Saturday, September 22, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 23

The path of virtue is painful to nature when left to itself;
but nature, assisted by grace, finds it easy and agreeable.

-Ven. Louis of Granada, O.P.
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 23, On Keeping My Word

"It is so easy to pronounce the words which signify the gift of oneself and it is so difficult to fulfill the promise," writes Maurice Zundel in his book, The Splendour of the Liturgy (Le Poeme de la Sainte Liturgie).

Cardinal Newman gave a sermon denouncing unreal words, that is, words devoid of their significance and which only strike the air; there is nothing beneath them; words, nothing but words.

In spiritual literature there are many unreal words, highly col­ored expressions which appear to express very rich sentiments, and exalted truths. To make the words dazzling in the effort to feel their reality is worth nothing. One simply becomes intoxicated for a moment with sublime expressions, that is all.

That is not enough.

I will avoid henceforth, when speaking to God from my heart, the use of exalted but empty words. I will employ modest expres­sions, but such as actually say something, something true.

When I express my love to God I will put real substance into my word "love"; when I tell Him that I give myself to Him, I will see that He possesses me in reality. No literary flights but honest sacri­fices; no rapturous words, but my true feelings, modest perhaps, but efficacious; no exalted poetry but a little real drama that is prosaic perhaps but meritorious.

I will never express what I do not feel, but I will strive to be able to use honestly the noble words of the language of love. I will force myself each day, in a greater degree, to love better, more strongly, and more solidly.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Saturday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time

Old Calendar: St. Thomas of Villanova, bishop and confessor;
Sts. Maurice and Companions, martyrs

From: Luke 8:4-15

Parable of the Sower. The Meaning of the Parables

[4] And when a great crowd came together and people from town after town came to Him (Jesus), He said in a parable: [5] "A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. [6] And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. [7] And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. [8] And some feel into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold." As He said this, He called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

[9] And when His disciples asked Him what this parable meant, [10] He said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. [11] Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. [12] The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. [13] And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. [14] And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. [15] And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience."


4-8. Our Lord explains this parable in verses 11-15. The seed is Jesus Himself and His preaching; and the different kinds of ground it falls on reflect people's different attitudes to Jesus and His teaching. Our Lord sows the life of grace in souls through the preaching of the Church and through an endless flow of actual graces.

10-12. Jesus uses parables to teach people the mysteries of the supernatural life and thereby lead them to salvation. However, He foresaw that, due to the bad dispositions of some of His listeners, these parables would lead them to harden their hearts and to reject grace. For a fuller explanation of the purpose of parables see the notes on Matthew 13:10-13 and Mark 4:11-12.

12. Some people are so immersed in a life of sin that they are the patch on which falls the seed "which suffers from two kinds of hazard: it is trodden on by wayfarers and snatched by birds. The path, therefore, is the heart, which is trodden on by the frequent traffic of evil thoughts, and cannot take in the seed and let it germinate because it is so dried up" (St. Bede, "In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc."). Souls hardened by sin can become good soil and bear fruit through sincere repentance and penance. We should note the effort the devil makes to prevent souls from being converted.

13. "Many people are pleased by what they hear, and they resolve to do good; but as soon as they experience difficulties they give up the good words they started. Stony ground has not enough soil, which is why the shoots fail to produce fruit. There are many who, when they hear greed criticized, do conceive a loathing for it and extol the scorning of it; but as soon as the soul sees something else that it desires, it forgets what it previously promised. There are also others who when they hear talk against impurity not only desire not to be stained by the filth of the flesh but are even ashamed of the stains that they already bear; but as soon as bodily beauty presents itself to their eyes, their heart is so drawn by desires that it is as if they had done or decided to do nothing against these desires, and they act in a manner deserving condemnation and in a way which they themselves previously condemned when they reflected on their behavior. Very often we feel compunction for our faults and yet we go back and commit them even after bemoaning them" (St. Gregory the Great, "In Evangelia Homiliae", 15).

14. This is the case of people who after receiving the divine seed, the Christian calling, and having stayed on the right path for some time, begin to give up the struggle. These souls run the risk of developing a distaste for the things of God and of taking the easy, and wrong, way of seeking compensations suggested to them by their disordered ambition for power and their desire for material wealth and a comfortable life involving no suffering.

A person in this situation begins to be lukewarm and tries to serve two masters: "It is wrong to have two candles lighted--one to St. Michael and another to the devil. We must snuff out the devil's candle; we must spend our lives completely in the service of the Lord. If our desire for holiness is sincere, if we are docile enough to place ourselves in God's hands, everything will go well. For He is always ready to give us His grace" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 59).

15. Jesus tells us that the good soil has three features--listening to God's demands with the good disposition of a generous heart; striving to ensure that one does not water down these demands as time goes by; and, finally, beginning and beginning again and not being disheartened if the fruit is slow to appear. "You cannot `rise'. It's not surprising: that fall!

"Persevere and you will `rise'. Remember what a spiritual writer has said: your poor soul is like a bird whose wings are caked with mud.

"Suns of heaven are needed and personal efforts, small and constant, to shake off those inclinations, those vain fancies, that depression: that mud clinging to your wings.

"And you will see yourself free. If you persevere, you will `rise'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 991).
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, September 21, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 22

Prayer without fervor has not sufficient strength to rise to heaven.

-St. Bernard
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 22, Sensibility

It was a woman who said: "Do not believe that there exists a single woman perfectly established in the mastery of her emotions."

There are advantages in sensibility: It provides us with feelers allowing us to discover what wounds or delights others; it creates a sort of gift of second sight. And if God has endowed woman with a rich sensibility, it is because He wishes to make her first of all a mother, and then a creature keen to anticipate the unexpressed needs of others; a nurse, and a person full of goodness who devotes herself untiringly and understandingly to allaying all mis?eries; a source of inspiration - was there not always a woman be?hind all great causes?

Sensibility has its disadvantages when it is exaggerated. It arouses the emotions too much, or too easily, or for too long a time, for insignificant motives; it exalts the imagination, which, in turn, re-enforces the play of sensibility; it prevents a healthy and calm view of realities; destroys the right sense of values, exaggerating the importance of detail, and ignoring the significance of the whole if the emotions are not awakened by it.

I will try in every way possible to be master of my nerves, of my impressions, of my impulses, and endeavor to correct by a pro?found spirit of faith my native or acquired impressionability.

"O Jesus give me that serenity which You never lacked, even before accusations, raillery, insults, blows, and condemnation to death. Grant that in all circumstances, I may know how to oppose a too natural im?pressionability, a supernatural serenity based on faith and Your divine example."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

30 Local Priests Attend 'Latin Mass' Meeting

Photo by Jeff Geerling
SOLEMN HIGH MASS — Assisted by seminarians at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Shrewsbury, Father Karl W. Lenhardt, rector of St. Francis de Sales Oratory in South St. Louis and Archbishop Raymond L. Burke’s delegate for implementing within the archdiocese the new regulations on the Latin Mass, lifts the chalice at the Consecration during a Tridentine Mass in the seminary’s St. Joseph Chapel Sept. 14. That was the day the new papal directive on the traditional Latin Mass went into effect.
Priests of the archdiocese interested in celebrating the traditional Latin Mass attended a meeting last week to learn more about what is needed to offer it in their parishes.

