Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 15, Moderation

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues

Moderation in eating & Drinking

First Meditation - Nature and Importance of Moderation

I. Abstinence and sobriety, as against gluttony and drunkenness, are two subjective species of the virtue of temperance, taking the latter in its general philosophical sense.

Not all appetite for eating and drinking incurs the reproach of gluttony and drunkenness. An appetite in itself is necessary for the preservation of life and, as such, is a good thing. It is sinful only when indulged in to excess, in a manner offensive to right reason.

St. Thomas teaches that everything delectable which is of service to human needs has these needs for its goal, and therefore, we should make use of pleasurable things in so far as they are required by necessity or the lawful usages of life. Now, the vice of gluttony or drunkenness consists in gratifying the appetites of eating or drinking without reference to what is a guiding principle of human life, right reason.

If excesses are due, not to ill-regulated desire, but to a misjudgement as to what is necessary for life and health, then there is not a sin of intemperance but mere lack of practical wisdom and knowledge that does not come within the province of morality or immorality. To eat and drink for the exclusive purpose of gratifying an appetite for pleasure and to go beyond the bounds of moderation in doing so would definitely be a sin.

The natural need of food, which comes under the principle of the "vegetative" life in man, does not enter the orbit of virtue or vice; it is the sensitive pleasure which should be subordinated to reason, and the insubordination of which constitutes vice, in this case gluttony or drunkenness. This is the excess which we are going to meditate upon here, so that, by God's favour, we may keep our appetites under restraint.

II. Abstinence and sobriety are the two specific applica­tions of the virtue of temperance which bridle and moderate the appetite for eating and drinking in accord­ance with the dictates of reason. Reason demands that, since these two animal functions have health and life as their sole aim, there must be no gratification either in quantity, quality, manner, or other circumstances except in so far as they contribute to the life and well-­being of the body entrusted to our administration by God, the Author of our being.

Thus it is that these two manifestations of the virtue of temperance raise the lowliest freely-willed acts of our composite human nature, acts of themselves wholly on the animal level, to the lofty sphere of reasonable and spiritual acts, to the sphere of human acts, wherewith, if done in the state of God's sanctifying grace, heaven itself is. purchased.

What a pity, what a shame, I have so often behaved like a mere animal, like a being without rule or reason, perhaps stooping even lower than the brutes, which are never entirely ungoverned by law, the law of instinct and natural need! In my intemperance I come under the indictment of the psalmist: "Short is man's enjoyment of earthly goods; match him with the brute beasts, and he is no better than they."

Homo cum in honore esset non intellexit; com­paratus est jumentis insipientibus et similis factus est illis. (Ps. xlviii, 13)

III. In speaking of moral beauty, St. Thomas points out that "Decorum est convenientia, et honestum dicitur quod nihil habet turpitudinis, nam honestas dicitur quasi honoris status." Where there is balance of proportion and harmony under the guidance of a higher principle there is that "honestas," that "becomingness" which belongs to the essence of moral beauty.

And since temperance is the virtue which establishes due proportion and appropriateness, and moreover diffuses the light of the intelligence, among our animal acts of eating and drink­ing, it is a principle of moral beauty, its absence brings ugliness into morals and manners, debasing man to the brute level, to the extent of extinguishing the light of reason and plunging us into the darkness and quagmire of matter.

Haven't I dishonoured myself sometimes with this hideous vice? Haven't I chosen to shut out the light of reason, as something of a hindrance, in order to wallow - more pecudum - in the low-down pleasures of eating and drinking, as if God had created me only to gratify my palate and my belly? Agnosce, Christiane, dignitatem tuam.

IV. My priesthood imposes on me an additional obligation of repressing these vicious instincts. With so many pri­vations inescapably ours as priests, the appetite for those pleasures permitted to us and necessary for self­preservation is perhaps all the sharper in us; or, as it is put sometimes rather too bluntly: "It's the only enjoy­ment left to us." But, the stronger the craving and the greater its aptitude for disguise, the more need there is for the bridling force of temperance to deliver us from its slavery.

My age, ministry, state, the integrity and alertness of mind and senses required for teaching others, the devout attentiveness with which I should assist and preside at divine worship, the wisdom and discretion I need to govern my flock well; all this bids me live absolutely untrammelled by the base fetters of intemperance, which so weaken, obstruct, and upset, the right use of reason.

In solemn acts of worship I, as a priest, am on a higher plane than the laity, I am in a leading position; but in my ordinary life in spirit and in flesh, do I rise above my senses and their short-term satisfaction? Has my mind descended so low to earth that its flight is arrested by the bird-lime of pleasures of the palate?

1. Intemperance is one of the capital sins because it is the source and root of many others. It is a mortal sin, however, only when it involves a grave transgression of the law of God or of the Church; for example, failing to observe the fasts through the pleasures of eating or drinking; deliberately forfeiting by drink the use of one's faculties to the point of being unable rightly to dis­tinguish between good and evil and thus to expose one­self, without adequate reason, to the grave, voluntary, and immediate danger of committing a mortally sinful act, at least gravis in causa.

So I resolve to keep a care­ful watch over myself lest I incur this vice; and I shall be on my guard against minor offences, which, being such a slippery slope, would soon bring out the truth of the utterance: "Little things despise, and little by little thou shalt fall." (Ecclesiasticus xviii, 1)

2. I shall diligently avoid the following defects at table, defects, moreover, which are thoroughly bad manners and unworthy of my priestly state, and destined only to make me repulsive to others: namely, to eat "praepropere, laute, nimis, ardenter, and studiose"; praepropere before the appointed time, like a greedy and ill-bred child; laute, sumptuously and splendidly, at variance with priestly modesty and simplicity; nimis, in excessive or huge quantities, more proper of animals being fattened for the kill; ardenter, with great zest, as if there was no soul inhabiting the body and possessed of noble faculties, as if every atom of my being was just a voice clamouring for the satisfaction of its base appetite; and studiose, with elaborate presenting and flavouring of dishes, which might be all right for a royal banquet but not for the table of a servant of Christ, the Father of the poor.

Grant, Lord, that neither my table nor my spirit be sullied by such base practices.
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

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

Gospel for July 14, Memorial: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, virgin

Saturday, 14th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 10:24-33

Jesus' Instructions to the Apostles (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [24] "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; [25] it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

[26] "So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. [27] What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. [28] And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. [29] Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. [30] But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. [31] Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. [32] So every one who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven; [33] but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven."


24-25. Jesus uses these two proverbs to hint at the future that awaits His disciples: their greatest glory will consist in imitating the Master, being identified with Him, even if this means being despised and persecuted as He was before them: His example is what guides a Christian; as He Himself said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6).

Beelzebul (cf. Luke 11:15) was the name of the idol of the ancient Philistine city of Ekron. The Jews later used the word to describe the devil or the prince of devils (cf. Matthew 12:24), and their hatred of Jesus led them to the extreme of applying it to Him.

To equip them for the persecution and misunderstanding which Christians will suffer (John 15:18), Jesus encourages them by promising to stay close to them. Towards the end of His life He will call them His friends (John 15:15) and little children (John 13:33).

26-27. Jesus tells His disciples not to be afraid of calumny and detraction. A day will come when everyone will come to know the whole truth about everyone else, their real intentions, the true dispositions of their souls. In the meantime, those who belong to God may be misrepresented by those who resort to lies, out of malice or passion. These are the hidden things which will be made known.

Christ also tells the Apostles to speak out clearly. Jesus' divine teaching method led Him to speak to the crowds in parables so that they came to discover His true personality by easy stages. After the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:8), the Apostles would have to preach from the rooftops about what Jesus had taught them.

We too have to make Christ's doctrine known in its entirety, without any ambiguity, without being influenced by false prudence or fear of the consequences.

28. Using this and other Gospel texts (Matthew 5:22, 29; 18:9; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5), the Church teaches that hell exists; there those who die in mortal sin suffer eternal punishment (cf. "St. Pius V Catechism", I, 6, 3), in a manner not known to us in this life (cf. St. Teresa of Avila, "Life", Chapter 32). See notes on Luke 16:19-31.

