Monthly Archives: June 2010
On June 22nd the Church remembered St. Thomas More, a martyr of the faith.
Thomas More is particularly relevant to our time because besides being a scholar, philosopher and author he was a highly successful and influential politician. Born in a wealthy family, he rose to the top of the English political establishment through intelligence, competence and honesty. These virtues were also what put a premature end to his life, as he preferred to die on the scaffold rather than compromise his allegiance to Jesus and His Church.
Let us reflect on this: he who had become the most powerful man in King Henry’s government, respected and privileged, wealthy to the point of having his own zoo, freely chooses to die rather than adjust his beliefs to the political climate of the times. Granted, he had always been an extremely religious person – and had played with the idea of monastic life in his youth – and the writer does not suggest that heroic virtue to the point of self-sacrifice be taken as the ordinary standard of a politician.
Still, people like Thomas More (and Bishop John Fisher, put to death for the same reason and canonised together with him) are a sober reminder of the scale of betrayal of Christian values daily perpetrated by people like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and the multitude of other politicians calling themselves Catholic whilst trampling upon everything Catholicism represents.
Thomas More is the more relevant today, because today’s politicians are the more distant from His probity and courage. He puts the Pelosis and Bidens of this world to great and greatly deserved shame.
It is that day again. June 21st, that is. As every year, hordes of alternative people will descend on Stonehenge to feel part of something they probably don’t know anything about but perceive as being someway “cool”. Many more will not converge on Stonehenge but will go on endlessly with their far too patient friends about some kind of strange now-recovered religiosity formerly oppressed by those most cruel of all people, the Christians.
As every year, we will watch the endless procession of middle-aged single leftist women (regularly divorced or who never got the opportunity to divorce in the first place) seeking for that elusive specimen called the “feminist man” (they don’t call it that way, though; we do); young alternative girls from third rate universities desperately trying to get an identity and an ego boost; males from the same looking for easy prey among the former; and in general the entire horde of people for whom a whiff of second-hand “spirituality” is a good way to have some “fun” (read: get drunk).
In time, some of them will discover that all this is but a fix of a light spiritual drug, utterly unable to quench their thirst. Some others will, sadly, never learn and spend the rest of their days in a haze of wrong and easy spirituality – this is the key word: easy -, jumping from one alternative religion to the other every time that the initial excitement has vanished and every time swearing that this time they have really found the way. Others still will, even more sadly, never care for all this and just look for the booze and the opportunity to socialise (read: get someone in the sack or try to persuade some oldish chap to spend his remaining years fathering your children; if he earns more than their natural father, that is).
All this would be rather funny if looked at with the amused eye with which those who got in contact with the Truth observe the follies of this world. Still, we Catholics must recognise that the Catholic Clergy is not without fault in all this. The abysmal catechesis of the last decades has created a situation in which millions of Catholics (some of them, in their way, serious truth seekers) are left in the dark about Catholicism in such an appalling way that they turn to other experiences out of simple ignorance of the richness and greatness of the Catholic doctrine. It is not that they refuse the Church. They have simply never been taught to accept Her, have never been put in contacts with the vastness of Her message, with the answers She provides, with the Wisdom She imparts. Common places and vague, easy aspirations for “peace ‘n justice” is all they got instead. It is sad, but not surprising that of those people gathering in Stonehenge today, a non insignificant number will be cradle Catholics.
What a waste, what a disgrace and what an accusation against the countless priests and bishops who have deserted their posts in the fight for Catholic values and folded the banner of Truth to embrace that of convenience, political correctness and shallow, easy popularity.
Catholicism is not about telling what people want to hear, it is about telling what people do not want to hear but is good for them. Stonehenge is, in part, the result of the utter failure of the English Catholic clergy to live up to this simple fact.
I have written some time ago about the lost and now slowly rediscovered solemnity and pomp of papal appearances. I read today from His Hermeneuticalness ‘s blog that the Papal tiara donated by members of the Belgian Court to Pius IX in 1871 could be used during the Papal visit to the UK.
This is good news for more than one reason. Firstly, it shows that Pope Benedict is – would be, might be – determined to give back to the Papacy the dignity which belongs to such a high and sacred office. Secondly, it is a beautiful reminder that not everything must be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator of shallow mass TV audiences. Thirdly and probably most importantly, it shows the will to proceed in a determined way with such a symbolic recovery of papal authority in the country where such authority is most likely to be aggressively fought against.
If the papal tiara is really used during the UK visit, this will be a clear sign that the Holy Father intends to visit the United Kingdom not in a defensive spirit – that is: merely trying to minimise the damage made by the inevitably loud protesters – but with a clear pastoral intent: to refuse to bow down to the rhetoric of the mediocre and the populism of the hypocrites and to show the Greatness, Holiness, Truth and Universality of the Only Church in an assertive and unashamed way.
The Britons – very much fond of ceremonies – will rapidly get the symbolism of the papal tiara and rightly see in its use a show of authority and a claim to spiritual supremacy to which they are not accustomed. They will be perhaps surprised at first but I do trust that, on reflection, they will understand the message. Some will like it and some other won’t, but no one will be able to ignore it.
Let us hope that Pope Benedict will listen to the advice of some of his more conservative minded counsellors and resolve to take a step toward the restoration of assertive Catholicism.
