Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, June 3

Second Part
The Priestly Ministry

The Second Priestly Duty: The Holy Eucharist

Second Meditation - Respect for the Mass and for Myself as Celebrant

I. Pope St. Gregory says: "Who will doubt that at the moment of Immolation the heavens open? Or that the angelic choirs are in attendance at this Mystery of Jesus Christ? and that the highest and the lowest, the visible and invisible, become one thing? Et summa et ima sociare unumque ex invisibilibus et visibilibus fieri?

SS. Chrysostom, Augustine, and other Fathers expound the same ideas. According to them, during the Holy Sacrifice the altar is surrounded by legions of glorious spirits.

What wonder that angels should attend, and attend with infinite self-abasement, where the very Lord of the heavenly choirs stoops to such depths of infu}ite condescension!

I quite believe it. What I find difficult to believe is that a worm of the earth like me should be invested with such an awe-inspiring dignity, and that in my hands should become incarnate, as it were, the "full of grace and of truth," the Only-Begotten of the womb of the Virgin-Mother.

II. Let us consider the tremendous respect with which the Church in her liturgy surrounds the celebrant. He can be the humblest of priests, an unknown chaplain or curate, one lacking in virtue and learning and without social standing; but scarcely has he reached the altar to say Mass when he is given all the honours and preferences. Would Jesus Christ Himself be given better treatment were He to appear in Person as Sacrificer, robed in the sacred vestments? All the faithful, without exception: kings, princes, bishops and even the Roman Pontiff, if present, will remain on bended knees while the celebrant stands; and in reciting the Confiteor, the Pope himself will bow towards him and say: et tibi, Pater. . . et te, Pater, and will prostrate to receive his blessings.

How clearly the rubrics and ceremonies give to under­stand that during the most holy Sacrifice only two persons demand attention and supreme respect: Jesus Christ, under the Sacramental species, and the priest, whose voice is instrumental of Christ's Presence!

While I celebrated, was I not perhaps the only person to forget this, and forget it dozens of times? Was I not the only person wanting in respect towards myself?

III. The Mass is the very Immolation of Calvary, and therefore, the goal of Christ's coming to the world and living in mortal flesh. And in the Mass, the same as on Golgotha, there can intervene, or at least attend, a great variety of people in a variety of roles.

What is the role of the priest when celebrating? Will he be one of Christ's executioners? one of the soldiers offering the Victim gall and vinegar? one of those cruel adversaries who mock at His sorrows and blaspheme? one of the crowd of the merely inquisitive who get a thrill from the tragic details of an execution? Or will he be found among those good souls who believe in Christ and accompany Him in His prayer and agony? Will he stand between the Mother and the beloved Disciple? No. My place and role, when saying Mass, is pre-eminent: I have identified myself with the Divine Victim and Sacrificer, with the Lamb of God and the Eternal Priest who immolates It; through my lips speak the lips, the omnipotence and the Heart of Christ: Hoc est Corpus meum; hie est Sanguis meus.

Have I ever esteemed myself, at least in those sublime moments, for what I am and represent?

1. I promise my Lord, the infinitely self-abased Victim for love of me, and I promise myself, in my great representative capacity at the Altar, at least a profound interior respect. And exteriorly, I shall see to it that wherever the Mass is concerned there shall be absolute conformity with the prescriptions of the Liturgy, especi­ally in connection with the cleanliness of vestments, sacred vessels, altar cloths, corporals, purificators, etc.; and also in the tidy appearance of the church and its altars. I shall bear out the truth of my daily declaration: Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuae: Lord, I have loved the beauty of Thy house. (Ps. xxi, 8)

2. And since the veneration which the Mass inspires the faithful depends, in no small measure, upon the priest's pious observance of the rubrics, I propose to review the ceremonies of the Missal, so that in all earnest­ness, and as soon as possible, I may examine my conscience on how I abide by them.

I desire, for the Saviour's sake, to win the compliment paid to St. Vincent de Paul: "There indeed you have a priest who says Mass well!"
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

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

Gospel for Saturday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St Marcellinus and St Peter, Martyrs
Optional Memorial: Our Lady's Saturday

From: Mark 11:27-33

Jesus' Authority

[27] And they (Jesus and his disciples) came to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, [28] and they said to him, "By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?" [29] Jesus said to them, "I will ask you a question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. [30] Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men? Answer me." [31] And they argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why then did not you not believe him?' [32] But shall we say, 'From men'?"--they were afraid of the people, for all held that John was a real prophet. [33] So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

27-33. Those who put this question to Jesus are the same people as, some days earlier, sought to destroy him (cf. Mk 11:18). They represent the official Judaism of the period (cf. note on Mt 2:4). Jesus had already given proofs and signs of being the Messiah, in his miracles and preaching; and St. John the Baptist had borne witness about who Jesus was. This is why, before replying, our Lord asks them to recognize the truth proclaimed by the Precursor. But they do not want to accept this truth; nor do they want to reject it publicly, out of fear of the people. Since they are not ready to admit their mistake, any further explanation Jesus might offer would serve no purpose.

This episode has many parallels in everyday life: anyone who seeks to call God to account will be confounded.
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.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, June 2

Second Part
The Priestly Ministry

The Second Priestly Duty: The Holy Eucharist

First Meditation - Grandeur of the Mass

I. Hoc est corpus meum, hic est sanguis meus. Hoc facite in meam commemorationem.

O the grandeur and simplicity of the Divine Power! With words so brief and so unostentatious our Lord gave fulfilment to one of the solemnest of prophecies:
From the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles: and in every place there is sacrifice and there is offered to my name a clean oblation. For my name is great among the Gentiles. (Malach. i, 11)

The glory of God's Name and knowledge of It spread throughout the world: these are fruits of the Holy Sacrifice of the New Covenant. It is the divine bestowal in answer to the first petition of the Our Father:
Hallowed be Thy Name.

How often, my Jesus, I have felt ashamed of the fruitlessness of my priesthood! I made a sad mistake. With just the daily celebration of the Mass I cooperate to bring about the greatest good of God and of creatures: the furtherance of the glory of the Lord.

II. There is no religion without sacrifice. Sacrifice has always been considered the primary act of worship.

Hence, in the Old Testament, the greater and better portion of the liturgical practices were merely sacrifice in its various shapes and forms. But since that sacrifice was no more than shadow and symbol incapable in itself, for all its variety, of purifying and sanctifying souls, our Divine Redeemer, Eternal Priest, abolished it entirely, substituting in its place His own Oblation of infinite value on the Cross.

And with the intention of leaving His visible Church a sacrifice also visible, the Sacrifice of the New Pasch or Passover betokening His departure from this world to His Father; and that not only the authority but even the exercise of His Eternal Priesthood according to the Order of Melchisedech might not cease to exist on earth, He instituted the unbloody Sacrifice of our altars in remembrance and as a substantial perpetuation of His bloody Holocaust upon the Cross. Thus His infinitely precious Blood, shed once for all on Calvary, would be continually applied to us for the remission of our daily transgressions.

I thank Thee, Jesus, for that sovereign device of Thy love; and I thank Thee still more for wishing Thy Body and Blood to be offered to the Divine Majesty through these sinful hands of mine. Yes, Father, far so hath it seemed good in Thy sight. (Matt. xi, 26)

III. To consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ is the Church's mightiest exercise of power.

To approach with imperiousness, with three words, the Right Hand of God, the Bosom of the Father, and there to lay hold, in a certain sense, on the Only ­Begotten Son and bring Him down to earth; to renew each day, each hour, each moment, over the face of the earth, the most glorious, the most meritorious feat of the Word of God, His Sacrifice; to earn, to seek and find, for all her countless children their daily Bread, and to feed them with It, almost force It upon them, lest they hunger, faint and die; to bring Christ into the world, into this vale of tears, to the side of every banished child of Eve: Jesus Christ, comfort in every sorrow, aid and relief in all our miseries; - O Lord! for this alone Thy Church is worthy to be named mankind's chief Benefactress; and this our priestly dignity, the greatest and holiest power for good on earth.

