Monday, May 30, 2011

Sent by God

The Mission of Jehanne d'Arc.
“I was in my father’s garden and was fasting,” Joan recounts. “And a voice came from the right, towards the church.” She was 13 at the time and quite afraid. Thenceforth, she would be visited by the voices and apparitions of Saints Michael, Catherine, and Margaret. Saint Michael was especially revered in Lorraine, and the statues of Saints Catherine and Margaret still grace the village church. These saints would inform Joan that God had entrusted her with saving the kingdom of France and seeing that its crown was bestowed on Charles VII, the “King of Bourges.”

Joan’s piety redoubled without causing her to lose balance. By then, she was considered “the most virtuous girl in town,” as the parish priest would attest. What the good folks of Domremy — and even Joan’s own mother — did not know, was that a germinating seed had been planted in the soil of her soul.

The Holiness of the Maid

St. Jeanne d'Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431. She was not canonized until 1920. Why did it take over 400 years to canonize such a marvelous saint? Joan of Arc scholar Allen Williamson answers this question in a fine article. Mr. Williamson points out that, although not formally canonized for several hundred years, Joan was regarded almost universally as being a saint soon after her death. Other holy persons, including St. Thomas More, St. Agnes of Prague, St. Nicholas Owen, St. Agnes of Montepulciano, St. Norbert, St. Agnes of Assisi, St. John Southworth, St. Hermann Joseph, St. Thomas Garnet were all canonized centuries after their deaths. The Church does not rush, even if the world does.

At Joan's posthumous Trial of Nullification of 1456, in which the verdict which condemned her was overturned by the Holy See, many of those who had known Joan were able to testify about her personal holiness. The Duke d'
Alençon stated:
So far as I could judge, I always held her for an excellent Catholic, and a modest woman. She communicated often, and, at sight of the Body of Christ, shed many tears. In all she did, except in affairs of war, she was a very simple young girl; but for warlike things bearing the lance, assembling an army, ordering military operations, directing artillery-she was most skillful. Every one wondered that she could act with as much wisdom and foresight as a captain who had fought for twenty or thirty years. It was above all in making use of artillery that she was so wonderful.
Her page Louis de Contes testified:
She was a good and modest woman, living as a Catholic, very pious, and, when she could, never failing to be present at the Mass. To hear blasphemies upon the Name of Our Lord vexed her. Many times when the Duke d'Alençon swore (Jeanne's hatred of swearing is noticed by many of her followers, and in her hearing they endeavored to abstain from it. La Hire, whose language was apparently the most violent, was permitted by her to employ the mild expletive 'Par mon martin,' 'By my baton,' an expression she herself is constantly reported to have used.) or blasphemed before her, I heard her reprove him. As a rule, no one in the army dared swear or blaspheme before her, for fear of being reprimanded. She would have no women in her army. One day, near Chateau-Thierry, seeing the mistress of one of her followers riding on horseback, she pursued her with her sword, without striking her at all; but with gentleness and charity she told her she must no longer be found amongst the soldiers, otherwise she would suffer for it.
Joan's confessor Father Jean Pasquerel asserted the following:
I acted as her Chaplain, confessed her, and sang Mass for her. She was, indeed, very pious towards God and the Blessed Mary, confessing nearly every day and communicating frequently. When she was in a neighborhood where there was a Convent of Mendicant Friars, she told me to remind her of the day when the children of the poor received the Eucharist, so that she might receive it with them; and this she did often: when she confessed herself she wept.
Here is another outstanding article discussing the sanctity of the Maid.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Pope at Saint Mary Major

A beautiful meditation with commentary from Fr. Mark.
Prayer helps us to recognize in him the center of our life, to remain in his presence, to conform our will to his, to do "what he tells us" (John 2:5), certain of his fidelity. This is the essential task of the Church, crowned by him as Mystical Bride, as we contemplate her in the splendor of the apse. Mary constitutes her model: she is the one who presents to us the mirror in which we are invited to recognize our identity. Her life is a call to turn from what we are to hear and accept the Word, being able in faith to proclaim the greatness of the Lord, before which our only possible greatness is that expressed in filial obedience: "Be it done unto me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38). Mary trusted: she is the "blessed one" (cf. Luke 1:42), who is blessed for having believed (cf. Luke 1:45), to the point of having been clothed in Christ to such a degree that she enters in the "seventh day," a participant in God's rest. The dispositions of her heart -- listening, acceptance, humility, fidelity, praise and waiting -- correspond to the interior attitudes and to the gestures that mold Christian life. The Church is nourished by them, conscious that they express what God expects from her.

