Sr. Lucia Fatima Miracle needed for 4 year old girl – Please Pray!

Catholics have been asked to republish this article from Listening in the Desert on our blogs. We are happy to oblige.

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This year is the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. And today, February 13th is the anniversary of the death of the Carmelite nun, Sr. Lucia of Fatima.

It seems fitting that today should be the day we begin praying for her intercession for a a sweet 4 year old girl named Christina Thomas. Last week, Christina was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The doctors have said there is nothing they can do.

4 year old Christina Thomas

4 year old Christina Thomas

We need a miracle. Christina’s father, Kenny, is a secular Carmelite, like myself, and we both have a great devotion to Fatima. We have informed Kenny’s Bishop that we will ONLY be asking for the intercession of Sr. Lucia, as this is very important in the beatification process.

Please join us in begging for the intercession of Sr. Lucia for little Christina. We want a complete and total healing for Christina and a miracle for the beatification for Sr. Lucia. Please share this post as much as possible and please feel free to use it on your own blog or Catholic publication.

 

Sr. Lucia of Fatima

Sr. Lucia of Fatima

Prayer for the Beatification of the Servant of God Sister Lucia

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly and I thank you for the Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, that revealed to the world the riches of her Immaculate Heart. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I implore You, if it should be for Your greater glory and the good of our souls, to glorify Sr. Lucy, one of the Shepherds of Fatima, by granting us the grace which we implore through her intercession (the total healing of 4 year old Christina Thomas from a terminal brain tumor).

Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

With Ecclesiastical approval

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Preparing for Nineveh 90. Starts Today, Monday, February 13

Jonah goes to Nineveh

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

(Jonah 3:1-9)

 

The Fall of Ninevah by John Martin

The Fall of Ninevah by John Martin

By Fr Richard Heilman on Roman Catholic Man

The video, below, does a nice job categorizing this journey we about to embark upon. I’d like use his categories to help us prepare for Nineveh 90, which starts on Monday, February 13. If you have signed up, go to Nineveh90.com.

image1. Health and Wellness: In spiritual terms we refer to this as “mortification” which, literally, means “dying to yourself.” We are spending this time dying to the “junk habits” of our lives and embracing the “healthy habits” that will increase our “strength in the Lord and His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10).

Doing this together with 1000s of others, gives us the extra incentive to persevere. Also, having an accountability group and/or buddy gives us that extra encouragement we all need to keep on keeping on. Take this time to work on all those healthy habits we tend to put off until tomorrow.

For me, I will be adding much more walking to my strength training program, and I will be eating only healthy foods, with a reduction of daily calorie intake. I will be eating small meals throughout the day to rev up my metabolism. You need to decide what “healthy direction” you need to take for yourself.

2. Prayer: Mass (more than days of obligation), frequent Confession and good basic daily habits of prayer are “best practices” for all who seek to be that “Strong Catholic.” These 90 days are a great time to get these “basics of our faith” more engrained as regular habits in our life.

As you can see by the photo for this article, I have just a couple of prayer books (find them HERE), my Combat Rosary, and a cup of coffee at my desk. This is where I choose to offer my morning prayers (mostly because I am near a computer for finding readings and reflections). Everyone is different. You may have a special area in your house set aside. Or, maybe offering a rosary in the car works best for you. However and wherever you choose, have your prayer book(s) or print out of prayers all ready, as you begin your Nineveh 90 journey.

3. Marian Devotion: In the first 54 days, we will all be praying the 54 Day Rosary Novena, and in the last 33 days, we will be preparing for our Marian Consecration on May 13, which is the 100th anniversary of Fatima. What a beautiful way for the 1000s us to, collectively, call out to Mary to seek her very powerful intercession.

All of these daily prayer and reflections will be emailed every day to those who sign-up for the emails at Nineveh90.com. You can also find them posted everyday at Nineveh90.com. If you like to take a book with you, the 54 Day prayers and reflections can be found in this book HERE.

 

Now go to:

DAY 1, NINEVEH 90 – PERFECTION

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Catholic Heroes. . . Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac

web-blessed-alojzje-stepinac-court-trial-public-domain
From The Remnant:

The Trial of Blessed Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac:

– Hailed by Pope Pius XII as the “most important priest in the Catholic Church.”
– Beatified by Pope John Paul II
– So hated by the Nazis that they demanded Pope Pius XII remove him (Pius refused)
– Imprisoned by the Communists
– Laid down his life for those most persecuted during and after World War II
– Died of complications from his imprisonment for defending the rights of Christ the King
– Denounced Martin Luther as a “False Prophet”
– Blamed Protestantism for the “hell in which human society suffers today”
– Would not have made a very good ecumenist.
– Would have been excommunicated from the ‘Church of Accompaniment’

History always balances its accounts. For years the Communists endeavored to separate Croatian Catholics from the Pope. They used all means to sever Church unity: vain pledges and threats; bribery and murder; trickery and torture.

The focal point in that artificial conglomeration of Yugoslavia and other satellite countries to Moscow – was identical: the communist notion of the state must not allow the existence of any “alien powers” on its territory (not even the Catholic Church). What disturbed the communist dream most were the tight ties of local churches with the Pope in Rome.

Enter Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac of Zagreb: a man who railed against the government for interfering in a Church which answered only to Peter’s Successor.

In Tito’s Yugoslavia, that Yugoslavia where communism had a “human face”, Archbishop Stepinac was arrested, sentenced during a shameful mock trial, imprisoned and detained until his death—all because his response to those communist efforts was a firm “No!” He said “no” to attractive proposals, and then confirmed his “no” when faced with force.

“My conscience is clear and calm. If you will not give me the right, history will give me that right,” he said during that deplorable trial.

It was the victory of history that was witnessed on Saturday, October 3, 1998, when St. Peter’s Successor beatified the Croatian who had been ready to give his life as witness to the rights of Catholics both in Croatia and abroad.

Aloysius Stepinac came from a peasant family, born in Brezani near Krasic on May 8, 1898. He was the eighth of twelve children, and his mother always prayed that he might one day become a priest. Her spirited boy, however, was prevented from doing so right away. In 1916 Stepinac was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army and fought on the Italian front until he was taken prisoner. In 1919 he was released and returned to civilian life, but put off the priesthood in order to study agriculture at the University of Zagreb. It was not until six years later that Stepinac decided to become a priest and went to Rome to study. He was ordained six years later on October 26, 1930.

He returned to Zagreb in July, 1931, with the degrees of Doctor of Theology and Philosophy, and became secretary to Archbishop Antun Bauer of Zagreb. Soon afterward he was nominated as coadjutor to the Archbishop. After this nomination, Stepinac stated: “I love my Croatian people and for their benefit I am ready to give everything, as well as I am ready to give everything for the Catholic Church.” In response to the many messages of support, Stepinac “was sincerely thankful for all the congratulations,” but said that he was not enthusiastic about the appointment because it was too heavy a cross for him. The Lord had an even greater cross in mind, however, and after Bauer’s death on December 7, 1937, Stepinac became the Archbishop of Zagreb. His Bishop’s motto was: In te, Domine, spe-ravi (In you, Lord, I place my trust).

As Archbishop, Stepinac was an extremely outspoken defender of the Catholic Faith. He especially criticized Protestantism, stating in a speech in 1938 that “the Catholic Church was the greatest civilizing force in human history,” and railed against those who wanted to deprive the Catholic Church of any influence in public life. He referred to the Reformation as the “Deformation”, and denounced Luther as a false prophet who “demolished the principles of legal authority given by the Lord.” He went on to blame Protestantism for the “hell in which human society suffers today,” and said that it had opened the road to “anarchy in all forms of human life.”

During World War II, he tirelessly dedicated himself to human rights, both civil and religious, primarily in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and then particularly in the Independent State of Croatia. Despite the Nazi occupation he was not afraid to publicly and courageously defend the rights of the persecuted. His door was always open not only to Croatians, but also Jews, Serbs and Slovenes that needed his help. The Archbishop desired most of all that Croatia remain a country of God.

In May of 1943, he openly criticized the Nazis, and as a result the Germans and Italians demanded that he be removed from office. Pope Pius XII refused, but warned Stepinac that his life was in danger. In July of 1943, the BBC and the Voice of America began to broadcast Stepinac’s sermons to occupied Europe, and the BBC commented on Stepinac’s criticism of the Ustasha regime.

(Interesting footage of the trial. Though not in English, the sensus Catholicus of the Cardinal is hard to miss.)

He was a marked man; on May 17, 1945, nine days after the Communists came to power, he was arrested. Two weeks later, however, he was released and carried on as before, until an assassination attempt in November of that year compelled him to cease his pastoral visits outside of Zagreb.

The war itself finally came to an end, but Stepinac’s devotion to Truth and humanity had made powerful enemies. Early one September morning, as the Archbishop vested for Mass, he was arrested and thrown into prison to await trial. The trial, which began on September 30, 1946, was later determined to have been a shameful fabrication, but at the time its legitimacy was not challenged. He was “found guilty” of Nazi collaboration, and was convicted on October 11, 1946; sentenced to sixteen years’ imprisonment and the loss of all civil and political rights for five years. From prison he continued to thunder against manipulation of the church by the state. He spent the first five years in the prison of Lepoglava, and in 1951, Tito’s government released him as a precondition for American aid, but confined him to the village of Krasic.

Even though he was forbidden by the government to resume his duties, Stepinac was named Cardinal by Pope Pius XII on January 12, 1953. That same year, Stepinac was diagnosed with polycythemia, a rare blood disorder involving the excess of red blood cells, causing him to joke, “I am suffering from an excess of reds.”

