Saturday, July 30, 2011

In honor of Mary

As Saturday is traditionally devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, we offer Orlando Gibbons' lovely setting of the "Magnificat."

Is there still hope for Notre Dame?

Yes, according to one hyper-optimist who loves Notre Dame deeply.  I hope he's right, but I'm afraid Fr. Hesburgh has already sold Notre Dame's birthright for a mess of potage.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Have you visited the Blessed Sacrament today?

Well, why not?

Here is some advice on visiting the Blessed Sacrament from "The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus" by Fr. John Croiset, SJ:

[W]e give here the advice of St. Francis de Sales: "Many people have made a collection of aspirations which indeed are very useful; but, in my opinion, you should not confine yourself to any set formula of words; you can express with your heart or with your lips those sentiments which love will suggest to you, for love will furnish you with all the aspirations that you desire."

Ireland needs a miracle

The 50th International Eucharistic Congress is scheduled to take place in Ireland next year.  Pope Benedict may attend.   Benedict worked wonders in England.  Let's pray he does the same in Ireland.

St. Patrick, pray for us

"Crucifixus for 16 voices" by Antonio Caldara

Some beautiful and apt music for Friday, courtesy of inscrutable being.

The Rule of St. Benedict (Part 9)

St. Benedict on Good and Bad Zeal

According to St. Benedict, there is bad zeal, which is "evil and bitter rivalry which keeps one from God and leads to Hell."  There is also good zeal, "which keeps one from vice and leads to God and eternal life."  St. Benedict urges monks to practice good zeal "with ardent love."  He adds:

Let them accept each other's frailties (of body or soul).   Let them try to outdo each other in obedience.  Let no one do what is best for himself, but rather what is best for another.  Let them expend the charity of brotherhoood in chaste love.

St. Benedict, pray for us.

Anybody remember where we put all those altar rails?

Cardinal Canizares, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, says the entire Church should receive communion on the tongue while kneeling

Thursday, July 28, 2011

St. Bonaventure's "Life of St. Francis of Assisi"

                         "The healing of the child St. Bonaventure by St. Francis"

Earlier this month, we celebrated the feast of St. Bonaventure, and have been examining St. Bonaventure's contributions to the Church throughout the month.  

In 1260 AD, a general chapter of the Franciscan order requested St. Bonaventure to compose a life of St. Francis, of which there were then many in circulation.  St. Bonaventure duly composed "The Life of St. Francis," which was approved by a subsequent chapter as the standard biography of the saint, to the exclusion of all others.  The following is taken from St. Bonaventure's "The Life of St. Francis:"

And when the Brethren in council asked of him which virtue would render a man most pleasing unto Christ, he answered, as though laying bare the secret thought of his heart, "Ye know, Brethren, that poverty is an especial way of salvation, being as it were the food of humility, and the root of perfection, and her fruits are manifold, albeit hidden. For poverty is that treasure hid in a field of the Gospel, which to buy a man would sell all that he hath, and the things that cannot be sold are to be despised in comparison therewith."

Silk purse out of sow's ear dept.

                                                   Chartres it ain't

The diocese of Orange has offered $50 million for Robert Schuller's "Crystal Cathedral."  The diocese needs a cathedral and Bishop Tod Brown intends to use the Crystal Cathedral for that purpose.  If the diocese's bid succeeds, their new cathedral will assume a very high place on the list of the world's ugliest Catholic churches, possibly surpassing even Cardinal Mahony's nearby costly concrete cube.  Why would Bishop Brown want such an ugly cathedral?  Thomas Peters offers an answer here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Rule of St. Benedict (Part 8)

The Rule of St. Benedict contains guidance for practically all eventualities, including what to do when asked to do the impossible.  Should this disquieting circumstance befall you, consider St. Benedict's advice:

"If a brother is requested to do something difficult or impossible he should, at first, accept the command meekly and obediently.  If he sees that the task is beyond his means, respectfully, calmly and humbly, he will tell his superior the reason for it.  He will not be proud, resistant or contradictory.
If the superior keeps to his decision despite the brother's reasons, the brother in charity will do as told, trusting in God's help."

St. Benedict, pray for us.

