100th Anniversary of Our Lady’s Third Apparition to the Little Sherpherds of Fatima – the Vision of Hell

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” (John Martin, “Fallen Angels in Hell”, ca. 1841)

As the July [13] date approached Lucia continued to be troubled by the words of her pastor that the devil might be behind the apparitions.

As the July date approached Lucia continued to be troubled by the words of her pastor that the devil might be behind the apparitions. Finally, she confided to Jacinta that she intended not to go. When the day finally dawned, however, her fears and anxieties disappeared, so that the noon hour found her in the Cova with Jacinta and Francisco, awaiting the arrival of the beautiful Lady.

The apparition of July 13th would prove to be in many ways the most controversial aspect of the message of Fátima, providing a secret in three parts which the children guarded zealously. The first two parts, the vision of hell and the prophecy of the future role of Russia and how to prevent it, would not be revealed until Sr. Lucia wrote them down in her third memoir, at the request of the bishop, in 1941. The third part, usually called the Third Secret, was only later communicated to the bishop, who sent it unread to Pope Pius XII.

A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.

“Lucia,” Jacinta said, “speak. Our Lady is talking to you.”

“Yes?” said Lucia. She spoke humbly, asking pardon for her doubts with every gesture, and to the Lady: “What do you want of me?”

I want you to come back here on the thirteenth of next month. Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.

Yes, yes.”

“I would like to ask who you are, and if you will do a miracle so that everyone will know for certain that you have appeared to us.”

You must come here every month, and in October I will tell you who I am and what I want. I will then perform a miracle so that all may believe.

Thus assured, Lucia began to place before the Lady the petitions for help that so many had entrusted to her. The Lady said gently that she would cure some, but others she would not cure.

“And the crippled son of Maria da Capelinha?”

No, neither of his infirmity nor of his poverty would he be cured, and he must be certain to say the Rosary with his family every day.

Another case recommended by Lucia to the Lady’s assistance was a sick woman from Atougia who asked to be taken to heaven.

Tell her not to be in a hurry. Tell her I know very well when I shall come to fetch her.

Make sacrifices for sinners, and say often, especially while making a sacrifice: O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

[First Part of the Secret – The Vision of Hell]

As Our Lady spoke these words she opened her hands once more, as had during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now following back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me do). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:

[Second Part of the Secret]

You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.

This war will end, but if men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night that is lit by a strange and unknown light [this occurred on January 28, 1938], you will know it is the sign God gives you that He is about to punish the world with war and with hunger, and by the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.

To prevent this, I shall come to the world to ask that Russia be consecrated to my Immaculate Heart, and I shall ask that on the First Saturday of every month Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins-of the world. If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and the world will enjoy a period of peace. In Portugal the faith will always be preserved…

[Third Part of the Secret – Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, “The Message of Fátima”]…..

Read the rest at EWTN.com

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Pope Francis promoting a ‘hidden schism’ with ‘obstinate persistence,’

from: LifeSite News.

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ROME, July 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – An atheist philosopher friend of Benedict XVI has strongly criticized Pope Francis, accusing the Holy Father of not preaching the Gospel but politics, fomenting schism, and issuing secularist statements aimed at destroying the West.

In a fiery interview published July 10 in Mattino di Napoli, Marcello Pera, who co-wrote the famous 2005 book Without Roots with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzingersaid he cannot understand the Pope who, he said, goes beyond the bounds of “rational comprehension.”

A philosophy professor, member of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, and a former president of the Italian Senate, Pera said he believes the reason why the Pope calls for unlimited immigration is because he “hates the West” and is seeking to do all he can “to destroy it.”

He added that he does not like the Pope’s magisterium, saying it is “not the Gospel, only politics,” and that Francis is “little or not at all interested in Christianity as doctrine, in its theological aspect.”

“His statements appear to be based on Scripture,” he said, but “actually they are strongly secularist.”

Immigration has become a highly sensitive topic in Italy in recent months as thousands of refugees arrive every month, mostly from north Africa, placing considerable strain on local communities and services.

Pera’s comments also come after another conversation between the Pope and the atheist Eugenio Scalfari in which Francis allegedly told Scalfari to be “very concerned” about the summit last week of the G20 group of industrialized nations because they have “very dangerous alliances” and a “distorted view of the world.”

According to Scalfari, who is over 90 and doesn’t record his interviews, the Pope also said the G20 worried him because of the issue of immigration, saying the problem is “unfortunately rising in today’s world, that of the poor, the weak, the excluded, of which migrants are part.”  Some of the G20 nations have “few local poor but fear the invasion of immigrants,” he said.

In the July 10 interview Pera, went on to say that he believes the Pope isn’t concerned about the salvation of souls but only social well-being and welfare, and argued that if Europe were to follow the Pope’s position, it would be committing suicide. “The Pope reflects all the prejudices of South America against North America, against the free market, liberty, and capitalism,” Pera added.

On the issue of migration, the philosopher politician believes the Pope’s approach is not from the Gospel, and his words are designed to win easy applause from the United Nations.  His political vision on migrants and society, he continued, has “nothing to do with the Western tradition of political freedom and its Christian roots.”

Pera’s book with Cardinal Ratzinger, whose full title was Without Roots —The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, warned of the dangers facing civilization if the West abandoned its moral and cultural history. The joint authors called on Western leaders to embrace a spiritual rather than political renewal, accepting the moral values of its Judeo-Christian heritage which would enable society to make sense of today’s economic, political and social challenges.

In this week’s interview, Pera said he believes the open doors approach to migrants that the Pope is advancing will lead to a “bad reaction” with no desirable solution. He said the Pope’s positions underline that he is not in “perfect harmony” with “conservative Catholics and the rest of the Church.”

He added that Francis is not only causing problems in politics over migration, he is also fueling a kind of schism within the Church.

Pera, whose 2008 book Why We Must Call Ourselves Christians contained a preface by Pope Benedict XVI, maintained that an “apparent hidden schism exists in the Catholic world” that the Pope is “pursuing with obstinate persistence and determination.”

But he said this “new course” being pursued by Francis does not convince him at all, and argued that it is “exploding the Second Vatican Council in all its revolutionary radicality.”

Pera further believes these ideas, which he thinks are devastating for the Church, have their origins in the Council. “That aggiornamento (updating) of Christianity secularized the Church, triggering a very profound change, even if it risked bringing a schism that was kept at bay in the years that followed,” he said.

He credited Benedict XVI and Pope St. John Paul II for saving the Church, “resisting and trying to mediate the new with tradition.” They did this in a “lofty way,” he said, but now Francis has brought all back into discussion: “human rights, all without exception, have become the ideal point of reference and compass for the Church” while the “rights of God and of tradition have almost gone.”

In an interview with the National Catholic Register in 2006, Pera warned against multiculturalism, saying it leads to the exact “opposite of integration, because it gives rise to separate communities, that are then reduced to a ghetto-like status and enter into conflict amongst themselves.”

He also said then that his diagnosis for Europe’s future was “not a happy one.”

“If Europe goes forward with its relativist culture, with the refusal of its own tradition, with its low nativity rates, with indiscriminate immigration, then Europe is going to end up Islamized,” he warned.

Referring to Benedict XVI’s comments in Without Roots, he said “the impression today is that Europe resembles the Roman Empire at its fall.”

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Feast of St. Benedict

It is our privilege and our joy to celebrate each year two major feasts in honor of Our Blessed Father Saint Benedict: this first one occurs during the Lenten season, and the second beneath the ardent rays of the July sun. Today’s feast originally celebrated the transfer of the relics of Saint Benedict from Italy to France, but has now become for the universal Church the principal celebration honoring Saint Benedict. Given the penitential character of Lent, we generally reserve more solemnity for the feast in July. It is nevertheless only fitting to say a few words about the holy death of a great Saint.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints,” (Psalm 115:15) says the psalmist. Why precious? Is the sad business of our mortality—our need to die someday—so precious? Are the tears and harshness of losing the ones we love something to be treasured? Of course not! But the death of a saint reveals to us something quite surprising, something most useful and precious for our own lives. When a saint dies, he or she is not preoccupied with the dismal perspective of tombs, decay, and the great unknown beyond. Quite to the contrary! When a saint dies, it is about finally entering into that spiritual state, once the soul is delivered from the infirmities of the body, where love is complete, where the human being can at last really live, and when the unfortunate lot that fell to mankind when Adam and Eve sinned is finally broken for good. This is true even before the soul receives its body back in a glorified state at the end of time. The tomb holds the body but not the soul. The Saint climbs past Purgatory all the way to the Kingdom of light.

Such a view of death might seem a bit unreal to us, as this happiness to come is not altogether apparent. But to the saint it is apparent or almost so. Not that such a person has, while still on earth, the beatific vision of God already, living without the daily struggles we all know along the way. No, saints are pilgrims like the rest of us. But when Faith, Hope, and Charity reach a certain pitch of perfection in this mortal life, well, a very great certitude about God is reached and an incomparable confidence acquired. In fact, a true foretaste of the life of heaven is thus attained. For the saint, death is not the end of life, the last page of the book, but the beginning. The perspective of moving, at last, beyond all the evil and misunderstandings and illnesses and sadness that mark a human being little by little here below (and sometimes even children), gives wings to the soul.

Saint Francis de Sales teaches that all good souls die in the love of God; that all martyrs die specifically because of the love of God (they are put to death you see, for being faithful to God); and that some rare souls actually die of the love of God, which is to say that the desire to reach this eternal life which they have tasted in prayer becomes so powerful as literally to cause the soul to leave the body out of the purest love (Treatise on the Love of God, Bk. 7, n. 9-11). Such would seem to be the case, especially, of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Everything we know about Saint Benedict would tend to indicate that such was his passing too: the death of exceeding love of Christ. May he intercede for us, so that we may share some of that love, both in our earthly existence, as long as it pleases God to keep us here, and at the moment of our death.

Image result for St. Benedict supported by monks as he died

“Six days before he died, he gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately, he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy. Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord to gain strength for his approaching end. Then, supporting his weakened body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last.” (St. Gregory the Great, Book Two of Dialogues, chapter 37).

