25 February 2009

Spirit of Denial

The following short passage is from Archbishop Sheen and an appropriate thought for the beginning of Lent.

Pain and suffering are from sin and selfishness, but sacrifice is not; it is from love. It is through want of love that pain arises. Suffering brings one to the door of the Temple; but love is the key that unlocks the door, and by transmuting pain into sacrifice prepares for the happiness of the everlasting dwellings.

Those who have themselves never felt hunger involuntarily through fasting, can little understand the legitimate demands of the poor, or the obligation to feed them in charity.

In like manner, those who never have experienced suffering, which can be a condition of love, cannot understand how Christian souls resign themselves to Someone Who first loved us.

24 February 2009

Sister Marie de Mandat Grancey

I have recently learned from a friend about the life of an amazing Daugher of Charity, Sister Marie de Mandat Grancey who was responsible for the purchase and restoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary's house in Ephesus, Turkey. Through the efforts of friends they are gathering documention and petitions so that one day the cause for her beatification can be opened. There is a blog dedicated to raising awareness of this remarkable women who belonged to one of the most noble families in France and yet devoted her life to the Order founded by St. Vincent DePaul. The mission of the Sister Marie de Mandat Grancey Foundation is outlined below. There is also a longer history of her life at the site where you can sign the petition that God willing her cause will be opened. I have also put together a page for her cause on Facebook which you can join and invite others also.

During the persecution of the Christians in the first century, Our Blessed Mother Mary and St. John the Evangelist fled Jerusalem and settled in Ephesus, Turkey. The house in which they lived was purchased, restored, and preserved by Sr. Marie De Mandat-Grancey, Daughter of Charity (1837-1915) in 1892. Sr. Marie spent twelve years helping to find Mary's House, Meryam Ana Evi, and then after funding the purchase and restorations, promoted devotion to Mary at the site of the Chapel from 1892 until her death. Most noteworthy is that Mary’s House, is a holy and common ground where Christians, Muslims, and Orthodox gather upon to honor Mary, Mother of Jesus, a Jewish mother; certainly a sign of hope in these uncertain times of inter-religious conflict.

This is the miracle Sr. Marie never could have imagined; this is what many have come to believe is her mission in these times; Marian devotion across religious lines. Once again, the Mother of God gathers all God's children and teaches us how to pray side by side in peace.

Sr. Marie leads the prayer. Thanks to the foresight, virtue, perseverance, and hard work of Sr. Marie de Mandat-Grancey, Foundress of Mary's House, Mary is again honored, under a particularly precious and timely title; Mother of Holy Hope.
The Sister Marie De Mandat-Grancey Foundation is dedicated to making known the life and mission of Sr. Marie. Our hope and prayer is to see her raised to the Altar of Saints! Please join us as we work for the beatification of Sr. Marie and world peace as we unite in prayer in Mary's House through her intercession.

13 February 2009

Fr. McNabb Contra Nancy Pelosi

A few weeks back Congresswoman Pelosi made televised remarks that an important part of the "stimulus bill" was the inclusion of monies earmarked for providing more birth control and/or contraceptives in a feigned effort to ease the budgetary deficits facing our Cities and States. But due to the public outcry of many in the laity (and an equally silent response from the USCCB) President Obama nixed this from the stimulus package to avoid a political challenge he didn't want to take on at this point. This doesn't mean that their ideology has changed just the timing of when. It was necessary to placate his rabid pro-death supporters which he did by suggesting that this belonged in a normal budget bill rather than the "supra" budget bill this stimulus package has become.

Now other than simply leaving this at the fact that the Catholic Church does not allow artificial birth control and never has, even pre-Humanae Vitae, it is important to examine Ms. Pelosi's statement further in light of an essay of Fr. McNabb, titled ACTION STATIONS.

He begins with a passage from the Encyclical of Pius XII to the American Hierarchy, "The Holiness of the Family and Social Justice" issued in November , 1939.

"If, instead, the Commandments of God are spurned, not only is it impossible to attain that happiness which has place beyond the brief span of time which is allotted to earthly existence, but the very basis upon which rests true civilization is shaken and naught is to be expected but ruins over which belated tears must be shed. How, in fact, can public weal and the glory of civilised life have any guarantee of stability when right is subverted and virtue despised and derided? Is not God the source and giver of law? Is not He the inspiration and reward of virtue, with none like Him among lawgivers?"

"This, according to the admission of all reasonable men, is everywhere the bitter root of evils: refusal to recognise the Divine Majesty, neglect of moral law whose origin is from Heaven, or that regrettable inconstancy which makes its victims waver between the lawful and forbidden, between justice and inequity."