Hail, Saintly parents of the Virgin Mary

"St Joachim and St. Anne meeting at the Golden Gate" Giotto
This depicts the moment when, according to tradition, an Angel has just informed St. Anne she is unexpectedly pregnant

Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, the parents of the Virgin Mary.   We know their names and story chiefly from a second century apocryphal text called "The Protoevangelium of James."  According to this tradition, Joachim and Anne were a pious, prosperous, childless couple living in Jerusalem who suffered great shame on account of Anne's barren condition.  They beseeched Our Lord to take away this shame, and Our Lord sent an angel to each of them to announce that their petition had been granted.   At first, the cult of Saints Joachim and Anne spread mainly in the East.   During the fourth century, a church was built (possibly by St. Helena) upon the site of St. Joachim and St. Anne's Jerusalem home, where their tombs were venerated until the ninth century, when the church was converted to a Muslim school.   In the thirteenth century, Jacobus de Voragine included the story of St. Joachim and St. Anne in "The Golden Legend," whereupon veneration of Saints Joachim and Anne became very popular in the West.  Their feast was extended to the universal Latin Church in 1584.

Relics of St. Anne
The supposed relics of St. Anne were brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in 710 and were kept in the church of St. Sophia as late as 1333.  According to another tradition, the body of St. Anne was brought to Apt in Southern France by St. Lazarus, the friend of Christ, was hidden by St. Auspicius (d. 398), and found again during the reign of Charlemagne; these relics were installed in a magnificent chapel in 1664.  A foot of St. Anne is venerated in Douai, and  the head of St. Anne was kept at Mainz up to 1510, when it was stolen and brought to Düren in Rheinland.

Patronage of St. Anne
St. Anne is the patroness of Brittany.  Her miraculous picture (feast, 7 March) is venerated at Notre Dame d'Auray, Diocese of Vannes.  In Canada, where she is the principal patron of the province of Quebec, the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré is well known. St. Anne is patroness of women in labour.

Let us worry about the feelings of Chinese Catholics

Chinese Communist government criticized Vatican's recent excommunication of illicitly consecrated bishops, on grounds it was "rude" and made Chinese Catholics " feel sad."

Monday, July 25, 2011

The UK Ordinariate - So far, so good

So says Damian Thompson.  Still, he poses some tough questions for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is in charge of the project.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.

Hail, Apostle and Martyr

Today we celebrate the feast of St. James the Greater, the brother of St. John the Evangelist.  According to the gospels, St. James, his brother John and their father Zebedee were engaged in their occupation of fishing on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus called James and John to become "fishers of men."   St. James later became the first bishop of Jerusalem, and according to tradition was the first to evangelize Spain.  St. James was also the first of the Apostles to die a martyr's death, when he was beheaded at the order of Herod Agrippa in 44 AD.  According to tradition, St. James' relics were miraculously translated to Spain, their location signalled by a star.  The site, Santiago de Compostela, became one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world.  When the Spanish national soccer team won its first World Cup in 2010, they dedicated their achievement to St. James.  Many members of the team vowed to make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.  I hope they have kept their vows.

UPDATE:  Here's a sample of a little medieval ditty called "The Road to Compostela: Vocavit Jhesus" by  The Rose Ensemble.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Rule of St. Benedict (Part 7)

Silence and Talk

The Rule of St. Benedict strongly cautions against talk.  "No matter how perfect the disciple," writes St. Benedict in Chapter 6, "nor how good and pious his speech he rarely should be given permission to speak for: "In much speaking, you shall not escape sin" (Prov. 10:19)."  In Chapter 42, St. Benedict writes "[m]onks should try to speak as little as possible, but especially at night."   St. Benedict adds "[i]f anyone speaks after Compline (the final canonical hour of the day), punishment will follow."

Tempering speech makes a monk less apt to sin against charity.  Also, silence aids a monk in hearing the voice of the Lord.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A litany to Our Lady

Since Saturday is traditionally devoted to Our Lady, we offer this 11th century Irish litany.  May Our Lady restore peace to that unhappy island:

Great Mary, 
Greatest of Marys, 
Greatest of Women, 
Mother of Eternal Glory, 
Mother of the Golden Light, 
Honor of the Sky, 
Temple of the Divinity, 
Fountain of the Gardens, 
Serene as the Moon, 
Bright as the Sun, 
Garden Enclosed, 
Temple of the Living God, 
Light of Nazareth, 
Beauty of the World, 
Queen of Life, 
Mother of God,
Ladder of Heaven, 
Pray for us.  

Ireland's agony enters more acute phase

UK's Catholic Herald reports here.  The estimable Dr. Oddie pours oil on the waters here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Have you visited the Blessed Sacrament today?

Well, why not?

From "The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus," by Fr. John Croiset, SJ, regarding visits to the Blessed Sacrament:

"During our visits to the Blessed Sacrament we should meditate much and speak little.  A loving, adoring silence, which might be called the language of the heart, is much more pleasing to Jesus Christ in these visits, than a great number of vocal prayers said hurriedly and with little attention."