Icon  by Dom Alex Echeandia OSB. A monk of Belmont Abbey and the Monastery of the Incarnation, Peru.

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Cardinal Meisner’s Witness Concerning Fatima and the Dubia

By Maike Hickson at OnePeterFive:

As we reported earlier this week, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, one of the four dubia cardinals, passed away on 5 July. The German cardinal fell peacefully asleep while praying his breviary in preparation for offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the morning.

In the wake of the news of Cardinal Meisner’s death, Dr. Michael Hesemann – the German Church historian who had earlier provided us with an important 1918 document from the Vatican archives concerning the Freemasonic plan to attack throne and altar – wrote on his own Facebook page a tribute to the German cardinal whom he knew personally and well.

Photo Courtesy of Paul Badde

In this tribute, Dr. Hesemann quotes from a private letter which Cardinal Meisner had written to him on 29 December 2016, and these words now aptly seem to be a part of the cardinal’s own spiritual testament. (Meisner did also write a public spiritual testament to which we later shall return. But this more private testament is even more pertinent, inasmuch as Cardinal Meisner himself was the only one of the four dubia cardinals who never made public statements about his own participation and support of the dubia.) Here follow some of Cardinal Meisner’s private words in late 2016, as quoted by Dr. Hesemann:

“We live in a time of confusion, not only in society, but also in the Church,” he [Meisner] wrote to me still on 29 December 2016; how much he was right! And he added – writing it down as a message for all bishops, and at the same time, as an explanation for his signing the dubia: “The shepherd is appointed by Christ in order to preserve the herd from error and from confusion.” [emphasis added]

After quoting these memorable words about the current crisis in the Church and the intrinsic duty of the pope, Dr. Hesemann continues, by referring also to the importance which Cardinal Meisner had laid upon the message of Fatima:

He [Meisner] who is more closely connected with the message of Fatima than any other German bishop, and who had met Sister Lucia, the seer, several times, put at the time [December 2016] very much hope upon the Fatima Year 2017 and also hoped “that the Mother of God would not let us drown in confusion and sin.” [emphasis added]

How piercing these words of prayer are, can be seen when we consider Dr. Hesemann’s subsequent words:

That in the same year [2017] the Federal Government [of Germany] would easily pass and wave through the anti-Christian homo-“marriage,” he [Meisner] could not then foresee [see here for more information]. However, his last words which he then wrote to me have become now even more pertinent – yes, they sound like a testament, his last warning, for our time: “Ever since in our society, there barely exists any more the memory of creation, one has also forgotten who and what man is. And that is why everything goes topsy turvy now, and one even still thinks thereby, at most, to serve mankind.”

We are grateful to Dr. Hesemann for publishing these words of one of the courageous four dubia cardinals, and who himself had also received in the recent past much criticism for his own signing of the dubia. In December 2016, we reported on the sharp tones that came from German sources – that is to say, from the German branch of Vatican Radio and from Katholisch.de, the website of the German Bishops’ Conference – which used words such as “treason” and “renegade” with regard to Cardinal Meisner. As we reported at the time, Meisner might also have been especially singled out for such criticism for the very fact that he himself had been the driving force at the 2005 Conclave to have Joseph Ratzinger elected pope.

Paul Badde and Cardinal Meisner (Photo courtesy of Paul Badde)

Paul Badde, a German journalist, scholar, and Vatican specialist who knew Cardinal Meisner personally, and intimately, and for many years – and even had him as his counselor when writing on Church news –  also reminded us in his own very moving tribute to the German cardinal of his important role at the 2005 Conclave. Badde says that it was Meisner who “had, during the Conclave, uncovered and thwarted a plot of the so-called Sankt Gallen Group against that same election [of Joseph Ratzinger].” Badde continues, saying:

At that time, he became the “pope-maker,” next to the Holy Ghost of course. “Today, I fought as never before in my life,” he told me at the time on the way home from the Sistine Chapel to his lodging at the bottom of the Gianicolo hill. More he was not allowed to say. [my emphasis]

Let us now return to the theme of Fatima. Cardinal Meisner once described at a conference how, during his more than 40 years of life under Communism in East Germany, the Communists always had a special aversion against Fatima, and he reported that they never allowed a Catholic to travel to Fatima. “That was always denied to us.” “We were not allowed to talk much about Fatima, because it would always be interpreted as anti-Soviet propaganda,” explained Cardinal Meisner. For him personally, it was a sign that “the devil smells when he gets seriously into trouble [wo es ihm an den Kragen geht].”

In 2016, shortly after the brief meeting in Cuba between Pope Francis and the Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, Cardinal Meisner proposed at the same above-mentioned conference that this historic event could and should inspire both the Catholic and the Orthodox leaders to “consecrate us all to the Mother of God in the midst of the current difficulties, just as the seer children of Fatima proposed it.” [emphasis added] Thus he supported the idea of a Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Moreover, Cardinal Meisner showed his devotion to Fatima also on other occasions. In 2013, in a homily on the Vigil of the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on 13 May, Cardinal Meisner gave a most beautiful presentation about the importance of Fatima, and of the Rosary in particular. Remembering the year 1917, the prelate said:

The light of the Faith went out in East Europe [with the Russian Revolution], but in the West, the light of the Faith once more arose: that is, Mary’s message about the overcoming of evil with the good, about the conquering of tanks and canons through prayer. And that was in Fatima.

Meisner added that it was in Fatima – in Portugal – that Our Lady “found a bridgehead from which she helped to overcome the unbelief.” Thus, he adds: “Blessed art thou, Portugal, because you have believed!”

It was after the attempted killing of Pope John Paul II in 1981 – who strongly believed that it was through Our Lady of Fatima’s intercession that his life was saved – that the pope asked Cardinal Meisner to celebrate a Holy Mass in Fatima itself, in 1990, and on “the first Fatima Day without the Bolshevist Empire,” and to do it “in thanksgiving for the liberation from Communism.” (We shall soon come back to this 1990 homily.) In Meisner’s eyes, it was through Fatima, that the political change took place in 1989 in East Europe. “As a weapon against the godlessness, the Mother of God gave us prayer, but especially the prayer of the Rosary,” explained the cardinal.

Cardinal Meisner, who had a very vivid and warm way of giving his homilies, remembered also an encounter he once had, in 1975, as a young bishop, still in Communist Germany. There came to his Mass in Erfurt (East Germany) a group of visiting tourists which turned out to be Catholics from the Soviet Union (Kazakhstan) and who had not been at Holy Mass for 30 years! “We are homesick for the Church!” they told him after Mass. And one man put a very pertinent question to Meisner: “Could you give to me some very important information? Which doctrines of the Faith do we have to pass on to our children and to our children’s children so that they may attain to eternal life?” [emphasis added]

Cardinal Meisner was still so touched by these words when he related them again in his 2013 homily: “Such an important question had not been put to me before, nor ever thereafter,” he said. However, when he had then proposed to this man that he give to him and to each of his companions a Bible and the Catechism, the man from the Soviet Union politely declined, saying that they are not even permitted to have religious books in their own homes. When asked about taking home a Rosary, the man responded: “Yes, we can do that. But, what does this have to do with my question?” And Cardinal Meisner answered – holding up his Rosary:

At the beginning of the Rosary is the cross, where we pray the creed which contains our whole Faith. Then come the three pearls: Faith, Hope, Charity – the whole teaching for life. That is what we have to live. Then follow the other pearls, the whole gospels in a kind of secret or blind script, which can only be understood by the praying hands and hearts.

The man took the Rosary into his hands and said: “What? Then I have the whole Catholic Faith in one hand!” [emphasis added] This description of that unexpected and abiding conversation, as related by Cardinal Meisner, should be savored in full in the original homily, in German, in order to see the fuller moral beauty of this true story. Would that we could know what happened to these Catholics from Russia ever since 1975!

Cardinal Meisner holds up his rosary as he tells the story of his encounter with Catholics from the Soviet Union. (Screenshot)

Throughout this homily, for example, Cardinal Meisner used some beautiful poetic images and combinations of words that spring from his deep Faith and ardent Love of God. He said, for example: “When I reach out to the hand of God, I want to have something in my hand. That is the Rosary!” [emphasis added] And: “Whoever prays the Rosary again and again, will feel what the brethren felt on the way to Emmaus, when they asked each other: ‘Did not our hearts burn?’” And here Cardinal Meisner said: “The heart that is burning for Christ is the hope of the world. Mary brought this fire to our world in Fatima.” [emphasis added] “Not theories, but burning hearts will change the world,” added the prelate. He also used the beautiful image of the sick woman who touched the seam of Our Lord’s garment. “If I only touch this seam, I will be healed.” Thus said Meisner: “It is with the Rosary, that that seam of Jesus is given into our hands.”

For the sake of the beauty of this one homily, let me cite some other poetic images, as expressed by this prelate:

When we, along with these pearls, receive the words of His Life, then these spiritual seeds will bear fruit – 30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold, unto eternal life! Each pearl is a mysterious germ of life, because it brings us the Gospel into our life and [brings] our life into the Gospel. [emphasis added]

Cardinal Meisner’s ardent love for the Rosary becomes even clearer when he makes the following public testament:

When I will have died, then the canons will come and take away my ring, my crosier […] But: I have written my testament: you have to leave me my Rosary! I want to take it into my coffin! I wish to show it to the Mother of God so that she may show me, after this exile, Jesus, the Blessed Fruit of her life!

In his fuller spiritual testament, which has now been published in Cologne, Germany, Cardinal Meisner writes a letter to Jesus Christ as a testament of gratitude to God, first for having created him as a human being, then for having made him a priest and a bishop, “formed and consecrated by your wounds,” and for having “used me at your Cross, and for having made me worthy of your wounds.” Written in 2011 – during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI – he also implores his flock always to remain loyal to Peter and thus to remain in the Faith.

Let us now consider what Cardinal Meisner had to say about Our Lady of Fatima in 1990, when he visited Fatima for the first time in his life, and upon request of Pope John Paul II. Dr. Hesemann kindly made this homily available to me which Cardinal Meisner gave to him for publication for Hesemann’s own book on Fatima (Das Letzte Geheimnis von Fatima The Last Secret of Fatima).

