Miscarried Babies and Heaven

Like many other women, I once suffered a miscarriage. It all happened in such painful and traumatic circumstances that my baby was never baptised, something I have regretted deeply to this day. In all the years since I have wondered if my little Gerard (for that is what he would have been called) is now truly in Heaven among all the other holy innocents who, like him, tragically never had the chance of receiving God’s sanctifying grace in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. In his ASK FATHER series, Fr.Z gives a thoughtful and sensitive response to this troubling question. 

Does a miscarriage baby go to heaven if not baptized?

Baptized-Babies

One of God’s greatest attributes is His mercy. We read in the letter of James 2:13, that mercy triumphs over judgment. Mercy is a reflection of His being Almighty.

We know that, in justice, none of us deserves heaven. The sin of Adam and Eve broke our friendship with God. In justice, we stand condemned.

But God, in His mercy, sent His Son to suffer and die for us and to pay the price of Adam’s sin. Jesus Christ unlocked the gate to heaven and showed us the way to ascend to the destiny that our first parents lost. He told us that the way we follow Him, the narrow path set out for our salvation, includes baptism. In baptism we become members of His divine family and of His Body. Through baptism, we once again gain the opportunity to go to heaven.

We know with firm faith in what He has revealed that we know that baptism is necessary for salvation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1257 states:

“The Lord himself affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation [John 3:5]. . . . Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament (Mark 16:16)”.

This is a normative necessity. It is not absolute in the sense that exceptions are not possible. We can’t place limitations on what God can do.

And so we also know, with the same firm faith in revelation, that God is also merciful.

What happens to those who are not baptized, including infants and all those who never even had a chance to be baptized? We don’t know. This fact can cause us some discomfort, especially in families grieving the loss of an unbaptized child. This discomfort also felt by converts who were the first in their family to hear and accept the love of Christ into their hearts. They think back to deceased loved ones who never had a chance to hear the Gospel.

But we know that God is merciful.

Can he bring to heaven someone who is unbaptized? YES, no question about that. On the Cross, Christ said to the unbaptized Good Thief, “this day you will be with Me in paradise.” Can he bring to heaven our beloved children – born and unborn – who are not baptized? Yes.

How does He do this without baptism? We don’t know, but He most certainly can.

He tells us clearly that baptism is essential. We should have no doubt of that fact. This knowledge should make us strive to bring all those we love to the grace of the baptismal font.

God is merciful.

Again, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states (cf. CCC 1260–1, 1283):

“Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, are saved even if they have not been baptized.”

The salvation of unbaptized infants is also possible, in God’s great mercy.

Even as we thank God for all the gifts He gives us, give Him also your cares and questions, always gratefully and with tear-tinged joy asking for mercy and graces for all your loved ones. We look forward to our joyous reunion in the life to come.

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The ‘Angel’ Among The Garbage-pickers

Amid the filth and despair of Cairo’s worst slums, a middle-class ‘lady in white’ feels called by God to protect the children who must sort rubbish to stay alive.

[This article first appeared in the latest edition of the Catholic Herald magazine – 3rd April, 2015).]

Washing and kissing feet: Mama Maggie’s attention is always focused on the children

Washing and kissing feet: Mama Maggie’s attention is always focused on the children

It’s a place that feels as though it’s beyond hope. It has existed on the fringes of Cairo for generations, a maze of crumbling, dark dwellings and narrow streets of packed dirt, trodden by emaciated donkeys pulling wooden carts towering with stacks of rubbish.

This is the place where the “garbage-pickers” live. Fifty thousand of them. They pick up and sort greater Cairo’s waste – the rubbish of 22 million people – and recycle what they can for a few coins a day. They separate rotting food, used nappies, hypodermic needles, broken glass, plastic, metal and crumpled paper. They live in sewage, disease and stench. There is little clean water. Among many families, violence, addiction and abuse are a way of life. Electricity is scarce and the nights are full of dangers. Many of the children born here will die before they are five years old. Some starve; some succumb to dysentery. The residents of this place are known in Arabic as the Zabaleen: garbage people.

A little boy named Anthony came with his family to this place when he was three years old. He was too young to know that, as a Christian in a country where everyone’s religion is listed on their identity card, he was part of a religious minority. He was too young to understand that his parents had fled from their village in southern Egypt when radical Islamists had burned down their home. He didn’t know that the teeming garbage village of Mokattam was one of the few places his parents could find work.

Anthony grew up in the stench, relentless activity and remarkable resilience of the garbage village. He and his four siblings lived in a small room under the stairs in a crumbling multi-level building. As a young boy, he helped his parents gather and sort rubbish. By the time he was 10, he had left school and had a job ironing clothes in an area where people could actually afford such services. But there was a problem. The man in charge of the laundry shop took a liking to Anthony. He pressed in on him. If Anthony refused his advances, the man would burn him with the iron. Anthony dreaded the dark evenings, when the man would come after him. He had burns all over his body. He knew of no way out.

But a determined woman came to help. Dressed in a white T-shirt, plain white skirt and white scarf, this lady had heard of Anthony’s plight. One night, when he was in a fever and a haze, lying miserably on the dirty floor, resigned to hell, she and her friends appeared. She took him to her own home, far beyond the slum. She brought a doctor to see him. The doctor came every day for a week and dressed his wounds. The lady hand-fed him so he could gradually get stronger … stronger than he had ever been.