Therefore, out Lord warns His disciples against false fear. We should not fear those who can only kill the body. Only God can cast body and soul into hell. Therefore God is the only one we should fear and respect; He is our Prince and Supreme Judge--not men. The martyrs have obeyed this precept of the Lord in the fullest way, well aware that eternal life is worth much more than earthly life.

29-31. An "as" (translated here as "penny") was a small coin of very little value. Christ uses it to illustrate how much God loves His creatures. As St. Jerome says ("Comm. in Matth.", 10:29-31): "If little birds, which are of such little value, still come under the providence and care of God, how is it that you, who, given the nature of your soul, are immortal, can fear that you are not looked after carefully by Him whom you respect as your Father?" Jesus again teaches us about the fatherly providence of God, which He spoke about at length in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matthew 6:19-34).

32-33. Here Jesus tells us that public confession of our faith in Him--whatever the consequences--is an indispensable condition for eternal salvation. After the Judgment, Christ will welcome those who have given testimony of their faith and condemn those whom fear caused to be ashamed of Him (cf. Matthew 7:23; 25:41; Revelation 21:8). The Church honors as "confessors" those Saints who have not gone physical martyrdom but whose lives bore witness to the Catholic faith. Although every Christian should be ready to die for his faith, most Christians are called to be confessors of the faith.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 14: Almsgiving

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues


Second Meditation - The Priest's Love for the Poor

I. Jesus Christ was poor in this world's goods, so how can we love Him if we do not also love the poor, His own image and likeness?

"You do not need to be reminded how gracious our Lord Jesus Christ was; how he impoverished himself for your sakes. . . when he was so rich. . . ." (2 Cor. viii, 9)

He showed His preference for poverty in the choice He made of a Mother and a home. He wished to be known as a carpenter's son and, as St. Jerome says, as the child of a poor seamstress. He was born not in a home, which, however lowly, could at least be called His own; but in a hillside cave, the property of another, borrowing from animals of the field their manger, and straw for His cradle and mattress. He was ever the Poor Man, even when, on account of His teaching and miracles, He was in the public eye.
The foxes have lairs, and the birds of the air, nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (Matt. viii, 20)

His poverty became utter destitution at the hour of death, with a gallows for a bed, His nakedness clothed in streams of His own blood for bed-clothes, the rough executioners' hands the only hands that nursed Him; and from His torments He is constrained, like Dives in hell, to beg for a sip of water: I thirst! only to be refreshed with bitter gall and vinegar.

O Jesus, so impoverished for our sake; a Beggar in the midst of Thy creatures whom Thou didst fill with the abundant store of Thy Providence! 0 Jesus, poor Thyself and Father of the poor, how can I possibly love and serve Thee if I do not love and serve the poor, or if I even despise and hate the poor, Thy little brothers and sisters?

II. So tenderly did Christ love the poor that we might call them His life's great love, His predominant passion.

In His preaching and teaching, destined to be per­petuated on the lips of His Church, how He exalts the poor!

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. v, 3)

In His earthly wanderings He seems incapable of choosing any company other than that of the poor: disciples, listeners, places. When performing miracles, His omnipotence, usually concealed beneath the thick veil of His mortality and obscured by all the physical weaknesses of human nature, surges up triumphant and unfettered in order to be at the service of the poor, healing their diseases, satisfying their hunger, consoling them, soothing their afflictions, and sympathising with them with words that never before had issued from a human heart.

It is to the poor that we are indebted for a large portion of the Gospel, for most of the loveliest words and actions of the Divine Redeemer, which gushed like fountain sprays from the loving Heart of Christ in touch with human wretchedness.

Such was the tender­ness aroused in Him by the poor, that He was contented with nothing less than identifying Himself with them personally until the end of the world. Sitting in judg­ment over the world, He will say:

I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in. . . .

Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. (Matt. xxv, 35, 40)

III. His love for the poor was the first sign given to the people to convince them that He was the Messiah and the Son of God:
He sent me to preach the Gospel to the poor. (Is. lxi,1)

The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed. . . the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Matt. xi, 5)

It seems a strange sort of "title" for Christ's Priest­hood, but it was well understood by the people, who knew that the poor were one day to have a Preacher of the " Good News" sent to them by God, a Master and Physician, the Messiah, the Divine "Envoy".

All the documents signed and sealed by the ordaining Bishop, all our faculties and faculty examinations, will be of little avail to persuade the people, Catholic and non-Catholic, to welcome us as God's envoys and the heralds of Christ as compared with our profound affection and practical love for the poor and the dis­inherited of this world.

If so many of my labours and endeavours, to all appearances quite brilliant and much publicised, have not been made good use of and have not produced the results desired of them, is it not because of my harsh and disdainful attitude towards the poor and humble? Is it not, O Jesus, because in my words, in my actions, and in my life there is wanting that outward mark or seal of my supernatural mission in the world, love for the poor for the sake of Thee?

IV. It is sometimes stated - let us hope to God it is sheer calumny; it would be an intolerable shame to us if it were the truth! - that any work on behalf of the poor, such as public subscriptions for the relief of some misfortune, charitable associations, etc., break down or lead a languid, anemic kind of life, or even die of wretched suffocation, in the parish due to the indiffer­ence, opposition, or deficient administration on the part of the priest. The priest is said to regard the poor as dangerous rivals, as though the alms given to them were so much money snatched from the hands of the minister of the altar, who seems to think that whatever is used on food and clothing for the benefit of the poor might be put to other purposes, such as Masses and solemn, well-remunerated acts of worship.

This is, perhaps, sheer calumny; but there is a fact that should make us bow our priestly heads in shame, the fact that there exist so many works of charity completely "secularised," works in whose functioning the clergy had no say at all, and were regarded as more of a hindrance than a help. It is no small ignominy for us priests that we were not initially responsible for those works of charity whose roots are to be found in the teachings and spirit of the Gospel.

This, more than all the depredations suffered by the Church at different times in nearly every European country, should be our shame and confusion; because the Church is thereby deprived of Her rightful patrimony, the poor, whom She was sent to minister to and administer for. The poor are the pride of the Church, and if iniquitous political Powers have despoiled Her of them, it has not been for love of the poor; it has been because these Powers coveted the goods belonging to the poor administered by the hands of the Church­ - like Judas or the Roman Prefect who tortured St. Laurence.

It is sad to think that there are charitable souls who, victims of calumniating prejudice, want to have nothing to do with us, thinking that we priests are without love for the poor.

V. But am I so desperately poor that I can never spare an alms? Experience teaches that the most habitual and generous almsgivers are not always to be sought among the very well-to-do, they are too remote from the poor to know them and understand their needs; and hence the great accomplishment of the Divine Word in descending to our lowly human habitation from the Mansions of His heavenly Father. The people who sym­pathise with and serve the poor the best are the average middle-class people or the poor themselves.

In conclusion, let us heed the kindly and time­-honoured counsel:

"According to thy ability be merciful. If thou have much, give abundantly; if thou have little, take care even so to bestow willingly a little." (Tobias iv, 8-9)

"It is the cheerful giver God loves." (2 Cor. ix, 7)

1. I shall often exhort the faithful to practise works of mercy, indicating to them some concrete example where help is required; such and such a family or needy person. To aid me in this, I shall read what the Roman Ritual ordains in Titulus V, chapter four, paragraph five.

2. I shall be the first to undertake works of mercy, and shall not allow any lay person to outdo me in the knowledge of the temporal distress afflicting the people confided to my care, and in devising solid Christian ways and means of ministering to their relief. In this manner I shall become like many other good priests, past and present, who immediately and in every case were looked upon, and reckoned with, as the rightful repre­sentatives of Christ's compassion whenever there was a question of aiding the poor. And that explains how so many priests have been instrumental in distributing abundant alms; not that they were rich themselves, far from it, but they were detached from wealth, and great lovers of the poor.

3. Instead of looking askance at modern welfare institutions, I shall do all I can to help them, because they bestow the best kind of relief by placing the poor in a position to earn their own living by their own work without being a burden to others; such modern insti­tutions as syndicates, social welfare programs, savings banks, etc. The most lasting and dignified alms are forthcoming through these social security agencies.
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!

