Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for August 12, The Priest's Spiritual Retreat

The Fourth Part - Some Means of Perseverence

The Priest's Spiritual Retreat

Second Meditation - How to Make It

I. I wish to make it well, with a real desire to profit by it, with deep recollection, in absolute silence.

There would be very little to commend me if through dissipation and levity of spirit, which ill becomes a priest, i.e., an "old man" in office and profession, I squandered an opportunity entailing so many sacrifices, mine and other people's, so much expenditure of time and money, and thus disappointed the hopes of the Church and the faithful, who expected me to reap a harvest of spiritual fruit both for their own benefit and for the amendment of my life.

And according to the moralists, I should with difficulty escape the imputation of serious sin if, having entered into retreat by order of my Prelate and in fulfilment of Canon Law, I were to idle my time away, not meditating, not listening to the instructions and readings, not preparing for confession; all of which is an essential complement to the exterior observance rightly imposed by ecclesiastical law.

If the Ordinary bids me take part in a collective retreat, I shall willingly obey. If the arrangements are left to me personally, I shall always prefer to make it in company with my brother priests; for the simple reason that if I am not fervent and pious I shall have the good example of others better than myself to make me so: and if I have the good fortune to lead a devout life, I shall contribute to the spiritual welfare of those around me; and in any case, I shall share in the fulfilment of the Lord's promise:

Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matt. xviii. 20.)

II. I shall observe strict silence, ignoring every entice­ment and commitment to the contrary inspired by a type of companionship or "camaraderie" which, in the present circumstances, is completely out of place.

There is no gainsaying the fact that a retreat where there is talking, gossiping, back-stair buffoonery, and hole-and-corner murmuring is a retreat run to waste, barren, and harmful. On emerging from such turmoil I should be in a worse condition than on entering; far better suppress retreats altogether than have them con­ducted in this manner. Why impose a burden whose final upshot is an offence against God and the lowering of standards and prestige among the clergy? But where a retreat is conducted in jealously-guarded silence, it may possibly bear no fruit in an individual case, yet the general rule holds good: a silent retreat is a fruitful one.

Experience is witness: however low a priest may seem to have fallen he always preserves deep down in his soul some vestige of the divine, and in solitude God will speak to him; his smouldering faith will burst into flame; he will glimpse the darkness of the abyss whither his wanderings might plunge him, and he will draw back aghast, striking his breast with a repentance unequalled by that of any other contrite sinner. And if he has not fallen so low, he will find his soul lit up by the loveliest of supernatural lights; he will charge his spirit with new energy, a renewed determination to forge ahead along the ways of virtue.

Empty chatter being the ruin of such high hopes, and silence the pledge secure of so much good, am I going to risk the loss of all the benefits of a well-made retreat just because my thoughtlessness and childish whim demand the pleasure of blurting out some hackneyed joke, or because I cannot disappoint one or other of my light-headed old pals?

III. To look for a quiet opportunity of stealing into a companion's room in order to while the time away in mere pleasantries; to evade supervision - if there is such a thing; far more in keeping with the clerical state not to have supervision and not to need it! - in order to play the same little pranks we left behind in the seminary; secret confabs and general criticisms; these and similar achievements may provide good cheer around the clerical dinner-table on the occasion of some big festivity; they might fit in well with the daily routine of a lay boarding-school; but surely we must agree that this kind of nonsense is not exactly a credit to a priest's retreat; it is not calculated to convey a very lofty idea of the good manners and culture (not to mention piety) of the priest, whose very name Presbyter implies that he is professionally mature, a man of years, destined to educate others, and who, as rector of a district or parish, would scarcely refrain from an outburst of temper if he saw youngsters acting in a similar fashion in church during the Rosary.

It would be a sad day for the reputation of the clergy in any particu­lar diocese if two or three or more of its priests had to be branded, on account of their misbehaviour during the retreat, as mischievous, incapable of taking seriously the only religious exercise where they find themselves alone; and to be put down, in the last resort, as churls unversed in the rudimentary forms of good Christian breeding, which demands at least that no one should unduly bore and harass another.

It is with profound grief and depression that one some­times hears priests declaring they will not make another retreat at such and such a place, because their companions, by their notorious inattentiveness and ill-timed chatter, deprived them of that peace and tranquillity which those days of holy and urgent endeavour demanded.

Lord, grant me grace and strength never to be numbered among those thoughtless ministers of Thine.

1. Let friends and acquaintances do and say what they will; let my natural craving to communicate with old pals protest as it likes; let those who seem ro have no use for the retreat look at me askance and leeringly; I am determined to observe strict silence during the retreat, even at the cost of giving offence; for of greater value to me are the interests of my eternal salvation and respectful consideration for holy things than all the pleasant companionships in the world; therefore, if it is courage I need, I shall often recall the words of my Divine Master:

For he that shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of man shall be ashamed, when he shall come in his Majesty and that of his Father and of the holy angels. (Luke ix, 26.)

2. I shall refrain from proffering or countenancing the slightest criticism of what is said in the lectures, examinations of conscience, readings, etc., in the per­suasion that adverse criticisms of this nature, especially when coupled with ridicule (whether just or unjust is beside the point), only serve to dry up and destroy in many cases all the fruit of the retreat, and can even give rise to incredible scandals.
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!

Thoughts and Counsels - August 11

Whoever imagines himself without defect has an excess of pride. God alone is perfect.

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

Gospel for August 11, Memorial: St. Claire, Virgin

Old Calendar: Saints Tiburtius and Susanna

From: Matthew 17:14-20

The Curing of an Epileptic Boy

[14] And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and kneeling before him said, [15] "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. [16] And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him." [17] And Jesus answered, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me." [18] And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. [19] Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" [20] He said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move hence to yonder place,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you."


14-21. This episode of the curing of the boy shows both Christ's omnipotence and the power of prayer full of faith. Because of his deep union with Christ, a Christian shares, through faith, in God's own omnipotence, to such an extent that Jesus actually says on another occasion, "he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father" (Jn 14:12).

Our Lord tells the Apostles that if they had faith they would be able to work miracles, to move mountains. "Moving mountains" was probably a proverbial saying. God would certainly let a believer move a mountain if that were necessary for his glory and for the edification of one's neighbor; however, Christ's promise is fulfilled everyday in a much more exalted way. Some Fathers of the Church (St. Jerome, St. Augustine) say that "a mountain is moved" every time someone is divinely aided to do something which exceed man's natural powers. This clearly happens in the work of our sanctification, which the Paraclete effects in our souls when we are docile to him and receive with faith and love the grace given us in the sacraments: we benefit from the sacraments to a greater or lesser degree depending on the dispositions with which we receive them. Sanctification is something more sublime than moving mountains, and it is something which is happening every day in so many holy souls, even though most people do not notice it.

The Apostles and many saints down the centuries have in fact worked amazing material miracles; but the greatest and most important miracles were, are and will be the miracles of souls dead through sin and ignorance being reborn and developing in the new life of the children of God.

20. Here and in the parable of Matthew 13:31-32 the main force of the comparison lies in the fact that a very small seed--the mustard seed--produces a large shrub up to three meters (ten feet) high: even a very small act of genuine faith can produce surprising results.
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, August 10, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for August 11, The Priest's Spiritual Retreat

The Fourth Part - Some Means of Perseverence

The Priest's Spiritual Retreat

First Meditation - Motives for making it

I. Let us begin by the lowest rung of the ladder: the case of the poor priest who unhappily has trampled underfoot and profaned the Sacraments by receiving and administering them in mortal sin; has celebrated Mass unworthily, making himself "guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord"; has broken the most sacred vows of the priesthood.

