29 December 2009

Feast of St. Thomas Becket and Our 'Catholic' Pols

Depending on the outcome of the healthcare bill now in conference the Bishops might have to take a cue from todays Saint and Martyr, Thomas Becket, in dealing with politicians who want to call themselves 'Catholic' even as they refuse to accept non-negotiable Church teaching. IMHO they can begin with Nancy Pelosi who made the following comments to Eleanor Clift for a Newsweek article. It can no longer be denied that her Bishop(s) have made clear the Catholic position vis a vis abortion and she refuses to accept this teaching. Instead she terms it a "difference of opinion."

I have some concerns about the church's position respecting a woman's right to choose. I have some concerns about the church's position on gay rights. I am a practicing Catholic, although they're probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith. I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will. (to murder their babies)

You know, I had five children in six years. The day I brought my fifth baby home, that week my daughter turned 6. So I appreciate and value all that they want to talk about in terms of family and the rest. When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock. When they call me on the phone here to talk about, or come to see me about an issue, that's a different story. Then they are advocates, and I am a public official, and I have a different responsibility.

28 December 2009

The Church and Politics

Much has been made of the influence, some would say 'interference', of the Catholic Church in the healthcare debate because of the outspoken defense of the right to life and freedom of conscience protections sought by the U.S. Bishops in the healthcare bills in Congress. Undoubtedly these same hypocrites would have been glad to have their pictures taken with any Bishop who would have ignored these rights and simply supported the bill. But is it wrong for the Church to interfere in the political arena? Here is today's quote from Bishop Sheen and what he says to the subject,

If by interference in politics is meant judging or condemning a philosophy of life which makes the party, or the state, or the class, or the race the source of all rights, and which usurps the soul and enthrones party over conscience and denies those basic rights for which this war was fought, the answer is emphatically Yes! The Church does judge such a philosophy. But when it does this, it is not interfering with politics, for such politics is no longer politics but Theology. When a State sets itself up as absolute as God, when it claims sovereignty over the soul, when it destroys freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, then the State has ceased to be political and has begun to be a counter-Church.

From Characters of the Passion

27 December 2009

The Incarnation

A daily dose of Bishop Sheen.

Love tends to become like the one loved; in fact, it even wishes to become one with the one loved. God loved unworthy man. He willed to become one with him, and that was the Incarnation.

from The Divine Romance

Adoration of Jesus By The Shepherds

A meditation on the announcement of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds by an anonymous Jesuit priest.







For the world's salvation Jesus was born at Bethlehem, and He wished that men should know it, but not the rich, proud, and sensual men of the world, only poor shepherds, simple, laborious, and unworldly. "And there were in that same country shepherds watching and keeping the night watches over their flocks; and behold an angel of the Lord stood by the, and the brightness of God shone round about them, and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people; for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David."

May we hope that Jesus will make Himself known to us also, that He will deign to let the brightness of His light shine round about us, and give us tidings of great joy. That we may more surely obtain these favours, let us watch over our senses and the movements of our hearts.

22 December 2009

Social Work Is Serving Without Christ

For my birthday my lovely wife gave me a book of quotes from Fulton Sheen and I hope to post one a day. I've written previously on one of his Life Is Worth Living episodes titled 'Social Work' and that is the topic of this first quote which is on the same subject but not from the show. It is from his book, Those Mysterious Priests.
If God appears dead in our nuclear age, it is because Christians and arid people have isolated Christ from His Cross. Some priests and religions have love enough for he hungry, but not love enough to redeem from guilt. (A bad word for modern man)The priest, in order to relate himself better to the world, may preach a "social Christ" or a "political Christ" or a "revolutionary Christ," but such indifference to the crucifixion produce sermons that are "sounding brass and clinking cymbals." The intellectual and moral commitment of the priest to the Sermon on the Mount needs also the existential surrender to the prolongation of the Cross. Mother Teresa of Calcutta expressed this idea: "Serving of the poor without the love of Christ crucified is social work."

21 December 2009

Help the Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard in South Africa

Father Gerard Lagleder OSB who founded the Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard in South Africa, has promised to shave his beard which he has had for the past 20 years if he can raise 55,555.55 euros in donations by the end of the year. The BBG is the South African Relief Organization of the Order of Malta and they do great work serving the sick and the poor. There are numerous projects they are involved in which include a Care Center, a Children's Home, and Hospice. To learn more about what they do you can visit their website. Make sure to check out the video, An Everlasting Brotherhood.

Please help if you can by making donations via PayPal to Father@bbg.org.za or visit this page on the website for more options http://bbg.org.za/finance/donation.htm

18 December 2009

The Government Can (Not)

Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian and musician who has done some very funny stuff. This is one of his latest.

17 December 2009

Ember Days

Following the feast day of St. Lucy last week we celebrate the Ember Days of Advent. The Ember Days or Quatuor Tempora are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and they occur four times a year and co-incide with the beginning of each of the four seasons. They are a reminder for us to focus on God and His creation and our roles as stewards of the Earth.

Catholics were required to fast and abstain from meat in a limited manner on them. From the Fisheaters website there is wonderful explanation of Ember Days and customs related to them including the following the from Dominican, Blessed Jacopo de Voragine (A.D. 1230-1298), Archbishop of Genoa, wrote a collection of the stories of the Saints known as "Legenda Aurea" (Golden Legend). This work gives eight quite interesting reasons to fast during Ember Days:

The fasting of the Quatretemps, called in English Ember days, the Pope Calixtus ordained them. And this fast is kept four times in the year, and for divers reasons.,

For the first time, which is in March, is hot and moist. The second, in summer, is hot and dry. The third, in harvest, is cold and dry. The fourth in winter is cold and moist. Then let us fast in March which is printemps for to repress the heat of the flesh boiling, and to quench luxury or to temper it. In summer we ought to fast to the end that we chastise the burning and ardour of avarice. In harvest for to repress the drought of pride, and in winter for to chastise the coldness of untruth and of malice.

The second reason why we fast four times; for these fastings here begin in March in the first week of the Lent, to the end that vices wax dry in us, for they may not all be quenched; or because that we cast them away, and the boughs and herbs of virtues may grow in us. And in summer also, in the Whitsun week, for then cometh the Holy Ghost, and therefore we ought to be fervent and esprised in the love of the Holy Ghost. They be fasted also in September tofore Michaelmas, and these be the third fastings, because that in this time the fruits be gathered and we should render to God the fruits of good works. In December they be also, and they be the fourth fastings, and in this time the herbs die, and we ought to be mortified to the world.

The third reason is for to ensue the Jews. For the Jews fasted four times in the year, that is to wit, tofore Easter, tofore Whitsunside, tofore the setting of the tabernacle in the temple in September, and tofore the dedication of the temple in December.

The fourth reason is because the man is composed of four elements touching the body, and of three virtues or powers in his soul: that is to wit, the understanding, the will, and the mind. To this then that this fasting may attemper in us four times in the year, at each time we fast three days, to the end that the number of four may be reported to the body, and the number of three to the soul. These be the reasons of Master Beleth.

The fifth reason, as saith John Damascenus: in March and in printemps the blood groweth and augmenteth, and in summer coler, in September melancholy, and in winter phlegm. Then we fast in March for to attemper and depress the blood of concupiscence disordinate, for sanguine of his nature is full of fleshly concupiscence. In summer we fast because that coler should be lessened and refrained, of which cometh wrath. And then is he full naturally of ire. In harvest we fast for to refrain melancholy. The melancholious man naturally is cold, covetous and heavy. In winter we fast for to daunt and to make feeble the phlegm of lightness and forgetting, for such is he that is phlegmatic.

The sixth reason is for the printemps is likened to the air, the summer to fire, harvest to the earth, and the winter to water. Then we fast in March to the end that the air of pride be attempered to us. In summer the fire of concupiscence and of avarice. In September the earth of coldness and of the darkness of ignorance. In winter the water of lightness and inconstancy.

The seventh reason is because that March is reported to infancy, summer to youth, September to steadfast age and virtuous, and winter to ancienty or old age. We fast then in March that we may be in the infancy of innocency. In summer for to be young by virtue and constancy. In harvest that we may be ripe by attemperance. In winter that we may be ancient and old by prudence and honest life, or at least that we may be satisfied to God of that which in these four seasons we have offended him.