On 13 May 1990, Cardinal Meisner had thus stated

In our old Europe which was once the homeland of Christendom, Jesus Christ barely appears in public any more. Mary – and with her the Church – has been pushed to the margins of the European societies. Portugal, however, welcomed Mary 73 years ago – just like John under the Cross – into its own. In Fatima, this famous nation has given a realm and homeland to Mary. From Fatima, Mary could start her path in order to carry Christ back to Europe. In Russia and the other East European states, the Christian faith was nearly forbidden. The peoples of East Europe that highly venerate Mary were only able to give her very little space, since atheism had conquered almost all living space. That is why Mary came from Fatima in order to help the distressed disciples of her Son in the East European states. Fatima is, so to speak, the bridgehead of Mary from whence Mary subverted the East European people in order to bring them Christ, who truly liberates man. Europe must never forget to thank Portugal for having opened the doors to Mary so that she may convert the godless states in the East of our continent. […] In those years [of Communism], Mary was the most unassuming, but omnipresent companion in suffering and the helper of the distressed. […] Not Marx has given man greatness and dignity, but Mary.

When we read these words, we must remember that they were written under the deep impression of a final end of Communism in the East, after decades of oppression. The deep gratitude of this prelate is palpable in these words. (Let us remember that in 2016, almost twenty years later, he came to the conclusion that we still were in need of the assistance of Our Lady of Fatima.) But, there are even deeper reasons for Cardinal Meisner’s devotion to Our Lady. In a 2016 interview about his own life – he was born in 1933 under the Nazi regime, lived for more than 40 years under Communism in East Germany and then faced the challenges of cultural relativism and liberal Catholicism in the West as Archbishop of Cologne – it becomes clear that it was his own mother who taught him the love of the Blessed Mother and of the Rosary.

In 1945, his mother had to flee from the approaching Soviets from Breslau (which is today Polish) to the West, taking along with her not only her four own sons, but six other relatives – two grandmothers and four more children! (Meisner’s father was among the Fallen in Russia – die Gefallenen in Russland – and never returned home.) On their way to the West, the extended Meisner family endured terrible situations such as being abandoned in a van in a heap of snow off the main country road, in the winter, in freezing temperatures below zero. In the middle of this dramatic situation and after having even dropped down a slope in this van, the mother lifted up her Rosary, saying: “God is with us!” When later searching in vain for hours for a room at night in a little village in soon-to-be Communist Germany, the mother suddenly stood still and calmly explained to her four young sons that she, their mother, was now not able to provide for them and that thus they together now must turn to Mary for help. After saying a special German Marian prayer (Hilf Maria, jetzt ist Zeit) three times, a man came out onto the street to them, inviting them into his house with the words: “I cannot any longer watch upon a mother and her children standing out on the street at night.”

The whole story of Cardinal Meisner’s life is a story of warmth and courage. I have seldom seen such a unique combination of a warm heart and a strong conviction, which gained respect even among his professed opponents. Even Germany’s most prominent feminist, Alice Schwarzer, recently gave her tribute to Cardinal Meisner upon his death, saying: “Yes, I liked him.” She felt a friendship with him and she cherished “his humanity and child-like Faith” in spite of their differences of opinion, for example, concerning abortion, as Schwarzer wrote. She continued, saying that at their last meeting a year ago, Meisner gave her a little prayer card with a poem of St. Teresa of Avila. The lines “nothing shall frighten you, nothing scare you. Everything shall pass, God alone remains the same” touched Schwarzer especially as being quite “consoling.”

Is this not a true Catholic witness who stands firm in the truth and reaches out in charity with Christ’s touch to his own opponents? Is this not also the combination of Our Lord and Our Lady? The Truth and Love combined?

Some of the added inspiration for Meisner’s own courage and Catholic witness comes from none other than Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty himself, the great Hungarian martyr of Communism. It was on 6 May 2017, not long before he died, that Cardinal Meisner gave witnessto this great man. In a homily in Budapest, Hungary, Meisner recounts how he as a 13-year-old boy happened to see a picture of Cardinal Mindszenty in a Communist Courtroom under accusation. Meisner was so touched by this image – which reminded him immediately of Our Lord’s own being so falsely accused – that he fastened this image at the wall of his bedroom and thus always looked upon this cardinal before he fell asleep, and when he woke up. “He was the model of a bishop for me,” explained Cardinal Meisner in his homily. He adds:

And in me grew the desire that I, one day, wished to be like the cardinal, a Witness of Christ who has the courage also to stand up against the Powerful of this world. [emphasis added]

Later, Cardinal Meisner happened to find the same picture of Cardinal Mindszenty again. He put this image then into his breviary – “so that I am connected with him in prayer every day” – and it was that same breviary which lay in Cardinal Meisner’s hands when he died. “When we bishops are not any more confessors, then the people of God are not in a good situation,” Meisner added, after first speaking about Mindszenty’s own courageous witness and engagement for mankind. Meisner showed himself especially grateful for Mindszenty’s compassion and solidarity with the 9 million Germans who had to flee their homeland after World War II – among them the Meisner family. “Except for Cardinal Mindszenty, no other bishop then defended us,” [emphasis added] added Meisner. “Bishops have not only to pay attention to a good response from the media, but especially to the proclamation of the truth which has been entrusted to them.”

Cardinal Meisner did not only challenge his own fellow bishops. He also challenged all of us Catholics when he once said, in 2016, that now is the “great chance to become a full Christian – half-Christians will perish!” “Now one responsibly has to hold up one’s head [den Kopf hinhalten], or one will lose it.” He saw a “great chance truly to witness that we are Christians!” And this witness – which we have also learned now from Cardinal Meisner and from his life and his final act of signing the dubia – we can only accomplish with the help of Mary, rooted in the love for Christ.

Cardinal Meisner and the Holy Face of Manoppello (Photo courtesy of Paul Badde)

On 4 April 2005, Cardinal Meisner – significantly just before the upcoming 18-19 April 2005 Conclave in which he played such an important role – visited together with Paul Badde the Holy Face (Volto Santo) of Manoppello. The Cardinal was so deeply touched by the loving Face of God that he made a little, once more poetic, inscription in the shrine’s own guest book, an inscription which should inspire us all to a deeper love of Our Lord:

The Face is the Monstrance of the Heart. On the Volto Santo, the Heart of God becomes Visible. + Joachim Card. Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, Pax Vobis! 4/4/2005 [emphasis added]

Love helps overcome fear, as Professor Josef Pieper once explained and exemplified to my husband, Dr. Robert Hickson. The Latin word cor – heart – can also be found in the word courage. Love makes one courageous, like Cardinal Meisner’s mother fighting for her own little ones. May we all learn to love Our Lord and Our Lady so much that we will fight like lions for them. May we pray for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Meisner, and may we also fittingly hope that he soon will also intercede for us. And may thus his 2016 words about Fatima and the dubia also reach the heart of Pope Francis.

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Pope Francis and Pope Benedict on Europe’s future

From Fr. Z’s blog:

(with Father’s emphases in bold and his comments in bold and square brackets)

francis_benedictPope Francis gave an interview to the 93 year old atheist Eugenio Scalfari who, when he was young, was a Fascist and then later a Socialist and, in previous interviews with the Pope didn’t take notes or make recordings.

In La Repubblica:

Last Thursday I received a phone call from Pope Francis. It was about noon and I was at the paper with my phone rang and a voice greeted me: it was His Holiness. I recognized him immediately. “Could you come over today? At 4?” I’ll be there for sure.

I dashed home and at 3:44 I was in the little sitting room at Santa Marta [Isn’t this riveting?]. The Pope came in a minute later. We embraced and then, seated facing each other, we started to swap idea, feelings, analyses of what is going on in the Church and then in the world.

Pope Francis told me that he was very worried about the summit meeting of the G20. “I’m afraid that there will be very dangerous alliances between Powers that have distorted visions of the world: America and Russia, China and North Korea, Russia and Assad in the war in Syria.” What is the danger of these alliances, Holiness? “The danger regarding immigration. We, you know this well, have as the principle problem and, unfortunately growing in the today’s world, that of poverty, of the weak, of the excluded, of whom emigrants are members. On the other hand there are countries where the majority of the poor don’t come from migratory streams but from social calamities of that country; others, instead, have little local poverty but they fear the invasion of migrants. That’s why the G20 worries me.[So, America has a “distorted vision of the world”.]

Do you think, Holiness, that in global society as that in which we live the mobility of peoples is on the upswing, poor or not poor as they may be? “Let’s not fool ourselves: poor peoples have an attraction the continents and countries of old wealth. Above all Europe. I, too, have often thought about this problem and I have arrived at the conclusion that, not only for but also for this reason, Europe must assume as soon as possible a federal government and a federal parliament, not from individual confederated countries. You yourself have raised this topic many times, and have even spoken of it in the European parliament. It’s true, I’ve raised this many times.” And you received great applause and even standing ovations. “Yes, that’s so, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean much. They will do that if they figure out the truth: either Europe becomes a federal community or it won’t count for anything in the world.


The rest … well.

Interesting. I think that the Pope wants a kind of “United States of Europe” to counter balance both the constitutional federal republic which are the United States of America and also the Russian Federation.

I wonder how that would work.

Pope Benedict, before his election, wrote quite a bit about the meaning, the soul of Europe.  He was deeply preoccupied with the loss of its identity.  First Things has a piece about Europe from Benedict XVI.  After a deep historical analysis… here’s a taste.  However, read the whole thing.  Benedict has his own description of America which differs somewhat from that of his successor.


At the hour of its greatest success, Europe seems hollow, as if it were internally paralyzed by a failure of its circulatory system that is endangering its life, subjecting it to transplants that erase its identity. At the same time as its sustaining spiritual forces have collapsed, a growing decline in its ethnicity is also taking place. [Concise. This was written in 2006, before the present problems of immigration really picked up, but not before Europe began to turn into “Eurabia”.]

