Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, June 17

The Priestly Ministry

The Administration of Penance

Fourth Meditation - Respect for Penitents

I. The Church, whom the Holy Ghost calls a "meek dove", and whom we all call "Holy Mother", appears to forget her meekness when it is a question of defending the purity and the respect due to the tribunal of Penance. Strange as it may seem, an unworthy priest can profane the most holy Body of Christ and the august Sacrifice a thousand times by celebrating sacri­legiously, and She, the Bride of the immolated Lamb, keeps silent, and holds no canonical penalty in reserve for the profaner; but if that same priest should sully his confessional ministry once only, through any lack of circumspection and respect towards even the lowliest of penitents: a poor old woman or a child, the Church forgets Her gentleness, throws off Her meekness of a dove and a Mother, and becomes an eagle swooping down to the attack, a lioness defending her offspring with her claws and deafening roar. So much so that the latae sententiae penalties which still remain in full force, without ready absolution, are mainly those which the confessor would incur if he failed to respect his ministry.

II. What explanation is there for the transformation? It is one proof more that the Church is of Jesus Christ,and the only one that lives by His Spirit. For Her as for Her Bridegroom, - the Good Shepherd going in search of the lost sheep, and, when found, putting it on His shoulders with infinite compassion; the Father of the prodigal son all the more beloved for his wretchedness; - for Her, as for Jesus, there is no one worthier of pity and love than the soul who ran away perhaps, dragged hither and thither by unbridled fancy; than the soul who plunged with infernal delight into the miry depths of the flesh, holding God in less esteem than any base pleasure or pastime; yes, did all this, but finally, goaded by grace, begins to make an effort to come into the Light of God and to reach, if not the arms, the Feet of the Heavenly Father.

And to think that the confessor, the very minister delegated by the pardoning Christ to regenerate that poor soul, should be the one to thrust it back again into the mire! . . . The Church, Mother of little ones and of all who suffer; the Church, with a heart formed and fashioned in the Mercy of Christ; the Church will sooner bear with the sight of the Most Blessed Sacrament Itself trampled upon or Her Divine Spouse nailed to the Cross.

O Blessed Mother of the weak and fallen! whose defence so melts Thee with compassion, enkindles Thy heart to wrath, and girds Thy arms with strength!

1. I shall very frequently study the terrible censures inflicted on solicitantes, absolventes vel intendentes absolvere complicem, and on sigillum infringentes; and both within the confessional and outside it I shall, by God's grace and favour, bridle my heart, my tongue, and my whole being, with reins of steel rather than be found wanting in respect and reverence towards the Sacrament where the Lord's Blood is applied unto the remission of sins.

2. If ever or at any time I have reasonable grounds to fear a breaking or a loosening of the sigillum, I shall as often flee from the confessional rather than incur dishonour.

For God sees me; and the Church, all eyes, armed with the lightnings of divine Wrath, stands watch over me, always on the alert to safeguard that imposing and austere tribunal which the Judge of living and dead established unto the remission of sins.
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: Peter Meade Should Resign Commission, or Be Removed

Boston politicos Peter & Rosanne Meade woke up one summer morning, saw the sun shining brightly, and concluded that God must have changed his mind about the travesty called "homosexual marriage". The Meades think that because the world did not come to an end when Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, those ignorant Bible-thumpers were wrong about the consequences for societies that continually invent new ways to flout, well, just about everything.

But the Meades' opinion column, as bad as it is … provokes a deeper problem for the Church in Boston: Peter Meade is co-chair of the committee advising Cdl. O'Malley about the complex and crucial issue of parish-closings in the archdiocese.
Read the rest:

Gospel for Saturday, June 16, June Memorial: The Immaculate Heart of Mary

From: Luke 2:41-51

The Finding in the Temple

41] Now his (Jesus') parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. [42] And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; [43] and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, [44 but supposing him to be in the company they went a day's journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; [45] and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. [46] And after three days they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; [47] and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. [48] And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously." [49] And he said to them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" [50] And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.

The Hidden Life of Jesus at Nazareth

[51] And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.


41. Only St Luke (2:41-50) reports the event of the Child Jesus being lost and then found in the temple, which we contemplate in the "Fifth Joyful Mystery" of the Rosary.

Only males aged twelve and upwards were required to make this journey. Nazareth is about 100 km (60 miles) from Jerusalem as the crow flies, but the hilly nature of the country would have made it a trip of 140 km.

43-44. On pilgrimages to Jerusalem, the Jews used to go in two groups--one of men, the other of women. Children could go with either group. This explains how they could go a day's journey before they discovered the Child was missing when the families regrouped to camp.

"Mary is crying. In vain you and I have run from group to group, from caravan to caravan. No one has seen him. Joseph, after fruitless attempts to keep from crying, cries too.... And you.... And I.

'Being a common little fellow, I cry my eyes out and wail to heaven and earth..., to make up for the times when I lost him through my own fault and did not cry" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary", Fifth Joyful Mystery).

45. The concern which Mary and Joseph show in looking for the Child should encourage us always to seek Jesus out, particularly if we lose him through sin.

"Jesus, may I never lose you again.... Now you and I are united in misfortune and grief, as were united in sin. And from the depths of our being comes sighs of heartfelt sorrow and burning phrases which the pen cannot and should not record" ("Holy Rosary", Fifth Joyful Mystery).

46-47. The Child Jesus must have been in the courtyard of the temple, which was where the teachers usually taught. Listeners used to sit at their feet, now and again asking questions and responding to them. This was what Jesus did, but his questions and answers attracted the teachers' attention, he was so wise and well-informed.

48. Ever since the Annunciation our Lady had known that the Child Jesus was God. This faith was the basis of her generous fidelity throughout her life--but there was no reason why it should include detailed knowledge of all the sacrifices God would ask of her, nor of how Christ would go about his mission of redemption: that was something she would discover as time went by, contemplating her Son's life.

49. Christ's reply is a form of explanation. His words--his first words to be recorded in the Gospel--clearly show his down Sonship; and they also show his determination to fulfill the will of his Eternal Father. "He does not upbraid them--Mary and Joseph--for searching for their son, but he raises the eyes of their souls to appreciate what he owes him whose Eternal Son he is" (St Bede, "In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc."). Jesus teaches us that over and above any human authority, even that of our parents, there is the primary duty to do the will of God. "And once we are consoled by the joy of finding Jesus--three days he was gone!--debating with the teachers of Israel (Lk 2:46), you and I shall be left deeply impressed by the duty to leave our home and family to serve our heavenly Father" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary", Fifth Joyful Mystery"). See note on Mt 10:34-37.

50. We must remember that Jesus knew in detail the whole course his earthly life would take from his conception onwards (cf. note on Lk 2:52). This is shown by what he says in reply to his parents. Mary and Joseph realized that his reply contained a deeper meaning which they did not grasp. They grew to understand it as the life of their Child unfolded. Mary's and Joseph's faith and their reverence towards the Child led them not to ask any further questions but to reflect on Jesus' words and behavior in this instance, as they had done so on other occasions.

51. The Gospel sums up Jesus' life in Nazareth in just three words: "erat subditus illis", he was obedient to them. "Jesus obeys, and he obeys Joseph and Mary. God has come to the world to obey, and to obey creatures. Admittedly they were very perfect creatures--Holy Mary, our mother, greater than whom God alone; and that most chaste man Joseph. But they are only creatures, and yet Jesus, who is God, obeyed them. We have to love God so as to love his will and desire to respond to his calls. They come to us through the duties of our ordinary life--duties of state, profession, work, family, social life, our own and other people's difficulties, friendship, eagerness to do what is right and just" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 17).

