30 March 2009

The Delight of Morning Mass - Belloc

The Path to Rome by Hilaire Belloc is regarded by many as his greatest prose work. Written in 1902 it details a journey he made on foot from Lorraine, down through the Moselle valley, through part of Switzerland, and across the Lombard plain to Rome.

One of the discursive essays of his journey describes his disappointment upon arriving in a small village only to discover that he has missed morning Mass, "for what is a pilgrimage in which a man cannot hear Mass every morning?" Of all that he read on the life of St. Louis he wishes he would have had the chance to speak to him of his habit of getting Mass daily whenever he marched down south. Belloc found this custom to be most delightful though he was at loss to explain the reason for this delight. He continues his narrative with this attempt at understanding,

Of course there is a grace and influence belonging to such a custom, but it is not of that I am speaking but of the pleasing sensation of order and accomplishment which attaches to a day one has opened by Mass; a purely temporal, and, for all I know, what the monks back at the ironworks would have called a carnal feeling, but a source of continual comfort to me. Let them go their way and let me go mine.

This comfort I ascribe to four causes (just above you will find it written that I could not tell why this should be so, but what of that?), and these causes are: --

1. That for half-an-hour just at the opening of the day you are silent and recollected, [an advantage of the Traditional Latin Mass] and have to put off cares, interests, and passions in the repetition of a familiar action. This must certainly be a great benefit to the body and give it tone.

2. That the Mass is a careful and rapid ritual. Now it is the function of all ritual (as we see in games, social arrangements and so forth) to relieve the mind by so much of responsibility and initiative and to catch you up (as it were) into itself, leading your life for you during the time it lasts. In this way you experience a singular repose, after which fallowness I am sure one is fitter for action and judgment.

3. That the surroundings incline you to good an reasonable thoughts, and for the moment deaden the rasp and jar of that busy wickedness which both working in one's self and received from others is the true source of all human miseries. Thus the time spent at Mass is like a short repose in a deep and well-built library, into which no sounds come and where you feel yourself secure against the outer world.

4. And the most important cause of the feeling of satisfaction is that you are doing what the human race has done for thousands upon thousands upon thousands of years. This is a matter of such moment that I am astonished people hear of it so little. Whatever is buried right into our blood from immemorial habit that we must be certain to do if we are to be fairly happy (of course no grown man or woman can really be very happy for long--but I mean reasonably happy), and, what is more important, decent and secure of our souls. Thus one should from time to time hunt animals, or at the very least shoot at a mark; one should always drink some kind of fermented liquor with one's food--and especially deeply upon great feast-days; one should go on the water from time to time; and one should dance on occasion; and one should sing in chorus. For all these things man has done since God put him into a garden and his eyes first became troubled with a soul. Similarly some teacher or ranter or other, whose name I forget, said lately one very wise thing at least, which was that every man should do a little work with his hands.

Oh! what good philosophy this is, and how much better it would be if rich people, instead of raining the influence of their rank and spending their money on leagues for this or that exceptional thing, were to spend it in converting the middle-class to ordinary living and to the tradition of the race.

Now in the morning Mass you do all that the race needs to do and has done for all these ages where religion was concerned; there you have the sacred and separate Enclosure, the Altar, the Priest in his Vestment, the set ritual, the ancient and hierarchic tongue, [Latin] and all that your nature cries out for in the matter of worship.

Working With The Poor

A wonderful religious, Sister Jean Theurauf has been living in one of the poorest and troubled areas of Minneapolis for over 20 years. She brings a perspective on social justice that is different from most, she lives what she believes. She understands the plight of those around her and knows that the solution is more than slogans,

. . . one can't help but conclude there's a devasting disease corroding our nation. It's a disease of the soul destroying the heart of our country. A more powerful balm than money is required to heal this disease.

Here are some other thoughts of Sister Jean, the "How" of Charity.

