hard thou art!
5. Consider that when it parts from the body the soul must go at once to the right hand or the left. To which will your soul go? what side will it take? none other, be sure, than that to which it had voluntarily drawn while yet in this world.

Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Affections and Resolutions.
1. Pray to God, and throw yourself into His Arms. O Lord, be Thou my stay in that day of anguish! May that hour be blessed and favourable to me, if all the rest of my life be full of sadness and trial.
2. Despise the world. Forasmuch as I know not the hour in which I must quit the world, I will not grow fond of it. O dear friends, beloved ones of my heart, be content that I cleave to you only with a holy friendship which may last for ever; why should I cling to you with a tie which must needs be broken?
I will prepare for the hour of death and take every precaution for its peaceful arrival; I will thoroughly examine into the state of my conscience, and put in order whatever is wanting. 

Thank God for inspiring you with these resolutions: offer them to His Majesty: intreat Him anew to grant you a happy death by the Merits of His Dear Son’s Death. Ask the prayers of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. OUR FATHER, etc.
Gather a bouquet of myrrh.

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Conference given by Cardinal Caffarra on March 12 in Rome at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. “FAITH AND CULTURE AT GRIPS WITH MARRIAGE”


by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra

I believe that it is necessary to make a clarification of terms, so as to be able to indicate with conceptual rigor what precisely is the theme of my reflection.

Faith: by this I mean the “fedes quae” concerning marriage. It is synonymous with the “gospel of marriage,” both in the objective sensCae – what the Gospel proposes concerning marriage – and in the subjective sense – the Gospel, the good news that is marriage. It is to be emphasized that I will not reflect on the doctrine of faith concerning marriage considered in and of itself, but as it is communicated in a precise cultural setting, that of the West. In brief: I will reflect upon the communication of the Christian proposal concerning marriage within Western culture.

And moving on to the second term: culture. By this I mean the shared vision of marriage today in the West. By vision I mean the manner of thinking about marriage, above all as it is expressed in the juridical structure of states and in the declarations of international bodies.

My reflection will be divided into three sections.

In the first I will seek to sketch an outline of the cultural condition in which marriage finds itself today in the West.

In this second I will seek to identify the fundamental problems that this cultural condition presents to the Christian proposal concerning marriage.

In the third I will indicate some fundamental ways in which the Gospel of marriage must be presented today.

1. Condition of marriage

“Rari nantes in gurgite vasto.” The famous verse of Virgil’s is a perfect snapshot of the condition of marriage in the West. The edifice of marriage has not been destroyed; it has been deconstructed, dismantled piece by piece. In the end we have all the pieces, but there is no edifice anymore.

There still exist all the categories that constitute the institution of marriage: conjugality; paternity-maternity; filiation-fraternity. But these no longer have any uniform significance.

Why and how was this deconstruction able to take place? Beginning to look deeper, we note that what is at work is an institutionalization of marriage that dispenses with the biosexual determination of the person. It becomes ever more thinkable to separate marriage completely from the sexuality proper to each of the two spouses. This separation has even come to be applied to the category of paternity-maternity.

The most important consequence of this debiologization of marriage is its reduction to a mere private emotion, without any fundamental public relevance.

The process that has led to the separation of the institution of marriage from the sexual identity of the spouses has been long and complex.

– The first phase is constituted by the way of thinking about the person’s relationship with his own body, a theme that has always accompanied Christian thought. I would like to describe how matters have progressed through a metaphor.

There are foods that when ingested can be metabolized without creating any problems, either immediate or remote; they neither cause indigestion nor raise the cholesterol. There are foods that, when ingested, are difficult to digest. Finally, there are foods that are harmful for the organism, even in the long term.

Christian thought has ingested the Platonic and Neoplatonic vision of man, and this decision has created serious problems of “metabolism.” As the medieval theologians liked to put it, the wine of faith was at risk of being turned into the water of Plato, rather than the water of Plato into the wine of faith.

Augustine saw very clearly and profoundly that the difficulty lay in the “humanitas-humilitas Verbi,” in his having become flesh, body.

The properly theological difficulty could not help but become also an anthropological difficulty concerning precisely the person-body relationship. The great thesis of Saint Thomas that affirmed the substantial unity of the person did not turn out to be victorious.

– Phase two. The separation of the body from the person finds a new impulse in the methodology characteristic of modern science, which bans from its object of study any reference to subjectivity, as an unmeasurable quantity. The process of separating the body from the person can be said to have been substantially concluded: the reduction, the transformation of the body into a mere object.

On the one hand, the biological aspect has been gradually expelled from the definition of marriage, and on the other, and as a result in terms of the definition of marriage, the categories of a subjectivity reduced to pure emotionalism have become central.

I will dwell on this for a bit. Before the debiologizing transformation, in substance the “genome” of marriage and family was constituted of the relationship between two other relationships: the relationship of reciprocity (conjugality) and the intergenerational relationship (paternity). All three relationships were interpersonal: they were considered as relationships rooted in the person. They certainly could not be reduced to the biological aspect, but the biological aspect was taken up and integrated within the totality of the person. The body is a person-body and the person is a body-person.

