Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hail, Ignatius, Priest and Founder of the Society of Jesus

St. Ignatius Loyola at Manresa

The youngest son of minor nobility, Ignatius at a very young age entered the clergy, but was soon released from religious life and instead became a soldier.  At the age of 20, Ignatius suffered serious wounds to both legs and endured a long and painful convalescence at his family's castle.  Greatly weakened by his injuries,  Ignatius recovered slowly, and, since his family's library did not include the chivalric romances he preferred, Ignatius passed the time by reading the only available books, which were lives of Christ and the saints.  Ignatius quickly resolved to imitate the saints he'd been reading about, and, according to his autobiography, was granted a vision of Our Lady and the child Jesus which filled him with joy and left him with a loathing for his past sins.  Once his legs healed, Ignatius spent an extended period of prayer and fasting at Manresa, and then set out for the Holy Land.   During the voyage, Ignatius faced many dangers and pains.  Upon his arrival, the Franciscans, who had charge of the holy places, commanded Ignatius to leave immediately, since the danger of his being captured and held for ransom was very great.  Ignatius returned to Spain, and for the next 15 years, devoted himself to study while gradually working out his plan for serving Christ.  During this time Ignatius suffered many trials and deprivations, including imprisonments, slander, abandonment by followers, accusations of heresy, and even beatings.  St. Ignatius endured these patiently, and finally, in 1540 AD, "Regimini militantis Ecclesiae," the bull sanctioning Ignatius' Society of Jesus, was issued.  In conformity with Ignatius' highly original and even inspired conception, members of Ignatius' Society, in contrast to most other religious congregations, do not wear a distinctive habit, do not pray in choir, and do not accept ecclesiastical dignities.  They also must undergo a much longer period of probation.  Over the centuries, these sons of Ignatius have accomplished many great things, but have also occasioned a great deal of controversy.  We pray that Ignatius' followers return to imitating their founder's patience, devotion and sanctity. 

From St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises:

First Rule. The first: All judgment laid aside, we ought to have our mind ready and prompt to obey, in all, the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother the Church Hierarchical.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Which one is Matthew?

"The Calling of St. Matthew," Caravaggio

In Caravaggio's painting "The Vocation of Matthew" I'd always assumed Matthew was the bearded fellow pointing to himself.   Indeed, that's what visitors to the Church of  Saint Louis des Fran├žais, where the painting is displayed, are told.   However, a program recently aired on the TV channel of the Italian bishops argued for a different interpretation.   The new interpretation makes a great deal of sense (and it turns out the bearded fellow is not pointing to himself).  Sandro Magister has more here.

The Prophecy of Our Lady of Quito

Altar of Our Lady of Good Success

In 1610 AD, Our Lady (under the title "Our Lady of Quito" or "Our Lady of Good Success"), appeared in a vision to an abbess in Ecuador to announce a prophecy which included the following:

“…. I make it known to you that from the end of the 19th century and shortly after the middle of the 20th century…. the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of customs (morals)….

“As for the Sacrament of Matrimony… it will be attacked and deeply profaned… The Catholic spirit will rapidly decay; the precious light of the Faith will gradually be extinguished… Added to this will be the effects of secular education, which will be one reason for the dearth of priestly and religious vocations."

Sounds pretty accurate so far.  Our Lady also promised that this period of trials would be followed by "a complete restoration."   We will look for restoration eagerly.  The estimable Dr. Oddie has more here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

More hopeful words concerning the Church

St. Irenaeus

We continue to atone for recent dispiriting posts concerning the Novus Ordo, by quoting hopeful passages from Fr. Henri de Lubac's "The Splendour of the Church:"

Whatever  the difficulties we encounter and the disturbances which threaten to throw us off our balance, we should always keep a firm hold on [the equivalence of Christ and His Church].
Like Ulysses bound to the mast, ... we should hold on ... to the saving truth formulated for us by St. Irenaeus: "Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God, and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace, and the Spirit is Truth; to sever ourselves from the Church is to reject the Spirit" - and in virtue of that "to shut ourselves out of life."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Jesuits of Georgetown absolutely insist upon the study of only one subject

St. Ignatius Loyola

LGBT sensitivity training.  They require it of participants in the Community Scholars Program at Georgetown.  Of course, there's no such requirement for the study of Catholicism.  And what happens to those who refuse to participate in LGBT sensitivity training?   Security escorts them from campus.  Evidently, Jesuits can still be very strict when it comes to things in which they actually believe.