We had more than enough populism during the Pontificate of his predecessor. More than enough shows of humility which became humiliations. More than enough playing down the authority of the Pope. Now is the time for assertiveness, for conservative and undiluted Catholicism, for the return to what is right rather than popular.
The so-called bishop Schori (a so-called “woman bishop” from the Episcopalian so-called church in the USA) is visiting England. On occasion of her stop by the Southwark Cathedral – where she was allowed to preach the new gospel of political correctness to the usual “inclusive” audience – she was, as reported among others by Father Z, not allowed to wear her mitre but forced to carry it instead. This is because whilst she sees herself as a full-fledged “bishopess” the so-called church of England – belonging, mind, to the same Anglican Community – apparently doesn’t. This episode is a beautiful reminder of what happens when a so-called church is, not being the Only Church, consequently not helped by the Holy Ghost.
In the wonderful world of Anglicanism – where everyone believes what he pleases whilst at the same time maintaining that they are one, ehem, church and calling this “broadmindedness” or better still, “diversity” – Ms Schori is so many things to so many people that one almost becomes vertiginous. For the more conservative Anglicans of Catholic sympathies she is neither a priest nor a deacon; for others she is not a priest, but merely a deacon; others still think that she is a priest but, alas, not a bishop; and for a last group of very “inclusive” members she is a bishop, even if their spiritual head disagrees with that.
And all this, believe it or not, within the same soi-disant “church”. Funny, isn’t it?
Anglicanism is the most similar thing I have ever seen to a Pizza Express menu, where everyone can not only pick and choose the basic variant of his faith but also add those particular toppings he thinks most appropriate and savoury for himself. In the meantime, this so-called church sinks in an ocean of highly publicised controversies at various levels. It appears that the various so-called churches of the Anglican Communion are trying to react to the declining number of faithful by becoming less Christian, more politically correct, more secular in their outlook and as a result more controversial, more divisive and yes, more ridiculous. A pure marketing exercise, and a very short-sighted one at that.
The moral and theological bankruptcy of Anglicanism (in his numerous flavours) is under everyone’s eyes. It will get worse as the number of adherents continues to head south as it has done in the past several decades. The attempt to save themselves by embracing secular ideology will only accelerate the decay. This is what happens when the Holy Ghost does not help a community of faithful: they will split in countless conflicting and purely personal interpretations of the Only Truth. Tot capita, tot sententiae. This is the destiny – and in fact the reality – of all protestant ecclesial communities, without exceptions.
There is only One Church. She has been founded by Christ. Accept no substitutes.
The Catholic Church in England has launched a 32-page booklet in preparation of the Papal visit. The aim of the booklet is to explain, well, what Catholicism is and of course to hover once again over the child abuse scandal, the “Telegraph” reports.
Leaving aside the usual imprecision of daily newspaper journalism (Archbishop Nichols is not the head of Catholics in England and Wales. The Pope is.) what once again transpires is the desire to leave the Catholic message to very expensive PR exercises. Sadly, this is never going to work as the Church in England and Wales will never have so much money to squander on such initiatives that it may make a permanent impact on the faithful and the country.
What we need is a continued effort of serious catechesis. As everyone living in England knows, this is – with some fortunate exceptions like the Oratorians and the rare courageous priest here and there – certainly not the case. Most emphatically so in the case of Archbishop Nichols who – among other things – still continues to tolerate homo masses in Soho, in the heart of his diocese, in an outrageous initiative set in motion by his predecessor and scandalously not yet repealed by him notwithstanding the repeated calls of Conservative Catholics from England and abroad. As per today, no other English diocese (not even among the champions of trendy Catholicism, like Arundel And Brighton) tolerates such a shame.
Archbishop Nichols thinks that he can avoid telling it straight (and hard) and substitute the necessary and salutary harshness of the Catholic message with expensive booklet printing, press conferences and other media initiatives of dubious efficacy. Not so. Catholicism is defended at the homily every Sunday; with a serious catechesis and catechism lessons for children; with RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the obligatory course of those wishing to convert) classes that are more than a collection of platitudes with some vague notions of Catholicism thrown in, and only provided that they are not too uncomfortable.
The way out is not in booklet printing. The way out is in promoting the teaching and relentless defense of undiluted Catholic values again. Catholicism is not a PR exercise, but a pastoral work which belongs in the church, through the priest. Catholicism in this country has become an exercise in playing down the differences with Anglicans and other Protestants, rather than of stressing them; a continuous effort in not angering people, rather than pointing out to their errors; a relentless attempt to not go against secular values (“niceness”, “tolerance”, “inclusiveness” at all costs) rather than a daily challenge to them.
Actions speak louder than booklets. Particularly in the case of Archbishop Nichols.
The question of the detachment from venial sin as a necessary condition to obtain a plenary indulgence has been often discussed. One generally reads a bit of everything, from the hardliners thinking that only the saintliest could, on rare occasion, gain a plenary indulgence to the softies maintaining that the simple agreement that venial sins are to be avoided would suffice.
In my eyes, we must avoid falling into both the harshness of extreme severity and the “feel good-ism” so typical of our time. The best thing to do is, I think, to find inspiration in the life of the Saints.