On February 10, 1960, at the age of 61, Stepinac died of thrombosis. Since the disease was brought on by complications from illnesses endured while in prison for make-believe crimes, many Catholics call him a martyr. On February 13th, he was buried behind the main altar in the cathedral in Zagreb. Pope Pius XII stated, “This Croatian Cardinal was the most important priest of the Catholic Church.”

In 1985, his trial prosecutor, Jakov Blazevic, publically admitted that Cardinal Stepinac’s trial was entirely framed, and that Stepinac was tried only because he refused to sever thousand-year-old ties between Croatians and the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Spelman commented that: “The only thing Cardinal Stepinac is guilty of was his love for God and his homeland.”

On October 3, 1998, in Marija Bistrica, Pope John Paul II beatified Cardinal Stepinac, and referred to him as one of the outstanding figures of the Catholic Church. Even Ljubomir Rankovic, Deacon of the Serbian Orthodox Church, supported the beatification: “I, as a person and a priest, wish to express my admiration for this move.” There were also prominent members of the Jewish community who testified to the generosity of aid Stepinac provided during the war.

Without a doubt, Blessed Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac is one of the greatest Croatian patriots of the 20th century.

Sources:
glas-koncila.hr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=119&Itemid=122
croatianhistory.net/etf/stepinac.html
wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloysius_Stepinac

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A Homily for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes – 11th February

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(Slightly abbreviated and adapted from a homily by Pope Benedict XVI at Lourdes.)

“Go and tell the priests that people should come here in procession, and that a chapel should be built here.” This is the message Bernadette received from the “beautiful lady”. For 150 years, pilgrims have never ceased to come to the grotto of Massabielle to hear the message of conversion and hope which is addressed to them. And we can do the same; [come] to the feet of Mary, the Immaculate Virgin, eager to learn from her alongside little Bernadette.

“What a great thing it is to possess the Cross! He who possesses it possesses a treasure” (Saint Andrew of Crete, Homily X on the Exaltation of the Cross, PG 97, 1020). God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that men might be saved (cf. Jn 3:16). The Son of God became vulnerable, assuming the condition of a slave, obedient even to death, death on a cross (cf. Phil 2:8). By his Cross we are saved. The instrument of torture which, on Good Friday, manifested God’s judgment on the world, has become a source of life, pardon, mercy, a sign of reconciliation and peace. “In order to be healed from sin, gaze upon Christ crucified!” said Saint Augustine (Treatise on Saint John, XII, 11). By raising our eyes towards the Crucified one, we adore him who came to take upon himself the sin of the world and to give us eternal life. And the Church invites us proudly to lift up this glorious Cross so that the world can see the full extent of the love of the Crucified one for all. She invites us to give thanks to God because from a tree which brought death, life has burst out anew. On this wood Jesus reveals to us his sovereign majesty, he reveals to us that he is exalted in glory. Yes, “Come, let us adore him!” In our midst is he who loved us even to giving his life for us, he who invites every human being to draw near to him with trust.

This is the great mystery that Mary also entrusts to us, inviting us to turn towards her Son. In fact, it is significant that, during the first apparition to Bernadette, Mary begins the encounter with the sign of the Cross. More than a simple sign, it is an initiation into the mysteries of the faith that Bernadette receives from Mary. The sign of the Cross is a kind of synthesis of our faith, for it tells how much God loves us; it tells us that there is a love in this world that is stronger than death, stronger than our weaknesses and sins. The power of love is stronger than the evil which threatens us. It is this mystery of the universality of God’s love for men that Mary came to reveal in Lourdes. She invites all people of good will, all those who suffer in heart or body, to raise their eyes towards the Cross of Jesus, so as to discover there the source of life, the source of salvation.

The Church has received the mission of showing all people this loving face of God, manifested in Jesus Christ. Are we able to understand that in the Crucified One of Golgotha, our dignity as children of God, tarnished by sin, is restored to us? Let us turn our gaze towards Christ. It is he who will make us free to love as he loves us, and to build a reconciled world. For on this Cross, Jesus took upon himself the weight of all the sufferings and injustices of our humanity. He bore the humiliation and the discrimination, the torture suffered in many parts of the world by so many of our brothers and sisters for love of Christ. We entrust all this to Mary, mother of Jesus and our mother, present at the foot of the Cross.

In order to welcome into our lives this glorious Cross, Our Lady’s apparitions in Lourdes urges us to embark upon a journey of faith and conversion. Mary comes to meet us, so as to show us the way towards a renewal of life for our communities and for each one of us. By welcoming her Son, whom she presents to us, we are plunged into a living stream in which the faith can rediscover new vigour, in which the Church can be strengthened so as to proclaim the mystery of Christ ever more boldly. Jesus, born of Mary, is the Son of God, the sole Saviour of all people, living and acting in his Church and in the world. The Church is sent everywhere in the world to proclaim this unique message and to invite people to receive it through an authentic conversion of heart. This mission, entrusted by Jesus to his disciples, receives here, a breath of new life. May the missionary spirit which animated so many men and women from France over the centuries, continue to be your pride and your commitment!

When we follow in the footsteps of Bernadette, we are reminded of the heart of the message of Lourdes. Bernadette is the eldest daughter of a very poor family, with neither knowledge nor power, and in poor health. Mary chose her to transmit her message of conversion, prayer and penance, which fully accord with words of Jesus: “What you have hidden from the wise and understanding, you have revealed to babes” (Mt 11:25). On their spiritual journey, Christians too are called to render fruitful the grace of their Baptism, to nourish themselves with the Eucharist, to draw strength from prayer so as to bear witness and to express solidarity with all their fellow human beings (cf. Homage to the Virgin Mary, Piazza di Spagna, 8 December 2007). It is therefore a genuine catechesis that is being proposed to us in this way, under Mary’s gaze. Let us allow her to instruct us too, and to guide us along the path that leads to the Kingdom of her Son!

In the course of her catechesis, the “beautiful lady” reveals her name to Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception”. Mary thereby discloses the extraordinary grace that she has received from God, that of having been conceived without sin, for “he has looked on his servant in her lowliness” (cf. Lk 1:48). Mary is the woman from this earth who gave herself totally to God, and who received the privilege of giving human life to his eternal Son. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let what you have said be done to me” (Lk 1:38). She is beauty transfigured, the image of the new humanity. By presenting herself in this way, in utter dependence upon God, Mary expresses in reality an attitude of total freedom, based upon the full recognition of her true dignity. This privilege concerns us too, for it discloses to us our own dignity as men and women, admittedly marked by sin, but saved in hope, a hope which allows us to face our daily life. This is the path which Mary opens up for man. To give oneself fully to God is to find the path of true freedom. For by turning towards God, man becomes himself. He rediscovers his original vocation as a person created in his image and likeness.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, the primary purpose of the shrine at Lourdes is to be a place of encounter with God in prayer and a place of service to our brothers and sisters, notably through the welcome given to the sick, the poor and all who suffer. In this place, Mary comes to us as a mother, always open to the needs of her children. Through the light which streams from her face, God’s mercy is made manifest. Let us allow ourselves to be touched by her gaze, which tells us that we are all loved by God and never abandoned by him! Mary comes to remind us that prayer which is humble and intense, trusting and persevering must have a central place in our Christian lives. Prayer is indispensable if we are to receive Christ’s power. “People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone” (Deus Caritas Est, 36). To allow oneself to become absorbed by activity runs the risk of depriving prayer of its specifically Christian character and its true efficacy. The prayer of the Rosary, so dear to Bernadette and to Lourdes pilgrims, concentrates within itself the depths of the Gospel message. It introduces us to contemplation of the face of Christ. From this prayer of the humble, we can draw an abundance of graces.

The presence of young people at Lourdes is also an important element. When Mary received the angel’s visit, she was a young girl from Nazareth leading the simple and courageous life typical of the women of her village. And if God’s gaze focused particularly upon her, trusting in her, Mary wants to tell you once more that not one of you is indifferent in God’s eyes. He directs his loving gaze upon each one of you and he calls you to a life that is happy and full of meaning. Do not allow yourselves to be discouraged by difficulties! Mary was disturbed by the message of the angel who came to tell her that she would become the Mother of the Saviour. She was conscious of her frailty in the face of God’s omnipotence. Nevertheless, she said “yes”, without hesitating. And thanks to her yes, salvation came into the world, thereby changing the history of mankind. For your part, dear young people, do not be afraid to say yes to the Lord’s summons when he invites you to walk in his footsteps. Respond generously to the Lord! Only he can fulfill the deepest aspirations of your heart. You have come to Lourdes in great numbers for attentive and generous service to the sick and to the other pilgrims, setting out in this way to follow Christ the servant. Serving our brothers and sisters opens our hearts and makes us available. In the silence of prayer, be prepared to confide in Mary, who spoke to Bernadette in a spirit of respect and trust towards her. May Mary help those who are called to marriage to discover the beauty of a genuine and profound love, lived as a reciprocal and faithful gift! To those among you whom he calls to follow him in the priesthood or the religious life, I would like to reiterate all the joy that is to be had through giving one’s life totally for the service of God and others. May Christian families and communities be places where solid vocations can come to birth and grow, for the service of the Church and the world!