St. Bonaventure's "Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum" (Part 3)

Here is the conclusion of St. Bonaventure's masterwork of mystical theology "Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum (the Journey of the Mind to God)."   St. Bonaventure's description of mystical encounter with God must finally conclude with Fire, death and holy silence.  This is taken from the chapter entitled "On The Mental And Mystical Excess, In Which, Rest Is Given To The Intellect, By An Affection Passing-Over Wholly Into God Through Excess:"

"Moreover if you seek, in what manner these things occur [fiant], interrogate grace, not doctrine, desire, not understanding [intellectum]; the groan of praying, not the study of reading; the spouse, not the teacher; God, not man, darkness, not brightness [claritatem]; not light, but the Fire totally inflaming, transferring one into God both by its excessive unctions and by its most ardent affections.  Which Fire indeed is God, and His forge is in Jerusalem, and Christ ignites [accendit] this in the fervor, of His most ardent Passion, which He alone truly perceived, who said: My soul has chosen suspense, and my bones death.  He who loves [diligit] this death can see God, because it is indubitably true: No man will see Me and live.    Therefore let us die and step into the darkness, let us impose silence upon our cares [sollicitudinibus], and concupiscences and phantasms; let us pass-over together with Christ Crucified from this world to the Father, that, by showing us the Father, we may say with Phillip: It suffices for us; let us hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; let us exult with David saying: My flesh and my heart failed, God of my heart and my portion: God forever.  Blessed be the Lord forever, and every people shall say: Fiat, Fiat.  Amen"

Want to show your concern for the poor?

Call your congressman.  According to the Jesuit magazine "America," that's all it takes.  No wonder so many people are liberals; it's so easy!  And it makes you feel so good!  And you don't even have to spend your own money!

Archbishop Chaput to Philadelphia (Part 2)

Dr. Oddie wishes they had an Archbishop like Chaput in England.   The estimable Dr. Oddie's full reflections here.

Hail, Saintly herald of Easter joy

               St. John the Baptist and St. Mary Magdalen, by Hans Memling

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.  The Latin Church has traditionally, though not uniformly, held that the Mary the Gospels describe as accompanying Jesus in his ministry, the Mary from whom seven devils were cast out, and the Mary who stood at the foot of the cross, witnessed Jesus laid in the tomb, and was the first to encounter Jesus in the garden after the resurrection are all the same Mary.  St. Ambrose is among the more prominent Latin dissenters on this point.  The Fathers of the Greek Church have traditionally held that the Mary who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and dried them with her hair, the Mary who was the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and Mary Magdalen are three distinct persons.   The Catholic Encyclopedia has more on this debate here.

From today's office of Lauds, courtesy of Universalis:

"Almighty, ever-living God, your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ made Mary Magdalen the first herald of Easter joy.
  Grant that, following her example and her prayers, we may, in this life, proclaim the living Christ, and come to see him reigning in your glory."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Rule of St. Benedict (Part 6)

Food and Drink According to the Rule

The Rule of St. Benedict provides a comprehensive regimen for governing the monastery, and naturally does not overlook how much the monks are to eat, and how much they are to drink.  For food, St. Benedict believes that "two cooked dishes will satisfy the daily needs at each meal - at the sixth and ninth hours.  If some brothers cannot eat one, then they may eat the other."  Consistent with his practice in all things, St. Benedict grants discretion to the abbot to increase the ration "if the monks have worked harder than usual."  In addition to the cooked dishes, each monk is to receive a pound of bread per day.

For drink, St. Benedict believes "a hemina (quarter liter) of wine for each monk each day is adequate."  As with food, St. Benedict allows that "depending on local conditions, the strain of labor, or excessive heat more drink may be permitted at the will of the abbot."   St. Benedict adds, "[w]e read that wine is not for monks, but in our times they cannot accept this." 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

St. Bonaventure's "Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum" (part 2)

"Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum" is St. Bonaventure's masterwork of mystical theology.   According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, mystical theology is "the science which treats of acts and experiences or states of the soul which cannot be produced by human effort or industry even with the ordinary aid of Divine grace."  A mystical theologian, then,  is not only a theologian but also a mystic; a person who has, by grace, been granted mystical union with God.  With the mystical theologian's assistance, those of us to whom the grace of mystical union has not been granted can still in some small measure appreciate the overpowering glory of the mystical experience.  In "Itinerarium," St. Bonaventure provides a mystically illuminated description of God, using theological terms and categories from Augustianian theology. The following excerpts from "Itinerarium" are from the chapter entitled "On The Sight Of The Divine Unity Through Its Primary Name, Which Is ‘Being’:"

"Moreover since it happens that God is contemplated not only outside of us and within us, but also above us: outside through vestige, within through image [imaginem] and above through the light, which has been marked upon our mind, which is the light of Eternal Truth, since  « our very mind is formed immediately by Truth Itself » (St. Augustine); ....