Eternal and Natural Law: The Foundation of Morals and Law

From The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP):
With morals and natural law under siege today, and the liberal agenda’s crosshairs targeting our right to voice our moral convictions, we must be prepared to defend our position’s legitimacy. Either we accept that the foundation of morals and law lies in God’s wisdom or we become mired in the quicksand of today’s relativism.

This is an indispenable article by Luis Solimeo.

Local Priests Say Motu Proprio Strengthens Liturgies

Summorum Pontificum..."expressed a desire to strengthen the continuity of the Catholic liturgy, from the past to the present, according to two priests who celebrate the traditional Latin Mass in the archdiocese."

"This measure is meant to bring about a healing," said Father Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer, prior of the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, based at the Priory of the Annunciation in Chesterfield. "It is not in any measure somehow a triumph of the traditionalists over those who are not interested in the old order."

Father Karl Lenhardt, rector of St. Francis de Sales Oratory in South St. Louis, who also celebrates Mass using the 1962 missal as a member of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, said the pope’s letter "gives the Church the occasion to think of what we are doing with the liturgy. It’s not something we celebrate ourselves, but what Christ gives to his whole Church."

Archbishop Burke, a supporter of the Latin Mass, has stated that the Motu Proprio "will not trigger any noticeable changes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis."

Archbishop Burke wrote a letter to priests last week and is expected to write a column for an upcoming issue of the Archdiocesan newspaper.

"The discipline set forth by ‘Summorum Pontificum’ is aimed at the more worthy celebration of both forms of the same Rite of the Mass," wrote the archbishop. "I share, with the Holy Father, the conviction that the worthy celebration according to both uses will be enriching for all."

All of us, hopefully, share this conviction and should there be those who do not, reading Church documents on the liturgy would be of invaluable help in developing a proper understanding of the Church's desires in this matter.

The archbishop noted that liturgical formation will be available to all priests of the archdiocese who want to celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 missal.

This is excellent news!

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, which already requires the study of the Latin language, will provide seminarians with the liturgical formation required to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass.
This, too, is excellent news...What a blessing we have here in St Louis with such a faithful bishop and with a seminary that has such great professors and students!

Provo Conference Urges UN to Put Families at Forefront of Development

From today's Friday Fax email:
You should know that not everyone at the UN dislikes the family and the unborn. In fact, pro-life and pro-family forces have many friends, not in the UN bureaucracy but in the General Assembly where the real power of the UN resides. We report today on an important annual meeting of UN diplomats from the General Assembly hosted by Brigham Young University and the World Family Policy Center.

Spread the word.

Yours sincerely,
Austin Ruse

PS To view the papers from the conference go to:
The C-Fam Friday Fax report is here

From ITV: Letter from SSPX Bishop Bernard Fellay

"Fidelity To This Mass Was Never Disobedience"

The head of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (founded by Archbishop Lefebvre) sees the motu proprio as absolving his group of blame in the break with Rome

Note: We received today at Inside the Vatican the following letter from Bishop Bernard Fellay, the head of the Society of St. Pius X, on the July 7 motu proprio on the liturgy published by Pope Benedict XVI. We publish the letter in its entirety, so that our readers may see how Fellay is interpreting the document.

You can read it here at ITV

Bishop Trautman to Establish "Literacy" Test for Motu Proprio

As we have come to understand from the Doctor, "an error in the beginning is an error, indeed." While we may not be dealing with an error at the level of principle, some would hold that this is an error in principle - and it can be witnessed by the deeds and examples of one's life as set before men. A fundamental error in the beginning has so many negative repercussions throughout ones life.

So what do we read in the very first paragraph of Bishop Trautman's screed?

The recent apostolic letter of Pope Benedict XVI on widening the use of the liturgical books of 1962 is prompted by his desire to reach out to those Catholics in schism because of their non-acceptance of the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
The good bishop begins his statement by implying what the Holy Father's motu proprio is based on - as if no one else had read Summorum Pontificum...Classic spin...This beginning statement seems to be intended to place the Motu Proprio in a negative light - after all, only "schismatics" are upset with liturgical reforms. Let us recall that the 'schismatics' at the CDWDS recently issued the directive Redemptionis Sacramentum in an effort to quash and reprobate certain "liturgical reforms" which are, in many cases, grave liturgical abuses...

The bishop continues:

Since the Diocese of Erie already permits the celebration of the Tridentine Mass in two locations, St. Ann Parish in Erie and St. Bernadette Parish in Saegertown, I do not foresee a pressing pastoral need on the part of our people.
Since I'm not from Erie, it might be interesting to see how "generous" the bishop has been (are these churches hard to get to or is mass at some strange hour?)

But here we see Bishop Trautman's attempt to exercise control over who does and does get to celebrate the "extraordinary" form of the Mass. The bishop is probably recalling efforts from his younger days when bigots imposed literacy tests to determine if one was smart enough to vote...But let's see what he says:

In the future, I will be issuing diocesan norms to help apply and order the specifics of the pope’s letter. Priests who might want to celebrate the Tridentine Mass will be given a rubrical and Latin exam to comply with the pope’s own statement, “The use of the old missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language.”
How long will it take to 'develop' his 'norms'? Will they be ready by September 14, 2007? Or will the norms need review by some obscure committee to ensure the elimination of what some presume to be 'gender exclusive' words. Or perhaps, with enough 'trick' or subjective questions, few will be able to satisfy the bishop.

We must wonder how many priests could pass a rubrical test (on paper AND in practice) of the Novus Ordo, especially when one considers what goes on in some parishes...I am reminded of this quiz and wonder how many priests and self-appointed 'liturgists' would pass?

Not only this, but, due to the bureaucracy and legalisms, the bishop appears confused and needs clarifications - and the sooner the better:

Further, there will be need to ascertain that the common good of the parish prevails and to ascertain what constitutes a stable community of those requesting the 1962 missal.
Amazing - Many pray for the early retirement of this man. What faithful priests must have to endure with this man as a spiritual father? They must have the patience of Job. And we should pray for them.

The Bishop's Statement on the Holy Father's Motu Proprio is here (PDF).

Archbishop O'Brien is discovered to be "Catholic"

O'Brien brings conservative stance toward gays

"I think anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or who has strong homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not to be accepted into a seminary," O'Brien, then the leader of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, told the National Catholic Register in 2005.

Such reads the story...And he helped found Courage in 1978...

For more insights from the Baltimore Sun:

Gospel for Friday, 14th Week of Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial of St. Henry

From: Matthew 10:16-23

Jesus' Instructions to the Apostles

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [16] "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. [17] Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, [18] and you will be dragged before governors and kings for My sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. [19] When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; [20] for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. [21] Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; [22] and you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. [23] When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of Man comes."


16-23. The instructions and warnings Jesus gives here apply right through the history of the Church. It is difficult for the world to understand the way of God. Sometimes there will be persecutions, sometimes indifference to the Gospel or failure to understand. Genuine commitment to Jesus always involves effort--which is not surprising, because Jesus Himself was a sign of contradiction; indeed, if that were not the experience of a Christian, he would have to ask himself whether he was not in fact a worldly person. There are certain worldly things a Christian cannot compromise about, no matter how much they are in fashion. Therefore, Christian life inevitably involves nonconformity with anything that goes against faith and morals (cf. Romans 12:2). It is not surprising that a Christian's life often involves choosing between heroism and treachery. Difficulties of this sort should not make us afraid: we are not alone, we can count on the powerful help of our Father God to give us strength and daring.

20. Here Jesus teaches the completely supernatural character of the witness He asks His disciples to bear. The documented accounts of a host of Christian martyrs prove that He has kept this promise: they bear eloquent witness to the serenity and wisdom of often uneducated people, some of them scarcely more than children.

The teaching contained in this verse provides the basis for the fortitude and confidence a Christian should have whenever he has to profess his faith in difficult situations. He will not be alone, for the Holy Spirit will give him words of divine wisdom.

