26 February 2015

I Could Be Wrong, But...

...isn't this just a different way of saying, "Hey, don't bother us by pointing out that very few Catholics attend Mass at the typical Catholic parish."?  

It is a bit "audacious", no?

Template A, Descriptor 1, Central Media Casting

This quote from a Yahoo! story today reminds me yet again that we live in a time where truth is of no matter.

Two years later, the first Latin American pope is a global superstar, a natural and decisive leader who has been credited with shaking up the Vatican, breathing new life into Catholic teaching and bringing the faithful flooding back into the arms of the Church.

Frankly, I don't need the reminder. As Bob says, "Reality, as always, had too many heads."

23 February 2015

The Church Sends Us into the Desert, That There We May Learn from Jesus How to Fight. That Goes for bloggers, too.

I wanted to write a post for a few days now on the news making headlines in much of the Catholic blogosphere (the part that isn't bought and paid for, that is) and even in the secular press: that Fr. Thomas Rosica of Salt + Light TV, who is the English language assistant to Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi and thus speaks at times in a public capacity for the Vatican, has sent (via his attorneys) a threatening letter to the blogger who writes Vox Cantoris, demanding that he pull comments critical of Fr. Rosica's statements and public actions in the last Synod against on the Family, or face legal action.

This is of course quite distressing to faithful Catholics.  Whether the action is bullying a critic into silence, or whether it is a colossal mistake, or whether it is justified, it is unseemly and not in line with a Catholic way of thinking.  Somebody at least looks bad out of this. We may assume this is his own action alone, and not with the pre-knowledge or, God forbid, at the request, of the Vatican. But we can ask the Vatican to send him the message to stand down.

Considering the matter as a Catholic blogger, well, you can see how this can get one's attention.  As many have noted, lowly bloggers were part of the phalanx of opposition to altering the Church's Christ-given teachings on marriage and the reception of Holy Communion by public adulterers.  The bishops who stood with Christ have been, and are, under attack.  So now who is next? 

Enter Vox Cantoris.  What struck me immediately is the reach of his blog.  It is not large in terms of hits-- not tiny, but not large.  In fact, until this fracas, it averaged the same or perhaps fewer daily hits than this blog.  

So, I think, this could have been me.

Why pick on a blog of this size?  As Rorate mused, and I agree, this is a family man, without great financial resources or a legal team.  He makes no money off of the Church by blogging-- unlike some.  The enemies of Catholic teaching on marriage and Communion want to quiet the blogs of all us little folk who are not bought and paid for. They WANT us to think:  This could be me!

OK, great, why write on it now?  Because I want to be faithful to my Lenten resolution to focus on the positive and the joyful.  This to me is an occasion of joy. Bloggers are called to the cross like anyone else.  If we are persecuted for standing with Christ, so be it. Lots of bloggers are weighing in, and I feel compelled to do so, too.

Reading at Mass on Sunday Dom Gueranger's entry for the first Sunday of Lent brought home to me what is expected of the faithful Christian.  He gives the epistle below, and then comments.  I add my emphases in orange

Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.
II. Ch. VI

Brethren, we exhort you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: but in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prison, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand, and on the left: by honour and dishonour: by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true: as unknown, and yet known: as dying, and behold we live: as chastised, and not killed: as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as needy, yet enriching many: as having nothing, and possessing all things.

"These words of the Apostle give us a very different idea of the Christian Life from that which our own tepidity suggests. We dare not say that he is wrong, and we right; but we put a strange interpretation upon his words, and we tell both ourselves and those around us, that the advice he here gives is not to be taken literally now-a-days, and that it was written for those special difficulties of the first age of the Church, when the Faithful stood in need of unusual detachment and almost heroism, because they were always in danger of persecution and death. The interpretation is full of that discretion which meets with the applause of our cowardice, and it easily persuades us to be at rest, just as though we had no battle to fight; whereas, we have both: for there is the devil, the world, flesh and blood. The Church never forgets it; and hence, at the opening of this great Season, she sends us into the desert, that there we may learn from our Jesus how we are to fight. Let us go; let us learn, from the Temptations of our Divine Master, that the life of man upon earth is a warfare [Job, vii. 1], and that, unless our fighting be truceless and brave, our life, which we would fain pass in peace, will witness our defeat. That such a misfortune may not befall us, the Church cries out to us, in the words of St. Paul: Behold! now is the acceptable time. Behold! now is the day of salvation. Let us, in all things comport ourselves as the servants of God, and keep our ground unflinchingly to the end of our holy campaign. God is watching over us, as he did over his Beloved Son in the Desert."