Whence it most truly appears, that « as the eye of the evening holds itself towards the light, so the eye of our mind holds itself towards the most manifest things of nature »; because accustomed [assuefactus] to the shadows of beings and to the phantasms of sensibles, when it looks upon [intuetur] the light itself of Most High ‘Being’, it seems to it that it sees nothing; not understanding, that that darkness is the Most High Illumination of our mind, just as, when the eye sees pure light, it seems to it that it sees nothing….

Whence if “God” names the primary, eternal, most simple, most actual, most perfect ‘being’; it is impossible that It is thought to not to be, nor to be but the Only One.  Listen therefore, O Israel, God thy God is one.  If you see this in the pure simplicity of (your) mind, you will in some wise [aliqualiter] be filled with the brightening of eternal light.

Returning again (to this) let us say: that therefore the most pure and absolute ‘being’, which is simply ‘being’, is primary and last, is for that reason the Origin and consummating End of all things.     Because It is eternal and most present, It for that reason comprises [ambit] and enters all durations, as if existing at the same time as their center and circumference.   Because It is most simple and the greatest, for that reason wholly within all and wholly outside, and through this « it is an intelligible sphere, whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere ».    Because It is most actual and most immutable, for that reason « remaining stable It grants that all [universa] be moved ».    Because it is most perfect and immense, for that reason it is within all things, not as included, outside of all things, not as excluded, above all things, not as lifted up, below all things, not as prostrated.    On the other hand, because It is most highly one and in every measure, for that reason It is all in all [omnia in omnibus], although all things be many and It itself is not but one; and this, because through the most simple unity, the most serene truth, (and) the most sincere goodness there is in Him every virtuosity, every exemplarity and every communicability; and through this, from Him and through Him and in Him all things are, and this, because (He is) the omnipotent, omniscient and in every measure Good, which to see perfectly is to be blessed, as is said by Moses: I shall show thee every good."

On gay marriage, Scalia is entitled to say "I told you so"

For what that's worth.

Marriage is in tatters.  The citadel had been betrayed by its defenders long before it fell.  

In case you thought we were trying to win in Afghanistan

US military ordered British marines not to shoot Taliban planting mines because it would wake the locals.

We may as well withdraw all our troops now.  If we have a military objective, it is an exceeding obscure one.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pope to consecrate world's youth to Sacred Heart

Benedict will consecrate all youth, not just those present at the World Youth Day vigil.   Preparatory catechesis is very important, too.

St. Bonaventure's "Intinerarium Mentis ad Deum"

Last week we celebrated the feast of St. Bonaventure, and noted that he was honored with the title "Doctor of the Church" in recognition of his achievements in dogmatic, mystical, exegetical and homiletic theology.  What follows is a short sample of St. Bonaventure's famous treatise on mystical theology, "The Journey of the Mind to God."   The excerpt is taken from the second to last chapter, entitled "Of The Reflection Of The Most Blessed Trinity In Its Name, Which Is Good:"

If then you can look with the mind's eye upon the purity of goodness, which is the pure actualization of the principle of Charity, pouring forth free and due love, and both mingled together, which is the fullest diffusion according to nature and will--the diffusion as Word, in which all things are expressed, and as Gift, in which all other gifts are given--you may see by the highest communicability of the Good that a Trinity of Father and Son and Holy Spirit is necessary. Because of the greatest goodness, it is necessary that there be in them the greatest communicability, and out of the greatest communicability the greatest consubstantiality, and from the greatest consubstantiality the greatest configurability, and from all these the greatest coequality; and therefore the greatest coeternity as well as, because of all the aforesaid, the greatest co-intimacy, by which one is in the other necessarily through the highest degree of mutual penetration and one operates with the other through the complete identity of substances and power and operation of the most Blessed Trinity itself.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Jesuits and Harry Potter

According to the Jesuit magazine "America," Harry Potter is Christian.   However, from the Jesuit viewpoint, Harry Potter is not as amazing as Lady Gaga, since he lacks her capacity for inaugurating world peace.

