An Understanding of Temptation

2015-02-22 09.31.32

We had no ‘Lectio Divina’ on the Mass readings this past Sunday, but the Gospel of the three Temptations of Jesus is one that is very important for us to understand as we commence our Lenten journey towards Holy Week. By God’s grace I came across this marvellous Angelus address of Pope Benedict XVI from 2010 for the first Sunday of Lent that gives us some clear insights: 

“The Evangelist St. Luke recounts that after receiving Baptism from John, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit for 40 days in the wilderness, tempted by the Devil. There is a clear insistence on the fact that the temptations were not just an incident on the way, but rather the consequence of Jesus’ decision to carry out the mission entrusted to Him by the Father, to live to the very end of His reality as the Beloved Son Who trusts totally in Him. Christ came into the World to set us free from sin and from the ambiguous fascination of planning our lives leaving God out. He did not do so with loud proclamations but rather by fighting the Tempter himself until the Cross. This example applies to everyone. The World is improved by starting with oneself, changing with God’s grace, everything in one’s life that is not going well.

The first of the three temptations to which Satan subjects Jesus originates in hunger, that is in material need: “If you are the Son of God, command the stone to become bread”. But Jesus responds with Sacred Scripture: “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Then the Devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the Earth and says: “All this will be Yours if, prostrating Yourself, you worship me.” This is the deception of power and an attempt which Jesus was to unmask and reject: “You shall worship the Lord you God, and Him only shall you serve.” Not adoration of power, but only of God, of Truth and Love. Lastly the Tempter suggests to Jesus that he work a spectacular miracle, that He throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple, and let the Angels save Him, so that everyone might believe in Him. However, Jesus answers that God must never be put to the test. We cannot do an experiment at which God has to respond and show us that He is God; we must believe in Him. We should not make God the substance of our experiment. Still referring to Sacred Scripture, Jesus puts the only authentic criterion, obedience, conformity to God’s will, which is the foundation of our existence, before human criterion. This is also a fundamental teaching for us: if we carry God’s Word in our minds and hearts; if it enters our lives; if we trust in God, we can reject every kind of deception by the Tempter.”

Temptation could not touch the Son of God, but Man, in his concupiscence since the Fall, is subject to temptation to sin. With a ‘hat tip’ to Chalcedon (from AATW) I reproduce these sage words from St Pope Gregory on how temptation affects us:

“Gregory the Great reminds us that there are three stages to temptation: suggestion; delight; and consent. In temptation we normally fall through delight at what is offered us, and then we consent; for things begotten of the sin of the flesh we bear within us that through which we suffer conflict. But God, incarnte from the Virgin’s womb, came into the fallen world without sin, and suffered, therefore, no conflict within himself. He could be tempted by the suggestion, but the delight of sin could not touch his mind, and so all these temptations were from outside, from Satan, and not from within his nature.”

And finally, from the Imitation of Christ Chapter XIII, 5, comes this advice:

“For first cometh to the mind the simple suggestion, then the strong imagination, afterwards pleasure, evil affection, assent. And so little by little the enemy entereth in altogether, because he was not resisted at the beginning. And the longer a man delayeth his resistance, the weaker he groweth, and the stronger groweth the enemy against him.”

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Lent Ain’t About YOU!

LISTEN TO THIS SERMON by Fr Larry Richards.

It won’t take long, and may change you permanently for the better.

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Minimalist Monday: 10 Simplifying Lessons from The Rule of St. Benedict

Whether you’re Christian or not, some interesting insights can be gained from The Rule of St. Benedict. For those constantly overwhelmed by physical possessions, internal clutter and society’s spiralling superfluity, The Rule of St. Benedict, can be a mighty tool towards living a happier and more minimalistic lifestyle.

So, who was St. Benedict and how can his spirituality help those aspiring to minimalism today?

Benedict was a 6th century monk from Nursia near Rome, who first lived as a hermit before establishing various monasteries and writing a Rule to guide monastic living. His Rule is still used today in many monasteries and convents as well as being followed by many lay people.

Whilst many Christians practise the traditions of fasting, prayer and giving to charity during the forty days of Lent, the Benedictine way of life is like a permanent Lenten journey. At the heart of St. Benedict’s Rule is his message to listen to God’s voice in the everyday. However, Benedictine life is not about total abstinence. Instead it’s about moderation, humility and serving others.

Some UK readers may remember that the Benedictine way of life was the subject of two BBC TV series The Monastery and The Big Silence broadcast about ten years ago. The aim of these projects was to enable people from different walks of life and different religions or non-religions to experience monastic life for a sustained period of time and thus to reveal to the participants and viewers new insights into their inner lives and spirituality.

I didn’t watch the TV series at the time – I was probably too busy collapsing in front of something far less meaningful on the box after a demanding day working and dealing with my own two young children, if I remember correctly – but the results were fascinating and can be read here. Similar TV series were later broadcast in the USA and Australia.

Now, whilst we can’t easily give up our current lives to seek spiritual guidance in a Benedictine community there are simple ways we can incorporate St. Benedict’s ideas and values into our everyday lives.