The eighth reason is of Master William of Auxerre. We fast, saith he, in these four times of the year to the end that we make amends for all that we have failed in all these four times, and they be done in three days each time, to the end that we satisfy in one day that which we have failed in a month; and that which is the fourth day, that is Wednesday, is the day in which our Lord was betrayed of Judas; and the Friday because our Lord was crucified; and the Saturday because he lay in the sepulchre, and the apostles were sore of heart and in great sorrow.

14 December 2009

Fish on Friday, Save Mother Earth

A Dutch Bishop has come up with a great idea, too bad it is for the entirely wrong and purely secular reason. Bishop Gerard Johannes Nicolaus de Korte of Groningen-Leeuwarden has called for the restoration of abstinence from meat on Fridays "to combat global warming." I think it is a fine idea to abstain from meat every Friday, my family does, only it ought to be done for our spiritual good as it was traditionally, not because we want to save the planet from that modern bogeyman, "global warming."

In fact Paul VI affirmed in his 1966 apostolic constitution Paenitemini, that abstinance from meat was to remain the penitential norm for the Church but allowing dioceses the flexibility to have their own penitential practice. One wonders what the substitute for abstaining from meat is in the Netherlands? And does the laity even know or have the Bishops and priests there ignored the ideas of penance and mortification.

Seek therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, is the Gospel command but in our rush to embrace and be accepted by the world we have set God aside in order to cooperate with those who don't share our religious values. Imagine where we would be today if for the past 40 some years we had focused on "first things" rather than on those that are secondary? Many of the social ills we now face are a result of ignoring the primary things. The second part of that Gospel passage is, and all these things shall be added unto you. Had we practiced mortification and penances, +Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+, He would have taken care of the secondary things. Instead we are like the Israelites that worshipped the golden calf and expecting God to be pleased with our actions. Why is it okay to fast for Mother Earth but not God the Father?

By the way this week we have the Ember Days of Advent, another opportunity for prayer and abstinence. More on these to follow.

09 December 2009

Bye Now, God Love You

Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and we had a votive Mass for him at the St. Paul Seminary chapel from where he graduated. Due to the snowfall here the turnout from outsiders was lighter than we hoped but we still had a nice group. I will post some pictures when I get them. Please continue to pray for his beatification and visit the Archbishop Sheen Foundation to learn more.

30 November 2009

December Work of Mercy - Shelter the Homeless

The corporal work of mercy for December is dedicated to sheltering the homeless in honor of Our Lord who by choosing to be born in a stable, gave witness of this particular work.

In each of his paintings in this series on the works of mercy the painter placed Jesus, sans halo, somewhere in the picture. Only in the first one does Jesus look directly at the viewer.

Pope's Prayer Intention for December

Pope Benedict's prayer intention for December is "That children may be respected and loved and never be the victims of exploitation in its various forms."

23 November 2009

Fr. Thomas' Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Martin's in Rogers, MN

Here are a few pictures from the Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated in the Extraordinary Form by Fr. Thomas Bolin, OSB. He is from the Priory in Norcia that I wrote about a few days ago.




This is a picture of Fr. Cassian, the Prior of Norcia, giving the sermon as is their custom for a newly ordained priest.

I was surprised at what a beautiful Church that St. Martin's is and what a perfect setting for this Mass.

19 November 2009

Feast of All Saints of the Order of Malta

Today the Order of Malta remembers all the Saints and Blesseds of the Order. When we remember “all the saints” of our Order, it is well to reflect that we refer not only to those who have been formally recognized by the Church through beatification or canonization.

On this day we remember the thousands of our predecessors in the Order of St John,including knights, nuns, dames, chaplains, auxiliary troops, supporters who have already entered the presence of God in heaven, for all such are recognized as ‘saints’.

The Collect for today's Mass

O God, the source of all holiness
and of varying forms of it that endow your
Church and build up the Body of Christ,
give us the grace to follow the
saints of our Order
in living for you alone,
by meditating on your law
and by perfect self-denial
so that we may come with them to the bliss of
eternal life.
Amen.

18 November 2009

Pope Benedict Speaks Of The Beauty of European Cathedrals

A few days ago I posted a comment by a priest who said that he was first introduced to the Faith by visiting the great Cathedrals of Europe which he said were, "the Catechism in stone and glass." And today at his weekly audience, Pope Benedict had this to say about the Catedrals of Europe,

"The Christian faith, profoundly rooted in the men and women of the Middle Ages", said the Pope in his catechesis during this morning's general audience, "not only gave rise to masterpieces of theological literature, it also inspired some of the most exalted artistic creations of all civilisation: the cathedrals".

Apart from the more favourable historical conditions, such as greater political stability, the artistic fervour Europe witnessed over three centuries from the year 1000 was due also to "the ardour and spiritual zeal of monasticism", thanks to which the abbeys were built. There "the faithful could remain in prayer, drawn by the idea of venerating the relics of saints, which led to incessant pilgrimages", said Holy Father to the 8,000 faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall.

Thus the Romanesque churches and cathedrals came into being, one of the novelties of which was the introduction of sculptures which, more than seeking technical perfection, "had an educational aim. ... Their recurring theme was the representation of Christ as Judge, surrounded by the figures of the Apocalypse. In general it is the portals of Romanesque churches that present this image, underlining the fact that Christ is the Door that leads to heaven".

Benedict XVI then turned his attention to the Gothic cathedrals of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries characterised, he said, by "their vertical thrust and luminosity". They "reveal a synthesis of faith and art, harmoniously expressed through the universal and captivating language of beauty. ... The Gothic cathedrals thus sought to translate - in their architectural lines - the longing of the soul for God", while their stained glass windows caused "a cascade of light to fall upon the faithful, recounting the story of salvation".

"Gothic sculpture made cathedrals 'Bibles of stone', depicting the episodes of the Gospel and illustrating the passages of the liturgical year, from the Nativity to the Glorification of the Lord. ... Nor were the figures of the Old Testament overlooked, whose story thus became familiar to the faithful".

Yet "the artistic masterpieces created in Europe over previous centuries are incomprehensible is we do not take account of the religious spirit that inspired them", said Pope Benedict. "When faith, especially as celebrated in the liturgy, encounters art, a profound harmony is created because both wish to speak of God, to make the Invisible visible". He also indicated that during his forthcoming meeting with artists, scheduled for 21 November, he will renew his "proposal of friendship between Christian spirituality and art, as expressed by my predecessors, especially ... Paul VI and John Paul II".

"The force of the Romanesque and the splendour of Gothic cathedrals remind us that the 'via pulchritudinis', the way of beauty, is a privileged and fascinating way to approach the Mystery of God", said the Holy Father.

"May the Lord help us", he concluded, "to rediscover this way of beauty as one of the paths, perhaps the most attractive and captivating, to encounter and to love God".

I always wondered who those Vatican visitors to my blog were.

16 November 2009

Feast of St. Joseph Moscati

Today is the feast of the St. Joseph Moscati, the first modern medical doctor to be canonized. Along with St. Gianna Beretta Molla he would be a great intercessor in Heaven for those of us involved in care for the sick and the poor.

The following bio was take from the book by Joan Carroll Cruz, "Secular Saints: 250 Canonized and Beatified Lay Men, Women, and Children by Joan Cruz, and adapted from the savior.org website

Joseph Moscati was born in Benevento, Italy, on July 25, 1880. He was born to virtuous Catholic parents being the seventh of nine children. His father was a lawyer and President of the Court of Assize in Naples. He was a very friendly and well-liked person. He was extremely intelligent, pious and prayerful.

He went to medical school at the University of Naples. He studied rigorously and frequented daily Mass. He suffered much grief when his beloved father died during his first year in medical school. He pressed on and graduated with a degree in Medicine and Surgery, summa cum laude, when he was only 23 years old in 1903. In 1906,he heroically saved many patients who could have died in the hospital when the roof was collapsing during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. He also was known to save many during a cholera epidemic in 1911. Later that same year, he became holder of the Naples University Chair in Chemical Physiology. Around 1912 or 1913, he made a vow of chastity, consecrating himself to a life of celibacy. He then aspired to be a Jesuit but was discourage by the Jesuit priests who discerned that God's will was for Dr. Moscati to remain in the world as a physician. In 1914, the start of World War I, his mother died. He volunteered in the Italian Army and became a major. He cared for the wounded soldiers and helped them become good Catholics.