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and Father Karl W. Lenhardt, rector of St. Francis de Sales Oratory in South St. Louis, met with some 30 priests to discuss the papal norms of Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter, "Summorum Pontificum," which went into effect Sept. 14. . .
This should be welcomed news for the faithful of the Archdiocese - as should this:

Because of a need to continue offering that form of the Mass to the faithful in that area [West St Louis county/St Charles], the archbishop said he has asked the Benedictine monks of St. Louis Abbey in Creve Coeur to offer one traditional Latin Mass each day of the week, including Sunday.

Abbot Thomas Frerking, abbot of St. Louis Abbey, told the Review that his community will celebrate the Masses in the chapel of St. Anselm’s parish center.

Masses are expected to begin by the first Sunday of Advent, Abbot Frerking said.
The Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem are, for the time being, not in the St Louis Archdiocese.

Fr. Tom Euteneuer: The Vindication of Terri Schiavo

Fr. Tom’s Spirit & Life this week is on the Vindication of Terri Schiavo:

“The CDF responded to a question from the US Catholic bishops who asked whether it was morally obligatory to give food and water to a patient in such a state. The response was unambiguous: ‘Yes’.”
Read the entire article here:

I don't understand why it was even necessary to ask the question, yet again. The question had been answered so many times before.

Gospel for Sept 21, Feast: St. Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist

From: Matthew 9:9-13

The Call of Matthew

[9] As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and He said to him, "Follow Me." And he rose and followed Him.

[10] And as He sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and His disciples. [11] And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" [12] But when He heard it, He said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. [13] Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."


9. "Tax office": a public place for the payment of taxes. On "following Jesus", see the note on Matthew 8:18-22.

The Matthew whom Jesus calls here is the Apostle of the same name and the human author of the first Gospel. In Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27 he is called Levi the son of Alphaeus or simply Levi.

In addition to Baptism, through which God calls all Christians (cf. note on Matthew 8:18-22), the Lord can also extend, to whomever He chooses, a further calling to engage in some specific mission in the Church. This second calling is a special grace (cf. Matthew 4:19-21; Mark 1:17-20; John 1:30; etc.) additional to the earlier calling through Baptism. In other words, it is not man who takes the initiative; it is Jesus who calls, and man who responds to this call by his free personal decision: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you" (John 15:16).

Matthew's promptitude in "following" Jesus' call is to be noted. When God speaks, soul may be tempted to reply, "Tomorrow; I'm not ready yet." In the last analysis this excuse, and other excuses, are nothing but a sign of selfishness and fear (different from that fear which can be an additional symptom of vocation: cf. John 1). "Tomorrow" runs the risk of being too late.

As in the case of the other Apostles, St. Matthew is called in the midst of the ordinary circumstances of his life: "What amazes you seems natural to me: that God has sought you out in the practice of your profession! That is how He sought the first, Peter and Andrew, James and John, beside their nets, and Matthew, sitting in the custom-house. And--wonder of wonders!--Paul, in his eagerness to destroy the seed of the Christians" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 799).

10-11. The attitude of these Pharisees, who are so prone to judge others and classify them as just men or sinners, is at odds with the attitude and teaching of Jesus. Earlier on, He said, "Judge not, that you be not judged" (Matthew 7:1), and elsewhere He added, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7).

The fact is that all of us are sinners; and our Lord has come to redeem all of us. There is no basis, therefore, for Christians to be scandalized by the sins of others, since any one of us is capable of committing the vilest of sins unless God's grace comes to our aid.

12. There is no reason why anyone should be depressed when he realizes he is full of failings: recognition that we are sinners is the only correct attitude for us to have in the presence of God. He has come to seek all men, but if a person considers himself to be righteous, by doing so he is closing the door to God; all of us in fact are sinners.

13. Here Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6, keeping the hyperbole of the Semitic style. A more faithful translation would be: "I desire mercy MORE THAN sacrifice". It is not that our Lord does not want the sacrifices we offer Him: He is stressing that every sacrifice should come from the heart, for charity should imbue everything a Christian does--especially his worship of God (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Matthew 5:23-24).
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, September 20, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 21

If we consider the number and excellence of the virtues practised by the saints, we must feel the inefficiency and imperfection of our actions.

-St. Vincent Ferrer
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 21, Meticulosity

Attentive but not fussy; thoughtful of others but not meddle­some; faithful but not scrupulous.

"An excessive meticulosity only creates difficulties where there are none." (Dom Marmion.)

The best is the enemy of the good: there is a certain desire of perfection characterized by exaggerations and by such a refine­ment in the care of useless details, that the soul is overwhelmed; it loses sight of the whole ideal and becomes irritating to its neigh­bor as well.

Isn't it excessive meticulosity that gives rise to scruples, that wound of consciences; that ridiculous timidity submerging in a sea of trifles, souls that are otherwise perfectly sane, as long as their interior life is not involved?

Is it not this excessive care for details which makes certain indi­viduals incapable of ever finishing a task; unable to declare them­selves satisfied, even when they have given to the task their utmost effort?

Is it not scrupulosity which makes persons fall into agitation and false mathematics in their use of indulgenced prayers, so that they no longer see in a prayer its value as a prayer, but only the number of days or years attached to its recitation?

And how many other manifestations there are!

"My God, make me very attentive and valiantly faithful, but preserve me from these blundering anxieties, from that fearful meticulosity which takes away peace and hinders me much more than it helps in my work. Excess in everything is a fault, above all we ought to say, in the desire for good. Let me be perfectly prudent and well poised in every respect, - no excess."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Local Take on Local Lunacy

Dream of priesthood realized
Jessica Rowley ordained in ECC
By Todd Smith
Tuesday, September 18, 2007 4:11 PM CDT

Jessica Rowley has become one of seven women in the United States who has been ordained as a priest as part of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, a group of churches that refuse to recognize the authority of the pope but see themselves nevertheless as Catholic.

"We see ourselves as part of the Catholic tradition," Rowley said.
I'll bet she does...But "Catholic tradition" sees her and others like her as confused and misguided. But then, intellectual honesty doesn't seem to be high on the priority list for those who think they can be Catholic yet reject the authority of the Church and the Pope - and who, by doing so, reject Jesus Christ, Himself.

Rowley, who lives with her husband, Joe, in Webster Groves, said she was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition in the Chicago suburbs. She then studied theology and communications at Marquette University, a Jesuit institution in Milwaukee.
Ah, the prodigy of a "Jesuit" institution - coincidental? Perhaps being at Marquette, she was influenced by the resident dissident "theologian" and ex-priest Dan Maguire?

"Sts. Clare and Francis Parish resonated with me and its spirit of Catholicism and what nurtured me as a child," Rowley said. "I missed the liturgy and sacraments of Catholicism."
Those with eyes to see and ears to hear will understand that it is not the "Spirit of Catholicism" which resonates with such people. Satan has ingenious ways of confusing and fooling mankind.

[Frank] Krebs, 60, [pastor at Sts. Clare and Francis] had been a Roman Catholic priest until 1990 and had been a pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in the Soulard neighborhood. He left because he would have been unable to be celibate in having a partner.
As previously reported here and elsewhere, that "partner" was another male...He chose the homosexual lifestyle and in so doing, rejected God.

Krebs said the ECC traces its origin to 1870 -- the date of the First Vatican Council -- when a group of European bishops refused to accept the idea that the pope was infallible in matters of church doctrine, and rejected allegiance to Rome.
Schismatics, heretics, and apostates - not much of a surprise, really.

One thing is for certain - they are not "Catholic" but are in need of our prayers.

Speaking of Education...