How will he rise up from such a state? How will he be spiritually regenerated? His ordi­nary exercises of piety, if any still remain, are ineffectual; his routine Confession, if he still confesses, makes little impression; nor is he impressed by the familiar sight and remembrance of the objects and things of our Religion which he handles so closely. Moreover, he knows from experience, perhaps over a number of years, that nothing serves to bring him back to the path of salvation and to amend his life. What is to be done? Will there be no remedy? Must he lose all hope? One hope remains, perhaps the one final remedy: a spiritual retreat well made.

A well-made retreat is the most efficacious means of awakening a slumbering soul; it stings the soul out of its drowsiness; it is a hot poultice for the soul frozen in sin.

For a priest in such a lamentable state, a retreat is God's great gift, God's command, the last echoes of His grace, after which only a miracle can bring about his conversion: a miracle like that which was wrought in St. Paul but is not a common occurrence, and will surely be denied to the disloyal priest.

It is obvious that in these circumstances a spiritual retreat may well mean a priest's eternal salvation. Should he deliberately refuse or despise it, the Son of God will agonisingly say to him what He once said amid tears over Jerusalem:

If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace. (Luke xix, 42.)

II. We shall suppose that you have not fallen so low; but at the same time, you are sinking into tepidity, your pious exercises are performed grudgingly, or quite ungrudgingly you omit them or rush through them for mere formality's sake, without relish, without sustained attention of the mind, your heart far away from the mechanical motions of your lips. . . . And, granting that you have not plunged headlong into grievous sin, you are nevertheless skirting the edge of the precipice, you view temptation without dread, almost regretting your lack of courage to go the whole way. . . . Or else, though mortal sin has not taken a firm hold on you, you at least consent to it frequently, rise up again half-heartedly, and just go limping along the path of harsh duty. In short, you live in the penumbra of lukewarmness, and God is repeating to you that mournful admonition:

"I would thou were either hot or cold; being what thou art, lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, thou wilt make me vomit thee out of my mouth." (Apoc. iii, 15-16.)

To wrench yourself out of this most perilous condi­tion, so near to total ruin, perhaps the only recourse left to you is a fervent retreat.

III. If yours is the happiness not only to preserve the state of grace but also to be firmly grounded in piety, there will be no need to persuade you of the necessity of a spiritual retreat: your own conscience demands it, as a haven of peace and calm away from the tumult of external occupations, as an invitation from the Good Shepherd to withdraw a while and rest with Him:

And the Apostles coming together unto Jesus, related to him all things that they had done and taught.

And he said to them: Come apart into a desert place and rest a little. (Mark vi, 30-31.)

You have learned from a constant reading of your conscience how many resistances there are on the part of your natural inclinations, how faults can add to faults and bring your spiritual warmth right down to the freezing-point of mortal sin, how nauseating to God is lukewarmness, how numerous the obstacles which Satan and his allies put in the way of your salvation, and how difficult it is to overcome or foresee them.

And you know, or at least you suspect, you have certain failings which are become part and parcel of your personality and character; and you realise that, although they con­stitute a hindrance in your dealings with others for the purpose of leading them to Christ or a handicap to your own spiritual advancement, you are nevertheless reluctant to face them squarely, and still more reluctant to correct them.

In this case, there is need of a thorough diagnosis and a strong antidote or a courageous amputation: drastic remedies which only a fervent retreat will provide.

IV. Your personal honour is at stake.

Both in their interior life and their exterior behaviour the clergy must be superior to the laity and excel them by the example of virtue and good works. (Canon 124.)

You must surpass, or at least be the equal of, any lay person in moral qualities, for you are leader and guide, and without these qualities you forfeit the essential element of your leadership.

Now, if statistics were compiled of all the lay people from every class and walk of life - workers, artisans, farmers, men of letters, doctors, magistrates, military men, business people, merchants, journalists, etc. - who out of devotion only and with no other stimulant than that of their personal piety and desire for spiritual advancement make an annual retreat with all fervour and thoroughness, perhaps a glance at these statistics might make you feel ashamed of your reluctance to withdraw for a week or so every twelve months or every two or three years in order to meditate on the one thing necess­ary. If only we priests, I do not say excelled, but vied with, and followed after, all those good Christians in the ­world who, after all, have not the same pressing duty as priests have of steeping their lives in the truths of our Faith!

O Lord, do not permit among Thy ministers - the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the shepherds and guardians of Thy flock - the ignominy of their despising this triumphant means of sanctification, which so many of Thy little ones, at the promptings of Thy love, seek and apply to themselves so eagerly.

And do not look round for vain excuses. However numerous and urgent your occupations - and I take it for granted that they are occupations that have the salvation of souls for their purpose - do not merit the reproach spoken by our Lord to Martha, and bear in mind that tremendous sentence:

What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?

Your works of zeal will gain considerably when you interrupt them, at the wish of the Church and of God Himself, in order to replenish your soul with the Spirit of Christ, dissipate discouragement, and purify your intentions. For Christ had you also in mind when He said: without me you can do nothing.

The fear of having to rough it during the retreat, because you won't get just the type of food and care you are used to, should be overcome if you take to heart our Lord's words:

But this kind (of evil spirit) is not cast out but by prayer and fasting. (Matt. xvii, 20.)

A retreat center is not expected to turn into a first-class hotel for plutocrats and tourists; so, if necessary, put up with a little discomfort, which for many millions of poor mortals would be luxury itself. And remember, the evil spirit spoken of by Christ is still at large in the world today.

1. For the sake of my salvation and to fulfil the express Will of God, I resolve to carry out faithfully, despite all difficulties, the instructions laid down by Canon Law and by my Ordinary concerning the spiritual retreat for the clergy.

2. If an annual retreat is not already commanded by my diocesan or religious regulations, I propose to make it voluntarily, unless I am impeded by some insurmount­able obstacle. Thus I shall not be outdone by so many good lay faithful.

O God, refuse me not the strength to adhere faith­fully to this resolution. May I find accomplished in me each year the words of the Prophet:

"It is but love's stratagem, thus to lead her out into the wilderness; once there, it shall be all words of comfort." (Osee ii, 14.)
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 Edward Peters: A canonical response to a murderous priest

The story out of Mexico reporting that a priest has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for the murder of his own son (committed to prevent detection of the priest's sexual misconduct and his possible expulsion from the clerical state) leaves one pretty much speechless. In the 18 months since this story broke, it appears that the Mexican hierarchy, appalled by the discovery, cooperated with state prosecutors pursuing the matter in secular court. That's all to the good, of course; but I think it important that the canonical consequences for such loathsome conduct be pursued as well.
Read the rest at:

Statue of Our Lady of America comes to St. Louis

From the official website of Our Lady of America:

The new official image of Our Lady of America which Archbishop Raymond L. Burke blessed November 2006 at the United States Bishops meeting in Baltimore can now be seen in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri in the historic Basilica of St. Louis, King, on the Mississippi Riverfront adjoining the National Park Service Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Her statue will be there throughout this August (2007). This beautiful and historic Basilica of Saint Louis was the Proto-Cathedral of the Catholic Church in the United States West of the Mississippi River. It is indeed fitting and proper for the statue of Our Lady of America to be displayed in this former Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, so convenient to pilgrims and travelers. The Basilica has free parking for visitors to the Church.

We expect this statue to visit a West Coast location and several other locations throughout the rest of this year.

From the St Louis Review:

The 9-foot statue of Our Lady of America, which includes its base, was first publicly displayed at the U.S. bishops’ meeting in Baltimore last November, where Archbishop Raymond L. Burke blessed it.

It is available for viewing at the Basilica of St. Louis King of France, 209 Walnut St. Downtown, during its standard open hours, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m., through Saturday, Sept. 8. Mass schedule at the Old Cathedral is Monday-Friday at 7 a.m. and 12:10 p.m., Saturday at 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and Sunday at 8 and 10:30 a.m., and noon and 5 p.m.
For more information about Our Lady of America, visit

HT to Patty for the reminder!

Thoughts and Counsels - August 10

Idleness is hell's fishhook for catching souls.

