Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lenten Reflection: Avarice, The Second Capital Sin

"Covetousness is the root of all evils, and some in their eagerness to get rich have strayed from the faith and have involved themselves in many troubles." 1 Timothy, 6:10.

The story is just as pointed as it is old of the man whose soul was con­trolled by the devil of avarice. He had a lot of money, but he wanted more. In his fear that thieves might learn of his riches and come to steal them he had a strong room built deep down beneath the foundations of his house. The door to this room was made of iron and was cleverly concealed in the wall.

Every time he got hold of some more gold this grasping fellow would hurry to his hiding place and add it to his heaps of coins. One day he acquired a particularly large amount of money, and he was particularly eager to add it to his treasures. He hurried to his secret chamber, but in his haste he forgot to take the key from the outside of the lock. He entered, quickly closed the door, dropped the new-won coins one by one on the piles of gold and silver, gloating over every piece. As he started to leave he dis­covered to his horror that the door was locked and could be opened only from the outside. He screamed and shouted for help; he tried to dig and scrape his way out. But the room was so strongly built that there was no hearing him and there was no escape.

Meanwhile his family wondered where he was. They thought some mis­fortune had befallen him. They searched everywhere. They asked his friends and business acquaintances. No one had seen him. At last the news reached a locksmith who immediately remembered that this miser had engaged him to make a strong door with a spring lock that would lock itself when the door was closed. He hurried to the home, told the family and rushed to the secret door. There was the key in the lock - outside. They opened the door and found the dead body of the man sprawling with his arms extended over the heaps of coins, embracing his treasures in his death­struggle, still worshipping in death the god of gold he had adored during life.

1. That man had been killed by the devil of avarice, the second capital sin. Avarice or covetousness means an excessive love of money and worldly goods. Those material possessions may take the form of books or pictures, buildings or land, cars or jewelry. Usually, however, to the avaricious man gold is god. All his affection, all his ambition, all his talents and all his energies are principally and often exclusively devoted to getting more and more gold, money and goods.

2. Avarice attacks in every walk of life. It is a vice that affects both the rich and the poor, the high and the lowly. Have we not all seen men of means, men who have plenty of this world's goods, still straining with every ounce of their strength, and with every power of mind and body, to build up a still bigger bank account? Have we not seen men and women who own several houses or hundreds of acres of land or boxes full of jewelry, still striving to get more? But the covetous are not limited to the wealthy. There are avaricious people among the poor. They would give anything to have more of this world's goods. Their hearts are set on riches, even though they do not have them. They strive for things which are beyond their reach.

3. The more food you give this devil of avarice, the more he wants. The covetous heart is ever adding to what it has; it is never satisfied. St. Bern­ardin of Siena brings this out in a conversation he carries on with a money­grabber:
"Now, 0 miser, how much money do you want?" asks our saint.

"If I had ten thousand florins," replied the miser, "I would consider myself
well off."

A florin was worth about 50 cents. Let's say the man wanted ten thousand dollars. Suppose St. Bernardin gives him the ten thousand and a few days later asks what he has done with them. "Oh, I have spent them," answered the miser, "and I need some more. There was a tenant of mine to whom I lent a hundred. Then I spent some on cattle, and fifty I used to repair a house, oh, more than fifty."

When our saint asked him how much he now wanted the avaricious one exclaimed:

"Oh, I need fifteen thousand at least."

"What are you going to do with that much money?" asked St. Bernardin.

"Oh, there is a house beside mine that I would do very well to possess. And between the two houses there is a plot of land. If I could have that, nobody would be able to get at me to do me any harm."

No sooner did he spend the fifteen thousand than he wanted twenty-­five thousand. When the saint asked him why, the fellow declared:

"What would I do with it? Well, to begin with, there is a certain castle that greatly attracts me. And I want to have a room by each one of the gates. You know I can't bear foggy weather. And so if it is foggy in one place, I must have somewhere to go where it is clear."

St. Bernardin winds up his sermon on the subject by sarcastically saying that the man would then want grand clothes and equipment, and would not be satisfied even if he had a hundred thousand dollars.

Revise this story and the amounts of money, and you have a picture of many people, including some Catholics. Indeed, some of our modern gold-seekers would not stop at a hundred thousand or a million.

4. Such covetous hearts are also wretched and miserable. They cannot be content. They never relax. They never rest. They never sleep. They never stop grasping.

5. The covetous man has many marks, many characteristics by which we can recognize him. Pay close attention to these marks. Some of these labels may fit you:

A. He is heartless and inhuman toward everyone, including those who are in extreme need. His condition is brought out in the famous German folk story about a poor charcoal burner who in the kindness of his heart always tried to do good turns for others. Often he wished for riches that he might help others still more. One day a wicked-looking spirit met him in the woods and told him he would make him rich on condition that he exchange his heart of flesh for a wonderful mechanical heart. The poor man did not fancy the con­dition, but he consented to the bargain. The evil spirit cast him into a deep sleep. When he awoke he could feel the mechanical heart beating regularly in his breast but it, felt cold, very cold. Riches came to him, but his heart was harsh and stony, his manner over­bearing. Everything he touched turned to gold, but the more money he made, the harder his heart became. As old age crept upon him he longed, but in vain, for his warm human heart. The man who gives in to a greed for gold, always has to make this cruel exchange. His heart becomes hard.

B. The avaricious man is mean and stingy. He becomes what we call in common language a "skinflint," a "cheapskate," a "tightwad." He shows this stinginess everywhere:

i. He shows it at home where he scarcely allows enough money to pay for the necessities of life. The skimpy allowance he gives his wife scarcely pays for the groceries and running expenses. He denies his wife and children any pleasure or amusement that costs money, not because he does not have the money, but because he wants to build up a bank account.

ii. The avaricious man is stingy outside the home. Ask him to help in a charity drive of any kind and he will try to find an excuse for not giving. If he does weaken he will give a dollar when he should give a twenty. His support of the Church is as cheap as he can pos­sibly make it. To cover up his stinginess with the Lord he will rant and rave about expensive church furnishings, about the priests bleed­ing the parishioners, and winds up demanding where all the money goes to.

iii. This stingy fellow is stingy also in his social life. That is where he gets the nickname of "cheapskate." He will never treat unless he is forced. He lets others pay the way, and pick up the bill.

For tips he picks the smallest coins out of his pocket. It is not a question of prudent economy; it is miserliness and meanness with regard to money.

C. When you see a Catholic who gives little or nothing to the missions, who gripes about the orphan collection, who waits and waits to make his measly contribution to the building fund, mark him down as a miser. The man who thinks only of his own bank account will be blind and deaf to all the good work of the Church.

D. Because it might cost him something in the way of money, time, or energy, the covetous man will avoid serving on committees or as an officer of parish organizations. He is stingy not only with his silver; he is stingy with his service. He takes no practical interest in parish or community affairs.

E. He delays in paying his bills, causing needless expense and incon­venience to his debtors. He figures that in the meantime he can draw the interest on the money which should be used for meeting his obligations.

F. He becomes uneasy and even angry at trifling losses or expenses. He flies into a rage if one of the family accidentally breaks some­thing, or if something is spoiled or lost.

G. Often the avaricious man is guilty of violating the Tenth Command­ment, namely, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods." Covet here means to want in the wrong way. He cannot bear to see another with a better car or more property or a bigger bank account. He is miserable at the financial success of others. The good fortune of his neighbor makes him unhappy.

An old legend brings out this con­nection between avarice and jealousy. A business man, while on a journey, overtook two travelers. One was a greedy, avaricious man; the other was of a jealous and envious make-up. When they came to the parting of their ways, the merchant said he wanted to give them a parting gift. Whoever made a wish first would have his wish ful­filled, and the other man would get a double portion of what the first had asked for. The greedy man knew what he wanted, but he was afraid to express his wish, because he wanted a double portion, and could not bear to think of his companion getting twice as much as he would receive. Meanwhile the envious man was unwilling to wish first, because he could not stand the idea that his companion would get twice as much as he would get. Each waited and waited for the other to wish first. Finally the covetous man took the envious man by the throat and threatened to choke him to death unless he made his wish. At that threat the envious man said:

"All right, I will make my wish. I wish to be blind in one eye."