The lady talked to him as he lay in bed. She put cool cloths on his forehead. She wept. Anthony felt as if her tears matched his own. Then she said something astounding. She held his hand tenderly and asked Anthony to forgive her as a surrogate for the man who had attacked and abused him. He didn’t know what to think.

The lady in white was like an angel, showing him things he had never known. Dignity. Hope. Forgiveness.

I first met this “lady in white” in the early autumn of 2013. She is Maggie Gobran, an upper middle-class Egyptian businesswoman and university professor who felt called by God to trade her upwardly mobile lifestyle for a life of helping, protecting and energising the poorest of the poor.

Years ago, as a socially conscious Christian, Maggie had visited Cairo’s garbage slums at Christmas and Easter with other friends from her church. During one such visit, she saw movement in a pile of shredded paper and plastic. She gently dug in the rubbish, and found a tiny child. Her heart broke. She began to spend more and more time in the slum, building relationships with children there. They started calling her “Mama Maggie” – and Maggie’s comfortable, conventional life began to change.

In the late 1980s, Maggie and her husband, Ibrahim, started a ministry called Stephen’s Children, named after the first martyr recorded in the New Testament. Today, Stephen’s Children helps poor children in the garbage slums of Cairo and far beyond, bringing spiritual and physical food, education, training, medical services, love and care to children like young Anthony, kids who had never known hope before. Today, Stephen’s Children has helped more than 30,000 children and families. Twenty per cent of the ministry’s 1,500 workers and volunteers were served by the ministry when they were young.

When I first met Mama Maggie, Egypt was in turmoil. President Mohammed Morsi, who was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, had been removed by an incredible outpouring of 30 million Egyptian citizens demonstrating on the street. A temporary government was in place.

Egypt is about 90 per cent Muslim and 10 per cent Christian. Those proportions were represented in the demonstrations against Mr Morsi’s government. But in the chaos after his departure, it was Christians who took the brunt of his extremist supporters’ rage. Christian churches, schools, convents, bookshops and businesses in Cairo and other cities were attacked, looted and burned, including one of Mama Maggie’s kindergartens.

But something remarkable happened in the smouldering ashes of Egypt’s burned churches. In one town after another, banners were raised over the ruined buildings. Charred walls were scrawled with messages for the attackers.

The messages? “We forgive!” “We still love you!” And on the burned wall of the ruined orphanage: “You meant to hurt us, but we forgive you. God is love. Everything works out for the good.”

Mama Maggie Gobran comes from a culture that astonishes many of us. Drawing from centuries of opposition and martyrdom, it is a mindset of forgiveness, hope and courage. We in the West can learn much from our sisters and brothers who are persecuted, simply because of their faith. Mama Maggie’s mindset turns Western values upside down in another way. The former marketing executive is devoid of any sort of advancement or public relations mindset for her ministry. She does not entertain Western donors who visit Cairo. Her attention, whether foreign visitors are with her or not, is always on the children.

One such child is a little girl I’ll call Gigi. One day Gigi came to a Stephen’s Children outreach in the garbage village. She was full of bright promise. As is her habit with all the children, Maggie washed Gigi’s filthy feet and kissed them tenderly.

Two weeks later, Gigi was at her home. Some families are fortunate enough to have both electricity and shredding machines that reduce the sorted waste. Gigi was helping as rubbish was being fed into a big shredder. Suddenly her small body was being pulled into the machine. As she screamed in terror, her brother pulled her from its jaws. Her life was saved, but only just. The machine ripped off her right arm at the shoulder.

As you can imagine, this tiny, maimed girl was full of fear. She was scared of everything. So young, bloodied and wounded. She was the first child Mama Maggie had ever met who was scared even of Mama Maggie.

“I wept all the time,” Mama Maggie says. “It was so awful to think of how the enemy of human souls wants to rob, steal, and destroy, and would even cause this poor child to lose part of her body, so she would feel a complete absence of protection and security.”

Mama Maggie prayed earnestly for Gigi. Then she unexpectedly saw the girl again at a day camp. She called Gigi to the front of the group and put her arms around her. I saw a tiny girl with fuzzy hair and a stump, now healed. Mama Maggie saw much more. She was beside herself. “It was the best gift I could ever receive to see her listening as I talked, smiling at the rest of the kids and looking up at me,” she said.

“I wanted to hug her and kiss her in front of everyone, and say, ‘Oh! I have dreamed and thought of you every day! And here you are!’ Finally, I felt Gigi could feel my heart. She could feel the love that conquers fear.”

Mama Maggie believes that if you train up a child in the principles of the Scriptures, the Word will stay with them for the rest of their lives. All the children in her schools memorise Bible verses, with great fervour.

I heard classrooms full of children shouting out, first in Arabic, and then in English, lifelong truths such as: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Philippians 4:13!”

Though most people have never heard of Gigi, or Anthony, or any other of Mama Maggie’s children, many around the world have now heard about some of her boys. Of the 21 young Coptic men who were murdered by ISIS forces on the beach in Libya in mid-February, seven were loved and trained by Mama Maggie’s ministry when they were young. They learnt the great, ancient truths of the faith. They learnt, like Anthony, about dignity, hope and forgiveness. They learnt about the love of God. They memorised Philippians 4:13. Two of the martyrs went on to teach in Mama Maggie’s schools when they got older.

So, when their time came, on that beach in Libya, they did not cower in fear before the black-garbed cowards who would kill them. They looked up, their eyes on heaven, and died whispering the name of Jesus. And in that moment, they learnt the utter, enormous reality about how human beings can indeed do all things, through the eternal power of Christ who strengthens us.

