20 December 2015

Bonaguil - Le Dernier Château Fort

https://youtu.be/Hn2_ONm_SFs LE CHEMIN DE RONDE. Le château de Bonaguil est un des derniers châteaux
forts construits. Son nom signifie bonne aiguille et désigne le site
défensif : un promontoire rocheux et escarpé de calcaire, convenant
parfaitement à l'établissement d'un château fort.

26 November 2015

True Apostolic Zeal Demands "Private Moments."

Once again Pope Francis demeaned orthodox priests saying they "frighten him."  In the same talk to a group of priests that were part of a conference sponsored by the Congregation for Clergy "Pope Francis also encouraged them to be merciful in administering the sacrament of reconciliation, as well as reminding them that apostolic zeal often means they will not have a "private moment" to themselves."

And yet even Jesus broke away from the crowds to spend private moments in prayer. All the spiritual writers are consistent in teaching that souls that spend all their time engaged in activities without giving time to contemplative prayer are deformed. 

19 November 2015

St. Thomas Aquinas, Thoughts on the Refugee Crisis

Great article. Note especially the comment about how the Good Samaritan puts his "neighbor" in a hotel, not in his home.
What’s our Catholic Response? The Samaritan Uses the Hotel We Christians should be generous with humanitarian aid toward Muslims and all people. We should send money and resources to those who have been dispossessed. We should be loving and generous with Muslims. Kindness brings about conversion and understanding. We should also try to topple the Islamic State and eradicate terrorism in our lands and in the Islamic lands. Remember the Good Samaritan! He did not take the roadside victim home with him. Rather, the Good Samaritan put the victim up in a hotel and paid for him to get better.
The Good Samaritan was good and commended by Christ. The Good Samaritan did the right thing: humanitarian aid. We are not required by Christ to take victims that oppose our faith and our way of life and make them into our political heirs. We are not required to take them into our homes. But we are obliged to help them. And if terrorists use our charity as a pretense to hurt us, then, as Thomas Aquinas says, they should be swiftly destroyed.
Read the whole article here, Islamic Refugee Crisis: Good Samaritan or Maccabean Response? Or both - Taylor Marshall What would Saint Thomas Aquinas say about the Refugee Crisis?

15 November 2015

Islam Prohibits Killing an Innocent Person? Not so Fast.

There have been several posts appearing on my Facebook timeline of a quote taken from the Quran purporting to show that Islam is a religion of peace. The quote is from 5:32 and is, "Whoever kills an innocent person it is as if he has killed all of humanity." Just as Christians can cherry pick quotes from the Bible, such as the one commonly used to accuse people of being judgmental, "neither do I condemn you," they generally exclude the "go and sin no more" part of the passage, then the same can happen when people take partial quotes from the Quran. 

As an example, those who have used the quote in the various memes on killing an innocent person, have also omitted the full passage which states, "For this reason, We made it a law for the children of Israel that the killing of a person for reasons other than legal retaliation or for stopping corruption in the land is as great a sin as murdering all of mankind. However, to save a life would be as great a virtue as to save all of mankind. Our Messengers had come to them with clear authoritative evidence but many of them (Israelites) thereafter started doing wrong in the land." (This is one of several translations of the verse varying slightly but the underlying meaning is the same.)

Now I'm certainly no Islamic scholar and I can't claim to explain what the meaning of that passage is but I'm relatively certain it's more complex than Muslims don't believe in killing innocent people as the partially quoted meme would imply. In fact it would seem that it is intended specifically for the "children of Israel." 

Here are some other quotes that could be used suggest the opposite, that Islam promotes violence. I'm not suggesting that it does, or doesn't, merely that cherry picking a quote won't give us the necessary clarity to having an honest discussion or understanding of the problem.

"Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.” Koran 2:191
“Make war on the infidels living in your neighborhood.” Koran 9:123
“When opportunity arises, kill the infidels wherever you catch them.” Koran 9:5
“Any religion other than Islam is not acceptable.” Koran 3:85
“The Jews and the Christians are perverts; fight them.”... Koran 9:30
“Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam” Koran 5:33
“Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water; melt their skin and bellies.” Koran 22:19
“The unbelievers are stupid; urge the Muslims to fight them.” Koran 8:65
“Muslims must not take the infidels as friends.” Koran 3:28
“Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Qur’an.” Koran 8:12
“Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorize the infidels.” Koran 8:60

13 November 2015

St. John Capistrano Leads Christian Army Against Mehmed the Conqueror

I didn't know much about St. John Capistrano other than he had a mission and city named after him in southern California. What I learned is that he was not one of those falsely depicted, pacifist Franciscans as they are portrayed today but a pretty incredible "warrior priest" and saint. He is one of those defenders of Christianity whom we can look to for intercession against the Islamic Jihadists raging around us. The following is excerpted from Dr. William Carroll's History of Christendom.
The Pope, Calixtus III, sent cardinals to France, Germany, and Poland to preach the crusade against the Ottomans. Alfonso V of Aragon and Naples joined the cause and agreed to supply fifteen galleys for the crusading fleet.  Afonso V of Portugal vowed to give twelve thousand men; and St. John Capistrano, a Franciscan preacher filled with fervor, raised many a man in Hungary and Transylvania to enter the crusade. He pulled men into the righteous cause with his words filled with zeal; men more concerned about image rather than our eternal war with evil discouraged him from preaching. But one day, during the Mass, he saw, in a vision, an arrow with the words, “Fear not, John. Go down quickly. In the power of my name and of the Holy Cross thou wilt conquer the Turks.” 
And so he continued his mission. The Germans, on the other hand, did nothing to assist the cause of the Cross, and its bishops grumbled most impiously because of the crusading tax. The crusaders marched on to Belgrade, for if Belgrade fell the whole of southeastern Europe would be open to the Turks. Capistrano brought eight thousand men, while Hunyadi led about sixteen thousand. Such numbers were inferior to the eighty thousand jihadists Mehmet had under his grasp. Pope Calixtus III called on all archbishops, abbots and priests to pray, fast and give penance for deliverance from the Turks.
The warriors arrived in Belgrade, Capistrano said Mass, and commanded the other priests present to not participate in the fighting, but to tend the wounded. Shells struck the walls of the city, and such a terrifying bombardment continued on for two weeks. But still the saints remained steadfast. It came to their knowledge that the Turks were planning on cutting off the city from all outside support, but to such a worry Capistrano left the city with a promise that he would return with another army. On his arrival he brought with him a rustic bunch; the Ottomans were already there, and their numbers caused so much fear that Hunyandi, looking upon the lowly army of Capistrano, even proposed retreating. Capistrano would not allow it, and he sharply told Hunyandi that they would never leave, but would go down fighting. 
The Crusaders under Hunyandi advanced with two hundred boats, and as they fought a naval battle, Capistrano stood on the shore holding up high a crucifix which the pope had given him, declaring “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” The Christian prevailed on the waters, and the fighting continued in Belgrade itself. The Turks beat the walls with their canons , and at that time all seemed hopeless. Hunyandi again suggested retreat, and again Capistrano turned it down. The Turks penetrated the walls at certain parts of the city and were in the midst of the Christians. Turk and Christian fought hand to hand in the streets as Hunyandi directed them, and Capistrano held high the Holy Cross. As the crucifix remained ascended, the Christians advanced. On Every street and in almost every building fighting took place.
Turkish artillery was now of little help; the gunners could not see the enemy. It was at this moment that the preying horned owls were blinded, and the strong falcons prevailed. By the next morning the Turks began their retreat from the streets which were now engulfed in blood. The Christians followed through and relentlessly pursued them to finish them off. Hunyandi was able to seize some of the Turks’ guns and use them on his enemy, and an arrow struck the body of Mehmet, the wound compelling the sound for the retreat. And as all of this took place, there stood the saintly fighter, Capistrano, with arms stretched above his head toward Heaven, and his hands gripped on the crucifix. (Carroll, A History of Christendom, vol. iii, ch. xiii, pp. 571-572; Moczar, Islam at the Gates, ch. iii, pp. 76-9) By this we are so reminded of that holy day in which the Hebrew saints defeated the heathen Amelekites as Moses stood holding his staff up to the air:
“And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek, and his people with the edge of the sword.” (Exodus 17:11-13)     
The Holy Spirit never ceased to work through His saints, from Israel onwards, it continued, from Moses to Capistrano, from Hunyandi to Joshua. The warpath of the infidel Turk had been hindered by this great victory, which moved Pope Calixtus III so much that he called it, “the happiest event of my life.” They massacred fifty-thousand Turks in that battle.  Calixtus III would also appoint an ex-Muslim from Albania who converted to Christianity, named Skanderberg, as “Captain-General for the Turkish war,” and he would lead successful attacks on the Turks until his death in 1468. (Carroll, A History of Christendom, vol. iii, ch. xiii, pp. 372-373) Now was the time to set the final blow upon the Turk, if only Christendom arose at that moment the crescent would have been driven fully out of Europe. (Moczar, Islam at the Gates, ch. iii, p. 81) 