Jesus lived like any other inhabitant of Nazareth, working at the same trade as St Joseph and earning his living by the sweat of his brow. "His hidden years are not without significance, nor were they simply a preparation for the years which were to come after--those of his public life. Since 1928 I have understood clearly that God wants our Lord's whole life to be an example for Christians. I saw this with special reference to his hidden life, the years he spent working side by side with ordinary men. Our Lord wants many people to ratify their vocation during years of quiet, unspectacular living. Obeying God's will always means leaving our selfishness behind, but there is no reason why it should entail cutting ourselves off from the normal life of ordinary people who share the same status, work and social position with us.

"I dream--and the dream has come true--of multitudes of God's children, sanctifying themselves as ordinary citizens, sharing the ambitions and endeavors of their colleagues and friends. I want to shout to them about this divine truth: If you are there in the middle of ordinary life, it doesn't mean Christ has forgotten about you or hasn't called you. He has invited you to stay among the activities and concerns of the world. He wants you to know that your human vocation, your profession, your talents, are not omitted from his divine plans. He has sanctified them and made them a most acceptable offering to his Father" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 20).
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 15, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, June 16

The Priestly Ministry

The Administration of Penance

Third Meditation - Spiritual Direction

I. In the Presence of Jesus Christ, God and Judge of the living and dead, let us consider and make an impartial study of this particular subject, which, owing to mis­understandings, has given rise to lamentable abuses. We shall take the new code of Canon Law as our guide in everything pertaining to spiritual direction.
Canon 588: During the entire course of studies the religious shall be under the special care of a prefect or master, who shall lead them on in religious life by timely admonition and instruction.

Canon 562 applies the same ruling to the Master of novices. Both these canons clearly give no right to the spiritual director to require of his religious subordinates any kind of manifestation of conscience, not even the right to hear their confessions, unless they go to him entirely of their own free will. Canon 1358 rules that in each seminary there should be, besides the ordinary confessors, a spiritual director with the same attributions.

As regards the other faithful, nothing is laid down. Hence, their own parochial clergy and their confessors are sufficient to guide them along the way of salvation.

Only canon 530 speaks of the "manifestatio con­scientiae", in the following terms:­
1. Religious Superiors are strictly forbidden to induce their subjects in any way to manifest their state of conscience to them.

2. The subjects, however, are not forbidden to manifest of their own free will and choice their consciences to the superiors; on the contrary, it is proper that they should approach their superiors with filial confidence, and if they are priests, to
reveal to them any doubts and anxieties of their consciences.

According to this Church law, every Superior is absolutely forbidden to constrain his subjects in any way, direcdy or indirectly, to manifest their consciences to him; although it is recognised as useful and con­venient for the subject "ultro et libere", spontaneously without any coercion or moral obligation, to declare his doubts and moral anxieties to the aforementioned Superior, if the latter is a priest.

It is useless to look for a single other allusion to spiritual direction in the present Code; it would seem as though the Church knew nothing more about this matter - the Church that speaks and legislates so copiously for confessors and confessed.

The conclusion should not be wider than the premisses; therefore, a person can be a good Christian, and even a great saint, either in the world or in religion, without that continual and absolute subjection to a spiritual director, and even without a director at all; though, of course, one cannot deny that a director may well be an asset and a guide when there is need for one.

II. If we inquire about the exact scope of spiritual direc­tion we have the answer, fortunately, in texts of the highest authority.

First of all, the above-quoted canon 530, according to which spiritual direction consists in revealing to a priest, with filial confidence, doubts and anxieties troubling one's conscience. And note that this direction is something entirely different from confession, because the Superior is severely forbidden to hear his subjects' confessions, unless they "of their own free will ask to be heard; but without grave reason this should not be done habitually". "Superiors must beware - says canon 516 - of inducing, either personally or through others, any of their subjects by force or fear or by importunate urging, or in any other way, to come to them for confession."

It stands to reason, then, that in spiritual direction the person directed has no need to utter a single word indicative of sins past or present, seeing that sin alone is sacramental "matter" of confession.

It also follows, that to impose a narration of past sins, under the pretext that a person's spiritual background must be known before sound advice can be given to him, is a requirement exceeding the bounds of justice, and always a cruel and harsh one.

How much of illusion or mere curiosity there is contained, perhaps, in investigations like these! How much more thankful souls would be to me if over their sad lapses, already pardoned, I mercifully drew the veil of oblivion! How much more I should be like God Himself!

I am, I am he that blots out thy iniquities for my own sake: and I will not remember thy sins. (Is. xliii, 25.)

And if they are yet to be forgiven, why demand their declaration, since in confession they are to be repeated?

In a word: everything will go well if I content myself with the two offices of judge and physician of souls which canon 888 assigns me towards penitents; and if I exercise these offices only in order to absolve and heal the wounds of mortal sins which must of necessity be brought to the tribunal, or of venial sins that penitents may choose to confess, or in order to answer to the best of my knowledge and ability the questions they ask me concerning matters of conscienc,> such as difficulties, anxieties, doubts, etc.

III. Another text, whose testimony is of equally high authority, is contained in Leo XllI's decree Quemad­modum addressed to religious women on December 17th, 1890:­
"Male fuit inducta intima conscientiae scrutatio quae unice Sacramento Paenitentiae reservata est."

"There was no right to introduce that close scrutiny of conscience which is reserved only to the Sacrament of Penance." And the great Pontiff cancels, and orders the erasure of, any rules that obliged religious women to make such an intimate declaration of conscience:
"Irritat, abrogat eas in eo quod cordis intimam manifestationem quovis modo ac nomine respiciunt."

The same decree continues:­

"Valeant ultro et libere aperire suum animum Superioribus ad effectum ab illorum prudentia in dubiis et anxietatibus consilium et directionem obtinendi pro virtutum adquisitione ac perfectionis progressu."

"They may spontaneously and freely open their minds to their Superiors in order to obtain prudent counsel and direction in their doubts and worries, for the purpose of acquiring virtue and progressing in perfection."

It tallies with the teaching of canon 530. It reminds me that when people spontaneously come to me for direction it is only to clear away worries and doubts which may prove an obstacle to the acquisition of virtue and to progress in perfection.

In doubts and worries about temporal goods I go to a lawyer for help, but I go only when these doubts and worries torment me; when I have no worry at all, why should I go? And month after month may elapse without my being afflicted by any worry or doubt.

Dear God, like Thee, I wish to respect human con­sciences, above all, the consciences of the weak, of women and children. Our conscience is a coffer locked by God with two God-made keys: one, He keeps for Himself - scrutans corda et renes - so let us live in peace; God will not surrender that key to anyone, not even to the wisest of cherubim, who will not delve into my heart unless I open it to them.

The other key of my conscience, God gave it to me, and will never take it from me, and will oblige me to use it only for a single declaration, attended by all the
divine precautions of the Sacramental Seal, of my sins to a confessor; and woe be to this confessor if he does not bury them in everlasting silence!

O God, in my dealings with souls I wish to be like Thee:
For thy power is the beginning of justice: . . . because thou art Lord of all, thou makest thyself gracious to all. . . . being master of power, thou judgest with tranquillity; and with great favour disposest of us. . . .(Wisdom, cf. xii)

IV. With a view to shedding further light on the nature of spiritual direction, let us take a paragraph from that wise and holy man, Fr. Granada, from a famous sermon he preached on the occasion of a scandal produced by one of his penitents:­

"Not even to confessors should the penitent give an account of the virtues or favours he has received from our Lord, if there is no particular need to do so. The rendering of a certain kind of obedience to spiritual Fathers is very dangerous, because it gives rise to familiar friendship between penitent and spiritual Father which the devil changes into carnal friendship. In matters of greater moment that may occur, it is sufficient to take counsel with a spiritual Father, when the latter is the proper person to give it."

So, neither virtues nor supernatural favours, and much less, sins, are the subject of ordinary spiritual direction.

Direction, according to this immortal writer, Fr. Granada, is: to take counsel with a spiritual Father when there arises a matter of greater moment, and when the Father is a person qualified to deal with it.

