Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 29, Moderation in Speech

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues

Moderation in Speech

Second Meditation - Means

I. I shall carry out the excellent advice given by St. James the Apostle when he says, in words that might worthily take rank among the sentences of the Book of Proverbs:
"It is for us men to be ready listeners, slow to speak our minds, slow to take offence." (James i, 19)

If only I possessed that lovable characteristic, that quality so precious, because so rare, of knowing how to listen; how to listen to my neighbour intently, with lively interest, with joy, without ill-humoured and dis­dainful haste; I should run less risks than in speaking, and I should learn a vast amount of good I am now ignorant of, or which I know but very indifferently; and I should gain the good will of my neighbour into the bargain. How flattered we all are when people listen to us, though our speech should dwell on mere trivialities!

I must confess that people are never more congenial to me, however well-spoken they may be, than when they give me a good hearing, and, by their kind attentiveness, take stock of my views without interrupting and, much less, contradicting me.

But we should also be "slow to speak our minds", more especially when anger or any other passion gets hold of us. When in a passionate mood, it is preferable to refrain even from saying what in itself is good. And that goes also for the word of God, because in the pulpit we must be aware that

"Man's anger does not bear the fruit that is acceptable to God." (James i,20)

I shall bring passion into my service, but only as a helpmate under the wise discretion of the mind, to whom it belongs to give orders as to how and when passion should communicate color and movement and life and persuasive, emotional force to my words. Never should passion become tyrannical mistress of my speech.

II. I shall banish from my lips, as being unworthy of a man, of a gentleman, and of a priest, all manner of lying; so that it may be said of me with all sincerity and justification:

One that is a priest. . . he will not deceive us. (1 Machab. vii, 14)

All deception, fraud, and simulation are a disgrace to our cloth. Trivial as a lie may appear, it will always be, in the sight of the divine Scrutiniser of hearts, an evil infinitely greater than the evils I may wish to avoid by lying.

From my lips not a word, from my hands not a deed, redolent of flattery. Flattery is always a lie, a low-down lie because of the unconfessable aims it usually pursues; a lie that is detrimental both to the person indulging in it and to the one who is simple or vain enough to accept it.

Towards my own hierarchical Superiors I shall be deferential, respectful, perhaps even very friendly; but servile and fawning, never. No smoke of incense has blinded more eyes and caused more tears to flow than the incense of flattery.

And what about the itch to argue and to contradict just for argument's and contradiction's sake? I shall loathe it as something stupid, unmannerly, insufferable. Tolerance for all shades of opinion, as long as they are opinions not at variance with dogmatic truth, defined morals, or another's rights, ranks high among the love­liest virtues that adorn the human soul. It is more important to live in peace than to see my views prevail.

Excessive jocularity, when habitual, easily degenerates into buffoonery, insults, impudence; it stoops to coarse scurrility. Very few have the enviable gift of a restrained and delightful sense of humour, the cream of human talent.

And, in due measure, I shall love and practise silence, so useful to the religious man and priest. If I whittle my life away in garrulous nonsense, when or where shall I find time and leisure for my devotional exercises and for serious reflections on the eternal truths? When shall I devote myself to study, which is absolutely indispensable to me if I am not to forfeit my standing as a man of education, and render myself incapable of rising to the high demands of my life's calling?

Woe be to me if I am unable to control myself in the matter of speaking or remaining silent when my conscience bids! How many very grave indiscretions and sacrileges and crimes my talkativeness could expose me to! The priest has to be a closed and sealed coffer - ­such is the nature and quality of the secrets confided to his keeping; secrets natural, professional, sacramental or quasi-sacramental, which he has to guard with impene­trable reserve; secrets that no human force or power of persuasion or threats and torments or death itself should avail to rifle and wrench from him.

Do I measure up to these lofty standards? Or do I bring my priestly ministry into disrepute through womanish indiscretions of the tongue?
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!

September 9-St. Joseph Radio Catholic Lecture Series

From St Joseph Radio:


Rosalind Moss and David Moss

will share their compelling and deeply inspiring journeys from their Jewish heritage to the Catholic Church

Passover: From Promise to Fulfillment

Rosalind Moss is a staff apologist with Catholic Answers, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the Catholic faith through all forms of media.

She was born and raised in a Jewish home, and in her adult years embraced Jesus as the Messiah of the Jewish people. Her initial conversion took her from a 15-year business career as a successful executive with corporations in New York and California to full-time Evangelical ministry, earning a master's degree in Ministry from Talbot Theological Seminary.

Through the influence of her brother David and a series of events in the summer of 1990 she set out on a compelling course to find out if the Catholic Church is in fact the Church Christ established. After an intensive and heartwrenching search, and 18 years of Evangelical Protestantism, she entered the Catholic Church in 1995.

Rosalind now travels the world speaking and teaching. Her radio and television appearances include: EWTN’s “The Journey Home”, “St. Joseph Radio Presents” and “Catholic Answers Live.” She co-hosts “Household of Faith” and “Now that We’re Catholic!” on EWTN.

You are my witnesses…(Isaiah 43:10)

David Moss is President of the Association of Hebrew Catholics, a group working to preserve the identity and heritage of Catholics of Jewish origin within the Church. He is a renowned speaker and was a guest of EWTN’s “The Journey Home” program.

David was born into a Jewish family in 1941. Father of four children, he worked for 28 years for IBM. In 1978, after having spent 23 years searching for the meaning of life, God responded to his cry of despair. He entered the Catholic Church in 1979.

In 1992, David along with 8,500 others was downsized out of IBM. Simultaneously, Fr. Elias Friedman O.C.D. asked him to lead the Association of Hebrew Catholics which Father had launched from Israel in 1979. In 1994, David committed the remainder of his life to this work.

In 2001, David married Kathleen, his b'shert. In the same year, they moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan to associate with Ave Maria College. In 2002, BishopMengeling of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan gave the Association his approbation and blessing. In November 2006, with the blessing of Archbishop Raymond Burke, the AHC relocated to St. Louis, establishing its headquarters here.

Sunday, September 9, 2007 Ÿ 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Holy Mass at 11:30 a.m.

Historic Old St. Ferdinand Shrine Ÿ 1 Rue Saint Francois Ÿ Florissant, MO

Lunch available at minimum cost – reservation required.
Free will offerings appreciated. Ÿ Please call 636-244-0089 for more information.

Sponsored by St. Joseph Radio and the Friends of the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine

August 11-St. Joseph Radio Catholic Lecture Series

From St. Joseph Radio:

Please join us for two very special talks.

Sunday Isn’t Enough: Sanctifying Your Work Week

Sanctification through Suffering: There Are No Shortcuts to Heaven

featuring guest speaker

John LaBriola

Sunday Isn’t Enough: Sanctifying Your Work Week
As Catholics, we recognize God’s authority over our life, our entire life, and that therefore a different world view applies. We are to be Christ-Centered in all we do, not worldly-wise. We are called to live in this world without being seduced by it.

The challenge we face is to remain Christ-Centered in a world that is me-centered, to live His message not only on Sunday morning, but Monday morning and Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon and Friday and Saturday, as well. Sometimes that is not easy. Yet, as Catholics, we are called to be salt and light for the world. Come learn how to sanctify your week, bring peace to your heart and souls to Christ.

Sanctification through Suffering: There Are No Shortcuts to Heaven
Suffering cuts across all boundaries; rich or poor, old or young, male or female, Christian or non-Christian. It is an experience that we all know of, we’ve all suffered. But it is only Christianity that can give meaning and purpose - and even a motive- to suffering.

Suffering, properly understood, can bring us closer to Heaven. In His mercy, God allows suffering. By His grace, God gives us the strength to triumph over it. Come learn how to suffer well.

John LaBriola has been involved Church Ministry for over twenty years. He has spent time as a Youth Minister, Religious Education teacher, Confirmation teacher, Young Adult Minister and Adult Faith Formation teacher. He has delivered hundreds of missions, retreats, workshops and classes at the parish and diocesan level and in the West Indies. John uses his professional experience as a business consultant and trainer to help Catholics of all ages deepen their love and knowledge of the one, true Church.

