Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, May 20

The Priest and the Eternal Truths

ETERNAL LIFE

First Meditation - The Goal of all Priestly Aspirations


I.
Quomodo cantabimus canticum Domini in terra aliena?
"How shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land?"

The priest who does not aspire to heaven is for ever singing the Lord's songs in a strange land. For, every prayer I say, from the Mass to the final words of the Divine Office; all the Sacraments I receive and admin­ister, the matter I preach and teach, my very name "priest": everything about me speaks of eternal life. And this eternal life is my social justification, the only thing I represent in this world.

If it is not also my first aspiration; if I cannot honestly call it principium laetitiae meae, the source and well­spring of my rejoicing; if I neither think nor interest myself about it; shall I not deserve the epithet of hypo­crite?

II.
Shall I, a priest, or anyone else for that matter, ever find happiness on earth, that happiness which leads us all a dance like moths fluttering round a light? Is true happiness to be found in the enjoyment of any of the pleasures of body and mind which this world can give?

Pleasure has been attached by God to the exercise of certain natural functions necessary or useful to life, but it is not an end in itself; it is a stimulant lest these activities should be neglected, with consequent danger to our individual lives or to that of the human race. It is a condiment ensuring that we eat, etc. Earthly pleasure, then, not being the final purpose of any living being, cannot be ours either, nor our final destiny. All the more so since these pleasures are doomed to extinction to­gether with our terrestrial existence, whereas the, soul takes with it to eternity all its thirst for happiness and perfection.

What will my soul do when it has had its fill of empty vanities here below and is left hungering, but fly to God, its only Good, in search of real sustenance?

III.
Our Divine Lord never spoke to us in terms of tem­poral satisfactions, nor did He offer to us what by word of mouth and, still more, by deed and a life of toil, He so utterly disdained.

In the world you shall have distress. (John xvi, 33).

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.­ (Matt. xvi, 24)

In the "Our Father", where He teaches us to ask for the truly good things of life, with regard to temporal goods He wishes us to ask only for our daily bread: our bodily nourishment reduced to its minimum expres­sion; and He bestows a ninefold blessing upon those who despise all things terrestrial: Blessed are the poor, the meek and humble of heart, those that weep, those that suffer persecution and calumny. . . for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matt. vi)

Do not expect to hear of any other reward from Christ's lips; if you do, you have not properly under­stood the spirit of the Gospel; you make the Redemp­tion meaningless, and Christ the Redeemer will say to you: after all these things do the heathens seek. (Matt. vi. 32.)

IV.
We save up for the future, all of us put something by. Is there a priest who, in his activities, emoluments, office and dealings with society, does not dream of mak­ing provision for a quiet old age free from worry and unhappiness? For this purpose, one will cultivate useful friendships, another will seek a lucrative position, a third will economize. It would seem something con­natural to the human heart, and He who made us priests aas not made us less human.

But would it not be more logical, and also a safer investment, to provide gradually for a happy eternity­ which for many of us will arrive before old age? Eternal life is not so far away, in time or space; and even if it were, the means of transport to it are surprisingly rapid!

Lord, persuade me of the sheer practical wisdom of Thy exhortation:
Lay up to yourselves treasures in Heaven because, if I follow it, I shall find that
where thy treasure is, there also is thy heart. (Matt. vi)

Resolutions
1. To meditate very frequently on the nothingness of this world's pleasures, until I am convinced that no real happiness has ever been mine in the past nor will be mine in the future if I rely on the world for it; and therefore, not to expect or put faith in any other sub­stantial happiness outside that of eternal life.

2. To fight against my delusions on this point, to shatter them, and to make my life's supreme aspiration consist in reaching the goal of life: eternal bliss.

Can I set myself a higher target in life? Does anything better satisfy my thirst for perfect happiness?
_________________________
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.


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Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!

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Gospel for Saturday, 6th Week of Easter

From: John 16:23b-28

Fullness of Joy (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [23b] Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, He will give it to you in My name. [24] Hitherto you have asked nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

[25] "I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to in figures but tell you plainly of the Father. [26] In that day you will ask in My name; and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; [27] for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from the Father. [28] I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father."
________________________

Commentary:

25-30. As can be seen also from other passages in the Gospels, Jesus spent time explaining His doctrine in more detail to His Apostles than to the crowd (cf. Mark 4:10-12 and paragraph)--to train them for their mission of preaching the Gospel to the whole world (cf. Matthew 28:18-20). However, our Lord also used metaphors or parables when imparting instruction to the Apostles, and He does so in this discourse of the Last Supper--the vine, the woman giving birth, etc.: He stimulates their curiosity and they, because they do not understand, ask Him questions (cf. verses 17-18). Jesus now tells them that the time is coming when He will speak to them in a completely clear way so that they will know exactly what He means. This He will do after the Resurrection (cf. Acts 1:3). But even now, since He knows their thoughts, He is making it ever plainer to them that He is God, for only God can know what is happening inside someone (cf. 2:25). Verse 28, "I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father" summarizes the mystery of Christ's Person (cf. John 1:14; 20:31).
___________________________
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, May 19

The Priest and the Eternal Truths

PURGATORY

Existence and Nature of Purgatory


I. Existence
"If anyone shall assert that every sinner who has received the grace of justification has his guilt forgiven and the debt of eternal punishment cancelled in such a manner that there remains no debt of temporal punishment to be paid either in this world or in Purgatory in the next, before he can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, let him be anathema." (Council of Trent, Session vi, canon 30)

I have sinned and sinned again. God, I trust, has deleted the stains from my soul through the Sacrament of Penance, and has condoned me the eternal punish­ment. But do I qualify for the ranks of those penitents whose sorrow for sin was so deep and intense that it cancelled all debt towards God, down to the last farthing? Does not the very facility with which I have relapsed testify to the contrary? Every grave sin of mine, therefore, has deposited a sediment which only suffering will wash away. And if to forgiven mortal sins I add my routine venial faults, surely there must needs await me, either in this life or in the next, a full flood of cleansing grief.

And yet, dear Lord, no sooner did real or imaginary suffering begin to afHict me than I asked in my own mind whether God was not lacking in justice, or excessive in chastising.

II. Duration
If I enter Purgatory I shall not leave it until all scores have been paid off, down to the last farthing; until Purgatory's fires and torments have cleansed me from every' stain of rust adhering to the chains of my mortality, and effaced the ignoble imprint of creatures, which undue attachment left upon me.

How long will that total purification take? Surely very long indeed, if I consider, on the one hand, God's astounding readiness in forgiving me my innumerable and detestable sins; and, on the other hand, the meager penance I have done and my trivial sorrow for having sinned.

The fact is that the Church holds Requiems for souls departed from this world centuries ago, and admits Foundation Masses in perpetuity. She therefore believes it possible that there are souls submerged within those expiatory flames for a duration that we on earth might measure in terms of hundreds of years.

Just try to think of it! After this life of sorrows there may be a still longer one in store for me - twenty, fifty, a hundred or more years of intense suffering! The mere possibility should fill me with dread. And during all this time I shall be prevented from reaching eternal bliss by the fetters of past forgiven but unatoned-for sin, because of my indolence, or on account of those venial short­comings which I now make so light of or even brazenly despise.

III. Pain of Loss
If the pain of loss is Hell's direst afftiction, much more is it Purgatory's.

In Purgatory God will be my sole attraction. Lit up already by rays of the Divine Love, I shall know, with a clarity surpassing any previous realisation I had in this vale of cloud and mirage, how immense, how ineffable the happiness is which awaits me, and which is already mine by right of conquest - the crown of justice which the Lord the just judge will render to me.