Europe is infected by a strange lack of desire for the future. Children, our future, are perceived as a threat to the present, as though they were taking something away from our lives. Children are seen—at least by some people—as a liability rather than as a source of hope. [Zero sum game.] Here it is obligatory to compare today’s situation with the decline of the Roman Empire. In its final days, Rome still functioned as a great historical framework, but in practice its vital energy had been depleted. [Interesting.  Pope Francis, it is said, has a kind of “manifest destiny” view of Latin America. I had posted, back in 2014, about a long conversation I had with South American journalist Alejandro Bermudez of CNA. The concept of “peripheries”, is important to Francis. Thus,…

Bermudez spoke of the influence on Francis of thinkers such as the Uruguayan writer-theologian Alberto Methol Ferré, the Russian-American sociologist Pitirim Sorokin, and the pivotal Spanish-language poet Rubén Darío. To condense wildly, it seems that Francis may breathe in a school of thought that sees a kind of “manifest destiny” for Latin America. When cultures develop a interior decay, which they always do, revitalization of the cultures comes from “peripheries”. For the larger Church, experiencing an interior decay, a periphery is Latin America. Latin America, unlike any other continent, is unified in language (by far dominated by Spanish with related Portughese) and is/was unified in religion, Catholicism (though there is bad erosion). With these unifying factors, Latin America has a critical role to play. Also, if you are paying attention, Francis seems to use the word “periphery” a lot. This not quite the same thing as “margin”.

Back to Benedict on Europe.]

Which brings us to the problems of the present. There are two opposing diagnoses of the possible future of Europe. On the one hand, there is the thesis of […]


Amid the major upheavals of our day, is there a European identity that has a future and to which we can commit whole-heartedly?

A first element is the unconditionality with which human rights and human dignity should be presented as values that take precedence over any state jurisdiction. […] [Interesting in light of the controversy over the baby in England.]


A second element that characterizes European identity is marriage and the family. [Interesting in light of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, who said that the final battle with Satan is over the family and marriage.] Monogamous marriage—both as a fundamental structure for the relation between men and women and as the nucleus for the formation of the state community—was forged in the biblical faith. It gave its special physiognomy and its special humanity to Europe, both in the West and in the East, precisely because the form of fidelity and the sacrifice that it entails must always be regained through great efforts and suffering. [Therefore the Devil will attack marriage, especially by trying to separate the sexual act from procreation.  That is why the homosexualists are so valuable to the Enemy.]

Europe would no longer be Europe if this fundamental nucleus of its social edifice were to vanish or be changed in an essential way. We all know how much marriage and the family are in jeopardy. Their integrity has been undermined by the easier forms of divorce at the same time as there has been a spread in the practice of cohabitation between men and women without the legal form of marriage. Paradoxically, homosexuals are now demanding that their unions be granted a legal form that is more or less equivalent to marriage. Such a development would fall outside the whole moral history of humanity that, whatever the diverse legal forms, has never lost sight of the fact that marriage is essentially the special communion of man and woman, which opens itself to children and thus to family.

The question this raises is not of discrimination but of what constitutes the human person as a man or as a woman, and which union should receive a legal form. If the union between man and woman has strayed further and further from legal forms, and if homosexual unions are perceived more and more as enjoying the same standing as marriage, then we are truly facing a dissolution of the image of humankind bearing consequences that can only be extremely grave.  [Since 2006 the Enemy has made great strides.]

The last element of the European identity is religion. I do not wish to enter into the complex discussion of recent years, but to highlight one issue that is fundamental to all cultures: respect for that which another group holds sacred, especially respect for the sacred in the highest sense, for God, which one can reasonably expect to find even among those who are not willing to believe in God. When this respect is violated in a society, something essential is lost. In European society today, thank goodness, anyone who dishonors the faith of Israel, its image of God, or its great figures must pay a fine. The same holds true for anyone who dishonors the Koran and the convictions of Islam. But when it comes to Jesus Christ and that which is sacred to Christians, freedom of speech becomes the supreme good.  [The last acceptable prejudice.]

This case illustrates a peculiar Western self-hatred that is nothing short of pathological. It is commendable that the West is trying to be more open, to be more understanding of the values of outsiders, but it has lost all capacity for self-love. All that it sees in its own history is the despicable and the destructive; it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure. What Europe needs is a new self-acceptance, a self-acceptance that is critical and humble, if it truly wishes to survive.  [Thus, Benedict in 2006.  He didn’t call for a “federation” of Europe.  He wanted Europe to recover its Christian soul.]

Multiculturalism, which is so passionately promoted, can sometimes amount to an abandonment and denial, a flight from one’s own things. Multiculturalism teaches us to approach the sacred things of others with respect, but we can do this only if we ourselves are not estranged from the sacred, from God. With regard to others, it is our duty to cultivate within ourselves respect for the sacred and to show the face of the revealed God—the God who has compassion for the poor and the weak, for widows and orphans, for the foreigner; the God who is so human that he himself became man, a man who suffered, and who by his suffering with us gave dignity and hope to our pain.

Unless we embrace our own heritage of the sacred, we will not only deny the identity of Europe. We will also fail in providing a service to others to which they are entitled. To the other cultures of the world, there is something deeply alien about the absolute secularism that is developing in the West. They are convinced that a world without God has no future. Multiculturalism itself thus demands that we return once again to ourselves.

We do not know what the future of Europe will be. Here we must agree with Toynbee, that the fate of a society always depends on its creative minorities. [“CREATIVE MINORITIES”] Christian believers should look upon themselves as just such a creative minority, helping Europe to reclaim what is best in its heritage and thereby to place itself at the service of all humankind.

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Reflection for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


FIRST READING Zechariah 9:9-10
Thus says the LORD: Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; the warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

SECOND READING Romans 8:9, 11-13
Brothers and sisters: You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you. Consequently, brothers and sisters, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

GOSPEL Matthew 11:25-30
At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,


Image result for jesus with open arms

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Such wonderful words from our Lord can only be understood if we are already living in the mystery of His salvation. If we are not living that mystery, then we will only get upset with God when we don’t get what we want in life.

The first reading today is from the Prophet Zechariah. In today’s passage we have the words which the New Testament saw fulfilled on Palm Sunday: “See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.” Even the Prophets recognized that the Savior to come would not be necessarily a political power or a person who exercised authority in the way to which people were accustomed. Instead, the Savior could come in humility, could be ugly, could be a person no one saw as special, etc.

The same is true for us today. So often we don’t want to listen to the words given us in Scripture, we don’t want to accept the teachings which have been handed down to us and we don’t really believe that God has reached into our world and become one of us. We really don’t want a God but prefer ourselves to be God in all.

The second reading comes from the Letter to the Romans. Here we listen to these words: “if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” How difficult to put to death the deeds of the body! Our bodies want their own pleasure and our whole spiritual discipline insists that only an asceticism based in Jesus Christ will be able to subdue the desires of the body. Yet in our modern culture, the body is almost worshipped and certain no one really believes that the body should be denied any pleasure that it can have—as long as it harms no one else. This is our modern way of thinking and it is completely against the teachings of the Old and New Testament.

So we come to the Gospel today. In the Gospel of Matthew we find today this saying: “you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.” As we grow in our faith and our commitment to the Lord Jesus, we know that fewer and fewer people will understand us. Following Jesus is truly counter cultural today and the values of Jesus are seen as anti-human.

Jesus condemns no one. On the other hand, Jesus invites us to live in certain ways and presumes that we understand that only certain ways of living bring true life to us. When Jesus promises us rest in Him, He does not promise us a long life, lots of riches, all kinds of pleasures, etc. Instead, Jesus is clear that the way to a full and complete life is through the cross. His yoke is easy and His burden is light only if we are willing to walk with him through suffering and death to life.

The Gospel is not always an acceptable way to live. Yet, once we embrace Jesus and begin to walk with Him, we do find that the cross is easy to bear because He is with us. Being yoked to Him makes all things possible.


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The Good Soldier

This is a very disturbing report, confirming various accounts that have come from Rome during the last week.


by Marco Tosatti (from:  https://www.firstthings.com)

Pope Francis declined to renew the appointment of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Cardinal Müller, on the very day—July 2, 2017—on which his five-year term came to an end. It is a gesture unprecedented in the Church’s recent history. In the last sixty years, prefects of the Church’s most important congregation (it has been called La Suprema) have retired due to age or health reasons, or have been called, in the case of Joseph Ratzinger, to become the pope. After a few reflections, I will examine the reason for this strange act.

Image result for cardinal gerhard muller

Though absolutely licit, the pope’s act may be considered a show of bad manners. Ordinarily, when a Church official comes to the end of his appointment before the normal age of retirement (Müller is only seventy years old), either his appointment is renewed, or he is given a brief extension—six months, a year—before being replaced. The formula for the latter is: You will remain in charge “donec aliter provideatur,” until we decide differently.

It seems clear that the dismissal has not arisen from any substantive reason involving the work of the congregation. No explanation of this kind has been made. The pope’s choice was made freely and executed the hard way, without delicacy. This behavior is not surprising for anybody who knows how Jorge Maria Bergoglio acted while provincial superior of the Jesuit Province of Argentina—he was dismissed from that position for being unduly authoritarian—and as archbishop of Buenos Aires.

I suspect that Cardinal Müller is upset about his dismissal, but in a sense may see his own beheading as a liberation. To write this article, I peeped into the confidential notes I had made during the last four years regarding the German cardinal and his relations with the reigning pontiff. The notes are the result of many private conversations with high-ranking people in the Vatican who enjoyed the cardinal’s friendship. It appears that Müller experienced life under Bergoglio as a sort of Calvary. This, despite Müller’s statements—he has been a good soldier to the end, and even beyond.

The first step of Müller’s Calvary was a disconcerting episode in the middle of 2013. The cardinal was celebrating Mass in the church attached to the congregation palace, for a group of German students and scholars. His secretary joined him at the altar: “The pope wants to speak to you.” “Did you tell him I am celebrating Mass?” asked Müller. “Yes,” said the secretary, “but he says he does not mind—he wants to talk to you all the same.” The cardinal went to the sacristy. The pope, in a very bad mood, gave him some orders and a dossier concerning one of his friends, a cardinal. (This is a very delicate matter. I have sought an explanation of this incident from the official channels. Until the explanation comes, if it ever comes, I cannot give further details.) Obviously, Mūller was flabbergasted.

