Monday, June 30, 2008


More church sign wisdom:

Of things Canterbury

...from Taylor Marshall's Canterbury Tales.

Bring back the subdeacon:
We need to re-institute the subdiaconate. The subdiaconate would be similar to the permanent diaconate. Subdeacons would be male and would vest in cassock and surplice or tunicle for special occasions. They would administer Holy Communion when there are not enough priests and deacons. They would not receive Holy Orders (obviously) but these trained men would add dignity to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They would essentially be adult altar servers who have been authorized by the bishop to administer Holy Communion.

This solution would naturally prohibit several abuses and insulate the space around the altar from men in jeans and ladies in miniskirts. 
Not to mention tube tops and spaghetti strapped blouses....
Why Purgatory?
If one has faith, hope, and charity (i.e. is in a state of grace) at the moment of death he is saved from hell, which is the state eternal punishment. However, our attachment to lesser sins falls under the paternal judgment of God who requires us to be holy as he is holy. Thus, we must undergo chastisement worthy of our status as sons of the Father (either in this world or the next) so that we are like Him and can therefore see Him. Romans 8:28 says that we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. This conformity must be actual and not merely imputed. This paternal discipline relates to temporal punishment. If we living a penitent life on earth and perform acts of love, then we need less purgation. If we trust Christ but conform our lives to a lesser extent to His cross, then we need more discipline in the world to come.
On Capuchin Beards
The constitutions of the early Capuchin Franciscans describe the beard as something "severe, austere, manly, natural, and despised."
The comments are worth reading. Of course, being of the female persuasion, I view the discussion from the sidelines.

He is the Lord our God, and we are the people of his pasture

~by St. Augustine

The words we have sung contain our declaration that we are God’s flock: For he is the Lord our God who made us. He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hands. Human shepherds did not make the sheep they own; they did not create the sheep they pasture. Our Lord God, however, because he is God and Creator, made for himself the sheep which he has and pastures. No one else created the sheep he pastures, nor does anyone else pasture the sheep he created.

In this song we have declared that we are his flock, the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hands. Let us listen therefore to the words he addresses to us as his sheep. Earlier he addressed the shepherds, but now he speaks to the sheep. We listened to those earlier words of his and we – the shepherds – trembled, but you listened without a qualm.

What is to happen when we hear these words today? Are we in turn to be without a qualm while you tremble? By no means! We are shepherds, and the shepherd listens and trembles not only at what is said to the shepherds but also at what is said to the sheep. If he does listen without a qualm to what is said to his sheep, he is not concerned for them. And further, on that occasion we asked you in your charity to remember two points about us: first, that we are Christians, and second, that we are placed in charge. Because we are placed in charge, we are ranked among the shepherds, if we are good; but because we are Christians, we too are members of the flock with you. Therefore, whether the Lord is addressing the shepherds or the sheep, we must listen to all his words and tremble; our hearts must always remain concerned.

And so, my brothers, let us listen to the words with which the Lord upbraids the wicked sheep and to the promises he makes to his own flock. You are my sheep, he says. Even in the midst of this life of tears and tribulations, what happiness, what great joy it is to realise that we are God’s flock! To him were spoken the words: You are the shepherd of Israel. Of him it was said: The guardian of Israel will not slumber, nor will he sleep. He keeps watch over us when we are awake; he keeps watch over us when we sleep. A flock belonging to a man feels secure in the care of its human shepherd; how much safer should we feel when our shepherd is God. Not only does he lead us to pasture, but he even created us.

You are my sheep, says the Lord God. See, I judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. What are goats doing here in the flock of God? In the same pastures, at the same springs, goats – though destined for the left – mingle with those on the right. They are tolerated now, but will be separated later. In this way the patience of the flock develops and becomes like God’s own patience. For it is he who will do the separating, placing some on the left and others on the right.

Slow morning

After playing for two usus antiquior Masses this past weekend, I'm having a slow morning. Once the intravenous caffeine starts working, I'll be back.


Spotted during this weekend's wanderings:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Veneration of the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, has its roots in the very foundations of the Church. They are the solid rock on which the Church is built. They are at the origin of her faith and will forever remain her protectors and her guides. To them Rome owes her true greatness, for it was under God's providential guidance that they were led to make the capital of the Empire, sanctified by their martyrdom, the center of the Christian world whence should radiate the preaching of the Gospel.

St. Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero, in A.D. 66 or 67. He was buried on the hill of the Vatican where recent excavations have revealed his tomb on the very site of the basilica of St. Peter's. St. Paul was beheaded in the via Ostia on the spot where now stands the basilica bearing his name. Down the centuries Christian people in their thousands have gone on pilgrimage to the tombs of these Apostles. In the second and third centuries the Roman Church already stood pre-eminent by reason of her apostolicity, the infallible truth of her teaching and her two great figures, Sts. Peter and Paul.

A plenary indulgence may be gained today by anyone who makes devout use of a religious article blessed by a bishop and who also recites any approved profession of faith (e.g. the Apostles Creed), as long as the usual conditions are satisfied.

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St. Peter

Peter's original name was Simon. Christ Himself gave him the name Cephas or Peter when they first met and later confirmed it. This name change was meant to show both Peter's rank as leader of the apostles and the outstanding trait of his character — Peter (in Hebrew Kephas) the Rock. Peter was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Like his younger brother Andrew, he was a fisherman and dwelt at Capernaum. Peter's house often became the scene of miracles, since the Master would stay there whenever He was teaching in that locality. Together with his brothers John and Andrew, Peter belonged to the first of Jesus' disciples (John 1:40-50).
After the miraculous draught of fish on the Sea of Galilee, Peter received his definitive call and left wife, family, and occupation to take his place as leader of the Twelve. Thereafter we find him continually at Jesus' side, whether it be as spokesman of the apostolic college (John 6:68; Matt. 16:16), or as one specially favored (e.g., at the restoration to life of Jairus' daughter, at the transfiguration, during the agony in the garden). His sanguine temperament often led him into hasty, unpremeditated words and actions; his denial of Jesus during the passion was a salutary lesson. It accentuated a weakness in his character and made him humble.

After the ascension, Peter always took the leading role, exercising the office of chief shepherd that Christ had entrusted to him. He delivered the first sermon on Pentecost and received the first Gentiles into the Church (Cornelius; Acts 10:1). Paul went to Jerusalem "to see Peter." After his miraculous deliverance from prison (Easter, 42 A.D.), Peter "went to a different place," most probably to Rome. Details now become scanty; we hear of his presence at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1), and of his journey to Antioch (Gal. 2:11).

It is certain that Peter labored in Rome as an apostle, that he was the city's first bishop, and that he died there as a martyr, bound to a cross (67 A.D.). According to tradition he also was the first bishop of Antioch. He is the author of two letters, the first Christian encyclicals. His burial place is Christendom's most famous shrine, an edifice around whose dome are inscribed the words: Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam.

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St. Paul

Paul, known as Saul (his Roman name) before his conversion, was born at Tarsus in the Roman province of Silicia about two or three years after the advent of the Redeemer. He was the son of Jewish parents who belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, was reared according to the strict religious-nationalistic party of the Pharisees, and enjoyed the high distinction of Roman citizenship.

As a youth he went to Jerusalem to become immersed in the Law and had as a teacher the celebrated Gamaliel. He acquired skill as a tent-maker, a work he continued even as an apostle. At the time of Jesus' ministry he no longer was at Jerusalem; neither did he see the Lord during His earthly-life. Upon returning to the Holy City, Paul discovered a flourishing Christian community and at once became its bitter opponent. When Stephen impugned Law and temple, Paul was one of the first at his stoning; thereafter his fiery personality would lead the persecution. Breathing threats of slaughter against the disciples of Jesus, he was hurrying to Damascus when the grace of God effected his conversion (about the year 34 A.D.; see January 25, Conversion of St. Paul).

After receiving baptism and making some initial attempts at preaching, Paul withdrew into the Arabian desert (c. 34-37 A.D.), where he prepared himself for his future mission. During this retreat he was favored with special revelations, Christ appearing to him personally. Upon his return to Damascus he began to preach but was forced to leave when the Jews sought to kill him. Then he went to Jerusalem "to see Peter." Barnabas introduced him to the Christian community, but the hatred of the Jews again obliged him to take secret flight. The following years (38-42 A.D.) he spent at Tarsus until Barnabas brought him to the newly founded Christian community at Antioch, where both worked a year for the cause of Christ; in the year 44 he made another journey to Jerusalem with the money collected for that famine stricken community.

