Saturday, July 27, 2013

It’s time to contradict the spirit of the age!

A Den of Thieves or a Mirror of Justice

Meditation for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (Dominica IX post Pentecosten) – TLM Calendar

1 Cor. 10:6-13
Luke 19:41-47

Today Saint Paul encourages us to remain free from sin; he wants us to remain faithful to God, obedient to God. He tells us not to lust after evil things, not to have any idol in our lives, not to be impure in any way, not to tempt Christ Himself, and also not to murmur, not to grumble.

Now, all these admonitions from Saint Paul are extremely appropriate for us because in our times it’s very easy to fall into these sins. He tells us not to lust after evil things, but we all know that nowadays it’s very easy to fall into this, it’s very easy to desire evil things and have our hearts filled with evil desires because this world is full evil, full of temptations of every kind, and our fallen nature makes us be inclined to those things… and we often make the mistake of trying to find happiness in those things.

Saint Paul tells us not to have any idol, and we all know that it’s also very easy to have different idols in our lives. Sometimes people make idols out of the evil things, like for example when they become slaves to a particular kind of sin… they make that sin their idol and they allow this sin to take God’s place in their lives. They forfeit the life of grace and therefore also the eternal life, because they are not willing to take the necessary steps and, with the grace of God, break free from the slavery to sin. They are attached to sin.

Sometimes people make idols out of good things, maybe their work, maybe certain people, like their own families, maybe their own children, or maybe it’s themselves, their own persons, or maybe it’s their own defects and their own weaknesses, which they don’t correct because they don’t see them, and they don’t see them because the hold too high an opinion of themselves. They see the speck in someone else’s eye, but they are incapable of seeing the log in their own eye.

There are many things that we can turn into idols, and these always take God’s place in our hearts.
Saint Paul also tells us not to be impure in any way, and we all know how impure the world we live in is and how easy it is to be contaminated by this world. Our Lady of Fatima said that more souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason.

Saint Paul tells us also not to tempt Christ. Now, tempting Christ means falling into the sin of presumption. It means putting Our Lord to the test, putting His Mercy to the test, abusing His Mercy by asking questions such as: how long can I indulge my sin before His anger is stirred and He punishes me? Tempting Christ is believing in things like the idea of universal salvation: that at the end of times everybody will be reconciled to God and will be saved… or believing things like ‘hell must be empty because God is so merciful.’ This is tempting Christ, and nowadays it is a very common sin.

Deus Vult
Saint Paul tells us also not to grumble. And we all know that we grumble too much. We complain too much: we complain and grumble when there is suffering in our lives, when we have to make a sacrifice for some reason, when we have to give up something we love too much, when we have to give up someone we love too much, when we see ourselves in the midst of a great crisis in the Church (forgetting that it is a privilege, a true blessing, to be able to actually go to battle for the sake of Christ and for the sake of the Gospel… we are the Church Militant, and therefore if there are no battles for us to fight, our life is a failure… it was a privilege for the crusaders to go to battle in defense of the Faith because, as they used to say, Quia Deus Vult - because God wills it… it was a privilege for the Cristeros to go to battle for the Faith, also because it was the Will of God)… We complain too much also when God blesses us with some disease, when He blesses us with persecution, with insults, with slander, with poverty… we complain when we are blessed with all these things that can actually bring us closer to God and actually enable us to imitate Christ in a more perfect way.

Viva Cristo Rey

Well, Saint Paul today not only admonishes us not to sin in all those different ways; He also shows us how evil sin is. He knows that sin leads to perdition, that it leads to losing God and the eternal happiness for all eternity. He knows that only a life of virtue, only a life of freedom from sin, only a life of faithfulness to the will of God can provide the true happiness, which is the only one that can truly fill our hearts, the only one that can truly quench the thirst for joy and beauty and truth and love that we all have.
Chains of sin
And he knows the terrible consequences of sin. He knows that sin can make our lives a true nightmare filled with sadness, misery and emptiness.

And so, he warns us. He even tells us what happened to some people in the past when they offended God. He shows us that sin always merits a punishment… just like, on the other hand, any good action, any act of virtue, merits a reward.

He wants us to understand that sin necessarily merits a punishment, and so he says to us: do not to lust after evil things, as some people lusted them in the past… And do not become idolaters, even as some of them were… Neither let us commit immoralities, even as some of them committed immoralities, and there fell in one day twenty-three thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents. Neither grumble, as some of them grumbled, and perished at the hands of the destroyer.

So he clearly shows us the terrible consequences that sin had for all those people who offended God in such ways. And then he adds: Now, all these things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us.

Sometimes we fail to realize how terrible the consequences of sin can be. Sometimes we fail to realize that a single sin has many and very dreadful consequences.

The enemies of our soul (the devil, the world, the flesh…) want us to forget that, as a matter of fact, if we were to die in the state of mortal sin, this would mean eternal perdition for us.

They want us to forget that when we sin, we turn away from God and we become estranged from Him… we prefer something else, whatever it may be, rather than God’s friendship; we prefer to have something in a way which is not according to His Will, not according to the divine law, instead of His friendship and His love… and we forfeit the life of grace in exchange for something else.

This is why a sinner in the state of mortal sin loves himself above all else and in practice prefers himself to God…

But we have to remember the words that Jesus Christ Himself told us about all this: that whoever loves his life… (He means: in a selfish way) shall lose it, and only he who hates his life (that is, only he who sacrifices it) in this world, keeps it unto life eternal.

God wants us to live free from sin, always. Sometimes we forget, or we fail to believe that it is indeed possible for us to live free from mortal sin. It is possible to leave mortal sin behind and to spend the rest of our lives free from it. Some saints spent their whole lives without committing one single mortal sin. Many other saints had at first a very sinful life, but then they converted and they lead a life of holiness free from mortal sin.