How beautiful and true the words of St. Francis of Assisi to his friars: "Let us respect priests; their hands give us the Body of Jesus Christ."

IV. Sacrifice, in the liturgical sense, is the outward offer­ing by a lawfully appointed minister of something visible to God in order to acknowledge God's supreme dominion over us and our total submission to Him. Sacrifice for sin carries with it immolation of the victim offered: by the death of the victim, the shedding of its blood, the pouring out of the blood over the altar, the burning of it, or by any other means that indicate our acknowledgement of God's supremacy and our entire submission.

In the Mass the Victim whose Immolation is expressed and "signified" (in the profound sense of this word) by the dual Consecration of bread and wine is no other than Jesus Christ Himself, God and Man. He is the divinely-appointed Minister or Priest­ - Sacerdos in aeternum - in His own right, whereas my priesthood here, as in the other Sacraments, derives from His: I am His vicar and dispenser. Thus He makes me a partaker of His Eternal Priesthood and bestows upon me the power which He exclusively owns of rati­fying in His Name and Blood the New Covenant, just as the Old Covenant was ratified with the blood of animals.

The Holy Mass, besides being the chief act of adora­tion and submission to God, and therefore the primary expression of worship, is the most effectual of supplica­tions. It has been the Church's tactics in every age to put before the eyes of God the Name of His own Son; She has never dared to pray without this recommenda­tion: per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. How much greater, then, will her appeal be in the sight of the Father when She presents to Him not merely the name and remembrance of His Son but the very Son in Person, real and consubstantial with Him, seated on His Right Hand and likewise offering Him­self on Calvary! It was impossible to devise a prayer more pleasing to God; and no wonder, for it was devised by the Son Himself who knows so well His Father's good-pleasure: Neither doth anyone know the Father, but the Son. (Matt. xi, 27) It is, moreover, a prayer that embraces the power and purpose of every other prayer: worship, thanksgiving, atonement, supplication, etc.

Then why has my inconstancy hindered me from lingering long and lovingly over these surpassing realities?

Why should my fickle mind treat the Holy Mass, the august Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, as if it were just something to be done because it can't remain undone, a formality, a burden to be disposed of?

V. Such is the grandeur of the august Sacrifice of our altars that God has brought the downfall of every other religious sacrifice in Its trail. Polytheistic religions fell, and with them their sacrifices, human sacrifices very often; as in ancient America. The new religions appear­ing after Christ, even heterodox Christian cults, are without sacrifice and sacrificer. But in Thy Church, O Lord, Thou hast wished to perpetuate the Offering of the pure and only victim, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.

Another great quality of this holy Sacrifice is the essentially spiritual worship that it inspires. Never do we adore the Father in spirit and in truth so much as we do here; because neither the senses nor even the intellect are offered an object commensurate with their capacities; only the lowliest appearances of bread and wine; and therefore only a mind enlightened by faith, unsupported by any other natural light or guide, explains our adora­tion of this sublime Mystery, the adoration that enlists our entire personality.

1. Gratitude to God for this great Gift shall be the outstanding feature of my life, in imitation of Blessed John de Rivera, the Patriarch of the Eucharist, who on his coat-of-arms embossed beneath the Sacred Host this motto: Tibi post haec, fili mi, ultra quid faciam My son, what more can I do for thee after this?

2. I will value the act of celebrating the Holy Mass as the highest of my spiritual life and the most pleasing to God my Father; and I shall ever be convinced, in theory and in practice, that Thou bearest with me, O Lord, on earth, in spite of my wretchedness, for the primary purpose of offering Thee every day, as long as my hands can lift up to heaven, the Body and Blood of the spotless Lamb.
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

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

The Idiot's Guide to Debate Preparation

Actually, it's the irrational person's guide as posted by the Curt Jester...and it's so easy.
The problem is, when others use these tactics, chances are that you've already lost the debate, not because of the strength of the position or the superior logic used but because you realize your dealing with a person who can't think - whose mind has been turned to mush...

Check it out here.

Money Crunch Hits "Voice of the (un)Faithful"

Pity party time...
The lay group created to give anguished Roman Catholics a voice as the clergy sex abuse crisis unfolded five years ago is now in a crisis of its own, dealing with a budget deficit and infighting among its leaders.

Voice of the Faithful is projecting a $100,000 deficit in the next fiscal year following a drop in the number of major donors, according to an account of a group leaders' meeting which is posted on Voice's Web site.

Board chairman William Casey said that the group has had trouble adjusting to a long-term strategy as the short-term anger over the scandal has subsided.

"When an emergency and a crisis occurs, people just want to help, they want to do something," Casey said. "But two years out, four years, five, 10 years out, how do you keep that going? ... Trying to struggle to figure that out is a real challenge."

Maybe, just maybe, if the group was not a haven for aging dissidents and rebels who oppose the hierarchical structure of the Church as well as some of her doctrines and disciplines and, if the group had some appearance of being an authentically Catholic group, it would find itself in a different position.

Boston College theology professor Thomas Groome said that [some dissatisfaction with Church leadership] leaves Voice struggling to convince Catholics it is still relevant, though he believes it is. Another obstacle, he says, is the Catholic tendency to submit to the church hierarchy.

It never was relevant and those who think otherwise are confused...

...Fox and [VOTF President, Mary Pat] Fox also said the passion of grass roots volunteers has been occasionally misdirected, sometimes at causes the group was not created to take up — such as ordination of women — or in focusing too much on how the group should be run and achieve its goals.
Sounds like a "leadership" problem to me...A group which cannot even control its own members thinks it's capable of advising and implementing reforms for others...How absurd! What egos!

A new "Statement of Identity" reaffirms the group's mission to support abuse survivors, faithful priests and reforms that will increase lay involvement and leadership accountability.
Go away one cares about your little clique...

Fr. Pfleger's (AKA "Snuffy") Response...

Response to I.S.R.A. Attack

On Tuesday, May 29, 2007 The Illinois State Rifle Association released a press statement titled, "Chicago Priest Call for Murder of Gun Shop Owner".

This is not only a lie, it is absurd! On Saturday, May 26, 2007 at an anti-gun rally at Chuck's Gun Shop, I said that John Riggio of Chuck's Gun Shop had the business listed in a trust, so that you could not find out who he is or where he lived, but that we would find it out and that we would snuff him out, as well as legislators who are being bankrolled by the N.R.A. and fighting common sense gun legislation.

All the news media were there, as well as about 400 people and heard the whole speech. It is interesting to me that no one took this interpretation of the words I spoke, not the media or any of the 400 people present until Tuesday, when the I.S.R.A. sent out a press release with their propaganda.

I am a student of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and have always and will always preach non-violence. I am insulted by this character assassination, but not surprised. The tactic is to divert the attention off the real issue,easy access to guns and turn it on me.

It will not work!!!

Rev. Dr. Michael L. Pfleger,
Faith Community of Saint Sabina
Easy access to guns? In the State of Illinois? From law-abiding gin shop owners? Who's insulting who here, Snuffy?


The Heart of the World - The Sacred Heart of Jesus

From Fr Tom Euteneuer's Spirit and Life, we read:

June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Perhaps no other devotion can be said to be as central to our Christian faith as this devotion because it is rooted entirely in the central mystery of our faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus. Truly, the Sacred Heart stands at the very heart of our world and calls to all men to draw near. God did not just stand afar off in heaven to raise us out of our sins; He actually came to us and embraced the heartbreak that those sins bring into every single life. His Heart is a broken, pierced and torn heart that can console every person in his suffering.
. . .
In an age so full of sin and heartbreaking human evils, we need recourse to the Heart that pumps life into the world. Jesus’ Heart was pierced and opened so that all would see that He is not a heartless, cruel God but stands with us in our sorrows, pains and agonies of life, not just temporarily, but to the very end: “My Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.” May we take special refuge in His Heart this month and renew our devotion to Him who is so devoted to us.
This is First Friday - a day to reflect on the mercy of Jesus and His Sacred Heart...We should not hesitate to recall and meditate daily on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and consecrate ourselves, our families, and our homes to Him...

HLI Link.