Happiness, eternal happiness, glorious goal of all my endeavors, of all my yearnings; ever-flowing fountain, City of God, enriched with flowing waters - fluminis impetus qui laetificat civitatem Dei (Ps. xlv, 5) - where my thirst for happiness will be slaked; ah! but the Hand of Divine Justice will keep those waters from reaching my lips for twenty, fifty, or more years! What a terrible torture! Tantalus is child's play, in comparison. I see the beckoning shores, the long-desired harbor of the Fatherland; I almost touch them; but the boat, dressed and triumphant from the storms of earthly life, is held at anchor: the child is withheld from its Father's and Mother's fond embrace; the invalid, infected and unclean, is kept in isolation until the immortal vesture of the spirit is rid of every stain and germ of disease by the consuming flames.

What agony, to spend years and years with eternal bliss in sight, with an ever-burning thirst for it, and yet to be hindered from its possession!

IV. Pains of sense
What are they? What names shall we give them? Will there be fire? With all our discus­sions, there is nothing we know for a certainty. Of course the body will not go to Purgatory, because, as St. Thomas points out, its supreme expiation consists in its falling a prey to corruption and returning to its parent dust. But the disembodied soul has its faculties very wide awake in the next life, and is therefore capable of intense agony and frustration.

If the reason for these mysterious penalties is to be found in my undue attachment to creatures: taking them as the final purpose of my striving, when I sinned mortally; stopping on my flight to God to relish their sweetness, when I sinned venially; have I not every motive to fear they will be long and terrible, knowing as I do the drunken fury and delight with which I have sought after sense-gratification, as though I were afraid lest the opportunity of pleasure might never return, or imagining, like the crafty woman in the Book of Pro­verbs, that "stolen waters are the sweetest"? (Prov. ix, 17)

Resolutions
1. To bear in a spirit of penance the pains of life I cannot avoid, welcoming them from the merciful Hand of God who thereby, perhaps, wishes to lessen my Purgatory.

2. To steer clear of venial faults, that could well be piling up for me in the next life a Purgatory of exceed­ing duration.

3. To be devoted to the Holy Souls, going to their rescue with suffrages; if only so that one day I myself may not be left without assistance.

4. By my preaching, Masses, and funeral services, to foster the well-rooted devotion of my people towards the souls in Purgatory, and even to avail myself of this particular devotion in order to bring strayed sheep back to God. It is often one of the last resources.
_________________________
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.


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Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!

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Human-Animal Hybrid Embryo Research Goes Forward

The government has overturned its proposed ban on the creation of human-animal embryos and now wants to allow them to be used to develop new treatments for incurable diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

The proposal, in a new draft fertility bill published today, would allow scientists to create three different types of hybrid embryos.

Scientists would be allowed to grow the embryos in a lab for no more than two weeks, and it would be illegal to implant them in a human.

...a cytoplasmic hybrid, is created by transferring the nuclei of human cells, such as skin cells, into animal eggs from which almost all the genetic material has been removed.

This is this type of human-animal embryo that is being developed in British universities. Scientists say that developing these embryos will provide a plentiful source of stem cells...


What have we become?

Four Men to Be Ordained by Archbishop Burke

Great News again in the Archdiocese of St Louis!
Archbishop Raymond L. Burke will ordain four men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Louis at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 26, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Lindell Boulevard and Newstead Avenue in the Central West End.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be conferred after the reading of the Gospel of the Mass. Announcement of the new priests’ assignments will be in an upcoming issue of the Review.

The soon-to-be-ordained priests will be Fathers Timothy Bannes, Rodger Fleming, John O’Brien and Joseph Post.

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Public alliance with the Culture of Death

Here's an article by California Catholic Daily on Pelosi and USF:

Nancy Pelosi to give commencement speech at the Jesuit University of San Francisco

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Friday's Fun Tips

Start your day with a Positive Outlook (After you've said the Rosary and attended Holy Mass)

1. Open a new file folder in your computer.

2. Name it "Hillary Rodham Clinton"

3. Send it to the trash.

4. Click "Empty the trash."

5. Your PC will ask you, "Do you really want to get rid of "Hillary Rodham Clinton?"

6. Firmly Click "Yes."

7. Feel better.

PS: Next week you can do Nancy Pelosi or any of the other proponents of the Culture of Death.

Ahhhhh...that was nice!

And here are 20 ways to "Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity"

1. At Lunch Time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.

2. Page yourself over the intercom. Don’t disguise your voice.

3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.

4. Put your trashcan on your desk and label it “In.”

5. Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.

6. In the Memo area of all your checks, write “For Smuggling Diamonds”

7. Finish all your sentences with “In Accordance With The Prophecy.”

8. Don t use any punctuation

9. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.

10. Order a "Diet Water" with a serious face whenever you go out to eat.

11. Specify that your drive-through order is “To Go.”

12. Sing along at the Opera

13. Go to a Poetry Recital and ask why the poems don’t rhyme.

14. Put mosquito netting around your work area and play tropical sounds all day.

15. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can’t attend their party because you’re not in the mood.

16. Have your co-workers address you by your wrestling name, Rock Bottom.

17. When the money comes out of the ATM, scream “I Won!, I Won!”

18. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot, yelling "Run for your lives, they’re loose!!”

19. Tell your children over dinner, “Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go.”

Tony Blair and the Catholic Church

Dr. Ed Peters writes:
What I know about British politics (well, since Churchill stood down) would fit into a post smaller than this one, so I shan't discuss Tony Blair's leadership of the Labour Party or that fascinating nation. But there is much talk about Blair's possible conversion to Catholicism, and much of that talk is quite sloppy, so I thought I'd offer a few canonical clarifications.

Read more about it: http://www.canonlaw.info/2007/05/tony-blair-and-catholic-church.html

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Catholic High School Teachers To Receive Pay Increase

by Barbara Watkins, Review Staff Writer
Teachers in six archdiocesan high schools will receive a 3 percent salary increase in a contract agreed upon by the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the St. Louis Archdiocesan Teachers Association.

According to the three-year contract, secondary teachers will receive a 3 percent raise for the 2007-2008 school year. For the subsequent two school years they will receive a minimum 3 percent raise each year, said Father Mitchell Doyen, archdiocesan associate superintendent of secondary education. Raises are tied to the Midwest Consumer Price Index.

The salary and benefits agreement, which was signed in March, was approved by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke upon recommendation of the Board of Catholic Education.

The St. Louis Archdiocesan Teachers Association (SLATA) includes approximately 200 teachers in six archdiocesan secondary schools — Bishop DuBourg, John F. Kennedy, Rosati-Kain, St. Pius X, St. Mary’s and Trinity.
Source: St Louis Review

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Simpson-Mazzoli, Redux?

Ted Kennedy, in 1986, said to the U.S. electorate:


"This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1-1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another Amnesty Bill like this."

Most of us know that Teddy has had a problem speaking the truth says the days when he went swimming with Mary Jo Kopechne.

And the American Chronicle responds:
After the dust settled, and the numbers counted -- your amnesty gave U.S. citizenship to 3.4 million who broke our laws to come here illegally – mostly Mexicans, to include a few bent upon terrorism toward the U.S. Today, they are included in the core leadership in La Raza and other separatist organizations focused upon breaking the United States apart.
Source.

As another has said:


All animals are equal, but those in the US Congress being much more equal than all others will do ANYTHING to perpetuate their power. Even burning down the farm. Even bringing in (and ignoring) epidemic murders, rapes, kidnappings, and, of course, infectious hepatitis,incurable tuberculosis, typhoid, cholera, mumps, Chagas disease, leprosy, incurable Morgellons disease, and and Dengue fever.

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Repeating from Last Year, Immigration-then and now

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
Theodore Roosevelt 1907
From last year's post here.

The Senate has chosen to create a new second class of citizenry, selling illegal aliens "citizenship" - a citizenship of servitude - for a payment of $5000 - otherwise known as extortion. Those who have chosen to pursue the avenue of legal immigration are evidently penalized for abiding by the rules.

Apparently some in the hallowed halls of Congress see a new block of voters that they can exploit in advancing a socialist agenda while others see a new source of cheap labor to exploit to further their profit margins. The U.S. Capitol is overrun with with traitors, enemies of America.

