Servus Fidelis ~ The Faithful Servant

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam ~ For the Greater Glory of God

Sorry for my short break in blogging

I’ve been working on revamping an old news website: News for Catholics. It has a feature where you can write a post/opinion piece or article and submit on the site as an editorial. It will appear in posts and in the editorial tab where people can discuss the post. It also has many links to news and opinion pieces from the secular news to Cathoic news and blogs etc. Id be interested in your feedback: what could make it better, what you like, what you don’t like etc. Let me know.

Did Christ Establish a Church with an Expiration Date?

LAST supper

There is a popular and recurrent theme amongst many non-Catholic Christians that the promises given to Peter and Christ’s gift to him of the keys (to bind and loose), is not indicative of an office per se but a one time gift to Peter and that when Peter died so did the keys vanish with him. Likewise, using the same logic, the powers given to the Apostles after Christ breathed on them and gave them the power to forgive sins was also buried with them at their deaths. Thereby, any Christian Church is no better than any other as nobody has a special gift of the Holy Spirit to lead them to all truths. It died when the apostles died and its a great way to avoid any notion of there being any reliable and lasting authority in the practice and teaching of Christianity no matter the claims.

I like to be logical about these things so here is what bothers me about such notions.

If that is the case then all churches have become corrupted in their belief, teachings and their practices; as fallen creatures, men have a habit of doing that. There is thereby no inerrant authority to pronounce on a doctrine and there is no authority to stop the next generation from altering or actually opposing what was taught previously. There is neither a way to evaluate one church against another nor the changes that are on-going that may and do overturn previous teaching. It is simply ‘growth’ and ‘development’ due to the times and each church has a right to do as it sees fit. Even if people sit up and claim that they are not syncretists or believers in relativism it is all that is left unless an authority is still alive and working in this world.

If we believe that Christ sent us the Holy Spirit to dwell in the Church and to lead it to all Truth then Christ let us down or the Holy Spirit decided to lead a large variety of separate beliefs even though they hold contrary doctrines and teachings. That would make the Holy Spirit capable of blessing the notion that 2+2=4 in one church and 2+2=5 in another church or any other novel answer that a church might come up with. Now that kind of authority is not authority at all but permissiveness which claims that error is on a par with truth. And I doubt that is what Christ had in mind when He said that He would not leave us as orphans; can it really mean that he’ll support whatever anybody wants to believe in their own version of Christianity?

Sadly, if these gifts died with the Apostles, then the Nicene Creed and the Canon of Scripture were simply unauthorized man-made decisions that have no actual authority to compel one to believe them. And if we do somehow believe these for some personal reason, there is no authoritative reason that each of us should understand and interpret their meaning in the same way. A free for all ensues religiously and we are really no better off than the personal preferences that the pagans had for the gods of their choice. We are free to do as we like and nobody is right and nobody is wrong. Its only defensible in as good as are the apologists of each particular church or individual if they think that a personal belief, without a church, is all that is needed. In fact, if the church has no authority, then these people without a church are the most honest of all Christians.

Furthermore, is there then an expiration date on the necessity of Baptism, or of Belief and is it enough to say that God is Love and Mercy and that nobody will suffer loss and that all will find heavenly beatitude? For we can refer to Scripture and interpret our new form of Christianity based upon our personal preferences. For me; I think I very much like the idea that we all go to heaven and nobody will suffer. But others are free to make up their own minds and who is to say that they are wrong. Certainly not an authority that had a very short expiration date which died with the apostles. So, Who am I to judge?

It is very alluring to think that because we hold certain truths in common that the churches are basically the same. And without a clear authority that is the only conclusion one could rationally come up with if we are to believe that Christianity is not a hoax even though Christ did renege on His promises to the apostles and to the Church He founded.

So I chose the Catholic Church and think that it is still the Church that continues to have the authority that was vested in Peter and the apostles. For if it no longer exists then Christianity in my mind no longer is believable and is totally devoid of any veracity that it may once have had. In fact it is proven logically to have been a sham.

Thank God, however, the dogmas and teachings of the Catholic faith are never overturned and continue to operate from their inclusion into our body of faith, until the end of time as we know it. We do not one day wake up and decide that contraception is now OK, or that same sex marriage is now acceptable. We argue these issues and there are some who would love to change our teachings; but alas, they can’t. It is the protection of the authoritative nature that I would have expected the Church founded by Christ to have built into Her very DNA. And that is why I am Catholic. For without this assurance I am not sure that I would believe anything at all.

The Novus Ordo Liturgy: of the world, by the world and for the world

encyclicals-piusxiib

Annibale Bugnini (a suspected freemason) with the approval of Pope Paul VI, reformed and presented the Church with a new liturgy whose rubrics (directions) were so minimal and loose that it allowed for experimentation. This left the door open for the emergence of an egalitarian and social justice element to flourish within the Church. And now after 50 years of experimentation we have a novel (and very fluid) liturgy which aligns itself more with the spirit of ecclesial anarchy than it does with the obedience to faith: no two Masses need ever be the same . . . each can and probably will be unique to the parish and the priest who celebrates the Mass. What the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, (the Eucharistic Feast, understood as the Source and Summit of our entire faith), had been, is now in most instances unrecognizable. We have a largely manufactured Mass for the first time in our history (with only the slightest pretense of organic development from the previous liturgies) and what it has quickly morphed into over the last 50 years would be difficult to defend . . . even by Pope Paul VI. But we can find myriads of defenses for everything that is contained therein even though it was never promulgated as we now experience it. Every aberration is fervently defended or conveniently overlooked in an effort to explain away the obvious loss of virility, vitality and effectiveness that once was the Catholic’s mainstay and fortress of the faith. It proves difficult to approve, accept and support many of these ‘popular changes’ on an intellectual or even a spiritual basis as there is no Ecclesial approval or mandate for them. And yet these same novelties are the hill upon which many a Catholic would choose to die. We must remind ourselves that legitimacy (validity is not being questioned) is not the same as good taste or a reverent treatment of what is purportedly Holy: a baptism performed by a clown with a squirt gun could be valid but certainly irreverent and severely lacking of the dignity that the sacrament deserves.