23. In interpreting this text, the first thing is to reject the view of certain rationalists who argue that Jesus was convinced that soon He would come in glory and the world would come to an end. That interpretation is clearly at odds with many passages of the Gospel and the New Testament. Clearly, Jesus refers to Himself when He speaks of the "Son of Man", whose glory will be manifested in this way. The most cogent interpretation is that Jesus is referring here, primarily, to the historical event of the first Jewish war against Rome, which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple in the year 70, and which led to the scattering of the Jewish people. But this event, which would occur a few years after Jesus' death, is an image or a prophetic symbol of the end of the world (cf. note on Matthew 24:1).

The coming of Christ in glory will happen at a time which God has not revealed. Uncertainty about the end of the world helps Christians and the Church to be ever-vigilant.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 13: Almsgiving

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues


First Meditation - The Works of Mercy

I. We here understand the term almsgiving not so much in its specific and popular meaning - "Money or any­thing given to the poor to relieve their corporal needs" (Summa II-II, q. 32) - as signifying the practice of conferring corporal or spiritual benefits upon the needy of body or soul, the exercise of all the works of mercy.

The great gain accruing to any kind of almoner is stressed by Christ when He insistently promises a hundredfold in return. A hundred per cent profit! What mercantile or industrial enterprise, however well insured; what bank, even the most flourishing, would make such an offer and dole out such high dividends? A hundred for one! What a rush there would be to invest our savings in a business concern which promised and could guarantee such a return! Our Lord announces His terms so often that the four Gospel writers set it down in the four best public documents:
You shall receive a hundredfold and shall possess eternal life.

Lord, Thou didst well underline Thy promise, but, in spite of the quadruplicated and authorised copy of it, I still wonder whether I can really trust it without running undue risks of being disappointed. Isn't there a snag somewhere, a hook hidden at the end of the line? . . .

II. A mere running commentary on the many passages of the Old and New Testaments extolling the good effects of almsgiving would furnish material for several very beautiful meditations. The Sacred Scriptures are old receipts, authenticated by God's Truthfulness and the Church's infallibility, expressing God's promise to pay the hundredfold for works of mercy done in His Name. Why not trust them? Would we not give credence to any ordinary human document properly drafted and signed, even by the hand of a usurer? Lord, help Thou my unbelief.

Daniel the prophet speaks to Nabuchodonosor, who is threatened with God's avenging Justice:

Let my counsel be acceptable to thee, and redeem thou thy sins with alms and thy iniquities with works of mercy to the poor; and perhaps he will forgive thy offences. (Dan. iv, 24)

After rebuking the Pharisees for their avarice and wickedness, our Lord tells them of the cleansing effects of almsgiving:

"You should give alms out of the store you have, and at once all that is yours becomes clean." (Lk. ix, 41)

My works of mercy will constitute, therefore, the surest pledge of pardon for my sins. So why do I not I make a bid for it, seeing all the motives I have to regret I my past life of sinfulness?

III. My works of mercy will stand me in good stead at each critical moment of my existence.

At the moment of death or grave illness: "Blessed is the man," sings the Psalmist, "who takes thought for the poor and the destitute; the Lord will keep him safe in time of trouble; he will sustain him when he lies bed­ridden, turn all to health in his sickness "­

Beatus qui intellegit super egenum et pauperem, in die mala liberabit eum Dominus.

Dominus opem ferat illi super lectum doloris ejus; universum stratum ejus versasti in infirmi­tate ejus.

Or, as the new version of the Psalter says:

totam infirmitatem ejus auferet in morbo ejus. -(Ps. xl)

On the Day of Judgement and for all eternity my works of mercy will be a shield of protection:

Alms shall be a great confidence before the most High God to all them that gave it. (Tobias iv, 12)

Alms deliver from all sin and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness. (ib. 11)

But what greater gain than to hear from Christ's own lips this tenderest of loving invitations:

Come, ye blessed of my Father. . . for I was hungry, and you gave me to eat." (Matt. xxv, 34)

Wholeheartedly I believe, O God, in the magnificent offers, made by Thy prophets and ratified by Thy Son, to the practice of works of mercy. Then why do I take them so coldly? Do they mean so little to me?

1. There is no need to beat about the bush with God, so let us ask and answer a straightforward question: Has the priest a duty of religion (it is not a matter of strict justice) to employ in works of mercy the surplus of his priestly income? In theory, yes. In actual practice, the question is whether he has any surplus after providing for his decent maintenance. Beneficiary goods alone, according to Canon Law (cfr. cc. 1473 and 1410), are subject to this ruling, not stole fees and the offerings of the faithful.

2. A grave obligation in charity to give alms is in­cumbent upon the priest who has abundant means, the same as any other Christian, but in the vast majority of cases we priests are not among the opulent, and for many their penury is such, perhaps, as to entail not a single case of grave obligation in a lifetime.

3. In matters of strict justice and religion I shall be scrupulously fair, administering properly the funds belonging to the Church or the poor or pious foundations (Christ's property, as they were called), even when I am not obliged to render a statement of accounts to anyone, even though it may prove impossible to take legal action against me for embezzlement of funds; because though I may escape the scrutiny of men I cannot hide from God. Have I a clean conscience and clean hands in the sight of God? Is there nothing demanding restitution on my part?

4. I shall observe Canon 1235, par. 2: "The poor shall be given decent funeral services and burial free of charge, according to the laws of liturgy and the diocesan statutes." And I shall not acquire a habit of under­estimating another's poverty.

I shall also abide by Canon 463, par. 4: "He must not refuse to serve gratuitously those who are not able to pay for the services."

If I have to intervene in anything relating to cases of canonical procedure, I shall adhere faithfully to what the Code in chapter II of Book IV prescribes about lending my services to the poor free of charge.

O Jesus, Father of the poor, I prefer, even for my own sake, when dealing with the poor, Thy favorites, to err on the side of excessive indulgence. What they fail to pay me, Lord, I shall in future pass over to Thy account; and to be sure, I shall not do badly!

5. In all my ministerial duties I shall be at the dis­posal of the poor with the same thoroughness, kindliness, and courtesy as for the well-to-do, without any discrimination. Or, if there are to be exceptions, it will be the poor. The rich have ordinarily more than enough of everything, even in the Church of God: Sacraments, confessors, preachers, etc. If they want for anything it will not be for any shortage of supply; whereas the poor are often allowed to go without.
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!

Slick Packaging

In this campaign season, if Clinton and Barack Obama and John Edwards are any measure, there will be nothing unusual in Democrats' talking about the God who guides them and the beliefs that sustain them. Clinton has hired Burns Strider, a congressional staffer (and evangelical Baptist from Mississippi) who is assembling a faith steering group from major denominations and sends out a weekly wrap-up, Faith, Family and Values. Edwards has been organizing conference calls with progressive religious leaders and is about to embark on a 12-city poverty tour. In the past month alone, Obama's campaign has run six faith forums in New Hampshire, where local clergy and laypeople discuss religious engagement in politics. "We talk about ways people of faith have gone wrong in the past, what they have done right and where they see it going in the future," says his faith-outreach adviser, Joshua DuBois. Speeches on everything from the budget to immigration to stem-cell research are carefully marinated in Scripture. "Science is a gift of God to all of us," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a debate on increased embryo-research funding, "and science has taken us to a place that is biblical in its power to cure."

The "god" who guides them? Who might that be? The God of the living or the god of death?

And the "beliefs" that sustains them? Their beliefs are, by and large, anti-God, since they are anti-life...These people belong in a circus side-show...

The Day of Reckoning is Drawing Nigh

Archdiocese seeks a settlement as 500 sex abuse cases head for trial

The payout could go as high as half a billion dollars, the largest in the country. 'The day of reckoning is near,' says a lawyer for plaintiffs.

After more than four years of negotiation, pressure is mounting fast to settle some 500 claims that the Los Angeles Archdiocese failed to protect children from clergy abuse, before the first trial begins this month.

"We know it's soon. We know it's inevitable. The day of reckoning is drawing near," said Jeffrey Anderson, a Minnesota lawyer who represents hundreds of alleged victims of clergy abuse in California and elsewhere.

The potential payout is staggering, at more than half a billon dollars by far the largest of any diocese in the country resulting from the Roman Catholic Church abuse scandal.

As bad as this could be, one must shudder at the loss of souls which have resulted from this scandal.