By what right - not to say, by what supreme injustice! - do I constrain anyone to live tied down to my sole direction, under pain of my displeasure and all the lightnings of my anger if I come to suspect the penitent of daring to stray from my confessional in order to confide his or her troubles and doubts to another?

If cloistered nuns are free, according to Canon Law, to call on three or four different confessors, who has authorised me to exercise a tyrannical monopoly over souls that enjoy absolute freedom, as children of God, to make their confession with a different confessor each time, so long as the confessor has the requisite faculties and the penitents approach with a right intention and the proper dispositions? Don't I make my own con­fession to whomsoever I please? Haven't I changed con­fessors whenever I wanted to? What would I answer if I were asked the impertinent question: "Who is your spiritual director?"

1. Never to enjoin upon any penitent the declaration of his conscience outside confession, and, in confession, not to go beyond the limits required for the forgiveness of sin; and to explain to him the ruling of the Church on this point.

2. Often to remind penitents, men and women, that they are absolutely free to make their confession with another, if they please; and to tell them not to mind in the least whether I am offended thereby or no. More­over, as a general rule, let them be ready to quit any confessor who shows particular inclination to have them go to him.

3. In my dealings with women penitents, to adjust my conduct to the following standards and orders given by the supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, 30th July, 1920:
i-Not to speak to them in terms of speech that can imply over-familiarity and intimacy;

ii-Not to visit them or receive visits from them;

iii-Not to indulge in long-winded conversations with them in the sacristy, guesthouse, and parlour, under the pretext of spiritual direction;

iv-Not to maintain written correspondence with them without real need.
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!

Is therapeutic cloning obsolete?

We can only hope!

After years of urging the public and governments to support the destruction of embryos, scientists may have led them up a blind alley.

Next week the international grandees of therapeutic cloning gather in Cairns, Australia, the sun-soaked gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, for their annual conference. They have serious strategic issues to deal with along with their scientific papers and posters: persuading governments to open their wallets, ensuring that the Bush Administrations restrictions on their work are lifted, allaying the public's qualms about creating embryos solely for research.

But one issue will dominate: ten years after Dolly the sheep was cloned, is therapeutic cloning ready to be mothballed?

Only a few days ago an article in the leading journal Nature brought amazing news. A Japanese team at Kyoto University has discovered how to reprogram skin cells so that they "dedifferentiate" into the equivalent of an embryonic stem cell. From this they can be morphed, theoretically, into any cell in the body, a property called pluripotency. It could be the Holy Grail of stem cell science: a technique which is both feasible and ethical.

This was great news from a week or so ago - but what about the "mad scientists" who wish to perpetuate the killing of innocent human life?

Will this disruptive technology open up ethical avenues in the promising field of stem cell research which do not involve turning women into battery hens for their eggs and destroying embryos?

At the moment, the stem cell grandees, like all establishment figures, have no plans to change their tune. One of the stars of Cairns, MIT's Rudolph Jaenisch, told Nature that therapeutic cloning remains "absolutely necessary".
Of course, we could have guessed as much!

And executives from embryonic stem cell companies were not optimistic about the new technique either. Because it involves tinkering with the genome, it could be dangerous, warned Thomas B. Okarma, of Geron, the leading private company in the field.
Could be dangerous? As if tinkering with embryonic stem cells is not? And no mention is made of one's eternal soul which exists whether or not one wishes to acknowledge it...

As Michael Cook, editor of MercatorNet, tells us:
Don't expect supporters of embryonic stem cell research to respond rationally, not in the short term, at least.
Some people, it seems are incapable of responding rationally: terrorists, bigots, many politicians, etc.

Perhaps, the enlightenment of the mind with truth and facts and, by our prayers, a conversion of the heart might take place within our lifetimes, if that be God's will.

Article here.

Hillary Drops Mother Teresa Pic from Campaign Ad

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 15, 2007 ( – Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has officially withdrawn a controversial photo featuring Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta with the then-First Lady from a campaign ad. The pro-life nun’s order, the Missionaries of Charity, directed them to cease and desist using the copyrighted image for political purposes.
. . .
The campaign video was been pulled after the Catholic-based political advocacy group Fidelis alerted the order on May 14, as previously reported by ( The new video now omits the nun’s image, and the old video can no longer be accessed on YouTube.

Dr Edward Peters:Divorce mentality among Catholics

Divorce mentality among Catholics: a case from the Roman Rota

The Catholic Church's highest judicial court is the Roman Rota. While not exactly the equivalent of the United States Supreme Court (see 1983 CIC 16), cases decided by the Rota are nevertheless of great significance in the development of canonical jurisprudence. All Rota sentences are published in Latin, and relatively few are later translated into modern languages. The few that are translated are generally available only in specialized publications.

For the benefit of those who might like see what a Rota sentence looks like, I recently translated one that I found interesting not only in that it provides a look at how facts and law are discussed by Rotal judges, but because it deals with a topic of major current interest, namely, how a "divorce mentality" can negatively impact the attitudes of Catholics entering marriage. Click here for my translation of the case, c. Filipiak, 23 March 1956, SRRD 48 (1956) 255-258.

Cardinal Pell to be investigated for contempt

If anyone should be investigated for contempt, it should be Catholic politicians who publicly display their contempt for the dignity of human life and the teachings of the Church!

A NSW Parliamentary committee will investigate whether the Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, was in contempt of Parliament by warning Catholic MPs to reject a bill to expand stem cell research.

The President of the Legislative Council, Peter Primrose, said yesterday he had referred Cardinal Pell's comments to the upper house privileges committee after a request from the Greens MP Lee Rhiannon for an investigation.
. . .
Ms Rhiannon yesterday described Cardinal Pell's comments as an "outburst of muscular Catholicism" and an attempt to interfere in the democratic process.

"The archbishop has refused to cease his special brand of meddling, despite a widespread public outcry that his statements were inappropriate," she said.
I'm afraid I might be inclined to tell these yahoos to go pound sand - and how "inappropriate" would that be....

Motu proprio imminent, Vatican sources confirm

And other report, along the lines of Fr. Z's post...

Vatican, Jun. 15, 2007 ( - A papal document calling for broader use of the Tridentine liturgy has been completed and signed, and is now being translated and prepared for publication, according to two different Roman news agencies.

The motu proprio will be released along with an accompanying letter from Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) to the world's bishops, according to Petrus, an Italian internet site devoted to news about the Vatican.

The Italian site quotes Msgr. Nicola Bux, a personal friend of the Holy Father, as saying that the document's publication is "imminent," saying that it is "a question of days." However, the site also suggests that the long-awaited motu proprio will be released as Pope Benedict begins his summer vacation in July.
Imminent! That might be quicker than "RSN"...

Motu Proprio - Real Soon Now?

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf has more on the MP:

Over at Petrus (coincidently the name of a very good Bordeaux) there is a report by Bruno Volpe that the Holy Father will publish the Motu Proprio before he leaves the Apostolic Palace in Rome for his summer break in favor of the residence at Castelgandolfo in the castelli romani.

Here are the main points in the piece, which I have in Italian below (with my emphases).

* The document is ready and signed.
* It is being translated.
* It will be issued before the Pope’s summer break.

Archdiocese invites all to renew ‘covenant of love’

Sacred Heart Shrine at cathedral basilica to be dedicated Sunday after 5 p.m. Mass

Photo: rebecca venegoni tower

The archdiocese will recommit itself to Christ through the dedication Sunday, June 17, of its new Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke is encouraging broad participation in the sacred event at the cathedral basilica, 4431 Lindell Blvd. in the Central West End. Archdiocesan lay Catholics of all ages, priests, deacons and men and women religious have been invited to take part.

The enthronement, blessing and dedication of the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will take place at the end of 5 p.m. Mass. A reception in Boland Hall, next door to the cathedral basilica, will follow.