...A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh

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Gospel for Friday, 6th Week of Lent

From: John 16:20-23

Fullness of Joy (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [20] "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. [21] When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. [22] So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. [23] In that day you will ask nothing of Me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, He will give it to you in My name."
________________________

Commentary:

21-22. This image of the woman giving birth (frequently used in the Old Testament to express intense pain) is also often used, particularly by the prophets, to mean the birth of the new messianic people (cf. Isaiah 21:3; 26:17; 66:7; Jeremiah 30:6; Hosea 13:13; Micah 4:9-10). The words of Jesus reported here seem to be the fulfillment of those prophecies. The birth of the messianic people--the Church of Christ--involves intense pain, not only for Jesus but also, to some degree, for the Apostles. But this pain, like birthpains, will be made up for by the joy of the final coming of the Kingdom of Christ: "I am convinced," says St. Paul, "that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).

23-24. See the note on John 14:12-14.

[Note on John 14:12-14 states:
12-14. Jesus Christ is our intercessor in Heaven; therefore, He promises us that everything we ask for in His name, He will do. Asking in His name (cf. 15:7, 16; 16:23-24) means appealing to the power of the risen Christ, believing that He is all-powerful and merciful because He is true God; and it also means asking for what is conducive to our salvation, for Jesus is our Savior. Thus, by "whatever you ask" we must understand what is for the good of the asker. When our Lord does not give what we ask for, the reason is that it would not make for our salvation. In this way we can see that He is our Savior both when He refuses us what we ask and when He grants it.]
___________________________
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, May 18

The Priest and the Eternal Truths

HELL

Third Meditation - The Priest in Hell


I. How sad must be the ceremony of Degradation of a delinquent priest, when the rubrics of the Roman Pontifical are carried out with full solemnity!

The Bishop sits outside the church on a raised plat­form where he can be easily seen by all. He gathers round him his Church ministers, and also the secular Judge to whom the degraded priest is to be handed over. And the culprit is there, vested in the ornaments of his particular rank and status: bishop, priest, etc., but when the sentence of Degradation has been read the officiating Prelate strips him of the ornaments one by one:

"I take this mitre from thy head because thou hast profaned it, presiding unworthily."
"I pluck this ring from thee, the pledge of fidelity, because thou hast violated the Church, God's Spouse."
"We scrape and wipe the consecration from thy hands. . ."

And the culprit is handed over to the State to be dealt with like any ordinary criminal.

If I were a bad priest, what shame for me when Christ will strip my soul of all my priestly prerogatives and hand me over denuded of all good and love of God to the executioner of Hell, there to be tormented like any sinner, like the apostate, the murderer. . .!

II. It would not be so terrible if Christ, in degrading and condemning me, were to obliterate every trace of my priesthood, and I became in Hell just one among the many. But no, not even in Hell shall I lose my indelible Character of a priest; on the contrary, my priesthood will mark me out for recognition by the other damned, by the torturing demons, and by the very flames of Hell. Oh, the eternal hissing of all Hell on the hypocrisy and hideous crimes that dragged me down to that place of torment and abjection, down to that "sewer of the human race" (St. Thomas); crimes that in life I tried to cloak in priestly garb, in mumbled recitations, in a paraded semblance of virtue!

Not even among the infernal flames shall I be denied my pride of place, my coveted rights and privileges! I, a priest, higher and nobler in rank than any earthly monarch, shall stand pre-eminent in torment and ignominy, the bait of the biting tongues of all the damned.

The mighty shall be mightily tormented.­(Wisdom vi, 7)

III. Besides the pains common to all the eternally disinherited of the Heavenly Father: the pain of everlasting separation from God, the soul's supreme and only Good; the fire that is never quenched; the gnawing worm of conscience, deathless like the soul itself, ever fretting and consuming; the endless gnashing of teeth in blank despair; the weeping that continues unabated; besides these general pains there awaits the priest his own personal torture: the shame of being the butt of scorn to all Hell.

If the evil cunning of sinners remains rooted in them by death; if the lost soul so identifies itself with sin that it becomes, as it were, sin-made-man; if even here on earth the enemies of God and of His Church are so scathing in their epigrams of scorn and contempt hurled against the Catholic priest; what will they not invent, for all eternity, by way of insults with which to revenge themselves in some measure upon Almighty God in the person of His one-time minister?

Were we to gather the whole sweep of shameless calumnies and denigrating affronts that twenty centuries have heaped upon the head of the priest, what a library they would form!

All that, and more, and for all eternity, the condemned priest will have to bear from the infernal mouths of those confirmed in evil, like him, and embittered by their endless life of woe.

IV. To allow the thought of this torment to sink still deeper, let us take a few verses from chapter 14 of the prophecy of Isaias, and let us apply them to the con­demned priest in Hell. The passage we quote speaks primarily of the death of the King of Babylon, and it constitutes one of the sublimest passages written by the great Prophet:

"The shadow world beneath is astir with prepar­ation for thy coming; wakes up its giants to greet thee.

"The great ones of the world, that ruled the nations, rise up from the thrones where they sit, hailing thee with a single voice:

" 'Thou too, in the same case as we, thou, too, like us!

" 'All thy pride sunk down into the world beneath. . . .

" 'What, fallen from heaven, thou Lucifer, that once didst herald the dawn?

" 'Who sees thee there, but will peer down at thee and read thy story. . .?'" (Is.14)

Is this the man who, with his preaching on the eternal truths, made us wince with fear? he who troubled and disquieted us in our sins, threatening with eternal punishment from God? he whose very garb was a reproach to us? he who was accounted holy, the undis­puted representative of virtue? And now, his pride is sunk down to Hell; now, the mask that hid his face is torn away, and he is seen as criminal as the rest of us: "he, too, like us!"

If in this world my self-love can barely suffer the slightest indication of a sneer, and feels the greatest reluctance to confessing my sins to a fellow priest, what will my feelings be in Hell? What shall I have to say then?

I, who am so avid and eager for human happiness, even for a few drops of forbidden sweetness and contra­band pleasure; I, so addicted to the fugitive and secret gratifications arising from sin; I shall have, in Hell, not just a few moments, as on earth, but all eternity - the Scriptural aeternum et ultra - in which to relish con­tinuously my supreme unhappiness, my ever-enduring infamy, the ceaseless gall and wormwood of remorse.

Is the pleasure which such-and-such a passion procures me, and whose slave I am, so great, of such sterling worth, that it should be bought at such a cost?

St. Bernard pertinently asks:
"If you could enjoy for a month all the good things and pleasures of this world on condition that when they came to an end you would have your eyes gouged out, you would be plunged into a dark, infectious dungeon, and you would live there for forty years, steeped in all kinds of miseries; would you choose the enjoyment?"

Dear God, no, I do not wish to purchase a moment­ary pleasure at the cost of eternal suffering.

Rwsolution
I shall often meditate on the pains in store for me if I end up in Hell, especially when I am assaulted by the tumult of the flesh. The thought of the eternal flames will serve to cool down the ardors of lust. But also when I am in affiiction I shall console myself thinking how often I have deserved to be cast into the pool of fire. Great beyond all measure is God's Mercy in com­muting to me the penalty of endless torment for the brief pangs of this life; sharp and prolonged as these may appear, they will finally pass away.
_________________________
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.


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Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!

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Dr Edward Peters: The Cardinal Clarified well

From Dr Peters, an update:
UPDATE: May 17. The Catholic News Agency is reporting that Honduran Cdl. Rodriguez Maradiaga has revised his earlier comments on the impact that pro-abortion activity can have on one's right to receive the Eucharist. His second statement seems to be a great improvement over his first.