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

Gospel for August 10, Feast: St. Lawrence, Deacon & Martyr

From: John 12:24-26

Jesus Foretells His Glorification (Continuation)

(Jesus said to his disciples,) [24] "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. [25] He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. [26] If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him."


24-25. There is an apparent paradox here between Christ's humiliation and his glorification. Thus, "it was appropriate that the loftiness of his glorification should be preceded by the lowliness of his passion" (St Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 51, 8).

This is the same idea we find in St Paul, when he says that Christ humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross, and that therefore God the Father exalted him above all created things (cf. Phil 2:8-9). This is a lesson and an encouragement to the Christian, who should see every type of suffering and contradiction as a sharing in Christ's cross, which redeems us and exalts us. To be supernaturally effective, a person has to die to himself, forgetting his comfort and shedding his selfishness. "If the grain of wheat does not die, it remains unfruitful. Don't you want to be a grain of wheat, to die through mortification, and to yield a rich harvest? May Jesus bless your wheatfield!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 199).

26. Our Lord has spoken about his sacrifice being a condition of his entering into glory. And what holds good for the Master also applies to his disciples (cf. Mt 10:24; Lk 6:40). Jesus wants each of us to be of service to him. It is a mystery of God's plan that he--who is all, who has all and who needs nothing and nobody--should choose to need our help to ensure that his teaching and the salvation wrought by him reaches all men.

"To follow Christ: that is the secret. We must accompany him so closely that we come to live with him, like the first Twelve did; so closely, that we become identified with him. Soon we will be able to say, provided we have not put obstacles in the way of grace, that we have put on, have clothed ourselves with our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Rom 13:14). [...]

"I have distinguished as it were four stages in our effort to identify ourselves with Christ--seeking him, finding him, getting to know him, loving him. It may seem clear to you that you are only at the first stage. Seek him then, hungrily; seek him within yourselves with all your strength. If you act with determination, I am ready to guarantee that you have already found him, and have begun to get to know him and to love him, and to hold your conversation in heaven (cf. Phil 3:20)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 299-300).

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, August 09, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for August 10, Devotion to Our Lady

The Fourth Part - Some Means of Perseverence

Devotion to Our Lady

Second Meditation - Priestly Motives

I. The Church in every age, and now more than ever, has professed such devotion to Mary that Protestants rabidly accuse her of Mariolatry, as though we Catholics venerated the Blessed Mother of Jesus as God. It is gross calumny; for in this, as in everything pertaining to piety, we know that the Holy Spirit comes to the aid of Christ's Bride, safeguarding her from all error.

How enthusiastically the faithful, saints and sinners, acclaim the Virgin of Nazareth! With what assured con­fidence they prostrate before her shrines! The face of the earth is decked with countless wonderful monuments to Mary: no name in history has them more numerous and more beautiful. O Mary, thy own prophetic utterance is ever being fulfilled with brilliant accuracy:

Behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed!

But who is called upon to guide, to consolidate, and to extend this veneration, so vital to the Church of God, if not the priest, by his fervent word and the holy inspiration of his daily example? A priest without devotion to our Blessed Lady would indeed be a strange and baffling phenomenon for the Catholic laity.

II. We priests belong so closely to Jesus Christ, that, within His Scheme of Redemption, we must consider ourselves His necessary complement. It is only through our lips that He teaches the world His heavenly doctrine: Going therefore, teach ye all nations. ­(Matt. xxviii, 19). It is through our ministry that He incorporates members into His Mystical Body, pardons and purifies them: Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them. (John xx, 23). The keys of the King­dom, both in its transitory phase here below and in its everlasting triumph, are completely under our control. Which means that, in authority, in word, and in office, I continue the saving life of Christ: alter Christus.

Who, then, dear Virgin Mother, can claim by so many titles as I the right to occupy in thy motherly affections the same place as thy Divine Son? Whose place will it be if not mine, seeing that, for thee, I am like another Christ?

But, in return, O Mother, it is my bounden duty to reserve in my soul for thee the throne whence thou didst reign in the Heart of Jesus.

No wonder the first to receive Mary for his Mother from the hands of the dying Saviour was a priest, John the Evangelist!

And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

To his own! To his heart and home. So, from today, dear Mother, I shall follow his example; I receive and welcome thee into the home of my heart, as someone inseparably mine, as my most cherished treasure.

III. The Divine Word surrenders Himself into my hands every day, belittles, conceals, abases Himself to greater feebleness and silence than in the early years of His infancy; He surrenders to me as He did to Mary when He came into the world, as He did to His heavenly Father, when leaving the world: Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

In this wonderful office of mine, as tutor, master, and father and mother of Thy Sacramental Being, O divine Saviour, where shall I turn for lessons in reverence, tenderness, and chaste and loving dealings towards Thee, but to Thy own Mother? Only she ministered thus unto Thee during Thy life on earth. That I, wretched and
stained, should inherit from her these sacred tasks seems unbelievable.

How is it possible that I have lived a single day of my priestly life without having recourse to Mary, asking her on bended knees to teach me how to treat the Son of her womb in the Sacrament of our altars? To treat Him with that deep love and reverence with which she wrapped Him up in swaddling clothes, and served and kissed Him in the stable of Bethlehem, along the desert roads of Egypt, in the silent home of Nazareth?

IV. Auxilium Christianorum is one of Mary's titles. Strength in our weakness, help in our struggles, guide in our darkness, support in our wavering: this is the firmest foundation of every popular devotion to Mary. The fallen, the attacked, the weak, will always seek refuge in Mary, by God's command. Every prayer voiced by the Church on earth throbs with all these human longings for protection: Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death; Mother of mercy. . . turn thine eyes of mercy towards us. . . .

And I, a priest, am only too conscious of my weak­ness; in the midst of powerful enemies, who perhaps time and time again have worn me down and taken me captive, I definitely feel weak, the same as any other mortal man, and, I suspect, even weaker sometimes than they. All the powers of hell are up in arms against me and give me no respite; under the weight of so many and such heavy obligations my weak shoulders tremble.

Unto the merciful eyes of Mary, Help of Christians, therefore, I shall turn my own afflicted gaze; within the shelter of her protecting mantle, which gathers and keeps
from harm her little children, as the hen gathers her chickens under her wing, I shall hide myself in life and in death.

1. To attach the greatest importance to Mary's Feasts in my dealings with the faithful, announcing them in good time, bringing great numbers of souls to Confession and Communion in her honour, carrying out the liturgical Offices with pomp and splendour; and last, but by no means least, going to Confession myself on the eve of the Feasts.

It is an established fact that the above is very often the final and most effective means of bringing souls back to God and to the practice of religion, in cases of rebellion or of forgetful carelessness.

2. To start and build up one or more of those Marian Associations - Legion of Mary, Children of Mary, Miraculous Medal Association, etc. - which have proved their worth by the holy examples and actions with which they have become an inspiration to the whole Christian world.

3. To preach about Mary, about her life, her virtues, her prerogatives, not disdaining to mention well ­authenticated miraculous occurrences deriving from her intercession. Let the faithful know and love her well, not merely by instinct or tradition, but with insight and depth of knowledge.
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!

An Air of Appointments in the Curia – With a Gust of New Culture

From Chiesa:
The heads of the Holy See's cultural offices are changing. In the place of cardinal Paul Poupard arrives the Biblicist Gianfranco Ravasi. And "L'Osservatore Romano" will also have a new director: Giovanni Maria Vian. A profile of the two figures

by Sandro Magister

'Streaking' in Colorado

From the Denver Post we read,
Colorado priest charged for jogging naked

FREDERICK, Colo.—A Catholic priest faces an indecent exposure charge after police said he went jogging in the nude about an hour before sunrise.
The Rev. Robert Whipkey told officers he had been running naked at a high school track and didn't think anyone would be around at that time of day, a police report said.