More on the Sacred Heart of Jesus here at EWTN.

June 16-Blue Army to Host Mini-Retreat on Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The St. Louis Division of the World Apostolate of Fatima, or Blue Army, will commemorate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary with a Day of Recollection Saturday, June 16.

Jesuit Father John Snyder, former director of the White House Retreat in South County, will give reflections on devotion to Mary’s immaculate heart.

The mini-retreat will take place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the World Apostolate of Fatima office at 6009 Heege Road in Affton.

Cost is $15, which includes lunch and drinks. To make a reservation, call the Blue Army at (314) 353-7776.

June 19-27, Redemptoristine Nuns Plan Perpetual Help Novena

From the St Louis Review:
The Redemptoristine Nuns will host their annual novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Tuesday, June 19, through Wednesday, June 27.

Mass will be celebrated each evening at 7:30 p.m. in the chapel at the Redemptoristine Nuns’ Monastery of St. Alphonsus in Liguori. The praying of the Rosary, beginning at 7 p.m., will procede the novena Masses.
- - - -
The novena Mass schedule of celebrants is as follows:

Tuesday, June 19, Father Mat Kessler, CSSR, president, Liguori Publications;

Wednesday, June 20, Father John Brennell, pastor, St. Joseph, Imperial;

Thursday, June 21, Father William Broker, CSSR, Liguori Mission House, missionary;

Friday, June 22, Father Andy Meiners, CSSR, Liguori Mission House, Liguorian Magazine;

Saturday, June 23, Father Francis Novak, CSSR, St. Clement Healthcare Center;

Sunday, June 24, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke;

Monday, June 25, Father John Churchart, CSSR, St. Clement Healthcare Center;

Tuesday, June 26, Father Albert Babin, CSSR, St. Clement Healthcare Center;

Wednesday, June 27, Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Father Ted Lawson, CSSR, superior of St. Clement Healthcare Center.

The Redemptoristine Nuns’ Monastery of St. Alphonsus is located at 200 Liguori Drive off Metropolitan Boulevard, one-eighth mile south of Highway M at Interstate 55 (exit 185), in the Barnhart area of Jefferson County.

For more information, call the Redemptoristine Nuns at (636) 464-1093 or e-mail


New Priests Ordained for Archdiocese of St Louis

Photo by Rebecca Venegoni Tower

NEW PRIESTS...Archbishop Raymond L. Burke is flanked by the four new priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis in the All Saints Chapel of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis after their ordination Mass May 26 at the cathedral basilica. The newly ordained priests are, from left, Father John O'Brien, Father Joseph Post, Father Rodger Fleming and Father Timothy Bannes. For photos of the ordination Mass, click here.

Philly City Council to Boy Scouts: Convert, or Else!

In other business, Council cleared the way for the city to terminate a lease the city has had with the Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts since 1928 for the half-acre of land at 22nd and Spring streets where the Boy Scouts built their regional headquarters building.

At issue is the national Boy Scouts policy of discrimination against homosexuals and the Street administration's response that the city should not subsidize an entity that engages in discrimination.
So adhering to a code of morality - the natural law - is discriminatory?

City Solicitor Romulo Diaz said yesterday the city is not pushing the Boy Scouts to leave, preferring them to reject the discriminatory policy or start paying rent.
Perhaps the Scouts should leave Philly and move to an area where they might be appreciated.

"The ball is in the [Boy Scout] council's court," he said.

Jeff Jubelirer, a spokesman for the local Boy Scouts organization, said the Scouts felt "blindsided" by Council's action. He made the same comment last July when the administration and the Fairmount Park Commission gave notice that the local Scouts faced lease termination.

Yesterday, Jubelirer said the city has yet to tell the Cradle of Liberty Council what fair-market-value rent would be.
It isn't about the rent...this is a "back door" effort to get the Scouts to accept immorality as a legitimate lifestyle.

Council's action came on a resolution introduced by Clarke, who said he opposes the fair-market-value rent alternative.

"You should not be able to stay in a publicly funded facility without signing nondiscriminatory language regardless of whether you pay rent," he said.
Sure - make a deal with the devil - compromise your principles and your character. After all, these politicians already have and they want all of society to follow them. Bozos...


July 21-27, Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Summer Monastic Experience

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration will host their annual Summer Monastic Experience July 21-27 at their community in Clyde, Mo. Women between the ages of 18 to 38 without children are invited to the residential program to learn more about the contemplative dimensions of monastic life.

The week will include sessions involving prayer life and how to incorporate Benedictine practices into the participants’ daily lives. Participants also will work with various departments in the community and attend social events with the sisters. . .

For information, call Sister Ruth Elaine at (877) 632-6665, e-mail her at vocation@ or visit


Vatican: The Board Game

Matt Abbott reports on a new "Catholic" board game:
Believe it or not, there is VATICAN: The Board Game, "designed for 2–6 players, ages 15 and up," created by Stephen Haliczer, Ph.D., a research professor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.

I doubt orthodox Catholics (such as yours truly) would like it, judging from the fact that the game's Web site contains links to Dan Brown's site and certain dissenting publications.

Any bets that some may use this as a catechetical tool?

The Pope's Prayer Intentions for June

VATICAN CITY, JUN 1, 2007 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for June is: "That the Lord may protect sailors and all those involved in maritime activities."

His mission intention is: "That the Church in North Africa may bear witness, with its presence and its action, to God's love for every individual and all peoples."

SF Archdiocese Gets Earful over Pelosi’s Commencement Address

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s May 19 commencement address at the University of San Francisco received mixed reviews, according to an article in the May 25 edition of Catholic San Francisco, the weekly archdiocesan newspaper.

After the Jesuit university released news of Pelosi’s appearance, the archdiocese received “scores of phone calls and e-mails... protesting her appearance at the campus because of her support of unrestricted access to abortion and embryonic stem-cell research,” reported Catholic San Francisco.

The invitation to Pelosi received criticism from within the archdiocese as well – from Respect Life coordinator Vicki Evans, who called it “a scandal.” Invitations to pro-abortion politicians by Catholic institutions, said Evans, send “the wrong message to our students and to the community at large.”

Archbishop George Niederauer, however, has had nothing to say about the Pelosi invitation. The same day as her commencement address, he received an honorary degree from the university.
Isn't Niederauer a Pelosi supporter? If not actively, then tacitly by his silence?

Another critic of Pelosi’s appearance was University of San Francisco philosophy professor Raymond Dennehy. He sent an e-mail message to university president Father Stephen Privett, which said, in part, “Given the evidence of embryology I can only conclude that Mrs. Pelosi is a major facilitator in mass murder.”
A valid conclusion, lost, it appears, to those leaders who should be concerned about the salvation of souls.

Father Kenneth Weare, an adjunct professor of social ethics at the university and pastor of St. Rita parish in Fairfax, warned that those who “aggressively force an almost single-issue campaign” can “undermine Catholic leadership and perpetuate and validate the negative label of ‘cafeteria Catholics.’”
* * *
Weare continued: “Within the context of a divided if not uneducated populace, the forced establishment of laws contrary to the common morality -- such as it is -- could be detrimental. Some choose to move more slowly, attempting to educate before they legislate, even at the expense of the unborn. Some, then, are anti-abortion, but pro-choice, odd as that may seem.”
To whom is this enlightened genius referring when he speaks of an "uneducated populace"? And what laws are contrary to the common "morality"? Laws supporting and allowing abortion?

This man's understanding of "ethics" is questionable, ay best. He's a facilitator of relativism and a mouthpiece of the evil one...

And how is it possible for one to be "anti-abortion, but pro-choice"? This man who claims to be a priest is blinded by evil. Any priest who claims that some (such as Pelosi) "choose to move more slowly, attempting to educate before they legislate, even at the expense of the unborn" deserves to be shunned and avoided since he spews venom and poison which are deadly to one's conscience and soul. Pray for his conversion and for those who have been led astray by his treachery and infidelity to Christ and His Church.

