My first Latin Mass – Fr. Mark Goring, CC

We were surprised to discover that this fine young priest, Fr Mark Goring, who has recently erupted with great success on Catholic media due to his strong clear defence of Catholic orthodoxy, had never attended a Traditional Latin Mass before. In this short video he gives his felicitous impressions on discovering for himself the deep mystery and reverence of the holy Latin Mass.

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Socci’s Thesis Falls Short: Review of ‘The Secret of Benedict XVI’

  • This article appears in the current issue (Jan. 2019) of Catholic Family News (click HERE to subscribe; current subscribers can access the E-Edition HERE).

*****

“Holy Mother Church is facing a crisis that is without precedent in her entire history.” This image of the theologian Serafino M. Lanzetta, which opens the latest book of Antonio Socci, Il segreto di Benedetto XVI. Perché è ancora papa [The Secret of Benedict XVI: Why He Is Still Pope] (Milano 2018), invites anyone to read it who wishes to better understand the nature of this crisis as well as the possible ways out of it.

Socci is a brilliant journalist who has dedicated three books to the state of the Church under the pontificate of Pope Francis: Non è Francesco. La Chiesa nella grande tempesta [He Is Not Francis: The Church in The Great Tempest] (Milano 2014), La profezia finale [The Final Prophecy] (Milano 2016) and now Il segreto di Benedetto XVI.

Of these three books, the best is the second, above all in the part in which, with accurate documentation, Socci makes a meticulous examination of the most controversial words of the first three years of the reign of Pope Francis. In his latest book, however, Socci develops the thesis which he has already proposed in Non è Francesco, namely, that the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio is doubtful and perhaps invalid, and that Benedict XVI may still be Pope, because he may have not entirely renounced the Petrine ministry. His renunciation was only “relative” – writes Socci – and Benedict intended “to remain the pope, although purely in an enigmatic way and in an unofficial form, which has not been explained (at least not until a certain future date).”[1]

Peaceful and Universal Acceptance of Pope Francis

Regarding the doubts about the election of Cardinal Bergoglio, the many clues which Socci examines do not provide sufficient proof to sustain his thesis. Apart from the canonical subtleties, there was not one cardinal who participated in the Conclave of 2013 who raised any doubt about the validity of the election. The entire Church accepted and recognized Pope Francis as the legitimate Pope, and according to canon law, the peaceful “universalis Ecclesiae adhaesio [adhesion of the universal Church]” is both a sign and an infallible effect of a valid election of a legitimate Pope. Professor Geraldina Boni, in a profound study entitled “Sopra una rinuncia. La decisione di papa Benedetto XVI e il diritto [Beyond a Resignation. The Decision of Pope Benedict XVI and The Law] (Bologna 2015), points out that canonical regulations governing the conclave do not consider an election invalid which is the fruit of bargains, agreements, promises, or other commitments of whatever sort, such as the possible planning of the election of Cardinal Bergoglio.

What Professor Boni writes coincides with what Robert Siscoe and John Salza observe, on the basis of the most authoritative theologians and canonists: “…it is the common doctrine of the Church that the peaceful and universal acceptance of a Pope provides infallible certitude of his legitimacy.”[2]

On the right of the Pope to resign, there are no serious doubts. The new Code of Canon Law addresses the possible resignation of the Pope in can. 332 § 2 with these words: “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.” The resignation of Benedict XVI was free and ritually manifested. If Benedict XVI was under pressure he would have had to say so, or at least let it be understood. In his Last Conversations with Peter Seewald, he instead declared the contrary, restating that his decision was entirely free, immune from all coercion.

The Morality of Benedict’s Resignation

The action of Benedict XVI, legitimate from a theological and canonical point of view, appears however to be in absolute discontinuity with the tradition and praxis of the Church, and therefore morally reprehensible. In fact, the resignation of a Pope is canonically possible “propter necessitatem vel utilitatem Ecclesiae universalis”, but in order to be morally licit there needs to be a iusta causa (just cause); otherwise the act, while valid, would be morally deplorable and would consitute a serious offense before God. The reason given by Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013 appears to be totally disproportionate to the gravity of the act:

“However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

Socci knows the canonical doctrine and comments: “Since Benedict XVI does not give exceptional reasons, and since we cannot imagine that he wanted to ‘fall into a grave fault,’ the possibilities – apart from being coerced – are two: either his resignation was not a true and proper resignation of the papacy, or his exceptional reasons were not explained.”[3]

One cannot understand how Socci excludes a priori the possibility of a “grave fault” by Benedict XVI. However, this is precisely what it is. The decision of Pope Benedict XVI has created a situation without precedent. In the eyes of the world, it caused a desacralization of the Petrine ministry, which has come to be considered like an agency whose president can resign for reasons of age or physical weakness. Professor Gian Enrico Rusconi has observed that Benedict XVI “with his decision to resign says that there is not any particular protection of the Holy Spirit which can guarantee the mental and psychological firmness of the Vicar of Christ on earth, when he is undermined by old age or illness” (La Stampa, 12 February 2013). Historically, Popes were always elected in old age and often in terrible physical condition, without any medicine at the time being able to help them, in contrast to what it is able to do today. Yet they never resigned or failed to exercise their proper mission. Physical health has never been a criteria for governing the Church.

Historical Examples in Contrast

The old archbishop of Goa in India, weak and afflicted by many trials, asked the Pope to free him from his charge. But St. Pius V responded to him that like a good soldier he ought to die in the field, and in order to instill courage in him he recalled his own sufferings with these words:

“We understand fraternally what you feel, We are old just like you, fatigued by many labors, in the midst of many dangers; but recall that tribulation is the normal path which leads to Heaven and that we ought not to abandon the post assigned to us by Providence. Can you perhaps believe that We too, in the midst of so many concerns so full of responsibility, do not at times feel tired of living? And that We do not desire to return to Our former state of a simple religious? Nevertheless, We are determined not to shake off our yoke but to bear it courageously until God shall call us to Himself. Renounce, therefore, all hope of being able to retire to a quieter life…”

On September 10, 1571, a few days prior to the Battle of Lepanto, the same St. Pius V sent a moving letter to the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, Pietro de Monte, in which, in order to encourage the old commander, he wrote:

“You will know without any doubt that my cross is heavier than yours, that my strength is now lacking, and how numerous are those who seek to make me succumb. I would certainly have failed and would have already renounced my dignity (something which I have thought of doing on more than one occasion), if I had not more fully loved to place myself entirely into the hands of the Master Who has said: ‘Whoever wishes to follow Me must renounce himself.’”

The abdication of Benedict XVI does not reveal the renunciation of self, expressed in the words of St. Pius V, but rather it manifests the renouncing spirit of the churchmen of our time. It is the renunciation of carrying out the highest mission which a man can fulfill on earth: that of governing the Church of Christ. It is the flight before the wolves by the one who, in his first homily on April 24, 2005, said, “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

Benedict’s Final Public Discourse, A Point of Contention

Antonio Socci cites the last official and public discourse of the pontificate of Benedict XVI on February 27, 2013, in which he said concerning his ministry: “The real gravity of the decision was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. […] The ‘always’ is also a ‘forever’ – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this.”