There will be more to come later regarding the Barat Academy Freshmen Theology outline since the previous post was limited to the beginning of the first quarter of the year and a general overview. Interestingly, it may appear to the parents or child that, among other things, Church history begins with the Second Vatican Council - but more on that later.

As recent article by George Weigel, "Please pass the ontology," confirmed what many have known for a number of years - that many Catholics really do not understand what they profess to believe:

A philosophically-minded young friend recently sent me a fine rant, after having watched a presidential candidates’ cattle call on CNN. The discussion had focused on religion. Several candidates, who identified themselves as Catholics, had indicated that their Christianity was rather easily bracketed when they put on their hats as public servants. “Does ontology mean nothing to these people?” my friend asked. “Do they even know what it is?”
Well, no. They don’t.

And that’s a problem.

By “ontology,” my correspondent was using the technical vocabulary of philosophy to re-capture an image once familiar to generations of Catholics from the Baltimore Catechism, the image of an “indelible mark” imprinted on the soul by certain sacraments. This image of the “indelible mark” was intended to convey a basic truth of Catholic faith: that the reception of certain sacraments changed the recipient forever, by conferring on him or her a new identity — not in the psychological sense of that overused term, but substantively. Or, if you’ll pardon the term, ontologically.

Of course, many professed Catholics would castigate Weigel for making a reference to the "Baltimore Catechism," as if the latest decades of pedagogical experimentation in catechesis were something of which to be proud.

Decades of faux-catechesis, in which the only “indelible marks” to be found in religious education classrooms were made by magic markers on felt banners, have left us severely weakened in our self-understanding, such that too many Catholics imagine their Christianity to be the religious variant of their membership in other voluntary organizations.

Gospel for Sept 20, Memorial: St Andrew Kim Taegon, Priest, and...

...St Paul Chong Hasang, and companions, Martyrs

Old Calendar: St. Eustace and His Companions, martyrs

From: Luke 7:36-50

Forgiveness for a sinful woman

[36] One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat at table. [37] And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was sitting at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, [38] and standing beside him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears; and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. [39] Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner. [40] And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” [41] A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. [42] When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” [43] Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” [44] Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. [45] You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. [46] You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. [47] Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little loves little.” [48] And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” [49] Then those who were at table with him began to say among them- selves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” [50] And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

36-40. This woman, moved no doubt by grace, was attracted by Christ’s preach- ing and by what people were saying about him. When dining, people reclined on low divans leaning on their left arm with their legs tucked under them, away from the table. A host was expected to give his guest a kiss of greeting and offer him water for his feet, and perfumes.

41-50. In this short parable of the two debtors Christ teaches us three things – his own divinity and his power to forgive sins; the merit the woman’s love deserves; and the discourtesy implied in Simeon’s neglecting to receive Jesus in the conventional way. Our Lord was not interested in these social niceties as such but in the affection which they expressed; that was why he felt hurt at Simeon’s neglect.

“Jesus notices the omission of the expression of human courtesy and refinement which the Pharisee failed to show him. Christ is perfectus Deus, perfectus homo (Athanasian Creed). He is perfect God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and perfect man. He comes to save, not to destroy nature. It is from him that we learn that it is unchristian to treat our fellow men badly, for they are crea- tures of God, made in his image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26)” (Bl. J. Escriva, Friends of God, 73).

Moreover, the Pharisee was wrong to think badly of this sinner and of Jesus: reckoning that Christ did not know anything about her, he complained inwardly. Our Lord, who could read the secret thoughts of men (which sowed his divinity), intervened to point out to him his mistake. True righteousness, says St. Gregory the Great (cf. In Evangelia homiliae, 33), is compassionate; whereas false righteousness is indignant. There are many people like this Pharisee: forgetting that they themselves were or are poor sinners, when they see other people’s sin they immediately become indignant, instead of taking pity on them, or else they rush to judge them or sneer at them. They forget what St Paul says: “Let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12); “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness […]. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:1-2).

We should strive to have charity govern all our judgments. Otherwise, we will easily be unjust towards others. “Let us be slow to judge. Each one see things from his own point of view, and with his own mind, with all its limitations, through eyes that are often dimmed and clouded by passion . . . Of what little worth are the judgments of men! Don’t judge without sifting your judgment in prayer (Bl. J. Escriva, The Way, 451).

Charity and humility will allow us to see in the sins of others our own weak and helpless position, and will help our hearts go out to the sorrow of every sinner who repents, for we too would fall into sins as serious or more serious if God in his mercy did not say by our side.

“It was not the ointment that the Lord loved”, St. Ambrose comments, “but the affection; it was the woman’s faith that pleased him, her humility. And you also, if you desire grace, increase your love; pour over the body of Jesus Christ your faith in the Resurrection, the perfume of the holy Church and the ointment of charity towards others” (Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc.).

47, Man cannot merit forgiveness for his sins because, since God is the offended party, they are of infinite gravity. We need the sacrament of Penance, in which God forgives us by virtue of the infinite merits of Jesus Christ; there is only one indispensable condition for winning God’s forgiveness – our love, our repentance. We are pardoned to the extent that we love; when our heart is full of love there is no longer any room in it for sin because we have made room for Jesus, and he says to us as he said to this woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” Repentance is a sign that we love God. But it was God who first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:1:10). When God forgives us he is expressing his love for us. Our love for God is, then, always a response to his initiative. By forgiving us God helps us to be more grateful and more loving towards him. “He loves little”, St Augustine comments, “who has little forgiven. You say that you have not committed many sins: but why is that the case? […] The reason is that God was guiding you […]. There is no sin that one many commits, which another may not commit also unless God, man’s maker, guides him” (Sermons, 99, 6). Therefore, we ought to fall ever more deeply in love with our Lord, not only because he forgives us our sins but also because he helps us by means of his grace not to commit them.

50. Jesus declares that it was faith that moved this woman to throw herself at his feet and show her repentance; her repentance wins his forgiveness. Similarly, when we approach the sacrament of Penance we should stir up our faith in the fact that it is “not a human but a divine dialogue. It is a tribunal of divine justice and especially of mercy, with a loving judge who ‘has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; I desire that the wicked turn back from his way and live’ (Ezek 33:11)” (Bl. J. Escriva, Christ is Passing By, 78).
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, September 19, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 20

The thought of the presence of God renders us familiar with the practice of doing in all things His holy wil1.

-St. Vincent de Paul
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 20, The Tabernacle Key

"What are you going to do?" someone asked the superior of a house of the Religious of the Sacred Heart from whom an order of St. Sophie Barat had just taken a religious on whom the su­perior founded great hopes. "Oh," responded this true religious with quiet calm, "Sister X- did not carry off the key of the Tabernacle. "

In moments of weariness, of contradictions, or of trials, do I realize the value of recollection, of going to find Our Lord, to offer Him my affliction, to beg His help? Is not my first reaction to become sad, to pity myself, to withdraw within myself, to explain to others what has happened?

That is not a good method.

I always have the chapel where I can find Our Lord in the Tabernacle. What need have I of ruminating my miseries indefi­nitely, or telling others my troubles? Is not Jesus there? And from the depths of His tabernacle is He not eager to receive me; to accept the offering that I make to Him of my sorrow for His glory and for souls; to console me; to strengthen me? Come to Me you who suffer.

Someone once asked St. Ignatius what he would do if he were told that his little Society would be dissolved by order of su­periors. "I would ask for a quarter of an hour for meditation to get the courage to accept."