He told officers he sweats profusely if he wears clothing while jogging. "I know what I did was wrong," he said in the report.

One would think that a 53 year-old priest should know better. Modesty must be some theoretical virtue, it seems.

By the way,, a site dedicated to streaking and streakers all over the world, defines streaking as: The non-sexual act of taking off one's clothes and running naked through a public place. There is no doubt that Fr Whipkey was walking and running naked in public.

Thoughts and Counsels - August 9

I have to seek only the glory of God, my own sanctification, and the salvation of my neighbor. I should therefore devote myself to these things, if necessary, at the peril of my life.

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

Gospel for Thursday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, virgin and martyr

Old Calendar: St. John Mary Vianney, confessor;
St. Romanus, martyr; Vigil of St. Lawrence

From: Matthew 16:13-23:

Peter's Profession of Faith and His Primacy

[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of Man is?" [14] And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." [15] He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" [16] Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." [17] And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, by My Father who is in Heaven. [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. [19] I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven." [20] Then He trictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ.

Jesus Foretells His Passion and Resurrection

[21] From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. [22] And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to You." [23] But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men."


13-20. In this passage St. Peter is promised primacy over the whole Church, a primacy which Jesus will confer on him after His Resurrection, as we learn in the Gospel of St. John (cf. John21:15-18). This supreme authority is given to Peter for the benefit of the Church. Because the Church has to last until the end of time, this authority will be passed on to Peter's successors down through history. The Bishop of Rome, the Pope, is the successor of Peter.

The solemn Magisterium of the Church, in the First Vatican Council, defined the doctrine of the primacy of Peter and his successors in these terms:
"We teach and declare, therefore, according to the testimony of the Gospel that the primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church was immediately and directly promised to and conferred upon the blessed Apostle Peter by Christ the Lord. For to Simon, Christ had said, `You shall be called Cephas' (John 1:42). Then, after Simon had acknowledged Christ with the confession, `You are the Christ, the Son of the living God' (Matthew 16:16), it was to Simon alone that the solemn words were spoken by the Lord: `Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and what you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven' (Matthew 16:17-19). And after His Resurrection, Jesus conferred upon Simon Peter alone the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler over His whole fold with the words, `Feed My lambs....Feed My sheep' (John 21:15-17) [...].

"(Canon) Therefore, if anyone says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not constituted by Christ the Lord as the Prince of all the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church militant, or that he received immediately and directly from Jesus Christ our Lord only a primacy of honor and not a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction: let him be condemned.

"Now, what Christ the Lord, Supreme Shepherd and watchful guardian of the flock, established in the person of the blessed Apostle Peter for the perpetual safety and everlasting good of the Church must, by the will of the same, endure without interruption in the Church which was founded on the rock and which will remain firm until the end of the world. Indeed, `no one doubts, in fact it is obvious to all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, Prince and head of the Apostles, the pillar of faith, and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and the Redeemer of the human race; and even to this time and forever he lives,' and governs, `and exercises judgment in his successors' (cf. Council of Ephesus), the bishops of the holy Roman See, which he established and consecrated with his blood. Therefore, whoever succeeds Peter in this Chair holds Peter's primacy over the whole Church according to the plan of Christ Himself [...]. For this reason, `because of its greater sovereignty,' it was always `necessary for every church, that is, the faithful who are everywhere, to be in agreement' with the same Roman Church [...].

"(Canon) Therefore, if anyone says that it is not according to the institution of Christ our Lord Himself, that is, by divine law, that St. Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of St. Peter in the same primacy: let him be condemned [...].

"We think it extremely necessary to assert solemnly the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God deigned to join to the highest pastoral office. And so, faithfully keeping to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the glory of God our Savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and for the salvation of Christian peoples, We, with the approval of the sacred council, teach and define that it is a divinely revealed dogma: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks "ex cathedra", that is, when, acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of St. Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are therefore irreformable because of their nature, but not because of the agreement of the Church.

"(Canon) But if anyone presume to contradict this our definition (God forbid that he do so): let him be condemned" (Vatican I, "Pastor Aeternus", chaps. 1, 2 and 4).
23. Jesus rejects St. Peter's well-intentioned protestations, giving us to understand the capital importance of accepting the cross if we are to attain salvation (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23-25). Shortly before this (Matthew 16:17) Jesus had promised Peter: "Blessed are you, Simon"; now He reproves him: "Get behind me, Satan." In the former case Peter's words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, whereas what he says now comes from his own spirit which he has not yet sloughed off.
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, August 08, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for August 9, Devotion to Our Lady

The Fourth Part - Some Means of Perseverence

Devotion to Our Lady

First Meditation - General Motives

I. If we reflect, even superficially, on what the Gospels tell us about Mary - and what is written down is all too little to satisfy our filial piety - we shall find sufficient motives to live perpetually and tenderly enamoured of that Holy Woman. Her admirable virtues shine through the Gospel's simple, unadorned style: such delicate acts of sovereign purity, such glorious intimacies of soul; ineffable poise, absolute self-mastery, august serenity. Blessed is the hand which bequeathed us the lines from verse 26 to 56 of the first chapter of the Gospel accord­
ing to St. Luke! The mere reading and knowledge of these lines would suffice, O Sovereign Mother of Christ, even if I knew nothing more about thee, to revere and love thee with my whole heart and soul for all eternity!

If heroicity of virtue, immaculate purity of soul, inexhaustible goodness of heart; if loftiness of aspiration, elevated dignity, and benefits showered like gentle morning dew upon mankind, are all potent to fill us with ardent devotion towards the Saints, where, O Mother of Jesus and my own dear Mother, shall I find these things so truly and so radiantly enshrined as in thee?

In venerating and loving and praising thee, I make willing obeisance to the flower of creation, to the crown of God's ineffable works and wonders. Were I to refuse thee the tribute of my love and piety, I should have to refuse it to every being that was not God, to the very heart of the woman who bore me in her womb.

II. How can I fail to greet and, both inwardly and out­wardly, express my love for her to whom one of the loftiest angelic spirits, one of the Seven in attendance at the Throne of God, the Archangel Gabriel, rendered, even before she was vested with the almost infinite: dignity of Mother of God, such astounding tokens of veneration in the name of the Almighty Himself?
Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. . . .

Fear not, Mary, thou hast found grace with God.

The Holy Ghost will come upon thee and the Power of the Most High will overshadow thee. (Luke i, 28-31.)

Has the Catholic Church or any of her most distin­guished children, however enthusiastic, fervent, and eloquent, ever gone further in Mary's praise?

All the flowers of poetry, love, art, liturgy, and all the flowers betokening imitation of thee, strewn at thy feet by twenty enamoured centuries; what are they as com­pared to this unfading, ever white and fragrant lily which the Archangel offered thee, O Mary, in the Lord's Name?

Hypocrites those who, boasting of the Christian name, reject the veneration which Catholicism of every age has rendered thee; a veneration which is but a pale reflection of that homage which thou didst receive from God's own Messenger! Will it not be lawful for the children of men to do what God Himself commanded to be done by the Hierarchy of Heaven?

I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also. (John xiii, 15.)

If our lives are worth living only in so far as they reproduce the likeness of Christ, let us take Christ as our model of devotion towards Mary, His Mother.

For thirty years the Word Incarnate had no other manifest occupation than that of obeying with absolute unreserve His Blessed Mother. Now, there is no form of devotion, veneration, and love, no manifestation of piety, more deep and true than the loving submission of a child or a youth to his mother. And that, precisely, is the devotion and piety chosen by Jesus for the space of thirty years.

Will my piety, with all its inventive genius, ever attain the measure of that total self-surrender of Him Who bears the world in the palm of His hand, at Whose
summons the stars of the firmament tremblingly reply: Adsumus?

My Jesus, I thank Thee for bidding me share with Thee the filial love Thou hast for the Woman whom Thou callest "Mother".