It is important to remember that Bergoglio has long exhibited an animus against Rome, and against the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in particular. He has disliked the Curia because, before he became pope, Rome often refused to appoint the men he designated as possible bishops. And because, for reasons never known, Rome resisted appointing as archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez (whose nickname is “Tucho”), a theologian who is rector of the Catholic University of Buenos Aires. Tucho has written several books, among them one that is very strange for a theologian. It was published in 1995, and its title is Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing.

Fernandez became archbishop soon after the election of Bergoglio, and he is said to be the pope’s ghostwriter. He rebuked Müller when the latter said in an interview that the congregation he led had the role of giving “theological structure” to the pontificate. Fernandez said:

I read that some say that the Roman Curia is an essential part of the Church’s mission, or that a prefect in the Vatican is the sure compass to keep the Church from falling into light-mindedness—or that this prefect guards the unity of the Faith and grants the pope a serious theology. But Catholics, reading the Gospel, know that Christ gave to the pope, and to the bishops’ body, a special guide and illumination—not to a prefect, or to some other entity. When you hear things of this kind, you might even suppose that the pope is somebody who comes to cause trouble, and must be controlled.

Re-reading the notes I took in those four years, it is evident that Cardinal Müller and those working with him experienced great frustration, because the pope simply took no interest in their work. For the pope, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith simply did not exist. He did not ask for their cooperation; neither did he attempt any dialogue with them.

With Amoris Laetitia, the situation regressed dramatically. Müller, along with other cardinals, complained during the Curia’s spiritual retreat in 2016 that the pope had not employed “a collegial working method.” He said that his congregation had made at least two hundred observations concerning Amoris Laetitia, some grave, others light. These observations had received no answer at all. One of Müller’s hearers expressed astonishment that the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith knew nothing of how the document had progressed. Müller answered jokingly: “On doctrinal issues, we are the only ones never taken into account. On liturgical issues, Cardinal Sarah is certainly never informed …”

The relationship between Müller and the pope was never warm. A couple of years into the pontificate, it got worse. If I comb through my notes, I see that Francis was talking with Benedict XVI in 2015, and asked casually: “What if I change the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before the end of his mandate?” “You are the pope,” answered Benedict, “you do what you like.” “Very good, but …?” pressed Francis. “It would be a real revolution,” concluded Benedict, “something not feasible.” And there the matter rested, until this month.

Then came the dubia of the four cardinals: Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner (recently deceased). I think that the pope always suspected that behind this operation was Cardinal Müller, too. This suspicion—perhaps even the hypothesis that Müller was the real author of the dubia—might have put the seal on the decision to dismiss him.

Since the publication of the dubia, Müller has been in a very difficult situation. He has been split between loyalty to the pope, and loyalty to the magisterial teaching of the Church on marriage and the Eucharist. He knew well that the papal faction in the Curia wanted him to emerge as the main adversary of the pope—and he tried not to fall into that trap.

Last February in Germany, his latest book was published: The Pope, Mission and Mandate. Müller writes that as far as the Magisterium is concerned, the pope, too, might be wrong: for instance, if he omits to teach the Faith. No pope can change “the criteria concerning admission to the sacraments,” nor “give absolution, and allow the Eucharist, to a Catholic in mortal sin, who does not repent and resolve not to repeat that sin.” In that case, “the pope himself would sin, concerning the truth of the Gospel, and the salvation of the faithful, whom he would induce to commit a mistake.”

Prior to the publication of that book, something happened that deeply distressed the cardinal. It was the dismissal of three priests of his congregation. Müller received a letter from the Secretariat of State, ordering the priests’ dismissal but giving no reason for it. When Müller did not answer that letter, a second letter came. Müller requested an audience with the pope. Time passed, with dates for the audience repeatedly fixed and then changed at the last minute. Finally, Müller got his audience. “I received this letter,” he told the pope, “but before acting on it, I wanted to talk with you, and know the reason for the dismissal. They are good priests and good workers.” “I am the pope,” answered Francis, “and I need give no reason to anyone for my decisions. I said they must go, and go they must.” Then the pope stood up and held out his hand, indicating that the audience was over. Müller was deeply upset.

Then the same thing, more or less, happened to him. The cardinal told his story to a German newspaper, the Passauer Neue Presse. In an interview, he said that the pontiff had “communicated his decision” not to renew his appointment “within one minute” of the end of the last day of his five-year term as prefect. As in the case of the three priests, Müller was given no reason for his dismissal. “This style I cannot accept,” Müller declared, adding that in Rome, too, “the Church’s social teaching should be applied.”

Such a style of governance can hardly be considered democratic, or centered on dialogue, or collegial. Müller does not wish to be the leader of any anti-Francis movement. He states that he has “always been loyal to the pope” and wishes to remain loyal—“as Catholic, as bishop, and as cardinal, just as it is due.” Coherent to the last.

Marco Tosatti is a Vaticanist who writes from Rome.

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Saint Elizabeth of Portugal – Feast Day – July 8

Saint Elizabeth of Portugal
(Santa Isabel de Portugal)

Feast Day – July 8


Elizabeth was the daughter of King Peter III of Aragon and of the saintly Constancia. She was born in 1271, and named after the holy landgravine of Thuringia, the sister of her grandmother. An angel of peace seemed to have come to the family with the birth of the child, because great joy over her birth reconciled her father and her grandfather, who had been living at variance with each other. Elizabeth combined great virtue with the most lovable qualities, so that her father sometimes remarked that it appeared this daughter would surpass all the women of the royal court in accomplishments.

Prayer and severe penance were Elizabeth’s delight as a young woman; but her austerity had nothing crude or harsh about it. Elizabeth was ever gentle toward others and filled with cordial charity especially towards the poor and the oppressed. Her accomplishments were lauded in all the courts of Europe, and many a prince’s son pleaded for her hand.

At a very early age her father betrothed her to Denis, King of Portugal. The first years of her married life were happy ones, her husband loved her, and God blessed the marriage with two sons. While Elizabeth fulfilled her duties as wife and mother, she contrived to find time to devote herself with holy zeal to practices of piety and charity. But ere long she was visited with a severe trial.

Her husband gave himself up to a dissolute life, becoming a scandal to the court and to the country at large, and a great grief to his devout wife. Elizabeth, however, was pained more by the fact that he was offending God than by his unfaithfulness to her. She kept her grief entirely to herself, complaining to no one but to God Himself in persevering prayer. The king never heard her make an unkind remark. Through forbearance and tender love she endeavored to bring him back to the path of duty and virtue. She increased her penitential practices and her works of charity. She visited the hospitals and public asylums, where she nursed the most disgusting patients.


One day she was washing the feet of a sick lady. When Saint Elizabeth of Portugal had washed one foot, the patient refused to extend the other because it was badly eaten by a cancerous sore. But the saintly queen urged her to comply. Then she carefully washed the ugly wound, and lovingly pressed her lips upon it. At that very moment the wound disappeared.

The heroic virtue of his wife and the grace of God finally changed the heart of the king. He begged Elizabeth’s forgiveness and returned to the path of righteousness. Thereafter she was frequently to play the role of peacemaker. Her husband quarreled seriously with his brother over certain estates. Saint Elizabeth of Portugal offered her brother-in-law an estate out of her own possessions and thus restored peace between the two brothers.

Later her own son Alphonse became ambitious and rose against his father. All his mother’s efforts to effect a change of mind in him were in vain. Alphonse, supported by powerful foes of the king, collected an army and was ready for war against his father and the royal army. Then Elizabeth, mounting her charger, rode between the lines of battle, and spoke so impressively to her son that he cast himself repentantly at the feet of his father, and in the sight of the two armies they were reconciled to each other.

Not long after, King Denis died. Saint Elizabeth of Portugal then donned the garb of a Tertiary and withdrew to a small house near the convent of the Poor Clares at Coimbra. One other occasion, however, presented itself in which she was to be the peacemaker. Her son was quarreling with the king of Castile, her son-in-law, and war threatened. In spite of her age and the heat of the season, Elizabeth started out on the journey to effect peace between the two kings. Once again she succeeded in averting war and all its evil consequences. But she became ill as a result of the exertions of the journey, which caused her to be seized with a high fever.

After a holy preparation, Saint Elizabeth of Portugal entered into eternal peace on July 4, 1336. Numerous miracles occurred at her tomb in the church of the Poor Clares at Coimbra, where the people invoked the intercession of the saintly queen with unlimited confidence.

Pope Urban VIII solemnly canonized Saint Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal, in the year 1625.

From: The Franciscan Book of Saints, Marion A. Habig, OFM



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In Gratitude: Ten Years of Grace Upon Grace

Today is a day of celebration – the tenth anniversary of SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM !! Thank you Pope Benedict XVI for revoking the restrictions and giving priests permission to celebrate the most sublime ‘Mass of the Ages’ everywhere in the Church once more. This was to more fully nourish the starving flock, and give due honour and glory to God through the holy Sacrifice of the Tridentine Mass.





The Supreme Pontiffs have to this day shown constant concern that the Church of Christ should offer worthy worship to the Divine Majesty, “for the praise and glory of his name” and “the good of all his holy Church.”

As from time immemorial, so too in the future, it is necessary to maintain the principle that “each particular Church must be in accord with the universal Church not only regarding the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs, but also as to the usages universally received from apostolic and unbroken tradition. These are to be observed not only so that errors may be avoided, but also that the faith may be handed on in its integrity, since the Church’s rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of faith (lex credendi).” [1]

Eminent among the Popes who showed such proper concern was Saint Gregory the Great, who sought to hand on to the new peoples of Europe both the Catholic faith and the treasures of worship and culture amassed by the Romans in preceding centuries. He ordered that the form of the sacred liturgy, both of the sacrifice of the Mass and the Divine Office, as celebrated in Rome, should be defined and preserved. He greatly encouraged those monks and nuns who, following the Rule of Saint Benedict, everywhere proclaimed the Gospel and illustrated by their lives the salutary provision of the Rule that “nothing is to be preferred to the work of God.” In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman usage, enriched the faith and piety, as well as the culture, of numerous peoples. It is well known that in every century of the Christian era the Church’s Latin liturgy in its various forms has inspired countless saints in their spiritual life, confirmed many peoples in the virtue of religion and enriched their devotion.