“A disruptive expression,” comments Socci, “because if with his act of resignation Benedict renounced only ‘the active exercise of the ministry’, it means that he did not intend to renounce the ministry in itself. […] In the light of this final discourse, one understands why Joseph Ratzinger has remained in the ‘enclosure of Peter’ [the Vatican], he still signs his name Benedict XVI, he calls himself ‘Pope Emeritus’, he still uses the papal heraldic insignia and he continues to dress as Pope.”[4]

This affirmation, taken literally, as Socci intends it to be, is theologically erroneous. When he is elected, the Pope receives the office of supreme jurisdiction, not a sacrament carrying the imprint of indelible character. The Papacy is not a spiritual or sacramental condition, but rather an “office”, or more accurately an institution. According to the ecclesiology of Vatican II, however, the Church is above all a “sacrament” and ought to be stripped of its institutional dimension. Here it is forgotten that, if the Pope is equal to every bishop through his episcopal consecration, he is superior to every bishop in virtue of his office, which assures him full jurisdiction over all of the bishops of the world, either considered individually or as a whole. [Editor’s Note: For a more detailed explanation of this topic, see Professor De Mattei’s 2018 CFN Conference speech, “Tu es Petrus: True Devotion to the Chair of Saint Peter”.]

Professor Violi and Archbishop Gänswein Contribute to Confusion

Socci also makes reference to the questionable study of Professor Stefano Violi La rinuncia di Benedetto XVI: Tra storia, diritto e coscienza (“Rivista Teologica di Lugano” n. 2/2013, pp. 203-214), which introduces the distinction between the “office”, which it says Benedict resigned, and the Petrine munus, which it says he continues to hold. The bizarre thesis of Violi seems to have inspired Archbishop Georg Gänswein, secretary of Benedict XVI, in his discourse given on May 20, 2016, at the Pontifical Gregorian University, in which he affirmed:

“Since February 2013 the papal ministry is therefore no longer what it was before. It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and yet it is a foundation which Benedict XVI has profoundly and permanently transformed during his exceptional pontificate… Since the election of his successor Francis, on March 13, 2013, there are not therefore two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member. This is why Benedict XVI has not given up either his name or the white cassock. This is why the correct name by which to address him even today is ‘Your Holiness’; and this is also why he has not retired to a secluded monastery, but within the Vatican — as if he had only taken a step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy…”

Benedict, Socci emphasizes, may have renounced his juridical office, but he continues to exercise “the eminently spiritual essence of the Petrine munus.”[5] His resignation has transformed the papal ministry into an Ausnahmepontifikat (“pontificate of exception”), using the term of Archbishop Gänswein. “Benedict XVI did not have the intention of abandoning the papacy, and he has not renounced the acceptance of it which he did in April 2005 (even considering it ‘irrevocable’) and thus – strictly using logic – he is still pope.”[6] “There is objectively a ‘state of exception’, or rather, in the expression of Msgr. Gänswein, a ‘pontificate of exception’, which presupposes an absolutely exceptional situation in the history of the Church and of the world.”[7]

Among the best works which refute this attempt to re-define the pontifical Primacy, there is an accurate essay by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller entitled Renuntiatio Papae. Alcune riflessioni storico-canonistiche (“Archivio Giuridico” 3-4 [2016], pp. 655- 674). The tradition and praxis of the Church affirms with clarity, affirms the cardinal, that one man and one man only is the Pope, inseparable in his unity and in his power. “The substance of the Papacy is thus clearly defined by Sacred Scripture and by the authentic Tradition, and so no Pope is authorized to redefine his office” (p. 660). If Benedict XVI believes that he is still the Pope, simultaneously with Francis, he would negate the truth of Faith by which there exists only one Vicar of Christ, and he would have to be considered a heretic or suspected of heresy.

On the other hand, if the true Pope is Benedict and not Francis, someone ought to note it, and yet not one cardinal has ever done so. The consequences would be devastating. What would then happen upon the death of Benedict XVI? Would they have to hold a conclave, with Pope Francis still sitting on the papal throne? And if Francis is an antipope, when he dies who would elect the true Pope, since the large number cardinals nominated by him would have to be considered invalid?

Benedict’s Resignation a Mystical Mission?

For Socci, the decision of Benedict XVI was a mystical decision. “We are dealing with a true and personal call on the part of God. The call to a mission.”[8] What is this mission? “Benedict does not abandon the flock in danger. He is in prayer in his hermitage, interceding for the Church and for the world, and his comfort and illuminating teaching comes to the Church through a thousand little streams.”[9] The silent figure of Benedict is for Socci a “presence” in the enclosure of Peter which averts schisms and divisions, which restrains the advance of the Revolution and which assures peace in the world. The “mystical” mission of Benedict XVI is a political mission, which Socci describes thus at the conclusion of his book:

“Here we may see the greatness of the vision of Benedict XVI: in an insane historical moment, in which the West, ever more de-Christianized, has absurdly rejected and attacked Russia (a Russia that is finally free and has become Christian) and has sought to marginalize her, sending her back to Asiatic isolation or into the embrace of communist China, the dialogue which the Pope [Benedict] had undertaken with the Russian Orthodox Church aimed at realizing the dream of John Paul II: a Europe composed of people united by their Christian roots from the Atlantic to the Urals.”[10]

The mysticism which Socci attributes to Benedict XVI seems to be merely his own literary fantasy, while in his book he ignores the great theological debate between Modernism and anti-Modernism, just as he ignores the Second Vatican Council and its dramatic consequences. The Papacy has been despoiled of its institutional dimension and instead “personalized”. For Socci, John Paul II and Benedict XVI incarnate the “good”, while Francis is the expression of “evil”. In reality, the rapport between Francis and his predecessors is much closer than Socci imagines, if for no other reason than it was the improvident resignation of Benedict XVI which opened the way for Cardinal Bergoglio. The final photographs of Benedict XVI reveal an exhausted man, constrained by Divine Providence to assist in the debacle which he himself provoked. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the defeated one of the conclave of 2005, became the victor of the conclave of 2013, and Benedict XVI, the victor of the preceding conclave, emerges from the story as the great defeated one.

I esteem Antonio Socci for his authentic Catholic faith and for the independence of his thought. I share his severe judgment on Pope Francis. But the resignation of Benedict XVI, which for Socci was the choice of a mission, is for me the symbol of the surrender of the Church to the world.

Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino.

The articles and conferences by Professor Roberto de Mattei can all be found on https://www.patreon.com/lepantofoundation.

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Ask Fr Z: “I’m seriously considering adopting some form of sedevacantism”

Fr Z’s blog post:

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Father, I’ll get straight to the point: I’m having difficulty believing that the Pope is the head of the Church. I know that regarding the past heresies Popes were often negligent in carrying out their duty to oppose error, but it seems that recently Rome has been actively spreading error. This is most obvious under Francis, of course, although it’s not a new phenomenon — Vatican II and the liturgical reforms, which resulted in a disastrous loss of Catholic faith and identity in so many countries, were all carried out at Rome’s instigation and under her aegis. I know, too, that official teaching hasn’t changed, but that frankly seems like an unsatisfactory response. When Our Lord promised that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church, surely he meant more than that a core of esoteric doctrine, accessible only to people with enough theological training to parse the exact level of authority possessed by each papal communication, would remain, whilst the actual teaching organs of the Church were actively spreading error. I’ve read too much Church history to find Protestantism or Eastern Orthodoxy plausible options, but I’m seriously considering adopting some form of sedevacantism, if only to be rid of the cognitive dissonance involved in believing both that communion with the See of Rome is necessary for salvation, and also that being a good Catholic nowadays requires one to ignore 90% of what comes out of Rome.