First of all, can I honestly say that until now I have been truly devoted to Mary? Have I not allowed myself to be influenced by a certain type of impartial uncon­cern, regarding this attitude as the characteristic of men who rise above the devotional craze of the common people? Have I denied or disbelieved popular convictions about our Lady? Have I held aloof from the traditional practices of Marian devotion? In preaching about Mary, what has been my stimulus: personal conviction, or merely the law of supply and demand?

Therefore, I resolve to express my devotion towards Mary by the following:

1. To meditate about her more, doing with regard to her what she did to her Divine Son: "Mary treasured up all these sayings, and reflected on them in her heart." (Luke ii, 19.)

2. To have recourse to her every day by the recita­tion of the Rosary, the most popular of all prayers, and, after the liturgy, the nearest to the heart of the Church.

3. To try to imitate her, for imitation is the hallmark of sincere love and devotion; and to imitate her particu­larly in those virtues which are essentially hers and which ought to be specifically the priest's - humility, purity of body and soul, love for Christ.
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!

An Iowa Catholic School Board Acts Responsibly

Hilary White of LifeSiteNews has posted an article titled, "Iowa Catholic School Board Upholds Catholic Identity - Accepts Resignation of Divorced and Remarried Teacher."

Hilary rightly notes that
Catholic teaching does not recognise civil divorce as dissolving a marriage, and considers that a person who remarries without a declaration of nullity...from the Church is committing adultery.

The story, which can also be read on the Des Moines Register web site (here), notes that the school board had originally declined in July to accept the the resignation of Tom Girsch, age 59, a Catholic who has been a longtime social studies teacher and coach at the high school.

The news report states that school officials, having discovered that Girsch had remarried after being divorced, asked him to resign. Of course, this was precisely what needed to be done in order to prevent scandal and to avoid setting a bad example for students, parents and others. The article is unclear, however, when the civil remarriage, which happened last August, became known and how much time elapsed before the resignation request was made. Nevertheless, his resignation should have been forthcoming without having to asked, if he chose to live in an adulterous relationship.

A board member, Tim Kneeland, is quoted as saying, "On July 12, we voted with our heart." Unfortunately, such a statement displays a distorted sense of compassion or charity. True charity and compassion would exhibit a concern with the salvation of another's eternal soul rather than with one's earthly comfort.

With respect to Girsch's remarriage and his status with the school, the Waterloo Courier reports that:
When school officials told Girsch this was grounds for immediate dismissal, he hired [Attorney Mark] Zaiger and an amended contract was negotiated. That contract required Girsch to initiate the annulment process and to submit his resignation if it was denied. The CVCS board would decide whether to accept his resignation, according to the contract.

Fortunately, as the subsequent unaminous 12-0 vote indicates, a Catholic "identity" and fidelity to the teachings of the Church are matters which the board members appear to value, having been reminded of their obligations by the Archbishop.

As the board prepared to reconsider that decision Monday, they heard from Archbishop Jerome Hanus through a letter read by Jeff Henderson, the archdiocese superintendent of schools.

Hanus declared the "sacredness and indissolubility of Christian marriage" in the letter. "Teachers play a key role in the teaching of the faith," Henderson read, both through their instruction and how they live. The board is required by its constitution to be in agreement with Catholic doctrine, the letter said.

Henderson read that the board "has attempted to act contrary to" church doctrine, jeopardizing the school system's Catholic identity. "This is unacceptable and requires correction by the CVCS board," he read.

It's sad that, after 32 years teaching at the school, Girsch chose the path he did. Certainly, one can sympathize with his desire for love and companionship in marriage. But one must always strive to do that which is in accord with the will of God, as revealed in the teachings of our Lord and of His Church - despite how one feels.

The board members did the right thing, even if they needed a bit of coercing. All should pray for them and for the teacher - and for Archbishop Jerome Hanus who exercised authentic pastoral care for his flock.

A Must Read Concerning Vocations and the Parish Life Coordinator (PLC) -

The Mistakes We Make with Priestly Vocations

Father Philip Powell precisely enumerates the problems, errors and predictions with the recent announcements of Parish Life Coordinators.

Read it here...Father Powell nails it. I only wish it were not so.

Cardinal Pell Tackles Catholic Education

Of course the article attempts to slam Cardinal Pell for doing what really needs to be done:

THE Catholic Church wants to discourage non-Catholic families from enrolling their children in its schools under a return to strict religious values.

Church leaders headed by Cardinal George Pell yesterday issued an edict to all Catholic schools, demanding that students and their parents be more devout and outlining a plan to lure back thousands of poorer families who have left the system.
What shepherd would not desire and try to ensure that Catholic schools impart the true faith which they profess to believe and are supposed to teach? Is not one of the reasons parents elect to send children to Catholic schools that of instilling a devout and Catholic faith?

The edict also tells Catholic schools to increase the proportion of school staff who are "practising and knowledgeable Catholics".
If it takes an "edict" to accomplish these things, so be it - Unfortunately, it seems, an edict is something many people can understand - and at times, an "edict" is a necessity. And it is commendable and essential that teachers and staff be "practising and knowledgeable Catholics". How else would it be possible to impart the faith while providing a sound education? Certainly these things are not opposed to each other, except in the minds of those who oppose the Church and her ecclesiastical leaders.

In a rare pastoral letter, "Catholic Schools at a Crossroads", the Bishops of NSW and the ACT admit changes in enrolment patterns have "radically affected the composition and roles of the Catholic school. . .".

The letter, with Cardinal Pell as head signatory, said: "Half the students of Catholic families are enrolled in state schools and a growing proportion go to non-Catholic independent schools.
It's understandable here in the US for such trends as these, if Catholic schools are operating as secular institutions with a watered-down or non-existent religious component while demanding the payment of tuition.

Perhaps bishops in the US will take notice and do more to ensure that Catholic schools here become truly Catholic.

Catholicism as it should be

From California Catholic Daily we read of an Oakland priest, Fr. Michael K. Wiener, a priest of the Institute of Christ the Sovereign Priest, who has received “several requests, in the Bay Area, from priests who would like to learn to celebrate the [Tridentine] Mass.”
[Fr.] Wiener said he prefers saying the Tridentine Mass “because it links us to the history of man, so to say. For many, many centuries, this Mass was celebrated and sanctified people, and it has brought about many saints. All this has developed slowly and organically over the centuries, and is therefore a joy to celebrate. In German, we’d describe it as ‘Gesamtkunstwerk,’ which means a piece of art that expresses an idea in a very complete way.”

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Gospel for August 8, Memorial: St. Dominic, priest

From: Matthew 15:21-28

The Canaanite Woman

[21] And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. [22] And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon." [23] But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying after us." [24] He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [25] But she came and knelt before Him, saying, "Lord, help me." [26] And He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." [27] She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table." [28] Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.


21-22. Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean coast, in present-day Lebanon. They were never part of Galilee but they were near its northeastern border. In Jesus' time they were outside the territory of Herod Antipas. Jesus withdrew to this area to escape persecution from Herod and from the Jewish authorities and to concentrate on training His Apostles.

Most of the inhabitants of the district of Tyre and Sidon were pagans. St. Matthew calls this woman a "Canaanite"; according to Genesis (10:15), this district was one of the first to be settled by the Canaanites; St. Mark describes the woman as a "Syrophoenician" (Mark 7:26). Both Gospels point out that she is a pagan, which means that her faith in our Lord is more remarkable; the same applies in the case of the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13).

The Canaanite woman's prayer is quite perfect: she recognizes Jesus as the Messiah (the Son of David)--which contrasts with the unbelief of the Jews; she expresses her need in clear, simple words; she persists, undismayed by obstacles; and she expresses her request in all humility: "Have mercy on me." Our prayer should have the same qualities of faith, trust, perseverance and humility.