At once he lost the sight of one eye, and his avaricious companion went blind in both eyes. That is how avarice and the other capital sin of envy blind and curse the souls of men.

H. Avarice is also one of the principal causes of the controversy and struggle between labor and management that has brought on so much bitterness and so many costly, crippling strikes and violence. Not always, but often, the demands of labor rise from avarice and not from justice. On the other hand, the refusal of management to grant just demands finds its foundation in covetousness, a desire for greater profits.

This vice creeps into other business and social relations. The grocer who cheats, the butcher who gives unjust weights, as well as the customer who tries to outdo the merchant, all are inspired by avarice. Yes, it is one of the capital, principal vices of mankind, a vice we must weed out at all costs and at all efforts.

6. We must keep clearly in mind the difference between avarice and prudent economy. It is not wrong to be thrifty, to be saving and economical. In fact, wasteful and extravagant living is the opposite vice. How can a person tell whether he is stingy or merely economical?

By asking himself whether he is guilty of anyone of the indications or marks of the covetous person, as I have just outlined them for you. If your saving makes you unfeeling toward the poor and suffering, if it makes you stingy toward your family, your parish, and other charities, if it keeps you from cooperating in parish affairs, if it prompts you to delay paying your debts, if it makes you extremely sad when you lose something or miss a chance to make money - then you can be sure that the devil of avarice has a hold on your heart.

7. Once you have recognized this evil spirit of greed in your make-up, start at once to root it out. How can a covetous man overcome this vice?

A. He should realize that he is merely a pilgrim on this earth, and that he cannot take his treasures with him. He should recall the words of St. Paul to St. Timothy, words which are divinely addressed to all of us :
"Godliness with contentment is indeed great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and certainly we can take nothing out." 1 Timothy, 6:6-7.

B. He should think less of earth and more of heaven, recalling and living the words of that same letter of St. Paul to St. Timothy regarding the rich:
"Let them do good and be rich in good works, giving readily, sharing with others, and thus providing for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, in order that they may lay hold on the true life." 1 Timothy, 6:18.

C. The avaricious man must consider the emptiness of mere things, helpless things, like money and land and belongings. Think of the wretched man in the story with which we started tonight - the man who was accidentally locked in the secret room with all his treasures. His piles of gold were helpless to open a door or secure him assist­ance. Stocks and bonds and bank accounts will be worthless on the day of doom. They will be worse than worthless, if we have violated God's law in acquiring them.

D. The covetous soul should weigh the evils of avarice: it hardens the heart, it blinds the eyes, it cripples the hand of giving, it limits the joys of life to cold, unsatisfying gold.

E. He should seek to know the will of God, especially as expressed in the Tenth Commandment: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods."

F. Above all he should strive to acquire that virtue which is the direct opposite of avarice, namely, generosity.

8. Generosity is that virtue which withdraws the affections from earthly goods and prompts a person to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It shows itself:

A. In active charity toward the poor. Suppose you suspect that you are covetous. Test yourself by giving to some poor person or some charitable cause at the next opportunity.

B. In supporting good works. The next time there is a collection for the missions, the orphans, or war relief, double your contribution. Prove to yourself that you are not avaricious. Incidentally, you will double your blessings.

C. In developing greater confidence in God. The more you put your trust in earthly treasures, the less you put your confidence in God. Yes, be thrifty, be economical, be saving, but be so in a prudent, reasonable way. We find generous souls in every walk of life.

9. About twenty years ago there died in Davenport, Iowa, a man who was nicknamed "Hummer." His real name was Henry Kahl, but they called him "Hummer" Kahl because he got things done efficiently and quickly. His life reads like an Alger story - poverty to riches. Born in 1875, he had to go to work at the age of 12. At 16 he was driving a team for a con­tractor. He worked energetically and efficiently, became a foreman and then a partner in the business. As head of a contracting firm he never asked his men to do anything that he could not do. He was fearless as well as tireless. No one was surprised when he became a millionaire. And no one was surprised at his generosity in the giving of time and energy and money to individuals and worthy causes. His keenest delight was to do someone a kindness unnoticed. He was the very opposite of an avari­cious man, so that the then Bishop Rohlman could say of him:

"To his fellow citizens he remains a demonstration that a man can reach wealth and success through honesty and hard work. To those of our faith he will be a challenging example of a man who made his mark in a material way, and was withal a thoroughly practical Catholic."

Would that this could be said of everyone of you.

10. Finally, in this question of avarice and liberality, we can do no better than think of our Lord and how He purposely gave everything He had in the service of others. Think of how He was stripped of even His clothing in His passion and death.

By way of contrast, recall the avaricious Judas who sold His Master for thirty pieces of silver. What a contrast! Tonight and during this Lent choose to be more like the Master and less like Judas. Trust not riches. Trust in God. Amen.
Adapted from Lent and the Capital Sins
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1952)

Just for Today, February 10

O my beloved Spouse, Christ Jesus, most pure Lover, Lord of the whole creation; who will give me the wings of true liberty, to fly and repose in Thee? Oh, when shall it be fully granted me to attend at leisure, and see how sweet Thou art, O Lord, my God? ­
-Bk. III. ch. xxi.

Oh! that I might wing my way
To Him, who stands upon the shore
Where breaks the dawn of endless day,
And life's dark shadows are no more!
There shall I find a Mother's smile,
A Mother's kiss to welcome me;
Safe in the haven of her arms
My weary spirit fain would be.
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 10

It is folly to leave your goods where you can never return, and to send nothing to that place where you must remain for ever.

-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 February 10, Where He Wishes

God speaks to us where and when He wishes. As soon as the soul becomes habitually recollected, the Divine Master draws it to Himself without considering persons or places.

It may be possible that at prayer, or divine services, we are dry and insensible. Suddenly, at some other time, while listening to an ordinary conversation, reading a profane book, or working at a task not at all spiritual in its nature, there comes a sudden turn­ing toward God, a light, a divine touch.

This naturally presupposes that we remain faithful in moments of difficulty in prayer, that we do not neglect the inspirations of grace in our daily duties. God feels that He has an abode in the soul. He comes and goes as He wishes. That does not mean, however, that He cannot awaken occasionally a choice thought or an unusual relish for the supernatural in an unfaithful or tepid soul. But that is extremely rare. Ordinarily, God manifests this easy freedom only with souls completely surrendered to Him, souls in which He is truly the adored Master.

Then it matters little to Him if we are here or there, in a corridor, in our room, at chapter, in chapel or at recreation. St. Margaret Mary said that even in the refectory a single pious word sufficed to make her heart leap with joy.

I must keep my heart free, accessible at every moment of the day. God will take care of the rest.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Old Calendar: St. Cyril of Alexandria, bshop and doctor; St. Apollonia, virgin and martyr

From: Luke 5:27-32

The Calling of Matthew

[27] After this He (Jesus) went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and He said to him, "Follow Me." [28] And Levi left everything, and rose and followed Him.

[29] And Levi made Him a great feast in His house; and there was a large company of tax collectors and others sitting at table with them. [30] And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against His disciples saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" [31] And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; [32] I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

27-29. Levi, better known as Matthew, responds generously and promptly to the call from Jesus. To celebrate and to show how appreciative he is for his vocation he gives a banquet. This passage of the Gospel shows us that a vocation is something we should be very grateful for and happy about. If we see it only in terms of renunciation and giving things up, and not as a gift from God and something which will enhance us and redound to others' benefit, we can easily become depressed, like the rich young man who, not wanting to give up his possession, went away sad (Luke 18:18). Matthew believes in quite the opposite way, as did the Magi who "when they saw the star rejoiced exceedingly with great joy" (Matthew 2:10) and who gave much more importance to adoring the new-born God than to all the inconveniences involved in travelling to see Him. See also the notes on Matthew 9:9; 9:10-11; 9:12, 9:13; and Mark 2:14; 2:17.

