Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yet more on the closing of the Abbey of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

John Allen weighs in.

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

                                         "The Visitation," Chartres Cathedral

Today is the Feast of the Visitation, which commemorates the second Joyful Mystery of the rosary, the Blessed Virgin's visit to her cousin Elizabeth.   At the time of the Visitation, Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist, and Mary was pregnant with Jesus.  According to the Gospel of St. Luke, Elizabeth greeted Mary in this way:

And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

 Mary responded with the "Magnificat:"

My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

The Feast of the Visitation was begun by St. Bonaventure in 1263 AD, and was extended to the entire Church in 1389. 

Let us pray with St. Athanasius:

O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all, O Ark of the Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which Divinity resides.

Minor Rogation Days

The three days before Ascension Thursday are the Minor Rogation Days (the Major Rogation took place on April 25).  Formerly, these were days of prayer, fasting and procession.   Courtesy of fisheaters.com,  here is a description of Rogation processions in the Middle Ages (full text here):

And in this procession the Cross is borne, the clocks and the bells be sounded and rung, the banners be borne, and in some churches a dragon with a great tail is borne. And aid and help is demanded of all Saints.

And the cause why the Cross is borne and the bells rung is for to make the evil spirits afraid and to flee; for like as the kings have in battles tokens and signs-royal, as their trumpets and banners, right so the King of Heaven perdurable hath His signs militant in the Church. He hath bells for business and for trumps, He hath the Cross for banners. And like as a tyrant and a malefactor should much doubt when he shall hear the business and trumps of a mighty king in his land, and shall see his banners, in like wise the enemies, the evil spirits that be in the region of the air, doubt much when they hear the trumpets of God which be the bells rung, and when they see the banners borne on high. And this is the cause why the bells be rung when it thundereth, and when great tempests and outrages of weather happen, to the end that the fiends and the evil spirits should be abashed and flee, and cease of the moving of tempests. Howbeit also that there is another cause therewith; that is for to warn the Christian people, that they put them in devotion and in prayer, for to pray God that the tempest may cease.

There is also the banner of the King, that is the Cross, which the enemies dread much and doubt. For they dread the staff with which they have been hurt. And this is the reason wherefore in some churches in the time of tempest and of thunder, they set out the Cross against the tempest to the end that the wicked spirits see the banner of the sovereign King, and for dread thereof they flee. And therefore in procession the Cross is borne, and the bells rung for to chase and hunt away the fiends being in the air, and to the end that they leave to tempest us. The Cross is borne for to represent the victory of the Resurrection, and of the Ascension of Jesu Christ. For He ascended into Heaven with all a great prey. And thus this banner that flyeth in the air signifieth Jesu Christ ascending into Heaven.

And as the people follow the Cross, the banners, and the procession, right so when Jesu Christ styed up into Heaven a great multitude of Saints followed Him. And the song that is sung in the procession signifieth the song of angels and the praisings that came against Jesu Christ and conducted and conveyed Him to Heaven where is great joy and melody.

In some churches, and in especial in them of France, is accustomed to bear a dragon with a long tail filled full of chaff or other thing. The two first days it is borne before the Cross, and on the third day they bear it after the Cross, with the tail all void, by which is understood that the first day tofore the law, or the second under the law, the devil reigned in the world, and on the third day, of grace, by the Passion of Jesu Christ, he was put out of his realm.

Fr Z - "We need a Mass for grownups"

Not insipid "goop."   But all we get is more goop.

Priest called "one of the most dangerous people in town"

Because of pro-Catholic letters he writes to local paper.

Can bad advice in the confessional be a crime?

According to canon law, yes.  It's called solicitation, and it's not what you may think.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hail, Martyr and Patroness of France

                                     "St. Joan of Arc," Cathedral of Notre Dame

Today is the Feast of St. Joan of Arc (d. 1431 AD), one of the most remarkable personalities of history.  Joan was an unlettered shepherdess, one of five children born to French peasants at a time when The Hundred Years War between England and France was raging.  France was beset by internal divisions, and prone to English invasions.  Indeed, Joan and her family had been forced to flee before the invader's armies.   While in her early teens, Joan received repeated visions of St. Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret, who, at this perilous hour, charged Joan with the mission of saving France.  Joan, who could neither ride nor fight, resisted the entreaties of these heavenly voices, until, at the age of sixteen, she relented.  Joan thereupon presented herself to the Dauphin, the heir-apparent of France, and, in obedience to her voices, proposed to lead the Dauphin's armies to victory and see him crowned King of France at Reims.   After overcoming the Dauphin's doubts and other difficulties, Joan's proposal was approved.  Joan duly led the French armies to victory, raising the English siege of Orleans and routing the English at Patay.  This opened the way to Reims, where the Dauphin was soon crowned Charles VII, King of France, thereby ensuring the survival of the French nation. 
Shortly afterwards, Joan was captured in battle by the English.   The ungrateful Charles never attempted to ransom Joan.  Joan was tried for heresy, and although her shrewdly intelligent answers often confounded her learned examiners, Joan was nevertheless condemned and burned at the stake.  In 1456, the verdict of the court was overturned.  Pope Benedict XV canonized Joan in 1920.

From the transcript of the trial of Joan of Arc:

 . . Asked if she knows she is in God's grace, she answered: "If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace."

Pro Deo et Patria (cont.)