St. Philip Neri once received from God the intelligence that the plenary indulgence the Pope had granted for that day – and about which he had just finished to preach to a full church – would be obtained only by himself and another person among the faithful present. If we consider this episode credible – and we do, because it can be easily found in publications sold from the Oratorians themselves – we must agree that a plenary indulgence is, whilst not impossible at all, certainly very difficult to achieve. Yes, St. Philip Neri lived in rather coarse times, but those were also times of much better catechesis and certainly keener awareness of sin. I rather doubt that – in the same full church – today’s result would be much different.
Where does this leave us? Methinks, in a rather useful spot. We do know that a plenary indulgence is something we might chase for an entire life without ever attaining it, but this knowledge will encourage us to a sustained effort. Through this effort we will accumulate more and more partial indulgences and become increasingly more aware of the offensiveness of our sins. As a result, Salvation will become much more probable.
This is, I think, the key. The idea that one would die and easily avoid Purgatory sounds more than a bit Protestant to me. A Catholic – and more so a conservative Catholic – is supposed to avoid illusions of easy entry into Paradise. The road is narrow and the sin of presumption never far away. Catholicism should in my eyes allow the faithful to get a sobering picture of his sins so that an effort is engendered through which irreparable damage is safely avoided. Every illusion of easy achievement may well become a double-edged sword and lull the faithful into a dangerous sense of security.
Keep chasing your plenary indulgence. You may well never get one. But it is a very good way to avoid Hell.
And so the Football World Championship is in full swing. One of the things I never fail to notice is the different approach of players from Catholic countries. You see a fair deal of crossing oneself and kissing and looking heavenward.
Yesterday, a very impressive one: the Italian player De Rossi scores the equalizer against Paraguay and the cameras catch him whilst he makes the sign of the cross, kisses his hand and looks heavenward. This was the first game of the defending World Champions and the audience must have been on a planetary scale.
A beautiful gesture. Let us hope to see many others during the Championship.
I have reported about the irreverent and possibly blasphemous anti-Catholic Hyundai ad.
I found this on my email inbox:
Hello and thank you for your feedback regarding Hyundai advertising.
Hyundai Motor America would like to thank you and other consumers for sharing concerns about a new ad titled “Wedding” which aired during the opening games of the FIFA World Cup broadcast last week. We take comments of this nature very seriously. Because of feedback like yours, we have removed the ad from all Hyundai communications and stopped airing it.
We credit the passionate World Cup viewers and Hyundai owners for raising this issue to us. The unexpected response created by the ad, which combined both soccer and religious motifs to speak to the passion of international soccer fans, prompted us to take a more critical and informed look at the spot. Though unintentional, we now see it was insensitive. We appreciate your feedback and hope you will accept our sincere apologies.
Hyundai Motor America
The American Papist informs that Hyundai are now also cancelling the adv from youtube.
It is beautiful to see that when Catholics mobilise, results are obtained. One cannot avoid to think that Catholics should mobilise more often. Catholicism is defended by being vocal, not by being “nicely” coward.
In the past weeks confused but altogether not reassuring news about the planned Papal visit to the UK have started to circulate. Explosions of costs were mentioned, uncertainties about the venues and contrasts between the local bishops and the Vatican about where to celebrate the Beatification Mass of Cardinal Newman.
It is sad that such an important occasion (important because of the powerful symbolic value of a visit in a highly secularised country as the United Kingdom) should be clouded by issues like organisational failures and lack (or better: waste) of faithful’s money. Still, some broader issues arise from this situation.
The first is the character of the Beatification Mass. I can’t see how a mass celebrated in an airport can be as solemn and edifying as a Mass celebrated in a Cathedral or other church building. In an airport, the main aspect of the Mass (the sacrificial one) is clouded by the “gathering” aspect of the event. This is in my eyes better left to the Protestants. There is a reason why buildings have been erected for the purpose of celebrating Mass rather than looking for the next available open space, and it is because they are a more fitting place.
The second issue is the necessity of such megalomaniacal planning. I do not agree that when a Pope comes to visit a huge effort should be made to allow as many people as possible to see him. The Pope is the Head of the Universal Church and his visit has a high symbolic meaning irrespective of how many people are there to see him. It is not a contest to see who can mobilise the greatest masses.
The third issue is one of pure ability and competence. If there was the capacity of organising such huge events at a reasonable cost, without squandering money and remaining within budget, then such gigantic efforts might, hypothetically, start to make some sense. But this ability is obviously not there.
The fourth issue is how the faithful’s money is spent. From the relevant internet page we are informed that £350,000 are going to be spent for “evangelisation material” and £650,000 for “communication work” of various sort. For one event. This looks like “jobs for the boys” to me. Also notice the £200,000 on “fundraising costs” in a country where the Catholic Church is represented everywhere and most wealthy donors are just a phone call away. All this, whilst churches are closed for alleged lack of funds.
It is illusory to think that one can forward the Catholic cause in the United Kingdom by organising mass gatherings. Catholicism is promoted by being Catholic, saying it out loud and demanding to be heard in every matter touching the Catholic faith. The bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are evidently deficient in this and the “missionary zeal” that the Holy Father has demanded from them is clearly not there.
A couple of televised events will not make up for the lack of this missionary zeal. Particularly if they are mismanaged.