This most sublime and essential element of the Faith and well-being of the Catholic Church as well as the spiritual development of each individual has been put to the test for many a worldly desire. And the promoters of these changes are often those who are not in a true sense Catholic as many reject much of the Church’s defined teachings. in extreme cases there are even those who are desirous to destroy the faith as we have known it. These same destructive forces have gained increasing strength whilst the faithful have become weak; some losing their faith entirely. Many faithful Catholics are also disillusioned and are quickly falling into a malaise of sorts; feeling utterly helpless, hopeless and impotent in their inadequate efforts to confront the leadership (or lack thereof) to restore what is rightfully theirs by Canon Law. For it is the progressive activists who claim leadership roles in many dioceses’ and seem to think it is more important that their vision of the New and better Church is superior than that which the Holy Spirit guides to its appointed end. They believe that their goal is inspired by the Holy Spirit and should be more properly accepted and valued within both the collective social and religious movements of the world. Thereby they readily utilize many secular ideals which arose from the social justice and social activism prevalent in our day; at the peril of the real Gospel. These activists claim victimhood (as they make claim that they are disenfranchised) and desire to lead the Church into a new Springtime. This secular influence seems rooted in our worldly notions of egalitarianism . . . the new unassailable, undeclared doctrine to which every practice and belief must now bow lest it be sacrificed upon the altar of inclusiveness, tolerance to sin and the principles of secular social justice and attendant ideologies. Sadly, many well-meaning Catholics, who simply wish to follow the Church have fallen for their activism and march in-step with these facilitators for a reformed Church.

To listen to the defenders of the Novus Ordo is to hear that we are overly attached to this little thing or that little thing and that each change is simply a personal preference and is of no real importance: these are just window dressing; and the people seem to like these changes. They will then tell you that the centrality of the Eucharist, to which we fully assent, is the most important part of the Mass and that these little things are not important enough to be of any consequence. That would be true if these small things did not jeopardize and weaken our beliefs and redirect our minds from Christ to the world; thus we are being cajoled and led toward more important issues; chief amongst them is heresy and apostasy which can be seen quite openly amongst many of our laity today. Our self-serving attitudes have allowed many to pick and choose (by their own ‘inner light’) what they wish to hold as beliefs that must be accepted. Same sex marriage and contraception are two such teachings that are routinely rejected by the ‘faithful’ within this new Church brought up and fed by the Novus Ordo Rite.

So where are the rubrics for the Novus Ordo coming from or do they even exist? Nobody in Rome said to say Mass ad populum, nor did they say to stop saying Mass in Latin or to purge the music of Gregorian and sacred polyphony . . . quite the opposite. No one ordered the altar rails removed, the kneelers removed or the tabernacle veil to be removed. Who said that we ‘must’ offer Communion under both kinds? The Vatican II documents said that it was a more complete sign but did not make it a rule. Nobody wrote a rubric that said it is now OK to speak before, during and after Mass or to clap for the choirs latest rendition of Lord of the Dance. Though the Vatican did say that they could find no reason to prevent girls from serving at the altar (done while Pope Saint John Paul II was recovering in the hospital from a broken hip) there is no mandate to allow them to do such. Extraordinary ministers and lectors were not forced upon us by Rome  but they showed up anyway: first as men, then as women. Who started the holding of hands for the Our Father? Who started the people raising their hands like priests to bless things and at the epiclesis etc.? Thank God a bishop in Coventry, KY put a stop to this within his diocese; the first one as far as I know. See this link: http://www.praytellblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2011-Pastoral-Letter-with-Decree-Bulletin-Insert.pdf  Why is it that most parishes only teach the children and the converts to receive in their hands when this method of reception is only an indult and not the ordinary method of reception? It seems that the activists and the compliant priests and theologians have foisted these changes upon us. Is that really how the development of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is supposed to be done; by the people who attend or those who are the celebrants?

I know, I know . . . little things . . . nothing to see here. A hand full of dirt from enough people will create a mountain or turn a mountain into a plain. The lines, once clear and distinct, between the priest and the people has almost disappeared. A blurring of the roles between the priest and the laity is so complete that women think they should be able to be priestesses. We commune ourselves from the consecrated chalice . . . once the private reserve of the priest with His consecrated hands (of no importance now) and the Altar Boys who assisted him with great reverence. We commune ourselves with the Eucharistic bread placed in our hands as though we are worthy to ‘take’ communion rather than to ‘receive’ communion because Christ has deigned to invite us sinners (absolved from serious sin) to this Heavenly Banquet. The polls show that all these little things have amounted to a laity that largely does not believe in the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation and a large number think it only symbolic. It is no longer a privilege to receive the Blessed Body and Blood of our Lord but a right and an entitlement: reminiscent to what charity to the poor has become once the secular world took over the ministry of ‘helping’ the poor . . . who’s misery index has risen ever since. And the retreat from saying the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ad orientem has reinforced the laities inclination to see themselves as the center of attention rather than Our Lord. Is there any wonder why we no longer recognize the Kingship of Christ and never hesitate to heap laud and honor upon ourselves?