The card distributed to the US Third Army, Dec. 12 -14, 1944

In solemn observance of Memorial Day we present the last in a series of profiles of Catholics who served bravely in America's wars.   Today, we salute Monsignor James F. O'Neill, who served as  Chief Chaplain of the Third Army on the Staff of General Patton in World War II.   General Patton was a great believer in the power of prayer.  In December 1944, when faced with inclement weather which favored the German Wehrmacht and prevented the Allied air forces from flying, General Patton requested from Monsignor O'Neill a "weather prayer" to petition God for fair weather.  Monsignor O'Neill composed this prayer:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.

General Patton ordered that the prayer be distributed to the 250,000 men of the Third Army.   Monsignor O'Neill suggested that following Christmas greeting from General Patton be typed on the reverse side of the prayer card: 

To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I Wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God's blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. G.S. Patton, Jr, Lieutenant General, Commanding, Third United States Army.

General Patton added his signature to the Christmas greeting, and the card was distributed to the Third Army on December 12 -14, 1944.  On December 16, the Wehrmacht commenced a winter offensive which at first met with great success, due in part to the inclement weather.  On December 20, contrary to forecasts, the weather cleared and remained clear for more than a week.  Assisted by the Allied air forces, the Third Army succeeded in defeating the Wehrmacht's winter offensive in what became known as "The Battle of the Bulge."
Monsignor O'Neill retired from the Army as a Brigadier General.  Monsignor O'Neill's own account of these events here.

Extraordinary News from Boston

Cardinal O'Malley will administer the Sacrament of  Confirmation according to Extraordinary Form in Holy Cross Cathedral on June 4.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thomistic Teaching for Today

                      Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas, from Church of St. Catherine, Pisa 

Are love of God and love of country compatible?  From  Summa Theologica, here is St. Thomas Aquinas on Piety (courtesy of New Advent; full text here):

Man becomes a debtor to other men in various ways, according to their various excellence and the various benefits received from them. on both counts God holds first place, for He is supremely excellent, and is for us the first principle of being and government. On the second place, the principles of our being and government are our parents and our country, that have given us birth and nourishment. Consequently man is debtor chiefly to his parents and his country, after God. Wherefore just as it belongs to religion to give worship to God, so does it belong to piety, in the second place, to give worship to one's parents and one's country.
The worship due to our parents includes the worship given to all our kindred, since our kinsfolk are those who descend from the same parents, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. viii, 12). The worship given to our country includes homage to all our fellow-citizens and to all the friends of our country. Therefore piety extends chiefly to these.

Can Ember Days and Rogation Days be far behind (cont.)?

                                   The Four Ember Days, by Abel Grimmer

Elizabeth Scalia thinks restoration of Friday abstinence from meat in England and Wales is a good idea.
For those too young to remember, here is information regarding Ember Days and Rogation Days.

Pro Deo et Patria (cont.)

                    Chaplain O'Callahan celebrating Mass in 1946                   

In solemn observance of Memorial Day we present the latest in a series of profiles of Catholics who served bravely in America's wars.   Today, we salute Capt. Joseph T. O'Callahan, born in Boston, Mass. in 1905 AD.

He joined the Jesuit Order in 1922, and was ordained in 1934.  Fr. O'Callahan was a Professor of Mathematics, Philosophy and Physics at Boston College in 1929-37, Professor of Philosophy at the Jesuit Seminary of Weston College in 1937-38 and Director of the Mathematics Department at Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1938-40.

Father O'Callahan was commissioned as a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) in the Naval Reserve Chaplain Corps in August 1940. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander,  Father O'Callahan joined the aircraft carrier Franklin in early March 1945.  A few weeks later, when his ship was badly damaged by a Japanese air attack, he distinguished himself comforting the injured and leading damage control and ammunition jettisoning parties.  (724 crewmembers died as a result of the Japanese attack).  For his actions, Fr. O'Callahan was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Father O'Callahan's citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as chaplain on board the U.S.S. Franklin when that vessel was fiercely attacked by enemy Japanese aircraft during offensive operations near Kobe, Japan, on 19 March 1945. A valiant and forceful leader, calmly braving the perilous barriers of flame and twisted metal to aid his men and his ship, Lt. Comdr. O'Callahan groped his way through smoke-filled corridors to the open flight deck and into the midst of violently exploding bombs, shells, rockets, and other armament. With the ship rocked by incessant explosions, with debris and fragments raining down and fires raging in ever-increasing fury, he ministered to the wounded and dying, comforting and encouraging men of all faiths; he organized and led firefighting crews into the blazing inferno on the flight deck; he directed the jettisoning of live ammunition and the flooding of the magazine; he manned a hose to cool hot, armed bombs rolling dangerously on the listing deck, continuing his efforts, despite searing, suffocating smoke which forced men to fall back gasping and imperiled others who replaced them. Serving with courage, fortitude, and deep spiritual strength, Lt. Comdr. O'Callahan inspired the gallant officers and men of the Franklin to fight heroically and with profound faith in the face of almost certain death and to return their stricken ship to port.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saintly Thought For Today

From St. Louis de Montfort's "The Secret of the Rosary:"

As Tertullian says, .... when we say THY WILL BE DONE, we ask God to make us humbly resigned to all that He has seen fit to send us in this life. We also ask Him to help us to do, in all things and at all times, His Holy will, made known to us by the commandments, promptly, lovingly and faithfully as the saints and angels do it in heaven.

Pro Deo et Patria (cont.)