As a matter of fact, if someone wants to start the way of holiness, the very first thing he needs to do is to leave mortal sin behind, completely, and to start working on the venial sins. That’s the very first purification necessary in any serious attempt to reach holiness.

It is not possible for us to live free from venial sin, unless we receive a special grace, like Our Blessed Mother did, but it is possible for us to live free from mortal sin. We always have enough grace from God to overcome temptation. 

Saint Paul reminds us of this in today’s Epistle. He says: God is faithful and will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also give you a way out that you may be able to bear it. But we forget this. And many times people just give in. Many times people convince themselves that they don’t have the strength. But we do. We always have the strength. God promised he would give it to us.

Now, in today’s Gospel one of the things the Lord tells us is that we mustn’t turn His house, His Temple, into a den of thieves. He was talking to those who were selling and buying in the Temple… the same ones He Himself got very upset at and cast out of the Temple.

He said to them: It is written, ‘my house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves. We can interpret this in the following way: Our Lord is rebuking all of us because nowadays His church, the Catholic Church, has been turned into something which seems to be quite different from what He founded and started… And so, this should remind us of how important it is that we all work for the restoration of the Catholic Church by starting with our own persons, by being true saints and by suffering patiently and offering up our suffering and our prayers for Mother Church.

Church in ruins
But we can also interpret the text in another way: maybe He’s rebuking us because too often we sin and what we turn into dens of thieves is actually the Temple of our own person, our own heart, our own soul, our own body… because our bodies and souls and hearts are supposed to be a house for God. We are, as a matter of fact, Temples of the Holy Spirit.

Mirror of Justice
And many times we turn ourselves into dens of thieves, the thieves being the different sins we commit. They are thieves because they steal from us the presence of God; they take from us the life of grace, and they may take from us even the eternal life.

Let us not allow them to do so. Let us always bear in mind how evil sin is. Let us never fall into the sin of presumption. And let us never forget that the most beautiful way in which we can live this life is by being always in the state of grace. We can do this because Jesus promised He would give us enough graces to do it. Let us not waste those graces. And let us ask Our Blessed Mother to teach us how to be always a Mirror of Justice, just like she is, always a reflection of the holiness of Christ. 

Martha, Martha…

Meditation for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C. 2013

Letter to the Colossians 1:24-28.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 10:38-42.

In today’s gospel we have the story of the two sisters, Martha and Mary. As the gospel says, Martha was burdened with much serving. She had welcome Jesus in her house and she was trying her hardest, working very hard, so that Jesus would be comfortable and pleased with dinner and with everything. But Martha’s sister, Mary, wasn’t helping her and instead she was sitting beside Jesus at His feet and listening to Him while He was speaking.

O tempora o mores!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

‘Once saved, always saved’ and other theological fiascos

Meditation for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (Dominica VIII post Pentecosten) – TLM Calendar

Rom 8:12-17
Luke 16:1-9

The gospel reading today clearly reminds us of the day when we will have to stand in judgment before Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what we call the particular judgment. This is what Saint Paul was talking about when he said to the Corinthians: we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

The words of the master in the parable that says to his steward ‘give an accounting of your stewardship’ are very much the same words Jesus Christ will say to each one of us when we die and we find ourselves face to face with Him. Give an accounting of your stewardship, and account of your life.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What do I have to do in order to be saved?

Meditation for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C. 2013

Letter to the Colossians 1:15-20.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 10:25-37.

The gospel today reminds us of what is maybe the most important question for all of us: what do we have to do in order to be saved? It is the most important question because reaching Heaven is the most important thing for all of us. Whoever fails to realize this and fails to acknowledge that reaching Heaven is our primary task, that it is our number one priority, misses the point of life and ignores the purpose for which we were created. We were created to go to Heaven and to enjoy with God His everlasting happiness, to be with Him for all eternity. The purpose of life is to know, love and serve God so that we can end up in Heaven with Him for all eternity. And so, asking what we have to do in order to be saved is the same as asking what am I here for… what was I created for… what is the purpose and the end of life?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

Saint Henry II

King of Germany and
Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire

Henry the Pious or the Lame, Duke of Bavaria, was born in 972, and bore his father’s name. Saint Wolfgang, bishop of Ratisbonne, baptized him and afterward raised him in the practices of virtue fitting for a great sovereign. His father died when his son was 23 years old, and Saint Henry assumed the paternal title of Duke of Bavaria. It was at this time that he married Cunegundes, the holy spouse whom God gave him, and who like himself is today a canonized Saint. They observed perfect chastity all their lives, and rivaled one another in their zeal and love for their subjects.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Defending the Liberty of Error, Some Other Aberrations, and True Liberty

Rom 6:19-23
Matt. 7:15-21

Meditation for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (Dominica VII Post Pentecosten) – TLM Calendar

In today's lesson, taken from the Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul speaks about liberty, about freedom. And this is very fitting, very appropriate for us now because we are in the time of the year when the whole nation celebrates liberty and freedom (the 4th of July), and also because never has liberty been as misunderstood as it is nowadays.

There is, for example, all the talk about religious liberty. But we know that people don’t even know what they’re saying or what they are defending when they advocate for religious freedom.

According to the modern misconception of religious liberty, all religions have a right to be followed and not be interfered with by the government, because all religions are worthy of being followed and therefore they have a right to preach their beliefs, whether they are truthful or not.

But this is a mistake that leads to religious indifferentism, and to the denial of objective truth, and therefore it leads to moral relativism, to the denial of the natural law and ultimately to the denial of the existence of God. Defending this kind of religious liberty is just breeding a monster that ultimately eats its own creators. It is a kind of revolution, and Revolution always eats its own children.

Revolution eats its own
If you open the Pandora box which is religious liberty, you cannot expect to be able to hold your ground when they come at you denying your own beliefs or even denying objective truth.