Remember these beautiful examples and imitate them when the occasion calls for it. Whatever might happen, nothing can take from me my calm. I know where to go to find strength; I know in whom to trust. Were even the key of the tabernacle carried away and the tabernacle itself emptied and profaned, the God of the tabernacle is Himself invincible, and everywhere I can contact Him, everywhere claim His help, everywhere receive His succor.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Liturgical Use of Color

Chapter 11

This is a continuation from Chapter 10. Light in the Liturgy .

Bear in mind that this was composed in 1939, well before the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and some rubrics and requirements may have been modified...Other changes will be noted accordingly. Nevertheless, some may find the history fascinating.
XI - Liturgical Use of Color

Colors exercise a mysterious influence over the mind and heart of man. Rec­ognizing the fact that bright, vivid colors create a feeling of joy while dark shades depress the spirit, the Church directs that the vestments worn by her ministers when celebrating Mass shall correspond to the colors prescribed for the office of the day. The Church not only employs colors for the beauty and variety which they impart to the vestments, but she also makes use of their symbolism to interpret her liturgy and enrich her ceremonial.

Colors were employed in the Jewish ritual of the Temple and synagogue just as they are used today - to add magnificence to religious ceremonies and to express certain spiritual truths and emotions. The Levitical colors and their meanings in the Old Law were gold, significant of splendor; blue, which referred to the air and to heaven; purple, a symbol of the sea and of the majesty of God; scarlet, the color of fire and blood; and the white of linen, a reminder of the earth and the purity which the soul should strive to attain.

THE LITURGICAL COLORS: White was the only liturgical color in use until the fourth century, because it was the color of the secular dress for festive occasions. By the seventh century white vestments were ornamented with red bands. Red, green, and black were added during the years intervening up to the thirteenth century, but it was a hundred years later before violet was perma­nently accepted. Blue and yellow, which are forbidden now, were used between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. In some dioceses in Spain, by virtue of a special papal authorization, sky-blue vestments may be worn at all Masses cele­brated on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, whether of the feast or votive.

The colors prescribed by the Church in her liturgy to the exclusion of all others are white, red, green, purple, and black. Rose-colored vestments, when they are obtainable, may be used at Mass on Gaudete Sunday in Advent and on Laetare Sunday in Lent, because these days reflect a spirit of joy in the midst of a penitential season, and rose-color is less penitential than violet. Gold-colored vestments are not acceptable, but vestments made entirely of real gold cloth may be tolerated or permitted to take the place of white, red, or green, but not of purple or black. Cloth of silver may be substituted for white.

ORIGIN AND SYMBOLISM: The variety of liturgical colors which the Church employs in her ceremonies arose from the mystical meanings which are attached to them. These meanings, like the choice of the colors themselves, are the result of centuries of association with the celebration of the Mass during the cycles and on certain feasts of the ecclesiastical year. It was quite natural that mystics and sacred writers of the Middle Ages began to feel what Durandus, a liturgical writer of the thirteenth century, called a "divine curiosity." They sought to find a divine ordinance for the things, which, because of their holy associations had became sacred to them. In time the Church gave her official sanction to the adoption of certain mystical interpretations of the liturgical colors.

LITURGICAL COLOR CHART: Christmas and Easter are the two greatest feasts of the ecclesiastical year. The Church keeps the mysteries of the birth and resurrection of our Lord in the minds of the faithful by means of two liturgical cycles which she has built around the feasts themselves. There are three periods in each cycle: preparation, celebration, and prolongation. She prepares for each feast with a season of penance, Advent before Christmas, and Septuagesima and Lent before Easter, during which times the predominant color is purple. She celebrates during Christmastide and Eastertide in white vestments, with the ex­ception of the last week of Eastertide when the official color is red. The celebra­tion is prolonged after Epiphany and after Pentecost in green vestments. The seasons' colors are, however, often displaced by colors prescribed for feasts of the saints, even on Sundays, when red is used for martyrs and white for other saints. There are further exceptions which will be explained in our discussion of the colors themselves. The liturgical colors affect the vestments, the frontlet, the tabernacle canopy, the burse and the chalice veil.

WHITE, THE JOYFUL COLOR: White symbolizes light, heavenly joy, innocence, and purity. Its symbolism is easily determined from Scriptural references. At the Transfiguration on Mount Thabor, the evangelists relate that Christ's garments became white and shining (Matt. XVII, 2; Luke IX, 29). Angels clothed in white and radiant vesture appeared to men (Matt. XXVIII, 3; Luke II.,9). In the Apocalypse we read that he who shall overcome sin "shall thus be clothed in white garments" (III, 5).

White is, therefore, proper for all the joyful and glorious feasts of our Lord such as Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, the Ascen­sion, and Corpus Christi. White is also the color for the feasts of the Blessed Virgin, the angels, and for confessors and virgins who were not martyrs. Further­more, white as a color of joy is used in the administration of all the sacraments except Penance and Extreme Unction. It is also used at the funerals of infants.

RED AND GREEN: Red, the color of fire and blood, signifies warmth and strength; burning love and fervent charity. It is a reminder of Christ's passion and the blood which He shed on the cross. Red is prescribed for feasts which commemorate Christ's passion - "the festivals of the cross"; and for Pentecost, the day on which the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of divine love, descended upon the apostles in the form of tongues of fire. Red is also worn on the feasts of the apostles and of martyrs.

Green is the liturgical symbol of hope. It signifies the perpetual and ever­lasting youth which the Holy Ghost gives and renews in the Church. The old Italian painters considered green a "juvenile color" and for that reason they painted the Blessed Virgin and the angels with green robes and aureoles. Since green occupies an intermediate place between the light and dark colors, it is used on days that have no particular festive or joyous character. The Church assigns green to the Sundays and ordinary week days after Pentecost until Ad­vent, and to those days which occur between Epiphany and Septuagesima.

VIOLET AND BLACK: Violet is the color of penance. Like the flower from which it takes its name, violet symbolizes humility and retirement. The Israelites clothed themselves in sackcloth and sprinkled their heads with ashes when they performed acts of penance. Since deep purple resembles the grey of ashes, the Church assigns it to days which bear the character of penance. Violet is used during Advent and Lent, on the vigils of certain feasts, on Ember days and on Rogation days. The stole which is worn during the administration of the Sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction, the first part of the ceremonies of Baptism, and for the blessings of candles and holy water, must be violet.

Black is the color opposite to white and is, therefore, the color of extinct life. On Good Friday the Church mourns the death of her divine Spouse in gar­ments of black. Black is used on Good Friday and in Masses for the dead. The clergy wear black as a constant reminder of their obligation to lead a life that is mortified, retired, and hidden from the world.

CASSOCKS OF THE CLERGY: The cassock worn by priests, except those who are members of some religious orders, is black, which signifies that a priest is set apart from the world. Purple was the color of the robes of the Roman senators in whom was vested the supreme legislative authority; it is also the official color of the cassocks worn by bishops, the rulers of the Church, the suc­cessors of the apostles. The cassock worn by cardinals is red, a reminder of their rank as princes of the Church. Red was the color of the robes of the Roman em­perors. The white garment of the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, finds its prototype in the white robes of Aaron, the high priest of the Old Law.

Thus we observe that the ecclesiastical colors speak the same mystical lan­guage whether they appear on the vestments of the liturgy or on the official dress of the priesthood and of the hierarchy. The Church in her wisdom has adopted the language of color to teach her divine and eternal truths.