St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for us.

Hopeful words concerning the Church

St. Joan of Arc

To atone for yesterday's somewhat dispiriting post concerning the Novus Ordo, here is a hopeful passage from Fr. Henri de Lubac's "The Splendour of the Church:"

Practically speaking, for each one of us, Christ is thus His Church. . . . Joan of Arc's words to her judges convey at one and the same time the depths of the mystique of belief and the practical good sense of the believer: "It seems to me that it is all one, Christ and the Church, and that we ought not to make any difficulty of it."  These words of a simple believer are also a summing-up of the faith of Church's Doctors.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We haven't made any depressing observations about the New Mass in a while

Thomas Cranmer - would find the Novus Ordo very familiar

So let us make amends by linking to this post at Reluctant Sinner which is sure to disturb your composure, assuming you were composed in the first place.   RS notes all the ways the Novus Ordo is merely an updated version of Cranmer's "The Supper of the Lord."  This is rather discomposing knowledge, not only because Cranmer was burned as a heretic, but also because the Novus Ordo often serves as a mere jumping off point for liturgical outrages which would shock even the obdurate heretic Cranmer.

RELATED: Attended a Novus Ordo Mass at the local parish today said by a priest with a curly white mane I'd never seen before.  After listening to his digressive homily delivered in the course of a ramble all around the altar, which concluded with the observation that "leadership which doesn't update its files" is "not what Jesus wants,"  I suspected Fr. Silverylocks might have a few liturgical surprises in store for us.  As, indeed, he did.  The elisions and improvisations, while not numerous, seemed carefully chosen, though Fr. Silverylocks' purposes were occasionally obscure.  Among  the items omitted were "like the dewfall," and "Almighty Father," while his substitutions included "for all" in place of "for many," and "Bishop of Rome" for " Pope."   Cranmer would particularly like that last one, although, as Thomas More points out in "A Man For All Seasons," the title "doesn't alter his authority."

Friday, July 20, 2012

It can't happen here

That's the title of Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel about a fascistic president assuming unconstitutional power.  Let's hope it's still true that fascism can't happen here.  However, lately there have been powerful signs that it's not impossible  For instance, the only type of capitalism the present administration seems to like is "crony capitalism," which is but a less distressing name for economic fascism.  Even more worrisome are reports of intimidating visits by the federal police to law abiding persons who hold opinions the federal government doesn't like.  That's authoritarianism which smacks of fascism.  Perhaps it already is happening here.

RELATED:  Looks like the administration is subjecting big Romney donor to a full body cavity search by the IRS and Labor Department.  Luckily the MSM is quite sure the president is a nice guy; otherwise they might occasionally report this sort of thing.

RELATED:  CNN is happy to lend a hand to fascism.  One problem with being as absolutely convinced of your own righteousness as the people at CNN are is that you don't even notice you've started acting like fascists.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


They have a lot to answer for

Study finds teenagers "can be corrupted" by Hollywood sex scenes!

It may surprise these researchers that many in the Church have been aware of this phenomenon for some time.