The use of inclusive language and the egalitarian push for equal roles for women in the Church was only the beginning. We are already beginning to see that we will be invaded by every self-proclaimed ‘victim’ group who wants to cry foul. Many men now feel that there is no place for them in the Novus Ordo Mass and it is why they have largely abandoned the pews for the football games on Sunday. If the women are now able to be ushers, lectors, extraordinary ministers and such then men are not going to participate in this coed Rite; for men respond to needs, duty, honor and the like. That is the clarion call for men . . . not to ‘participate’ as a cheerleader for the equality of women as in a social experiment. The altar boys will take after their dads and feel no obligation to serve at Mass unless the parish makes it a requirement to get Confirmed; and after Confirmation they will stay at home with dad and watch football. Gone are the old, cherished and manly Knights of the Altar as founded by St. John Bosco. However, there is a new guild of Our Lady’s Knights of the Altar which was begun by Cardinal Burke in 2008 and it is spreading. But without the support of a traditional Latin Mass which has strict controls on the ‘little things’ within the rubrics it will not be enough for the faith to return nor will there be a draw for men and the boys who might want to consider a vocation to the priesthood or to a religious order. The manliness, prestige, honor and duty of such a life is quickly disappearing. See the following article for a deeper discussion of this: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-devirilization-of-liturgy-in-novus.html   We can say all the prayers we want at Mass for priestly vocations and they will not produce fruit unless one actually provides an avenue that attracts young men to serve in such a lofty role. But then again, if we can’t get boys who want to be priests there are plenty of feminist activists who are eager to oblige and are praying for the men and boys to flee. And if you look at things from their modernist, progressivist, activist position . . . it all makes complete sense in its own diabolical way. The Church has largely stopped dictating Her morality and teachings to the world and now it is the intention of these novelty seekers to dictate their activist ideology within the Church. We once received the worldly to transform them in Christ and now it seems that the world, having entered our house, is transforming us.

Does the Old Testament Matter?

OTNT

Did God create a covenant with the Jews and did He found a church and make of the Jewish People the Chosen Ones or not? If not, then the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses is a fairy tale and the Decalogue a mere fabrication without any meaning at all. It makes no difference to you that God brought the Israelites out of Egypt or that God instituted a hierarchy and a priesthood and led them through the wilderness of this world to a land of milk and honey. Are you sure you wish to throw out the prophets and the psalms of David and the foreshadowing or models of the reformed Church and the NT practices that Christ instituted and commissioned in His own Blood? It is still the work of God and it is the nature of revelation that it should unfold and blossom. Every blossom of beauty starts with a seed; God’s words are not without significance in any age. His instructions are not arbitrarily dismissed until or unless God makes the change and abrogates one practice for another. Let us also not confuse the Law and the law. The small letter law seems to be more like what we call practice; which should reflect the Laws of God and bring them to life in the living of the people from day to day.

Without an understanding of the richness of the OT you will never have a proper understanding of the NT. All of the new testament reiterates and quotes passages from the old. You can hardly read a single book in the NT that does not do this and note that they speak with great honor and respect for what their God has done for them. You would throw out all that which is not in keeping with modern evolution of thought or all that is not based in a mere historical record by men. Your faith would be impoverished by its lack of understanding of the development of Christianity whose roots go back to prehistoric times.

Was Christ wrong to follow the Law of the Jews?  There is no escaping His Jewishness. He did not come to change a jot or a tittle of the Law and yet He did throw out the extraneous dross that had built up within the faith and abrogated many practices (the law) which were no longer appropriate. He interpreted the OT so that it is understandable and thus the OT sheds light on Christ and lives its history in expectation of His arrival.

Parsing the works of God is an impoverished faith without roots and without meaning; and it misses much of the workings of the One True God . . . as in a world bereft of the OT, He is a God that cannot get things right and makes mistakes and does not meet the modern enlightened thoughts of men of our enlightened times.

God to the modern enlightened and moral superior age that we live in, is cruel and unforgiving and violent and yet there is another way of reading the OT. Is there anything more beautiful than the Song of Songs or anything worth gaining from a reading of the Psalms and Proverbs or the book of Wisdom? Is the history of the maturation and corruption by men of God’s Church not a lesson worth studying and learning from? It is a totality that cannot be avoided. It is like chucking your grandparents from your family tree because you are of a different age and understanding of things than they were.

Headlines: God makes a big mistake and tells the Jewish people that He will be their God and that they will be His people. Since we think that the OT is not befitting our New God then He must not be an omniscient God since He makes such fundamental moral, ethical and judgmental errors . . . and so why should you or anyone else accept Him today if He was capable of such big and obvious blunders in the past?

Perhaps more time should be spent looking for the themes (the seeds) of our modern faith and the patience and love God endured on our behalf until such time that He felt that mankind was ready to hear the Word of God in the flesh and complete His plan for our salvation. Give thanks to God for the whole journey of humanity as it was necessary or it would not have occured.

And as to our own sinfulness and disobedience: O happy fault. For it gave to us a most remarkable Redeemer.

What is the Church preoccupied with today?

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The answer seems to be social issues, economic issues and moral issues in relation to the current socio-political agendas. The clarion call is for helping the poor (always of interest to Christians), redistribution of wealth to the poor (not charitable alms, but forced by the state), normalizing sexual taboos (fornication, adultery, homosexuality, same sex marriage, contraception, abortion and the like) and now, of all things, man-made global warming.

The politicians have long used the Christian majority in the US as a means to an end by appealing to our sense of charity and justice. They have tried to make a moral argument for the poor or the less fortunate by theorizing, no matter how blatantly false their reasonings might be, that their policy, programs, laws or regulations will benefit those who are oppressed. Of course every group that is being oppressed is not them . . . as they seem to be thriving; both economically and in terms of special privilege; especially exemptions from their own laws and regulations. So the politicians have made their arguments for socialist governance and Marxist economics as an instrument of equalization which will benefit the down trodden: and whatever group that they are speaking to are, of course, the unfortunates that will be helped by some governmental ‘fix’ for the problem. As always they are quick to point out that their political opponents are responsible for the sufferings and inequality of the prospective voter.

The poor or the disenfranchised are all the talk as is multiculturalism, lifestyle choices, open borders and immigration. It is reflected in everything. To hear them speak, the enemies of the people are the rich, the white Western European men, polluters of all kinds, enforcers of the law, business owners, Christian moralists, gun-toting patriots and all who think that the government should get out of the way so that we might simply work, live our respective lives and prosper or fail. But failure is now being taught to be unacceptable in our society and the redefined role of the government is to get as many people as possible to rely upon the them (through the taxes taken from ordinary working stiffs) to give them food, clothing, shelter and more and more discretionary spending money. In other words we are a bank that hands out loans without being paid back and in fact gives everyone a bigger loan each year to cover inflation and other ‘necessities’ in life.

