Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What is with the Jesuits and Rock Stars?

                                The Jesuits used to be almost as excited about Jesus as they now are about Bruce

We've posted before about the Jesuit magazine America's obsession with Lady Gaga.  America admires Lady Gaga for many reasons, but most of all because they believe she is our best hope for world peace.  Tupac Shakur and Natalie Merchant have received similarly awestruck attention.  Now it is Bruce Springsteen's turn.  You'll need a heart of stone not to gag.

The Pope of Glasgow

The Archbishop of Glasgow countermands the clearly expressed wish of Benedict regarding Communion.   Damian Thompson's reflections here and Fr. Z's thoughts here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Part 9)

                                        The Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Mary Delaware Church, Delaware, Ohio

August is traditionally devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.   The following is taken from Chapter 9 of St. Louis de Montfort's classic work, "True Devotion to Mary:"

"The Ave Maria said well, that is to say, with attention, devotion and modesty, is, according to the saints, the enemy of the devil, which puts him to flight, and the hammer that crushes him, the sanctification of the soul, the joy of angels, the melody to the predestined, the Canticle of the New Testament, the pleasure of Mary and the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.   The Ave Maria is a heavenly dew that renders fruitful the soul, it is a chaste and loving kiss that one gives to Mary, it is a vermillion rose that one presents to her, it is a precious pearl that one offers to her, it is a touch of ambrosia and nectar that one gives to her.   All of these comparisons come from the saints."
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Endless difficulties for Extraordinary Form

According to Rorate Caeli, interest in Extraordinary Form considered "a formation issue" in many seminaries.

By contrast, I recollect the Novus Ordo being adopted in the parish of my youth quickly and without a hitch.  Curious that the Extraordinary Form's official reception has been so hostile.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Te Deum Laudamus!

We survived Hurricane Irene with no flooding, no water in the basement, and we didn't even lose power.  NJ is prone to flooding, so this is practically a miracle.  My brothers and sisters likewise came through unscathed.  We took precautions beforehand, but I also prayed all night.   I mainly credit the prayers.

In gratitude for our deliverance, we sing "Te Deum."

Friday, August 26, 2011

A meditation upon the Blessed Sacrament

                                                            St. Anthony of Padua Church, St. Louis, MO

From "The Devotion to the Sacred Heart" by Fr. John Croiset, SJ:

The ardent desire of Jesus Christ to unite Himself to us

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.”

NYT: Christianity scares us

                                     I used to believe in that stuff myself

Possibly because they are shockingly ignorant about it.  Example:  Bill Keller, NYT's Executive Editor, (presumably one of the smarter ones), says Rick Santorum is "affiliated with (a) fervid subset of evangelical Christianity."

What Keller calls a "fervid subset of evangelical Christianity" is better known to many as the Catholic Church.

UPDATE:  Turns out, Keller was raised Catholic.   He attended a Catholic grammar school and high school, and, as he writes elsewhere in the above article:

"Every faith has its baggage, and every faith holds beliefs that will seem bizarre to outsiders.  I grew up believing that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ."

Keller describes himself as "a collapsed Catholic," which, according to Keller, means "well beyond lapsed." These words were written in 2002, and the collapse must have just happened, because Keller was married in Holy Name of Jesus Church  on Manhattan's Upper West Side in 1999.

In any event, sounds like Bill Keller has forgotten more than anybody else at the NYT will ever know about Catholicism.

Let us pray to St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists, that Mr. Keller recovers the beliefs he grew up with.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

WYD - better to watch it on TV?

 For all its wonder and glory, WYD Madrid was a disorganized mess, which caused participants many a headache.

Sydney is said to have been very well run; let's hope Rio, which will host the next WYD, learns from Madrid and follows the Sydney model.

Merton on "Progressed Catholics"

The famous Trappist monk and author was not a fan.

There's interesting liberal/conservative combat in the combox.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WYD Afterglow

Sandro Magister reflects on Benedict's WYD innovations.  My favorite: silence.