Dr. Moscati's philosophy for medical practice was to save souls by caring for the body. He believed that the health of the body depended upon the soul remaining in the state of grace. He is quoted in saying that "one must attend first to the salvation of the soul and only then to that of the body." Through his practice, he helped many lapsed Catholics to return to the Sacraments. His favorite patients were the poor, the homeless, the religious and the priests-all from whom he would never accept payment. He actually went as far as secretly leaving his money within a patient's prescription or under a patient's pillow.One day he even refused payment from all his patients saying "These are working folk. What have we that has not been given us by Our Lord? Woe to us if we do not make good use of God's gifts!"

He was always good to his patients. When one of his patients complained about the strict diet the good doctor prescribed, Dr. Moscati replied "God make us suffer here in order to reward us in the heavenly Kingdom; by resigning ourselves to dietary restrictions, and suffering, we shall have greater merit in the eyes of the Almighty."

Professionally, he commanded the highest admiration and respect from his peers and his students. Some of his pupils would accompany him to Mass. He received communion everyday and had a great devotion to Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception.

Though he saved many, he knew that he himself would not live long. After doing his normal hospital rounds and visiting the poor and examining patients in his home, he felt ill, stopped work, went to his room, sat in his chair and expired. He died at the age of 46. Pope John Paul II canonized Joseph Moscati during the Marian Year of 1987-1988 on October 25, 1987.

13 November 2009

The Monks of Norcia Italy

I learned about a new community of Benedictine monks in Norica, Italy. One of their newly ordained priests is from the Twin Cities and he will be coming to the area to celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving in the Extraordinary Form and my sons will be serving for him.

They are a relatively new community located at the birthplaces of Sts Benedict and Scholastica. Earlier this year they were given the apostolic mission of celebrating the Holy Eucharist, "in utroque usus." here is the text of the letter sent by Cardinal Hoyos,


Very Reverend Father Prior:

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, from the very beginning of his pontificate, has made known his desire to foster the unity of the Church. As in the past so also today, the careful celebration of the Sacred Mysteries is a most efficacious instrument for achieving this goal.

For this reason, fatihful to the intentions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, this Pontifical Commission, responding to your request, entrusts to the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia the special apostolate of the celebration of the HolyEucharist “in utroque usu”, that is, both in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, in collaboration with the Holy See and in communion with the diocesan bishop.

I am confident that your young Benedictine community will always support the pastoral activity of the Supreme Pontiff with faithful prayer,

With my best Easter wishes,

Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos,
President Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”


They have daily recordings of their Conventual Mass in the EF which you can listen to on their website, The Monks of Norcia.


12 November 2009

Cathedrals Present the Catechism in Stone and Glass

I was listening to a priest's incredible vocation story at our Serra Club tonight. He came from an entirely unreligious family of a Jewish father and Quaker mother. He credits his first exposure to the Faith when he was living in Europe as a child while his father worked on his Phd. He was able to visit many of the beautiful cathedrals and churches which he felt presented the catechism in stone and stained glass. He talked about the beauty of these Churches and told us if anyone was ever able to build a Church that we should be sure to make it beautiful.

What a contrast to all the Church wreck-o-vators of the past 40 years that have sought to destroy these beautiful buildings and replace them with non descript meeting halls and gathering spaces. It was an apt testament of what we can learn from the visual elements of the Faith.


The top picture is St. Stephen's in Vienna and the lower is a stained glass window from the Cathedral in Cologne.

11 November 2009

Novena Prayers for Memorial of All Saints of the Order of Malta

November 19th is the memorial of All Saints of the Order of Malta. In preparation for this I have two novenas that can be prayed beginning today.

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy departed servants and handmaids, the remission of all their sins; that through pious supplications they may obtain the pardon they have always desired. Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Or this alternate prayer

O God, the bestower of forgiveness and the lover of human salvation, we beseech Thee, of Thy tender love, to grant that the brethren of our order, with their relatives and benefactors, who have passed out of this life, may, by the intercession of Our Lady of Philermo, and all thy saints, come to the fellowship of eteranal bliss. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

07 November 2009

Tribute Song to the Hippy Dissidents

I thought this would be a great tribute song for all those leftover 60's dissenters in the Church whose idea of "reform" is to reject the teachings of the Church and remake it according to their own image.

06 November 2009

Go On Your Own Way

The Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis is currently in the midst of a strategic planning process which includes holding open discussions to receive feedback from parishoners and/or other organizations. One such group calls themselves the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform. Visit their website if you dare but don't say you weren't warned. Members of this group wrote to the Archdiocesan Director of Parish Services and Planning with the following suggestions,

We request an Archdiocesan-wide discussion of all the relevant questions people want to ask. The meaning questions we would like to address are the following:

• Why do young adults abandon faith formation classes immediately after Confirmation? Why are such a large percentage of children offered no faith formation at all or, if the offer is made, why are they not accepting it?

• Why don’t two-thirds of registered Catholics go to Mass?

• Why are good and capable men not stepping up for ordination as priests?

• Why is celibacy required for the role of priest?

• Why aren’t women’s vocations to the ordained priesthood recognized and accepted?

• Why are third and fourth generation American Catholics leaving the church in great numbers?

• How is the money collected by the Archdiocese spent?

We want the Archbishop to be accountable for his expenditures as the parishes are accountable for theirs.The Task Force’s response when these questions are raised is that they are outside the scope of its mandate. Of course, they are, and that is the problem. We do not think that response will suffice.

If the Task Force requests the power from the Archbishop to facilitate such a discussion with the people of the Archdiocese and is denied that power, we suggest that as a matter of conscience you consider resigning en masse unless and until a full communication process is approved.

Though we are not experts, we have many ideas about how this process could be organized and will be happy to discuss them with you. There are many professional discussion facilitators in the Archdiocese who would, we are sure, be available to help. Some of the crucial elements are that all subjects be allowed to be discussed, no threats of job loss or excommunication will follow open discussion, and that representatives from all the people, not just those chosen by leadership, be involved in planning the discussion.

We think this is the only way to legitimate the process.

And the response from James Lundholm-Eades is, to quote a MasterCard commercial, "Priceless."
I read with particular interest your list of questions. Some of them are clearly outside the scope of this planning process. Some others call into question the framework of the Catholic faith that are simply part of our Catholic belief and tradition as delineated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You and your membership will know from your attendance at the meetings where you added your voice to the consultative process that the outcomes of the planning process will be consistent with the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church.

Finally, if your questions are a reflection of ongoing and serious concerns you have about the beliefs and traditions of our Catholic Church to the degree I sense they are, then it may be that your journey to God may well be served by exploring protestant denominations where your views will find broader acceptance. I prayerfully wish you well in your journey wherever it leads you.

Thanks again for your input to the planning process.

03 November 2009

Book Suggestion for Advent


As we are only a few weeks away from the beginning of Advent I wanted to recommend an excellent book to read and study in preparation for Christmas. De Incarnatione Verbi Dei by St. Anthanasius, or in English, On The Incarnation, is perhaps the best treatise on this important doctrine of the Church. One of the best translations is the 1996 edition available from St. Vladimir's Seminary Press which includes an introduction from C.S. Lewis. It is available at Amazon and I have linked to it in my recommended books below. If you purchase it by following the link to Amazon I am donating all earnings I get from them to supports works of the SMOM

Book Suggestion for Advent


As we are only a few weeks away from the beginning of Advent I wanted to recommend an excellent book to read and study in preparation for Christmas. De Incarnatione Verbi Dei by St. Anthanasius, or in English, On The Incarnation, is perhaps the best treatise on this important doctrine of the Church. One of the best translations is the 1996 edition available from St. Vladimir's Seminary Press which includes an introduction from C.S. Lewis. It is available at Amazon and I have linked to it in my recommended books below. If you purchase it by following the link to Amazon I am donating all earnings I get from them to supports works of the SMOM

02 November 2009

Feast of All Souls

I have previously posted on the excellent book The End of The World by Fr. Arminjon and thought what he had to say regarding the holy souls was worth posting.

There is another thing the dead say to us: you are mistaken about our desires, and the kind of relief our pains demand; you thought you were showing us your sorrow and love by arranging a magnificent funeral. On the spot of our last abode you have erected monuments, which are not so much tributes to our memory as a gratification of your pride. What is the purpose of all this ostentation and splendor? If need be, pull down those mausoleums, smash those monuments and stones, and purchase with their rubble the prayers and suffrage's of the Church.