Frankly, I am receiving more and more notes like this.   It is obvious that a lot of people are truly frustrated, some even at wit’s end.

Let’s consider a few things.

First, you say: “I’m having difficulty believing that the Pope is the head of the Church.”

On this point, we turn to Colossians 1:18:

“[Christ] is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent.”

Christ is the head of the Church, friend.  The Pope is Christ’s vicar on Earth.  Very fancy, right?  There is an amusing old doggrel acrostic for Latin “vicarius” (“substitute, delegate”) which I hope I remember accurately.

Vir
Inutilis
Carens
Auctoritate
Rare
Intelligentiae
Umbra
Superioris

“A useless man, lacking authority, rarely of intelligence, the shadow of his superior.”

This might knock a few “vicars” of this or that down a notch.  There are also acrostics for parochus (pastor) and episcopus (bishop) buried deep in my head somewhere.

Also, you yourself brought up one of three attributes of the Church: indefectibility.  If we believe Christ’s promises – and I sure do – then we hold that the Church will not fail even to the end of the world when He returns to take all things to Himself and submit them to the Father.

I am reminded of Napoleon’s threat to destroy the Church.  Card. Consalvi responded, “We clergy have been trying to destroy the Church for the last 1800 years.”  In the end, even if it really were the aim of Francis or of his band of hangers on to destroy the Church, they would fail.  Can’t happen.

Throughout her history, there have been periods of confusion and disruption far worse than what we are experiencing now.   Consider the dreadful 15th c. Western Schism when there were three claimants to the papacy at the same time.  That got sorted.   Consider the controversy that swirled in the 19th c. around Vatican I and the definition of infallibility.   I’m just finishing a book about Vatican I right now, and the rise of ultramontanism of that era teaches us a lesson about the near papalatrous attitudes of some of Francis’ most dedicated supporters.  Also, the book has given me quite a different view of the person of Bl. Pius IX, who was, as it turns out, rather mercurial and not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Anyway, history bears out that the Church is indefectible.

History teaches us that there have been great popes, okay popes, forgettable popes and bad popes.   Over more than a century or so, there has developed a strong cult around the person of the Pope.  Moreover, we have been perhaps a little spoiled with a string of pretty good men in the See of Peter.   Now we have a sharply contrasting figure after John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  Francis is jarring, out of the pattern.   He is bound to make a lot of people scratch their heads.  Just as I think that – in the long run – importance of Vatican II has been greatly exaggerated, so too the impact of Francis is greatly exaggerated.   He is unsettling, but I suspect that, in the long run, he won’t be considered that important. Perhaps it is a good thing that cult around the person of Popes should be shaken up a bit, knocked down a few notches.

That said, just because he is jarring or his importance has been exaggerated by his papalatrous camp followers (some of whom I hold to be very bad actors indeed), that doesn’t mean that he isn’t really the Vicar of Christ.   Sure there are lots of theories about the validity of Benedict’s abdication and the legitimacy of Francis’ election.  They are interesting theories, too.  Some very smart people hold to them.  However, one of the facts that sticks out for me is that the Cardinals who went into the conclave of 2013 haven’t risen up against him.  That means not nothing.

No.  Sedevacantism isn’t the answer.   However, you brought up a partial solution to your problem with Francis and his posse.  You wrote: “being a good Catholic nowadays requires one to ignore 90% of what comes out of Rome.”

Go ahead and ignore 90% of what comes out of Rome and you’ll probably be more at peace.

We are terribly information overloaded these days.   It arrives as if by firehose through our various screens.   It is, for the devout Catholic who loves the Church – and when we love we always want to know more about our beloved – this can be upsetting.

We must learn to put all our churchy news into perspective, especially through a review of the Church’s many centuries of trials through history.

Also, and this is important for our equilibrium on the heaving deck of Peter’s storm tossed Barque, of all the possible universes God could have created, He created this one and not some other.  He knew every one of us before the creation of the cosmos, and He called us from nothingness into existence in this particular universe at this particular time according to His unfathomable plan.   We have a role to play in God’s economy of salvation.  We have to trust that we are exactly when and where God wants us to be.  If we have been born into troubling times, then we are precisely where we are to play our role.  We are in the right place and the right time.   Trust in God’s divine providence.  He knows what he is doing.

And I will remind you that we weren’t promised a bed of roses when we were baptized.  We who are Christ’s disciples will all drink at least some drops of the chalice He drank on Calvary.   It is our task to be faithful, brave and persevere.

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I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners

 

A year after the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette in Lourdes (France, 1858), she appeared on three different days in the small town of Champion, Wisconsin, near the Great Lakes. More than 150 years separate these apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Church’s official approval.

In early October 1859, a 28-year-old woman named Adele Brise walked alone in the Wisconsin woods, headed for a nearby grist mill with a sack of wheat on her shoulder, when she saw a woman dressed in a luminous white dress standing among the trees.

… After two silent apparitions, on the walk back home after Mass, the woman in white appeared again. She had blonde hair, and a circle of stars surrounded her head. This time, Adele fell to her knees and asked her who she was and what she wanted.

“I am the Queen of Heaven,” the woman said, “who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning, and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession, and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.”

The woman continued, “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation. Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross and how to approach the sacraments. That is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.”

Adele immediately shared what had happened with her family. She also quickly took up the task entrusted to her by Mary. In the months and years that followed, Adele walked from village to village and home to home, over a 50-mile radius. She offered to do housework in people’s homes in exchange for the opportunity to catechize their children. A chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Good Help was built on the site of the apparitions.

Eventually, encouraged by the local priest, Adele gathered companions to share in the work. They formed a group of lay Third Order Franciscans. Though they took no formal vows, they wore the Franciscan habit. In the 1860s, they started a school, St Mary’s Boarding Academy, near the chapel.

Over the decades, the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help became a familiar part of life in the Champion area. It was, and remains, a place of great peace, pilgrimage and even healing. The current chapel includes many crutches left behind as examples of many illnesses and diseases that have been cured following visits by pilgrims.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is now the only Marian shrine in the United States on the site of approved apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Source: Our Lady of Good Help

https://www.shrineofourladyofgoodhelp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/decree_Shrine-of-Our-Lady-of-Good-Help-SIGNED.pdf

 

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10 Good reasons to save sex until marriage

Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.2350: Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.

What’s love got to do with it?

Click here to launch the slideshow

Purity and chastity seem to be virtues that have gone out of fashion. The crisis of values ​​has led many young people to see sex as the center of their dating relationship. Sexually active men are considered “winners” and women “experienced,” while someone who saves him or herself in chastity is taken to be a prude, sexually incapable, or repressed by the Church. However, the reality is completely the opposite. Let’s take a look at 10 reasons to promote sexual abstinence among our youth.

[A true Catholic Christian marriage takes three: a man, a woman and Our Lord. Having a Christ-centred dating relationship leads the spouses onto having a Christ-centred marriage in the  sacrament of holy matrimony. When Jesus is present prior to marriage He is able to bring about His full plan for His presence from the first day of matrimony, helping overcome all pitfalls and suffering that might appear (and surely will do at some points along the way) on into living Happily Ever After.]