In solemn observance of Memorial Day we present the latest in a series of profiles of Catholics who served bravely in America's wars.   Today, we salute Major (Chaplain) Charles J. Watters who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his bravery during an assault near Dak To in the Vietnam War.
Here is Major Watter's citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Chaplain Watters distinguished himself during an assault in the vicinity of Dak To. Chaplain Watters was moving with one of the companies when it engaged a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged and the casualties mounted, Chaplain Watters, with complete disregard for his safety, rushed forward to the line of contact. Unarmed and completely exposed, he moved among, as well as in front of the advancing troops, giving aid to the wounded, assisting in their evacuation, giving words of encouragement, and administering the last rites to the dying. When a wounded paratrooper was standing in shock in front of the assaulting forces, Chaplain Watters ran forward, picked the man up on his shoulders and carried him to safety. As the troopers battled to the first enemy entrenchment, Chaplain Watters ran through the intense enemy fire to the front of the entrenchment to aid a fallen comrade. A short time later, the paratroopers pulled back in preparation for a second assault. Chaplain Watters exposed himself to both friendly and enemy fire between the 2 forces in order to recover 2 wounded soldiers. Later, when the battalion was forced to pull back into a perimeter, Chaplain Watters noticed that several wounded soldiers were Lying outside the newly formed perimeter. Without hesitation and ignoring attempts to restrain him, Chaplain Watters left the perimeter three times in the face of small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire to carry and to assist the injured troopers to safety. Satisfied that all of the wounded were inside the perimeter, he began aiding the medics ... applying field bandages to open wounds, obtaining and serving food and water, giving spiritual and mental strength and comfort. During his ministering, he moved out to the perimeter from position to position redistributing food and water, and tending to the needs of his men. Chaplain Watters was giving aid to the wounded when he himself was mortally wounded. Chaplain Watters' unyielding perseverance and selfless devotion to his comrades was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Papal teaching for today

"Pope Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de Medici and Luigi de Rossi" by Raphael Sanzio

From "Exsurge Domine"  (1520 AD) of Pope Leo X, condemning the errors of Martin Luther (full text here):

Therefore let Martin himself and all those adhering to him, and those who shelter and support him, through the merciful heart of our God and the sprinkling of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ by which and through whom the redemption of the human race and the upbuilding of holy mother Church was accomplished, know that from our heart we exhort and beseech that he cease to disturb the peace, unity, and truth of the Church for which the Savior prayed so earnestly to the Father. Let him abstain from his pernicious errors that he may come back to us. If they really will obey, and certify to us by legal documents that they have obeyed, they will find in us the affection of a father's love, the opening of the font of the effects of paternal charity, and opening of the font of mercy and clemency.

Teach your (older) children, (cont.)

                                         Logic, one of the Seven Liberal Arts

A handy descriptive list of logical fallacies, courtesy of The Art of Manliness.   Most arguments we encounter these days include at least one of these.

Hail, Saintly Priest and Bishop


Today is also the feast of St. Germanus of Paris (d. 576 AD).  St. Germanus was a teacher and Bishop of Paris who cured King Childebert I, one of Clovis's four sons, of a serious disease.  In gratitude, King Childebert built the Abbey of St. Vincent in Paris, which houses the tunic of St. Vincent, and is now known as St.-Germain-des-Pres.

St. Germanus of Paris, pray for us.

Hail, Saintly Priest and Guardian of Pilgrims

                                     Yes, these are named in honor of the Saint

Today is the feast of St. Bernard (d. 1008 AD).  St. Bernard was Archdeacon of Aosta, and preached the Gospel for 42 years to the ignorant and idolatrous Alpine Lombards, effecting many conversions and working numerous miracles.  St. Bernard also established hospices upon what is now called the Great St. Bernard Pass in the Pennine Alps to care for and provide generous hospitality to pilgrims and other travellers to Rome.  He also established patrols to clear the mountain passes of robbers who preyed upon travellers.

St. Bernard, pray for us.

Mass of Reparation in Venezuela

After vandalization of Marian statues.

Archbishop Chaput warns against Ouija boards

                                        Not my idea of innocent amusement

I saw one on a neighbor's porch recently, which gave me a chill.

Perhaps someone prayed to St. Anthony of Padua

The universe's missing mass has been found.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Blogroll Request

Dear fellow bloggers,

Please consider adding this blog to your blogroll. 
Thank you to the Bovina Bloviator for having already done so.

Thank you,

Your weekend reading

                                                         "The Holy Trinity" by El Greco
                                                          Not an easy thing to describe

An explanation of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity from Frank Sheed which is as clear as any explanation of the incomprehensible can be.   The book from which it is taken, "Theology and Sanity" is well worth reading.

The original sketch for the statue of Blessed Pope John Paul II

Believe it or not, this was the original idea.  Somehow, it turned into this:

More here.

Papal Teaching for Today

                                                         Pope Eugene IV

From "Sicut Dudum" (1435 AD) of Pope Eugene IV condemning the enslaving of Black Natives of the Canary Islands (full text here):

To our venerable brothers, peace and apostolic benediction, etcetera.