Now oddly there seems to be a partnership developing of strange bedfellows; the Church and the State. It seems that the Church has been wooed, cajoled or convinced that the governments of the Western World really do have the best interest of the people in mind and and not simply garnering votes to feed their own elitist aggrandizement.

Let’s take a look at what is on the mind of the Church these days.

The Catholic Church has helped Obama in lifting restrictions and sanctions from Communist Cuba. The USCCB and the Vatican are favoring amnesty to illegal trespassers into the US and putting them on the dole and giving them the right to vote. Since when did the Church take a stance against democratically established laws of a nation if they are just?

The Pope’s first encyclical seemed to many as a critical attack on capitalism. Many Christians are clamoring for an increase in the minimum wage, increasing ‘entitlements’ (formerly a charitable gift of welfare checks) for the poor like food stamps and EBT cards that can be traded for anything they want. . . in other words, redistribution of wealth. Most  Christians support the government on issues such as raising taxes on corporations and the rich and stifling regulations on businesses and communities under the guise of the man-made global warming hoax. Each of these will eliminate jobs or force businesses to close down costing a loss of the very jobs that we say are needed for the same people the advocates say they are trying to help.

The most often spoken message from our Pope concerns the poor which is a message that has been with us from the beginning and nothing new. We have been doing our part to help the poor for over 2000 years . . . and without state welfare and entitlements. In the Western world today however, the poor have never been richer or more privileged as they are today. We live twice as long as we did a century ago and that age keeps increasing. We have better access to medicine, to good food, to amenities like cars, electric lights, indoor plumbing, and air conditioning that even the very rich of 200 years ago could not even have dreamt. But, in the West, those on the extremities (below our arbitrary poverty line) are usually there because of choices which they made in life; most importantly to have children out of wedlock and to throw away their opportunity of a free public education even though it was provided at the expense of the government (the tax payers).

What is the strangest in all of this is not only the synergy of each of these things to actually hurt the people they claim to want to help but also the negative effect each of these will have to the nuclear family. The moral issues such as adultery, fornication, abortion etc. all are anti-family as are these new ‘alternative lifestyles’ and the attempt to normalize them. The higher minimum wages only encourage people to remain in a starter job meant for high school students and retired folks. The same is true of the ‘entitlement’ culture which has destroyed any desire that the poor might possess to actually learn a skill and work for a living. Opening the borders will create an even larger class of poor who are seeking employment where there are many times as many people as there are jobs. So we will put them on the welfare roles and grow the ranks of the people that our tax payers and businesses must support. Businesses can’t grow and new businesses will have too many regulations and taxes facing them to grow faster than the welfare roles. What you are doing is effectively bolstering every problem we face and making sure that the nuclear family as we once knew it will ever return . . . at least not among the welfare roles.

Newsflash for the Church and other Christians who think they are supporting a righteous and good cause: as soon as they are finished using you for your votes and your support, they will sell you and your faith for a song. They have no need of you anymore and you will never fit into their end game. In fact, if you think the war on Christianity is bad, you haven’t even seen a glimmer of the real war that will certainly come against us like a firestorm. The frustration and the hatred that has been stirred up among the classes, races, and genders will eventually explode into violence on a large scale. What is going on with the black communities, stirred up by professional anarchists backed by left wing or Marxists groups are only looking for an excuse to riot, burn and destroy the system. The ultra rich will not worry but the moderately well off folks might start thinking about leaving before the anarchists use them for target practice.

Thank you, Christian and Jewish leaders, socialists and Marxists everywhere (yes the new Marxist Democratic party mostly) for this Brave New World. You will have to be pretty darn brave to live in it the way things are going

A Relevant Church?

liturgical dance

The musty old Church of the Catholic Christians has been called judgmental and misogynistic; so we have made ourselves welcoming to the roles of women and non-judgmental to lifestyles and tolerant of all the new confusing genders that have recently been invented. Since families did not want to come and hear condemnations of their behavior which seemingly judge them personally, making them feel guilty for things such as abortion, contraception or abnormal sinful behavior; we now apply every Bible verse to the relevant topic of being more loving and forgiving of one another. So now we’re called the Church of Nice and so we strive to be. We are nice and we are Church. Why then are so many people leaving this improved version of Christianity? Have we not made enough changes? Is it because we aren’t being nice enough to those who want to have homosexual marriages in the Church or divorced and remarried couples receiving Communion; though only a small minority really believes it to be the Body and Blood of Christ anymore? Perhaps we could be more accommodating . . . by continuing to do more of what hasn’t worked so far.

Christ has been made to be a spiritual Santa Clause of love and forgiveness Who demands nothing to fill our stockings yet nobody believes in Santa anymore. We annul nearly every prior marriage and will forgive any sin in the Sacrament of Penance and nobody wants to go. We have inclusive language and have increased the roles of women but now the men do not even darken the doors of their local parish. We have liturgical dance, folk songs, and tunes with a good beat to engage the young men and women but once they are confirmed into the Church they stay home with dad. Indeed, what is the problem? Can’t you see how the Church has become relevant and concerned with the big issues such as global warming, feeding the poor and social justice? What can we do that would attract more of you to attend: bingo, dances, movies, clowns, sing-a-longs, or maybe a free lunch or breakfast? It must be that we have not changed enough and have not yet rid ourself enough from our old image of rigidity and being too judgmental: but we are told every week how much we have changed and how much more we must change in order to be the pastures where the sheep wish to graze.

I’m afraid that we can’t compete with the secular world in distributing worldly treasures. We keep trying to out give them, to out love them and to show everyone that we are even more tolerant than the world. It is a fool’s errand that we are on. The attraction of things of this world is not what converts hearts and makes good Christians. Making people feel special and stroking their egos is not going to help them strip away a life of self-loving for a life of self-giving. Had it been that simple, we would now have record numbers of Catholics and the whole world would have changed. I’m afraid that what makes a Christian a Christian is the awakening of a small inner voice that condemns them in their sins or that leaves them feeling empty with all the treasures that the world has offered and given them. It is the Faith of our Fathers and the Pearl of Great Price that makes men want to strive to earn it and children to desire it and women to fall in love with it. This is the gift of Christ that cannot be matched by any worldly goods and is being ignored by the teachers of the faith and destroyed by the lover’s of this world. If it isn’t in-season in this world, they won’t preach or teach it and therefore it is not being done. And so, as Scripture tells us, they will “strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” Pray the leaders of our Church recognize the problem before only a small remnant remains.