Gospel for June 1, Memorial: St Justin, Martyr

St. Justin Martyr

Born: c. 100 at Nablus, Palestine

Died: beheaded in 165 at Rome, Italy

Pagan philosopher who converted at age 30 by reading the Scriptures and witnessing the heroism and faith of martyrs. Used his philosophical skills to dispute with pagans and explain the faith, becoming one of the first great Christian apologists. Opened a school of public debate in Rome. Martyr.

Friday, 8th Week of Ordinary Time

From: Mark 11:11-26

The Messiah Enters Jerusalem (Continuation)

[11] And He (Jesus) entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple; and when He had looked around at everything, as it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The Barren Fig Tree. The Expulsion of the Money-Changers

[12] On the following day, when they came from Bethany, He was hungry. [13] And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if He could find anything on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. [14] And He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And His disciples heard it.

[15] And they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons; [16] and He would not allow any one to carry anything through the temple. [17] And He taught, and said to them, "Is it not written, `My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." [18] And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and sought a way to destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the multitude was astonished at His teaching. [19] And when evening came they went out of the city.

[20] As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. [21] And Peter remembered and said to Him, "Master, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered." [22] And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. [23] Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. [24] Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will. [25] And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses."

12. Jesus' hunger is another sign of His being truly human. When we contemplate Jesus we should feel Him very close to us; He is true God and true man. His experience of hunger shows that He understands us perfectly: He has shared our needs and limitations. "How generous our Lord is in humbling Himself and fully accepting His human condition! He does not use His divine power to escape from difficulties or effort. Let's pray that He will teach us to be tough, to love work, to appreciate the human and divine nobility of savoring the consequences of self-giving" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 161).

13-14. Jesus, of course, knew that it was not the right time for figs; therefore, He was not looking for figs to eat. His action must have a deeper meaning. The Fathers of the Church, whose interpretation St. Bede reflects in his commentary on this passage, tells us that the miracle has an allegorical purpose: Jesus had come among His own people, the Jews, hungry to find fruit of holiness and good works, but all He found were external practices--leaves without fruit. Similarly, when He enters the temple, He upbraids those present for turning the temple of God, which is a house of prayer (prayer is the fruit of piety), into a place of commerce (mere leaves). "So you", St. Bede concludes, "if you do not want to be condemned by Christ, should guard against being a barren tree, by offering to Jesus, who made Himself poor, the fruit of piety which He expects of you" ("In Marci Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").

God wants both fruit and foliage; when, because the right intention is missing, there are only leaves, only appearances, we must suspect that there is nothing but purely human action, with no supernatural depth--behavior which results from ambition, pride and a desire to attract attention.

"We have to work a lot on this earth and we must do our work well, since it is our daily task that we have to sanctify. But let us never forget to do everything for God's sake. If were to do it ourselves, out of pride, we could produce nothing but leaves, and no matter how luxuriant they were, neither God nor our fellow man would find any good in them" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 202).

15-18. Our Lord does not abide lack of faith or piety in things to do with the worship of God. If He acts so vigorously to defend the temple of the Old Law, it indicates how we should truly conduct ourselves in the Christian temple, where He is really and truly present in the Blessed Eucharist. "Piety has its own good manners. Learn them. It's a shame to see those `pious' people who don't know how to attend Mass--even though they go daily,--nor how to bless themselves (they throw their hands about in the wierdest fashion), nor how to bend the knee before the Tabernacle (their ridiculous genuflections seem a mockery), nor how to bow their heads reverently before a picture of our Lady" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 541). Cf. note on Matthew 21:12-13.

20-25. Jesus speaks to us here about the power of prayer. For prayer to be effective, absolute faith and trust are required: "A keen and living faith. Like Peter's. When you have it--our Lord has said so--you will move mountains, the humanly insuperable obstacles that rise up against your apostolic undertakings" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 489).

For prayer to be effective, we also need to love our neighbor, forgiving him everything: if we do, then God our Father will also forgive us. Since we are all sinners we need to admit the fact before God and ask His pardon (cf. Luke 18:9-14). When Christ taught us to pray He required that we have these predispositions (cf. Matthew 6:12; also Matthew 5:23 and notes on same). Here is how Theophylact ("Ennaratio in Evangelium Marci, in loc.") puts it: "When you pray, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father who is in Heaven may forgive you [...]. He who believes with great affection raises his whole heart to God and, in David's words, opens his soul to God. If he expands his heart before God in this way, he becomes one with Him, and his burning heart is surer of obtaining what he desires."

Even when he is in the state of sin, man should seek God out in prayer; Jesus places no limitations at all: "Whatever you ask..." Therefore, our personal unworthiness should not be an excuse for not praying confidently to God. Nor should the fact that God already knows our needs be an excuse for not turning to Him. St. Teresa explains this when she prays: "O my God, can it be better to keep silent about my necessities, hoping that Thou wilt relieve them? No, indeed, for Thou, my Lord and my Joy, knowing how many they must be and how it will alleviate them if we speak to Thee of them, dost bid us pray to Thee and say that Thou will not fail to give" (St. Teresa, "Exclamations", 5). Cf. notes on Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 7:7-11.

26. As the RSV note points out, many ancient manuscripts add a v. 26: but it is clearly an addition, taken straight from Matthew 6:15. This addition was included by the editors of the Old Vulgate.
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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, June 1

Second Part
The Priestly Ministry

The Breviary

Second Meditation - The Way to Recite It

I. After lively controversies the moralists have made the happy discovery that it is sufficient to recite the Divine Office with "virtual" intention and "external" atten­tion in, order to fulfil the precept of the Church. I have at least virtual intention of praising God by the mere opening of the breviary to recite it as usual. And external attention merely demands that while reading the breviary I should not distract myself with anything destined of its nature to preclude the application of my mind to what I am reciting. When these two requirements. are met, and they are within everyone's reach, I shall have avoided grievous sin.

So there we are! We have argued with God about His rights and our duties, and now the matter is cleared up, the boundaries are drawn!

But surely, in God's service there is something more than refraining from insulting and offending Him griev­ously! If we cannot rise above this level, can we call ourselves children of God?

God requires of me, at least sub levi, internal inten­tion also, and this internal intention is quite easy and can take a number of different forms, should my fickle mind soon tire of one. It is achieved by any of the four following means:
1. Attending to the proper articulation of the words. This is called "material" attention, and it is sufficient.
2. Fixing the mind on the ideas expressed - and beautiful, fervent and varied ideas they are!
3. Considering with a simple act of the mind the Presence of God, of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, our Blessed Lady, etc.
4. Keeping in mind some particular intention I desire to obtain through the recitation of the Office; for example, the conversion of a sinner, the overcoming of an evil suggestion, etc.

Dear Lord, why should I consider it well-nigh impos­sible to live intimately united to Thee for one hour each day, and that one hour split up? Lord, strengthen my weakness.

II. We are asked to recite the Office "digne" - becomingly, worthily, which means we should pronounce the words properly, articulating every syllable - initial, middle and final - of every word, pausing at commas and full-stops, not rushing over asterisks; and yet, of course, without that excessive dragging which would be abnormal in ordinary human speech; but with that calm dignity that one would use in presenting an important matter to a person of note. God is satisfied if we speak to Him after the manner of our intercourse with people who inspire us with respect by reason of rank or lineage; He wants no ridiculous exaggerations unworthy of divine worship. Is that asking too much?

I am the Church's ambassador to God, ambassador in affairs of paramount importance. Who would ever think of entrusting an embassy to a scatter-brain or a stam­merer?
Is the salvation of souls, which I have to negotiate with God through the Divine Office, of minor import­ance?

III. A third help towards the worthy fulfilment of this duty is, to recite the Hours at their proper times:
Matins and Lauds before Mass, Small Hours during the morning, Vespers and Compline in the afternoon or evening; and better still, never to retire for the night's rest without anticipating the Matins and Lauds of the following day. The Office, divided and said at the proper times, is not a burden; whereas, if allowed to pile up at the end of the day or night, it becomes intolerable. Better to advance the recitation within reasonable bounds than leave it to accumulate, especially if obstacles loom ahead.

And finally, to read the Office in a place conducive to recollection: in one's private study, in a field, alone, etc., etc., and to give to each Hour the time and space it demands.