This is what the dead ask of us; and, if we listen to them, truly, I tell you, our charity will be blessed. The dead will not be thankless. One day, freed from their torments by our solicitude, they will help us by their powerful intercession, and, when we fly up toward the heavenly fatherland, they will accompany us in procession; they will sing around us the hymn of thanksgiving, and increase the joy of everlasting bliss that will be our reward and our glory.

Fidelium animae per misericordium Deum,
Requiescat in pace

There is also this account of the origin of the Feast of All Souls.
In the annals of Citeaux, it is related that a pilgrim from the district of Rodez, returning from Jerusalem, was forced by a storm to pull into port at an island close to Sicily. There he visited a holy hermit, who inquired about matters pertaining to religion in his country of France, and also asked whether knew the monastery of Cluny and Abbot Odilon. The pilgrim replied that he did, and added that he would be grateful if he would tell him what purpose he had in asking him that question. The hermit answered, "Very near this place, there is a crater, whose summit we can see; at certain times, it belches up clouds of smoke and flame. I have seen demons carrying off the souls of sinners and hurling them into that frightful abyss, in order to torment them for a while. Now, on certain days, I hear the evil spirits conversing among themselves, and complaining that some of these souls have escaped from the; they blame pious persons who, by their prayers and sacrifices, hasten the deliverance of these souls. Odilon and his monks are the ones who seem to terrify them the most. That is why, when you return to your country, I ask you in the name of God to exhort the abbot and monks of Cluny to redouble their prayers and alms for the relief of these poor souls." The pilgrim, on his return, did as he was bidden. the holy Abbot Odilon pondered and weighed everything carefully. He sought enlightenment from God, and ordained that, in all the monasteries of his order, the second day of November each year should be established in commemoration of all the faithful departed.

Feast of All Souls

I have previously posted on the excellent book The End of The World by Fr. Arminjon and thought what he had to say regarding the holy souls was worth posting.

There is another thing the dead say to us: you are mistaken about our desires, and the kind of relief our pains demand; you thought you were showing us your sorrow and love by arranging a magnificent funeral. On the spot of our last abode you have erected monuments, which are not so much tributes to our memory as a gratification of your pride. What is the purpose of all this ostentation and splendor? If need be, pull down those mausoleums, smash those monuments and stones, and purchase with their rubble the prayers and suffrage's of the Church.

This is what the dead ask of us; and, if we listen to them, truly, I tell you, our charity will be blessed. The dead will not be thankless. One day, freed from their torments by our solicitude, they will help us by their powerful intercession, and, when we fly up toward the heavenly fatherland, they will accompany us in procession; they will sing around us the hymn of thanksgiving, and increase the joy of everlasting bliss that will be our reward and our glory.

Fidelium animae per misericordium Deum,
Requiescat in pace

There is also this account of the origin of the Feast of All Souls.
In the annals of Citeaux, it is related that a pilgrim from the district of Rodez, returning from Jerusalem, was forced by a storm to pull into port at an island close to Sicily. There he visited a holy hermit, who inquired about matters pertaining to religion in his country of France, and also asked whether knew the monastery of Cluny and Abbot Odilon. The pilgrim replied that he did, and added that he would be grateful if he would tell him what purpose he had in asking him that question. The hermit answered, "Very near this place, there is a crater, whose summit we can see; at certain times, it belches up clouds of smoke and flame. I have seen demons carrying off the souls of sinners and hurling them into that frightful abyss, in order to torment them for a while. Now, on certain days, I hear the evil spirits conversing among themselves, and complaining that some of these souls have escaped from the; they blame pious persons who, by their prayers and sacrifices, hasten the deliverance of these souls. Odilon and his monks are the ones who seem to terrify them the most. That is why, when you return to your country, I ask you in the name of God to exhort the abbot and monks of Cluny to redouble their prayers and alms for the relief of these poor souls." The pilgrim, on his return, did as he was bidden. the holy Abbot Odilon pondered and weighed everything carefully. He sought enlightenment from God, and ordained that, in all the monasteries of his order, the second day of November each year should be established in commemoration of all the faithful departed.

01 November 2009

November Work of Mercy - To Bury The Dead

The Corporal Work of Mercy - To Bury the Dead, is a perfect act that we can practice throughout the month of November by remembering the holy souls in purgatory, particularly those souls who have no one else to remember them. An appropriate prayer for the faithful departed is Psalm 129, De Profundis. I will be including a nine day novena as well as prayers for each day of the week so please check back.

De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine: Dómine, exáudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuae intendéntes: in vocem deprecationes meae.
Si iniquitátes observaveris, Dómine: Dómine, quis sustinébit.
Quia apud te propitiátio est: et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Dómine.
Sustinuit ánima mea in verbo ejus: sperávit ánima mea in Dómino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: specret Israel in Dómino.
Quia apud Dóminum misericordia: et copiósa apud eum redémptio.
Et ipse redimet Israel, ex ómnibus iniquitátibus ejus.

November Work of Mercy - To Bury The Dead

The Corporal Work of Mercy - To Bury the Dead, is a perfect act that we can practice throughout the month of November by remembering the holy souls in purgatory, particularly those souls who have no one else to remember them. An appropriate prayer for the faithful departed is Psalm 129, De Profundis. I will be including a nine day novena as well as prayers for each day of the week so please check back.

De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine: Dómine, exáudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuae intendéntes: in vocem deprecationes meae.
Si iniquitátes observaveris, Dómine: Dómine, quis sustinébit.
Quia apud te propitiátio est: et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Dómine.
Sustinuit ánima mea in verbo ejus: sperávit ánima mea in Dómino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: specret Israel in Dómino.
Quia apud Dóminum misericordia: et copiósa apud eum redémptio.
Et ipse redimet Israel, ex ómnibus iniquitátibus ejus.

28 October 2009

The Priest On The Altar As Representative of Jesus

A 19th century French priest, Fr. Charles Arminjon, gave a series of conferences in the town cathedral to help his flock turn their thoughts away from this life's material affairs and towards the great spiritual rewards of Heaven. These conferences were compiled into a book titled, The End Of The Present World and The Mysteries Of The Future Life. Despite its title this is not a book of prophecy or predictions of the end of the world although he does deal with the subject in light of Church teaching and the various opinions of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. One point he stresses is that we should not be misled by the frequency of earthly disasters and such as indicators that "the end is near."

Saint Therese of Lisieux first read the book when she was 14 years old and says,
Reading this was one of the greatest graces of my life. I read it at the window of my study, and the impression I received from it is too intimate and too sweet for me to express . . . All the great truths of religion, the mysteries of eternity, plunged my soul into a happiness not of the earth . . . I experienced already what God reserves for those who love Him (not with the eye of man, but with that of the heart), and seeing that the eternal rewards had no proportion to the light sacrifices of life, I wanted to love, to love Jesus with passion, to give Him a thousand proofs of love while I still could. I copied out several passages on perfect love, on the reception that the good God will give His elect at the moment when He Himself becomes their great and eternal reward, and I kept repeating unceasingly the words of love burning in my heart."

In a section on the Eucharist he describes how the priest on the altar, fills a representative function by assuming the person of Jesus Christ. I should note that as he wrote this in the 19th Century he is describing the priests actions in what is now called the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. In reading this it is obvious to note the loss of the sacred and mysterious when compared to the actions of the priest in today's Novus Ordo. Where the priest too often begins Mass more like a 'Master of Ceremonies.'

At Mass, we come out of the sacristy wearing on our shoulders that mysterious chasuble, the image of the Cross that our Lord Jesus Christ bore upon His own shoulders. The alb that covers us represents the white robe in which the Son of God was mocked at the court of Herod, but which His innocence transformed into a garment of dazzling brightness. We carry, hanging from our arms, that maniple of tears, intended to wipe away the sweat from our foreheads and restore us from our failings.

After bowing, we ascend the steps of the altar, as our Lord Jesus Christ climbed the steps of Golgotha. we raise our hands, when we say Oremus, as Jesus Christ prayed, with His hands raised toward His Father. At the Canon, we speak in a low voice, like Jesus Christ, who, in the Garden of Olives, moved a stone's throw away from His disciples, in order to enter into the silence of recollection and prayer. At the Elevation, we take the Host in our hands, just as Jesus Christ, at the Last Supper, took the bread and wine into His holy and venerable hands. Then our words cease, our personality disappears, and the voice of Jesus Christ replaces that of His minister. it is no longer we who speak, no longer we who live: the body of the priest has become the very body of God.