Perhaps the time has come for us to realize we can no longer do charity by working for the poor or going to them. We need to change our prepositions and start working with the poor. Yes, it's the human contact in this world that counts.

Mission isn't bringing Jesus to people, but recognizing where He already is. We must believe all people are beautiful. We believe Jesus has already come. He has created, redeemed, and loved. We know His Love continues. Our challenge is to help make His Love, which is already here, become real.

26 March 2009

Land O Lake's Effect on Catholic Higher Education

From Diogenes at Catholic Culture comes this article on the effect of the Land O' Lakes declaration in 1967. Here is an excerpt of the text and you can read the rest here.

Notre Dame University’s invitation to honor President Obama at this year’s graduation ceremony has caused quite a roil among conservative Catholics and the pro-life community. Your Uncle Di was certainly in a tiff when he first learned about it. George Weigel called it a “very bad thing”. Candace De Russy observed that it is “perfidious”, that is, faithless, or treacherous. Bill McGurn dubbed it “incoherent.” ( You can read a list of remarks here and here.)

However, after his initial upset, your Uncle Di recalled that little declaration made over forty years ago by the Notre Dame administrator-in-chief, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh. It was forty years ago when the leaders of the major Catholic universities agreed to the Land O’Lakes rebellion of 1967.

Notre Dame’s Fr. Hesburgh was the rebels’ alpha male who ceremoniously announced that Catholic colleges and universities should be independent of, and no longer submissive to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church in their teaching and research functions, if they wanted to be “effective.” Evidently, the Notre Dame trustees, and the bulk of its faculty wanted the school to be “effective”—that is, well thought of in the editorial pages of the New York Times. They accepted the terms of rebellion. The ties to the Church were kept in name only.

This was all clearly and piously set forth in the second sentence in the Land O’Lakes declaration:

To perform its teaching and research functions effectively the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself.

The statement has become mere fine print over time after it was buried in the marketing flourishes of the university public relations machinery. It is, nevertheless, the academic version of Non serviam. At the very least, it leaves aside Catholic teaching on artificial contraception, embryonic research and abortion—the flash points for the current outrage. But beyond the hot button moral teachings of the Church, this declaration positions the entire corpus of Catholic doctrine as negotiable elements within the “academic community itself.”

Unless the academic community itself determines to accept the truth that God is “… the Father, the Almighty,…” the assertion has no claim over the intellectual life of the school. The entire Nicene Creed and the corpus of Church doctrine is simply irrelevant to the intellectual life of the school unless, until, or as long as the academic community itself makes it relevant. The academic community itself is no longer a disciple, it is the magisterium.

If Church teaching on abortion becomes a problem, the academic community itself can decide to minimize it. If the doctrine on the Incarnation, or the eternal paternity of God the Father is a problem, well, here today, gone tomorrow.

According to the Notre Dame administration, the academic community itself contains all teaching authority within the confines of the school. The Pope and the bishop have no teaching authority inside the school except that granted to them by the academic community itself. Arguably, God has no authority at Notre Dame—unless the academic community itself sees fit. To claim otherwise would be a violation of “true autonomy.” God forbid!

The Notre Dame administration has never repudiated the Land O’Lakes rebellion. Naturally, Notre Dame does not require its theology faculty to submit to the Mandatum set forth in the encyclical Ex Corde Ecclesia. Indeed, its current president has rendered the Mandatum a shell game.

22 March 2009

Laetare Medal To Be Awarded to Mary Ann Glendon

This morning the University of Notre Dame has announced it will bestow it's highest honor, the Laetare Medal, to Mary Ann Glendon, the recent U.S ambassador to the Vatican at this year's graduation together with the honorary degree which will be given to President Obama. According to the report from Whispers in the Loggia UND states these awards occured independently of each other with the Laetare medal decision being made before last Christmas. Odd then how this announcement comes out just two days after the scandal created by the decision to give President Obama an honorary degree this year.