In the course of the centuries, many other Roman Pontiffs took particular care that the sacred liturgy should accomplish this task more effectively. Outstanding among them was Saint Pius V, who in response to the desire expressed by the Council of Trent, renewed with great pastoral zeal the Church’s entire worship, saw to the publication of liturgical books corrected and “restored in accordance with the norm of the Fathers,” and provided them for the use of the Latin Church.

Among the liturgical books of the Roman rite, a particular place belongs to the Roman Missal, which developed in the city of Rome and over the centuries gradually took on forms very similar to the form which it had in more recent generations.

“It was towards this same goal that succeeding Roman Pontiffs directed their energies during the subsequent centuries in order to ensure that the rites and liturgical books were brought up to date and, when necessary, clarified. From the beginning of this century they undertook a more general reform.” [2] Such was the case with our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, Saint Pius X [3], Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII.

In more recent times, the Second Vatican Council expressed the desire that the respect and reverence due to divine worship should be renewed and adapted to the needs of our time. In response to this desire, our predecessor Pope Paul VI in 1970 approved for the Latin Church revised and in part renewed liturgical books; translated into various languages throughout the world, these were willingly received by the bishops as well as by priests and the lay faithful. Pope John Paul II approved the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. In this way the Popes sought to ensure that “this liturgical edifice, so to speak … reappears in new splendour in its dignity and harmony.” [4]

In some regions, however, not a few of the faithful continued to be attached with such love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms which had deeply shaped their culture and spirit, that in 1984 Pope John Paul II, concerned for their pastoral care, through the special Indult Quattuor Abhinc Annos issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty of using the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Blessed John XXIII. Again in 1988, John Paul II, with the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei, exhorted bishops to make broad and generous use of this faculty on behalf of all the faithful who sought it.

Given the continued requests of these members of the faithful, long deliberated upon by our predecessor John Paul II, and having listened to the views expressed by the Cardinals present at the Consistory of 23 March 2006, upon mature consideration, having invoked the Holy Spirit and with trust in God’s help, by this Apostolic Letter we decree the following:

Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the lex orandi (rule of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. The Roman Missal promulgated by Saint Pius V and revised by Blessed John XXIII is nonetheless to be considered an extraordinary expression of the same lex orandi of the Church and duly honoured for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (rule of faith); for they are two usages of the one Roman rite.

It is therefore permitted to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal, which was promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Church’s Liturgy. The conditions for the use of this Missal laid down by the previous documents Quattuor Abhinc Annos and Ecclesia Dei are now replaced as follows:

Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without a congregation, any Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use either the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII or the Roman Missal promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI, and may do so on any day, with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such a celebration with either Missal, the priest needs no permission from the Apostolic See or from his own Ordinary.

Art. 3. If communities of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, whether of pontifical or diocesan right, wish to celebrate the conventual or community Mass in their own oratories according to the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, they are permitted to do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to have such celebrations frequently, habitually or permanently, the matter is to be decided by the Major Superiors according to the norm of law and their particular laws and statutes.

Art. 4. The celebrations of Holy Mass mentioned above in Art. 2 may be attended also by members of the lay faithful who spontaneously request to do so, with respect for the requirements of law.

Art. 5, §1 In parishes where a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition stably exists, the parish priest should willingly accede to their requests to celebrate Holy Mass according to the rite of the 1962 Roman Missal. He should ensure that the good of these members of the faithful is harmonized with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the bishop in accordance with Canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.

§2 Celebration according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII can take place on weekdays; on Sundays and feast days, however, such a celebration may also take place.

§3 For those faithful or priests who request it, the pastor should allow celebrations in this extraordinary form also in special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.

§4 Priests using the Missal of Blessed John XXIII must be qualified (idonei) and not prevented by law.

§5 In churches other than parish or conventual churches, it is for the rector of the church to grant the above permission.

Art. 6. In Masses with a congregation celebrated according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, the readings may be proclaimed also in the vernacular, using editions approved by the Apostolic See.

Art. 7. If a group of the lay faithful, as mentioned in Art. 5, §1, has not been granted its requests by the parish priest, it should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is earnestly requested to satisfy their desire. If he does not wish to provide for such celebration, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

Art. 8. A bishop who wishes to provide for such requests of the lay faithful, but is prevented by various reasons from doing so, can refer the matter to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which will offer him counsel and assistance.

Art. 9, §1 The parish priest, after careful consideration, can also grant permission to use the older ritual in the administration of the sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance and Anointing of the Sick, if advantageous for the good of souls.

§2 Ordinaries are granted the faculty of celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation using the old Roman Pontifical, if advantageous for the good of souls.

§3 Ordained clerics may also use the Roman Breviary promulgated in 1962 by Blessed John XXIII.

Art. 10. The local Ordinary, should he judge it opportune, may erect a personal parish in accordance with the norm of Canon 518 for celebrations according to the older form of the Roman rite, or appoint a rector or chaplain, with respect for the requirements of law.

Art. 11. The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, established in 1988 by Pope John Paul II [5], continues to exercise its function. The Commission is to have the form, duties and regulations that the Roman Pontiff will choose to assign to it.

Art. 12. The same Commission, in addition to the faculties which it presently enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See in ensuring the observance and application of these norms.

We order that all that we have decreed in this Apostolic Letter given Motu Proprio take effect and be observed from the fourteenth day of September, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in the present year, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on the seventh day of July in the year of the Lord 2007, the third of our Pontificate.


For source and footnotes

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from: https://abyssum.org/2017/07/03

I was recently asked by a number of people: “When ought one to point out liturgical abuses and endeavor to correct them?” My interlocutors had been confused by a number of partial truths. Let us, then, exclude several erroneous answers.

“To correct an abuse, you need to have perfect charity and disinterested motives.” 

No man can know if he has perfect charity, and none of us has totally disinterested motives – nor should we. The reverence and beauty of the liturgy directly affects our spiritual well-being. Therefore, we have a vested interest in its being done properly. In order to offer fraternal correction, one needs to have charity, that is, love of the other, for God’s sake (which means willing the other’s good – including the good of abiding by Church discipline), and a willingness to forgive, but by no means does one need to have perfect charity. It is already an act of charity to attempt to correct a deviation identified as such by the Church.

Some abuses are, of course, worse than others, and less able to be tolerated. One must have both knowledge of liturgical law and some degree of prudence to navigate these situations, and if one is lacking either, one should not hesitate to seek advice from others before deciding on any course of action. Knowing what to correct, and when, and how, is a matter of discretion, which St. Benedict calls “the mother of virtues.”

“To correct an abuse, you need to be in a position of authority.” 

Also incorrect, since every lay person, according to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, has the right, and sometimes the obligation, to express opinions, to point out problems, and to request solutions. Everyone has, moreover, a basic right to receive the word of God (obviously not distorted by heresy) and the sacraments (obviously celebrated correctly).

Can. 212 – §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

  • 2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
  • 3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Can. 213. The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments.

Can. 214. The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church.

Note that Can. 214 supports the right of the faithful to worship God in the usus antiquior, since the availability of this form to all the faithful who desire it has been required by Pope Benedict XVI, a legitimate pastor of the entire Church, as codified in Summorum Pontificum. Moreover, no one can dare to argue that traditional Catholic spirituality is not “consonant with the doctrine of the Church”; therefore, any Catholic has the right to follow it.

“It’s more humble for Catholics to just tolerate evils rather than striving to correct them. It shows that we are patient and meek.” 

Pope Leo XIII teaches us in his encyclical letter Libertas Praestantissimum that toleration of evil is permitted only when the common good clearly demands it and when an evil cannot be overcome in any reasonable manner; that any evil so tolerated may never be approved of, because it is harmful to the life of the community; and that the more a community is driven to tolerate evils, the farther it is from perfection.

Adapted to the ecclesiastical sphere, one would have to say toleration of abuses is never a good in itself and is always only temporary or pragmatic and not a matter of principle, and that the extent of evil tolerated is the extent of the corruption of a society. Hence, those who actually love and care about the Church will strive, with all the reasonable means at their disposal and with prudent gentleness, to root out such evils as they can. A default position of toleration is not and can never be Catholic.

“At the end of the day, don’t sweat the small stuff. Our Lord, after all, is still present in the Blessed Sacrament, no matter which form, or what style of music, or what particular customs a community follows.” 

This is one of the most pernicious of all errors. Apart from the deeper problem of a gross metaphysical minimalism at work here, which reduces the heavenly splendor of the divine liturgy, the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God into our lives, to a binary-switch “validity” and a ticket-punching “licitness,” we may simply ponder the fact that how we treat the liturgy is how we treat Our Lord, for it is the great King’s clothing, His throne, His audience chamber, His entrustment of Himself into our hands, for good or for ill.

The way we honor and receive Our Lord in public worship redounds to our credit or disgrace. We can sin against the Lord, venially or mortally, by how we celebrate His sacred mysteries. And, all things being equal, we owe it to God to worship Him as solemnly and beautifully as we can. Our failure to do this when we could do it is an offense to Him and harmful to our own souls.

It is a work of great charity – a spiritual work of mercy – to instruct the ignorant and correct the erring. One does have to “play one’s cards” wisely and recognize that one may fail, regardless of one’s good intentions, demonstrated knowledge, and legitimate complaints. Still, in today’s world, where the Council of Nice has replaced all the ecumenical councils, we are far more likely to err on the side of timidity and complicit silence.

As a partial cure for such psychological inhibitions, I shall conclude with the best excerpts I have found in Church documents concerning the genuine rights of the faithful and the urgency of calling out and correcting liturgical deviations. The most important document is Redemptionis Sacramentum of 2004, which is why I shall cite it first.