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The Pope’s Laxity Catches Up With Him

By George Neumayr at The American Spectator:

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Solemnity of our Lord’s Epiphany — Cycle C

Image result for epiphany

FIRST READING            Isaiah 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.  Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.  Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you:  your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.  Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.  Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.

SECOND READING                  Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:  You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.  It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:  that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

GOSPEL                Matthew 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”  When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.  They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:  And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”  Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child.  When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”  After their audience with the king they set out.  And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.  They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.  They prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

Jesus is revealed as God.  This is the meaning of Epiphany.  Jesus comes as a baby born of Mary.  Founding the belief that this was truly God born of flesh necessitated an extraordinary revelation.  Some of us have types of spiritual experiences in which we come to recognize what God is asking of us.  Some of us never have those types of experiences.  Yet, all of us are called to seek to live as fully and completely as we can in this life.   What is both marvelous and ironic is that this revelation of Jesus is the new New Thing that always was and forever shall be.

 To coin a phrase at the end of the last century before the technology bubble burst in Silicon Valley in California, authors and reporters were hungry to discover the next wave of technology, or the new New Thing, and the next wave of successful entrepreneurs.  This drive to discover, like contemporary magi, led many down wrong paths with doomed businesses and business owners.  People realized during that heady time that what was revealed was not always trustworthy…or true.  Certainly not epiphany.

Jesus revealed, on the other hand, gifts us with a portal to catch glimpses of God in our lives.  Epiphany can occur when we see something so beautiful that we believe only a God could have created it.  Or, it can occur when we have heard a passionate piece of music that touched something with us.  In a direct way, someone speaking of God thus bringing us to belief is also epiphany.

The first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, speaks of a vague knowledge of the future when the fortunes of Jerusalem will change.  This inner and deep longing and even belief that change is possible is part of Epiphany.  Our ancestors anticipated the new thing for generations.  This longing for future glory, as a nation and as a people of God, draws people towards Epiphany.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Ephesians and states that this experience of God is for all peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike.  That is simply a way of stating that God’s salvation is for all.  Everyone is invited to share the salvation given to us by God. This new New Thing may have surprised the early recipients, but it was God’s plan all along.  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb 13:8).  The Gentiles may be astounded, even thrilled.  But, to our Hebrew forefathers, this was all in the making.  Salvation is offered to the Jews in a new way.  However, for the Gentiles, this represented a new New Thing.

The magi from the East came looking for the Christ Child because of something that they saw in the skies.  It sounds unusual for us today, but such things happened all through history.  Again, the seekers and the curious looking for the new New Thing.  Their arrival in Judea makes Herod uneasy about his position as ruler of Judea.  Yet, when these magi finally meet the baby Jesus, they bow in worship and head home in another way, having been told in a dream to do so.

 The Epiphany experience reveals to us that God exists and God seeks us actively to draw us into union with Him.  In today’s celebration we rejoice that Christ is born, King of the Jews and King of all who seek salvation.  For some the search is over, or, for others just beginning.  Let us rejoice in His birth and know that He seeks us.  May the Holy Child embrace us this day.  May we joyfully return that embrace.

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An Argentinian bishop on Communion in the hand

An retired bishop in Argentina, age 92, Most Rev. Juan Rodolfo Laise, O.F.M.Cap. has a book:

HOLY COMMUNION Communion in the Hand: Documents & History – Some Reflections on Spiritual Communion and the State of Grace – 2018 218 pages hardcover $18.00

US HERE – UK HERE

Here is something from the Preface by the great Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who has recently been told by the Holy See that he shouldn’t travel so much (in other words, his messages while traveling were inconvenient so he should ‘shut up’).

From the Preface of Bishop Schneider: “The Church in our times has the urgent need of courageous voices in defense of her greatest treasure, which is the mystery of the Eucharist. [How true!  Even as The Present Crisis grows, we should be compelled back to the Eucharistic Lord, to adore Him, receive Him well, celebrate His mystery in proper sacred liturgical worship together.  This is the source and summit of our identity.] Often today there arise voices in defense of the many human and temporal needs, but rare are the voices that defend the Eucharistic Jesus. With his book Communion in the Hand, His Excellency Most Rev. Juan Rodolfo Laise, Bishop Emeritus of San Luis (Argentina), has for several years raised his voice in defense of the Eucharistic Lord, showing with convincing argumentation the inconsistency of the modern practice of Communion in the hand from a historical, liturgical and pastoral perspective… I consider it an honor and joy to be able to present this book of the most worthy Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise, “decus episcoporum Argentinae.” I hope this prophetic voice of an elderly bishop, who has retained his youth and purity of faith [“ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam”] and reverent love for the Eucharistic mystery, may enkindle readers with the same faith and the same love and contribute to the universal restoration of the more sacred and reverent manner of receiving the Lord’s Body.”

Bishop Laise was born on February 22, 1926 in Buenos Aires. He entered the Capuchin Order, in which he received priestly ordination in 1949 when he was only twenty-three years old. Later he obtained his licentiate in canon law from the Gregorian University in Rome, and his doctorate in civil law from the national university of Córdoba (Argentina). In 1969 he was named Provincial Superior of the Capuchins of Argentina.

In 1971 he was appointed by Paul VI coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of San Luis, whose bishop was seriously ill. The clergy of that diocese, although scarce, were deeply divided because of liberation theology. Due to the strong resistance of the ideological and rebellious sector, it was not possible to organize the episcopal consecration in what would be his Episcopal see, but five hundred miles away, in the chapel of a Capuchin school near Buenos Aires. As soon as he became bishop of San Luis, the reaction of the group of highly politicized priests did not delay, and they left the diocese, moving to a neighboring diocese where the environment was more akin to their ideas. Some went even further by directly abandoning the priestly apostolate. This was a blow to the new bishop, who was given a diocese that already had very few priests (there had been no priestly ordinations in the previous eighteen years, and at that time there was only one seminarian). However, his courage and his gifts of government enabled him to find a way to reverse the situation.  [Just a reminder that this war has been hot for a long time.]

Since the beginning he made his priority the care of vocations: their number, and above all their solid formation, creating in 1980 the diocesan seminary “St. Michael the Archangel.” Thirty years later, when he turned seventy-five and had to leave his diocese, there were more than fifty seminarians, and a young and numerous clergy who worked actively in the towns and villages of the province. Similarly, he promoted the installation of various religious congregations. Since the beginning his activity has been multiple and incessant: the foundation of religious houses, of schools, of a Catholic University extension, numerous churches and chapels for the new districts of a province whose population is constantly growing, and the organization of congresses and conferences. The apostolic directives followed one another, in the spirit and decisions of Bishop Laise, at a feverish pace. However, as a Capuchin religious he knew well that activity, even the most noble one such as that of the apostolate, is not fruitful if it does not nourish its roots in contemplation. That is why he also encouraged the establishment in the diocese of contemplative communities. [By their fruits.]

But if in anything he has stood out in a special way, it has been in his Eucharistic piety and devotion, which have been translated in a special way into the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – which by his express will has been exposed throughout the day in the diocesan Cathedral since the 1980s – and in his care for the organizing of the feast of Corpus Christi, with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of the city, and in his homilies for the occasion.