1. Not long ago, we learned from our brother Ferdinand, bishop at Rubicon and representative of the faithful who are residents of the Canary Islands, and from messengers sent by them to the Apostolic See, and from other trustworthy informers, the following facts: in the said islands—some called Lanzarote—and other nearby islands, the inhabitants, imitating the natural law alone, and not having known previously any sect of apostates or heretics, have a short time since been led into the Orthodox Catholic Faith with the aid of God’s mercy. Nevertheless, with the passage of time, it has happened that in some of the said islands, because of a lack of suitable governors and defenders to direct those who live there to a proper observance of the Faith in things spiritual and temporal, and to protect valiantly their property and goods, some Christians (we speak of this with sorrow), with fictitious reasoning and seizing and opportunity, have approached said islands by ship, and with armed forces taken captive and even carried off to lands overseas very many persons of both sexes, taking advantage of their simplicity.

2. Some of these people were already baptized; others were even at times tricked and deceived by the promise of Baptism, having been made a promise of safety that was not kept. They have deprived the natives of the property, or turned it to their own use, and have subjected some of the inhabitants of said islands to perpetual slavery, sold them to other persons, and committed other various illicit and evil deeds against them, because of which very many of those remaining on said islands, and condemning such slavery, have remained involved in their former errors, having drawn back their intention to receive Baptism, thus offending the majesty of God, putting their souls in danger, and causing no little harm to the Christian religion

3. Therefore, We, to whom it pertains, especially in respect to the aforesaid matters, to rebuke each sinner about his sin, and not wishing to pass by dissimulating, and desiring—as is expected from the pastoral office we hold—as far as possible, to provide salutarily, with a holy and fatherly concern, for the sufferings of the inhabitants, beseech the Lord, and exhort, through the sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus Christ shed for their sins, one and all, temporal princes, lords, captains, armed men, barons, soldiers, nobles, communities, and all others of every kind among the Christian faithful of whatever state, grade, or condition, that they themselves desist from the aforementioned deeds, cause those subject to them to desist from them, and restrain them rigorously.

4. And no less do We order and command all and each of the faithful of each sex, within the space of fifteen days of the publication of these letters in the place where they live, that they restore to their earlier liberty all and each person of either sex who were once residents of said Canary Islands, and made captives since the time of their capture, and who have been made subject to slavery. These people are to be totally and perpetually free, and are to be let go without the exaction or reception of money. If this is not done when the fifteen days have passed, they incur the sentence of excommunication by the act itself, from which they cannot be absolved, except at the point of death, even by the Holy See, or by any Spanish bishop, or by the aforementioned Ferdinand, unless they have first given freedom to these captive persons and restored their goods. We will that like sentence of excommunication be incurred by one and all who attempt to capture, sell, or subject to slavery, baptized residents of the Canary Islands, or those who are freely seeking Baptism, from which excommunication cannot be absolved except as was stated above.

Seems everyone's talking about subsidiarity nowadays

                                                Hilaire Belloc - he liked subsidiarity too
We brought up the subject here two weeks ago, and it's stayed in the headlines ever since.  

Saintly Thought for Today

                                        Sainte Chapelle, built by King St. Louis

From St. Louis de Montfort's "Secret of the Rosary:"

BLANCHE OF CASTILLE, Queen of France, was deeply grieved because twelve years after her marriage she was still childless. When Saint Dominic went to see her he advised her to say her Rosary every day to ask God for the grace of motherhood, and she faithfully carried out his advice. In 1213 she gave birth to her eldest child, Philip, but the child died in infancy.

The Queen's fervor was nowise dulled by this disappointment; on the contrary, she sought Our Lady's help more than ever before. She had a large number of Rosaries given out to all members of the court and also to people in several cities of the Kingdom, asking them to join her in entreating God for a blessing that this time would be complete. Thus, in 1215, Saint Louis was born----the prince who was to become the glory of France and the model of all Christian kings.

Hail, Saintly Apostle to the Anglo-Saxons

                                                       St. Augustine of Canterbury

Today is the feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury (died 604 AD).

St. Augustine was Prior of St. Andrew's Monastery in Rome when he was chosen by Pope St. Gregory the Great to re-evangelize Britain, where barbarian invasions had eradicated the Faith except in remoter areas of the British Islands.  According to the famous story, Pope St. Gregory was moved to take this step after having seen fair-headed slaves for sale in the Roman markets.  Pope St. Gregory inquired who these people were, and upon hearing that they were Angles, replied "Non sunt Angli, sed Angeli  (they are not Angles, but Angels)."
St. Augustine travelled to England with 30 monks and met with almost immediate success when Ethelbert, the King of Kent, who was already married to a Catholic princess named Bertha, presently converted.  Thousands of Ethelbert's subjects soon followed his example.  St. Augustine had less success persuading Celtic bishops in Britain to submit to his authority, and it would take many decades before Roman usage was firmly established.

Pro Deo et Patria (cont.)

Courtesy of McNamara's blog, in solemn observance of Memorial Day we present the latest in a series of profiles of Catholics who served bravely in America's wars.   Today, McNamara looks at Sgt. Richard W. O'Neill, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in World War I.

I wish St. Patrick's, Soho Square were my parish church

No mention of music, but I'll bet they do that right too.

A story not covered by the MSM (cont.)

Yesterday, we gave the Egyptian government credit for rebuilding the burned Coptic church in Cairo. 
Alas, it was not the start of a trend.  See here, here and here. 
Also, bad news for Christians in Kosovo and Pakistan.  

Is Pope Benedict Traditional Enough?

                                      Tough crowd out there, Benedict

Not according to some of the Church's deepest thinkers.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Credit where it's due

Egyptian government restoring burned church.