The first major missionary journey (45-48) began upon his return as he and Barnabas brought the Gospel to Cyprus and Asia Minor (Acts 13-14). The Council of Jerusalem occasioned Paul's reappearance in Jerusalem (50). Spurred on by the decisions of the Council, he began the second missionary journey (51-53), traveling through Asia Minor and then crossing over to Europe and founding churches at Philippi, Thessalonia (his favorite), Berea, Athens, Corinth. He remained almost two years at Corinth, establishing a very flourishing and important community. In 54 he returned to Jerusalem for the fourth time.

Paul's third missionary journey (54-58) took him to Ephesus, where he labored three years with good success; after visiting his European communities, he returned to Jerusalem for a fifth time (Pentecost, 58). There he was seized by the Jews and accused of condemning the Law. After being held as a prisoner for two years at Caesarea, he appealed to Caesar and was sent by sea to Rome (60 A.D.). Shipwrecked and delayed on the island of Malta, he arrived at Rome in the spring of 61 and passed the next two years in easy confinement before being released. The last years of the saint's life were devoted to missionary excursions, probably including Spain, and to revisiting his first foundations. In 66 he returned to Rome, was taken prisoner, and beheaded a year later. His fourteen letters are a precious legacy; they afford a deep insight into a great soul.

~Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

The martyrs had seen what they proclaimed

~by St. Augustine

This day has been consecrated for us by the martyrdom of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. It is not some obscure martyrs we are talking about. Their sound has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. These martyrs had seen what they proclaimed, they pursued justice by confessing the truth, by dying for the truth.

The blessed Peter, the first of the Apostles, the ardent lover of Christ, who was found worthy to hear, And I say to you, that you are Peter. He himself, you see, had just said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Christ said to him, And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. Upon this rock I will build the faith you have just confessed. Upon your words, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my Church; because you are Peter. Peter comes from petra, meaning a rock. Peter, “Rocky”, from “rock”; not “rock” from “Rocky”. Peter comes from the word for a rock in exactly the same way as the name Christian comes from Christ.

Before his passion the Lord Jesus, as you know, chose those disciples of his whom he called apostles. Among these it was only Peter who almost everywhere was given the privilege of representing the whole Church. It was in the person of the whole Church, which he alone represented, that he was privileged to hear, To you will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. After all, it is not just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged pre-eminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, To you I am entrusting, what has in fact been entrusted to all. To show you that it is the Church which has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, listen to what the Lord says in another place to all his apostles: Receive the Holy Spirit; and immediately afterwards, Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven them; whose sins you retain, they will be retained.

Quite rightly, too, did the Lord after his resurrection entrust his sheep to Peter to be fed. It is not, you see, that he alone among the disciples was fit to feed the Lord’s sheep; but when Christ speaks to one man, unity is being commended to us. And he first speaks to Peter, because Peter is the first among the apostles. Do not be sad, Apostle. Answer once, answer again, answer a third time. Let confession conquer three times with love, because self-assurance was conquered three times by fear. What you had bound three times must be loosed three times. Loose through love what you had bound through fear. And for all that, the Lord once, and again, and a third time, entrusted his sheep to Peter.

There is one day for the passion of two apostles. But these two also were as one; although they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, Paul followed. We are celebrating a feast day, consecrated for us by the blood of the apostles. Let us love their faith, their lives, their labours, their sufferings, their confession of faith, their preaching.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Plenary Indulgence

~from the Holy See's Apostolic Penitentiary Site
In the imminence of the liturgical Solemnity of the Princes of the Apostles, motivated by pastoral solicitude the Supreme Pontiff intends to provide promptly for spiritual treasures to be granted to the faithful for their sanctification, so that on this pious and happy occasion, from First Vespers of the Solemnity mentioned, they may renew and reinforce with even greater fervour intentions of supernatural salvation, principally in honour of the Apostle to the Gentiles, the 2000th anniversary of whose birth on earth is now approaching.

The gift of Indulgences which the Roman Pontiff offers to the universal Church, truly smoothes the way to attaining a supreme degree of inner purification which, while honouring the Blessed Apostle Paul, exalts the supernatural life in the hearts of the faithful and gently encourages them to do good deeds.

Therefore, this Apostolic Penitentiary, to which the Holy Father has entrusted the task of the preparation and compilation of the Decree on the granting and obtaining of Indulgences that will be valid for the duration of the Pauline Year, benevolently bestows with this Decree issued in conformity with the desire of the August Pontiff, the following graces listed:

I. Each and every truly repentant individual member of the Christian faithful, duly absolved through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and restored with Holy Communion, who devoutly makes a pilgrimage to the Papal Basilica of St Paul on the Ostian Way and who prays for the Supreme Pontiff's intentions, will be granted the Plenary Indulgence from temporal punishment for his/her sins, once sacramental forgiveness and pardon for any shortcomings has been obtained.

The Christian faithful may benefit from the Plenary Indulgence both for themselves and for the deceased, as many times as they fulfil the required conditions but without prejudice to the norm stipulating that the Plenary Indulgence may be obtained only once a day.

In order that the prayer raised on this holy visit may lead and invite the souls of the faithful to venerate more intensely the memory of St Paul, the following has been established: the faithful, in addition to raising their own supplications before the altar of the Most Blessed Sacrament, each one according to his own devotion, must go to the altar of the Confessio and devoutly recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding pious invocations in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Paul. And may this devotion always be closely united to the memory of the Prince of the Apostles, St Peter.

II. The Christian faithful of the various local Churches, having fulfilled the required conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, prayers for the Supreme Pontiff's intentions) and in a spirit of total detachment from any inclination to sin, may benefit from the Plenary Indulgence if they take part devoutly in a sacred function or in a pious public exercise in honour of the Apostle to the Gentiles; on the days of the solemn opening and closure of the Pauline Year, in all the sacred places; on other days specified by the local Ordinary, in holy places dedicated to St Paul and, for the convenience of the faithful, in other places designated by the same Ordinary.

III. Lastly, the faithful prevented by illness or another legitimate and important cause, always in a spirit of detachment from any inclination to sin, with the intention of fulfilling the usual conditions as soon as possible, will also be able to obtain the Plenary Indulgence, as long as they spiritually join in a Jubilee celebration in honour of St Paul, offering their prayers and sufferings to God for Christian unity.

In order that the faithful may more easily share in these heavenly favours, may the priests approved by the competent ecclesiastical authority for hearing confessions prepare promptly and generously to receive them.

This Decree is effective for the whole of the Pauline Year. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary.

Given in Rome, at the Offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 10 May, in the Year of the Incarnation of the Lord 2008, on the eve of Pentecost.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford
Major Penitentiary

Fr Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv.
Titular Bishop of Meta Regent

Poison pen these cases, it was the brush. From Discovery News:
Medieval bones from six different Danish cemeteries reveal that monks who wrote Biblical texts and other religious materials may have been exposed to toxic mercury, which was used to formulate just one of their ink colors: red.

The study, which will be published in the August issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, also describes a previously undocumented disease, called FOS, which was like leprosy and caused skull lesions. Additionally, the researchers found that mercury-containing medicine had been administered to 79 percent of the interred individuals with leprosy and 35 percent with syphilis.

Since the monks, who were buried in the cloister walk of the Cistercian Abbey at Øm, did not have these diseases but contained mercury in their bones, scientists believe the monks were either contaminated while preparing and administering medicines, or while writing the artistic letters of incunabula, or pre-1500 A.D. books.

Kaare Lund Rasmussen, a University of Southern Denmark scientist at the Institute of Physics and Chemistry, suspects that ink used in the abbey's scriptorium was the culprit.

He told Discovery News "it is very human to lick the brush, if one wants to make a fine line."