For all these reasons it is understandable that when, in 1996, he found himself confronted with a responsibility, that of making a decision about the possibility of resorting to an indult to give Holy Communion in a less devout manner – which makes less clear the Real Presence and the Priesthood, and which furthermore was obtained through a frontal disobedience to the Pope – he did not ask to avail himself of this, and, in the same way, he more recently has reacted to the possibility of giving Communion to someone who is not in the state of grace. After his retirement in 2001 he returned to the Franciscan conventual life and he chose the Shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo (Italy), where is found the saint’s venerated tomb. There he spends the mornings hearing the confessions of the pilgrims. He often agrees to travel to occasionally collaborate elsewhere, having performed numerous ordinations for various religious congregations, and accompanied pilgrims to Lourdes, Rome, etc., during these nearly two decades. In the photo on the back of the dust jacket of the book, he is seen on one of those occasions, celebrating a Pontifical Mass on the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter in the Vatican Basilica on October 24, 2015[Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage]

God bless this bishop.

May God bless all those who are working to restore reverent worship and belief in the Eucharist.

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McCarrick, Pope Francis, St Gallen Mafia w James Grein

This interview with James Grein – victim of homosexual rapist Card. McCarrick – is an absolute bombshell in its revelations. Please find the time to listen to it.

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Pope Francis: It’s better to be ‘atheist’ than attend daily mass as hypocrite

ROME, January 2, 2019

“How many times have we witnessed the scandal of those who go to church and spend all day there or attend every day, and later go on hating others or speaking ill of people. This is a scandal,” the Argentine pontiff said.

The pope added, “It would be better to not go to church. Live like an atheist. If you go to church, then live like a son, like a brother, like an authentic witness, not a counter-witness.”

Pope Francis has been unstinting in his criticisms of some Catholics, particularly traditional-minded ones, whom he asserts have failed to meet the mark. In 2013, Catholic blogger Laurence English released “The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults,” which continues to document the epithets used by the pontiff to describe those whom he criticizes. These include: “superficial Christian,” “climbers…attached to money,” and “fomenters of coprophagia!” The pope has regularly referred to some traditionalist Catholics as “rigid.”

Other derogatory phrases used by the pope include “pepper-faced,” “liquid,” and “weak-hoped” Christians; “museum mummies” and “old maids”; and priests and seminarians who qualify as “vain,” “wheeler-dealers,” “little monsters,” and “smarmy idolaters.”

During his regular Wednesday audience for pilgrims to the Vatican, the pope issued a homily on the Gospel of Matthew which refers to the “hypocrites” who pray so that “they can be seen by people.” This is repeated today, the pope said, by “atheists, without God, to be merely admired.” “Pagans,” the pontiff said, “think they pray by talking, talking, and talking. I think that many Christians believe that praying is to talk to God, if you’ll forgive me, like a parrot. No, praying is done in the heart, from within.”

On the other hand, Pope Francis said that Jesus Christ “crowned with joy” those persons who “were given little consideration in those days, but also today,” including the poor and the merciful. “This is the Gospel revolution. Everyone is capable of love. Peacemakers that until then had been on the margin of history are building the Kingdom of God.” He emphasized, “Where the Gospel is, so too is revolution. The Gospel does not leave us unmoved. It pushes us; it is revolutionary.”

 

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The Feast of the Holy Name

“Thy name is like oil poured out.”–Cant. 1.

The Church celebrates a special festival for the glorification of the sacred Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is salutary and right, for it is the Name of the Redeemer of the world; and, therefore, with regard to its relation to Him who bears it, and to the work He accomplished, it is a most solemn, mighty, holy, sanctifying, sweet and consoling Name. But the most important point in its consideration is that it exercises a powerful influence upon our lives as children of God and His Holy Church.

But, to denote more clearly the person of the Redeemer, and what He accomplished by the institution of His Church, we add, according to the direction of Holy Scripture, to this Name still another, namely, Christ. We should frequently think of the signification of this Name and its relation to us; for after it we are called, in imitation of Christ, and as members of His Church, Christians. It can be said of this holy Name, as well as of the name Jesus, that it is a most holy, solemn, mighty, sanctifying, and consoling Name, admirably qualified to exercise an influence upon our lives, that we may not only call ourselves disciples of Jesus and of His Church, but also live as such.

I will, therefore, speak today of the dignity of the Name to be called a Christian, and of the influence which that Name should exercise upon our lives. O Mary, help of Christians, protectress of the Catholic Church, assist us, that we may not merely be called Christians, but may also live as such! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater glory of God!As we read the acts of the martyrs, we see that, at the time of the persecution of Diocletian, Christians, in the bright light of day, walked in the public streets having plates on their foreheads, on which were inscribed the words: “I am a Christian.” This confession was to remind the persecutors of the Church how useless it was to induce the faithful–who knew what the name Christian signified, and what relation it bore to the name of Christ Himself–to apostatize from the true faith.

To understand this more clearly, we need only first think of the glorification which is due to the Name of Jesus; and consider how all the circumstances, which elevate it to such a dignity, and surround it with the light of glory, refer also in manner and degree to the name “Christian,” which we bear as children of His Church. I say, first, the Name of Jesus is a most solemn Name, which, as the angel said to St. Joseph, was sooner named in heaven than on earth. It is the Name of the Incarnate Son of God. The name Christian is also a name which was sooner named in heaven than it was bestowed upon man on earth. There was indeed no necessity that we should receive the happiness of being children of the true Church of Christ. For this great privilege we are indebted to the decree of the love and mercy of God, who, from all eternity, ordained that we should be born of Catholic parents; or else, enlightened and encouraged by the assistance of God, receive grace to become children of the Holy Church. We shall the better estimate this happiness, if we think of the multitude of men throughout the world who lived before Christ, are now living, and will yet live in the future, without ever attaining it.

Yes, a precious, a glorious and gracious name is the name of Christian. The name Jesus is the Name of the Son of God, who became Man for us, and the name Christian is that of the children of God; it was imparted to us at baptism, through which we were regenerated, as children of the Church, and, at the same time, as children of our Father in heaven. The name of Jesus is glorious, through the properties of the person and dignity of Christ and His kingdom. All these circumstances are so many rays which glorify the name of “Christian” before the face of heaven and earth.

The name Christian indicates an extremely high and glorious position, which we maintain among the creatures of God; for, as Christians, we are changed from children and slaves of Satan into children of God,–citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem,–fellow-citizens of the angels, and brothers and sisters of the saints. We are permitted to call Mary, the Queen of heaven, our Mother; and Jesus, who sits at the right hand of His Father, our Brother. Through baptism, by which the name “Christian” is imparted to us, we enter into the visible kingdom of Christ upon earth; enjoy, with Holy Church, her victories and triumphs, and attain to the possession of the infinite merits of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ, who deposits them in the treasury of the Church,–yes, we even attain to the personal possession of Christ Himself, in the most august Sacrament of the Altar.

The happiness of being a Christian gives us, at the same time, the right to become heirs of heaven, and one day to enter into it, body and soul, to dwell forever there. Not only this; but this Name, if we live accordingly, gives us power to elevate our thrones in heaven always higher and higher, by the good works which we perform on earth in the state of grace, and to gather always more and more treasures, and so become richer and richer for eternity. What a great happiness to be a Christian! But, in order to reign one day royally with Christ in the strength of His Name, we must certainly do something on our part. We must lawfully combat against the powers of darkness, which endeavor to seduce us to deviate from the narrow path of salvation, and walk on the broad and pleasant road of eternal perdition.