As the mother of 29-year-old Samuel Abraham said: “We thank ISIS. Now more people believe in Christianity because of them. ISIS showed what Christianity is. We thank God that our relatives are in heaven.”

Mama Maggie came to Washington DC in March. She spoke at a gathering of our friends. She described the 21 young men who died because they would not deny Christ, and gave a challenge to us all.

“It is not the length of our days that matters,” she said in her characteristic soft voice. “We have no control over how long we live. No, it is the depth of our days … and we do have control over that, as we decide to truly follow Jesus.”

____________

Ellen Vaughn is a Senior Fellow at the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, and author or co-author of 20 books. Her latest is Mama Maggie: the Untold Story of One Woman’s Mission to Love the Forgotten Children of Egypt’s Garbage Slums, written with Marty Makary, published by Thomas Nelson. Parts of this article are extracted from the book. To support the work of Stephen’s Children, visit stephenschildren.org. To find out more about the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and its work for persecuted Christians abroad, visit 21wilberforce.org*

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Holy Quietude

‘It is not speaking that breaks our silence, but the anxiety to be heard.’

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

(this video is spoilt at 5:23 by audience interruption)

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On Redefining Reality: A Dialogue

This excellent and highly amusing article from “Crisis Magazine” was brought to our attention by CP&S commenter, Geoff Kiernan, on 31st March. We have been holding it till after Holy Week and reproduce it today. Thanks Geoff!

By James Jacobs

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” —Oscar Wilde

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” —Oscar Wilde

As I walked down the street, I noticed in the window of a shop a decal advertising the so-called “Human Rights Campaign,” the organization agitating for a redefinition of marriage to include homosexual unions. I was a little shocked somebody would be proud of that association, for I had heard the news that the founder of the Human Rights Campaign (and a major financial backer of President Obama), Terry Bean, was recently arrested in Oregon for sexually abusing a 15 year-old boy. Maybe that story was not broadcast as widely as it should have been—I can only guess why; if the president of the NRA had shot someone, certainly that would make the news.

Regardless, it also struck me how utterly debased the notion of human rights had become if an entire genus of moral claims could be reduced to a grotesque assertion made on behalf of one-percent of the population. Yet, I also saw that it is the epitome of the contemporary zeitgeist in which a “right” is nothing other than a sentimental imperative, as Alasdair MacIntyre has put it: on the one hand, it is nothing other than a bold and impulsive desire; yet, this is compounded with the tyrannical demand that others submit to your insistence that that desire be satisfied. This meretricious notion of rights debases them by placing individual desire ahead of objective value, a move which ineluctably reduces to nonsense any and all claims to have rights. I thought I might make a test to determine just how dedicated the shop owner really was to this notion of human rights: did he in fact agree that subjective desire implied the sort of right he seemed to claim for himself? In other words, would he allow me to redefine reality to conform to my own desires?

Continue reading…

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Christian Mum Trashes Atheist Trasher Who “Keeps Calm And Uses Logic” </irony>

From Mark Lambert

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Making the mistake of calling faithful criticism dissent (Deacon Nick Donnelly)

by Deacon Nick Donnelly
Over the past two years our world as Catholics has been turned upside down, to the point that we are often called ‘dissenters’, ‘ideologues’ or ‘fundamentalists’ for upholding the Faith of the Church as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I’ve come to the conclusion that these labels are being increasingly used by those seeking to change Church teaching in order to intimidate, dismiss and exclude faithful Catholics from public discussions about the doctrines of the Church.
The ‘progressive’ Catholic magazine The Tablet recently accused Catholics of dissent when they expressed concerns about Pope Francis’ pontificate. Michael Sean Winters wrote:
‘I’m reluctant to use the word hypocrisy, but remember when some of these conservatives were calling others in the Church ‘Cinos’ [Catholics in Name Only], ‘Catholyks’, and ‘Cafeteria Catholics’? Now they [Conservative Catholics] are dissenters because some teachings of Pope Francis don’t conform to the interests of American conservatism’.
Michael Winters concludes that these conservative dissenters should be feared because they could ‘organise resistance and destructive efforts to separate elements of the Church from the Holy Father’.
Cardinal Wuerl calls faithful Catholics dissenters
Such attacks against faithful Catholics have become commonplace from Catholic journals that oppose many of the Church’s doctrines, especially on sexual morality. But a new, and totally unexpected development, is cardinals and bishops espousing the same hostility by calling faithful Catholics ‘dissenters’. Cardinal Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, used his blog to launch an attack on Catholics critical about recent developments in the Church, which has been interpreted as a criticism of Cardinal Burke:
‘As I was watching the Holy Father on TV, my inbox was filling with a number of emails including an interview and an article by brother bishops who are less than enthusiastic about Pope Francis. Those emails reminded me of a much, much earlier time in my life when I first experienced dissent from the teaching and practice of a pope. ‘
Why disagreeing with Pope Francis at times is not dissent?
Cardinal Wuerl and other critics of faithful Catholics make a basic mistake when they characterise as ‘dissenters’ those who in any way disagree with, or criticise, Pope Francis. They are mistakenly elevating all the Holy Fathers words and actions to the level of magisterial teaching. Pope Francis himself has indicated that his daily homilies at St Martha’s and his interviews with the press must not be considered magisterial teaching. Fr Lombardi, the Director of the Holy See’s press office, has explained that this is the reason why they do not broadcast Pope Francis’s daily homilies:

‘We must insist on the fact that, in all of the Pope’s activities, the difference between different situations and celebrations, as well as the different levels of authority of his words, must be understood and respected.’
Pope Francis even indicates that his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is not a magisterial teaching when he sets out the ‘Scope and Limits of the Exhortation’. The Holy Father writes, ‘Nor do I believe that the papal Magisterium should be expected to offer a definitive or complete word on every question which affects the Church and the world.’ (16). As Cardinal Burke explains, by stating that Evangelii Gaudium is not an exercise of the papal Magisterium it should be seen as an ‘expression of the pope’s personal thinking’ which we receive with respect, but do not interpret as teaching ‘an official doctrine’.