Friday, May 27, 2011

St. Bridget of Sweden and her Rosary

Here is a post by Sword and the Sea about St. Bridget of Sweden. The Carmelite nuns used as their habit rosary the prayer beads known as the Brigettine rosary. According to Meditations from Carmel:
The Brigittine (or "Saint Bridget") Rosary looks similar to a regular Rosary, but with an extra decade. The resultant seven Pater beads honor the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the sixty-three Ave Maria beads commemorate the sixty-three years it is believed the Blessed Mother lived on this earth before her Assumption. In praying the Brigittine Rosary, there are a total of eighteen decades: In the six Joyful Mysteries, the first is the Immaculate Conception; the sixth of the Sorrowful Mysteries commemorates when the Body of the Lord was placed in the Arms of His Sorrowful Mother; and the sixth of the Glorious Mysteries is recited in honor of the Patronage of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace (and, for the Carmelite, Mary, Queen and Beauty of Carmel). The other mysteries are the same as in the Dominican Rosary. However, at the end of each decade, the Apostles Creed, not the Glory be, is recited." --Fr. Boyd

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beauty in the Life of the Church

A magnificent article by Fr. Richard Vigoa.
The earth is resplendent with the beauty of God. The civil calendar indicates that it is indeed springtime and a look at nature reminds us of this reality made manifest. Our liturgical calendar draws us into the Easter season.

Symbols, in our tradition, point to something outside of ourselves, to a greater reality, a reality of truth and beauty. We are reminded of the Easter Vigil, replete with symbols of light and darkness, life and death, refreshing waters, smells of fragrant incense and sublime music — reaching our every sense with the glory of our Risen Lord.

The 19th Century English Romantic poet John Keats once wrote: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all ye know on earth or ever need to know.” Keats was not exposing readers to a new, earth-shattering perspective on the world, but rather reflecting a long tradition that is echoed through the annals of history from the foundation of the world.

We find the concept of beauty in a privileged place in the works of Plato and the ancient Greeks, the Israelites in the Old Testament and into the Christian period in the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo. Our Lord is quoted by St. Matthew when he says: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matt 6:28-29). It seems Jesus is trying to point to a natural, objective reality concerning beauty. Indeed, beauty is an innate part of the human spirit.(Read entire article.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

May Magnificat

From Supremacy and Survival:
MAY is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfèd cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Holiness in the Hermitage

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict speaks of the life of St. Peter Celestine, the holy hermit who reluctantly became pope. To quote:
...St. Peter, although he lived as a hermit, was not "closed in on himself" but was filled with passion to bring the good news of the Gospel to his brothers. And the secret of his pastoral fruitfulness was precisely in "abiding" in the Lord, in prayer, as we were also reminded by today's Gospel passage: the first priority is always to pray to the Lord of the harvest (cf. Luke 10:2). And it is only after this invitation that Jesus outlines some of the essential duties of the disciples: the serene, clear and courageous proclamation of the Gospel message -- even in moments of persecution -- without ceding to the allurement of fashion nor to that of violence and imposition; detachment from worry about things -- money, clothing -- confiding in the providence of the Father; attention and care especially for the sick in body and spirit (cf. Luke 10:5-9). These were also the characteristics of the brief and trying pontificate of Celestine V and these are the characteristics of the missionary activity of the Church in every age.

Friday, May 20, 2011

On Carmel and Spiritual Direction

Our Holy Father recently addressed members of the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum, saying:
Three quarters of a century have passed since that July 16, 1935, liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel, in which the then International College of the Order of Discalced Carmelites in the city was promoted to the status of Theological Faculty. From the beginning it was oriented to deepening spiritual theology in the framework of the anthropological question. Over the course of the years, an Institute of Spirituality was established, which together with the Theological Faculty, makes up the academic group that has the name of Teresianum.

Taking a retrospective glance over the history of this institution, we want to praise the Lord for the wonders he has accomplished in and through it, in the many students that have attended it -- first of all, because to be part of such an academic community constitutes a unique ecclesial experience, strengthened by all the richness of a great spiritual family such as the Order of Discalced Carmelites. We think of the vast renewal movement began in the Church by the testimony of Sts. Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross. It aroused a rekindling of the ideals and fervor of contemplative life, which in the 16th century set afire, so to speak, Europe and the whole world....

As she has never failed to do, again today the Church continues to recommend the practice of spiritual direction, not only to all those who wish to follow the Lord up close, but to every Christian who wishes to live responsibly his baptism, that is, the new life in Christ. Everyone, in fact, and in a particular way all those who have received the divine call to a closer following, needs to be supported personally by a sure guide in doctrine and expert in the things of God. A guide can help defend oneself from facile subjectivist interpretations, making available his own supply of knowledge and experiences in following Jesus. [Spiritual direction] is a matter of establishing that same personal relationship that the Lord had with his disciples, that special bond with which he led them, following him, to embrace the will of the Father (cf. Luke 22:42), that is, to embrace the cross.