Even today "one should really not touch, or much less rub, the parchment pages of an incunabulum," Lund Rasmussen said, adding that mercury "was used in the first place because cinnabar (a type of mercury) has this bright red, beautiful color."
It is also known that metallic liquid mercury was given in vapor form to diseased patients. So if the monks "were just a little careless, they would be exposed this way, however, they might also be exposed during the preparation of the medicine."
For the study, Lund Rasmussen and his team drilled bone samples from the buried individuals, some of which were also friars buried in the cloister walk of the Franciscan Friary in Svendborg. Unlike the Øm monks, the friars showed no signs of mercury poisoning.

Lex Veritatis

~The Introit from today's Mass commemorating St. Irenaeus:
Lex veritátis fuit in ore ejus, et iníquitas non est invénta in lábiis ejus: in pace, et in æquitáte ambulávit mecum, et multos avértit ab iniquitáte. (Ps. 77: 1) Atténdite, pópule meus, legem meam: inclináte aurem vestram in verba oris mei. V. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

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The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and in equity, and turned many away from iniquity. (Ps. 77: 1) With them that hated peace I was peaceful, when I spake unto them, they fought against me without cause. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

Saint Irenaeus was born in the year 120; he was of the Greek tongue, and probably a native of Asia Minor. His parents, who were Christians, placed him while still young under the care of the great Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. It was in this holy school that he learned the sacred science which later made him a great ornament of the Church and the terror of her enemies. Saint Polycarp cultivated his rising genius and formed his mind to piety by his precepts and example, and the zealous young scholar was careful to reap all advantages offered him by the solicitude of such a master. Such was his veneration for his tutor’s sanctity that he observed all the acts and virtues he saw in that holy man, the better to copy his example and learn his spirit. He listened to his instructions with an insatiable ardor, and so deeply did he engrave them in his heart that the impressions remained vivid even in his old age. In order to confound the heresies of his age, this Doctor of the Church acquainted himself with the conceits of the pagan philosophers, and thereby became qualified to trace every error to its sources and set it in its full light. By his writings he was already known to Tertullian, Theodoret and Saint Epiphanus, who speak of him as a luminous torch of truth in the darkness of those times.

After Irenaeus had spent a number of years in combat against the eastern gnostics and philosophers of error, Saint Polycarp determined to send him to Gaul, where many of the heretics of Asia Minor had already migrated to pursue the Catholic religion, which was beginning to find roots there. With a company of about forty Christians, the valiant soldier of Christ ascended the Rhone to Lyons to rejoin and aid Saint Pothinus, its bishop. Saint Pothinus was already advanced in age, and his church’s neophytes could not always distinguish truth from the gnostic aberrations. Saint Pothinus received the apostles with joy and soon ordained Saint Irenaeus.

A hundred times he exposed himself to martyrdom by his zeal, acting as the right arm of the aging bishop, but God was reserving that crown for him twenty-five years later. When Saint Pothinus had glorified God by his splendid martyr’s death in the year 177, Ireneus was chosen to be the second bishop of Lyons. The persecutors imagined that Christianity had been stifled in Lyons, and they ceased their pursuits for a time.

This great Doctor of the Church wrote many important works, of which the most famous is his Adversus Haereses, Against the Heresies, in explanation of the Faith. By his preaching, Saint Irenaeus in a short time converted almost the whole country to the Faith; the Christians of Lyons became models by their candor, their estrangement from all ambition, their poverty, chastity and temperance, and in this way confounded many adversaries of their religion. Saint Irenaeus continued to imitate what he had seen done by his beloved master, Saint Polycarp, himself the disciple and imitator of Saint John the Apostle. One can readily imagine the excellence of the administration and the breadth of charity reigning in the Church of Lyons.

Finally he suffered martyrdom there, with many others, in the year 202, under the Emperor Septimus Severus, after eighty years spent in the service of the Lord. The imperial decrees renewing the persecutions arrived at Lyons at the time of the celebration of Severus’ tenth year of reign; the pagans found amid the celebrations an opportunity to take vengeance on the Christians, who refused to participate in the debaucheries which accompanied these feastings. Assassins armed with daggers, stones and knives filled the city with blood, and thousands of Christians won, with their bishop, the crown they had always admired as the greatest glory God could grant His servants.

~From Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 7.

Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God

~by St. Irenaeus from Against Heresies

The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. For this reason God, who cannot be grasped, comprehended or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men, that he may give life to those who see and receive him. It is impossible to live without life, and the actualisation of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness.

Men will therefore see God if they are to live; through the vision of God they will become immortal and attain to God himself. As I have said, this was shown in symbols by the prophets: God will be seen by men who bear his Spirit and are always waiting for his coming. As Moses said in the Book of Deuteronomy: On that day we shall see, for God will speak to man, and man will live.

God is the source of all activity throughout creation. He cannot be seen or described in his own nature and in all his greatness by any of his creatures. Yet he is certainly not unknown. Through his Word the whole creation learns that there is one God the Father, who holds all things together and gives them their being. As it is written in the Gospel: No man has ever seen God, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; he has revealed him.

From the beginning the Son is the one who teaches us about the Father; he is with the Father from the beginning. He was to reveal to the human race visions of prophecy, the diversity of spiritual gifts, his own ways of ministry, the glorification of the Father, all in due order and harmony, at the appointed time and for our instruction. where there is order, there is also harmony; where there is harmony, there is also correct timing; where there is correct timing, there is also advantage.

The Word became the steward of the Father’s grace for the advantage of men, for whose benefit he made such wonderful arrangements. He revealed God to men and presented men to God. He safeguarded the invisibility of the Father to prevent man from treating God with contempt and to set before him a constant goal toward which to make progress. On the other hand, he revealed God to men and made him visible in many ways to prevent man from being totally separated from God and so cease to be. Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation gives life to all who live upon the earth, much more does the manifestation of the Father through the Word give life to those who see God.

Friday, June 27, 2008

On Our Mother of Perpetual Help

~Fr. Mark has a beautiful meditation on today's Propers.
The Collect refers straightaway to the gift of the Virgin Mary's motherhood extended to every disciple of her Son, the very mystery that will be evoked in the Gospel; and to the veneration of her glorious image. It acknowledges that Mary is perpetually ready to help us, and asks that, through her motherly power, we may reap through all eternity the fruit of Christ's redemption. The last phrase is certainly an allusion to the charism of the Redemptorists, custodians of the miraculous icon and, in the tradition of Saint Alphonsus, tireless preachers of Mary's universal mediation and inexhaustible clemency.

Archbishop Burke named as new Prefect of the Signatura

~Fr. Z has a lovely post. He suspected that this might happen. To my brothers and sisters in St. Louis, I grieve with you in the loss of a great shepherd. It is a loss for us Catholics in the States, but, as Fr. Z pointed out, it is a gain for the Church Catholic.

Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Have a lovely feast day, dear friends. I'm off to help in the celebrations of a friend's Tenth Anniversary of Ordination.

Defender of the divine motherhood of the Virgin Mary

~by St. Cyril of Alexandria

That anyone could doubt the right of the holy Virgin to be called the Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to him! Our Lord’s disciples may not have used those exact words, but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught us by the holy fathers.

In the third book of his work on the holy and consubstantial Trinity, our father Athanasius, of glorious memory, several times refers to the holy Virgin as “Mother of God”. I cannot resist quoting his own words: “As I have often told you, the distinctive mark of holy Scripture is that it was written to make a twofold declaration concerning our Saviour; namely, that he is and has always been God, since he is the Word, Radiance and Wisdom of the Father; and that for our sake in these latter days he took flesh from the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and became man”.

Again further on he says: “There have been many holy men, free from all sin. Jeremiah was sanctified in his mother’s womb, and John while still in the womb leaped for joy at the voice of Mary, the Mother of God”. Athanasius is a man we can trust, one who deserves our complete confidence, for he taught nothing contrary to the sacred books.

The divinely inspired Scriptures affirm that the Word of God was made flesh, that is to say, he was united to a human body endowed with a rational soul. He undertook to help the descendants of Abraham, fashioning a body for himself from a woman and sharing our flesh and blood, to enable us to see in him not only God, but also, by reason of this union, a man like ourselves.

