Monday, January 30, 2012

Let Us Test and Examine Our Ways

On receiving the Eucharist. Fr. Mark says:
Both Orthodox and Eastern Catholic rites have, for centuries, practiced a form of Holy Communion by intinction? Latin Rite Catholics have something to learn from this centuries-old experience.

Have our Bishops given thought to the grave scandal given to the Orthodox Churches by the current Roman Catholic practices of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, often in casual street attire, distributing the Most Precious Blood directly from the the chalice without so much as a cloth held beneath the chin of the communicant?
Why are Protestants not offended by the same practice? Why are they indifferent to it? The answer is, I think, obvious. Has Holy Communion under both forms been used as a justification for the multiplication of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion? In the choice of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, why are the principles and the order for selection of fit persons indicated in Immensae Caritatis (29 January 1973) not followed? Alas, there are even parishes where an open appeal for volunteers is made from the pulpit! With regard to the first, we read that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion may be employed:
a. whenever no priest, deacon, or acolyte is available;
Why are acolytes (now, effectively equivalent to subdeacons in the reformed Latin Rite) not employed?
Why have Ordinaries not instituted a course of preparation for acolytes, similar to that in place for deacons?
Why are men preparing for the permanent diaconate, who have already been instituted as acolytes, not preferred to Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion?
b. whenever the same ministers are impeded from administering communion because of another pastoral ministry, ill-health, or old age;
Should not the Ordinary be consulted before determining that such is, in fact, the case?
c. whenever the number of faithful wishing to receive communion is so great that the celebration of Mass or the giving of communion outside Mass would take too long.
This is frightfully vague and subject to misinterpretation.
What is too great a number of faithful? 20? 50? 100? 300? 500?
Who decides this?
What is "too long"? Who decides this?
Further, we read in the same Instruction Immensae Caritatis:
IV. The fit person referred to in nos. I and II will be designated according to the order of this listing (which may be changed at the prudent discretion of the local Ordinary): reader, major seminarian, man religious, woman religious, catechist, one of the faithful--a man or a woman.
There is an order here.
Why, in practice, do instituted readers (lectors) fall below the radar screen?
Are not deacon candidates (at least those in the final years of formation) "major seminarians"? (Read entire post.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Happy Death

Scott Richert reminds us of the necessity of praying for a happy death. To quote:
All too often, we live each day, not as if it might be our last, but as if it is the first day of many. We slip into habits that don't seem that bad. We tell little white lies; we gossip and backbite; we can't quite find enough time for our children and spouse, let alone for prayer. But we think that we have all our bases covered, because we go to Mass every Sunday, and obey the other precepts of the Church.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A New Monastery in Ireland



Catholic Online reports.
The powerful story of this new Benedictine community must be read by my readers. You can find it in its entirety here. Here is a short excerpt:
The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle is a community of men dedicated to the traditional monastic life according to the Rule of Saint Benedict, and to intercession for the sanctification of priests, in adoration and reparation before the Eucharistic Face of Christ. 
We were established during the Year of the Priest (2009-2010) in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, by His Excellency, Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery.
By the grace of God, we have been invited by His Lordship, the Most Reverend Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath, to move our fledgling community to County Meath, Ireland. God willing, we will complete this move in February-March 2012.
Fr. Mark writes:
Ours is a mission to Ireland, it is true, but a mission that seeks not to teach, but to learn by abiding before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus; not to preach much, but to listen intently to the secrets of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus; not to reform anything or anyone but to reform ourselves by the steady and quiet pursuit of the conversion of our own hearts.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blessed William Ireland

Alias Ironmonger.
Jesuit martyr, born in Lincolnshire, 1636; executed at Tyburn, 24 Jan. (not 3 Feb.), 1679; eldest son of William Ireland of Crofton Hall, Yorkshire, by Barbara, a daughter of Ralph Eure, of Washingborough, Lincolnshire (who is to be distinguished from the last Lord Eure) by his first wife.