Read the original article here.

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The Secret of True Love

By David Torkington

Many years ago when I used to run courses for school leavers, I used to begin by asking the boys and girls to tell me when they were last really happy. I remember one boy said that it was when he was fishing with his father, another when watching one of his favorite films, and yet another when he was playing football with his friends. One of the girls loved a day of retail therapy with her mother, another loved playing the piano, not for her exams, but for the sheer pleasure of it. Finally one girls said her happiest moments were spent on holiday with her boyfriend. Strangely enough it always used to take them a long time to see the common denominator – the reason why doing all these different things had given them all so much pleasure. For a greater or less period of time they had been so absorbed in something, or someone else, that they simply forgot about themselves. In the discussions that followed they usually came to the same conclusion, namely that, this happiness could be found and perpetuated more in loving someone else than in anything else.

In the first Christian centuries no one sought to live for themselves, but for God and for his honour and glory alone. All authentic prayer of whatever sort ends up here, as did the prayer of Jesus. That’s why the first Christians learnt to seek God not for what they could get out of him, but for himself alone. Seeking God for what you can get out of him was an unfortunate development that came later, thanks to the influence of Neoplatonism. However on occasions, but rarely, you do find expressions like ‘sober inebriation’ or ‘spiritual intoxication’ to express interior spiritual feelings that sometimes occurred while taking part in the liturgy or in prayer. You can find words like Apatheia or Ataraxia too, words borrowed from Stoicism. They are used to refer to the inner peace and tranquility experienced at the outset of contemplation. You find words like spiritual transportation too, as these inner states of repose become ever more intense and raise believers up and into experiences similar to those that St Teresa of Avila would later call the Spiritual Betrothals or the Mystical Marriage. However I have only mentioned them to make the point that they were only very rarely used – Why? Because the whole emphasis of early Christian spirituality was not on oneself, but on God, and on his good pleasure, not one’s own. The faithful did not seek out mystical experiences to give themselves pleasure, they sought out God to give him pleasure. Their whole aim and the whole object and direction of their spiritual life was not to seek their own honour and glory, but the honour and glory of God. It was in doing this that they, like any lover who lives for another, forgets themselves. Then, freed from self-absorption and the misery that this brings, they experienced the joy of living for another.

Read the original article here

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Fellow Blogger VOX CANTORIS Threatened with Lawsuit by Vatican Official Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

We may have come late to announcing this shocking news, already widely reported by Catholic bloggers all over the web, but we stand firmly with Vox Cantoris (David Domet) and in solidarity with him for his valiant fight for Truth, to protect the Church from her enemies in its midst who teach heresy and harm the souls of men. Domet’s crime? None other than revealing the blasphemous and scandalous pronouncements made by Papal Advisor, Fr. Rosica, who is now threatening to sue David Domet for bringing these heretical statements to light!

Today, the first Sunday of Lent, let us take heed of the words of the Introit for Holy Mass: “He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I will deliver him, and I will glorif him: I will fill him with length of days. Ps. He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High shall abide under the protection of the God of Heaven. Glory be. 

For further reading on the subject:

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Kneeling for Communion

(Please excuse the poor choice of music for this YouTube video.)

I have no alternative but to attend a Novus Ordo Mass, except for every first Sunday of the month when a visiting priest comes to our city to celebrate a beautiful Traditional Latin Mass. Sometimes (not always) at the N.O. Mass I am the only one who, when reaching the priest distributing Holy Communion, kneels down to receive the Sacred Host on my tongue. I feel I cannot do otherwise at such a momentous occasion as the Sacred Body of Christ being received into my unworthy person. All around me I get stares and looks of surprise from the people who file up to receive standing. At first this embarrassed me terribly, not because of the ridicule I may have been making of myself in their eyes, but because knowing myself a sinner, I found it mortifying that they may think I was attempting to show myself up as ‘holier than thou’ – totally untrue of course. I offered up this suffering to the Lord and now with time it has become no more than a minor discomfort.

I must add that I have never had a priest refuse me Holy Communion for breaking the common custom here to stand to receive (as I have heard has happened to some Catholics on occasions, especially in the US) but once a priest made a very audible sigh to show me, and the other communicants nearby, his displeasure at my ‘audacity’!

Pope Benedict XVI emphasised, the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favour “a centuries-old tradition”, and that it is “a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species”.

Kneeling for Communion may be seen as a small thing in the great scheme of things (that many laugh off as unimportant) for after all, there are such multiple problems and dangers assailing us in Our Holy Catholic Church these days. However, we should never forget the old maxim: ‘Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi’ (As we Worship, so we will Believe, and so we will Live.) Perhaps the tradition of kneeling to receive Our Blessed Lord could start a gradual return of all that is holy and reverent in the practices within the Holy Liturgy once more.

“That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10)

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Francis says “Reform of the Reform” is “mistaken”. “Traditionalist” seminarians criticized, Pope says their “imbalances” are manifested in their celebration of the liturgy

Again, we must thank Rorate for bringing this worrying news from Rome to wider attention.