Now following the reason of Fr. Jenkins in allowing the Vagina Monologues on campus,
"Notre Dame's policy on controversial events rests on the conviction that truth will emerge from reasoned consideration of issues in dialogue with faith, and that we will educate Catholic leaders not by insulating our students from controversial views, but by engaging these views energetically, in light of Catholic teachings.”
are we to assume that there will be reasoned debate on the pro-life issue, given these two speakers respective differences? And certainly Ambassador Glendon's defense of life would only end up leaving Pres. Obama embarrassed in the eyes of the Catholic students who must reasonably conclude that his pro-death arguments are at variance with the Catholic Faith they were taught during their past 4 years. Now why would UND put the President of the United States in a position of being mocked or subject to derision when he thought he was coming to receive an award and make a nice speech. That doesn't sound very charitable.

So we must conclude then that such a debate will not take place and that President Obama will leave with his honorary degree and that UND will have further eroded its claim to be a Catholic university. Like Pilate who was no doubt an effective administrator and governor, they can wash their hands and say well we find no wrong here. After all didn't we uphold the pro-life position by honoring Mary Ann Glendon too?

20 March 2009

Notre Dame to Honor Pres. Obama with Honorary Degree

For those who have been paying attention, like so many other Catholic colleges and U's the University of Notre Dame long ago ceased to be the Catholic university it was renowned to be. Of course there are many faithful Catholic students, alum, and professors of the University. But ND as an institution long ago sold its soul to be accepted by the modern liberal elite while continuing to live off the fame of its proud history.

The most recent scandal involves the granting of an honorary degree by the ND Law School to President Obama who will also give the commencement address this year. While some will point out that this is consistent with past practice of other President's giving the commencement address, including the past 4, none of the others was given an honorary degree.

While he talks a good game about his concern for social justice, what exactly has he done as Senator or President to alleviate the plight of the poor and the working class? Yet without doubt he has made a made it a priority to reverse every pro-life executive order he could get his hands on. For all his talk about dialogue on the issue of abortion he has made the most extreme pro-abortion cabinet appointments possible. Most recently his first judicial appointment is no moderate on abortion.

But none of that matters to UND, and who should be surprised. This is the same school that allowed the Vagina Monologues to be held (more than once) on campus and then thought they could spin it as trying to present opposing viewpoints on controversial issues. In the UND presidents own words,

"My decision on this matter,” Father Jenkins said, “arises from a conviction that it is an indispensable part of the mission of a Catholic university to provide a forum in which multiple viewpoints are debated in reasoned and respectful exchange--always in dialogue with faith and the Catholic tradition--even around highly controversial topics. Notre Dame's policy on controversial events rests on the conviction that truth will emerge from reasoned consideration of issues in dialogue with faith, and that we will educate Catholic leaders not by insulating our students from controversial views, but by engaging these views energetically, in light of Catholic teachings.”

Anyone think there will be a forum to discuss President Obama's support for abortion and how it stands in contradiction to Catholic teaching? Or how said University can justify honoring a person who will be responsible for the murder of millions.

Sign a petition to Fr. Jenkins voicing your opposition to this matter.
Read American Papist for more updates on this story.

UPDATE! In case it appears that I am being overly critical of UND's at its loss of faith I suggest this article at The Catholic Thing written by Ralph McInerny who has taught there since 1955 and will be retiring this year.

And finally don't be misled by certain individuals commenting on blogs trying to compare this situation with the fact that Ronald Reagan gave financial support to the El Savadoran death squads responsible for murdering and raping 3 nuns. That event took place prior to Ronald Reagan even taking office.

19 March 2009

Happy Father's Day

In European countries like Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Italy they celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph as Father's Day. It seems a much better day to remember our father's than the Hallmark holiday in June.