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Part 8)

                                  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Church of the Assumption, New Haven, Missouri

August is traditionally devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.   The following is taken from Chapter 7 of St. Louis de Montfort's classic work, "True Devotion to Mary:"

Since our perfection consists entirely of our being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ, the most perfect of all devotions is without question the one that conforms, unites and consecrates us the most perfectly to Jesus Christ.  And since Mary is, among all creatures, the most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all the devotions, the one that consecrates and conforms a soul most closely to our Lord is the devotion to the Most Holy Virgin, His Holy Mother; and the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it will be consecrated to Jesus Christ.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Hail, Saintly Apostle and Martyr

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Bartholomew.   His name means "son of Tholmai;" this may, or may not, be his proper name.  St. Bartholomew is mentioned in the lists of apostles given in the three synoptic Gospels, and in Acts, but is not listed in St. John's Gospel.  St. John mentions Nathaniel instead, and many scholars believe Nathaniel and Bartholomew are the same man.  Nathaniel is a friend of Philip, who brought him to Jesus.  Whether the scholarly speculation is correct we cannot say for sure.

According to Eusebius, St. Bartholomew evangelized India.  Other traditions have him evangelizing Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia and other places in the East.  Accounts of his martyrdom also vary.  Some have him beheaded, others flayed alive and crucified head downward.   In his great Sistine Chapel fresco "Last Judgment," Michelangelo depicts a flayed St. Bartholomew holding his own skin.

St. Bartholomew's relics are housed mainly in St. Bartholomew's on the Island Church, in the Tiber River in Rome.  Part of St. Bartholomew's skull is in the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew in Frankfurt, and an arm is in Canterbury Cathedral.

St. Bartholomew, apostle and martyr, pray for us. 

The Pope, the Storm, and Adoratio

The estimable Dr. Oddie's reflections here.  The comments are worth reading also.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hail, Saintly Virgin and Patroness of America

Even as a child, St. Rose of Lima (1586 AD - 1617  AD) was extraordinarily devout, adopting many penances and mortifications in imitation of her model, St. Catherine of Siena.  Like St. Catherine, while still a young girl Rose made a vow of virginity.  This was contrary to the wishes of her parents, who for ten years sought to overcome St. Rose's determination not to marry.  Finally, St. Rose's parents relented, and at 20, she became a third order Dominican, whereupon she increased the severity of her penances and mortifications, offering these in expiation for sins and for the souls in Purgatory.  As perhaps her most famous mortification, St. Rose wore a spiked metal crown, which she concealed with roses.  St. Rose retired to a sort of hermitage she'd built in her parents' garden, sleeping upon a bed of broken glass and thorns.  Many miracles followed her death, and she was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1671, becoming the first New World saint.

I recall a priest noting in a homily that St. Rose was to be admired more than imitated.  While this may be true with respect to her great mortifications, we would do well to imitate St. Rose of Lima's great love for Christ, which was the sole motive for those great penances.

St. Rose of Lima, Patroness of America, pray for us.

Indulgence yourself

                                                                 St. Ignatius Loyola, (St. Peter's Basilica)

Or someone you love.  Or both.
Courtesy of "Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit," here are the particulars of a plenary indulgence granted by Pope Clement XIII in commemoration of the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola.  The essentials: Mass and Communion on 10 consecutive Sundays, along with a visit to a Jesuit church and prayer for the intentions of the pope.  

Jesuit churches are rare in my section of New Jersey.  Too declassé, probably. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The importance of spiritual Communion

                                      St. Alphonsus Liguori, Most Holy Trinity Church, Brooklyn, NY

St. Alphonsus Liguori is a font of wisdom.  From "The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ," here is St. Alphonsus on the practice of spiritual Communion:

It will be found likewise to contribute very much to keep fervor alive in the soul, often to make a spiritual Communion, so much recommended by the Council of Trent, [Sess. xiii. cap: 8.] which exhorts all the faithful to practice it. The spiritual Communion, as St. Thomas says, [P. 3, q. 79, a. 1.] consists in an ardent desire to receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrament; and therefore the Saints were careful to make it several times in the day. The method of making it is this: "My Jesus, I believe that Thou art really present in the Most Holy. Sacrament. I love Thee, and I desire Thee; come to my soul. I embrace Thee;and I beseech Thee never to allow me to be separated from Thee again." Or more briefly thus: "My Jesus, come to me; I desire Thee; I embrace Thee; let us remain ever united together." This spiritual Communion may be practiced several times a day: when we make our prayer, when we make our visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and especially when we attend Mass at the moment of the priest's Communion. The Dominican Sister Blessed Angela of the Cross said: "If my confessor had not taught me this method of communicating spiritually several times a day, I should not have trusted myself to live."

St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church, pray for us

Benedict in Spain

               Pope Benedict heard confessions at WYD

Another demonstration of the power of Benedict's quiet holiness.  Damian Thompson's reflections here.

