Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vow of Louis XVI to the Sacred Heart

There is a great deal of misunderstanding on the internet concerning the Consecration of France to the Sacred Heart by Louis XVI. It is not true that the king made the Vow/Consecration in the Temple prison while awaiting execution. He made it while still living at the Tuileries palace. In the spring of 1791, after signing the Civil Constitution of the Clergy a few months earlier, King Louis XVI fell ill at the Tuileries, where the royal family were living under house arrest. His illness was undoubtedly the result of the stress of the upheavals which he had tried to prevent, as well as the fact that his conscience was troubling him about signing the Catholic Church in France over to the revolutionary government, severing the ties with Rome. Louis had signed it under duress but deeply regretted his decision immediately.

According to biographer Bernard Fay, Louis made the Vow under the guidance of his non-juring confessor, a Eudist priest Fr. Hebert. In the 1600's a Visitation nun, Saint Margaret Mary, had claimed that Jesus had requested that the King of France consecrate France to His Sacred Heart. The consecration had never been performed. So, with the help of Fr. Hebert, Louis drafted the following Vow, which he sealed in the walls of his apartments.

The Vow was not found until the palace had been partially burned by the Commune and was being torn down in 1871. It was discovered still sealed in the wall of the king's room. Louis was a locksmith and was fascinated with construction, so building a hiding place for his papers would not have been beyond him. He was known for his penchant for secrecy and his hiding of private papers from prying eyes. The fact that the Vow was not discovered until the 1870's demolishes the claim of some that it was merely a product of pious forgery during the 1814-1830 Restoration. The methodical legality of the document is typical of Louis XVI, who as an amateur cartographer was characterized by his precision and attention to detail. I found the Vow on this site; the translation is a bit rough because it is mine, with some help from Google.

Dedication of France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by King Louis XVI

You see, ô my God! all the wounds which tear my heart, and depth of the abyss into which I have fallen. Evils without number surround me on all sides. My personal misfortunes and those of my family, which are dreadful, overwhelm my heart, as well as those which cover the face of the kingdom. The cries of all the unfortunate ones, the moaning of oppressed religion resounds in my ears, and an interior voice still informs me that perhaps Your justice reproaches me with all these calamities, because, in the days of my power, I did not repress the license of the people and the irreligion, which are the principal sources; because I served the weapons of heresy which triumphed, by supporting it by laws which doubled its forces and gave it the audacity to dare all.

I will not have temerity, ô my God! to justify to myself before You; but You know that my heart was always subject to faith and morals; my faults are the fruit of my weakness and seem worthy of Your great mercy. You forgave King David, who caused your enemies to blaspheme You and King Manassès, who had involved his people in the idolatry. Disarmed by their penitence, you restored them one and the other on the throne of Juda; you made them reign with peace and glory. Would You be inexorable today towards a son of Saint Louis, who takes these penitent kings for models, and which, with their example, wishes to repair his faults and to become a King according to Your Heart?

O Jesus-Christ! divine Redeemer of all our iniquities, it is in Your Adorable Heart that I want to deposit the overflowing of my afflicted heart. I call upon the help of the tender Heart of Mary, my majestic protector and my mother, and the assistance of Saint Louis, my most famous patron and of my ancestor. O adorable Heart, by the so pure hands of my powerful intercessors, receive with kindness the wishes that confidence inspires in me and that I offer to You like the humble expression of my feelings. If, by an effect of the infinite kindness of God, I recover my freedom, my crown and my royal power, I promise solemnly:

1. To revoke as soon as possible all the laws which will be indicated to me, either by the Pope, or by a Council, or by the four Bishops chosen among most enlightened and most virtuous of my kingdom, with the purity and the integrity of the faith, the discipline and the spiritual jurisdiction of Holy Catholic, Apostolic Church, Roman, and in particular to revoke the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

2. To take, in a one year interval, in union with the Pope and the Bishops of my kingdom, all measurements necessary to establish, according to the canonical forms, a solemn festival in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which will be celebrated in perpetuity in all France, on the first Friday after the octave of the Blessed Sacrament, and always followed by a general procession, in repair of the insults and profanations made in the time of the disorders, by the schismatics, the heretics and the bad Christians.