Here is a reflection from Pope Benedict on St. Joseph given at yesterday's Vespers Service:

Although St. Joseph wasn't the biological father of Jesus, he lived his fatherhood fully in the sense that he was at the service of Christ and his human development, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today upon presiding over a celebration of vespers with local clergy and with representatives of ecclesial movements and of other Christian confessions at the Basilica of Mary Queen of the Apostles.

The Pontiff set out to reflect on the figure of St. Joseph, whose feast day the Church celebrates Thursday. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Pope, who was born Joseph Ratzinger, and the patron of the universal Church.

Addressing those present, the Holy Father said a "meditation on the human and spiritual journey of Saint Joseph invites us to ponder his vocation in all its richness, and to see him as a constant model for all those who have devoted their lives to Christ in the priesthood, in the consecrated life or in the different forms of lay engagement.

St. Joseph, he said, "is not the biological father of Jesus, whose Father is God alone, and yet he lives his fatherhood fully and completely."

"To be a father means above all to be at the service of life and growth," Benedict XVI added. "St. Joseph, in this sense, gave proof of great devotion. For the sake of Christ he experienced persecution, exile and the poverty which this entails. He had to settle far from his native town. His only reward was to be with Christ.

"He continued: "When Mary received the visit of the angel at the Annunciation, she was already betrothed to Joseph. In addressing Mary personally, the Lord already closely associates Joseph to the mystery of the Incarnation."

Joseph agreed to be part of the great events which God was beginning to bring about in the womb of his spouse. He took Mary into his home. He welcomed the mystery that was in Mary and the mystery that was Mary herself. He loved her with great respect, which is the mark of all authentic love.

"Non-possessive love"Joseph teaches us that it is possible to love without possessing," said the Holy Father.

"In contemplating Joseph, all men and women can, by God's grace, come to experience healing from their emotional wounds, if only they embrace the plan that God has begun to bring about in those close to him, just as Joseph entered into the work of redemption through Mary and as a result of what God had already done in her."

"Joseph was caught up at every moment by the mystery of the Incarnation," reflected Benedict XVI. "Not only physically, but in his heart as well, Joseph reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life.

"In Joseph, faith is not separated from action. His faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Paradoxically, it was by acting, by carrying out his responsibilities, that he stepped aside and left God free to act, placing no obstacles in his way. Joseph is a 'just man because his existence is 'ad-justed' to the word of God."

"The life of Saint Joseph, lived in obedience to God’s word, is an eloquent sign for all the disciples of Jesus who seek the unity of the Church," the Pope concluded. "His example helps us to understand that it is only by complete submission to the will of God that we become effective workers in the service of his plan to gather together all mankind into one family, one assembly, one 'ecclesia.'"

17 March 2009

Spanish Pro-Life Poster

And Me?
Protect My Life

St. Patrick's Purgatory

One of the oldest pilgrimages in Christian history is to Lough Derg, in Ireland. It is believed St. Patrick visited here in 445. The following is taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia on the New Advent website.

Lough Derg, Ireland. This celebrated sanctuary in Donegal, in the Diocese of Clogher, dates from the days of St. Patrick, but it is also known as the Lough Derg pilgrimage, so named from Lough Derg, a sheet of water covering 2200 acres, about thirteen miles in circumference 450 feet above sea level, on which are eleven islands, the principal of which are Saints Island and Station Island. The sanctuary lands on Saint Island were known in the Middle Ages as Termon Dabheoc (from the sixth-century St. Dabheoc who presided over the retreat), and were subsequently called Termon Magrath from the family of Magrath, who were coarbs or stewards of the place from 1290. St. Patrick's connection with the purgatory which bears his name is not only a constant tradition, but is supported by historical evidence, and admitted by the Bollandists. In 1130 or 1134, the Canons Regular of St. Augustine were given charge of Lough Derg--it being constituted a dependent priory on the Abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul, Armagh. Its fame became European after the knight Owen's visit in 1150, although it had been previously described in 1120 by David, the Irish rector of Wurzburg. Numerous accounts of foreign pilgrimages to St. Patrick's Purgatory are chronicled during the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, including the vision related in the "Legenda Aurea", printed in 1482.