28 October 2015

Pope Benedict XV on The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart

Nothing is more suitable to the needs of the present day than your enterprise. To pervert, both in private and in public life, the concept of morality engendered and fostered by the Church, and, after having almost effaced the last vestige of Christian wisdom and decency, to lead human society back to the miserable institutions of paganism, such as the plan too many are trying to realize today.   Would that their efforts were fruitless! Moreover, the attacks of the wicked are directed primarily against the family. For, containing within itself as it does the principles and, as it were, the germ of all human society, they clearly see that the change, or rather, the corruption,  which they are trying to bring about in human society, will necessarily follow, once the corruption of the family itself has been accomplished. Hence divorce laws are introduced to put an end to the stability of marriage; children are forced to follow an official teaching for the most part estranged from religion, thus eliminating the authority of parents in a matter of the highest importance;  moreover, countenance is given to the spread of a shameful course of selfish indulgence which contravenes the laws of nature, and striking a blow at the human race at it's a very source, stains the sanctity of marriage with impure practices.

You do well then, dear son, while taking up the cause of human society, to arouse and propagate above all things a Christian spirit in the home by setting up in each family the reign of the love of Jesus Christ. And in doing this you are but obeying the Divine Lord Himself, who promised to shower his blessings upon the homes wherein an image of His Heart should be exposed and devoutly honored.

It is assuredly, therefore, a holy and salutary work to secure for our beloved Redeemer such worship and honor. But that is not everything. It is of the upmost importance to know Christ, to know His Doctrine, His Life, His Passion, His Glory.  For to follow Him does not consist in allowing ourselves to be swayed by a superficial religious sentiment that easily moves weak and tender hearts to tears but leaves vices intact.  To follow Christ is to be permeated with a lively and constant faith, which not only acts upon the mind and heart, but likewise governs and directs our conduct. Moreover the real reason why Jesus is neglected by so many, and but little loved by others, is to be found in the fact that he is almost entirely unknown to the former and not sufficiently by the latter. Continue therefore, beloved son, in your efforts to enkindle in Catholic homes the flames of love for the most Sacred Heart of Jesus: but likewise and before all else, this is our wish, endeavor to make this love result from a knowledge of Christ The Lord, and from a greater and deeper understanding of the truths and the laws which He Himself has given us.

For our part, in order to encourage the piety of the faithful in this matter, we extend to all families of the Catholic world that consecrate themselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, all those special favors which our predecessor , Pius X, of happy memory, granted with pontifical liberality, in 1913, at the instance of the Bishops of Chile to the families of that Republic consecrated to the Sacred Heart.

Given at St. Peter's, Rome, this 27th day of April, 1915, in the first year of our Pontificate.

15 October 2015

Joke Told by St. Vincent Ferrer

From the book Meditations on St. John by Fr. Vincent McNabb he relates how St. Vincent Ferrer told this story in one of his sermons.
There was a bishop who died and went to heaven. He was kept waiting for a very long time and when he was eventually let in, very tired and hungry, there were bands playing and flags waving. So the bishop asked, "Is this done for everybody?" they said 'Oh, no, this is a special day. You're the first bishop who's ever come in.'

10 October 2015

Grand Master of the Order of Malta Visits Russia

Fra' Robert Matthew Festing, the Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently visited the Order’s charitable works in St. Petersburg, Russia.

His the first visit to Russia of a Grand Master of the Order of Malta in 200 years.

Vatican Radio interviewed Fra’ Festing during his official visit to St. Petersburg.


26 September 2015

Bishop Sheen on Mercy


We hear lots today about mercy and being merciful. Here is what Bishop Sheen had to say about mercy. Unfortunately what we mostly have today is the "feather-bed for those who fall from justice" variety of mercy.

"If mercy meant the forgiveness of all faults without retribution and without justice, it would end in a multiplication of wrongs. Mercy is for those who will not abuse it, and no man will abuse it who already started to make the wrong right, as justice demands. What some today call mercy is not mercy at all, but a feather-bed for those who fall from justice; and thus they multiply guilt and evil by supplying such mattresses. To become the object of mercy is not the same as to got scot-free, for as the word of God says: “Whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth.”

22 September 2015

The Order of Malta's Aid to Refugees in Germany

Order of Malta support for refugees in Germany

In Germany over 30 facilities provide medical and legal assistance to asylum seekers. In 2014, about half the refugees in Germany were assisted by special structures managed by the Order of Malta. Following the latest wave of arrivals the Order has stepped up its commitment and there are now 70 operational emergency shelters that can house up to 50,000 refugees. 1,600 volunteers are distributing basic necessities, tents and blankets. The Order’s volunteer doctors and nurses are helping the refugees arriving in the main railways stations from Berlin to Munich. 
In Munich, the Order of Malta was requested by the federal government to set up, together with its local humanitarian partners and the civil defence, a screening and communication centre to coordinate first aid, reception and accommodation for refugees.