Pleasing and Displeasing to God

Theology, besides delving into the nature of God, is responsible for mapping human action and thought into categories and understandings of what is pleasing and displeasing to our Creator. It comprises moral theology as well as certain principles that are good and encouraged and other principles which are bad and to be discouraged.

I became a member of the Catholic Church after I was drawn to Her, not by theology but by spirituality; the spirituality of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. It was through them that I found that I was bound, as were they, by good and holy theology, dogma and practice. Otherwise, as they attested, their pursuits in prayer might lead to dangerous errors and the loss of their souls. For that reason, Teresa of Avila preferred as spiritual directors, the recently formed Jesuits who were both strong in spiritual mental prayer (or contemplative prayer) and in theology which they studied rather arduously. It was therefore a necessary burden to expose myself to theology in order to rightly pursue my spirituality. I became a teacher of the faith, and defender of the faith, not because I liked it but because I now understood its usefulness; nay, its necessity. Correct theology is the handmaid of a sound spirituality. You won’t get the latter until you either understand the former or have a spiritual director who does.

Theology has provided us with dogmas (that which must be accepted) as an aid to our salvation. Likewise it has provided us with the practices that enhance and bring to life these beliefs which we must hold. In the moral realm it tells us that which is serious sin as well as that which is immensely pleasing to God; the do’s and don’ts. It also, in many instances, gives us the background and reasons for doing certain things and avoiding certain things. To latch on to the do’s and reject the don’ts is as harmful as accepting the don’ts and rejecting the do’s. Both are there for our aid.

So the Church uses theology and practice to make our spiritual lives simpler and our decisions in life consonant with that which pleases God. It is not, therefore, the purpose of the Church to introduce confusion among us as to what is right or wrong, good or bad, laudable and despicable. It is to instill within us a means to acquire joy, love, reverence, honor, solemnity and peace. If these are not being produced or if they are being reduced to one or two of these then something is missing or something has become corrupt.

Therefore, theology spawns rules, rubrics and instructions for our devout practice and the devout practice of our priests who celebrate certain rites in the Church for our spiritual benefit. Often these are seen as an outward sign of reverence or symbolic action which might move us to understand a deeper or more hidden theological truth that anyone might intuit without the use of reason or intellect. The rites themselves were developed and refined by theological thought and not only serve to worship God but to instruct us, theologically as well. If a rite is done well both God and man are edified by the reality and the experience and when it is not, neither is God nor man. If we only participate externally without being fully involved spiritually then something is not right.

The rites are God centered, spiritually based expressions which should be understood as such. If they are turned into an expression of human dimension such as social justice or equality then we might be better off going to a secular humanist march for such things in our own public squares. There are times for social justice teachings but if this is what you are getting from Liturgy or religious rites meant to praise and worship God then we are being misdirected from our end.

It is the job of everyone who has come to understand their purpose and aim in this life (to be forever happy with God in the next life) and the fundamental principles that Mother Church teaches to get us there, to keep a constant vigil on laxity of expression, word or deed. Just as broken families followed divorce or abortion followed contraception, large consequences usually follow from small beginnings. No one is exempt from scrutiny. Everyone is charged to live our faith and teach the faith by our acts. If your priest does not genuflect when consecrating the host or chalice then you need to ask him why he isn’t. If people are chatting and laughing during the Mass then you need to ask them to stop. Liturgy is not entertainment anymore than it is a platform for social commentary. It is the Sacrifice of Christ to be applied to our souls. If you come away with some other message then the Rite of Mass failed you and the Church has failed to provide you with what She is bound to do.

Thereby, we are all called to defend the teachings of the Church to the best of our ability. We are to condemn practices that weaken or confuse our understanding of theology and rob us of our God-given right to both a theological and spiritual expression of worship that edifies both God and our spirit. Orthodoxy (or right thinking) is to always be aimed at as you cannot pray or worship as you ought without it. In a seamless garment you cannot pull on one thread or clip it from the garment as you will likely end up with nothing but a pile of thread which is good for nothing. Should I feel shame that I deprive others of bread and circuses in the Church? Let them get such from Caesar but not from the hands of our priests at Mass. Can we not watch with Him for even 1 hour? Have we fallen asleep again?

Padre Pio: on spirituality, Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Missae

By Fr. Jean, OFMcap and printed originally in the May 1999 issue of The Angelus magazine.

Padre Pio (May 25, 1887 – September 23, 1968) was beatified on May 2, 1999, by Pope John Paul II. He is the only priest known to have received the full stigmata. He never celebrated the Novus Ordo Missae.

The final year of this dying, decaying century will see the beatification of Padre Pio, the holy monk whom God sent as a sign for our age. For, while everyone wants to make us believe in a new “charismatic” Church, strangely we do not find there any wonderworking saints like the ones we meet throughout the Church’s history starting with Pentecost. Padre Pio seems to close the procession of their number, doing so magnificently, being the only priest to have borne the stigmata of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Much has been written about Padre Pio — more than 600 works, it seems — and the authors always stress the extraordinary side of his life: not only his particular charisms (reading souls, healing, raising people from the dead, bilocating, ecstasies, exuding perfume, prophesying, etc.), but also the incredible sufferings which he endured from his earliest childhood, the persecutions undergone from some churchmen and even brothers in religion, as well as his two great charitable works: the founding of the House of Suffering, and prayer groups.

In short, they present him to us as a “saint” more to be admired than imitated, so that, ultimately, we miss the most interesting lessons to be learned from this life, and the practical applications that could transform our own. We shall try, therefore, however imperfectly, to set forth a few of these lessons, hoping that we shall all be able to profit from them, and that the Padre, from high heaven, will himself succor us, as he has promised to all those who would like to become his “spiritual children.”