Abp. Edwin O’Brien Appointed New Archbishop of Baltimore

Archbishop-Elect O'Brien, military ordinary for the U.S.A, will succeed Cardinal William Henry Keeler whose resignation has been accepted by the Holy Father.

Gospel for Thursday, 14th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 10:7-15

The Calling and First Mission of the Apostles (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [7] "And preach as you go, saying,`The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' [8] Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without pay, give without pay. [9] Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, [10]no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. [11] And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. [12] As you enter the house, salute it. [13] And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. [14] And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. [15] Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town."


7-8. Previously, the prophets, when speaking of the messianic times, had used imagery suited to the people's spiritual immaturity. Now, Jesus, in sending His Apostles to proclaim that the promised Kingdom of God is imminent, lays stress on its spiritual dimension. The power mentioned in verse 8 are the very sign of the Kingdom of God or the reign of the Messiah proclaimed by the prophets. At first (chapters 8 and 9) it is Jesus who exercises these messianic powers; now He gives them to His disciples as proof that His mission is divine (Isaiah 35:5-6; 40:9; 52:7; 61:1).

9. "Belts": twin belts, stitched together leaving space where coins and other small, heavy objects could be secreted and carried.

9-10. Jesus urges His disciples to set out on their mission without delay. They should not be worried about material or human equipment: God will make up any shortfall. This holy audacity in setting about God's work is to be found throughout the history of the Church: if Christians had bided their time, waiting until they had the necessary material resources, many, many souls would never have received the light of Christ. Once a Christian is clear in his mind about what God wants him to do, he should not stay at home checking to see if he has the wherewithal to do it. "In your apostolic undertakings you are right--it's your duty--to consider what means the world can offer you (2 + 2 = 4), but don't forget--ever!--that, fortunately, your calculations must include another term: God + 2 + 2..." ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 471).

However, that being said, we should not try to force God's hand, to have Him do something exceptional, when in fact we can meet needs by our own efforts and work. This means that Christians should generously support those who, because they are totally dedicated to the spiritual welfare of their brethren, have no time left over to provide for themselves: in this connection see Jesus' promise in Matthew 10:40-42.

11-15. "Peace" was, and still is, the normal Jewish form of greeting. On the Apostles' lips it is meant to have a deeper meaning--to be a sign of God's blessing which Jesus' disciples, who are His envoys, pour out on those who receive them. The commandment our Lord gives here affects not only this specific mission; it is a kind of prophecy which applies to all times. His messenger does not become discouraged if His word is not well received. He knows that God's blessing is never ineffective (cf. Isaiah 55:11), and that every generous effort a Christian makes will always produce fruit. The word spoken in apostolate always brings with it the grace of conversion: "Many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand" (Acts 4:4; cf. 10:44; Romans 10:17).

Man should listen to this word of the Gospel and believe in it (Acts 13:48; 15:7). If he accepts it and stays faithful to it his soul is consoled, he obtains peace (Acts 8:39) and salvation (Acts 11:4-18). But if he rejects it, he is not free from blame and God will judge him for shutting out the grace he was offered.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 12: Mortification

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues


Second Meditation - Priestly Motives

I. My priestly state imperiously demands mortification. It is a collar-harness strapped round my neck by God's Hand from the moment He imprinted on me the Character of my priesthood. My enemies will assault me; they have already done so with greater rage and unexpectedness than other mortals. The world, with its traps and snares, with its scorn and jeering; Satan, with the full force of his wily seductions, so consciously aware of what he stands to gain by my downfall; the very delicate tasks entrusted to me, so exceedingly sublime, so numerous; my own priestly state, so holy in itself; all these are sources of conflict.

However well-balanced I may be, however vigorous my free will, I am necessarily, by the very nature of things, up against a host of difficulties lashing me in wave after wave and seeking to undermine my courage and my peace of mind. Mine must be a heart of diamond strength not to succumb ignominiously, but to confront and confound them all.

And the struggle and resistance demanded of me is no other than the "self-denial" of the Gospel, the "mortifying of the ways of nature through the power of the Spirit" of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans.

"The time will surely come, when men will grow tired of sound doctrine, always itching to hear something fresh; and so they will provide them­selves with a continuous succession of new teachers, as the whim takes them.. . ." (2 Tim. iv, 3)

Does this apply to me? Am I deceiving the faithful with soft words and booming periods or gentle har­monies, just catering for that "itch" to hear something fresh, instead of giving them the staple food of sound doctrine?

The nerves of Christian living are not the poetry and magnificence of public ritual, nor what we add to it of what is flattering to the senses; the soul of all Christian endeavour, modelled on Christ crucified, is contained in these words of St. James the Apostle:

"If he is to offer service pure and unblemished in the sight of God, who is our Father, he must take care of orphans and widows in their need, and keep himself unspotted from the world." (James i, 27)

Which means that we must offer resistance to our perverse inclinations so as to reduce them to reason, and in all our good works we must pursue the good and the pure, a costly feat, and bring our inmost being in harmony with the purity and serene holiness of God.

People will listen respectfully when I preach the austere lesson only if the most short-sighted in the con­gregation see it unmistakably exemplified, through mortification, in my personal conduct; otherwise it might be better not to mention the subject, or not to preach at all.

III. There are two basic principles of Christian and priestly mortification, which we should do well to enumerate before specifying individual practices; they are as follows:­

1. To forbid myself, for all time and without the slenderest hope of turning back, every type of gratifica­tion, pleasure, pastime, and possession which I cannot reach out to without straying from the path or going beyond the circle of restrictions and prohibitions marked out for the man, the Christian, and the priest.

2. Resolutely to embrace, as part of the cross which Christ, the God of the Cross, has laid upon my shoulders, all the unpleasantness, bitterness, contra­dictions, and privations entailed by the exact perform­ance of my duties.

3. These are the two basic principles of justice; they cannot be transgressed or undermined without my incurring what is sinful and without my being included among the ranks of those souls whom Christ rejects with the terrible curse:
Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; I know not whence ye are. Luke xiii, 27)

I am, therefore, going to be generous with God, who so generously died for me. I am going to pluck up courage to embrace even mortifications of supererogation: such and such an austerity, maceration, or fast. And I will bend my back to the ministerial duties that are positively painful; for example, hearing confessions, visiting the sick, teaching the catechism, etc.; doing it purely to please God, even though no one or no rule may oblige me to take them up.

1 Jesus Christ, who in former times was often called "Captain-in-command" and the "Lord of hosts", has, besides the general line of battle, certain strategic positions scattered here and there which must be defended in a special manner. One of these positions is my heart, under heavy attack and entrusted to my courage and loyalty. And the struggle, with its various incidents, centering round this position is called spiritual mortification.

But what about those traditional practices of bodily punishment: hair-shirt, discipline, black fast, short sleep, etc.? "Oh, that's not my line," you may say, "those weird things give me the creeps." Yes, and like a child whistling in the dark, you mask your lack of courage by laughing them to scorn; "Things of the past; dead and gone; gross exaggerations. . . ." Cowardly, effeminate soul, why not try one of them occasionally? Why such tender love for sinful flesh? Why not do something to be able to say with the Apostle: "I buffet my own body, and make it my slave"? (l Cor. ix, 27)

2. If, after examining my life before God, I discover something redundant, superfluous, effeminate and out of keeping with priestly simplicity and austerity, either in my clothing, bed, food, furniture, or in my reactions to whatever is unpleasant, I shall resolve to root it out unmercifully.

3. I am determined to be a man of hard work; work that is becoming, useful and constant. Every living particle of my being must be linked together by a solid occupation; only at the cost of this apparent slavery shall I purchase true freedom of the spirit, the indepehdence of a child of God, and self-mastery.
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!

Motu Proprio Transition Aids

A reader was kind enough to post this link in the comments...

It's the Abbey Shop of St Michael's Abbey, in Farnborough, England.

Looks nice, prices are in pounds.

Check it out if interested here.
* * *

Also, here in the US, Roman Catholic Books has embarked on a "One Million Latin Mass Booklet Missals Project" and has many items worth the investment. Check it out here.

I know that there are others. Feel free to let everyone else know about them!

Turning back the liturgical clock?