Now conjugality can be either heterosexual or homosexual; paternity can be obtained through a technical procedure. As Pier Paolo Donati has correctly demonstrated, what we are witnessing is not a morphological change but a change of the genome of the family and of marriage.

2. Problems raised for the Gospel of marriage

In this second section I would like to identify the fundamental problems that this cultural condition raises for the Christian presentation of marriage.

I think that this is not in the first place a problem of ethics, of human conduct. The condition in which marriage and the family find themselves today cannot be addressed in the first place with moral exhortations. It is a radically anthropological question that is situated within the proclamation of the Gospel of marriage. I would now like to specify in what sense.

– The first dimension of the anthropological question is the following: it is well known that according to Catholic teaching the sacrament of marriage coincides with natural marriage. I think that there can no longer be any theological doubt about the coinciding of the two, even if with and after Duns Scotus – the first to deny it – there has long been discussion in the Latin Church in this regard.

Now what the Church meant and means by “natural marriage” has been demolished in contemporary culture. If I may put it this way, the “matter” has been removed from the sacrament of marriage.

Theologians, canonists, and pastors are rightly asking about the faith-sacrament relationship of marriage. But there is a more radical problem. Those who are asking for sacramental marriage, are they capable of natural marriage? Has there been such devastation, not of their faith but of their humanity, that they are no longer capable of marriage? Attention must certainly be paid to canons 1096 (“For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring”) and 1099. Nevertheless, the “praesumptio iuris” of § 2 of canon 1096 (“This ignorance is not presumed after puberty”) must not be an occasion of disregard for the spiritual condition in which many find themselves with regard to natural marriage.

– The anthropological question has a second dimension. This consists in the inability to perceive the truth and therefore the preciousness of human sexuality. It seems to me that Augustine described this condition is the most precise way possible: “Submerged and blinded as I was, I was not capable of thinking of the light of truth and of a beauty that was worthy of being loved for its own sake and was not visible to the eyes of the flesh, but within” (Confessions VI 16, 26).

The Church must ask itself why it has in point of fact ignored the magisterium of Saint John Paul II on human sexuality and love. We must also ask ourselves is this: the Church possesses a great school in which it learns the profound truth of the body-person: the liturgy. How and why has it been unable to draw upon this also with regard to the anthropological question of which we are speaking? To what extend is the Church aware that “gender” theory is a real tsunami that is not aimed primarily at individual behavior but at the total destruction of marriage and the family?

In summary: the second fundamental problem that is raised today for the Christian presentation of marriage is the reconstruction of a theology and philosophy of the body and of sexuality capable of generating a new educational effort in the Church as a whole.

– The anthropological question raised by the condition in which the Christian presentation of marriage finds itself has a third dimension, and this is the most serious.

The collapse of reason in its straining toward the truth as spoken of in the encyclical “Fides et Ratio” (81-83) has brought along with it the will and freedom of the person. The impoverishment of reason has generated the impoverishment of freedom. As a result of the fact that we despair of our capacity to know a total and definitive truth, we have trouble believing that the human person can really give himself in a total and definitive way, and receive the total and definitive self-donation of another.

The proclamation of the Gospel of marriage has to do with a person whose will and freedom have been deprived of their ontological substance. This lack of substance gives rise to the person’s incapacity today to think about the indissolubility of marriage except in terms of a law “exterius data”: a measure inversely proportional to the measure of freedom. This is a very serious question in the Church as well.

The transition in civil law from divorce by fault to divorce by consent institutionalizes the condition in which the person finds himself today in the exercise of his freedom.

– With this last observation we have entered into the fourth and last dimension of the anthropological question raised for the Gospel of marriage: the internal logic of state legal systems concerning marriage and the family. Not so much the “quid juris,” but the “quid jus,” as Kant would say. On the question in general Benedict XVI expressed the magisterium of the Church in one of his fundamental discourses, the one he gave before the parliament of the German federal republic in Berlin on September 22, 2011.

Legal systems have been gradually uprooting family law from the nature of the human person. It is a sort of tyranny of artificiality that is being imposed, reducing legitimacy to procedure.

I have spoken of the “tyranny of artificiality.” Let’s take the case of the attribution of conjugality to homosexual cohabitation. While until now the legal system, starting from the presupposition of the natural capacity to contract marriage between man and woman, limited itself to determining the impediments to the exercise of this natural capacity or the form in which it had to be exercised, the current laws of equivalency attribute to themselves the authority to create the capacity to exercise the right to marry. The law arrogates to itself the authority to make artificially possible that which is not naturally so.

It would be a grave error to think – and act accordingly – that civil marriage has nothing to do with the Gospel of marriage, which would be concerned only with the sacrament of marriage. To abandon civil marriage to the tendencies of liberal societies.

3. Modality of the proclamation

In this third and final point I would like to indicate some ways in which the Christian presentation of marriage must not be made, and some ways in which it can be made.