Congregation for Divine Worship, Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (March 25, 2004)

4. [I]t is not possible to be silent about the abuses, even quite grave ones, against the nature of the Liturgy and the Sacraments as well as the tradition and the authority of the Church, which in our day not infrequently plague liturgical celebrations in one ecclesial environment or another. In some places the perpetration of liturgical abuses has become almost habitual, a fact which obviously cannot be allowed and must cease.

5. The observance of the norms published by the authority of the Church requires conformity of thought and of word, of external action and of the application of the heart. … The liturgical words and rites, moreover, are a faithful expression, matured over the centuries, of the understanding of Christ, and they teach us to think as he himself does; by conforming our minds to these words, we raise our hearts to the Lord. …

11. The Mystery of the Eucharist “is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured”. On the contrary, anyone who acts thus by giving free reign to his own inclinations, even if he is a Priest, injures the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved, and becomes responsible for actions that are in no way consistent with the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people today. Nor do such actions serve authentic pastoral care or proper liturgical renewal; instead, they deprive Christ’s faithful of their patrimony and their heritage. For arbitrary actions are not conducive to true renewal, but are detrimental to the right of Christ’s faithful to a liturgical celebration that is an expression of the Church’s life in accordance with her tradition and discipline. In the end, they introduce elements of distortion and disharmony into the very celebration of the Eucharist, which is oriented in its own lofty way and by its very nature to signifying and wondrously bringing about the communion of divine life and the unity of the People of God. The result is uncertainty in matters of doctrine, perplexity and scandal on the part of the People of God, and, almost as a necessary consequence, vigorous opposition, all of which greatly confuse and sadden many of Christ’s faithful in this age of ours when Christian life is often particularly difficult on account of the inroads of “secularization” as well.

12. On the contrary, it is the right of all of Christ’s faithful that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms. Likewise, the Catholic people have the right that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass should be celebrated for them in an integral manner, according to the entire doctrine of the Church’s Magisterium. Finally, it is the Catholic community’s right that the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist should be carried out for it in such a manner that it truly stands out as a sacrament of unity, to the exclusion of all blemishes and actions that might engender divisions and factions in the Church. …

31. In keeping with the solemn promises that they have made in the rite of Sacred Ordination and renewed each year in the Mass of the Chrism, let Priests celebrate “devoutly and faithfully the mysteries of Christ for the praise of God and the sanctification of the Christian people, according to the tradition of the Church, especially in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation”. They ought not to detract from the profound meaning of their own ministry by corrupting the liturgical celebration either through alteration or omission, or through arbitrary additions. For as St. Ambrose said, “It is not in herself . . . but in us that the Church is injured. Let us take care so that our own failure may not cause injury to the Church”. …

169. Whenever an abuse is committed in the celebration of the sacred Liturgy, it is to be seen as a real falsification of Catholic Liturgy. St Thomas wrote, “the vice of falsehood is perpetrated by anyone who offers worship to God on behalf of the Church in a manner contrary to that which is established by the Church with divine authority, and to which the Church is accustomed”. …

183. In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

184. Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

The remaining documents will be taken in chronological order.

Congregation for Divine Worship, Liturgiae instaurationes (September 5, 1970), §1

Liturgical reform is not synonymous with so-called ‘desacralization’ and should not be the occasion for what is called the ‘secularization of the world’. Thus the liturgical rites must retain a dignified and sacred character. The effectiveness of liturgical actions does not consist in the continual search for newer rites or simpler forms, but in an ever deeper insight into the word of God and the mystery which is celebrated. The presence of God will be ensured by following the rites of the Church rather than those inspired by the priest’s individual preferences. The priest should realize that by imposing his own personal restoration of sacred rites he is offending the rights of the faithful and is introducing individualism and idiosyncrasy into celebrations which belong to the whole Church. The ministry of the priest is the ministry of the whole Church, and it can be exercised only in obedience, in hierarchical fellowship, and in devotion to the service of God and of his brothers. The hierarchical structure of the liturgy, its sacramental power, and the respect due to the community of God’s people require that the priest exercise his liturgical service as a “faithful minister and steward of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1).

 Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae (February 24, 1980), §12

The priest … cannot consider himself a “proprietor” who can make free use of the liturgical text and of the sacred rite as if it were his own property, in such a way as to stamp it with his own arbitrary personal style. At times this latter might seem effective, and it may better correspond to subjective piety; nevertheless, it is always a betrayal of that union which should find its proper expression in the sacrament of unity. Every priest who offers the Holy Sacrifice should recall that it is not only he with his community that is praying but the whole Church, which is thus expressing in this sacrament this spiritual unity, among other ways by the use of the approved liturgical text. To call this position “mere insistence on uniformity” would only show ignorance of the objective requirements of authentic unity, and would be a symptom of harmful individualism.

Code of Canon Law (1983)

Can. 846, §1. The liturgical books approved by the competent authority are to be faithfully observed in the celebration of the sacraments; therefore, no one on personal authority may add, remove, or change anything in them.

Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus (December 4, 1988), §13

Side by side with these benefits of the liturgical reform, one has to acknowledge with regret deviations of greater or lesser seriousness in its application. On occasion there have been noted illicit omissions or additions, rites invented outside the framework of established norms; postures or songs which are not conducive to faith or to a sense of the sacred; abuses in the practice of general absolution; confusion between the ministerial priesthood, linked with ordination, and common priesthood of the faithful, which has its foundation in baptism.

 Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia (April 17, 2003), §52

It must be lamented that, especially in the years following the post-conciliar liturgical reform, as a result of a misguided sense of creativity and adaptation there have been a number of abuses which have been a source of suffering for many. A certain reaction against “formalism” has led some, especially in certain regions, to consider the “forms” chosen by the Church’s great liturgical tradition and her Magisterium as non-binding and to introduce unauthorized innovations which are often completely inappropriate.

I consider it my duty, therefore, to appeal urgently that the liturgical norms for the celebration of the Eucharist be observed with great fidelity. These norms are a concrete expression of the authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist; this is their deepest meaning. Liturgy is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated. The Apostle Paul had to address fiery words to the community of Corinth because of grave shortcomings in their celebration of the Eucharist resulting in divisions (schismata) and the emergence of factions (haireseis) (cf. 1 Cor 11:17-34). Our time, too, calls for a renewed awareness and appreciation of liturgical norms as a reflection of, and a witness to, the one universal Church made present in every celebration of the Eucharist. Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church. … No one is permitted to undervalue the mystery entrusted to our hands: it is too great for anyone to feel free to treat it lightly and with disregard for its sacredness and its universality.

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Cardinal Pell and “Internalized Catholicphobia”

Written by Michael Warren Davis

One’s first day at college is always disorienting – particularly if it takes place halfway ‘round the world. As an American student at the University of Sydney, everything had shock value: Oxbridgian limestone castles stand proudly next to slouching palm trees, which are home to flocks of cackling kookaburras. (Very ugly, mean-spirited birds, by the way.) But nothing was quite so strange as the sight of twenty students dressed in lace and robes marching slowly across campus. Some carried a canopy; one swung a thurible; another held the Cross aloft. And, in their midst, a priest clutching a monstrance. I quickly came to realize that Eucharistic processions were a regular occurrence at the USyd, thanks to the Catholic Society and its marvellous chaplains.

The Society really is a treasure. Despite being an Episcopalian (albeit a traditionally-minded one) at the time, I quickly realised I could do worse than to make friends with its members. And so I did. Those friendships remain strong even two years after I graduated and repatriated. They were crucial in my decision to become Catholic, and a traditionalist specifically: most of them are parishioners in the majestic Latin Mass parish in Lewisham. One of the chaplains, a jovial friar of the old order, would tag along on pub night to keep us out of trouble… and maybe sing a bar or two of the Kaiserhymne.

I hope this is a pleasant surprise to those of you who’ve come to expect a very different experience with college chaplaincies, at least in secular schools: guitars, tube-tops, etc. There are any number of reasons why USyd got it right when so many others have gotten it wrong, but I think it has to do mostly with the great personal interest George Cardinal Pell took in the Society. In fact, one of his last engagements before shipping off to the Vatican was a dinner party he threw for some of the students he’d mentored. He was a sterling influence on them, as he has been for generations of Australian Catholics.

But the Society paid a steep price for his friendship. When the Royal Commission flared up and His Eminence became the victim of a media witch-hunt, the same toxic atmosphere descended on campus. It was as though all Catholic students were culpable in Cardinal Pell’s “crimes” – crimes the Commission hasn’t a single shred of evidence to prove. The open hostility from left-wing Arts majors was shocking. Even conservative Protestants scorned them. Many Catholic students with political ambitions quietly distanced themselves from both the Society and His Eminence.

In my experience, the Aussie faithful know he’s innocent, or at least that he’s been treated disgracefully. They realize that the standard of justice – innocent until proven guilty – no longer applies to Catholics. Our priests are automatically assumed to be pedophiles, and laymen are assumed to be complicit in their perversion. This is nothing new: we all remember Bl. Cardinal Newman having to defend himself against accusations of “effeminacy” for remaining celibate, even as an Anglican.

What’s novel, and disturbingly so, is how deeply this prejudice runs among Catholics themselves. One hesitates to monger grievance, but the phrase “Catholicphobia” – perhaps even “internalized Catholicphobia”! – leaps to mind.

You see it across the Australian media. All of Cardinal Pell’s most shameless and venomous critics invariably begin their attacks by saying something like: “I was raised Catholic, and though I don’t practice myself, I had a very devout grandmother. There are lots of things about Catholicism I still admire. However…” Then they go on to tell abject lies, or else spout nonsense about sexual repression and the patriarchy.

In fact, most of the Western Church suffers from a rather severe case of internalized Catholicphobia. While our Holy Mother has done a sterling job of protecting children from abuse, many “reforms” have badly overshot the mark. Except for in TLM parishes, altar boys are all but extinct, and “extraordinary ministers” have proliferated in their place. We’ve stopped apprenticing our children for the priesthood, and instead deputize laywomen to dispense the Body and Blood like hot dog vendors at a baseball game.