For this reason Cardinal Wuerl and Michael Sean Winters are misrepresenting the meaning of the word ‘dissent’ when they apply it to all disagreement with, and criticism of, Pope Francis. Such disagreement and criticism would only be ‘dissent’ if expressed against Pope Francis’ exercise of the papal Magisterium. The Second Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, makes clear the attitude we must take to any genuine exercise of the Magisterium by Pope Francis:
‘Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme Magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.’ (LG 25).
Simply put, all the faithful have an obligation to make a ‘religious submission of mind and will’ when Pope Francis exercises his supreme Magisterium as a witness ‘to divine and Catholic truth’ in matters of faith and morals. Having said this, it is important that we always listen to Pope Francis’ non-magisterial words with attention and respect as the Successor of St Peter.
We must be vigilant that any disagreement with the Holy Father does not descend into calumny and detraction which are mortal sins. I’m sad to say that I’ve seen some Catholic blogs that post tirades of vitriol and hate against the Holy Father which are gravely immoral and fill me with concern for the mental health and eternal destiny of the authors.
Not only dissenters, but also fundamentalists
Over the past two years not only have faithful Catholics been dismissed as dissenters, but we have also been stigmatised as ‘fundamentalists’. In 2014, Cardinal Kasper accused faithful clergy and laity who uphold the Church’s teaching on marriage and adultery of espousing a ‘theological fundamentalism which is not Catholic’. By characterising faithful Catholics as ‘fundamentalists’ Cardinal Kasper appears to be seeking to portray those who defend the Church’s doctrine as having something in common with the intolerance, hate and violence that is the root cause of terrorism. By using the pejorative ‘fundamentalist’ Kasper is clearly attempting to discredit and nullify all who uphold the doctrines of the Church.

I have personally witnessed the opponents of the Catholic faith attempt to discredit and exclude from public discourse those who uphold her doctrines by using the label ‘fundamentalist’. In 2007 I worked closely with Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue on his pastoral renewal programme Fit for Mission?, part of which included his publication of Fit for Mission? Schools, that set out his directives on safeguarding the Catholic ethos of schools. Among other things, Bishop Patrick insisted that Catholic schools must teach the Church’s doctrine on sexual morality and chastity, while also prohibiting the teaching of the ‘safe sex’ contraceptive mentality to children.

Barry Sheerman MP, the Chairman of the House of Commons select committee for Children, Schools and Families took great exception to the fact of a Catholic bishop publicly insisting that Catholic schools teach the Catholic Faith to Catholic children. Barry Sheerman expressed his outrage in the anti-Catholic newspapers The Observer and The Guardian newspapers:

‘’It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked. It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist bishops.’

Back in 2007 I would never have imagined that seven years later a cardinal attending an Extraordinary Synod on marriage and the family would use the same accusation of fundamentalism against fellow bishops and the faithful for upholding doctrine. It seems to me that Cardinal Kasper likewise objects to Catholics being serious about their faith.
Living in hope of reconciliation?
I’m concerned that this ‘demonisation’ of faithful Catholics for resisting the pressure to accept adultery, and sex outside of marriage in all its immoral forms, will only increase as we approach the 2015 synod. I also fear that the attacks against Cardinal Burke and the other faithful cardinals will become more personal and violent. We have already witnessed the spokesman for the Canadian Basilian Order, Fr Timothy Scott, post an obscene tweet demanding that Cardinal Burke ‘shut up’.

The French ‘progressive’ Catholic magazine, Golias, has taken this hostility towards faithful Catholics to its natural conclusion by demanding that Catholics like Cardinal Burke should be driven out of the Church by the ‘authorities’ as soon as possible.

I take consolation from the example of St Athanasius of Alexandria who was ‘demonised’ and persecuted for his steadfast fidelity to the doctrines of the Church. We must hope that like St Athanasius our resolute and loving witness to the truth will eventually lead to the conversion of our accusers, as occurred in St Athanasius’ life-time. In his ‘History of the Arians’ St Athanasius recounts the reconciliation he was able to reach, through the grace of God, through his example:

‘How many enemies repented! How many apologised who had formerly accused him falsely! How many who formerly hated him, now showed affection for him! How many of those who had written against him, recanted their assertions. Many also who had sided with the Arians, not through choice but by necessity, came by night and apologised themselves. They anathematized the Arian heresy, and besought him to pardon them, because, although through the plots and calumnies of these men they appeared physically at their side, yet in their hearts they held communion with Athanasius, and were always with him. Believe me, this is true.’ (Triumph of Athanasius).