Hollywood corrupters can certainly profit from studying St. Thomas Aquinas' teachings on scandal, that is, "a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another's spiritual ruin" (h/t New Advent).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Nothing would be more regrettable"

"Hardrock Mass,"  Tarragon, Spain

Writing in 1956, Fr. Henri de Lubac had already anticipated and critiqued foolish and appalling efforts to renew liturgy such as "Hardrock Mass" (h/t Eponymous Flower):

In the present welcome efforts to bring about a celebration of the liturgy which is more "communal" and more alive, nothing would be more regrettable than a preoccupation with the success of some secular festivals through the combined resources of technical skill and the appeal to man at his lower level . . . The Catholic liturgy is luminous in its very mysteries, balanced and reposeful in its very magnificence; everything in it is ordered, and even that which calls most strongly to our being at the level of the senses comes by its meaning only through faith.  Its fruit is joy but the lesson it teaches is one of austerity; the sacrifice which is its centre is "a symbol and representation of the passion of the Lord" (St. Thomas Aquinas) and sacrament of His sacrifice, and the memorial of His death.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

July is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus.  Linked with the devotions to the Most Holy Name of Jesus and the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus was spread and popularized in the 19th century by a Roman priest named Gaspar del Bufalo.

In his apostolic letter On Promoting Devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, Pope John XXIII quotes the following portion of a sermon by St. John Chrysostom regarding the Precious Blood:

Let us, then, come back from [the altar] table like lions breathing out fire, thus becoming terrifying to the Devil, and remaining mindful of our Head and of the love he has shown for us. . . This Blood, when worthily received, drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us, and even summons to us angels and the Lord of angels. . . This Blood, poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean. . . This is the price of the world; by it Christ purchased the Church... This thought will check in us unruly passions. How long, in truth, shall we be attached to present things? How long shall we remain asleep? How long shall we not take thought for our own salvation? Let us remember what privileges God has bestowed on us, let us give thanks, let us glorify him, not only by faith, but also by our very works.

The following prayer is taken from the Chaplet of the Precious Blood:

O most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, we honor, worship and adore You because of Your work of the everlasting covenant that brings peace to mankind. Heal the wounds in the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Console the Almighty Father on His throne and wash away the sins of the whole world. May all revere You, O Precious Blood, have mercy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"For you and yours a privilege"

The Brown Scapular

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.   Christian contemplative hermits living upon Mt. Carmel had by the 12th century organized themselves into a religious congregation under the particular protection of the Virgin Mary.  According to tradition, on this date in 1251 AD, St. Simon Stock, a prior general of the Carmelite order, was granted a vision of Our Lady holding a brown scapular and proclaiming 'This is for you and yours a privilege; the one who dies in it will be saved."    

The brown scapular was part of the Carmelite's religious habit, and thus St. Simon's vision was at first interpreted to mean that Our Lady had promised that all those persevering in a Carmelite vocation would be saved.  However, over time, the wearing of a small brown scapular, consisting of two patches of brown wool attached by string, became popular with laypeople, and Mary's promise of salvation was understood to extend also to wearers of this small brown scapular.  Certain small formalities would first need to be observed.   To obtain the benefit of Our Lady's pledge to St. Simon, the wearer of the scapular must be a baptized Catholic, and be invested with the brown scapular according to a short rite which can be performed by any priest.   By virtue of this rite, the wearer of the scapular is deemed to have become "a member of the [Carmelite] order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life."

Courtesy of Fr. Kieran Kavanagh, OCD, here is a summary of the Church's official position on the brown scapular: 

    1. The scapular is a Marian habit or garment.  It is both a sign and pledge.  A sign of belonging to Mary; a pledge of her motherly protection, not only in this life but after death.
    2. As a sign, it is a conventional sign signifying three elements strictly joined: first, belonging to a religious family particularly devoted to Mary, especially dear to Mary, the Carmelite Order; second, consecration to Mary, devotion to and trust in her Immaculate Heart; third an incitement to become like Mary by imitating her virtues, above all her humility, chastity, and spirit of prayer.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The next mandate (I mean tax)?