Not too long ago, for example, a document about religious liberty was published by the Conference of Catholic Bishops with the title: Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.

In reality, according to Catholic doctrine, according to what Mother Church has always taught us, our most cherished liberty is our liberation from Original Sin and its consequences, such as the eternal death. It is this liberation that was obtained for us by Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ through His Passion, Death and Resurrection. This is the true freedom: freedom from sin, freedom from the slavery of sin.

We all have been created free in the sense that we have the liberty to choose; we were created in the image and likeness of God and therefore we have an understanding, we are intelligent beings who can use reason, and we have also a free will and so we can choose between good and evil… but we are supposed to use this free will only for good, only for that which corresponds with the Truth, and never to do evil. Error and sin never have any right whatsoever.

But according to the false religious liberty, error is made equal to Truth, and both have the same rights. And this religious liberty gives to man a right to choose error, which is the same as choosing evil; but man does not have the right to choose evil. God did not make us free so we would choose evil and error, but because He wanted us to choose Him, to choose Good, to choose the Truth, the One and Only Truth, and therefore to choose the eternal life.

Since that is what He wants for us, that is what we are bound to do. It is our duty.

There is only one way in which we can talk about some sort of religious liberty which is good and legitimate: the liberty of the Catholic Church. We do have the duty of fighting for the liberty of the Catholic Church (remember the Cristeros and so many other martyrs to this cause); we do have the obligation of fighting for the liberty of the One True Church, the liberty of the Catholic Church, which is her ability to fulfill her divine mission to save souls, promote the faith and enact the corporal works of mercy in society. But this is a much different thing than defending the erroneous religious liberty, which is a false notion that originated with the Protestants.

The only religious liberty that we can advocate for is the liberty of the Catholic Church to fulfill her divine mission without being hindered by the State.

As a matter of fact, when the wrong idea of religious liberty was first installed as a civil right, in the times of the French Revolution, Pope Pius VI called it a ‘monstrous right’ and also an ‘imaginary dream’.

From this wrong idea of religious liberty comes another way in which liberty is also misunderstood: it is misunderstood by those who speak about ‘liberty of conscience’.

Pope Gregory XVI spoke clearly against this. First he condemned the ‘indifferentism’ regarding the different religions… he said that it was an evil opinion to think that as long as the customs are upright and honest one could achieve eternal salvation by any profession of faith. And then he said that from this indifferentism [actually, his words were: from this infected source of ‘indifferentism’] flows that absurd and erroneous belief that it is necessary to grant everyone ‘freedom of conscience.’ He calls it an absurd, erroneous belief. Now, we need to realize that this is the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church teaching us.

He calls this ‘freedom of conscience’ a most pernicious error. He says: some even think that it brings an advantage for religion… but this is a mistake because, in the words of Saint Augustine, what could be a worse evil for the soul than the liberty of error?

Error does not deserve freedom. People are not free to embrace all kinds of error. We are not free, in the eyes of God, to embrace error. We are not free to embrace heresy, to embrace sin.

Pope Leo XIII says that liberty should always have truth and goodness for its object. And he adds: the character of truth and goodness cannot be changed at option. The essence of goodness and of truth cannot change according to the whims of man, but remain ever one and the same.

This is what many defenders of ‘freedom of conscience’ don’t understand nowadays. The truth is unchangeable, there is only one Truth. True liberty should have this one truth for its object. There cannot be many different truths that contradict each other. That doesn’t even make any sense.

Saint Paul says to the Ephesians that there is but one God, one faith and one baptism. There is one God, so there is also only one unchanging and eternal truth, which is God Himself.

Pope Leo XIII also said that whatever is opposed to virtue and truth may not be sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law. He says that the State acts against the natural law whenever it permits the license of opinion and of action that leads minds astray from truth and souls away from the practice of virtue.

All these things were very clear in the Magisterium of Mother Church. Nowadays, things are not so clear and there is a lot of confusion.

Confusion, confusion, confusion...
If you defend religious liberty as the liberty of all religions to freely preach their ideas and beliefs and bring people to their own errors because those ideas and beliefs are just as worthy as the ones from any other religion, then you have to deny objective truth. You have to deny that there is one unchanging and eternal truth.

If we think, like so many people, even so many Catholics, that at the heart of liberty is the right to define your own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of life… then we don’t understand what true liberty is.

At the heart of liberty is not the ‘right’ to define your own concept of anything, but rather the right to freely embrace the Truth, the One and Only Truth.

Only by embracing the Truth, the Truth that Jesus Christ taught us when He was among us and that He keeps teaching us through the Catholic Church; only by living out this Truth we can be holy because only by living according to this Truth we can be free from sin. The truth will set you free.

And that’s the true liberty, that’s the true freedom: freedom from sin, freedom from the true slavery, from the worst kind of slavery which is slavery to sin…

Saint Paul is very clear about this today in the Epistle; he says: Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.

The real slavery is slavery to sin. Jesus spoke about this kind of slavery: Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. The true liberty is present only when the Holy Spirit is present. The Bible says very clearly… Saint Paul says very clearly to the Corinthians: where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. So, true liberty is in the heart of men only when they possess the Holy Spirit, only when they are in the state of grace. True liberty is being free from sin, it is being in grace. In order to be in grace, we have to do the Will of God, always. In order to do His Will, we have to know what it is. And so, we have to embrace the Truth. Even if it is hard, even if it means embracing a life of sacrifice and suffering, a life of many crosses… It is a narrow path indeed, but that’s what everybody is called to choose… that’s what we all have to choose: the narrow path that leads to Heaven. In all humility, we have to embrace the truth and then we have to live that truth, we have to make it a reality in our lives.

What can we do regarding all those people who are in error, all those people who have such a wrong conception and understanding of what freedom is? The best thing we can do for them apart from praying for them is to be true saints. Our own holiness would bring graces upon them that would help them return to God, that would help them come to the light and fall in love with the Truth.