32. Since this is how Jesus operates, the only way we can be saved is by admitting before God, in all simplicity, that we are sinners. "Jesus has no time for calculations, for astuteness, for the cruelty of cold hearts, for attractive but empty beauty. What He likes is the cheerfulness of a young heart, a simple step, a natural voice, clean eyes, attention to His affectionate word of advice. That is how He reigns in the soul" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 181).
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, February 08, 2008

Just for Today, February 9

If indeed there had been anything better and more beneficial to man's salvation than suffering, Christ certainly would have shown it by word and example. For He manifestly exhorts both His disciples that followed Him, and all that desire to follow Him, to bear the cross, saying: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke ix, 23).

So that when we have read and searched all, let this be the final conclusion, that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God (Acts xiv, 21).
-Bk. II, ch. xii.

On this earth where all things change, there is one thing that does not change, and that is the way the King of kings treats His friends. Ever since the standard of the Cross was lifted up, all must strive for victory beneath its shadow. As Theophane Venard reminds us: The life of a missionary is made up of crosses. True happi­ness lies in suffering, and if we wish to live, we must first die.

My dear brother, be glad that the beginning of your apostolate is marked with the cross. Suffering and persecution bring about the reign of Christ in souls more effectually than eloquent preaching.
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 9

Woe to him who neglects to recommend himself to Mary, and thus closes the channel of grace!
-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 February 9, The Good Intention

An ancient writer advises us to address the following prayer to God on awaking and whenever the clock strikes: "I bless You, O Ancient of Days, as many times as there are minutes in the hour and hours in eternity, and I thank You an infinite number of times, more for what You are than for what I am."

Of course, this prayer is merely a suggestion; but it is well to accustom ourselves to offer to God all our actions throughout the day. We may acquire a certain facility in this practice, but we must be careful to avoid strain or worry during our work.

The Morning Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer is particu­larly valuable because it unites the soul with the desires of the Heart of Jesus, and the Monthly Intention expressed in the Offer­ing has moreover the approval of the Holy Father.

We ought to become accustomed to recollecting ourselves for a moment at the beginning of each important duty. If we are alone,a moment of recollection on our knees, each time we come back to our room and before we take up our work, helps us to do all for God and likewise affords us an opportunity to sacrifice the natural desire to begin our work at once. We thereby both regain our calm and unite ourselves with God, which is a double benefit.

Once we are at work, WORK. It is not the time to be absorbed in other thoughts; my present duty is of foremost importance. If the work lends itself to occasional or habitual prayer, so much the better. Our work, however, may require such concentrated attention that we cannot think of God, then we need not reproach ourselves on this account. If we are working for God alone, our union with Him is complete. God wants my will more than my memory. When the time comes to think of Him, then I will do it wholeheartedly.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Archbishop Trusts ‘God’s Grace’ for Priest’s Reconciliation

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke said Feb. 5 that he is "safeguarding the unity of the Church" by insisting that a suspended and excommunicated priest associated with the St. Stanislaus Kostka Corp. meet with him.

Father Marek Bozek was suspended in December 2005 by the bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau for abandoning his assignment and his diocese. The St. Stanislaus Kostka Corp. hired him for the position of pastor of their church, which had served people of Polish heritage but is no longer a part of the Roman Catholic Church.

Archbishop Burke said he has been hearing from Catholics who are concerned about the sacraments they are receiving from Father Bozek. Because of the priest’s status, any sacraments of Penance and Confirmation he performed or any marriages he has witnessed are considered invalid.

In addition, Father Bozek participated in the attempted ordination of two women and has been making statements contrary to Church teachings, according to archdiocesan officials. The purpose of Feb. 5 meeting with him was to urge him to return to his home diocese and seek reconciliation.

And everyone is, by now, aware of Marek's Bozek's tendered offer to the Archbishop...

As it stands now, Father Bozek does not represent Catholic teaching and practice, Archbishop Burke said.

"I can’t imagine that lifelong Polish Catholics who are associated with the former St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish agree that their priest, for instance, should take part in the attempted ordination of two women to the priesthood. Or accept that their priest believes that divorce and remarriage without a declaration of nullity should be accepted. Or are pleased that their priest is rebelling against Church authority in general."
Indeed, it is difficult to imagine this - yet over 100 people showed up to support this man...Incredible!

Father Bozek’s failure to seek reconciliation with the Church "would necessitate my taking further canonical action in order to keep him from continuing to bring spiritual harm to his own soul and to the soul of others," the archbishop said. That step would be the process for dismissal from the clerical state.
He said he trusts in the help of God’s grace that "the situation will be rectified and also there will be a healing."
The archdiocese is offering assistance to those who have invalidly received the sacraments of Penance or Confirmation or had their marriage invalidly witnessed by Father Bozek.

Theologian Remakes the Catholic Faith from Scratch. But the Church Says "No"

From Chiesa:
He is Vito Mancuso, in a highly successful book that has been recommended by cardinal Martini. In it, there is no longer any sin or redemption, but instead man saves himself. After months of silence, a double "stop right there"' from the Vatican authorities. Here are the complete texts...
by Sandro Magister

Some excerpts:

ROMA, February 8, 2008 – On the same day at the beginning of this February, "L'Osservatore Romano" and "La Civiltà Cattolica" – the official newspaper of the Holy See, and the magazine reviewed line by line by the Vatican secretariat of state – have blasted a book that has become a publishing, theological, and ecclesial event. In Italy, but not only here.

The book is "L'anima e il suo destino [The soul and its destiny]," by Vito Mancuso. The two assaults were issued simultaneously by the two authoritative publications on February 2, the feast of the presentation of Jesus.
[...] "L'Osservatore Romano" of February 2nd, it is the archbishop-theologian [Bruno]Forte himself who deeply criticizes Mancuso's latest book.

His conclusion is straightforward: "This is not Christian theology, but 'gnosis', the presumption of saving oneself on one's own."

But the many readers who have bought "L'anima e il suo destino" find at the opening of the volume a preface by another archbishop of widespread fame, the Jesuit cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who vigorously recommends the book in spite of the fact and that he sees in it ideas "that are not always consistent with traditional, and sometimes official, Church teaching."
Martini does not say what the points are that deviate from Catholic doctrine.

But these points are, instead, set out in black and white in "L'Osservatore Romano " and "La Civiltà Cattolica." According to the latter magazine, "about a dozen" dogmas are either "denied" or "emptied of meaning" in the book. And they are all of the highest importance.

Bruno Forte is no less critical in "L'Osservatore." He sees demolished the ideas of original sin, the resurrection of Christ, the eternity of hell, the salvation that comes from God. The thesis of the book is that man is sufficient for himself and is saved by himself, in the light of his reason alone.

Mancuso, who claims to be a Catholic, is aware of the earthquake that he has caused. But his stated purpose is precisely that of "refounding" the Christian faith. In an article published on January 22 in the newspaper "il Foglio," he also rejected the dogma of creation and the doctrine of "Humanae Vitae" on contraception....

Fr Richard McBrien and the "Resisters"

Dissident theologian says Paul VI’s liturgical reforms threatened by small but influential faction inside the Vatican

A small group of Vatican insiders has never accepted the Second Vatican Council’s liturgical reforms, a “powerful but determined” clique that continues to resist the changes wrought by Pope Paul VI, says well-known dissident theologian Fr. Richard McBrien.

