"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Preparation for the feast of Little Therese

"Therese believed that God frequently allows us to experience in ourselves the same weaknesses which we deplore in others,,, [Thus] when we see ourselves fallen into those faults we are then more prompt to excuse them in others." - My Sister St. Therese, Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face


O Lord, Who has said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven; grant us, we beseech Thee, so to follow in humility and simplicity of heart the footsteps of St. Therese, the virgin, that we may obtain everlasting rewards. Who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

Legal Atrocities ...

Mrs. L.M., a former anesthetic nurse, describes what took place when a 28-week-old baby was born alive during an abortion in France. The abortion took place in 1987. The mother was HIV positive. L.M. says:

It was in a maternity of Paris suburbs (South) in 1987. I was an anesthetic nurse at the time and I intervened in monitoring the epidural composed by the Anesthetist… 
Gynecologists convinced [the mother] to abort but the baby was born alive. Midwives simply put it in an empty box, naked in a stainless steel tub, cold, without any care. His mother was conscious during labor and delivery of the baby; she was crying and wanted to see her little one but the doctors decided that this child should die. They did not give the child to the mother to spare her. This baby was viable, he was breathing on his own and cried vigorously. I honestly think it was just left to die of cold … it was horrible…! We were harnessed in our gloves, overshirts, headwear, masks, “overshoes” because we were afraid of getting AIDS, and the baby, naked, abandoned by all, and so vulnerable. He took a long time to stop whining. - Source

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him.  Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’  At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ - Luke 23:30

They are killing priests in Mexico.

At least 15 dead since 2012.

Three priests in a week.

I had a dream last night of a white rose spattered with blood, and then I saw Blessed Miguel Pro - his face and temple spattered with blood - just like the rose.  I woke up and said a short prayer to him, asking him to protect the priest who had been recently kidnapped ... They are killing priests.  If they take away our priests we have no Mass, no sacraments.

Pray for priests, protect priests, support priests, love priests.  We need to do that.  I need to do that.

Stop creating divisions - stop labeling and judging priests - stop calling them liberals or conservatives - stop criticizing and condemning.  I need to do that.  You need to do that.  Especially if you are a priest - these men are your brothers ... blood brothers - in the Blood of Christ.

Priest are being killed once again in Mexico.


Blessed Miguel Pro
September 25 is the anniversary of his beatification.

Does our life become from day to day more painful, 
more oppressive, more replete with afflictions? 
Blessed be He a thousand times who desires it so. 
If life be harder, love makes it also stronger, and only this love, 
grounded on suffering, 
can carry the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. 
Love without egotism, without relying on self, 
but enkindling in the depth of the heart an ardent thirst 
to love and suffer for all those around us: 
a thirst that neither misfortune nor contempt can extinguish... 
I believe, O Lord; but strengthen my faith... 
Heart of Jesus, I love Thee; but increase my love. 
Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee; but give greater vigor to my confidence. 
Heart of Jesus, I give my heart to Thee; 
but so enclose it in Thee that it may never be separated from Thee. 
Heart of Jesus, I am all Thine; 
but take care of my promise 
so that I may be able to put it in practice 
even unto the complete sacrifice of my life.
- Bl. Miguel Pro shortly before his death.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Prayerful considerations in preparation for the feast of the Little Flower.

"My heart was filled with charity. 
I forgot myself to please others and, 
in doing so, became happy myself."

From the life of St. Therese:
One day in the infirmary during her last illness, my sister called my attention to the soft, downy linens which the infirmarian, Sr. Stanislaus always had at hand for the benefit of her patients.  
"Souls should be treated with the same tender care," Therese said, "but why is it that we forget this so frequently, and allow those about us to go on unnoticed in the endurance of sharp interior pain?  Shouldn't the spiritual needs of the soul be attended to with the same clarity, with the same delicate care we devote to our neighbor's bodily necessities?  For some souls are really sick; there are many weak souls on earth, and all souls without exception suffer at one time or other during life.  How tenderly we should not only love them but also show our love for them. - My Sister, St. Therese, By Celine Martin 

Dear St. Therese, you went out of your way to befriend
those you liked least, 
the most disagreeable, the most disturbed in spirit,
pray for me whom you have likewise gone out of your way for.
You have prayed for me and loved me when I was most far away ...
obtain for me now, a heart contrite and humbled,
full of love, on fire with charity,
that I may follow you and the legion of little souls
in your splendid way of 
confidence and love. 
Thank you for having heard my prayer.


O Lord, Who has said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven; grant us, we beseech Thee, so to follow in humility and simplicity of heart the footsteps of St. Therese, the virgin, that we may obtain everlasting rewards. Who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

On Lazarus the beggar.

Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
Dogs and cats are often kinder than people.