At the dawn of this life totally sacrificed to God and to souls, there is to be found a pious, poor and numerous family, where the abnegation of each member softens and transforms the harsh realities of daily life. Here we see confirmed the saying of Bishop de Segur that it is in families where the spirit of sacrifice is lacking that vocations are most at risk. Baptized the day after his birth —  a grace for which he was grateful all his life — Padre Pio was christened Francesco, presage of his Franciscan vocation, which was to be discovered on the occasion of a visit from a Capuchin monk begging food for the convent. Even so, his vocation was not decided without struggle:

I felt two forces clashing within me, tearing my heart: the world wanted me for itself, and God called me to a new life.  It would be impossible to describe this martyrdom. The mere memory of the battle that took place within me freezes the very blood in my veins…

He was not yet 16 years old when he entered the novitiate. Above the door of the cloister, as a welcome, he read the sign: “Do penance or perish.” The daily rule of life included very many prayers, enough work, and little reading, being restricted especially to the study of the Rule and the Constitutions.

Brother Pio made himself conspicuous by the abundance of the tears he shed during the morning period of mental prayer, which in Capuchin houses is consecrated to the meditation of the Passion; tears so abundant that it was necessary to spread a towel in front of him on the floor of the choir. As with St. Francis, it was to this loving and compassionate contemplation of Jesus crucified that he was to owe the grace to receive later on the painful stigmata in his body. Even so, as he confided to his spiritual director, Fr. Agostino: “In comparison to what I suffer in my flesh, the spiritual combats that I endure are much worse.”

Atoning for sinners: interior trials

It would seem that God expects the just to expiate in a special way, by means of temptation, the public sins of their contemporaries. At a time when psychoanalysis, with its knack for explaining away guilt and sin, was gaining sway, Padre Pio — like the little Theresa — had to undergo an almost unbearable crisis of scruples, which tormented him for three long years. Then after the storm came the night, a night of the soul which lasted for dozens of years, with only occasional glimmers of light:

I live in a perpetual night… I find myself troubled by everything, and I do not know if I act well or ill. I can see that it is not a scruple: but the doubt I feel about whether or not I am pleasing the Lord crushes me. And this anxiety recurs to me everywhere: at the altar, in the confessional, everywhere!

It is with the thought of his mystical experiences in mind that his maxims should be meditated:

Love is more beautiful in the company of fear, because it is in this way that it becomes stronger.

The more one loves God, the less one feels it!

St. Theresa of the Child Jesus opposed to the proud rationalism of her day the little way of spiritual childhood, but she also expiated it by terrible temptations against faith. Her cry, “I will believe!” is well known. Padre Pio also experience violent and prolonged temptations against faith, as his letters to Fr. Agostino testify:

Blasphemies cross my mind incessantly, and even more so false ideas, ideas of infidelity and unbelief. I feel my soul transfixed at every instant of my life, it kills me… My faith is upheld only by a constant effort of my will against every kind of human persuasion. My faith is only the fruit of the continual efforts that I exact of myself. And all of this, Father, is not something that happens a few times a day, but it is continuous… Father, how difficult it is to believe!

What precious lessons for us, should we, for example, be surprised at finding ourselves tempted to such a degree.

Spiritual director

Padre Pio overcame these terrible trials by following what had been taught him in the novitiate: perseverance in prayer, mortification of the senses, unshakable fidelity to the demands of one’s duty of state, and, finally, perfect obedience to the priest in charge of his soul. His painfully acquired experience allowed him to draw to himself souls desirous of perfection, and to be demanding.

To the souls he directed, he gave a five-point rule: weekly confession, daily communion and spiritual reading, examination of conscience each evening and mental prayer twice a day. As for the recitation of the rosary, it is so necessary it goes without saying….

Confession is the soul’s bath. You must go at least once a week. I do not want souls to stay away from confession more than a week. Even a clean and unoccupied room gathers dust; return after a week and you will see that it needs dusting again!

To those who declare themselves unworthy to receive holy Communion, he answers:

It is quite true, we are not worthy of such a gift. However, to approach the Blessed Sacrament in a state of mortal sin is one thing, and to be unworthy, quite another. All of us are unworthy, but it is He who invites us. It is He who desires it. Let us humble ourselves and receive Him with a heart contrite and full of love.

To another, who told him that the daily examination of conscience seemed useless, since his conscience showed him clearly at each action whether it was good or bad, he replied:

That is true enough. But every experienced merchant in this world not only keeps track throughout the day of whether he has lost or gained on each sale. In the evening, he does the bookkeeping for the day to determine what he should do on the morrow. It follows that it is indispensable to make a rigorous examination of conscience, brief but lucid, every night.

The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder… What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection.

When Padre Pio was condemned to not exercise any ministry, he spent his free time, not in reading newspapers — “the Devil’s gospel” — but in reading books of doctrine, history and spirituality. Despite this, he would still say: “One looks for God in books, but finds Him in prayer.”

His counsels for mental prayer are simple:

If you do not succeed in meditating well, do not give up doing your duty. If the distractions are numerous, do not be discouraged; do the meditation of patience, and you will still profit. Decide upon the length of your meditation, and do not leave your place before finishing, even if you have to be crucified… Why do you worry so much because you do not know how to meditate as you would like? Meditation is a means to attaining God, but it is not a goal in itself. Meditation aims at the love of God and neighbor. Love God with all your soul without reserve, and love your neighbor as yourself, and you will have accomplished half of your meditation.

The same holds for assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: it is more concerned with making acts (of contrition, faith, love…) than with intellectual reflections or considerations. To someone asking whether it is necessary to follow the Mass in a missal, Padre Pio answered that only the priest needs a missal. According to him, the best way to attend the Holy Sacrifice is by uniting oneself to the Virgin of Sorrows at the foot of the cross, in compassion and love. It is only in paradise, he assures his interlocutor, that we will learn of all the benefits that we received by assisting at holy Mass.