He can be heard on St Joseph Radio Presents, a worldwide radio program featured on EWTN that helps Catholics spread the truth of the Catholic faith. He is the author of the book, Catholic Truth for Catholic Teens: A Guide to Embracing and Defending Your Faith, Christ Centered Selling A Scripturally Based Guide to Principled, Profitable Persuasion, and has just completed his third book, Onward Christian Soldier: A Catholic Layman’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare.

John expresses the truth of Catholicism in a manner that is accessible and understandable to all. He is a gifted communicator whose ability to relate to various audiences is unsurpassed. John is a parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul in Huntington Beach, CA along with his wife and their three beautiful daughters.

Saturday • August 11, 2007 • 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Historic Old St. Ferdinand Shrine • 1 Rue Saint Francois • Florissant, MO

Freewill donations appreciated! • Please call 636-244-0089 for more information.

Sponsored by St. Joseph Radio and the Friends of the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine

Thoughts and Counsels - July 28

When you covet that which delights you, think not only of the sweet moments of enjoyment, but of the long season of regret which must follow.

--St. Bernard
From Mary, Help of Christians
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Gospel for Saturday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: Our Lady's Saturday

From: Matthew 13:24-30

The Parable of the Weeds

[24] Another parable he (Jesus) put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; [25] but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. [26] So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. [27] And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?' [28] He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' [29] But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. [30] Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"


24-25. "The situation is clear: the field is fertile and the seed is good; the Lord of the field has scattered the seed at the right moment and with great skill. He even has watchmen to make sure that the field is protected. If, afterwards, there are weeds among the wheat, it is because men have failed to respond, because they--and Christians in particular--have fallen asleep and allowed the enemy to approach" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 123).

25. This weed--cockle--looks very like wheat and can easily be mistaken for it until the ears appear. If it gets ground up with wheat it contaminates the flour and any bread made from that flour causes severe nausea when eaten. In the East personal vengeance sometimes took the form of sowing cockle among an enemy's wheat. Roman law prescribed penalties for this crime.

28. "When the careless servants ask the Lord why weeds have grown in his field, the explanation is obvious: 'inimicus homo hoc fecit: an enemy has done this.' We Christians should have been on guard to make sure that the good things placed in this world by the Creator were developed in the service of truth and good. But we have fallen asleep--a sad thing, that sluggishness of our heart while the enemy and all those who serve him worked incessantly. You can see how the weeds have grown abundantly everywhere" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 123).

29-30. The end of this parable gives a symbolic explanation of why God allows evil to have its way for a time--and for its ultimate extirpation. Evil is to run its course on earth until the end of time; therefore, we should not be scandalized by the presence of evil in the world. It will be obliterated not in this life, but after death; at the Judgment (the harvest) the good will go to Heaven and the bad to Hell.
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, July 27, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 28, Moderation in Speech

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues

Moderation in Speech

First Meditation - Motives

I. Let us bypass the great defects: blasphemy, cursing, perjury, obscenity. . . we are dealing in terms of Christian and priestly perfection. All the while, how­ever, let us be alive to the possibility of our easily stooping to calumny or of becoming an accomplice and thorough-going purveyor of calumny.

Of this possibility there is observable, even in pious people, in religious, in priests, a symptom that is unmistakable: the tendency to disbelieve or give little adherence to the good that is reported of our neighbour. We want substantial evidence, we fear an exaggeration; and even when a thorough investigation establishes the fact, we begin to query our neighbour's good intentions; or else we forget the good report, as being of trivial importance.

The evil we hear, on the other hand, would seem to commend itself to our ready acceptance; we are inclined to take it almost as an article of faith at the first intimation; one witness is enough, no matter how little trustworthy; or rather, we have no need of witnesses, we don't want them; the slightest rumour commands our assent with­out our going to the trouble of asking from what low­down haunts the pestilential breath of gossip arose.

Why should this be? Belief belongs to a great extent to the will - motus voluntatis - so we believe what we wish to believe; and thus we believe the evil about our neigh­bour because it gives us a sort of joy and satisfaction, whereas we reject belief in the good because in some way it pains us to see our neighbour possessed of some­thing good, it clashes with our own self-interests; there­fore we are more pleased to hear evil of our neighbour than good.

Such are the pious instincts we harbour in our hearts, however much we try to camouflage them with the holiest of appearances.

If this analysis corresponds to facts, would it not be enough to make any rightminded person reject off-hand all imputation of blame against his neighbour? At least, in the words of Fr. Avila, until he had given to the accused or calumniated thirty days in which to defend himself? Even the greatest criminal is not denied this right by the law of the land.

II. The tongue is one of the bodily members subject to the sovereign jurisdiction of the will, its acts are com­manded by the will - actus imperati - like those of the hands and the feet; and more so than the acts of eyes, ears, and imagination. The tongue is in bondage to the free will.

But the free will in all its operations, elicited and commanded, should be governed by the dictates of right reason and moral principle; and the tongue is no excep­tion.

Consequently, every word that strays from this simple and obvious rule is to be considered morally defective, a sin; more or less grievous according to the speaker's intentions, the gravity of the matter, and other circumstances.

In the light of this plain reasoning, how clearly I see the distance I have to travel before I acquire mastery over the tongue's domain! A domain of insignificant dimensions, it would appear, but a domain vast enough for the tongue to run amok as a slave, not to reason or faith, but to caprice, to a riotous imagination, or to the basest appetites of lust, envy, and anger!

III. Many advantages accrue from the right use of the tongue. Prudence, for example.

"Where least is said, most prudence is." (Prov. x, 19)

And prudence is the standard measure for all human life; without prudence the good becomes weakness and turns into evil.

Peace of mind is another advantage:
"Guard lips and tongue, as thou wouldst guard thy life from peril." (Prov. xxi, 23)

Peace of mind is imperilled, countless griefs gnaw the heart, when the tongue goes unchecked. Which of us has never known the torture of an untimely or imprudent word, that could not be taken back?

And which of us would have suspected that Christian perfection, that high estate to which our Divine Lord so eagerly invites us, could be purchased at the small price of keeping the tongue under control? Yet that is the mind of the Apostle St. James:
"A man who is not betrayed into any faults of the tongue must be a man perfect at every point." (James iii, 2)

IV. Let us follow up the thoughts of St. James concerning the tongue's tremendous power for evil, as he sets them down in the lively third chapter of his Canonical Epistle. The unrestrained tongue produces evils beyond computation, but this is what he says: to curb the tongue is to curb the whole body, just as by putting a curb in their mouths we can make horses obey us and we can turn their whole bodies this way and that; just as with a tiny rudder a huge ship, driven along by boisterous winds, is steered by the ship's pilot in the direction he wills; just as a small spark is enough to set fire to a vast forest.

And this, precisely, is what the tongue is: a raging fire, fire caught from hell itself, a fire that devastates the whole course of our lives. Every­thing that is harmful seems to find its natural abode in the ungoverned tongue. It defies all mere human effort to tame it down. It is a pest that is never allayed, all deadly poison, a source of infection to the whole body.

Why should this be? asks the Apostle. Why should we use it to bless God our Father, and at the same time use it to curse our fellow men, who were made in God's image? Blessing and cursing from the same mouth!

"My brethren, there is no reason in this. Does the fountain gush out fresh and salt water from the same outlet? . . . can a fig-tree yield olives, or a vine figs? No more easily will brackish water yield fresh." (Cfr. James iii, 1-12.)

If these terrible truths remained only on paper! But is it not truer to say that they are engraved on my life with the corrosive ink of the many ravages that immoderation in speech has inflicted upon me?

With subtle discernment the same Apostle singles out the good or evil use of the tongue as the mark of true or false piety:

"If anyone deludes himself by thinking he is serving God, when he has not learned to control his tongue, the service he gives is vain." (James i, 26)

1. I shall attach far greater importance to short­comings of the tongue, examining them more seriously and frequently at night, taking them as subject matter for my weekly confession, and, if needs be, making my daily panicular examen before my midday and evening meals on this particular weakness of mine if I find it hard to cure.

2. Seeing that, according to St. James, "no human being has ever found out how to tame the tongue", I shall ask God for this mercy, knowing that "it is the part of man to prepare the soul, and of the Lord to govern the tongue". (Prov. xvi, 1).