More HERE.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Prayer and Forgiveness

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI cites the example of the patriarch Abraham.
...By the intercession of Abraham, Sodom can be saved if in it are found just ten innocent. This is the power of prayer. Because manifested and expressed through intercession, prayer to God for the salvation of others is the desire of salvation that God always harbors for sinful man. Evil, in fact, cannot be accepted, it must be singled out and destroyed through punishment: the destruction of Sodom had precisely this function. But the Lord does not desire the death of the wicked, but that he be converted and live (cf. Ezekiel  18:23; 33:11); his desire is always to forgive, to save, to give life, to transform evil into good. Well, it is precisely this divine desire that, in prayer, becomes man's desire and is expressed through the words of intercession. With his supplication, Abraham is lending his own voice, but also his own heart, to the divine will: God's desire is mercy, love and will of salvation, and this desire of God found in Abraham and in his prayer the possibility of manifesting itself in a concrete way within the history of men, to be present where there is need of grace. With the voice of his prayer, Abraham is giving voice to God's desire, which is not to destroy, but to save Sodom, to give life to the converted sinner. (Read entire article.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Foiling the Adversary

Fr. Gabriele Amorth, the chief exorcist of Rome, speaks about his work. To quote:
The chief exorcist of Rome is seeing a rising number of young people coming under the influence of evil, but he has found in recent years that Blessed John Paul II is a powerful intercessor in the battle for souls. A small, unassuming office in south-west Rome seems a rather ordinary setting in which to play out a grand battle between good and evil. It is here, though, that Father Gabriele Amorth has carried out most of his 70,000 exorcisms over the past 26 years.

“The world must know that Satan exists,” he told EWTN News recently. “The devil and demons are many and they have two powers, the ordinary and the extraordinary.”

The 86-year-old Italian priest of the Society of St. Paul and official exorcist for the Diocese of Rome explained the difference.

“The so-called ordinary power is that of tempting man to distance himself from God and take him to Hell. This action is exercised against all men and women of all places and religions.”

As for the extraordinary powers used by Satan, Fr. Amorth explained it as how the Devil acts when he focuses his attention more specifically on a person. He categorized the expression of that attention into four types: diabolical possession; diabolical vexation like in the case of Padre Pio, who was beaten by the Devil; obsessions which are able to lead a person to desperation and infestation, and when the Devil occupies a space, an animal or even an object.”

Fr. Amorth says such extraordinary occurrences are rare but on the rise. He's particularly worried by the number of young people being affected by Satan through sects, séances and drugs. He never despairs though.
“With Jesus Christ and Mary, God has promised us that he will never allow temptations greater than our strengths.”

Hence he gives a very matter-of-fact guide that everybody can use in the fight against Satan. “The temptations of the Devil are defeated first of all by avoiding occasions (of temptation), because the Devil always seeks out our weakest points. And, then, with prayer. We Christians have an advantage because we have the Word of Jesus, we have the sacraments, prayer to God.”

Not surprisingly, ‘Jesus Christ’ is the name Fr. Amorth most often calls upon to expel demons. But he also turns to saintly men and women for their heavenly assistance. Interestingly, he said that in recent years one man – Blessed Pope John Paul II – has proved to be a particularly powerful intercessor.

“I have asked the demon more than once, ‘Why are you so scared of John Paul II and I have had two different responses, both interesting. One, ‘because he disrupted my plans.’ And, I think that he is referring to the fall of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe. The collapse of communism.”

“Another response that he gave me, ‘because he pulled so many young people from my hands.’ There are so many young people who, thanks to John Paul II, were converted. Perhaps some were already Christian but not practicing, but then with John Paul II they came back to the practice. ‘He pulled so many young people out of my hands.’”

And the most powerful intercessor of all?

“Of course, the Madonna is even more effective. Ah, when you invoke Mary!”

“And, once I also asked Satan, ‘but why are you more scared when I invoke Our Lady than when I invoke Jesus Christ?’ He answered me, ‘Because I am more humiliated to be defeated by a human creature than being defeated by him.” (Read entire article.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI on Prayer, Part II

From Irenikon:
Prayer has its center and founds its roots in the most profound being of the person; that is why it is not easily decipherable and for the same reason, it can be subject to misunderstandings and mystifications. Also in this sense we can understand the expression: it is difficult to pray. In fact, prayer is the place par excellence of gratuitousness, of the tension towards the Invisible, the Unexpected, the Ineffable. Because of this, the experience of prayer is a challenge for everyone, a "grace" to be invoked, a gift of the One whom we address. (Read entire article.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

St. Simon Stock

Catholicseeking reports on St. Simon Stock: "Little is known of his early life. Legend says that at age twelve he began to live as a hermit in a hollow oak tree...."