24. What Jesus says here does not take from the universal reference of His teaching (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). Our Lord came to bring His Gospel to the whole world, but He Himself addressed only the Jews; later on He will charge His Apostles to preach the Gospel to pagans. St. Paul, in his missionary journeys, also adopted the policy of preaching in the first instance to the Jews (Acts 13:46).

25-28. This dialogue between Jesus and the woman is especially beautiful. By appearing to be harsh He so strengthens the woman's faith that she deserves exceptional praise: "Great is your faith!" Our own conversation with Christ should be like that: "Persevere in prayer. Persevere, even when your efforts seem barren. Prayer is always fruitful" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 101).
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.

Thoughts and Counsels - August 8

Among the different means that we have of pleasing God in all we do, one of the most efficacious is to perform each of our actions as though it were the last of our life.

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

The Priest at Prayer for August 8, Priestly Piety

The Fourth Part - Some Means of Perseverence

Priestly Piety

Second Meditation - The Need for Priestly Piety

I. The priest is the man of God, appointed by his fellow-men their ambassador before God. When man must appear before God in order to obtain mercy or the remission of sin or supernatural grace and strength or temporal and eternal gifts, he fears for his own little­ness or unworthiness, he is afraid lest he be not admitted to the Divine Presence, his petitions be left unheeded; because he knows he is not pleasing to the Lord's scrutinising gaze.

He, therefore, instinctively goes to the priest, as to a person who enjoys God's familiar friend­ship; and in the priest's hands he lays his confidence and his requests. He knows that the priest of Christ, like Christ Himself, will be given audience at the Throne of the Eternal God; he knows that the priest has free access, for he is the King's close friend and privy coun­cillor. Such is the idea of the priest in the minds of Christians; and, in its main outline, such is the idea of every priest from the day the world began.

But what if the priest is actually God's enemy? What if the priest has not practice in conversing with God but rather flees from the divine Countenance as from a source of annoyance? What if the man of God is hateful to God? How will he put before God the petitions of the people whom he represents? Will he appease God, or will he provoke God to anger? Here we have, perhaps, the clue to the doctrine taught by so many holy and hard-thinking men, the doctrine that one bad priest is the ruin of a whole town or nation, and is responsible for the greater part of public calamities.

It is obvious, O God, that if I am to acquit myself properly of my office as the world's ambassador and mediator, in imitation of Christ, I must render myself acceptable to Thee, must be a friend of Thine, a member of Thy Household, a true pleader at Thy Court; in a word: pious.

II. As a means of bringing souls to God, riches are of no avail, nor learning, nor eloquence, nor worldly pomp and power. How many surprises time springs upon the educators of candidates for the priesthood! We have all witnessed it: young men who seemed to be the cream of talent while in the seminary, when raised to the priest­hood and given the cure of souls they proved to be very mediocre or even failures.

On the other hand, young men who were almost thrown out by their professors, soon after ordination began to do wonders for the con­version and renewal of souls throughout the district. What hidden talent came to light in the latter, that was missing in the former? The Spirit of Christ, Who wielded mastery over their hearts, Who guided them in their holy endeavours.

When it comes to returning to God in all sincerity, to being converted, to following the inspirations of divine grace, the human heart obeys only one deep impulse: God's personal invitation; it obeys only one attraction: the pure light of the Faith; one thing alone fascinates and captures: the life-giving perfume of Christ. (2 Cor. ii, 15:) And priests who are full of the Spirit of God, not merely good and honest men like any soldier or father of a family but solidly pious, have become this life-giving perfume of Christ, and souls run to them, and in their voice they hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Thy Church, O Lord, has need of learned ministers, men steeped in the sciences of things human and divine; grant them unto Her. Thy Church needs priests without blemish in the eyes of a prying world; refuse them not to Her, O Lord. But little will the Church accomplishwithout pious priests, Her best treasure, fishers of men for Thee. Lord, never refuse Thy Church these priests of piety; increase their number; let them be the salt of the earth, to free the earth from its so great corruption; let them be the light of the world, to scatter the world's darkness!

III. God help me if I am not pious! An ordinary Christian, a farmer or a family man, will perhaps man­age to observe all the commandments, will go for months and years without a single serious breach of the divine law, merely on the strength of Sunday Mass, Easter duties, and a few popular practices of devotion; that is, without being particularly pious.

But shall I, a priest, be as good and as honest without real, solid piety? I wish to God it would bear contradiction, but no, the fact is that if a priest is not solidly pious he will not even reach the standards of ordinary decency and honesty, in the elastic meaning given by the world to these terms. The fundamental and unassailable truth is that a priest who is not pious will very soon degenerate into a perverse Christian, into a man without a moral conscience, into a rake, a blackguard, a public scandal. . . .

The duties incumbent upon me are so very heavy! Take, for example, the duty of observing absolute and perpetual chastity of body and soul. Am I going to break that vow freely entered into before God and the world? If I do not keep it, if my soul burns with impure desire, if my body seeks to wallow in lustful pleasure, how is it possible for me to give rein to my appetites and not sustain the loss of moral integrity and common decency? How can I indulge my passions without plung­ing into the direst depths of infamy and abomination? No, it is quite clear, I cannot. Therefore, an unchaste priest is a perverse and abominable man.

Now then, am I, or anyone else for that matter, capable of such absolute purity by my own unaided efforts?

"To be master of myself was a thing I could not hope to come by except of God's Bounty; I was wise enough already to know whence the gift came. So to the Lord I turned, and made my request of him, praying with all my heart. . . ." (Wisdom viii, 21.)

No merely human interest or consideration was ever, of itself, sufficient a bridle to fleshly concupiscence: neither the desire for health, nor the dread of disgrace, nor the natural esteem of purity, nor nature's noblest aspirations. Has not my own experience taught me the lesson? Only a longing for the rewards of everlasting life, the fear of eternal punishment, a respectful regard for God's constant and all-seeing Presence, a contempt for degrading satisfactions, a sober life united to Jesus Christ, the laborious steering clear of sinful allurements; all this, together with divine grace, is the only force which adequately refrains and harnesses to reason and to God our most violent appetite of the flesh. And all this is called piety.

IV. Priestly piety encounters, to be sure, powerful and formidable opposition. One type of adversary proceeds - ­who would believe it? - from the ranks of some of your own fellow priests.

Experience, unfortunately, bears witness to this. When certain priests get together for their little parties and gossiping parlours, perhaps your name crops up in the course of conversation. "We know him well enough; not what he makes himself out to be. What does he mean by going around with the face of a mystic, mumbling his prayers at every hour of the day - the old wheedling humbug!" They may even throw it into your face and make social contact almost an impossibility for you among your colleagues. You'll be the target of numberless unfair and scathing remarks. Take stock of it, but meanwhile, esto vir, be a man; don't let it daunt you. If God and your own tempera­ment have endowed you with calmness of manner and strong convictions, choose an opportunity, when there are a number of witnesses, to face up to your accusers, and serenely, without losing your nerve or your temper, take the ring-leader to task along the following line of thought, if not in so many words:

"Let me be frank with you. Yes, I am trying to be pious, I am trying to keep in close touch with our Lord; and for very serious reasons. Experience has shown me how weak I am and how I am bound to yield to passion and break my most solemn promises, if I am left to my own devices. I don't want to take back every word I gave to God and the Church; loyalty is no more than common decency, like that of the military man not to run away from the firing­ line; but I'm convinced that my own unaided efforts are not enough to ward off defeat; so I'm determined to gather strength to remain loyal. That strength has its source in God and in Christ, nowhere else; and it is piety that opens up that source of strength to me. So now you know why I am trying to lead a life of piety."

1. From this very day I shall conform not only to the standards of liturgical piety and those of self-sacri­ficing obedience and service, as outlined in the last meditation, but also to the following prescriptions of Canon Law:

Canon 124 : Both the interior life and the exterior behaviour of the clergy must be superior to that of the laity, and must excel them by the example of virtue and good deeds.