Their are three ways that must be avoided.

The traditionalist modality, which confuses a particular form of being family with the family and marriage as such.

The catacomb modality, which chooses to return to or remain in the catacombs. Concretely: the “private virtues of the spouses” are enough; it is better to let marriage, from the institutional point of view, be defined by what liberal society decides.

The neighborly modality, which maintains that the culture of which I spoke above is an unstoppable historical process. It therefore proposes to come to terms with it, preserving that which seems recognizable in it as good.

I do not have time now to reflect longer on each of these three modalities, so I will move on to indicate a few positive modalities.

I will begin with an observation. The reconstruction of the Christian vision of marriage in the individual conscience and in the culture of the West is to be considered a long and difficult process. When a pandemic hits a population, the most urgent thing is certainly to care for those afflicted, but it is also necessary to eliminate the causes.

The first necessity is the rediscovery of the original evidence concerning marriage and the family. To remove from the eyes of the heart the cataract of the ideologies, which prevent us from seeing reality. It is the Socratic-Augustinian pedagogy of the inner teacher, not simply of consensus. That is: recovering that “know yourself” which has accompanied the spiritual journey of the West.

The original evidence is inscribed in the very nature of the human person. The truth of marriage is not a “lex exterius data,” but a “veritas indita.”

The second necessity is the rediscovery of the concurrence of natural marriage and the marriage sacrament. The separation of the two ends on the one hand with thinking of sacramentality as something extra, extrinsic, and risks on the other the abandonment of the institution of marriage to that tyranny of the artificial about which I spoke above.

The third necessity is the recovery of the “theology of the body” present in the magisterium of Saint John Paul II. Christian pedagogy today finds itself in need of a theological and philosophical effort that can no longer be pushed back or limited to a particular institution.

As you see, this is a matter of taking seriously that superiority of time over space of which “Evangelii Gaudium” speaks (222-225). I have indicated three processes rather than three urgent interventions.

I too, finally, am of the opinion of George Weigel that at the foundation of the synod discussion is the relationship that the Church wants to have with postmodernity, in which the wreckage of the deconstruction of marriage is the most dramatic and unmistakable reality.

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“Resistance through forgiveness”

The videos of a ten-year-old Iraqi displaced by IS (Islamic State) and of a brother of two Egyptian labourers beheaded in Libya both voicing forgiveness for their persecutors have been watched by a million viewers and drawn the attention of mainstream Arab media which rarely covers Christian news.

Under the title “Iraqi Girl Myriam Faces ISIS with Love”, pan-Arab broadcaster Al Arabiya told how the clip of young refugee Myriam had spread via social media and was impressing ordinary viewers and media commentators.

A columnist in Lebanese newspaper Al Nahar said the SAT-7 interview with her “should be presented in Lebanese schools as a lesson in humanity”.

The massive interest in these clips shows the impact of “resisting violence through forgiveness”, said Farid Samir, Egypt director of Christian satellite channel SAT-7 which made both clips.

The clip showed Myriam saying she “will ask God to forgive IS” and singing a worship song. It reached over 1 million people and was watched by over 200,000 within 42 hours of appearing on the SAT-7 ARABIC Facebook page. Since then it has been seen by almost half a million viewers on SAT-7 web and social media pages alone.

Read the original article here

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St Dismas to Christ’s right, Gestas to His left.

Last night, some cheeky blighter walked up my drive, undeterred by the security light, opened my garage door and stole my (unlocked) bicycle. Outrageous!

I reported it just now to the local police using an online form which was a doddle. I doubt it can be recovered, but I wanted to report the incident in the hope that it may help Mr Plod to establish a pattern. A near neighbour, I hear, has been burgled also.

I rarely rode the bike of late, so I won’t be missing it greatly. I had bought it shortly after my daughter’s death to try and improve my health, give me some energy and be able to accompany my other children out and about.

This all got me thinking about theft. All sin is theft, in a way. We all take God’s gifts without His permission and misuse them, be they the time of our life, ill-gotten pleasures, or our neighbour’s goodwill and sanctity.

St Dismas, the good thief whom Jesus promised would join Him in Paradise that very Friday, his saving Grace was his honesty in admitting his worthiness to be crucified for his own crimes and his recognition of Christ’s Goodness and unjust plight there on Calvary. He begged the Saviour’s forgiveness.

Let us also not forget but “know perfectly, that the day of the Lord shall so come, as a thief in the night.” (1 Thess 5:2).


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Meditation Four – Sin

Taken from “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales: Chapter XII, Fourth Meditation.

On Sin


1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God. 2. Ask Him to inspire your heart.