Mary’s message is a message of hope for all men and women of our day, whatever their country of origin. I like to invoke Mary as the star of hope (Spe Salvi, 50). On the paths of our lives, so often shrouded in darkness, she is a beacon of hope who enlightens us and gives direction to our journey. Through her “yes”, through the generous gift of herself, she has opened up to God the gates of our world and our history. And she invites us to live like her in invincible hope, refusing to believe those who claim that we are trapped in the fatal power of destiny. She accompanies us with her maternal presence amid the events of our personal lives, our family lives, and our national lives. Happy are those men and women who place their trust in him who, at the very moment when he was offering his life for our salvation, gave us his Mother to be our own!

In this land of France, the Mother of the Lord is venerated in countless shrines which thereby manifest the faith handed down from generation to generation. Celebrated in her Assumption, she is your country’s beloved patroness. May she always be honoured fervently in each of your families, in your religious communities and in your parishes! May Mary watch over all the inhabitants of your beautiful country and over the pilgrims! May she be for all people the Mother who surrounds her children in their joys and their trials! Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, to hope and to love with you. Show us the way towards the kingdom of your Son Jesus! Star of the sea, shine upon us and lead us on our way! (cf. Spe Salvi, 50). Amen.

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World Over – 2017-02-09: Raymond Arroyo and Edward Pentin discuss Vatican News

“There is never a dull moment in Rome with Pope Francis occupying the Chair of Peter”, claims Raymond Arroyo with humour.

An extract via YouTube from the EWTN World Over programme that first aired on Thursday, February 9th, has these two Catholic journalists trying to get to the truth of the latest actions of Pope Francis, plus other Vatican news.

 

Father Z adroitly ties the views expressed in this video with two other hot current news items of a distinctly anti-Catholic, hostile bent. He notes that: “The liberal juggernaut … libbernaut? … is well-connected and organized. They work together.”

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Pope Francis is at peace with Vatican corruption but worries over young and traditional vocations

From Vox Cantoris:

You can read it all here. More insults, more degradation to those following a “rigid” life.

http://www.corriere.it/english/17_febbraio_09/pope-francis-there-is-corruption-the-vatican-but-m-at-peace-5f115a68-eeaa-11e6-b691-ec49635e90c8.shtml

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-denounces-traditional-orders-bursting-with-young-people?

Look at these rigid yutes. These who Bergoglio mocks.

Vicar of Christ, you say?

Vicar of the “god of surprises!”
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 Thanks, Vox, for these inspiring images. And thanks be to God for those ‘rigid’ souls!
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Fr Hunwicke’s invitation to Adopt a Pope

Amidst all the doom and gloom, here’s a bright idea from Father Hunwick’s Mutual Enrichment blog:

May I use this post to thank Dr Riccardo Turrini Vita, sometime President of Una Voce Italia, for the most wonderful present of a volume containing a full set of reproductions of the beautiful maps of Rome (La Nova Topografia di Roma) published in 1748 by Giambattista Nolli. The volume was dedicated alla Santita di Nostro Signore Papa Benedetto XIV. Prospero Lambertini, no less!

It has put into my mind something which, in these depressing days, I rather think might be an entirely new idea among all the endless repetitions of what has been said twenty times before. Really new!!! Let me explain.

Many people, including not a few who do me the honour of writing to me, are profoundly depressed, even disorientated, by this sad and dysfunctional pontificate. Many are angry; many feel themselves driven almost to the point of losing their Faith. And the signs are that things may get even worse.

One gigantic casualty has been the great respect which decent orthodox Catholics instinctively have for the person (not just the position) of the Roman Pontiff. This is a disastrous loss to the Church. And the tragedy is made all the worse by the probability that, however orthodox and ortholalic and orthopractic the next pope is, recovery of that almost automatic respect and love will be a lengthy business.

My NEW IDEA? ADOPT A POPE!! Choose a pope of some past time, and really get to know him. Wikipedia is not always either accurate or balanced, but, in its rough and ready way, it does provide masses of material to millions who cannot access an academic library. And links can be found to the fine old Catholic Encyclopaedia. Read about your chosen, adopted pope! Follow up the blue links! Find out what his birthplace, the places he lived in, and Rome itself, were like in his time. Read about the doctrinal, political, cultural controversies he was involved in.

I hope you get the idea. The process will remind you of a happier, saner, Rome in times when the Roman Pontiff was a sound and reliable breakwater, remora, against error. And, perhaps, put up the odd fine building or two! What was Christian iconography (sculpture, paintings …) like in his time? And, I pray, you will discover afresh the reasons why Christian people, ever since the Martyrdom of S Peter, have loved to go to Rome and cry Viva il Papa! God bless our Pope, the Great, the Good! Essentially, it is the immense joy of knowing that ‘Peter is speaking through Leo’, as the Fathers put it. It is a sense of the Soliditas Petri, a Leonine phrase of which non-Latinists will have no trouble guessing the meaning.

Yes; I know many of you are busy people. But, if you are unbusy, otiosi, enough to devote time to grumbling and to worrying and to disliking, you have time you can reallocate to ADOPTING A POPE! 

[Er … it has just occurred to me … perhaps better not choose Liberius and Vigilius and Honorius, or not for starters! Nor Alexander VI and the Marosia popes of the first millennium! But … for example … John XXII was a very fine pope, even if he did espouse an opinion subsequently found to be heretical.] 

ADOPT A POPE! ADOPT A POPE! ADOPT A POPE! ADOPT A POPE! ADOPT A POPE! 

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Pro-abort population controller ‘thrilled’ with direction Francis is taking Church

February 9, 2017

By Pete Baklinski from LifeSiteNews:

paul-ehrlichThe undisputed father of the modern, pro-abortion population control movement told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview that he is “thrilled” with the direction Pope Francis is taking the Catholic Church.

“I’m thrilled with the new pope moving the Church in the right direction,” Dr. Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb, told LifeSiteNews in a back-and-forth email exchange this week.

Does Ehrlich see hints that Francis will attempt to reverse Catholic teaching against contraception? “Family planning with modern contraception is the only ethical solution [to overpopulation],” he replies. “…Francis is a brilliant and compassionate man – draw your own conclusions.”

The Stanford biologist has been invited by the Vatican to present a paper at its conference at the end of this month on the topic of “sav[ing] the natural world” from extinction.

Titled Biological Extinction, the conference will address what Vatican organizers call an unsustainable “imbalance” between the world’s population and what the earth is capable of producing. The event is jointly sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

Dr. Ehrlich champions sex-selective abortion as well as mass forced sterilization as legitimate methods to curb population growth.

Ehrlich has been inimical to the Catholic Church and Her teachings on life, especially under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

In his 1994 book The Stork and the Plow Ehrlich suggested that the “brightest possibility for changing the Vatican’s position [against contraception] and letting humanity get on with saving itself is the determination of many Catholics outside the Vatican to effectuate that change.”

He denounced Catholicism as “dangerous” in a January 2013 article (two months prior to Francis’ election) for its opposition to contraception.

During the beginning of Francis’ pontificate, Ehrlich at first continued his trend of criticizing the pope and the Church for opposing contraception:

  • In 2014 he said that the “pope and many of the bishops are one of the truly evil, regressive forces on the planet” for their “opposition to the use of contraception.”
  • In September 2015 he called Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ “raving nonsense” for not allowing population control as a solution to environmental problems.
  • In October 2015 he called upon Pope Francis to break away from Catholic teaching by supporting “women’s rights and family planning.” He said that Francis “needs to heed his own comments on the Church’s ‘obsession’ with contraception and abortion, and assume a leadership position in support of women’s rights and family planning.”

But Ehrlich has now changed his tune.

This may be due to the more than a dozen instances since 2014 in which Pope Francis has indicated that he takes a different approach to the traditional Catholic teaching on contraception.

The Catholic Church teaches in Humanae Vitae that “each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of human life.” Contraception is called “intrinsically wrong” since it destroys the unitive and procreative integrity of the marital act.

LifeSiteNews asked Ehrlich in what direction he now sees Francis moving the Church.

“More towards concern for environmental issues like climate disruption and the Sixth Great Extinction [see here] that threaten the lives of future generations,” he said.

Does he see hints that Francis will attempt to reverse Catholic teaching against contraception?

“I think the Pope recognizes the threat to future lives, and to the persistence of society, posed by overpopulation,” he said.

“Family planning with modern contraception is the only ethical solution, and if made universally available would greatly reduce the frequency of abortion. It also would generally improve women’s health and education. Francis is a brilliant and compassionate man – draw your own conclusions,” he added.

Will he suggest in his paper at the upcoming Vatican conference that the Church reverse her teaching against contraception?

“It’s a joint paper with a colleague and not finished yet. Such issues will probably be determined when we meet in Rome,” he said.

URGENT: Tell the Vatican to cancel the speech by pro-abort extremist Paul Ehrlich. SIGN THE PETITION. Click here.

Michael Pakaluk, writing in Crux Now, called it a “nightmare” to see the Vatican honoring a “vicious attacker of the Church” with a prominent platform.

“Erhlich do[es] not simply contemplate abortion and contraception for population control: it is [his] main message. To invite [him], therefore, to speak on the practical question of population is implicitly to embrace [his] ethical commitments,” he wrote in a February 8 piece titled “By inviting enemies of Church, papal academies risk perfect storm.”

“Ehrlich has not changed his views in 60 years…He is addressing [the Vatican conference] to contribute to the undermining of Catholic teaching,” Pakaluk wrote.

LifeSiteNews asked the Holy See to respond to the concern that Ehrlich’s invitation might create the impression in the minds of believers and unbelievers alike that the Catholic Church no longer holds and defends the truth of the sanctity of human life and the unitive and procreative integrity of the conjugal act. No response was given.