If we want to set people on fire with the love of God, we need to be on fire with the love of God in the first place. Sometimes we complain too much about all the evil in the world, about all the errors and all the heresies and all the abuses against God Almighty… we complain a lot about all this, but we make the mistake of forgetting about the huge responsibility that God has put on our shoulders, we forget that we have received many, many graces, all the graces that we need to be truly holy, to bring many of those lost sheep back to safety, back to the truth and to the life of grace, we forget that it is our obligation to be truly holy, truly free from sin, that we need to truly embrace the truth, put it into practice, and reject any kind of slavery to sin.

If we did this, we would bear good fruit, and many souls would be saved thanks to our generosity and our holiness. If we fail to be as holy as we are supposed to, many souls will probably be lost, maybe even our own.

The devil said once to Saint John Vianney: if there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined. That’s how holy he was, and how holy we can be, and how holy we are supposed to try to be. Three like him, and the devil’s kingdom would be ruined.

Today’s Gospel reminds us of this; it reminds us that holiness produces good fruit. Jesus says: A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.

By our fruits we are known. Now, the fruit of sin, according to what Saint Paul says today to the Romans, the fruit of sin is only death. He says: the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is life everlasting in Christ Jesus.

A life of mediocrity bears no good fruit. A life of mediocrity does not help Mother Church in her crisis; it doesn’t help the Mystical Body of Christ at all, but just the opposite. It hinders the sanctification of the whole Mystical Body of Christ. A life of mediocrity hinders the sanctification of everybody else in the Church.

And it is very dangerous, because many times a life of mediocrity gives us a sense of security which is very false and presumptuous. We think that we are safe because we do the basics; we think that we are safe even though we are only doing the bare minimum. This is presumption.

But Jesus Christ, like always, speaks very clearly to us today in order to wake us up from the sleep which is mediocrity; He says: Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. And right after this He says: Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?' Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.'

These are very serious words that should make us meditate and reflect on the way in which we are living our lives. It’s not enough to do the bare minimum. It’s not even enough to do mighty deeds in His Name. We are going to be in trouble if we fail to utterly fall in love with Him and to do the Will of His Father in Heaven, and we all know what the Will of His Father in Heaven is: that we love God with all our hearts and minds and souls and strengths. And we know also what this means: it means falling in love with Christ. It means being truly holy, real saints. Like our Mother in Heaven, whom we ask today to help us be always truly free, always free from sin and slaves only to Her and to Her Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Beautiful Hymn from the Divine Office

From Matins. Dedicated to our Blessed Mother

The God whom earth, and sea, and sky
Adore, and laud, and magnify,
Who o'er their threefold fabric reigns,
The Virgin's spotless womb contains.

The God, whose will by moon and sun
And all things in due course is done,
Is borne upon a maiden's breast,
By fullest heavenly grace possest,

How blest that Mother, in whose shrine
The great artificer divine,
Whose hand contains the earth and sky,
Vouchsafed, as in his ark, to lie.

Blest, in the message Gabriel brought;
Blest, by the work the Spirit wrought;
From whom the great desire of earth
Took human flesh and human birth.

All honour, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born to thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To Father and to Paraclete.

Quem terra, pontus, sídera
Colunt, adórant, prædicant,
Trinam regéntem máchinam,
Claustrum Maríæ báiulat.

Cui luna, sol, et ómnia
Desérviunt per témpora,
Perfúsa cæli grátia,
Gestant puéllæ víscera.

Beáta Mater múnere,
Cuius supérnus ártifex
Mundum pugíllo cóntinens,
Ventris sub arca clausus est.

Beáta cæli núntio,
Foecúnda sancto Spíritu,
Desiderátus géntibus,
Cuius per alvum fusus est.

* Iesu tibi sit glória,
Qui natus es de Vírgine,
Cum Patre, et almo Spíritu
In sempitérna sæcula.

WOW! What an interview!
 The Most Reverend Bishop Athanasius Schneider says that Vatican II must be clarified. Yes, this is the same Bishop who said a couple of years ago that we need a sort of ‘Syllabus’ of the errors in the interpretation of Vatican II. These are his words:

“In recent decades there existed, and still exist today, groupings within the Church that are perpetrating an enormous abuse of the pastoral character of the Council and its texts… Keeping in mind the now decades-long experience of interpretations that are doctrinally and pastorally mistaken and contrary to the bimillennial continuity of the doctrine and prayer of the faith, there thus arises the necessity and urgency of …  a sort of “Syllabus” of the errors in the interpretation of Vatican Council II.

“There is the need for a new Syllabus, this time directed not so much against the errors coming from outside of the Church, but against the errors circulated within the Church by supporters of the thesis of discontinuity and rupture, with its doctrinal, liturgical, and pastoral application.

“Such a Syllabus should consist of two parts: the part that points out the errors, and the positive part with proposals for clarification, completion, and doctrinal clarification.”

In a recent interview (a must see) he is asked by Michael Voris what he thinks are some of the biggest, most important misinterpretations of the documents of the Council. Here is where most clergy men would have managed to dodge the question (beating around the bush, or maybe saying something like ‘actually… we need to talk about the poor!’). Bishop Schneider, on the contrary, tackles the issue and goes into details, and he tells us very clearly which are the contents of the documents that need to be clarified or even corrected (he says ‘edited’ many times), so that no misinterpretations can actually result from them. He even cites the documents where these problematic contents are to be found.

He says that there is a problem with Lumen Gentium, that its teaching about collegiality needs to be clarified, as it was already clarified by Paul VI himself, with the inclusion of the Nota Praevia that the pope wanted attached to the document.