1. Consider how long it is since you first began to commit sin, and how since that first beginning sin has multiplied in your heart; how every day has added to the number of your sins against God, against yourself and against your neighbour, by deed, word, thought and desire.
2. Consider your evil tendencies, and how far you have followed them. These two points will show you that your sins are more in number than the hairs of your head, or the sand on the seashore.
3. Apart from sin, consider your ingratitude towards God, which is in itself a sin enfolding all the others, and adding to their enormity: consider the gifts which God has given you, and which you have turned against the Giver; especially the inspirations you have neglected, and the promptings to good which you have frustrated. Review the many Sacraments you have received, and see where are their fruits. Where are the precious jewels wherewith your Heavenly Bridegroom decked you? with what preparation have you received them? Reflect upon the ingratitude with which, while God sought to save you, you have fled from Him and rushed upon destruction.

The Return of the Prodigal Son - Murillo

The Return of the Prodigal Son – Murillo

Affections and Resolutions.
1. Humble yourself in your wretchedness. O my God, how dare I come before Thine Eyes? I am but a corrupt being, a very sink of ingratitude and wickedness. Can it be that I have been so disloyal, that not one sense, not one faculty but has been sullied and stained;—not one day has passed but I have sinned before Thee? Was this a fitting return for all my Creator’s gifts, for my Redeemer’s Blood?
2. Ask pardon;—throw yourself at the Lord’s Feet as the prodigal son, as the Magdalene, as the woman convicted of adultery. Have mercy, Lord, on me a sinner! O Living Fountain of Mercy, have pity on me, unworthy as I am.
3. Resolve to do better. Lord, with the help of Thy Grace I will never again give myself up to sin. I have loved it too well;—henceforth I would abhor it and cleave to Thee. Father of Mercy, I would live and die to Thee.
4. In order to put away past sin, accuse yourself bravely of it, let there not be one sinful act which you do not bring to light.
5. Resolve to make every effort to tear up the roots of sin from your heart, especially this and that individual sin which troubles you most.
6. In order to do this, resolve stedfastly to follow the advice given you, and never think that you have done enough to atone for your past sin.

1. Thank God for having waited till now for you, and for rousing these good intentions in your heart. 2. Offer Him all your heart to carry them to good effect. 3. Pray that He would strengthen you.

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Essential Elements for Liturgical Renewal: Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Washington D.C.

: By    http://www.onepeterfive.com




And why speak I of the world to come? Since here this mystery makes earth become to you a heaven. Open only for once the gates of heaven and look in; nay, rather not of heaven, but of the heaven of heavens; and then you will behold what I have been speaking of. For what is there most precious of all, this will I show you lying upon the earth. For as in royal palaces, what is most glorious of all is not walls, nor golden roofs, but the person of the king sitting on the throne; so likewise in heaven the Body of the King. But this, you are now permitted to see upon earth. For it is not angels, nor archangels, nor heavens and heavens of heavens, that I show you, but the very Lord and Owner of these.

– St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1st Cor., as cited in Dominus Estby Bishop Athanasius Schneider, p. 34

On February 14, 2015, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, was sponsored by the Paulus Institute to give a talk in Washington, DC.  During the talk, he proposed concrete actions — ten essential elements — which should be implemented to accomplish liturgical renewal.

As an attendee, I was impressed once again by his excellency’s concern for reverence and piety in Catholic worship. Because of the deep value of the insights he presented, I would like to offer to you my own summary of his principle themes.

The bishop instructed that ever since apostolic times, the Church sought to have holy liturgy, and that it is only through the action of the Holy Spirit that one can truly adore Christ. Exterior gestures of adoration that express interior reverence are vital within the context of the liturgy. These include bowing, genuflections, prostrations, and the like. His excellency cited St. John Chrysostom’s writings on liturgy, particularly focusing on the following theme: The liturgy of the Church is a participation in and must be modeled upon the heavenly liturgy of the angels.

The notion of heavenly liturgy, and our participation in it at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, offers some perspective to those of us who may be tempted to take for granted the incredible miracle in our midst. The reality is that each Catholic church is, itself, a place wherein dwell angels, archangels, the kingdom of God, and God’s own Heavenly Self. If we were somehow able to be transported to the heavenly liturgy, we would not dare speak even to those we know and love. When we are within a Church, we should therefore speak reservedly, and then only of sacred things.

In the early church, the altar and other sacred items were veiled out of respect for the sacred mystery in which they played a role. There was not, contrary to popular belief in our present time, a versus populum celebration of Mass or even a widespread practice of communion in the hand. The priest and the people faced together towards God in the liturgical East.

When we celebrate liturgy, it is God who must be at the center. The incarnate God. Christ. Nobody else. Not even the priest who acts in His place.

It impoverishes the liturgy when we reduce the signs and gestures of adoration. Any liturgical renewal must therefore restore these and bring about a more Christocentric and transcendent character of the earthly liturgy which is more reminiscent of the angelic liturgy.