It is held, therefore, that there are in Emmanuel two entities, divinity and humanity. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ is nonetheless one, the one true Son, both God and man; not a deified man on the same footing as those who share the divine nature by grace, but true God who for our sake appeared in human form. We are assured of this by Saint Paul’s declaration: When the fullness of time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law and to enable us to be adopted as sons.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Breaking the Bonds of Communion

~by Fr. Raymond de Souza in The National Post on the Anglican disintegration.
Formal arrangements have yet to be made, but it now appears that the critical decisions have already been taken for a dissolution of the Anglican Communion. Every 10 years, all the world's Anglican bishops meet at the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace. They are scheduled to meet this summer, but already some 250 have decided not to attend, boycotting because of the failure of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, to discipline American and Canadian Anglicans for blessing same-sex unions and ordaining actively homosexual clergy.

Many of those who are not attending Lambeth are in Jerusalem this week for an alternative meeting, to discuss how they see the way forward. The parallel meetings are a clear manifestation that the bonds of communion have broken down. The Archbishop of Canterbury is not in Jerusalem, and is not welcome there. The breach appears irreparable and therefore the Anglican Communion's days as a global community centred in Canterbury are numbered.

That is a sadness for those, like myself, who have affection for the Anglican sensibility. But sensibilities are not doctrines, and it cannot be the case that members of the same communion can hold directly contradictory views on matters of grave importance. The Canadian and American proponents of same-sex marriages are arguing that homosexual acts can be morally good, and even sacramental. The traditional Christian view is that such acts are sinful. That is a gap that cannot be bridged: Either one holds to the ancient and constant teaching of the Christian Church, or one rejects it in favour of a different position. It cannot be that both views exist side-by-side as equally acceptable options.

It is not a disagreement only about sexual morality. It goes deeper than that, to what status the ancient and apostolic tradition has in the Church today. There can be no doubt that the blessing of homosexual relationships is entirely novel and in contradiction to the Christian tradition. So if that tradition no longer holds, it raises questions about the apostolicity of those communities which have abandoned it...

...The Jerusalem setting for the alternative bishops' meeting is deliberately evocative -- and provocative. To return to Jerusalem is to return to the roots of the Christian faith, to return to the land of Jesus and the apostles. The choice of Jerusalem is meant to express fidelity to those roots. Yet Jerusalem also represents something more contemporary, namely the shift in gravity in the Anglican world from north to south. The majority of the bishops present in Jerusalem are from the south, in particular Africa, where Anglicanism is growing and vibrant. In contrast, the Lambeth conference will be held in a country where more Catholics go to church on Sunday than Anglicans, despite being outnumbered some 10 to one. The typical Anglican in church on Sunday is far more likely to be a young African than Canadian, American or English.

The see of Canterbury is one of the Christian world's most venerable, being occupied throughout her history by great saints such as Saint Augustine of Canterbury and Saint Thomas Becket. There will be other archbishops after Dr. Williams, but it seems likely now that none will preside over a global communion.


The Pope Quote Generator at Facebook has given me this from Pope Paul VI. I've not mentioned any of the series of crises in my life in the past year on this 'blog. Suffice it to say, the string of events continue and I find myself with each event in a state, first of all, of gratitude for the beauty that is life. And second, of God's Providence in my life, that I and my loved ones remain in the protection of the Lord of Creation. Last night, I ran into a deer with my car. I was unhurt, the deer was unhurt, and the car had no damage. This year has been a daily exercise in yielding to God's will in every little way, my total surrender to his direction. I suppose the series of crises could serve to derail a person's trust or even to plunge them into despair. So I am quite thankful that joy remains, a sense of laughter carries me from one day to the next. It is my firm belief that God, who is the Lord of History, delights in making his provisions clearer, without fail in my life. Who am I to stand in his way?
"All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today."

Pontifical Destination?

~from The Telegraph's Signage series

A sign in New Orleans.

Papal Photo of the Day

Well, a couple of photos, anyway.

Checking for the label:


It gets how many kilometres per litre?

Pope Benedict XVI looks at two 'Ape Calessino' three-wheel cars he was presented by Italian scooter maker Piaggio at the end of a general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, June 25, 2008. The Ape, a reproduction of the special version used to carry tourists in the fashionable island of Capri and other sea resorts along the Amalfi cost in southern Italy, was presented to the pontiff to mark its 60th anniversary. (AP Photo/Filippo Monteforte, Pool)

General Audience: On Maximus the Confessor


~from Zenit, yesterday's catechesis by Pope Benedict.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to present the figure of one of the great Fathers of the Eastern Church of later times. He is a monk, St. Maximus, who merited from Christian tradition the title of Confessor because of the intrepid courage with which he was able to give witness -- "to confess" -- even while suffering, the integrity of his faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, Savior of the world.

Maximus was born in Palestine, the Lord's land, around 580. From his boyhood he was directed to the monastic life and to the study of Scripture, also through the works of Origen, the great teacher who already in the third century had already managed to define the Alexandrian exegetic tradition.

From Jerusalem, Maximus went to Constantinople, and from there, because of the barbarian invasions, he sought refuge in Africa. Here he distinguished himself with extreme courage in the defense of Orthodoxy. Maximus did not accept any attempt to minimize the humanity of Christ. The theory had arisen according to which Christ had only one will, the divine. To defend the uniqueness of his person, they denied he had a true human will.

At first glance, it might appear to be something good that in Christ there was only one will. However, St. Maximus understood immediately that this would have destroyed the mystery of salvation, because a humanity without will -- a man without a will -- is not a true man, but rather an amputated man. Therefore, the man Jesus Christ would not have been a true man, would not have experienced the drama of the human being, which consists precisely in the difficulty of conforming our will with the truth of being.

Thus St. Maximus affirmed with great determination: Sacred Scripture does not show us an amputated man, without a will, but a true complete man: God, in Jesus Christ, has truly assumed the totality of the human being -- obviously except for sin -- hence, also, a human will. Stated that way, the question was clear: Christ is either a true man or not.

However, the problem arises: Does not one end in this way in a sort of dualism? Is not one faced with affirming two complete personalities with reason, will, sentiment? How can this dualism be overcome? How can the completeness of the human being be preserved while protecting the unity of the person of Christ, who was not schizophrenic?

St. Maximus demonstrates that man finds his unity, the integration of himself, his totality not in himself, but in surpassing himself, by coming out of himself. Thus, also in Christ, man, coming out of himself, finds in God, in the Son of God, himself.

Man must not "amputate" the human Christ to explain the Incarnation. One must only understand the dynamism of the human being who is fulfilled only by coming out of himself. Only in God do we find ourselves, our totality and our completeness.

Thus we see that it is not the man who is closed in on himself who is complete the man, but it is the man who opens himself, who comes out of himself -- it is he who becomes complete, who finds himself in the Son of God, he finds in him his true humanity.

For St. Maximus this vision does not remain a philosophical speculation. He sees it realized in the concrete life of Jesus, above all in the drama of Gethsemane.

In this drama of Jesus' agony, of anguish and death, of the opposition between the human will not to die and the divine will that offers itself to death, in this drama of Gethsemane the whole human drama is realized, the drama of our redemption. St. Maximus tells us, and we know that this is true: Adam -- and Adam is us -- thought that the "no" was the apex of liberty; that only he who can say "no" is truly free; that to truly realize his liberty, man must say "no" to God.

Only in this way, he thinks, he is finally himself; he has arrived at the summit of liberty. This tendency was also present in Christ's human nature, but he overcame it, because Jesus saw that "no" is not the greatest liberty. The greatest liberty is to say "yes," to conform with the will of God. Only in saying "yes" does man really become himself. Only in the great opening of the "yes," in the unification of his will with the divine will, does man become immensely open, he becomes "divine."

To be like God was Adam's desire, namely, to be completely free. However, he is not divine, the man who is closed in on himself is not completely free. He is so by coming out of himself, it is in the "yes" that he becomes free. And this is the drama of Gethsemane: not my will but yours.

Transferring one's will to the divine will, that is how a true man is born. That is how we are redeemed.

This, in a few words, is the fundamental point of what St. Maximus wished to say, and we see that here the whole human being is questioned; here is the whole question of our life.

St. Maximus already had problems in Africa defending this vision of man and of God; then he was called to Rome. In 649 he took an active part in the Lateran Council, called by Pope Martin I to defend the two wills of Christ, against the emperor's edict, which -- pro bono pacis -- prohibited the discussion of this question.

Pope Martin paid dearly for his courage: Although he was in poor health, he was arrested and taken to Constantinople. Prosecuted and condemned to death, his sentence was commuted to final exile in Crimea, where he died on Sept. 16, 655, after two long years of humiliation and torments.