Now, it’s one thing for non-Catholics to distrust priests. That’s been the norm in Protestant countries since the Reformation. But what hope do we have if Catholics themselves mistrust their Fathers?

When I first spoke to my priest about conversion, I remember telling him how refreshing it was to see local boys serving at the altar. After spending eight years in Catholic school and attending hundreds of Masses as an Episcopalian, it was a completely novel experience. How wise their parents are to buck this anti-clerical hysteria – and how brave the priests to defy the gossipers!

That’s yet another example of the power of the TLM to gain converts. Very few are truly won over by the Novus Ordo, with its guitar-strummers and “extraordinary ministers”. No one wants to join a religion that’s embarrassed by its own traditions and suspicious of its own clergy. Yet we persist in privileging rumor over truth and fashion over orthodoxy. It begs the question: is our internalized Catholicphobia so severe we’re willing to let the Church go extinct?

Published in Fetzen Fliegen

At last Cardinal Pell can—sort of—face his accusers

“The very public trial of Cardinal Pell is a frightening spectacle, a reminder of how difficult it is to preserve the rights of someone who is accused of a heinous crime, and how easy it is for rumors to ruin a reputation. Let’s pray for a prompt, fair hearing and a clear, just result” – Philip Lawler

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In removing Cardinal Müller, Pope Francis is sending a powerful message

Certain dictatorial orders that have no clear rhyme nor reason are being given out by the current Pope in Rome these days. The unusual decision to remove Card. Müller as Prefect of the CDF, and his replacement with Spanish Jesuit Archbishop Ladaria, is just the latest and perhaps the most surprising of many in the long line of shocks, including disturbing Exhortations and incomprehensible statements and actions. 

Cardinal Gerhard Müller (CNS)

By Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith on the CATHOLIC HERALD

The Pope is making clear there is now only one centre of power at the Vatican

There is an incident in the greatest film ever made, The Godfather, where a body turns up, and someone correctly says that it is a way of sending a message. It is a phrase that comes to mind in the wake of the removal of Cardinal Gerhard Müller: this is an act that constitutes a message. But what exactly?

The Pope has told Cardinal Müller that from now on all heads of dicastery will serve five years only. So, that is the first message, directed to other Vatican chiefs – watch out, your time is short, and you can and will be removed at the end of your term. No longer will heads of dicastery stay in post for decades, as did, for example, Cardinal Ratzinger. From now on, expect to be moved around like pieces on a chessboard, because in the Vatican there is only one centre of power that counts, and it is not yours.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has traditionally been regarded as “la suprema”. Once upon a time, everything that emerged from the Vatican had to be passed first by the CDF. By dismissing the head of the most important department of the Vatican, the Pope is reminding everyone who is really supreme.

The demotion affects not only Cardinal Müller but the entire CDF, for the entire department is being cut down to size. Indeed, as has been apparent in this papacy so far, the CDF is not what it was, but has been repeatedly sidelined.

The Pope has not moved a big hitter in to take Cardinal Müller’s place, but rather moved up Cardinal Müller’s number two, who has been in post for some time, and who could have had no ambitions of promotion, being 73 years old (two years off retirement age), besides being a rather humble and self-effacing character. Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, though a competent theologian, is a low-key appointment who is never going to rock the boat, or cause any embarrassment to the Pope. His appointment means the virtual neutralisation for the foreseeable future of the CDF as a possible hotbed of opposition.

Long gone are the days when the supreme ruler of Rome could have those who had lost his confidence thrown from the Tarpeian Rock, and gone too are the days when the Pope’s enemies were discovered floating in the Tiber. Cardinal Müller lives on and will do so in Rome, aged 69, a relatively young and very underemployed Cardinal. This may not be such a good idea from the point of view of those who want to crush all opposition.

Neither should it be forgotten that Cardinal Müller has friends. His departure is a message to them. Chief of Cardinal Müller’s friends is, of course, his mentor, Benedict XVI. The cardinal’s passing is surely a sign that the old regime is now gone forever and that the changes wrought by Pope Francis are irreversible. Other friends of the cardinal may well tremble at that thought.

For further reading, see Ed Pentin’s article on the National Catholic Register, and Father Z’s take on it too. Fr Z gives links to many of the Catholic sites’ reactions to this bombshell.

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Reflection for the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Image result for whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me

One day Elisha came to Shunem, where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her.  Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine.  So she said to her husband, “I know that Elisha is a holy man of God.  Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there.”  Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight.  Later Elisha asked, “Can something be done for her?”  His servant Gehazi answered, “Yes!  She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.”  Elisha said, “Call her.”  When the woman had been called and stood at the door, Elisha promised, “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”


SECOND READING Romans 6:3-4, 8-11

Brothers and sisters:  Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.  If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.  We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.  As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.  Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

GOSPEL                Matthew 10:37-42



Jesus said to his apostles:  “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.  Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.  And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple-amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

“What is my relationship with my family of origin?  How do I relate to my parents, my sisters, my brothers and to my extended family?  How do I relate to friends?  How do I relate to those in authority over me?”  These are the challenges from the readings this week.

We begin with the first reading, from the Second Book of Kings.  This is such a wonderful reading!  We see the concern of the Prophet for this woman who has no son.  The Prophet, like many religious leaders, is able to benefit from the love and care of those who are relatively well off.  Now it is a question of how to thank such people.  Most of us would not thinking of promising a baby!  On the other hand, the Prophets have more resources than we do!  We also know that later, when this baby is a young man, he dies unexpectedly and the woman turns again to the Prophet.  The gifts of Prophets and of God Himself are not always without suffering!

The second reading is from the Letter to the Romans.  Here we find a strong theology for ourselves.  If we have died in Christ, then we must embrace that death so that we can live in Christ.  We must become dead to sin.  That is so easy to say or to state, yet the reality implies for us and for all who seek the Lord that we must enter the spiritual combat and remain in combat all the days of our lives.  The life of Jesus is a wonderful gift and yet always comes with the condition of death to sin in ourselves.  We are invited to embrace the struggle against sin each day so that we can live more and more in the Lord.

The Gospel, today from Saint Matthew, brings the first two readings together.  We must love God more than anything or anyone.  We must love Christ more than our parents, our sisters, our brothers, our children—more than anyone.  This statement never implies not loving our parents, sisters, brothers, children, etc., but simply tells us that God is more important.

If we are looking for our own life, we shall lose that life.  It we are seeking the life of Jesus, we shall have our own life.  It is only in giving up our lives that we are given life.  This is one of the great challenges of following Jesus.  The more we deny ourselves, the more life of Jesus we have.  Again the strong reminder:  when we deny ourselves, we are doing this out of love and not out of any other motive.  If we judge others, then we condemn ourselves.  If we seek simply what the Lord asks of us today and every day, we are blessed—over and over and over.

May we seek the face of the Lord and respond to His love!  May we accept the gifts of the Lord and know that in those gifts there is also hardship.  May we die to ourselves in the very best way, but loving God first and always.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Erasing the Magisterium of a Pope.

 Wherein Fr. Z rants and suggests.

damnatio_memoriaeThere is a long standing political tool employed to eliminate opposition which is associated with the past, or a defeated regime.  You can see evidence of this tool all around Rome, in monuments both ancient and recent.  It is called damnatio memoriae… the condemnation of the memory (of someone).  In effect, the winners destroy even the memory of the losers by effacing and erasing their very names from public view… as if they never existed.  For the ancient Roman, this was a fate worse than death.  The Roman wanted to extend the gloria of his family, especially through public works which would bring honor to their names in perpetuity.  Think about the way Paul V put “BORGHESE” smack in the middle of the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica.  In any event, walking about in Rome you can see inscriptions wherein the names of the defeated were literally chiseled out or filled in, made illegible.

It has become evident over the last few years, that there is a major agenda item on the slate of those who are around Pope Francis. They are working on the systematic erosion, degradation, scratching out, erasure, the damnatio memoriae of the Magisterium of St. John Paul II.

John Paul, with his “theology of the body” reinforced the Church’s constant teaching about the inseparable connection of sexual acts and marriage.  Today, there are legions made of seemingly disparate groups who tirelessly work along side each other to pull sex and marriage apart.  If they can accomplish that “divorce”, then virtually anything in the Church can be restructured for their own temporal ends, whatever they may be – homosexual “marriage”, Communion for divorced and remarried self-identifying lesbian or questioning giraffes, etc.  It’s mostly about sex for the agents in the field, agents of the Enemy of the soul, that is.

After the 1980 Synod (“walking together”) of Bishops on the Family (sound familiar?), Pope John Paul II responded to a suggestion from the Synod and established the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family and the Pontifical Council for the Family. The establishment of the Institute was supposed to be announced by John Paul during his Wednesday General Audience on 13 May 1981. Does that date sound familiar? After John Paul recovered from the assassination attempt, with the help of Our Lady of Fatima, he formally established the institute on the Feast of the Holy Rosary on 7 October 1982, and entrusted it to Our Lady of Fatima. Thus, the institute was a monument to how Popes and Synods can work together (in a way that doesn’t involved rigging them to pre-determined outcomes) and how the Family and our Marian devotion intersect.

The first head of the Institute, situated at the Lateran University in Rome, was one Carlo Caffarra, later Archbp. Cardinal of Bologna and, more recently, one of the Four Cardinals of the Five Dubia. As a matter of fact, he probably wrote the dubia.

As an aside which isn’t an aside,  Card. Caffarra, in an interview in 2008, revealed that, when John Paul had asked him to found the Institute, he wrote a letter to Sr. Lucia dos Santos, the last living visionary of the Fatima apparitions.  Sr. Lucia wrote back to him and said that the final battle between Christ and Satan would be over marriage and the family.  She also said not to be afraid and that anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be opposed because this is the decisive issue.

So, the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family is to be renamed:

Institute of Studies on the Family.

Nota bene the absence of “John Paul II” and “Marriage”.

17_06_30_Institute_Family_screenshotAs of this writing, it still bears its proper name.

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