The Psalmist’s rod and staff are traditionally used images to convey the fact that the faithful will invariably need unpleasant correction. As the shepherd uses the rod and the staff in a way which is not pleasant to the sheep but keeps them away from harm or sudden death, the spiritual shepherd must at times use his spiritual rod and staff to make clear to his sheep that they are headed in the wrong direction and a correction of course is needed. This kind of correction is unpleasant – more so in modern times, where more and more people think that they are the creators of their own moral coördinates – but is nevertheless necessary and salutary.
For too long, we have been led to believe that the good shepherd is the one who is popular among the sheep; the one whom the sheep consider a frightfully nice chap, a smiling tolerant inclusive fellow and, in short, a pleasant bloke all around. For too long, our spiritual shepherds have tried to be our friends rather than our guides, have thought that we would naturally grow out of all our shortcomings instead of charitably but clearly pointing out to them and have in general tried to avoid every occasion of making themselves, well, less popular. The first result of such a shepherd’s behaviour is that many of his sheep start to die; the second, that more and more sheep start to question whether they need a shepherd at all; the third, that an increasing number of sheep lose the sense of why the shepherd was there in the first place other than to entertain them with platitudes abundantly available everywhere.
Thankfully, all this slowly begins to change. As the post-Vatican II (and post Sixty-Eight) generation of priests slowly retires and a new generation of more orthodox priests begins to fill the pulpits, a clear tendency to a more assertive style of spiritual guidance is frequently noticed. The rod and the staff are coming back. You can see here that the Holy Father himself insists on the point.
The Holy Father’s words are particularly important, because they come at a time when the push toward tolerance at all costs is particularly strong within the secularised West; strong, in fact, to the point that such an “inclusiveness” seems to have become the new religion, the moral absolute and the ethical compass of a growing number of secular – or simply not properly instructed – individuals.
We need more of these assertive shepherds. We need more Fulton Sheens and less Roger Mahonys. We want our shepherd to use his rod and his staff to help us to grow instead spoiling us rotten so that he may be popular and have an easy life.
The “American Papist” reports a very disrespectful – and possibly blasphemous – adv from Hyundai on occasion of the Football World Championship.
The adv (I will not do Hyundai the favour of putting it here) makes a mockery of Catholicism by showing a caricatured version of a Catholic Mass. Whilst the message is probably not intended to be directly offensive to the feelings of Catholics, it is obvious that the Catholic love for liturgy has been chosen as an easy target for the rather shallow slogan of the advertisement: “for someone, football is a religion”.
One wonders whether the genial minds of those responsible for this TV spot would have chosen to make a mockery of, say, a Muslim or Jewish religious ceremony to present the same slogan. They obviously wouldn’t, because they well know that in the contemporary cultural climate mocking the Catholic Church is fair game but mocking Islam or the Jewish faith would put them in a dangerous and unpleasant position.
This is a beautiful example of the double standard used by the media in religious matters.
The right answer to this kind of behaviour is: remember this adv and next time you are shopping for a new car do not buy Hyundai (or Kia, the sister company).
I have reported yesterday about the extraordinary opinions of Prince Charles regarding the so-called “religion of peace”.
We now read in the London “Times” of the hanging of a 7-year-old boy for being, it would appear, a collaborator of the US and NATO forces, but the fact that his father – a tribal elder in the village – has spoken out against the Taliban might, well, just have played a role…….
The motives are still unclear and the Taliban deny any responsibility for the fact (they would, wouldn’t they?). Perhaps it was a local feud; perhaps the Taliban wouldn’t dare to go openly against a village elder and have murdered his son; or perhaps it was just a spontaneous outburst of environmental zeal due to the fact that over there there is – as the Prince deigned to inform us – “no separation between man and nature”.
Whoever the responsible of this atrocious murder may be, could someone please tell Prince Charles that in Christian countries – where there is a separation between man and nature – children of seven are not found hanged at nearby trees.
The American Papist reports about the initiative of Archbishop Broglio, the head of the Catholics in the US armed forces, to try and stop the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation currently regulating the position of homosexuals in the US armed forces. The statement of Archbishop Broglio can be found here.
Particularly interesting are in my eyes the following passages:
“Catholic chaplains must show compassion for persons with a homosexual orientation, but can never condone—even silently—homosexual behavior”.
“A change might have a negative effect on the role of the chaplain not only in the pulpit, but also in the classroom, in the barracks, and in the office”.
“There is no doubt that morality and the corresponding good moral decisions have an effect on unit cohesion and the overall morale of the troops and effectiveness of the mission”
“The effect of a repeal of the current legislation has the potential of being enormous and overwhelming”.
“Tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.
“Sacrificing the moral beliefs of individuals or their living conditions to respond to merely political considerations is neither just nor prudent especially for the armed forces at a time of war”.
“Catholics believe that nothing will be done if there is a careful and prudent evaluation of the effects of a change”.
In my eyes, what Archbishop Broglio could have done is to be more forceful in his stressing the moral duty for every Catholic legislator not to vote in favour of the repeal. Those who tell themselves Catholic and even think of passing such legislation should be exposed as fake Catholics, publicly condemned and, in case, duly excommunicated. Whilst I do not think that Broglio can excommunicate them himself, he can certainly contribute to a climate in which a Catholic legislator is required to either walk the Catholic walk or at least shut up about his alleged Catholicism. Catholic orthodoxy will be restored only by demanding from all those in public positions that they do not dilute or counterfeit it. Traditional Catholicism must be defended openly and vocally and our Bishops are (supposed to be) the men for that.
