Kneeling Ban: Good Liturgy or Loss of Religious Freedom?

from: Homiletic & Pastoral Review.  http://www.hprweb.com/2015/07/

 By Some religious leaders in the Latin Rite are pressuring Catholics not to kneel at the Consecration, or to genuflect at their reception of the Eucharist. This trend has gained a great deal of traction in recent years, and is causing alarm among those who see it as a restriction of religious freedom. As Catholics, we have come to expect that our secular government wants to restrict our religious freedom, but it’s a new and disturbing trend when it comes from inside the Church.

This trend, which is being fostered by serious religious groups and orders, is being promulgated in both explicit and subtle ways. Whether it’s by making an actual rule, or by merely showing disapproval, participants in these liturgies are no longer free to “fall to their knees” in adoration. Instead, everyone must stand, sit, or bow—depending on the “rules” of that particular group. Deviation is not welcome, and in some cases, is forbidden.

What is behind this restriction? Is it a good thing? What does the Church say about the ways an individual may show adoration? The purpose of this paper is not to judge or condemn those who favor restrictions, but to show that such restrictive rules are incompatible with Church teachings, and even with the commonly accepted idea of religious freedom.

First, let’s be clear: the issue is not to stop anyone from standing, sitting, or bowing if their consciences tell them to do so during the liturgy. They should be free to do so! By the same token, those who wish to kneel should be free to do that as well.

Later, we will use Church teachings and documents to support the contention that a ban on kneeling is incompatible with our God-given religious freedom. For now, let’s examine the practical outcomes of such a ban: Under the “sit, stand, bow, or else” scenario, worshipers are being forced to think about “the community,” when they should be devoting their whole “body, soul, mind, and strength” to our Lord becoming truly Present in the Eucharist. In a restrictive atmosphere, even when an individual feels called by conscience to kneel in adoration, they will wrestle with nagging questions: “Am I offending my fellow worshipers?” “Will I be seen as a religious fanatic?” “Will it hurt my ability to stay in the group?”

It’s wrong to force such uneasiness (for some, it could even amount to a troubled conscience) on anyone during what should be a moment of profound adoration of God! However, that’s the effect of this trend. Even though the motives of these “trendsetters” may be pure, the hope is, they will reconsider their direction. They may believe that conformity will provide a more pleasing communal experience. But that’s not the goal of Catholic liturgy. The goal of our liturgy is to bring each individual into closer relationship with our Creator—not to please each other or the “group.” In short, it is wrong to coerce Catholics to act against a centuries-old tradition of “bending the knee” at the Consecration and Communion of the Eucharist. This is not a personal opinion, this is the position reflected in Church documents and teachings.

“Falling down in adoration” Is Fixed in Christian Worship
Pope Paul VI teaches that, after the Consecration of the Mass, the “physical reality” of Jesus Christ is “bodily present.” 1 This means that what was “physical” bread before, is now the “physical” body, blood, soul, and divinity of the person Jesus Christ. This knowledge awakens in believing Catholics an urge to fall down in adoration.

This urge to fall down before Jesus has always been there. This is so, whether it is the Magi “falling down” before the baby Jesus in Mt 2:11; Mary Magdalene in Mt 28:9 “embracing his feet” after the Resurrection; or St. Paul saying in Phil 2:9 that “at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend.”

By the time the Christians emerge from the catacombs (c.313), adoration of the Eucharist through bowing down and prostration was already in place. St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) says that we are to adore the Eucharist prior to receiving it: “No one eats of this flesh unless he has first adored … not only do we not sin by adoring, but we would sin by not adoring.” 2 He also says: “Therefore, when you bow and prostrate yourself even down to the earth in whatever way you please, it is not as if you are venerating the earth,  but the former Holy (One) whose footstool (i.e., flesh) you adore.” 3

Clearly this “falling down” is present in the Christian Liturgy, from 4th century St. Augustine up to 13th century St. Thomas Aquinas’s famous Benediction hymn, “Tantum Ergo Sacramentum” (“Down in Adoration Falling”) and the time of St. Francis of Assisi, who stated that, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in Mass, “everyone should kneel down” giving praise to God “living and true.” 4

Vatican II Supports “Bending the Knee” in the Eucharist
In our times, from the Second Vatican Council onward, Church norms have supported and encouraged the tradition of “falling down” before the Eucharist. The Council’s direction in this matter must be taken seriously. Those who would deviate from its direction should ponder whether they even have the authority to eliminate a liturgical tradition such as kneeling. That’s because the Council clearly sets the authority for regulating the Sacred Liturgy “solely … on the Apostolic See and as laws may determine on bishops” and “within certain defined limits” on “bishop conferences.” 5

The New Roman Missal states: “But, unless impeded by lack of space, density of crowd, or other reasonable cause, they (the faithful) should kneel down for the Consecration.” 6

Of course, the Church permits people to stand, sit, or bow for good reasons. But this does not mean that they have the authority to forbid people to “fall down” in worship at the Consecration and Communion.

It is also clear that liturgical expression is carefully and reverently defined by the Church. In other words, you can’t just do “any old thing” to express adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Pope John Paul II’s most authoritative 1984 Ceremonial of Bishops states that “The genuflection, made by bending only the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and is, therefore, reserved for the Blessed Sacrament, whether exposed or reserved  in the tabernacle.” 7

Can a bow substitute for kneeling at these times? Yes, when necessary. But, signification is essential to all sacraments and official liturgical worship, and the “bow” does not “signify” adoration in the Latin Rite Liturgy.

In fact, the Ceremonial continues: “A bow signifies reverence and honor toward persons or toward objects that represent persons.” A bow of the head is made at the names of persons, like Jesus and Mary and “a bow of the body, or deep bow,” is made to holy things like “the altar” and “the bishop.” 8

By contrast, the actions performed by an individual before God—whether it be kneeling, genuflecting, bowing down to the ground, or prostration—have one particular quality. They are each a type of “falling down,” and are designed to place the person lower than the One Whom they are adoring. These acts are “significantly” different from standing and sitting, eye-to-eye, as if everyone were equal.

While sitting, standing, or bowing may be acceptable, the act of “falling down” before God is the only completely definitive and unmistakable sign of reverence before God. Every other gesture can have alternative meanings—but to kneel is to say something very intentional about what you believe. John Paul II puts it this way: “Whoever comes before the Eucharist with faith can only prostrate himself in adoration, making his own, the words of St. Thomas: ‘My Lord and My God’ (Jn 20:28).” 9

In other words: a person’s act of kneeling or prostration is their act of faith. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger says about the act of “kneeling” during the Liturgy: “Here the bodily gesture attains to the status of a confession of faith in Christ: words could not replace such a confession.” 10

So does this also apply to posture when receiving Communion?

Yes. In no.11 of the Second Vatican Council’s 1980 post-conciliar document, Inaestimabile Donum, the Church says:

When the faithful communicate kneeling, no other sign of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament is required, since kneeling is itself a sign of adoration. When they receive communion standing, it is strongly recommended that, coming up in procession, they should make a sign of reverence before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. This should be done at the right time and place, so that the order of people going to, and from, communion should not be disrupted. 11

But why does the Church only “strongly recommend” this act—why not require it? First of all, not everyone is able to make a genuflection and keep their balance. Some may only be able to give a bow, sign of the cross, or bow of the head. This is acceptable.

But there is a more important reason.

The Church understands the importance of the individual response at this most intimate moment of receiving Holy Communion. Pope Benedict XVI saw the importance of the option to stand or kneel when receiving Holy Communion. Towards the end of his office as pope, he had a kneeler brought out at his communion station to give people an option to kneel when receiving.

There is a time for unity, and a time for diversity. Here the Church wants the communicant to be free to authentically respond from the heart by kneeling, genuflecting, bowing the body, making the sign of the cross, or just bowing their head. This is preferred to the impersonal “herd instinct” where one mechanically does what everyone else is doing just because they are doing it, and to avoid appearing different.

Pressure to Restrict Adoration: A Mark of the Protestant Reformation
Throughout Church history, adoration and kneeling have been intimately connected with how we believe, and how we proclaim and spread the Catholic Faith.

During the Protestant Reformation, men like John Calvin (1509-1564) condemned and killed Catholics for adoring the Consecrated Host because they believed the Consecrated Host was still a   piece of “physical” bread. 12 To Calvin, this was worship of “idols.” 13

In response to Calvin and his followers, the Council of Trent (1545-1564) defined the act of adoration due to the Eucharist as an act of “latria” which can only be given to the Holy Trinity. Trent also pointed out that this action, when expressed outwardly, involves a “falling down.” 14

But most importantly, Trent infallibly defined as a dogma of faith: “If anyone says that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the only begotten Son of God is not to be adored even outwardly with the worship of latria (the act of adoration) … or is not to be set before the people to be publicly adored … let him be anathema.” 15

Clearly, then, we can point to divine law, which protects Catholics from anyone who would tell them not to make an act of “latria” outwardly by “falling down” before the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, anyone who would knowingly try to restrict an individual’s mode of adoration from including the most obvious and traditional form of latria—falling to one’s knees—should think very carefully about what he or she is doing. To tell a Catholic that he or she should not kneel at the most intimate moments of their relationship with Christ, at the Consecration and Communion of the Eucharist, recalls the warning of Jesus, when he says that anyone who would come between God and “one of these little ones,” “it would be better for him to have a millstone fastened around his neck and thrown into the sea” (Mk 9:42).