LifeSiteNews also contacted the pontifical academies hosting the conference. They were asked why an anti-life, anti-family, and anti-Catholic scholar was invited to present a paper at their workshop. No response was given.

Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, said he was not surprised to see Ehrlich’s alleged change of heart towards Catholicism given the direction Pope Francis appears to be attempting to steer the Church.

“Of course Professor Ehrlich is ‘thrilled.’ Why wouldn’t he be? The same Church he has denigrated for decades is now seemingly open to his apocalyptic views,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, which fights gendercide and forced abortion in Asia, called Ehrlich’s views “irreconcilable with established Catholic teaching.”

“Ehrlich has stated that women should not be allowed to have as many children as they want, and has equated babies with garbage. He is anti-woman, anti-child, and ultimately, anti-human. It’s his kind of thinking that gave rise to China’s brutal One Child Policy,” she told LifeSiteNews.

This is not the first time an advocate for positions contrary to the Catholic faith has been invited to attend Vatican conferences. The leaders of both Pontifical Academies have, under Francis’ pontificate, surprisingly given prominent platforms to some of the world’s foremost proponents of abortion and population control, including Ban Ki-moon and Jeffrey Sachs.

A LifeSiteNews petition asking Pope Francis to stop Ehrlich from speaking at the Vatican conference and to clarify that the Vatican in no way supports his positions has been signed by 9000 people.

See also Elizabeth Yore’s article at The Remnant

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Prophesies of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

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Early life

ANNE CATHERINE EMMERICH was born at Flamske, a village situated about a mile and a half from Coesfeld, in the bishopric of Munster, on the 8th of September 1774, and was baptised in the church of St. James at Coesfeld. Her parents, Bernard Emmerich and Anne Hiller, were poor peasants, but distinguished for their piety and virtue. As a child, she spent alot of her time as a shepherdess, maid and seamstress until, aged 28, she entered the Augustinian Order, the Convent of Agnetenberg at Dulmen, Westphalia, and one year later, on 13th November 1803, she made her solemn vows.

Even during her earlier youthful years, Anne had been extraordinarily gifted with ecstasies and visions of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, her guardian angel, and many of the saints. The visions with which she was favoured were so like realities, and appeared to her so sweet and delightful, that she supposed all Christian children were favoured with the same; and she concluded that those who never talked on such subjects were only more discreet and modest than herself, so she resolved to keep silence also, to be like them. Although never given an adequate education, Anne seemed to understand Latin beginning in her very early years. Almost from infancy Anne reportedly had the gifts of discerning holy from unholy objects, consecrated objects or locations, and the identification of relics and from which saints they came. During her whole life she had continual intercourse with the souls in purgatory; and all her actions and prayers were offered for the relief of their sufferings. She was often seen making the entire Way of the Cross in her bare feet for the, even when snow had covered the ground.

Anne receives the Crown of Thorns

In 1798, whilst Anne was praying in the Jesuits’ Church at Coesfeld absorbed in contemplation before the Crucifix, she recounts a sudden burning sensation in her head and beheld the vision of her “Divine Spouse” approaching her from the altar “where the Blessed Sacrament was kept in the tabernacle” with two crowns in His hands: in His left hand was one made up of flowers, and in the right hand one of thorns. Anne chose the crown of thorns, and from that day on was often subjected to excruciating pain and bleeding from the puncture wounds of the thorns. She kept her head permanently covered to hide the swelling and blood stains from being seen by others.

Anne receives the Stigmata

In 1811, Anne was forced to leave her convent along with all the sisters when King Jerome Bonaparte closed all of the Religious houses during his reign. Four years before the suppression of her convent, Anne made a visit home with her family in Flamske. One day while she was kneeling and praying for hours before the Cross of the Church of St. Lambert at Coesfeld, Anne had asked our Lord for a share in His Passion as a sacrifice for the sake of her convent. From that time on, she began experiencing terrible pains in her hands, feet and side, an indication that God had given her the invisible stigmata.

On August 28,1812 (the Feast of St. Augustine), Jesus appeared to her in a vision and imprinted a cross-shaped wound on her breast directly above the heart. Later that same year, specifically on the 29th December 1812, at about 3pm she was lying on her bed in her little room, extremely ill, but in a state of ecstasy and with her arms extended, meditating on the sufferings of her Lord, and beseeching Him to allow her to suffer with Him. She said five Our Fathers in honour of the Five Wounds, and felt her whole heart burning with love. She then saw a light descending towards her, and distinguished in the midst of it the resplendent form of her crucified Saviour, whose wounds shone like so many furnaces of light. Her heart was overflowing with joy and sorrow, and, at the sight of the sacred wounds, her desire to suffer with her Lord became intensely violent. Then triple rays, pointed like arrows, of the colour of blood, darted forth from the hands, feet, and side of Jesus, and struck her hands, feet, and right side. When she recovered her senses she was astonished when she beheld blood flowing from the palms of her hands, and felt violent pain in her feet and side.

In 1813, Anne was examined by a group of both medical and Church authorities; an inquiry which lasted for five months. The examiners found Anne to be mentally sound, and they could not find any medical or temporal explanation for the wounds of the stigmata.

Anne lives off the Eucharist alone for 12 years

From the moment she received the Sacred Wounds until her death, Anne Catherine Emmerich took no solid food, existing only on the Sacred Host. In fact, when she would try to eat or drink she would have a severe reaction and would vomit violently when attempting to consume food, even broth. She was however able to consume the Holy Eucharist and her diet consisted only of the Eucharist.

In 1819 she was once again investigated by high-ranking secular authorities. She was taken away from all of her acquaintances and moved to a house in the country belonging to one of the authorities. They referred to her as ‘The Imposter’. She was locked up for three weeks with the authorities watching her 24×7 in 6 hour shifts. Much to the aggravation of her captors, she still consumed no food and bled through her Stigmata even though she prayed not to bleed so they would release her. After three weeks, she was finally sent back to her home in Dulmen by her frustrated captors. Two of them became very sympathetic to her cause. During her last few years, she did not sleep at all, a miracle in itself according to the testimonies of many doctors. She was given shelter by various charitable people in the area, and was bedridden for the rest of her life. God had chosen this gifted soul to become His victim, and she voluntarily suffered and sacrificed as a means of atonement and expiation for the souls that were living in sin.

Because of the great trouble caused by her visible stigmata, Anne implored our Lord to remove them, a prayer which was granted – at least partially – starting in 1819. Over the next seven years, her wounds became less visible until finally they disappeared, except for on special occasions or particular feast days of the Church calendar. They would reappear and continue to bleed, however, during each Lenten season, particularly on Good Fridays. There were other occasions when Anne Catherine Emmerich’s wounds would manifest and bleed severely, including some Holy Thursdays and a few Fridays outside of Lent. Yet she was never without the stigmata, for the rest of the time they were invisible but equally as painful.

The Extraordinary Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich

Anne also possessed the gift of many extraordinary visions, known as ecstasies. She was given visions of almost the entire life of Jesus, and most of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary also. These private revelations of Jesus and Mary’s life included the most intimate details and can be considered a complete vision of the Gospel story. Other visions included those of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, along with intimate details in the lives of many Saints.

Of the many visions and prophesies of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, her accounts concerning the future of the Church and the rising of the false church, are the most poignant in light of the upheavals we are witnessing in the Church, and which could be referring to our times. Here are some of the most relevant excerpts from her visions:

The Church is the only one, the Roman Catholic! And if there were left upon earth but one Catholic, he would be the one, universal Church, the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ against which the gates of Hell shall never prevail.”

I saw also the relationship between the TWO popes… I saw how baleful (evil; harmful) would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city (of Rome) … Once more I saw the Church of Peter was undermined by a plan evolved by the secret sect (Masonry), while storms were damaging it.”

I saw a secret sect relentlessly undermining the great Church… When the Church had been for the most part destroyed (by the secret sect), and when only the sanctuary and the altar were still standing, I saw the wreckers (of the secret sect) enter the Church with the Beast.”

I saw an apparition of the Mother of God, and she said that the tribulation would be very great. She added that these people must pray fervently with outstretched arms… They must pray above all for the Church of Darkness to leave Rome.”

The Church is in great dangerI see that in this place (Rome) the (Catholic) Church is being so cleverly undermined, that there will hardly remain a hundred or so priests who have not been deceived. They all work for destruction, even the clergy. The great devastation is now at hand.”

“When I saw the Church of St. Peter in ruins, and the manner in which so many of the clergy were themselves busy at this work of destruction – none of them wishing to do it openly in front of others – I was in such distress that I cried out to Jesus with all my might, imploring His mercy. Then, I saw before me the Heavenly Spouse… He said, among other things, that this translation of the Church from one place to another meant that She would seem to be in complete decline. But She would rise again; even if there remained but one Catholic, the Church would conquer again because She does not rest on human counsels and intelligence. It was also shown to me that there were almost no Christians left in the old acceptation of the word.”

“The Church is completely isolated and as if completely deserted. It seems that everyone is running away.”

Among the strangest things that I saw, were long processions of bishops. Their thoughts and utterances were made known to me through images issuing from their mouths. Their faults towards religion were shown by external deformities. A few had only a body, with a dark cloud of fog instead of a head. Others had only a head, their bodies and hearts were like thick vapors. Some were lame; others were paralytics; others were asleep or staggering.”