Battle of Bosworth Field

                                                         Tudor propaganda?

The pivotal battle between the House of Lancaster/Tudors and the House of York/Plantagenets was fought on this date in 1485 AD.   Henry Tudor and his supporters were victorious, defeating the Plantagenets led by Richard III.  Henry is glowingly portrayed in the famous drama depicting the battle, Shakespeare's "Tragedy of Richard III."  It is difficult to share Shakespeare's enthusiasm for the Tudors, in view of the disasters that would befall the Church in England under that dynasty.  Perhaps the Plantagenets would have been as bad for the Church, though it is hard to imagine they would have worse.  

Clearly, these people are convinced Richard III deserved better from Shakespeare.  Every year on this date, they pay for a notice in the New York Times like this one:

PLANTAGENET-Richard III, King of England, misrepresented and maligned by history, maliciously killed by treason on 22 August 1485. He appealed to the ideals of loyalty, lordship and honor. He knew how to command, how to reward, but most of all, he knew how to inspire. Lovingly remembered by The International Patrons of the Richard III Foundation, Inc.,

Hail, Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth

                                        "The Coronation of the Virgin," by Rubens

Today we celebrate the feast of the Queenship of Mary, promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1954.  Although the feast itself is of recent origin, it commemorates the ancient theological tradition which holds that Mary's dignity as Queen of Heaven and Earth rests upon her even greater dignity as mother of God.   As St. John Damascene writes, "When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature."

In Pope Pius XII's original plan, the Queenship of Mary was to be celebrated on May 31.  However, in 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from the Octave of the Assumption to the Saturday immediately after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is celebrated on the final Friday of June.   The Octave of the Assumption now being without a Marian feast, Pope Paul VI  moved the feast of the Queenship of Mary from May 31 to the Immaculate Heart of Mary's former date.

Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, pray for us.

St. John of Avila declared "Doctor of the Church"

St. John of Avila, the "Apostle of Andalusia", is the newest Doctor of the Church.

Fourteen other candidates are under consideration.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

WYD calls forth Church haters

Not a pretty spectacle.  Expect more of this.

Benedict's sermon at Cuatro Vientos

         There's something eerie about a pope preaching in a storm

Sometimes papal sermons have the flat official tone of a government communique, but Benedict's sound like the words of an actual shepherd (albeit an exceptionally intelligent one) to his flock.   Courtesy of Catholic Herald (UK), full text here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A grand convergence?

Andrew Breitbart's "Big Government" site claims that Chesterton's "Distributism" and Tea Party economics are the same

Friday, August 19, 2011

"When the Human One returns will he find bad translations on the earth?"

Better to learn Latin and read St. Jerome's Vulgate than waste time with this ecumenical folderol.

Daniel Harrington, SJ found it "an honor and a pleasure to be associated with this good project," which should set off alarm bells.

Hail, Saintly Priest, Preacher and Founder of Religious Congregations

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Eudes ( 1601 AD - 1680 AD).   St. John was born in Normandy, and spent much of his life there.  He was a brilliant student, and although educated by Jesuits, entered the Oratory.   St. John was an early exponent of devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, composing the Mass and office for the feast of the Sacred Heart and for the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  He also authored the first book on the subject of these devotions.  He founded the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, for the care of women living disordered lives, and the Society of Jesus and Mary, for the education of priests.  St. John is considered the greatest preacher seen in France since St. Vincent Ferrer, and during his long priestly career he preached more than 100 retreats.

St. John Eudes, great teacher of devotion to the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart, pray for us.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The past is a foreign country

                        Combat between Roland and King Marsile, from the Charlemagne window at Chartres Cathedral

The previous post made me think of "The Song of Roland," the great chivalric poem about battle in the Spanish marches between Charlemagne's knights and Islamic armies.  The French certainly did things differently back in those days, when that nation not only held strongly to the Faith, but expressed its devotion with a decided, er, vigor.   Here is an excerpt:

(Archbishop) Turpin of Reims knows that he has been mortally wounded.  Four spears have passed through his body.  That brave peer gets to his feet again, looks for Roland, runs to him, and says:

"I am not beaten! A good vassal never yields while there is still life in him."

He draws his sword Almace, with its burnished blade, and in the thick of the (Mohammedans) he strikes a thousand blows and more.  (Charlemagne) said afterwards that Turpin of Reims spared none of the (Mohammedans), for he found four hundred of them lying around the Archbishop, some wounded, some cleft in two, some headless.  That is what the Chronicle says, which was written by one who had seen the field: the worthy St. Gile, for whom God performed wonders.  He wrote the account in the monastery of Laon, and any man who does not know that is ignorant of the whole story. 