As I read it, His Eminence leaves no doubt now but that Canon 915 can be invoked, given the requisite circumstances, to prevent reception of the Eucharist by those whose pro-abortion activities warrant that disciplinary response. True, the canonist in me would like to see, consistently, a sharper distinction between "being excommunicated" and "being prevented from communicating" (to adapt a phrase), but the lingering confusion we see on this point might be the result of the etymological similarities between these two notions in Romance languages. We can (and will) deal with that issue in other ways.

For now, let's welcome this solid statement on an important social and moral issue by one of Latin America's leading prelates. (Additional follow-up on my webpage coming).

My original post with update: http://www.canonlaw.info/2007/05/toward-clarity-on-abortion.html

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St Gianna Parish Golf Tourney Date Change

The previous post about the St Gianna Parish Golf Tournament/Auction/Dinner has been changed to Monday September 24...The posting of the event has been updated to reflect this change.

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Pelosi to Deliver Commencement Address at Jesuit-run USF

MANASSAS, VA, May 17, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has urged the University of San Francisco (USF)-a Jesuit, Catholic university-to cancel its invitation to pro-abortion Rep. Nancy Pelosi to deliver the university's commencement address this Saturday. CNS also is opposing a posthumous honorary degree to pro-abortion politician Leo T. McCarthy.
* * *
CNS urged Father Privett to withdraw the Pelosi invitation and the McCarthy honor immediately. CNS also asked Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, who is also scheduled to receive an honorary degree, to boycott the ceremony if USF refuses to change its plans.

Pray for Archbishop Niederauer to do what he ought to do - for a change. And pray that the many confused and rebellious Jesuits will return to the light of Christ and leave the darkness they have chosen. And pray for the conversion of Nancy Pelosi, may she abandon her heretical views and return to the Church.

I don't know how anyone who claims to be Catholic could possibly attend such a function - graduating or not. It's beyond my understanding.

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Tony Blair - New Convert to Catholic Church?

TONY Blair is set to become a Roman Catholic when he quits as Prime Minister, it was claimed last night.

Father Michael Steed — who holds regular services in Downing Street — is said to have revealed Mr Blair’s plans to friends at a recent memorial service.

Although the Premier is an Anglican, his wife Cherie and his four children are Catholics. Last night the priest, who has helped several prominent politicians and aristocrats to convert, refused to deny the rumours.

Fr Steed said: “Mr Blair’s been going to Mass every Sunday.

“He goes on his own when he is abroad, not just when he is with his wife and children.”

But the priest added he did not know whether Mr Blair will be “formally” received into the Catholic church.

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Catholic Congregation Sues Diocese in Mississippi

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (AP) — Bishop Thomas J. Rodi says he is deeply saddened by a lawsuit filed by more than 150 members of Holy Family Parish, formerly St. Paul Parish in Pass Christian.

The suit, filed May 1, names Rodi, the Diocese of Biloxi and Holy Family pastor the Rev. Dennis Carver as defendants. The bishop's response was published Friday in the Gulf Pine Catholic, the diocese's newspaper, and was reprinted on http://www.sunherald.com.

The lawsuit asks the court to compel the diocese to rebuild the church on the beach and get an accounting of donations made to the church after Hurricane Katrina.

Rodi writes that the lawsuit "is not in keeping with our understanding of the fundamental nature of the Catholic Church. We are a church, not independent congregations. In faith, worship and practice, we are in union."
* * *
"If this lawsuit would be successful, it would mean, in effect, that the courts would tell the Catholic Church where God must be worshipped, where Mass and other sacraments must be celebrated and how the Catholic Church must use the financial resources of Holy Family Parish," he wrote. "This lawsuit attacks both the unity and the liberty of the Church."
That's why throughout history civil courts are rarely party to "disagreements" in matters of this sort - but we live in a new era today.

Perhaps Ed Peters can offer some canonical insights about this?


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French Villagers Support Fornicating Priest and Woman

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2353. Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young.

2380. Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations - even transient ones - they commit adultery. Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire.171 The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely.172 The prophets denounce the gravity of adultery; they see it as an image of the sin of idolatry.173

2381. Adultery is an injustice. He who commits adultery fails in his commitment. He does injury to the sign of the covenant which the marriage bond is, transgresses the rights of the other spouse, and undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based. He compromises the good of human generation and the welfare of children who need their parents' stable union.
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A Catholic priest in south-west France has been forced out of the clergy after admitting to the Church authorities that he was having a sexual relationship with one of his parishioners. The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby says this has set off a fresh debate about celibacy in the Church.

Uhhh, no, she hasn't. She's regurgitating the same old song that's been sung for centuries...

First, let her paint for us a picture of beauty and serenity, where everything is wonderful...
There is a wonderful sense of stillness in the mountains overlooking the little village of Asson - a few swallows surf gently on the upwind currents and a shepherd sits quietly watching his flock of fat, thickly pelted sheep graze on the velvet grass.

Moving, yes...almost wish I was there. But wait - a storm is on the horizon and closing fast!

But, in this religious landscape, those who break the rules are quickly cast asunder.

The rules? Cast asunder? What cruelty...people should be commended and praised for breaking "the rules", should they not?

To a passer by, Fr Leon and his partner Marga probably look like any other middle-aged couple taking an evening stroll together.

He is twinkly eyed and looks a little like Dustin Hoffman. She seems warm and open and is still a very attractive woman. But in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, Leon and Marga are sinners.

Here we go, the perfect couple...and along comes the monster - the Roman Catholic Church - to viciously and vindictively take away their "freedom" to engage in the moratl sin of fornication - a sin in the eyes of "God"... but let's not let the facts deter us from this "love story".

For the past 22 years, the couple have been in a sexual relationship, which is forbidden to a Catholic priest who has vowed to remain celibate. Fr Leon admits he has broken his promise but claims that being in love has brought him closer to God and his congregation.

It's amazing how we always seem to think that our indulgence in certain sins (usually of the sexual nature) brings us "closer to God" - We understand though, that this is a lie which we must constantly tell ourselves, in the hope that we truly come to believe it, even though we know that, as we sin, we walk farther and farther away from God...But maybe, we can convince others to affirm our sinful behavior and, in doing so, we can bring some temporary relief to our guilty consciences?

I think God can see that my relationship with Marga has brought real fruits to the church - far from being a handicap to my mission as a priest, she's been a great support...
A great support for continuing a sinful lifestyle, not to mention the unending sacriliges committed over a period of decades...

There is no doubt that Fr Leon has been an excellent parish priest.

Oh but there is! How can one be an "excellent" parish priest when his scandalous relationship is known to others and thus, promotes sin and spiritual death rather than prayer, penance and conversion...The author's opinion is from the same fouled pool as that of the father of lies...

But brace yourselves for the sobbing and heartbreak brought on by the behemoth - the big, bad Church...

...every five minutes a parishioner appears at the presbytery door with a hamper of food, a good luck card or a small child for him to bless or kiss goodbye.

Everyone is in tears, particularly when they hug Marga, who is herself overcome with emotion and sobbing.

Far from being seen as the wicked temptress, or the wanton Eve who lured a pure man of the cloth into tasting the forbidden fruit, Marga is seen among the villagers as a great friend. A devout Catholic herself, she is hurt by the Church's attitude to the man she loves.

Oh, the tears...where's my tissue? But really - How can one, with a straight face, say that Marga is a "devout Catholic"? The answer, blindess and ignorance resulting from rejection of God, His Love, and His laws...

"They have just thrown him away like a dirty thing," she tells me, her bottom lip trembling.

Sounds like a script for a screenplay, yes?

Fr Leon and Marga do not go to Mass anymore. Instead, they pray at home, reciting the Lord's Prayer together in a corner of their living room before a wooden statue of the Pyrenean saint St Jacques. "St Jacques made a long pilgrimage across the mountains," Fr Leon reminds Marga, gently stroking away her tears.

"And if there are stones in our path, we'll be able to step over them together, won't we?"
Of course we can, darling!!!