Why does the Church use color in her liturgy? How did the Jews of the Old Law use it in their ritual? Name the five Levitical colors and give their symbolism.

Name the first liturgical color. When were other colors adopted? Where and when are sky-blue vestments permitted? What are the five liturgical colors? When may rose-colored vestments be worn? Cloth of gold and cloth of silver may be substituted for what colors?

Why is such a variety of colors used in the liturgy? How did their symbol­ism or meaning originate? What did Durandus mean by the expression a "divine curiosity" ?

How does the Church keep the mysteries of Christ's birth and resurrection in the minds of the faithful? Of what three periods does each cycle consist? What are the official colors of these periods? Mention one way in which the colors of the season may be displaced? Name the objects affected by the liturgical colors.

What symbolism is attributed to white? Give three Scriptural references which seem to indicate that white is the color of heaven. On what feasts of our Lord is white worn? What other feasts are celebrated in white vestments? White is used in the administration of what sacraments?

What is the liturgical significance of red? On what feasts of our Lord is it worn? Why is this color assigned to Pentecost? What color signifies hope and youth? How did the early Italian painters characterize green? How is it used in the liturgy?

What is the symbolism of violet? How did the Israelites perform acts of penance? When are violet vestments worn? In the administration of what sacraments and in the giving of what blessings is a violet stole worn? What is the meaning of black and when is it worn? Why do the clergy dress in black?

What is the color and symbolism of the cassock worn by priests? Bishops? Cardinals? The Pope?
Adapted from Altar and Sanctuary, An Exposition of the Externals of the Mass
by Angela A. Glendenin (© 1939)
Published by the Catholic Action Committee
The Catholic Action Series of Discussion Club Textbooks

Gospel for Wednesday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial of St. Januarius, bishop & martyr
Old Calendar: St. Januarius and his Companions;
Our Lady of La Salette

From: Luke 7:31-35

Jesus Reproaches His Contemporaries

(Jesus spoke to the crowds), [33] For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, `He has a demon.' [34] The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say, Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' [35] Yet wisdom is justified by all her children."


31-34. See the note on Matthew 11:16-19.

[The note on Matthew 11:16-19 states:
16-19. Making reference to a popular song or a child's game of His time, Jesus reproaches those who offer groundless excuses for not recognizing Him. From the beginning of human history the Lord has striven to attract all men to Himself: "What more was there to do for My vineyard, that I have not done in it?" (Isaiah 5:4), and often He has been rejected: "When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?" (Isaiah 5:4).

Our Lord also condemns calumny: some people do try to justify their own behavior by seeing sin where there is only virtue. "When they find something which is quite obviously good," St. Gregory the Great says, "they pry into it to see if there is not also some badness hidden in it" ("Moralia", 6, 22). The Baptist's fasting they interpret as the work of the devil; whereas they accuse Jesus of being a glutton. The evangelist has to report these calumnies and accusations spoken against our Lord; otherwise, we would have no notion of the extent of the malice of those who show such furious opposition to Him who went about doing good (Acts 10:38). On other occasions Jesus warned His disciples that they would be treated the same as He was (cf. John 15:20).

The works of Jesus and John the Baptist, each in their own way, lead to the accomplishment of God's plan for man's salvation: the fact that some people do not recognize Him does not prevent God's plan being carried into effect.]

35. The wisdom referred to here is divine Wisdom, especially Christ Himself (cf. Wisdom 7:26; Proverbs 8:22). "Children of Wisdom" is a Hebrew way of saying "wise men"; he is truly wise who comes to know God and love Him and be saved by Him--in other words, a saint.

Divine wisdom is revealed in the creation and government of the universe, and, particularly, in the salvation of mankind. Wise men "justifying" wisdom seems to mean the wise, the saints, bear witness to Christ by living holy lives: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 19

All souls in hell are there because they did not pray.
All the saints sanctified themselves by prayer.

-St. Alphonsus
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 19, Before the Beauty of God

The great painter Ingres gave his pupils this precious counsel, "Study beauty only on your knees."

Thus before the least objects possessing aesthetic value, this artist would have one adopt an attitude of prayer.

Was he wrong? What are these infinitesimal drops of beauty that conceal realities here below if not reflections of God? In the same manner that the sun is reflected in a drop of dew, God is often manifested in a mere nothing to the soul who knows how to see Him.

What is to be said, then, of the attitude one should have in con­templating God Himself? Assuredly Infinite Beauty does not re­veal Itself to us here below without veils. God permits us to con­tact Him only through faith; earth is not the place to see Him face to face. But does not faith, if it is lively, disclose many things to me? What accounts for its lack of vitality in me if not my negli­gent spirit of adoration that has become routine, weak in its desire to possess its Adorable Master?

Must there not be more respect in my prayer, not so much an exterior respect perhaps as an interior effort to keep myself in a recollection, rich in possession and in conquering love? Am I not too often inert, drowsy, without a living will? Young artists were counseled to kneel to study the beauties here below, and I dare to
be so remiss in my adoration before the Beauty of the Most High!

"My God I believe that You are Infinite Beauty, that You deserve the most respectful adoration. Pardon my negligences in posture at prayer; give me a more active faith, a more ardent and more vital com­prehension of what both the virtue of religion and my title of religious demand. If there is a place or a moment when I ought to merit this beautiful title in its fulness it is when I am invited to become more closely united to You in prayer. Make of my prayers true prayers, of my devotion, true adoration, of my poor efforts to unite myself with You, a love that in its ever increasing veneration and fidelity is truly religious."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Archbishop Burke Offers Help to New Parish of St Gianna

On September 9, 2007, The Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of St Louis, visited the temporary parish facilities of St. Gianna Catholic Church for the celebration of Holy Mass and to offer his encouragement and support to parishioners as they embark of the building of a new church and school.

Archbishop Burke established the new parish in April of 2006 and the first Holy Mass was celebrated in September of 2006. This was Archbishop Burke's first official visit to the parish and he was warmly received by the faithful who were in attendance at the 11:00am Sunday Mass.

Archbishop Burke expressed his solidarity with the parishioners in facing the challenges of beginning a new parish as well as meeting the other challenges with which the faithful must deal in a totally secularized world. He said:
It is your gift and challenge, in building up the life of a new parish, to rest parish life on the solid foundations of the Church's teachings and disciplines, in their fullness, above all, faith in the Most Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic devotion. I am confident that you are doing so under the priestly care and direction of your pastor, Father Timothy Elliott.

He reminded the parishioners that "God gives us special grace when He calls upon us to take up a difficult challenge for the sake of His Church."

Archbishop Burke provided additional welcomed news to the parish, in that the Archdiocese will match gifts for our Capital Campaign for the current fiscal year up to $500,000 and that this match will be extended for the next fiscal year as well.

He also urged the parish to proceed with the planning and execution of the Capital Campaign among all Catholics who live within the boundaries of St Gianna Parish.

After Mass, Fr. Elliott announced the presentation of a plaque designed and made by Don and Mary Williams to Archbishop Burke in remembrance and gratitude for his establishing the parish of St Gianna.

Source: St Gianna Parish

[Pictured above, Archbishop Raymond Burke and St Gianna Parish Pastor, Fr. Timothy Elliott]

Gospel for Tuesday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time

Old Calendar: St. Joseph of Cupertino, Confessor

From: Luke 7:11-17

The Son of the Widow in Nain Restored to Life

[11] Soon afterwards He (Jesus) went to a city called Nain, and His disciples and a great crowd went with Him. [12] As He drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, theonly son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. [13] And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." [14] And He came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." [15] And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And He gave him to his mother. [16] Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited His people!" [17] And this report concerning Him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.