More Muslims than Catholics in France

                St. Joan of Arc, from St Mary of the Angels Church, Wellington, New Zealand

The eldest daughter of the Church is on life support.  

In St. Luke's Gospel, Jesus asks "when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?"  The answer, for now, in France, is "not much."

St. Joan of Arc, patroness of France, pray for us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why I love to read St. Alphonsus Liguori

His writings are full of pearls like this one, from "The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ:"

Our Lord said one day to St. Teresa, "Everything which does not give pleasure to me is vanity." Would that all understood well this great truth!  . . .  It is not necessary to be rich in this world, to gain the esteem of others, to lead a life of ease, to enjoy dignities, to have a reputation for learning; it is only necessary to love God and to do his will.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us.

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Part 7)

                           The Immaculate Heart of Mary (alas, for sale on ebay

August is traditionally devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.   The following is taken from St. Louis de Montfort's "True Devotion to Mary:"

Let us therefore say heartily, along with St. Bernard, that we have need of a mediator before the Mediator Himself, and that the divine Mary is the one who is the most capable of fulfilling this charitable office; it is through her that Jesus Christ came to us, and it is through her that we must go to Him.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fine day for visiting the Blessed Sacrament

                           Main altar, St. Mary's Church, St. Benedict, Kansas

Of course, every day is a fine day for visiting the Blessed Sacrament.

From Fr. John Croiset, SJ's "The Devotion to the Sacred Heart," here is a recommended reflection for a daily visit:
"Offer yourself to Jesus Christ to be united more closely to Him, asking Him to fill you with His spirit and His sentiments, and above all, ask Him to be permitted to enter His Sacred Heart never to leave it."

Cardinal O'Connell was indirectly to blame for clerical pedophilia mess anyway

Weep not; it was merely the tomb of a bishop
who, by being a good administrator,
mysteriously and unintentionally abetted 
lying by other bishops
long after he himself was dead


Which means demolishing the chapel in which the Cardinal was buried was actually a fine thing

That's according to the Jesuits' "America" magazine.   Boston College, a Jesuit institution, did the demolishing.

"America" doesn't claim that Cardinal O'Connell  knew of, deliberately overlooked, engaged in, or in any way approved of clerical pedophilia, for the very good reason that there is no evidence for any of that.  Instead, "America" approvingly echoes the argument that it was the Cardinal's "tremendous success as an administrator" which led, in an unexplained way, "to the episcopal mendacity which has so eroded the archdiocese."  Sounds like, in "America" 's view, it wasn't so much the clerical pedophilia itself as the lying about it by bishops that caused all the problems.  And Cardinal O'Connell was such a good administrator he made it easy for bishops to lie about clerical pedophilia many decades after he was dead.  No, that doesn't make sense to me, either, but that's "America"'s argument.

If that's the best justification they could come up with for demolishing a chapel, the Jesuits are in worse moral condition than even I thought.

And, in case you were wondering for what urgent purpose Boston College would demolish a chapel; the demolition was done to make room for a parking lot.  Imagine the lengths they'd go to build a dormitory.

"World Ends; Women, Minorities Hardest Hit" dept.

                                           Love us! Love us!  We're liberals!

The Jesuits' magazine, "America," can't resist these types of stories.  Here's the latest, and one from last week

I guess you're always the last to realize you've been reduced to self-parody.

Pro-life converts

Let's start the day on a cheerful note by considering these edifying conversion stories of some highly admirable people

Monday, August 15, 2011

More thoughts on the English riots

From an interesting website I just came across called The Economy Project.  He quotes Christopher Dawson, which is always a good sign.

"The Virgin Mary is exalted high above the choirs of angels."

                              "The Assumption of the Virgin" by El Greco 

"Let all the faithful rejoice and bless the Lord."

The above antiphon is from the office of Lauds for today's great feast, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Nothing is known for certain of the time or place or circumstances of the Virgin's death.  However, the tradition that Mary's body did not decay but that she was raised up, body and soul, into heaven is quite ancient.  By the 6th century, we find in St. Gregory of Tours the first written reference in the West to the Blessed Virgin's Assumption.  This belief, and the feast celebrating this belief, spread, at first mainly in France, but gradually throughout the Church.  Finally, in 1950 Pope Pius XII in the Bull Munificentissimus Deus, declared infallibly that the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was a dogma of the Catholic Faith. This teaching was likewise declared by the Second Vatican Council in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, which states that "the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things."