3. To go myself in person, within three months from the day of my delivery, to the church of Notre-Dame of Paris, or in any other principal church of the place where I will be, and to pronounce, one day of Sunday or festival, at the foot of the high altar, after the offertory of the Mass, and between the hands of the celebrant, a solemn act of dedication of my person, my family and my kingdom to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, promising to give to all my subjects, the example of the worship and the devotion which are due to this adorable Heart.

4. To set up and to decorate at my own expense, in the church which I will choose for it, within one year from the day of my delivery, an altar which will be dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and which will be used as an eternal monument of my recognition and my confidence without end in the infinite merits and in the inexhaustible treasures of grace which are contained in this Crowned Heart.

5. Finally, to renew every year, in the place where I will be, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the act of dedication expressed in the third article, and to attend the general procession which will follow the Mass of this day. Today I pronounce only in secrecy this promise, but I would sign it my blood if it were needed; and the most beautiful day of my life will be that where I will be able to aloud publish it in the temple. O Adorable Heart of my Savior! Let my right hand be forgotten and let me curse myself, if I forget Your blessings and my promises, if I cease to love You, finding my confidence in You and all of my consolation. Amen.

Here is the original French:

Consécration de la France au sacré-Coeur de Jésus

Vous voyez, ô mon Dieu ! toutes les plaies qui déchirent mon coeur, et la profondeur de l'abîme dans lequel je suis tombé. Des maux sans nombre m'environnent de toutes parts. A mes malheurs personnels et à ceux de ma famille, qui sont affreux, se joignent pour accabler mon âme, ceux qui couvrent la face du royaume. Les cris de tous les infortunés, les gémissements de la religion opprimée retentissent à mes oreilles, et une voix intérieure m'avertit encore que peut-être votre justice me reproche toutes ces calamités, parce que, dans les jours de ma puissance, je n'ai pas réprimé la licence du peuple et l'irréligion, qui en sont les principales sources ; parce que j'ai fourni moi-même des armes à l'hérésie qui triomphe, en la favorisant par des lois qui ont doublé ses forces et lui ont donné l'audace de tout oser.