If the Jesuits spent more time praying before the Blessed Sacrament and less time sitting around watching "Entertainment Tonight" they might find their heads less crowded with farcical notions.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hail, Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the protectoress of the Carmelite Order. According to tradition, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel made this promise to St. Simon Stock in 1251 AD: 

"Whosoever shall die wearing my Scapular shall not suffer the flames of Hell."

Blessed Pope John Paul II wore the Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

UPDATE:  Benedict is pro scapular.

DB of Congregation for Divine Worship's Notitiae Responses now online

The Congregation for Divine Worship's responses to inquiries regarding liturgy deserves careful study as record of Church's mind post-Vatican II. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Saintly Thought for Today

From St. Alphonsus Liguori's "The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ:"

"[M]eekness should be particularly observed towards the poor, who, by reason of their poverty, are often harshly treated by men. It should likewise be especially practiced towards the sick, who are suffering under infirmities, and for the most part meet with small help from others. Meekness is more especially to be observed in our behavior towards our enemies: “Overcome evil with good.”  Hatred must be overcome by love, and persecution by meekness; thus the Saints acted, and so they conciliated the affections of their most exasperated enemies."

Hail, Saintly Cardinal-Bishop, Minister General and Doctor of the Church

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Bonaventure (1221 AD - 1274 AD), Cardinal-Bishop of Albano, Minister General of the Franciscans, and Doctor of the Church.  For his wise government of the Franciscan order as Minister General, a post St. Bonaventure assumed at the age of 35 and in which he continued until the final year of his life, St. Bonaventure is called the order's "Second Founder."  Pope Clement IV offered St. Bonaventure the archbishopric of York in 1265, but the humble saint declined.  In 1273, against his will, St. Bonaventure was made Cardinal-Bishop of Albano by Pope Gregory X.  In 1557, Pope Sixtus V honored St. Bonaventure for his great achievements in dogmatic, mystical, exegetical and homiletic theology by granting him the title "Doctor of the Church."

St. Bonaventure united in himself the most sublime features of the Middle Ages; tender piety and profound learning.   St. Bonaventure possessed a deep respect for traditio, and ever remained a faithful student of St. Augustine.  At the same time, St. Bonaventure drew freely from the newly re-discovered teachings of Aristotle.   Perhaps because Pope Benedict likewise combines piety and learning, and joins respect for traditio with zeal for authentic renewal, Sandro Magister refers to Benedict as "Bonaventurian."

From St. Bonaventure's "Life of St. Francis:"

"When the Brethren besought [St. Francis] to teach them to pray, he said: “When ye pray, say ‘our Father,’ and:’We adore Thee, O Christ, in all Thy churches that be in the whole world, and we bless Thee for that by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”  Moreover, he taught them to praise God in all things and through all His creatures, to reverence priests with an especial honour, to firmly hold and simply confess the true faith, according as the Holy Roman Church doth both hold and teach it."

St. Alphonsus Liguori has put out some new cds

About a year ago, Father L, a Benedictine monk from our local monastery, recommended St. Alphonsus Liguori's "The Glories of Mary," and I've been reading St. Alphonsus ever since   There's lots of St. Alphonsus Liguori to read; he was the author of 111 books.   In the course of researching St. Alphonsus online, I've come across references to his music, but never actually heard any.  That's about to change, because the Redemptorists, the religious congregation St. Alphonsus founded,  has undertaken a project to record St. Alphonsus's very extensive body of  music.  The Redemptorists found a devout Catholic popular musician and member of the band "Chicago" (!) to manage the project, and many others, including cloistered Redemptorist nuns and Liam Neeson, have assisted.  There are 3 cds so far, and they are available on Amazon.  Full story here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our Bastille Day Commemoration

We lament the violence done to the Church by the Revolution, and we remember the victims of the Terror and the Directory, especially the Martyrs of Paris and  the Martyrs of Compiegne.

UPDATE:  George Marlin's reflections regarding the Church and the Revolution here.

Jesuits receive unexpected cash infusion

Expert believes Campion Hall painting was done by Michelangelo.  Estimated value: 100 million pounds.

The Rule of St. Benedict (part 5)

St. Benedict's instructions regarding reverence at prayer:

"..[W]e present our pleas to God with the utmost humility and purity of devotion.  We realize that we will be heard for our pure and sorrowful hearts, not for the numbers of our spoken words.  Our prayer must be heartfelt and to the point  Only a divine inspiration should lengthen it."