I shall beg God to hold my tongue in check, and not to permit the monstrosity of its being used at one and same time to bless Him and to curse man, who is made to His image and likeness. When any special danger looms ahead I shall try to forestall lapses of the tongue by reciting the words of the psalm:

Pone, Domine, custodiam ori meo, et ostium circumstantiae labiis meis; non declines cor meum in verba malitiae ad excusandas excusationes in peccatis. (Ps. cxl, 3-4)

"Lord, set a guard on my mouth, post a sentry before my lips; do not turn my heart towards thoughts of evil that point the way to wrong-doing."
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!

Pope's private secretary warns of Islamization of Europe

Pope Benedict XVI's private secretary warned of the Islamization of Europe and stressed the need for the continent's Christian roots not to be ignored, in comments released Thursday.

"Attempts to Islamize the west cannot be denied," Monsignor Georg Gaenswein was quoted as saying in an advance copy of the weekly Sueddeutsche Magazin to be published Friday.

"The danger for the identity of Europe that is connected with it should not be ignored out of a wrongly understood respectfulness," the magazine quoted him as saying...
Eurabia - the result of a "wrongly understood respectfulness"... Isn't this the same as, or similar to, a "political correctness" gone awry...Actually when doesn't "political correctness" lead to major problems?


Delusional Womyn Anointed "Catholic" Deacons, Priest in Santa Barbara

“Is the candidate worthy?” intoned Bishop Patricia Fresen ceremonially, as lifelong Catholic Juanita Cordero stood before her in a pure white gown, about to be ordained as a priest.

Patricia Fresen again pretends to be something which can never be - a Catholic bishop...yet dozens if not hundreds of confused, ignornant, or obstinately rebellious join in the charade.

The question was asked three times during the ordination ceremony on Sunday, July 22, as one female priest and two female deacons were invested with the power to perform sacraments — a function forbidden to women under canon law.

The "Power to perform sacraments"? The people refuse to accept objective reality. They live in a dream world, a fantasy land.

They are part of a movement from within the Roman Catholic Church that
has been ordaining female priests since 2002, though those involved say that the tradition of women priests and bishops dates as far back as Mary Magdalene, whom they consider an apostle of Jesus.

Actually, this is not a "movement from within the Roman Catholic Church" but it exists outside the CHurch as these people have efffectively separated themselves from the Church. Not only do they exhibit a distorted understanding of history, they presume to decide, on their own authority, what the Church has done and what she must do.

Archbishop Burke, in his most recent column, reflected on such people:
From the beginning, the unity of the Church has been severely tested by those who have wanted to form and lead the Church in a direction that suited their ideas and preferences but was not the mind of Christ...Sometimes, most sadly, groups of the faithful have refused to accept the decisions of the Roman Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him, and have broken communion with the Church.

This is precisely what we see here.

The participants in this movement fervently hope to be embraced by the Vatican, as other splinter groups have been before them.
Splinter groups? Well, it's apparent that they "hope" for the theologically impossible - so they hope in vain. Poor souls, deceived by the evil one and blinded by pride, they have set themselves adrift in a sea of confusion and sin.

Archbishop Burke discusses the recent CDF Document

On this past June 29, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office of the Holy Father which helps him "to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the whole Catholic world" addressed a number of questions which have been raised in the teaching about the Church, especially in what pertains to ecumenism...

Some have characterized the most recent Vatican document as a new teaching which is unfaithful to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.

Some of the faithful of the St. Louis Archdiocese have expressed concern that the recent document represents a weakening of the Church’s commitment to the work of ecumenism.

The document makes it clear that it is only presenting the perennial teaching of the Church in response to certain questions which have been frequently raised in recent theological writings on the Church. The document addresses the questions to remedy possible confusion and doubt...
. . .
The recent document of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith does not set forth new teaching on the Church but rather enunciates the Church’s perennial teaching in responding to five questions which are frequently raised. The document also does not draw back from the Church’s responsibility for the work of ecumenism. It, rather, gives clear expression to the Catholic Church’s understanding of herself. The clear statement of the Church’s teaching about herself is indispensable to the work of ecumenism. Such clarity does not discourage ecumenical conversation but, rather, rests it upon the honesty which is necessary for all true conversation.
These are only a few excerpts of the article. The full article can be read here.

Outspoken priest provokes war of words

Fr. John Malloy, former pastor of San Francisco’s Sts. Peter and Paul Church, has stirred up a bit of controversy in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In a letter published in the July 7 Chronicle, Malloy addressed the paper’s June 23 article on Fr. Rich Danyluk, who proclaimed his homosexuality to his congregation at St. Joseph’s Basilica in Alameda. The article, wrote Malloy, “and the letters [June 30] you selected to support [Danyluk], show how poorly understood is the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the gay lifestyle.”

Malloy agreed with Danyluk that the “Gospel is for everyone” and said he himself, the pope, and Cardinal William Levada, “with a multitude of priests, love homosexuals.” Malloy said that Danyluk “certainly knows the difference between sin and sinner. He and we love the sinner, we are also called, after the example of Christ Himself, to hate the sin.”

Would following Christ, asked Malloy, “demand that we accept perverse actions that mimic marital love and end in so many venereal diseases?”

Thoughts and Counsels - July 27

Wouldst thou know what thou art?
Thou art that to which thy heart turns the most frequently.

-Ven. Bartholomew of Martyrs
From Mary, Help of Christians
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Gospel for Friday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Old Calendar: St. Pantaleon, martyr

From: Matthew 13:18-23

Parable of the Sower. The Meaning of the Parables (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [18] "Hear then the parable of the sower. [19] When any one hears the Word of the Kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in hies heart; this is what was sown along the path. [20] As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy; [21] yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately he falls away. [22] As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful. [23] As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the Word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."


19. He does not understand because he does not love--not because he is not clever enough: lack of love opens the door of the soul to the devil.
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, July 26, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 27, Meekness

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues


Second Meditation - Priestly Motives

I. If in the course of our priestly ministry we are to do any good to souls we need respect, but unless we curb our anger we run the risk of placing ourselves in situations that ill befit our priestly condition and make us appear contemptible.

People will not fear us because of our anger; fits of bad temper convict us of weakness and invite ridicule. And let us remember this: apart from a few places, where respect for the priest is very solidly established and where the priest enjoys a par­ticularly high social status, the Catholic priest, no matter what his rank within the Church's Hierarchy, means very little, as a priest, to society at large.

People are absolutely at liberty to approach us, if they will; if not, we shall be left to kick our heels in the most appall­ing loneliness. So why get upset? Why shout and let off steam in outbursts of impotent rage, the effect of which would be merely to repel people?

On the other hand, what great respect and love and esteem is given to the priest who knows how to be gentle and forbearing! How the priest, who by the grace of God and by his own sustained efforts has mastered his angry impulses, attracts and captivates!

Having learned first to wield absolute sovereignty over the domains of his own soul, having checked the brutal thrust of his own passions with the bridle of grace and reason, he has mastery over others. Like a keeper who has tamed wild beasts, he has other souls at his command.

This, in many priests, is the source of the great good they do and of the obedience so willingly rendered to them; not their learning, which is nothing extraordinary; not their wealth, which they do not possess; not the influence of friends or of politicians, a hindrance rather than a help to them; no, it is their kindness and gentleness that suffice; they make themselves all to all men; they maintain their self-control; and thus, by their quiet manner and gracious words, they are able to
witness even in this life the fulfilment of the Beatitude:
Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.

II. Unfortunately, among the clergy, in every rank, there are to be found unpleasant characters, embittered souls, as high-voltaged, it would seem, as electric storm clouds. A sad fact which does us very little honour, being so much at variance with the spirit of Christ, who came not to destroy or to terrorise. No man more self-adapting, more gracious and better-mannered, than the Virgin's Son.

Brusqueness of manner does not square with our task of winning souls over by our speech; the words that enthrall and conquer are not tempestuous words. Anger is not in keeping with our position as gentlemen of good breeding and manners. If genuine good manners are simply the spontaneous expression of inward goodness made manifest in words and actions, of whom more than of the priest can this inward goodness be expected? The priest, above all men, is called upon to bear out the words of Christ:
"A good man utters good words from his store of goodness."

He is not expected to bring from his heart a store of vinegar and gall, fire and fury, nettles and thorns.