The Priest On The Altar As Representative of Jesus

A 19th century French priest, Fr. Charles Arminjon, gave a series of conferences in the town cathedral to help his flock turn their thoughts away from this life's material affairs and towards the great spiritual rewards of Heaven. These conferences were compiled into a book titled, The End Of The Present World and The Mysteries Of The Future Life. Despite its title this is not a book of prophecy or predictions of the end of the world although he does deal with the subject in light of Church teaching and the various opinions of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. One point he stresses is that we should not be misled by the frequency of earthly disasters and such as indicators that "the end is near."

Saint Therese of Lisieux first read the book when she was 14 years old and says,
Reading this was one of the greatest graces of my life. I read it at the window of my study, and the impression I received from it is too intimate and too sweet for me to express . . . All the great truths of religion, the mysteries of eternity, plunged my soul into a happiness not of the earth . . . I experienced already what God reserves for those who love Him (not with the eye of man, but with that of the heart), and seeing that the eternal rewards had no proportion to the light sacrifices of life, I wanted to love, to love Jesus with passion, to give Him a thousand proofs of love while I still could. I copied out several passages on perfect love, on the reception that the good God will give His elect at the moment when He Himself becomes their great and eternal reward, and I kept repeating unceasingly the words of love burning in my heart."

In a section on the Eucharist he describes how the priest on the altar, fills a representative function by assuming the person of Jesus Christ. I should note that as he wrote this in the 19th Century he is describing the priests actions in what is now called the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. In reading this it is obvious to note the loss of the sacred and mysterious when compared to the actions of the priest in today's Novus Ordo. Where the priest too often begins Mass more like a 'Master of Ceremonies.'

At Mass, we come out of the sacristy wearing on our shoulders that mysterious chasuble, the image of the Cross that our Lord Jesus Christ bore upon His own shoulders. The alb that covers us represents the white robe in which the Son of God was mocked at the court of Herod, but which His innocence transformed into a garment of dazzling brightness. We carry, hanging from our arms, that maniple of tears, intended to wipe away the sweat from our foreheads and restore us from our failings.

After bowing, we ascend the steps of the altar, as our Lord Jesus Christ climbed the steps of Golgotha. we raise our hands, when we say Oremus, as Jesus Christ prayed, with His hands raised toward His Father. At the Canon, we speak in a low voice, like Jesus Christ, who, in the Garden of Olives, moved a stone's throw away from His disciples, in order to enter into the silence of recollection and prayer. At the Elevation, we take the Host in our hands, just as Jesus Christ, at the Last Supper, took the bread and wine into His holy and venerable hands. Then our words cease, our personality disappears, and the voice of Jesus Christ replaces that of His minister. it is no longer we who speak, no longer we who live: the body of the priest has become the very body of God.

New Blog of British Assoc. of the SMOM

My confreres of the British Association of the Order of Malta have a wonderful new blog to check out. Here is a link, SaintJohnofJerusalem.blogspot.com. They have some great pictures taken of the recent visit of the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux to their Conventual Church at the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth and also profession of Solemn vows by Duncan Gallie.

New Blog of British Assoc. of the SMOM

My confreres of the British Association of the Order of Malta have a wonderful new blog to check out. Here is a link, SaintJohnofJerusalem.blogspot.com. They have some great pictures taken of the recent visit of the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux to their Conventual Church at the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth and also profession of Solemn vows by Duncan Gallie.

27 October 2009

No Abortion Funding in "Our Plan"

In his September speech to Congress President Obama went on record stating that there would be no federal funding of abortion in his healthcare plan. Most people were skeptical and the USCCB wanted to give him the benevolent benifit of the doubt. But when pushed on the matter and realizing that he could no longer avoid the fact that his comments were contradicted by all the evidence showing that abortion will be funded with federal tax dollars he "qualified" his statement. In another era he would be described as someone who "speaks with a forked tongue." Here is a recent statement from Fr. Frank Pavone,

Staten Island, NY - Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, responded today to President Obama's statement to Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) that when he said in his September speech to Congress that "our plan" would not use federal dollars to fund abortion, he was not referring to any of the bills pending in Congress."

Every time the President has spoken of not wanting to fund abortion in 'his' health care plan, no one has really known what measure he was talking about," said Fr. Pavone. "Now we know from his conversation with Congressman Stupak that the President's 'plan' has never seen the light of day. Or maybe, to paraphrase former President Bill Clinton, it depends on what the word 'plan' means."

No Abortion Funding in "Our Plan"

In his September speech to Congress President Obama went on record stating that there would be no federal funding of abortion in his healthcare plan. Most people were skeptical and the USCCB wanted to give him the benevolent benifit of the doubt. But when pushed on the matter and realizing that he could no longer avoid the fact that his comments were contradicted by all the evidence showing that abortion will be funded with federal tax dollars he "qualified" his statement. In another era he would be described as someone who "speaks with a forked tongue." Here is a recent statement from Fr. Frank Pavone,

Staten Island, NY - Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, responded today to President Obama's statement to Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) that when he said in his September speech to Congress that "our plan" would not use federal dollars to fund abortion, he was not referring to any of the bills pending in Congress."

Every time the President has spoken of not wanting to fund abortion in 'his' health care plan, no one has really known what measure he was talking about," said Fr. Pavone. "Now we know from his conversation with Congressman Stupak that the President's 'plan' has never seen the light of day. Or maybe, to paraphrase former President Bill Clinton, it depends on what the word 'plan' means."

24 October 2009

Patrick Kennedy Didn't Get The Message From His Dad

UPDATE:

In response to Patrick Kennedy's ridiculous attack against the U.S. Bishops, Bishop Tobin from Rhode Island made the following remarks,

“Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s statement about the Catholic Church’s position on health care reform is irresponsible and ignorant of the facts. But the Congressman is correct in stating that “he can’t understand.” He got that part right.

As I wrote to Congressman Kennedy and other members of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation recently, the Bishops of the United States are indeed in favor of comprehensive health care reform and have been for many years. But we are adamantly opposed to health care legislation that threatens the life of unborn children, requires taxpayers to pay for abortion, rations health care, or compromises the conscience of individuals.

Congressman Kennedy continues to be a disappointment to the Catholic Church and to the citizens of the State of Rhode Island. I believe the Congressman owes us an apology for his irresponsible comments. It is my fervent hope and prayer that he will find a way to provide more effective and morally responsible leadership for our state.”
The usual hypocrites have come to the defense of the Cong. by saying that he believes in the separation of Church and State and that the Bishop was out of line for his response. Ignoring the fact that this has nothing to with "separation of Church and State," in the first place it is funny how they have no problem violating their own principle in attacking the Church but become all defensivie when their actions are called to account. As Jesus said in the Gospel, "You cannot serve two masters," it is clear that Cong. Kennedy has chosen Mammon as his master rather than God.

If Sen. Ted Kennedy had a deathbed conversion against abortion he obviously didn't communicate this to his son, Cong. Patrick Kennedy. In a recent interview with CNS the Cong. from Rhode Island made the following comments,

Congressman Patrick Kennedy has a message for the nation's Catholic bishops: You're not pro-life. That's the Rhode Island lawmaker's reaction to a promise from the bishops to vigorously oppose the health care bills in Congress unless amendments are added to remove abortion funding. Kennedy told CNS News in an interview that the Catholic Church is fanning “the flames of dissent and discord” by taking the position.

“I can't understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time, where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we're caring and giving health care to the human person--that right now we have 50 million people who are uninsured,” Kennedy told the conservative news outlet.

“You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life saving health care? I thought they were pro-life?” he continued.

"If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it’s going to provide health care that are going to keep people alive. So this is an absolute red herring and I don't think that it does anything but to fan the flames of dissent and discord and I don't think it’s productive at all,"

But it is Cong. Kennedy that is tossing out the red herrings. First of all the Church is not fanning any flames of dissent or discord, nor is it opposed to the "biggest social justice issue of our time", it is simply proclaiming the Truth. If anything it is the Congressman's obstinate refusal to exclude abortion from healthcare that is preventing the Church's support for healthcare reform as proposed.