"Having Taught a Martyr Is Something Else Entirely". . .

. . . Professor Shares E-Mails From Father Ragheed

ROME, JUNE 13, 2007 ( ).- "The situation here is worse than hell," Father Ragheed Ganni wrote to a former professor the day before he and three deacons were shot after Sunday Mass in Mosul, Iraq.

Father Robert Christian, a theology professor at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, in Rome, spoke at the requiem Mass held in that school on Tuesday. There, Father Ganni had studied theology and ecumenism.

On June 3, Father Ganni and three deacons, Basman Yousef Daoud, Ghasan Bidawid and Wadid Hanna, were killed in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit.
Continued at Zenit here.

Related posts:
A Chaldean priest and three deacons killed in Mosul

The Last Mass of Father Ragheed, a Martyr of the Chaldean Church

Murderers of Fr. Ragheed & Deacons Demanded Their Conversion to Islam

US House Democrats Seek to Support Pro-Abortion Groups Overseas

As if supporting and promoting infanticide here in the U.S. were not enough, they seek to support and give aid to others in their demonic activities.

From C-Fam:
We report today on efforts by US House Democrats to sidestep Mexico City Policy which prohibits US money from supporting pro-abortion groups overseas. The sidestep would allow the US to supply these groups not with money but with condoms.

Spread the word.

Yours sincerely,
Austin Ruse
The Friday Fax can be read here.

Pope to Help Alice von Hildebrand Share Her Husband's Work

NEW ROCHELLE - The life story of Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand cries out for a movie script, even if he is virtually unknown outside of the ivory halls of seminaries and universities.

But the profile of this courageous and prolific intellectual, perhaps the first German figure to publicly oppose the Nazis, is about to get a boost.

Von Hildebrand's widow, Alice, a renowned philosopher in her own right, has enlisted the help of a notable von Hildebrand fan as she seeks to have many of her husband's works translated into English and published for a new audience.

This fan, a German philosopher himself, lives in Rome these days and has something of a worldwide audience.
. . .
[Pope] Benedict XVI has already personally secured a grant for the translation of von Hildebrand's writings. And he has promised to write a letter of general support - a papal stamp of approval - for Alice von Hildebrand's goals.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, June 15

The Priestly Ministry

The Administration of Penance

Second Meditation - Qualities of a Good Confessor

I. Purity of intention and of soul. - Clean must be the hand that cleanses; clean the soul of the confessor about to enter the depths of souls stained with human miseries in order to pardon their sins. What risks he runs, if he is not very pure, of adding stain to stain in himself and even in his penitents, and of profaning the Sacrament!

But purity of conscience in the sacred tribunal is not enough; because here, more than in any other minis­terial duty, there is need of a pure and upright inten­tion. It is here more than elsewhere, perhaps, that we do the work of Christ, for it is God's prerogative to probe the heart and to forgive sin; therefore, I must be worthy of Christ, I must respect Christ in myself, I must behave like Christ. And I must also keep in mind those grave words spoken by St. Paul:
"No more Jew or Gentile, no more slave and freeman, no more male and female; you are all one person in Jesus Christ." (Gal. iii, 28)

They are simply souls, souls redeemed by Christ, souls approaching the Sacrament in order to purify and wash themselves clean in the Blood of the Lamb.

Can I honestly declare. . . shall I declare on the Day of Judgement, that in the confessional my one concern has been for souls, the remission of their sins, and their eternal salvation?

II. Kindness and meekness. - To sinners, more than to anyone else, is addressed that tender appeal of our Lord's: Come to me, all you that labour and are bur­dened: and I will refresh you . . . because I am meek, and humble of heart. (Matt. xi, 28-29)

Gentlest Physician of stricken souls, never didst Thou prescribe for sinners a medicine that was not steeped in the sweetness of Thy immense compassion and tenderness!

No wonder! . . . Physicians of the body never chide their patient, they listen to him, ask him questions, pamper him; they suffer with a smile his impertinences and his pitiful self-centredness, they bear with his childish fears: all for the sake of curing him - if he does cure! - or of prolonging the existence of this mortal body, built to crumble into dust.

And I, a physician of souls, why do I not possess at least a grain or two of that same kindly disposition in order to heal immortal souls, for whom my Lord and God shed lavishly not only His ineffable sweetness but also the torrents of His Blood?

Or do I think that my ministry of healing souls yields a paltry remuneration as compared with the medical profession's? I am thy reward exceeding great. (Gen. xv, 1) Yes, Lord, but all the same, I find it hard to convince myself.

But if thou warn the just man, that the just may not sin, and he doth not sin: living he shall live because thou hast warned him, and thou hast delivered thy soul. (Ezech. iii, 21)

How much the more if by pardoning the sinner I make him a just man!

III. Readiness. -Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men.-(Matt. iv, 19)

So I am a fisherman of souls, and therefore I must go in search of them, wherever they may be. A fisher­man who contented himself with arranging and spreading out his tackle and gear before the door of his house, waiting for the fish to come to him, would be held up to ridicule. It is not the fish that go in search of the fisherman. And it is I who should invent ways and means of getting people to crowd the church; I am the one who should possess the art and secret of drawing souls into the confessional.

What wouldst Thou think of me, dear Lord, if through my harshness, my indolence, and my dread of hard work, I drove them away? What, if, after approach­ing me already half converted or decided to flee from evil and desirous of peace and pardon, I threw them out, or received them so badly that I plunged them back into sin, and moreover, made Thy tribunal of Mercy hateful to them? Thou couldst with righteous anger say to me: I will require his blood at thy hand. (Ezech. iii, 18.) And I should be Thy enemy, opposed to Thee, because I should be doing what Thou never didst do: break the bruised reed, and quench the smoking flax, with the chill blast of my sullen moods.

1. Not only shall I sit down to hear confessions at the slightest indication from any penitent, without waiting to be called, I shall remain in the confessional at the most convenient times for the faithful; and if no one comes, I shall stay on reciting the breviary, reading some spiritual book, meditating, or performing my devotional exercises. Has it not been my own per­sonal experience that the ordeal of searching for a confessor is greater than the actual confessing of my sins?

2. I shall welcome and bear with all my penitents with the utmost kindness, with the same affability that I expect to receive from my own confessor. How often would I go back to a spiritual father who received or treated me with malhumor? I shall let them speak, without interrupting them, except to encourage them, and without showing any evidence of surprise, however enormous their sms. Have I not perhaps committed the same sins myself? Am I not quite capable of committing sins even more abominable?

3. I shall not make the slightest discrimination with regard to sex, social standing, or other inequalities. What a number of souls have been given offence! What seeds of mistrust and disesteem for the Sacrament of Penance have been sown by those vile discriminations! If there is to be any preference at all, let it be for the old rather than the young, for the poor rather than the rich, and, above all, for the men rather than the women. The well-to-do and the devout members of the fair sex will never have far to go to find a confessor, even if, because of the poor and the men crowding round my box, I myself am not immediately at their disposal.

4. I shall go to confession very frequently myself, as a sure sign of my love for this divine Sacrament. And if I am conscious of being in mortal sin, I shall go to con­fession before hearing others. Moreover, although not conscious of mortal sin, I shall make an immediate preparation for the hearing of confessions by an act of contrition, and ask God to purify me more and more.
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 Friday, June 15, Solemnity: Sacred Heart of Jesus

From: Luke 15:3-7

The Lost Sheep

[3] So He told them this parable: [4] "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? [5] And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. [6] And when he comes home he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' [7] Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

1-32. Jesus' actions manifest God's mercy: He receives sinners in order to convert them. The scribes and Pharisees, who despised sinners, just cannot understand why Jesus acts like this; they grumble about Him; and Jesus uses the opportunity to tell these Mercy parables. "The Gospel writer who particularly treats of these themes in Christ's teaching is Luke, whose Gospel has earned the title of `the Gospel of mercy'" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 3).