Touching. Movie coming soon, no doubt. And the closing scene:
When I had said goodbye, I went back up into the mountains, sat among the sheep and felt the stillness of the evening. Far away in the valley below, I could just pick out the banners on the church roof, silently flapping their protest to the heavens on high.
[Camera pans away from the docile sheep in the meadow and zooms in on the banners, flapping in the gentle breeze on the steeple. Then the camera pans to the stars of heaven....fade...]


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Cardinal Castrillon: The Time Has Come

From Fr. Z:

His Eminence Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos delivered an address at the meeting of CELAM in Brazil.

Here are some of the good bits. My emphases. The less than smooth translation is not mine. I have fixed it in a couple places only.

Dear and venerated brothers:

I afford to present a brief report on the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei and on the state of the pastoral reality that the Holy Father has put under its competence.
...
Undoubtedly, the most important determination, which concerns the whole Church, is the search of putting an end to the schismatic action and reconstructing without ambiguities, full communion.
...
For these reasons the Holy Father has the intention of extending to the whole Latin Church the possibility of celebrating the Holy Mass and the Sacraments according to the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962. For this liturgy, which was never abolished, and that, as we have said, is considered a treasure, a new and renewed interest exists today and also for this reason the Holy Father thinks that the time has come to facilitate, as the first Commission Cardenalicia had wanted it in 1986, the access to this liturgy, doing of her an extraordinary form of the only Roman rite.
...
The project of the Holy Father has been already partially proved in Campos, where the pacific cohabitation of two forms of the only Roman rite in the Church is a beautiful reality.
We can hardly wait any longer...Will it be this month?

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Parish Clustering in the Diocese of Rochester

The May issue of the Catholic Courier features an article that describes the future of leadership for parishes in the Rochester Diocese. The failure of the diocese to attract new vocations to the priesthood is bringing about a radical change in parish life. Parish clustering is one of the most dramatic changes that is affecting the lives of local Catholics.

One of these clusters in the town of Bloomfield region is going to be led by Sister Diane Dennie. In a perverse twist that truly exemplifies the disorder in Rochester, Father Joseph Marcoux will be the parochial vicar of the cluster. Is it any wonder we have trouble attracting vocations in this diocese? How many young men want to end up as a parochial vicar with Sister Dennie as the boss?

On the upside, any young man entering seminary at this time will serve most of his years under a different bishop. The next bishop could very well be a Bishop Burke, Bruskewitz, or Sheridan. The next bishop could sweep out the dissidents that have infected the diocesan bureaucracy. This new springtime would see multiple vocations and an eventual end to female "priestesses". No more Sister Dennies as "pastors" with a priest in tow.

Some of the responsibility for this change rests on the shoulders of the faithful. We need to continually offer up our prayers and sacrifices for this cause. In time, God will answer our prayers. EM
Source.

Here is the article from the Rochester Catholic Courier, "Leadership takes on a new look"

HT to PG for the link

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Ignatius Insight: Joseph Ratzinger on the Feast of the Ascension

From Images of Hope: Meditations on Major Feasts, in a chapter titled, "The Beginning of a New Nearness":

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The Spirit of Vatican II Church

This is too much...The Curt Jester provides a link to this newest parody, the Spirit of Vatican II Catholic Church

I enjoyed the link to the Charles Curran Fan Club (what a great theologian...not)

And the Haugen and Haas Fan Club links back to The Curt Jester. I didn't know Jeff sponsored that group...;)

Enjoy!

Today is the Solemnity of the Ascension

Old Calendar: St. Paschal Baylon, confessor

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you (John 15:1-4)".

Before the reform of the General Roman Calendar today was the feast of St. Paschal Baylon, who lived and died in the kingdom of Aragon, Spain. He spent his early years as a shepherd and often gave religious instruction to the shepherds on the hills of Aragon. At the age of twenty-four he entered the Franciscan Order and embraced the humble, austere life of a lay brother. He was noted for his devotion to the Holy Eucharist. Pope Leo XIII declared him protector of all Eucharistic Congresses and works. His feast is no longer on the calendar in the United States.

The ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Omaha have retained the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord on the proper Thursday, while all other provinces have transferred this solemnity to the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
Source: Catholic Culture

Evil Prefers Lies and Darkness

Pro-life UCLA student threatened with lawsuit

Planned Parenthood is “trying to destroy the evidence of what they have done.”

Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles has threatened a lawsuit against a student reporter, Lila Rose, who revealed that clinic staff encouraged her to hide statutory rape. Rose, posing as a 15-year old, told staff at Santa Monica Planned Parenthood that she was impregnated by a 23-year old man. She published the account in the May 9 Advocate, a pro-life student magazine at UCLA. Hidden camera videos of the encounter were aired on YouTube.com. [See story, May 11 California Catholic Daily.]

“I received an e-mail in my personal e-mail box on Sunday from the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles,” Rose told California Catholic Daily. The May 14 letter from Mary-Jane Wagle said Rose’s videos violate the California Invasion of Privacy Act because they were “apparently obtained through false pretenses and unlawfully” since the conversations “were surreptitiously recorded without the knowledge and consent of the PPLA employees.”

Wagle demanded that Rose “immediately cease and desist from any recording of any communication with any PPLA employee without his/her consent,” that she remove from YouTube.com “any portions of the videos containing the illegal surreptitious recordings,” and that she “immediately relinquish to PPLA the original and any copies of all communications with PPLA employees you have recorded without their consent.” If Rose refuses “to take these three steps,” said Wagle, Planned Parenthood “will seek all appropriate legal remedies.” Wagle gave Rose until May 18 to comply with the demand.

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It's Time to Repent or Leave

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2007

CONTACT: John Mallon, 405-720-2575
johnmallon@cox.net


Catholic Priest Invites Gang of 18 To Leave Church

FRONT ROYAL, VA — The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International, (HLI) today said “Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3) and seventeen other members of Congress who describe themselves as Catholic not only are ignorant of their faith but also need a civics lesson.”

Father Euteneuer was responding to their rebuke of Pope Benedict XVI in a press release from DeLauro’s office which stated that the Pope’s recent comments that Catholic politicians risk excommunication and should not receive Communion by saying, “Such notions offend the very nature of the American experiment and do a great disservice to the centuries of good work the church has done.”

Father Euteneuer said, “It is an embarrassment that a Catholic, much less a member of Congress should make such an absurd statement. Even if this statement were true, the Holy Father answers to a Higher Power than Rep. DeLauro and the Gang of 18.”

“The truth is,” Father Euteneuer said, “nothing threatens the American experiment more than the legal but unjust killing of human beings by abortion which stands in stark contrast to the very first right enumerated by our Declaration of Independence: The Right to Life. The humanity of the unborn child is no longer even debated. It is a scientific fact. Abortion is murder, and murder is against the law. Like Dred Scott before it, which violated certain citizens’ Right to Liberty, Roe v. Wade is bad, dishonest law and will eventually fall.”

“Excommunication is a pastoral and medicinal penalty, not a political one. The Pope is well within his free expression of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution—and his pastoral duty—to warn any Catholic when their eternal salvation is jeopardized by their actions” Father Euteneuer said. “This is what the Catholic Church teaches and what Catholics believe. If the Gang of 18 believes otherwise, honesty and integrity requires they find another church that tells them what they want to hear. If they have that much of a problem being Catholic, no one is forcing them to stay. We certainly don’t need their hypocrisy.”

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Thursday, May 17, The Ascension



GOSPEL (Mark. XVI. 14-20)

At that time, Jesus appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again. (And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned: And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents: and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick; and they shall recover.) And the Lord Jesus after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. But they going forth preached everywhere, the Lord work­ing withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.

The part of this gospel which is within the marks of parenthesis, is the gospel for the feast of St. Francis Xavier.

Why did Christ say to His apostles: Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to all creatures?