Padre Pio, who was so affable and pleasant in his relations with people, could become severe and inflexible when the honor of God was at stake, especially in church.

The whispering of the faithful would be authoritatively cut off by the Father, who would openly glare at anyone who failed to maintain a prayerful posture… If someone remained standing, even if it was because there were no places left in the pews, he would peremptorily invite him to kneel in order to participate worthily in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Not even an inattentive choirboy would be spared: “My child, if you want to go to hell, you don’t need my signature.”

The post-war fashions fell under the same censure:

Padre Pio, seated in his open confessional, all year round would ascertain that the women and girls who confessed to him were wearing skirts not too short. He would even cause tears to be shed when someone who had been waiting in line for hours would be turned away because of an offending hemline… Then some kind souls would step forward and offer help. In a corner, they would unsew the hem, or else lend the penitent a coat. Finally, sometimes the Father would allow the humiliated penitent to go to confession.

One day his spiritual director reproached him for his harsh conduct. He replied: “I could obey you, but each time it is Jesus who tells me how I am to deal with people.” His severe manner, then, was inspired from above, uniquely for the honor of God and the salvation of souls.

Women who satisfy their vanity in their dress can never put on the life of Jesus Christ; moreover they even lose the ornaments of their soul as soon as this idol enters into their heart.

And let no one reproach him for lack of charity:

I beg you not to criticize me by invoking charity, because the greatest charity is to deliver souls held fast by Satan in order to win them over to Christ.

Padre Pio and the Novus Ordo Missae

He was a model of respect and submission towards his religious and ecclesiastical superiors, especially during the time when he was persecuted. Nonetheless, he could not remain silent over a deviation that was baneful to the Church. Even before the end of the Council, in February 1965, someone announced to him that soon he would have to celebrate the Mass according to a new rite, ad experimentum, in the vernacular, which had been devised by a conciliar liturgical commission in order to respond to the aspirations of modern man. Immediately, even before seeing the text, he wrote to Paul VI to ask him to be dispensed from the liturgical experiment, and to be able to continue to celebrate the Mass of St. Pius V. When Cardinal Bacci came to see him in order to bring the authorization, Padre Pio let a complaint escape in the presence of the Pope’s messenger: “For pity sake, end the Council quickly.”

The same year, during the conciliar euphoria that was promising a new springtime to the Church, he confided to one of his spiritual sons: “In this time of darkness, let us pray. Let us do penance for the elect“; and especially for the one who has to be their shepherd here below: All his life, he immolated himself for the reigning pope, whose photograph was among the rare images that decorated his cell.

Renewal of religious life?

There are other scenes from his life that are full of meaning, for example, his reactions to the aggiornamento the religious orders concocted in the wake of Vatican II. (The citations here are taken from a book bearing an imprimatur):

In 1966, the Father General [of the Franciscans] came to Rome prior to the special Chapter on the Constitutions in order to ask Padre Pio for his prayers and benedictions. He met Padre Pio in the cloister. “Padre, I came to recommend to your prayers the special chapter for the new Constitutions…” He had scarcely gotten the words “special Chapter“…”new Constitutions” out of his mouth when Padre Pio made a violent gesture and cried out: “That is all nothing but destructive nonsense.” “But Padre, after all, there is the younger generation to take into account… the youth evolve after their own fashion… there are new demands…”  “The only thing missing is mind and heart, that’s all, understanding and love.” Then he proceeded to his cell, did a half-turn, and pointed his finger, saying: “We must not denature ourselves, we must not denature ourselves!  At the Lord’s judgment, St. Francis will not recognize us as his sons!

A year later, the same scene was repeated for the aggiornamento of the Capuchins:

One day, some confreres were discussing with the Father Definiteur General [The counselor or adviser to the general or provincial of a religious order —Ed.] the problems in the Order, when Padre Pio, taking a shocked attitude, cried out, with a distant look in his eye: “What in the world are you up to in Rome? What are you scheming? You even want to change the Rule of St. Francis!” The Definiteur replied: “Padre, changes are being proposed because the youth don’t want to have anything to do with the tonsure, the habit, bare feet….

Chase them out! Chase them out! What can you be saying? Is it they who are doing St. Francis a favor by taking the habit and following his way of life, or rather, isn’t it St. Francis who is offering them a great gift?

If we consider that Padre Pio was a veritable alter Christus, that his entire person, body and soul, was as perfectly conformed as possible to that of Jesus Christ, his stark refusal to accept the Novus Ordo and the aggiornamentoshould be for us a lesson to learn. It is also noteworthy that the good Lord desired to recall His faithful servant just before they were implacably imposed on the Church and the Capuchin Order. Noteworthy, too, is the fact that Katarina Tangari, one of Padre Pio’s most privileged spiritual daughters, so admirably supported the priests [of the SSPX] of Econe until her death, one year after the episcopal consecrations of 1988. [as was Don Francesco Putti, founder of the Disciples of the Cenacle and the international publication,SiSiNoNo].

Final lesson: Fatima

Padre Pio was even less obliging towards the prevailing social and political order, or rather, disorder (in 1966): “the confusion of ideas and the reign of thieves.” He prophesied that the Communists would come to power, “by surprise, without firing a shot… It will happen overnight.”

This should not surprise us, since the requests of our Lady of Fatima have not been listened to. He even told Bishop Piccinelli, that the red flag will fly over the Vatican, “but that will pass.” Here again, his conclusion rejoins that of the Queen of Prophets: “But in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” The means by which this prophesy will come to pass, we know: by the divine power; but it must be prompted by the two great powers in man’s hands: prayer and penance. This is the lesson which our Lady wanted to remind us of at the beginning of this century: God wants to save the world by devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and there is no problem, material or spiritual, national or international, that cannot be solved by the holy rosary and our sacrifices.

This is also the last lesson that Padre Pio wanted to leave us by his example, and especially by his “prayer groups,” which he established throughout the world. “He was never without a rosary, there was even one under his pillow. During the day he recited several dozens of rosaries.” A few hours before he died, as those around him urged him to speak a few more words, all he could say was: “Love the Blessed Virgin and make her loved. Always say the rosary!