I will not go into the ludicrous matter of the effects of an increased homosexual infiltration of the army, because this is the stuff of which jokes are made. That a superpower can even think of compromising to such an extent the efficacy of its armed forces by sacrificing the most elementary common sense on the altar of political correctness says a lot about the ideological blindness currently reigning in Washington.
I wonder – nay, not really – how many homosexual soldiers are currently serving in the army of the emerging superpower, China.
Mala tempora currunt. A Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel is certainly in order.
Dear reader, if you are a non-Catholic you have probably heard a lot of nonsense about indulgences and if you are a cradle Catholic you might not have heard anything at all. I will try here to give you some compact information about what Indulgences are and why they are so important in the life of a Catholic. If you want more detailed information you’ll find it here.
To understand the indulgences you must realise that sins demand – even after they have been forgiven – a temporal punishment. When the sin was forgiven the soul was cleansed, but the necessity for the punishment remained. You can make a parallel with everyday life by thinking that if by parking on the street you damage your neighbour’s car, you or your insurance will be expected to pay for the damage even after your neighbour has wholeheartedly accepted your excuses.
As human nature is, in the course of our life we accumulate many such parking accidents and even if we regularly go to confession and have our sins forgiven, the list of the temporal punishments for which we are liable is destined to grow. Instead of paying this debt in its entirety in Purgatory after our death, the Lord’s mercy allows us to – as it were – start paying this debt whilst we are alive, either reducing it or – in extreme cases – cancelling it in its entirety. This partial or total anticipated payment is called “indulgence”. In order to profit from the indulgence, you are required to do something special that shows your willingness to accept that you own the debt and to pay it. In His turn, the Lord reacts to your willingness by remitting your debt with extreme generosity. Indulgences are a deal on exceptionally favourable conditions or – to put it in financial terms – the equivalent of redeeming your IOUs at a peppercorn for the pound. Every Catholic does well to profit from such a generous deal as long as it is available, because the offer ends at the moment of our death and we will afterwards have to rely on the deals other people can get for us.
The main distinction concerning indulgences is between partial and plenary. Partial indulgences gain you a partial remission of your debt, plenary indulgences the remission of all the debts you have accumulated up to that moment. The deal is, though, not as easy at it may seem as the criteria to get a plenary indulgence are so strict – namely the absence of all attachment to sin, even venial sin – that only the most saintly among the faithful will be in a position to gain it. If a plenary indulgence cannot be obtained, a partial indulgence will apply. Indulgences can never be sold.
You can easily see, dear reader, how just and at the same time merciful the indulgences are. The Lord in His justice does not allow us to escape the punishment for the sins we have committed, but in His mercy He allows us to pay our debt on, shall we say, extremely favourable terms. As in real life, we get a better deal if we pay before the time the debt is due and have an easier life if we show ourselves willing to do our best to clean ourselves of our obligations.
The Enchiridion of Indulgences contains a catalogue of indulgences that can be obtained at any time and explains the conditions necessary to profit from them. The conditions are generally: 1) contrite heart; 2) confession; 3) communion and 4) prayer for the intention of the Pope, but further conditions may be attached to particular indulgences. In addition to this, there are indulgences that are made available only within a certain time frame and with the conditions attached to them from time to time. As I write, there is a plenary indulgence granted for the 12th June, the day of conclusion of the Year for Priests. In case you decide to pay particular attention to plenary indulgences, a catalogue is published here.
Dear reader, you can easily see that in your lifetime you will never get another deal as good as this one. He is a wise Catholic (or better still: traditional Catholic) who pays attention to the debts dues to the Lord. The offer is on extremely favourable conditions and available every day; it requires to do some little extra, but this extra is almost nothing compared to the benefit obtained. It also trains the faithful to keep his eyes on his eternal destiny, which will help him to go through his day and will slowly but surely improve his habits. Once again, Catholicism discloses to the faithful a world where justice and love meet, both contributing to keep him on that straight and narrow way built to lead him to his eternal reward.
Indulgences are, truly, the deal of your life.
“Memorare, o piissima Virgo Maria….”
It is sad to think that these words, once devotedly pronounced by countless faithful every day, nowadays rarely adorn Catholic lips. One cannot avoid noticing that when prayers where recited in the allegedly so tough Latin the faithful actually prayed a lot more than today that everything has been made easy for them. There is a lesson to be learned here, I think: you don’t do any favour to the faithful by making things shallow; you merely encourage them to become shallow themselves.
The neglect of the Memorare is particularly unfortunate, because this is a powerful prayer. I see in it the fundamental optimism and the simple but solid faith of the Catholic knowing that the Blessed Virgin will intercede for him without fail and just for the asking. This is not the prayer of one who hopes, but of one who knows that his prayer will go straight to the Queen of Heaven. The key words of the prayer are “non esse auditum a saeculo” (“that never was it known”) and “esse derelictum” (“was left unaided”). If you hear this prayer once or twice you will probably instantly remember this powerful statement and its far reaching promise: that given the proper attitude, the Blessed Virgin intercedes without fail for anyone who addresses her.