"Thence arrived the modern and blind egotism and thirst for pleasure, vice, drunkenness, immodest and costly styles of dress, prevalence of crime, even among minors, lust for power, neglect of the poor, base craving for ill-gotten wealth, flight from the land, levity in entering marriage, divorce, the break-up of the family, the cooling of mutual affections between parents and children, birth control, enfeeblement of race, weakening of respect for authority, or the rebellion against or neglect of duty towards one's country and towards mankind"

Fr. McNabb then continues. . .

The simple phrase agrorum desertion (flight from the lands) marks, if it does not make, history. The fundamental evil which it uncovers now finds its place for the first time in a Papal Encyclical.

More historic is the joining together almost in one phrase---the flight from the land, and decay of marriage. As man must eat and therefore work to eat, God made the farm, like the family, a divine institution. Home and homestead being God's foundations for mankind, "flight from the land" into the town and especially the big town, will mean flight from undertaking marriage as God has wished it to be undertaken.

It can never be sufficiently trumpeted to moderns that our modern town, and especially our modern big town, is the proximate occasion of the anti-social sin of race suicide. So many are the overhead charges for rent, rates and taxes that the town cannot pay the majority of its hand-workers and brain-workers an economic wage sufficient to pay an economic rent.

Under these town conditions birth restriction presents itself as an economic necessity. Now birth restriction by marital abstinence is heroic virtue. But as the average person cannot be expected to have more than average self-sacrifice this heroic marital abstinence will tend to give place to birth restriction which is birth frustration.

No wonder that the average town youth of today, faced by circumstances which we elders have left to them, can have no higher idea of marriage than that of a temporary relation between a man and a woman principally for pleasure.

So how do our "Catholic" politicians respond to the moral challenges facing these proximate occasions of sin? By tolerating immoral behavior and compounding it by providing an evil remedy like artificial contraception. The solution is not economic. We cannot simply raise the minimum wage or artificially create jobs because these are ultimately only short term remedies.
Even those from whom we should expect moral guidance are not leading us. Fr., continues. . .
Understand my anguish when I realized that even we priests of the moral code were beginning, as it were, to advocate adjustment to the proximate occasions of sin, as if some expedient would allow the majority of young men and women to live in brothels. I found professional attempts to adjust the moral code to circumstances, to surroundings. If that was an ethical policy, then the great Chosen People did very wrong by coming out of Egypt, for their glorious attempt--which we Christians have not yet imitated--was that they refused to adjust their moral code to their surroundings. They adjusted their surroundings to their moral code.

12 February 2009

Rabbi Levin Attacks Dissident Critics of Pope Benedict

The following article appeared in Lifesite News but I have posted the copy with commentary by Fr. Z. As I have said before, the controversy surrounding the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX is an attempt by a number of dissident CINO's and secular opponents of the Church to discredit the policies and attempts at liturgical renewal of the Pope rather than legitimate criticism. The "spirit of Vatican II" is dying and the authentic teaching of the Council is becoming known and the "progressives" are becoming more radical as they see their influence and self-appointed "interpretation" blown away.

By Hilary White, Rome correspondent
Wednesday February 11, 2009

ROME, February 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The dissident, leftist movement in the Catholic Church over the last forty years has severely undermined the teaching of the Catholic Church on the moral teachings on life and family, [fantastic!] a prominent US Orthodox rabbi told LifeSiteNews.com. Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the head of a group of 800 Orthodox rabbis in the US and Canada, also dismissed the accusations that the Holy See had not sufficiently distanced itself from the comments made by Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) on the Holocaust.

"I support this move" to reconcile the traditionalist faction in the Church, he said, "because I understand the big picture, which is that the Catholic Church has a problem. There is a strong left wing of the Church that is doing immeasurable harm to the faith." [Peter was Jewish. Can Rabbi Levin be Pope after Pope Benedict? Maybe 20 years from now?]

Rabbi Levin said that he understands "perfectly" why the reconciliation is vital to the fight against abortion and the homosexualist movement. [The man-centered view of the left detaches morals from reality.]

"I understand that it is very important to fill the pews of the Catholic Church not with cultural Catholics and left-wingers who are helping to destroy the Catholic Church and corrupt the values of the Catholic Church." This corruption, he said, "has a trickle-down effect to every single religious community in the world." [What an admission!]

"What’s the Pope doing? He’s trying to bring the traditionalists back in because they have a lot of very important things to contribute the commonweal of Catholicism. [YES YES YES!]