[This Nota Praevia was a preliminary introductory note to the document (Lumen Gentium). It was, in defiance of Pope Paul VI's wishes, relegated to the Appendix of the document in published editions of the Second Vatican Council's documents. Nonetheless, though it exists in a less important place, it is still a part of the document. The nota-appendix clearly states that the Council was a pastoral one and clarifies the notion of collegiality in order to prevent Modernists from diminishing the power of the Petrine Ministry while elevating that of the College of Bishops, which Lumen Gentium could be -- and has been -- interpreted to call for.]

[From a footnote on page 88 of The Great Facade, by Christopher A. Ferrara and Thomas E. Woods, Jr. which explains the reason for this Nota: "The most famous example [of the Pope acting decisively to prevent the Second Vatican Council from promulgating outright errors as Catholic doctrine] is Pope Paul's intervention forcing the Council to include the Nota Praevia to Lumen Gentium, which correct's LG's [Lumen Gentium's] erroneous suggestion that when the Pope exercised his supreme authority he does so only as head of the apostolic college, wherein the supreme authority resides. Paul was alerted to this problem by a group of conservative Council Fathers, who finally persuaded him of LG's destructive potential: 'Pope Paul, realizing finally that he had been deceived, broke down and wept.' Wiltgen, The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, p. 232."]

Bishop Schneider says that the way the concept of collegiality can be understood in Lumen Gentium gives us an idea of the structure of the Church which is not the one that Jesus Christ gave us.

He goes on to say that there is another problem with Lumen Gentium, something that needs to be clarified: from the document you can conclude that Catholics and Muslims adore the same and One God. This is not true, he says (and he’s so right!), because Catholics worship God with a supernatural faith, since they worship the Triune God, the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; whereas the Muslims only adore God with a natural faith, as their creator; they adore the ‘one god’ that they know about only through the use of their natural reason, therefore, they have no supernatural faith, and they don’t believe in the Most Blessed Trinity.

                 [How can anyone say that Muslims worship the same God as Catholics                         when everyone knows that they don't accept Jesus Christ as Divine?]

Bishop Schneider goes on to say that there are problems also with Gaudium et Spes. He says that it is a mistake to think of man as the end and summit of everything. This leads to ANTHOPOCENTRISM (making ‘man’ the focus of everything, relegating God to a second position… actually, it leads to relegating God to utter oblivion), the great problem of the modern world. He says that even the first sin, the sin of Adam and Eve, was a sin of anthropocentrism. And he says that many contents of the documents of the Council can be used with an anthropocentrical end.

He goes on to say that the teaching about Ecumenism needs to be clarified too. He says that a document such as Dignitatis Humanae, about religious liberty, is ‘only a declaration, and not a decree, even not a constitution, at a very low level, the Council intentionally chose this level, and therefore it is open for further addition.’ It is open for further completion and clarification, and correction. The idea of equality of religions has to be corrected, he says.

He also says that we have to restore the ideal of a Catholic State, one that tolerates other faiths (for the common good), but never acknowledges those faiths as ‘equal’ to the Only One True Faith which is the Catholic Faith.

Watch the interview! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Beautiful Hymn from the Divine Office

From Lauds, on the Feast Day of Saint John Gualbert (the Merciful Knight)

Jesu, eternal truth sublime,
Through endless years the same!
Thou crown of those who through all time
Confess thy holy name:

Thy suppliant people, through the prayer
Of thy blest saint, forgive;
For his dear sake, thy wrath forbear,
And bid our spirits live.

Again returns the sacred day,
With heavenly glory bright,
Which saw him go upon his way
Into the realms of light.

All objects of our vain desire,
All earthly joys and gains,
To him were but as filthy mire;
And now with thee he reigns.

Thee, Jesu, his all-gracious Lord,
Confessing to the last,
He trod beneath him Satan's fraud,
And stood forever fast.

In holy deeds of faith and love,
In fastings and in prayers,
His days were spent; and now above
Thy heavenly feast he shares.

Then, for his sake thy wrath lay by,
And hear us while we pray;
And pardon us, O thou most high,
On this his festal day.

All glory to the Father be;
And sole Incarnate Son;
Praise, holy Paraclete, to thee;
While endless ages run.
Iesu, coróna celsior,
Et véritas sublimior,
Qui confitenti servulo
Reddis perénne præmium:

Da supplicanti cœtui,
Huius rogatu, noxii
Remissiónem críminis,
Rumpendo nexum vinculi.

Anni revérso témpore,
Dies refúlsit lúmine,
Quo Sanctus hic de córpore
Migrávit inter sidera.

Hic vana terræ gaudia,
Et luculenta prædia,
Polluta sorde deputans,
Ovans tenet cæléstia.

Te, Christe, Rex piíssime,
Hic confitendo iúgiter,
Calcavit artes dæmonum,
Sævumque averni príncipem.

Virtúte clarus, et fide,
Confessióne sedulus,
Ieiuna membra déferens,
Dapes supernas obtinet.

Proínde te piíssime
Precámur omnes súpplices:
Nobis ut huius grátia
Pœnas remittas débitas.