Next the Catholic Church is not denying anyone "life saving" healthcare. Certainly nobody appearing at a Catholic hospital is or will be turned away because they lack insurance. It is also a convenient lie perpetuated by the likes of Cong. Kennedy that the dignity of these 50 million uninsured is disrespected. A significant number of these "uninsured" are able to get health insurance but decline to for various reasons.

It would be interesting to learn just how many of the "50 million uninsured" die each year in proportion to the rest of the 'insured population'. Any bets that it is less than the number murder by abortion each year?

The numbers just don't add up. If a majority of these 50 million are dying each year, how is it that the same number seems to remain static year to year? After all if this were true we aren't seeing enought people born or immigrating to America to replace those who died.

Patrick Kennedy Didn't Get The Message From His Dad

UPDATE:

In response to Patrick Kennedy's ridiculous attack against the U.S. Bishops, Bishop Tobin from Rhode Island made the following remarks,

“Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s statement about the Catholic Church’s position on health care reform is irresponsible and ignorant of the facts. But the Congressman is correct in stating that “he can’t understand.” He got that part right.

As I wrote to Congressman Kennedy and other members of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation recently, the Bishops of the United States are indeed in favor of comprehensive health care reform and have been for many years. But we are adamantly opposed to health care legislation that threatens the life of unborn children, requires taxpayers to pay for abortion, rations health care, or compromises the conscience of individuals.

Congressman Kennedy continues to be a disappointment to the Catholic Church and to the citizens of the State of Rhode Island. I believe the Congressman owes us an apology for his irresponsible comments. It is my fervent hope and prayer that he will find a way to provide more effective and morally responsible leadership for our state.”
The usual hypocrites have come to the defense of the Cong. by saying that he believes in the separation of Church and State and that the Bishop was out of line for his response. Ignoring the fact that this has nothing to with "separation of Church and State," in the first place it is funny how they have no problem violating their own principle in attacking the Church but become all defensivie when their actions are called to account. As Jesus said in the Gospel, "You cannot serve two masters," it is clear that Cong. Kennedy has chosen Mammon as his master rather than God.

If Sen. Ted Kennedy had a deathbed conversion against abortion he obviously didn't communicate this to his son, Cong. Patrick Kennedy. In a recent interview with CNS the Cong. from Rhode Island made the following comments,

Congressman Patrick Kennedy has a message for the nation's Catholic bishops: You're not pro-life. That's the Rhode Island lawmaker's reaction to a promise from the bishops to vigorously oppose the health care bills in Congress unless amendments are added to remove abortion funding. Kennedy told CNS News in an interview that the Catholic Church is fanning “the flames of dissent and discord” by taking the position.

“I can't understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time, where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we're caring and giving health care to the human person--that right now we have 50 million people who are uninsured,” Kennedy told the conservative news outlet.

“You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life saving health care? I thought they were pro-life?” he continued.

"If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it’s going to provide health care that are going to keep people alive. So this is an absolute red herring and I don't think that it does anything but to fan the flames of dissent and discord and I don't think it’s productive at all,"

But it is Cong. Kennedy that is tossing out the red herrings. First of all the Church is not fanning any flames of dissent or discord, nor is it opposed to the "biggest social justice issue of our time", it is simply proclaiming the Truth. If anything it is the Congressman's obstinate refusal to exclude abortion from healthcare that is preventing the Church's support for healthcare reform as proposed.

Next the Catholic Church is not denying anyone "life saving" healthcare. Certainly nobody appearing at a Catholic hospital is or will be turned away because they lack insurance. It is also a convenient lie perpetuated by the likes of Cong. Kennedy that the dignity of these 50 million uninsured is disrespected. A significant number of these "uninsured" are able to get health insurance but decline to for various reasons.

It would be interesting to learn just how many of the "50 million uninsured" die each year in proportion to the rest of the 'insured population'. Any bets that it is less than the number murder by abortion each year?

The numbers just don't add up. If a majority of these 50 million are dying each year, how is it that the same number seems to remain static year to year? After all if this were true we aren't seeing enought people born or immigrating to America to replace those who died.

23 October 2009

The Pomegranate - The Queen of Fruits

I recently had the opportunity to try a pomegranate which were on sale at a local grocer. We don't get a lot of them in Minnesota and it was definitely a treat. Then tonight I picked up a book off my shelf titled Nature In The Works of Luis De Granada and there in the section on fruits he gives his most detailed description to the pomegranate.

The covering of this fruit is like a garment which surrounds it on all sides to protect it from the severity of the weather. This coating is hard on the outside, but softer on its inner surface, so that it may not injure the delicate texture of the fruit. The grains, the formation of which the author carefully notes together with the provision for their nourishment, are arranged so as to avoid waste of space. They are enclosed in sections separated from one another by a membrane finer than gauze. This division, which he compares to that of the parts of the brain, contributes to the conservation of the grains, whereas the separating tissue prevents the decomposition which starts in one section from passing to an adjoining one. That this fruit may be lacking in no grace, it is surmounted by a royal crown, from the shape of which Fray Luis thinks kings must have taken the form of their diadems.

The pomegranate is thus marked as the queen of fruits. It is not surpassed by any other, either in the color of its grains, lively like that of coral, or in its flavor and healthfulness. Pleasing to the eye and sweet to the taste, it is palatable to the well and wholesome to the sick. Moreover it is of such a quality that it may be kept during the whole year.

Fray Luis wonders that men who are ready to philosophize on human affairs are to so little impressed by the wisdom and power which is able to produce from water and a little humor of the earth a piece of workmanship like the pomegranate. He [Fray Luis] remarks that the Spouse in the Canticle shows better understanding when she invites the beloved to go forth to see if the pomegranates are flourishing, and also to drink of wine make from this fruit.


It is a very interesting book as much for his scientific observation, which undoubtedly would be criticized by our modern "scientists" and their methods, but also by the relation of the natural to the supernatural or spiritual. Here is a part from his description of a bear.
A bear which carries away a honeycomb does not heed the stinging of the bees; so a Christian who enjoys the happiness of receiving Christ in the Eucharist should disregard the pricking of criticizing tongues.

The Pomegranate - The Queen of Fruits

I recently had the opportunity to try a pomegranate which were on sale at a local grocer. We don't get a lot of them in Minnesota and it was definitely a treat. Then tonight I picked up a book off my shelf titled Nature In The Works of Luis De Granada and there in the section on fruits he gives his most detailed description to the pomegranate.

The covering of this fruit is like a garment which surrounds it on all sides to protect it from the severity of the weather. This coating is hard on the outside, but softer on its inner surface, so that it may not injure the delicate texture of the fruit. The grains, the formation of which the author carefully notes together with the provision for their nourishment, are arranged so as to avoid waste of space. They are enclosed in sections separated from one another by a membrane finer than gauze. This division, which he compares to that of the parts of the brain, contributes to the conservation of the grains, whereas the separating tissue prevents the decomposition which starts in one section from passing to an adjoining one. That this fruit may be lacking in no grace, it is surmounted by a royal crown, from the shape of which Fray Luis thinks kings must have taken the form of their diadems.

The pomegranate is thus marked as the queen of fruits. It is not surpassed by any other, either in the color of its grains, lively like that of coral, or in its flavor and healthfulness. Pleasing to the eye and sweet to the taste, it is palatable to the well and wholesome to the sick. Moreover it is of such a quality that it may be kept during the whole year.

Fray Luis wonders that men who are ready to philosophize on human affairs are to so little impressed by the wisdom and power which is able to produce from water and a little humor of the earth a piece of workmanship like the pomegranate. He [Fray Luis] remarks that the Spouse in the Canticle shows better understanding when she invites the beloved to go forth to see if the pomegranates are flourishing, and also to drink of wine make from this fruit.


It is a very interesting book as much for his scientific observation, which undoubtedly would be criticized by our modern "scientists" and their methods, but also by the relation of the natural to the supernatural or spiritual. Here is a part from his description of a bear.
A bear which carries away a honeycomb does not heed the stinging of the bees; so a Christian who enjoys the happiness of receiving Christ in the Eucharist should disregard the pricking of criticizing tongues.

21 October 2009

Memorial of Blessed Charles of Austria

Today is the Memorial for Blessed Charles of Austria who was a member of the Order of Malta. At the Canonization for Blessed Charles website there is a testimony written by Br. Nathan Cochran O.S.B. which gives a good look at the character of Blessed Charles and how he can be an example for men of today. As emperor he was a man of great wealth and power yet he died penniless. The whole article is a good read and here are a couple highlights. Please note that since the time of publication of this article Charles has in fact advanced from being Venerable and been declared Blessed. Pray that he will finally be canonized.