Having mandated that we purchase health insurance, or mandating the payment of a penalty for not purchasing health insurance, or whatever it was the Supreme Court said it was okay for Congress to make us do,  no doubt our elected leaders are even now giving thought to what they will make us do next.   Perhaps they'll make us buy this book.   Fortunately, they can't make us read it.  The author is an ex-Jesuit (h/t Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit).

Ecclesia Mater

Paul Claudel (1868 AD - 1955 AD)

The following quotation from the French poet Paul Claudel on the meaning of our membership in the Mystical Body of Christ is taken from Fr. Henri de Lubac's "The Splendour of the Church:"

The whole of creation, visible and invisible, all history, all the past, the present and the future, all the treasure of the saints, multiplied by grace - all that is at our disposal as an extension of ourselves, a mighty instrument.  All the saints and the angels belong to us.  We can use the intelligence of St. Thomas, the right arm of St. Michael, the hearts of Joan of Arc and Catherine of Siena, and all the hidden resources which have only to be touched to be set in action.  Everything of the good, the great and the beautiful from one end of the earth to the other - everything which begets sanctity . .  .  it is as if all that were our work.  The heroism of the missionary, the inspiration of the Doctors of the Church, the generosity of the martyrs, the genius of the artist, the burning prayer of the Poor Clares and Carmelites - it is as if all that were ourselves.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Where do they find the willing "jihadi brother"?

 Abdullah Hassan al-Asiri indicating the size of the explosive charge he dreams of fitting in his rectum

That, evidently, is not the difficult part.   You may discover the import of my question by reading here how Islamic clerics parse the morality of sodomy operations for the sake of martyrdom operations.   You will find that Islamic clerics parsing the morality of sodomy operations for the sake of martyrdom operations overcome the moral difficulties with wondrous ease.  The Islamic clerics then dash more or less headlong to the conclusion that sodomy operations for the sake of martyrdom operations are morally fine.  They don't even pause to consider the moral difficulties, much less the theoretical non-existence, of the willing "jihadi brother."   One therefore suspects that Islamic clerics are well aware that willing "jihadi brothers" not only exist in abundance, but, rather like the Islamic clerics themselves, need no assistance in overcoming their moral difficulties.

By comparison, those mythical scholastic debates about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin sound so, well, wholesome.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hail, Benedict, Abbot and Father of Monasticism

 St. Benedict delivering his Rule to monks

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia (d. 543 AD).  Born to a noble Roman family in Umbria, St. Benedict was studying in Rome in preparation for a career suitable to his class and station when, as a very young man, and perhaps even a teenager, he abandoned his studies and retired from the city to seek a quiet place where he might serve God.    St. Benedict established his hermitage near Subiaco, north of Rome, and eventually his reputation for holiness drew to St. Benedict many others likewise seeking to serve God.  St. Benedict would go on to found twelve monasteries in the vicinity of Subiaco, including the great monastery of Monte Cassino.   The monks were laymen, not clerics, and to govern their communities St. Benedict composed his famous Rule.   The Rule is notable for practical and spiritual wisdom, as well as moderation and simplicity.   Even today, St. Benedict's Rule is used to govern many religious congregations.

From the Prologue to The Rule of St. Benedict:

We are about to open a school for God's service, in which we hope nothing harsh or oppressive will be directed. For preserving charity or correcting faults, it may be necessary at times, by reason of justice, to be slightly more severe.  Do not fear this and retreat, for the path to salvation is long and the entrance is narrow.

As our lives and faith progress, the heart expands, and with the sweetness of love we move down the paths of God's commandments.  Never departing from His guidance, remaining in the monastery until death, we patiently share in Christ's passion, so we may eventually enter into the Kingdom of God.

St. Benedict, pray for us.