To show that no one is to assume the office of preach­ing, but must look for his mission from the lawful pastors of the Church. And when Christ sends His apostles into the whole worlds to all nations without exception, He shows His willingness to save all men. If the designs of God are not fulfilled, the blame is not to be attributed to God, but to man, who either does not accept the doctrine of the gospel, or accepting, does not live in accordance with it, or else renders himself by his obduracy in vice, unworthy of the gospel.

Is faith without good works sufficient for salvation?

No, faith that is not active in love, not fruitful in good works, and therefore not meritorious, (Gal. V. 6.) is not suf­ficient for salvation. "Such faith," says St. Anselm, "is not the faith of a Christian, but the faith of the devil." Only he who truly believes in Christ and His doctrine, and lives in accordance with it, will be saved.

Is ours then the true faith since all the faithful do not work miracles; as Christ has predicted?

St. Gregory very beautifully replies to this question: "Because the Redeemer said that true faith would be ac­companied by miracles, you must not think that you have not the faith, because these signs do not follow; these miracles had to be wrought in the beginning of the Church, because faith in her had to be increased by these visible signs of divine power." And even now when such signs are necessary for the propagation of the faith, and victory over unbelief, God gives His faithful power to work them.

Are miracles wrought now in the Catholic Church?

Yes, for there have been at all times saints in the Church, who, as seen from their lives, have wrought miracles, on account of their faith, which even the heretics cannot deny; for instance St. Francis Xavier, who in the sight of the heathens, raised several dead persons to life. In a spiritual manner all pious Catholics still work such miracles; for, as St. Chrysostom says, "they expel devils when they banish sin, which is worse than the devil; they speak new tongues when they converse no longer on vain and sinful things, but on those which are spiritual and heavenly." "They take up serpents," says St. Gregory, "when by zealous exhortations they lift others from the shame of vice, without being themselves poisoned; they drink deadly things without being hurt by them, when they hear improper conversation without being corrupted or led to evil; they lay their hands upon the sick and heal them, when they teach the ignorant, strengthen by their good example those who are wavering in virtue, keep the sinner from evil, and similar things." Strive to do this upon all occasions, O Christian, for God willingly gives you His grace and you will thus be of more use to yourself and others, and honor God more than by working the greatest miracles.

Where and how did Christ ascend into heaven?

From Mount Olivet where His sufferings began, by which we learn, that where our crosses and afflictions begin which we endure with patience and resignation, there begins our reward. Christ ascended into heaven by His own power, because He is God, and now in His glorified humanity He sits at the right hand of His Father, as our continual Mediator.

In whose presence did Christ ascend into heaven?

In the presence of His apostles, and many of His dis­ciples, whom He had previously blessed, (Luke XXIV. 51.) and who, as St. Leo says, derived consoling joy from His ascension. Rejoice, also, O Christian, for Christ has today opened heaven for you, and you may enter it, if you believe in Christ, and live in accordance with that faith. St. Augustine says: "Let us ascend in spirit with Christ, that when His day comes, we may follow with our body.

Yet you must know, beloved brethren, that not pride, nor avarice, nor impurity, nor any other vice ascends with Christ; for with the teacher of humility pride ascends not, nor with the author of goodness, malice, nor with the Son of the Virgin, impurity. Let us then ascend with Him by trampling upon our vices and evil inclinations, thus build­ing a ladder by which we can ascend; for we make a ladder of our sins to heaven when we tread them down in combating them:"

ASPIRATION
O King of glory! O powerful Lord! who hast this day ascended victoriously, above all heaven, leave us not as poor orphans; but send us, from the Father, the Spirit of truth whom Thou hast promised. Alleluia.

Why is the paschal candle extinguished after the gospel on this day?

To signify that Christ, of whom the candle is a figure, has gone from His disciples.
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From Explanation of the Epistles and Gospels by Fr. Leonard Goffine (c) 1880

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Gospel for Thursday, 6th Week of Lent

From: John 16:16-20

Fullness of Joy

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [16] "A little while, and you will see Me no more; again a little while, and you will see Me." [17] Some of His disciples said to one another, "What is this that He says to us, `A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me'; and, `because I go to the Father'?" [18] They said, "What does He mean by `a little while'? We do not know what He means." [19] Jesus knew they wanted to ask Him; so He said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, `A little while and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me'? [20] Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy."
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Commentary:

16-20. Earlier our Lord consoled the disciples by assuring them that He would send them the Holy Spirit after He went away (verse 7). Now He gives them further consolation: He is not leaving them permanently, He will come back to stay with them. However, the Apostles fail to grasp what He means, and they ask each other what they make of it. Our Lord does not give them a direct explanation, perhaps because they would not understand what He meant (as happened before: cf. Matthew 16:21-23 and paragraph). But He does emphasize that though they are sad now they will soon be rejoicing: after suffering tribulation they will be filled with a joy they will never lose (cf. John 17:13). This is a reference primarily to the Resurrection (cf. Luke 24:41), but also to their definitive encounter with Christ in Heaven.
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Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, May 17

The Priest and the Eternal Truths

HELL

Second Meditation - A Priest Can Be Damned


I. The Church has always believed that Her priests, from the highest members of the Hierarchy to the lowest, can incur eternal damnation. That explains why in Her literature and in the pictorial and sculptural arts She has always allowed Her ministers to be portrayed within the dwellings of everlasting woe. Go through Her cathedrals and most sumptuous churches, examine retables and tapestries, and the miniatures and illumina­tions in the old liturgical books; turn over the pages of the most famous literary works of Christendom in bygone centuries; perhaps it will scandalize you to see the boldness and frequency with which artists and writers develop, with a realism now obsolete, the theme of the priest, of the religious, of the prelate or pope, plunged into the eternal abyss. And the Church not only keeps silent, not merely refrains from strictures and censure; She arrays Herself in these works of art as in rich attire, and She exposes them to the eyes of the faithful and of the whole world.

Would She conduct Herself thus were She not infallibly certain that Her own ministers can also die the "second death"?

What support could I find for persuading myself of the contrary?

II. Unprotestingly She has allowed the greatest boldness of speech from those very champions whom She honours with the title of Fathers of the Church, and Saints.

What priest has not winced under the well-known text from St. John Chrysostom?­
"I speak not with rashness, but what I feel and mean: among priests, I reckon that not many will be saved, but many more perish, not so much on account of their own sins as for the sins of others, which they have not put a remedy to."

We may not be all aware that such a hair-raising state­ment was written for Prelates; as will be obvious to anyone reading the third Homily "In Actibus Aposto­lorum", in particular the paragraph headed in every edition of Migne's Patrology by the title: Episcopi Officium. (Migne. St. John Chrysostom, vols. viii-ix, p.59).

Still more daring is the opinion voiced by St. Vincent Ferrer:
"There are nine heavens through which the nine Choirs of Angels are distributed, and with them the elect, according to their merits and their calling in life. The sixth heaven is that of the Dominations. It is the place for those who wield human authority: emperors, kings, rulers, and the governors of states; Authorities that ruled justly and whose rule rested on legitimate claims. . . .

"The same applies to Prelates who entered in by the door, and, when inside, first mastered them­selves properly. . . and were more solicitous about souls than about their emoluments. When such as these come to die they are placed in this sixth order, to the accompaniment of great honors. When they pass through the different Choirs of Angels, Archangels, etc., in each one there is a great festivity. The Angels say: 'Let us make a great feast, because it is so many years since anyone of these came through here' . . ." (Sermo iii, De Omnibus Sanctis).

What security shall I find in my priesthood if, according to these Saints, those in high places run such risks?

The conclusion is obvious: God will not save me for being a priest, but for being a good one.

III. Fear of the eternal torments makes St. Paul exclaim:
" I do not fight my battle like a man who wastes his blows on the air.