Writing in his column published in the Feb. 1 Tidings, the newspaper of the Los Angeles archdiocese, McBrien calls members of this group “resisters.”
The “resisters” do not so much object to the vernacular Mass, but to the fact “that the laity could now fully understand it and actively participate in it.” For this reason, the “resisters” object to “the turning around of the altar to face the congregation,” removal of communion rails, reception of communion in the hand and while standing (and not kneeling), for “each of these changes signaled again that the laity are not passive observers at Mass, but active participants....”
McBrien is lost and he has no qualms leading others into a state of confusion, a state in which he excels.

Gospel for Friday after Ash Wednesday

Optional Memorials of St. Jerome Emiliani, priest; St. Josephine Bakhita, virgin
Old Calendar: St. John of Matha, confessor

From: Matthew 9:14-15

The Call of Matthew (Continuation)

[14] Then the disciples of John (the Baptist) came to Him (Jesus), saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" [15] And Jesus said them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast."


14-17. This passage is interesting, not so much because it tells us about the sort of fasting practised by the Jews of the time--particularly the Pharisees and John the Baptist's disciples--but because of the reason Jesus gives for not requiring His disciples to fast in that way. His reply is both instructive and prophetic. Christianity is not a mere mending or adjusting of the old suit of Judaism. The redemption wrought by Jesus involves a total regeneration. Its spirit is too new and too vital to be suited to old forms of penance, which will no longer apply.

We know that in our Lord's time Jewish theology schools were in the grip of a highly complicated casuistry to do with fasting, purifications, etc., which smothered the simplicity of genuine piety. Jesus' words point to that simplicity of heart with which His disciples might practise prayer, fasting and almsgiving (cf. Matthew 6:1-18 and notes to same). From apostolic times onwards it is for the Church, using the authority given it by our Lord to set out the different forms fasting should take in different periods and situations.

15. "The wedding guests": literally, "the sons of the house where the wedding is being celebrated"--an _expression meaning the bridegroom's closest friends. This is an example of how St. Matthew uses typical Semitic turns of phrase, presenting Jesus' manner of speech.

This "house" to which Jesus refers has a deeper meaning; set beside the parable of the guests at the wedding (Matthew 22:1 ff), it symbolizes the Church as the house of God and the body of Christ: "Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ was faithful over God's house as a son. And we are His house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope" (Hebrews 3:5-6).

The second part of the verse refers to the violent death Jesus would meet.
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, February 07, 2008

Just for Today, February 8

Endeavour to be patient in supporting the defects and infirmities of others, of what kind soever; because thou also hast many things which others must bear withal. If all were perfect, what then should we have to suffer from others for God's sake?
-Bk. I, ch. xvi.

Let me love Thee more than myself, and myself only for Thee, and all others in Thee, who truly love Thee, as the law of love commands, which shines forth from Thee.

Love is swift, sincere, pious, pleasant, and delightful; strong, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, coura­geous, and never seeking itself.
-Bk. III, ch. v.

Greater love than this no man has, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John xv, 13). Meditating on these words, I realized how imperfect was my love for my Sisters; I saw that I did not love as Jesus loves them. I understand now that true charity consists in bearing with all the defects of our neighbour, in not being surprised at her weakness, in being edified by the least of her virtues. Above all, charity must not remain hidden in the heart, because no man lights a candle, and puts it in a hidden place, nor under a bushel; but upon a candlestick, that they that are in the house may see the light (Luke xi, 13). I think this candle must repre­sent charity, which ought to enlighten and cheer not only those I love most, but all that are in the house.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 8

Be assured that one great means to find favor when we appear before God is to have pardoned the injuries we have received here below.

-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 February 8, Forget the Past

Forget the past, that is of course the sinful past, because the remembrance of a virtuous past is useful. It belongs to God and I can never recall it often enough to thank Him who helped me with so many graces.

But just as I can never recall too often my good past, and be sufficiently grateful for it, so I can allow the sinful past to obtrude itself to such an extent that at times it overcomes me and even crushes me with its reproaches; "I was there, I did that....On such a day, on such an occasion I committed cowardly deeds."

What is the use of brooding over all that, stirring up the old past? As Father Faber said, "The past and the future are two forms of myself."

Or as a contemporary author suggests: "God does not ask us what we have been, but what we are."

Certainly if I have a robust temperament and a strong soul, I ought to be able to look my life in the face. If I am a weak soul, however, the sight of my sinfulness will weaken my strength. Then retrospection is harmful for me.

Live in the present! Now is the time to surrender myself en­tirely. Whatever I may have been I abandon to God's mercy. I must let His mercy work. I no longer want to look back but for­ward to perfection. Forward! The past no longer belongs to me. I cannot undo what has been done. What is the use of burdening myself with what no longer exists. I can only see to it that the present is not the past. I can make the present what God wants it to be. The present moment is mine to give to God.

I must give a full measure now! That is always the best repara­tion for the past....I must repair the past without looking at it.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Archbishop to Ordain Priests Using "Extraordinary Form" in Rome Cathedral

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A former Vatican official will ordain four traditionalist priests in a Tridentine Mass celebrated in the cathedral of Rome, church officials said.

The Feb. 23 ordination Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran will be the most prominent celebration of the old rite in Rome since Pope Benedict XVI relaxed restrictions on its use last year.

The Mass, to be celebrated by Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, will follow the 1962 Roman Missal, known commonly as the Tridentine rite. In July 2007 the pope issued new rules, saying the old rite could be used much more freely than before...

More good news for the Latin Mass faithful...

Local Radio Host Pulled from Airwaves...

In one of the latest episodes of derangement in St Louis, we see that J.C.Corcoran seems to have finally lost it.

He's a local (some say, has-been) radio jockey who recently repudiated Archbishop Burke and the Catholic Church (See these posts).

From local TV station KSDK, we read:

KSDK - A local radio personality has been taken off the air for comments he made about Ameren executives.

J.C. Corcoran was upset his power went out during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Corcoran had some choice words for Ameren executives during his Monday show on KHITS 96.

He made reference to one of the company's Vice President's, Richard Mark, who is African-American.

"Yeah, that's right," said Corcoran. "I am running the power company over here. It's like a black power thing. You get it, that's my junk man. Get it, black power."

Corcoran also expressed his anger with Ameren's public relations department using a term describing male anatomy.

He then took comments a step further by saying, "You publicity obsessed public relations nightmare people, who I swear I am going to get on top of your building with an AK-47 and just start picking people off."

Thomas Voss, the Chief Executive Officer of Ameren says Corcoran's comments were inappropriate.

"You know the violence comment, was just totally inappropriate especially coming after a weekend of violence across the country," said Voss. "We had the shootings in Chicago, the killings in Chicago, the shooting in Chesterfield. It was on the minds of everyone. Then, to come out and make a statement like that on Monday morning was just totally inappropriate."

Ameren says they have increased security and St. Louis police are investigating.

Ameren has filed a complaint with KHITS 96.

A vice president at KHITS told NewsChannel 5's Cordell Whitlock, Corcoran was pulled from the air Thursday morning and station executives are deciding their next move.

KSDK Link here. You can hear his 'rage' as he mocks Ameren's Vice President, Richard Mark, in some wild, deranged "Afro-speak."

And his comments about killing people with an AK-47 were beyond reprehensible. As reported before, this man seeems to have no problem expressing bigotry and this only confirms a virulent hypocrisy...

Another soul for whom to pray, especially during this season of Lent...May God grant him the graces to soften his heart.

HT to Patty for the link.

Fox 2 News Reports - Wilful Distortions?

One needs to watch this entire ‘interview’ until the end, paying attention to the question that the anchor asks 'reporter' April Simpson at the end of the segment.

He asks if she has seen any sign of the supporters of Archbishop Burke at the scene and she replies “No”!

One of our dear friends reports:
Folks, I WATCHED this interview take place from not more than 40 feet away. I was WITH the supporters of Archbishop Burke praying the Rosary as this interview was conducted. Ms Simpson knew we were there. She came and interviewed one of us!

This certainly places the credibility of KTVI Fox 2 in question. We can only wonder how many more of Simpson's reports or Fox's newscasts are also factually 'inaccurate'.