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

UPDATE: The Feast of the Assumption is not a holy day of obligation in the US this year.

Surely there are rosaries in Britain?

                                                     Our Lady of Walsingham

Fr. Lucie-Smith believes Britain would be a more hopeful place if it could recover its devotion to Mary.  However, devotion to Mary having been largely exterminated in Britain more than four centuries ago, Fr. Lucie-Smith wonders how it can be revived.

I don't mean to sound cheeky, Fr. Lucie-Smith, but Our Lady gave us the rosary for just such big jobs as this one.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Part 6)

The following is taken from Chapter 3 of Fr. John Peter Pinamonti, SJ's "Seven Considerations of the Interior Perfections of Mary."  Fr. Pinamonti here considers "The Deep Ocean of Grace."

"... St. Bernard, who is cited by St. Thomas, says: "God has made her infinitely like to His own goodness."  And St. Bernardine: "Mary has entered into the deepest abyss of God's wisdom, beyond all our belief; so that, as far as the condition of a pure creature allows - that is, without the personal union [which is found only in Christ the God-Man] - she is lost to sight in that Light Inaccessible." (I. Timothy, vi. 16)
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

You get what you pay for, Bishop Brown

                        What manner of God is worshipped in such a place?

Bishop Tod Brown of the diocese of Orange, CA, wants to buy the Crystal Cathedral partly because that's much cheaper than building a new cathedral.   To many, it would be a waste of money at any price.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Part 5)

                  The Immaculate Heart of Mary from St. Stanislaus Church, Warsaw ND

The following is taken from Chapter 2 of Fr. John Peter Pinamonti, SJ's "Seven Considerations of the Interior Perfections of Mary."  Fr. Pinamonti here considers "The Heart Worthy of the Mother of God."

"The Only Begotten Son of God - He Who from all eternity received in the bosom of the Father Being without beginning and Who willed to take upon Himself in the bosom of this Mother new being beginning in time - can alone understand the endless height of the dignity that belongs to His Mother.  He hath created her in the Holy Ghost, He hath seen and numbered and measured.  (Ecclesiasticus, i. 9)"

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

On the riots in London, (and Manchester, Bristol, etc.)

The estimable Dr. Oddie's thoughts here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hail, Saintly Nun and Foundress of the Poor Clares

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Clare of Assisi (1194 AD - 1253 AD).  Born near Assisi to a wealthy, noble family, Clare from an early age was devout and pious.  Moved by a sermon of Francis of Assisi to embrace evangelical poverty, on Francis's advice she left her father's house and entered a Benedictine convent.  St. Clare would soon found a new contemplative congregation which practiced extreme poverty, supporting itself entirely upon alms.  The Poor Clares, as they are popularly known, were the first religious community to receive the pope's written approval to renounce the ownership of property.  Against her own will, but in obedience to the wish of St. Francis, St. Clare served as abbess of her community.  When her convent was attacked by forces of the emperor Frederick II, St. Clare defended the house by appearing in a window of the convent holding a monstrance before her.  This appeared to dazzle the attackers, who withdrew.  When a larger force invested the convent and the neighboring town of Assisi, St. Clare and her community prayed on their knees for deliverance.  A storm duly appeared, destroying the camp of the attackers, and they likewise withdrew.  This greatly endeared St. Clare to the people of Assisi, and when she died a new church, Santa Chiara, was built to contain her remains.  She was buried deep beneath its main altar, but the exact spot was forgotten for 600 years.  In the mid nineteenth century, St. Clare's remains were rediscovered.  Her clothing and her flesh had turned to dust but her bones were well preserved.  St. Clare's bones were put on display in Santa Chiara, and may be venerated there today. 

In the 1961 Cinemascope movie "Francis of Assisi," the role of St. Clare was played by Dolores Hart.  Within a few years, Dolores Hart would herself become a cloistered nun, entering the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut.   She has for many years served as Prioress of the community.

Bradford Dillman, who played St. Francis in the movie, did not enter a religious community.