Patri perénnis glória,
Natóque Pátris unico,
Sanctoque sit Paráclito,
Per omne semper sæculum,

The Merciful Knight
This picture is based on an 11th-century legend retold by Sir Kenelm Digby in Broadstone of Honour; its hero is a Florentine knight named John Gualbert (an anglicisation of Giovanni Gualberto). The explanatory inscription provided by Burne-Jones (the artist who painted the picture) tells the viewer of a knight who forgave his enemy when he might have destroyed him and how the image of Christ kissed him in token that his acts had pleased God.
John Gualbert was the founder of the Vallumbrosan Order. He was a member of the Visdomini family of Florentine nobility. One Good Friday he was entering Florence accompanied by armed followers, when in a narrow lane he came upon a man who had killed his brother. He was about to kill the man in revenge, when the other fell upon his knees with arms outstretched in the form of a cross and begged for mercy in the name of Christ, who had been crucified on that day. John forgave him. He entered the Benedictine Church at San Miniato to pray, and the figure on the crucifix bowed its head to him in recognition of his generosity. John Gualbert became a Benedictine monk at San Miniato. He was canonized in the year 1193 by Pope Celestine III.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


In this sad article (see below) the author wonders whether there is a ‘new movement’ of priests growing and flourishing… a group of priests who resent the new (and much, much better) translation of the Roman Missal, who wonder when women will be ordained permanent deacons and priests, when married men will be ordained, when general absolution will be ‘reinstated’ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, etc. The author mentions that at their latest meeting there were almost no young priests present. Hopefully, this means that the times are changing. The generation of old priests who have lost the faith and, therefore, come up with such questions and longings such as the ones mentioned above, is bound to disappear. They are not a ‘new movement’ at all, but just an outdated and collapsing force of evil.

The emphasis in the article is mine.

Is a new movement among Catholic priests growing out of Seattle roots?

Driven by concerns about a new Latin-to-English translation of the liturgy, among other issues, priests from across the country gathered here to push for a greater voice for themselves and church membership as a whole.

The Chapel of St. Ignatius on Seattle University’s campus, where almost 150 Catholic priests from around the country gathered late last month to celebrate Mass between lectures and board meetings, was designed by its architect, Steven Holl, to “be forward looking, but anchored in the past." The hand-carved cedar doors, inset with elliptical glass lenses hinting at portals within portals, lead to an intimate, yet sweeping space offering unexpected vistas of light, water, color and stone.

 The priests (representing 1,000 members and more than 120 dioceses in all) were here for a four-day assembly of the Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP), an organization committed to looking both forward and back. The group, according to Fr. David Cooper, a Milwaukee pastor and AUSCP president, seeks to uphold the visions and teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and promote a spirit of consensus-building collegiality and dialogue that was once encouraged and fostered through priests’ senates and councils.
 Such groups fell under the jurisdiction of bishops following changes to church law in 1983;  the National Federation of Priests' Councils (NFPC), which has been in existence since 1968 and is based on diocesan council membership, reports 28,000 members. Cooper’s hope is both homegrown and far-reaching: that the AUSCP will not only recruit new members but will grow in solidarity with other organizations worldwide, including the Australian Priests Association, the Irish Priests Association, and the Austrian Priests Initiative, as well as organizations representing bishops, theologians, the members of religious orders and the laity, to reclaim and renew priests’ abilities to hear and be heard.
 At the Seattle gathering — just the second conference for the group — it soon became clear that the hot button issue among 15 proposals emerging through panel and roundtable conversations was one that had also animated last year’s assembly Florida: priests’ struggles to adopt a new Latin-aligned translation of the prayers of the Mass, now called the Roman Missal. Spearheaded by the Vatican and approved by U.S. bishops, the new Roman Missal was introduced into U.S. parishes in late 2011 despite widespread concerns raised by clergy, liturgists, theologians, lay people and even some bishops regarding awkward and inaccessible language and lack of collegiality and transparency during the decision-making process.
 The priests at the conference were asked to convey their support or lack of support for each issue by filling out a numerical ballot, and were asked to take both individual and community costs and benefits into account. Ironically, a proposal that sought to address priests’ difficulties with the new translation of the liturgy through the form of a letter sent to newly elected Pope Francis, requesting permission to use the 1974 edition of the sacramentary if priests wish, failed to gain enough consensus this year. There were criticisms that the resolution’s wording was imprecise and the scope was inadequate when compared to the changes many members wanted. Another landmark proposal that failed to pass was a call for study and open discussion of the ordination of women and married men to the priesthood. But even without the extension of formal support, the group’s openness to dialogue and study of such issues reveals a commitment to recognizing and considering, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, “the signs of the times…in the light of the Gospel.”
Proposals that did pass, moreover, represent a significantly more open and shared approach toward people’s roles and relationships within the Church, such as resolutions supporting the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate, the opening of the selection of bishops to the participation of the laity and clergy, the reinstatement of general absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and an expression of support for labor union efforts.

Both the issue of raising public awareness of the concerns surrounding the Latin-to-English translation of the new Roman Missal and the priests' group itself have Seattle roots. Fr. Bernard Survil, an AUSCP board member, Pennsylvania priest and longtime social activist, said that the formation of the organization wouldn’t have been possible without the vision and efforts of Fr. Michael G. Ryan, pastor of Seattle’s St. James Cathedral Parish. Both Survil and Ryan received the first annual Blessed Pope John XXIII Award at last year’s assembly in recognition of their leadership. During the welcome address at this year's assembly, Jackie O'Ryan, a Seattle-based communications and public affairs consultant, was introduced as the group's new managing director.  

It all started simply enough, with an article Ryan published in America, a Jesuit magazine, in 2009 entitled “What If We Said, ‘Wait’?” Written as a last-ditch effort to call attention to the lack of collegial process and the awkwardly translated language connected to impending liturgical changes, Ryan made an impassioned case for setting aside additional time for dialogue, reflection, and study prior to introducing a new Roman Missal (once referred to as a Sacramentary) into U.S. parishes. The essay was paired with a grassroots, online signature drive that offered readers a public form to voice and share concerns regarding the new Roman Missal; it has amassed over 23,000 English-speaking postings from around the world.

In a follow-up article, “What’s Next?”, composed in late spring of 2012, Ryan recounted his inner struggle to adapt to "the overloaded sentences and convoluted syntax" of the revised prayers in the new Roman Missal, and then went on to ask bishops and laypeople a series of questions, including this refreshingly straightforward proposal: “Can we talk about what contributes to prayer and what gets in the way?”