In This Place of Grace

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, Mother of Priests. A beautiful meditation by Fr. Mark.
The Holy Father acknowledges that Fatima is a place of grace, that is, a place favoured by God and visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary. There is a sacred geography spread over the face of the earth. There is a certain sacramentality of place. It pleases God, and thus pleases the Mother of God, to make of certain precise locations abiding occasions of grace. Clearly, Fatima, is one such place, but there are countless others. Some of these are hidden, humble, and infrequently visited.

Not so very long ago every Catholic Church had an altar dedicated to the Blessed Mother of God. Some even had a "Lady Chapel," a special space within the larger church graced with an image of the Most Holy Virgin. These local shrines of Our Blessed Lady were, in their own modest and unpretentious way, places of pilgrimage and of grace for people who could never have imagined going to Fatima, Lourdes, Loreto, Guadalupe, Rue du Bac, Jasna Gora, or Knock. How many candles were lighted before Our Lady in humble parish churches? How many furtive visits were made to the foot of her altar? How many tears were shed there? And how many graces and consolations received?

....Love attracts. Love draws. Love unites. Love calls. The Holy Father acknowledges that the multitude surrounding him at Fatima and, in particular, the bishops and priests who were present, have this in common: they were attracted, drawn, united, and called by Love. The priestly love of Jesus chooses certain men, calls them friends, and unites them to Himself and to one another in His sacrifice: priests made one with The Priest, and victims with The Victim. All whom Jesus the Eternal High Priest draws to His Heart are assumed into His holocaust. "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself" (Jn 12:32). What is true here of "all men" is true, first, of His priests. When a priest is drawn into the mystery of Crucified Love, many souls are drawn there after him; and when a priests resists the drawing of Crucified Love, many souls are held back by his hardness of heart.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bishop Conley Speaks

On the new English translation of the Roman missal. His Excellency says:
The “new Mass” is almost a half-century old now. A generation of Catholics has grown up knowing only the Novus Ordo. I would venture to bet that many younger Catholics have no idea that the prayers we say at Mass are translated from an authoritative Latin text.

In Advent, we are going to introduce a major new English translation of the Mass with the third typical edition of the Roman Missal.

What are Catholics in the pews going to make of the changes in the words they pray and the words they hear the priest praying? Will the changes make any difference in their experience of the Mass? In the way they worship? In the way they live their faith in the world?

These are important questions. And the answers are going to depend a lot on you and me.
Those of us who are priests, and those preparing to be ordained — we are the keys to the success of this next phase in the Church’s on-going liturgical renewal.

This new edition of the Missal is the Church’s gift to our generation. It restores the ancient understanding of the Eucharist as a sacred mystery. It renews the vertical dimension of the liturgy — as a spiritual sacrifice that we offer in union with the sacrifice that our heavenly High Priest celebrates unceasingly in the eternal liturgy. In order for the Church to realize the full potential of this gift, it is vital that we understand why we need this new translation. The changes are not superficial ritualism. There is a deep liturgical and theological aesthetic at work. And we need to grasp the “spirit” and “inner logic” underlying these translations. This is what I want to about this evening....

I do think it’s important for us, however, to recall the “culture shock” caused by the Novus Ordo back when it was first introduced. That helps us better understand the concerns and purposes of this new edition of the Missal.

To illustrate what I mean about “culture shock,” I want to recall the experience of Evelyn Waugh, the author of Brideshead Revisited and the Sword of Honor trilogy, among other memorable works.

Waugh was a brilliant novelist and essayist. He was a convert to the Catholic Church and he was not bashful about speaking his mind on what he thought was wrong in the Church. We converts can be like that! And make no mistake: Waugh thought the Church had a made a wrong turn at the Second Vatican Council. In his correspondence and writings in the Catholic press, Waugh was most disturbed about the Council’s plans for liturgical reform. The reformers, he complained, were “a strange alliance between archeologists absorbed in their speculations on the rites of the second century, and modernists who wish to give the Church the character of our own deplorable epoch.”

Waugh certainly had a way with words, didn’t he? And here, as in so many cases, he was razor-keen in his insight. His worst fears came to pass when the Mass was finally introduced in the vernacular. In early 1965, he wrote to a friend: “Every attendance at Mass leaves me without comfort or edification. … Church-going is now a bitter trial.”

He complained often — as did many others — that the Novus Ordo stripped the Mass of its ancient beauty and destroyed the liturgy’s contact with heavenly realities. Waugh for one, never recovered from the shock. He would say things like: “The Vatican Council has knocked the guts out of me,” and “I shall not live to see things righted.”

Waugh’s end reads like something out of one of his novels. On Easter 1966, he asked a Jesuit friend to say a Latin Mass for him and a handful of his friends and family at a private chapel near his home. People later remarked that Waugh seemed at peace for the first time since the Council. About an hour after the Mass, he collapsed and died. It was a dramatic ending to a fascinating and complicated life.