Vatican archbishop has plan for re-evangelizing Europe

Sounds kind of bloodless and bureaucratic to me, but I wish him luck.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Papal Teaching for Today

From Pope Pius XII's encyclical on St. Benedict of Nursia "Fulgens Radiatur," promulgated 1947 (full text here):

"[A]ll the classes of society, if they studiously and seriously examine the life, teaching and glorious achievements of St. Benedict, cannot but fall under the influence of his gentle but powerful inspiration; indeed they will spontaneously recognize that even our age troubled and anxious for the vast material and moral ruins, perils and losses that have been heaped up, can borrow from him the needed remedies. But before all, let them remember and consider that the sacred principles of religion and its norms of conduct are the safest and soundest foundations of human society; if they are disregarded and compromised, everything that promotes order, peace and prosperity among men and nations, as an almost necessary consequence, gradually collapses."

"Scourge of Islam" back on the air

Coptic priest Fr. Zakaria Botros, "Islam's Public Enemy #1," is back after a one year absence.
Fr. Botros is 76; I hope he's training successors.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Rule of St. Benedict (Part 4)

After many Chapters setting forth instructions concerning the Divine Office, St. Benedict provides the following instruction concerning "How the Office should be performed:"

"We believe that God is everywhere, and the Lord sees both good and evil in all places.   Without doubt, we believe this is so especially when assisting in the Divine Office.  Remember the prophet: "Serve the Lord in fear" (Ps. 2:10), and "Sing His praises with understanding" (Ps. 47:7) and also "In the sight of angels I will sing praise toYou" (Ps. 138:1).  Let us consider our place in sight of God and of his angels.  Let us rise in chanting that our hearts and voices harmonize."

If you are interested in praying the Divine Office, it is available online in many places.  I use Universalis, but also see here.  At home, I use the Mundelein Psalter.

Pope Benedict and World Youth Day

Having already employed the occasion of World Youth Day to model adoratio, Benedict will use the upcoming WYD to encourage recourse to the sacrament of confession.  Sandro Magister's reflections here

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Jesuits (Part 7)

Last weekend we enjoyed ourselves immensely at a lovely out of town wedding.  The wedding itself took place in the chapel of a Jesuit university, but the chapel had suffered one of those tragic "renovations" in which everything tending to call the mind to devotion had been stripped away.  There were, of course, no statues.  Moreover, the tabernacle had not only been shunted away far to one side, but its location and significance were further obscured by rows of chairs placed with their backs toward the tabernacle.  

Fortunately, the iconoclasts' hammer had spared the chapel's glorious stained glass.  I noted with great emotion that the window which, in pre-renovation days, would have overlooked the main altar (the altar was now a plain table in the chapel's crossing), depicted the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  We have considered elsewhere how, for centuries, devotion to the Sacred Heart had been a focus of the Society of Jesus.   We have also seen that, by 1974, the Jesuits had officially abandoned the devotion in favor of  the pursuit of social justice.

Surveying the desolation resulting from a program of demolition deliberately carried out by the very religious order He had personally selected to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart, the Sacred Heart seemed to plead with special poignancy:

“Behold this heart which, notwithstanding the burning love for men with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from most Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference and ingratitude, even in the sacrament of my love (the Eucharist). But what pierces my heart most deeply is that I am subjected to these insults by persons especially consecrated to my service.”

Saintly Thought for Today

From St. Alphonsus Liguori's "The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ:"

"One day St. Gertrude asked our Lord what she could offer Him most acceptable, and He replied, "My child, thou can do nothing more gratifying to Me than to submit patiently to all the tribulations that befall thee."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Corapi responds

Enters plea of not guilty.  Will not return to SOLT.

Our Lady of the Most Blessed Trinity, pray for us.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Liberation theology may look dead

But it hasn't departed altogether.   The estimable Dr. Oddie's reflections here

The Rule of St. Benedict (Part 3)

Obedience and Humility

Of obedience, St. Benedict writes:

"The first degree of humility is prompt obedience.  This is necessary for all who think of Christ above all else."

Of humility, St. Benedict writes:

"The first step of humility is taken when a man obeys all of God's commandments - never ignoring them, and fearing God in his heart."

According to St. Benedict, there are twelve steps of humility.  He writes:

"When a monk has climbed all twelve steps, he will find that perfect love of God which casts out fear, by means of which everything he had observed anxiously before will now appear simple and natural.  He will no longer act out of the fear of Hell, but for the love of Christ, out of good habits and with a pleasure derived of virtue."

A curious quirk of the soul

I came across this observation in St. Alphonsus Liguori's "Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ:"

"When the temporal goods of this world are in question, worldlings endeavor to procure as much as they can; but when it is a question of the goods of eternal life, they say, "It is enough if we get a little corner in Heaven!"' 