Ten Elements of Renewal

Bishop Schneider offered these 10 points of implementation which he views as fundamental for liturgical renewal (audio begins at 27 minutes):

  1. The tabernacle, where Jesus Christ, the Incarnate God, is really present under the species of bread should be placed in the center of the sanctuary, because in no other sign on this earth is God, the Emmanuel, so really present and so near to man as in the tabernacle. The tabernacle is the sign indicating and containing the Real Presence of Christ and should therefore be closer to the altar and constitute with the altar the one central sign indicating the Eucharistic mystery. The Sacrament of the Tabernacle and the Sacrifice of the Altar should therefore not be opposed or separated, but both in the central place and close together in the sanctuary. All the attention of those who enter a church should spontaneously be directed towards the tabernacle and the altar.
  2. During the Eucharistic liturgy – at the very least during the Eucharistic prayer – when Christ the Lamb of God is immolated, the face of the priest should not be seen by the faithful. Even the Seraphim cover their faces (Isaiah 6:2) when adoring God. Instead, the face of the priest should be turned toward the cross, the icon of the crucified God.
  3. During the liturgy, there should be more signs of adoration — specifically genuflections — especially each time the priest touches the consecrated host.
  4. The faithful approaching to receive the Lamb of God in Holy Communion should greet and receive Him with an act of adoration, kneeling. Which moment in the life of the faithful is more sacred than this moment of encounter with the Lord?
  5. There should be more room for silence during the liturgy, especially during those moments which most fully express the mystery of the redemption. Especially when the sacrifice of the cross is made present during the Eucharistic prayer.
  6. There should be more exterior signs which express the dependence of the priest on Christ, the High Priest, which would more clearly show that the words the priest speaks (ie., “Dominus Vobiscum“) and the blessings he offers to the faithful depend on and flow out from Christ the High Priest, not from him, the private person. Not “I greet you” or “I bless you” but “I the Lord” do these things. Christ. Such signs could be (as was practiced for centuries) the kissing of the altar before greeting the people to indicate that this love flows not from the priest but from the altar; and also before blessing, to kiss the altar, and then bless the people. (This was practiced for millennium, and unfortunately in the new rite has been abolished.) Also, bowing towards the altar cross to indicate that Christ is more important than the priest. Often in the liturgy — in the old rite — when a priest expressed the name of Jesus, he had to turn to the cross and make a bow to show that the attention should be on Christ, not him.
  7. There should be more signs which express the unfathomable mystery of the redemption. This could be achieved through the veiling of liturgical objects, because veiling is an act of the liturgy of the angels. Veiling the chalice, veiling the paten with the humeral veil, the veiling of the corporal, veiling the hands of the bishop when he celebrates a solemnity, The use of communion rails, also, to veil the altar. Also signs – signs of the cross by the priest and the faithful. Making signs of the cross during the priest by the Eucharistic prayer and by the faithful during other moments of the liturgy; when we are signing ourselves with the cross it is a sign of blessing. In the ancient liturgy, three times during the Gloria, the Credo, and the Sanctus, the faithful made the sign of the cross. These are expressions of the mystery.
  8. There should be a constant sign which expresses the mystery also by means of human language – that is to say, Latin is a sacred language demanded by the Second Vatican Council in celebration of every holy Mass and in each place a part of the Eucharistic prayer should always be said in Latin.
  9. All those who exercise an active role in the liturgy, such as lectors, or those announcing the prayer of the faithful, should always be dressed in the liturgical vestments; and only men, no women, because this is an exercise in the sanctuary, close to the priesthood. Even reading the lectionary is directed towards this liturgy which we are celebrating to Christ. And therefore only men dressed in liturgical vestments should be in the sanctuary.
  10. The music and the songs during the liturgy should more truly reflect the sacred character and should resemble the song of the angels, like the Sanctus, in order to be really more able to sing with one voice with the angels. Not only the sanctus, but the entire Holy Mass. It would be necessary that the heart, mind and voice of the priest and the faithful be directed towards The Lord. And that this would be manifested by exterior signs and gestures as well.

There is a great deal to reflect on here. Each of these ten points seems, to me at least, indispensable in our pursuit of truly reverent worship in our churches. None of these points is incompatible with either the Church’s ancient liturgy or, perhaps more importantly, with the liturgy envisioned by the Council Fathers in Sacrosanctum Concilium.

It would be a tremendous blessing if more bishops would take up these ten points as essential guidelines for liturgy in their dioceses. I encourage you to send them along to your own bishop for his consideration. There were more treasures in the Q&A, which I have elected not to transcribe due to the length. (If you are interested in the full audio of the talk, see below.)

I also had the opportunity to meet briefly with the bishop at the conclusion of his talk. When I thanked him for his leadership in a time where it seems so many of our shepherds are not speaking with clear voices for the teachings of the Church, he said to me, “It is you who must do this. You, the faithful, your families. You must be holy. You must teach the faith to your children. You must inspire the priests.” On the subject of vocations, he said that we must offer our children to God if we wish for them to receive a call. It would seem that with this advice — paired with the concrete suggestions he previously offered in his article published earlier this year — he is calling on us, the laity, to begin a holiness revolution if we wish to see reform the Church.

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Meditation Three – The Gifts of God

Taken from “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales: Chapter XI. Third Meditation.

Of the Gifts of God.