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Betrayed Traditions

Archbishop Lefebvre said in 1991, “We are dealing with people (at the top of the Church) who have a different philosophy from ours, a different way of seeing, who are influenced by all modern subjectivist philosophers. For them, there is no fixed truth, no fixed dogma. Everything is evolving. This is really the Masonic destruction of the Faith. Fortunately we (Traditionalists) have Tradition to lean on.”

_____________

“Without Tradition, We Are Cattle”

By Juan Manuel de Prada, famous Catholic writer and columnist in the highly influential Spanish daily ABCIn the following article, published last year (and reprinted on Rorate Caeli), he uses very Spanish examples to make a very profound universal point for all former Christendom. The Catholic Church always used to be the top defender of local traditions, local languages, and local cultures because she was the confident bearer of a Tradition that does not die. Now, with her self-confidence eliminated, her Tradition wounded and humiliated, her liturgy destroyed in vast regions, local traditions also disappear and are replaced with a global pseudo-cultural blob. The strength of Tradition and traditions allowed the Christians of the Iberian peninsula to reconquer their land, and then conquer much of the world for the Church. What will they do now?

Procession in Bercianos de Aliste, Zamora, Castile and Leon, in the 1950s

Procession in Bercianos de Aliste, Zamora, Castile and Leon, in the 1950s

I have read that in a hamlet in La Rioja they set up a run of… American bisons! And I was very sorry for the folks in this La Rioja town, sorry for so many Spanish villages that have betrayed their traditions and then replaced them with mocking and insulting substitutes, sorry for living in an ignominious age that has turned us into the poor lackeys of new and ephemeral fads, subjected to foreign fashion and to the stultifying colonization of the media, and to the tyranny of our own disoriented impulses, who today want to take part in a bison run, and maybe tomorrow in a reindeer run (with the rancher dressed as a yuletide puppet called “Santa Claus”, goodness!) Saint-Exupéry wrote that only a philosophy of belonging, by linking the man to his family, to his work, and to his fatherland protects him from the abyss of space; and that only attachment to rites and traditions protects him from the erosion of time. When this sense of belonging is lost, we become mediocrities thrown into the dustbin of history organizing bison runs.

If Spanish villages abandon their life cycles bound with farming and cattle-raising, it’s natural that their young stop seeing in the wild bull a force of nature before which they wish to test themselves; and the time that in the past was dedicated to farming and husbandry chores (abandoned thanks to the bribes of the European Union) is now spent before television, where, while they zap around as lobotomized zombies, they watch a Kevin Costner movie with a bison stampede. And since their soul still carries within it a reminiscence or nostalgia for ancestral traditions, even if a nostalgia warped by the dizzying noise of foreign fads and the media, these lads will inevitably conceive the delirious idea of organizing a bison run, with animals that will then have become as exotic as bulls.

Attachment to traditions, by creating links between men, makes for strong peoples, impregnable to material or moral plundering; and from these deeply rooted peoples come the strongest and most diverse personalities. Peoples without traditions, on the other hand, are destined to the gloomiest solitude, which is the one that, while it preaches individualism, leads to mass-production; and from these peoples, unarmed before the material and moral spoliation, only come forth weak and crude personalities, debilitated by the obsession for independence and freedom, but which invariably end up doing the same collective nonsense. That is why traditionless societies are, paradoxically, the paradise of statistics: because there where there are no traditions (which are the riverbed on top of which our original personality flows), the behavior of individuals, though apparently erratic, is easily predictable, almost automatic. But those who wish to see us converted into a lonely mass, reduced to slavery, do not take our traditions suddenly away from us (out of fear that the memory or nostalgia still lying in our souls may prompt us to rebel), but rather amuse themselves by giving us mock replacements which, on their turn, act as soothers of our pain, and allow them to amuse themselves cruelly at our expense, watching us as we cultivate silly and bizarre passions and habits.

Nothing pleases more those who wish to reduce us to a lonely crowd than to see us set up bison runs, after we have forgotten the husbandry of the wild bull. Nothing pleases them more than seeing us eat (with delight!) some post-modern* concoction cooked with liquid nitrogen, after we have forgotten how to cook (and even enjoy) garlic soup. Nothing pleases them more than to see us dance spasmodically with some tart we don’t even know in a night club, after we forgot how to go country-dancing with the girl next door in the street fair. Nothing pleases them more than watching us sing guitar-led and imbecilic songs during Mass, after we have forgotten liturgical chant. Nothing pleases them more than to give us advice in the choosing of a fiancée through an internet contact agency, after we have rejected our mother’s advice.

That is the way they want us: despoiled of our traditions, reduced to a human-shaped creature that withers around in his own filth pleased with himself, fed with mock, sordid and ridiculous replacements. Turned into cattle, into a herd, from whom they even charge for the provision of substitutions.

_____________

Spanish writer Juan Manuel de Prada was first quoted on Rorate Caeli on aspects of the current pontificate (cf. “The Nests of Yesteryear“).

* literally, “cooked in the style of (famous Spanish chef) Ferran Adrià.”

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The Necessity of Prayer – St. Francis de Sales

We continue with the instruction of St. Francis de Sales, taken from ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’.

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1. PRAYER opens the understanding to the brightness of Divine Light, and the will to the warmth of Heavenly Love – nothing can so effectually purify the mind from its many ignorances, or the will from its perverse affections. It is as a healing water which causes the roots of our good desires to send forth fresh shoots, which washes away the soul’s imperfections, and allays the thirst of passion.