In this chapter St. Luke reports three of these parables in which Jesus describesthe infinite, fatherly mercy of God and His joy at the conversion of the sinner.

The Gospel teaches that no one is excluded from forgiveness and that sinners can become beloved children of God if they repent and are converted. So much does God desire the conversion of sinners that each of these parables ends with a refrain, as it were, telling of the great joy in Heaven over sinner who repents.

5-6. Christian tradition, on the basis of this and other Gospel passages (cf. John 10:11), applies this parable to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who misses and then seeks out the lost sheep: the Word, by becoming man, seeks out mankind, which has strayed through sinning. Here is St. Gregory the Great's commentary: "He put the sheep on His shoulders because, on taking on human nature, He burdened Himself with our sins" ("In Evangelia Homiliae", II, 14).

The Second Vatican Council applies these verses of St. Luke to the way priests should approach their pastoral work: "They should be mindful that by their daily conduct and solicitude they display the reality of a truly priestly and pastoral ministry both to believers and unbelievers alike, to Catholics and non-Catholics; that they are bound to bear witness before all men of the truth and of the life, and as good shepherds seek after those too who, whilst having been baptized in the Catholic Church, have given up the practice of the Sacraments, or even fallen away from the faith" ("Lumen Gentium", 28). However, every member of the faithful should show this same kind of concern--expressed in a fraternal way -- towards his brothers and sisters, towards everyone on the road to sanctification and salvation.

7. This does not mean that our Lord does not value the perseverance of the just: He is simply emphasizing the joy of God and the saints over the conversion of a sinner. This is clearly a call to repentance, to never doubt God's readiness to forgive. "Another fall, and what a fall!... Must you give up hope? No. Humble yourself and, through Mary, your Mother, have recourse to the merciful Love of Jesus. A "miserere", and lift up your heart! And now begin again" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 711).
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.

"Apostolate for Family Consecration" Receives Pontifical Status

Pope Benedict grants Ponitifical Status to the Apostolate for Family

Family organization founded by U.S. married couple receives Pontifical status

ConsecrationBloomingdale, Jun 14, 2007 / 09:44 am (CNA).- The Apostolate for Family Consecration, an Ohio-based ministry to Catholic families, is now one of fewer than 125 organizations in the world to be granted Pontifical status by the Vatican.

The granting of Pontifical status means that the ministry is now officially recognized and approved by the Holy See. While the new status sets the apostolate apart, the organization is also the first of its kind to be founded by a married American couple.
The Apostolate for Family Consecration was founded in 1975 by Jerry and Gwen Coniker. This is a great blessing for the Conikers (Gwen died in 2002) and those who have worked so diligently to promote the Faith and Family

The Apostolate offers an excellent set of catechetical materials for parishes, schools, CCD/PSR.

Source and more info: Catholic News Agency

Jesuit order diminishing in numbers

So we learn from Catholic World News...It's sad and unfortunate, though not surprising. Any religious order which abandons its fundamentals and the embarks on philosophical and theological journeys away from Christ and His Church surely will not last very long.

St Ignatius, pray for all of our Jesuit priests, both the faithful and the unfaithful, and pray for the order you founded. And we shall do likewise.

Old Latin Mass Makes a Comeback

The St Louis Post-Dispatch is learning - maybe...

The church's windows are broken, its beige bricks are sooty, its paint is chipped. The 300-foot steeple, a hallmark of the St. Louis skyline, is pulling away from its foundation. One day it could tumble into traffic on Gravois Avenue.

St. Francis de Sales church, often called the Cathedral of South St. Louis, is an ideal home for a group of Roman Catholic priests devoted to restoration. But restoring this 19th-century neo-Gothic church to its former glory is only one reason St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke assigned the priests to oversee St. Francis de Sales.

The real mission of the group, called the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, is the restoration of the traditional Latin Mass. The 1,600-year-old Mass isn't used much today, but it's making a comeback.

That effort will get a boost Friday when Burke — one of the most devoted supporters of the old Latin rite among U.S. bishops — will ordain two deacons of the Institute at the Cathedral Basilica. Burke has ordained members several times in Italy, where the institute is based outside Florence. But Friday will mark the first time members of the 17-year-old institute will be ordained in the United States and the first time the traditional Latin liturgy will be used in an ordination here in more than 40 years.
This will be great - wish I could be there!

Computer Simulation Gives Ancient Rome New Life

After 10 years of work, researchers this week unveiled a detailed 3-D simulation of ancient Rome, circa A.D. 320. Visitors can examine 7,000 buildings and even go inside the Colosseum for an in-depth tour.
Amazing work and pictures.

HT to Joe for the link!

Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk: Debating the embryo’s fate

For those who are familiar with Fr. Tad's work in the area of embryonic stem cell research educations and debates, you will enjoy this article in The Pilot, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston.

For those who are not familiar with him,
Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River and serves as the director of education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.
As usual, Father makes lucid, compelling, and ethical arguments which we would do well to remember when we are called upon to discuss this issue with family or friends who are confused by the hype surrounding the immorality and gross injustice of embryonic stem cell research. This is definitely worth printing and saving and committing to memory.

Psychiatrist Witness in Notorious Late-Term Abortionist Case Breaks Silence

... And He Is Threatened by the Kansas Attorney General

Perhaps the truth will eventually prevail in this matter - we can certainly hope and pray.

Attorney general claims he contacted psychiatrist, which psychiatrist denies
TOPEKA, Kansas, June 13, 2007 ( – A respected psychiatrist who was to be one of the primary witnesses against the infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller has broken his silence about the case, claiming that Kansas’ new attorney general failed to contact him, despite a supposed in-depth investigation into the case conducted by the attorney general.
The psychiatrist is Dr. Paul McHugh, who is a a graduate of Harvard, and who was the chairman of psychiatry at John Hopkins University from 1977-2000.

A very good summary of what's going on in this case is continued at LifeSiteNews here, including links to an interview with Dr. McHugh (via YouTube), the AG's "Cease and Desist" letter, and much more.

Surgeon General Nominee Holsinger Defended by National "Ex-Gay" Group

Contact: Regina Griggs, Director, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), 703-360-2225

WASHINGTON, June 11 /Christian Newswire/ -- Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) today condemned the bigoted remarks by gay activists being made about the new Surgeon General nominee. Gay rights groups are attacking Dr. James Hoslinger's nomination because his church is inclusive of ex-gays and he supports the right to self-determination regarding one's sexual attraction.
. . .
"Americans need to face the growing issue of bigotry perpetrated upon ex-gays and their supporters. Gay activists cannot claim sympathy as victims when they attack ex-gays for political purposes of their own," said Griggs. "Tolerance is not a one-way street. All individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions deserve the right to self-determination and happiness based on their own needs, and not the political inconvenience of others."

Guiliani Greeted by Picketing in Orange County

“If you support Giuliani, you aren't supporting family values”

June 13 /Christian Newswire -- Republicans upset with Rudy Giuliani's anti-family policies protested on Sunday, June 10th when the "Republican" presidential candidate appeared in Irvine. A "Rudy Giuliani in drag" was among dozens of sign-holding protestors outside the hotel.

"Imagine what heads of state would think of an American president known for dressing up as a woman," said Bob Cielnicky, a southern California pro-life leader. "What was Rudy Giuliani thinking when he did this publicly three times as mayor of New York? Obviously not the Presidency."
Guiliani has several problems of which this is only one.

Claiming to be a Republican or a conservative does not make it so - no matter how many times one might repeat it over and over in his head.

Californian Catholic Daily reminds us of some of Rudy's "issues":
As mayor, Giuliani was a steadfast abortion advocate who even supported partial-birth abortion. Records show Giuliani made six personal donations to Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.