The Harvest Cradle - John Linnell

The Harvest Cradle – John Linnell

1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God. 2. Ask Him to inspire your heart.

1. Consider the material gifts God has given you—your body, and the means for its preservation; your health, and all that maintains it; your friends and many helps. Consider too how many persons more deserving than you are without these gifts; some suffering in health or limb, others exposed to injury, contempt and trouble, or sunk in poverty, while God has willed you to be better off.
2. Consider the mental gifts He has given you; how many there are in the world who are idiots, fools, or madmen. Why are you not amongst them? Again, God has favoured you with a decent and valuable education, while many have grown up in utter ignorance. 800px-bapteme_cathedrale_de_troyes_290308

3. Further, consider His spiritual gifts. You are a child of His Church, God has taught you to know Himself from your youth. How often has He given you His Sacraments? what inspirations and interior light, what reproofs, He has given to lead you aright; how often He has forgiven you, how often delivered you from occasions of falling; what opportunities He has granted for your soul’s progress! Dwell somewhat on the detail, see how Loving and Gracious God has been to you.

Affections and Resolutions.
1. Marvel at God’s Goodness. How good He has been to me, how abundant in mercy and plenteous in loving-kindness! O my soul, be thou ever telling of the great things the Lord has done for thee!
2. Marvel at your own ingratitude. What am I, Lord, that Thou rememberest me? How unworthy am I! I have trodden Thy Mercies under foot, I have abused Thy Grace, turning it against Thy very Self; I have set the depth of my ingratitude against the deep of Thy Grace and Favour.
3. Kindle your gratitude. O my soul, be no more so faithless and disloyal to thy mighty Benefactor! How should not my whole soul serve the Lord, Who has done such great things in me and for me?
4. Go on, my child, to refrain from this or that material indulgence; let your body be wholly the servant of God, Who has done so much for it: set your soul to seek Him by this or that devout practice suitable thereto. Make diligent use of the means provided by the Church to help you to love God and save your soul. Resolve to be constant in prayer and seeking the Sacraments, in hearing God’s Word, and in obeying His inspirations and counsels.

1. Thank God for the clearer knowledge He has given you of His benefits and your own duty.
2. Offer your heart and all its resolutions to Him.
3. Ask Him to strengthen you to fulfil them faithfully by the Merits of the Death of His Son. OUR FATHER, etc. Gather the little spiritual bouquet.

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“The Glorious St. Joseph”


“Go to Joseph”
By Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:

Saint Bernardine of Siena used to say; “There is no doubt about it; in Heaven, Jesus Christ not only continues to show Saint Joseph every sign of the familiarity and respect with which he showed him during his life on earth, as Son to father, but adds to them with fresh honours.” Notice these two words: familiarity and respect. The Lord, who on earth honoured Saint Joseph as a father, will certainly not refuse him anything he asks in Heaven.

At this point we ought to add that Saint Joseph had on earth no authority over the humanity of Jesus Christ as a natural father would have, though he did, in a certain sense, have authority over him as husband of Mary who had authority over him as his natural Mother. Whoever has the right to a tree, also has the right to the fruit it bears. Consequently, on Earth Jesus Christ used to respect Joseph and obey him as His superior, and it follows that Saint Joseph’s prayers in Heaven are treated as orders by Jesus Christ. This is Gerson’s thought: “When a father prays to his son,” he says, “his prayers truly are commands.”

Now let us listen to what Saint Bernard has to say about Saint Joseph’s intercessory power on behalf of his supplicants: “There are some saints who have the power of protecting in certain specific circumstances; but Saint Joseph has been granted the power to help us in every kind of need, and to defend all who have recourse to him with pious dispositions.”

That was how Saint Bernard put it; Saint Teresa confirms his opinion from her own experience and tells us: “It would seem that God has only granted the other saints power to help us in one kind of necessity; but experience shows that Saint Joseph can help in every kind of need.”

There is no doubt about it: just as Jesus Christ wanted to be subject to Joseph on Earth, so He does everything the saint asks of Him in Heaven. When Egypt was laid waste by the great famine, Pharaoh told his people, Ite ad Joseph! – Go to Joseph! So if we are in trouble, let us listen to the word of the Lord and take Pharaoh’s advice; let us go to Joseph if we wish to be consoled…Above all, I most strongly urge you to ask him for three special graces: forgiveness of sins, love of Jesus Christ, and a happy death.

(This reading on St. Joseph was taken from ‘The Magnificat’ for Thursday, March 19, Solemnity of St. Joseph.)


Prayer to St. Joseph,
patron of the Universal Church,
by Pope Leo XIII

To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we fly in our tribulation, and, having implored the help of thy most holy Spouse, we also now confidently implore thy holy patronage. We beseech thee by that charity, which united thee with the Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God, and we humbly pray thee by that fatherly love, with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, to look kindly upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by His Blood, and to come to help us in our necessities with thy virtue and powerful aid.