See the video here - and don't expect the truth - either from Bozek or Simpson....And notice the red "Save St Stans" buttons which identify the Bozek supporters.

Grateful appreciation to Mark S. for the update!

From the Latin Liturgy Association posted at Credo St Louis:

Our friends at the Latin Liturgy Association have sent the following update many Credo members will want to know about.


January 21, 2008

Dear LLA members and friends of the Latin Mass,

So much has been happening in the St. Louis-Belleville area since Pope Benedict’s moto proprio went into effect on Sept. 14, 2007, that I thought an update was in order. There are, to my knowledge, five different locations where one may regularly assist at the “extraordinary use” Latin Mass in the St. Louis archdiocese:

1. St. Francis de Sales Oratory, in the city of St. Louis, where our last LLA convention was held. The Oratory now publishes their weekly bulletins on-line, so that you may check on special Masses during the week, as well as the Sunday schedule.

2. Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine, in Creve Coeur, MO, on the campus of St. Anselm’s/St. Louis Abbey/St. Louis Priory High School. Daily (7:30 a.m.) and Sunday (7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.) Masses. (Photo is incorrect—Mass is offered in the Parish Center chapel)

3. Assumption Parish in south St. Louis County on Mattese Rd. Weekly Sunday Latin Mass at 3:00 p.m.

4. St. Joseph Parish (Apple Creek) and St. Maurus (Biehle, MO) rotate offering the Sunday Latin Mass at 11:15 a.m.

5. Little Flower Church in Richmond Heights, MO, at 9:15 a.m. every Sunday, usually offered by Father James Rodis, formerly of St. Agatha’s Church. (The front of the bulletin, showing the Mass schedule, is not included on-line).

In addition to the above list, the seminarians at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary regularly celebrate the Latin Mass in both forms (ordinary and extraordinary uses). Call the seminary at 314-792-6100 for the current schedule.

In the Belleville diocese, the extraordinary use Latin Mass continues to be offered every Sunday at 9:00 a.m. at Holy Family Log Church. The Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest is now overseeing these Masses. Father William Avis is the usual celebrant.

Additionally, the once-a-month Latin Mass continues at Sacred Heart Church in DuQuoin, IL at 11:00 a.m. on the third Sunday of the month.

This [Sacred Heart --ed] is where our next LLA chapter meeting will be, on Sunday, April 20, 2008. We will attend the 11:00 a.m. Mass, and adjourn to Alongi’s Italian restaurant for lunch and a business meeting. A meeting notice, with detailed map and directions will be sent to all LLA members in mid-March.


It gives me great pleasure to announce that Monsignor John F. McCarthy, who celebrated Vespers for us during the convention, has been authorized by His Excellency, Archbishop Burke, to offer the Latin Mass, according to the ordinary usage (Novus Ordo) at St. Mary of Victories Church in downtown St. Louis (corner of Third St. and Gratiot), beginning on the first Sunday of Lent, February 10, 2008. The time will be at 9:30 a.m., so that it will not interfere with the English/Hungarian Mass at 11:30 a.m. Father Brian W. Harrison, OS, will be the usual celebrant. Worship aids will be provided, using the Ignatius Press publication, “The Mass of Vatican II” for the Latin responses.

I encourage all LLA members who are able, to attend the inaugural Mass on Feb. 10, as a show of support for this most historic “next step” in guiding Masses of the ordinary usage to a more reverent and holy celebration in the St. Louis archdiocese.

Yours truly,
Regina Morris, Chairman
LLA St. Louis-Belleville Chapter

Gospel for Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Old Calendar: St. Romuald, abbot

From: Luke 9:22-25

First Prophecy of the Passion

(Jesus said to His disciples), [22] "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."

The Need for Self-Denial

[23] And He said to all, "If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. [24] For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake, he will save it. [25] For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?"


22. Jesus prophesied His passion and death in order to help His disciples believe in Him. It also showed that He was freely accepting these sufferings He would undergo. "Christ did not seek to be glorified: He chose to come without glory in order to undergo suffering; and you, who have been born without glory, do you wish to be glorified? The route you must take is the one Christ took. This means recognizing Him and it means imitating Him both in His ignominy and in His good repute; thus you will glory in the Cross, which was His path to glory. That was what Paul did, and therefore he gloried in saying, `Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Galatians 6:14)" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.").

23. "Christ is saying this again, to us, whispering it in our ears: the cross EACH DAY. As St. Jerome puts it: `Not only in time of persecution or when we have the chance of martyrdom, but in all circumstances, in everything we do and think, in everything we say, let us deny what we used to be and let us confess what we now are, reborn as we have been in Christ' ("Epistola" 121, 3) [...]. Do you see? The DAILY cross. No day without a cross; not a single day in which we are not to carry the cross of the Lord, in which we are not to accept His yoke" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 58 and 176). "There is no doubt about it: a person who loves pleasure, who seeks comfort, who flies from anything that might spell suffering, who is over-anxious, who complains, who blames and who becomes impatient at the least little thing which does not go his way--a person like that is a Christian only in name; he is only a dishonor to his religion for Jesus Christ has said so: Anyone who wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross every day of his life, and follow Me" (St. John Mary Vianney, "Selected Sermons", Ash Wednesday).

The Cross should be present not only in the life of every Christian but also at the crossroads of the world: "How beautiful are those crosses on the summits of high mountains, and crowning great monuments, and on the pinnacles of cathedrals...! But the Cross must also be inserted in the very heart of the world.

"Jesus wants to be raised on high, there in the noise of the factories and workshops, in the silence of libraries, in the loud clamor of the streets, in the stillness of the fields, in the intimacy of the family, in crowded gatherings, in stadiums.... Wherever there is a Christian striving to lead an honorable life, he should, with his love, set up the Cross of Christ, who attracts all things to Himself" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way of the Cross", XI, 3).

25. By this radical statement Jesus teaches us to do everything with a view to eternal life: it is well worth while to devote our entire life on earth to attaining eternal life. "We have been warned that it profits man nothing if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself. Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectance of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come. That is why, although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress clearly from the increase of the Kingdom of Christ, such progress is of vital concern to the Kingdom of God, insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human society" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 39).
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, February 06, 2008

Just for Today, February 7

From the hour of My birth till My expiring on the cross, I was never without suffering.
-Bk. III, ch. xviii.

Our Lord has always spoiled me. It is true that I have never been without the cross since I was in my cradle, but He has given me the grace to love the cross with my whole heart.
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 7

Among the gifts of grace which the soul re­ceives in Holy Communion there is one that must be numbered among the highest. It is, that Holy Communion does not permit the soul to remain long in sin, nor to obstinately persevere in it.
-­St. Ignatius
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 February 7, The Spirit of Prayer

All spiritual writers agree that few souls succeed in acquiring the spirit of prayer because few souls have the courage to renounce themselves completely.

Why are there so few contemplative men? asks the author of the Imitation (Bk. iii, 31.) He answers: Because there are few souls who know how to separate themselves wholly from perishable and created things. Many are found to desire contemplation, but they make it not their aim to practice those things which are required thereunto. It is a great hindrance that we have but little of perfect mortification.

Alvarez de paz, (famous mystic of the Society of Jesus), says: "The gift of contemplation is subordinated to the practice of mortification. This is a curious thing; we meet many excellent souls among religious, priests, and even lay people, but why do so few of them have the gift of prayer, - so few who enjoy the light of contemplation? It is because contemplation re­quires a serious and persevering practice of mortification. And how very small is the number of those who renounce themselves; very small too, is the number of those who penetrate into the divine cellar to drink of the wine of celestial communion."

It is not so much a question of exterior mortification as of in­terior renunciation; likewise it is not so much a question of the sweetness of consolation in prayer as of a deep interior union with God such as the Lord gives to those who refuse Him nothing.