"I buffet my own body, and make it my slave; or I, who have preached to others, may myself be rejected as worthless." (I Cor. ix, 26-27)

In the bitter struggles of flesh against spirit, the spirit trying to subdue and master the flesh, in that glorious but costly achievement, the Apostle of the Gentiles recognises the fear of eternal reprobation as his main driving-force. And he applies to himself the warning he gives to others:

" You must work to earn your salvation, in anxious fear."-(Philip ii, 12)

That was St. Paul, the man rapt to the third heaven; the man who swears there is no power in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, that can prevail to wrench him away from the love of Christ!

No wonder: it was the Divine Master Himself who gave that lesson to all the Apostles:

And I say to you, my friends (a friendly warning) Be not afraid of them who kill the body, and after have no more power that they can do.

He tells them to fear neither the sword that sunders the flesh, nor the wild beast that can crush their bones, nor the fire that can bite into the entrails and devour them; because none of this can reach the sanctuary of the soul.

But I will show you whom you shall fear; fear him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you: fear him -(Luke xii, 4-5)

And those Apostles: Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, John the beloved disciple, etc., so loving, so enamoured of their Master, so docile to everyone of His teachings, especially to those given them in confidence, as friends; throughout their lives they feared and trembled for their eternal salvation; they feared those everlasting pains so graphically described by Jesus Christ.

O Jesus, wilt Thou care more for me, as a priest, than for Peter and Paul and John? Is my dignity greater than theirs? Have I labored and suffered for Thee more than they? Am I better and holier? Then why do I not fear to damn my soul, as they so feared? Could not my scant fear betoken reprobation?

IV. That I, a priest, can lose my soul, Thou hast no need, Lord, to warn me: this bitter reminder I read in the depths of my being every day and many times a day; so evident it is.

In peril of condemnation is he who lives in danger of committing sin, and between sin and myself there is, to borrow David's expression, only the faintest line of separation; we are but a hair's breadth apart: uno gradu dividimur.

I trust that at present I am in the grace of God, but within a short while perhaps my passions, roused suddenly, will drive me to the edge of the precipice, or hurl me to the bottom of the abyss, of grievous sin, and leave me there naked to the lightnings of the Divine Wrath.

And how appallingly easy it is to contract a vicious habit! Three or four sinful acts, done with the gathering strength of passion's grip on the forbidden fruit, will suffice. And with the habit formed, with lapse after lapse, ah! I know only too well what happens: con­version seems impossible (nothing is impossible for God's grace!): neither my own reflections nor the warning from another's downfall nor the Sacrament of Penance nor even a spiritual retreat will avail to draw from my soul the poisoned shafts of vice. And when my last hour is come, my iniquities will be sealed by final impenitence. And eternally guilty, eternally I shall be punished.

Resolution
If I have contracted any vicious habit, to fight against it with all my strength and with all God's strength until I have rooted it out. If, by God's Mercy, I am free from so terrible a spiritual disease, to avoid every grievous sin. And in both cases, besides fleeing from the occasions of sin, to make frequent use of Confession preceded by a careful preparation.

This may put me to some inconvenience, but never to anything comparable to the pains of hell from which I thus escape. No pain too great if it spare me the pains that endure for ever!
_________________________
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.


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Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!

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Mexican Cardinal Says Church Used "Code" for Abuse

WASHINGTON — A Mexican cardinal who has been accused in a U.S. civil lawsuit of covering up child rape in Mexico and Southern California has said that Roman Catholic Church officials used coded language to communicate with one another about problem priests.

In a March 26 court filing that McClatchy Newspapers obtained, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, who oversees the Archdiocese of Mexico City, says he told Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony that a priest who is now wanted on criminal charges of child rape was moving from Mexico to Los Angeles for "family and health reasons."

"The phrase 'family and health reasons' was used within the church to warn that a priest suffers from some sort of problem," Rivera says in his written declaration.

I suppose at some point someone figured that "family and health reasons" was politically correct and would not be harmful to the self esteem and dignity of priests who also happened to be criminal perverts.

Rivera made the statement in a declaration filed in California Superior Court in which he argues that the court lacks jurisdiction to include him as a defendant. The declaration, while part of the court file, hadn't previously been made public.

Rivera implies that the court should focus on Mahony, who heads the largest Catholic diocese in the United States.

It's merely coincidental that Cardinal Mahony is selling off the chancery and other diocesan assets...

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New Groundswell for Marian Coredemption

Ave Maria!

Recent initiatives in support of the Dogmatic Declaration of Marian Coredemption are springing up like May flowers in this Month of Mary and are the fruit of many years of dialogue and theological discussion organized by the Hierarchy, the Franciscans of the Immaculate, and Vox Popoli Mariae Mediatrici.

This movement is supported by a wide range of theologians and lay people, and the initiatives have five main thrusts: Hierarchical, Theological, Popular Apologetical, a Video Series on the internet, and a Lay Petition drive.

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CBC TV pilot blasphemous, says Catholic group

OTTAWA - A Catholic organization is accusing the CBC of blasphemy over a pilot program that portrays altar boys as drug users and the Catholic communion host as "munchable snack food, possible poker chips and a repository for drops of LSD."

"Catholics should not have to pay for shows where their most sacred rituals and images are considered a starting point for dramatic licence," said the Catholic Civil Rights League, which intends to lodge a formal complaint today with the CBC for airing The Altar Boy Gang.

"With this program, the CBC has moved into the area of blasphemy of sacred rituals."
What does the CBC say in response?
The CBC Web site describes The Altar Boy Gang as a show about "teenage boys who use their 'vocation' as altar boys to be bad."

Jeff Keay, a CBC spokesman, said yesterday the show will not become a CBC series. But he said he thought the premise of the pilot shows did not cross the line.

"Part of trying to produce compelling programming is to not be afraid of images that someone could find disturbing and I think this, while some people could have found it offensive, it falls within the realm of reasonable," Mr. Keay said.

"We certainly intend no disrespect of the Catholic Church or any other religious organization."
Of course they don't...(Warning-Lunatic Ravings ahead) Everyone knows how bad altar boys are! The only thing they think about is how they can cause trouble...I know, back in the day, that's what we all did!

But now?...are there still altar boys? Hasn't service at the altar by boys been supplanted by fair maidens at the behest of radical feminism approved by disobedient prelates years ago, in order to promote 'diversity' and instill the desire for some to become priestesses and such?

Next, will there be a similarly degrading pilot about Moslems or perhaps, about homosexuals? Probably not - that would be labeled "hate" speech. And some executives no doubt value their heads and their livelihoods.

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Dr Ed Peters: Toward clarity on abortion, excommunication, and the Eucharist

Prescinding for a moment from who said it (and allowing for the usual vexatious translation issues) a recent interview with a conscientious priest on the subject of abortion, excommunication, and denial of the Eucharist, illustrates well how widespread is the confusion in this area. In my opinion, these fundamental points must be sorted out, once and for all, so that those who must apply the norms to real cases can do so responsibly.

I make some suggestions toward that goal here.

PS: Be sure to see Phil Lawler's broader comments in his recent CWN Forum post, "Clarity, please, on excommunication”


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Archidiocese of LA to Sell Properties to Fund Abuse Settlements

Cardinal Roger Mahony’s Statement For May 15th, 2007: “Archdiocese Begins Process To Fund Future Settlements"

Cardinal Roger Mahony has released a statement addressing the process of funding future settlements in civil cases against the Archdiocese.

ARCHDIOCESE BEGINS PROCESS TO FUND FUTURE SETTLEMENTS IN CIVIL CASES

By Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop of Los Angeles

May 15, 2007

Last December, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles settled 46 civil cases in which clergy abuse had been alleged. The total settlement cost was $60 million, with the Archdiocese contributing approximately $40 million of the total amount. At the time of that settlement, I wrote:

“Now that this settlement is finalized, our attention will focus on the resolution of all remaining cases. To reach a settlement in those cases will require the active participation of the many insurance companies who provided liability insurance during those past years when abuse occurred. It is my hope that these insurance companies will join all of us in moving steadily toward a final settlement of these cases as soon as possible.”
Continued here.