Saints have a keen desire for the things of heaven.   The rest of us, foolish creatures that we are, tend to fix our desire on less worthy things.

Sun Tzu and the Art of War (against the devil)

In his famous text, "The Art of War," Sun Tzu advises that for success in war it is critically important to know, not only yourself, but also your enemies.  As Sun Tzu put it:

"It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."

In the war for souls in which we are engaged, we are pitted against an intelligent adversary.  Courtesy of Msgr. Charles Pope, and Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, here is a short review of the characteristics of that adversary.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Rule of St. Benedict (part 2)

Almost at the very start of the Rule, St. Benedict provides a list of what he calls "the instruments of good works" and "the tools of our spiritual craft."  It is a long list.  Many of Benedict's counsels, such as "not to kill," are familiar.   Others, such "to love the young," are not.   The whole list is worth reading, and pondering.  Though we may not have been called to the monastic life, only one of Benedict's counsels (number 60) applies strictly to monks.  We may all seek to achieve the rest of these goals and perfections in our particular state of life.

The latest, sad twist to the tale of Fr. Corapi

It appears Fr. Corapi has sinned greatly.  I'm praying Fr. Corapi accepts the guidance of his religious congregation. 

Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, pray for us.

Beats "Gather us in" by a mile

Thanks to Fr Z, a short video of Catholic grammar school kids happily doing what every liturgist in the US will tell you is impossible: learning Latin chant.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Rule of St. Benedict (Part 1)

On July 11th, a week from today, we will celebrate the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480 AD - 543 AD).  St. Benedict was born near Rome to a noble family, and began his education in the great capital, but as a young man in the midst of his studies Benedict fled the city.  He retired to a remote valley near Subiaco, about 40 miles from Rome, where he spent three years in solitude.  According to Pope St. Gregory the Great, who in 593 wrote the short life of St. Benedict which provides us with much of what we know of the saint, "[f]or God's sake [Benedict] deliberately chose the hardships of life and the weariness of labour."  During these years, Benedict grew in wisdom as well as in the esteem of other monks in the vicinity.  When the abbot of the nearby monastery at Vicovaro died, the monks begged Benedict to become their abbot.  Despite misgivings, Benedict consented.  Things did not turn out well, (the monks tried to poison Benedict), and he soon returned to his life of solitude in the cave near Subiaco.   Benedict continued to grow in sanctity and attract followers, and eventually founded thirteen monasteries around Subiaco.  For the government of these communities Benedict provided his Rule.  The Rule became the basis for most monasticism in the West, and for this reason Benedict is called "the father of Western monasticism."  Benedict's Rule is for monks, who were largely laymen seeking to live the Gospel fully.   All the faithful can therefore profit by reading Benedict's Rule, and we will be considering portions of it throughout the month.

The following is taken from the Prologue of The Rule of St. Benedict:

"Let us encompass ourselves with faith and the practice of good works, and guided by the Gospel, tread the path He has cleared for us.  Thus may we deserve to see Him who has called us into His Kingdom."

Will the last Jesuit in Europe please turn out the lights?

                      Which glorious old church will the Jesuits have to abandon next?

The rapidly imploding Society of Jesus has evacuated the archdiocese of Toledo in Spain.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  This short history of the Feast is courtesy of Catholic Fire:

Historically, regular devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary can be traced back to the twelfth century in the writings of St. Anselm and St. Bernard of Clairvaux.   St. Bernardine of Siena also promoted this devotion in the fifteenth century.   St. John Eudes and his followers began celebrating the feast of the Pure Heart of Mary on February 8, 1643 -- two decades before the liturgical feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was celebrated.   In the nineteenth century, Popes Pius VII and Pius IX permitted several churches to celebrate the feast of the Pure Heart of Mary.   The apparitions at Fatima in 1917 emphasized the devotion of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as Refuge of Sinners.  Mary requested that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. In response to this request, Pope Pius XII, consecrated the world to our Blessed Mother (1942) and established the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession "peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue" (Decree of May 4, 1944).

St. Francis, on the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

“Immaculate Heart of Mary, cause of our joy, pray for us.”