Defend, O most watchful Guardian of the Holy Family, the chosen offspring of Jesus Christ. Ward off from us, O most loving Father, every contagion of error and corruption. Be propitious to us from Heaven, O our most mighty Protector, in our struggle with the power of darkness; and as once thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the greatest peril of His life, so now defend the Holy Church of God from the snares of Her enemies and from all adversity. Shield too, each one of us with thy constant protection, so that, supported by thy example and powerful aid, we may be able to live a holy life, die a holy death, and attain everlasting beatitude in Heaven.


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Meditation Two – Of the End for which we were Created

This is the second preparatory meditation taken from “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales, in order to make a complete general Confession before Easter.

Let the Children Come unto Me - Vogel Von Vogelstein

Let the Children
Come unto Me – Vogel Von Vogelstein

1. PLACE yourself before God. 2. Ask Him to inspire your heart.

1. God did not bring you into the world because He had any need of you, useless as you are; but solely that He might show forth His Goodness in you, giving you His Grace and Glory. And to this end He gave you understanding that you might know Him, memory that you might think of Him, a will that you might love Him, imagination that you might realise His mercies, sight that you might behold the marvels of His works, speech that you might praise Him, and so on with all your other faculties.
2. Being created and placed in the world for this intent, all contrary actions should be shunned and rejected, as also you should avoid as idle and superfluous whatever does not promote it.
2. Consider how unhappy they are who do not think of all this,—who live as though they were created only to build and plant, to heap up riches and amuse themselves with trifles.

Affections and Resolutions.
1. Humble yourself in that hitherto you have so little thought upon all this. Alas, my God, of what was I thinking when I did not think of Thee? what did I remember when I forgot Thee? what did I love when I loved Thee not? Alas, when I ought to have been feeding on the truth, I was but filling myself with vanity, and serving the world, which was made to serve me.
2. Abhor your past life. I renounce ye, O vain thoughts and useless cogitations, frivolous and hateful memories: I renounce all worthless friendships, all unprofitable efforts, and miserably ungrateful self-indulgence, all pitiful compliances.
3. Turn to God. Thou, my God and Saviour shalt henceforth be the sole object of my thoughts; no more will I give my mind to ideas which are displeasing to Thee. All the days of my life I will dwell upon the greatness of Thy Goodness, so lovingly poured out upon me. Thou shalt be henceforth the delight of my heart, the resting-place of all my affections. From this time forth I will forsake and abhor the vain pleasures and amusements, the empty pursuits which have absorbed my time;—the unprofitable ties which have bound my heart I will loosen henceforth, and to that end I will use such and such remedies.

1. Thank God, Who has made you for so gracious an end. Thou hast made me, O Lord, for Thyself, that I may eternally enjoy the immensity of Thy Glory; when shall I be worthy thereof, when shall I know how to bless Thee as I ought?
2. Offer. O Dearest Lord, I offer Thee all my affections and resolutions, with my whole heart and soul.
3. Pray. I entreat Thee, O God, that Thou wouldest accept my desires and longings, and give Thy Blessing to my soul, to enable me to fulfil them, through the Merits of Thy Dear Son’s Precious Blood shed upon the Cross for me. OUR FATHER, etc. Gather your little spiritual bouquet.

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Meditation One – Creation

Continuing on from our four earlier meditations (1), (2), (3), and (4), taken from St. Francis de Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life”,  the saint advises us to consider the following ten meditations (one per day) before making a complete general confession. (This would be an excellent exercise in purifying our souls as we prepare to enter Holy Week). Therefore we shall be printing one of these meditations each morning for the next ten days.

Creation of Adam, Michelangelo

Creation of Adam, Michelangelo


Of Creation.

1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God. 2. Ask Him to inspire your heart.

1. Consider that but a few years since you were not born into the world, and your soul was as yet non-existent. Where wert thou then, O my soul? the world was already old, and yet of thee there was no sign.
2. God brought you out of this nothingness, in order to make you what you are, not because He had any need of you, but solely out of His Goodness.
3. Consider the being which God has given you; for it is the foremost being of this visible world, adapted to live eternally, and to be perfectly united to God’s Divine Majesty.

Affections and Resolutions.
1. Humble yourself utterly before God, saying with the Psalmist, O Lord, I am nothing in respect of Thee—what am I, that Thou shouldst remember me? O my soul, thou wert yet lost in that abyss of nothingness, if God had not called thee forth, and what of thee in such a case?
2. Give God thanks. O Great and Good Creator, what do I not owe Thee, Who didst take me from out that nothingness, by Thy Mercy to make me what I am? How can I ever do enough worthily to praise Thy Holy Name, and render due thanks to Thy Goodness?
3. Confess your own shame. But alas, O my Creator, so far from uniting myself to Thee by a loving service, I have rebelled against Thee through my unruly affections, departing from Thee, and giving myself up to sin, and ignoring Thy Goodness, as though Thou hadst not created me.
4. Prostrate thyself before God. O my soul, know that the Lord He is thy God, it is He that hath made thee, and not thou thyself. O God, I am the work of Thy Hands; henceforth I will not seek to rest in myself, who am nought. Wherein hast thou to glory, who art but dust and ashes? how canst thou, a very nothing, exalt thyself? In order to my own humiliation, I will do such and such a thing,—I will endure such contempt:—I will alter my ways and henceforth follow my Creator, and realise that I am honoured by His calling me to the being He has given; I will employ it solely to obey His Will, by means of the teaching He has given me, of which I will inquire more through my spiritual Father.