Not long after, in 662, it was Maximus' turn who -- also opposing the emperor -- continued to repeat: "It is impossible to affirm only one will in Christ!" (cfr PG 91, cc. 268-269).

Thus, together with two of his disciples, both called Anastasius, Maximus was subjected to an exhausting trial, though he was already older than 80 years of age. The emperor's tribunal condemned him, accused of heresy, to the cruel mutilation of his tongue and right hand -- the two organs with which, through words and writing, Maximus had combated the erroneous doctrine of the one will of Christ.

In the end, the holy monk, thus mutilated, was exiled in Colchide, on the Black Sea, where he died, exhausted by the sufferings undergone, at the age of 82, on Aug. 13 of the same year, 662.

Speaking of the life of Maximus, we referred to his literary work in defense of orthodoxy. We are referred in particular to the dispute with Pirro, then patriarch of Constantinople, in which Maximus succeeded in persuading the adversary of his errors. With great honesty, in fact, Pirro concluded the dispute thus: "I apologize for myself and for those who preceded me. Through ignorance we arrived at these absurd thoughts and arguments. I pray that the way will be found to cancel these absurdities, rescuing the memory of those who erred" (PG 91, c. 352).

There were then added some dozen important works, outstanding among which is the "Mistagoghia," one of St. Maximus' most significant writings, which brings together his theological thought in a well-structured synthesis.

St. Maximus' thought was never only theological, speculative, closed in on itself, because he always had as his compass the concrete reality of the world and of its salvation. In this context, in which had to suffer, he could not evade the question with solely theoretical philosophical affirmations. He had to seek the meaning of life, asking himself: who am I? What is the world?

To man, created in his image and likeness, God has entrusted the mission to unify the cosmos. And as Christ has unified the human being in himself, so the Creator has unified the cosmos in man. He has shown us how to unify the cosmos in communion with Christ and thus truly arrive at a redeemed world.

One of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, Hans Urs von Balthasar, referred to this powerful saving vision when, in "re-launching" the figure of Maximus, he defined his thinking as the representative expression of "cosmic liturgy."

At the center of this solemn liturgy Jesus Christ always remains, the only Savior of the world. The efficacy of his salvific action, which has definitively unified the cosmos, is guaranteed by the fact that he, though being God in everything, is also integrally man -- with the "energy" and the will of man.

The life and thought of Maximus remain powerfully illumined by an immense courage in witnessing to the integral reality of Christ, without any reduction or compromise. And so we see who is truly man, how we must live to respond to our vocation. We must live united to God, and thus be united to ourselves and the cosmos, giving the cosmos itself and humanity their just form.

Christ's universal "yes" shows us with clarity how to give the right place to all the other values. We are thinking of values justly defended today, such as tolerance, liberty and dialogue. However, a tolerance that is no longer able to distinguish between good and evil would become chaotic and self-destructive. So, moreover, would a liberty that does not respect the freedom of others and does not find the common measure of our respective liberties, it would become anarchic and destroy authority. Dialogue that no longer knows what to dialogue about becomes empty chatter.

All these values are great and fundamental, but they can remain true values only if they have the point of reference that unites them and gives them true authenticity. This point of reference is the synthesis between God and the cosmos, and the figure of Christ in which we learn the truth about ourselves and so learn where to place all the other values, because we discover their genuine meaning.

Jesus Christ is the point of reference that gives light to all the other values. This is the end point of the testimony of this great Confessor. And thus, in the end, Christ shows us that the cosmos must become liturgy, glory of God and that adoration is the beginning of the true transformation, of the true renewal of the world.

Because of this, I would like to conclude with a fundamental passage from St. Maximus' works: "We adore the only Son, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, as it is now, and for all times, and the times after time. Amen." (PG 91, c. 269).

Cardinal Dulles' Ordination

Lost in Translation

~from The Telegraph. There is a weekly series on signs written in English. Here's an example:

More funny signs here.

Bringing Bayeux to Britain

~from The Telegraph
The famous embroidery of the 1066 Norman Conquest is the subject of a major conference of world experts being held at the British Museum next month.

Feted as the most famous cartoon strip of history, the tapestry was made in Britain but never displayed here and now historians believe we should take advantage of French president Nicolas Sarkosy’s friendship with Britain and ask for the chance to bring it home...

...Mr Beech agrees that the Bayeux Tapestry should be displayed in Britain but fears there would be a battle with Bayeux to move it across the Channel to Canterbury.

“I would have no objections at all,” he said. “I think it’s a good idea.

"But I’ll say immediately that the people of Bayeux might resist. There was an exhibit on French Romanesque art at the Louvre and they wanted to get the tapestry but it couldn’t be moved because it is too large and there are too many problems involved in moving it around.

“However, if the tapestry could be rolled up and shipped, I think it would be in the interests of the French to have it shipped over so that more English people could see it.”

However, other experts believe the 68-metre long tapestry is too fragile to be moved and that to do so would destroy the tourism industry of Bayeux.

God is Like An Inaccessible Rock

~by St. Gregory of Nyssa

Consider the feelings of a man who looks down into the depths of the sea from the top of a mountain. This is similar to my own experience when the voice of the Lord from on high, as from a mountaintop, reached the unfathomable depths of my intellect. Along the seacoast, you may often see mountains facing the sea. It was as though they had been sliced in two, with a sheer drop from top to bottom. At the top a projection forms a ledge overhanging the depths below. If a man were to look down from that ledge, he would be overcome by dizziness. In this same way my soul grows dizzy when it hears the great voice of the Lord saying: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

The vision of God is offered to those who have purified their hearts. Yet, no man has seen God at any time. These are the words of the great Saint John and they are confirmed by Saint Paul's lofty thought, in the words: God is he whom no one has seen or can see. He is that smooth, steep and sheer rock on which the mind can find no secure resting place to get a grip or lift ourselves up. In the view of Moses, he is inaccessible. In spite of every effort, our minds cannot approach him. We are cut off by the words: No man can see God and live. And yet, to see God is eternal life. But John, Paul and Moses, pillars of our faith, all testify that it is impossible to see God. Look at the dizziness that affects the soul drawn to contemplating the depths of these statements. If God is life, then he who does not see God does not see life. Yet God cannot be seen; the apostles and prophets, inspired by the Holy Spirit, have testified to this. Into what straits is man's hope driven?

Yet God does raise and sustain our flagging hopes. He rescued Peter from drowning and made the sea into a firm surface beneath his feet. H does the same for us; the hands of the Word of God are stretched out to us when we are out of our depth, buffeted and lost in speculation. Grasped firmly in his hands, we shall be without fear: Blessed are the pure of heart, he says,for they shall see God.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

True, perfect, and eternal friendship

~by St. Aelred

That outstanding youth, Jonathan, son of King Saul, made an alliance with David, but it was not in the hope of obtaining the royal crown or winning the kingdom. For the sake of their friendship, he set David above himself as if he had been his master and not his own father’s servant, expelled, hiding in the desert, sentenced to death, destined for execution – he abased himself and raised David up: You will be king, he said, and I will be next below you in rank.

What an excellent example of true friendship! What a wonder! The king was raging against his servant and stirring up the whole country as if against a pretender to the throne. He accuses priests of treachery and has them killed on the mere suspicion – he has the forests and the valleys searched – he posts armed guards on cliffs and mountains. Everyone swears to punish the object of the king’s anger; but Jonathan, who alone has the right to envy the designated successor to the throne – Jonathan chose to resist his father, keep his friend supplied with news, give him counsel in his adversity. Thinking it better to be a friend than a king: You will be king, he said, and I will be next below you in rank.

See how the father tried to make the young man envy his friend, how he goaded him with insults, threatened him with dispossession, and warned him of the honours he would lose. But even when Saul had condemned David to death, Jonathan did not fail his friend. “Why should David die? What has he done wrong? What has he done? It was he who took his life in his hands and struck down the Philistine – you rejoiced, then. So why should he die?”

At these words the king was beside himself with rage and tried to pin Jonathan to the wall with his spear, pouring out new insults and threats. “Son of a wanton and lascivious woman! I know that you love him, to your own shame and the shame of your shameless mother!” Then he poured out on the young man all the venom he had in him. He tried to stir up ambition and envy, bitterness and jealousy in Jonathan’s breast: As long as the son of Jesse lives, your kingdom cannot be established.