He was educated at the English College, St. Omer; admitted to the Society of Jesus at Watten, 1655; professed, 1673; and was for several years confessor to the Poor Clares at Gravelines. In 1677 he was sent on the English Mission and appointed procurator of the province. (Read entire post.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

St. Teresa of Jesus: A Prophet for Modern Times

Our Holy Mother's message is still loud and clear.
"Never has Saint Teresa been read with such topicality as today. Saint Teresa is God’s witness, a loud and clear prophet for modern times”, pointed out the Discalced Carmelite, Tomás Álvarez, in referring to present day reception of the work and message of Saint Teresa.

In an interview granted to the magazine “Teresa de Jesús”, of which he has been an assiduous collaborator, the Teresian specialist acknowledged that the coming centenary of the birth of saint Teresa would have greater pastoral impact than the one in 1982, since the preparation has been more intense. “Within the Carmelite family, there has been a much closer drawing together around the Saint since the beginning of the continuous reading of Teresa’s works, one after the other”, expressed the prestigious Teresian expert. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Left for Dead

A meditation for those who have been victimized.
There are mortal sufferings from which human beings are not expected to recover. There are torturers of the soul who leave their victims for dead, certain that they will not recover their strength and revive. There are people who, having suffered the cruel assaults of evildoers, astonish those who know them, by going on to live and give witness to the love of Christ. (Read entire post.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Saint Sebastian

From SQPN:
Son of a wealthy Roman family. Educated in Milan. Officer of the Imperial Roman army, and captain of the guard. Favorite of Diocletian. During Diocletian’s persecution of the Christians, Sebastian visited them in prison, bringing supplies and comfort. Reported to have healed the wife of a brother soldier by making the Sign of the Cross over her. Converted soldiers and a governor to Christianity.
Charged as a Christian, Sebastian was tied to a tree, shot with arrows, and left for dead. He survived, and with the help of Saint Irene, recovered, and returned to preach to Diocletian. The emperor then had him beaten to death.
During the 14th century, the random nature of infection with the Black Death caused people to liken the plague to their villages being shot by an army of nature’s archers. In desperation, they prayed for the intercession of a saint associated with archers, and Saint Sebastian became associated with the plague.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Church in America

Difficulties and hopes.
 VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Benedict XVI received a group of prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Regions 4 and 6), at the end of their "ad limina" visit. Extracts from his English-language remarks to them are given below.

  "At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation's founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature's God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

  "For her part, the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering. ... With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth. ... The Church's defence of a moral reasoning based on the natural law is grounded on her conviction that this law is not a threat to our freedom, but rather a 'language' which enables us to understand ourselves and the truth of our being, and so to shape a more just and humane world".

  "The Church's witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation. (Read entire article.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Père Garrigou-Lagrange on Psalmody

Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange discourses on the Divine Office, the prayer of the Church, saying:
One of the greatest means of union with God for the religious soul is the psalmody, which in religious orders is the daily accompaniment of the Mass. The Mass is the great prayer of Christ; it will continue until the end of the world, as long as He does not cease to offer Himself by the ministry of His priests; as long as from His sacerdotal and Eucharistic heart there rises always the theandric act of love and oblation, which has infinite value as adoration, reparation, petition, and thanksgiving. The psalmody of the Divine Office is the great prayer of the Church, the spouse of Christ; a day and night prayer, which ought never to cease on the surface of the earth, as the Mass does not....

Such prayer is no longer mechanical, but organic; the soul has returned to vivify the body; prayer is no longer a succession of words; we are able to seize the vital spirit running through them. Without effort, even in the most painful hours of life, we can taste the admirable poetry of the psalms and find in them light, rest, strength, renewal of all energies. Then truly this prayer is a lifting up of the soul toward God, a lifting up that is not uniformly retarded, but rather accelerated. The soul burns therein and is consumed in a holy manner like the candles on the altar. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Our Lady of Hope