Canon 125: The Ordinary must take care (1) that the clergy frequently go to confession; (2) that they make each day a meditation of some duration, visit the Blessed Sacrament, say the rosary, and examine their consciences.

Canon 126 : All secular priests must at least once in three years make a retreat for a length of time to be specified by the Ordinary, in a religious house or other place designated by the bishop. No one shall be exempted from the retreat, except in a particular case, for a just reason, and with the explicit permission of the Ordinary.

2. Besides my ministerial duties and liturgical functions, my daily timetable of piety will include the devotional exercises prescribed by the above Canons; and I shall not omit any pious exercise except for serious reasons, giving preference to the above-mentioned over any others, however holy, commendable, and enriched with indulgences, the latter may be.

This programme, besides being meritorious in itself and in the sight of Jesus Christ, who was obedient unto death, death on the Cross; besides consisting of acts which are essentially good and efficaciously sanctifying, will have the great merit of obedience to the divinest Authority on earth, our Holy Mother Church.
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!

SSPX in schism? You can believe Fr. Newman... or you can believe the Church

South Carolina pastor warns flock SSPX attendance "morally illicit" and "gravely sinful"
by Brian Mershon
August 7, 2007

Greenville, South Carolina — Noted author and commentator George Weigel's book Letters to a Young Catholic highlights St. Mary's parish, under the direction of Fr. Jay Scott Newman, JCL, as a particularly bright beacon in the continuing wasteland of the post-Vatican II devastation. St. Mary's is a steadily growing parish with lots of young families, and many who are open to life and attempting to lead holy, Catholic lives of discipleship.

An Interview with Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos by Gianni Cardinale

30Days asks the Colombian Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president since 2000 of the Pontifical Commission «Ecclesia Dei» (as well as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy from 1996 to 2006), to illustrate the more important points in the motu proprio Summorum pontificum.

Your Eminence, what is the significance of this motu proprio that liberalizes the use of the so-called Missal of Saint Pius V?

DARÍO CASTRILLÓN HOYOS: When, after Vatican Council II, there were changes in the liturgy, substantial groups of laity and also of churchmen felt uneasy because they were strongly attached to the liturgy in force for centuries. I am thinking of the priests who for fifty years had celebrated the so-call mass of Saint Pius V and who suddenly found themselves having to celebrate another, I am thinking of the faithful for generations accustomed to the old rite, I am also thinking of children like the altar boys who suddenly found themselves lost in serving mass with the Novus ordo. So there was uneasiness at various levels. For some it was also of a theological nature, people who retained that the old rite expressed the sense of the sacrifice better than the one brought in. Others, not least for cultural reasons, were nostalgic for the Gregorian and the great polyphonies that were a treasure of the Latin Church. To aggravate everything there was the fact that those who felt the uneasiness blamed the changes on the Council, when in reality the Council itself had neither asked nor foreseen the details of the changes. The Mass that the Council Fathers celebrated was the Mass of Saint Pius V. The Council had not asked for the creation of a new rite, but a greater use of the vernacular and greater participation by the congregation. [my emphasis]

greed, that was the air one breathed forty years ago. But today the generation that showed that unease no longer exists. Not just that: clergy and people have grown accustomed to the Novus ordo, and in the great majority of the cases are very comfortable…

CASTRILLÓN HOYOS: Exactly, in the great majority, even if many amongst them don’t know what went missing with the abandonment of the old rite. But not everybody has grown used to the new rite. Curiously even in the new generations, both of clerics and laity, interest and respect for the earlier rite seems to be blooming. And they are priests and ordinary faithful who sometimes have nothing to do with the so-called Lefebvrians. These are facts about the Church, to which pastors cannot remain deaf. That is why Benedict XVI, who is a great theologian with a deep liturgical sensibility, has decided to promulgate the motu proprio.

Thoughts and Counsels - August 7

Vigilance is rendered necessary and indispensable, not only by the dangers that surround us, but by the delicacy, the extreme difficulty of the work we all have to engage in - the work of our salvation.

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

Monday, August 06, 2007

Gospel for Tuesday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial of Sts. Sixtus II, pope and martyr and companions, martyrs
Optional Memorial of St. Cajetan, priest
Old Calendar: St. Cajetan, confessor; St. Donatus, bishop and martyr

From: Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus Walks on the Water

[22] Then He (Jesus) made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. [23] And after He had dismissed the crowds He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, [24] but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. [25] And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. [26] But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. [27] But immediately He spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."

[28] And Peter answered Him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to You on the water." [29] He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; [30] but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." [31] Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" [32] And when they got into boat, the wind ceased. [33] And those in the boat worshipped Him, saying, "Truly You are the son of God."

[34] And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. [35] And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent round to all the region and brought to Him all that were sick, [36] and besought Him that they might only touch the fringe of His garment; and as many as touched it were made well.


22-23. It has been a very full day, like so many others. First, Jesus works many cures (14:14) and then performs the remarkable miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, a symbol of the future Eucharist. The crowd who have been following Him were avid for food, teaching and consolation. Jesus "had compassion on them" (14:14), curing their sick and giving them the comfort of His teaching and the nourishment of food. He continues to do the same, down the centuries, tending to our needs and comforting us with His word and with the nourishment of His own body. Jesus must have been very moved, realizing the vivifying effect the Blessed Sacrament would have on the lives of Christians--a sacrament which is a mystery of life and faith and love. It is understandable that He should feel the need to spend some hours in private to speak to His Father. Jesus' private prayer, in an interlude between one demanding activity and another, teaches us that every Christian needs to take time out for recollection, to speak to His Father, God. On Jesus' frequent personal prayer see, for example, Mark 1:35; 6:47; Luke 5:16; 16:12. See the notes on Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 7:7-11.

24-33: This remarkable episode of Jesus walking on the sea must have made a deep impression on the Apostles. It was one of their outstanding memories of the life hey shared with the Master. It is reported not only by St. Matthew, but also by St. Mark (6:45-52), who would have heard about it from St. Peter, and by St. John (6:14-21).

Storms are very frequent on Lake Gennesaret; they cause huge waves and are very dangerous to fishing boats. During His prayer on the hill, Jesus is still mindful of His disciples; He sees them trying to cope with the wind and the waves and comes to their rescue once He has finished praying.

This episode has applications to Christian life. The Church, like the Apostles' boat, also gets into difficulties, and Jesus who watches over His Church comes to its rescue also, after allowing it to wrestle with obstacles and be strengthened in the process. He gives us encouragement: "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (14:27); and we show our faith and fidelity by striving to keep an even keel, and by calling on His aid when we feel ourselves weakening: "Lord, save me" (14:30), words of St. Peter which every soul uses when he has recourse to Jesus, his Savior. Then our Lord does save us, and we urgently confess our faith: "Truly you are the Son of God" (14:33).

29-31. St. John Chrysostom ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 50) comments that in this episode Jesus taught Peter to realize, from his own experience, that all his strength comes from our Lord and that he could not rely on his own resources, on his own weaknesses and wretchedness. Chrysostom goes as far as to say that "if we fail to play our part, God ceases to help us." Hence the reproach, 'O man of little faith" (14:31).

When Peter began to be afraid and to doubt, he started to sink, until again, full of faith, he called out, "Lord, save me." If at any time we, like Peter, should begin to weaken, we too should try to bring our faith into play and call on Jesus to save us.

34-36. Learning from the faith of these people on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, every Christian should approach the adorable humanity of the Savior. Christ--God and Man--is accessible to us in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

"When you approach the Tabernacle remember that He has been awaiting you for twenty centuries" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 537).
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.