The imminent elevation of Venerable Padre Pio is certainly going to arouse in many souls both curiosity and admiration. We could take advantage of the opportunity to remind them of these few lessons, if indeed we know how to put them into practice ourselves, in the merciful love of the Most Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Translation by Angelus Press of an article that appeared in the Letter to the Friends of St. Francis, publication of the Capuchin Fathers of St. Francis Monastery, Morgon, France, a traditional community which supports the work of Archbishop Lefebvre.

Cardinal Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) and Prophecy in 1976

Presently, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is meeting in Baltimore (thanks, KFD). Timothy Cardinal Dolan, outgoing President of the USCCB, on behalf of the Conference, welcomed Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio (essentially, the Holy Father’s “ambassador” to the U.S.), to deliver an address to the assembly yesterday evening. You can read the full text of Archbishop Vigano’s address here. It’s interesting.

Giovanni_Paolo_I_e_II

John Paul I and Cardinal Wojtyla, 1978

There’s a quote in the Nuncio’s address that caught my attention, given by Cardinal Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) in an address during the Eucharistic Congress in 1976 for the Bicentennial celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He said:

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think that the wide circle of the American Society, or the whole wide circle of the Christian Community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously…”

That was nearly forty years ago. We can continue to pretend that the world isn’t afflicted by something…. very dark…. We can continue to believe that the instant times are notdifferent than times before…. but JPII makes our denials seem all the more…. ridiculous.

We must become like barnacles and firmly attach ourselves to the Rock, lest we get swept away by rising tides. Jesus says that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Rock. He doesn’t say that all Christians will be saved. So long as we are the Rock, and the Rock is us, we are safe!

Patrick Buchanan: Papal Neutrality In The Culture War? – OpEd

Patrick Buchanan: Papal Neutrality In The Culture War? – OpEd

POPE FRANCIS

By Patrick J Buchanan — (November 14, 2013)

“Pope Francis doesn’t want cultural warriors; he doesn’t want ideologues,” said Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash.:

“The nuncio said the Holy Father wants bishops with pastoral sensitivity, shepherds who know the smell of the sheep.”

Bishop Cupich was conveying instructions the papal nuncio had delivered from Rome to guide U.S. bishops in choosing a new leader.

They chose Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., who has a master’s degree in social work, to succeed Archbishop Timothy Dolan whom Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times describes thus:

“[A] garrulous evangelist comfortable in front of a camera, [who] led the bishops in their high-profile confrontation with the Obama administration over a provision in the health care mandate that requires most employers to have insurance that covers contraceptives for employees.”

That mandate also requires employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations.

Yet here is further confirmation His Holiness seeks to move the Catholic Church to a stance of non-belligerence, if not neutrality, in the culture war for the soul of the West.

There is a small problem with neutrality. As Trotsky observed, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” For the church to absent itself from the culture war is to not to end that war, but to lose it.

What would that entail? Can we not already see?

In America, the family has disintegrated. Forty percent of working-class white children are born out of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanic children, and 73 percent of black children. Kids from broken homes are many times more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, join gangs, commit crimes, end up in prison, lose their souls, and produce yet another generation of lost souls.

Goodstein quotes the Holy Father as listing among the “most serious of the evils” today “youth unemployment.” And he calls upon Catholics not to be “obsessed” with abortion or same-sex marriage.

But is teenage unemployment really a graver moral evil than the slaughter of 3,500 unborn every day in a land we used to call “God’s Country”?

Papal encyclicals like Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno have much to teach about social justice in an industrial society.

But what is the special expertise of the church in coping with teenage unemployment? Has the Curia done good scholarly work on the economic impact of the minimum wage?

The cultural revolution preached by Marxist Antonio Gramsci is continuing its “long march” through the institutions of the West and succeeding where the violent revolutions of Lenin and Mao failed.

It is effecting a transvaluation of all values. And it is not interested in a truce with the church of Pope Francis, but a triumph over that church which it reviles as the great enemy in its struggle.

Indeed, after decades of culture war waged against Christianity, the Vatican might consider the state of the Faith.

Our civilization is being de-Christianized. Popular culture is a running sewer. Promiscuity and pornography are pandemic. In Europe, the churches empty out as the mosques fill up. In America, Bible reading and prayer are outlawed in schools, as Christian displays are purged from public squares. Officially, Christmas and Easter do not exist.

The pope, says Goodstein, refers to proselytizing as “solemn nonsense.” But to proselytize is to convert nonbelievers.

And when Christ admonished his apostles, “Go forth and teach all nations,” and ten of his twelve were martyred doing so, were they not engaged in the Church’s true commission — to bring souls to Christ.

Pope Francis comes out of the Jesuits.

Hence, one wonders: Did those legendary Jesuits like St. Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs make a mistake proselytizing and baptizing, when they could have been working on youth unemployment among the Mohawks?

An Italian atheist quotes the pope as saying, “Everyone has his own idea of good and evil,” and everyone should “follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them.”

Does this not reflect the moral relativism of Prince Hamlet when he said to Rosencrantz, “there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so?” Yet, is it not the church’s mission to differentiate good and evil and condemn the latter?

“Who am I to judge,” Pope Francis says of homosexuals.

Well, he is pope. And even the lowliest parish priest has to deliver moral judgments in a confessional.

“[S]ince he became pope,” writes Goodstein, Francis’ “approval numbers are skyrocketing. Even atheists are applauding.”

Especially the atheists, one imagines.

While Pope Francis has not altered any Catholic doctrines in his interviews and disquisitions, he is sowing seeds of confusion among the faithful, a high price to pay, even for “skyrocketing” poll numbers.

If memory serves, the Lord said, “Feed my sheep,” not “get the smell of the sheep.” And he did not mean soup kitchens, but more importantly the spiritual food essential for eternal life.

But then those were different Jesuits. And that was long ago.

via Patrick Buchanan: Papal Neutrality In The Culture War? – OpEd.

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A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you ... John 13:34

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