For the full story visit the Order of Malta's official page.

Pictures from Dominican Rite Mass

Here are a few pictures from the Dominican Rite Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis on September 19, 2015. 

19 September 2015

A Meditation on the Beauty of Praying the Office

An inspiring meditation on praying the Divine Office by Blessed Schuster, a chaplain Grand Cross of the Order of Malta. 


I close my eyes, and while my lips murmur the words of the Breviary which I know by heart, I leave behind their literal meaning, and feel that I am in that endless land where the Church, militant and pilgrim, passes, walking towards the promised fatherland. I breathe with the Church in the same light by day, the same darkness by night; I see on every side of me the forces of evil that beset and assail Her; I find myself in the midst of Her battles and victories, Her prayers of anguish and Her songs of triumph, in the midst of the oppression of prisoners, the groans of the dying, the rejoicing of the armies and captains victorious. I find myself in their midst, but not as a passive spectator; nay rather, as one whose vigilance and skill, whose strength and courage can bear a decisive weight on the outcome of the struggle between good and evil, and upon the eternal destinies of individual men and of the multitude. (Blessed Card. Ildefonso Schuster, Archbishop of Milan, 1929-54) 

16 September 2015

Mass in the Dominican Rite at Basilica in Minneapolis

This Saturday, September 19th at 10:00 a.m. at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Fr. Dominic Holtz O.P. will be celebrating a Missa Cantata in the traditional Dominican Rite in place of the previously scheduled Mass with Cardinal Burke.

The Dominican Rite precedes the Extraordinary Form aka the Traditional Latin Mass or Mass of St. Pius V by nearly 300 years.

For more information on the history of the Dominican Rite please see these links.


10 September 2015

Archbishop of Malta Celebrates Mass with the Knights of St. John

The link to the homily given by Archbishop Scicluna at the Mass. The Archbishop celebrates a Solemn Mass on the Nativity of Our Lady- maltadiocese

Video of Processional and Recessional parts of the Mass at St. John's Co-Cathedral commemorating the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege of Malta. In the video you will see the resident knight from Fort St. Angelo carrying the sword of Grand Master La Vallette from the Siege.

Prayer in the Cathedral's crypt before the tomb of the Grand Master La Vallette.

06 September 2015

450th Anniversary Procession to Commemorate Great Siege of Malta.

Procession of the Knights of St. John to the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Birgu to commemorate the victory of the Knights and the end to the Great Siege of Malta in 1565.

Liturgical memorial service following the procession.

20 August 2015

Cancellation of Mass with Cardinal Burke

The previously scheduled Mass with Cardinal Burke at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis on Sept. 19th has unfortunately been cancelled. As some have questioned whether the Basilica or the Archdiocese had any influence on that decision, the answer is no they did not. In fact we hope to have a replacement for His Eminence so that we may still have an Extraordinary Form Mass there. If that happens I will update this post.

23 June 2015

The Fall of Fort St. Elmo

On this the 450th anniversary of the fall of Fort St. Elmo I am re-posting an article from 2009.

What these few knights, soldiers and civilians withstood for a horrifying month is nothing short of miraculous. Below is an excerpt of a talk given by Michael Davies in 2002 that was part of a conference given at the Dietrich von Hildebrand Institute 2002 Summer Symposia entitled “The 1st Through 8th Crusades; Military Orders; Catharist Crusade; and the Siege of Malta.” The full article can be read here, it describes some of what they went through during that month.

Mustapha finally acknowledged that St. Elmo could not be taken within that day and ordered the recall. St. Angelo's suddenly heard a burst of cheering from their brothers in St. Elmo. They had lost 200 men in the battle, in comparison to 2,000 Turks. But they knew the end was near, for there would be no more reinforcements.

St. Elmo's men readied themselves for a fight to the death. The two chaplains who had stayed with the defenders throughout the siege confessed the remaining knights and soldiers. Determined that the Mohammedans would not have the opportunity to mock or desecrate their holy relics, the knights and the chaplains hid the precious objects of the Faith beneath the stone floors of the chapel, and dragged the tapestries, pictures and wooden furniture outside and set them on fire
. They then tolled the bell of the small chapel to announce to their brethren in the nearby forts that they were ready for the end.

In the gray pre-dawn light of the 23rd of June, Piali's ships closed in for the kill. The galleys, pointing their lean bows at the ruined fort, opened up their bow chasers in unison with the first charge made by the entire Turkish army. To the astonishment of Mustapha and his council, Fort St. Elmo held for over an hour. Less than 100 men remained after that first onslaught, yet the Ottoman army was forced to draw back and re-form. The knights who were too wounded to stand placed themselves in chairs in the breach with swords in their hands.

There was something about the next attack that told the garrisons looking on from Birgu and Senglea that all was over. The white-robed troops poured down the slopes, hesitated like a curling roller above the wall, and then burst across the fort, spreading like an ocean over St. Elmo. One by one the defenders perished, some quickly and mercifully, others dying of wounds among the bodies of their friends.

The Italian Knight Francisco Lanfreducci, acting on orders received before the battle began, crossed to the wall opposite Bighi Bay and lit the signal fire. As the smoke curled up and eddied in the clear blue sky, La Valette knew that the heroic garrison and the fort they had defended to the end were lost.

It was now that Mustapha Pasha impatiently strode to view his conquest. A standard-bearer carrying the banner of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent stepped through the breach into St. Elmo. Standing victorious on the ruins of St. Elmo's walls, with the flag of St. John in the dust at his feet, Mustapha gazed at the massive bulk of Fort St. Angelo on the horizon. “Allah!” he cried. “If so small a son has cost us so dear, what price shall we have to pay for so large a father?”

In an offensive act of cruelty, he ordered the bodies of the knights to be set apart from the common soldiers. Their heads were struck from their bodies and fixed on stakes overlooking Grand Harbor. The beheaded corpses were then stripped of their mail, nailed to crossbeams of wood in mockery of the crucifixion, and launched onto the waters of Grand Harbor that night.

It was the eve of the Feast of St. John, the patron saint of the Order. Despite the loss of St. Elmo, the Grand Master had given orders for the normal celebrations to take place. Bonfires were lit and church bells were rung throughout Birgu and Senglea. The next morning the headless bodies of the knights washed up at the base of Fort St. Angelo.