"Lord, if You judge it opportune, open to me the secrets of Your Heart; I want to make in myself a perfect void that You can fill my soul completely. Help me in this double task of emptying my heart of self and of filling it with You. You are my Master, I give You all."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Updates on the Bozek Matter...

...from the Post-Dispatch:

The Rev. Marek Bozek was firm with his supporters Tuesday morning. They were assembled outside the Catholic Center on Lindell Boulevard to pray, he told them. They were not there to antagonize St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke. They were not there to argue with Burke's supporters across the courtyard. They were to pray the rosary.

And so they did. Minutes later, as Bozek was led to a conference room in the rectory at the Cathedral Basilica, 250 of his parishioners and friends waited for him in the rain, praying for his fate.
250 confused souls - 250 people who have been led astray by a man whose vows to Christ and His Church are meaningless - worth nothing.

[Archbishop] Burke has set March 5 as the date for a final meeting with Bozek. Burke said he would begin the process of returning Bozek to the status of layman, or laicization, if the priest does not repent at that meeting.
"This can't go on," said Burke "The matters are very clear, and you don't have to be a savant to figure it out … I'll give him another month, but that's the end. That's the limit."

Archbishop Burke has demonstrated more patience than most, it would appear to me. This rebellion of Marek Bozek's has been going on for over two years. And Bozek has been hearing confessions, and performing marriages and confirmations - all of which are INVALID....and those who have succumbed to this travesty of sacramental chicanery are victims, some even willingly - and the rupture and division brought about by the pride and disobedience of Marek Bozek is a grave scandal in the Church, particularly in St Louis.

At the hearing Tuesday morning, Bozek said he met with Burke and six other archdiocesan officials, most of them canon lawyers.

Bozek said he was allowed to peruse a "dossier the size of three encyclopedias of my crimes" and did so for almost half an hour. He said the dossier contained transcripts of every radio and television interview the priest had granted and documents going back to his youth in Poland, including photos of his baptism.

"This attests to one of two things," Bozek said in an interview at a lunch with his supporters after his hearing with Burke. "They think I'm either extremely important, or they are extremely afraid of me."

Those so consumed with the deadly sin of pride to such an extent as this are incapable of seeing the obvious truth - Bozek is not "extremely important," except in his own mind, nor is anyone "extremely afraid of him." The Church is concerned for the salvation of others' souls which Bozek arrogantly puts at risk by his rebellion and defiance.

The Archdiocese, no doubt, has put together a complete record of Bozek and his activities for his canonical trial, should it come to that. It's laughable, though, to even imagine, that anyone at the Archbdiocese is "afraid" of this man.

"Seemingly (Bozek) recognizes the error of his ways and recognizes that he needs to repent, but he doesn't do that," said Burke. "He puts forth conditions, and we don't do that with God. When we recognize we've offended God seriously, we repent and we make reparation. We don't say, 'I'll repent, but first I need these four things.'"
Bozek's actions are the same as those of all other arrogant and prideful individuals - deluded by the promises and wiles of the evil one, they think that they can make deals with the Almighty. the Post Dispatch.

Gospel for Ash Wednesday

From: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

An Upright Intention in Almsgiving, Prayer and Fasting

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [1] "Beware of practising your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in Heaven. [2] "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as thehypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. [3] But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, [4] so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

[5] "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. [6] But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

[16] "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. [17] But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, [18] that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."


1-18. "Piety", here, means good works (cf. note on Matthew 5:6). Our Lord is indicating the kind of spirit in which we should do acts of personal piety. Almsgiving, fasting and prayer were the basic forms taken by personal piety among the chosen people--which is why Jesus refers to these three subjects. With complete authority He teaches that true piety must be practised with an upright intention, in the presence of God and without any ostentation. Piety practised in this way implies exercising our faith in God who sees us--and also in the safe knowledge that He will reward those who are sincerely devout.

5-6. Following the teaching of Jesus, the Church has always taught us to pray even when we were infants. By saying "you" (singular) our Lord is stating quite unequivocally the need for personal prayer--relating as child to Father, alone with God.

Public prayer, for which Christ's faithful assemble together, is something necessary and holy; but it should never displace obedience to this clear commandment of our Lord: "When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father".

The Second Vatican Council reminds us of the teaching and practice of the Church in its liturgy, which is "the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows [...]. The spiritual life, however, is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy. The Christian is indeed called to pray with others, but he must also enter into his bedroom to pray to his Father in secret; furthermore, according to the teaching of the Apostle, he must pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)" ("Sacrosanctum Concilium", 10 and 12).

A soul who really puts his Christian faith into practice realizes that he needs frequently to get away and pray alone to his Father, God. Jesus, who gives us this teaching about prayer, practised it during His own life on earth: the holy Gospel reports that He often went apart to pray on His own: "At times He spent the whole night in an intimate conversation with His Father. The Apostles were filled with love when they saw Christ pray" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 119; cf. Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; etc.). The Apostles followed the Master's example, and so we see Peter going up to the rooftop of the house to pray in private, and receiving a revelation (cf. Acts 10:9-16). "Our life of prayer should also be based on some moments that are dedicated exclusively to our conversation with God, moments of silent dialogue" ("ibid", 119).

16-18. Starting from the traditional practice of fasting, our Lord tells us the spirit in which we should exercise mortification of our senses: we should do so without ostentation, avoiding praise, discreetly; that way Jesus' words will not apply to us: "they have their reward"; it would have been a very bad deal. "The world admires only spectacular sacrifice, because it does not realize the value of sacrifice that is hidden and silent" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 185).
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, February 05, 2008

Lenten Reflection, Pride, the First Capital Sin

"Now when he had risen from the dead early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalen, out of whom he had cast seven devils." St. Mark, 16:9.

No doubt many have seen the movie, "King of Kings." Produced years ago by Cecil De Mille, and shown throughout the country, the film is an understanding and respectful life of Christ, the King of kings. Many scenes are dramatic and stirring.

One of the most interesting parts of the play is that which pictures Mary Magdalen meeting our Lord for the first time. She came to Christ - ­a sinner; she left - a saint. She came - proud, sensual, and vain; she left­ - humble and mortified. She came - guilty; she left - forgiven. It was intensely interesting to see how this change took place.

Christ merely looks at Mary, looks into her very soul. And that look of our Lord softens her proud heart. She draws back some distance. She cannot bear that sad, loving look. The struggle in her soul is clearly shown in the picture. Each in its turn, the seven deadly sins come in the guise of devils and whisper into the ear of Magdalen. Each in turn is repulsed by her, as she drinks in grace from the gaze of Christ. The devil of pride and the devil of avarice, together with the devils of lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth, are firmly brushed aside. Finally Mary is free of her old tempters. In shame she drops her head. In modesty she covers her half­-nude body. She rushes to Christ and falls at His feet. There she secures the forgiveness for which her entire being is crying out.

Like Mary Magdalen, we also are beset and enslaved by at least some if not all of these same death-dealing devils, the seven capital sins. It is not our privilege to look into the physical face of Jesus, as she did. Never­theless, we can go before Christ present in the tabernacle, and by faith look into His face as He looks into our hearts. We should plan to do just that during this Lent. We want to consider the seven deadly or capital sins. We want to let the grace of God work in us as it did in Magdalen. Gradually we will gain the grace to cast off, as she did, our habits of pride, avarice, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth.

We call these the seven capital sins because each is a source and seed from which all other sins proceed. They are the seven principal devils who deal out spiritual death. They are the seven principal diseases of the soul, the causes of all spiritual sickness. Christ drove them out of Mary Mag­dalen; He will drive them out of us, as we come into His Eucharistic presence during these Lenten days of penance and prayer. May the love of Christ drive out these seven sources of sin - His greatest enemies and our greatest enemies.