INTRODUCTION

“Are you a monarchist?”
“Why does an American care about an Austrian Emperor?”
“Is your family from Austria?”

In the course of promoting the cause for beatification of Emperor Karl, I frequently hear these questions, as well as many others. More often than not, an Austrian or some other national from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire makes the inquiry. And, more often than not, it is asked in disbelief—as though they cannot fathom what might be special about this man.

The questions may be innocent enough, but they demonstrate that Emperor Karl’s story has not been told often enough or far enough. In American history books—as well as many Austrian ones—Emperor Karl’s reign is frequently relegated to a footnote. His importance, however, is far greater than that acknowledged by historians—especially historians who may not be entirely without bias. I say this because if they were familiar with the story of the last Habsburg Emperor, they would realize that Karl’s life, character, honor, and fidelity have universal inspiration and appeal to everyone—regardless of politics, race or nationality.

The three questions mentioned above, therefore, are really irrelevant to the subject The question that should be asked is: “why is Karl of Austria worthy of beatification?” The answer to that is five-fold: because Venerable Karl was a man of faith, a Christian family man, a Catholic monarch, a resolute peacemaker; and a seeker of God’s Will.

CONCLUSION

By now it should be obvious why the three questions at the beginning of this essay are not important. They are not important because Venerable Karl’s story has universal appeal. His story touches North Americans, Latin Americans, Asians, Africans and Europeans. His faith inspires Catholic men and women, husbands and fathers, military men, politicians, and heads-of-state. His influence reaches out beyond the borders of Austria and the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, and embraces the world with his Christian example.

In a world where many do not believe in God ... we need Venerable Karl’s faith.
Where the world is indifferent to the poor and needy … we need Karl’s example of charity and almsgiving.

Where abortion is perceived as birth control, and illegitimate births outnumber births to married couples … we need Emperor Karl’s compassion and care for all human life.

Where the number of couples cohabiting without benefit of marriage is at an alltime high … we need Karl of Austria’s example of Christian matrimony.

Where divorce is rampant, and absentee fathers all too common … we need Karl’s steadfast love for his wife and children.

In lands where politicians rely on polls to create their policies rather than on moral and ethical principles … we need the moral conviction of Emperor Karl.

Where politicians seek office for personal gain … we need the selflessness of King Karl of Hungary.

Where Catholic politicians vote against Catholic teaching, and their conscience, in order to stay in office … we need the fidelity to the teachings of the Church exhibited by Venerable Karl.

Where laws are made to benefit wealthy lobbyists rather than common people … we need the example of Karl’s love and concern for people of every race and social class.

Where war, strife, discord and conflict abound … we need the passion for peace of the last Habsburg Monarch.

Where millions suffer from illness and infirmity … we need the example of Karl, who bore all trials and tribulations with the words: “Thy Will be done!”

Venerable Karl of Austria must be beatified! Not because he needs it, but because we need his inspiring and selfless example.

Memorial of Blessed Charles of Austria

Today is the Memorial for Blessed Charles of Austria who was a member of the Order of Malta. At the Canonization for Blessed Charles website there is a testimony written by Br. Nathan Cochran O.S.B. which gives a good look at the character of Blessed Charles and how he can be an example for men of today. As emperor he was a man of great wealth and power yet he died penniless. The whole article is a good read and here are a couple highlights. Please note that since the time of publication of this article Charles has in fact advanced from being Venerable and been declared Blessed. Pray that he will finally be canonized.

INTRODUCTION

“Are you a monarchist?”
“Why does an American care about an Austrian Emperor?”
“Is your family from Austria?”

In the course of promoting the cause for beatification of Emperor Karl, I frequently hear these questions, as well as many others. More often than not, an Austrian or some other national from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire makes the inquiry. And, more often than not, it is asked in disbelief—as though they cannot fathom what might be special about this man.

The questions may be innocent enough, but they demonstrate that Emperor Karl’s story has not been told often enough or far enough. In American history books—as well as many Austrian ones—Emperor Karl’s reign is frequently relegated to a footnote. His importance, however, is far greater than that acknowledged by historians—especially historians who may not be entirely without bias. I say this because if they were familiar with the story of the last Habsburg Emperor, they would realize that Karl’s life, character, honor, and fidelity have universal inspiration and appeal to everyone—regardless of politics, race or nationality.

The three questions mentioned above, therefore, are really irrelevant to the subject The question that should be asked is: “why is Karl of Austria worthy of beatification?” The answer to that is five-fold: because Venerable Karl was a man of faith, a Christian family man, a Catholic monarch, a resolute peacemaker; and a seeker of God’s Will.

CONCLUSION

By now it should be obvious why the three questions at the beginning of this essay are not important. They are not important because Venerable Karl’s story has universal appeal. His story touches North Americans, Latin Americans, Asians, Africans and Europeans. His faith inspires Catholic men and women, husbands and fathers, military men, politicians, and heads-of-state. His influence reaches out beyond the borders of Austria and the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, and embraces the world with his Christian example.

In a world where many do not believe in God ... we need Venerable Karl’s faith.
Where the world is indifferent to the poor and needy … we need Karl’s example of charity and almsgiving.

Where abortion is perceived as birth control, and illegitimate births outnumber births to married couples … we need Emperor Karl’s compassion and care for all human life.

Where the number of couples cohabiting without benefit of marriage is at an alltime high … we need Karl of Austria’s example of Christian matrimony.

Where divorce is rampant, and absentee fathers all too common … we need Karl’s steadfast love for his wife and children.

In lands where politicians rely on polls to create their policies rather than on moral and ethical principles … we need the moral conviction of Emperor Karl.

Where politicians seek office for personal gain … we need the selflessness of King Karl of Hungary.

Where Catholic politicians vote against Catholic teaching, and their conscience, in order to stay in office … we need the fidelity to the teachings of the Church exhibited by Venerable Karl.

Where laws are made to benefit wealthy lobbyists rather than common people … we need the example of Karl’s love and concern for people of every race and social class.

Where war, strife, discord and conflict abound … we need the passion for peace of the last Habsburg Monarch.

Where millions suffer from illness and infirmity … we need the example of Karl, who bore all trials and tribulations with the words: “Thy Will be done!”

Venerable Karl of Austria must be beatified! Not because he needs it, but because we need his inspiring and selfless example.

19 October 2009

New Bishop for the Diocese of Cheyenne

Cheyenne, Wyoming has a new Bishop, Fr. Paul Etienne from the Diocese of Indianapolis which was announced earlier this morning.

New Bishop for the Diocese of Cheyenne

Cheyenne, Wyoming has a new Bishop, Fr. Paul Etienne from the Diocese of Indianapolis which was announced earlier this morning.

16 October 2009

Let Us Stand Fast and Fight

In 1973 the late French thinker Jean Ousset, author of Action, reputed to be the definitive guide to Catholic action wrote a letter in response to a fellow Catholic who claimed that the religious situation in France "contributed to his total loss of faith." The whole letter can be found at The Remnant Newspaper but I am excerpting a few paragraphs that struck me as particularly poignant. It is also worth noting that J. Ousset does a fine job demonstrating that this period was not unique in the Church's history but rather that it's history is rather an almost uninterrupted "dark disorder."

"In my opinion, our sons will see 'soldiers of the Church' on the side of the forces of death. I shall be shot by Bolshevik priests carrying the Social Contract in their pockets and the Cross on their breasts!"

However, God has not yet allowed this to happen. He is still Master. Or is He holding this in store for us? You spoke of the goat in Daudet's story; she may have much to teach us - but God hears our prayers. That young she-goat stood her ground against the wolf throughout the night, refusing to lie down before the dawn. Is there a more enviable lot for any soldier of Christ who refuses to be daunted? Night is the thime for the scattering of cowards; for the silencing of the fearful, as Scripture tells us; the time when the bad shepherds prefer to remain in bed; the time when the eye-lids of the Apostles are heavy with sleep. The time for the activities of the Judases. The time for the loneliness of the Master. But it is also the time when the Bridegroom rejoices to find the wise virgins, their lamps full of oil and burning brightly.