The point here is not to judge the new “rule makers” who would stop others from kneeling, any more than anyone should judge a worshiper who chooses to stand or sit. The issue should be, what are the theological implications of restricting an individual Catholic from adoring God in what, to them, is the most full and complete manner of latria possible? While this may not be the intention of the new “rule makers,” their kneeling ban puts them on a theological course that is compatible with the mindset of the 16th-century Calvinists, who believed that the Eucharist is not really Jesus Christ. They believed that the spiritual presence of Jesus in the Community is more important than the “physical reality” and Divine Person of Jesus Christ.

This mindset also includes the Calvinistic Presbyterian belief that there is no essential difference between the priest (ministerial priesthood) and the congregation (priesthood of the laity), and, therefore, all should stand or sit at the Consecration and Communion to show this unity and equality. Again, we cannot judge. However, the practical effect of forbidding others from worshiping as their conscience dictates, especially when it includes falling in adoration or bending the knee, has certain unavoidable implications. The most obvious one is to remove the visible “sign” that the “physical reality” of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is to be believed and adored. There is also the implication that there does not need to be any distinction between the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of the laity.

Red Alert:  Freedom Endangered
Of course, the most obvious impact of this movement to ban kneeling from the Eucharist is that it restricts individual religious freedom.

The implication is that a Catholic’s personal faith is less important than local “unity.” But this idea—that “the collective” is more important than the individual—has been refuted most clearly in the new English translation of the Mass, which was introduced in 2011 to conform more closely to Catholic theology. In this revision, over and over again, the Church asserts the role of worshipers is to proclaim their faith as individuals: Take, for example, the revised language of the Creed, which now requires that worshipers say “I believe in God …” rather than “We believe… .” Later in the Mass, the revised language of the liturgy now leads worshipers to say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof … .” Again, this reinforces the relationship of the individual who is approaching God by having today’s Catholics pray the humble words of the Roman soldier who approached Jesus. It’s much more personal than the formulaic “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,” which it replaced.

What can we learn from this? That even the most modern, contemporary thinking in the Church is emphasizing the role of the individual at the time of worship! Therefore, it is clearly “going against the grain” to force individuals to give up the time-honored, natural, and very human impulse to kneel before God, if their conscience so dictates.

In fact, it’s unconscionable that a group which has received “special permission” to substitute standing, sitting, or bowing in place of kneeling to better conform to their beliefs, would then deny permission to others who wish to worship according to their beliefs!

But this is now occurring in parishes, seminaries, religious life, and in so-called privileged and “approved” movements which regularly celebrate private and “exclusive” Masses.

Vatican II’s Document on Religious Liberty clearly says about the person that “he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.” 16 Once more, the Council says that “freedom and immunity from coercion in religious matters” is “the right of individuals.” 17 This was stated to protect Catholics and others from pressure from totalitarian civil authorities. The writers of the document would surely be appalled to think that Catholics today have to worry about “coercion in religious matters” within their own Church!

Therefore, the hope is that all Church leaders would reflect on the teachings of our faith up to our present day, and encourage, rather than restrict, freedom of worship. We pray everyone supports the right of Catholics, especially young Catholics, in the Latin Rite, to openly adore Jesus Christ, particularly by kneeling at the Consecration, and by bending the knee at Holy Communion, if their conscience so dictates. Then the focus of the Sacred Liturgy would settle—not on ourselves, or on a group—but on where it belongs, which is the Person of Jesus Christ.

  1. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, no. 46.
  2. St. Augustine (On the Psalms, 98:9) found in Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, no. 55
  3. St. Augustine of Hippo (Patrologia Latine, Vol. 37, col. 1264). Be careful, this is eliminated from the English Translation, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (Vol. VIII). For more of the above, see The Eucharistic Presence in the Early Church by James Monti at https://www.catholicculure.org/culture/library/view.cfm?i.d.=587
  4. St. Francis of Assisi, “Letter to All Superiors of the Friars Minor.”
  5. Paul VI, Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Dec. 4, 1963, no. 22, .1, .2, .3.
  6. The General Instructions of the Roman Missal, no. 43.
  7. John Paul II, Decree Prot. no. CD1300/84 found in Ceremonial of Bishops,The Congregation of Divine Worship (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1989), no. 69, p. 9, 36. My emphasis.
  8. Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 68, p. 36.
  9. John Paul II, “Sacrifice is essential to true worship,” No. 4, L’Osservatore Romano, No. 24 (June 15, 1994), 5.
  10. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, The Feast of Faith (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), pp. 74-75. My emphasis.
  11. Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Inaestimabile Donum, No. 11, Vatican Council II: More Post Conciliar Documents (Vol. 2), (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1982), p. 96. My emphasis.
  12. John Calvin, “The True Method of Giving Peace to Christendom and Reforming the Church,” Selected Works of John Calvin, Tracts and Letters, p. 28.
  13. Carlos M. N. Eire, War against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
  14. Denzinger, no. 878, 30th ed.
  15. Denzinger. no. 888, 30th ed.
  16. Second Vatican Council, Document on Religious Liberty, No. 3.
  17. Second Vatican Council, Document on Religious Liberty, No. 4.
avatar About Fr. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M. Cap.
Fr. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M.Cap., was ordained in Aug. 26, 1972. He is currently in the process of developing the Julia Greeley shelter for homeless, unaccompanied women in metro Denver. He is spiritual director and chaplain for Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity in Denver, as well as being one of the spiritual directors for the Missionaries of Charity in the western United States. He was director of prison ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver, from 1999 to 2010; a chaplain for Missionaries of Charity at their now-closed AIDS hospice, Seton House, and at Gift of Mary homeless shelter for women in Denver from 1989 to 2008; and in 1997, he was sent by Mother Teresa to instruct Missionaries of Charity in Madagascar and South Africa on the subject of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist . His articles have been published in Homiletic & Pastoral Review, The Catholic Faith, Soul Magazine, Pastoral Life, and The Priest. He has also made two series for Mother Angelica’s EWTN: “Crucial Questions,” “Catholic Answers,” and “What Did Vatican II Really Teach?”
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Pope Francis Appoints Fr. Robert Barron Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles

ROME – This morning, Pope Francis formally announced Father Robert Barron’s appointment as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Bishop-Elect Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, host of the award-winning CATHOLICISM film series, and since 2012 has served as the Rector/President of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago, IL.
His website, WordOnFire.org, reaches millions of people each year. His regular YouTube videos have been viewed over 13 million times. Next to Pope Francis, he is the most-followed Catholic leader on social media.

Bishop-Elect Barron’s statement is below:
It was with enormous surprise that I received word of my appointment as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, but it is with a humble and joyful heart that I accept it. The Church of Los Angeles – the most populous in the United States-is energetic, diverse, and creative. Over the years, I’ve visited many times, including multiple trips to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim; most recently, I was in the Archdiocese for a lecture at Thomas Aquinas College. So though I can’t claim to know it well, I have been able to taste and see some of its richness.
The late Francis Cardinal George – the spiritual grandfather of Word on Fire – was a mentor and friend to me. The mission closest to his heart was the evangelization of the culture, bringing Christ to the arenas of media, politics, law, education, the arts, etc. I can’t think of a more exciting field for this sort of work than Los Angeles, which is certainly one of the great cultural centers of our time.
Many might be wondering what this means for the important work of Word on Fire. The short answer is that it will certainly continue! Through the ministrations of Fr. Steve Grunow and his extremely gifted staff, we will keep bringing you my regular articles, sermons, videos, and media resources.
We have so many new projects in the works, including our new film and study program on God and atheism, titled The Mystery of God, and our beautiful new documentary seriesCATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players. Those projects will continue as planned with more to come in the future.
I am grateful to all of you who follow and support Word on Fire, using our content to form yourselves and share the Catholic Faith. I thank God each and every day for you.
It is a blessing for me to work with you to introduce people to Jesus Christ and invite them to share all the gifts he wants his people to enjoy.
Please pray for me as I begin this new adventure under the Lord’s providence.

Bishop-Elect Robert Barron

July 21, 2015

ABOUT BISHOP-ELECT ROBERT E. BARRON

Bishop-Elect Robert Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and the host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, award-winning documentary about the Catholic Faith. From 2012 to 2015 he served as the Rector/President of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago, IL.
Bishop-Elect Barron is a #1 Amazon bestselling author and has published numerous books, essays, and articles on theology and the spiritual life. He has also appeared on several media outlets including NBC, PBS, FOX News, CNN, and EWTN.
His website, WordOnFire.org, reaches millions of people each year. His regular YouTube videos have been viewed over 13 million times. Next to Pope Francis, he is the most-followed Catholic leader on social media.

Bishop-Elect Barron’s pioneering work in evangelizing through the new media led Francis Cardinal George to describe him as “one of the Church’s best messengers.” He has keynoted many conferences and events all over the world, and will be delivering the opening keynote talk at the World Meeting of Families (September 2015), which will mark Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States.
In September 2015, Bishop-Elect Barron will release a new film and study program on God and atheism titled The Mystery of God: Who God Is and Why He Matters. His next major film series,CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players, is scheduled to debut in Fall 2016.

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Other clericalisms: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

For me frequent recent (under this papacy) and less frequent (under previous papacies) accusations of clericalism have always inspired a kind of emotional neutrality. It depended on what kind of “clericalism” was intended.

Father Michael Chua finds in today’s readings material on which to criticise a sort of “clericalism” that goes unnoticed in this current papacy:

There is another brand of clericalism that comes across as a condescending attitude matched by words and actions. It patronises and denigrates those who disagree and uses ad hominem attacks to belittle. It denies the legitimate rights of the faithful to choose the manner of worship or devotion that is legitimately authorised by the Church. Instead, of submitting to the legitimate authority of the Magisterium, to the disciplines of the Church, such form of clericalism begins to impose its own brand of justice, ideologies, laws, and rubrics on the faithful. Such clericalism often insults the intelligence of the faithful, who wish to be treated as adults.