Who would not have been moved to jealousy by these words? Whose love would not have been corrupted, grace diminished, friendship wiped out? But this most loving youth held fast to the oaths of friendship he had sworn, stood up to the threats, endured the insults, and disdained the kingdom for the sake of friendship, careless of the glory he would miss but mindful of the integrity he would keep. You will be king, he said, and I will be next below you in rank.
Here is a true and perfect friendship, solid and eternal: a friendship that envy does not corrupt, suspicion does not diminish or ambition wipe out. It does not cease even under such a trial; even under such a battering it does not collapse. Assailed with abuse, it stands firm; beaten with insults, it does not bend. Go thou, and do likewise.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Five Conditions

...Read Fr. Z's translation of the Tornielli article. I must say that they are generous. Please read the commentary by Fr. Z. Important question: Who is Peter in the Church?

I Dream of Ireland

To our friend who just found out where he is getting assigned, We.Are.Coming.To.Visit.Soon. Who can resist this?

Oh, and promise me you'll take me to Skellig Michael, please, please?

Back taxes

~This story demonstrates how ordinary words can take on a whole different, um, meaning.
In Uruguay, a prostitute has garnered some national attention by refusing to pay nearly $200,000 in back taxes on money earned in her business.

The Uruguayan prostitute, who has not paid tax on her income since 2004, argues that local authorities should provide facilities for prostitution if they want to tax the women’s income.

Cardinal Martino on the Irish No to Lisbon Treaty

~from CWN, here's Cardinal Renato Martino to the Irish:
Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, suggested that the people of Ireland should reconsider their referendum vote against the Lisbon Treaty, according to Mexico’s El Provenir newspaper.

“Europe cannot only be an economic community,” Cardinal Martino said. “With this constitution [the Lisbon Treaty] it wants something more.”

El Provenir interpreted the Italian prelate’s words as a statement of support for the Lisbon Treaty, and criticism of the Irish people for what he saw as a denial of their common European experience.
Dear Cardinal, you said, "With this constitution the Lisbon Treaty wants something more." Precisely...that is why the Irish voted No. Get it?

Agnus Dei

From the Mass in B minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, here is the Agnus Dei sung by the counter-tenor, Andreas Scholl.

Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Et Posuit Os Meum Ut Gladium Acutum

The Introit from today's Mass of the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist:

De ventre matris meæ vocávit me Dóminus nómine meo: et pósuit os meum ut gládium acútum: sub teguménto manus suæ protexit me, et pósuit me quasi sagíttam eléctam. Bonum est confitéri Dómino: et psállere nómini tuo, Altíssime.

+ + +

From the womb of my mother the Lord hath called me by my name, and He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He hath protected me, and hath made me as a chosen arrow. It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to Thy name, O Most High.

+ + +

Fr. Z's commentary and podcast on today's feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

The Nativity of St. John Baptist
Jacopo Pontormo, 1526

The voice of one crying in the wilderness

~by St. Augustine

John is the voice, but the Lord is the Word who was in the beginning. John is the voice that lasts for a time; from the beginning Christ is the Word who lives for ever.

Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound. The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart.

However, let us observe what happens when we first seek to build up our hearts. When I think about what I am going to say, the word or message is already in my heart. When I want to speak to you, I look for a way to share with your heart what is already in mine.

In my search for a way to let this message reach you, so that the word already in my heart may find place also in yours, I use my voice to speak to you. The sound of my voice brings the meaning of the word to you and then passes away. The word which the sound has brought to you is now in your heart, and yet it is still also in mine.

When the word has been conveyed to you, does not the sound seem to say: The word ought to grow, and I should diminish? The sound of the voice has made itself heard in the service of the word, and has gone away, as though it were saying: My joy is complete. Let us hold on to the word; we must not lose the word conceived inwardly in our hearts.

Do you need proof that the voice passes away but the divine Word remains? Where is John’s baptism today? It served its purpose, and it went away. Now it is Christ’s baptism that we celebrate. It is in Christ that we all believe; we hope for salvation in him. This is the message the voice cried out.

Because it is hard to distinguish word from voice, even John himself was thought to be the Christ. The voice was thought to be the word. But the voice acknowledged what it was, anxious not to give offence to the word. I am not the Christ, he said, nor Elijah, nor the prophet. And the question came: Who are you, then? He replied: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord. The voice of one crying in the wilderness is the voice of one breaking the silence. Prepare the way for the Lord, he says, as though he were saying: “I speak out in order to lead him into your hearts, but he does not choose to come where I lead him unless you prepare the way for him”.

What does prepare the way mean, if not “pray well”? What does prepare the way mean, if not “be humble in your thoughts”? We should take our lesson from John the Baptist. He is thought to be the Christ; he declares he is not what they think. He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory.

If he had said, “I am the Christ”, you can imagine how readily he would have been believed, since they believed he was the Christ even before he spoke. But he did not say it; he acknowledged what he was. He pointed out clearly who he was; he humbled himself.

He saw where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, and his fear was that it might be blown out by the wind of pride.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Human Experience

~from the awesome Grassroots Films, the makers of God in the Streets of NY and Fishers of Men, check out The Human Experience.

They are in pre-screenings, so schedule one for your parish. Here's the film's website. The sound clips on the site are haunting.

(You'll recognize the voice on the trailer!)

Here's another version of the trailer.


To quote my friend Zadok, "Eh?" (except he says it much better than I)

*scratches head*

Neocatechumenal Statutes

~Sandro Magister writes about the Neocatechumenal Way's new statutes at Chiesa
The new statutes approved last May 11 require the Neocatechumenals to celebrate the Mass following the general liturgical regulations of the Roman rite. They must receive communion standing. The homily can no longer be replaced with a variety of comments. Their Masses on Saturday evening will be "part of the Sunday liturgical service of the parish," and will be "open to other members of the faithful as well."

The only concessions: they can receive communion "while remaining in their places," and they can exchange the sign of peace before the offertory instead of before communion. But it must be noted that the latter arrangement is already used in the Ambrosian rite in the archdiocese of Milan. And in the near future, it could also be introduced into the Roman rite, according to what Benedict XVI himself foreshadowed in the post-synodal exhortation on the Eucharist, "Sacramentum Caritatis."

According to the new statutes, all of the Neocatechumenal communities in the world must immediately adhere to the new rules in celebrating the Mass.

The Neocatechumenal Way, founded in Spain in 1964, says that it is present in 107 countries on five continents, with 19,000 communities in 5,700 parishes in 1,200 dioceses. In total, it has about half a million members. It has 60 "Redemptorists Mater" seminaries all over the world. It has been active in Italy since 1968, and numbers 4,500 communities in 200 dioceses, with about 100,000 members.

After the new statutes, the "Guidelines for catechist teams," the instructional texts created by the founders Kiko and Carmen, are also supposed to be published soon. Following a long examination by Vatican authorities, they will be issued in a revised edition.

Here follow the old and new statutes in comparison, in the article – with accompanying notes – concerning the celebration of the Eucharist:
Read the whole thing

CMAA Colloquium Group

....our friend, The Recovering Choir Director, has started a Facebook group for those of you who attended the Colloquium last week. If you're a Facebook denizen, head on over and join. Help R.C.D. recover from withdrawal symptoms and post your impressions.

Dublin 2012

Fr. B posted this image of the 1932 Dublin International Eucharistic Congress. The next Eucharistic Congress will be in Dublin in 2012. What a providential gift to the Church in Ireland.

Prodigal Daughter

~from The Telgraph about Alessandra Borghese and her reversion to the Catholic Faith.
Princess Alessandra Borghese, 44-year-old scion of one of the grandest of Italian noble families, famous for its popes, cardinals and glorious villa and park in the centre of Rome, may never quite have been a rake, but otherwise neatly fits the mould.

In the 1990s, she was one of those European aristocrats whose names we came to know only because they were forever appearing in glossy magazines, attending all the right grand weddings and openings. She even published an A-to-Z guide to good manners with her great friend, the German Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, better known in the society pages as the 'punk princess' or 'Princess TNT'.