If the world, so trained in the art of apparent good manners, detects a streak of inhumanity in you, it will form its own conclusions; namely, you are uncouth because you are unfamiliar with your social medium, and the intolerance you show is to be attributed to the fact that you were suddenly and without due prepara­tion "jumped up" socially; you were lifted out of an inferior social stratum and made to live among educated people; and therefore, in your proud conceit and mis­calculation you thought that by arching or knitting your eyebrows, by blowing alternately hot and cold of temper, you would succeed in convincing others of your immense superiority over them, and would display your Savoir faire in the craft of bringing your subjects to heel.

O God, however eminent the dignity of Thy priests, do not withhold from them that courtesy and good manners which even among many souls who are entirely estranged from Thee have a captivating and irresistible power.

III. This "benignitas" is for St. Paul something more than good manners, it is the flower of all virtue, the proof that charity abides in us: the charity which sur­passes the gifts of tongues and prophecy, almsgiving, even martyrdom itself. When St. Paul comes to analyse the essence of charity, he does not enter into lofty theological disquisitions, he makes this sovereign virtue consist in something that is eminently practical, homely, and of everyday life:

" Charity is patient, is kind; charity feels no envy;

"Charity is never perverse or proud, never insolent;

"Does not claim its rights, cannot be provoked,does not brood over an injury;

"Takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but rejoices at the victory of truth;

"Sustains, believes, hopes, endures, to the last." (1 Cor. xiii, 4-7)

Endow a soul with that rich store of qualities, and you will have a paragon of kindness, thoughtfulness, courtesy, meekness. Such a soul will be fashioned after the likeness of Christ, the great Model, who in His dealings with men was full of exquisite graciousness; he will be like St. Paul, whose letters, besides being treatises of Christian belief and its adaptation to human speech, may well be taken as a handbook of social propriety and dignified courtesy.

Dear Lord, that is my ambition. May the warmth of Thy grace dry up in my embittered heart every source of rudeness, harshness, and arrogant pride.

To the best of my ability I shall avoid the occasions that provoke me to anger, because I realise that with this particular passion, as with lust, it is flight that makes for conquest; and the most dangerous occasion of exceeding the bounds of moderation is to indulge in arguing.

How few succeed in remaining calm and com­posed amid the tumult of an argument! I shall follow the advice given by the Apostle:
"A servant of the Lord has no business with quarrelling; he must be kindly towards all men, persuasive and tolerant,

"With a gentle hand for correcting those who are obstinate in their errors." (2 Tim. ii, 24-25)

If the Apostle demands gentleness and affability in the defence of the truth already known, what should we expect him to demand when the argument deals with mere opinions?
"There must be no wordy disputes, such as can only unsettle the minds of those who are listening." (2 Tim. ii, 4)
Such is the effect of mere controversy, according to the Apostle of the Gentiles; instead of clarity, darkness, doubt, anger, and an unsettled mind. These are the bitter and poisonous fruits we have tasted ourselves whenever we have argued for argument's sake; therefore, I shall never allow myself to be drawn into a heated discussion; and if I am requested to take part, I shall know what answer to give:
"And if anyone is prepared to argue the matter, he must know that no such custom is found among us, or in any of God's churches." (1 Cor. xi, 16.)
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!

Rosary Rallies On Target

While October 13 is still over three months away, the task of organizing and coordinating thousands of Public Square Rosary rallies nationwide must be done well in advance. The task of organizing these rallies was the subject of a two-day symposium held July 14-15 at the headquarters of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) in Spring Grove, Penn.
. . .
A how-to manual has all the easy steps to follow. Downloadable banners and posters make it easy to make any rally visible. A map is available to find the nearest rally. The idea of the web resource center for the campaign is to make it possible for anyone, anywhere to get involved.
. . .
Anyone Can Be Rosary Captain
Many have the idea that the role of rosary captain is a daunting task. While it definitely involves some responsibility, the Rosary Campaign Central has made the process much easier.

With devotion and determination, anyone can be a rosary rally captain. All that is needed is a public place, some friends, some signs (easily downloadable here) and a rosary.

NewsFlash! Catholics and Protestants still have doctrinal differences

Thoughts and Counsels - July 26

How little is required to be a saint!
It suffices to do the will of God in all things.

-St. Vincent de Paul
From Mary, Help of Christians
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Gospel for July 26, Memorial: St Joachim and St Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Thursday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 13:10-17

Parable of the Sower (Continuation)

[10] Then the disciples came and said to Him (Jesus), "Why do You speak to them in parables?" [11] And He answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given. [12] For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. [13] This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. [14] With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: `You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. [15] For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.'

[16] But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. [17] Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."


10-13. The kind of Kingdom Jesus was going to establish did not suit the Judaism of His time, largely because of the Jew's nationalistic, earthbound idea of the Messiah to come. In His preaching Jesus takes account of the different outlooks of His listeners, as can be seen in the attitudes described in the parable of the sower. If people were well disposed to Him, the enigmatic nature of the parable would stimulate their interest; and Jesus later did give His many disciples a fuller explanation of its meaning; but there was no point in doing this if people were not ready to listen.

Besides, parables--as indeed any type of comparison or analogy--are used to reveal or explain something which is not easy to understand, as was the case with the supernatural things Jesus was explaining. One has to shade one's eyes to see things if the sun is too bright; otherwise, one is blinded and sees nothing. Similarly, parables help to shade supernatural brightness to allow the listener to grasp meaning without being blinded by it.

These verses also raise a very interesting question: how can divine revelation and grace produce such widely differing responses in people? What is at work here is the mystery of divine grace--which is an unmerited gift--and of man's response to this grace. What Jesus says here underlines man's responsibility to be ready to accept God's grace and to respond to it. Jesus' reference to Isaiah (Matthew 13:14-15) is a prophecy of that hardness of heart which is a punishment meted out to those who resist grace.

These verses need to be interpreted in the light of three points: 1) Jesus Christ loved everyone, including people of His own home town: He gave His life in order to save all men; 2) the parable is a literary form designed to get ideas across clearly: its ultimate aim is to teach, not to mislead or obscure; 3) lack of appreciation for divine grace is something blameworthy, which does merit punishment; however, Jesus did not come directly to punish anyone, but rather to save everyone.

12. Jesus is addressing His disciples and explaining to them that, precisely because they have faith in Him and want to have a good grasp of His teaching, they will be given a deeper understanding of divine truths. But those who do not "follow Him" (cf. note on Matthew 4:18-22) will later lose interest in the things of God and will grow ever blinder: it is as if the little they have is being taken away from them.

This verse also helps us understand the meaning of the parable of the sower, a parable which gives a wonderful explanation of the supernatural economy of divine grace: God gives grace, and man freely responds to that grace. The result is that those who respond to grace generously receive additional grace and so grow steadily in grace and holiness; whereas those who reject God's gifts become closed up within themselves; through their selfishness and attachment to sin they eventually lose God's grace entirely. In this verse, then, our Lord gives a clear warning: with the full weight of His divine authority He exhorts us--without taking away our freedom--to act responsibly: the gifts God keeps sending us should yield fruit; we should make good use of the opportunities for Christian sanctification which are offered us in the course of our lives.

14-15. Only well-disposed people grasp the meaning of God's words. It is not enough just to hear them physically. In the course of Jesus' preaching the prophetic words of Isaiah come true once again.

However, we should not think that not wanting to hear or to understand was something exclusive to certain contemporaries of Jesus; each one of us is at times hard of hearing, hard-hearted and dull-minded in the presence of God's grace and saving word. Moreover, it is not enough to be familiar with the teaching of the Church: it is absolutely necessary to put the faith into practice, with all that that implies, morally and ascetically. Jesus was fixed to the wood of the Cross not only by nails and by the sins of certain Jews but also by our sins--sins committed centuries later but which afflicted the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, who bore the burden of our sins. See the note on Mark 4:11-12.

16-17. In contrast with the closed attitude of many Jews who witnessed Jesus' life but did not believe in Him, the disciples are praised by our Lord for their docility to grace, their openness to recognizing Him as the Messiah and to accepting His teaching.