In this regard, we must be zealous in overcoming temptation; we must avoid sin, and, with the zeal of the saints, perform good works. But the name Christian reminds us, furthermore, of a series of motives which, if we consider them properly, will inspire us with courage and strength to conquer in this manner victoriously, and to crush the head of the serpent of temptation, thus coming nearer and nearer each day to that perfection at which we all must aim.

I am a Christian, how could I, by sinning, sacrifice the dignity of having been created in the image of God, and every right and title to the triumphant kingdom of Christ in heaven? Never! ah, never! I am a Christian; and as long as I possess within my heart the power to feel, I will utter the triumphant cry: “Depart from me !” and endeavor, by my progress in the path of perfection, to remain close to Christ, and to become always more like unto Him, that He may not be ashamed to call me His brother before all the radiant angels of His heavenly realm.

The Name of Jesus is a holy and sanctifying Name, so also is the name of Christian. It was imparted to us in baptism, whose saving waters cleanse every stain of sin from the soul, and infuse into it the priceless boon of sanctifying grace. As true Christians we shine, as St. Paul assures us, like bright and sparkling torches amid the darkness, which, through idolatry, sins, and crimes of every kind, bury and enchain the nations of the earth.

“Let your light shine, that men may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” These are the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. How earnestly, therefore, should not the consciousness–” I am a Christian “–urge us to the imitation of Christ, and to the utmost solicitude in the momentous affair of our salvation. A martyr of Christ who, in the early ages of Christianity, was dragged before the judge because he was a Christian, gave to all the questions of the pagan judge the unvarying answer: “I am a Christian.” What is your name? “I am a Christian.” What is your occupation? “To be a Christian.”

If I can thus reply with truth, then indeed my salvation is secured; if not, then indeed I am in danger. Ah, yes! a Christian I am, and will ever be! The Name of Jesus is a Name which is full of the sweetest consolation and celestial benediction; so also is the name Christian. It whispers to us to look into the mystery of the Redemption of the world,–the passion and death of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

Instructed by Christ’s word, encouraged by His example to bear the cross, all troubles lose the appearance of evil, and shine with a lovely light along the way to heaven to increase our joy in the kingdom of eternal reward, if we, with Him, for Him, and through Him, have victoriously endured the trials which He has sent us here on earth. It was this that amazed the heathens, and was so often the means of winning them to confess the truth of our holy faith. What admiration filled them when they beheld how Christians, in the midst of torments, praised and thanked God that He deemed them worthy to testify in this manner their love to Him, and their fidelity to the faith He came to teach. “I am a Christian.” This one thought is a blessed source of consolation. Oh, what joy in the remembrance that we are in possession of a dignity the very name of which is a pledge of security for us for time and eternity!

Well is it for us if, through constant meditation on the above, a true appreciation of this dignity penetrates us. Thus we shall, after a joyfully happy and meritorious life, receive, upon our dying bed, that consolation which St. Teresa experienced when she yielded her pure soul into the hands of the Lord: “I die as a child of the Holy Catholic Church.” Amen!

(From Lives of the Saints: Compiled from Authentic Sources with a Practical Instruction on the Life of Each Saint, for Every Day in the Year by Rev. F. X. Weninger.)

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The Spirit of Hollywood Versus the Spirit of the Cross

By James Bascom on RETURN TO ORDER (slightly shortened)

Few institutions today inspire more contempt among God-fearing Americans than Hollywood. Just the name of “Hollywood” conjures up images of glitzy, degenerate celebrities in gaudy outfits who use their wealth and influence to wage war on what remains of Christian morality.

Much subtler than this sexual immorality, yet ultimately more damaging, is the spread of a revolutionary mentality that denies the Catholic Faith at its deepest level by denying the effects of the Original Sin of Adam. It considers the purpose of life on this Earth to be the pursuit of bodily and material happiness. Therefore, suffering in any form and in any degree is the worst of evils. According to this mentality, it must be eradicated as quickly and efficiently as medicine, science, and technology will allow.

We may call this mentality “The Spirit of Hollywood.” Like a drop of oil on a sheet of paper, it has penetrated into the very fibers of our culture. And it is one of the primary causes of our modern crisis, from family dysfunction to drug abuse and virtually every other social evil we see today.

Drugs, gross sexual immorality, depression, alcohol abuse, and suicide are so common in Hollywood that they are the norm, not the exception. But by no means is this spirit and its tragic effects exclusive to Hollywood. The culture of Silicon Valley, for example, shares this utopian philosophy. They believe that every human problem, and therefore every source of suffering, can be solved. One just needs to found the right startup, develop the right technology, and write the proper algorithm. We can even escape the ultimate suffering: death.

Tragically, the spirit of Hollywood has become the default mentality of the nation, with results that are as disastrous as they are predictable. The generation of Americans living in the first decades of the twenty-first century is arguably the unhappiest, dysfunctional, and suicidal generation in history. According to The New York Times, one-third of American adults and adolescents suffer from anxiety. Drug overdoses now kill more people than both firearms and car accidents. More than 60% percent of firearms deaths are not murders, but suicides. In 2011, suicide passed homicide as the second leading cause of death among teenagers.

Denial of Original Sin

The Catholic Church teaches that death and suffering are a consequence of Original Sin which we inherited from Adam. After Original Sin, all men have in themselves a very strong tendency towards sin, disorder, and malice. Each person suffers the effects of Original Sin in a slightly different way, but we all feel pulled to have a distaste for virtue, order, duty, and goodness. Fundamental to Catholic spirituality is the call to wage unceasing warfare within ourselves against this disgust for order by turning ourselves towards God and Our Lady in prayer and the Sacraments. If not, we run the risk that this thirst for sin and distaste for order will triumph within us.

Mankind Needs Suffering

Imagine if we were to take a man conceived in Original Sin, with all the defects and bad tendencies it brings with it, and place him in a place like the Garden of Eden. He would be surrounded by every physical delight, but the simple fact of not experiencing any sufferings would begin to cause in him a certain malaise, uneasiness, boredom, and ultimately unhappiness and frustration.

Why? Because after Original Sin human nature requires the challenges of trials, hardships, and suffering to develop our qualities and practice virtue. Without hardship and adversity, we simply cannot develop ourselves.

Suffering is a type of oxygen for virtues. Without this special oxygen, our virtues wither and die, or never grow at all. Even if our hypothetical person never committed a mortal sin, without trials and sufferings he would never rise to any level of virtue, much less any form of the grandeur of soul like that of a saint.

The “Suffritive” Faculty

God created human nature with certain faculties, or powers. We have the intellectual faculties and the “sensitive” faculties, our five senses. These faculties are good in themselves.

Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira described a phenomenon he observed in the human soul that, while not a true faculty, by analogy may be considered one. He called it the “suffritive” faculty. It is the capacity and even psychological need of the human soul, due to Original Sin, for suffering. In other words, we need suffering in a similar way that our bodies need exercise, our minds need stimulation, and our souls need beauty.