Alessandra Borghese's personal wealth - her mother, Countess Fabrizia Citterio, was one of the heirs to the San Pellegrino water fortune- funded her very own cultural centre in Rome, and she married into more money in the form Greek shipping tycoon, Constantine Niarcose. All of which feels a million miles away from the slight, guarded woman sitting opposite me, sipping an espresso in a London café, her clothes simple, her face without a hint of make-up, and her conversation all about God.

In 1999, she recalls, looking me straight in the eye, she had a meeting. 'Catholicism is not a philosophy, neither is it a theology, but it is a meeting with a person. So the moment you meet Jesus Christ, your life can change radically. That is when I started to look at everything differently.' Borghese has since that meeting, become Italy's best-known born-again Catholic.

Her 2004 book, With New Eyes, the story of her return to the fold, was a bestseller in her home country and over much of Catholic Europe. She has followed it with four other equally successful, equally personal, devotional works, including In The Footsteps of Joseph Ratzinger, her first outing in English, published this month.

As we talk, I find myself more than once referring to her conversion, but, as she points out, that is not the right word for she was raised Catholic. "I was brought up to know that my family had given a very important pope to the church, Paul V [at the start of the seventeenth century], so important that his name is written on the façade of Saint Peter's Basilica itself, along with our coat of arms.'

As she quotes the Latin inscription, she raises the little finger of her left hand to show me the same crest on the small ring she is wearing. 'But for me growing up, that was all history. I didn't participate in it.' She was, she says, 'very conformist' as a young woman. 'I couldn't care less about praying, about the Church, I had to be emancipated.'

Her distaste for such a notion is immediately apparent but is revealed in full later, when the question of women priests -banned by Catholicism - comes up. 'If you're Catholic and want to be a woman priest,' she protests, 'join the Anglicans or the Protestants. Why do you want to change the Catholic tradition according to your point of view? If you look at Holy Mary, you see that her grandeur was not because she did anything, but because she was able to stand behind something bigger.' It is not a position that sits easily with contemporary secular norms, but Borghese has a rather aristocratic disdain for conventional wisdom.

Her attachment to traditional Catholic values is as fierce as it is unapologetic. On the evening of our meeting, she is due to address an audience at the Brompton Oratory, bastion of the unreformed approach to the faith in London.

Her own successful career, as an author, has nothing to do with female emancipation, she insists. 'Sometimes you should try to make a step back, not forward, and you can be very useful to a bigger scheme. I know its difficult because we live in a society where we are all pushed to be in front, to be visible. If you don't appear, you don't exist. You have to be seen, be successful, be good looking, be cool. But it just isn't true.'

There is, arguably, an autobiographical reference to her own younger days in there. Was there a particular trigger for her return to Catholicism? The same date she quotes for it was also, I point out, the year when her husband died, reportedly of a cocaine overdose. 'No, it was not because of that. I wouldn't relate it to that.'...

...What, I can't help asking, do her old friends, from her pre-1999 days, think of her now in her role as arch-Catholic? 'Of course, they think I am strange. People look at me in a weird way, but others respect me. It is life. It doesn't worry me. Because the great thing when you rediscover faith is that you don't feel alone anymore. And so you are stronger.' The inference is that she felt alone before that rediscovery. 'No, its not that I felt alone, rather that, even though I had everything, something was missing.'

In the Borghese family tree there is a line that leads back, some say, to Saint Catherine of Siena, the fourteenth century mystic. She was, like many saints of the church, someone who turned her back on worldly goods in order to follow God. Is such a renunciation something Borghese has contemplated? She laughs at the comparison. 'I am a million kilometers away from being such a saint. But everybody has his or her own big or little mission.',,,

...I slip in a final question. When she looks back to her 'other life' in the 1990s, does she have any regrets? 'No,' she fires back immediately, 'because I haven't lost anything. I am a much freer person. Much more open to the world, so I see that time as a sort of preparation. I don't want to change what has happened. I want to change what I am living now.'

Christus factus est

Obedience...I was thinking a great deal about this discipline, about how easy it is to slip into self-righteous indignation and react without thinking. And because we feel every ounce of that indignation, we are blinded to act in outrage. Then when someone points out our error, if we aren't sufficiently grounded in prayer, we whine to that person about our injuries and try to draw them into our own miseries.

As I begin a new week, this antiphon, though it belongs to Holy Thursday, is a necessary antidote and a reminder of that perfect obedience set before me, Christ who was obedient unto death.

Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis. V. Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum et dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen.

Here is the plainchant setting sung by the Westminster Abbey Choir.

The Christian is another Christ

~by Gregory of Nyssa

More than anyone, St Paul understood who Christ is and those requirements needed by the person named after him. Paul spoke of what he himself had accomplished and accurately imitated him in a manner to show the Lord expressed in his own person. By careful imitation Paul became a model so that it is no longer he who is perceived as living and speaking, but Christ who lives in him. Knowing his own blessings, that good man said You seek proof that Christ is speaking in me and, elsewhere, It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

Paul’s words show us the significance of Christ’s name, when he said that Christ is the power and wisdom of God. But he also called Christ: peace; the inaccessible light where God dwells; our sanctification and redemption; the great high priest; our Passover and our sacrifice of expiation; the brightness of glory; the very image of God’s substance; the creator of the ages; our spiritual food and drink; the rock and the water; the foundation of faith; the chief cornerstone; the image of the great and invisible God; the head of his body, the Church; the first-born of the new creation and the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep; the first-born from the dead, the first-born among many brothers; the mediator between God and man; the only-begotten Son crowned with honour and glory; the Lord of glory; the beginning of all things; the King of justice, but not only of justice but also the King of peace and the King of all things, the King whose kingdom is boundless.

Paul gave all these names to Christ and many others too: so many that they cannot easily be counted. But they are all related, and if you understand the meaning of each of them on its own and put those meanings together then you will come to understand the full meaning of that one word “Christ” and that will show you – as far as the human soul is able to comprehend it – God’s inexpressible greatness.

The good Lord has granted us the privilege of sharing in this, the greatest, most divine and chief of all names, so that, honoured by the name of Christ, we are called “Christians”. So then we must ensure that in us are seen all the meanings of the name of Christ, so that our title is not false and meaningless but is borne out by our lives.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Statio Orbis Mass

Click here for the live stream.

Beautiful chant. Singing Christus Vincit.

UPDATE: 11:20 EDT....a quick shot of Pope Benedict in Rome watching while seated on his throne. By the by, the descant for Lauda anima is just stunning, sung by a massive children's choir in albs.

The organ sounds great....I wonder who the maker is. The organist has done a wonderful job.

Chanting the In nomine.

The Gloria was solemn and now we're standing for the Gospel. Deacon chanting. Papa standing in Roma.

Next Eucharistic Congress will be in Dublin in 2012.

*oh, Fr. PF, can we stay at the monastery?*

Credo from Missa de angelis. Raining now.

The Holy Father referred to families as "primordial cradle for vocations."

Festival Te Deum

Here is one of my favorite settings of Te Deum by Benjamin Britten. The organ accompaniment is just glorious and the ending is simply beautiful....."let me never be confounded".

Britten's Festival Te Deum.

This is for Fr. Mark and the joy for his new mission.

Cardinal Ruini bids goodbye as Vicar of the Pope

~via Papa Ratzinger Forum, from Il Messagero. Cardinal Ruini is one of my favorite Cardinals whom I met in Rome at the Lateran. I was impressed by his graciousness and loved his smile. He and Pope Benedict had a tremendous sympathy for each other. There was a time when Sandro Magister talked about the Ratzinger/Ruini wing of the Church.
For Rome, it is the end of an era.

Camillo Ruini, the 'subtle cardinal' as they call him in the Curia for his intelligence and perfectionism, made his farewell tonight, in a solemn Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, from the Diocese that he has led as the Vicar of the Pope since 1991.

A role that until last year was super-imposed on his presidency of the Italian bishops conference and which gave the Cardinal from Emilia-Romagna unrivalled visibility and authority in Italian Catholicism and the life of the nation.

Ruini - one of the closest collaborators to Papa Wojtyla as well as to Papa Ratzinger - revived the public role of the Church in Italy in the 1990s after the collapse of the Christian Democrats as a viable political party and made the Church an absolute leading player in Italian cultural, political and social life.