Most media attention on Pope Francis’ annual meeting with the clergy of Rome (held yesterday, February 19) has been focused on his remarks on married clergy. Of equal and possibly more immediate importance were his remarks on the liturgy, which have now been published by the ZENIT news agency.
The Pope could not have been any clearer in his view of the “Reform of the Reform”. He speaks of the need for a more respectful ars celebrandi but anyone who has actually followed the liturgical debates of the last 20 years will know that this is not the same as the “Reform of the Reform”. We sincerely hope that the “usual suspects” in the blogging world and in the social networks will neither ignore this talk completely, nor try to explain this away by constructing elaborate explanations as to why the Pope “really meant” something else, or that this whole thing is really a hoax, a fabrication, or whatever. Anything that will allow them to keep their heads in the sand!
Remarkably the Pope criticizes the “Reform of the Reform” outright but he did not say anything negative about Summorum Pontificum itself, quite the opposite. Nevertheless, his apparently condemning and contemptuous words about “traditionalist” diocesan seminarians cannot and should not be explained away as simply referring to the immoral behavior of some such seminarians — behavior that can also be found, empirically much more frequently, among non-traditionalist seminarians. By specifically naming the (“Reform of the Reform”?) “liturgies” celebrated by “traditionalist” seminarians, once ordained, as the manifestation of their “moral and psychological” “imbalances”, it is clear that the Pope’s target is the traditional-friendly views on the sacred liturgy of many young priests and seminarians. By mentioning that the Congregation of Bishops is conducting interventions in this regard, the message is sent out loud and clear: bishops accept “traditionalist”-leaning seminarians at their peril. By declaring outright that moral and pyschological problems “happen often” in traditionalist “environments” a broad bush, apparently lacking in mercy, may now henceforth be used to tar these young men. 

The relevent passage from the Zenit report is reproduced below, with our emphases.

However, some excerpts of the Pope’s discourse were released thanks in part to several priests who spoke to the press following the meeting. Some even managed to record the Pope’s words. In addition to several phrases reported by a few Italian news agencies this morning, the 78 year old Pontiff touched upon the theme, for example, on the “traditional rite” with which Benedict XVI granted to celebrate Mass. Through the Motu Propio Summorum Pontificum, published in 2007, the now Pope Emeritus allowed the possibility of celebrating the Mass according the liturgical books edited by John XXIII in 1962, notwithstanding that the “ordinary” form of celebration in the Catholic Church would always remain that established by Paul VI in 1970.

Pope Francis explained that this gesture by his predecessor, “a man of communion”, was meant to offer “a courageous hand to Lefebvrians and traditionalists”, as well as to those who wished to celebrate the Mass according to the ancient rites. The so-called “Tridentine” Mass – the Pope said – is an “extraordinary form of the Roman Rite”, one that was approved following the Second Vatican Council. Thus, it is not deemed a distinct rite, but rather a “different form of the same right”. (sic)

However, the Pope noted that there are priests and bishops who speak of a “reform of the reform.” Some of them are “saints” and speak “in good faith.” But this “is mistaken”, the Holy Father said. He then referred to the case of some bishops who accepted “traditionalist” seminarians who were kicked out of other dioceses, without finding out information on them, because “they presented themselves very well, very devout.” They were then ordained, but these were later revealed to have “psychological and moral problems.”

It is not a practice, but it “happens often” in these environments, the Pope stressed, and to ordain these types of seminarians is like placing a “mortgage on the Church.” The underlying problem is that some bishops are sometimes overwhelmed by “the need for new priests in the diocese.” Therefore, an adequate discernment among candidates is not made, among whom some can hide certain “imbalances” that are then manifested in liturgies. In fact, the Congregation of Bishops – the Pontiff went on to say – had to intervene with three bishops on three of these cases, although they didn’t occur in Italy.
During the beginning of his address, Francis, spoke on homiletics and the Ars celebrandi, calling on the priests to not fall into the temptation of wanting to be a “showman” on the pulpit, perhaps even by speaking in a “sophisticated manner” or “overt gestures.”

However, priests shouldn’t also be “boring” to the point that people “will go outside to smoke a cigarette” during the homily.

(Source: Pope Holds Two Hour Meeting with Roman Clergy)

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The times are dire. So where are the priests we desperately need to lead us?


Roaring flames stretching for miles, and warriors out for vengeance? If only our enemies were so few, so meek, and so feeble.

Roaring flames stretching for miles, and warriors out for vengeance? If only our enemies were so few, so meek, and so feeble.

You are an eighty-year-old scout and trapper on the high plains far west of the Mississippi. You have with you an officer of the United States Army, a roving hunter of beehives, their affianced brides, an almost useless naturalist, and two dogs. Your means of transportation are two horses, a donkey, and your feet. The women have escaped from the camp of a courageous and unscrupulous family of whites, moving in from the east; one of the women they had kidnapped. Their eldest son has been murdered, and the people believe you are responsible. They’re out for blood.

Meanwhile, a band of Sioux warriors have stolen the white men’s cattle and are plotting to steal the rest of their goods. They do not know whether you are friendly to the settlers or not. You have managed to slip out of their grasp, with two of their horses. They know you are hiding among the tall grasses and have determined to smoke you out with fire. And that is what you see billowing around you, a ring of fire ten miles wide.