I wonder, Lord, whether it is not through considering this high ministerial appointment of mine a mere nuisance and a kind of gauntlet that I have to run at all costs as hurriedly as possible, that I have made no choice of place and have seized any odd scrap of time which, but for this obligation, I would have simply wasted!

1. I shall consider the Canonical Hours my most important occupation, the primary purpose for which God grants me the day (after the offering of the august Sacrifice), the most worthy of me, the most meritorious. And the day I have not satisfied this opligation I shall account myself an unworthy priest and a dishonest man.
2. I shall not even be satisfied with being able to say "I've finished that anyway!" Certain it is that the signature of a notary, although in unreadable and in­elegant scribble, lends legal force to a public document . . . but have I no concern for the respect due to God and to my own ministry?

So, when purifying my intention at the beginning of the Divine Office, I shall always exclude, as injurious to God and to myself, the base idea of rushing through it as quickly as possible, as if to get rid of a crushing burden.
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

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

The Devil Hates Latin?

A secular book about exorcism says that one thing rankles demons.

"The devil doesn't like Latin," writes Tracy Wilkinson in The Vatican's Exorcists. "That is one of the first things I learned from Father Gabriele Amorth, long known as Rome's chief exorcist, even though that has never been his formal title.

"Now past the age of eighty, Father Amorth has dedicated the last decades of his life to regaining a measure of respectability for exorcism. Despite his advancing age, he continues to perform the rite several times a week at his office in Rome.

"Scores of people seek him out. He prefers to use Latin when he conducts exorcisms, he says, because it is most effective in challenging the devil."

That tidbit comes to us at a time when Benedict XVI is ready to loosen restrictions on Latin Mass. It's in the new book -- a secular and sometimes skeptical but fascinating glimpse into the world of Italian priests who see their job as casting out demons.
So the devil hates Latin? Why, then, do so many bishops and priests also hate Latin?
at SpiritDaily

O'Reilly Accuses Kansas Governor of Protecting Abortionist George Tiller

NEW YORK, May 31 /Christian Newswire/ -- Fox News host Bill O'Reilly rebounded from a six-month silence to issue a scathing segment on the notorious late-term abortionist George R. Tiller that aired the evening of May 30. During the segment, O'Reilly blasted Tiller for "executing fetuses" for "vague medical reasons."

He was equally critical of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who vetoed a bill that would have required Tiller to provide specific medical reasons for abortions after 21 weeks of pregnancy.

"Incredibly, Gov. Sebelius is protecting Tiller," O'Reilly said during his broadcast. "And Gov. Sebelius is allowing him to continue the slaughter. How the governor sleeps at night is beyond me."

O'Reilly produced a document showing that Tiller has a lengthy history of campaign contributions to Sebelius going back to 1994.

Video here.

Gun Advocate Wants Priest's 'Snuff' Comments Investigated

( - A gun rights advocate wants the Justice Department to investigate a Catholic priest who during a weekend anti-gun rally threatened to "snuff out" a Chicago gun store owner.

As Cybercast News Service reported earlier, Rev. Michael Pfleger said Saturday in comments aimed at Chuck's Gun Shop owner John Riggio, "we're going to find out and snuff you out."

Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina's Church in Chicago, told the crowd "we're going to snuff out John Riggio, we're going to snuff out legislators that are voting ... against our gun laws and we're coming for you because we are not going to sit idly."

To "snuff" can mean to sniff, inhale, or extinguish. It is also commonly used as a slang term for "to kill."
For those unfamilar with St Sabina's, here's what the website has to say:
St. Sabina is a Word-based, Bible teaching African-American Catholic Church that believes in the power of praise and worship.

It doesn't appear Catholic to me...And a spoeksman for Pfleger claims that "the pastor wasn't aware of the violent connotation of 'snuff' and didn't mean to threaten bodily harm." Clintonesque, to say the least.

Here are Pfleger's comments (audio-mp3).

And this is not the first time Pfleger has been in the news...Back in January, there was this story:
Catholic Priest Has Only Glowing Praise for Pro-Abortion, Pro-Homosexual Marriage Candidate Barack Obama

Where's Cardinal George? AWOL?

Multiple Choice....

Choose which statement, while being ridiculously stupid, is real...

1. Plague victims at all time high - blood-letting and leeches offered as solutions

2. Wildfire losses at all record levels - people praying for high winds and dry weather as solution to woes

3. Scotland abortion rate reaches all time high – condoms and sex ed offered as solutions

Click here for the answer.

And in a related story (BTW, this will give your answer):
Top Scottish Cardinal Warns Pro-Abortion Politicians Not to Expect to Remain Full Church Participants
EDINBURGH, Scotland, May 31, 2007 ( - Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien had strong words today for Catholic MPs that support abortion, saying Catholic politicians who are pro-abortion should not expect to remain in full communion with the Church.
. . .
In a special call to Catholics, Cardinal O’Brien reminded them to “avoid cooperating in the unspeakable crime of abortion,” and said such cooperation erected a barrier to receiving Holy Communion. . .

Catholic Church Organist Fired for Selling Sex Toys

NEW FRANKEN, Wis. -- A Catholic priest has removed his church's organist and choir director from her duties saying her sale of sex toys was not ''consistent with Church teachings.''

Linette Servais, 50, played the organ and sung with the choir for 35 years. Much of her work as choir director and organist was done without pay. When her parish priest asked to meet with her, she thought it was to say thank you.

Instead, she was told to quit her sales job with company known as Pure Romance or she would lose her position in the church.

Some, I suppose, would like to think that this is like your typical Avon, Tupperware, candles, baskets, or other "home party" sales promotion...
Pure Romance in Loveland, Ohio, is a $60 million per year business that sells spa products and sex toys at homes parties attended by women. It has 15,000 consultants like Servais.
* * *
"After I got over the initial shock, I prayed over this a long time," she said. "I feel that Pure Romance is my ministry."

"My ministry"??? Really??? Well then, as they say, "Let the 'party' begin..."

TMLC: Dispatches From LtCol Chessani's Military Hearing

Today, the Thomas More Law Center began it's defense of Lieutenant Colonel Chessani against allegations of Dereliction of Duty and Orders violation. These charges stem from a pitched battle between terrorists and Marines that occurred in the Town of Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005. One Marine was killed, 11 Marines were wounded, 8 terrorists were killed and captured, and tragically 15 Iraqi civilians were killed when the terrorists used them as human shields.

Lieutenant Max Franks testified today that he was tasked with removing the dead Iraqi civilian bodies from the houses the Marines had assaulted through due to enemy fire from inside.

Lieutenant Frank testified that the scene he witnessed was consistent with how he was told the events of the attack transpired. He witnessed no evidence of any "Law of War" violation. His testimony was important because it proved that the allegations by Time Magazine of "executions" by Marines were absurd.

Sergeant Major Sax, LtCol Chessani's senior enlisted advisor testified that LtCol Chessani is the most moral man that he knows and that he would not have hesitated in reporting a "Law of War" violation had occured if he suspected as such.

Tomorrow the prosecutors are going to call a "Law of War" expert--Park Hayes and LtCol Chessani's third in command at the time of the battle--Major Carrasco. Rob Muise, an attorney for the Thomas More law Center and fomer Marine infantry officer will question Major Carasco as to his knowledge of the events before, during and after Novemeber 19, 2005.

Brian Rooney, another Thomas More Law Center attorney and former Marine Judge Advocate said, "Today's testimony is hopefully the begining of the end for this sad investigation and prosecution of an innocent Christian man. Rob and I hope to bring as much evidence forward as possible to exonerate this good family man."

Rooney further commented, "It is because of the generosity of supporters of the Thomas More Law Center that we are able to travel to California to defend our defenders. Every dollar contributed helps defray our cost--more is needed, but we are confident that people will continue to support this worthy cause."