Ryan's presence at the assembly was only the most recent example of his commitment to participating in bridge-building conversations. Shaking his head as he recounted "what an obstacle this is, and how unnecessary and sad it is, that we're at this point...when prayer itself is a distraction and a problem," he spoke of the importance of offering people hope while also "reaching out to the pastoral heart of bishops with our needs and asking them for help."
Saying that "this is not a done deal," Ryan vowed to continue to raise concerns and encourage dialogue on the Missal issue.  Taking into account the results of four surveys of priests’ reactions to the new Roman Missal published over the past few years, including a survey released in May 2013 by St. John's School of Theology in Minnesota, it's estimated that approximately 80 percent of U.S. priests find the new translation very difficult or somewhat difficult to work with and communicate to others. Surveys exploring parishioners’ views on the matter have yet to be developed or carried out.

Ryan’s words not only helped to inspire the founding of the AUSCP but also continue to offer an example of what’s possible when people gather, whether in person or online, to respectfully and insistently engage in conversations that matter. The group’s first members came from a pool of those priests who signed their full names in support of the online signature drive expressing dissatisfaction with the newly translated Roman Missal (many additional priests chose to respond anonymously). Survil estimates that he spent at least 300 hours on outreach to potential members, which included sending surveys by mail to explore priests’ ideas and interests connected to the establishment of a national organization.
At the two assemblies, priests set aside time on the first evening for a round-table lamentations session; through this time of bonding over personal trials, failings and disappointments, the community finds the support and strength to move forward through a reaffirmation of shared joy, purpose and hope. A final prayer is recited, which gives the last word to love rather than sorrow or grief.
But whenever the topic of the new translation of the liturgy returned, as it inevitably did during the subsequent days, a mournful chord reminiscent of those laments would return and linger, like waves fretting once-calm water. Despite his jovial nature, Fr. John Ecker, the longtime pastor of St. Paul Cathedral Parish in the Diocese of Yakima, could offer no words of praise for the new translation. Shaking his head, he explained, “With the former sacramentary, I always prayed the Mass; now, with the new Roman Missal, I find myself reading the Mass.” He referenced one of the changed phrases — “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall” — and dryly cracked, “Dew rises from the earth. It doesn’t fall on us.”
Fr. Patrick Howell, rector of the Jesuit community and an instructor at Seattle University who teaches a popular course on the Second Vatican Council, summed up his thoughts on the new Missal: “I’m still waiting for the text to be translated into English.” His face did lighten when he recalled his teaching experiences over the past year, marked by students’ excitement about the election of Pope Francis, which felt “like a grand finale” on the last day of class.

Addressing priests’ needs is an issue that Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ liturgy committee and a vocal critic of what he has called the “slavishly literal” translation of the new Roman Missal, has championed for decades. In Seattle to accept this year’s  award from the AUSCP for upholding "the vocabulary and linguistic style of contemporary mainstream Catholics," Trautman explained, “I am concerned as a bishop when priests are not being fed spiritually and nourished. This is a significant problem, as the Eucharist [the Mass] is the chief source of our spiritual strength … affecting how priests live their lives.” In addition to joining the AUSCP as a member, he plans to engage the United States Conference of Bishops on this issue and also pledged to take the case to Rome.
Final outcome aside, such negotiations take time, and many AUSCP members are well aware they “may not see the flowers bloom,” as one elder priest commented in his lilting Irish accent. Considering the notable absence of younger priests at the assembly (the average age of all priests in a 2009 study conducted by the NFPC was found to be 63, compared to an average age of 45 in 1970), and in light of findings published in the Official Catholic Directory that show a 36 percent increase in U.S. Catholics and a 34 percent decrease in the number of U.S. priests over the past quarter century, it’s clear that challenges associated with an expanding church and a declining priesthood are real and pressing. At the assembly, stories of recent parish closures or priests being assigned to multiple parishes were not uncommon topics of conversation.
Yet, to sit beside these priests as they join voices in song is to consider another, more nuanced angle: an illumination of a community’s hope and faith, reflected in the present through connection with what’s been and what’s to come. As members filed out of the chapel following the blessing and dismissal, some lingering near the adjacent reflection pool to chat or simply breathe in, quietly, the rain-scented air, the cantor confessed that she’d never heard the chapel so filled with sound. As a priest later explained: “We’re used to leading others in song. … so when we’re all together under one roof, we can be pretty loud.”

Wolves, Abundant Harvests, and Vocations

Meditation for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C. 2013

Letter to the Galatians 6:14-18.
Saint Luke 10:1-12.17-20.

In today’s gospel we see how Our Lord Jesus Christ sends His disciples to preach the truth to the people, and just like always, He doesn’t deceive them, He doesn’t tell them that it is going to be easy, He doesn’t tell them that it’s going to be a walk in the park… but just the opposite. He says to them: I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Whoever becomes a disciple of Christ has to live among wolves in this world, among enemies and many dangers.

This is why Jesus, as the gospel says today, sends his disciples in pairs: At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom He sent ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit. He didn’t send them one by one, He sent them in pairs, because He knew that they would need to support each other in their difficult mission...

Their difficult mission was to bring the truth to the people, to teach them the truth, to teach them the way to reach Heaven, and this always –always– means challenging people, challenging them to be better, to be holier, and people don’t like to be challenged.

Someone wise said that the truth will set you free, but before it will make you upset. And we all know from experience how true this is. We don’t like to be challenged, we don’t like people telling us the different ways in which we need to improve, in which we need to be holier… and we fail to realize that those who are telling us and challenging us are, very often, only trying to help us get to Heaven.

So the Lord sent His disciples in pairs because they were being sent like lambs among wolves, they were being sent to a world in which they would find many enemies, and persecution, and many people who were not going to understand them and were not going to receive them… many people who were going to be afraid of the truth and were going to persecute the disciples, just like they persecuted Jesus.