Take exercise. After Original Sin, our bodies need a certain amount of exercise to stay fit. We build up energy inside that needs to be expended. Without exercise, our bodies begin to get irritable and feel bad. The suffering caused by this ill-feeling is worse than the fatigue from exercising. On the contrary, we usually feel a great well-being after exercise.

Likewise, when this “suffritive” faculty is not exercised we experience emptiness and frustration.

True Source of Happiness

True happiness on this Earth only comes when we accept all the sufferings that God sends us in function of our individual vocation in life. When we discern our personal vocation in life and make our lives revolve around it, give it our whole heart, soul and mind, and cheerfully accept every suffering that God deigns to send our way, we attain true earthly joy in anticipation of the eternal bliss of Heaven.

Our Lord Jesus Christ illustrated this in the Gospel with the woman about to give birth. The apprehension that she has for what is to come may be very great, and she may suffer terrible pain when the time comes to give birth, but after the child is born her sorrow is immediately turned into joy for having brought a new person into the world. Although maternity is full of sufferings, the woman who fulfills her earthly vocation of mother and accepts those sufferings also experiences true joy. She can look back with satisfaction for having endured those trials and fulfilled her mission.

The same can be said for men who suffer in war. Veterans often consider their service to have been the highlight of their lives, and look back with fondness on the times when they suffered and sacrificed for their country.

Evil Helps Man Understand Goodness

Evil and suffering can perform a valuable function for mankind. We better understand good in itself when comparing it with evil. Human psychology learns things best through contrasts, and this applies especially to good and evil. By contrast we are able to understand things more profoundly.

For example, consider the great heresies of the early Church. Arianism, Nestorianism, Gnosticism, Manichaeism, Iconoclasm, Pelagianism, and the other heresies were some of the worst evils that ever afflicted the Catholic Church. They took many souls to Hell. However, these heresies were the occasion for the development of the Church’s theology and doctrines. The Church grew in the understanding of the divine truths when She was obliged to refute and condemn these errors. The Nicene Creed, for example, was written to refute the many heretical notions of the nature of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Church.

We truly understand better the beauty, goodness and grandeur of Our Lord Jesus Christ contrasting it with the malice, perfidy, filthiness and dishonor of Judas.

A civilization that seeks to hide all that is disagreeable and pretends that evil does not exist, that seeks to eradicate all suffering, that forms and deforms its culture, art, and literature, in accordance with this worldview, that embraces the sweet things of this Earth while rejecting the cross, produces a soft, saccharine society destined to decay.

How a Catholic Should Face Suffering

A true Catholic should face suffering with heroism and take the opposite attitude of the world. We must prepare ourselves for it and accept the suffering God sends us. Some Catholics have the mistaken idea that temptation is a catastrophe and is even looked at as a sign that the person is in spiritual decadence. A person simply should not suffer temptations. The spiritual life should glide ahead as a train glides over the rails.

On the contrary, the Catholic should confront suffering not like someone who trembles with worry at the thought of a coming disaster, but like a ‘soldier of Christ’. The temptation is not a disaster, but an occasion for heroism (when we fight and overcome it).

“Friends of the Cross” 

Perhaps the greatest treatise on the glory and grandeur of suffering is Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort’s Letter to the Friends of the Cross.

Perhaps the greatest treatise on the glory and grandeur of suffering is Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort’s Letter to the Friends of the Cross. This short work is a treasure of doctrine and counsels to those Catholics who truly wish to live out their consecration of slavery to Our Lady. It is for those few who desire to walk the hard and narrow path up the heights of sanctity, waging warfare against the enemies of Our Lord and His Church.

What does he mean by “the Cross”? The cross is the ensemble of all that we ought to suffer to save our souls. It comprises, first of all, the efforts required for our sanctification; second, the misfortunes that befall us; and thirdly, our personal limitations and restrictions.

Sanctification involves pruning our souls of bad inclinations due to Original Sin and actual sin.

Misfortune is the lot of every human being. There is no one who does not suffer any misfortunes in life. Professor Corrêa de Oliviera commented how, when he was a boy, the older pious women in São Paulo, when describing a misfortune or disaster, used to use the expression “God visited me.” Catholics of that time still retained the idea that misfortune was, in fact, a gift from God for our own betterment and sanctification.

Limitations can be a source of suffering, whether they be of intelligence, ability, temperament, or any other quality. We are often tempted to compare ourselves with others and be envious of their superiorities. Rather than envy what others have, we must be content with what God gave us and, above all, admire what He in His infinite wisdom bestowed upon others.

The “Great Way” and the “Little Way”

Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveria describes two ways to carry one’s cross. The first is the classical way or the “Great Way.” It is the way that the saints of the past such as Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Saint Teresa of Avila, or Saint Alphonsus de Liguori embraced suffering. They saw their duty before them, they saw it was a great suffering to be confronted, they made a mature deliberation of that suffering and a manly act of the will, and finally a gradual yet methodical execution.

Our generation, however, with its brokenness, weakened will, and sins, has a much harder time carrying its crosses. We are, so to speak, spiritually handicapped. The great sufferings of the martyrs and saints often frighten us. We feel our own insufficiency very deeply.

That is where Our Lady comes in. We should approach her and ask, “My Mother, I am too weak to confront these duties. The simple thought makes me tremble. If you wish this from me, give me a special grace, work in my soul, quickly, sublimely, with special efficacy. With the single interplay of ordinary grace, I am not able. So I beg you for enthusiasm, favors, aids, whereby, at a certain moment, my poor soul will be capable.”

Our Lady takes the weak soul and carries it on her shoulders, with much sweetness and ease. The cross still exists, but it is no longer so heavy. This is Saint Thérèse of Lisieux’s way of carrying one’s cross.

Our Lady and “Enlevo

The essence of our Sacred Slavery of Love to Our Lady according to Saint Louis de Montfort’s method is the desire to consecrate oneself in order to receive her mentality. Her mentality is, above all, the Spirit of the Cross.

Inherent to this grace is a subtle yet very radical transformation in the soul. He begins to have what Prof. Corrêa de Oliviera called enlevo. Enlevo is a Portuguese word that means “a marveling and sweeping admiration.” It is an admiration that is so strong that it makes a person desire to give himself entirely to the object of his admiration, and desire to serve, obey, and even make of himself a holocaust for that object. The only way for the cross to be attractive is to consider Him Who is nailed to it and to receive from Him the necessary strength to accept it. Love for the cross is born from our enlevo for the things of God, for Our Lord’s Passion, for the Church.

A Friend of the Cross Is a Crusader

A Friend of the Cross, a soul that has enlevo for the Passion, Cross and Death of Our Lord will naturally desire to fight the enemies of the Cross. He is naturally combative. Saint Louis de Montfort did not preach a Spirit of the Cross that was mediocre or self-pitying. On the contrary, he considers the Friends of the Cross to be an invincible army of crusaders in a fight to the death with the enemies of the Church:

You are united together, Friends of the Cross, like so many crusaders, to fight the world, not by fleeing like men and women religious, for fear of being vanquished, but as valiant and brave warriors on the battlefield, without giving ground or turning their backs. Courage! Fight valiantly! Join strongly in a union of minds and hearts, infinitely stronger and more terrible to the world and to hell than are the armed forces of a great kingdom to its enemies. The demons unite to destroy you; you must unite to defeat them. The avaricious unite to trade and amass gold and silver; you must unite your efforts to obtain the treasures of eternity, hidden in the Cross. Libertines join together to enjoy themselves; you must be united to suffer. (Letter to the Friends of the Cross, no. 2).