The lesson I want to draw here is this: Evelyn Waugh was on to something. He sensed that something had gone awry. But he was wrong not to trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the Pope, the Church and the Council fathers if, in fact, he did begin to despair with the direction the Church was headed. God in his kind providence spared him the experience of much of the post-conciliar silliness and the gross liberties taken with the liturgy. (Read entire article.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Father Faber on True Devotion

Don Marco had a couple of posts about St. Louis Grignion de Montfort's True Devotion and Father Faber's translation. Fr. Faber says in the introduction:
Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable, unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for anyone than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion of the Venerable Grignion De Montfort.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Universae Ecclesiae: The Full Text

From Rorate Caeli:

I.
Introduction

1. The Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of the Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio on 7 July 2007, which came into effect on 14 September 2007, has made the richness of the Roman Liturgy more accessible to the Universal Church.

2. With this Motu Proprio, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a universal law for the Church, intended to establish new regulations for the use of the Roman Liturgy in effect in 1962.

3. The Holy Father, having recalled the concern of the Sovereign Pontiffs in caring for the Sacred Liturgy and in their recognition of liturgical books, reaffirms the traditional principle, recognised from time immemorial and necessary to be maintained into the future, that "each particular Church must be in accord with the universal Church not only regarding the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs, but also as to the usages universally handed down by apostolic and unbroken tradition. These are to be maintained not only so that errors may be avoided, but also so that the faith may be passed on in its integrity, since the Church's rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of belief (lex credendi)."n.1

4. The Holy Father recalls also those Roman Pontiffs who, in a particular way, were notable in this task, specifically Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Pius V. The Holy Father stresses moreover that, among the sacred liturgical books, the Missale Romanum has enjoyed a particular prominence in history, and was kept up to date throughout the centuries until the time of Blessed Pope John XXIII. Subsequently in 1970, following the liturgical reform after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI approved for the Church of the Latin rite a new Missal, which was then translated into various languages. In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II promulgated the third edition of this Missal.

5. Many of the faithful, formed in the spirit of the liturgical forms prior to the Second Vatican Council, expressed a lively desire to maintain the ancient tradition. For this reason, Pope John Paul II with a special Indult Quattuor abhinc annos issued in 1984 by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty under certain conditions to restore the use of the Missal promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II, with the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei of 1988, exhorted the Bishops to be generous in granting such a faculty for all the faithful who requested it. Pope Benedict continues this policy with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum regarding certain essential criteria for the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite, which are recalled here.

6. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI and the last edition prepared under Pope John XXIII, are two forms of the Roman Liturgy, defined respectively as ordinaria and extraordinaria: they are two usages of the one Roman Rite, one alongside the other. Both are the expression of the same lex orandi of the Church. On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honor.

7. The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum was accompanied by a letter from the Holy Father to Bishops, with the same date as the Motu Proprio (7 July 2007). This letter gave further explanations regarding the appropriateness and the need for the Motu Proprio; it was a matter of overcoming a lacuna by providing new norms for the use of the Roman Liturgy of 1962. Such norms were needed particularly on account of the fact that, when the new Missal had been introduced under Pope Paul VI, it had not seemed necessary to issue guidelines regulating the use of the 1962 Liturgy. By reason of the increase in the number of those asking to be able to use the forma extraordinaria, it has become necessary to provide certain norms in this area. (Read More.)
Scott Richert on what it all means, HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Gypsy Saint

 From Zenit:
BARBASTRO, Spain, MAY 11, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Romani community worldwide celebrated Blessed Ceferino Jiménez Malla -- known popularly as "El Pele" -- with the 7th International Pilgrimage of the Gypsy People. The pilgrimage held Sunday marked the 75th anniversary of his martyrdom in 1936 in defense of the faith. Moreover, this year marks the 150th anniversary of his birth. Blessed Ceferino was born in Benavent de Sagria, although he passed the greater part of his life in Barbastro.

Bishop Ciriaco Benavente of Albacete, Spain, president of the that country's episcopal migrations commission, presided over ceremonies. He stated that "Blessed Ceferino is a glory of the Church and for the gypsy ethnic" community.

In his homily, the prelate pointed out "the increase in devotion to the blessed throughout the world." He stressed "the values of the first gypsy -- beatified by John Paul II -- who found God from market to market and was a servant of the Church in nocturnal adoration, in St. Vincent conferences and as a Franciscan tertiary."