1. The first capital sin and leader of them all is pride, which means an unregulated opinion and love of one's own excellence. The proud man con­siders himself greater and more important than he really is. He thinks he has some greatness which actually does not belong to him. The proud man considers himself more than he is in the eyes of God. He forgets that he is a creature; he forgets that all his gifts have come from God. It is a vice that can creep into any heart.

The following story is told of the famous preacher Abraham of Santa Clara. One day a lady came to him tearfully bewailing the fact that she was the greatest of all sinners. She told the illustrious pulpit orator that no one could compare with her in the number and seriousness of spiritual crimes. The wise Father Abraham knew that this lady was always praying in church. In his good sense and experience with souls he saw at once that this lady was accusing herself and humbling herself, not out of true humil­ity, but from deep-rooted pride. He knew that one who is truly humble does not display her humility. Accordingly he told her:

"It is much to be regretted that you publish the fact that you are such a great sinner. I do not wish to have anything to do with an individual who proclaims herself to be the greatest sinner in the world."

At this the would-be humble one became very angry and exclaimed:
"Who can say a word against me? I have done nothing wrong. I spend the greater part of my time in church. I fast frequently, and perform other good works."

The preacher smiled, bowed, and left. That woman was proud. She had a high opinion of herself. She considered herself better than others. She displayed one of the signs of pride.

2. Pride shows itself in various ways:

A. By giving to oneself the credit for all the good one has and all the good one does. All our talents, all our blessings, are from God. To Him belongs the credit.­

B. By disobedience to lawful authority, and by insisting on one's own will in everything or most things. In our day of license this is a common occurrence. We do have freedom, but freedom does not mean that we can do anything we want. Obedience to the laws of God's Church and to the laws of the land is still our duty. To con­sider oneself above such laws and directions and regulations is a mark of the proud man.

C. By stubborn unwillingness to consider or to cooperate with the desires and plans of others. How often we find this type of pride in our homes and places of work. Such a simple thing as planning a picnic may make the proud man or woman insist on what he or she wants as to time and place and food and the form of fun to be enjoyed on that outing.

D. By refusing advice or assistance. Pity the man who will never ask for advice. Double pity on the man who never seeks spiritual or religious advice. Many more Catholics, especially the young, should ask their spiritual leaders, their priests, about their plans with regard to a vocation or to marriage or some other important step in life. The man who tries to travel an unknown wilderness or to scale the Alps without a competent guide is no more senseless than the Cath­olic who refuses to ask and accept advice on his spiritual path through life.

E. By growing impatient at correction by lawful authorities. It does hurt our pride to be told that we have done wrong or have made a mistake. It hurts our pride to take directions and orders from others. When a young person, for example, refuses to accept the advice and admonition of his or her parents or teachers, he proves himself a proud person. In the pulpit and in the confessional your priests have to correct, and point out what is wrong. A proud person will resent such correction.

Two young fellows were once arguing about what day Christmas would fall on that year. One maintained that it would be Wednesday. The other stoutly asserted that it would come on Thursday. After a great deal of heated debate and betting of hundreds of dollars, they decided to consult a calendar, only to learn that it would fall on Friday. Both were wrong. Did they admit it? Not on your life. The Wednesday debater laughed:
"Oh, I knew it was Friday all the time."

And the Thursday fellow declared that he was one day closer than the other to the actual day. How often such scenes take place in our homes and offices.

F. By looking down upon and criticizing others, The lady with a new hat will look down upon the woman wearing last year's headgear. The woman with the new bonnet should not take the credit to her­self. She should give it to the ostrich who supplied the feathers and to the milliner who designed and made the hat.

The same holds for the critic. Pointing out the faults of others is one of the easiest and trickiest habits to fall into. Whether the action we criticize is intentional or not, we do not know what caused the person to do it, how much he was tempted, and how often.

G. By boasting and bragging about our accomplishments. Knowing that people despise a bragger, the proud man will find clever ways of letting it be known what wonders he has performed.

Here we must point out that there is such a thing as just pride. We should have a reasonable pride in our appearance, in our family, our school, our work, and above all in our Church. It is the right kind of pride when we strive to excel in our studies, in our profes­sion or in our trade.

H. By ignoring, forgetting and passing over our own faults. What a miserable wretch is the fellow who never admits a fault, who blinds himself to the mistakes he has made, who even thinks that he cannot make a mistake.

I. By an unreasonable fear of failure. Some Catholics never can make up their minds to attempt anything worthwhile, because they are senselessly afraid that they might fail and others might laugh. This is one reason many young people never make a start in some profes­sion or career, a frequent reason many boys and girls do not tryout a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life. At bottom it is a proud fear of failure, in addition to a lack of self denial.

J. By being needlessly concerned about the impression we are making on others. Why worry what others think, as long as you are doing your best and looking your reasonable best. In general, other people bother about us much less than we think. There are other ways in which pride shows itself, but these I mentioned are the most com­mon.

3. Pride is definitely a sin:

A. It was the first sin committed in heaven and on earth. It was the sin of Lucifer who shouted:
"I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." (Isaias, 14:13).
It was the sin of our first parents who ate of the forbidden tree because Satan promised that it would make them like God.

B. For that very reason pride is the greatest sin - it is aimed directly against God, and is the breeding place of all other vices. How much God hates this vice the Bible tells us:
i. "God resists the proud." 1 Peter, 5:5.

ii. "I will not give my glory to another." Isaias, 42:8.

iii. "Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled." Luke, 18:14.

C. Pride is also the most dangerous vice, because it is so natural and sly. One can easily be tricked into thinking one is better than others. It is dangerous also because it leads to other sins, as Sacred Scrip­ture declares:
"From pride all perdition took its beginning." Tobias, 4:14.

"Pride goes before destruction." Proverbs, 16:18.

4. Suppose you suspect that you are proud, that you are guilty of one of these ways in which pride betrays itself. What can you do about it?

A. Study the life of our Lord, especially His forty days of penance and prayer during that first Lent. Recall His humility all through life, particularly during His passion and death. Look at our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemani, and listen to His prayer: "Not my will, but thine be done."

B. Read and imitate the lives of the saints. They were all humble souls, no matter what they had accomplished for the Lord, no matter what their success, what their virtues, and what their position.

C. Consider the emptiness of created things. How empty is fame, how empty is praise, how empty the little satisfactions we get from boast­ing and criticizing.

D. Remember that you came from nothing, you are nothing, and you
can do nothing, except in so far as God helps you.

E. Realize the hatred and dislike that God has for pride, and how He has punished the proud: pride plunged Lucifer from the heights of heaven; pride brought on the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel; pride brought defeat to Pharao and to Goliath; pride reduced Nabuchodonosor to the condition of an animal; pride drew Christ's divine criticism upon the Pharisees and the Scribes.

F. See the beauty and the excellence of humility, as the Book of Prov­erbs, 11:2, tells us:
"Where humility is, there also is wisdom."

5. The best way to overcome pride is to learn the meaning, the value, and the necessity of humility, the foundation of all other virtues. Humility is that virtue which teaches us to look on all good as coming from God. If we could only get this thought into our living - everything worthwhile is from God. Essentially humility is the truth, and the truth is that all we have is from God.

6. True humility brings in its train many virtues pleasing to God. Among them we might mention:
A. Meekness and gentleness.
B. Confidence and trust in God alone.
C. Charity and genuine sympathy.
D. Sorrow for our sins and the sins of the world.
E. Deep gratitude to God for all His gifts.

7. How does humility prove itself? How can I be sure that I am prac­tising this essential virtue? It is proven by­:

A. Ready obedience to superiors, whether it be at home, at school, at work, in your parish, or in public life. Christ gives the perfect exam­ple of such obedience. He was obedient even unto death.

B. Yielding your opinion to that of others, even in unimportant matters, such as come up constantly in daily life.

C. Moderation and modesty in the way you dress, in the carriage of your body, in the tone of your voice, and in the expression of your opinions.