But this is not Sioux territory. It’s Pawnee territory, the enemies of the Sioux. They too are in the neighborhood, waiting their chance to strike at both the Sioux and the white settlers.

What do you do?

I’m describing the situation in the middle of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Prairie, the last of his four novels featuring the noble and uneducated man of God and nature, sometimes known as Hawkeye, sometimes known as Leatherstocking, and christened with the apostolic name Nathanael. Though the man has four score years on his back and his eyes are bleary with age, the other men and the women defer to his judgment.

There is no notion of democracy here, or play-acting at Leader of the Escapees. The “intellectual” among them, that naturalist, can claim no precedence based upon a degree from Harvard. There is no special set-aside Women’s War League pitting white women with rifles against Sioux women with bows and arrows and tomahawks, and referees running back and forth across the prairie to make sure that the rules are observed. A job has to be done, and that is that.

If justice means that we give to each his due, for the sake of the common good, then justice here means that Hawkeye must be the leader whether he likes it or not, though he could easily save his skin and leave the others to fend for themselves. It means that the young men must obey him readily, though one of them is used to command and the other is used to being his own master. It means that the women accept their protection and do what they can to help, though they are ready to die. It means that the intellectual must keep his mouth shut and do as he is told, though he is ever apt to lose himself in the vagaries of his “science.”

The approach of mortal danger clears the head. We can imagine ideal men and women all day long such as the world has never known and never will, insisting that there is no such thing as nature where those are concerned. Once take away our food and our cozy shelter and our modern conveniences and surround us with wolves, and all those imaginations will vanish faster than a dream before the stark light of day. “What were we thinking?” we say, and shake ourselves to alertness, and get to work.

Now then: we Christians are not surrounded by a prairie fire and a band of Sioux warriors. All they could do is kill the body. Our situation is implied by the prayer that Pope Leo XIII instructed Catholics to say at the end of every Mass. I’ll translate:

Holy Michael Archangel, defend us in battle; against the snares and wickedness of the devil be our fortress; may God rebuke him, we pray upon our knees; and do thou, O prince of the heavenly army, by the power of God thrust into Hell Satan and all the other malignant spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Roaring flames stretching for miles, and warriors out for vengeance? If only our enemies were so few, so meek, and so feeble.

Am I exaggerating? The devil may scour the plains of America hungry for souls, but we are a Christian nation, and he is apt to sweat for nothing, especially since, as we hear from the spiritually fat and easy, that God in His infinite mercy will save us all. For God is the smiley face we paste upon our middling lives. He will take our sins as seriously as we do, which is to say, he will literally not give a damn. Isn’t that why Jesus was crucified, so that we might not have to give a damn?

The question suggests the bitter rejoinder. But we need not be theologians if we have eyes and look about us, and judge with uncompromising honesty. We are the Church Militant. What then is our military situation?

A few days ago I tried to watch a movie that had recently won an award for Best Picture of the Year. In a ninety second stretch I saw someone calmly put a bullet into the forehead of two men, one of whom had just offered to be his ally. I turned it off. I tried to watch a football game. There I saw a sluttish woman stretched out on a floor, talking in a sultry and blithely contemptuous way about men and their hydraulic problems; this for an audience of millions of sport-following boys. Trailers for television shows and movies suggest that the only “virtues” remaining in the world are avarice, ambition, aggression, scorn, lust, vanity, and wrath. That’s our mass entertainment, what is left of popular culture. That fortress has been reduced to sticks and stones.

What about our schools? I answer the question with a question. Which of the following would be least likely to occur there, or most likely to be condemned? A teacher instructs a co-ed class to put rubbers on bananas. The class reads a pornographic novel. A boy dressed as a girl is voted prom queen. Children are instructed to despise the history of their nation. A teacher explains an allusion in Paradise Lost by turning her pupils’ attention toward a passage in the gospels. Which one? I don’t have to answer. The brick walls of the schools may be solid, but their souls are rubble.

Our government? The one that declares that a people’s culture is illegal, and that appeals to human nature are inadmissible? The one that has subordinated its Constitution to the summum bonum of sexual license, with child-murder as the fail-safe?

In this military calamity, how have our Church leaders, the officers in the army upon earth, comported themselves? Where are the priests to lead us? Many men might be found if we understood that we must fight in love on behalf of a mad and lost world, and that souls hang in the balance. But no boy dreams of growing up to be a quisling, a lieutenant at the sufferance of the enemy, a temporizer at whom the enemy laughs even as he sends the wine and the crepes suzettes our way.

We need those priests. The Church is not a Spirituality Club. She is not the ecclesia impotens. But do we actually want those leaders? I’ll have more to say about this next time.

Anthony_Esolen_headshot.jpg_300_300_55gray_s_c1Anthony currently serves as professor of English at Providence College, and is perhaps best known for his widely acclaimed translation of Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’. He has also authored several original works, including ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization’ and the satirically titled ‘Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child’. He regularly writes for publications including ‘The Catholic Thing’ and ‘Crisis Magazine’.