Je n'aurai pas la témérité, ô mon Dieu ! de me justifier devant vous ; mais vous savez que mon coeur a toujours été soumis à la foi et aux règles des moeurs ; mes fautes sont le fruit de ma faiblesse et semblent dignes de votre grande miséricorde. Vous avez pardonné au roi David, qui avait été cause que vos ennemis avaient blasphémé contre vous ; au roi Manassès, qui avait entraîné son peuple dans l'idolâtrie. Désarmé par leur pénitence, vous les avez rétabli l'un et l'autre sur le trône de Juda ; vous les avez fait régner avec paix et gloire. Seriez-vous inexorable aujourd'hui pour un fils de saint Louis, qui prend ces rois pénitents pour modèles, et qui, à leur exemple, désire réparer ses fautes et devenir un Roi selon votre coeur ?
O Jésus-Christ ! divin Rédempteur de toutes nos iniquités, c'est dans votre Coeur adorable que je veux déposer les effusions de mon âme affligée. J'appelle à mon secours le tendre Coeur de Marie, mon auguste protectrice et ma mère, et l'assistance de saint Louis, mon patron et le plus illustre de mes aïeux.
Ouvrez-vous, Coeur adorable, et par les mains si pures de mes puissants intercesseurs, recevez avec bonté les voeux satisfactoires que la confiance m'inspire et que je vous offre comme l'expression naïve de mes sentiments.
Si, par un effet de la bonté infinie de Dieu, je recouvre ma liberté, ma couronne et ma puissance royale, je promets solennellement :
1_ De révoquer le plus tôt possible toutes les lois qui me seront indiquées, soit par le Pape, soit par un Concile, soit par quatre Evêques choisis parmi les plus éclairés et les plus vertueux de mon royaume, comme contraires à la pureté et à l'intégrité de la foi, à la discipline et à la juridiction spirituelle de la sainte Eglise catholique, apostolique, romaine, et notamment la Constitution civile du clergé ;
2_De prendre, dans l'intervalle d'une année, tant auprès du Pape qu'auprès des Evêques de mon royaume, toutes les mesures nécessaires pour établir, suivant les formes canoniques, une fête solennelle en l'honneur du Sacré-Coeur de Jésus, laquelle sera célébrée à perpétuité dans toute la France, le premier vendredi après l'octave du Saint-Sacrement, et toujours suivie d'une procession générale, en réparation des outrages et des profanations commises dans le temps des troubles, par les schismatiques, les hérétiques et les mauvais chrétiens.
3_D'aller moi-même en personne, sous trois mois, à compter du jour de ma délivrance, dans l'église Notre-Dame de Paris, ou dans toute autre église principale du lieu où je me trouverai, et de prononcer, un jour de dimanche ou de fête, au pied du maître-autel, après l'offertoire de la messe, et entre les mains du célébrant, un acte solennel de consécration de ma personne, de ma famille et de mon royaume au Sacré-Coeur de Jésus, avec promesse de donner à tous mes sujets, l'exemple du culte et de la dévotion qui sont dus à ce Coeur adorable.
4_D'ériger et de décorer à mes frais, dans l'église que je choisirai pour cela, dans le cours d'une année à compter du jour de ma délivrance, une chapelle ou un autel qui sera dédié au Sacré-Coeur de Jésus, et qui servira de monument éternel de ma reconnaissance et de ma confiance sans bornes dans les mérites infinis et dans les trésors inépuisables de grâce qui sont renfermés dans ce Coeur Sacré.
5_Enfin de renouveler tous les ans, au lieu où je me trouverai, le jour qu'on célébrera la fête du Sacré-Coeur, l'acte de consécration exprimé dans l'article troisième, et d'assister à la procession générale qui suivra la messe de ce jour.
Je ne puis aujourd'hui prononcer qu'en secret cet engagement, mais je le signerais de mon sang s'il le fallait ; et le plus beau jour de ma vie sera celui où je pourrai le publier à haute voix dans le temple.
O Coeur adorable de mon Sauveur ! Que j'oublie ma main droite et que je m'oublie moi-même, si jamais j'oublie vos bienfaits et mes promesses, si je cesse de vous aimer et de mettre en vous ma confiance et toute ma consolation. Ainsi soit-il.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Humanity's Loss

Abortion warns of something worse.
True human love is unconditional. It is when you love someone no matter what. No matter what happens to them you will take care of them. If they get sick, even if they are in a car accident and paralyzed, you take care of them the rest of their lives. Another kind of love -- maybe a selfish kind of love -- is where you give yourself to someone only for as long as you like it. Abortion becomes this instrumentalized kind of love -- as a means for a way out. We need to turn the whole issue around and say that we need to accept everyone, all human life, the way Mother Teresa said, there are no unwanted children. If there is a child that someone said is unwanted, bring that child to me and I will take care of that child because I love that child.

And this is the truth of the matter. So if one were to make a claim that abortion allows us to act out some kind of altruistic care for other people by avoiding hardship, that logic leads tragically, I'd say murderously, to claiming that handicapped people shouldn't exist. Once you do that, it's the denial of all human dignity. (Read entire article.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Blessed Marguerite Rutan

Another martyr of the guillotine was recently beatified. According to Zenit:
Marguerite Rutan was born in 1736 in Metz, France, the eighth of 15 children. Her father was a stonecutter, master mason and architect, and her profoundly Christian mother gave each of her children a serious religious education and the example of a selfless life. In 1757, at the age of 21, Marguerite began her novitiate in the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. In 1779, she was sent to serve in the Hospital of Dax. The sister soon became a pioneer of social action, opening a school and working to provide a home for abandoned girls.