St. Clare of Assisi, pray for us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Part 4)

                             Immaculate Heart of Mary, from the Cathedral of Cordoba

The following is taken from Chapter 1 of Fr. John Peter Pinamonti, SJ's "Seven Considerations of the Interior Perfections of Mary."  Fr. Pinamonti here considers the "negative sanctity" of Mary; that is, her purity:

"[I]n negative sanctity or purity, the Blessed Virgin is beautiful, and chosen as the sun. Inasmuch as she was preserved from every sin, she was the exact likeness of her Divine Child in innocence.  She had, even as He had, an entire freedom from every stain, though in a different way and for a different reason.  This verifies the prophecy of Isaias that, in the Church's firmament, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun."

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

From "Fidei Defensor" to hater of Mary

                                                     King Henry VIII

In 1521 AD, Henry VIII, as putative author of "A Defense of the Seven Sacraments" was granted the title "Fidei Defensor" by a grateful Pope Leo X.   Later that same decade, Henry would break from Rome and set about dismantling many aspects of Catholic belief and practice in England.   The breech between England and Rome made by Henry is still not healed. 

Our Blessed Mother can protect us from imitating Henry's loss of faith and his lapse into depravity, but we must pray to her for these graces.   Henry, alas, was not devoted to Our Blessed Mother, and, indeed, as Henry proceeded along his destructive course he grew to hate her.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.

Hail, Saintly Preacher and Priest

"St. Dominic," El Greco
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Dominic (1170 AD-1221 AD).  St. Dominic founded the Ordo Praedicatorum, or Order of Preachers, popularly known as the Dominicans.  The Dominicans were a new type of religious congregation which combined the dedication to learning of older monastic congregations with a more flexible structure.  Monks are bound to their monasteries, whereas Dominicans are free to move about, preaching wherever the need is greatest, relying upon alms for support.  The Dominicans enjoyed great success in combatting the Albigensian heresy.  They were also instrumental in spreading devotion to the holy rosary, which, according to tradition, St. Dominic received from the hands of Our Lady herself.

The Dominicans spread rapidly throughout Europe.  The priories the Dominicans established to educate members of their order often became great seats of learning.  In England, the Dominicans played an important part in the histories of both Oxford and Cambridge Universities.  Cambridge's American offshoot, Harvard, retains the Dominican motto, "Veritas."

St. Dominic, pray for us.

BONUS: A Dominican joke:

Two men considering a religious vocation were having a conversation. "What is similar about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders? " the one asked.

The second replied, "Well, they were both founded by Spaniards -- St. Dominic for the Dominicans, and St. Ignatius of Loyola for the Jesuits. They were also both founded to combat heresy -- the Dominicans to fight the Albigensians, and the Jesuits to fight the Protestants."

"What is different about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders?"

"Met any Albigensians lately?" 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Not your typical summer reading list

"Pickwick Papers" and Virgil.  I never cared for Virgil, but on Fr. Lucie-Smith's recommendation I will give him another try.

Amusing that these people are reputedly well-educated

The estimable Dr. Oddie's reflections on the sort of secular pundit who is ever on the lookout for signs that Benedict is planning to change "his policies," by which they mean Church teaching

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hail, Saintly Curé

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. John Vianney, the Curé d'Ars (1786 AD- 1859 AD).  St. John Vianney's story is well known; his humble background, his lack of education, his difficulties in gaining admission to seminary, his struggles with Latin, and, following ordination, his humbling assignment to an obscure hamlet, Ars.  Despite his academic difficulties and other misfortunes, St. John Vianney's manifest saintliness would soon draw thousands to that obscure hamlet, which his prodigious holiness had made famous throughout not only France but all of Europe. St. John Vianney had the gift of discerning souls, he could heal the sick, especially children, he possessed supernatural knowledge of the future, he spent endless hours hearing confessions, and he somehow subsisted upon practically no food, and very little sleep.

Although it would be marvelous to have a Curé like St. John Vianney in the local parish, I would settle for a priest who heard confessions for more than half an hour per week.

St. John Vianney, pray for us.

Jesuits sell Gospels for 9 million pounds

Probably their last copy, too.  They won't miss it.

Does anti-clericalism = anti-Catholicism?

George Weigel says yes, the estimable Dr. Oddie says no.  The question arises in appraising the condition of the Church in Ireland,

What her earrings are telling you

The danglier they are, the more liberal she likely is.  I call your attention to the photo of Tina Beattie accompanying this post by Damian Thompson.  Damian refers to Ms. Beattie as "the Voice of the Left."  Note Ms. Beattie's earrings.   Rather dangly, no? 

I've found earring dangliness a remarkably reliable liberalness marker.  However, this only applies to her everyday earrings.  Dress up earrings tend to be danglier than ordinary earrings, so they don't count.