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A Blessed who spread Devotion to the Way of the Cross


Blessed Alvarez of (Córdoba) Cordova (1350-1430) whose feast day is celebrated on 19th February, was born to a noble family in Zamora, Spain. He joined the Dominican Order and preached throughout Spain. Upon his return from pilgrimage to the Holy Land he preached the crusades against the Moors that were fighting Christendom. He also successfully led a resistance against the anti-pope and brought Spain under allegiance to the true Pope of Rome. He founded the famous priory of Scala Caeli (ladder of Heaven) at Cordova, a convent of strict observance, and it is said that angels helped provide its building materials. In its gardens he erected pictures of the holy places in Jerusalem where Our Lord had suffered His Passion, the origin of the custom of the Stations of the Cross. It was also by his preaching and contemplation of the Lord’s Passion that the practice of the Way of the Cross was spread throughout western Europe. He lived a life of great austerity and holiness and numerous miracles are attributed to him. Among them, it is told that he once came upon a poor dying man. He wrapped him in a blanket and carried him back to the Order. Upon unwrapping the cloth he found only a crucifix.

Here is an audio recording of meditations on the Stations of the Cross by St. Alphonsus de Liguori (in the voice of Fr. Z).

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“The Heroism of the Christian Martyrs” – Let’s look at them in the face

from: Rorate Caeli,

How can the Church waste time with pseudo-questions, such as “communion for ‘remarried’ divorceed”, when scores of Christians are being slaughtered every single day?
by Antonio Socci
February 18, 2015
We need to look at those 21 young Christians in the face. Rather than deny Christ they underwent martyrdom in Libya and before having their throat cut by ISIS – in reading their lips (which was done) – they were continuously pronouncing the name of Jesus. Like the martyrs of old.
Their Bishop says: “That name whispered at the last instant was akin to the sealing of their martyrdom.” Coptic Christians are strong people, tempered by 1400 centuries of Islamic persecutions. They are heirs to that St. Athanasius of Alessandria, who saved the true Catholic Faith from the Arian heresy, held by most of the bishops [at that time]. They are tough Christians, not like the spineless, tepid-Catholics we are here in the West.
Here’s what real strength is: it’s not what hates and kills the defenseless (even children) and crucifies those who have a different faith, rapes the women – waving a black flag, faces hidden.
The real strength is the one of the defenseless who accept even martyrdom rather than deny their own dignity – that is to say, their faith – giving witness to the wonders of “ the Beautiful Love” as an ancient definition of the Son of God names Him.
A wonderful testimony. These are the true martyrs: the Christians. Not those who go around slaughtering defenseless innocents.
This is the glory of Christians: to follow a God who saved the world by having Himself killed, not by killing others, like all the leaders, ringleaders and ideologues (or revolutionaries) of this world [have done] and that are so exalted in history books.
This is a great lesson to the West drunk with being “politically correct”, like the disastrous Obama who does his best not to mention even the word “Islam” and “Muslims” when speaking about the massacres In North Iraq, Paris and Libya over these past months. A nihilistic West which is ashamed of its Christian roots and never misses a chance to show contempt for them.