Our calling as Catholics is to oppose the errors of our times. If we are to be true Friends of the Cross we must resist conforming ourselves to these errors and be highly imbued with the truths that this age denies. It is the complete rejection of our age and all of its hatred for the Cross of Christ.

It would be an understatement to say that we live in times of extraordinary crisis. Extraordinary times of crisis require extraordinary heroism. Moral relativism is the greatest enemy that the Church and Christian civilization have ever faced. This threat is far worse than the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto or even the lions of the Roman arena. We need a heroism proportional to this threat.

A faithful slave of Our Lady, a true Friend of the Cross, receives this heroism. He receives a moral heroism which gives the strength of soul to endure great trials, deceptions, calumnies, failures, everything that man can expect to endure in this life, and above all the great moral heroism of confronting the errors of our day. Our Lady will grant him special graces of heroism, confidence, and perseverance until the final victory in this great Crusade of the twenty-first century, a victory promised one hundred years ago at Fatima, the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart.

 

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The Circumcision of Our Lord: a Created Share in God’s Own Life

In the Traditional Catholic Liturgical calendar (now often referred to as the ‘Extraordinary Form’) the 1st January is celebrated as ‘The Circumcision of Our Lord and Octave of the Nativity’. It is important not to let the great significance of this feast in the early life of Our Blessed Saviour be overlooked.

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The Circumcision of Our Lord and Octave of the Nativity

In the Liturgy of today three feasts are really included. The first, that which was known in the ancient sacramentaries as “On the octave-day of our Lord”. So the Mass is largely borrowed from those of Christmas.

By the second feast we are reminded that it is to Mary, after almighty God, that we owe our Lord Himself. For this reason, formerly a second Mass was celebrated in the basilica of St. Mary Major, in honour of the Mother of God. Some traces of this Mass remain in the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion which are the same as in the votive mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The psalms at Vespers are also the same as on the feasts of our Lady.

The third feast is the Circumcision which has been kept since the sixth century. Moses commanded that all the young Israelites should undergo this rite on the eighth day after birth (Gospel). It is a type of Baptism by which a man is spiritually circumcised. “See,” says St. Ambrose, “how the whole sequence of the Old Law foreshadowed that which was to come; for circumcision signifies the blotting out of sins. He who is spiritually circumcised by the rooting up of his vices is judged worthy of the Lord’s favour.” While speaking of the first drops of His sacred Blood that our Redeemer shed for the cleansing of our souls, the Church emphasises the thought of the cutting out of all that is evil in us. “Jesus Christ … gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and cleanse us” (Epistle). “O Lord … cleanse us by these heavenly mysteries” (Secret). “May this communion, O Lord, purify us from sin”.

(From Saint Andrew Daily Missal)
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For further insights into this mystery we add this sermon from Sensus Fidelium

 

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Holy See Spokesman Greg Burke resigned

Today I was greeted with the excellent new that my old friend Greg Burke, the director of the Holy See Press Office and papal spokesman, has resigned.  I am delighted for him.

While you could not assemble a better man for the job from a multitude of parts, and Greg Burke truly is a “man of parts”, it pained me to see him in that role, in these years.

There is a story at National Catholic Register HERE and at La Stampa HERE.

Not only did Greg resign, but the deputy, Paloma García Ovejero also resigned. SURPISE! Hence, the Vatican one of the only women in a high profile spot.

Interesting, no?

An interim director has been appointed: Alessandro Gisotti who has been heading up the dicastery for Social Communications. By the way, just a little while ago, 18 Dec., Andrea “turncoat” Tornielli was appointed to that same dicastery to coordinate the editorial line of all of the Holy See’s media.

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Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Presence of God – O Mary, Mother of God, deign to accept my humble homage and grant that I, too, may enjoy the blessed fruits of your maternity

MEDITATION

The [Solemnity] we celebrate today honors Mary under her most beautiful title and in her most glorious prerogative: Mother of God. This title and prerogative were solemnly Holy Mother of Godproclaimed by the Council of Ephesus, to oppose the Nestorian heresy. Today the Church congratulates Mary for this supreme dignity, which raises her above all other creatures, even to the threshold of infinity, and makes her Queen, not only of men, but also of angels. This is the dominant theme throughout the Mass. The Introit repeats the prophecy of Isaias which, even in the Old Testament, had foretold the sublimity of our Blessed Lady, “Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and His Name shall be called Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14), that is, God with us. The Epistle (Sirach 24:23-31), applying to Our Lady an extract from the book of Wisdom, sings the praises of her divine maternity: Mary is the fruitful vine which bore the fairest fruit, Jesus. Mary is “the mother of fair love” in whom is “all grace of the way and of the truth … all hope of life and of virtue,” since through her alone God gave to the world His only-begotten Son; through her alone men have had their Savior. He who wants Jesus must seek Him in Mary’s arms; he who wishes to propitiate the Savior must have recourse to her who is His Mother. How sweetly, then, does her maternal invitation sound in our ears: “Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.” Yes, let us go to Mary and we shall not be deceived; in her we shall find all we can desire, because Mary gives us Jesus, the Redeemer, Father and true Food of our souls. Not only does she give Him to us, but, by the example of her wonderful life, she teaches us to love Him, to imitate Him, to follow Him, and to profit as much as possible from His redemptive, sanctifying work. Thus Mary extends her maternity to us too, fulfilling toward us the duties of a Mother, and we can repeat with full confidence the prayer which the Church puts on our lips today: “O Lord … grant that we who believe her to be indeed the Mother of God may be aided by her intercession with Thee” (Collect).

COLLOQUY

“Your name, O Mother of God, is filled with every divine grace and blessing. You carried in your womb Him whom the heavens could not contain. You nourished Him who feeds the whole world. The Lord of the universe willed to have need of you, for you gave Him the flesh which He did not have before. Rejoice, O Mother and Handmaid of God! Rejoice! You have for debtor Him who gives existence to all creatures; we are all debtors to God, but God is debtor to you!

“O most holy Virgin, you have more goodness and charity than all the other saints and you have greater access to the throne of God than they, because you are His Mother. I, then, who am celebrating your glories and praising your immense goodness, beg you to be mindful of me and my miseries” (St. Methodius).

“O great Mother of God, I, too, will say with St. Bernard: ‘speak, O Lady, because your Son is listening to you, and whatever you ask He will grant you!’ Speak, then, speak, in my favor, O Mary, my advocate, wretched as I am. Remember it was for my benefit, too, that you were given such power and dignity. God willed to make Himself your debtor by taking His human nature from you, so that you might freely dispense the riches of His divine mercy to the poor and wretched.

“If you, who are so immensely good, do good to all, even to those who do not know and honor you, how much more should we hope in your benignity, we who wish to honor you and love you and who trust in your aid? O Mary, although we are sinners, you can save us, because God has enriched you with mercy and power that surpasses all our iniquity. O most sweet Mother, to you I give my soul, that you may purify it, sanctify it, and consecrate it wholly to Jesus” (St. Alphonsus).

[From DIVINE INTIMACY –  Baronius Press ]

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