Well, exactly. The sort of thing many of the faithful have been saying for decades and will no doubt continue to do so.

Father Chua has recently transferred from the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in the royal town of Klang to the Church of Jesus Caritas in a northern area of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. With the move, his homilies now must appear often in Chinese! (His new parish is in a somewhat Chinese area in town.)

Another quote before we go:

There is a clericalism that does not accentuate, but rather blurs the lines between clergy and laity. It’s often regarded as the laicisation of priests (not to be confused with the canonical process of releasing priests from their priestly state) and its corollary, the clericalisation of the laity. It’s as if we are telling the laity, your baptismal dignity is not good enough unless you start behaving and doing things like a ministerial priest; or to the priests, you are not inclusive or humble enough unless you behave like the average Joe.

The whole of Father Michael Chua’s homily this day is here on his blog. It is well worth your attention.

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The hyperbolic and exhausting papacy of Francis

A reasoned and thought provoking article from Carl Olson at The Catholic World Report (http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/4035)

My impression is that many Catholics are weary of the seemingly constant addresses, homilies, interviews, texts—many of which read like lectures—that come from the Holy Father

Earlier this week, the Catholic men’s reading group I’ve been meeting with for several years discussed Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si'”. There were fifteen men in attendance, including three priests, and while not everyone had been able to read the entire encyclical, it was a lively and compelling discussion. On a couple of occasions I was reminded of my October 2013 editorial, “Pope Francis: The Good, the Baffling, and the Unclear”, because it was quickly evident that the men thought the encyclical had good doses of all three stuffed inside its some 40,000 words. Many of them—including myself—thought that the strongest parts were the overtly theological and spiritual sections, notably paragraphs 228 and following. We generally agreed that the criticisms of technocratic visions of utopia, scientistic agendas, and consumerist societies were excellent. Surprisingly, most didn’t seem too put off by the passage on climate change, perhaps because it was essentially old news; they might not agree, but they weren’t too worked up over it after hearing about it ad nauseam for many months, if not longer.

Some wondered why the more theological and evangelistic sections didn’t appear earlier in the text (as they had in earlier drafts). Some questioned the pope’s understanding of markets and related matters. While I cannot speak for the entire group, it seemed to me that many of the guys were most deeply annoyed by the tone and style of the encyclical. Descriptives such as “hyperbolic” and “over-the-top” and “scolding” were used. “He repeatedly tells nations and leaders and individuals that they ought to do this, ought to do that, ought to do, do, do…” said one man, “It’s exhausting!”

Returning home, I had an e-mail from a colleague with a link to Elizabeth Scalia’s post, “Catholicism’s Future: Love and Mercy, with Scoldings”. The timing was, as they say, fortuitous. Scalia writes:

… I’m no longer interested in the “which pope is what” question. I’m frankly just tired of feeling scolded.

I love His Holiness Pope Francis, but for a while now, I have been feeling harangued by him, as he’s been harping on us to do more, and ever more, to practice mercy on the world; to welcome the stranger, to clean up the rivers, to bring about justice and peace in our time; to level the playing fields, visit the sick, and so on.

These are, of course, all very good things. You can’t argue with someone who is telling you to love the poor, or to make room in your pew for the transgendered, or to help poor kids get new opportunities, or to pay a worker what he is due.

But sometimes, when I read Pope Francis exhorting us again about the poor, or the environment, and urging people once again, to take action, to go out into the world and fix-all-of-the-things, because Jesus wants it (and yes, I’m sure Jesus does) I can’t help thinking, “but Holy Father, have mercy! Do you not know that many of us are already doing the best we can? Some of us are doing all we can to keep the family together, keep food on the table, and maybe go out to a movie once in a while.

Yes, we agree with you that excessive materialism is harmful to the spirit, but we’re really not “living large.” Some of us are commuting a total of four hours a day to our job, not to be rich — not to exploit poor people, or to oppress anyone, or to ignore anyone’s suffering; not to mindlessly keep up with ownership trends — but simply to pay the utility bills, and the taxes, and the student loans, and write the checks to support the charities we believe in, and support the parish, and get the car inspected and repaired, and keep the kids in a sport or activity, like Scouting, so they can learn some worthwhile skills.

We stumble in from work, eat something we can rustle up quickly, be “family” for a while — which is often a turbulent thing — and then around 10PM we plop down on the couch, looking to relax a little, turn on the news — and there you are, telling us to get up and go do something useful!

Scalia’s excellent post captures quite well, I think, the weariness I encounter, more and more, in a lot of Catholics. They are not “Woe is me!”, but they are certainly tired of the seemingly constant addresses, homilies, interviews, texts—many of which read like lectures—that come from the Holy Father. And it’s not just the quantity, although that is staggering in many ways, but it is quite often the tone and approach found in many of those texts: haranguing, harping, exhorting, lecturing. It probably doesn’t help that Francis obsesses over particular points, to a degree that is, frankly, grating.

Case in point: the Vatican website returns 104 results for a search for “gossip”; of those, 96 are by Francis. But, again, it’s not the quantity alone, but the hyperbole: “Gossip kills more than weapons do” and “Gossip can also kill, because it kills the reputation of the person!” And:

The greatest danger is terrorism in religious life: it has entered, the terrorism of gossip. If you have something against a sister, go and tell her to her face. But never this terrorism, because gossip is a bomb thrown into a community and it destroys it. Unity without the terrorism of gossip.

This, I have to note, from the same man who spoke publicly—in remarks reported on numerous websites and newspapers—about a mother of seven whose pregnancy, said Francis, “is an irresponsibility”. Do public scoldings over sensitive and personal issues qualify as acts of “the terrorism of gossip”?

Personally, I gave up long ago trying to parse and explain everything that Francis says. I accept that he’s often not that adept at communicating clearly, and I’ve decided that it’s often best to be quiet—especially since there are plenty of times I really have no idea what, exactly, he is trying to say. And there are plenty of times, in reading his many addresses and texts, that I’ve thought, “Has he never thought about this? Or been told about that?”

In other words, Francis often gives the impression that he hasn’t contemplated perspectives or sides of issues that really should be considered. Granted, his time and energy is limited, but isn’t that why he has advisers and experts? For example, the breathless insistence in “Laudato Si'” that “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.” Okay, but can they be met with calm criticisms and measured analysis (such as that provided by Michael Severance in his CWR feature “Is Less Really More?”). Such a statement, it seems to me, is a form of straw man argument, as if the only options are (1) embrace doomsday predictions or (2) be a snarky jerk.

Recently, the Holy Father admitted, in an interview given while returning from South America, that perhaps he needs to do a better job of thinking about important matters that are, for whatever reason, overlooked:

Ludwig Ring-Eifel, (CIC): Holy Father, on this trip, we’ve heard so many strong messages for the poor, also many strong, at times severe, messages for the rich and powerful, but something we’ve heard very little was a message for the middle class – that is, people who work, people who pay their taxes, “normal people.” My question is why in the magisterium of the Holy Father are there so few messages on the middle class. If there were such a message, what would it be?

Pope Francis: Thank you so much. It’s a good correction, thanks. You are right. It’s an error of mine not to think about this. I will make a comment, but not to justify myself. You’re right. I have to think a bit.

The world is polarized. The middle class becomes smaller. The polarization between the rich and the poor is big. This is true. And, perhaps this has brought me not to take account of this, no? Some nations are doing very well, but in the world in general the polarization is seen. And the number of poor is large. And why do I speak of the poor? Because they’re at the heart of the Gospel. And I always speak from the Gospel on poverty, no? It’s not that it’s sociological. Then on the middle class, there are some words that I’ve said, but a little in passing. But the common people, the simple people, the worker, that is a great value, no? But, I think you’re telling me about something I need to do. I need to do delve further into this magisterium.

I understand that one man cannot think about everything; no one expects so. But it is a startling admission (up there with Francis’ confession, in the same interview: “I have a great allergy to economic things”). And I’m even more perplexed that the pope’s advisers have apparently ignored the struggles of the ordinary, middle-class people who work, raises families, pay the taxes and, in so many ways, keep society afloat while chaos and madness swirls around. Come to think of it, last year’s Synod was supposed to address challenges to the family, but somehow ended up discussing nearly everything except fathers, mothers, children, and marriages. Yes, it’s a bit tiring and, at times, a bit troubling.

Andrea Gagliarducci, whose MondayVatican.com site has some of the most thoughtful and insightful Vatican reporting today, argues that Francis’ modus operandi reflects traditionalist thinking but a “pastoral approach” that “does not advance a given line of argument, he seeks to promote discussion.” Gagliarducci states the obvious problem: “But this attitude is risky: without a clear line, anarchy can rule.” And:

The problem is even wider. Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has put the Church in a sort of state of permanent synod. The establishment of the Council of Cardinals, along with the increasing impact of the Synod of Bishops and the use of Cardinalatial Consistories in order to promote discussion demonstrates the papal will to promote debate over needed reforms.

… On one side, there is the huge popularity of Pope Francis, his ability to convince everyone, the interest he attracts from powerful people in the world, his personal charisma. On the other side, there is the structure that requires a reform, not a revolution, but that still lives without reforms, because some players are still clamoring for a revolution.

… This problem is mirrored in the encyclical, where there are some innovations (mostly, in method), but still many teachings that accord with the Church’s tradition. … In the end, “Laudato Si” mirrors Pope Francis’ two and a half year-long pontificate, in that it is suspended among different interpretations.