This happens, as a matter of fact, very often. In today’s world, if you speak against very serious sins such as homosexuality or abortion… if you speak against homosexual marriage or against contraception, many people get upset and they persecute you and they would even have you thrown in jail or something worse. But suffering for Christ and for the truth is what every Christian is supposed to do.

Then Our Lord says to his disciples: The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest
. This harvest that Jesus is talking about is, of course, the world, the world to which his disciples have to preach the Word of God, the world to which they have to preach the truth.

Jesus says that it is an abundant harvest, because the world is very large. And He says that the laborers are few, because not too many people are willing to follow Jesus and not too many people are willing to go out into the world preaching His truth, because it is not easy to go out into the world looking for trouble, looking for enemies (the wolves) and looking even for death for the sake of the truth. It is something beautiful to do, something heroic, something that is greatly rewarded by God, but it is not something easy, and therefore not too many people choose such a life.

This is one of the reasons why we have today such a shortage of vocations, a shortage of vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. There are more reasons, such as the dishonor and all the discrediting that the priestly vocation has suffered in recent years due to so many scandals, due to the enemies of the priesthood (communists, homosexuals, and whatnot) who infiltrated the priesthood and have tried to destroy it by corrupting it and by harming its reputation. There is also the general loss of faith in the whole world…

There are many reasons why there’s a shortage of vocations, a very serious shortage, in most dioceses. Not in ours though. Our diocese is blessed with a good number of seminarians, who are very spiritual young men who are truly in love with God and with Mother Church… so in this Diocese we are blessed with a good number of seminarians, thanks to God in the first place but also thanks to Bishop Morlino. When you have a good bishop who knows what the priesthood truly is and who is, therefore, able to present the real thing to all those young men who are discerning a vocation, you get many vocations to the priesthood. Bishop Morlino, for example, constantly reminds us of the ontological change that the Sacrament of Holy Orders effects on those men who receive it.  

The priesthood is something so beautiful and precious that when it is presented to you as what it really is, you can’t help but be captivated by it, totally captivated by something so irresistible as the idea of being alter Christus and living the life of Christ, trying to imitate Him in everything and being willing to suffer all He suffered.

So, in this diocese we have a good number of seminarians, but in general, in most of the other dioceses in the nation, and in the world, things are not going so well, but just the opposite.

And so, Jesus says: the laborers are few, so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. He is reminding us that we need to pray for vocations. We need to ask the master of the harvest, we need to ask God, to send more laborers, more vocations.

So, prayer is the most effective means for getting vocations… but there is also the duty of parents, and especially mothers, who should encourage their children to pursue a religious vocation, they should encourage their sons to be priests and their daughters to follow Christ also in a close union by consecrating their lives to Him… 

Of course, for many people this doesn’t make sense. For many people this is a whole new and different language that they don’t understand: a religious vocation, what for? In today’s society, this doesn’t make sense because most people don’t take the Faith so seriously, they don’t take God so seriously.

For many people, ‘going to church’ on Sunday is way more than enough… or so they think. And sometimes not even that… sometimes they even think that going absolutely every Sunday without fail is an exaggeration… Every single Sunday? Are you kidding me? I’m sure God will not get upset if you miss it once or twice.

But this is, of course, a problem, it is a mistake. It is not OK to think like that… If we think like that we show that we have a very poor understanding of our faith, that we have a very poor understanding of the Holy Mass.

If we don’t consider the Holy Mass the most important part of the whole week, then we have a very poor understanding of the Mass. If our whole life does not revolve around the Sunday Mass, then we have a very poor understanding of the Mass. If we don’t plan out our schedules around the Holy Mass, if we don’t plan our weekends around the Mass, then this means that we don’t understand what it is, and that we don’t give it as much importance as it deserves, that we don’t take it as seriously as we should.

It means that we are forgetting that our number one purpose is to go to Heaven… we forget that the spiritual and eternal realities are much more important than anything material and temporal. And if we think like this, then, of course, a religious vocation is nonsensical, it is something that doesn’t really make sense… and some people ask: why would you consecrate your whole life to God when you don’t really need to do so much in order to be saved?

Today most people are worried about having a comfortable life, making more and more money, being successful in the eyes of society… and they forget that this life is extremely short and that we should have our minds set rather on the other life, on the life of Heaven…

Too often we forget that we cannot take anything with us to Heaven… we cannot take ANYTHING with us so it doesn’t matter how many possessions and how much money we make in this life… the only thing we can take with us in some way is our own family… our own family and all the other people that we help to reach Heaven… These are actually the only treasures that we can store up for real. So, it does make a lot of sense to become a disciple of Christ and to follow Him closely (the closer the better), and to live in imitation of Jesus Christ, helping Him to bring souls to Heaven.

So we need to pray for young people who are willing to follow Christ in such a way… we need to pray for vocations, for vocations to the priesthood, for vocations to the consecrated life.

Those who decide to follow Christ in such a way know that it is not easy, that they are sent by the Lord as lambs among wolves, which means that there will be people who will hate them and persecute them, but that’s OK because they are going to be persecuted just like Jesus was persecuted. He said to His disciples: Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you… they will do all these things to you on account of my name.

And that is glorious. It is absolutely precious. To be able to endure what He endured. To be able to suffer on account of His name. To be able to be crucified with Him.

Saint Paul says today in the Second Reading: may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  The only thing he thought he could boast of was his own suffering for the sake of Christ: may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. For him, the world was dead, it had been crucified, meaning that he didn’t care for this world and this life as much as he did for the next. That’s why he dedicated his whole life to the work of God and to bringing souls to the Faith and to Heaven. He understood his Faith, and he considered his Faith and God the most important things in his life.

Let us follow always his example. And let us also pray for people who are willing to be like him, people who are willing to be like Christ, people who teach us the way to Heaven and who challenge us and always tell us the truth as it is.