It’s a painful lesson, ultimately, and most of all, for the Church: for a Church that is no longer a witness to the ardent fire of the Faith.
It’s a painful lesson for the Church of Bergoglio, who defines the Christian proclamation and proselytism as “solemn nonsense” – while men and women are giving their lives for Christ; for the Church of Bergoglio , who makes an act of adoration in a Mosque – while Christians are being persecuted and massacred in the entire Muslim world, and who follows the dominant ideology of Obama, by carefully avoiding the pronunciation of the word “Islam” except in laudatory terms. (On the other hand, his spokesman in Buenos Aires attacked Benedict XVI for his discourse on Islam at Regensburg).
Furthermore and most of all, a Pope Bergoglio, who says that the great emergency at present for the Church is not the Faith, but the environment; then, the acceptance of the new (type) of couple and Communion for the divorced and remarried.
It’s all a bit like Benigni’s film where they say that the real, big problem in Palermo [center of the Mafia] – “is the traffic.”
The situation is such, that soon we will have the Bergoglian encyclical on ecology and the merits of differentiated rubbish, in place of a loving cry to God in this world with no faith and hope. We will have an appeal against pollution instead of a condemnation of the anti-Christian hatred now spread all over the entire planet. (In any case, even at his installation Mass, he spoke about the environment and also in his speech to the Expo 2015 in Milan – instead of speaking about Christ).
It ‘s Pope Bergoglio who receives and addresses the Social Centers of the Leoncavallo type, but not the Christians who are heroically and peacefully fighting as witnesses of salvation, suffering the contempt and accusations of the world.
It’s Pope Bergoglio who chooses new cardinals on the basis of his own ideology (and shows that if he wants to he can even decide to make a cardinal – like the Bishop of Ancona, for example) instead of giving the red hat– a sign of martyrdom – to those Bishops in these precise days, who are concretely and heroically living with their threatened communities and truly risking their lives with them.
This is the situation of the Bishop of Tripoli, Father Martinelli, the Bishop, (practically the only one at the time, but with the support of Benedict XVI) who protested every day against the war in 2011, explaining that Pandora’s Box would be opened, which then unfailingly happened. A tragedy for which we must thank the “Nobel Peace Prize” – of Obama and Sarkozy.
Further – while today, in Italy and abroad, those who applaud that war feign ignorance (an example -Maurizio Belpietro and “Libero” yesterday), while today Libya risks becoming a base for ISIS, Bishop Martinelli has decided to stay there, exposing himself to death: “I saw the decapitated heads – he relates – and thought to myself that I could end up like that. And if God wills that I end up having my head cut off, then so be it […] Being able to give witness is a precious thing. I thank Our Lord for allowing me to do it, even with martyrdom. I don’t know where this road will take me. If it brings me death, I will say that God has chosen this for me…I will not budge from here. And I’m not afraid.”
He doesn’t want to abandon his small community made up of around three hundred Philippine workers who are understandably terrified. The Bishop is the only Italian left in Tripoli, with some non-Italian nuns and religious.
Up until yesterday evening, no telephone call had arrived from Pope Bergoglio, usually so lavish in his phone calls (he even called [Radical Party leader Marco] Pannella, as well as his friend [Repubblica founder Eugenio] Scalfari, several times). Perhaps, seeing the pressure of the media, he’ll call him before long.
Still, facts are needed more than words.
I’d like to propose something to the Pope. With the help of the Italian government, the Vatican could ask for a humanitarian bridge, a lightening rescue operation for the Christians left there with their Bishop. There are only three hundred of them and they’re risking their lives for their faith. The Vatican could give hospitality to them and then they’ll decide whether to return to the Philippines.
This is something possible. Why not do it?
This is my plea to Pope Bergoglio – to save an entire Christian community and their pastor from being slaughtered. This would really be something worthy of the Holy See. Not that climate of witch hunts and purges that have been circulating in the Vatican establishment for some time now against those “great cardinals” (Ratzinger) who, in fidelity to the Church, dared oppose Kasper in the Synod last October. It would indeed, be incredible if the Vatican devoted itself to purges while Christians are being martyred all over the world.
[Rorate translation by Contributor Francesca Romana]
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… and unto Dust thou shalt return


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The Happiness of the Soul – a Sermon by Bl. John Henry Newman

“Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.” Rom. viii. 15.:


“When Adam fell, his soul lost its true strength; he forfeited the inward light of God’s presence, and became the wayward, fretful, excitable, and miserable being which his history has shown him to be ever since; with alternate strength and feebleness, nobleness and meanness, energy in the beginning and failure in the end. Such was the state of his soul in itself, not to speak of the Divine wrath upon it, which followed, or was involved in the Divine withdrawal. It lost its spiritual life and health, which was necessary to complete its nature, and to enable it to fulfill the ends for which it was created,—which was necessary both for its moral integrity and its happiness; and as if faint, hungry, or sick, it could no longer stand upright, but sank on the ground. Such is the state in which every one of us lies as born into the world; and Christ has come to reverse this state, and restore us the great gift which Adam lost in the beginning. Adam fell from his Creator’s favour to be a bond-servant; and Christ has come to set us free again, to impart to us the Spirit of adoption, whereby we become God’s children, and again approach Him as our Father.

I say, by birth we are in a state of defect and want; we have not all that is necessary for the perfection of our nature. As the body is not complete in itself, but requires the soul to give it a meaning, so again the soul till God is present with it and manifested in it, has faculties and affections without a ruling principle, object, or purpose. Such it is by birth, and this Scripture signifies to us by many figures; sometimes calling human nature blind, sometimes hungry, sometimes unclothed, and calling the gift of the Spirit light, health, food, warmth, and raiment; all by way of teaching us what our first state is, and what our gratitude should be to Him who has brought us into a new state. For instance, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, … and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.” Again, “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” Again, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Again, ‘Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” And in the Book of Psalms, “They shall be satisfied with the plenteousness of Thy house; and Thou shalt give them drink of Thy pleasures as out of the river. For with Thee is the well of life, and in Thy Light shall we see light.” And in another Psalm, “My soul shall be satisfied, even as it were with marrow and fatness, when my mouth praiseth Thee with joyful lips.” And so again, in the Prophet Jeremiah, “I will satiate the souls of the priests with fatness; and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness … I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” [Rev. iii. 17, 18. 2 Cor. iv. 6. Ephes. v. 14. John iv. 14. Ps. xxxvi. 8, 9; lxiii. 5. Jer. xxxi. 14, 25.]

Now the doctrine which these passages contain is often truly expressed thus: that the soul of man is made for the contemplation of its Maker; and that nothing short of that high contemplation is its happiness; that, whatever it may possess besides, it is unsatisfied till it is vouchsafed God’s presence, and lives in the light of it. There are many aspects in which the same solemn truth may be viewed; there are many ways in which it may be signified. I will now dwell upon it as I have been stating it.