It is the night: let us stand fast and fight. Happy are those who, like the young she-goat, are determined to fight to the death, who refuse to lie down and die before the break of day. For it is by enduring till the dawn that true victory is won, that our task is accomplished. And even if the Wolves withdraw only after they have torn us to pieces, the dawn is, in fact, the time when the Wolves flee the light; the time when they take flight from the flock; the time when even the cowardly take heart; the time when the flock can advance without fear.

May God make of us true soldiers of Christ! And when the time comes for us, too, to lie down and die, may we see in the East that brilliant light, not of a star but of that “Lumen Gentium”, of the “Sol Justitiae” which is the Christ: the dawn of a new Christian order in the world!

The rest matters little. Since he who sows does not reap, of what account is it if we are no longer there at the break of day? The glory of the Church is no human glory: She is Holy in spite of our unworthiness.

We are, indeed, in the throes of an agonizing trial, a trial which is the test of our Hope and of our Faith in the Church: the test of our Hope and our Faith in the Cross.

No doubt the Church is emerging from the disorder that afflicted it when this letter was written. Our shepherds have found their voices and are speaking loudly in defense of the faith. See Bishop Nickless of Sioux City's recent letter blasting the "Spirit of Vatican II" as but one recent example. Still the darkness covering the secular world seems to increasing daily. But the last paragraph of the letter provides us with the inspiration to keep our Faith and Hope.
So let us regain our courage, and as the Imitation tells us: “We have begun: we may not go back, nor may we leave off. Take courage brethren: let us go forward together. Jesus will be with us. For the sake of Jesus, we have taken up this Cross; for Jesus’ sake, let us persevere in it. He will be our Helper, Who is our Captain and our Forerunner. Behold our King marcheth before us, Who will fight for us. Let us follow Him manfully, let no one fear terrors, let us be ready to die valiantly in battle; nor let us bring disgrace upon our glory by flying from the Cross!” (The Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chap. LVI)[This last line is particularly important to the Knights of Malta because turning one's back on the Cross in battle meant expulsion from the Order.]

Let Us Stand Fast and Fight

In 1973 the late French thinker Jean Ousset, author of Action, reputed to be the definitive guide to Catholic action wrote a letter in response to a fellow Catholic who claimed that the religious situation in France "contributed to his total loss of faith." The whole letter can be found at The Remnant Newspaper but I am excerpting a few paragraphs that struck me as particularly poignant. It is also worth noting that J. Ousset does a fine job demonstrating that this period was not unique in the Church's history but rather that it's history is rather an almost uninterrupted "dark disorder."

"In my opinion, our sons will see 'soldiers of the Church' on the side of the forces of death. I shall be shot by Bolshevik priests carrying the Social Contract in their pockets and the Cross on their breasts!"

However, God has not yet allowed this to happen. He is still Master. Or is He holding this in store for us? You spoke of the goat in Daudet's story; she may have much to teach us - but God hears our prayers. That young she-goat stood her ground against the wolf throughout the night, refusing to lie down before the dawn. Is there a more enviable lot for any soldier of Christ who refuses to be daunted? Night is the thime for the scattering of cowards; for the silencing of the fearful, as Scripture tells us; the time when the bad shepherds prefer to remain in bed; the time when the eye-lids of the Apostles are heavy with sleep. The time for the activities of the Judases. The time for the loneliness of the Master. But it is also the time when the Bridegroom rejoices to find the wise virgins, their lamps full of oil and burning brightly.

It is the night: let us stand fast and fight. Happy are those who, like the young she-goat, are determined to fight to the death, who refuse to lie down and die before the break of day. For it is by enduring till the dawn that true victory is won, that our task is accomplished. And even if the Wolves withdraw only after they have torn us to pieces, the dawn is, in fact, the time when the Wolves flee the light; the time when they take flight from the flock; the time when even the cowardly take heart; the time when the flock can advance without fear.

May God make of us true soldiers of Christ! And when the time comes for us, too, to lie down and die, may we see in the East that brilliant light, not of a star but of that “Lumen Gentium”, of the “Sol Justitiae” which is the Christ: the dawn of a new Christian order in the world!

The rest matters little. Since he who sows does not reap, of what account is it if we are no longer there at the break of day? The glory of the Church is no human glory: She is Holy in spite of our unworthiness.

We are, indeed, in the throes of an agonizing trial, a trial which is the test of our Hope and of our Faith in the Church: the test of our Hope and our Faith in the Cross.

No doubt the Church is emerging from the disorder that afflicted it when this letter was written. Our shepherds have found their voices and are speaking loudly in defense of the faith. See Bishop Nickless of Sioux City's recent letter blasting the "Spirit of Vatican II" as but one recent example. Still the darkness covering the secular world seems to increasing daily. But the last paragraph of the letter provides us with the inspiration to keep our Faith and Hope.
So let us regain our courage, and as the Imitation tells us: “We have begun: we may not go back, nor may we leave off. Take courage brethren: let us go forward together. Jesus will be with us. For the sake of Jesus, we have taken up this Cross; for Jesus’ sake, let us persevere in it. He will be our Helper, Who is our Captain and our Forerunner. Behold our King marcheth before us, Who will fight for us. Let us follow Him manfully, let no one fear terrors, let us be ready to die valiantly in battle; nor let us bring disgrace upon our glory by flying from the Cross!” (The Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chap. LVI)[This last line is particularly important to the Knights of Malta because turning one's back on the Cross in battle meant expulsion from the Order.]

13 October 2009

07 October 2009

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto and the defeat of the mighty Turkish navy through the intercession of Our Lady and the power of the Rosary. In the picture notice the flag of the ship of the Order of Malta in the lower left corner.

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto and the defeat of the mighty Turkish navy through the intercession of Our Lady and the power of the Rosary. In the picture notice the flag of the ship of the Order of Malta in the lower left corner.

06 October 2009

Archbishop Chaput's Fine Response To Cardinal Cottier

Archbishop Chaput from Denver has written an excellent letter in response to Cardinal Cottier's remarks about the Notre Dame scandal involving Pres. Obama. Here are some of the points the Archbishop made but I urge you to read the rest of the article at Catholic News Agency.

First, resistance to President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame had nothing to do with whether he is a good or bad man. He is obviously a gifted man. He has many good moral and political instincts, and an admirable devotion to his family. These things matter. But unfortunately, so does this: The President’s views on vital bioethical issues, including but not limited to abortion, differ sharply from Catholic teaching. This is why he has enjoyed the strong support of major “abortion rights” groups for many years. Much is made, in some religious circles, of the President’s sympathy for Catholic social teaching. But defense of the unborn child is a demand of social justice. There is no “social justice” if the youngest and weakest among us can be legally killed. Good programs for the poor are vital, but they can never excuse this fundamental violation of human rights.

Second, at a different moment and under different circumstances, the conflict at Notre Dame might have faded away if the university had simply asked the President to give a lecture or public address. But at a time when the American bishops as a body had already voiced strong concern about the new administration’s abortion policies, Notre Dame not only made the President the centerpiece of its graduation events, but also granted him an honorary doctorate of laws – this, despite his deeply troubling views on abortion law and related social issues.

The real source of Catholic frustration with President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame was his overt, negative public voting and speaking record on abortion and other problematic issues. By its actions, Notre Dame ignored and violated the guidance of America’s bishops in their 2004 document, “Catholics in Political Life.” In that text, the bishops urged Catholic institutions to refrain from honoring public officials who disagreed with Church teaching on grave matters.

Thus, the fierce debate in American Catholic circles this spring over the Notre Dame honor for Mr. Obama was not finally about partisan politics. It was about serious issues of Catholic belief, identity and witness – triggered by Mr. Obama’s views -- which Cardinal Cottier, writing from outside the American context, may have misunderstood.

Third, the Cardinal wisely notes points of contact between President Obama’s frequently stated search for political “common ground” and the Catholic emphasis on pursing the “common good.” These goals – seeking common ground and pursuing the common good – can often coincide. But they are not the same thing. They can sharply diverge in practice. So-called “common ground” abortion policies may actually attack the common good because they imply a false unity; they create a ledge of shared public agreement too narrow and too weak to sustain the weight of a real moral consensus. The common good is never served by tolerance for killing the weak – beginning with the unborn.

Disclaimer

This blog and the opinions are all my own and in no way imply the endorsement from any organization. Nor does a recommendation of another blog or web site imply my agreement or endorsement of everything found on their site.