Image  THE CAPTURE OF FORT ST. ELMO by Mateo Perez d’Aleccio

22 June 2015

The Day Before the Fall of Fort St Elmo

From an account of the Great Siege of Malta from the Malta Heritage Site. On the day before the fall of Fort St. Elmo the remaining 100 defenders, without ammunition, their leaders dead and themselves half dead from exhaustion and their own wounds prepared themselves for the final battle.
As the hours passed and no relief came, the survivors in Fort St Elmo realized that no help was going to come to them. With this bitter recognition, they resigned themselves to their fate and they started to comfort each other through these agonizing moments. They were determined to die in the service of Jesus Christ and although they were half dead from fatigue, they never rested but worked to improve their defences.

This was surely a dreadful time for our men and to make things worse, the enemy spent the whole night bombarding them, sounding the alarm and skirmishing. Clearly, they did so in order to break down the defenders so that by morning, they would be completely worn out.

As their end seemed to get closer by the hour, the last defenders of Fort St Elmo confessed to each other and implored Our Lord to have mercy on their souls for the sake of the blood that He had shed for their redemption.

10 June 2015

Knights of Malta Introduce Fire Hoops in Combat During Great Siege

From the Heritage Malta's website commemorating the 450th Anniversary of the Great Siege is an account on what happened on this day during the siege.
On Sunday, June 10, Grand Master Jean de La Valette sent a quantity of ammunition to Fort St Elmo. Besides the usual supplies of powder, shot, and grenades, he also sent over a number of new incendiary devices which had never been put to use until then. The idea behind this invention is said to have been that of the knight Ramon Fortuyn. Basically, these weapons consisted of barrel hoops that were well covered with caulking tow and well steeped in a cauldron of boiling tar. During an assault, they were set on fire and hurled at the enemy, causing significant damage by their flame and smoke.

05 June 2015

The Torpichen Preceptory - Ancient HQ of the SMOM in Scotland

The Torpichen Preceptory was the headquarters for the Knights of Malta in Scotland. 
Here is a link to more pictures and historical information on the Torpichen Preceptory,
http://www.armadale.org.uk/preceptory.htm where the following information was taken.

Torphichen Preceptory, the former administrative headquarters, in Scotland, of the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, is situated below the Torphichen Hills, in the village of Torphichen, West Lothian, twenty miles west of Edinburgh.  All that remains of the church and monastery (that: once owned vast swathes of land in Scotland; recruited knights and men to fight; organised the care of ill and wounded during their many military campaigns) is represented by a tall tower with singularly high transepts on both sides.
In 1132, David I invited the Order to Scotland.  By 1153, it had been granted a charter to build its Preceptory at Torphichen. The Preceptory became the Hospitallers' principal Scottish house, dependent on the Clerkenwell-based Hospitallers' Priory, which oversaw the British Isles.  Torphichen was significant not only as a sheltered, well-resourced community on a long-distance travellers’ route, but also for its site where a wooden church is thought to have been established by St Ninian. 

By 1168, King William IV decreed that the Chapel at Torphichen should rank as Parish Church and that it should recognise St Michael’s, Linlithgow, as its Mother Church. From the twelfth to the fifteenth century, the Preceptory was built, rebuilt and enlarged. A cruciform church was built with an aisleless nave, central tower, transepts, a choir, and, on the north side, around a cloistered courtyard, domestic buildings (housing the Preceptor’s private quarters, a refectory and kitchen, as well as a dormitory).  The Preceptory was dedicated to John the Baptist and one of its side altars was dedicated to St Ninian.  By 1500, the transepts had been rebuilt with new windows and vaulting, and a new stair-turret had been added to the tower.  The tower and transepts remain today, but the nave was demolished in 1761 to allow for the construction of Torphichen Kirk. 

By the late twelfth century, the Order had accumulated many minor holdings and Malcolm IV added to them by granting the Order one toft in all of his burghs.  This was particularly useful as, by 1300, the Order enjoyed a special category of exemption from secular service in its burgh properties. By 1226, the Hospitallers had continued expanding westward, securing the rights of teinds in nearby Ogilface to add to those they enjoyed in Torphichen.  
The Grand Master and the Pope were involved in the selection of the Preceptor, but the King of Scotland appointed him formally.  The Preceptor was responsible for the administration of ecclesiastical and secular property, as well as for giving spiritual guidance to the Order.  He had to secure the maximum returns from the Preceptory’s properties while paying for the maintenance of buildings in various places, including an Edinburgh townhouse, as well as meeting the cost of the administration of properties scattered over a wide area.  He was responsible for sending his responsions (payment) to the convent in Rhodes via the English Priory at Clerkenwell.

In 1291 and in 1296, Alexander de Welles, Master of Torphichen Preceptory, swore fealty to Edward I and the Order supported the English side during the Wars of Independence. During the period between the Battle of Stirling in September 1297 and the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298, William Wallace and his army camped at Torphichen, the Order probably removing itself to another location during their occupancy.  Before the Battle of Falkirk, Wallace was entertained at Torphichen by the Preceptor Alexander de Welles. The only surviving document signed by Wallace was prepared at the Preceptory during that period.  On 22 July 1298, during the battle, Alexander de Welles was killed.  Also at the battle were Adam de Welle(s) of Lincolnshire, and later of Yester Castle, Lothian, and Philip de Welle(s).  After the battle, the victorious Edward I came to the Preceptory for treatment to his horse-inflicted chest injury, which had happened at his Polmont camp before the battle.  After the success of the English campaign, the Order’s relationship with its Scottish neighbours was more strained, as shown by an English Priory petition to Edward I to allow the Torphichen Hospitallers to be received in Linlithgow Palace when the need arose.  As in the case of the Templars, the Hospitallers’ household was mainly English knights, and their main English house, the Priory, was at Clerkenwell, London.  Such ties with England appear to have made them unpopular in Scotland during subsequent centuries.

Since the arrival of the Knights Templar in Scotland in 1128, as a result of the efforts of their first master, Hugh de Paiens of Champagne, the Order had impressed David I greatly.  It provided the fighting men to defend the Holy Land and the Order was admirably rewarded for its Brother-Knights’ efforts.  Most Templars appear to have been English and they administered their Scottish lands as part of the English Priory.  Also, they served in the royal household from David I’s time and seem to have enjoyed a sound and influential relationship with the Crown, providing the required military presence in the Holy Land while also providing other services at home, such as an almoner to the Scottish throne and a banking service to the English King.

The power of the Order of the Knights Templar through its immense wealth was seen with increasing suspicion by many in Scotland, and so the accusations against the Order’s members, at their Holyrood trial in 1309, were not unexpected.
Three years after the trial, the Order of the Knights Templar was suppressed by Pope Clement V.  Its wealth in Scotland was half as much again as that of the Knights Hospitaller. Its extensive lands in Scotland, (five baronies, patronage of six kirks and sundry lands), which had been administered from its Temple monastery, were granted to the Knights Hospitaller, thereby markedly increasing the property administered by the Torphichen headquarters.  However, there is evidence that the Hospitallers struggled to gain possession of some Templar properties well into the fourteenth century. The re-distribution of estates encouraged dishonest practices, one of those accused of such conduct being Reginald More, a lay administrator at Torphichen. 