On this day in 1871 the heavens opened at Pontmain in France. Once again, the Blessed Mother gave hope to her children. According to Fr. Mark:
Before the beautiful Lady appeared a blood red crucifix. At the top of the cross, on a white crosspiece, the Name of Jesus Christ was written in red letters. The beautiful Lady grasped the crucifix in both hands and showed it to the children while a small star lit the four candles in the blue oval. Everyone prayed in silence. They sang the Ave Maris Stella. The red crucifix disappeared. The beautiful Lady extended her hands in a gesture of welcome. A small white cross appeared on each shoulder. Everyone knelt down in the snow. A white veil, like a great sheet, covered the beautiful Lady from foot to head. “It’s finished,” said the children. Eleven days later the armistice was signed. The Prussians never entered Laval.

It is also the feast of St. Anthony of Egypt.
The liturgy today makes it clear that Saint Antony of the Desert holds a certain primacy among the saints. The Missal gives us a complete set of proper texts; the Lectionary gives us proper readings. Antony is a primary reference, a model of how we are to hear the Word of God, an inspiration in spiritual combat, a radiant icon of holiness for the ages.

No Rest From Spiritual Combat

The feast of Saint Antony, falling between the Christmas festivities and the beginning of Lent, is an invitation to shake off the sluggishness that comes with winter, a bracing reminder that there is no rest from spiritual combat, and that "the monk's life ought at all seasons to bear a Lenten character" (RB 49:1). It is the custom in some monasteries on the feast of Saint Antony to go out to the barn to bless the animals. He is the patron of horses, pigs, cattle, and other domestic animals. Icons of Saint Antony often show his little pet pig nestled in the folds of his tunic.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

On Prayer

A letter from Father Mark.
First of all, allow me to say that prayer--all prayer--is a real combat against the proclivities of our fallen nature. God created us to pray naturally: to pray with every breath and with every heartbeat, or, if you will, God created us to adore Him perpetually, in spirit and in truth. The original sin of our first parents was a falling away from prayer, a falling away from perpetual adoration, a break in the ceaseless heart-to-heart and face-to-face in which, and for which, God created man in His own image and likeness.

With the entry of sin into the world, prayer became a struggle. The bitter irony is that, while adoration was, in the beginning, man's natural state, it became, as a result of sin, something hard to do. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Homilies of a Hermit

From the St. Genesius blog:
Fr David Jones is a Welsh hermit who lives in Duleek, (or should that be a hermit from Wales?) which is not far from Drogheda. He was on Spirit Radio on Monday, and gave an interesting interview. If you missed it, you can listen to the interview on his website. Yes, the hermit has a website! He uploads various homilies etc. His sermon on the Feast of the Epiphany is really very good. He addresses the Irish habits of blasphemy, foul language and smoking! It is not your standard irish sermon. Watch it, and share it with your friends on Facebook, if you are brave enough! (Read entire post.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Individual and Collective Destiny

Individualism has become an idol. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict recently said:
Benedict XVI expressed the view that the roots of the current crisis lie in "individualism which clouds the interpersonal dimension of man and leads him to close himself into his own little world, concerned first and foremost with satisfying his own needs and desires with scant concern for others". The consequences of such a mentality are "speculation in housing, increasing difficulty for young people to enter the world of work, the solitude suffered by so many elderly, the anonymity which often characterises urban life, and the sometimes superficial attention paid to situations of marginalisation and poverty".

  The first step towards creating a more human society is "to rediscover relationships as the constituent element of our lives". Man is called to live in relation with other people and with God, Who alone "is capable of welcoming man unconditionally and of giving him infinite love". (Read entire post.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thomas Merton on Noise

Here is a quote from Merton's The Sign of Jonas:
Silence not a virtue, noise not a sin. True. But the turmoil and confusion and constant noise of modern society are the expression of the ambiance of its greatest sins - it godlessness, its despair. A world of propaganda, of endless argument, vituperation, criticism, or simply of chatter, is a world without anything to live for.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Triumph of Grace