The Re-Clothing of the Altars

                                        What remains of St. Pancras Priory

Mass celebrated in ruins of 11th century priory dissolved by Henry VIII and destroyed by Thomas Cromwell.

Gospel text for today

                                       The Last Supper, Chartres Cathedral

Courtesy of Universalis, from today's Mass (John 15:9-11) :

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘As the Father has loved me,
            so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
            If you keep my commandments
            you will remain in my love,
            just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
            and remain in his love.
            I have told you this
            so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.’

Pro Deo et Patria (cont.)

Courtesy of McNamara's blog, in solemn observance of Memorial Day we present the latest in a series of profiles of Catholics who served bravely in America's wars.   Today, McNamara looks at Captain John Drum who served bravely in the Civil War, and fell on San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American war.  I found Captain Drum's letter to his son quite moving.

Should it take more than a sip of Guinness

                                                  Beer goggles

To make President Obama attractive to Irish-American Catholic voters?  The estimable Dr. Oddie's reflections here.

Speaking of head coverings

Pope Benedict was presented with a tiara today.  He is the first Pope since Paul VI to have one.

Hail, Saintly Priest and Patron of Rome

                                 Tomb of St. Philip Neri in Rome decorated for his feast

Today is the feast of St. Philip Neri (1515 AD - 1595 AD).  St. Philip founded a lay Confraternity to look after pilgrims to Rome, as well as the Oratory, communities of secular priests with a flexible structure and an innovative manner of worship.  St. Philip is remarkable for his use of humor as a means of puncturing pomposity and pride.  The following is taken from Catholic Online:

Philip was known to be spontaneous and unpredictable, charming and humorous.

He seemed to sense the different ways to bring people to God. One man came to the Oratory just to make fun of it. Philip wouldn't let the others throw him out or speak against him. He told them to be patient and eventually the man became a Dominican. On the other hand, when he met a condemned man who refused to listen to any pleas for repentance, Philip didn't try gentle words, but grabbed the man by the collar and threw him to the ground. The move shocked the criminal into repentance and he made a full confession.

Humility was the most important virtue he tried to teach others and to learn himself. Some of his lessons in humility seem cruel, but they were tinged with humor like practical jokes and were related with gratitude by the people they helped. His lessons always seem to be tailored directly to what the person needed. One member who was later to become a cardinal was too serious and so Philip had him sing the Misere at a wedding breakfast. When one priest gave a beautiful sermon, Philip ordered him to give the same sermon six times in a row so people would think he only had one sermon.

Philip preferred spiritual  mortification to physical mortification. When one man asked Philip if he could wear a hair shirt, Philip gave him permission -- if he wore the hair shirt outside his clothes! The man obeyed and found humility in the jokes and name-calling he received.

Philip did not escape this spiritual mortification himself. As with others, his own humbling held humor. There are stories of him wearing ridiculous clothes or walking around with half his beard shaved off. The greater his reputation for holiness the sillier he wanted to seem. When some people came from Poland to see the great saint, they found him listening to another priest read to him from joke books.

St. Philip Neri, pray for us.

Yet more on the closure of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

The abbot was a former fashion designer, among other new details.

Can Ember Days and Rogation Days Be Far Behind?


                                         Are you old enough to remember these?

Whether women should cover their heads at the Extraordinary Form, at the Novus Ordo or both is on the minds of many.  Francis Phillips' thoughts here.

In case you don't know what Ember Days or Rogation Days are.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hail, Saintly Monk and Pope

                                 Pope St. Gregory VII proscribing lay investiture,
                             from the cathedral of St. Helena, St. Helena, Montana

Today is also the feast of Pope St. Gregory VII, who died in 1085 AD.   When Pope St. Gregory, (known as Hildebrand before he became Pope), was elevated to the papacy  the Christian world was in a deplorable condition. As Pope St. Gregory himself wrote to his friend, Abbot Hugh of Cluny, "The Eastern Church has fallen away from the Faith and is now assailed on every side by infidels. Wherever I turn my eyes--to the west, to the north, or to the south--I find everywhere bishops who have obtained their office in an irregular way, whose lives and conversation are strangely at variance with their sacred calling; who go through their duties not for the love of Christ but from motives of worldly gain. There are no longer princes who set God's honor before their own selfish ends, or who allow justice to stand in the way of their ambition. . . .And those among whom I live--Romans, Lombards, and Normans--are, as I have often told them, worse than Jews or pagans."

Pope St. Gregory strove to purify the Church by purifying the clergy.  He enjoined celibacy upon the clergy, many of whom had taken wives, and attempted to put a stop to the purchase of ecclesiastical rights.  Gregory also decreed that investing or deposing bishops, as well as moving them from see to see, was beyond the scope of any lay authority, and belonged solely to the Pope.  These measures met with violent resistance, which Pope St. Gregory energetically overcame through the use of legates empowered to depose immoral or simoniac priests.

These reforming efforts also brought Pope St. Gregory  into conflict with Henry, the Holy Roman Emperor, who supported the rebel clergy.  Pope St. Gregory responded by excommunicating Henry and absolving his subjects from the oaths of loyalty they had sworn to him .  Facing revolt in his provinces, Henry crossed the Alps in winter to meet with the Pope at a castle in Canossa.  There a barefoot and fasting Henry waited three days in the snow before being received by the Pope, who absolved him.   This did not end their quarrel, however, as Pope St. Gregory would eventually excommunicate Henry a second time.