I say, then, that the happiness of the soul consists in the exercise of the affections; not in sensual pleasures, not in activity, not in excitement, not in self esteem, not in the consciousness of power, not in knowledge; in none of these things lies our happiness, but in our affections being elicited, employed, supplied. As hunger and thirst, as taste, sound, and smell, are the channels through which this bodily frame receives pleasure, so the affections are the instruments by which the soul has pleasure. When they are exercised duly, it is happy; when they are undeveloped, restrained, or thwarted, it is not happy. This is our real and true bliss, not to know, or to affect, or to pursue; but to love, to hope, to joy, to admire, to revere, to adore. Our real and true bliss lies in the possession of those objects on which our hearts may rest and be satisfied.

Now, if this be so, here is at once a reason for saying that the thought of God, and nothing short of it, is the happiness of man; for though there is much besides to serve as subject of knowledge, or motive for action, or means of excitement, yet the affections require a something more vast and more enduring than anything created. What is novel and sudden excites, but does not influence; what is pleasurable or useful raises no awe; self moves no reverence, and mere knowledge kindles no love. He alone is sufficient for the heart who made it. I do not say, of course, that nothing short of the Almighty Creator can awaken and answer to our love, reverence, and trust; man can do this for man. Man doubtless is an object to rouse his brother’s love, and repays it in his measure. Nay, it is a great duty, one of the two chief duties of religion, thus to be minded towards our neighbour. But I am not speaking here of what we can do, or ought to do, but what it is our happiness to do: and surely it may be said that though the love of the brethren, the love of all men, be one half of our obedience, yet exercised by itself, were that possible, which it is not, it would be no part of our reward. And for this reason, if for no other, that our hearts require something more permanent and uniform than man can be. We gain much for a time from fellowship with each other. It is a relief to us, as fresh air to the fainting, or meat and drink to the hungry, or a flood of tears to the heavy in mind. It is a soothing comfort to have those whom we may make our confidants; a comfort to have those to whom we may confess our faults; a comfort to have those to whom we may look for sympathy. Love of home and family in these and other ways is sufficient to make this life tolerable to the multitude of men, which otherwise it would not be; but still, after all, our affections exceed such exercise of them, and demand what is more stable. Do not all men die? are they not taken from us? are they not as uncertain as the grass of the field? We do not give our hearts to things irrational, because these have no permanence in them. We do not place our affections in sun, moon, and stars, or this rich and fair earth, because all things material come to nought, and vanish like day and night. Man, too, though he has an intelligence within him, yet in his best estate he is altogether vanity. If our happiness consists in our affections being employed and recompensed, “man that is born of a woman” cannot be our happiness; for how can he stay another, who “continueth not in one stay” himself?

The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt

The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt

But there is another reason why God alone is the happiness of our souls, to which I wish rather to direct attention:—the contemplation of Him, and nothing but it, is able fully to open and relieve the mind, to unlock, occupy, and fix our affections. We may indeed love things created with great intenseness, but such affection, when disjoined from the love of the Creator, is like a stream running in a narrow channel, impetuous, vehement, turbid. The heart runs out, as it were, only at one door; it is not an expanding of the whole man. Created natures cannot open us, or elicit the ten thousand mental senses which belong to us, and through which we really live. None but the presence of our Maker can enter us; for to none besides can the whole heart in all its thoughts and feelings be unlocked and subjected. “Behold,” He says, “I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” “My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” “God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts.” “God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” [Rev. iii. 20. John xiv. 23. Gal. iv. 6. 1 John iii. 20.] It is this feeling of simple and absolute confidence and communion, which soothes and satisfies those to whom it is vouchsafed. We know that even our nearest friends enter into us but partially, and hold intercourse with us only at times; whereas the consciousness of a perfect and enduring Presence, and it alone, keeps the heart open. Withdraw the Object on which it rests, and it will relapse again into its state of confinement and constraint; and in proportion as it is limited, either to certain seasons or to certain affections, the heart is straitened and distressed. If it be not over bold to say it, He who is infinite can alone be its measure; He alone can answer to the mysterious assemblage of feelings and thoughts which it has within it. “There is no creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” [Heb. iv. 12.]”

Read the rest of the sermon here.

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The Little Way of Fasting – by Fr. Aidan Kieran

First posted on Faith In Our Families

Fr. Aidan Kieran

Fr. Aidan Kieran

The season of Lent is upon us, it begins [today], Ash Wednesday. During Lent, we are asked to take on three traditional Christian disciplines: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Today I want to share with you a new insight into fasting which I gained recently.

I’ve generally always dreaded the idea of fasting during Lent. It always seemed to me like a test of endurance, and I never thought I had all that much endurance. Typically I would decide to, say, give up biscuits for the whole of Lent. It would last about ten days, I would have a biscuit and Lent would be over for me. And no matter what people would say about ‘beginning again’ it would never feel the same once failure had set in.

Now, I have learned a new approach to fasting, and it has become a much more appealing prospect.

St Therese of Lisieux teaches us that the “Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ… On the contrary, the most brilliant deeds, when done without love, are but nothingness.” These words made me realise that the way I had been approaching the Lenten fast in the past was wrong. Lent is not a test of endurance. It is not even a test of discipline (even though we gain discipline as a by-product). Lent is a little test of LOVE. It is quality the Lord is interested in – not quantity.