From Vultus Christi:
My Little Jesus draws me to Himself at about the age of five years, or at about the age three or four. In the beginning, there was a little bit of imagination and a fair amount of emotion. It has been a long time now that the emotional has disappeared almost entirely; very often, it is desert, bleak and arid. What holds me in this way is the Word of God become a child, out of love for His Father and for us; or else it is the Saviour and Physician of souls; it is the God of my heart, the Friend, the Spouse and above all the adorable Little Brother. But it is always the Holy Humanity united to the Word, and so my worship goes to the Word become a child. When He presents to my spirit His infinite grandeurs and my nothingness, His holiness, my faults and my miseries, I adore Him in making myself very small. If He allows me to glimpse the charms of His childhood, His heart so humble and so meek, His infinitely touching holy littleness, the astonishing simplicity of a little brother (and so He does ordinarily), it is the heart that responds to Him, saying to Him the same protestations of love endlessly again and again, and from time to time, making itself very little before Him who is so great. This has lasted lo all these forty years and I never weary of always repeating to Him the same things. Since then, I have never aspired after another way; my Beloved Little Jesus is enough for me. And why would I have sought anything else, since, “all good things came to me along with Him” (Wis 7:11). I should never know how to retell Him my gratitude enough. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Epiphany at Carmel

Here are some photos sent to me by my friends the Carmelite nuns in Rochester, NY.

High altar. Notice the choir grate over on the left.

High altar.

Choir altar and creche.

Choir creche

Creche inside the monastic quarters

Lovely Hummels, a gift to the monastery from a generous benefactor

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Russian Asceticism

It puts the rest of us to shame. Father Blake comments:
There is something manly about plunging into an icy pool in the middle of winter, I have been trying to think of Western parallels, apart from rigourous Lenten fasting or all night vigils, I can only think of St Patrick's Purgatory in Ireland or the blood and chains of certain unreformed remote Spanish or Italian Holy Week celebrations.

Coptic Orthodox men in Brighton seem to love to shame me by telling me of the vast numbers of fast days in their calendar and Muslims of their Ramadam austerities, there seems to be something about austerity, even physical pain that is attractive to men in the service of God. (Read entire post.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Epiphany Eve

It is the Twelfth Night. Tomorrow in Rome the Holy Father will be celebrating the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. In the U.S.A. we  will celebrate the great manifestation of Our Lord to the nations on Sunday. In the meantime, Fish Eaters has a splendid article about Epiphany Eve.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Contemplating the Name of Jesus

From Vultus Christi:
My favourite representative of devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus is the delightfully eccentric and utterly incandescent Richard Rolle, a mystic of fourteenth century England. Richard Rolle associated the Name of Jesus with three things: calor, heat; dulcor, sweetness; and canor, song. Listen to his teaching:
If you will be well with God, and have grace to rule your life, and come to the joy of love: this name Jesus, fasten it so fast in your heart that it come never out of your thought. And when you speak to him, and through custom say, "Jesus," it shall be in your ear, joy; in your mouth; honey; and in your heart, melody: for men shall think joy to hear that name be named, sweetness to speak it, mirth, and song to think it.
If you think the name "Jesus" continually, and hold it firmly, it purges your sin, and kindles your heart; it clarifies your soul, it removes anger and does away slowness. It wounds in love and fulfills charity.
It chases the devil, and puts out dread. It opens heaven, and makes a contemplative man. Have Jesus in mind, for that puts all vices and phantoms out from the lover. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

St. Geneviève

Today is the feast of Saint Genevieve, Patroness of Paris. She was a virgin consecrated to God from her earliest childhood, and displayed wisdom and courage. She guided kings, fed and taught the poor, worked miracles, cast out demons and courageously withstood the Franks and Atila the Hun. She encouraged the people of Paris to pray and do penance in order to avert the plague. She died in 512 and her tomb was for centuries a sight of pilgrimage and healings for all of France. Louis XV began to build a new church in her honor in 1764 after he was healed through her intercession. During the Revolution the church was converted into a pagan temple called the Pantheon. Most of the Saint's relics were destroyed in 1791.
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