As if to validate my decision, quite a while ago, to stop trying (at least publicly) to interpret and “translate” the many utterances of Francis, Gagliarducci writes:

The expectations for a revolution in the Church guided by Pope Francis were raised especially with regard to the pastoral care of the divorced and remarried. But Pope Francis’ pastoral views on the family, made explicit by this encyclical, prove for the most part that he is predominantly a traditionalist. It was predicted that the Pope was going to bring order to the Church, but the internal and external dialectics developed under his pontificate are fueling the debates more than they are leading to concrete actions.

There is everything and nothing in every description of Pope Francis, as there is everything and nothing in “Laudato Si.” And in the end there is everything and nothing in “Evangelii Gaudium,” the pastoral apostolic exhortation that Pope Francis has frequently indicated as his “Magna Charta.”

Make of it what you will. I’m not questioning the Pope’s orthodoxy, or sincerity, or innate goodness. I just know that beyond the scolding and the weariness and the frustration, there is, as Scalia notes, the reality of living, following Christ, giving witness to the Truth, and pursuing holiness. As I wrote nearly two years ago:

The bottom line, in many ways, is that the Church is not the pope’s to remake or revise or change. The role of the pope is more modest (which is not to say it is not divinely ordained or unimportant), as one pope explained not long ago: “The Successor of Peter, yesterday, today and tomorrow, is always called to strengthen his brothers and sisters in the priceless treasure of that faith which God has given as a light for humanity’s path.” Yes, that pope was Francis, in Lumen fidei, his encyclical on faith.

Popes, as important as they are, come and go; the Word of God endures forever.

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Pope Francis and homosexuality: confusing signs

By John-Henry Westen, co-founder and editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews.

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If “actions speak louder than words,” as the saying goes, the message of Pope Francis on homosexuality is increasingly confusing. On the one hand, he has reiterated the Church’s teaching that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman, and has even repeatedly condemned gender ideology, the intellectual underpinning of the LGBT movement. However both in his deeds – most notably his choice of advisors and prelates to elevate to higher positions – and omissions he has left an impression in many minds that seems very different from the Church’s tradition.

It is not only Catholic conservatives who have observed these mixed signals. In the wake of the demotion of prominent conservative Vatican cardinals like Raymond Burke and Mauro Piacenza, Vatican watchers both on the left and the right have pointed out the seeming favoritism of Pope Francis for liberal prelates. Italy’s conservative Vaticanist Marco Tossati dramatically described it as “open season on conservatives.” John Allen, one of the top Vatican watchers, although he falls on the left side of the spectrum of Catholic thought, has himself highlighted Pope Francis’ decisions regarding the demotion of conservative bishops and promotion of those on the left.

Allen has said Francis is being seen as engaging in an “ideological purge” of conservatives. “Many on the Catholic right can’t help but suspect that the recent preponderance of conservatives who’ve found themselves under the gun isn’t an accident,” Allen added. “Some perceive a through-the-looking-glass situation, in which upholding Catholic tradition is now perceived as a greater offense than rejecting it.”

This article is presented with love and respect for the Holy Father, in answer to his call for open dialogue and in light of his expressed thankfulness to a conservative Catholic writer who had voiced public concerns; concerns which the Pope said were “important” for him to receive.

Silence and ambiguity

Pope Francis has chosen to remain silent at key intervals, most especially in the aftermath of some of the most significant shifts in the globe regarding homosexuality – the same-sex “marriage” decisions of both Ireland and the United States.

Although journalists asked for comment, an eerie silence from Rome met last month’s judicial imposition of homosexual “marriage” on the United States. Similarly, after traditionally Catholic Ireland voted to support same-sex “marriage” in their referendum, comment from the pope himself was absent. Only after a few days did a comment appear from the Vatican Secretary of State calling the decision a “defeat for humanity.”

These silences come two years after the pope made his “who am I to judge” comment, which, while misconstrued in most media presentations and widely abused by advocates of same-sex “marriage,” has never been revisited by the Holy Father to clarify his intent – a clarification that could certainly put a swift end to the ubiquitous misuse of his words. Beyond this, the silence that met the first Synod on the Family’s interim document — which, although approved by the Pope for release, presented a view on homosexuality at odds with Church teaching — remains to this day. This despite the public pleading of Cardinal Raymond Burke for a clarification on that and related matters that could come only from the pope.

Equally concerning as this silence, however, have been the appointments to high office and stature in the Church of men with a position on homosexuality at variance with the established teaching of the Church.

The Church teaches that homosexual sex acts are gravely depraved. Regarding both homosexual “marriage” and even civil unions, it clearly states that “under no circumstances can they be approved.” This is the “love the sinner, hate the sin” approach. The Church forbids any type of hatred or aggression towards persons with same-sex attraction and has been the leader in tending to those suffering from AIDS and other effects of harmful same-sex sexual behavior. The Church teaches that the homosexual inclination itself is not a sin, but nonetheless is objectively disordered because it is oriented towards sinful behavior. The teaching stresses that all unjust discrimination against men and women with same-sex attraction should be avoided, but acknowledges there is just discrimination in that regard. For example, it forbids men with deep-seated homosexual inclination from becoming priests.

The elevations

Bishop Heiner Koch: Bishop Koch was appointed June 8, 2015 by Pope Francis as the new Archbishop of Berlin, and selected as one of the three delegates of the German Bishops’ Conference to participate in the upcoming October 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family. Koch has said, “Any bond that strengthens and holds people is in my eyes good; that applies also to same-sex relationships.” In another public interview he said: “To present homosexuality as sin is wounding. … I know homosexual pairs that live values such as reliability and responsibility in an exemplary way.”

Cardinal Daneels in rainbow vestments

Cardinal Daneels in rainbow vestments

Cardinal Godfried Danneels: The retired former archbishop of Brussels was a special appointment by Pope Francis to the 2014 Synod of Bishops. In addition to wearing rainbow liturgical vestments and being caught on tape concealing sexual abuse, Danneels said in 2013 of the passage of gay “marriage”: “I think it’s a positive development that states are free to open up civil marriage for gays if they want.”

Cardinal Walter Kasper: A few days into his pontificate Pope Francis praised one of Cardinal Kasper’s books, and then selected the cardinal to deliver the controversial keynote address to the consistory of cardinals advocating his proposal to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive communion in some circumstances. This proposal led to the high-profile debate at the first Synod of Bishops on the Family. Cardinal Kasper has again been selected as a personal appointee of the pope to the second Synod and regularly meets with Pope Francis. Kasper defended the vote of the Irish in favor of homosexual “marriages”, saying: “A democratic state has the duty to respect the will of the people; and it seems clear that, if the majority of the people wants such homosexual unions, the state has a duty to recognize such rights.”

Archbishop Bruno Forte: The archbishop of Chieti-Vasto was appointed Special Secretary to the 2014 Synod by Pope Francis. He is the Italian theologian who was credited with drafting the controversial homosexuality section of the infamous midterm report of the Synod which spoke of “accepting and valuing [homosexuals’] sexual orientation.” When questioned about the language, Forte said homosexual unions have “rights that should be protected,” calling it an “issue of civilization and respect of those people.”

Cardinal Kasper and Timothy Radcliffe enjoying a moment together

Cardinal Kasper and Timothy Radcliffe enjoying a moment together

Father Timothy Radcliffe: In May, Pope Francis appointed the former Master of the Dominican Order as a consultor for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace despite his well-known support for homosexuality. Writing on homosexuality in 2013, he said: “We must ask what it means, and how far it is Eucharistic. Certainly it can be generous, vulnerable, tender, mutual and non-violent. So in many ways, I would think that it can be expressive of Christ’s self-gift.” In a 2006 lecture he advocated “accompanying” homosexuals, which he defined as “watching ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ reading gay novels, living with our gay friends and listening with them as they listen to the Lord.”

Bishop Johan Bonny: The bishop of Antwerp in Belgium has just been named as one of the delegates to the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family despite open dissent on homosexual unions. While being named as a delegate to the synod may not in itself constitute a major promotion, what is unique about Bonny is the extremity and clarity of his dissent. “Inside the Church, we must look for a formal recognition of the relational dimension that is also present in many homosexual, lesbian and bisexual couples,” he said in a December 2014 interview. “In the same way that in society there exists a diversity of legal frameworks for partners, there must be a diversity of forms of recognition in the Church.”

With few exceptions the prelates above were made bishops by previous popes but were given new prominence by Pope Francis despite their recent very public statements in opposition to Church teaching.

Different treatment for liberal and conservative bishops

But beyond these elevations is the pope’s increasingly apparent disparity in how he treats orthodox and heterodox bishops when facing controversy or allegations of a failure of office.

U.S. Bishop Robert Finn and Archbishop John Nienstedt, Paraguayan Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano and German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst are all bishops who were outspokenly supportive of the natural family and were all removed from office by Pope Francis. The first three were removed from their posts for not reporting abusive priests within their dioceses, and the German was the so-called “Bishop of Bling” removed for perceived overspending.

One can entirely agree with the disciplinary actions taken against these bishops, while still taking note of the puzzling concurrent elevation of liberal prelates with records much more sullied than the conservative ones. For instance, Bishop Battista Ricca, a former Vatican diplomat, was well known for homosexual conduct during his term at the nunciature in Uruguay, but the pope nevertheless appointed him to head the Vatican Bank and defended his decision.