In his farewell to the Diocese of Rome on the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop, he begged to be excused by the faithful if he had given back 'little' compared to the love he had received from them, and above all, "for my weakness and mediocrity in what is the first duty of any bishop - prayer".

"How many times did I receive from others requests for prayers, in their correct belief and certainty that a Bishop is above all a man of God, and therefore, a man of prayer. I ask pardon if I have not done enough in this regard, and I certainly plan, with the help of God, to remedy that failing in some way. Because I feel that I have not done enough to merit the solidarity that I have received, and for this, I beg your pardon.

"The contribution I sought to make was, above all, in my sense of duty, which meant assiduousness at work and in taking on my responsibilities, trying as best as I could to be sincere and faithful."

He said he wished to leave a 'small testament' to the diocese: on how to meet the great challenge of "the kingdom of sin that threatens Christian faith in thought and deed."

Thus, he said, "let us look at it without illusion, rather with penetrating eyes, with the eyes of faith, which is necessarily different and even more penetrating that a look that is merely human."

Then he noted that the Church today would have less problems if all bishops showed themselves more strong and more united in their support of the Pontificate - and he recommended this to be an orientation for the future.

"To stand with the Pope in announcing and testifying to the faith, especially when this may be inconvenient or requires courage, is really the task of every bishop, an essential aspect of episcopal collegiality," he explained.

"Allow me to say that if the entire episcopal corps were strong and explicit in this regard, then many difficulties in the Church would have been less serious, and so, even for the future, this should be an effective way to cut down problems to size and be able to overcome them."

Then he spoke of his relationship with the city: "In all these years, I have received a great gift from Rome itself, from the diocese and from the city of Rome - a gift that I understood a little at a time and increasingly more with time. Now that my service as Cardinal Vicar is over," he said, "I hope to enjoy it even more, and to repay you, in the years that are left to me, with memory and prayers."

Pope Benedict XVI thanked Ruini in a special letter that was read during the Mass 'for your commitment in the service of the Church of Rome."

"Everyone recognized your great capacity for work, your simple and direct faith, your intelligent pastoral creativity, your faithfulness to the living identity of the Church through unity with the Pope even in the midst of difficulties, your confident and smiling optimism."

Curial sources say that Cardinal Agostino Vallini, now prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Segnatura (the highest court of canon law), will be named Ruini's successor. He is an internationally respected canon law expert, but has also had pastoral experience, first in Naples as auxiliary to Cardinal Giordano, and then as Bishop of Albano (the diocese to which Castel Gandolfo belongs).

Vallini met with Pope Benedict this morning and attended the Mass at the Lateran.

Quot panes habétis?

Today's Gospel:

In illo témpore: Dixit Jesus discípulis suis: Cum turba multa esset cum Jesu, nec habérernt quod manducárent, convocátis discípulis, alt illis: "Miséreor super turbam: quia ecce jam tríduo sústinent me, nec habent quod mandúcent: et si dimísero eos jejúnos in domum suam, deficíent in via: quidam enim ex eis de longe venérunt." Et respondérunt ei discípuli sui Unde illos quis potent hic saturáre pánibus in solitúdine? Et interrogávit eos: "Quot panes habétis?" Qui dixérunt: "Septem." Et præcépit turbæ discúmbere super terram. Et accípiens septem panes, grátias agens fregit, et dabat discápulis suis ut appónerent, et apposuérunt turbæ. Et habébant piscículos páucos: et ipsos benedíxit, et jussit appóni. Et manducavérunt, et saturáti sunt, et sustulérunt quod superáverat de fragméntis, septem sportas. Erant autem qui manducavérunt, quasi quátuor míllia et dimísit eos.

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At that time, when there was a great multitude with Jesus, and they had nothing to eat, calling His disciples together, He saith to them: "I have compassion on the multitude, for behold they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat and if I shall send them away fasting to their home, they will faint in the way: for some of them came from afar off." And His disciples answered Him: "From whence can any one fill them here with bread in the wilderness?" And he asked them: "How many loaves have ye?" Who said: "Seven." And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground. And taking the seven loaves, giving thanks, He broke and gave to His disciples to set before the people, And they had a few little fishes, and He blessed them, and commanded them to be set before' them. And they did eat, and were filled: and they took up that which was left of the fragments, seven baskets: and they that had eaten, were about four thousand: and He sent them away.

Today's Mass Dominus fortitudo

From today's Mass, here are a couple of Propers. The Introit and the Gradual clearly evoke the last part of the Te Deum:
Salvum fac populum tuum,Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum...In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.

O Lord save thy people and bless thine heritage. Govern them and lift them up forever....In Thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded.
I used to wonder as a child why such a great hymn would end with that plea, "let me never be confounded". It was only after having lived awhile that I realized the "cloud of witnesses" praying for me in my pilgrimage to the Lord kept me ever in the strength of the Lord. Here is the Introit from which we have the name of today's Mass:
Dóminus fortitúdo plebis suæ, et protéctor salutárium Christi sui est: salvum fac pópulum tuum, et bénedic hæreditáti tuæ, et rege eos usque in sæculum. (Ps. 27: 1). Ad te, Dómine, clamábo Deus meus, ne síleas a me, nequando táceas a me, et assimilábor descendéntibus in lacum. v. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

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The Lord is the strength of His people, and the protector of the salvation of His anointed: save, O Lord, Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance, and rule them forever. (Ps. 27: 1) Unto thee will I cry, O Lord: O my God, be not Thou silent to me, lest if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And the Gradual:
Convértere, Dómine, aliquanttuum, et deprecáre super servos tuos. V. Dómine, refúgium factus es nobis, a generatióne et progénie. Allelúia, allelúia. V. (Ps. 30: 2, 3) In Te, Dómine, sperávi, non confúndar in ætérnum: in justítia tua líbera me et erípe me: inclína ad me aurem tuam: accélera, ut eripías me. Allelúia.

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Return, O Lord, a little: and be entreated in favor of Thy servants. V. Lord, Thou hast been our refuge from generation to generation. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Ps. 30: 2,3) In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in Thy justice, and release me: bow down Thine ear to me, make haste to deliver me. Alleluia.

Christ, king and priest forever

~by St. Faustinus

Our Saviour received a bodily anointing and so became a true king and a true priest. Both king and priest he was of his very self; a saviour could be nothing less. Hear in his own words how he himself became a king: I have been appointed king by God on Zion his holy mountain. Hear in the Father’s words that he was a priest: You are a priest for ever in the line of Melchizedek. Aaron was the first under the law to be made a priest by being anointed with chrism, yet the Father does not say, “in the line of Aaron”, lest it be believed that the Saviour’s priesthood could be passed on by inheritance, for at that time Aaron’s priesthood was transmitted by lineal descent. But the Saviour’s priesthood is not inherited because this priest lives on for ever. Therefore Scripture says: You are a priest for ever in the line of Melchizedek.

There is, therefore, a saviour in the flesh who is both a king and a priest, though his anointing was not physical but spiritual. Among the Israelites, those kings and priests who were actually anointed with oil were either kings or priests. No man could be both king and priest; he had to be one or the other. Only Christ was both king and priest; because he had come to fulfil the law, he alone possessed the twofold perfection of kingship and priesthood.
Those who had been anointed with the oil of kingship or priesthood, although they received only one of these anointings, were called messiahs. Our Saviour, however, who is the Christ, was anointed by the Holy Spirit so that the passage in Scripture might be fulfilled: God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness and raised you above your companions. The difference, then, between the one Christ and the many christs is in the anointing, since he was anointed with the oil of gladness, which signifies nothing other than the Holy Spirit.

This we know to be true from the Saviour himself. When he took the book of Isaiah, he opened it and read: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me. He then said that the prophecy was fulfilled in the hearing of those listening.

Peter, the prince of the apostles, also taught that the chrism which made the Saviour a christ was the Holy Spirit; that is to say, the power of God. When in the Acts of the Apostles Peter spoke to that faithful and merciful man, the centurion, he said among other things: After the baptism which John preached, Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, started out in Galilee and travelled about performing powerful miracles, and freeing all who were possessed by the devil.

So you see that Peter too said that Jesus in his humanity was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. Thus Jesus in his humanity truly became the Christ. By the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he was made both king and priest for ever.