He calls His disciples blessed, happy. As He says, the prophets and just men and women of the Old Testament had for centuries lived in hope of enjoying one day the peace the future Messiah would bring, but they had died without experiencing this good fortune. Simeon, towards the end of his long life, was filled with joy on seeing the infant Jesus when He was presented in the temple: "He took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, `Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation'" (Luke 2:28-30). During our Lord's public life, His disciples were fortunate enough to see and be on close terms with Him; later they would recall that incomparable gift, and one of them would begin his first letter in these words: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life; [...] that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our [or: your] joy may be complete (1 John 1:1-4).

This exceptional good fortune was, obviously, not theirs but of special merit: God planned it; it was He who decided that the time had come for the Old Testament prophecies to be fulfilled. In any event, God gives every soul opportunities to meet Him: each of us has to be sensitive enough to grasp them and not let them pass. There were many men and women in Palestine who saw and heard the incarnate Son of God but did not have the spiritual sensitivity to see in Him what the Apostles and disciples saw.
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, July 25, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 26, Meekness

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues


First Meditation - Christian Motives

I. Let Christ's example spur us on to acquire the virtue of meekness. Not content with staking a claim to meekness - Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart (Matt. xi, 29) - He proved His possession of it by countless acts of perfect Self-mastery. How obvious it is, from the Gospel, that not once did the eruptions of anger obfuscate the august serenity of His wonderfully clear mind and powerful will! Neither the tirades bespattered with insults, nor the vile calumnies which no one could prove, nor ignominious buffetings, scourgings, blows, and spittle. At every hour, in the most trying circumstances, the words of Isaias apply to Him most aptly:

"Lamb that stands dumb while it is shorn; no word from him."-(Is. liii, 7)

No wonder St. Paul, in summing up the character of the Messiah, tells us

"Then the kindness of God, our Saviour, dawned on us, his great love for man." (Titus iii, 4);

and the Baptist, when setting eyes on Jesus, sums up the divine graciousness of everything about Him in the lovely expression:
Behold the lamb of God!

And that loving-kindness is symbolised even by the Holy Spirit - Whom Moses called a "devouring Fire" - by appearing in the form of a dove. And the Church, Christ's Bride, glories in the title "Holy Mother Church" - a title given Her by the same Divine Spirit.

Kind and loving She is, because holy; kinder and more loving still, because She is a Mother. Holy Mother is applied analogically to the mightiest Empire the world has ever seen, the most widespread and most deeply revered Authority on earth; but greater Power has Her Founder, and He affirms categorically of Himself: "I am meek and humble of heart."

II. The words "humanity" and "humaneness" signify meekness and mercifulness. By nature, man possesses no other weapons with which to win over the hearts of other men. If other weapons there are, to turn the world upside-down and sow the seeds of terror and death, it is men themselves who have deliberately fashioned them. Such weapons of force were given by God to animals. To me God gave for my only defence wisdom and gentle persuasion: so often a source of strength unmatched by swords and cannon.

If this does not convince me, let me convince myself that there is nothing more fruitful for good than love, nothing more sterile than hatred. What good does history record ever came from hatred? Hatred is as fruitless as fire and death; hatred dissolves, sterilises, and kills every living germ of goodness.

Happy the priest who, disarmed of all hatred even in persecution the most iniquitous, even when anger would seem the heart's natural flowering of strength and wounded dignity's inevitable redress, can quench the flame and say with St. Ambrose: "My prayers and my tears are the only weapons I wield " - Preces et lacrymae meae mea arma sunt. If they do not always succeed in leading souls to goodness and to God, they will never lead to evil and to Hell.

III. Forbearance and gentleness, you'll say perhaps, is beyond you; your temperament doesn't allow you to be meek; and, after all, who can subjugate the wild impulses of the heart?

That you can't give copious alms, because you haven't the means; yes, I understand that; but meekness and kindly dealing with others is not from the pocket, it issues from the heart:
"A good man utters good words from his store of goodness."-(Matt. xii, 35)

Or is it that you haven't got a heart? Or is there nothing in your heart but bitter gall? Are you as bad as all that?

The least you can do is to abide by what the Gospel commands:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

What is it that rankles in your mind, that has been the cause of bitterness, that you find the hardest to forget and forgive?

Perhaps the bad treatment or raw deal you thought you received from those in charge. How often and how bitterly you have resented it!

But haven't other people, however lowly their station, feelings as well? Haven't they the same rights to con?sideration as you?

Continuing in self-defence, you will allege that you are harsh by nature, of an austere type of temperament.

Well then, if you are not ready to soften down a little, keep on with your harshness and austerity, but turn them on yourself alone. "Be austere towards yourself," says St. Augustine, "towards others be kindly; let people hear you giving few orders and accomplishing great things."

I shall be obliging in everything and towards everyone, great and small, so long as I can be so without infringing the demands of duty, the rights of God and my neighbour; limits which no kindness may ever transgress.
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!

Catholic bishops get report contrary to teachings

The USCCB's statement on goods of marriage is opposing the Magisterium teaching on the goods of marriage. Canonists and tribunal officials participated in consultations on marriage and this is their concerning statement:

"Church teaching recognizes four distinct "goods" of marriage:

The bonum sacramenti, the bonum fidei, the bonum prolis, and the bonum coniugum.

The canonists have added a fourth "good" of marriage (the partnership) to the three timeless properties of marriage (permanence, exclusivity and procreativity). But a Roman Rota judge explains that "partnership" is not a "good" of marriage, but an "end" of marriage. This sounds trite, but in canon law this makes a huge difference.

An "Exclusive" about Michael Schiavo

As Terri Schindler Schiavo lay dying in a Pinellas Park hospice, her husband was nearby, repeatedly on the phone with another woman.

Except it wasn’t Jodi Centonze, his mistress and mother of his two illegitimate children who he had lived with for over a decade.

It was Diane Cross, a nurse and co-worker at the Pinellas County Jail.

On the day in March, 2005, that Terri died, Michael Schiavo, the “loving” husband who had fought Terri’s parents for years for a court order to stop Terri’s assisted feeding and cause her death, called his co-worker and former supervisor from the hospice parking lot to tell her of his wife’s death.
This report confirms what many have always felt - the man is mean, cold-hearted, possessive, vindictive, etc...

A revealing report, indeed. May God have mercy on his soul!

HT to Trish for the link...

Leno's Obession with the Church

In the past five weeks, the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” has ridiculed priests six times and the pope once; all of the priest jokes were sexual in nature and painted priests as molesters.
. . .
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments here.

German Jesuit at Vatican Radio “dreams” of women cardinals

Rome, Jul 23, 2007 / 11:11 am (CNA).- In an interview with the Italian daily “ “Il Messaggero”, the director of the German language programming for Vatican Radio, Jesuit Father Eberhard von Gemminger, said he hopes future popes will be elected by a College of Cardinals in which “at least half” of the members are women.

“Why not dream that sixty illustrious women could elect the Pope? I would be happy to see sixty male and sixty female cardinals in the Sistine Chapel,” the German Jesuit said in reference to the total number of permitted cardinal-electors.


Thoughts and Counsels - July 25

It is in vain that we cut off the branches of evil, if we leave intact the root, which continually produces new ones.

-St. Gregory the Great
From Mary, Help of Christians
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Gospel for July 25, Feast: St. James, Apostle

From: Matthew 20:20-28

The Mother of the Sons of Zebedee Makes Her Request

[20] Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to Him, with her sons, and kneeling before Him she asked Him for something. [21] And He said to her, "What do you want?" She said to Him, "Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your Kingdom." [22] But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able." [23] He said to them, "You will drink My cup, but to sit at My right hand and at My left is not Mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father." [24] And when the ten heard it they were indignant at the two brothers. [25] But Jesus called them to Him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. [26] It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [27] and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; [28] even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."


20. The sons of Zebedee are James the Greater and John. Their mother, Salome, thinking that the earthly reign of the Messiah is about to be established, asks that her sons be given the two foremost positions in it. Christ reproaches them for not grasping the true--spiritual-- nature of the Kingdom of Heaven and not realizing that government of the Church He is going to found implies service and martyrdom. "If you are working for Christ and imagine that a position of responsibility is anything but a burden, what disillusionment awaits you!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 950).

22. "Drinking the cup" means suffering persecution and martyrdom for following Christ. "We are able": the sons of Zebedee boldly reply that they can drink the cup; their generous _expression evokes what St. Paul will write years later: "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13).