Mayor Giuliani pushed for and signed a law that awarded pseudo-marriage rights to homosexual partners. Giuliani marched in several New York City Gay Pride parades, the last one three months before 9/11. After committing adultery and being evicted from the mayor's mansion by his wife, Giuliani moved in with a homosexual couple. He went on to marry his third wife and become her third husband.

It should be clear that the man is not balanced. And one should not forget the fact that he is opposed to a citizen's right to self defense because of his antipathy toward the 2nd Amendment.

"It's appalling to see some Republicans abandoning their Republican Party core principles for Rudy Giuliani," said Ken Fisher, a conservative Republican activist in Orange County. "If you support Giuliani, you aren't supporting family values."
It's more than appalling - it demonstrates a blindness and sickness which, in the end, is terminal.

Barry Lynn and Group Opposed to Truth

The "Reverend" Barry Lynn of the anti-American group "Americans United for Separation of Church and State" is calling for an IRS investigation of Bishop Tobin for his remarks challenging Rudy Giuliani and his position on abortion.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, in a news release yesterday, said it took the action because “federal tax law forbids non-profits to use organizational resources to support or oppose candidates for public office.” The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, the group’s executive director, said in the letter that Tobin, “appears to have violated federal tax law by attacking Giuliani.” Tobin made his comments in a piece in the Rhode Island Catholic, questioning Giuliani’s position that abortion is wrong, but that government should not impede a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.

Politicians routinely tout their "faith", but woe be unto those who question those politicians about their hypocracy or use such events as "teaching moments."

An earlier post about Guiliani and Bishop Tobin (including the link to his remarks) can be viewed here.

The source for the story of the "Reverend's" call for an IRS investigation is here.

The Way of the Neocatechumenals Is Still Rocky

Vatican approval for its new statutes is on the way – but not for the catechisms of the founders. And differences over the liturgical rites persist. Relations are also mixed with the Greek Melkite Church, and with the patriarchate of Moscow.
by Sandro Magister

Gospel for Thursday, 10th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus and His Teaching, the Fulfillment of the Law (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [20] "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

[21] "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' [22] But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire. [23] So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, [24] leave your gift there before the altar and go; first to be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. [25] Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; [26] truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.

20. "Righteousness": see the note on Matthew 5:6 (see below). This verse clarifies the meaning of the preceding verses. The scribes and Pharisees had distorted the spirit of the Law, putting the whole emphasis on its external, ritual observance. For them exact and hyper-detailed but external fulfillment of the precepts of the Law was a guarantee of a person's salvation: "If I fulfill this I am righteous, I am holy and God is duty bound to save me." For someone with this approach to sanctification it is really not God who saves: man saves himself through external works of the Law. That this approach is quite mistaken is obvious from what Christ says here; in effect what He is saying is: to enter the Kingdom of God the notion of righteousness or salvation developed by the scribes and Pharisees must be rejected. In other words, justification or sanctification is a grace from God; man's role is one of cooperating with that grace by being faithful to it. Elsewhere Jesus gives the same teaching in an even clearer way (cf. Luke 18:9-14, the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector). It was also the origin of one of St. Paul's great battles with the"Judaizers" (see Galatians 3 and Romans 2-5).

21. Verses 21-26 gives us a concrete example of the way that Jesus Christ brought the Law of Moses to its fulfillment, by explaining the deeper meaning of the commandments of that Law.

22. By speaking in the first person ("but I say to you") Jesus shows that His authority is above that of Moses and the prophets; that is to say, He has divine authority. No mere man could claim such authority.

"Insults": practically all translations of this passage transcribe the original Aramaic word, "raca" (cf. RSV note below). It is not an easy word to translate. It means "foolish, stupid, crazy". The Jews used it to indicate utter contempt; often, instead of verbal abuse they would show their feelings by spitting on the ground.

"Fool" translates an ever stronger term of abuse than "raca"--implying that a person has lost all moral and religious sense, to the point of apostasy.

In this passage our Lord points to three faults which we commit against charity, moving from internal irritation to showing total contempt. St. Augustine comments that three degrees of faults and punishments are to be noted. The first is the fault of feeling angry; to this corresponds the punishment of "judgment". The second is that of passing an insulting remark, which merits the punishment of "the council". The third arises when anger quite blinds us: this is punished by "the hell of fire" (cf. "De Serm. Dom. in Monte", II, 9).

"The hell of fire": literally, "Gehenna of fire", meaning, in the Jewish language of the time, eternal punishment.

This shows the gravity of external sins against charity--gossip, backbiting, calumny, etc. However, we should remember that these sins stem from the heart; our Lord focuses our attention, first, on internal sins--resentment, hatred, etc.--to make us realize that that is where the root lies and that it is important to nip anger in the bud.

23-24. Here our Lord deals with certain Jewish practices of His time, and in doing so gives us perennial moral teaching of the highest order. Christians, of course, do not follow these Jewish ritual practices; to keep our Lord's commandment we have ways and means given us by Christ Himself. Specifically, in the New and definitive Covenant founded by Christ, being reconciled involves going to the Sacrament of Penance. In this Sacrament the faithful "obtain pardon from God's mercy for the offense committed against Him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins" ("Lumen Gentium", 11).

In the New Testament, the greatest of all offerings is the Eucharist. Although one has a duty to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, an essential condition before receiving Holy Communion is that one be in the state of grace.

It is not our Lord's intention here to give love of neighbor priority over love of God. There is an order of charity: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. This is the great and first commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38). Love of one's neighbor, which is the second commandment in order of importance (cf. Matthew 22:39), derives its meaning from the first. Brotherhood without parenthood is inconceivable. An offense against charity is, above all, an offense against God.

[Note on Matthew 5:6 states:
6. The notion of righteousness (or justice) in Holy Scripture is an essentially religious one (cf. notes on Matthew 1:19 and 3:15; Romans 1:17; 1:18-32; 3:21-22 and 24). A righteous person is one who sincerely strives to do the Will of God, which is discovered in the commandments, in one's duties of state in life and through one's life of prayer. Thus, righteousness, in the language of the Bible, is the same as what nowadays is usually called "holiness" (1 John 2:29; 3:7-10; Revelations 22:11; Genesis 15:6; Deuteronomy 9:4).]
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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, June 14

The Priestly Ministry

The Administration of Penance

First Meditation - Motives for Hearing Confessions Readily

I. Gratitude. - What would have become of me had I never confessed my own sins? All the grave sins com­mitted since Baptism would be still infesting my soul; they would be branded on my conscience almost indelibly, and made blacker still by the muddy stream of sinful habit which without this Sacrament would have flowed on unchecked, staining with a deeper dye. What countless shameful falls this Sacrament has saved me from! What fearful remorse, what mental briars and thorns, it has plucked from my soul!

I might almost modify a text from St. Paul and exclaim: "By the Grace of God, through the Sacrament of Penance, I am what I am!"

Such incomparable benefits demand some form of gratitude; and I am quite sure that, in my case, the token most pleasing to God is, not to begrudge other souls the benefits which my confessors have made available to me.

II. Personal gain. - The administration of this Sacrament carries with it incalculable advantages for the minister, the advantages of heavy, hard toil not at all pleasing to nature. So, in general, the first to do penance on this occasion is the priest administering it.

Now, if the penitential spirit is something essential to the Christian spirit:
except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish - (Luke xiii, 5);
if our Divine Master's first sermon, as though He had taken it straight from the lips of His Precursor, was:
Do penance; if my many slights and offences against the Creator bind me for life, and perhaps beyond this life, to a compensation wrought of the rigours of this virtue of penance; then, Lord, I thank Thee for giving me so near at hand this great opportunity of expiation through hard work, through a work as self-denying to me as it is helpful to others: the hearing of confessions.