The Thomas More Law Center will be reporting daily from Camp Pendleton to keep it's Christain supporters of this worthy Marine abreast of the most current of happenings.
If convicted, this 19 year Marine veteran and the father of 5 young children, who served in the Panama Invasion, the Persian Gulf War, and three tours in Iraq, could be dismissed (dishonorable discharge) from the Marine Corps, lose all his retirement benefits, and possibly serve 3 years in prison. His preliminary hearing (equivalent of a grand jury hearing) on the charges will begin May 30th in Camp Pendleton, California.

For those not familiar with this case:
The charges against Lieutenant Colonel Chessani were incited by an inflammatory Time magazine headline accusing Marine enlisted men of “massacring innocent civilians.” The story was planted by a known terrorist propaganda operative—since discredited. Anti-war Congressman John Murtha, with influence over military appropriations, in an unprecedented action, publicly accused Marine officers of a “cover-up” even before the investigation of the incident was completed. The subsequent investigation specifically found no “cover-up” at any level of command.
Please keep this good Marine and family man in your prayers!

From a Thomas More Law Center email...

Peter Kreeft: A Refutation of Moral Relativism

Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day defined a good society as one that makes it easy for you to be good. Correlatively, a free society is one that makes it easy to be free. To be free, and to live freely, is to live spiritually, because only spirit is free—matter is not. To live spiritually is to live morally. The two essential properties of spirit that distinguish it from matter are intellect and will—the capacity for knowledge and moral choice. The ideals of truth and goodness. The most radical threat to living morally today is the loss of moral principles.

Moral practice has always been difficult for fallen humanity, but at least there was always the lighthouse of moral principles, no matter how stormy the sea of moral practice got. But today, with the majority of our mind-molders, in formal education, or informal education—that is, media—the light is gone. Morality is a fog of feelings. That is why to them, as Chesterton said, "Morality is always dreadfully complicated to a man who has lost all his principles." Principles mean moral absolutes. Unchanging rocks beneath the changing waves of feelings and practices. Moral relativism is a philosophy that denies moral absolutes. That thought to me is the prime suspect—public enemy number one. The philosophy that has extinguished the light in the minds of our teachers, and then their students, and eventually, if not reversed, will extinguish our whole civilization. Therefore, I want not just to present a strong case against moral relativism, but to refute it, to unmask it, to strip it naked, to humiliate it, to shame it, to give it the wallop it deserves, as they say in Texas, America's good neighbor to the south.

An excellent article by one of the most lucid and understandable philosophers of our times...

Cleveland Diocese Plans to Close 23 Churches or more

More than 10 percent of the 231 parishes in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese will close or merge under a reorganization plan announced Wednesday.

In a letter sent to churches, Bishop Richard Lennon asked the parishes, which are grouped in 69 regional clusters, to develop plans to share ministries and resources. It is the latest step in a six-year effort to respond to massive demographic shifts from the cities to the suburbs, growing financial pressures and a worsening clergy shortage.

A third of the regional groups containing from two to seven churches must "downsize," Lennon said at a news conference. "A few" must plan for two or three fewer churches, but most can expect one less parish in their region.
This certainly cannot be an easy task for any bishop...

In Pakistan, Christian Insults Mohammed, Receives Death Sentence for "Blasphemy"

More "Religion of Peace" news...

Supreme Court of Mexico to Decide if Abortion Is Unconstitutional

On May 26, one day before the 30 days allowed to challenge a new law had expired, the federal Human Rights Commission and the national Attorney General’s Office asked the Mexican Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a recently adopted law in the Federal District that legalized unrestricted abortion before the twelfth week of pregnancy. The Federal District, popularly known by its initials in Spanish as DF, is similar to the District of Columbia in the U.S., and includes Mexico City, the country’s most populous city.

Three days later, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and directed the Federal District’s Legislative Assembly and Chief of Government to respond to the challenge.

DePaul University's (only?) Catholic leader

DePaul Student Mounts Successful Orthodox Counterattack

CHICAGO — Last August 6, I wrote about a 19-year-old freshman student at DePaul University who came to this largest "Catholic" university in the country from out-of-town, looking forward to getting a Catholic education. Nicholas Hahn III — a ramrod-straight Ronald Reagan devotee — found just the opposite — no crucifixes on the wall, coed dorms with widespread sexual fraternization, heavy drinking, and no formal chapel for daily Mass.

Then there was the "Coming Out" ball sponsored by DePaul featuring emerging gay men and lesbians giving each other high fives to celebrate their homosexuality. Forthcoming was to be Ward Churchill, the radical Colorado professor, who celebrated the terrorists who piloted planes into the Twin Towers, saying America deserved the carnage.

To say he was stunned, shocked, and anguished is an understatement....

Overwhelmed, Hahn fell to his knees when he was alone and prayed hard trying to discover what he should do. But the scenario began to brighten from its darkest point. The bacchanalian decadence stirred the tall (6 feet 2 inches), slender (150 lbs.) Hahn to launch a counterrevolution. He waged it with such unremitting brilliance, taking on the university's left at every strategic point and winning, that he has come near to being a campus hero.

Gospel for May 31, Feast: The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From: Luke 1:39-56

The Visitation

[39] In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, [40] and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. [41] And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit [42] and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! [43] And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? [44] For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. [45] And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

The Magnificat

[46] And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, [47] and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, [48] for He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; [49] for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. [50] And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. [51] He has shown strength with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, [52] He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; [53] He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away. [54] He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, [55] as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."

[56] And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.


39-56. We contemplate this episode of our Lady's visit to her cousin St. Elizabeth in the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary: "Joyfully keep Joseph and Mary company...and you will hear the traditions of the House of David.... We walk in haste towards the mountains, to a town of the tribe of Judah (Luke 1:39).

"We arrive. It is the house where John the Baptist is to be born. Elizabeth gratefully hails the Mother of her Redeemer: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? (Luke 1:42-43).

"The unborn Baptist quivers...(Luke 1:41). Mary's humility pours forth in the "Magnificat".... And you and I, who are proud--who were proud--promise to be humble" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary").

39. On learning from the angel that her cousin St. Elizabeth is soon to give birth and is in need of support, our Lady in her charity hastens to her aid. She has no regard for the difficulties this involves. Although we do not know where exactly Elizabeth was living (it is now thought to be Ain Karim), it certainly meant a journey into the hill country which at that time would have taken four days.

From Mary's visit to Elizabeth Christians should learn to be caring people. "If we have this filial contact with Mary, we won't be able to think just about ourselves and our problems. Selfish personal problems will find no place in our mind" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By," 145).

42. St. Bede comments that Elizabeth blesses Mary using the same words as the archangel "to show that she should be honored by angels and by men and why she should indeed be revered above all other women" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").

When we say the "Hail Mary" we repeat these divine greetings, "rejoicing with Mary at her dignity as Mother of God and praising the Lord, thanking Him for having given us Jesus Christ through Mary" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 333).

43. Elizabeth is moved by the Holy Spirit to call Mary "the mother of my Lord", thereby showing that Mary is the Mother of God.

44. Although he was conceived in sin--original sin--like other men, St. John the Baptist was born sinless because he was sanctified in his mother's womb by the presence of Jesus Christ (then in Mary's womb) and of the Blessed Virgin. On receiving this grace of God St. John rejoices by leaping with joy in his mother's womb--thereby fulfilling the archangel's prophecy (cf. Luke 1:15).

St. John Chrysostom comments on this scene of the Gospel: "See how new and how wonderful this mystery is. He has not yet left the womb but he speaks by leaping; he is not yet allowed to cry out but he makes himself heard by his actions [...]; he has not yet seen the light but he points out the Sun; he has not yet been born and he is keen to act as Precursor. The Lord is present, so he cannot contain himself or wait for nature to run its course: he wants to break out of the prison of his mother's womb and he makes sure he witnesses to the fact that the Savior is about to come" ("Sermo Apud Metaphr., Mense Julio").

45. Joining the chorus of all future generations, Elizabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, declares the Lord's Mother to be blessed and praises her faith. No one ever had faith to compare with Mary's; she is the model of the attitude a creature should have towards its Creator--complete submission, total attachment. Through her faith, Mary is the instrument chosen by God to bring about the Redemption; as Mediatrix of all graces, she is associated with the redemptive work of her Son: "This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to His death; first when Mary, arising in haste to go to visit Elizabeth, is greeted by her as blessed because of her belief in the promise of salvation and the Precursor leaps with joy in the womb of his mother [...]. The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood (cf. John 19:25), in keeping with the Divine Plan, enduring with her only-begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associating herself with His sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which was born of her" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 57f).