On account of warfare between Norman troops and Henry's armies, Pope St. Gregory was forced to abandon Rome and live in exile at Salerno.  Pope St. Gregory's last words were: "I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile."

Pro Deo et Patria (cont.)

                                         "The Angel of the Battlefield"

Courtesy of McNamara's Blog, profiles of John Dooley, SJ, Fr. William Elliott CSP and "The Angel of the Battlefield," all of whom served bravely in the Civil War.

Translating "pro multis"

"On Sept. 7 and 21, 2004, we explained the reasonableness of translating the "pro multis" in the words of consecration as "for all" in spite of its literally meaning "for many." Although the reasons offered for this translation are valid, from the theological point of view it was still an inaccurate translation. Having consulted widely, Benedict XVI decided that henceforth all new versions of the missal must translate this text literally as "for many."

Full story here.

Hail, Saintly Monk, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Today is the feast of St. Bede the Venerable, born in Wearmouth, England in 672 AD, and died at Jarrow,  the monastery where he had lived since the age of seven, in 735 AD.  St. Bede was the most learned man of his day, writing and teaching on many subjects, but is best known for his "Historia Ecclesiastica."  Most of our knowledge of England before the 8th century AD comes from this work.

Courtesy of Universalis, here is Cuthbert's famous narration of the death of St. Bede, taken from today's Office of Readings:

On the Tuesday before Ascension, Bede began to suffer greater difficulties in breathing and his feet began to swell slightly. Nevertheless, he continued to teach us and dictate all day, and made jokes about his illness: “Learn quickly,” he would say, “because I don’t know how long I’ll last: my Creator may take me very soon.” But it seemed to us that he was perfectly conscious of his approaching end.
  He spent all night in giving thanks to God. As dawn broke on the Wednesday, he ordered us to finish writing what we had started, and we did this until the third hour [mid-morning]. Afterwards we carried the relics of the saints in solemn procession, as it was the custom to do on that day. One of us stayed with him, and asked him: “Dear master, the book is almost complete, there is one chapter left to go – would it be difficult for you if I asked you to do more dictation?.” “No,” Bede replied, “it is easy. Take your pen and ink, and write quickly” – which he did.
  At the ninth hour [mid-afternoon] he said to me “I have a few precious things in my cell: some pepper, some napkins, and some incense. Run quickly and call the priests of the monastery to me, so that I can give to them the few little gifts that God gave me.” When they came he spoke to them in turn, giving advice to each one and begging him to say a Mass and pray for him; which they all willingly promised to do.
  They were grief-stricken and wept, especially because he had said that he thought they would not see his face much more in this world. But at the same time it made them glad when he said “It is time – if it is my Maker’s will – to return to him who made me, who shaped me out of nothing and gave me existence. I have lived a long time, and the righteous judge has provided well for me all my life: now the time of my departure is at hand, for I long to dissolve and be with Christ; indeed, my soul longs to see Christ its king in all his beauty.” This is just one saying of his: he said many other things too, to our great benefit – and thus he spent his last day in gladness until the evening.
  Then Wilbert (the boy who asked him for dictation) asked him again: “Dear master, there is still one sentence left to write.” “Write it quickly,” he answered. A little later the boy said “now it is completed” and Bede replied “you have spoken truly, it is finished. Hold up my head, because I love to sit facing my holy place, the place where I used to pray, and as I sit I can call upon my Father.”
  And so, on the floor of his cell, he sat and sang “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”; and as he named the Spirit, the Breath of God, he breathed the last breath from his own body. With all the labour that he had given to the praise of God, there can be no doubt that he went into the joys of heaven that he had always longed for.

Saintly Thought for Today

From St. Louis de Montfort's "Secret of the Rosary:"

If by chance your conscience is burdened with sin, take your Rosary and say at least a part of it in honor of some of the mysteries of the life, passion, and glory of Jesus Christ, and you can be sure that, while you are meditating on these mysteries and honoring them, he will show his sacred wounds to his father in heaven. He will plead for you and obtain for you contrition and the forgiveness of your sins.

The Religion of Peace (cont)

UK Muslims break teacher's skull for teaching about Islam.

More on the closure of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

                                           Madonna partied here?

They partied too much.

A story not covered by the MSM (cont.)

There is a lot of this lately.  This time, the Cathedral in St. Paul, Minnesota is defaced with (satanic) graffiti.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My favorite logo in sports

One day while watching an English football game on tv, it seemed to me from quick close up glimpses that one team was wearing the emblem of the Agnus Dei on their chests.  This struck me as odd, since no team in American professional sports has a logo with anything remotely like the religious significance of the Agnus Dei.  So I assumed it wasn't really the Agnus Dei, but just some object that suggested the Agnus Dei.  I mean, how could it be the Agnus Dei?   What possible reason could a football team have for displaying the Agnus Dei on their uniform?

Well, it was the Agnus Dei, and here's the story:

Preston North End Football Club is one of the oldest clubs in England, having been founded in 1888.  Its logo is taken from the city of Preston, Lancashire's coat of arms.  Preston was originally a  Church property called "Priests' Tun," tun being the Saxon word for farm or estate. Over time this was corrupted to "Preston."  The city's symbol was a standing lamb, the symbol of St. Wilfrid, since St. Wilfrid was the patron of Preston's parish church.  During the Reformation, the name of the parish church was changed to St. John's, and, accordingly, Preston's symbol was modified to St. John the Baptist's symbol, a seated lamb.  Preston remained a stronghold of Catholicism long after Henry VIII's time.   Perhaps the change to the city's coat of arms was so slight because the people hoped it would be for a short time only.
Unfortunately, the club has just been relegated to English League One, two leagues below Barclay's Premier League, the top professional league in England.