There is another gain. Certain ministerial tasks are easily vitiated by vanity; for example, preaching and other public duties. How often the cankerworm of conceit gets into the holiest of endeavours, and gnaws and consumes them! But what a fool I should be if I were to swell with pride for having spent a few hours hearing confessions, giving bits of advice for the amend­ment of my penitents, when, according to St. Francis de Sales, the first qualification to be a good confessor is usually to know how to listen and let the penitents have their say.

III. The greatest work of mercy. - The priest, deprived of the goods of this world - and how desperately poor a priest can be! - will not make a headline by his sub­stantial money contributions; many a layman can afford to outdo him in this respect; but are not the spiritual works of mercy far more meritorious in God's sight than the corporal?

And if the Catechism does not enumerate the hearing of confessions among the spiritual works of mercy it is for the simple reason that this work belongs exclusively to the priest, or rather, because, while it includes them, it also eclipses every one of them. What work of mercy ever reaches the depths of the soul to bring God's pardon, like the work of the confessor?

I might well apply the words of St. Peter, when he healed the man born lame, and apply them with deeper significance:
"Turn towards me: silver and gold are not mine to give, I give thee what I can." (Acts iii, 6)

"In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ thy sins are forgiven thee."

"I absolve thee from thy sins."

IV. The Church commands you, implores you on bended knees. - It is the Church's desire, formulated by the Council of Trent, that all who assist at Mass should, if duly disposed, share Holy Communion with the priest; and this anxiety is re-affirmed in canon 863 of the [1917] Code:
The faithful should be admonished, according to the decree of the Holy See, to receive the Eucharistic Bread frequently, and even daily; and that those who assist at Holy Mass should not only communicate spiritually, but be prepared to receive in reality our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

The greatest good in any parish or public church is the number and frequency of good Communions. So I shall be deceiving myself if I imagine, and perhaps boast, that I am an excellent worker in the Lord's vine­yard, unless I have promoted and succeeded in obtain­ing a frequent and proper approach to the Holy Table by all the souls confided in one way or another to my care. Yes, I may hear a number of slighting remarks or specious objections against the practice of frequent Communion, but I should clearly understand that I am an ignorant priest, unequipped with the practical science of salvation, if I fail to grasp this great and impregnable truth: the more Communions there are, the more crowded the churches are, the purer the morals, the more deep-rooted the Faith. In the divine Balance, all other works of zeal, without this, will hardly weigh more than a few grains of sand.

But how will the faithful communicate frequently if they do not confess frequently, that is, if I do not sit down frequently to hear them, if many hours of my priestly existence are not spent in the confessional, if I do not offer them every facility to approach? . . . Oh, let me be honest with myself! Cannot all my spoken, unspoken, and subconscious objections to frequent and daily Communion boil down to this: my reluctance to spend long hours in the confessional?

1. Since Baptism is the first Sacrament of forgive­ness and the gateway to the Sacrament of Penance, I shall not be put to the shame of seeing a single parishioner of mine unbaptised, if I can possibly avoid it. Nor shall I console myself thinking that the un­baptised will receive the Sacrament when they grow up, for I realise the hindrances besetting them later in life. I shall remind neglectful parents of their grave obliga­tion in this matter.

2. Sincerely acknowledging before God that hitherto I have shown no small reluctance to hear confessions, and have tried to shirk this ministerial duty under many a futile pretext; from today and until my dying day I shall submit to this task most willingly, a task so often the least esteemed and yet the most profitable to souls.

I may not be much good at preaching, I may not be qualified for high ecclesiastical offices; but I do wish, dear Jesus, to become a good and constant confessor.
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!

Ex-seminary Rector Sees Liberal Theological Threat

Betrayal in Boston?
On his way out the door, the departing rector of St. John's Seminary sent a pair of blistering letters to church officials, alleging that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is endangering the future training of priests by letting theological liberals move in next door.

The Rev. John A. Farren, a conservative and occasionally controversial Dominican friar, warned in the letters last month that the "doctrinal integrity" of St. John's is at risk because of increased proximity to two Jesuit-run Catholic institutions, Boston College and Weston Jesuit School of Theology, which are expected to move into buildings currently held by the seminary.

Farren did not cite specific issues, saying only that Weston Jesuit employs "self-professed gays or lesbians" as faculty members and that several faculty members there have been questioned by the Vatican.

Farren sounds like a good and faithful Dominican...One must read his letters. I can only wonder what is going on in Boston? Has everyone lost his mind?

His letters can be read here (PDF)

SF Archbishop Niederauer Notes “Confusion and misunderstanding”

San Francisco archbishop says participants in “Lay Convocation” well intentioned, but some don’t understand “what is changeable in the Catholic Church and what is not”

More than 300 participants gathered for the Northern California Lay Convocation at San Francisco’s St. Mary’s Cathedral on June 2. According to the archdiocesan newspaper Catholic San Francisco, they discussed several issues, including adult catechesis, cultural diversity, ecumenism, and the role of women in the Church.
It's nice to see that "adult catechesis" was in the list...

San Francisco’s Archbishop George Niederauer was an observer at the June 2 convocation. In the same issue of Catholic San Francisco, he shared his reflections on the meeting. He said he thought many of the participants’ had “very well taken” points, reflecting their “genuine love for the Church and for their Catholic faith.”
Without being overly dismissive of such a statement, suffice it to say that no "genuine love for the Church and for the Catholic faith" exists for those who oppose her teachings and rebel against her disciplines. A very similar claim is made by the man who beats his wife - all while claiming that he truly "loves" her - nothing could be further from the truth. It's indicative of a completely erroneous understanding of "love".

Niederauer said he was struck forcefully by “the mention of polarization.” He said, like a parent, he is alarmed by the “angry, dismissive writing-off of others, the impugning of motives, and the suggestion that the parent will have to choose: ‘It’s him or me!’”
It's Christ and His Church - or - it's not...seems pretty simple and straight forward. It's black or white. The color gray is of the evil one...

Alluding to the parable of the prodigal son, Niederauer said he hears “‘older son’ voices within the Church too often.” Such “voices concern me, whether I hear them on my right or on my left, from traditionalists or progressives..."
The prodigal son, contrite and repenting, sought and received forgiveness and mercy from his father and the older son was upset that as a faithful son, he was not treated with the same rejoicing as the lost son...In these cases, however, the rebellious and "progressive" children are not contrite nor do they seek forgiveness - they want only to tear down the home of the father and the older faithful "traditionalist" son and take over all the property and goods. They want to rebuild something new after destroying what still reminds them of the old.

Archbishop Niederauer needs our do all those who seek to do their own will rather than the will of our Father.

Newspaper Praises Cardinal for Standing Firm on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Calls him “a major intellectual standing up for ‘eternal truth’”
By Elizabeth O’Brien

SYDNEY, Australia, June 12, 2007 ( – The Sydney based national newspaper, The Australian, praised Cardinal George Pell and Brian Hickey for remaining firm on Catholic Church teaching regarding embryonic stem cell research.

In a June 8 editorial, entitled “Three Cheers for a Man Prepared to Defend Moral Absolutes”, the paper admits that it respects Catholic leaders who take a moral stand. Even though The Australian supports embryonic stem cell research, it praised archbishop Pell, saying, “But it is wonderful, in an age where the concept of a knowable truth has been rejected by scholars in favour of universal relevance, to find a major intellectual standing up for ‘eternal truth’”.

Gospel for June 13, Memorial: St Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor

10th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus and His Teaching, the Fulfillment of the Law

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [17] "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. [18] For truly I say to you, till Heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. [19] Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven."

17-19. In this passage Jesus stresses the perennial value of the Old Testament. It is the word of God; because it has a divine authority it deserves total respect. The Old Law enjoined precepts of a moral, legal and liturgical type. Its moral precepts still hold good in the New Testament because they are for the most part specific divine-positive promulgations of the natural law. However, our Lord gives them greater weight and meaning. But the legal and liturgical precepts of the Old Law were laid down by God for a specific stage in salvation history, that is, up to the coming of Christ; Christians are not obliged to observe them (cf. "Summa Theologiae", I-II, q. 108, a. 3 ad 3).