"He has been the glory of a people mistreated by history, on which so many stereotypes have fallen," Bishop Benavente said. "The blessed arose from these people and he fills us with joy and pride."
"He has stolen our hearts because he showed solidarity with all his brothers," he noted.
More HERE. To quote:
He had little education, and was possibly illiterate, but his native intelligence was obvious to all who knew him, and he was known for his love of nature. Baptised into the Church as an adult. Married to Teresa Jimenez Castro in 1912 at age 51. Adoptive father of his niece Pepita. He became a mule-trader around 1920, and did so well he was able to settle in the town of Barbastro as a successful businessman. Widower in 1922. City councilman in Barbastro. Catechist, Eucharistic minister, choir director and rosary leader, Ceferino developed a reputation for holiness, and people would be on their best behavior around him. Advisor to his bishop. Dominican tertiary in 1926. A Gitano (Spanish Gypsy), he worked to improve relations between Gypsies and non-Gypsies. He was arrested during the persecutions of the Spanish Civil War for hiding priests. He was offered his freedom if he would renounce his faith and throw away his rosary; he declined.

Universae Ecclesiae

An interesting development tomorrow. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! To quote:
The Holy See Press Office announces that the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", on the application of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, will be made public on Friday, May 13th, and will be published on that afternoon (May 14th edition of L'Osservatore Romano). The Instruction will be published in its Latin typical version, and in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese translations.

Impossible Things

What to do when faced with the impossible. To quote Fr. Mark:
Every moment of crisis is an opportunity to confide our perplexities, worries, fears, and griefs to the maternal Heart of Mary. She is capable of listening to all with a benevolent silence. Her Immaculate Heart discerns what is best for each of us. And if we are silent enough, childlike enough, and even a little humble, she will counsel us and restore our troubled hearts to a peace that the world (and all its professional counselors) cannot give.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Veil: A Mystical Symbol

Most people are familiar with the injunction of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 5,6, 13 for women to wear veils in church. It is interesting, however, to reflect upon other scriptural passages in which persons or things are covered out of reverence for God, beginning in the Old Testament. In ancient times, covering oneself, and especially hiding the face, was a sign of respect and obeisance. In Genesis 24:65 Rebecca covers herself at the approach of her bridegroom. In Exodus 34:33 Moses veils himself after beholding the glory of God. Exodus 36 describes in detail the curtains which were to veil the Holy of Holies. What was sacred was generally veiled. When I was a child, the tabernacles of Catholic churches were always veiled.

In II Kings 15:30 King David ascended the Mount of Olives weeping for his sins, barefoot like one in mourning, with his head covered so that no one could see him. In III Kings 19:13 Elias covers his face with his mantle at the manifestation of the power of God. Isaiah (6:2) describes the seraphim covering their faces with their wings before the Divine Majesty. Ezekiel 16:8 describes the spouse covering the bride with his garment.

The Navarre Bible footnotes present an interesting commentary on 1 Corinthians 11: 5-13. Women were to cover their heads as a sign that they have an important role in the Church, but one distinct from men. "Christian practice and profane custom show women's dress to be not unimportant.... Customs are a way of thinking. External comportment is important because it reflects people's inner dispositions." In our society, what is feminine is replaced by what is immodest and yet modesty and chastity are the greatest ornament of women. Head-coverings for women at Mass are part of an ancient tradition which the Apostle St. Paul encouraged in the new dispensation as a continuation of a sacred sign of bridal holiness and reverence. All women are to be brides at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

There is an interesting discussion on the topic of head-coverings for women in the National Catholic Register. I believe that if women feel called to wear hats or veils in the house of God then they should do so, without human respect.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI on Prayer, Part I

A new series from Our Holy Father the Pope on how to enter the school of Jesus.
We know well, in fact, that prayer cannot be taken for granted: We must learn how to pray, almost as if acquiring this art anew; even those who are very advanced in the spiritual life always feel the need to enter the school of Jesus to learn to pray with authenticity.

We receive the first lesson from the Lord through his example. The Gospels describe to us Jesus in intimate and constant dialogue with the Father: It is a profound communion of the One who came into the world not to do his will but that of the Father who sent him for man's salvation.

In this first catechesis, by way of introduction, I would like to propose some examples of prayer present in ancient cultures, to reveal how, virtually always and everywhere, people have turned to God.

I begin with ancient Egypt, as an example. Here a blind man, asking the divinity to restore his sight, attests to something universally human, as is the pure and simple prayer of petition on the part of one who is suffering. This man prays: "My heart desires to see you ... You who made me see the darkness, create light for me, that I may see you! Bend over me your beloved face" (A. Barucq -- F. Daumas, Hymnes et prieres de l'Egypte ancienne, Paris, 1980, translated into Italian as Preghiere dell'umanita, Brescia, 1993, p. 30).

That I may see you; here is the heart of prayer! Prevailing in the religions of Mesopotamia was a mysterious and paralyzing sense of guilt, though not deprived of the hope of rescue and liberation by God.
 
Hence we can appreciate a supplication by a believer of those ancient cults, which sounds like this: "O God who are indulgent even in the most serious fault, absolve my sin ... Look, Lord, to your weary servant, and blow your breeze on him: Forgive him without delay. Alleviate your severe punishment. Free from the shackles, make me breathe again; break my chain, loosen my ties" (M. J. Seux, Hymnes et prieres aux Dieux de Babylone at d'Assyrie, Paris, 1976, translated into Italian in Preghiere dell'umanita, op. cit., p. 37).