This is powerful stuff. This is the Catholicism of our forefathers, who were less used than us to rely on secular institutions to sort out their problems and rather accustomed to look heavenward in their troubles. The Memorare forces us to face the fact that Mary’s intercession is not something existing in an undetermined dimension somewhere between a child’s tale and a vague hope, but a very concrete reality in which we can take refuge every day.
Our ancestors – solidly rooted in Catholicism irrespective of their education level – were naturally familiar with such a concept, but the present generation vastly ignores the very notion of the Communion of Saints, nor will you find many priests willing to take care that such basics elements of Catholicism are universally and thoroughly understood. This ruthless massacre of everything specifically Catholic – and his substitution with a protestantised, simplified and banalised undersatanding of Catholic prayer and devotion – was perhaps not positively encouraged, but certainly made possible by the “aggiornamento”. Some fifty years later, Catholic desolation is what this passion for “change” has engendered: once commonly used devotions have disappeared, once beloved prayers are almost forgotten and mainstays of Catholic thinking, powerful tools in a world of insecurity and trouble, have been utterly and wilfully neglected.
I may be wrong, but my impression is that the rediscovery of this and other beautiful ancient prayers is the result of the rediscovery of Latin and of the growing awareness that together with Latin a rich patrimony of Catholic traditions and devotions has been thrown into the dust bin. I wonder how one can rediscover traditional Catholicism without recovering Latin, and vice versa.
The Enchiridion of Indulgences states that a partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite the Memorare.
You can find here both the Latin and English version, together with the most succinct and easy to understand historical information I could find.
As the Daily Mail reports, Prince Charles yesterday informed us that Islam is, as far as its “spiritual principles” are concerned, more environmentally friendly than Christianity. That is to say that Christians are supposed not to kill the planet but they do not take this reaaally seriously after all, while Muslims are at the forefront of environmental awareness….
In Islam there is “no separation between man and nature”, he goes on saying. I assume that this means that when a Muslim beheads a Christian it is as if he were beheading, say, a goat or a duck or cutting the top of a tree. This does sound rather new age-ish and very environmentally friendly and whilst it might not lead to a decreasing in the number of beheadings of Christians, it might prove useful to make Prince Charles feel smug and oh so attentive to the sensitivities of his Muslim subjects.
The Prince went so far as to appear the only human being (Christian, Muslim or Environmentalist) still insisting in using the expression “an inconvenient truth” without understanding the laughter and ridicule it causes everywhere.
This is the “Defender of…” what!?
I wish Queen Elisabeth a long and happy life.
This saturday, June 12, Manuel Lozano Garrido – Spanish journalist and writer also known as “Lolo” – will be beatified. His life was extraordinary in many ways. Paralysed and forced on a wheelchair at 22, he relentlessly devoted his life to transmit to others that joy and devotion he himself was feeling. The growing intensity of his physical pain did nothing to weaken his faith. In time, he lost the use of the right hand and learnt to write with the left one; received a typewriter and chose “My Lord” as the first words written with it; became blind and never lost his joy or interrupted his professional activity, starting to dictate his articles instead; could not easily move and wrote inspiring articles about the processions and religious ceremonies he saw from his balcony; could not enjoy health and worried about how people affected by illness could improve their spiritual lives.
His support for “Acción Católica” and his desire to help those who, like him, were gravely hindered by their illness led to the creation of “Sinai”, a prayer community whereby groups of 12 gravely ill people prayed each for a particular media. This group grew up to 300 incurably ill people and “Sinai” also became a magazine.
A remarkable trait of this very remarkable person is that in the midst of all his trials he was, well, pretty much of a happy man. Therein lies in my opinion the lesson he still teaches us. We make tragedies of our minor problems and at times lose our serenity because of them. We give our health for granted and spend our time worrying over comparatively trivial troubles instead. We cannot even imagine how a life of growing pain and progressive physical decay can transform itself into a life of prayer, sincere joy and spiritual help to countless people. Lolo could do it. What a wonderful person and what a wonderful example.
You can find here a link with extensive biographical details about this truly remarkable man. While you do, I will think of how much a simple headache troubles me and hang my head in shame.
Fr Tim Finigan reports that Channel Four (the still taxpayer-fed English broadcaster with the remit of being “alternative” and “diverse”, which in the UK rather often means “deviant”) has announced that Peter Tatchell – the well-known homosexual paladin of all causes able to give him publicity and a stage – is going to produce a so-called “documentary” about the Holy Father’s career. Unsurprisingly, said “documentary” will be broadcast on occasion of the Holy Father’s visit next September.
There are several outrageous issues here. The first is that Channel Four receives money from the taxpayer and it seems utterly disgraceful that public money be used to further the causes of a tiny minority of (deviant) fanatics. The second is that no serious journalist could ever claim that such a documentary from such a (deviant) man could have any appearance of impartiality, or at least some vague trace of halfway balanced reporting. The third is that the choice of the most widely despised “homosexualist” in the Realm to produce the “documentary” clearly shows the intention of Channel Four to stir controversies and reach a wide audience not through the quality of its reporting but through the clamour such controversies create. This isn’t journalism, this is purest activist poison.