I can describe this new approach to fasting – the little way of fasting – with an example. Here is a fast I recently undertook:

At breakfast time I didn’t have my normal cup of tea. I had a cup of hot water instead. It’s not much of a sacrifice is it? But this is the important part: fasting must always be accompanied by prayer. You may remember from the Gospels that on one occasion Jesus told the disciples that a particular evil spirit could only be driven out by prayer AND fasting. The two must be always occur together.

So while I was having my cup of water, I prayed.friendly_cup_big

I spoke to the Lord Jesus and told him that I was denying myself this 1 cup of tea as an act of love for him. I was doing this so that I might grow in my love for Him. I prayed for others. I asked Him to grant my intentions, but above all I asked him to help me grow in faith and love of Him.

It didn’t matter that it was only a small sacrifice. That’s not what matters to the Lord. What matters is that the sacrifice is accompanied by prayer and offered with a sincere and open loving heart. Fasting must always be accompanied by prayer, and must be done as an act of love for the Lord.

Perhaps you would prefer to go through Our Lady. While fasting, we can also pray through the intercession of Mary, our blessed Mother. I can tell her I am offering my fast as an act of love for her, and ask her to bring me closer to her son Jesus. We give Mary the title ‘mediatrix of all graces’ so we can of course pray through her intercession.

With this approach, fasting has become a wonderfully joyful act. Rather than a miserable endurance test, it becomes a joyful act of offering a sacrifice for the good of others, the good of the Church and above all the good of my own soul. I can have a smile on my face, knowing that the small sacrifice I have made has had a powerful effect in the spiritual life. Since I started this little way of fasting, I have prayed better and I feel I have drawn closer to Christ.

It’s just 1 cup of tea. A little thing, done with great love.

During Lent, I won’t totally deprive myself of other drinks, because I know I would find that too burdensome. My aim is to give up my first cup of tea each morning. On some days I may give up my second cup of tea too! – a definite sacrifice, but one I can realistically sustain. And each time I am conscious of foregoing a drink I would like, I will pray. I will offer my sacrifice to the Lord with a joyful heart and a smile on my face…

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Handling Worry

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Islamtic Terrorists Vow to “Conquer Rome.” The World Wonders What They Mean

This is a still from the video put out by the Islamic butchers who did this in the name of the false prophet and antichrist Mahomet. (h/t to Vox Cantoris

This is a still from the video put out by the Islamic butchers who did this in the name of the false prophet and antichrist Mahomet. (h/t to Vox Cantoris

BY MATTHEW ARCHBOLD on The National Catholic Register

ISIS executioners killed 21 Coptic Christians in a horrific video released this week. The lead executioner speaking in English, pointed his knife and vowed “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.”

And the world wonders what he means by this cryptic statement.

Heck, the world can’t seem to figure out who the terrorists are or what their motive is, despite them telling anyone who will listen their goals.

So we look to our political leaders, our best and brightest to offer some clarifying answers on this perplexing mystery. The White House, commenting on the massacre, lamented the loss of “Egyptian citizens.” In its statement, it failed to mention the faith of the victims which seemed rather important to those actually doing the executing.

But the mystery deepens. This is not the first time, the radicals have mentioned this “Rome” as their target. In July of last year, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of the ‘Islamic State,’ vowed to lead the conquest of Rome. “Rush O Muslims to your state. It is your state. Syria is not for Syrians and Iraq is not for Iraqis. The land is for the Muslims, all Muslims,” he said. “This is my advice to you. If you hold to it you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills.”

Hmmmm. More cryptic statements. But I’m sensing a pattern here.

In November of last year Thursday, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose job description seems to be threatening Rome and killing “citizens,” promised that the Islamic State will not stop its jihad until Rome is conquered. “By Allah’s permission, they [US-led coalition] will be defeated. And indeed the Muslims will be victorious,” he said. “By Allah’s promise, they will be victorious. And the march of the mujahidin will continue until they reach Rome.” Hmmm. More clues? But what could he mean? This is random violence, after all, right? Pope Francis, on the other hand, was a rare clarifying voice on the world stage. In a short statement about the murdered Christians, he said:

Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. Their only words were: “Jesus, help me!” They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. You, my brother, in your words referred to what is happening in the land of Jesus. The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ. As we recall these brothers and sisters who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians.

Hmmmmm. The plot thickens. It seems Pope Francis seems to think these murders might have had something with their Christianity. I guess, it’s just another way the Church is out of step with the 21st century.

You’d think that if there were a large group of people out there killing Christians by the hundreds it might make the news in a pretty prominent way. But I’ve watched the news recently and only saw reports that Governor Scott Walker may not believe in evolution and that Governor Chris Christie is anti-science. So it can’t be that, right?

If only we could figure it all out. You know, if there are killers out there who have killed many times before and vow to come to kill you, you don’t want to wait until they’re at the door to prepare.

If only we could figure out what they mean by this threat to conquer Rome. More investigation is clearly necessary.

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