Frank Flinn, adjunct professor of religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis provides his normal foolish public opinions on the affairs of the Catholic Church. This time, it concerns the Holy Father's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum...

The move may well trigger liturgical schisms in dioceses throughout the world.
One may rightly wonder if the man is completely oblivious to the grave abuses that have taken place at Masses for the past 40 years as these "liturgical schisms" have been proceeding full throttle despite papal attempts to stop the abuses.

In this rite [the 'Tridentine'] the priest stands on an elevated altar, facing away from the people and mumbling the most sacred parts of the liturgy in Latin.
It appears that all of the so-called 'progressives' (read dissenters) are copying material from the same source, seeing that "Sister" Joan Chittister recently opined:
The Latin Mass, for instance, in which the priest celebrates the Eucharist with his back to the people, in a foreign language -- much of it said silently or at best whispered -- makes the congregation, the laity, observers of the rite rather than participants in it.

Apparently, ignorance is quite contagious in the community of dissent.

Frank continues:
Around the world, liturgical music expanded to include gospel music, African chants and drumming, Mexican mariachi bands, folk music and even pop rhythms.
Real sacred stuff, this hodgepodge of self-indulgent 'music'...Apparently few of them seem to have actually read Sacrosanctum Concilium or any of the authoritative documents regarding sacred music or the liturgy.

...progressives wanted to advance the openings begun at Vatican II, not only in the liturgy but also in ecumenism, lay involvement, Christian social action (liberation theology, feminism, ecology), and ethical theory (priestly celibacy, birth control).

Actually, though most of them refuse to admit it, 'progressives' wanted to create their own 'church', complete with changeable 'truths' and 'doctrines' and they wanted to call this the "Catholic" church. Presumably this is because they are not imaginative enough to think of a new name or phrase for their rebellion.

Why do I say farewell to Vatican II? . . .By turning back the liturgical clock not to the creative multiplicity of the early Christian communities but to the heyday of the Inquisition and papal monarchism at Trent, Pope Benedict XVI is abandoning the principle of collegiality that embraces all bishops, all priests, all deacons and all lay people as the worshiping community of the beloved faithful. That says to Vatican II, "Farewell!"

Without a doubt, many so-called 'progressives' said good-bye to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church years ago. It would be intellectually dishonest to admit otherwise. The Church refuses to be reshaped according the the desires, wants, and demands of the 'progressives' (or their counterparts) and this is what makes them unhappy. Many want the Church to confirm them in their obstinancy and their sins - and the Church, following the example of our Lord, cannot do that.

We see examples of this everyday. For instance, one of the comments on "Sister" Joan's column says, in part:

Yes, you're right, the Tridentine mass and the Vatican II mass offer us two different kind of churches...

I want to say that as a Feminist Catholic, as a woman who 'dissent in place', as a woman who is waiting for the Church to open wide its heart to homosexuals, divorced, pro Choice, poor, etc., this recent decision is just one more confirmation that the Catholic Church has shifted into a putrescent mode.

I'm ready to write my own Eucharistic prayers and liturgies. I am ready to break the bread praying over it...

On the other hand, I remember that our Godde is a Godde of history -- or should I say, herstory or theirstory -- hence our Godde is muddling through the male hierarchical egos with us... our Godde has to come through and clean up the mess.
How much farther removed from the Catholic Church can one possibly be? These are not the words of disciple of Christ, a member of His Mystical Body - these are the words of Satan. And people like these, as well as far right-wing 'Trads' who deny the legitimacy of a lawful Ecumenical Council, are on the wrong path.

Flinn's article can be read here (for those who can stomach it).

A Latin Mass Survey at Domus Dei

It's listed as a petition as states that it is
"simply for statistical purposes in order to show that there exists a great interest in the Tridentine Latin Mass, contrary to those who, for whatever reason, claim that the Tridentine is an unnecessary liturgy and therefore only a museum piece."

So if you have an interest in the "extraordinary" form of the Roman Rite, by all means go ---here--- and sign the survey/petition.

Share the link with others who may wish to participate in the survey.

HT to Trish for the update!

Bishops are not immune to making mistakes...

...Such as in this article by Archbishop Chaput on "Immigration Reform"...

Sadly, everybody lost in a number of ways when our U.S. senators failed to pass The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1348) by a vote of 46 for and 53 against the measure.
. . .
No one can condone breaking the law, but it is important to recognize when our laws are unjust, outdated and unresponsive to the current situation.

Apparently, some remain confused about the so-called "Comprehensive Amnesty Act of 2007." Some claim that the "system" is broken and in need of comprehensive reform when, in fact, the "system," or parts of it, have been deliberately compromised and/or shut down - lax (or no) enforcement of existing laws and numerous 'promises' of rewards for those who would break our country's laws.

One need only review the numerous attempts made at "fixing" our immigration "problems" over the last 40+ years. How many times must we grant 'amnesty' as a reward for criminal behavior? Does that enhance the 'dignity' of the human person? Is one to allow criminal trespassers into one's home without recourse to the law?

While some may not understand it, it is quite possible for a rational individual to be in favor of a legitimate form of immigration reform while preserving the security of a country AND respecting the dignity of ALL persons, including the citizens and legal immigrants and visitors of the country. Certainly, does justice not demand that national security and the common good and welfare of one country and its inhabitants have priority over the wants and desires of those who would flout a country's laws and enter illegally?

Although it will be difficult to see substantial legislative action during the 2008 election year, the leadership of the Archdiocese of Denver, together with many other groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will not give up the call for a just and comprehensive immigration reform.

The fact is that the latest sham perpetrated by the Senate was neither just nor comprehensive (save its amnesty provisions) nor 'reform' was a regurgitation of similar proposals from the past, only worse. It's reminiscent of a dog which returns to its own vomit.

Perhaps, after border security has been properly and adequately implemented and when owners and executives of companies which, in violation of the law, hire illegals begin to be fined and imprisoned, and when the citizens see the fruitful results of these actions - then the opportune time might be upon us to revisit a comprehensive immigration reform.

In the meantime, would it not be useful for our leaders, bishops, and others to encourage their counterparts in other countries to do more to assist their own people and government in reform efforts and to discourage the breaking of other countries' laws?

An interesting comment on the recent Senate bill was made by the grandson of an immigrant - a legal immigrant.
“I opposed the bill because it would have provided nearly immediate legal status to between 12 and 20 million illegal immigrants. I believe that, before we deal with those illegal immigrants already here, we must first secure the borders of our country to effectively cut off the flood of illegal immigrants. Otherwise, we will be dealing with illegal immigration again on a much larger scale a generation from now.” - Senator John Thune (R- South Dakota)

Much like the dog, yes?

Maker of contraceptive device faces 37 lawsuits -- so far

From California Catholic Daily:
Amputations, pulmonary embolisms, death

Just two years ago, pharmaceutical manufacturer Organon USA touted the safety and effectiveness of its contraceptive device, the NuvaRing, at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists annual meeting in San Francisco.

But on July 1, in an article headlined "Birth Control Device Killed My Beloved," the New York Post reported the story of Frank Mariconda, who disclosed that his seemingly healthy 31-year-old wife, Rosana, died from a stroke he believes was triggered by NuvaRing.

He's not alone, reported the Post: 37 lawsuits have been filed in Essex County, New Jersey, Superior Court and Newark, NJ, federal court claiming NuvaRing caused blood-clots that resulted in amputations, pulmonary embolisms and death.
Such tragic consequences! Yet many remain unaware of the evil of artificial contraception.

Pope Sparks Mass Revival

A good article from the National Catholic Register:

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society [of Pope Pius X], was quoted July 8 saying, “This is really an historic day. We convey to Pope Benedict XVI our profound gratitude. His document is a gift of Grace. It’s not just any step, it’s a step in the right direction. It’s an act of justice, extraordinary supernatural help in a moment of grave ecclesial crisis.”
. . .
“Pope Benedict has broken open the treasure chest of the Lord!” said Michael Dunnigan, chairman of Una Voce America, the largest lay organization in the U.S. promoting wider access to the traditional Mass.