I saw what I believe to be nearly all the bishops of the world, but only a small number were perfectly sound…”

“Then I saw that everything that pertained to Protestantism was gradually gaining the upper hand, and the Catholic religion fell into complete decadence… In those days, Faith will fall very low, and it will be preserved in some places only, in a few cottages and in a few families which God has protected from disasters and wars.”

I saw that many pastors allowed themselves to be taken up with ideas that were dangerous to the Church. They were building a great, strange, and extravagant Church. Everyone was to be admitted in it in order to be united and have equal rights: Evangelicals, Catholics, sects of every description. Such was to be the new Church…”

I heard that Lucifer (if I am not mistaken) will be freed again for awhile, fifty or sixty years before the year 2,000 AD.

A false church, and wicked men scheming against the Catholic Church and doing much harm–both in her own time and in the future. And actually saw in a vision this, the enemies of the Church tearing it down and trying to build a new one on strictly human plans–but none of the saints would lend a hand. Later, this church of men is destroyed and the saints of God join in to rebuild the true Church of God, which becomes more glorious than ever before.”

(Emphasis ours)

Death and Beatification

Anne Catherine Emmerich died a most holy death on 9th February 1824, aged 49. At her beatification ceremony, on 3rd October 2004, Pope St. John Paul II said that “her special mystical vocation shows us the value of sacrifice and suffering with the crucified Lord”. She is one of those special victim souls whose complete self-abnegation allows them to be more completely filled with grace.

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.

(Taken from ‘Life of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’ and ‘Mystics of the Church’)

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Pope Francis Marks “DAY FOR LIFE” With Abortion Language Condemned By John Paul II

It has long been a ploy of the pro-abortion lobby, in desiring to enforce their sinister ideas on the population, to resort to softening the language used to fool people of the gravely wicked intentions hidden behind. Thus announcing that women be “pro-choice”, does not produce the same startling impact as the truthful description of those who promote, as a right for women, that of aborting their own child. It would be better called being “pro-death” or “pro-slaughter“. Likewise, the biggest organisation in the business of killing unborn babies, “Planned Parenthood”, has absolutely nothing to do for those planning to become parents. An accurate description of this evil organisation would be “Planned Barrenhood”.

Therefore, when the pope, elected guardian of the holy Deposit of Faith, resorts to using the same twisted language as the abortion industry, we are in big trouble!

From Voice of the Family

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Pope Francis has marked the “day for life” in Italy by adopting the abortion lobby’s euphemism “interruption of pregnancy” in place of language that accurately describes the killing of unborn children. In his message the Holy Father does speak some welcome words, encouraging “courageous educational action in favour of human life” and reminding the gathered crowds that “every life is sacred”. Unfortunately rather than refer to abortion he adopts terminology used by the abortion industry. In fact, the form of words used by Pope Francis is specifically condemned by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae:

Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology, such as ‘interruption of pregnancy’, which tends to hide abortion’s true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth.” (Evangelium Vitae, No. 58)

Phrases such as “interruption of pregnancy” and “termination of pregnancy” are used by the abortion lobby – people who promote, or carry out, the killing of children – to deflect from the reality of abortion. The term “interruption of pregnancy” is particularly offensive as the life of the unborn child is not “interrupted” by abortion, but permanently ended – it can never be resumed. The use of such language by Pope Francis reflects a growing convergence of language, policies and ideas between the Vatican authorities and the international population control movement:

Pope Francis has professed himself “gratified” by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which call for “universal access to sexual and reproductive health” by 2030. These terms are used by United Nations agencies, international organisations and many national governments to promote universal access to abortion and contraception.

* The Vatican has hosted many of the population control movement’s most influential figures, such as Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who has taken part in at least ten Vatican events during the current pontificate. Paul Ehrlich, who has called for forced abortion and mass sterilisation, will be a guest speaker at an event jointly hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Science and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences later this month.

* The Pontifical Council for the Family has produced a sex education programme that contains obscene images. Dr Rick Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist and adjunct professor of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, at the Catholic University of America, has worked with children who have been victims of clerical sex abuse and with priests who have carried out such abuse. After reviewing the PCF’s programme Dr Fitzgibbons said “in my professional opinion, the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth that I have seen over the past 40 years is the Vatican’s new sexual education program, The Meeting Point: Course of Affective Sexual Education for Young People.” He continued, “I was particularly shocked by the images contained in this new sex education program, some of which are clearly pornographic. My immediate professional reaction was that this obscene or pornographic approach abuses youth psychologically and spiritually.”

Conservative estimates indicate that over one billion unborn human lives have been lost since the legalisation of abortion across most of the world in the twentieth century. These killings exceed the number of people killed in all the wars throughout all of recorded human history, where estimates of deaths range from 150 million to 1 billion.

Yet Pope Francis, while he has made some brief references to abortion in homilies or speeches, has done nothing of any substance to address this mass killing. The documents of the two synods on the family, which were all approved by the pope prior to publication, either didn’t mention the issue at all, or only made brief passing reference to abortion – which has, throughout the world, targeted for mass destruction the most vulnerable member of the family, the unborn child, and which has caused untold damage to the surviving members of the families concerned.

The Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, purportedly about helping families in the modern world, but actually serving to undermine Catholic teaching on the nature of the moral law, contains only two passing references to abortion (in paragraphs 42 and 179), neither of which are condemnation of the practice as an evil per se. To give so little space, in a document on the family, to a crime which targets the most vulnerable members of the family in the sanctuary of their mothers’ wombs, reflects a shocking detachment from the fate of unborn children. Pope Francis’s comfortable co-existence with the “culture of death” was clearly displayed when he referred to abortionist Emma Bonino, who has been one of Italy’s leading abortion advocates for decades, as a “forgotten great”. It can also be seen in his September 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro in which he stated that “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.”

The problem is that, far from speaking too much about abortion, the Catholic hierarchy has been, with a few honourable exceptions, largely silent over the last fifty years in the face of the greatest mass killing of human beings in history.

Today Voice of the Family would like to respectfully remind the Holy Father, and the wider Church, of the reality of what abortion methods really involve. In the following videos, produced by LiveAction, former abortionist Anthony Levantino explains what really happens during abortion procedures.

Please go to Voice of the Family website to watch the videos.

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PETER SAYS NO

From First Things

By Fr. John Hunwicke, 7th February 2017

st_peter_basilica_vatican_01Perhaps the greatest Anglican intellect of the late twentieth century, Henry Chadwick, described Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman as “a formidable controversialist, as supreme a master of irony and satire as any in our literature.” There can be little doubt that Newman’s skills both dazzled his followers and admirers, and infuriated those whose own ecclesial comfort required them to evade his conclusions. In the febrile aftermath of the “Papal Aggression,” the restoration of the English Catholic hierarchy in 1851, Julius Hare, Archdeacon of Chichester, read a Charge to the clergy of his archdeaconry, in which he unloaded his wrath on “Dr. Newman’s Circaean talent for metamorphosing historical facts.” Newman

has employed a large portion of his time and of his ingenuity in the twofold process of transmuting fable into history and history into fable, until he seems to have almost lost the perception that there is any real, abiding distinction between them, and to fancy that they become one or the other at the touch of a sophist’s wand.

In our own day, as controversy swirls around the Bishop of Rome, we have much to learn from one particular touch of Newman’s “wand”—his account of what the pope can and cannot do.

In the Apologia pro Vita Sua of 1864, Newman takes up a criticism leveled against Catholicism—namely, that it is intransigent. Rather than denying this charge, he accepts and strengthens it, then characteristically turns it against the Church’s critics:

It is one of the reproaches urged against the Church of Rome, that it has originated nothing, and has only served as a sort of remora or break in the development of doctrine. And it is an objection which I embrace as a truth; for such I conceive to be the main purpose of its extraordinary gift.

Newman denied that Rome was the site of innovation. He saw that “the Church of Rome possessed no great mind in the whole period of persecution,” nor in the centuries that followed. “For a long while, it has not a single doctor to show: St Leo, its first, is the teacher of one point of doctrine.” Just as Peter was not the dazzling originator of new teaching, his successors have more often served as a brake on innovation than as its impetus.

Of course, theological creativity is currently much prized, not least by the pope. It appears to offer a way to break log-jams such as that involved in the ecclesial and sacramental status of those who have “remarried” after a divorce. Early in his pontificate, Pope Francis discovered that “one of my Cardinals” had written a fine book on mercy. As we say, he picked it up and ran with it. Before three years had passed, Amoris laetitia was bearing the fruits of the papal thinking.

It is relevant to the thesis I am examining to point out the extreme length of this apostolic exhortation, as well as the immense volume of words that emerges almost daily from the Domus Sanctae MarthaePapal prolixity, a malady both acute and chronic, combined with assertions (however ingenious) that non-x has “developed” into x, and has managed to do so in a less than three decades, can hardly be what Newman dreamed of when he praised the Roman Church for “serving as a sort of remora.”

The current attitude stems from the kind of false ultramontanism that Newman feared. As the possibility became clear that the First Vatican Council would define the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, Newman argued, in a famous letter to his bishop William Ullathorne, for the essentially negative nature of the Church’s magisterium:

When we are all at rest, and have no doubts, and at least practically, not to say doctrinally, hold the Holy Father to be infallible, suddenly there is thunder in the clear sky, and we are told to prepare for something, we know not what, to try our faith, we know not how. No impending danger is to be averted, but a great difficulty is to be created. Is this a proper work for an Ecumenical Council? … What have we done to be treated as the faithful never were treated before? When has the definition of doctrine de fide been a luxury of devotion, and not a stern painful necessity?