23. "You will drink My cup": James the Greater will die a martyr's death in Jerusalem around the year 44 (cf. Acts 12:2); and John, after suffering imprisonment and the lash in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 4:3; 5:40-41), will spend a long period of exile on the island of Patmos (cf. Revelation 1:9).

From what our Lord says here we can take it that positions of authority in the Church should not be the goal of ambition or the subject of human intrigue, but the outcome of a divine calling. Intent on doing the will of His Heavenly Father, Christ was not going to allocate positions of authority on the basis of human considerations but, rather, in line with God's plans.

26. Vatican II puts a marked emphasis on this "service" which the Church offers to the world and which Christians should show as proof of their Christian identity: "In proclaiming the noble destiny of man and affirming an element of the divine in him, this sacred Synod offers to cooperate unreservedly with mankind in fostering a sense of brotherhood to correspond to this destiny of theirs. The Church is not motivated by an earthly ambition but is interested in one thing only--to carry on the work of Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for He came into the world to bear witness to the truth, to save and not to judge, to serve and not to be served" ("Gaudium Et Spes", 3 cf. "Lumen Gentium", 32: "Ad Gentes", 12; "Unitatis Redintegratio", 7).

27-28. Jesus sets Himself as an example to be imitated by those who hold authority in the Church. He who is God and Judge of all men (cf. Philippians 2:5-11; John 5:22-27; Acts 10:42; Matthew 28:18) does not impose Himself on us: He renders us loving service to the point of giving His life for us (cf. John 15:13); that is His way of being the first. St. Peter understood Him right; he later exhorted priests to tend the flock of God entrusted to them, not domineering over them but being exemplary in their behavior (cf. 1 Peter 5:1-3); and St. Paul also was clear on this "service": though He was "free from all men", He became the servant of all in order to win all (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19 ff; 2 Corinthians 4:5).

Christ's "service" of mankind aims at salvation. The phrase "to give His life as a ransom for many" is in line with the terminology of liturgical sacrificial language. These words were used prophetically in Chapter 53 of Isaiah.

Verse 28 also underlines the fact that Christ is a priest, who offers Himself as priest and victim on the altar of the cross. The _expression "as a ransom for many" should not be interpreted as implying that God does not will the salvation of all men. "Many", here, is used to contrast with "one" rather than "all": there is only one Savior, and salvation is offered to all.
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, July 24, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 25, Humility

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues


The Priest's Need of Humility

I. Humility consists in a very true knowledge of oneself and self-contempt based upon that knowledge: sui ipsius verissima cognitio et despectio. But self-contempt of the right type, not the kind that, if carried too far, would lead to a moral breakdown. For, as Lactantius says when reproaching the old pagans with this false humility: Ne se tam opere despiciant, neve se infirmos et supervacuos et nihili et frustra omnino natos putent; quae opinio plerosque ad vitia compellit - Let them not despise themselves so utterly, or think themselves so weak and useless and devoid of purpose in life, because that idea of theirs drives many of them to vice.

No; man is something great; the world and all its wonders were devised for him alone, to provide him with a habitation; he was created to know God, his Father and the Creator of the universe; and as a Father man worships Him, serves, loves, and reveres Him; thus meriting to enter into His Father's inheritance, into everlasting Life, into the Kingdom of God. This is the great mystery of man: of man who in outward appear­ance would seem as lowly as the creatures that do not survive the dust of earth.

The human being is of infinite worth: the very Son of God became Man, and for mankind He shed His Blood, and raised man to a level where he might share in the Nature of God Himself: Divinae consortes Naturae.

And I, as a priest, over and above all other titles to respect, have that participation in Christ's Eternal Priesthood, that ineffable power to change the substances of bread and wine into His Body and Blood, and that equally unspeakable power to reach right down to the centre of the human soul in order to cleanse it from the leprosy of sin.

O God, I have no right to despise myself; like the humble Virgin of Nazareth, I have the right and duty to sing:
Magnificat anima mea Dominum. . . .
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est. (Luke i, 46)

Great wonders, O God, Thou hast wrought in me; wonders that would be dismissed as incredible, were it not for the lamp of Christian Faith which enlightens them and me.

From now on, Lord, I shall esteem myself as Thy child; as a vessel of clay, no doubt, but a vessel brim­ming over from the torrents of Thy gracious Bounty.

II. The tragedy is that these great wonders and mercies are not usually the things which fascinate me and sweep me off my feet, they are not the things that fill me with pride. No, the sin of pride, says St. Chry­sostom, belongs to small-minded people. I take pride in the supposed riches of my intellect: I'm clever, wise, and have a keen sense of justice; I'm not like the other fellow - as the puffed-up pharisee would say.

For the sake of argument let me just suppose that, really, I am outstanding in talent and good qualities: I was a shining example in my class as a student, I put my fellow­ students in the shade; and now the praises of my priestly virtue and ability are being sung for miles around. Moreover, let me suppose that this opinion of myself is not the outcome of stupid vanity; I'm not blinded by vanity, like so many others of my acquaint­ance who entertain the very same opinion of them­selves; no - for argument's sake - it is an unchallenge­able fact - which is saying a lot! - and everybody else feels about me the same as I do, or even better than I do. Now, without comparing myself with others, what "riches" does my privileged intellect enshrine? What knowledge do I possess? What truths have I discovered for myself? What chasm depths have I penetrated and scrutinised ? Yes, I have a few shallow notions stored up in my memory, the fruit of random reading; but could I reduce them to any semblance of order? Do I venture to call wisdom and knowledge a certain facility for stringing a few words together and giving a bit of polish to an odd phrase or two? Am I to go down in history as a man of learning, as an intellectual star of the first or tenth magnitude? The plain truth is that I know very little, and what little I do know I know very imperfectly, and I know it because I've taken it from a book. My boast of cleverness and learning is some­thing very hollow, ridiculous, puerile.

And what about the pride I take in my moral good­ness? Could I call myself good when face to face with the Crucifix or my own conscience? Have I forgotten all my disloyalties? Have the unruly cravings of the flesh left no trace in my memory or in my flesh of shameful condescensions? And even if, by God's special mercy, I am gradually and reluctantly gaining the upper­hand over them, can't I see clearly that, but for this Mercy, and left to my own devices, those same cravings would soon turn my heart into a cesspool, and would tear to rags and tatters the precious vesture of my nobility of soul and my priestly dignity?

O Jesus, Scrutiniser of hearts and souls, I confess in Thy sight that each time I boasted of my learning I was a fool; each time I gloried in my personal goodness, I was a whited sepulchre.

III. And if pride has made me ambitious; if I have aspired to the limelight; if I have sought to have my own way and thought myself worthy of the highest preferences, complaining within myself unashamedly when those preferences were not held out to me, ascribing it to malicious intent on the part of my superiors, and not for a moment to my personal short­comings intellectual and moral. . . . And if, by devious ways and means, my search for the high places was crowned with success, I arrived at the titles of Lord and Master, was reverenced in the market place and in Church assemblies; I now confess before Thee, O God crucified and sacramentally abased in the Tabernacle, I confess that I have not understood the lesson Thou taughtest at the Last Supper:
It shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister.

And he that will be first among you shall be your servant.

Even as the Son of man is not come to be min­istered unto, but to minister and to give his life a redemption for many. (Matt. xx, 26-28.)

And if, after reaching the (more or less) high dignities of the Church - whatever the approach may have been: by the front door or aliunde, as our Lord would say - and safely ensconced therein, I began to think my­self superior to the rest of men, even above my peers in hierarchical dignity - the "other priests" - and swelled with pride, taking the richly embroidered vestments and precious ornaments and extrinsic titles befit­ting my rank as signs and symbols of my own personal worth, as though I were no longer a fellow-servant of my brethren, even the lowliest; as though no one should dare call me my mother's son; if I have stuck my nose into the air and drawn myself up and raised my eye­brows and demanded the courtesy given to God; if to those who humbled themselves before me, perhaps because their daily bread depends on me, I have replied - if indeed any reply has been forthcoming - with dis­dain and arrogance; if I have made myself unapproach­able to others, except through the valley of fear and dread; to others who, to say the least, are also children of God the same as myself. . . ah, then, besides expos­ing to hatred and contempt an ecclesiastical authority which is but a participation of the Fatherly Authority of God and of the merciful Dominion of Christ over souls purchased by His love and blood, how can I evade the curse fulminated by Holy Scripture?