11-17. "Jesus crosses paths again with a crowd of people. He could have passed by or waited until they called Him. But He didn't. He took the initiative, because He was moved by a widow's sorrow. She had just lost all she had, her son.

"The evangelist explains that Jesus was moved. Perhaps He even showed signs of it, as when Lazarus died. Christ was not, and is not, insensitive to the suffering that stems from love. He is pained at seeing children separated from their parents. He overcomes death so as to give life, to reunite those who love one another. But at the same time, He requires that we first admit the pre-eminence of divine love, which alone can inspire genuine Christian living.

"Christ knows He is surrounded by a crowd which will be awed by the miracle and will tell the story all over the countryside. But He does not act artificially, merely to create an effect. Quite simply He is touched by that woman's suffering and cannot but console her. So He goes up to her and says, `Do not weep.' It is like saying, `I don't want to see you crying; I have come on earth to bring joy and peace.' And then comes the miracle, the sign of the power of Christ who is God. But first came His compassion, an evident sign of the tenderness of the heart of Christ the man" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 166).

15. This mother's joy on being given back her son reminds us of the joy of our Mother the Church when her sinful children return to the life of grace. "The widowed mother rejoiced at the raising of that young man," St. Augustine comments. "Our Mother the Church rejoices every day when people are raised again in spirit. The young man had been dead physically; the latter, dead spiritually. The young man's death was mourned visibly; the death of the latter was invisible and unmourned. He seeks them out Who knew them to be dead; only He can bring them back to life" ("Sermon", 98, 2).
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, September 17, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 18

Armed with prayer, the saints sustained a glorious warfare and vanquished all their ene­mies. By prayer, also, they appeased the wrath of God, and obtained from Him all they desired.

-Ven. Louis of Granada
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 18, Love's Guarantee

The guarantee of love is fidelity. If you keep my command­ments, said Our Lord, you will abide in my love. Of course, this does not refer to the ten commandments only, but to all the de­sires of the Good Master.

It is a moot question in the spiritual life whether God does or does not give unfailingly the graces of contemplation to a soul that is constantly generous.

One author wrote, taking sides for the affirmative: "The perfect life equals the mystical life." There are others who refuse to agree; for them perfection depends not on what one receives but on what one gives. The perfect life, in their opinion, which must seem reasonable to anyone, equals the faithful life.

There is a totality of gift only when the soul refuses God noth­ing. Where there is a totality of gift, in an earnest and constant manner, there is sanctity - whether God accords or not, as reward for the efforts realized, the free graces of higher prayer or of a more sensible union.

Consequently if God gives me, periodically or habitually, lights or graces which resemble in no way my former states, I must not conclude that I am a saint. God sometimes gives choice graces to very imperfect souls. On the other hand, if God lets me seek Him gropingly in the night, without any of the lights or consolations of Thabor, I must not infer that God loves me less or that I am less faithful, but only that the earth is the earth; that in this land here below I must expect to seek God gropingly, because I shall bave eternity for contemplation in light without shadows, and in happiness without alloy.

Perfection equals fidelity. Give me the grace, O my God, to carry fidelity as far as You want me to.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Webster University Celebrates Break with the Church

[Jacqueline Grennan Wexler] was president of Webster University and had fearlessly stood up a couple years earlier to the Catholic Church and cut the school's ties to it. What's more, she had taken vows about 20 years earlier to be a nun. But she cut those ties, too.
. . .
Earlier, Webster honored the fiery woman known to many as "Sister J" — then, just Jacqueline or "J" — with an honorary degree.

Many alumni and nuns, most with silvery hair and some using walkers, came to honor the woman credited with the "great turning of Webster College" to a lay board 40 years ago.
. . .
Webster President Richard Meyers said that under Wexler's direction, Webster became the first Catholic institution to cut ties to the church.
. . .
Financial and theological challenges as well as social changes of the time paved the way to the break from the church in 1967.
. . .
She still considers herself a Catholic, although she said she disagrees with many of the church's teachings, including its stance on abortion.
And if you wish to consider yourself supreme ruler of the universe, have at seems to work for many delusional individuals, particularly those who have rejected the faith but can't seem to muster the courage to admit that they've truly left the Church. How sad!

Barat Academy's Theology - Good for Students?

Recent articles have been written about the newest Catholic High School in St. Charles County. Barat Academy is located in Dardenne Prairie, Mo. and started operation this year. While the school is a co-educational campus, it offers its college preparatory curriculum in a gender segregated class environment.

Barat Academy states that it is committed to the traditions and values of Sacred Heart education. Its core vision is "To create a learning community of citizens who are transformed in Christ and who will change the world." The goals of a Sacred Heart education, as explained on the Network of Sacred Hearts Schools' website ( are:
1. a personal and active faith in God,
2. a deep respect for intellectual values,
3. a social awareness which impels to action,
4. the building of community as a Christian value, and
5. personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.

In early March of 2007, an anonymous donor made a one-time contribution that provided all students in Barat Academy's first freshman class with a year of free tuition. The size of the founding class was anticipated to be about 150 students. The yearly tuition at Barat Academy is $11,000.00.

Students and parents received outlines for the classes which are to be taken for the upcoming year. The freshman class Theology outline provides an interesting perspective in how the new students are to be educated.

The outline lists five Essential Questions for the Course:

1. Am I developing a strong prayer life and a deep, personal relationship with God?
2. What does it mean to be a Christian?
3. How will I live out the goals of a Sacred Heart education?
4. Who am I today and who do I want to be?
5. Am I a responsible steward of the environment God has provided?

In order to assist the students in finding the answers to these "essential questions," they are provided with "central resources."

In addition to The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth and the New Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition bible (a translation which the Vatican has deemed unworthy for liturgical use, in part due to its extensive use of inclusive language), several other books are included in the "central resources" category. They are:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (Sean Covey)
The Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz)
The Illustrated World's Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions (Huston Smith)
Living Buddha/ Living Christ (Thich Nhat Hanh)
On Prayer: A Letter to My Godchild (Phyllis Zagano)

It should be noted that Don Miguel Ruiz
was born into a family of healers and raised in rural Mexico by a curandera (healer) mother and nagual (shaman) grandfather. The family anticipated don Miguel would embrace their centuries old legacy of healing and teaching and as a nagual, carry forward the esoteric Toltec knowledge...

The Toltec came together as masters (Naguals) and students at Teotihuacan, the ancient city of pyramids outside Mexico City known as the place where "Man becomes God". Teotihuacan remained the Toltec center of spiritual knowledge and transformation for many thousands of years and still endures as a living repository of silent knowledge.

...the esoteric Toltec knowledge was embodied and passed on through generations by different lineages of Naguals. Though it remained veiled in secrecy for hundreds of years, ancient prophecies foretold the coming of an age when it would be necessary to return the wisdom to the people. Now, don Miguel has been guided to share with us the powerful teachings of the Toltec.

...don Miguel reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. When we are ready to change these agreements, there are four deceptively simple, yet powerful agreements that we can adopt as guiding principles.

More on this is available at the website here.

Questions may arise as to the purpose of teaching freshmen about these heretofore "hidden" teachings of 'enlightenment'. It's unclear from the outline whether this is a class on world religions or an indoctrination of syncretism or pluralism. One may wonder if a new form gnosticism is now part of Catholic theology.