"The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross"

I find that post-Vatican II Catholics tend to be shocked when this aspect of the Mass is pointed out to them.  Poor catechesis is partly to blame, but not entirely.  The following words are taken from F.J. Sheed's "Theology for Beginners." :

The Sacrifice of the Mass
Upon Calvary Christ Our Lord offered himself in sacrifice for the redemption of the human race. There had been sacrifices before Calvary, myriads of them—foreshadowings, figures, distortions often enough, but reaching out strongly or feebly towards the perfection of Calvary's sacrifice.
These represented an awareness in men, a sort of instinct, that they must from time to time take something out of that vast store of things God has given them and give it back to him. Men might have used the thing for themselves but chose not to; they offered it to God, made it sacred (that is what the word sacrifice means). In itself, sacrifice is simply the admission that all things are God's; even in a sinless world this would be true, and men would want to utter the trust by sacrifice. With sin, there was a new element; sacrifice would include the destruction of the thing offered—an animal, usually.
We can study these sacrifices, as they were before Calvary at once perfected and ended them, in the Temple sacrifices of the Jews, the Chosen People. The whole air of the Old Testament is heavy with the odor of animals slain and offered to God. The slaying and the offering—immolation and oblation—were both necessary elements. But whereas the offering was always made by the priests, the slaying need not be done by them; often it was the work of the Temple servants. For it was not the slaying that made the object sacred, but the offering. The essential thing was that the priest offer a living thing slain.
With Christ, we have said, sacrifice came to its perfection. The priest was perfect, for Christ was the priest. The victim was perfect, for he was the victim too. He offered himself, slain. But not slain by himself. He was slain by others, slain indeed by his enemies.
What he did was complete, once for all, not to be repeated. It accomplished three things principally—atoned for the sin of the race, healed the breach between the race and God, opened heaven to man, opened it never to be closed. His is "the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for those of the whole world" (1 Jn 2:1).
With such completion, what was still to be done? For something was still to be done. Christ is still in action on men's behalf, as the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us. Jesus has entered "into heaven itself, that he may appear now, in the presence of God for us" (9:24). He is "always living to make intercession for us" (7:25). What still remains to be done is not an addition to what was done on Calvary, but its application to each man—that each of us should receive for himself what Our Lord won for our race.
The "intercession" just spoken of is not a new sacrifice but the showing to God of the sacrifice of Calvary. The Victim, once slain, now deathless, stands before God, with the marks of the slaying still upon him—"a Lamb standing, as it were slain" (Rv 5:6).
We are now in a better position to understand the Sacrifice of the Mass. In heaven Christ is presenting himself, once slain upon Calvary, to his heavenly Father. On earth the priest—by Christ's command, in Christ's name, by Christ's power—is offering to God the Victim once slain upon Calvary. Nor does this mean a new sacrifice, but Calvary's sacrifice presented anew—in order that the redemption won for our race should produce its fruit in us individually.
In the Mass the priest consecrates bread and wine, so that they become Christ's body and blood. Thus the Christ he offers is truly there really there. The Church sees the separate consecration as belonging to the very essence of the Mass. It is a remainder of Christ's death—and he had told his first priests at the Last Supper that, in doing what he had just done, "they should show forth the death of the Lord, until he come (1 Cor 11:26). They should show forth Christ's death, remind us of his death, not, of course, kill him, any more than he had killed himself on Calvary.
The priest offers the sacrifice. But we are, in our lesser way, offerers too. Twice we are told so in the Ordinary of the Mass. We have already seen how after the Consecration the priest says, "We thy servants but also thy holy people [plebs tua sancta] . . . offer . . . a pure, holy and immaculate Victim." To see ourselves merely as spectators at Mass is to miss the opportunity to take our part in the highest action done upon earth.
One element in the Mass remains to be mentioned. We, united with Christ's priests, have offered Our Lord to God. And God gives him back to us, to be the Life of our life. That is what Holy Communion means. God, while retaining Christ for his own, also shares him with us. So that God and man, each in his own way, receive the slain and risen God-man.

Where do our jobs come from?

                                    "St. Joseph the Worker," by Pietro Annigoni

And who owns them?  A new book, "Jobs of Our Own" by Race Mathews, gives expression to themes sounded by Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," including this one:

Alongside profit-oriented private enterprise and the various types of public enterprise, there must be room for commercial entities based on mutualist principles and pursuing social ends to take root and express themselves. It is from their reciprocal encounter in the marketplace that one may expect hybrid forms of commercial behaviour to emerge, and hence an attentiveness to ways of civilizing the economy. (38)

Papal Teaching for Today

                                                   Pope Benedict XII

From "On the Beatific Vision of God" issued at Avignon by Pope Benedict XII in 1336 AD:

By this Constitution which is to remain in force for ever, we, with apostolic authority, define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints who departed from this world before the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and also of the holy apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins and other faithful who died after receiving the holy baptism of Christ- provided they were not in need of any purification when they died, or will not be in need of any when they die in the future, or else, if they then needed or will need some purification, after they have been purified after death-and again the souls of children who have been reborn by the same baptism of Christ or will be when baptism is conferred on them, if they die before attaining the use of free will: all these souls, immediately (mox) after death and, in the case of those in need of purification, after the purification mentioned above, since the ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into heaven, already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment, have been, are and will be with Christ in heaven, in the heavenly kingdom and paradise, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the passion and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and see the divine essense with an intuitive vision and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature by way of object of vision; rather the divine essence immediately manifests itself to them, plainly, clearly and openly, and in this vision they enjoy the divine essence . Moreover, by this vision and enjoyment the souls of those who have already died are truly blessed and have eternal life and rest. Also the souls of those who will die in the future will see the same divine essence and will enjoy it before the general judgment.
Such a vision and enjoyment of the divine essence do away with the acts of faith and hope in these souls, inasmuch as faith and hope are properly theological virtues. And after such intuitive and face-to-face vision and enjoyment has or will have begun for these souls, the same vision and enjoyment has continued and will continue without any interruption and without end until the last Judgment and from then on forever.

It's another sunny day in Vatican City

I know because I just checked the St. Peter's Basilica webcam.

Update:  It's actually a cloudy day.  I just checked the St. Peter's cupola webcam.  The St. Peter's basilica shot was from yesterday.

Pro Deo et Patria

                                                  Commodore Barry

When the patriotic sympathies of American Catholics were questioned, they proved their love of country by fighting and often dying for it (cf CAIR). 

In this period leading to Memorial Day we will tag along with McNamara's Blog as he profiles notable fighting American Catholics.  Today's subject: the "Father of the American Navy," Commodore John Barry.

Saintly Thought for Today

                                          The Rosary is not just for them

From St. Louis de Montfort's "Secret of the Rosary:"

It is a great mistake to think that only priests and religious and those who have withdrawn from the turmoil of the world are supposed to meditate upon the truths of our faith and the mysteries of the life of Christ. If priests and religious have an obligation to meditate on the great truths of our holy religion in order to live up to their vocation worthily, the same obligation is just as much incumbent on the laity, because of the fact that every day they meet with spiritual dangers which might cause them to lose their souls. Therefore they should arm themselves with the frequent meditation on the life, virtues, and sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which are presented to us in the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

Happy Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians!

                                           Our Lady Help of Christians

Courtesy of Saints.SQPN.com, here is the history of the feast:

The feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, was instituted by Pope Pius VII. By order of Napoleon, the Pope was arrested on 5 July 1808, and imprisoned at Savona, Italy and Fontainebleau, France. In January 1814, after the Battle of Leipzig, he was brought back to Savona and set free on 17 March, the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, the patroness of Savona. The journey to Rome was a veritable triumphal march with the pontiff, attributing the victory of the Church after so much agony and distress, to the Blessed Virgin. He visited many of her sanctuaries on the way, crowning her images, and entered Rome on 24 May 1814 to enthusiastic crowds. To commemorate his own sufferings and those of the Church during his exile he extended the feast of the Seven Dolours of Mary to the universal Church on 18 September 1814.
When Napoleon left Elba and returned to Paris, Murat was about to march through the Papal States from Naples. Pius VII fled to Savona on 22 March 1815, where he crowned the image of Our Lady of Mercy on 10 May 1815. Following the Congress of Vienna and Battle of Waterloo, he returned to Rome on 7 July 1815. To give thanks to God and Our Lady, he instituted the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians for the Papal States on 15 September 1815; it was celebrated on 24 May, the anniversary of his first return. The dioceses in the Tuscany region adopted it on 12 February 1816, and it spread over nearly the entire Latin Church.
They hymns of the Office were composed by Brandimarte. It is the patronal feast of Australasia, a double of the first class with an octave, and is celebrated with great splendour in the churches of the Fathers of the Foreign Missions of Paris. It has attained special celebrity since Saint John Bosco dedicated the mother church of his congregation at Turin to Our Lady, Help of Christians. The Salesian Fathers have carried the devotion to their numerous establishments, and prayers for her intervention are credited with the miraculous cure of Blessed Artemide Zatti.

UPDATE:  Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians is occasion for battle between Pope and Chinese Communist Government.   Story here.

Thank God you don't live in Rochester

As Bishop Matthew Clark nears retirement, he leaves behind a moribund womanchurch.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Benedict shuts Cistercian monastery in Rome

                                     Abbey of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

"Religious malpractice" is the suspected reason.  Closure follows Apostolic Visitation.  More here

Papal Teaching for Today

Pope Boniface VIII

The following is from the Bull "Unam Sanctam" of Pope Boniface VIII,  promulgated November 18, 1302 AD.  These papal documents are called Bulls on account of the bulla, or ball of clay, which was molded around a cord attached to the document and stamped with the papal seal to authenticate it.  "Unam Sanctam" is among the most extreme expressions of papal authority ever made.  Fuller discussion of "Unam Sanctam" here.

We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say: 'Behold, here are two swords' [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: 'Put up thy sword into thy scabbard' [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administered for the Church but the latter by the Church; the former in the hands of the priest; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest.
However, one sword ought to be subordinated to the other and temporal authority, subjected to spiritual power. For since the Apostle said: 'There is no power except from God and the things that are, are ordained of God' [Rom 13:1-2], but they would not be ordained if one sword were not subordinated to the other and if the inferior one, as it were, were not led upwards by the other.

Speaking of the end of the world

                                                 Here's a hint

Did Jesus know the day and hour of the apocalypse?  Courtesy of The New Theological Movement, here's the answer.