D. Willingness and readiness to ask advice and to accept it when given.

E. Gentleness and kindness in our dealings with others, especially with those who are inferior in social status, education, wealth, or talents. Christ continually showed gentleness toward the sick and the poor and the outcast.

F. Willingness to do big and little favors for others that take time and effort on our part. Look at Christ. Nothing was too much for Him, when it was a question of doing good to someone.

G. Keeping calm and undisturbed amid insults, misfortunes, delays, and interference with our plans and programs. Look at our Lord during His passion and death. How patient, how uncomplaining, how for­giving.

H. Accepting humiliations when they come. This is extremely impor­tant. There can be no humility without humiliations, and humilia­tions come every day. A correction by a teacher, a mistake in making change, even a breach of etiquette, can be an occasion for practicing humility. Christ accepted the bitterest humiliations, not because He deserved them, but because He wanted to take them in our place.

I. Avoiding praise of oneself and of one's accomplishments.

J. Performing humble tasks, whether they are in our everyday line of duty, or whether we must go out of our way to perform them.

This point is illustrated by a story from the beginning of the last century. A well-dressed young man bought several things at a store, and asked for a boy to carry them home for him. The clerk told him they had no boy at the time, and that the packages could be easily carried. "What!" exclaimed the youth, "Carry them myself? Don't you know that I belong to one of the oldest families in Vir­ginia ?"

Just then an elderly, distinguished looking gentleman stepped up, took the packages, and said:
"Come on, I'll carry them for you."

On reaching his home, the young man wanted to pay his elderly helper, but the gentleman refused with these words:
"I did not carry them for money."

The young man asked someone standing near who the old man was. The bystander replied:
"Why, that is John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court."

The surprised young man had the good sense to take the lesson in humility.

8. In a similar way the supreme lesson in humility is taught us as our Lord carries the cross for us, as He submits to ridicule and torture, as He dies the humiliating death on a cross.

9. As we enter this sacred season of Lent Mother Church puts ashes on our brow to remind us of our humble origin and to remind us of what will be­come of all earthly things - they will turn to dust. What a lesson in humility!

10. They tell of a very bright boy who always knew his lessons perfectly, who was well-behaved and courteous at all times. He was the pride and joy of his teacher, a discerning person who did not want her pupil to become unreasonably proud. She brought to class one day two pictures­ - one of Jesus talking to the doctors in the temple and answering all their questions, the other a picture of Jesus hanging in death upon the cross.

At once the bright boy saw the point. There was Jesus, who knew all things, who could do all things, yet who humbled Himself to a shameful death upon the cross.

May Christ's humility drive out our pride, as His love and grace drove pride from the heart of Mary Magdalen. Amen.
Adapted from Lent and the Capital Sins
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1952)

Just for Today, February 6

O Lord God, my holy lover, when Thou shalt come into my heart, all that is within me will be filled with joy. Thou art my hope and my refuge in: the day of my tribulation; But because I am as yet weak in love and imperfect in virtue, therefore do I stand in need of being strengthened and comforted by Thee. For this reason visit me often, and instruct me in Thy holy discipline; Free me from evil passions, and heal my mind of all disorderly affections: that being healed and well purified in my interior, I may become fit to love, courageous to suffer and constant to persevere.
- Bk. III, ch. v.

You are making a great mistake if you think of me as advancing bravely along the path of self-sacrifice. Every day I learn by experience how weak I am, but Our Lord has taught me how to glory in my infirmities (II Cor. xi). I have asked Him to give you also this great grace which brings true peace to the soul. One turns away from the sight of one's own wretchedness to look only at Jesus Christ.

You ask me what are the means for attaining per­fection, but I only know of one: Love. Our hearts having been made for love, let us then love. I sometimes try to find a better word than love, but in this land of exile the word that has a beginning and an end is quite inadequate to express a spiritual experience, and so one has to be content with the one word: Love.

But to whom shall we give the love of our hearts, who is worthy of such a treasure? Is there any human being capable of appreciating it, and giving us some return? Only Our Lord can do this, and He gives in return infinitely more than we can ever give Him.
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 6

That which would have easily been remedied at first, becomes incurable by time and habit.

- ­St. Ignatius
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 February 6. The Spirit of Proprietorship

Gandhi, the celebrated Hindu nationalist leader, had decided that in order to be a leader, he would have to lead a life as inde­pendent as possible of physical comforts. But he was not long in realizing that he must continually defend himself against the ever­ increasing demands of nature. At the beginning, nature demanded very little, this little gradually increased until it reached alarming proportions.

We are like the solitary of the fable: with the intention of keep­ing the rats from his cell he got a cat; but what would he give the cat to drink? Where would he find milk? He got a cow, and finally ended by getting a man to take care of the cow. That was the end of his solitude.

This story holds a valuable lesson for us. Isn't that trifle which I want very insignificant in itself? Of course, but be careful; this trifle will induce me to acquire other trifles, and going from one thing to another I will end by having real riches. Would I then be practicing perfection in poverty?

What a contradiction! Here I am a proprietor, I possess riches, or rather they possess me. I am their slave.

During my retreat I made an inventory of all my little posses­sions, some very minor riches, which in spite of my vow of poverty, I have accumulated, making a little estate of them. Have I taken anything back since that time, and was I really sincere in getting rid of my useless possessions? Nothing means nothing. I must aim at having nothing.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Bozek's 'Deal' to Archbishop Burke Expires in 72 hours...

What a guy!

ST. LOUIS -- After an hour-long meeting with St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke Tuesday morning, the Rev. Marek Bozek, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka church, told 250 supporters outside the Catholic Center on Lindell Blvd. that he'd made an offer to Burke during their meeting.

Bozek, 32, handed out copies of a letter he'd presented Burke stating that if the archbishop were to "revoke all canonical penalties...i.e. the penalty of interdict, the penalty of excommunication, the suppression of the Parish," promise to keep St. Stanislaus open, provide the parish with a priest and "respect the current status quo of the governance of the ownership title and temporary goods" of the church, Bozek would "seriously consider" leaving St. Stanislaus and returning to his own diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau "or live monastic life in a Benedictine Abbey of my choice." He also said he would be willing to repent and publicly apologize as Burke has requested.

Bozek gave the archbishop 72 hours to accept his offer. Burke's reaction, Bozek said later at a lunch with his supporters, "was negative."
Bozek knows he has no grounds to fight laicization and seeks a one-sided "reconciliation" in a publicized effort to prolong the inevitable, all while seeking support from more confused people.

Archbishop Burke's statement (Text and Video) can be seen here.
He says, in part:

This situation of Rev. Marek Bozek is a matter that weighs heavily on my heart. As Archbishop of St. Louis, it is my responsibility to safeguard the unity of the Catholic Church and protect the souls of the faithful.

I have met with Rev. Marek Bozek, who works for the St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation. What transpired during that meeting is meant to remain personal between Rev. Bozek and myself. The purpose of the meeting was to indicate the ways Rev. Bozek has broken communion with the Church, and to insist Rev. Bozek to return to his home diocese and seek reconciliation with the Catholic Church.

The situation of Rev. Bozek is sad for the whole Church. It is cause of great concern for me as Archbishop. Please join me in praying that Rev. Bozek will be reconciled with the Church and that the great harm which has been caused to the Church, with the help of God's grace, will be healed.
We could not agree more. It's sad that Bozek chose to make this event a public spectacle. Such actions are not indicative of a man who wishes reconciliation or repentance.

Pope mandates change in traditional Good Friday prayer

Vatican, Feb. 5, 2008 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) has revised the prayer for the conversion of Jews in the traditional form of the Good Friday liturgy.
Some Jewish leaders had urged the Pope to revise the text of the Good Friday prayer in the traditional liturgy, which had referred to the "blindness" of the Jewish people-- a reference that many Jews considered offensive. Some critics of the traditional prayer also called for the removal of an intercession for the conversion of the Jews.

The newly revised text eliminates the reference to blindness, but retains the prayer for the conversion of the Jews....