The new Latin text gives a literal rendering of the original Greek when it says "quae credidit" (RSV "she who has believed") as opposed to the Vulgate "quae credidisti" ("you who have believed") which gave more of the sense than a literal rendering.

46-55. Mary's "Magnificat" canticle is a poem of singular beauty. It evokes certain passages of the Old Testament with which she would have been very familiar (especially 1 Samuel 2:1-10).

Three stanzas may be distinguished in the canticle: in the first (verses 46-50) Mary glorifies God for making her the Mother of the Savior, which is why future generations will call her blessed; she shows that the Incarnation is a mysterious __expression of God's power and holiness and mercy. In the second (verses 51-53) she teaches us that the Lord has always had a preference for the humble, resisting the proud and boastful. In the third (verses 54-55) she proclaims that God, in keeping with His promise, has always taken care of His chosen people--and now does them the greatest honor of all by becoming a Jew (cf. Romans 1:3).

"Our prayer can accompany and imitate this prayer of Mary. Like her, we feel the desire to sing, to acclaim the wonders of God, so that all mankind and all creation may share our joy" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 144).

46-47. "The first fruits of the Holy Spirit are peace and joy. And the Blessed Virgin had received within herself all the grace of the Holy Spirit" (St. Basil, "In Psalmos Homilae", on Psalm 32). Mary's soul overflows in the words of the "Magnificat". God's favors cause every humble soul to feel joy and gratitude. In the case of the Blessed Virgin, God has bestowed more on her than on any other creature. "Virgin Mother of God, He whom the heavens cannot contain, on becoming man, enclosed Himself within your womb" ("Roman Missal", Antiphon of the Common of the Mass for Feasts of Our Lady). The humble Virgin of Nazareth is going to be the Mother of God; the Creator's omnipotence has never before manifested itself in as complete a way as this.

48-49. Mary's __expression of humility causes St. Bede to exclaim: "It was fitting, then, that just as death entered the world through the pride of our first parents, the entry of Life should be manifested by the humility of Mary" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").

"How great the value of humility!--"Quia respexit humilitatem.... It is not of her faith, nor of her charity, nor of her immaculate purity that our Mother speaks in the house of Zachary. Her joyful hymn sings: `Since He has looked on my humility, all generations will call me blessed'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 598).

God rewards our Lady's humility by mankind's recognition of her greatness: "All generations will call me blessed." This prophecy is fulfilled every time someone says the Hail Mary, and indeed she is praised on earth continually, without interruption. "From the earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God, under whose protection the faithful take refuge together in prayer in all their perils and needs. Accordingly, following the Council of Ephesus, there was a remarkable growth in the cult of the people of God towards Mary, in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation, according to her own prophetic words: `all generations will call me blessed, for He who is mighty has done great things for me'" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 66).

50. "And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation": "At the very moment of the Incarnation, these words open up a new perspective of salvation history. After the Resurrection of Christ, this perspective is new on both the historical and the eschatological level. From that time onwards there is a succession of new generations of individuals in the immense human family, in ever-increasing dimensions; there is also a succession of new generations of the people of God, marked with the sign of the Cross and of the Resurrection and `sealed' with the sign of the paschal mystery of Christ, the absolute revelation of the mercy that Mary proclaimed on the threshold of her kinswoman's house: "His mercy is [...] from generation to generation' [...].

"Mary, then, is the one who has the "deepest knowledge of the mystery of God's mercy". She knows its price, she knows how great it is. In this sense, we call her the "Mother of Mercy": Our Lady of Mercy, or Mother of Divine Mercy; in each one of these titles there is a deep theological meaning, for they express the special preparation of her soul, of her whole personality, so that she was able to perceive, through the complex events, first of Israel, then of every individual and of the whole of humanity, that mercy of which `from generation to generation' people become sharers according to the eternal design of the Most Holy Trinity" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 9).

51. "The proud": those who want to be regarded as superior to others, whom they look down on. This also refers to those who, in their arrogance, seek to organize society without reference to, or in opposition to, God's law. Even if they seem to do so successfully, the words of our Lady's canticle will ultimately come true, for God will scatter them as He did those who tried to build the Tower of Babel, thinking that they could reach as high as Heaven (cf. Genesis 11:4).

"When pride takes hold of a soul, it is no surprise to find it bringing along with it a whole string of other vices--greed, self-indulgence, envy, injustice. The proud man is always vainly striving to dethrone God, who is merciful to all His creatures, so as to make room for himself and his ever cruel ways.

"We should beg God not to let us fall into this temptation. Pride is the worst sin of all, and the most ridiculous.... Pride is unpleasant, even from a human point of view. The person who rates himself better than everyone and everything is constantly studying himself and looking down on other people, who in turn react by ridiculing his foolish vanity" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 100).

53. This form of divine providence has been experienced countless times over the course of history. For example, God nourished the people of Israel with manna during their forty years in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4-35); similarly His angel brought food to Elijah (1 Kings 19:5-8), and to Daniel in the lions' den (Daniel 14:31-40); and the widow of Sarepta was given a supply of oil which miraculously never ran out (1 Kings 17:8ff). So, too, the Blessed Virgin's yearning for holiness was fulfilled by the incarnation of the Word.

God nourished the chosen people with His Law and the preaching of His prophets, but the rest of mankind was left hungry for His word, a hunger now satisfied by the Incarnation. This gift of God will be accepted by the humble; the self-sufficient, having no desire for the good things of God, will not partake of them (cf. St. Basil, "In Psalmos Homilae", on Psalm 33).

54. God led the people of Israel as He would a child whom He loved tenderly: "the Lord your God bore you, as a man bears his son, in all the way that you went" (Deuteronomy 1:31). He did so many times, using Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, etc., and now He gives them a definitive leader by sending the Messiah--moved by His great mercy which takes pity on the wretchedness of Israel and of all mankind.

55. God promised the patriarchs of old that He would have mercy on mankind. This promise He made to Adam (Genesis 3:15), Abraham (Genesis 22:18), David (2 Samuel 7:12), etc. From all eternity God had planned and decreed that the Word should become incarnate for the salvation of all mankind. As Christ Himself put it, "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
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.

Note: Picture above is from the Murals of the Basilica of Conception Abbey

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, May 31

Second Part
The Priestly Ministry

The Breviary

First Meditation - An Obligation and a Treasure

I. As a mental focusing before the recitation of the daily Office, and now as a preamble to this meditation, let us heed the majestic voice of the Church echoing the rally­ing call of the royal Prophet:
Venite, exultemus Domino, jubilemus Deo, Salutari nostro!
"Come, friends, rejoice in the Lord's honour; cry we out merrily to God, our strength and deliverer!" (Ps. xciv,1)

Throughout her whole history the Church has enjoined upon her priests. the canonical Hours, com­posed chiefly of the psalms. Vestiges of this ruling are to be found in the Apostolic Constitutions of Pope St. Clement, in Tertullian, and even in Philo Judaeus' book on the Therapeutae.

The precept of the Lateran Council should be familiar to all priests: "Districte praecipientes, in virtute sanctae obedientiae, ut Divinum Officium nocturnum, pariter atque diurnum, studiose celebrent atque devote." A strict command, in virtue of holy obedience, that all priests perform the Divine Office, the night Office and the day Office, both diligently and devoutly.

Canon 135 of the new Code runs as follows:
"Clerics in Major Orders are under obligation to recite daily all the canonical hours according to their proper and approved liturgical books." (Trans. Woywood)

It is therefore a grave, inescapable duty which I freely took upon myself at ordination. Have I, in actual practice, always considereo it as such? Haven't I often claimed, under futile pretexts, to be released from this obligation?