Peter Tatchell is the kind of person who wants to censor song lyrics he finds “homophobic” whilst talking about “freedom” all the time. His life is a continuous search for a stage and there is no “alternative” cause he would not espouse if it gave him a bit of limelight (Aborigines, Vietnam War, Green Party, Pinochet, Mugabe, Irak war…. the list is very long). He fought for years to lower the age of consent to 14 years and was behind an even more radical proposal to decriminalize every sexual act provided the age difference between the “partners” (read: homosexual boys or worse, children) is below three years. I am not making this up. This gives you a clear idea of the moral authority of the man. I can easily imagine that the one or other paedophile priest is a true fan of him.
Once again, Catholics are asked to remember that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church. All that Tatchell and his likes are going to obtain is to expose their fanaticism and awaken more sympathies for the Holy Father. Ask Dan Brown how much he has damaged Opus Dei and you’ll have all the reassurances you need.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
One of the consequences of the remarkable levelling to the minimum common denominator of almost every conceivable activity is the scaling down of those elements of ceremony once cherished as beautiful and today considered arrogant or elitist. In fact, one can go as far as to say that nowadays whatever is not absolutely and tragically plain is at high risk of being labelled as “elitist” or “snob”. We see this everywhere but what I would like to mention with you today is the style of Papal appearances.
There was a time where a Pope would – on certain and particularly solemn occasions – be carried on a sedia gestatoria. This was a kind of movable throne, splendidly adorned, offering the advantage of making the Pope visible by a large crowd whilst at the same time beautifully stressing his (literally) exalted position. It goes without saying that the entire exercise was not entirely “democratic”, but as the Church never was and never would be no one really cared for such matters. On the contrary, in former times – before egalitarianism started to infiltrate every aspect of public life – such shows of authority were expected, respected and not disliked at all. Men need symbols and something like a sedia gestatoria had a highly symbolic meaning.
Not anymore, at least for now. John Paul II first refused to use it, evidently considering a Pope unworthy of being revered and honoured as such. John Paul II also started to dress down in other ways (for instance: no papal tiara).
If you ask me, dear reader, this is all very wrong. Men need symbols. They breath them. Few things are more natural and speak more directly to the human mind than the visual or aurial experience of power and authority. The Pope is powerful; he has authority. A lot of it, in fact, as we would be at a loss to find another person on the planet with the authority to remove or fire anyone of more than 400,000 employees of his organisation at will and with the only appeal given to…. himself; let alone a person with such a high moral authority over 1.15 billion faithful.
Men need symbols and those in position of power and authority have always naturally availed themselves of various means to stress this authority and to make it visible, palpable, audible. There is nothing wrong with that.
Pope Benedict is showing some timid signs of wanting to recover the rich symbolic tradition of the Papacy, but he has still not revived the use of the sedia gestatoria (nor that of the papal tiara). The nowadays omnipresent “security reasons” cannot be brought as an excuse because the use of the sedia gestatoria can be modified to make it safer (say: only within a church) and increase both the visibility and the safety of the Holy Father. Had a sedia gestatoria been used, last year’s episode in St. Peter could not have happened at all.
We are now seeing the first signs of a change of direction, albeit things proceed – as so often in Church matters – rather slowly. We can only hope that, in time, the vast symbolic patrimony of the Church will be fully recovered and proudly considered a powerful symbolic weapon instead of an embarrassment.
One never ceases to be amazed at the ability of so many people to warp the most elementary concepts of logic, provided it helps them to feel good, important, modern or even supposedly clever. The always excellent Father Zuhlsdorf reports of the usual protest of a colourful bunch of women in pursuit of that logical, theological and, well, anatomical impossibility: the Female Priesthood. This would be funny if the mere existence of such extraordinary utterances were not a sad indication of the state of utter decay in which the Teaching has fallen after the happy experiments of the last decades.
Granted, the ladies are gravely confused even for the standard of your average Catholic, but how many Catholics really know why? How many Catholics think that the Church opposes (oh, that word…) “female priesthood” just because of her “conservatism”? If you were to ask your average Catholic in, say, San Luis Obispo whether he thinks that one day the Church might have (oh, that word…) “priestesses”, how many do you think would react with a hearty laugh and how many would answer that “one day the Church might be forced to react to societal changes”? I am terrified of writing this, but I strongly suspect that nowadays most Catholics believe that Male Priesthood is a choice. Which, if you think of it, is a beautiful witness of the decades long, relentless work of so many priests and bishops to undermine everything Catholic and to substitute it with the shallow, sugary, politically correct, insipid fare served at so many Protestant and at all Secularist tables.
If you, dear reader, are in need of a well-grounded and definitive knowledge of why there will never be a priestess before cats can bark I suggest the reading of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the encyclical letter of John Paul II dealing with the issue. It is easy to read, pretty well argued and unmistakably clear in saying that the nonsense must come to an end and that even the discussions about the expediency of having Shrek as the next President of the United States (or of having “priestesses”, or such like) are not allowed.
For your convenience, the link is provided on this very same blog, under Church Teaching. Have fun and spare a thought for the poor women.