"Now, if in the process, he inadvertently includes someone who is prominent in the traditionalist movement who happens to say very strange things about the Holocaust, is that a reason to throw out the baby with the bathwater and start to condemn Pope Benedict? Absolutely not."

During a visit to Rome at the end of January, Rabbi Levin told LifeSiteNews.com that he believes the media furore over the lifting of the excommunications of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X is a red herring. He called "ridiculous" the accusations that in doing so Pope Benedict VXI or the Catholic Church are anti-Semitic and described as "very strong" the statements distancing the Holy See and the Pope from Williamson’s comments.

Rabbi Levin was in Rome holding meetings with high level Vatican officials to propose what he called a "new stream of thinking" for the Church’s inter-religious dialogue, one based on commonly held moral teachings, particularly on the right to life and the sanctity of natural marriage.

"The most important issue," he said, is the work the Church is doing "to save babies from abortion, and save children’s minds, and young people’s minds, helping them to know right and wrong on the life and family issues."

"That’s where ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue has to go."

Although numbers are difficult to determine, it is estimated that the Society of St. Pius X has over a million followers worldwide. The traditionalist movement in the Catholic Church is noted for doctrinal orthodoxy and enthusiasm not only for old-fashioned devotional practices, but for the Church’s moral teachings and opposition to post-modern secularist sexual mores. [And this is why progressivists will fight their reintegration in the mainstream Church.] Liberals in the Church, particularly in Europe, have bitterly opposed all overtures to the SSPX and other traditionalists, particularly the Pope’s recent permission to revive the traditional Latin Mass. [The TLM is the monster under their bed.]

The Vatican announced in early January that, as part of ongoing efforts to reconcile the breakaway group, the 1988 decree of excommunication against the Society had been rescinded. Later that month, a Swedish television station aired an interview, recorded in November 2008, in which Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four leaders of the Society, said that he did not believe that six million Jews were killed in the Nazi death camps during World War II.

At that time, the media erupted with protests and accusations that the Catholic Church, and especially Pope Benedict XVI, are anti-Semitic.

Rabbi Levin particularly defended Pope Benedict, saying he is the genius behind the moves of the late Pope John Paul II to reconcile the Church with the Jewish community. [HO HO! The libs aren’t going to like that suggestion! They will attack the Rabbi especially on this point, suggesting that it was all JP II and had nothing to do with Card. Ratzinger… who is German, btw.]

"Anyone who understands and follows Vatican history knows that in the last three decades, one of the moral and intellectual underpinnings of the papacy of Pope John Paul II, was Cardinal Ratzinger.

"And therefore, a lot of the things that Pope John Paul did vis-à-vis the Holocaust, he [Benedict] might have done himself, whether it was visiting Auschwitz or visiting and speaking in the synagogues or asking forgiveness. A lot of this had direct input from Cardinal Ratzinger. Whoever doesn’t understand this doesn’t realise that this man, Pope Benedict XVI, has a decades-long track record of anti-Nazism and sympathy for the Jews."

11 February 2009

Pope Benedict Message for Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Benedict XVI Entrusts Sick to Mary of Lourdes

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is inviting youth, ill people and newlyweds to entrust their lives to Mary today as the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

At the end of the general audience in Paul VI Hall, the Pope invited the boys and girls among the 8,000 pilgrims to entrust themselves "always to the maternal protection of Mary so that she helps you to conserve a generous heart, available and full of apostolic enthusiasm."

The Church also celebrates today the World Day of the Sick, and the Holy Father addressed the ill to express his hope that "the Virgin of Lourdes, to whose intercession many ill people of body and spirit entrust themselves with trust, may place her gaze of consolation and hope on all of you."

In this way, he continued, the ill can receive support to "carry the daily cross, in intimate union with the redeeming [cross] of Christ."

Finally, with a word to the newlyweds at the audience, the Bishop of Rome said: "May Mary accompany you […] in your path, so that your families become communities of intense spiritual life and concrete Christian testimony."

08 February 2009

St. Josephine Bakhita

Today is the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita who I think makes a good patron for those in prison. Originally from Sudan she was bought and sold as a slave and kept in captivity six times before finally joining a family that treated her with respect. There is a wonderful story that appeared last year in the bulletin of the Archdiocese of Atlanta - Office for Black Catholic Ministry detailing her life. There is also an inspiring story of a prisoner on death row who learned of her story and as a result turned his life around and now gives support to the Order that St. Josephine belonged to. That story can be read at Catholic News Service.