What is a parent to deduce from seeing that Living Buddha/ Living Christ is classified as a "theological" resource for beginning freshmen? Faithful Catholics would do well to read the article, "Are Jesus and Buddha Brothers?", by Carl E. Olson. It is available at Catholic Culture here.

"When you are a truly happy Christian, you are also a Buddhist. And vice versa." So concludes best-selling author and Buddhist monk Thich Hhat Hanh near the end of his popular book Living Buddha, Living Christ.

Some would find it quite interesting and problematic that books such as this are viewed as "central resources" for the study of theology in a freshman class. Carl's article is quite good and needs to be read in its entirety, but a couple of excerpts seem appropriate:

Despite many external similarities, Buddhist meditation and contemplation is quite different from orthodox Christianity. Buddhist meditation strives to "wake" a person from his existential delusions. "Therefore, despite similar aspects, there is a fundamental difference" between Christian and Buddhist mysticism, writes Pope John Paul II. "Christian mysticism . . . is not born of a purely negative 'enlightenment.' It is not born of an awareness of the evil that exists in man's attachment to the world through the senses, the intellect, and the spirit. Instead, Christian mysticism is born of the revelation of the living God" (Crossing the Threshold of Hope).
. . .
Because it offers a spirituality that is ostensibly free of doctrine and authority, it will attract hungry souls looking for fulfillment and meaning. "For this reason," the Holy Father states, "it is not inappropriate to caution those Christians who enthusiastically welcome certain ideas originating in the religious traditions of the Far East." [my emphasis]
And, in order to dispel any uncertainties, Carl offers this anecdotal conversation:
Shortly before the Holy Father's visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1979, the Dalai Lama was greeted there. A monsignor in the receiving line recalls his encounter with the Buddhist patriarch: The Dalai Lama approached him, gazed into his eyes, and queried, "Father, do you know the difference between you and me?"

"No, Your Holiness," replied the monsignor.

"You believe in a personal God," the Dalai Lama observed, "and I do not."

This, above all, marks the difference between Christians and Buddhists. Beyond the rhetoric of "peace," "compatibility," and "the way," there remains one profound difference between Buddha and Jesus: Jesus is God; Buddha is not.

In looking at the last book by Phyllis Zagano, it should be noted that the author has previously called for the ordination of women to the diaconate as in this article, "Women Deacons - the fears of Rome" and this book, "Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church."

And if all of this is not enough to cause parents to worry about their children's spiritual welfare or suffer anxiety attacks, there is yet still more. First year high school students are treated, not to a refresher of fundamentals and the teachings of the Faith in a systematic way, but to a study of the alleged "wisdom" of the Enneagram. From the student handout we read:

Quarter 1
1. The Wisdom of the Enneagram

a. What does my Enneagram type teach me about myself?

b. The student will be able to identify the patterns of behavior most commonly associated with his/her personality type.

c. The student will learn to think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of personality categorizations.

d.The student will incorporate the knowledge of self-realization in order to strengthen his/her relationship with God and with others.

e.The student will produce an essay assessing the value of the Enneagram.

Based upon what is really known about the enneagram from people such as Fr. Mitch Pacwa (critique here), one might wonder why such a topic is proposed as one of the first things being taught to first year students, who may not have been previously blessed with a sufficiently firm foundational religious education.

Fr. Pacwa wrote, in 1999:

Today, there is not a single Jesuit in my province, or the next province over, teaching the Enneagram. There is not a single Jesuit left in the society teaching the Enneagram. Either they've stopped teaching the Enneagram, or they've left the Society. Not a single one is left.

Pat O'Leary drove our retreat centre in Cleveland into the red so far that it went bankrupt. He was giving 52 Enneagram seminars a year at this place — plus going out to other places to give Enneagram seminars, and he is still driving it into the ground. Same thing has happened at the retreat house in Western Massachusetts and another one on the coast run by the Dominicans — two Dominicans, a priest and a nun, on full time Enneagram work. It runs them out of business. It's something that people in your dioceses better pay attention to.
. . .
I have mentioned all this in terms of its roots, to de-mythologise the absolute nonsensical myth of it being a 2000-year-old Sufi system. That is untrue. It's less than 30 years old. I don't intend to say in any way that the Catholic teachers of the Enneagram are promoting pantheism; they don't know its pantheistic roots; they don't know about its occultic roots; they don't know that it came from spirit channelling; they don't know that it was originally a form of fortune-telling. They haven't got a clue of that. They all believe the old myth — or the not so old myth — the 30-year-old myth of it being an ancient system.

Is this a matter about which to be concerned? Many Catholics would emphatically say 'yes'.

Another Theologian Goes Under the Scrutiny of "Dominus Iesus"

It's Peter C. Phan, of Georgetown University, in Washington. Before him, three famous Jesuits were censured: Dupuis, Haight, and Sobrino. All judged as being in conflict with the doctrine of Jesus as the only savior of the world .
by Sandro Magister

Gospel for Monday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor
Old Calendar: Impression of the Stigmata of St. Francis

From: Luke 7:1-10

The Centurion's Faith

[1] After He (Jesus) had ended all His sayings in the hearing of the people He entered Capernaum. [2] Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. [3] When he heard of Jesus, he sent to Him elders of the Jews, asking Him to come and heal his slave. [4] And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy to have You do this for him, [5] for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue." [6] And Jesus went with them. When He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; [7] therefore I did not presume to come to You. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. [8] For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, `Go,' and he goes; and to another, `Come,' and he comes; and to my slave, `Do this,' and he does it." [9] When Jesus heard this He marvelled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed Him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." [10] And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.


1-10. "They besought Him earnestly" (verse 4). Here is an example of the effectiveness of the prayer of petition, which induces Almighty God to work a miracle. In this connection St. Bernard explains what we should ask God for: "As I see it, the petitions of the heart consists in three things [...]. The first two have to do with the present, that is, with things for the body and for the soul; the third is the blessedness of eternal life. Do not be surprised that He says that we should ask God for things for the body: all things come from Him, physical as well as spiritual things [...]. However, we should pray more often and more fervently for things our souls need, that is, for God's grace and for virtues" ("Fifth Lenten Sermon", 8f). To obtain His grace--of whatever kind--God Himself expects us to ask Him assiduously, confidently, humbly and persistently.

What stands out here is the centurion's humility: he did not belong to the chosen people, he was a pagan; but he makes his request through friends, with deep humility. Humility is the route to faith, whether to receive faith for the first time or to revive it. Speaking of his own conversion experience, St. Augustine says that because he was not humble, he could not understand how Jesus, who was such a humble person, could be God, nor how God could teach anyone by lowering Himself to the point of taking on our human condition. This was precisely why the Word, eternal Truth, became man--to demolish our pride, to encourage our love, to subdue all things and thereby be able to raise us up (cf. "Confessions", VII, 18, 24).

6-7. Such is the faith and humility of the centurion that the Church, in its eucharistic liturgy, gives us his very words to express our own sentiments just before receiving Holy Communion; we too should strive to have this interior disposition when Jesus enters our roof, our soul.
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.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - September 17

God sends us trials and afflictions to exercise us in patience and teach us sympathy with the sorrows of others.

-St. Vincent de Paul
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for September 17, Stigmata

St. Francis of Assisi could not think of the Passion without weeping. God, to reward him for the ardor of his love, imprinted in his hands and feet and side the marks of the nails and of the lance.