The law promulgated through Moses and explained by the prophets was God's gift to His people, a kind of anticipation of the definitive Law which the Christ or Messiah would lay down. Thus, as the Council of Trent defined, Jesus not only "was given to men as a redeemer in whom they are to trust, but also as a lawgiver whom they are to obey" ("De Iustificatione", can. 21).
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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, June 13

The Priestly Ministry

Administration of the Sacraments

Second Meditation - Reasons for Administering the Sacraments Worthily

I. The Sacraments themselves demand it. - Things of their nature so sublime and worthy, and in their fruits so divine and salutary, must, by necessity, be handled with cor­responding devotion and piety.

"That is how we ought to be regarded, as Christ's servants, and stewards of God's mysteries. And this is what we look for in choosing a steward; we must find one who is trustworthy." - (1 Cor. iv, 1-2)

For a child to be admitted to Holy Communion the Church requires, as an indispensable condition, that he should at least know how to distinguish the Eucharistic from ordinary bread. Will it be asking too much of a priest that he should know how to distinguish between ordinary human actions and the most holy action that regenerates and sanctifies souls?

O Lord! We Thy priests can distinguish indeed, and discern; but how often, in administering Thy Sacra­ments and divine mysteries, we act with less respect, with more irreverence, with considerably less serious­ness, than when talking to a beggar on the street. . . or playing a game of cards! . . .

II. The faithful demand it. - We are obliged, according to the Council of Trent, to instruct the faithful in the nature and holiness of the Sacraments and even in the rites and ceremonies with which the Church surrounds their administration.

But seeing that the frequent observance of this rule is very often either impracticable or, through our negligence, is allowed to become a dead letter, let us at least give the faithful an object lesson by the exact, devout and respectful manner of our administering the Sacraments, so that they may grasp the holy and divine reality beneath the outward symbols.

Could we swear, with hand on heart and mind up­lifted to the God Who is to judge us, that the indiffer­ence, bordering so often on impiety, with which the faithful look around and talk and either receive or stray away from the Sacraments, is not a pallid reflection and rough copy of the rush, untidiness, frivolousness and lack of inward spirit which they are so used to observ­ing in our manner of conferring them?

III. Our own self-respect demands it. - The administering of the Sacraments, whether out of charity or of justice, always turns out to be in some sense a work of obliga­tion, a duty of office; therefore it is a work that pleases God more than any other of supererogation.

It is also a real act of piety, at least as much so as saying the Rosary, making a meditation, visiting the sick or reading a spiritual book. I say, at least; in actual fact it is much more a work of religion and holiness than all the aforementioned exercises, which can be per­formed and be good in themselves without sanctifying grace, whereas woe be to me if I dare to give any of the Sacraments without being in God's grace!

Is it not a fact that I have not always, or perhaps never, considered things in this light? Do I not rather look upon this administering of the Sacraments as some­thing I am formally engaged to do, and something always untimely, troublesome, and completely without personal profit, except for the stipend that sometimes goes with it? . . .

1. Never, never to approach the administration of the Sacraments unless I am in the grace of God, and, if necessary, to make a most sincere act of contrition together with a real determination to go to confession that same day or before saying Mass on the following day. But the surest and most practical way will be to go to confession beforehand, if I am in mortal sin.

2. To administer them readily, as often as the faith­ful ask for them within the limits of reason and law and order; and to do so disinterestedly, decorously, piously.

3. Henceforth to consider their administration as my chief pious exercise, the most profitable to myself, apart from the good they may do to others. Is there any meditation more soul-satisfying and effectual than, for example, to give the Holy Viaticum and at the same time to consider attentively and religiously the words I say and the actions I perform?
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!

Tucson Priests To Be Beatified This Fall

Two Carmelite priests who once worked in Tucson are among 498 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War who will be beatified in Rome this fall.

The Rev. Lucas Tristany and the Rev. Eduardo Farré — both priests with the Discalced Carmelite Friars who lived and worked in Tucson — will be among 498 martyrs of 20th century Spain who will be beatified Oct. 28.

Pope Names New Archbishop in Louisville, KY

LOUISVILLE, Ky. --Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Kurtz was named archbishop of Louisville by Pope Benedict XVI, succeeding Thomas C. Kelly, who guided the archdiocese through one of its most tumultuous times amid a clergy sex abuse scandal.

Kurtz, 60, has served as bishop of the 50,000-member diocese of Knoxville, Tenn., since 1999. Before that, he was a priest for 27 years in the Diocese of Allentown in Pennsylvania.

Kelly turned 75, the normal retirement age for bishops, last July, but remained on the job until his successor was chosen.

Cardinal Pell on Church And State

Some supporters of the cloning bill made little attempt to argue that it was right to create and then destroy human embryos, but claimed that this evil was out-weighted by the cures for diseases which would follow. This is not a justifiable line of argumentation, but the promised cures have nowhere materialized from embryos. . .

As well as arguments about whether it is right to destroy early human life for some real or hoped for gain, another controversy erupted over whether bishops, or the Pope, have any rights to point out Catholic teaching to the public and remind the politicians, especially Catholics, that public acts usually bring public consequences.

Some seemed to suggest that while a football club, a political party or a business certainly could in some circumstances sack or exclude a member or employee, it was totally out of order to suggest a Christian Church might even consider a similar possibility. Certainly Pope Benedict teaches that an unrepentant abortionist should not receive Communion.
Nor should any other unrepentant sinner. But most especially grevious and scandalous are those who publicly proclaim their rejection of the teachings of the Church while, at the same time, professing to be "devout Catholics"...

All Catholics who continue to reject important Catholic teachings, even in areas such as sexuality, family, marriage, abortion, euthanasia, cloning where “liberals” claim the primacy of conscience rules, should expect to be confronted, gently and consistently, rather than comforted and encouraged in their wrongdoing.

Certainly every Catholic politician who voted for this bill should think twice and examine his or her conscience before next receiving Communion.

Another Parish Church Destroyed by Manipulator?

This is so sad to see. It appears as if this was a beautiful small church at one point, no doubt, constructed by the sacrifices of many parishioners over the years, but now, it looks more like a pagan temple.

Mass in the round
Circular arrangement accommodates changes at local Catholic church

WARRENSBURG -- After a long winter of services in a nearby funeral parlor and the local Presbyterian church, parishioners found something both ancient and modern when they walked into the newly renovated and reopened chapel of St. Cecilia's Catholic Church for an evening prayer service in late May.

. . .instead of two tidy rows of long wooden pews facing the front of the church, rings of cushioned chairs circle a gleaming wooden altar set right in the center of the chapel.

No matter where they sat, parishioners could look ahead past the altar, into the faces of their friends, neighbors or fellow churchgoing strangers.
So who is the man responsible for this destruction?

The Rev. Richard Vosko, a tall man in black slacks and a black polo shirt buttoned up at the neck, explained the new floor plan to the congregation with wit and optimism, though he touched on somber issues.

For more information on the Vosko, including his manipulation techniques to "persuade" parishioners in accepting the absurd, click here. Some have likened his methods to the "brain-washing techniques the Asians employed during the Korean War..."

"As you transform this building into a new church, you see yourselves gradually transformed into a new 'Church,' " said Vosko, a representative from the Albany Diocese's Architecture and Building Commission.

The changes at St. Cecilia's will benefit these parishioners' children and their children's children, who will have a very different concept of what "Church" means, he said.

And therein lies the problem - the church is no longer the Domus Dei- the House of God - but something entirely different, the transcendence and holiness having been excised, all in favor of "me" and "we" in place of God...

Thankfully, though, Vasko and those with similar liturgical and theological perspectives appear to be part of a dying breed. And that's good news for renewal of the sacred.