Perhaps the most egregious case is that of Cardinal Danneels who, as noted above, is a proponent of Church recognition for homosexuality. The evidence that Cardinal Danneels engaged in a cover-up of sex abuse is overwhelming, clear and well known, yet he was brought out of relative obscurity by the personal intervention of Pope Francis during the Synod:

Immediately following his retirement in 2010, Danneels, who has publicly supported same-sex civil unions, was revealed to have actively worked to hide the activities of the now-notorious homosexual abuser, his friend and protégé Roger Vangheluwe, the former bishop of Bruges. Danneels was caught in a recording telling Vangheluwe’s victim, his nephew, “The bishop will resign next year, so actually it would be better for you to wait.”

The cardinal is heard in the recording warning the victim against trying to blackmail the church and urged him not to drag Vangheluwe’s name “through the mud.” Danneels added that the victim should admit his own guilt and ask forgiveness.

Meanwhile while Bishop Tebartz-van Elst, the leading German bishop defending the traditional family, was ousted over charges of overspending, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, one of Pope Francis’ Council of Nine advisors, spends more. But Cardinal Marx takes a weaker stance on homosexuality. Tebartz-van Elst headed the German bishops’ marriage and family commission and was excoriated in the German mainstream media after he disciplined one of his priests who had conducted a “blessing” of two homosexual men. In 2007, Tebartz-van Elst issued a statement saying that all Catholics “have a duty to protest the legal recognition of homosexual partnerships.”

The perception

If conservative Catholics and prelates have had one common request for Pope Francis during his pontificate, it has been for “clarity” – a cry most publicly and famously issued by Cardinal Burke. To quote the cardinal: “I’m not the pope, and I’m not in the business of telling him what to do – but in my judgment this [the Church’s teaching on sexuality] needs to be clarified, and there’s only one person who can clarify it at this point.”

As John Allen wrote in the piece quoted above, should Pope Francis be aiming to “hobble the traditionalist constituency,” and “using every chance to accomplish it,” then he “doesn’t owe anyone an explanation, because his moves would be having precisely the intended effect.” However, he added, if “the pontiff’s motives aren’t ideological,” then “Francis might need to find an occasion to explain in his own voice why he’s going after the people and groups that find themselves in his sights.”

Allen concluded ominously, “Otherwise, the risk is that a good chunk of the Church may conclude that if the pope sees them as the enemy, there’s no good reason they shouldn’t see him the same way.”

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Exorcise Ireland and do it now (by Deacon Nick Donnelly)

 

Homosexual activists have succeeded in persuading the ruling elites to use the power of the State, media and big business to successfully campaign for the legalisation of same-sex “marriage”. A government minister of Ireland, one of the most pro-life countries of the world, has announced with satisfaction the killing of 26 babies in 2014 as a result of Kenny’s abortion law.

These are the first ‘legal’ abortions ever conducted in the Republic of Ireland. A majority in the UK House of Commons, that prides itself on promoting feminism, have voted down a motion to protect baby girls from gendercide abortion. No wonder there is a sense among faithful Catholics that moral life is spinning out of control in Ireland and Britain. The question is, does the accelerating abandonment of morality and the riotous celebration of immorality, coupled with increasing hostility towards Christianity, especially the Catholic Church, indicate the activity of supernatural evil in both Britain and Ireland? The most significant evidence that the devil is conspiring to bring these events about is the reversal of public morality, where good is now condemned as evil, and evil is celebrated as good. For example, during the referendum in Ireland good people who defended marriage between a man and woman for the procreation and upbringing of children were pilloried in the media and meetings as wicked bigots.

Faced with the activity of supernatural evil in our countries what should be the response of faithful bishops, priests and laity?

Did the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary fail?

On 15 August 2013, Ireland was consecrated at the Shrine of Knock by the bishops of Ireland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Since this act both abortion and same-sex marriage have been legalised to popular acclaim. So why didn’t the consecration of Ireland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary bring about the hoped for moral and spiritual transformation?

Looking at the poor defence of the Faith by the bishops when faced with the challenge of abortion and homosexuality one possible explanation for this failure is that the Irish Church was just not in a position to make such a consecration. If reparation for sin was not at the heart of the consecration of Ireland to the Immaculate Heart then the one intention necessary was absent. Reparation for offenses against God’s divine majesty is the fundamental message delivered by Our Lady of Fatima:

“Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication, for the conversion of sinners.”

Furthermore the validity of the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is questionable because not all the bishops of Ireland attended and the prayer of consecration didn’t mention Ireland.

However, the tragedy for both the Irish and British churches is the reluctance of many of the bishops, and priests, to publicly name as grave sin: abortion; co-operation with abortion; homosexual acts, and, support for same-sex “marriage”. Hence the scandal of Catholics politicians who vote for abortion and same-sex marriage continuing to receive Holy Communion. How can you fulfil the obligation of reparation for sins that is necessary for the consecration if you won’t acknowledge the reality of grave sin in our society?

There is a process of national healing based on the words and deeds of Our Lord Jesus Christ which the Church needs to follow: proclamation of the kingdom; exorcism; repentance; atonement/reparation; consecration; catechesis; formation, and, going out into the world to proclaim the kingdom.

First Great Exorcism Conducted in the World

Therefore, I’m convinced that before an effective consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary can take place, the churches in Ireland and Britain need to take seriously the reality of supernatural evil at work in our countries. This is why I consider the news that a Great Exorcism has been conducted for the first time in the world, in Mexico, to be a very significant development for the entire Catholic Church.

It is reported that on May 20th, 2015 the Cardinal Emeritus of Guadalajara, assisted by bishops, priests and an exorcist, conducted a ‘Magno Exorcismo’ or Great Exorcism in the Cathedral of San Luis Potosí. According to Cardinal Sandoval Íñiguez, the Great Exorcism “is a prayer asking God to drive away the Enemy, to drive him away from these places. From San Luis, first of all, and then from all of Mexico”. His Eminence further explained why he thought it necessary to conduct a Great Exorcism for the Archdiocese of San Luis and Mexico:

“The very grave situation we are living through in Mexico, whose root is very deep, beyond human malevolence; it is the devil, who is very connected to death. He is a murderer from the beginning…violence against young and old…abortions are performed even when it is not legalized, but when a country, a Christian country, legalizes abortion, that is a tragedy. It is a very, very grave sin. It’s time for people to become more aware of the seriousness of the situation in Mexico. Acts of revenge, now occurring between assassins and the government; deaths here, deaths there, and deaths everywhere: this violence is nothing else but the Devil who is tearing us apart.”
Archbishop Cabrero, the Ordinary of San Luis, explained what the rite of the Great Exorcism includes:

“Prayers, for example, about the problem of divorce and of abortion, which often are favored by inhuman laws, laws that go against nature itself. We ask God to free us from the strong presence of the Evil One, that makes itself felt. To do that, we turn to this special prayer, which is certainly extraordinary, but which is nonetheless a Church practice.”

The Archbishop expressed the hope that the Great Exorcism would result in his people knowing, “the dignity of the human person; that we will be able to see how God calls us both to holiness and to become truly conscious of our Christian vocation and of his call to eternal life.”

Father José Antonio Fortea, the world famous exorcist and author of ‘Interview with an Exorcist’ assisted the bishops and priests conducting the Great Exorcism. Fr Fortea told the Catholic News Agency,”this rite of exorcism, beautiful and liturgical, had never before taken place in any part of the world, although it had taken place in a private manner as when Saint Francis (exorcised) the Italian city of Arezzo.”

The exorcist identified the signs of supernatural evil present in a country that require this unique rite of exorcism:
“To the extent there is more witchcraft and Satanism going on in a country, to that extent there will be more extraordinary manifestations of those powers of darkness. To the extent sin increases more and more in a country, to that extent it becomes easier for the demons to tempt people.”

However, Fr Fortea cautioned that conducting one exorcism would not be enough to rid Mexico of demonic evil:
“It would be a big mistake to think that by performing a full-scale exorcism of the country everything would automatically change right away. If with the power we’ve received from Christ we expel the demons from a country, this will certainly have positive repercussions, because we’ll make a great number of the tempters flee, even if this exorcism is partial. We don’t drive out all the evil spirits from a country with just one ceremony. But even though all will not be expelled, those that were removed are not there anymore.”

Pope Francis on the reality of the devil

The Holy Father’s has taught urgently and persistently about the reality of the devil and the necessity for Catholics, especially priests, to take the activity of the devil seriously. Pope Francis has talked about the modern difficulty in believing in the existence of the devil this way:

“There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage (Lk 11:15-26) , this and others, say: ‘But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness’. It is true that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the devil! And we do not have the right to simplify the matter, as if to say: ‘All of these (people) were not possessed; they were mentally ill’. No! The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil. We should not be naïve”.

Pope Francis also sees the increasing persecution of the Church and Christians by secularism and other violent ideologies as part of the battle between God and the devil. And he advises us to pray to Our Lord for the protection of the Church against the schemes of Satan:

“We can safeguard the Church, we can cure the Church, no? We do so with our work, but what’s most important is what the Lord does: He is the only One who can look into the face of evil and overcome it. The prince of the world comes but can do nothing against me: if we don’t want the prince of this world to take the Church into his hands, we must entrust it to the One who can defeat the prince of this world. Here the question arises: do we pray for the Church, for the entire Church? For our brothers and sisters whom we do not know, everywhere in the world? It is the Lord’s Church and in our prayer we say to the Lord: Lord, look at your Church … It’s yours. Your Church is made up of our brothers and sisters. This is a prayer that must come from our heart.”