These are special graces. There is no question at all of my aspiring to them.

But can I not, on this feast day of the stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi, examine myself on my love of Jesus Crucified?

Do I love to contemplate my good Master dying on the Cross? I was given a crucifix the day of my profession, do I use it? Do I look at it often? Does it make Calvary and the painful martyr­dom of my Savior live for me again?

It is not merely a question of compassionating Jesus, but of reproducing my Savior. And without doubt it will not be through nails, or sword thrust, or visible imprints in my flesh, that I repro­duce my Savior crucified. It will depend rather upon my interior generosity, my aptitude for renunciation through love. How gen­erous am I?

The stigmata of Francis were apparent; mine are entirely in­terior; but there is no need for anyone to see them; it is much better that they remain hidden from all. God alone knows them. They must, however, exist; they must be deeply imprinted. I am too easily contented with transports; my achievements do not cor­respond to them, not through disloyalty but rather through weak­ness. I must learn to study Jesus crucified, to be strong. The Master that I serve did not spare himself at all. Forward, then, humbly but valiantly!

Today, particularly, I will refuse nothing to God, for love of my Savior on the Cross.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 15:1-32

Parable's of God's Mercy

[1] Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him (Jesus). [2] And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

The Lost Sheep

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

The Lost Coin

[8] "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she lost one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? [9] And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I has lost.' [10] Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

The Prodigal Son

[11] And He said, "There was a man who had two sons; [12] and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them. [13] Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. [14] And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. [15] So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. [16] And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. [17] But when he came to himself he said, `How can many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; [19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.'" [20] And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. [21] And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' [22] But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; [23] and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; [24] for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.

[25] "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. [26] And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. [27] And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.' [28] But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, [29] but he answered his father, `Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. [30] But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!' [31] And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. [32] It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'"


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

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

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

1-2. This is not the first time that publicans and sinners approach Jesus (cf. Matthew 9:10). They are attracted by the directness of the Lord's preaching and by His call to self-giving and love. The Pharisees in general were jealous of His influence over the people (cf. Matthew 26:2-5; John 11:47) a jealousy which can also beset Christians; a severity of outlook which does not accept that, no matter how great his sins may have been, a sinner can change and become a saint; a blindness which prevents a person from recognizing and rejoicing over the good done by others. Our Lord criticized this attitude when He replied to His disciples' complaints about others casting out devils in His name: "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon after to speak evil of Me" (Mark 9:39). And St. Paul rejoiced that others proclaimed Christ and even overlooked the fact they did so out of self-interest, provided Christ was preached (cf. Philippians 1:17-18).

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

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

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

8. This silver coin was a "drachma", of about the same value as a denarius, that is, approximately a day's wage for an agricultural worker (cf. Matthew 20:2).

11. This is one of Jesus' most beautiful parables, which teaches us once more that God is a kind and understanding Father (cf. Matthew 6:8; Romans 8:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3). The son who asks for his part of the inheritance is a symbol of the person who cuts himself off from God through sin. "Although the word `mercy' does not appear, this parable nevertheless expresses the essence of the divine mercy in a particularly clear way" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 5).

12. "That son, who receives from the father the portion of the inheritance that is due him and leaves home to squander it in a far country `in loose living', in a certain sense is the man of every period, beginning with the one who was the first to lose the inheritance of grace and original justice. The analogy at this point is very wide-ranging. The parable indirectly touches upon every breach of the covenant of love, every loss of grace, every sin" ("Dives In Misericordia", 5).

14-15. At this point in the parable we are shown the unhappy effects of sin. The young man's hunger evokes the anxiety and emptiness a person feels when he is far from God. The prodigal son's predicament describes the enslavement which sin involves (cf. Romans 1:25; 6:6; Galatians 5:1): by sinning one loses the freedom of the children of God (cf. Romans 8:21; Galatians 4:31; 5:13) and hands oneself over the power of Satan.

17-21. His memory of home and his conviction that his father loves him cause the prodigal son to reflect and to decide to set out on the right road. "Human life is in some way a constant returning to our Father's house. We return through contrition, through the conversion of heart which means a desire to change, a firm decision to improve our life and which, therefore, is expressed in sacrifice and self-giving. We return to our Father's house by means of that sacrament of pardon in which, by confessing our sins, we put on Jesus Christ again and become His brothers, members of God's family" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 64).

20-24. God always hopes for the return of the sinner; He wants him to repent. When the young man arrives home his father does not greet him with reproaches but with immense compassion, which causes him to embrace his son and cover him with kisses.

20. "There is no doubt that in this simple but penetrating analogy to the figure of the father reveals to us God as Father. The conduct of the father in the parable and his whole behavior, which manifests his internal attitude, enables us to rediscover the individual threads of the Old Testament vision of mercy in a synthesis which is totally new, full of simplicity and depth. The father of the prodigal son is faithful to this fatherhood, faithful to the love that he had always lavished on his son. This fidelity is expressed in the parable not only by his immediate readiness to welcome him home when he returns after having squandered his inheritance; it is expressed even more fully by that joy, that merrymaking for the squanderer after his return, merrymaking which is so generous that it provokes the opposition and hatred of the elder brother, who had never gone far away from his father and had never abandoned the home.

"The father's fidelity to himself [...] is at the same time expressed in a manner particularly charged with affection. We read, in fact, that when the father saw the prodigal son returning home `he had COMPASSION, ran to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.' He certainly does this under the influence of a deep affection, and this also explains his generosity towards his son, that generosity which so angers the elder son" ("Dives In Misericordia", 6).

"When God runs towards us, we cannot keep silent, but with St. Paul we exclaim, "ABBA PATER": `Father, my Father!' (Romans 8:15), for, though He is the creator of the universe, He doesn't mind our not using high-sounding titles, nor worry about our not acknowledging His greatness. He wants us to call Him Father; He wants us to savor that word, our souls filling with joy [...].

"God is waiting for us, like the father in the parable, with open arms, even though we don't deserve it. It doesn't matter how great our debt is. Just like the prodigal son, all we have to do is open our heart, to be homesick for our Father's house, to wonder at and rejoice in the gift which God makes us of being able to call ourselves His children, of really being His children, even though our response to Him has been so poor" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 64).

25-30. God's mercy is so great that man cannot grasp it: as we can see in the case of the elder son, who thinks his father loves the younger son excessively, his jealousy prevents him from understanding how his father can do so much to celebrate the recovery of the prodigal; it cuts him off from the joy that the whole family feels. "It's true that he was a sinner. But don't pass so final a judgment on him. Have pity in your heart, and don't forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity" ([St J. Escriva, "The Way", 675).

We should also consider that if God has compassion towards sinners, He must have much much more towards those who strive to be faithful to Him. St. Therese of Lisieux understood this very well: "What joy to remember that our Lord is just; that He makes allowances for all our shortcomings, and knows full well how weak we are. What have I to fear then? Surely the God of infinite justice who pardons the prodigal son with such mercy will be just with me `who am always with Him'?" ("The Story of a Soul", Chapter 8).

32. "Mercy, as Christ has presented it in the parable of the prodigal son, has THE INTERIOR FORM OF THE LOVE that in the New Testament is called AGAPE. This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and `restored to value'. The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy, that he has been `found again' and that he has `returned to life'. This joy indicates a good that has remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his father's son; it also indicates a good that has been found again, which in the case of the prodigal son was his return to the truth about himself" ("Dives In Misericordia", 6).
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.