The Priest at Prayer for August 7, Priestly Piety

The Fourth Part - Some Means of Perseverence

Priestly Piety

First Meditation - Its Nature and Source

I. What is piety? According to Cicero's definition, adopted by St. Thomas and afterwards by all the Scholastics:

Pietas est per quam a sanguine junctis patriaeque benevolis officium et diligens tribuitur cultus. (1 Rhet., lib. ii)

And St. Laurence Justinian emphasizes piety's interior dispositions and exterior manifestation:
per quam a conjunctis sanguine et benevolentia affectus et diligens tribuitur cultus.

Piety therefore regards immediately and principally one's own parents, with whom one is primarily con­nected by the ties of blood and benevolence; and the term "pious" applies in its first acceptation to the man who loves, respects, reverences, obeys and serves his parents. That is why St. Monica on her deathbed could call her son pious, notwithstanding his dissipated life. And St. Augustine himself tells us:

"It was a joy to me to have this one testimony from her: when her illness was close to its end, meeting with expressions of endearment such ser­vices as I rendered, she called me a dutiful, loving son, and said in the great affection of her love that she had never heard from my mouth any harsh or reproachful word addressed to herself. But what possible comparison was there, O my God who made us, between the honour I showed her and the service she rendered me?" (Confessions, Bk. ix, chap. xii. Trans. Sheed.)

Obsequium, honor, servitus. Obedience, honour, ser­vice: these three things, when rendered to our parents, constitute natural piety. But since God is
"the Father from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth takes its title" (Eph. iv, 15);

since God is the Supreme being, excelling all others, their Source and Origin; since God created us to His own image and likeness, and communicated to us, by grace, His own divine Spirit whereby we cry out to God: Abba-Father! (Rom. viii, 15) - in short, because God is our Father first and foremost, before any earthly parents, the term "pious" belongs primarily to the person who renders filial obedience, honour and service to God our Father in Heaven. We may say that piety is the keeping of the fourth commandment fused with the first; it is the Father and the child living together in the same home, the child never leaving it, never running away either in thought or desire or deed. Piety is being, living, willing at one with God our Father.

II. Piety means living by the Faith; not merely possessing the Faith, carrying it silently in the depths of the soul like a jewel in its casket or in the vaults of a bank. Piety means that the capital truths of our Faith have sunk into our minds, like a gentle dew from the heavens, taking up the leadership, becoming the very soul and centre, of all other knowledge and truth.

Piety means that our wills are continually being drawn towards, and unceasingly aspire after, the everlasting good as revealed by the dogmas of the Faith, with a longing that sur­passes all other longing. Piety means that our exterior acts are all informed and conditioned by the divine teachings and precepts; that in all our trials and diffi­culties we turn to God, our Father, to Whom we con­fide our hopes and our joys. Piety enables us to put into practice the words of the psalmist:

"Familiaris est Dominus timentibus eum, et foedus suum manifestat eis." (Ps. xxiv, 14, revised.)

"No man ever feared the Lord, but found graciousness in Him, and revelation in His covenant." It enables us to sing perpetually:

"Benedictus Deus, qui non amovit orationem meam, et misericordiam suam a me." (Ps. lxv, 20.)

"Blessed be God, who does not reject my prayer, does not withhold His mercy from me."

It brings us to that happy state described by the Apostle St. Paul in Chapter vii of his Epistle to the Romans: a state which may be summed up in the following words: we are liberated in Jesus Christ by virtue of a spiritual principle of life from the principle of sin and death; set free, we think the thoughts of the spirit, the wisdom that brings life and peace; our spirit is no longer one of slavery, to govern us by fear; it is a spirit of adoption, which makes us cry out to God as a child cries to its father; it is the Spirit of God Himself making us His children, His heirs, giving us a share of Christ's inheritance after we have partaken of Christ's sufferings.

So Piety is something very intimate; it issues from the Heart of God into the heart of man, and thence it flows into outward acts, which are its fruit and neces­sary manifestation. Piety is the worship of the Father in spirit and in truth; it is the virtue of religion spread over the whole man and raised to filial heights, making us exclaim at every elevation of our spirit to God: "Our Father who art in heaven." ­

III. The Word was God. The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. And that same divine Word told us:

He that seeth me, seeth the Father also. (John xiv, 9.)

And to love the Son is to love also the Father.

All our piety towards God, then, should be directed through Christ, who, being the God-Man, has come within our easy reach. There is nothing like St. Matthew's eleventh chapter for showing us how we should be pious towards our Divine Lord Jesus Christ. Let us transcribe the evangelist's recording of Christ's words, and let these words sink deeply into our minds and hearts:

"I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them to little ones."

So great is God our Father - Tu solus Altissimus - that in order to become good children of God we must ever remain as little ones.

"Yea, Father: for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight."

"All things are delivered to me by my Father."

All belongs to Christ, and as an indication of Christ's greatness He would have us understand that:

"No one knoweth the Son, but the Father,"

neither men of learning nor prophets nor cherubim, but only the Father, whose understanding is infinite. And

"neither doth anyone know the Father, but the Son"­ -

not all our deepest lucubrations on the Nature of the Godhead can adequately teach us Who the Father is; only the Son, infinite like the Father, can impart this knowledge:

"and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him."

Hence, all knowledge of God that strays from the doctrine given by the Son is falsehood; there is no true knowledge of God except in the teachings of Christ, who, therefore, says to us:

"Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavily burdened."

"All who are burdened by life's cares, or by the heavy duties of the priesdy ministry, or by sin, come to Me and I shall give you relief and rest; I shall encourage and give you consolation; take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; take Me for your Master, making your­selves My constant disciples; take Me as the universal Teacher of your lives, because I am meek and gentle and of kindly dispositions. Notwithstanding My personal greatness I know how to make Myself a little child towards those who submit to My teaching; I am humble of heart, like a mother stooping to instruct her little one, lisping in a language that the child understands. Come to Me, because only by following My system of teaching, only by relishing My teaching in actual practice, becoming wise through the knowledge I impart with a wisdom that combines goodness and truth, only by learning My words and moulding your conduct entirely upon them will you find rest for your souls, that source of true happiness about which men so copi­ously and so unavailingly discuss and argue. Come to Me, because the yoke I lay upon you is sweet, the burden I impose is light; and My hand, with its infinite strength helps you to bear them; and My Spirit will buoy you up and make them easy to bear."

O Jesus, keep me very small and make me sit down in the classroom with Thy pupils, where do Thou infuse into my inmost soul the law of Faith and of the Spirit, that wisdom which we call piety, wherewith the Father of Lights is venerated and worshipped, the Father from Whom descends every good and perfect gift!

Since every living being produces acts in conformity with its specific nature, I wish my piety to be a living thing, manifesting itself spontaneously in acts of piety. Therefore:

1. I am resolved to animate my entire priestly ministry with a spirit of piety, saying Mass and the Divine Office, exposing the Blessed Sacrament, reciting the rosary or Novena prayers, preaching and teaching catechism, all under the impulse and guidance of the selfsame spirit of piety.

2. Not satisfied with the above, I shall imbue all my liturgical acts with this spirit of piety, considering that each one yields a very special fruit which belongs exclusively to the officiating priest; for example, in dis­tributing the Sacraments, in blessings and consecrations.

When administering the Holy Viaticum, let us say, what great profit for my soul, in terms of devotion and piety, if I had stopped to reflect that this particular task was essentially mine to perform, holier, more pleasing to God and more profitable to my soul, than any mere meditation! Alas! Haven't I turned the whole liturgical system into something mechanical, cold and fruitless, as though it were instituted only for the benefit of others? How holy a priest would become if he once began to take the liturgical acts as his own proud personal pos­session!

3. And since the perfect worship of God consists in loving God, revering Him, and rendering Him service by obeying His commands; from now on I wish to consider the observance of every divine precept or evangelical counsel, and the works of zeal and of mercy as so many acts of piety and religion; so that one day God may be able to say for my benefit:

I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a son. (2 Kings vii, 14.)
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!

Abortion: The Devil's Masterpiece

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