If you should have occasion to test this little guide as you wander through our vale of tears, please let me know what you find.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Part 3)

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Jesuits

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are linked, and just as the Jesuits were, until the late 20th century, energetic exponents of devotion to the Sacred Heart, so too were the Jesuits until recently great exponents of devotion to the Immaculate Heart.   It is no surprise, then, that a classic work in the history of devotion to the Immaculate Heart,  "Seven Considerations of the Interior Perfections of Mary," was written by a Jesuit, Fr. John Peter Pinamonti, SJ.  Fr. Pinamonti  was certainly a zealous exponent of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Beginning in 1665 and for the subsequent 25 years, Fr. Pinamonti conducted multi-day popular missions throughout Northern and central Italy alongside a fellow Jesuit, Fr. Paul Segneri.   The missions were for the most part held outdoors, since few churches were large enough for the great crowds.  The missions followed a simple plan; the two Jesuits preached on Hell and penance, proclaimed the importance of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, provided instruction regarding the catechism, and heard confessions.   Fr. Segneri, considered the more distinguished of the two priests, did most of the preaching, and Fr. Pinamonti did most of the catechetical instruction and heard most of the confessions.  After Fr. Segneri was assigned to different work by the Pope, Fr. Pinamonti continued the missions alone for an additional 12 years.   Fr. Pinamonti died while conducting a mission, and his last words were the sacramental absolution given to a final penitent.  

Perhaps, as their numbers dwindle, the Jesuits will reflect upon their abandonment of their special role in proclaiming devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and be inspired to return to this great and fruitful work.  

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Sad addendum to a very sad story

Back in law school days, I lived in Brighton, Mass., where St. John's Seminary of the Boston Archdiocese was my silent, aloof neighbor.   The seminary was set in a large wooded park, and from what I could see of it on my way to and from the T, it appeared a tranquil, tastefully designed campus, typical of many other pre-Vatican II church properties.  A few years back, the whole kit and caboodle was sold to neighboring Boston College in order to raise cash to pay victims of priestly sexual abuse.   The property included a Chapel to the Blessed Virgin containing the remains of Boston's Cardinal O'Connell, who died in 1944.  The sale closed quickly, and provisions for the Chapel's future were left vague.  Boston College never wanted the Chapel, and they have unceremoniously demolished it.  Compared with the horrors of the abuse scandals, this sad sideshow is small potatoes.  Nevertheless, photos of the Chapel's angels and cross lying in pieces make for melancholy viewing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Part 2)

The following paragraphs are from St. Louis de Montfort's "True Devotion to Mary."  They are taken from Chapter 2, "The Necessity of Mary."

"God the Holy Spirit, being sterile within the Godhead, that is to say not producing any other divine Person, became fruitful through Mary, whom He took as His Spouse.  It is with her, and in her, and from her that He produced His greatest Masterpiece, which is a God-made-man, ... this is why the more He finds Mary, His cherished and inseparable Spouse, in a soul, the more efficacious and powerful He becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul and that soul in Jesus Christ."

"When the Holy Spirit, her Spouse, finds her in a soul, He flies there, He enters there fully, He communicates Himself abundantly to this soul, and in proportion to the place this soul has given to His Spouse; and one of the primary reasons the Holy Spirit does not perform magnificent marvels in souls these days is that He does not find in them a sufficient union with His faithful and inseparable Spouse."

"Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, in strength and in grace in these end times: in mercy, to gather together and lovingly receive those poor sinners and all those who have strayed and who convert and return to the Catholic Church;  in strength against the enemies of God, against idolaters, schismatics, heretics, ..., and against the hardened impious, who rebel dreadfully in order to seduce and cause to fall, by promises and by threats, anyone who is against them; and finally, she must shine forth in grace, in order to stir up and sustain the valiant soldiers and faithful servants of Jesus Christ who battle for His interests."