These are expressions that show how, in his search for God, man intuited, though confusedly, on one hand his guilt and on the other, aspects of divine mercy and kindness.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Carthusian Martyrs

St. John Houghton
The Archbishop of Westminster remembers the heroism and fidelity of St. John Houghton and Companions, saying:
Shortly, from this chapel, where we have celebrated such a beautiful solemn evensong, we will process to the Chapel Court, the site of the ancient Priory Church. There, as the Master will remind us, the Carthusian Community – having a few days earlier undertaken their reconciliation with God and one another -- offered the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

They did so that the “gracious Comforter himself” would “console, strengthen and direct [their] hearts”. And, as we will hear, during that holy Mass the monks experienced the voice of a gentle breeze, which, though no more than a sweetly whispered murmur, was nevertheless an irresistible power....

The gift of the Holy Spirit moved them to be reconciled with God and with one another. That soft murmur carried sweetly and strongly, to their inner ear, the very word of God: “Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine”; I will be with you through river and fire to bring you to the glory for which I have created you. Yes, a gentle breath convincing them utterly that the fiery trial ahead would make them nothing less than partakers in Christ’s sufferings -- thus something in which to rejoice!...

That courageous witness was given four hundred and seventy six years ago today when Saint John Houghton, after pardoning his executioner with a moving embrace and kiss, went to his death praying one of the psalms we sang tonight: In te, Domine, speravi. It was such hope, born of the Spirit, such a firm trust in God our strong rock and deliverer, which preserved St John in fidelity to his calling and mission; such inspired trust and hope permitting St John in his suffering to give voice to the very passion of Christ: “Into your hands I commend my spirit”. In this, too, he was one with Christ’s Passover into the Father’s glory.

His nineteen companions gave the same witness, some of whom endured being tied to posts in filthy prisons and deprived of food. However, for a while at least, a Margaret Clement, disguised as a milkmaid, it is said, was able to smuggle in meat to these poor souls. Margaret had been brought up in the household of St. Thomas More, whom by association we may also include as a Charterhouse martyr. No doubt you know that as a young man he joined in the spiritual exercises of the Charterhouse and seriously considered joining the Community. Although he did not, the influence of the monks remained in his heart. In his Dialogue of Comfort, written whilst a prisoner in the Tower, he tells us that imprisonment for God’s sake is no displeasure. As an example to prove this he takes the “Holy Monks…of the Charterhouse Order, such as never pass their cells but only to the church set fast by their cells and thence to their cells again, wherein for God’s love they joyfully choose so to live.” And it was in his cell that St. Thomas echoes the trust of the Carthusian when he wrote: “God must be your comfort…And he is a sure comforter;…and therefore if, you be part of His flock, and believe His promise, how can you be comfortless in any tribulation? When Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them their inseparable Father (if you put full trust and confidence in them), be never neither one finger breadth of space nor one minute of time from you.”

Guided by the Holy Spirit, St Thomas More discerned that his vocation was not monasticism but marriage. Of course, one can be called to both (but not at the same time!) as was demonstrated by one of the Carthusian Martyrs, Blessed Sebastian Newdigate. He married and had a daughter. Later, following the death of his wife, he entered the London Charterhouse. King Henry VIII, with whom Sebastian had enjoyed an intimate friendship, offered great riches to Sebastian if only he would conform to the Act of Supremacy. The king even visited Sebastian in prison in order to convince him to do so. However, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, Sebastian remained steadfast.

This fidelity of two Charterhouse martyrs who had lived as married men brings to mind the most recent marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. For it powerfully reminded us that Holy Matrimony calls the couple to be living witnesses to the Holy Spirit – The Lovers’ breath. The Spirit inflames the trust so essential to married life, trust not only between husband and wife but also – and above all -- in God. As Bishop Richard Chartres in his eloquent address explained: in the spirit of our generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to one another; that whatever the difficulties, they are to be committed to the way of self-sacrificing love, a generous love which allows the Spirit to flow. Yet such generous love, the true sustenance of enduring happiness, is not possible without that most fundamental trust in God. I think that the young Duke and Duchess do believe this. In the lovely prayer which they composed for their own wedding they asked God the Father to keep their eyes fixed on what is real and important in life, and they asked the grace of serving ‘in the Spirit of Jesus’ himself.