2. But especially I commend earnest mental prayer to you, more particularly such as bears upon the Life and Passion of our Lord. If you contemplate Him frequently in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with Him, you will grow in His Likeness, and your actions will be moulded on His. He is the Light of the world; therefore in Him, by Him, and for Him we shall be enlightened and illuminated; He is the Tree of Life, beneath the shadow of which we must find rest;—He is the Living Fountain of Jacob’s well, wherein we may wash away every stain. Children learn to speak by hearing their mother talk, and stammering forth their childish sounds in imitation; and so if we cleave to the Saviour in meditation, listening to His words, watching His actions and intentions, we shall learn in time, through His Grace, to speak, act and will like Himself. Believe me, my child, there is no way to God save through this door. Just as the glass of a mirror would give no reflection save for the metal behind it, so neither could we here below contemplate the Godhead, were it not united to the Sacred Humanity of our Saviour, Whose Life and Death are the best, sweetest and most profitable subjects that we can possibly select for meditation. It is not without meaning that the Saviour calls Himself the Bread come down from Heaven; just as we eat bread with all manner of other food, so we need to meditate and feed upon our Dear Lord in every prayer and action. […]

3. Give an hour every day to meditation before dinner; if you can, let it be early in the morning, when your mind will be less cumbered, and fresh after the night’s rest. Do not spend more than an hour thus, unless specially advised to do so by your spiritual father.

man-praying-in-church4. If you can make your meditation quietly in church, it will be well, and no one, father or mother, husband or wife, can object to an hour spent there, and very probably you could not secure a time so free from interruption at home.

5. Begin all prayer, whether mental or vocal, by an act of the Presence of God. If you observe this rule strictly, you will soon see how useful it is.

6. It may help you to say the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, etc., in Latin, but you should also study them diligently in your own language, so as thoroughly to gather up the meaning of these holy words, which must be used fixing your thoughts steadily on their purport, not striving to say many words so much as seeking to say a few with your whole heart. One Our Father said devoutly is worth more than many prayers hurried over.

rosary-man-praying

7. The Rosary is a useful devotion when rightly used, and there are various little books to teach this. It is well, too, to say pious Litanies, and the other vocal prayers appointed for the Hours and found in Manuals of devotion,—but if you have a gift for mental prayer, let that always take the chief place, so that if, having made that, you are hindered by business or any other cause from saying your wonted vocal prayers, do not be disturbed, but rest satisfied with saying the Lord’s Prayer, the Angelic Salutation, and the Creed after your meditation.

8. If, while saying vocal prayers, your heart feels drawn to mental prayer, do not resist it, but calmly let your mind fall into that channel, without troubling because you have not finished your appointed vocal prayers. The mental prayer you have substituted for them is more acceptable to God, and more profitable to your soul. I should make an exception of the Church’s Offices, if you are bound to say those by your vocation—in such a case these are your duty.

9. If it should happen that your morning goes by without the usual meditation, either owing to a pressure of business, or from any other cause, (which interruptions you should try to prevent as far as possible,) try to repair the loss in the afternoon, but not immediately after a meal, or you will perhaps be drowsy, which is bad both for your meditation and your health. But if you are unable all day to make up for the omission, you must remedy it as far as may be by ejaculatory prayer, and by reading some spiritual book, together with an act of penitence for the neglect, together with a stedfast resolution to do better the next day.

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What Impact Will Pressure to Accept Same Sex Acts or “Marriage” have on Church Teaching? (Hint: none).

Careful lest ye fall!

By:

Last week was Holy Week, so sure enough there were many critical issues in the news that needed attention but we in the Church were off doing more important things like worshipping God and pondering our need for salvation. Permit a brief wrap-up and look ahead from me on the latest unpleasantness in Indiana last week.

First of all, I am not a lawyer and do not know or understand all the legal implications of the law signed by the Indiana governor and then later amended. I speak more to the cultural concerns raised by same sex attraction, the redefinition of marriage in civil justification, the rapidity of all of this and how this affects the Church.

As for the cultural concerns and political landscape, as is often the case Ross Douthat summarizes it best:

One of the difficulties in this discussion, from a conservative perspective, is that the definition of “common sense” and “compromise” on these issues has shifted so rapidly in such a short time: Positions taken by, say, the president of the United States and most Democratic politicians a few short years ago are now deemed the purest atavism [a recurrence of or reversion to a past style, manner, outlook, or approach, something strikingly archaic], the definition of bigotry gets more and more elastic, and developments that social liberals would have described as right-wing scare stories in 2002 or so are now treated as just the most natural extensions of basic American principles….But the pace involved is unusual, and its rapidity makes it very easy to imagine that scenarios that aren’t officially on the table right now will become plausible very, very soon. the only remaining question in the same-sex marriage “debate” [is] what kind of space, if any, an ascendant cultural liberalism would leave to Americans with traditional views on what constitutes a marriage…[T]he choice of exactly how far to push and how much pluralism to permit would [seem to] be almost entirely in the hands of liberals and supporters of same-sex marriage. That’s…basically how it looks to me today. [1]

Read the original article here

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All of life is Easter: three quotes on Christian feast days

by Ben Myers

“All our life is a festival. Since we are persuaded that God is present everywhere on all sides, we praise God as we till the ground, we sing hymns as we sail the sea, we feel God’s inspiration in all that we do…. Whenever we pay attention to God, every place and every time becomes truly holy.”
—Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis7.7.39.