In 1470, Thomas, Abbot of Armagh, got the prior in commendam, and in 1479 the community had almost died out, the revenues being farmed by Neill Magrath. Pope Alexander VI ordered the cave to be closed on Saints Island, the papal decree was executed on St. Patrick's Day, 1497. A few years later, in 1502, the station was transferred to Station Island, where the Purgatory had originally existed. The cave was visited by a French knight in 1516, and by the papal nuncio, Chiericati, in 1517. Chiericati gives an interesting account of his visit, and relates that there were three Austin Canons in the priory. Though formally suppressed by the English Government in 1632, the lay owner permitted the Austin Canons to resume their old priory, and in 1660 we find Rev. Dr. O'Clery as prior, whose successor was Father Art Maccullen (1672-1710). The Franciscan Friars were given charge of the Purgatory in 1710, but did not acquire a permanent residence on the Island till 1763, at which date they built a friary and an oratory dedicated to St. Mary of the Angels. In 1780 St. Patrick's Church was built, and was subsequently remodeled. From 1785 the priory has been governed by secular priests appointed by the Bishop of Clogher. In 1813 St. Mary's Church was rebuilt, but it was replaced by the present Gothic edifice in 1870, and a substantial hospice was opened in 1882. The number of pilgrims from 1871 to 1911 has been about 3000 annually, and the station season lasts from June to 15 August. The station or pilgrimage lasts three days, and the penitential exercises, though not so severe as in the days of faith, are austere in a high degree, and are productive of lasting spiritual blessings.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

To counter the modern excesses in celebrating the Feast of St. Patrick it would be wonderful if we could practice the asceticism of this great saint. To be sure I will wash down tonight's dinner of corned beef and cabbage with a pint (or 2) of Guiness but it is sad that our whole recollection of St. Patrick involves parades, green dyed rivers and significant quantities of barley pop.

Msgr. Ronald Knox recalls in his brief essay on St. Patrick this description from his official obituary.

"He recited the whole psalter every day, and every day worshipped God three hundred times on bended knees. He divided the night into three portions; during the first he went through a hundred of the psalms, the second he spent immersed in cold water, finishing the other fifty, and in the third took his meagre rest, lying on bare stone."

How much of this programme (there is more of it) the saint really observed, how often and for how long, is not to my purpose. Enough that this is the picture of him his disciples have built up; presumably this kind of asceticism is in his tradition. It was like him to die in Lent. Irish spirituality must not be assessed by what we can remember of "Father O'Flynn"; there is a hard streak in it, and there are few pilgrimages in Christendom where the old rigours are practised as they are at Lough Derg.

. . . and certain it is that asceticism is meant to make the will function properly. The pity of it is that the remorseless energy of the saints (at least as painted with the firm brush of their biographers) is apt to prove a discouragement. Can we really think of ourselves as "imitating" St. Patrick if we abrogate in Lent those five or ten minutes of wondering whether to get up or not?

At the risk of anti-climax, let me deprecate this feeling of discouragement. A life which leaves no room for physical self-denial in its programme lacks, it is to be feared, either humility or love.

14 March 2009

The Psychology of Work

The following essay of Archbishop Sheen's is taken from his book Way to Happiness. It can be found on the Cause for Canonization of Archbishop Sheen website together with a reflection on the essay from Fr. Apostoli.


Very few people in this age do the kind of work they like to do. Instead of choosing their jobs freely, they are forced by economic necessity to work at tasks that fail to satisfy them. Many of them say, “I ought to be doing something bigger,” or “This job of mine is only important because I get paid.” Such an attitude lies at the bottom of much unfinished and badly executed work. Those who choose their work because it fulfills a purpose they approve are the only ones who grow in stature by working. They alone can properly say, at the end of it, “It is finished!”