1. Thank God. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and praise His Holy Name with all thy being, because His Goodness called me forth from nothingness, and His Mercy created me.
2. Offer. O my God, I offer Thee with all my heart the being Thou hast given me, I dedicate and consecrate it to Thee.
3. Pray. O God, strengthen me in these affections and resolutions. Dear Lord, I commend me, and all those I love, to Thy neverfailing Mercy. OUR FATHER, etc.
At the end of your meditation linger a while, and gather, so to say, a little spiritual bouquet from the thoughts you have dwelt upon, the sweet perfume whereof may refresh you through the day.

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The Last Catholic King of Ireland

From Crisis Magazine , written by K.V. Turley.

Recently, whilst traveling through Ireland, I passed over a small bridge. The river was easily crossed but I was conscious that the waters below were those of the River Boyne, and that upon its banks had been fought a battle that was to prove calamitous for the Catholic faith in these islands. And yet, for one of the chief protagonists of that fateful encounter there was to follow an unexpected coda, one that began shortly afterwards at a monastery in France, and that now caused me to view these events in an altogether different light.

The battle took place as part of a wider conflict that threatened to engulf the whole of Europe just as it had the whole of the British Isles. However, the genesis of these events was to start five years previously and many miles away in London, on a cold dank February day in 1685, as the then monarch, King Charles II, lay dying.

The Stuarts had, by then, been restored and the unpopular puritanism of the Commonwealth ended. From the start, this restoration had been popular, partly on account of the fact that its king had political skills of the first order—and was thus a man of little integrity. This lack of integrity extended to matters of religion. He had to be Anglican as head of the Church of England but he secretly despised the institution, drawing more and more toward Catholicism. Indeed a paradox, for this was the same man who looked the other way when the last Catholic martyr, the then Archbishop of Armagh, Oliver Plunkett, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn barely four years earlier. Nevertheless, when the end did come, and as his court stood and watched, his brother, the Duke of York (later King James II) leaned over the dying monarch and whispered if he should send for a priest. The reply was vigorous: “For God’s sake do!”

Read the original article here.

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Thick As A Brick

This was the first Jethro Tull song I ever heard. I recorded it onto cassette from a live performance on radio in 1978. I still like it now.

Here are the first few lyrics:

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.
My words but a whisper your deafness a SHOUT.
I may make you feel but I can’t make you think.
Your sperm’s in the gutter your love’s in the sink.
So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away
in the tidal destruction the moral melee.
The elastic retreat rings the close of play
as the last wave uncovers the newfangled way.
But your new shoes are worn at the heels
and your suntan does rapidly peel
and your wise men don’t know how it feels
to be thick as a brick.

St Patrick could never explain why he spoke so well of God in spite of his un-learnedness. He had to put it down to God’s Grace and the working of the Holy Spirit. He would freely tell people that he was as “thick as a brick” (I paraphrase). I think this explains his success as a missionary and popularity as a Saint.

The Confessio of St Patrick can be found here.


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Éirinn go Brách – Brian Doyle

St Patrick’s Day March, Melbourne, Australia, 1960

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the (Catholic) University of Portland, Oregon, and the author most recently of A Book of Uncommon Prayer (Ave Maria Press).

Please read his “passionate” (and quite persuasive!) proem here.

We say all these brave and cheerful things today:
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! And Éirinn go Brách,
Ireland forever! And you wear your green necktie
Which you never wear the rest of the year, and we
Do actually stop and think about old Ireland, once
Or twice, remembering a grandfather, or Maureen
O’Hara, or Samuel Beckett’s seamed-granite face;
But right now, all together, for a long moment, out
Of real love and reverence for a place and a people,
Let us think about the adamant courage of the Irish,
Enslaved for centuries, forbidden their own tongue,
Forbidden their religion, their own rich moist land,
Forbidden to teach their own children in ways they
Thought right and proper. But the enslaving empire
Could not kill their imagination, their laughter, their
Love affair with literature, their wild joyous music;
The empire could not quell their spirit, their defiant
Grace and endurance; and they ejected the invaders
At last, and built their own country, and millions of
The children of wild green Ireland sailed across the
World, and helped spark other brave free countries,
Among them the very one in which we stand. Don’t
Forget the real Ireland: not today, of all days. Never
Forget the actual Saint Patrick, his courage, his lack
Of bitterness, his life teaching the miraculous Word.
Sing today, yes! Sing with all your heart; but do sing
A courage that could not be crushed, an imagination
That could not be imprisoned, a song sung anywhere
Free people insist on telling their own wild holy tales.

St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

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