Newman believed that the power to impose belief de fide is a weapon in the Church’s armory to be used negatively, as “a stern painful necessity,” when an error has arisen or an “impending danger is to be averted.” He goes so far as to imply that magisterial intervention is “improper” except when there is an error to be condemned or averted. In other words, the Church behaves most properly when she resists innovation by saying (with St Paul at Galatians 1:8-9) anathema sit.

Newman had the best of historical grounds for his belief that the Roman and conciliar magisterium functions as an obstacle to innovation. When the Anglican patristic scholar and Church historian Trevor Jalland concluded his Bampton Lectures at Oxford in 1942 (published in 1944 as The Church and the Papacy: A Historical Study), he spoke of the Roman Church as having “in its long and remarkable history a supernatural grandeur which no mere secular institution has ever attained in equal measure,” and went on to refer to “its strange, almost mystical, faithfulness to type, its marked degree of changelessness, its steadfast clinging to tradition and to precedent.” He headed one of his chapters with a line from the Annales of the pre-Classical Roman poet Ennius—Moribus antiquis res stat Romana viresque—thus linking the Christian Roman faithfulness to Tradition with the pagan Roman appetite for venerable and normative antiquity. We may recall the work of the great Dutch philologist Christine Mohrmann, who demonstrated that the style and idiom of liturgical Latin, particularly of the Canon of the Mass, was consciously based upon the archaic cultic Latin of the earliest pagan Roman antiquity. In other words, “Roman” means “what is authentic because it is old.” This seems not quite to be the Rome of Papa Bergoglio and his God of Surprises.

When, in the second century, something recognizable as Church History begins to emerge, we find the Roman Church already exercising a negative charism of the exclusion of error. The significant teachers of Christian antiquity were not popes, and the heretical teachers did not spread their innovative perceptions from the city at the center of the world. To quote another Anglican, Dom Gregory Dix:

To Rome comes Marcion, already under censure in other Churches; but until Rome has condemned him he is still a Catholic Christian. It is at Rome that the controversies with the great Gnostic heresiarchs, which fill the latter half of the second century, were primarily thrashed out. It is at Rome that the answer to their claim to a secret tradition and a succession of teachers from the Apostles is elaborated; it is at Rome that the additions to the baptismal symbol which exclude their interpretations of the Gospel are first made; it is at Rome that the incompatibility of their Hellenistic presuppositions with the concrete thought of authentic Christianity is made plain. … Above all, in the controversy over Montanus, about which we know more than any other in this period, Rome is obviously the centre and focus of the final issue, even though Montanus never left Asia and the Apostolic Churches of Asia were his chief opponents. It is at Rome that the Montanists, excommunicated in Asia, repeatedly seek the communion of the Church; at Rome that Praxeas intervenes against them; at Rome that the Church of Lyons seeks to mediate between them and their opponents; Tertullian the Montanist reserves his wrath, not for the Asian bishops who had excommunicated and sought to exorcise the new Prophets of the Paraclete, but for the Roman bishop whose refusal of Communion had finally cut them off from the Church.

The story is always the same: the testing of some novelty against Tradition; the rejection of the novelty; the formal exclusion from the Church of those who attempted to promote it.

Before we go on, it may be valuable to listen for a moment to some whispers heard now in the baroque churches and palaces of Rome, to the murmurs of which the very cobblestones are conscious. And we shall find that we hear much about the action of the Holy Spirit in Bergoglian Rome. One high curial official, a senior canon lawyer, explained: “The Jubilee Year of Mercy expects [sic] the humble obedience (on the part of the Church’s shepherds) to the Spirit who speaks to them through Francis.” Another, now a newly minted cardinal, and a man schooled by his formation in the Legion of Christ to obey his superiors without criticism, revealed that the American bishops planned, at their November 2016 meeting, to discuss Amoris laetitia:

I think it is very important that they have that discussion. But at the same time I think it’s very important that we all understand that this is the Holy Spirit speaking. … Basically, this is the Holy Spirit speaking to us. Do we believe that the Holy Spirit wasn’t there in the first synod? Do we believe he wasn’t there in the second synod? Do we believe that he didn’t inspire our Holy Father Pope Francis in writing this document?

I wonder in how many other periods in the history of the Catholic Church the Third Person of the Holy Trinity was perceived as being so readily at the disposal of the politicians. A cursory glance at some of the documents from the early conciliar centuries suggests a much less vivid awareness of the Holy Spirit. The Chalcedonian Definitio Fidei observed that the devil (ho poneros) never ceases to supplant the seeds of orthodoxy and continually invents something new (kainon ti) against the truth; and then it goes on to reiterate previous magisterial documents (without tendentious attenuation). The Definitio Fidei of the Sixth Ecumenical Council begins with the word hepomene: “Following the five holy and Ecumenical synods …”; and ends, as Chalcedon had done, with an anathema against innovators. Perhaps, in their simple and primitive way, the Fathers of these councils thought it better to repeat the teaching of their predecessors than to co-opt the assistance of the Holy Spirit in the propagation of novelties.

These conciliar Fathers may have had sound reasons for their caution. It is well known that the First Vatican Council defined the doctrines of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and of his exercise (within certain limited circumstances) of that infallibility with which God had willed to endow His Church. It may be a little less widely recognized that, before doing this, the Fathers very wisely explained what the papal magisterium was actually for. And it is significant how carefully they couched this explanation in negative terms:

For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter so that, by His revelation, they might publish new teaching, but so that, by His assistance, they might devoutly guard and faithfully expound the revelation handed down through the Apostles: the Deposit of Faith (emphasis added).

And if it is not within the pay-grade of the Roman Pontiff to promote novelties when he speaks ex cathedra and to claim the support of the Holy Spirit for so doing, we may suspect that the same limitation will rest upon him when he uses a lesser register of his magisterium.

Despite the misgivings of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, Vatican I led to a welcome clarification in Catholic thinking about the Roman primacy. Vindicating Newman’s root conviction that doctrinal clarification normatively results from the repudiation of error, this clarification arose from an attack made upon the Council and the Church by Chancellor Bismarck. The German episcopate issued a ringing response to Bismarck, asserting that

even as far as concerns ecclesiastical matters, the pope cannot be called an absolute monarch, since indeed he is subject to Divine Law and is bound to those things which Christ set in order (disposuit) for his Church. He cannot change the constitution of the Church which was given to it by its divine Founder. … The constitution of the Church in all essential matters is founded in the divine arrangement (ordinatione) and is therefore immune from every arbitrary human disposition.

Their lordships went on to emphasize that papal infallibility “is restricted to the proper meaning of the supreme papal Magisterium; [which] indeed coincides with the extent of the infallible Magisterium of the Church herself and is bound to the doctrine contained in Holy Scripture and in Tradition and to the definitions already made by the Church’s Magisterium.”

The German press appears then to have suggested that the German hierarchy had watered down the conciliar definitions and produced a document that was viewed with disfavor in Rome. Pio Nono himself responded by endorsing the German statement, in a manner too lengthily and exuberantly fulsome to be quoted in full. His endorsement includes the following:

Venerable Brethren, you have continued the glory of the Church, since you have undertaken to restore the genuine sense of the definitions of the Vatican Council. … [S]uch is the perspicuity and solidity of your declaration that, since it leaves nothing to be desired, it ought to provide the occasion for our most fulsome congratulations. … [Y]our declaration expresses the inherent Catholic judgment, which is accordingly that of the sacred Council and of this Holy See, skillfully fortified and cleverly explained with such brilliant and inescapable arguments …

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger clearly had this remarkable theological exchange in mind when, writing primarily but not solely about the liturgy, he declared:

The more vigorously the primacy was displayed, the more the question came up about the extent and and limits of [papal] authority, which of course, as such, had never been considered. After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith. … The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition.

Neither the German Bishops, nor Blessed Pius IX, nor Cardinal Ratzinger found a need to assert the role of the Holy Spirit in springing surprises.

When Pope Benedict XVI published Summorum Pontificum in 2007, to “liberate” the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite, he asserted that it had never been abrogated (numquam abrogatum). This claim stimulated much critical excitement among canonists. What went comparatively unnoticed was the associated claim, in the Letter to the Latin episcopate, that the ancient rite could not be abrogated“In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.” I would myself gloss this by asserting that, like those other normative products of the earliest centuries, the canon of Scripture and the creeds and the threefold apostolic ministry, the Church’s ancient liturgical rites possess a normative and unremovable authenticity, an auctoritas that sets them above ephemeral canonical enactment. As Ratzinger had put it in the passage quoted above, “the authority of the pope is not unlimited.” It is bound to the service of Tradition, of the Depositum fidei.

When Peter speaks, he says no. It is true that he also offers words of affirmation, comfort, and encouragement, as all pastors do. But when he exercises the role most typical of the Petrine mystery—the safeguarding of the faith—he speaks in the negative. We see this in two of the most important exercises of the papal magisterium in the years since Vatican II—indeed, since the Council of Trent: Humanae vitae (1968) and Ordinatio sacerdotalis (1994).