“So the whole of our lifetime is a festival. For when Paul said, ‘Let us keep the feast’ [1 Cor 5:7-8], he wasn’t referring to the Passover or Pentecost. He was pointing out that all time is a festival for Christians…. For what good thing has not already come to pass? The Son of God was made human for you. He freed you from death and called you to a kingdom. Now that you have gained such good things – and are still gaining them – how can you do anything less than ‘keep the feast’ all your life? So let no one be downcast about poverty or illness or the cunning of enemies. It is a festival, all of it – our whole lifetime!”
—John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians 15.6.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and that one ever.
—George Herbert, “Easter”, from The Temple.

-reposted from Faith and Theology

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#TwitterSPC

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo on ‘From Rome’ (on 3rd April)

WHAT IS IT?

This week saw an effort by multinational corporations in a concerted action to attack religious liberty of God fearing souls in the State of Indiana, USA. That State’s government had passed a law to defend the rights of citizens to express themselves according to their religious beliefs.

No sooner as the law was passed that the Mass Media, Including Fox News (shame on you Judge Napolitano!), attacked Indiana claiming that the law discriminated against sodomites. In their twisted logic, if a Baker refuses to bake a cake for their “wedding”, then the Baker has discriminated against the pair.

The State of Arkansas was also attacked, since it was about to pass a similar law defending religious liberty.

Along with the Mass Media, several multinational corporations joined in the attack: Appel, Walmart and Twitter.

Twitter’s action was highly unethical, not to mention a direct affront to its users.

Highly unethical, because Twitter is a social communications platform. If they take any position against free speech (of which even religious liberty is a species) then they are using their platform to mold thoughts, not allow free expression.

An affront to God fearing folk, because to insist that those, who recognize God as author of creation and marriage, must recognize the right to do in public what is immoral and against God’s revealed laws, is a violation of the notion of religious liberty.

But, though such a critique can rightly be advanced against the agenda of the sodomites, we cannot deny that the principle target of the attack on Indiana and Arkansas was Christianity itself, as a religion. Because it is Christianity which has given the peoples of Arkansas and Indiana the moral values and beliefs upon which they rightfully and reasonably claim the civil liberty to refuse to engage in the moral or financial or physical consent or support of that which is contrary to the religious beliefs.

As Catholics, of course, we recognize that the United States of America has a form of government which does not recognize that Jesus Christ is the rightful Lord and King of all Nations. And that therefore, no law is valid or licit which contravenes His teaching. Nevertheless, we cannot forgo the claim to exercise freedom in living by our Christian Faith as a prerequisite of citizenship in the United States or in any nation. Because we are Christians first of all and before all else.

Therefore, mindful that our silence today will lead to the more brutal persecution of Christians tomorrow, we join in a Crusade-Boycott against Twitter Corporation, which will have as the official hashtag #TwitterSPC.

#TwitterSPC = Twitter Stop Persecuting Christians

During the term of this boycott, those participating will refuse to purchase any produce advertised on Twitter by a paid advertisement and refuse to purchase any paid service on Twitter.

Our Demands are that Twitter rescind it objection to the original texts of the Indiana and Arkansas law, and publicly recognize the right of Christians to refuse compliance with the ideologies or values of those who hold beliefs contradicting their own, whether in the USA or anywhere else in the world, especially that ideology which Christians correctly recognize as against Nature, against the Author of Nature, Jesus Christ.

We also demand that Twitter cease bombarding users with images of kissing sodomites during login.

How to participate in this Crusade/Boycott

1.  Place the hashtag #TwitterSPC in the text description of your profile, and tweet out your complaints to Twitter or Twitter advertisers using the hashtag.
2.  To those advertising on Twitter, tell them you will boycott the products or services they advertise, during the time of the #TwitterSPC campaign until Twitter stops persecuting Christians and siding with those who persecute Christians.
3.  Tell them that Twitter in attacking Indiana has acting in a highly unethical manner, by violating the neutrality every social media should maintain, and is attempting to modify the thought of its users by engaging in a Gestapo action against the free citizens of all nations, by intimidating users into silence (out of fear of having their account suspended).
4.  Invite all your followers, as a group, or individually to join the #TwitterSPC campaign, out of love for Christ Jesus and to avoid further persecutions of Christians by Twitter.
5.  Encourage others to start similar boycotts of every media outlet and corporation which attacked Indiana and Arkansas and the Christian businessmen of those states.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d1gcWEHNW8 

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‘Noli Me Tangere’

kathleen:

Re-blogging this post from April 2011.

Originally posted on Catholicism Pure & Simple:

                                                    Noli me Tangere by Fra Angelico

“Noli me Tangere”.

These famous words here in Latin spoken by Jesus to Mary Magdalene after His Resurrection can be translated into English as ‘don’t touch me’ or ‘touch me not’. But the original phrase, written in Greek, might be better translated as ‘cease holding on to me’ or ‘stop clinging to me’.

But there are numerous accounts in the Gospels of Christ touching people when He healed or blessed them. When a leper came to Him, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him (Mark 1:40-45); Jesus felt the power leave Him when a woman, believing Jesus could heal her, touched the hem of His garment (Luke 8:47-49); He…

View original 667 more words

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I prefer Heaven!

C’è chi ama la ricchezza e vestirsi come un re;

c’è chi non vuol fare niente non gli va di faticar.

C’è chi parla sempre troppo, non sa dir la verità

e poi critica ogni cosa, non c’è nulla che va ben.

Ma per me no, non va, non è quel che piace a me.