He that exalteth himself shall be humbled.­ (Luke xviii, 14)

A most severe judgement shall be for them that bear rule.-(Wisdom vi, 6)

1. By God's grace, I shall overcome that small­ mindedness which sometimes proceeds from pride, at other times from mere cowardice, but invariably issues from effeminacy and laziness; I shall react strongly against it, considering that any priest, however untalented, can do an inimense good, both by administer­ing the Sacraments assiduously - where the divine effects are produced ex opere operato - and by zealously instructing, exhorting, going in search of souls; all of which requires mainly will-power and a burning love for God and souls, rather than a mind teeming with lofty thoughts.

2. I renew a resolution I took before: not to aspire after ecclesiastical dignities along any but the most lawful channels; and if I do not get them, instead of murmuring against human injustices, I shall silently adhere to the Will of God, without Whose permission not a leaf stirs upon a tree; and I shall establish myself in the conviction that God's Will is for the best, and perhaps my being denied such and such a dignity is one of God's greatest mercies towards me. Surely I have seen how, for some, their elevation to high office was the beginning and the occasion of their own undoing both spiritual and temporal.

3. If, in God's inscrutable Designs, I should come to be burdened with those high dignities, I shall struggle against all self-elation; I shall retain my sense of proportion, of my own lowliness in the eyes of God and those of my own conscience, knowing as I do that there is much in me of base and vile; and I shall treat my equals, and especially those subordinate to me, with all kindness and courtesy, after the manner of Christ
"Whose nature is, from the first, Divine, and yet he did not see, in the rank of Godhead, a prize to be coveted."

No, He did not imperiously demand that at every moment men should be in fear and trembling in His Presence, as in the awe-inspiring Presence of God; He waived aside, as it were, all preferential treatment,

"he dispossessed himself, and took the nature of a slave, fashioned in the likeness of men, and pre­senting himself to us in human form; and then he lowered his own dignity, accepted an obedience which brought him to death, death on a cross." (Philip. ii, 5-8)

Jesus, no, I do not want to stoop so low as to act the part of the heathen; I do not wish to make myself a little tin-god with those ecclesiastical dignities instituted by Thee and Thy holy Church, not for the sake of creating repulsion, but in order to attract souls to their Redeemer.
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!

Fire Rainbow

This is a Fire Rainbow (a reader sent me the picture).

The rarest of all naturally occurring atmospheric phenomena.
From, I found this:

This is a real photograph of an atmospheric phenomenon known as a circumhorizon(tal) arc, the example shown above was captured on camera as it hung for about an hour across a several-hundred square mile area of sky above northern Idaho (near the Washington border) on 3 June 2006.

In general, a circumhorizontal arc (or "fire rainbow") appears when the sun is high in the sky (i.e., higher than 58° above the horizon), and its light passes through diaphanous, high-altitude cirrus clouds made up of hexagonal plate crystals. Sunlight entering the crystals' vertical side faces and leaving through their bottom faces is refracted (as through a prism) and separated into an array of visible colors. When the plate crystals in cirrus clouds are aligned optimally (i.e., with their faces parallel to the ground), the resulting display is a brilliant spectrum of colors reminiscent of a rainbow.
Another example of God's amazing handiwork!

Chavez Calls Honduran Cardinal a 'clown'

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez called a cardinal from Honduras an "imperialist clown" after the Roman Catholic prelate warned of increasing authoritarianism under the Venezuelan leader.

"Another parrot of imperialism appeared, this time dressed as a cardinal. That's to say, another imperialist clown," Chavez was quoted as saying...

Chavez — a close ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro — was responding to criticism from Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga...

Coming to their senses?

Orange diocese’s Office for Worship now says readings for celebrations of the Tridentine Mass will not come from the Novus Ordo lectionary

Many had previously read of the Diocese of Orange (Bishop Tod Brown) alerting the faithful that, in order to be "united in heart and mind around a single proclamation of God’s word", the new lectionary would be used for celebrations of the Mass when using the MIssal of 1962. Some of us, naturally, were perplexed by this dubious statement.

Well, it seems that someone at the diocese may have received a bit of an education and come to his/her senses, if that's possible.

...a July 20 memorandum from Lesa Truxaw, director of the diocese’s Office for Worship, said readings in diocesan celebrations of the Tridentine Mass would not come from the new lectionary.

“After September 14, the Exhalation [sic] of the Holy Cross,” said the memorandum, “when the Motu Prioprio [sic] becomes effective and when the forma extraordinaria is celebrated, the calendar of the Missal of Blessed John XXIII along with the readings contained in the Missal should be used until such time that the Ecclesia Dei Commission gives further direction.”

"Exhalation"? The excerpt above should be cause for finding a new director for the Office of Worship. Who, in his (or her) right mind, as director of a diocesan office of worship and liturgy, would not know of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross? One wonders, if in fact, the Motu Proprio was even read by the director?

We should continue to pray for the faithful of the Diocese of Orange.

Summorum Pontificum Podcast

Gregorian chant and audio files for the Holy Mass using the Missal of 1962.

Website in Italian. Great stuff here...

Thoughts and Counsels - July 24

The sufferings endured for God are the greatest proof of our love for Him.

-St. Alphonsus
From Mary, Help of Christians
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Gospel for Tuesday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St Sharbel Makhluf, Priest

From: Matthew 12:46-50

The True Kinsmen of Jesus

[46] While He (Jesus) was still speaking to the people, behold, His mother and His brethren stood outside, asking to speak to Him.* [48] But He replied to the man who told Him, "Who is My mother, and who are My brethren?" [49] And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Here are My mother and My brethren! [50] For whoever does the will of My Father in Heaven is My brother, and sister and mother."

(*Other ancient authorities insert verse 47, "Some one told Him, `Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to You.'")


46-47. "Brethren": ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and other languages had no special words for different degrees of relationship, such as are found in more modern languages. In general, all those belonging to the same family, clan and even tribe were "brethren".

In the particular case we have here, we should bear in mind that Jesus had different kinds of relatives, in two groups--some on His mother's side, others on St. Joseph's. Matthew 13:55-56 mentions, as living in Nazareth, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas ("His brethren") and elsewhere there is reference to Jesus' "sisters" (cf. Matthew 6:3). But in Matthew 27:56 we are told that James and Joseph were sons of a Mary distinct from the Blessed Virgin, and that Simon and Judas were not brothers of James and Joseph, but seemingly children of a brother of St. Joseph.

Jesus, on the other hand, was known to everyone as "the son of Mary" (Mark 6:3) or "the carpenter's son" (Matthew 13:55).

The Church has always maintained as absolutely certain that Jesus had no brothers or sisters in the full meaning of the term: it is a dogma that Mary was ever-Virgin (cf. note on Matthew 1:25).

48-50. Jesus obviously loved His Mother and St. Joseph. He uses this episode to teach us that in His Kingdom human ties do not take precedence. In Luke 8:19 the same teaching is to be found. Jesus regards the person who does the will of His Heavenly Father as a member of His own family. Therefore, even though it means going against natural family feelings, a person should do just that when needs be in order to perform the mission the Father has entrusted to him (cf. Luke 2:49).

We can say that Jesus loved Mary more because of the bonds between them created by grace than because He was her son by natural generation: Mary's divine motherhood is the source of all our Lady's other prerogatives; but this very motherhood is, in its turn, the first and greatest of the graces with which Mary was endowed.
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.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 24, Unpriestly Concern for Kith & Kin

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues

Unpriestly Concern for Kith & Kin

Second Meditation - Evils Inherent in this Inordinate Concern

I. Harm to the Church.- Is the Church suffering today from the ill-regulated desire of priests to promote the material welfare of their kith and kin? It is hard to say. But that the Church has suffered and suffered grievously in the past, for instance in the sixteenth century, is common knowledge. The sacred Council of Trent assures us with all solemnity that such was the case:

"The sacred Council, with all the severity at Its command, warns bishops to put aside completely all that merely human concern for brothers and sisters, nephews, and blood relations, which has become a hot-bed of many evils within the Church. And what is said to bishops is decreed not only for its observance by those obtaining possession of any ecclesiastical benefice, both regular and secular, each in his own sphere, but equally for the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church." -(Session xxv, I de Reformat.)