Has a priest ever told you anything about the rosary? If he has, you can count yourself among a tiny and fortunate minority of the faithful. More likely, your priest has rather preferred to entertain you about so-called anthropogenic global warming, social justice, the necessity of not kicking the cat, and such like. Let us correct this unfortunate situation with some short remarks.
There are some regional variations of the rosary and every faithful can adjust some parts as he likes. In short, a typical rosary would be recited this way:
1) Sign of the Cross. Creed of the Apostles; Pater Noster; three Hail Marys; Glory Be; Fatima prayer.
2) Five decades each composed of the following: Pater noster; ten Hail Marys; Glory Be; Fatima Prayer. At the beginning of each decade you can introduce a short pause to reflect on the mystery and/or to ask Our Lord or the Blessed Virgin for a particular grace.
3) “Hail, Holy Queen”. Sign of the Cross.
During the three Hail Marys of the introduction you can meditate on the three Theological Virtues (Hope, Faith and Charity). During each of the ten Hail Marys of every decade you can meditate on the traditional mysteries of the day or substitute them with some other meditation you prefer. The traditionally used mysteries are – in this context – 15 episodes of the life of Our Lord or of the Blessed Virgin. They are divided into groups of five, whereas every day you meditate on a different set of five mysteries, one mystery for every decade. The five mysteries added for some reason by John Paul II are not traditional and are therefore not considered here, but again there is no obligation as to what is the object of the meditation.
The way to pray (and the beauty of the rosary) is to allow your lips to regularly go through the Hail Marys whilst keeping your mind fixed on the relevant mystery. The mind being what it is, you’ll discover that you are easily distracted but the fact that you are vocally (much better than mentally) reciting the Hail Marys will help your mind to wander its thoughts on the meaning of the words of the Hail Mary and failing that, the vocal recitation will contribute to your fast recovery from your distraction.
Traditionally, a vocal recitation of the prayers will not require you to be sure that you never, ever lose concentration (and you will!). What will initially happen is a constant bouncing of your mind from the meditation to the words of the Hail Mary to what you want to eat for dinner and back to the words of the Hail Mary or to the meditation, in a constant play of wandering thoughts whilst still remaining more or less anchored in the meditation. In time, you will discover that you become more and more focused on the mysteries and your rosary becomes more spiritual, more relaxed (because you are not constantly “trying to stay focused”) and somewhat more rapid.
When a good practice has been attained, allow some twenty minutes for the rosary in its entirety (meaning here: the daily five decades). You can split the rosary into its components but if you interrupt a decade you’ll have to recite it again from the start. To remain attentive it is a tradition to imagine that every Hail Mary is a rose you are giving to Mary, with the rosary being a beautiful garland. You want your garland to be beautiful and your roses fresh, right?
The rosary is a beautiful way to transform boring times of your day into an uplifting experience: for instance whilst waiting for the train or as an alternative to reading junk newspapers during your commute. A complete decade will take you (with practice) not more than three or four minutes. You’ll see how refreshingly beautiful it is.
Many are the Internet sites dedicated to the Rosary. Therein you will find descriptions of the mysteries and visual helps to aid your meditation efforts. The spiritual meaning of the rosary will also be discussed more in-depth and you will often find interesting historical information about the history and evolution of this beautiful devotion. Two links are given here on the right, under “Devotions”. Please do not neglect to read the Promises of Mary to the Christians who recite the rosary!
Here ends this little introduction. I hope that you will find the Rosary uplifting and that you will one day start his recitation as a daily practice. I have found the practice extremely beneficial and cannot imagine a life without it anymore.
Best wishes to you.
The prayer to St. Michael the Archangel was created by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 after a vision. The vision was clear as to the fact that the XX century would be the one in which Our Lord would allow Satan to try (if he can of course) to destroy the Church. Leo XIII ordered this prayer to be added to the prayers after mass (called the Leonine Prayers) which he himself had introduced two years before.
Today it appears very clearly how dramatically authentic Pope Leo XIII’s vision was. The XX century has been, indeed, one of great tribulation for the Church, with Satan attacking and severely damaging Her from the inside. Fittingly, the prayers after Mass were officially suppressed in 1964.
More than fifty years later, the devastations caused by Vatican II on one side and – to a much greater extent – from the “spirit of Vatican II” on the other side are all too apparent. We can clearly see now how Satan acted, we have the damages in front of our eyes. Still, we can also see that the Church survived the attack; that she slowly but surely begins to react and to get her act together; that she is now rapidly recovering not only the notion of proper Liturgy, but the understanding of Her mission.
We can also see that even in the midst of such havoc, no doctrinal damage has been suffered. The Holy Ghost has in such difficult times protected the Church as he always does: leaving the men who run Her free to be as corrupt and evil as they want but never allowing them to touch Her doctrinal purity.
Today we see a slow, but unstoppable recovery and have additional evidence that the gates of Hell will never prevail. We stand in horror at the scale of the devastation, but in awe at the way the sancta sanctorum of Catholicism, the doctrinal corpus, has been left undamaged by the bombardments of both the “aggiornamento” and his bastard child, the “spirit of Vatican II”.
I invite the readers to memorize this beautiful prayer and to recite it after Mass and whenever they are confronted with a manifestation of aggressive secularism in their daily lives. It is a beautiful and uplifting prayer. It is wonderfully politically incorrect. It is, I do not doubt, powerful.
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.