After 1312, the Hospitallers acquired most of their appropriated parish churches.  The Preceptor of the Order owned six baronies including Torphichen, each of which contributed towards the maintenance of the Order and his household, but problems arose as each of the baronies was isolated from the others, and so they had to be overseen remotely.  Although the work of the Hospitallers, as well as that of other crusading orders, was widely appreciated, many of the gifts were only small parts of the holdings of the benefactors, and so the geographically scattered gifts were often difficult to administer and unprofitable as assets, unless leased, or even sold.  As a result, Preceptors had to possess sound business skills to ensure the efficient administration of the Order’s holdings.  

By the fifteenth century, many of the properties had been let as a lease or feuferm, initially disapproved of, but accepted, eventually, by the Church. Land donations were given generously, especially by the King and his nobles, so that, by the early 1500s, the Order owned over 700 properties in Scotland, particularly in the Borders, Central Belt and along the east coast, but not in Argyll, Bute or Orkney.  

In 1314, after the Scots’ victory at Bannockburn, the Knights Hospitaller left Scotland, only returning after a reconciliation with Robert the Bruce.  In 1356, the Pope recommended the appointment of David de Mar, Procurator to the Hospital of St John of Rhodes, as Preceptor, but the subsequent appointment caused further controversy, and even his successor was unsuccessful in resolving the issue.  Eventually, it was agreed that all money should be funnelled through the London Priory and that Robert Grant should be appointed to exercise his singular administrative skills. 

Recruited novices were supposed to receive religious training, but this did not happen while their services were needed in the military campaigns of the Middle East.  Priest brothers received training at the monastery while elderly or infirm brothers lived their final years there, receiving care from the hospice.  However, there appears to have been no provision for the physical care of the population who lived outside the Preceptory in Torphichen.  
In the 1430s and 1440s, Andrew Meldrum, principal officer of the Hospitallers, carried out considerable building works.  The Preceptory was extended, the nave rebuilt, the transepts raised significantly, while a cloister on the north side, with surrounding ranges, was completed.  Meldrum’s name even appears on one of the ribs in the vault of the north transept.  Meanwhile, Preceptors and their recruits were involved in sea-battles involving Hospitallers at Rhodes.

In 1466,  the Grand Master awarded William Knollis a grant of the Preceptory, which was confirmed by the Pope a few months later.  Knollis was one of the longest serving Preceptors.  For six years, in the 1470s, he collected alms from visitors (who were then rewarded by indulgences), claiming that James III favoured the church whose ruinous state was clearly in need of help.  After the King’s downfall, Knollis benefited from an illustrious career as a diplomat as well as a public servant, overseeing Torphichen more as a secular barony while being careful to pay the English Priory its dues.  

In 1504, on a visit to Rhodes, George Dundas obtained to right to succeed as Preceptor. In 1508, there was a dispute over the right of the London Priory to appoint a Preceptor in Scotland. James IV, a frequent visitor to Torphichen, believed that the Order in Scotland should be independent. He did not believe Hospitallers born and living in Scotland should have to seek protection from the English Priory, a view he expressed by letters to the Grand Master in Rhodes in 1513. English - Scottish relations were only improved when the Order moved to Malta. 

In Scotland, Dundas succeeded Knollis and was firmly in position from 1518 until his death fourteen years later. Sir Walter Lindsay secured the right of succession after Dundas and he proved to be an effective administrator, as well as a well respected leader of the Scottish army.  He compiled a Rental of the Order’s ownership in Scotland, and, as shown by his Charter of 7 March 1542, he feued the Order’s remote lands, where revenue collection was difficult, to avoid further bloodshed.

On the 29 June 1550, Sir James Sandilands, second son of James Sandilands, Baron Calder, gained possession of the Preceptory, which he held for four years.  He was descended from a family that had owned extensive estates in the area since 1348. In April 1540, the Order in England was closed by an Act of Parliament. The Reformation brought an end to the Hospitallers' Order in Scotland as it was of the Roman Catholic faith, and it was suppressed in 1554.  On 22 January 1564, Sir James Sandilands, Lord St John, surrendered the Preceptory lands to Mary Queen of Scots, to whom he was related.  However, two days later, at the cost of 10,000 crowns of the sun, (gold coins minted in France weighing 50½ grains Troy), and an annual feu duty of 500 merks, he obtained a Royal Charter re-granting them to him as a hereditary barony, as well as the Lord Torphichen title, and these were added to his Barony of Calder, the Sandilands seat being at Calder House (originally Caldour Castle), a few miles from Torphichen.  He sold seven of the eight baronies, including most of Torphichen Barony, to pay his debts, but he retained the Preceptory and Torphichen Mains, thereby retaining his title.

After the Reformation, the Preceptory’s nave was used as Torphichen Parish Kirk, while the remainder of the buildings were allowed to fall into disrepair.  In 1756, Torphichen Parish Kirk was demolished and the remains were restyled to form the foundations of the new T-plan Parish Kirk on the west side of the Preceptory.  The domestic buildings on the north side of the church were demolished, their stone being used elsewhere in Torphichen.  The transepts and the tower became a courthouse of the Regality of Torphichen, but the tower fell into disuse and was only refurbished with a new roof in 1947, twenty years after restoration work was carried out on the Preceptory by the Ministry of Public Building and Works.

Defenders Repeat their Plea to Withdraw From St. Elmo

It has been a week since the bombardment of Fort St. Elmo began and nearly two weeks since Commander Eguaras sent the Spanish Captain Juan de la Cerda to inform La Vallette that the Fort could not be defended and seek his permission to withdraw. During this time the knights and the other defenders had fought bravely but the incessant bombardment that was only strengthening was having a demoralizing effect on them. Dracut's artillery was firing from multiple locations  in such a way to prevent the troops in Fort St. Elmo from having any safe place of refuge.

The men met in the piazza to discuss their plight and this time agreed to send Captain Medrano to the Grand Master to again inform him of the desperate situation they faced and the fact that it would be soon impossible to defend the Fort. The failure of relief troops to appear as promised and the determined efforts of the enemy meant that time was running out before a full scale invasion. La Vallette realized that this was only too true but knew also that each hour that the attention of the Ottomans was on Fort St. Elmo it gave the other defenses of the Knights the time to strengthen themselves. He was unwilling to give away the Fort and encouraged Medrano to remind the defenders of their duty and to continue battling as they had always done. He promised to send more relief and recalled Fra Giovanni Vagnone and a hundred of his men from Mdina to reinforce the troops at St. Elmo.