Humanae Vitae was not the first major magisterial intervention on contraception. That had taken place a generation before, in Casti connubii (1930)when the See of St. Peter judged that a reply was needed to the Anglican Communion’s Lambeth Conference. In other words, Rome spoke against an innovation. And there can be no doubt that it was an innovation, throughout the Christian world, to suggest that contraception was anything other than immoral. Previous Lambeth Conferences had taught this; and when the 1930 Conference changed its teaching, one of the great theological luminaries of the Church of England, Charles Gore, Bishop first of Worcester, then of Birmingham, finally of Oxford, attacked it publicly. His paper excoriating the 1930 Conference was far more damning and outraged than any document I have seen on this subject from a Catholic source. As far as Byzantine Orthodoxy is concerned, as late as 1963 a popular book by a popular hierarch of English origin concluded its section on marriage with the unadorned statement, “Artificial methods of birth control are forbidden in the Orthodox Church.” (Later editions of the book did not maintain this position.)

In the 1960s, the discovery of pharmaceutical means of preventing conception without modifying the sexual act itself provided an opportunity for some Catholic writers to argue that the old prohibitions no longer applied. With historical hindsight it is easy to see that sexual ethics were the major problem of that decade—the point at which the zeitgeist most directly challenged the Church.

Blessed Paul VI, un po’ Amletico, as his predecessor described him, saw the crucial importance of the doctrinal questions involved here, and the responsibility that lay upon him as Successor of St. Peter to give a decisive and authoritative ruling. Indeed, the Holy Spirit was given to him so that he might devoutly guard and faithfully expound the teaching handed down through the apostles, the Deposit of Faith. He did not summon synods in which he invited selected bishops to express with Parrhesiawhatever views they had. He did not repeatedly suggest that the Holy Spirit might be abroad advocating a change in the established teaching. He did not float an ambiguously worded document in order to create an atmosphere in which those bishops who regarded themselves as closest to the pope’s mind could feel that they had been given sufficient authority to abandon the Tradition. Instead, Paul VI stated: “Therefore, having attentively sifted the documentation laid before Us, after mature reflection and assiduous prayers, We now intend, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to Us by Christ, to give Our reply to these grave questions.” And his reply was a decisive negative. It failed to claim the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

A similar pattern can be seen when John Paul II issued Ordinatio sacerdotalis in 1994. This document appeared at a stage in the sexual revolution that already seems as old-fashioned as grandmother’s lace. The veteran English feminist Germaine Greer had not yet been no-platformed by the student guardians of the dogmas of gender diversity because she had declared a “trans” candidate for a fellowship in her women’s college to be “not a woman.” Prepubescent children were not yet being encouraged to consider whether they might wish to change genders. But the proliferating absurdities of the next three decades are surely implicit in the question the pope set out to answer. That question was quite simply whether women, interchangeably with men, could receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders. And, in a brief magisterial intervention, John Paul II declared that the Church was unable (nullam facultatem habere) to ordain women.

In each of these cases, the proponents of innovation downplayed the significance of the changes they sponsored. In each, the reliability of the Tradition preserved by the papal intervention was dramatically vindicated before much time had passed.

Pope Paul’s Commission of Experts on contraception claimed that a liberalization would change nothing:

Some argue that to legitimize contraception will prepare the way for indulgence with regard to certain sins such as abortion, fellation, anal intercourse, fornication, adultery, and masturbation. How far this is from the truth. … The so-called new theory is extremely strict … with regard to oral and anal copulation, since it does not permit them. For in these acts there is preserved neither the dignity of love nor the dignity of the spouses as human beings created according to the image of God.

Rarely can some clever men have been so blindly and childishly naive.

The witness of Ordinatio sacerdotalis against the culturally mandated dissolution of sexual distinctions is as powerful a defense of Catholic Tradition, and indeed of authentic humanity, as Humanae vitae was. In these two documents, the papal magisterium rendered as significant a service as any that pope or council had provided in two millennia. And it did so neither by deploying intellectually stunning arguments, nor by rhetorical strategies involving the Holy Spirit, but simply by saying No; by setting up a barrier against innovation; by saying, This is not what we have received.

In the tragedies of Euripides, an intractable plot is sometimes brought to a satisfying conclusion by the use of a deus ex machina. Today it is a Spiritus Sanctus ex machina, the use of the Holy Spirit as a piece of cheap machinery to evade perceived inconveniences in inherited Christian teaching. Catholics seeks a different and higher kind of deliverance. In order that we may yes to Christ, Peter says no to the world.

Fr. John Hunwicke is a priest of the personal ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

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A Church Progressively Under Attack?

There was a fascinating post by Andrea Gagliarducci on Monday Vatican this morning that delves into the contentious subject of the Baptism of a little Jewish boy by the Christian maid when the child was in danger of death. Gagliarducci ties his story into the real problem, “the cancer of anti-Catholic propaganda [that] has seeped into the Church” today. 

Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX

Marginalized, sidelined from history, increasingly made to play a part which is not that of the main character – as secularization increasingly envelopes the Church from the inside, attacks against the Church are coming more frequently from the outside, from the cultural world, following a campaign that began with the Enlightenment. Traces of this campaign could be found in the recent debate surrounding Amoris Laetitia, as Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller has noted.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dropped this clue in an interview granted to the Italian ultraconservative magazine Il Timone. The main focus of the interview was doctrine, and just about everyone has tried to find within the lines of the interview answers to the dubia which theologians and faithful alike are struggling with after the publication of Amoris Laetitia. In fact, there is one passage of the interview that is of greater interest, as it goes back to the roots.

At one point the interviewer notes that doctrine has had “bad press” and is presented as a series of “legalisms”. The Prefect objects that “this bad reputation of doctrine is a legacy of 18th century rationalism. As reason pretended to understand everything of the world, albeit being impotent toward transcendence, faith was reduced to a mere sentiment valid for simple people. Faith is seen as a subjective judgment that comes about only after reason has recognized its limit.”

But the act of faith has its basis in reason, notes Cardinal Mueller. Faith – he says – is “a participation in God’s logos, and for this reason it is always necessary to underscore the rationality of the act of faith.” This was one of the themes Pope Benedict XVI loved the most, and probably also one of the reasons he had bad press. Arguing that faith is not an irrational act, but something which is part of the life of every man, is simply disruptive for a world that is built on rationalism and excludes faith, thus generating a human being unbound to transcendence – a man with no goals other that of living day by day.

So the campaign started with 18th century rationalism. In Italy, it brought about a process of national unification whose final goal was the conquest of Rome and of the Papal States. The era of Italian unification was later called Risorgimento, but it was in fact a movement about the seizure of Rome, as Angela Pellicciari, a prominent Italian historian, has pointed out in many books and especially in her Una storia della Chiesa.

In an interview granted to ACI Stampa, she explained that “the Papal States were the reference point for Catholics from all over the world. Both Pius IX and Leo XIII insisted on the importance of the pope’s temporal power. Temporal power was necessary in order to guarantee the libertas ecclesiae, the freedom of the Church, that is, the freedom of spiritual power. Pius IX wrote this in many documents: Catholics from all over the world would never have been certain of the current pope’s independence, and so of the actual independence of his Magisterium, if they had not the certainty that the Pope was free from the pressures of ruling princes.”

Pius IX, the last “Pope King”, affirmed that history had become “a plot against truth.” He is still a victim of attacks.

The latest of these attacks will be presented via cinema, as already happened last year. The Academy Award winning director, Steven Spielberg, is filming a movie on Edgardo Mortara’s story. Mortara was a Jewish, sick child from Bologna who, when in danger of death, was secretly baptized by a Christian maid whom his family hired illegally. Once his baptism was made known, he was separated from his family so that he could know the Faith into which he was baptized.

Continue reading

 

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Weak Point. Shout!

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By Fr. George W. Rutler (Pastor of Church of Saint Michael. NYC)

In the margin of a public speaker’s manuscript was the notation: “Weak point. Shout.” Such is the rhetoric of those who place emotion over logic and make policy through gangs rather than parliaments. In Athens 2,400 years ago, Aristophanes described the demagogue as having “a screeching, horrible voice, a perverse, cross-grained nature and the language of the marketplace.” That marketplace today includes the biased media and the universities that have become daycare centers.

The recent action of our government’s executive branch to protect our borders and enforce national security is based on Constitutional obligations (Art. 1 sec 10 and Art. 4 sec 4). It is a practical protection of the tranquility of order explained by Saint Augustine when he saw the tranquillitas ordinis of Roman civilization threatened. Saint Thomas Aquinas sanctioned border control (S. Th. I-II, Q. 105, Art. 3). No mobs shouted in the marketplace two years ago when the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act restricted visa waivers for Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. The present ban continues that, and only for a stipulated ninety days, save for Syria. There is no “Muslim ban” as should be obvious from the fact that the restrictions do not apply to other countries with Muslim majorities, such as Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Turkey.

These are facts ignored by demagogues who speak of tears running down the face of the Statue of Liberty. At issue is not immigration, but illegal immigration. It is certainly manipulative of reason to justify uncontrolled immigration by citing previous generations of immigrants to our shores, all of whom went through the legal process, mostly in the halls of Ellis Island. And it is close to blasphemy to invoke the Holy Family as antinomian refugees, for they went to Bethlehem in obedience to a civil decree requiring tax registration, and they violated no statutes when they sought protection in Egypt. Then there was Saint Paul, who worked within the legal system, and invoked his Roman citizenship through privileges granted to his native Tarsus in 66 B.C. (Acts 16:35-38; 22:25-29; 25:11-12) He followed ordered procedure, probably with the status of civis Romanus non optimo jure—a legal citizen, but not allowed to act as a magistrate.