The Need for a Great Exorcism in Ireland and Britain

I propose that the schemes of Satan are so advanced in Britain and Ireland that the most effective act of entrustment of the Church, and our countries, to the power of Our Lord would be our bishops and priests conducting the rite of the Great Exorcism in the cathedrals of every diocese. It would be an act of humility on behalf of our bishops which in effect says, to paraphrase Pope Francis, “We can’t safeguard the Church, we can’t cure the Church from the evils that attack us from within the people of God, and that attack us from secular society”. Only Our Lord can defeat the prince of the world and his temptations to compromise with the spirit of the worldliness that is clearly at work within the churches in Ireland and Britain.

My concern is, do our bishops share Pope Francis’s belief in the devil? Do they also share his urgent pastoral concern to protect people from the activity of demons? A couple of years ago I was contacted by a friend who was attempting to help a family suffering demonic oppression in southern England. She asked me if could put her in contact with an exorcist because no one in her diocese, bishop or priest, would help this family. The common response from the clergy they approached was one of disdain and condescension, “The Church doesn’t believe in the devil anymore!” I was able to help them get in touch with a priest willing to help. Without the leadership of the bishops about supernatural evil, the danger is that some faithful Catholics will unduly focus on the presence and activity of the devil without emphasising the primacy of Christ’s love and victory.

I earnestly pray that the bishops and priests of Ireland and Britain take seriously the reality of the devil in our countries, and that they follow the example of Cardinal Sandoval Íñiguez, Archbishop Cabrero, and the brave Mexican priests. In the meantime, let us follow Pope Francis’s recommendation in fighting the devil and pray the Most Holy Rosary:

“Mary accompanies us, struggles with us, sustains Christians in their fight against the forces of evil. Prayer with Mary, especially the rosary – but listen carefully: the Rosary. Do you pray the Rosary every day? But I’m not sure you do [the people shout “Yes!”]… Really? Well, prayer with Mary, especially the Rosary, has this “suffering” dimension, that is of struggle, a sustaining prayer in the battle against the evil one and his accomplices. The Rosary also sustains us in the battle”.

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Immodesty

From Rorate Caeli:

zoom_anichini25Some excerpts from the writings of the late Don Vincenzo Cuomo, exorcist, (R.I.P. July 18, 2009) against the indecent fashions that are now spreading even into sacred places. Unfortunately, we rarely hear anyone today condemn these shameless fashions. We miss zealous priests like Don Giusppe Tomaselli, Don Lindo Ruotolo and Don Vincenzo Cuomo:
 

 

“Looking back at the summer season now over, we need to acknowledge, unfortunately, that nothing has improved with regard to women’s fashions, which have become increasingly more indecent. Nudism, these days, has even crossed the thresholds of our churches!

 

“There is a topic which has become taboo: women’s fashions. Who talks about it? Is it all acceptable? And if something isn’t acceptable, who should illuminate, rebuke and correct? Nudism, alas, has become increasingly more brazen and intrusive, fomented by [TV] shows, newspapers and billboard advertising […] We are now witnessing the globalization of immodesty, since the idea that a woman is not a woman if she isn’t provocative has taken root in [the minds] of the masses. It first began with the shortening of sleeves and then – sleeves disappeared altogether.

“More and more of the upper part of the body became exposed. Simultaneously there was the appearance of the mini-skirt which has become progressively more  mini! So why not bare the midriff and the navel as well? And then extremely tight shorts and ‘short shorts’. Today this audacity knows no limits, not even in holy places – in our churches and sanctuaries […]. And what is there to say when in some churches women dressed unbecomingly go up to the lectern or are extraordinary ministers of Communion? Perhaps these observations will make some smile, since now – they say – “times have changed and these things don’t shock us anymore!” This assertion is as false as it is stupid. So the concupiscence of the eyes and the flesh doesn’t exist anymore, does it? And what is written in the letters of the Apostles about women’s dress doesn’t count anymore either? The reality is this: sins of impurity are not considered sin anymore. And all this has not happened by chance.

 

“There has been an all out strategy of diabolical malice aimed at de-Christianizing the masses; this has occurred not with guns and prisons, but by demolishing Christian principles. […] Against this ‘steam-roller’ which seems to have no obstacles, a strong, authoritative voice must be heard! Our Lady of Fatima, through little Jacinta, preannounced the advent of indecent fashions – the cause of the loss of many souls. May the Most Pure Virgin, through Her powerful intercession, obtain a return to a pure and chaste life, at least among Christian women.”

 

[Source: Cordialiter blog, July 14, 2015. Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana.]

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Litany to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

OLMCLord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us sinners.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Queen of heaven,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, vanquisher of Satan,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most dutiful Daughter,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most pure Virgin,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most devoted Spouse,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most tender Mother,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, perfect model of virtue,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, sure anchor of hope,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, refuge in affliction,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, dispenser of God’s gifts,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, tower of strength against our foes,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our aid in danger,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, road leading to Jesus,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our light in darkness,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our consolation at the hour of death,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, advocate of the most abandoned sinners, pray for us sinners.

For those hardened in vice, with confidence we come to thee, O Lady of Mount Carmel.
For those who grieve thy Son,
For those who neglect to pray,
For those who are in their agony,
For those who delay their conversion,
For those suffering in Purgatory,
For those who know thee not, with confidence we come to thee, O Lady of Mount Carmel.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Hope of the Despairing, intercede for us with thy Divine Son.

Let us pray. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, glorious Queen of Angels, channel of God’s tenderest mercy to man, refuge and advocate of sinners, with confidence I prostrate myself before thee, beseeching thee to obtain for me [insert your request here]. In return I solemnly promise to have recourse to thee in all my trials, sufferings, and temptations, and I shall do all in my power to induce others to love and reverence thee and to invoke thee in all their needs. I thank thee for the numberless blessings which I have received from thy mercy and powerful intercession. Continue to be my shield in danger, my guide in life, and my consolation at the hour of death. Amen.

 Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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The Lake Garda Statement: On the Ecclesial and Civilizational Crisis

 From Catholic Family News

sm-img_2306CFN intro: I just returned home from the 23rd Roman Forum at Lake Garda, a unique event held at one of the most glorious locations on the face of the earth. The Symposium ran from June 30 to July 10. The beauty was breathtaking, the Catholic camaraderie magnificent, and the lectures first rate. At the close, we issued an important “Lake Garda” statement, signed by Dr. John Rao, Father Richard Munkelt, Professor Thomas Heinrich Stark, Christopher Ferrara, Sebastian Morello, Michael Matt and myself. This Statement will appear on a number of Catholic websites and in various print media. I hope you will read the statement, be emboldened by its contents and share it with others. The Church Militant is alive and well at the Roman Forum. – John Vennari

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“We implore the reigning Roman Pontiff to reverse the Church’s course of the past fifty years, abandoning the disastrous ‘opening to the world’ and the endless ‘dialogue’ and fruitless collaboration with the Church’s implacable opponents…” sm-img_2232

THE LAKE GARDA STATEMENT
On the Ecclesial and Civilizational Crisis

Preamble

Among the Catholic faithful the conviction grows that the ongoing crisis in the Church and the drastic moral decline of our civilization have entered a critical new phase which represents a turning point in the history of the world.

In the Church, a Synod on the Family has devolved into a battle to defend the indissolubility of marriage from an attack within, pitting cardinal against cardinal and bishop against bishop. The Synod has produced a midterm relatio, approved by the Pope himself, which calls for the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to Holy Communion on a “case by case” basis without any renunciation of adulterous relations, contrary to the explicit teaching of Pope John Paul II in line with the perennial discipline of the Church.[1] The same document speaks of “valuing” the “homosexual orientation” while recognizing the “precious support for the life of the partners” supposedly provided by “homosexual unions.”[2] Bishop Athanasius Schneider rightly observes that “[t]his is the first time in Church History that such a heterodox text was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope, even though the text only had a preliminary character.”[3]

In Ireland, a popular referendum has legalized “gay marriage” in that once exemplary Catholic country, while in the United States a bare majority of the Supreme Court has imposed “gay marriage” on all fifty states. Yet the Pope and the Vatican observe a resounding silence. At the same time, the Vatican hosts conferences on climate change with notorious atheists who advocate population control and “sustainable development goals” (SDGs) that would only oppress ordinary people, including the poor, while leaving untouched the hegemony of multinational corporations which, in fact, are working with the United Nations to fashion a worldwide SDG regime. The Vatican itself has endorsed a SDG calling on member nations to “ensure universal sexual and reproductive health and rights.”[4]

As the nations descend ever more rapidly into an abyss of depravity, the Pope has issued a 185-page encyclical on an ecological crisis that diverts attention from the catastrophic collapse of sexual morality in a civilization ridden by divorce, contraception, and abortion. As to abortion, the encyclical speaks of the “human embryo” in the context of “concern for the protection of nature,” while earlier lamenting the extinction of plant and animal species as a loss to our children and a diminution of the glory owed to God.[5]

Echoing the belief of many Catholics, Bishop Schneider has stated that we are in the midst of the “fourth great crisis” in Church History, involving “a tremendous confusion over doctrine and liturgy. We have already been in this for 50 years.”[6] In this context the Roman Forum, founded by the late Dietrich von Hildebrand, has decided to issue this Statement on the ecclesial and civilizational crisis, calling upon the leadership of the Church, above all the Supreme Pontiff, to return to the path from which much of the human element of the Church has strayed since the Second Vatican Council. Because we believe this twin crisis is Christological, not ecological, we call in particular for a recovery of the Church’s traditional teaching on the Social Reign of Christ the King as the only sure remedy for the temporal and spiritual ills that now threaten both the Church and human society.

Continue reading

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Welcome To Auschwitz

WARNING: this video may scar you mentally.

From http://liveactionnews.org/breaking-planned-parenthood-director-caught-on-tape-selling-aborted-baby-parts/

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Full text of Pope Francis’ in-flight interview from Paraguay to Rome

from Catholic News Agency.