This sense of vocation is sadly lacking nowadays. The blame should not be placed on the complexity of our economic system, but on a collapse of our spiritual values. Any work, viewed in its proper perspective, can be used to ennoble us; but a necessary prelude to seeing this is to understand the philosophy of labor.

Every task we undertake has two aspects – our purpose, which makes us think it worth doing, and the work itself, regarded apart from its end–purpose. We play tennis to get exercise; but we play the game as well as possible, just for the joy of doing the thing well. The man or woman who argued that he or she could get as much exercise by sloppy technique on the courts would have missed an nderstanding of the second aspect of all activity: the accomplishment of the task in accordance with its own standards of excellence.

In the same way, someone working in an automobile factory may have, as his primary purpose, the earning of wages; but the purpose of the work itself is the excellent completion of the task. A worker should be aware of the second purpose at all times – as the artist is aware of the aim of beauty in his or her painting and the housekeeper is aware of the need for neatness when cleaning.

Today the first aspect of working has become paramount, and we tend to ignore the second, so that many workers lead half-lives in their laboring hours. They are like gardeners, ordered to grow cabbage to give them sauerkraut juice, but indifferent as to whether their plots are weeded properly or their cabbages are healthy vegetables. This is a mistaken attitude. God Himself worked when He made the world and then, viewing it, He called it “good”.

Legitimate pride in doing work well relieves it of much of its drudgery. Some people, who have held to this craftsman’s standard, get a thrill from any job they do. They know the satisfaction of “a job well done” whether they are engaged in caning a chair or cleaning a horse’s stall or carving a statue for a cathedral. Their honor and their self-respect are heightened by the discipline of careful work. They have retained the old attitude of the Middle Ages, when work was a sacred event, a ceremony, a source of spiritual merit. Labor was not then undertaken merely for the sake of economic gain, but was chosen through an inner compulsion, through a desire to project the creative power of God through our own human effort.

(Excerpt from: Way to Happiness)

03 March 2009

The Works of Mercy - Bearing Wrongs Patiently

I think March is a good time to focus on the Spiritual Work of Mercy - Bearing Wrongs Patiently. When we think of the agony Jesus endured in the Garden, knowing the suffering he was to undergo for our sins, allowing himself to be humiliated by Judas's kiss and arrest and all despite his innocence, how can we complain of the injustices done to us?

Above is a picture of the Agony of Jesus in the Garden located in the apse of the Church of All Nations in Jerusalem also known as the Basilica of the Agony because it is located on the site of the Garden of Olives. Inside the Church is a rock (picture below) where it is believe Jesus prayed in the Garden before His arrest.

It was revealed to St. Gertrude the Great that reading and meditating on the Passion are far more useful and efficacious than all other spiritual excercises. Here is the first of her short prayers on the Passion.

O Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal sweetness and jubilee of those who love Thee, remember all the presentment of grief Thou didst endure from the moment of Thy conception, and especially at Thy entrance into Thy Passion, when Thou didst say: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; and when, by reason of thy overwhelming dread and anguish and grief, Thou didst sweat, as it were, drops of Blood trickling down upon the ground. Remember all the bitterness of Thy sorrow when Thou wast seized upon, accused by false witnesses, condemned by Thy three judges, buffeted and smitten, spit upon, scourged, and crowned with thorns. O sweetest Jesus, I implore Thee, by all the sorrows and insults Thou didst endure, have mercy on me a sinner. Amem.

01 March 2009

TLM at Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale

There will be a new Mass in the Extraordinary Form, also known as the Tridentine Mass, beginning today at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale, MN. Click here for directions. Mass will be each Sunday at 11:30. Fr. Bryan Pederson previously the Associate at St. Augustine's in South St. Paul has graciously agreed to honor the requests of the faithful and that of Pope Benedict who in his encyclical Summorum Pontificum requested that the Mass be made available to those who desired it.


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