Paradiso, paradiso, preferisco il paradiso etc.

C’è chi crede d’esser grande, vuol salire fino al ciel.

È fanatico e superbo, crede d’esser chissà che?

C’è chi sogna gran carriere, grandi inchini ed i lacchè,

vuole sempre aver successo ed onori in quantità.

Ma per me no, non va, non è quel che piace a me.

Paradiso, paradiso, preferisco il paradiso etc.

There are those who love riches and to dress like a king;

There are those who want to do nothing and can’t be bothered.

There are those that always talk too much, but can’t tell the truth

And then criticise everything, nothing is all right.

But for me, this won’t do, that’s not what makes me happy.

I prefer Heaven!

There are those who think they are great and want to soar to the sky,

who are fanatical and proud, believing themselves to be who knows what?

Who dream of a great career, of taking big bows and having lackeys,

Who always crave success and lots of honours.

But for me, this won’t do, that’s not what makes me happy.

I prefer Heaven.

This song was associated with a 2010 Italian television series about the life of St Philip Neri, founder of the Oratorians with the same title, Preferisco il Paradiso. A story has it that when St Charles Borromeo asked Philip if he wanted to become a cardinal, he (Pippo) answered “I would prefer Heaven”. And he lived in his oratory in Rome until he died at eighty!

Monsignor Marco Frisina, director of the choir of the Diocese of Rome, having some fun in the Lateran Basilica, the Pope’s own cathedral as Bishop of Rome. I believe Maestro Frisina composed the song himself, as he does for many of the religious media productions in Italy.

A blessed Easter to all CP&S readers (even to Toad), your families and other loved ones, and especially to our new (old) brother, John!

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Χριστός Ανέστη … … Αληθώς Ανέστη!

A happy and blessed Easter to all of our readers.

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Pope Francis: Urbi et Orbi Message – Easter 2015

Pope Francis: Urbi et Orbi Message

Pope Francis greets the faithful from the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Following the Solemn Mass for Easter morning, Pope Francis gave the traditional blessing “Urbi et Orbi” – for the City (of Rome) and for the World. – AFP


(Vatican Radio) Tens of thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday morning, despite the cold and the rain, to take part in Solemn Mass with Pope Francis in celebration of Easter. Following the Liturgy, the Holy Father gave the traditional Blessing Urbi et Orbi – to the City [of Rome] and to the World.Below, please find the official English translation of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks:

Pope Francis
EASTER URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE
to the City and to the World
5 April 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus Christ is risen!

Love has triumphed over hatred, life has conquered death, light has dispelled the darkness!

Out of love for us, Jesus Christ stripped himself of his divine glory, emptied himself, took on the form of a slave and humbled himself even to death, death on a cross. For this reason God exalted him and made him Lord of the universe. Jesus is Lord!

By his death and resurrection, Jesus shows everyone the way to life and happiness: this way is humility, which involves humiliation. This is the path which leads to glory. Only those who humble themselves can go towards the “things that are above”, towards God (cf. Col 3:1-4). The proud look “down from above”; the humble look “up from below”.

On Easter morning, alerted by the women, Peter and John ran to the tomb. They found it open and empty. Then they drew near and “bent down” in order to enter it. To enter into the mystery, we need to “bend down”, to abase ourselves. Only those who abase themselves understand the glorification of Jesus and are able to follow him on his way.

The world proposes that we put ourselves forward at all costs, that we compete, that we prevail… But Christians, by the grace of Christ, dead and risen, are the seeds of another humanity, in which we seek to live in service to one another, not to be arrogant, but rather respectful and ready to help.

This is not weakness, but true strength! Those who bear within them God’s power, his love and his justice, do not need to employ violence; they speak and act with the power of truth, beauty and love.

From the risen Lord we ask the grace not to succumb to the pride which fuels violence and war, but to have the humble courage of pardon and peace. We ask Jesus, the Victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence.

We ask for peace, above all, for Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease and that peaceful relations may be restored among the various groups which make up those beloved countries. May the international community not stand by before the immense humanitarian tragedy unfolding in these countries and the drama of the numerous refugees.

We pray for peace for all the peoples of the Holy Land. May the culture of encounter grow between Israelis and Palestinians and the peace process be resumed, in order to end years of suffering and division.

We implore peace for Libya, that the present absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence may cease, and that all concerned for the future of the country may work to favour reconciliation and to build a fraternal society respectful of the dignity of the person. For Yemen too we express our hope for the growth of a common desire for peace, for the good of the entire people.

At the same time, in hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.

We ask the risen Lord for the gift of peace for Nigeria, South Sudan and for the various areas of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives – I think in particular of the young people who were killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya –, for all who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones.

May the Lord’s resurrection bring light to beloved Ukraine, especially to those who have endured the violence of the conflict of recent months. May the country rediscover peace and hope thanks to the commitment of all interested parties.

We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subject to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups. Peace and liberty for the victims of drug dealers, who are often allied with the powers who ought to defend peace and harmony in the human family. And we ask peace for this world subjected to arms dealers.

May the marginalized, the imprisoned, the poor and the migrants who are so often rejected, maltreated and discarded, the sick and the suffering, children, especially those who are victims of violence; all who today are in mourning, and all men and women of goodwill, hear the consoling voice of the Lord Jesus: “Peace to you!” (Lk 24:36). “Fear not, for I am risen and I shall always be with you” (cf. Roman Missal, Entrance Antiphon for Easter Day).

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