A "hot-bed of many evils within the Church" - why did not the Council enumerate them? They were there for everyone to see! . . .

Hence that contempt and hatred of the Church, of a Church reduced, in the eyes of Her enemies, to a mere political faction bent on robbing the nation and rifling the national Treasury for Her own selfish interests and those of Her "hangers-on"; hence that vilification of the clergy, when the latter appear desirous of sordid gain even amid the divinest works of the priestly ministry; hence that mistrust of a priest's intentions and even of his faith, and the wholesale squandering of a priest's time and possessions which belong exclusively to God, to the poor, and to souls.

O Jesus, Master of my heart, couldst Thou not whisper to my inmost conscience, like an annoying but true refrain of a song, that complaint which the Council of Trent so sorrowfully voiced to the whole Church:

"Multorum malorum seminarium exstat in hoc tuo humano affectu erga propinquos tuos"?

If this unruly craving is buried in my heart, tear it out, O Lord, tear it out, even if my heart should break under the strain!

II. Harm to one's own relatives.- Experience has taught us time and again that the wealth inherited or received as a gift from clerics does far more harm than good to its possessors. It is put to as little profit as, and even less than, big sums from a national sweepstake. Some­how or other it seems to be riddled with the curse of God and brings only misfortune. No wonder there is the old Irish saying: "The priest's money is never lucky" - economic disaster and moral harm in such cases have coined the phrase.

Many souls have become estranged from God on account of the moneys they received from a priest rela­tion. Many a family has abandoned the Church and the way of salvation. There are nephews and nieces and other relations who indulge in an easygoing and idle life, even in a life of vicious habits, on the score that their priest brother or uncle is stinting himself on their behalf and scraping together every penny for love of them.

What does it matter if he is nearly killing himself in the process? What concern is it of theirs that he is depriving himself of a decent maintenance? Their path is clear: the money is rolling in, and they're going to spend it, as long as it lasts, on what they like.

But - for the subsidies - of that poor, anxious cleric, they would have to earn their dajly bread like any other honest man, and theirs would be that virtue and noble peace which flows from hard-won self-support. But why go to all the trouble if it is their good fortune to have a priest breadwinner to slave for them? Why not drink from the ever-flowing fountain?

Now, has any priest the duty to sacrifice himself so stupidly for kith and kin? Does my conscience reproach me before God?

III. Harm to the priest himself. - Untold harm will come to myself. I shall discharge my ministerial duties badly, because all my energies will be undermined or frittered away or crushed out of me through endless worrying about my people's temporal affairs.

I shall expose myself defenceless to the temptation of wanting to be wealthy - with all the trail of dangers and ruinous consequences that follow from this desire.

"Those who would be rich fall into temptation: the devil's trap for them";

"all those useless and dangerous appetites which sink men into ruin here and perdition hereafter." (1 Tim. vi, 9)

And the Apostle adds:

"The love of money is a root from which every kind of evil springs, and there are those who have wandered away from the faith by making it their ambition, involving themselves in a world of sorrows." (10.)

Once this desire for wealth takes hold of a priest, Church possessions are not safe in his hands: he will not administer them efficiently, he will even squander them; he will offend against common justice by demand­ing dues dictated by his own insatiable greed instead of lawful custom and diocesan regulations; with the result that both the priest and his heirs will incur the obliga­tion of making restitution for ill-gotten goods. What a legacy for a priest to leave behind!

And yet the priest should, above all other men, be deeply conscious of St. Paul's bald philosophical state­ment:

"Empty-handed we came into the world, and empty-handed, beyond question, we must leave it; why then, if we have food and clothing to last us out, let us be content with that." (l Tim. vi, 7-8)

The priest cannot argue that he is saving up to leave something for others to inherit: that argument would be valid coming from the father of a family, not from the priest. Since God has been pleased to spare us priests that anxiety, why be so foolish as to go looking for it?

IV. If we priests burden ourselves with excessive concern for the temporal advancement of relatives and friends we come under the reproach voiced by the Scriptures:

"Here is one that works alone, partner nor son nor brother to aid him, yet still works on, never content with his bright hoard, never asking, as he toils and stints himself, who shall gain by it. Frus­tration and lost labour, here too." (Eccles. iv, 8)

If we haven't the courage to practise absolute renun­ciation of this world's goods, at least let us have the sense to live at ease, enjoying the emoluments of our labours, free from useless cares. While God may never allow your dreams of leaving your relatives well­ endowed, of pushing them into a social position above them, or of pulling them out of tight corners, to materialise, He will not refuse you the little you need for your honest keep.

And if all this doesn't convince you, let us learn from the misfortunes which have overwhelmed so many un­wary priests in the past.

There are cases of priests who were literally besieged and ransacked by the exorbitant demands of relatives, who thought they had a right to everything when it came to a priest of their own kith and kin; and with implacable cruelty they left him almost penniless.

There are instances where decrepit old parish priests had to go to their bishops and ask them on bended knees to remove them from the parish and give them some out-of-the-way chaplaincy to a convent or institution, so as to be free of their relatives' extortionate demands.

The poor old priest has perhaps been saving up money year after year, has deposited it in his nephew's name, and is then treated like a beggar by the very people he stinted himself for.

Or take the case of a priest who boasted of having been cute enough to keep his last illness a secret from his sister and niece so that at least he might be allowed to die in peace.

What he feared to witness actually came about immedi­ately after his death: they sacked the presbytery like a pair of highway robbers.

By what priestly title should I be obliged to undergo such tortures?

In my dealings with my relations I shall govern my­self by the following rules based on justice and the Canon Law:

1. For the sake of their souls, I will love my rela­tions as Christ would have me love them, taking care to keep them in the holy fear of God and sound morals. What a scandal it is when the priest's own relations are not even good-living Christians, especially if they live with him! In more than one parish, the priest's niece, and even his parents, have been the chief stumbling­ block to Christian faith and morals.

2. As regards temporal goods there are three points to consider:
(a) what the priest ought not to do;
(b) what he is not obliged to do; and
(c) what he is law­fully permitted to do.

(a) What the priest ought not to do: He ought not to give to his relations the funds belonging to the Church or to pious foundations, or sell to them the immovable goods of the Church. See Canon 1540. He should not hand over to them any "surplus" income from benefice goods, taking the latter in the strict sense; a breach of this kind would not be an injustice (cfr. Canon 1473), but it would be against the virtue of religion.

I shall bear in mind the very serious warning of the Council of Trent:
"The Council absolutely forbids clerics to attempt to enrich their blood-relations and the members of their household with Church revenues, or to make them a gift of ecclesiastical belongings, whose Owner is God; but if their blood-relations and household members be poor, they should be helped like other poor people out of those same goods; these goods should not on, their account be made available indiscriminately." (Sess. xxv, cap. 1, de Reformat.)

(b) What the priest is not obliged to do. - Apart from my parents - whom I must venerate and help by the same titles of justice as any other son - to whom I, as a priest, should attend and for whom I should care, if anything, better than other children, with the knowledge that God, far from holding it against me, will reward me for this greater care; apart from my parents, I have, as a general rule, no obligation to look after the tem­poral welfare of other members of my family, neither brothers and sisters nor (still less) nieces and nephews; just as a married man has no obligation, usually, to­wards the temporal welfare of his brothers and sisters, though they be poorer than he.

Why should more be required of me because I am a priest? Is it because my studies cost more? In order to become a priest, did I get more than my share of the family budget, at the expense of my brothers and sisters? If needs be, I shall repay in cash what I owe to them, as far as I can; and I shall be quit of further obligations.

(c) What the priest is lawfully permitted to do. - I am permitted, by right of justice, to dispose of my non­benefice income in favour of my relations or anyone else I please, whether this income falls to me as the portion of my inheritance or I earn it myself, even by my priestly work; for instance, preaching, stole fees, etc.; on condition that they do not constitute benefice goods in the strict sense of the word. But while keeping with­in the limits of what I can dispose of lawfully, I shall not forget that I am a priest and that my first household is the Church, my chief relations, the poor.
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!