. . .
Father Joseph Kramer, parish priest at San Gregorio dei Muratori, one of three churches in Rome permitted to celebrate Mass using the 1962 Missal, said the document “went beyond what we could ever have hoped for.”
. . .
“It’s a great godsend and something I and my friends have been praying for, for a long time,” said Luke De Weese, a Tridentine rite devotee from Lexington, Ky. “It was greater than I expected insofar as he made it very clear in the motu proprio, and in the accompanying letter, that the pre-conciliar liturgy was never abrogated.”

Archbishop Burke-Canonical Approval, Our Lady of America

July 4th, 2007 - Fostoria, OH

This devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of America enjoys complete canonical approval through former Archbishop of Cincinatti, OH, the late Paul Francis Leibold. Through his written correspondence and public actions, Archbishop Leibold approved for public devotion this private apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Sister Mary Ephrem (Mildred Neuzil).

Furthermore, many other Bishops have also shown their approval by their promotion of this devotion. The Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of Saint Louis, a world renowned canon lawyer, issued a letter opinion on Our Lady of America. In his letter dated May 31, 2007, he reviews the history of Our Lady of America and the actions of Archbishop Leibold approving this devotion. From Archbishop Burke:

What can be concluded canonically is that the devotion was both approved by Archbishop Leibold and, what is more, was actively promoted by him. In addition, over the years, other Bishops have approved the devotion and have participated in public devotion to the Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of America.

As such, devotion to Our Lady of America had been completely and fully canonically approved by Archbishop Leibold and confirmed by other bishops, leaving no question about the status of this apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Sister Mary Ephrem (Mildred Neuzil) which began 1956.
For the full text of Archbishop Burke's letter, click here.

Source: Our Lady of America.

Institute of Christ the King's Msgr. Schmitz on Summorum Pontificum

"I do not think that the Holy Father needs my advice"

Theologian sees Pope's motu proprio as providing greater access to "the Church's wonderful treasure of liturgical wisdom"

Inside the Vatican article here.

Gospel for July 11, Memorial: Saint Benedict, abbot

Gospel for Wednesday, 14th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 10:1-7

The Calling and First Mission of the Apostles

[1] And He (Jesus) called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. [2] The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; [3] Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; [4] Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.

[5] These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, [6] but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7] And preach as you go, saying, `The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'"


1-4. Jesus calls His twelve Apostles after recommending to them to pray to the Lord to send laborers into His harvest (cf. Matthew 9:38). Christians' apostolic action should always, then, be preceded and accompanied by a life of constant prayer: apostolate is a divine affair, not a merely human one. Our Lord starts His Church by calling twelve men to be, as it were, twelve patriarchs of the new people of God, the Church. This new people is established not by physical but by spiritual generation. The names of those Apostles are specifically mentioned here. They were not scholarly, powerful or important people: they were average, ordinary people who responded faithfully to the grace of their calling--all of them, that is, except Judas Iscariot. Even before His death and resurrection Jesus confers on them the power to cast out unclean spirits and cure illnesses--as an earnest of and as training for the saving mission which He will entrust to them.

The Church reveres these first Christians in a very special way and is proud to carry on their supernatural mission, and to be faithful to the witness they bore to the teaching of Christ. The true Church is absent unless there is uninterrupted apostolic succession and identification with the spirit which the Apostles made their own.

"Apostle": this word means "sent"; Jesus sent them out to preach His Kingdom and pass on His teaching.

The Second Vatican Council, in line with Vatican I, "confesses" and "declares" that the Church has a hierarchical structure: "The Lord Jesus, having prayed at length to the Father, called to Himself those whom He willed and appointed twelve to be with Him, whom He might send to preach the Kingdom of God (cf. Mark 3:13-19: Matthew 10:1-10). These Apostles (cf. Luke 6:13) He constituted in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which He placed Peter, chosen from among them (cf. John 21:15-17). He sent them first of all to the children of Israel and then to all peoples (cf. Romans 1:16), so that, sharing in His power, they might make all peoples His disciples and sanctify and govern them (cf. Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:45-48; John 20:21-23) and thus spread the Church and, administering it under the guidance of the Lord, shepherd it all days until the end of the world (cf. Matthew 28:28)" ("Lumen Gentium", 19).

1. In this chapter St. Matthew describes how Jesus, with a view to the spreading of the Kingdom of God which He inaugurates, decides to establish a Church, which He does by giving special powers and training to these twelve men who are its seed.

5-15. After revealing His intention to found the Church by choosing the Twelve (verses 1-4), in the present passage He shows that He intends to start training these first Apostles. In other words, from early on in His public ministry He began to lay the foundations of His Church.

Everyone needs doctrinal and apostolic training to follow his Christian calling. The Church has a duty to teach, and the faithful have a parallel duty to make that teaching their own. Therefore, every Christian should avail of the facilities for training which the Church offers him--which will vary according to each person's circumstances.

5-6. In His plan of salvation God gave certain promises (to Abraham and the patriarchs), a Covenant and a Law (the Law of Moses), and sent the prophets. The Messiah would be born into this chosen people, which explains why the Messiah and the Kingdom of God were to be preached to the house of Israel before being preached to the Gentiles. Therefore, in their early apprenticeship, Jesus restricts the Apostles' area of activity to the Jews, without this taking from the world-wide scope of the Church's mission. As we will see, much later on He charges them to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19); "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:16). The Apostles also, in the early days of the spread of the Church, usually sought out the Jewish community in any new city they entered, and preached first to them (cf. Acts 13:46).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Priest at Prayer for July 11: Mortification

The Third Part - Vices and Virtues


First Meditation - General Motives

I. Our destiny in this life and the next is union with God; in the next life, by a real, everlasting union and conscious possession of the Divine Essence; in this life, by what St. Thomas calls "intentional union" through charity. Now, this charity is the effect of grace operating through prayer and meditation on supernatural realities, right intention in our works, and the accomplishment of the Will of God in all our free activities. It is union with God through faith, hope, and charity.

O God, my Creator, such is the high destiny which Thy sovereign Will has marked out for me; only for the sake of reaching this destiny dost Thou suffer me on earth; this is the sole purpose behind Thy command to love Thee with my whole heart and my whole soul and with all my strength.

II. Union with God! To become one with God, as Christ is One with the Father! It all seems so remote. The course seems to lie through so many rocks and reefs! How different my human condition is from God's Being! There is need of a constant process of self-adjustment and adaptation if I am to conform to God; there must be an entire transformation, a paring down, a remodelling of my inmost being before I can live with God and make myself at home with my heavenly Father.

And what about the rebelliousness of so much in me against these radical changes: the anguish and fierce protests of each sense and faculty when asked to unite with God instead of its own immediate objects, usually so different from, and even opposed to, God, so insub­stantial or so deep in the mire? Added to which are the siren lures of the world and the subtle suggestions of the spirit of darkness.

Lord, Thou art the fixed pole-star of my voyaging soul; show me the course by which to arrive at the beckoning shores without sinking or being ship-wrecked and stranded on the rocks.

III. Evil inducements and fallacious charms and all instigations to rebellion go by the general name of temptation, or of the primary personal source of temptation, of whom St. Peter speaks as
"a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour"­ (1 Peter v, 8);

a hungry lion seeking to feed on me as long as I live on earth. This means continual warfare on my part, as Job declares; a life beset with temptation and snares, all so many obstacles on the road to my union with God, which must be struggled against at every hour.

It means that this relentless struggle, which bears the frightening name of "mortification", is not something which is left only to generous hearts anxious to go beyond the strict terms of the law, it is not something we can freely choose to take or leave, it is a virtue that nobody who
submits to God's Will and commands can afford to do without, a virtue without which no one can cross the threshold of everlasting life.

In order to keep my spiritual life within the narrow gauge of mortification, I resolve to read and absorb the first eight chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, where the theory of Christian mortification, usually so little understood, is expounded with logical precision.

I shall do this until I am forced by inner conviction to accept as a rule of conduct the conclusion arrived at by the Apostle when he says:
"If you live a life of nature, you are marked out for death; if you mortify the ways of nature through the power of the Spirit, you will have life.

"Those who follow the leading of God's Spirit are all God's sons." (Rom. viii, 13-14)
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!

Church Linens, Part 2

Chapter 7

This is a continuation from Chapter 6, Church Linens, Part 1.