In 1789, the French Revolution began, which ushered in a perior of social and political turmoil in the country. In 1792, Sister Marguerite and her community of sisters were accused of theft, and on Christiamas Eve in 1793, Sister Marguerite was denounced and imprisoned. At the height of the Reign of Terror (1793-1794), she was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Tribunal on April 9, 1794, and guillotined on the same day for refusing to deny her faith. It is estimated that between 16,000-40,000 people were guillotined during this period of history. (Read entire article.)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Criticizing Bishops and Priests

Beware the dangers.
 I keep foremost in mind the account I'll have to give to God one day when I stand alone before Him, and He asks me to give an account for every statement I've ever uttered. Others may no doubt accuse me of being overly timid or fearful in publicly rebuking wayward clergy, but in this case, I fear God more than man, and would rather stand before Him with a clear conscience on judgment day than give way to the pressures of fellow Catholics to take part in badmouthing priests. (Read entire post at Laudem Gloriae.) 

I wish we would all just STOP passing judgment on each other.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

St. Alban

The proto-martyr of Britain, whose shrine was destroyed during the Reformation. To quote:
His status as protomartyr ensured the importance of the abbey which was founded over and around his place of martyrdom and burial at what became St Albans. The abbey church, now the Anglican cathedral, is a church which I find immensely moving - not only is it the shrine of St Alban, but as a building has suffered so many mishaps and accidents, as well as the dissolution and reformation, and a heavy handed restoration in the late nineteenth century, but has somehow managed to survive and still be in itself a witness to the enduring faith.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Defending the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity

A magnificent defense of the core teaching of our faith. To quote:
Every time we make the sign of the Cross we make an invocation of the Holy Trinity: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Those who grew up as Catholics, or in other religious communities with an orthodox understanding of this Triune nature of God, may take this doctrine for granted and not comprehend the extent to which it has historically been assaulted and still is attacked today. (Read entire article.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Theology of the Heart

Mary's Heart at the heart of theology. To quote:
Conversion, penance, atonement for sin: these are the themes which always recur in the "great" Marian apparitions of the last 150 years. In the message of Fatima, they are besides, closely connected with the call for the veneration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A brief consideration of this message can clarify the meaning and the mode and manner of creaturely collaboration in the work of redemption.

"Do you want to give yourself to God?" -- This question of Mary to the children gives the keynote from the very first apparition. Dedication to God, total and unconditional: it is the attitude which befits the creature as creature. It is the attitude of Mary. For man there is nothing more joyful than such dedication. It is fully "connatural" to us. This is the reason why despite seriousness, joy is dominant in the message of Fatima, just as Mary's surrender to God bathed her life in the light of "unspeakable joy" (1 Pet. 1:8).

The "Yes" to dedication however, is also a "yes" to everything that God wills to send. "Are you ready to offer every sacrifice and to accept every suffering which he will send you?" The second question to the children introduces them into Mary's attitude of readiness. The "Yes" to dedication leads into the darkness of suffering. This suffering is not meaningless. It is participation in the work of redemption: "Are you ready.. to accept every suffering... as atonement for the many sins through which the divine Majesty is offended?" Sacrifice and suffering as atonement for sins. The theological core of this message, which has largely grown strange to us, is permanently valid. Presupposed is the elemental sense for the holiness of God ("the Divine Majesty") and linked with this, the deep horror over the nature of sin, "nondum considerasti quanti ponderis sit peccatum!"38. Is that also the meaning of the vision of hell during the third apparition? Shortly before, the children were told: "offer yourselves up for sinners." Atonement does not mean here "work-righteousness" of men; it grows out of the dedication to the holy God, out of the pain over the deadly nature of distance from God. "Atonement", not out of fear before God's punishment, but as sharing in the mercy of God who does not will the death of the sinner.39