04 June 2015

Here is an excellent documentary video from the History Channel describing the Great Siege of Malta from a warriors perspective of the history, tactics, weapons used. One of the highlights was the description of the medical care of the wounded and how to treat specific injuries. Presented by US Army Special Forces Terry Scahppert.

Chapel of St. Anne in Fort St. Elmo

A short video on the Chapel of St. Anne in Fort St. Elmo where the last defenders of the Fort were slaughtered.

02 June 2015

The Arrival of Dragut at The Great Siege of Malta

On June 2nd, Admiral Dragut the legendary pirate and enemy of the Knights of St. John and all Christians in the Mediterranean arrived with his fleet at Malta. His appearance was undoubtedly a blow to the spirits of the knights who recognized the skill of their great adversary. As LaValette and Sir Oliver Starkey watched his arrival, Starkey muttered, "God help us." To which the Grand Master replied, "Yes, now the real battle begins."

Known as the "drawn sword of Islam" Dragut was to be equally feared on land and sea. A skilled tactician he immediately recognized the imprudent attack and siege of Fort St. Elmo but realized that once committed they could not change course. Until his arrival the knights had benefitted from the discord between the two Pasha's. Now they would regard his wisdom when making their tactical decisions for which the knights suffered grieviously.

23 May 2015

The Bombardment of Fort St. Elmo Begins - May 24, 1565

Fort St. Elmo was well placed to defend the Grand Harbor from attack by sea but its low lying position at the base of the penisula left it vulnerable to attack from Mt. Scibberas as the high ground at the top of the peninsula. As the commander of Ottoman naval forces, Piali Pasha wanted to secure his fleet in the Harbor he argued that Fort St. Elmo must be captured and the first point of attack. Mustafa Pasha opposed this plan but finally relented, assuming that it would only take a few days to destroy the fort. Mustafa began moving his cannons into position for the assault and the bombardment of Fort St. Elmo began on May 24th.

Initially St. Elmo was defended by a modest number of  knights and several hundred soldiers and other Maltese citizens. But each night of the siege the wounded were evacuated and new knights were smuggled in to reinforce those who wereTo attack St. Elmo, the Turkish troops had to cross a moat under fire. The defenders had raised their drawbridges and broken down other bridges so the Turks had to construct portable bridges. Such massed attacks were costly in terms of casualties, but the Ottoman commanders had little regard for the lives of their men.

21 May 2015

Fra Bartolomeo Faraone and Fra Adrien de la Riviere - The First Knights to Die During the Siege of Malta

On May 21st, two of the first heroes to die in the Siege of Malta were the Portuguese knight Fra Bartolomeo Faraone and the French knight Adrien de la Riviere.

After the initial arrival of the Turkish force on May 18th, the following day, the 19th, the Turks landed at Marsaxlokk and proceeded to the village of Zejtun and start robbing whatever crops and livestock they could find. They were met by a cavalry detachment, led by these two brave Knights, which had been dispatched by La Vallette to shadow the Turkish troop movements. Both were captured by the Turks and interrogated by Mustafa` Pasha` himself who wanted to know which was the weakest point in the local defence to attack Birgu. Finally after various methods of torture we employed without success molten silver was poured into their ears and they divulged that the weakest point in the knights defenses was at the Post of Castille. In fact the Post of Castille was the most strongly defended and it is a testament to the honor and bravery of these two knights who must have known that when the truth became known they would undoubtedly be put to death for their deception.

Trusting the information given up under severe torture, Mustafa Pasha sent a substantial force to attack Birgu. The advance troops outpaced the main body of soldiers and were met by a number of eager young knights who sallied forth from their fort much to the chagrin of the Grand Master watching from Fort St. Angelo. He later gave orders that no troops were to leave their positions without his express command. But on this first engagement the knights were victorious and what could have been a disaster for them instead became the first defeat for Mustafa's army and the loss of several hundred of his soldiers to twelve knights of St. John.

Mustafa Pasha was outraged at the trickery of Fra's Faraone and de la Riviere and he had them put to death. One account states that they were beheaded and another that they were bastinadoed to death. It would seem reasonable that they were first bastinadoed and finally beheaded.

*Bastinadoed is a form of corporal punishment where the feet are tied together and then the soles of the feet are whipped with a cane or similar object. This cause intense levels of pain.

The picture is of the Hornworks of the Post of Castille. Much work is being done to renovate the area including the removal of many structures added after the Siege such as those outside the wall at the bottom of the picture.

See also http://birgu.gov.mt/node/16

18 May 2015

Beginning of the Great Siege of Malta, May 18, 1565

On this day, May 18, 1565 the Ottoman Turkish Navy arrived at the island of Malta preparing to invade the island and secure a post from which to invade mainland Europe. The actual siege did not begin for a few days as the two Turkish leaders, the 4th Vizier Serdar Kizilahmedli Mustafa Pasha  the leader of the land forces, and the supreme naval commander, Piyale Pasha debated over where to launch the attack. It was decided to attack Fort St. Elmo and secure the entrance to the harbor. Fort St. Elmo is the star shaped fort at the bottom of the picture.

16 May 2015

How the Liturgy Opens a Window to Another World

The following passage is taken from a talk given by Martin Mosebach at Holy Innocents Parish, New York, May 12, 2015. The whole talk is very insightful and worth reading here.
The rejection of the traditional liturgy has certainly unexpectedly resulted in one particular problem for the contemporary Church. To outsiders, including many Catholics, the Catholic Church today is mainly embodied in the morality it teaches and demands of its faithful, which, manifest in prohibitions and commandments, are contrary to the beliefs of the secular world. In a church centered mainly on the immediate liturgical encounter with God, these moral demands were related not only to life choices, but were specifically conceived as preparation for full participation in the liturgy. 
It was the liturgy that specified the goal of morality. The question was: what must I do to attain full communion with the Eucharistic Christ in the liturgy? What makes me only able to observe this Christ from a distance? That which is morally forbidden appeared not simply as the incarnation of evil, but as something to be avoided for the sake of a specific objective. And when the commandment that excludes us from communion was transgressed, the sacrament of confession stood ready to heal the damage and prepare us for communion. Surprisingly, it turned out that the Catholic Church of the past, which focused on the liturgy, seemed scandalously morally lax to outsiders, while to contemporaries and not only the unchurched, the present Church seems unbearably preachy, merciless and pettily puritanical.

I believe this is the picture referred to in his talk.

This picture is similar to but not exactly the one referred to by Mr. Mosebach .  Nevertheless it should give pause for some reflection also.

15 May 2015

Cardinal Burke to Celebrate Mass in the Usus Antiquior in Minneapolis

We have received great news that Una Voce St. Paul and Minneapolis has arranged for Cardinal Burke to celebrate a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form in September.

Date: September 19, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis Minnesota

More details as they become available.