Now is the time to wake from sleep, as St. Paul elsewhere says. When necessary, we have to be ready to stand for and with Christ and His Church.  It is that simple.  Yes, we should not pick a fight, but that doesn't change the fact that we may be called to suffer and die.  We have to stand with Christ.  What else is there?

20 February 2015

Societal Consequences of the Spirit of Immortification

"So far, we have been speaking of the non-observance of Lent in its relation to individuals and Catholics; let us now say a few words upon the influence which that same non-observance has upon a whole people or nation. There are but few social questions which have not been ably and spiritedly treated of by the public writers of the age, who have devoted their talents to the study of what is called Political Economy; and it has often been a matter of surprise to us, that they should have overlooked a subject of such deep interest as this, - the results produced on society by the abolition of Lent, that is to say, of an institution, which, more than any other, keeps up in the public mind a keen sentiment of moral right and wrong, inasmuch as it imposes on a nation an annual expiation for sin. No shrewd penetration is needed to see the difference between two nations, one of which observes, each year, a forty-days’ penance in reparation of the violations committed against the Law of God, and another, whose very principles reject all such solemn reparation. And looking at the subject from another point of view, is it not to be feared that the excessive use of animal food tends to weaken, rather than to strengthen, the constitution? We are convinced of it, - the time will come, when a greater proportion of vegetable, and less of animal, diet, will be considered as an essential means for maintaining the strength of the human frame."

-- Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year

Lenten Blessings to All Who Love the Traditional Mass

Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)

19 February 2015

Faces of the Martyrs

Some of the heroic martyrs sacrificed for the love of Jesus, speaking His name with their lips as they were beheaded by the Mohammedans.  

Surely a matter for reflection this Lent.

The photo above comes from a post at Rorate, where they translate an article by Antonio Socci about the reality of what is truly important in the Church, and begging for practical help for the small number of Christians remaining in the area.

Meatless Friday Thursday: Lenten Second Banana Edition

Anyone who has a sense of pop culture (I'm guessing Dr. Snide is out, but her husband is in) might enjoy this NCAA Tourney-style bracket of the all-time "top" second banana.  Or sidekick. Or running mate.  Whatever.

I'm not sure if the winner should be the ultimate winner, or maybe the second-place finisher, but this is a philosophical concern.

Article here.  Vote here.

18 February 2015

Feria Quarta Cinerum

The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God's glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.

--Pope Benedict XIV, Constitution Non Ambigimus, 1745

More than a hundred years have elapsed since this solemn warning of the Vicar of Christ was given to the world; and during that time, the relaxation he inveighed against has gone on gradually increasing. How few Christians do we meet who are strict observers of Lent, even in the present mild form!

And must there not result from this ever-growing spirit of immortification, a general effeminacy of character, which will lead, at last, to frightful social disorders? The sad predictions of Pope Benedict XIV are but too truly verified. Those nations, among whose people the spirit and practice of penance are extinct, are heaping against themselves the wrath of God, and provoking His justice to destroy them by one or other of these scourges-- civil discord, or conquest.

--Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, c.1850

The modern fast, of course, is nothing compared to the fast Dom Gueranger calls 'mild' in the mid-19th Century. That is the decision of the Church, who, out of concern for the weakness of her children, has over the ages allowed for relaxation of the Lenten fast (which is of Apostolic institution), and given freely of dispensations in various times and places. It is the decision of the Church what must be obligatory, for she speaks for Christ.  She has allowed such latitude that our present obligatory penitential requirements for Lent (fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence on all Fridays during Lent) ought to be easily and eagerly accomplished.  Yet even this seems too much.