II. We should not undermine the force of this obligation imagining it to be merely ecclesiastical, something human. Even if it were, it would none the less be seriously binding in conscience. The Church, as the perfeet Society that She is, has received from her Divine Founder the power to legislate, the power most essential to any self-contained human society properly constituted.

In reality, however, it is something more. The Divine Office is radically and substantially of Divine Law; it is of the pith and marrow of our priesthood, of priest­hood in general; for, as the Epistle to the Hebrews expresses it:
"The purpose for which any high priest is chosen from among his fellowmen, and made a repre­sentative of men in their dealings with God, is to offer gifts and sacrifices in expiation of their sins." (Heb. v, 1)

Hence the Apostles thought themselves bound pri­marily to prayer, in preference to corporal works of mercy: It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. . . we will give ourselves con­tinually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. (Acts vi, 2 and 4)

We are the lawful representatives before God, appointed by the Church; Her ambassadors at the Divine Court; and the ambassadorial petitions we are asked to present before God are not left to our private initiative, they are given us and even formulated for us word for word: the prayers of the breviary and other liturgical books. Mother Church knows only too well ­for She understands her children as only a mother can - that left to our own devices we should make a hash of this petitioning, if we did it at all.

The Office, therefore, is of Divine Law as regards its essence, and of Ecclesiastical Law in the concrete form of its expression. Thus the priest who is physically debarred from reciting the breviary is dispensed by the Church, but not entirely; it is commuted to him for other prayers.

O God, I believe that it is Thou personally who hast aid upon me a strict obligation to pray more frequently than any other soul. I realise that at ordination I assumed the most honourable task of representing the great Kingdom of Thy Church before Thy lofty Throne.

I am the mouthpiece of hundreds of millions of Catholics, of countless sincere non-Catholics, and even of all mankind, of the entire creation: I speak for them before the Throne of the Most High.

What a sublime function! Who am I to deserve it?

III. Justice - commutative justice very often, and always equity - bids me say my Office. If the Church imposes on me the obligation of prayer and sacrifice, it is quite right that I should find attached thereto the means of a livelihood; and vice-versa, if I accept the livelihood I also incur the corresponding obligations. This is the idea, implicit at least, in the minds of the faithful who have bequeathed their possessions to the clergy, demand­ing of them in return the divine praises. In the old foundations this was often laid down explicitly.

If the faithful provide me with a livelihood, if I am kept in food and clothes, and even live in the lap of luxury, at the expense of the faithful, so that I may fulfil my priestly obligations, what if I neglect my duty? Do I not hold myself up to scorn? I could well appropri­ate to myself the caustic comment which the humble, hard-working St. Vincent de Paul used to think applied to him: "Wretch! you're not even earning your daily bread!"

IV. Apart from the foregoing motives and that of the common good, what spiritual treasures would be mine if I said the Divine Office properly! Treasures of the mind, treasures of the heart, imperishable treasures of the soul.

I should be making the holiest use of part of my day by the fulfilment of Christ's great precept: "To pray continually, and never be discouraged"; a precept reaffirmed afterwards by St. Paul: "Never cease praying." (Luke xviii, 1) I Thess. v, 17)

I should be steeping my spirit in the ever-fresh aroma of those old prayers of the Church, the only prayers worthy of God; of those psalms wherein the Divine Spirit pleads with unutterable groans and longings through the voice of all creatures visible and invisible, a pleading that runs through the whole scale of human love, feeling, and mysterious yearning.

And perhaps I shall also begin to be curious and delve into the hidden treasures amassed in the liturgical books, in the Missal, Ritual, Breviary, etc.; books where one can learn the language that is pleasing to God, books abounding in sovereign beauty, enough to enrich many a literature; books that in sheer grace of style, depth of feeling, boldness and sublimity of thought, surpass the greatest literatures, either popular or classical.

Let us hang our heads in shame. To our confusion, it has taken strangers, lay-people, sometimes even atheists and enemies of Christ's Church, to penetrate our cathedrals and churches and bring to light their innumerable artistic treasures. We were like a stupid child who needed the assistance of a neighbour to point out to him the value of the furniture and jewels be­queathed him by his father. Learned men, even men with no religion, had to come from outside and explain to us the power and grandeur radiating from those litur­gical prayers and canticles which we maul and mumble so listlessly day after day.

1. I shall never forget the practical issue: that the obligation to say the Office is sub gravi, and that there­fore I commit a mortal sin the day I omit it entirely, or a notable part of it equivalent to one of the small Hours, unless I am excused for some good and solid reason of charity or justice or I am handicapped by some physical or moral impossibility; and if I hold a benefice, in the strict sense of the word, any unwar­ranted omission of the Office obliges me to make resti­tution.

2. In my spare moments - and who hasn't them? - ­I propose to study the breviary: the psalter and the prayers added by the Church. Could I honestly say that I ever spent so much as half an hour in such profitable study? Am I quite sure I don't consider the breviary something unrelated to practical life, futile, scarcely mtelligible; in fine, something to be read just because it has to, because it's the law, and that's that? To per­suade myself of the shallowness of this judgement, this
very day I'm going to study slowly all the prayers of Prime and Compline in order to grasp their meaning thoroughly.

Jesus, grant me the grace to end my life with the recitation of Compline; I would take it as a sign of my predestination.
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

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

Dr Ed Peters: Applying Canon 1398 to Politicians is Very Weak

The case for applying Canon 1398 to politicians is very weak

Robert Miller's important essay for First Things (30 May 2007), wherein he says that, in accord with Canon 1398, "the Church should declare openly that [Catholic politicians] have incurred the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae", must be carefully read before considering my remarks.

snip, snip

In Miller's essay, we see a serious analyst applying, in charity, a fine mind to an important issue. … But if Miller, with everything he brings to the discussion, is wrong in asserting that Canon 1398 can reach pro-abortion Catholic politicians, and I think he is wrong, does that not mean that the time has come to conclude this particular debate and focus on other ecclesiastical responses, including canonical ones, to the grave scandal these people give?

Read the rest here:

Tertullian, Some Things to Keep in Mind

The Holy Father, in speaking about Tertullian:
The work of this North African writer, said the Pope, "yielded vital fruits that it would be inexcusable to undervalue." His influence extended "from language and the recovery of classical culture to the identification of a shared 'Christian soul' in the world and the formulation of new prospects for human coexistence."
. . .
In his apologetic writings Tertullian set himself two objectives: "confuting the terrible accusations made by pagans against the new religion and, in a more constructive and missionary sense, communicating the Gospel message in dialogue with the culture of his time."

Tertullian also "made a significant contribution to the development of Trinitarian dogma," said the Pope. "Using Latin he gave us a language appropriate for expressing this great mystery, introducing the terms 'one substance' and 'three Persons'."

"No less important," the Pope added, "is Tertullian's Christology," as well as his writings "on the Holy Spirit, ... on the Church (which he always recognizes as mother), ... on the moral conduct of Christians and on the life to come, ... on Mary, ... on the Sacraments, ... on the Petrine primacy and on prayer."
What really struck me in the Pope's address, though, is this:

Commenting on the writer's eventual break with the Church, the Pope said:
"I often think of this great moral and intellectual figure, this man who made such a great contribution to Christian thought. It is clear that in the end he lacked the simplicity and humility to be part of the Church, to accept her weaknesses. When one sees only one's own ideas, in all their greatness, in the end it is precisely this greatness that is lost.

"The essential characteristic of great theologians is the humility to remain with the Church, to accept her weaknesses and their own, because only God is truly holy. We, on the other hand, always have need of forgiveness."
Something to keep in mind, especially these days...

New Members Named to USCCB National Review Board

WASHINGTON (May 29, 2007) — Judge Michael R. Merz, of Dayton, Ohio, has been named chair of the National Review Board (NRB) by Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Judge Merz’s appointment becomes effective June 1. He succeeds Patricia O’Donnell Ewers, Ph.D. as chair. He was named an NRB member in 2004.
. . .
Bishop Skylstad also named four new board members: Emmet M. Kenney, Jr., M.D.; Diane M. Knight, ACSW, CISW; Robert C. Kohm, J.D.; and Susan Steibe-Pasalich, Ph.D.