A devotional practice for the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is traditionally represented with seven wounds, for "the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary."  The following, courtesy of EWTN, is a prayer suitable for the Feast.
The Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary
V: O God, come to my assistance; R: O Lord, make hast to help me
V: Glory be to the Father.....
R: As it was in the beginning....
1. I grieve for you, O Mary, most sorrowful, in the affliction of your tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by your heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the gift of the holy fear of God.
" Hail Mary........ "
2. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of your most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and your sojourn there. Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially toward the poor, and the gift of piety.
" Hail Mary........ "
3. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried your troubled heart at the loss of your dear Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of chastity and the gift of knowledge.
" Hail Mary........ "
4. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the consternation of your heart at meeting Jesus as He carried His cross. Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of patience and the gift of fortitude.
" Hail Mary........ "
5. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which your generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony. Dear Mother, by your afflicted heart, obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the gift of counsel.
" Hail Mary........ "
6. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of your compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was struck by the lance before His Body was removed from the cross. Dear Mother, by your heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the gift of understanding.
" Hail Mary........ "
7. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched your most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the gift of wisdom.
" Hail Mary........ "
Let Us Pray
Let intercession be made for us, we beseech You, O Lord Jesus Christ, now and at the Hour of our death, before the throne of Your mercy, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Your Mother, whose most holy soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the hour of Your bitter Passion. Through You, O Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns world without end. Amen.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Part 14)

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  We have been paying particular attention to devotion to the Sacred Heart throughout the month of June.  See a review of previous posts here and here.

The following is taken from a meditation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:

"This Sacred Heart shall be my dwelling place, It shall be my nourishment, in It I will repose after all my toils, and burning with the same fire of love with which It burns, I shall love in It and with It, and the Object of my love shall be this Sacred Heart of Jesus."

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Part 13)

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  We have been paying particular attention to devotion to the Sacred Heart throughout the month of June.  See a review of previous posts here and here.

The following is taken from a meditation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:

"Consider that union of hearts is the ultimate effect towards which love tends.  This union of hearts was the object which Jesus Christ had in mind when he instituted the Blessed Eucharist.  In this adorable Mystery, He acts like one passionately inflamed with love for men, since in It love makes Him in a manner go out of Himself in order to live only in the object of His love.  "At this holy Table," said St. Augustine, "Christ has consecrated the Mystery of union with us."

In celebration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Father Alexander Lucie-Smith's reflections here.

On a more melancholy note, the image above is taken from eBay; this stained glass window of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is for sale.

The Jesuits and the Tupac hermeneutic

Throughout June, we considered the connection between devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Jesuits.  Although specially selected by Jesus Christ Himself to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart, and despite great success in gaining adherence to the devotion, the Jesuits determined in the late 20th century that devotion to the Sacred Heart was outmoded.   Thus, the Jesuits have largely abandoned their efforts to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart, and since 1974, the Jesuits have instead concentrated on working for social justice. 

To judge from the Jesuit magazine "America," the pursuit of social justice affords the Jesuits vast scope.  For instance, they are free to fantasize madly about the theological importance of Lady Gaga, as well as her untapped potential for achieving world peace (see here and here).   There is also plenty of time to consider the topic of sex workers and the Bible, which leads, when you click the link, to the Tupac hermeneutic.  

The author of the "sex workers and the Bible" post, Tom Beaudoin, is a professor in the theology department of Fordham University.  In addition to directing the Rock and Theology project, Professor Beaudoin has recently received a grant to "conduct a pilot study of "deconversion" among Catholics, and to begin to develop theological analyses of the reasons so many (even most) Catholics in the United States are marginally affiliated or non-affiliated with Catholicism as it is officially defined."   My own view is that not devoting enough attention to the Sacred Heart, and devoting too much to Lady Gaga and Tupac Shakur, may have something to do with Catholic "deconversion."

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Part 12

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  We have been paying particular attention to devotion to the Sacred Heart throughout the month of June.  See a review of previous posts here and here.

The following is taken from a meditation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:

"Consider that Jesus Christ, who is the Source of all blessings, has condescended to remain always among us because He wishes to be present at all times in order to share His treasures with us.  And not only has our loving Saviour graciously consented to share with us in this august Sacrament all the blessing of which He is the Source, but by giving Himself to us, he has willed to give us the very Source of these blessings:  "I will show you every kind of blessing; but in what other place except in the Blessed Eucharist, can you find every kind of blessing!" (St. Bernard)."

The Significance of Benedict's Tweet

Tom Hoopes explains beautifully here.

Hoopes quotes Marshall McLuhan's famous dictum that "the medium is the message."  I recently learned that McLuhan was a convert to Catholicism.  There's even a Catholic high school in Toronto named in honor of McLuhan.  McLuhan later offered this gloss on his famous dictum:
“In Jesus Christ there is no distance or separation between the medium and the message. It’s the one case where we can say the medium and the message are in complete unison.”

I like knowing that sort of thing, and perhaps you do as well.