Again, Gueranger:

The word of God is unmistakable: unless we do penance, we shall perish (Luke 13:3). But if our ease-loving and sensual generation were to return, like the Ninivites, to the long-neglected way of penance and expiation, who knows but that the arm of God, which is already raised to strike us, may give us blessing and not chastisement? 

A good point, and one reinforced by today's Lesson from Joel 2: 12-19:

12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

13 So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.

14 Who knows if He will turn and relent,
And leave a blessing behind Him—
A grain offering and a drink offering
For the Lord your God?

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;

16 Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.

17 Let the priests, who minister to the Lord,
Weep between the porch and the altar;
Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord,
And do not give Your heritage to reproach,
That the nations should rule over them.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

18 Then the Lord will be zealous for His land,
And pity His people.

19 The Lord will answer and say to His people,
“Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil,
And you will be satisfied by them;

I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.

17 February 2015

One Last Pre-Lenten Post: Wild Speculation on ISIS and the Bishop in White

Greetings at the end of Shrove Tuesday, after the beautiful Solemn Mass marking the end of the Forty Hours at the Oratory.

One more post before I reform.

Recall the other day, on the second anniversary of the abdication of Pope Benedict, I quoted from a take of mine from that time, concerning Cardinal Burke? Well, with today's ISIS news-- the martyrdom of so many Christians and Italian fears of invasion following the infidels' declared intent to destroy Rome-- I want to quote from that same post of two years ago. Admittedly it constitutes naked speculation, but hey, read it and think of it what you will:

3. Is Pope Benedict XVI-- or should I say His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pontiff Emeritus-- the famous Bishop in White? It would explain an apparent awkwardness in the words of the visionary Sr. Lucia, who describes a Bishop dressed in white, who the children had the impression was the Holy Father. When I first read these words long ago, I thought them a needless nicety-- an unnecessary qualification. Now, of course, they take on an intriguing aspect, since we are informed that the Pontiff Emeritus will continue to wear white.

Why, if he will be retired from the view of the world, was it thought necessary to make an announcement of his attire?

Of course, it may be coincidental. And I do not prophesy. Yet I could consider a plausible future situation where another country, or the International Criminal Court, or the UN, seeks to prosecute Pope Benedict for some charge, real or imagined. Perhaps the new Pope, asserting the sovereignty of the Vatican City State, refuses to yield him up to the Church's enemies. Perhaps the "international community" reacts by attacking the Vatican, and you just might see:

...a Bishop dressed in White 'we had the impression it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.

4. What follows is a prophecy, I guess, but it is not mine. I pass it along in light of Fatima and the speculation of number 3, above. The Fatima Crusader interviewed some time back Fr. Paul Kramer, who has published his own take on Fatima on a number of occasions. I do not write this to endorse any view of Fr. Kramer-- anyone can do their own vetting of him and how he or Fr. Gruner are viewed by officials in the hierarchy. I include an excerpt of this interview only for what he claims a 20th Century stigmatist predicted about the consecration of Russia:

FC: So, whoever this hunted Pope is, Benedict or some other Pope, it will not be he who consecrates Russia, in your view?

Father Kramer: On this point I would refer to the testimony of the Roman stigmatist, Antonio Ruffini. Pope Pius XII authorized the blessing of a chapel on the spot where Ruffini received the stigmata on the Via Appia, and Father Tomaselli, the miracle worker, wrote a booklet about him ---- a short account of the life of Ruffini. I myself knew Ruffini for many years. In the early 1990s Ruffini was asked point blank in his home: "Is John Paul II the Pope who is going to do the Consecration of Russia?" He answered: "No, it's not John Paul. It will not be his immediate successor either, but the one after that. He is the one who will consecrate Russia." That is, Benedict's successor, during this time of world war and persecution of the Church, will be the one to do the Consecration at long last and then the restoration and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart will begin.

This is the kind of stuff that could keep you up at night, if you let it. So, if it bothers you, don't read too much into it and don't spend time unwinding the thread you could pull. We do know what Mary asked of us lay Catholics: pray the Rosary, make the reparation of the Five First Saturdays.