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California Catholic: “Sin-ta-Lating”


Gay Straight Alliance clubs say they want to help students overcome “homophobia,” but their public events suggest they have something else in mind

The Gay Straight Alliance, which has clubs on high school campuses across California, says it works to “create safe environments in schools for students to support each other and learn about homophobia and other oppressions; educate the school community about homophobia, gender identity, and sexual orientation issues; and fight discrimination, harassment, and violence in schools.” Yet the organization may be far more “campy” than these goals suggest.

For instance, the May 9 GSA Network News advertised a May 10 San Francisco event, “Gender Pirates with Fresh Meat!” -- a fundraiser for the fourth annual Trans March in San Francisco (June 22).


We are living in perverse times - sexual deviance is lauded as a good and we permit the murder of the most innocent among us. We should be setting a good example of upright and moral living, instead we are wallowing in sin and suffering under own self inflicted iniquity.

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After Bankruptcy, Spokane Diocese Seeks $10 Million

Spokane diocese asks people for $10 million
Scandal - 82 parishes are being asked to help pay people who were sexually abused by clergy years ago
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
JOHN K. WILEY

SPOKANE -- It's the Easter season in the Roman Catholic Church, but in parishes around Spokane, sermons on the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ are mixed with urgent pleas for money to pay people who were sexually abused by clergy decades ago.

Priests sometimes evoke the parable of the good Samaritan -- who stopped to help a man who had been beaten and robbed when others looked the other way -- as they wage a unique campaign to raise money to settle the Spokane diocese's long-running sex abuse scandal.
I have some different parables in mind about this - but I'll hold that thought for more reflection and prayer.

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Gospel for Wednesday, 6th Week of Easter

From: John 16:12-15

The Action of the Holy Spirit (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [12] "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. [13] When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak of His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. [14] He will glorify Me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. [15] All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you."
______________________

Commentary:

13. It is the Holy Spirit who makes fully understood the truth revealed by Christ. As Vatican II teaches, our Lord "completed and perfected Revelation and confirmed it...finally by sending the Spirit of truth" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 4). Cf. note on John 14:25-26.

14-15. Jesus Christ here reveals some aspects of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. He teaches that the Three Divine Persons have the same nature when He says that everything that the Father has belongs to the Son, and everything the Son has belongs to the Father (cf. John 17:10) and that the Spirit also has what is common to the Father and the Son, that is, the divine essence. The activity specific to the Holy Spirit is that of glorifying Christ, reminding and clarifying for the disciples everything the Master taught them (John 16:13). On being inspired by the Holy Spirit to recognize the Father through the Son, men render glory to Christ; and glorifying Christ is the same as giving glory to God (cf. John 17:1, 3-5, 10).
___________________________
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, May 16

The Priest and the Eternal Truths

HELL

First Meditation - Hell really does Exist


I. Reason can lead us to the threshold of this terrible mystery. The human soul, being of its nature immortal, is capable of everlasting reward or punishment. Having left the body, it is no longer "in via", and the good or evil accruing from past deeds changes from act or habit to a state of permanency. Death is a kind of photo­graphic "fixing bath" of the soul; grace or guilt are engraved upon the conscience ineffaceably; and the soul would more easily be smashed to atoms than forfeit the imprint of virtue or vice with which it left this mortal life. Having lost its former flexibility for good or evil, the soul harbours within its deepest depths and through­out its being those supernatural or perverse qualities of which it was found possessed at the hour of death. Beyond this life souls do not change their moral status; the eternal renders them unchangeable.

My soul, wouldst thou be for ever and ever what thou art to-day?

II. But human reason has eyes too weak for the contem­plation and scrutiny of the eternal, so let the Faith, let God, speak.

Wouldn't it be an absurdity, a scandal, sheer madness, for Christ to have died merely to obtain for us temporal goods, or to deliver us from transitory evils?

A human life united personally, substantially, to the Divine Word, and therefore, the Life of a God; a life more precious than all creation; a life prized at the infinite value of the Godhead; such a life could reason­ably be spent only to avert an evil that is, in some sense, also infinite; it could be given in ransom only to purchase a glory that is boundless and unending.

O Lord! Thy Divine Blood, so cheaply spilled along the path of the sinful children of Adam, trampled under­ foot "sicut stercus in via" by every passer-by; O Lord! Thy Body shattered and nailed to the wood of the Cross, like a captured bird of prey to the lintel of a farmhouse door; O Lord! Thy holy Cross is for my reason and even for my finer sensibilities the unanswer­able argument, that for the obstinate sinner there await eternal torments. . .

III. Not for a moment throughout the long life of the Church will you find this dogma of Hell unaccepted or unwitnessed to by the Church and all her children: Ecumenical Councils and local Synods, the Fathers, ecclesiastical writers, the Symbols of the Faith, the arts and letters; they all bear witness to belief in Hell, with a steadfast, unswerving conviction, notwithstanding the dread and terror this belief inspires. It is in every age a leash on which the Church keeps her children subject to the fear of God, even in the midst of soft, corrupt, and hostile civilisations. Shall I deny that unchallenge­able fact?

My God, it is only by wrenching myself away from this Holy Mother's loving bosom where, as in a downy nest, Thou didst lay me almost as soon as I came into the world, that I could possibly deny or even call in question the existence of that appallingly mysterious "Second Death ", the name given to eternal damnation by the Beloved Disciple. I believe it, Lord, and I confess I it; aid Thou my unbelief.

IV. But, . . . is there any dogma of our Faith recorded in the New Testament more fully and in terms more peremptory than that of Hell?

St. John, in the Apocalypse, makes frequent mention of the pool of fire, which is the second death, where the enemies of God and of the Lamb will finally be cast. In accents of ancient prophecy St. Jude speaks to us, in his Canonical Epistle, of sinners who are like "fierce waves of the sea, with shame for their crests; wandering stars, with eternal darkness and storm awaiting them ".­(Jude, 13) And St. Paul assures the Thessalonians that Christ will avenge Himself on evildoers by condemning them to eternal punishment. (cfr. II Thess. i)

How God longs for me to meditate upon His eternal chastisements! For He knows my heart so well! Like the sea: calm and beautiful at caress of dawn, rippled by the gentle breeze, held in check by the sandy shore; but in the evening, how it swells and hurls its billows with thunderous roar against the strand! What havoc, if
uncontained by strong resisting jetties and breakwaters!

V. It would take many a sheet merely to copy out from the New Testament what Christ, our Lord and God, has told us of Hell's torments and of their endless duration. Over fifteen times He deals with Hell either explicitly or by implication: He speaks of "eternal torment", "everlasting fire", "the worm that dies not", "the great gulf fixed between", "weeping and gnashing of teeth" . . .

So I must choose: either confess that there is indeed an endless punishment which I can incur, and incur soon if I offend God grievously; or, if I deny its existence, I must jettison all my faith as so much useless ballast, disbelieve in Christ, and even account Him a common quack or a victim to delusion. Shall I dare to choose the latter?

Jesus: until I come across another Master better qualified to teach than Thou, of longer standing, of greater power in word and deed, whose life is more admirable in virtue, whose wisdom shines more resplendently; I abide, dear Lord, by Thy divine teachings. And when I look into the lives and teachings of those who deny this great truth I find them, Lord, so manifestly inferior to Thine in every way, that they merely serve to clinch the argument in favor of follow­ing Thee alone.

Resolution
Since fight I must - militia est vita hominis - instead of squandering my energies trying to swim against the tide of eternal Truth, I shall struggle with the buffeting waves of my own passions, which, however strong, are more easily overcome than the infallible word of God: Verbum Domini manet in aeternum. (Is. xl,8)

I shall fight particularly against lust, nearly always the seat of unbelief and apostasy.
_________________________
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.


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Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!

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