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.
Questions answered in this chapter:

What weave of linen is most suitable for altar cloths? What is the rule regarding color? What is the advantage of finishing the altar cloth with a two-inch hem on all sides?

What is an amice? How is it made? How were amices ornamented during the Middle Ages? What ornamentation of the amice is prescribed by the rubrics?

What style of alb do most priests prefer? What other style is permissible and is most frequently used? What materials may be used for surplices? What seems to be the spirit of the liturgy in regard to pure linen? What is the attitude of liturgists in regard to lace?

What is the attitude of liturgists and of most priests in regard to the use of lace? Are there any positive rules against the use of lace?

Why is a discussion of the use of lace of interest to the laity? Why would priests be compelled to wear lace-trimmed linens?

How did Pope Pius XI recognize of the work of those who sew for the sanctuary? What two saints are often chosen as patronesses for sewing guilds?

What is St. Veronica's Veil and where is it venerated? Which two cities claim possession of the "Holy Coat"? What traditions are connected with it?

What facts have photographic studies of the Holy Shroud revealed? According to scientists, how were the figures produced? What facts do the pictures prove? What does Paul Vignon say about the Holy Shroud?
The requirements of the liturgy in regard to altar coverings have been explained in a preceding chapter. The linen from which altar cloths are made should be of fairly heavy quality and of not too fine a weave. If the sides and ends of the cloth are finished with a two-inch hem, the front and back are changeable, and the wear caused by the rubbing of the chasuble can be distributed.

Since altars vary in size and height, no exact measurements can be given. Societies who sew for the missions follow fixed rules and measurements, which insure an economical use of material as well as a standard and uniform set of linens. Altar cloths are, perhaps, one of the greatest needs of the missions.

THE AMICE: The amice, which is the first vestment assumed by the priest when vesting for mass, is a square or oblong piece of linen. If it is oblong, it should be at least thirty-two inches long by twenty-four inches wide. Linen is the only permissible material, but for the sake of the convenience and comfort of the celebrant, a finer grade is often selected for the amice than is used for making an alb. A proper finish is a one-inch hem around the four sides. A linen tape about one-half inch wide and forty-five inches long should be sewn at each upper corner, so that the length of the garment goes across the shoulders.

In the Middle Ages, when the amice was worn back over the chasuble, it was sometimes embroidered in gold thread and pearls. The usual decoration consisted of oblong pieces of colored embroidery which were sewn upon it. These were called apparels. Today a narrow lace edging seems to be permitted for amices intended for use on festal occasions, and the strings may be of colored silk ribbon.

The rubrics mention only a cross which must be sewn to or worked upon the amice; and this the priest is directed to kiss when he puts it on and takes it off. The cross is usually worked in red thread in the center of the back about an inch below the top hem.

ALB AND SURPLICE: The alb and surplice are vestments and as such they will be discussed in the first chapter on the sacred vestments. Since they are frequently made by altar guilds for home churches and for the missions, a few words might be said in reference to materials and ornamentation. The alb may be made entirely of linen without lace trimming of any kind. This is the style which most priests prefer. It is permissible, though, to finish the skirt with a flounce of lace. Surplices may be made of linen, net, lace, or of sheer cotton fabrics. The spirit of the liturgy, however, would seem to indicate that pure linen is the ideal material for such vestments. Liturgists admit that good lace used in moderation is correct and desirable for festal occasions, especially when it is used on the surplices of prelates, but they insist that the essential character of the alb and the surplice is often lost sight of in the effort to make these garments more beautiful by the addition of lace.

LACE ON THE ALTAR: It may be difficult for some of us who have grown accustomed to seeing lace-trimmed altar cloths, albs, and surplices, to realize that liturgical writers as well as the majority of parish priests consider lace unnecessary, inappropriate, and even objectionable, when used in connection with the altar itself.

A story which appeared in the Ecclesiastical Review a number of years ago will serve to illustrate this fact. It is related of an old pastor, who, when he saw lace-trimming pinned to an altar cloth, was moved to ask the following questions: "Was there any lace on the Cross?" "No." "Was there any lace in the Holy Sepulchre?" "No." "Was there any lace at the Last Supper?" "No." "Why, then, is it here on this altar?" [Note 1] The wise priest used this means of teaching his congregation that the altar, in addition to being a banquet table, is also a place of sacrifice.

There are also a number of practical reasons for the elimination of lace on altar cloths and vestments. One liturgical writer points out the following advantages: " . . . if we dispensed with lace we might have linen of a better quality, we might have more of it, and we might be able to change it more frequently. A Carmelite father has very justly said: 'We may lay it down as a general rule that all ornamentation which is not necessary is therefore excessive, because it will always be to the detriment of the vestment itself:' And his words apply also to church linen. . . But let us hasten to add that there are no rules in these matters. Although we have alleged liturgical, aesthetic and economic reasons against lace, yet we have not said that all lace without distinction is to be banned." [Note 2]

PRESENT DAY TENDENCY: This discussion of the use of lace is of special interest to the laity since it brings out the fact that individual priests may not favor, lace-trimmed linens, but are compelled to use them for the reason that simpler ones are not provided.

The pastor's wishes in regard to such matters should always be respected. Then again, it reveals the present day tendency toward older and more artistic traditions which, although they have their roots in the past, are advancing toward a greater and more consistent degree of perfection.

SEWING FOR THE SANCTUARY: Persons who engage in making vestments and altar linens for their own parish churches or for the missions, were given special recognition by the late Holy Father, Pope Pius XI. On June 2, 1933, he granted an indulgence of three hundred days to all who without pay make vestments, linens, and other church furnishings, provided they recite the following prayer during their work: "Jesus, our way and our life, have mercy on us." The work may be done by individuals or by societies founded for the purpose.

St. Veronica, who, according to tradition, presented her veil to our Lord as he carried His cross to Calvary, and St. Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, who entertained Him in her home, are frequently chosen as patrons for societies who sew for the sanctuary.

VENERATED RELICS: In our discussion of church linens we have mentioned their mystical relation to the linens in which our Lord's body was wrapped when it reposed in the tomb. In this connection we might call attention to certain relics which are venerated today because they are believed to have been connected with Christ's passion and death. Among them is St. Veronica's Veil, which is one of the major relics of St. Peter's in Rome. Wea re familiar with the Holy Face which appears thereon.

The cities of Treves in Germany and Argenteuil in France both claim possession of the "Holy Coat," Christ's seamless garment for which the soldiers cast lots at the crucifixion (John XIX, 23-24).

According to the Treves tradition, the coat was given to the city by St. Helena. The material is a reddish brown colored linen or cotton fabric. In 1891 Pope Leo XIII granted an indulgence to pilgrims who came to the exposition held that year. It attracted more than two million persons.

The inhabitants of Argenteuil believe that our Lord's seamless tunic was brought there by Charlemagne. They claim that the relic of Treves is not a tunic but a mantle, probably the purple robe in which Christ was mocked during His passion.

THE HOLY SHROUD: The Holy Shroud of Turin is a fourteen-foot length of linen cloth on which are figures thought to have been made by the imprint of Christ's body. Photographic studies reveal that the lights and shades of these figures are really a negative, and only in a photograph has it been possible to bring out a vivid, positive imprint. Scientists claim that the figures were produced by the chemical action of aloes and vapors given off a body that was put to death by torture, and that the stains on the cloth are particles of blood.

Investigations conducted over a period of forty years also prove that the body was crucified, scourged, wounded in the head by distinct punctures, and wounded in the side by the stroke of a lance.
"All conditions necessary to produce the imprints were fulfilled by Christ, and could not have been fulfilled by anyone else," says Professor Paul Vignon, secretary general of the Italian and French Commission on the Holy Shroud. "It was Christ who left His imprints on this cloth, with a vivid record of the drama of Calvary, and with His true likeness hidden in the stains till photography revealed it again to the world." [Note 3]

1. J. F. S., "Lace on the Altar" Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. LVII, Page 91.

2. Roulin, Vestments and Vesture. Pages 16-17.

3. Vignon, "The Problem of the Holy Shroud" Scientific American, March 1937, Page 164.
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