It is obvious that the indignant demonstrators against the new Executive Orders are funded in no little part by wealthy interests who would provoke agitation. These same people have not shown any concern about the neglected Christians seeking refuge from persecution in the Middle East. In 2016 there was a 675% increase in the number of Syrian refugees over the previous year, but while 10% of the Syrian population is Christian, only one-half of one percent of the Syrian Christians were granted asylum. It is thankworthy that our changed government now wants to redress that. The logic of that policy must not be shouted down by those who screech rather than reason.

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Rome Covered in Posters Critical of the Pope!

Image from Mark Lambert

Image from Mark Lambert

It has been announced over much of the Catholic blogosphere (e.g., see HERE and HERE). Rome has been covered in posters portraying an unflattering photo of Pope Francis above words in a Romanesque dialect criticising him for some of his many acts that have shocked the Catholic world, and finally asking him but where, then, is your mercy [for these cases]?

“Hey Francis, you police congregations, priests are removed, (you have) decapitated the Order of Malta and the Franciscans (Friars of the Immaculate), ignored Cardinals …
but where is your mercy?”

How will Pope Francis react to this? If he has not already exhausted his little store of insults, he will be finding some particularly juicy ones for the authors of this prank!

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UPDATE

Conservative criticism intensifies against Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Conservative criticism of Pope Francis intensified Saturday after his intervention in the Knights of Malta order, with posters appearing around Rome citing his actions against conservative Catholics and asking: “Where’s your mercy?”

The posters appeared on the same day that Francis cemented his authority over the Knights by naming a top Vatican archbishop, Angelo Becciu, to be his special delegate to the ancient aristocratic order.

Francis gave Becciu, the No. 2 in the Vatican secretariat of state, “all necessary powers” to help lay the groundwork for a new constitution for the order, lead the spiritual renewal of its professed knights and prepare for the election of a new grand master, expected in three months.

The Vatican’s intervention with the sovereign group had provided fuel for Francis’ conservative critics, who until Saturday had largely confined their concern with his mercy-over-morals papacy to blogs, interviews and conferences.

On Saturday, dozens of posters appeared around Rome featuring a stern-looking Francis and referencing the “decapitation” of the Knights and other actions Francis has taken against conservative, tradition-minded groups.

Within hours, the city of Rome had plastered over the posters. Police launched an investigation into the conservative circles believed responsible, aided by closed-circuit cameras, the ANSA news agency said.

The posters, written in Roman dialect, also cited the way Francis had “ignored cardinals,” a reference to the four cardinals who have publicly asked Francis to clarify whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

Francis hasn’t responded directly, though he has made it clear he favors case-by-case allowances.

[…]

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Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Image result for sermon on the mount images

Jesus of Nazareth was a master teacher and a great storyteller. Picture him teaching and preaching to his young friends as they sat on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, on hillsides, in deserted places or in the temple precincts in Jerusalem. He incorporated everything around him in his teaching and preaching, and he models for us a tremendous artistry of the human condition and of God’s created world. These qualities of Jesus are clearly evident in today’s Gospel – the continuation of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel (5:13-16).

 Understanding salt of the earth

In the ancient biblical world, salt was a precious commodity. It gave flavour and zest to food; it served as an important preservative; salt also made people thirst for something more. Jesus wanted his disciples to give flavour and zest to the world through his teaching; to preserve the truth as he proclaimed it to the world; to make the world thirst for more.

In the ancient Aramaic and Hebrew languages spoken by Jesus, one word meant both “clay-oven” and “earth.” Instead of using wood to fuel the fire, the young people of the village would gather camel or donkey dung, mix it with salt, form it into patties, and let it dry in the hot Middle Eastern sun. To this day in many parts of the world, these dung patties are still used as fuel for the fire. A slab of salt was placed at the base of the oven and the salted dung patty was laid upon it. Salt has catalytic properties which cause the dung to burn. After a certain time, the salt slab loses its catalytic ability and it becomes useless. I saw these patties with my very eyes, strewn out to dry on several rooftops and walls along the road to Nablus. I learned that day what Jesus was referring to when he says: “It [salt] is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot” (Matthew 5:13).

In the ancient biblical world, salt was one of the most important necessities of life. Salt was used to preserve as well as to season food. In addition to its use with food, salt was strewn on sacrifices – both cereal offerings and burnt offerings. It was used for making covenants and representing commitment: “You shall not omit from your grain offerings the salt of the covenant with your God; with all your offerings you shall offer salt” (Leviticus 2:13).

The Old Testament also speaks of “covenant of salt”: “All the holy offerings that the Israelites present to the LORD I have given to you, together with your sons and daughters, as a perpetual due; it is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD for you and your descendants as well” (Numbers 18:19). “Covenant of salt” means a permanent relationship; eating salt with someone meant to be bound in loyalty. This is what the evangelist Mark refers to when he writes: “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50). Salt was also used to rub a newborn child, either for medicinal or other purposes, such as the desire to save the child from demonic forces.

When salt loses its flavour

The concern that “salt has lost its flavour” is difficult for us to understand today, especially because of the purity of the salt we use. In the time of Jesus, salt was not purified in the way that we know but was collected from deposits left by the Dead Sea as it dried. This salt was exposed to the elements and could break apart and lose its flavour. Such salt is a very appropriate metaphor for discipleship, which can and does lose its vigour over time if care is not taken to keep it alive.

When Jesus calls his disciples “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13), he is alluding to many of the dimensions of salt described above. Disciples are those who can season what is tasteless, preserve what could deteriorate and express mutual covenant and loyalty. Disciples of Jesus are those who speak well: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). To be salt for the earth-oven is to have that fire within: to set things on fire around us, to keep the light burning brightly. If we do this as his disciples, we, too, will also be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Here we see how the two images of salt and light are masterfully joined together. Jesus reveals himself to be a clever and imaginative teacher, one who gave flavour, zest, life, and light to those around him.

Colour and light

In addition to being salt for the earth, Jesus called his followers to be the light of the world. In the memorable sermon on the Galilean hillside, Jesus transfers his light to those who follow him: “You are the light of the world.” Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus calls us to be that same light.

Light has the characteristic of dispelling darkness, of warming all it reaches, of exalting forms. All this is done with the greatest speed. Being the light of the world means for Christians, spreading everywhere the light that comes from on high. It means fighting darkness due to evil and sin and often caused by ignorance, prejudice, and selfishness. The more we look on the face of Jesus, like an impressionist painting, the more light we see and the more we are transfigured by it.

Your light shall break forth like the dawn

Today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah (58:7-10) reminds us that merely external worship does not avail with God; it must be joined to internal sincerity. Isaiah tells us the kind of fast that the Lord expects from us. He encourages his listeners to “do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word” (58:9), and to do it by “shar[ing] your bread with the hungry and cloth[ing] the man you see to be naked” (58:7). When you do these things, then “light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday” (58:10).

There may be many reasons why, at times, we choose the way of the clenched fist rather than the open hand: hurt and disappointment, tiredness and indifference, fear and misunderstanding, selfishness and disdain. Whatever the reasons, the clenched fist always involves turning from our own kin and denying, in effect, that others are of the same kin. The open hand, however, means turning towards others as our kin, fellow human beings, brothers and sisters, children of the same heavenly Father sharing a common call to become the people of the Beatitudes.

By their deeds the disciples are to influence the world for good. They can no more escape notice than a city set on a mountain. If they fail in good works, they are as useless as flavourless salt or as a lamp whose light is concealed. By inviting us to be “light,” Jesus invites us to make him present in the world. Just as the presence of salt and light cannot be hidden and their absence will be noticed, the kindness of the good person cannot be denied. The good works of the open-handed shine forth so that people might praise the Father for the holiness they glimpse in His creatures.

Importance of explaining the Scriptures

Continuing our reflection on Verbum Domini in light of today’s rich Gospel teaching, let us consider #74 of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation that reflected on the theme of “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”:

The biblical dimension of catechesis

An important aspect of the Church’s pastoral work which, if used wisely, can help in rediscovering the centrality of God’s word is catechesis, which in its various forms and levels must constantly accompany the journey of the People of God. Luke’s description (cf. Lk 24:13-35) of the disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus represents, in some sense, the model of a catechesis centered on “the explanation of the Scriptures,” an explanation which Christ alone can give (cf. Lk 24:27-28), as he shows that they are fulfilled in his person. The hope which triumphs over every failure was thus reborn, and made those disciples convinced and credible witnesses of the Risen Lord.

The General Catechetical Directory contains valuable guidelines for a biblically inspired catechesis and I readily encourage that these be consulted. Here I wish first and foremost to stress that catechesis “must be permeated by the mindset, the spirit and the outlook of the Bible and the Gospels through assiduous contact with the texts themselves; yet it also means remembering that catechesis will be all the richer and more effective for reading the texts with the mind and the heart of the Church,” and for drawing inspiration from the two millennia of the Church’s reflection and life. A knowledge of biblical personages, events and well-known sayings should thus be encouraged; this can also be promoted by the judicious memorization of some passages which are particularly expressive of the Christian mysteries. Catechetical work always entails approaching Scripture in faith and in the Church’s Tradition, so that its words can be perceived as living, just as Christ is alive today wherever two or three are gathered in his name (cf. Mt 18:20). Catechesis should communicate in a lively way the history of salvation and the content of the Church’s faith, and so enable every member of the faithful to realize that this history is also a part of his or her own life.

Here it is important to stress the relationship between sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as it is set forth in the General Catechetical Directory: “Sacred Scripture, in fact, as ‘the word of God written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,’ and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as a significant contemporary expression of the living Tradition of the Church and a sure norm for teaching the faith, are called, each in its own way and according to its specific authority, to nourish catechesis in the Church today.”

 

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