In this way, we also get an inkling why the idea of atonement is connected precisely with the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; indeed why there is mention even of atonement for the "offenses to this Heart." Sin as the power of death always affects the heart of the Mother of life. the devotion to this heart becomes the exercise of the dedication, the glorification of God and his mercy which has found an undying echo in this heart.40 Thereby this heart becomes the sign of hope: " I will never abandon you; my Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way which will lead you to God." Mary is experienced here as a real and personal sign for the certitude of faith that grace has irrevocably conquered. Thus the message of Fatima terminates in the promise: "In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph." Again it is important to pay heed to the theological core of this message: the victory of grace is "personified" in Mary. She is the first of the redeemed; she remains the first-redeemed -- as mother of all the redeemed.41
(Read entire article.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Et Cum Spiritu Tuo

Father Blake explains how the new translation of the English missal will restore the authentic meaning of the ancient greeting, saying:
The current ICEL translations have cut us off from this Christian greeting which goes back at least to the first century. For 2,000 years Christians have used it, those four words have formed the theology of ordinary Christians, replacing them by "And also with you", meaning ,"same to you", has done immense damage to the thinking of English speaking Christians over the last 40 years. No wonder some priests prefer to supplement or replace it with the even more prosaic, "Good morning everybody". Not understanding or seeing the point, demonstrates the serious rupture that has gone on in the Church's thinking in the English speaking world.

"Dominus vobiscum: Et cum Spiritu tuo", implies one is saying something quite different than the current response, it causes us to acknowledge that the Spirit of God is upon us, that Grace is present in our lives and that we have capacity to receive Grace. "Also with you" gives us a closed circle, were there is a problem with Grace.

At the heart of the problems we experience, at least in the English speaking Church, is a distancing from Sanctifying Grace and our ability to receive it. Lex orandi: lex credendi. I think the correct translation of these four words will do a great deal heal a dangerous trend. Their absence hits at the very heart of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and our anthropology, it does indeed damage us seriously!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Saint Thérèse and Purgatory

From an article by Father Dr. Hubert van Dijk. (Via Irenikon)
  This is what St. Therese says, "I know that of myself I would not merit even to enter that place of expiation since only holy souls can have entrance there. But I also know that the Fire of Love is more sanctifying than is the fire of Purgatory. I know that Jesus cannot desire useless sufferings for us, and that He would not inspire the longings I feel unless He wanted to grant them."13 It is true that Purgatory is a wonderful grace, for if needed, without the purification in Purgatory we would not go to Heaven, and the work of art which God intended and created us to be would not be completed. But St. Therese is right: at the moment of our death we already have our place in Heaven. Afterwards, there is no growing in grace anymore. Whoever does not go through Purgatory does not miss anything.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Every Five Minutes...

...A Christian is martyred. A sociologist testifies.
Introvigne reported that Christians killed every year for their faith number 105,000, and that number includes only those put to death simply because they are Christians. It does not count the victims of civil or international wars.
"If these numbers are not cried out to the world, if this slaughter is not stopped, if it is not acknowledged that the persecution of Christians is the first worldwide emergency in the matter of violence and religious discrimination, the dialogue between religions will only produce beautiful conferences but no concrete results," he stated. Egyptian diplomat Aly Mahmoud said that in his country laws have been passed that will protect Christian minorities, for example, prosecuting those who give speeches that incite hatred and banning hostile crowds outside churches. "However, the danger is that many Christian communities in the Middle East will die from emigration, because all Christians, feeling threatened, will flee," he said.
The diplomat suggested Europe prepare for "a new wave of emigration, this time from Christians fleeing the persecutions." For his part, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, chairman for the Russian Orthodox patriarchate's Department of External Church Relations, reminded that "at least 1 million" Christian victims of persecutions are children. (Read entire article.)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Quieting the Heart

A meditation for the Friday after the Ascension from DYNAMIS!:
Quieting the Heart: Saint John 14:1-11, especially vs. 1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Have faith in God and faith in Me.” [NAB]  The American Communist, Whittaker Chambers, after a lifelong commitment to the Party, eventually rejected that ideology.  He tells of a German man, like himself, who became ‘an implacable anti-Communist’ in a single unexpected moment during the heyday of Communism.  Chambers describes the man’s conversion: “ night in Moscow, he heard screams.  That’s all.  Simply, one night he heard screams.”  Thus, Chambers asks, “Why does the Communist ever hear them?  Because,” he asserts, “in the end there persists in every man, however he may deny it, a scrap of soul.”