UPDATE:  A Benedictine monastery in Benedict's birthplace has started brewing beer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Church and Our Lady

 Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

From Henri de Lubac's "The Splendour of the Church:"

"[T]he maternity of Mary with regard to Christ involves for her a spiritual maternity with regard to all Christians: "She bore One according to the flesh, but spiritually she bore the whole human race" (St. Bonaventure) - while the spiritual maternity of the Church with regard to all includes that power over the Eucharist by . . . which the Church . . . carries out a . . . maternal function with regard to Christ Himself.  Hence those comparisons . . . between Our Lady and the priest and those speculations on Our Lady's priesthood . . . . It was natural enough to consider, after the gift of life in Baptism, and that of the Word in the preaching which gives birth to faith, the sacramental sentence which makes present the body of Christ, as did Mary's Fiat at Nazareth.  From the twelfth century onwards we repeatedly come across the exclamation: "O truly to be venerated is the dignity of priests, for in their hands, as in the womb of the virgin, Christ is incarnated anew." . . . St. John Eudes was to see in [the priest] "the image of our Virgin Mother", since by him "Christ is formed, giving to the faithful and sacrificed to God."

Although we've never stood higher in our own estimation

 Lord Sacks

We can't be trusted to do what is right, the LIBOR scandal being the latest proof of this.   Since trust is the foundation of commerce, it is no wonder that worldwide commerce is flagging so notably.   It wouldn't surprise me if it doesn't revive.  So far the wisest analysis of the LIBOR scandal has come from a rabbi, Lord Sacks.   The estimable Dr. Oddie wonders why no Catholic leader has addressed the issue.

RELATED: In case you were thinking more regulators might be a solution for such rampant dishonesty, it turns out regulators were part of the problem.   Indeed, current Treasury Secretary Timothy ("Tax Cheat")  Geithner, as head of the New York Federal Reserve in 2007, was not only in charge of monitoring Barclay's during the period in question, but had been told "at least 12 times" that LIBOR was artificially low.  Whatever action Geithner took, if any, was certainly inadequate.   To quote an acute observer of the human condition, "A mug is a mug in everything." 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What happens when a Jesuit teaches the Faith clearly and boldly?

 Fr. O'Malley

His Jesuit superiors fire him, of course.   Fr. William O'Malley, SJ, 80, is the author of 37 books, including Choosing to Be Catholic, Why Be Catholic? and Help My Unbelief.   According to Book List, Fr. O'Malley's books contain not just "straight answers," but "persuasive answers to questions raised by the new atheists," as well as "commentary on basic dogma."  Fr. O'Malley has also served as a theology teacher at Fordham Prep in the Bronx for 20 years.  Alas, administrators found Fr. O'Malley "abrasive" and "confrontational," so they canned him.  I expect Fordham Prep's administrators will face an impossible task in finding another Jesuit who can provide students with straight theological answers, persuasive theological answers, or indeed, commentary on basic dogma.  Something tells me they won't even attempt it.   h/t Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit

St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for us.

Hail, Thomas, Apostle and Patron of India

 "The Incredulity of St. Thomas,"  Caravaggio

Today is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle.   St. Thomas is called "Doubting Thomas" for his incredulity concerning the other apostles' account of the risen Christ's appearance to them, having avowed "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."   However, St. Thomas is also honored for the great declaration of faith he would make eight days later, after having indeed probed Christ's wounds with his fingers: "My Lord and my God!"  According to tradition, St. Thomas preached as far East as India, where he was martyred. 

The following is the Reading from today's Office of Lauds:

You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit.

St. Thomas the Apostle, pray for us.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Jesuit bites Church

St. Ignatius Loyola

A Jesuit dissenting from the Faith, or calling Church teaching into question, is the religious news world's equivalent of the  "dog bites man" story.  It's the opposite of news, because it happens all the time.   In today's example, an aged Jesuit (I suppose that's redundant) declares himself opposed to the requirement in some dioceses that lay employees affirm Church teaching.   Oaths make this Jesuit shudder, because they remind him of Senator McCarthy, plus they're too expansive, but not expansive enough and (yawn) serious discussion is called for.

St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for us.