The inmate, Jeff Tiner, in an Oregon state prison, is a former white supremacist who wore swastika and ‘White pride’ tattoos. A Lay Canossian sent a letter to him. The inmate’s response to the encounter was his decision to become Catholic. He received the sacrament of Baptism in prison. He is currently providing great financial support to abused women and children in Sudan, the homeland of St. Bakhita. Mr. Tiner now works to relieve the suffering of Black Africans in his efforts to do God’s will.

Pope Benedict also remarked on her life in his encyclical Spe Salvi,

"Bakhita came to know that this Lord even knew her, that he had created her—that he actually loved her. She too was loved, and by none other than the supreme [Master], before whom all other masters are themselves no more than lowly servants. She was known and loved and she was awaited. What is more, this master had himself accepted the destiny of being flogged and now he was waiting for her “at the Father’s right hand.” Now she had “hope”—no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: “I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.” Through the knowledge of this hope she was “redeemed,” no longer a slave, but a free child of God."

Pope Benedict XVI
from paragraph 3 of SPE SALVI (Saved by Hope),
His Holiness’ Encyclical Letter on Christian Hope
30 November 2007

Here are some thought of St. Bakhita in her own words.

I have given everything to my Master: He will take care of me… The best thing for us is not what we consider best, but what the Lord wants of us!

I received the Sacrament of Baptism with such joy that only angels could describe…

O Lord, if I could fly to my people and tell them of your Goodness at the top of my voice: oh, how many souls would be won!

If I were to meet the slave-traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and Religious today…

The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone…we must be compassionate

I can truly say that it was a miracle I did not die, because the Lord has destined me for greater things…

Mary protected me even before I knew her!

When a person loves another dearly, he desires strongly to be close to the other: therefore, why be afraid to die? Death brings us to God!

05 February 2009

Support Pope Benedict

One of the messages of Our Lady at Fatima was that the Holy Father would have much to suffer, indeed a recurring fact throughout the 20th and now 21st centuries. No doubt Pope Benedict has come under assault recently for his decision to lift the excommunications of the 4 SSPX Bishops. Like other decisions or statements from the Pope his enemies have come out in full force to criticize him while never allowing facts or truth to temper their vitriol. We must pray for the Pope and show him our support. There is an online petition to voice your support for him by clicking on this link, Support Pope Benedict XVI.

01 February 2009

The Crisis of Civilization

Hilaire Belloc gave a series of lectures at Fordham University in 1937 dealing with what would become a thesis titled, The Crisis of Civilization, which later became the title of his book containing these lectures. He believed that the civilization of Christendom had arrived at a crisis placing it in peril of death and sought to describe how Christian civilization arose, how it developed, the institutions it produced and depended upon, and when it was at its height. Next he attributes its decline with the destruction of the moral tradition by which it had existed and was maintained and unless we return to that principle of life this culture may ultimately dissolve. The last part of the book gives us the outline for restoration of our civilization. Here are a few paragraphs from the book.

"It was the Faith which gradually and indirectly transformed the slave into the serf, and the serf into the free peasant. It was the Faith which took the guild, inherited from the Pagan Empire, and set it up for the foundational thing it was during all the great medieval period: the guarantee of freedom. it was the Faith which by its moral atmosphere checked and curbed usury---that usury whereby Pagan Society, before the triumph of the Church, had been thoroughly sapped and which today is sapping us again. It was the Faith which put competition within its bounds and made its limited practice subservient to general well-divided property, where its excess would have divided Society into very many destitute and few possessors. It was the disruption of Catholic unity in Europe which let in all the evils from the extreme of which we now suffer and are in peril of dissolution."

"We cannot build up a society synthetically, for it is an organic thing; we must see to it first that the vital principle is there from which the characters of the organism will develop. You will not be able to set up in a pagan or an heretical or a wholly indifferent society the institutions characteristic of economic freedom; you will not be able to curb competition which alone would be sufficient to destroy such freedom, nor pursue permanently and consecutively any one part of the program. The thing must be done as a whole, and it can be done as a whole only by the ambient influence of Catholicism."

"There only remains as an alternative to apply the fruits which the Catholic culture had produced when it was in full vigor, the restriction of monopoly, the curbing of the money power, the establishment of cooperative work, and the wide distribution of private property, the main principle of the guild and the jealous restriction of usury and competition, which between them have come so near to destroying us. But these better conditions are themselves the fruit of the Catholic Church, they can neither be created nor maintained in an atmosphere deprived of Catholic philosophy. The conclusion of the series is therefore that in the reconversion of our world to the Catholic standpoint lies the only hope for the future.

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