Pope Francis arrives at the Quito airport in Ecuador during his South America trip on July 5, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano/CNA.

 

Please read below the full text of the Pope’s inflight interview:

Fr. Federico Lombardi: The Holy Father has said that he can give us an hour of his time and no more. So, know that this is the limit. We’ll move forward to that limit and then at a certain point, we’ll finish. Now, for the first question, let’s give the floor to Anibal Velazquez from Paraguay, unless you want to say something to us first.

Pope Francis: Good evening to everyone and thanks for the work you’ve done. It was tiring for you. Thanks!

Anibal Velazquez: Hello, Holiness. Anibal Velazquez of Paraguay. We thank you for elevating the shrine of our Lady of Caacupe to a basilica, but the people of Paraguay ask: Why don’t we have a cardinal? What is the sin of Paraguay that we don’t have a cardinal? Is it far off for us to have a cardinal?

Pope Francis: Well, not having a cardinal isn’t a sin. Most countries in the world don’t have a cardinal – the majority. The nationality of the cardinals, I don’t remember them, how many there are, but they are a minority compared to the whole.

It’s true, Paraguay has never had a cardinal up until now, but I wouldn’t be able to give you a reason. Sometimes an evaluation is made, the files are studied one by one, you see the person, the charisma, especially, of the cardinal that will have to advise and assist the Pope in the universal government of the Church. The cardinal, though he belongs to a particular Church, is incardinated to the Church of Rome, and needs to have a universal vision. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a bishop in Paraguay who has it. But you always have to elect up to a number, you can’t have more than a limit of 120 cardinal electors, so it will be for that.

Bolivia has had two. Uruguay has had two. Antonio Maria Barbieri (editor’s note: he served as Archbishop of Montevideo 1940-1976 and was created cardinal in 1958) and the current one (editor’s note: Fernando Sturla). And other Latin American countries… some Central American countries haven’t had one either. I don’t remember well, but it’s no sin, and it depends on the circumstances and the people, the charisma to be incardinated. This doesn’t represent an insult, or that the Paraguayan bishops have no value. There are some that are great. The two [inaudible] made history in Paraguay. Why weren’t they made cardinals? Because there wasn’t an opportunity. It’s not a promotion, certainly. I ask another question: Does Paraguay deserve a cardinal, if we look at the Church of Paraguay? I’d say that yes, they deserve two. It doesn’t have anything to do with its merits. It’s a lively Church, a joyful Church, a fighting Church with a glorious history.

Fr. Federico Lombardi: Thanks a million. And now we give the floor, a single question they tell me, to our two colleagues from Bolivia who are Priscilla and Cecilia, who are here. Continue reading

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Same Sex Marriage SCOTUS Decision

First Published on Jul 13, 2015 on Sensus Fidelium.
The Supreme Court, somehow, created that marriage is a ‘right’ and that two people of the same gender can ‘marry’. This is the disastrous end result of a contraceptive society. Time to get serious in the faith. Pray the rosary daily, do penance, & become saints.

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Another Day is Gone

From: Thoughts for July 13 from Fr Willie Doyle

“Another day is gone”. This is a summer sunset in Dun Laoghaire, very close to where Fr Doyle grew up.

“Another day is gone”. This is a summer sunset in Dun Laoghaire, very close to where Fr Doyle grew up.


“The soft chimes of the angelus bell mark the fall of evening. Another day is gone. Another precious day, our measurement of God’s most precious gift, time, has passed away and is swallowed up in the vast gulf of the irrevocable past. Another day has passed! Another stage of our journey towards our final end is traversed. Nearer still than yesterday to that solemn moment of our lives, its end; nearer still to heaven with its joys unknown, untasted; nearer still to Him for Whom we labour now and strive to serve. How many more days are left? Too few alas! for all we have to do, but not so few that we cannot heap them high with noble deeds and victories bravely won.”

COMMENT: Each day brings us closer to our death, and to our judgement. In fact, none of us have ever been as close to our deaths than we are at this present moment…

This is a deeply sobering thought. The stark nature of these thoughts can tempt us to downplay them or to scrub them from our minds simply because they are uncomfortable. But death is the ONE thing we cannot ultimately ignore. The fact of our death, and that each day brings us closer to it, is an incontrovertible truth. Our last day on earth will come, perhaps sooner than we would like. Ignoring this fact does not make it any less true.

It has traditionally been a common feature of Catholic spirituality to meditate on the Four Last Things: death, judgement, Heaven and Hell. Many saints had the habit of keeping skulls with them in order to remind them of death.

This focus on death need not necessarily make us morose, and in fact can encourage us to joyfully make the most of the time that we do have on earth. And, as Christians, we must also remember that death is not the end, but, if we die in a state of grace, ultimately leads to a joyful eternity. Fr Doyle lived with death for almost two years during the Great War. Despite being surrounded with death, and facing the real possibility of his own demise, he retained his constant joy and cheerfulness.

Remembering the fact of our death allows us to make the most of our lives. We are alive for a purpose; our human life is vitally important as it is the training ground for eternity. How easy it could be to waste days listlessly if we ignored the shortness of our time on earth.

Time is a great gift, the existence of which allows us to change and to grow closer to God. When we consider the sins of our lives, we should, as Fr Doyle says, use the opportunities of each day “to heap them high with noble deeds and victories bravely won”. These deeds will normally be composed of the ordinary activities of the moment and hidden faithfulness to our duty that is hardly discerned by any passer-by. But this faithfulness day by day can allow us to face the prospect of death with the cheerfulness that characterised Fr Doyle’s apostolate in the killing fields of World War I.

Perhaps it is worth concluding today with two lines from ‘The Imitation of Christ':

“Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time never returns.

If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at eventide.”

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Lectio Divina: XV Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

We Are Missionaries Because We Are Disciples

By Archbishop Francesco Follo

Acts 7.12 to 15; Ps 85; Eph 1, 3-14; Mk 6, 7-13

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.1) Disciples are the people that have been called.

The evangelist Mark, as he presents the figure of Christ true man and true God, also shows us the essential traits of the figure of his disciples (those of then and those of today): 1. complete abandonment in following Christ, 2. loving confidence, 3. mission that brings joy. In this Sunday’s Gospel Saint Mark speaks of Jesus who sent his disciples on mission. The disciple is one who has left everything to follow Christ and becomes a missionary with such a confidence that he only uses poor means:  a pair of sandals, a dress and a cane for walking.

Therefore, the disciple is the one who listens and thinks, then separates himself from what is dear to him and follows Jesus, who has become what is most precious for him. Jesus is the most valuable pearl.

The disciple remains with Christ, lives and travels with him who sends him on mission. But there is another aspect: the disciple is sent on a mission. Actually Saint Mark tells us that Christ sent his disciples to fulfill the mission to bring to all people the joyful proclamation that salvation is not only closer but that the Savior can be encountered through the presence of the disciples of the new life.

This is true even today because Christianity is a fact and transmits itself as a real encounter.

However, it must be remembered that the Christian disciple is above all someone called by God through an encounter. Strictly speaking, no one becomes a Christian for autonomous choice; he becomes so by answering to a call. There is, in fact, a love that precedes our response. This is what we are taught by Christ when he says “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (Jn …) and by St. Paul “In Christ (the Father) chose us before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love “(Eph 11, 8) Already in the Old Testament, from Abraham onward, emerges the primacy of God at the beginning of each call. The initiative to start the story of the salvation of the people of Israel comes from the Lord. “Abraham, called by God, obeyed” (Heb 11: 8).

Even in the narratives of the prophetic call it is clear the primacy of God who calls. Exemplary is the story of Amos that we hear the first reading of this Sunday Mass. This prophet is thrown by the call in a confrontation with the injustices of the political power. He must also contend with the cold considerations of the “court chaplain,” the priest Amaziah, who urges caution. Amos says to the priest, that at the root of his words there is not a personal choice tied to his prospects. It is God himself who forced him with a precise call “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; I was a shepherd and a harvester of sycamores; the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said me, ‘Go, prophesy in the midst of my people Israel “(Am 7, 14 -15).

2) Disciples = missionaries.

It is not only the prophet that is called to be a missionary. Even the disciple is sent on a mission, as today’s Gospel passage (6, 7-13) makes us ponder. In fact, the evangelist Mark tells us that Jesus “sent them”, and this implies at least the awareness of being sent by God and not by their own decision, sent for a project in which the disciples are involved, but of which they are not the owners.

Today, as then, the Christians, who for this very reason are Disciples of Christ, are sent as Missionaries of the merciful truth. Today, as then, the disciples invite people to conversion and bring relief to the suffering.

The message that they announce in the name of Christ, is an invitation to conversion “Turn to the light, because the light is already here. Pure and holy are our hands on the sick with which we proclaim: God is already here, is near you with love, he heals. Turn toward him. ”

It is important to understand Jesus’ insistence on evangelical poverty as indispensable condition for the mission: no bread, no bag and no money. It is a poverty that is faith, freedom and lightness. First of all, freedom and lightness: a disciple weighed down by luggage becomes sedentary, conservative, unable to grasp the novelty of God and very good at finding a thousand reasons to judge essential the house in which he is and from which no longer wants to go out. Moreover, poverty is also faith: a sign of one who doesn’t trust in himself but relies on God.

There is also another aspect that cannot be forgotten: the “dramatic” atmosphere of the mission. Rejection is expected (Mk 7, 11): God’s word is effective, but in its own way. The disciple must proclaim the message and put himself on the line for it, but must leave to God the results. The disciple was given a task, but not guaranteed success.