23 April 2015

False Economics Quote of Archbishop Sheen

“False economics says that the primary end of business is not consumption, but production. Start with this principle and it follows then that the purpose of a machine is not to supply human needs, but to make profit for its owner. The price then becomes more important than the man who pays the price. It is then only a step to say that the produce of God’s bountiful land may be destroyed in the midst of starvation for the sake of an economic price. Man becomes subordinate to economics, instead of economics to man, and this means a degradation and impoverishment of human dignity.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen (The Prodigal World)

08 April 2015

Professor Mgr Michel Schooyans on the Two Purposes of Marriage

Mgr Michel SCHOOYANS gave a talk recently at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium on the Two Purposes of Marriage. I was fortunate to have Mgr. SHOOYANS as my political philosophy professor when I attended UCL in 1988.  From Mark Lamberts blog, 

Mgr Schooyans is a leading Vatican scholar, a professor at Louvain and an acclaimed academic and writer. He has a doctorate in philosophy and theology and is a priest of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. 

The full translation of the talk can be found at the website of Voice of the Family which is a lay initiative formed in support of the Synod on the Family. Here is the opening of the talk,
The second session of the Synod on the Family is close at hand. Three interlinked questions require further discussion at this session: they are the conjugal union, marriage and the family. We have in effect reached a period in the history of humanity in which, beyond doubt for the first time, we are witnessing a radical questioning of marriage and the family. The target in the line of sight is marriage and the family, with their twofold purpose: the unitive purpose and the procreative purpose of the union of a man and woman. Their destruction will lead to the disintegration of human society as a whole. It is the entire human family which is now being attacked, undermined and distorted by hostile ideological currents.

Church of the Order of Malta in Bologna, Italy

A Church belonging to the Order of Malta in Bologna, Italy

Fear of Speaking the Truth

Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski, head of the Catholic diocese of Metuchen, N.J., would not say whether he agrees with the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church pertaining to homosexuality and marriage as quoted directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis reminds us that we are to accept all of our brethren. We must ensure that our educators steer away from harsh and judgmental statements that can alienate and divide us."
But yesterday's Mass reading from the Acts of the Apostles said this,
On the day after Pentecost, Peter said to the Jewish people, "let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other Apostles, "What are we to do my brothers?" Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit...."
What does this mean, "they were cut to the heart?" In other translations it states they were "stricken" or "pierced in the heart." Regardless it sounds like Peter was pretty harsh in making that statement and pretty clear as to what they should do, "Repent!"

Why are so many of today's Bishops afraid to speak as their predecessors did?

30 March 2015

What Age for the Sacrament of Confirmation

 In 2002 Bishop Aquila of Fargo, now the Archbishop of Denver, changed the age for receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation from students usually in high school to second graders, prior to their reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. This follows the historical tradition for administering the Sacrament at a younger age in the Latin Rite as well as being closer to the Eastern rite Churches which administer Baptism and Confirmation in the same ceremony. Below is an excerpt from an article from 2011 in which he explains his rationale for making the change, the full article which should be read in its entirety. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/bishop-aquila-urges-sacrament-of-confirmation-before-first-eucharist/
“Turning to the present administration of the sacrament, Bishop Aquila questioned whether the common placement of confirmation in late adolescence treats it as “a reward, or worse, as something earned or deserved for attendance and work in a parish catechetical program.”
“Should the fear of not receiving a sacrament ever be used as a means to keep a young person involved in the life of the Church? Should the gift and strengthening of the Holy Spirit be denied young persons in their most formative years?” he asked.

Bishop Aquila also wondered whether the special attention and length of preparation given to confirmation makes many perceive it to be more important than Baptism and the Eucharist.
The view that confirmation is a way for young people to make a personal commitment to their faith “distorts” the sacrament, he said.
“Confirmation is not marked by a choice to believe or not believe in the Catholic faith.
Rather as disciples we are chosen by God to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit generously bestowed by God, and we are called to cooperate with that grace,” he explained.
Pope Benedict endorsed the move in comments he made to Bishop Aquila during his visit to Rome,
“I was very surprised in what the Pope said to me, in terms of how happy he was that the sacraments of initiation have been restored to their proper order of baptism, confirmation then first Eucharist,” said Bishop Aquila, after meeting Pope Benedict on March 8. 
It is precisely the attitude of the Sacrament as a ‘personal commitment of the Faith’ that is so prevalent in many of the Confirmation prep/Faith Formation programs today and one which needs to be corrected. Notice how crucial this Sacrament is to one’s salvation as stated by St. Thomas and then consider the number of students today who refuse this Sacrament as they have fallen victim to the secular age around them. Retooling the current programs is nothing short of rearranging the proverbial chairs on the deck of the Titanic. What is needed is full restoration of the traditional ordering of the Sacrament to adolescent children. The Sacrament is not merely for students to make an affirmation of their Faith, or lack thereof, but the necessary grace to engage in spiritual combat. “whereas in Confirmation he receives power to do those things which pertain to the spiritual combat with the enemies of the Faith.” From the Summa Theologica, Article 5 on Confirmation.

This decision will ultimately have to come from the Bishops as they are the ones who set the overall policy in their Dioceses for the faith formation coordinators to follow. But it is the pastors and coordinators who can encourage this change as they are the ones with firsthand knowledge of the crisis.

Here is more teaching from St. Thomas Aquinas on the Sacrament of Confirmation

     Article 1: Whether Confirmation is a Sacrament

            Reply to Objection 3. As stated above (Question 65, Article 4), all the sacraments are in some way necessary for salvation: but some, so that there is no salvation without them; some as conducing to the perfection of salvation; and thus it is that Confirmation is necessary for salvation: although salvation is possible without it, provided it be not omitted out of contempt.       

Article 8. Whether this sacrament should be given to all?

Reply to Objection 2. As stated above, the age of the body does not affect the soul. Consequently even in childhood man can attain to the perfection of spiritual age, of which it is written (Wisdom 4:8): "Venerable old age is not that of long time, nor counted by the number of years." And hence it is that many children, by reason of the strength of the Holy Ghost which they had received, fought bravely for Christ even to the shedding of their blood.

24 March 2015

Blessed Jordan of Saxony: Tips on Vocations

In preparing for a talk I need to make for our Serra District Conference this weekend I came across this article Blessed Jordan of Saxony: 5 Tips on Vocations.

Blessed Jordan of Saxony was the first successor of St. Dominic as Master of the Order of Preachers. He wrote the first work about the Order, his Libellus on the Beginnings of the Order of Preachers. He was renowned for his prudence in administration, as well as his ability to attract and receive vocations to the Dominicans. As a result, he is the patron of vocations for the Dominican Order. Here are five examples from Bl. Jordan on finding one’s vocation and leading others to theirs.
1.      Bring a friend.