Hail, saintly priest and founder of two religious congregations

"Fr. Peter Julian Eymard" - Auguste Rodin

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Peter Julian Eymard (1811 AD – 1868 AD).   Peter Julian Eymard was born in the diocese of Grenoble to a poor family, and entered the novitiate of the Oblates of Mary in 1829 but had to withdraw owing to poor health.  In 1831, he entered the seminary of Grenoble, and was ordained in 1834, but soon joined the Marist Fathers.  Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was central to St. Peter's spiritual life, and he particularly strove to ensure that poor children made their first Holy Communion.  St. Peter Eymard rose to provincial of the Marists, but left to found his own congregation, the Society of the Blessed Sacrament.  In 1858 he founded the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, an order of contemplative nuns.   The influence of the Jansenist heresy was powerful in France at the time, and St. Peter himself felt its effects.  Throughout his life, he was troubled by his inability to achieve inner perfection. However, St. Peter helped combat Jansenism by urging the faithful to partake of Communion frequently, a practice which was confirmed by Pope Saint Pius X

In 1862, the great sculptor Auguste Rodin entered the Blessed Sacrament order as a lay brother.  The disconsolate Rodin had recently suffered the loss of his beloved sister, and in his sorrow had decided to abandon his art.  St. Peter Julian Eymard counselled Rodin to return to sculpture, which Rodin soon did.  During his time in the Blessed Sacrament community, Rodin executed the bust of St. Peter Julian Eymard shown above.  The saint did not care for the bust, particularly the swirling mephistophelian tufts of hair at the temples.  The bust was put into storage, and not displayed again for almost 60 years.

The Church of St. Jean Baptiste in Manhattan contains a shrine to St. Peter Julian Eymard at which the humerus bone from the saint's right arm is displayed.

St. Peter Julian Eymard, pray for us.

Portiuncula Indulgence today

Rorate Caeli has procedure and Fr Z has background.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Part 1)

By tradition, the Church dedicates August to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is linked with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The Sacred Heart shows Christ's love for mankind, while the Immaculate Heart represents the Blessed Virgin's desire to lead all people to Christ.

In 1944, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to be celebrated on August 22nd, and replacing the traditional octave day of the Assumption.  In 1969, Pope Paul VI, intending to associate the celebrations of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus more closely, moved the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the Saturday immediately after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Thus, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is no longer celebrated in August, but on the day before the third Sunday after Pentecost.  In 2011, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was celebrated on July 2.

However, Pope Paul VI also moved the celebration of the Queenship of Mary from May 31 to August 22, bringing it into association with the feast of her Assumption.

Throughout the month, we will be considering two texts which bear significantly on devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; “True Devotion to Mary,” by St. Louis de Montfort, and “The Immaculate Heart of Mary,” by Fr. John Peter Pinamonti, SJ.

From “True Devotion to Mary;”

[O]ne must say in truth with the saints: De maria nunquam satis:  Mary has not yet been praised, exalted, loved or served nearly enough; she is still deserving of more praise, honor, love and service.

Hail, Saintly Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696 AD - 1787 AD).    St. Alphonsus was born near Naples to an impoverished noble family.  The eldest of seven children, St. Alphonsus from an early age displayed great talent for music as well as a quick and powerful mind, and his parents placed great hopes in him.   However, St. Alphonsus' parents were very pious persons whose first care was to ensure their gifted son was well-formed in the Faith.  From his father St. Alphonsus learned to put the things of God first, and each year, St. Alphonsus and his father made a retreat together. 

It was decided that St. Alphonsus should enter the legal profession.  He earned his Doctor of Laws at 16, and at 19 began practicing law in the courts of Naples.  Years of success followed, until a spectacular defeat in an important case caused by a misreading by St. Alphonsus of a critical document, led him to withdraw from the profession permanently.  "World, I know you now. Courts, you shall never see me more,"  the disillusioned Saint is supposed to have said. 

St. Alphonsus thereupon devoted himself to prayer and works of charity.  In obedience to an interior voice which told him "Leave the world and give thyself to Me,"  St. Alphonsus vowed to become a priest, and was ordained at the age of 30.  In his long career, St. Alphonsus labored as a missionary within Naples, founded and led the religious congregation known as Redemptorists, published more than one hundred books, including a seven volume study of moral theology, and served as bishop of a Neapolitan diocese. 

St. Alphonsus was canonized in 1839, and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1871.

The following is taken from St. Alphonsus Liguori's "The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ:"

St. Augustine says, that "not to go forward in the way of God is to go backward."  He that makes no efforts to advance will find himself carried backward by the current of his corrupt nature.

They, then, who say "God does not wish us all to be Saints" make a great mistake.  Yes, for St. Paul says, “This is the Will of God, your sanctification.” [1 Thess. iv, 3.] God wishes all to be Saints, and each one according to his state of life: the religious as a religious; the secular as a secular; the priest as a priest; the married as married; the man of business as a man of business; the soldier as a soldier; and so of every other state of life.