It is also important not to forget that the disciple is not only a teacher but also a witness who, on the side of truth, freedom and love, is committed to the fight against evil.

Finally, we must not forget that to be missionaries, first of all we must be disciples of Christ, listen again and again to the invitation to follow him and imitate him “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29) . A disciple, in fact, is a person who listens to the Word of God (see Lk 10:39), recognized as the Master who loved us to the gift of life. It is, therefore, essential for each of us, to be transformed by the Word of God every day: it will make us friends of the Lord Jesus and able to let other people in this friendship with him. This fraternal friendship with Christ, the center of our lives, allows us to go to the suburbs of humanity to bring to everyone the truth of Christ, incarnate Love.

A great experience of being “disciples-missionaries” (Pope Francis) is that of the consecrated Virgins who, living and working in the world, meet people who live and work in the suburbs of life. There is a feminine connotation to live the mission, a particular way to be disciples-missionaries like the one of the Virgin Mary, the Disciple-Missionary par excellence. More than Mnasone of Cyprus that hosted St. Paul on his journey to Jerusalem from Caesarea, is Mary who should have the title of “disciple of the first hour ” (Acts 21, 16) because  she believed in the Son of God the Most High when he was embodied in her womb by the Holy Spirit. It is Mary the first missionary because she was the first that brought Christ on the roads of the world when she visited her cousin Elizabeth. She was a missionary who brought not a speech, but the Gospel in flesh. The consecrated Virgins imitate the Virgin Mary in a special way through vigilance and prayer that is by guarding the heart offered to Christ with the gift of their virginity, and docility to the Holy Spirit. They do it also with a reserved life, even though the consecrated virgins live a personal recollection through which they devote themselves to listening to the Word of God. Following their example, let’s our hearts and our minds keep alive the maternal love that keeps alive everyone who, in the mission of the Church, works for the regeneration of men (see Lumen Gentium, 65). Every Christian is called to make his or hers the attitude of Mary  to  maternally animate the announcement of the Gospel of Christ and to exercise the “power” to serve the Lord in our brothers and sisters in humanity by living in their own situation the virginal fruitfulness of the Church like the consecrated virgin do.

Patristic Reading

Golden Chain

On Mk 6, 6-13

Theophylact: The Lord not only preached in the cities, but also in villages, that we may learn not to despise little things, nor always to seek for great cities, but to sow the word of the Lord in abandoned and lowly villages.

Wherefore it is said, “And He went round about the villages, teaching.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 24: Now our kind and merciful Lord and Master did not grudge His servants and their disciples His own virtues, and as He Himself had healed every sickness and every infirmity, so also He gave the same power to His disciples.

Wherefore it goes on: “And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits.”

Great is the difference between giving and receiving. Whatsoever He does, is done in His own power, as Lord; if they do any thing, they confess their own weakness and the power of the Lord, saying in the name of Jesus, “Arise, and walk.”

Theophylact: Again He sends the Apostles two and two that they might become more active; for, as says the Preacher, “Two are better than one.” (Qo 4,9) But if He had sent more than two, there would not have been a sufficient number to allow of their being (p. 109) sent to many villages.

Greg., Hom. in Evan., 17: Further, the Lord sent the disciples to preach, two and two, because there are two precepts of charity, namely, the love of God, and of our neighbour; and charity cannot be between less than two; by this therefore He implies to us, that he who has not charity towards his neighbour, ought in no way to take upon himself the office of preaching.

There follows: “And He commanded them, that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.”

Bede: For such should be the preacher’s trust in God, that, though he takes no thought for supplying his own wants in this present world, yet he should feel most certain that these will not be left unsatisfied, lest whilst his mind is taken up with temporal things, he should provide less of eternal things to others.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: The Lord also gives them this command, that they might shew by their mode of life, how far removed they were from the desire of riches.

Theophylact: Instructing them also by this means not to be fond of receiving gifts, in order too that those, who saw them proclaim poverty, might be reconciled to it, when they saw that the Apostles themselves possessed nothing.

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 30: Or else; according to Matthew, the Lord immediately subjoined, “The workman is worthy of his meat,” (Mt 10,10) which sufficiently proves why He forbade their carrying or possessing such things; not because they were not necessary, but because He sent them in such a way as to shew, that they were due to them from the faithful, to whom they preached the Gospel.

From this it is evident that the Lord did not mean by this precept that the Evangelists ought to live only on the gifts of those to whom they preach the Gospel, else the Apostle transgressed this precept when he procured his livelihood by the labour of his own hands, but He meant that He had given them a power, in virtue of which, they might be assured these things were due to them.

It is also often asked, how it comes that Matthew and Luke have related that the Lord commanded His disciples not to carry even a staff, whilst Mark says, “And He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only.” Which question is solved, by supposing that the word ‘staff’ has a meaning in (p. 110) Mark, who says that it ought to be carried, different from that which it bears in Matthew and Luke, who affirm the contrary. For in a concise way one might say, Take none of the necessaries of life with you, nay, not a staff, save a staff only; so that the saying, nay not a staff, may mean, nay not the smallest thing; but that which is added, “save a staff only,” may mean that, through the power received by them from the Lord, of which a rod is the ensign, nothing, even of those things which they do not carry, will be wanting to them.

The Lord, therefore, said both, but because one Evangelist has not given both, men suppose, that he who has said that the staff, in one sense, should be taken, is contrary to him who again has declared, that, in another sense, it should be left behind: now however that a reason has been given, let no one think so.

So also when Matthew declares that shoes are not to be worn on the journey, he forbids anxiety about them, for the reason why men are anxious about carrying them, is that they may not be without them. This is also to be understood of the two coats, that no man should be troubled about having only that with which he is clad from anxiety lest he should need another, when he could always obtain one from the power given by the Lord.

In like manner Mark, by saying that they are to be shod with sandals or soles, warns us that this mode of protecting the feet has a mystical signification, that the foot should neither be covered above nor be naked on the ground, that is, that the Gospel should neither be hid, nor rest upon earthly comforts; and in that He forbids their possessing or taking with them, or more expressly their wearing, two coats, He bids them walk simply, not with duplicity. But whosoever thinks that the Lord could not in the same discourse say some things figuratively, others in a literal sense, let him look into His other discourses, and he shall see, how rash and ignorant is his judgment.

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Pope Francis’ Unwelcome Gift

FranciscoEvoRegalo_LOsservatoreRomano_090715

The Catholic blogosphere has been buzzing since last Thursday when the “Communist crucifix” was presented as a gift to Pope Francis by Morales. Everyone has been questioning the underlying intention of the President of Bolivia in giving this blasphemous symbol of ‘atheistic-communism-merged-with-the-Crucified-Saviour’, to the Vicar of Christ. Did Morales think the Pope would like his gift and sympathise with its symbolism? Or was he cunningly out to trick him and place him in an awkward position?

What do you think the Pope should have done? Smash the evil symbol to the ground? Hand it back again to the [apparently] anti-Catholic Bolivian President with a polite, “No, thank you!” Or respond with a resounding, “Get out! Get out! The Catholic Faith is a gift from Almighty God and I will not have you polluting it. GET OUT!”, like the ‘Catholic warrior-for-truth’, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, when finding himself in a similar situation?

Communism has been the cause of countless millions of deaths of Christians, both actively and passively (through starvation and exile), unimaginable suffering and tortures, that not even violent Islam with its wars and ongoing jihadism has been able to rival. Even now, the scars of past Communist horrors and its satanical ideology are still being felt in countries many years after its regime has been all but eradicated.

The Eponymous Flower shrewdly notes: “Undoubtedly, many martyrs were “crucified” on the hammer and sickle in the twentieth century, but just what was the true intention of the Bolivian President Evo Morales? We have no answers to give, but we can pray for all the victims of Communism, asking the intercession of all the saints and blessed who have given their lives for the Church and who were martyred in supreme hatred of the faith from the children of the worst of Marxist ideologues in the name of class struggle that has nothing to do with the Gospel and with the message of salvation contained in it.”

Catholics from various Hispanophone countries rejected Morales’ gesture, considering it an outright offense to the numerous victims of terrorist groups in Latin America and of the historical totalitarian communist regimes. Spanish Bishop Jose Munilla Aguirre of San Sebastián, tweeted: “The height of arrogance is to manipulate God in the service of atheistic ideologies … Today, once again: #ChristCrucified”.

The Rev. James Bretzke, a theologian at Boston College in Massachusetts, asks: “Does this seem to be using the Crucifix for political agenda? And I would say the answer is probably yes. Therefore, I would judge it personally in bad taste and especially manipulative to present it to the Holy Father in a situation like that where it clearly hadn’t been cleared ahead of time.”

It would seem that Pope Francis himself, who appeared to register surprise when the polemic gift was presented to him, reflected it was “in bad taste” too. As Andrea Tornelli reports in Vatican Insider, he left the gift behind in Bolivia!

This morning Francis lay the two presidential honours he received Wednesday from President Evo Morales in La Paz, at the feet of Our Lady of Copacabana. One of these featured the hammer and anvil with a carving of a crucifix

Before leaving Bolivia, Francis placed two gifts he received on Wednesday from President Evo Morales at the foot of a statue of Mary. One of these, a chain with a chunky medallion, had the figure of the crucified Christ carved into a wooden hammer and anvil. This image had been drawn by Fr. Luis Espinal, the Jesuit priest who was assassinated in Bolivia in March 1980.”

For anyone who might have missed it, Fr Z has written two insightful and interesting (as always) pieces on this controversial incident, both here – and then asking where is “the liberal ‘c’atholic anger at insult to the Pope and the Church?” here.

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