Bl. Jordan recounts in his Libellus how the preaching of Bl. Reginald of Orleans inspired him and many men to join the Order of Preachers. Although little known in our time, Reginald was a well-known and well-educated cleric who joined the Dominican friars—our first “big catch.” His dynamic and fiery preaching brought the first great wave of vocations into Dominic’s fledging Order. Jordan, and his dear friend Henry, were among these.
Jordan recounts how Reginald’s preaching moved him to recognize the Dominican Order as a “sure road to salvation.” His friend Henry, though, was dragging his feet. Jordan remained determined to enter with his best friend and companion in holiness. But Henry resisted. Then one night, they searched out a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and as he and Henry were praying there after Matins, Henry received a vision and the grace to enter the Order. Finally, on Ash Wednesday, they went together to the Dominican priory in Paris, and entered the Order. They may have been the first pair of friends to enter the Order together, but they certainly were not the last.

There is much talk about "discerning one's vocation" these days, particularly as it relates to the priestly or religious life. But this story told by Bl. Jordan reminds me of how the Apostles responded when Christ called them.

On one feast day, when he was receiving a student after the sermon and many students were present, he said to the assembly, "If one of you were going to a great feast and banquet alone, would your companions be so indifferent that none of them would want to accompany you? You see that this young man has been called to a great feast thrown by God; are you going to let him go off alone?" These words had such an impact that one student who had no previous intention of entering the Order came out in the middle and said, "Master, at your word, I join him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." And he was received together with him.
Pray for many more young men willing to accept such a call. Here is the link to the original article for the remaining ideas.

18 March 2015

Is the Parish Faith Formation Program a Spiritual Orphanage?

Having taught catechism before I have seen both sides of the problem as the writer describes. I think her comparison of  parish faith formation programs to "spiritual orphanages" is spot on.

The norm is to assume that Catholic parents simply cannot be trusted to teach their children the Catholic faith.
If you spend much time around Catholics, you know this fear has its basis in sordid reality.

The Solution that Is No Solution

So what do you do when the parents in your parish are not living up to their responsibilities? Our current solution is to swoop up all the children and put them in a classroom an hour a week with a spiritual orphanage worker. Since the parents are unable to teach, we’ll teach for them.
There’s fallout, of course. It’s exhausting trying to parent twenty children, many of whom have been spiritually neglected for years. It’s difficult finding qualified volunteers, because the work is frustrating and so many adults in the parish don’t know their faith. Because new families are constantly trickling in with their never-catechized children, we end up having to re-teach the same basic facts year after year. We’re nowhere near hitting diocesan standards — if our ninth graders have never opened a Bible, they certainly haven’t read whole books of it.
The staff and the parish resources are stretched so thin there simply isn’t room for adult faith formation. We’re too busy taking care of the orphans — whose parents are sitting in the parking lot waiting for class to get out.
Meanwhile, the kids age out of our programs and leave the faith, because they lack the the factor that has the most bearing on whether an adult continues to practice the faith: Having been raised in a home where the parents were disciples.
Parents Have Immortal Souls, Too
When you monkey around with Church teaching, bad things happen. We’ve identified a problem — kids whose parents aren’t disciples — and we’re so busy “solving” the crisis by heroically stepping in to replace the parents, that we’ve overlooked a small detail: Doing so is contrary to the Catholic faith.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jenniferfitz/2015/03/the-hero-complex-that-is-destroying-the-catholic-faith/#ixzz3UkHItAKP

12 March 2015

Pope Francis Again Accuses Followers of Doctrine as Being Pharisees

Pope Francis on Thursday underlined the role of saints in the Church, saying it is they and not hypocrites who bear witness to the love of God. He cited as examples St. Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake for heresy in 1431 and later canonized in 1920; and of the Italian priest and philosopher Antonio Rosmini who had some of his works placed on the Index of books as they were deemed as heretical.
"This also happened in the history of the Church," Francis told faithful gathered for Mass at the Vatican guesthouse where he resides.
 "But think of the poor Joan of Arc: today she is a saint! Poor girl: these learned people burned her alive because they said she was a heretic... But these learned people, the ones who knew the sure doctrine, were the Pharisees: removed from the love of God," he continued.
 "Close to our time, think of the Blessed Rosmini: all his books on the Index. You couldn't read them, it was a sin to read them. Today he is beatified," Francis said.

St Joan of Arc was condemned to death under the false pretense of being a heretic for purely political reasons by a worldly Bishop who himself died shortly after St. Joan. These "learned people, who knew the sure doctrine" abused that doctrine for personal gain, not in the interest of truth. To accuse followers of doctrine as being Pharisees is disingenuous at best. Her trial and death were immediately recognized as a sham by the Church and indeed it was the Inquisitor-General who reversed the decision from the trial. Her accusers were like the Gospel pharisees in the sense that they twisted the law to suit their own immoral purposes, not because they followed the laws of the Church. It is wrong to suggest that those who follow the laws and teachings of the Church are themselves pharisees and hypocrites simply because they follow those teachings.
Regarding the statement "Close to our time, think of the Blessed Rosmini: all his books are on the Index. You couldn't read them, it was a sin to read them. Today he is beatified," Francis said.
With due respect to the Holy Father the statment regarding "all his books being on the Index" is false. Only two of Blessed Rosmini's books were placed on the Index. That was in 1849 and they were removed in 1854. In 1887 the Holy Office condemned "40 Propositions" that were taken primarily from posthumous works and works edited during his lifetime.

In 2001 Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, "The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, following an in-depth examination of the two doctrinal Decrees, promulgated in the 19th century, and taking into account the results emerging from historiography and from the scientific and theoretical research of the last ten years has reached the following conclusion:
The motives for doctrinal and prudential concern and difficulty that determined the promulgation of the Decree Post obitum with the condemnation of the "40 Propositions" taken from the works of Anthony Rosmini can now be considered superseded. This is so because the meaning of the propositions, as understood and condemned by the Decree, does not belong to the authentic position of Rosmini, but to conclusions that may possibly have been drawn from the reading of his works. The questions of the plausibility of the Rosminian system, of its speculative consistency and of the philosophical and theological theories and hypotheses expressed in it remain entrusted to the theoretical debate.
At the same time the objective validity of the Decree Post obitum referring to the previously condemned propositions, remains for whoever reads them, outside of the Rosminian system, in an idealist, ontologist point of view and with a meaning contrary to Catholic faith and doctrine.
In fact, the Encyclical Letter of John Paul II Fides et Ratio, named Rosmini among the recent thinkers who achieved a fruitful exchange between philosophy and the Word of God. At the same time it adds that the fact of naming persons does not intend "to endorse every aspect of their thought, but simply to offer significant examples of a process of philosophical enquiry which was enriched by engaging the data of faith" (Fides et ratio, n. 74). http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfserba.htm Another worthy analysis of the Rosmini case was done and should be read to realize that this was not an abuse of power by zealous pharisitical followers of the law.  http://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/ROSMINI.HTM


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