The Spirit of Jesus Christ was at work not only in that happy couple, but also in the gathering together of so many who shared in the splendid royal wedding. Assembled with Her Majesty the Queen were three cardinals, the Apostolic Nuncio representing the Holy See, and the present Archbishop of Westminster too! It was an occasion which showed that, even if not wholly, the Holy Spirit of peace and reconciliation has healed many wounds in the Church. Certainly there is a journey still to be completed, but how far we have come from the situation in the sixteenth century which we recall today! Furthermore, it struck me, sat as I was in the choir stalls with the Chief Rabbi and leaders of other religions as neighbours, that within the Abbey a certain bond of unity with those outside the Christian family had been forged. Was this not another manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s work?

Certainly the royal wedding made a very favourable impression on many of my brother bishops from around the world who were at another great celebration which I attended last Sunday, the Beatification of Pope John Paul II. This too was a marvellous celebration of the fruits of the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit empowered Blessed John Paul to respond whole-heartedly to the invitation of Christ: “Do not be afraid.”

So as we take our steps to the Chapel Court in the company of Saint John Houghton and his fellow Carthusian Martyrs, let us seek their intercession -- and Blessed John Paul II’s too. He would also ask to seek the help of that spirit-filled woman, Mary, who recognised that for God nothing is impossible. In answer to their prayers, may the grace of spiritual unction which they possessed so abundantly pass to us and softly charm our hearts. Gladdened and strengthened by that gift may we not be afraid to journey further along the path toward unity, knowing that the Lord walks with us every step of the way, no matter how arduous it may seem. May God’s holy will, that there be full and visible communion among all who rejoice in the name Christian, find fulfilment in and through us, to his eternal praise. Amen.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Catholic Woman's Book of Prayers

This small, sturdy volume is perfect for those of us who like to carry our prayers in our purse. In A Catholic Woman's Book of Prayers, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle once again shares her insights on how to live out the faith in a practical way. Composed of short meditations and quotes from Scripture and the writings of the popes and the saints, the book is perfect for a shot of inspiration during a busy day or for an hour of quiet meditation. It is for women of all ages and walks of life, married or single, old or young. There are prayers for times of sorrow and pain, for difficult pregnancies, for the change of life or even for deepening our vocation, whatever it might be.  Most of all, it focuses on the fact that all women are entrusted with the nurturing of humanity, with spiritual motherhood, which can be expressed in many different ways. To quote:
All women are blessed with the gift of spiritual motherhood because we are entrusted with the human being. We respond to this lofty gift by our responses of love to all we meet. We trust that God knows what He's doing, putting us all together in our families, neighborhoods, parishes, communities, and work-places for a distinct and holy purpose. (p.63)
(*NOTE: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Apostle of the Alleghenies

Prince, priest, and pioneer: After 41 years working in the Alleghenies, he died as he had lived, a poor man. To quote:

Father Gallitzin first exercised his ministry in Baltimore and in the scattered missions of southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland and Virginia.  In 1796, while stationed at Conewago, Pennsylvania, Servant of God Gallitzin  received a sick-call to attend a Mrs. John Burgoon, a Protestant, who lived at McGuire’s Settlement, about one hundred and fifty miles distant, and who ardently desired to become a Catholic before her death.  Father Gallitzin immediately started on the long journey, instructed Mrs. Burgoon, and received her into the Church.  During this visit to the Alleghenies he conceived the idea of forming a Catholic settlement there. In preparation therefore, he invested his means (considerable at that time) in the purchase of land adjoining the four hundred acres donated to the Church, and at the urgent request of the little mountain colony obtained from Bishop Carroll permission to fix his permanent residence there with jurisdiction extending over a territory with a radius of over one hundred miles.  In the summer of 1799, he commenced his career as pioneer priest of the Alleghenies.  His first care was to erect a church and house of logs, hewn from the immense pine trees of the surrounding forest.  In a letter to Bishop Carroll, dated February 9, 1800, he writes:
Our church, which was only begun in harvest, got finished fit for service the night before Christmas. It is about 44 feet long by 25, built of white pine logs with a very good shingle roof. I kept service in it at Christmas for the first time. There is also a house built for me, 16 feet by 14, besides a little kitchen and a stable.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mary, the Earthly Paradise

From Rorate Caeli:
Mary alone found grace before God without the help of any other creature. All those who have since found grace before God have found it only through her. She was full of grace when she was greeted by the Archangel Gabriel and was filled with grace to overflowing by the Holy Spirit when he so mysteriously overshadowed her. From day to day, from moment to moment, she increased so much this twofold plenitude that she attained an immense and inconceivable degree of grace. So much so, that the Almighty made her the sole custodian of his treasures and the sole dispenser of his graces. She can now ennoble, exalt and enrich all she chooses. She can lead them along the narrow path to heaven and guide them through the narrow gate to life. She can give a royal throne, sceptre and crown to whom she wishes. Jesus is always and everywhere the fruit and Son of Mary and Mary is everywhere the genuine tree that bears that Fruit of life, the true Mother who bears that Son. ~ Saint Louis de Montfort (Read entire article.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Tribute to Pope John Paul II

A life in pictures.
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