Thankfully, your ‘scrap of soul’ and mine can be troubled.  Events have the power to awaken, unsettle and distress the heart and soul, and force us to change.  What sort of circumstances have this ability?  Guilt, loss of meaning, and death come readily to mind.  When such realities stir within, three statements from the Lord also press in to give peace: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (Jn. 14:1 NKJ).

Guilt is disturbing.  No one lives directly with guilt when the depth of conscience is touched.  Blame of others, confession, denial, and self-punishment are various tactics used to rid ourselves of guilt.  To enjoy sins we rationalize, and if we persist, we may even sear the conscience and deaden that holy fire that burns and troubles the heart (see Pr. 6:28; 1 Ti. 4:2).  Yet a ‘scrap of soul’ remains, and there persists hope for repentance.  True life abides, like a green root of a dead tree, and, with nurture, life sends up living shoots.

Observe the Lord Jesus undercutting Peter’s pride and self-confidence: “Will you lay down your life for My sake?  Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times” (Jn. 13:38 NKJ).  Jesus spoke this to a disciple who had left everything to follow Him, a man who loved Him deeply, a man whose physical life He had saved from drowning by an outstretched hand.  The Lord troubled Saint Peter and the other disciples, yet He reassured them.  Despite guilt, there is a way to God: “I Am the way...” He says, and, what is more, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6).  Listen to the Lord’s message: “Stop the raging in your heart; believe in Me, for I Am the Way back to the Father.”

Loss of meaning erodes men’s inner world.  Whittaker Chambers explains how so many were caught up by Communism.  “The world outside Communism, the world in crisis, lacks a vision and a faith.”  He describes the present world!  Beloved, the world’s mad rush to pleasure, self-realization, and substance abuse are frenetic efforts to stave off the loss of meaning that seeps in from every side.  Against emptiness, like a rock, stands the Holy Faith.  Listen to Saint John of Kronstadt: “The Holy Trinity sees and hears me; this is the most life-giving assurance for my heart, penetrating it with peace and joy.”  Jesus Christ, is “...the Truth” (vs. 6).  Have faith in Him Who is the Truth for over and over He proves true.  He stops the raging in the heart.

The specter of death can corrode equanimity.  Life’s gifts - cherished relationships, genuine achievements, and goals yet to be completed - can be shaken in one moment by death.   The Lord Jesus warned the Disciples of His Passion: “ of you will betray Me” (Jn. 13:21).  “...I shall be with you a little while longer” (Jn. 13:33).  “Where I Am going you cannot follow Me now...” (Jn. 13:36) - disturbing words.  As Saint John Chrysostom observed, the Disciples “...would expect to have to undergo some great reverse, sufficient to bend even souls of adamant.”  Yes, and the Lord Jesus died and His own were scattered; yet Christ is among us!

“I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten....”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Martin Mosebach on Universae Ecclesiae and the Gregorian Rite

An informative interview. To quote Martin Mosebach:
The enemies of the great liturgical tradition of the Roman Church in many cases have not accepted the permission given to the Old Rite. They often tried to ignore the pope’s motu proprio and sought to maintain obstacles. They tried with bureaucratic methods to render ineffective the pope’s generosity. Therefore, the Vatican had to be clearer if it wanted to maintain the motu proprio....

There’s already a schism, not between supporters of the new and old rites, but between those Catholics who adhere to the old sacramental theology of the Church as was solemnly confirmed by Vatican II, and those who assert that Vatican II founded a new Church with a new theology and new sacraments. This latter doctrine has been diffused wholesale and against the better knowledge of its promoters, in the seminaries, universities and Catholic academies. This is what has fostered the danger of a schism. (Read entire interview.)
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