The rich man and Lazarus  
There is another detail in (Today's) parable, a contrast. The opulent life of this nameless man is described as being ostentatious: everything about him concerns needs and rights. Even when he is dead he insists on being helped and demands what is to his benefit. 
Lazarus’ poverty, however, is articulated with great dignity: from his mouth no complaints or protests or scornful words issue. This is a valuable teaching: as servants of the word of Jesus we have been called not to parade our appearances and not to seek for glory; nor can we be sad or full of complaints. We are not prophets of gloom who take delight in unearthing dangers or deviations; we are not people who become ensconced in our own surroundings, handing out bitter judgments on our society, on the Church, on everything and everyone, polluting the world with our negativity. Pitiful skepticism does not belong to whoever is close to the word of God.
Whoever proclaims the hope of Jesus carries joy and sees a great distance; such persons have the horizon open before them; there is no wall closing them in; they see a great distance because they know how to see beyond evil and beyond their problems. At the same time, they see clearly from up close, because they are attentive to their neighbour and to their neighbour’s needs. The Lord is asking this of us today: before all the Lazaruses whom we see, we are called to be disturbed, to find ways of meeting and helping, without always delegating to others or saying: “I will help you tomorrow; I have no time today, I’ll help you tomorrow”. This is a sin. The time taken to help others is time given to Jesus; it is love that remains: it is our treasure in heaven, which we earn here on earth. - Pope Francis Homily

Yeah but - what if he wore jeans to Mass?

What if he tried to hold my hand?

What if he sang out of tune?

What if he took communion in the hand?

What if he smelled ... of alcohol?

What if he talked in church after Mass?

What if he asked for a few dollars to buy breakfast?

Thou shalt not hold hands at Mass ... Just say the black and follow the rubrics and you will be saved.

You can't pray at Mass like this anymore either.
It's Protestant.

Ordinary form of things.

The other day I left a comment on Aleteia in response to Fr. Henry Vargas Holguin's article, The Lord's Prayer During Mass - Should we hold hands?

I sometimes save comments I leave in case they are not published. If the subject is important enough - or not - I'll use it for a post. Sometimes. In this case I didn't expect the comment to be accepted - I did a quick scan of comments and didn't see it. That's fine with me, I'm never offended. I do like to make my opinion known however, on 'ordinary' life, as a Catholic, as an ordinary Catholic.

Fr. Holguin's post is well written and well meaning, no doubt, as are many of the comments by those who like rubrics and follow rubrics, or search until they find a parish that does. When they decide to go to Mass that is. Sometimes people like this may skip Mass if they feel fat that day, or maybe had too much to drink the night before, or because the parish church in their neighborhood is too liberal and they just don't have the time to get to the 'perfect' parish - the 'observant' Mass where no one holds hands ever. But I digress.

Copts do it.

Having said that, the following is the comment I left on the post, a bit tongue in cheek, but it has been my experience over the decades...

I don't do it (hold hands or do the orans position at prayer or at Mass) but I see it in almost every Catholic church I have ever attended since the Charismatic Renewal spread across the country. It is now pretty much ingrained in Catholic's active participation at Mass... that old 'sensus fidelium' raises it's novus ordo head again! Darn!
Too late Fr. Holguin - it won't go away.
I imagine that comment came off a bit snarky - it wasn't meant as an attack or to be snide, but to just remind everyone that this practice has been ingrained in worshipers all around the country.  The sensus fidelium term was misused deliberately just to make my point it has become a common practice - especially among families.  If you say it comes from Protestants and I say it comes from the Charismatics, fine.  Most churches I have been to over the years include Protestant hymns in the liturgy - at Mass.  Many trads insist the Mass is Protestant.  Catholic devotions - especially in the Americas has been influenced by Protestantism, no doubt about it.  Yet it doesn't change the truth, it doesn't affect the dogma of faith - the centrality of the Eucharist, the belief in the true presence of Christ , the holy sacrifice of the Mass remains intact.

Asians do it.

Take the Latino parishes for instance.  Often their liturgies incorporate a great deal of emotion as well as hand raising and hand holding - it's not so much Protestant as it is cultural.  As a cultural thing, many priests are open to it, respect it and permit it in order to help others feel welcome and comfortable by permitting such gestures; call it 'cultural active participation'.  To embrace and accept such practices is a far better pastoral practice than losing the faithful to an Evangelical community without sacraments.

Kids are taught to do it.

The hand holding and orans position is not how I pray at mass, but like I said, just about every parish I've ever attended has that going on.  Our young, newly ordained priests follow the GIRM in everything, and yet they allow the congregation to continue the practice, as well as Communion in the hand, and altar girls and boys.  These newly ordained priests emphasize the sacraments, go out of their way to encourage vocations, their homilies frequently urge a return to the sacrament of penance, Eucharistic adoration, and devotion to Our Lady.  These are the essentials.  Let the priests follow the rubrics, and the parishioners will follow.

Here's a thought:  Perhaps if the priest celebrated Mass ad orientem, he himself would be less distracted by what the congregation does?  In the days before the Council active participation meant following along in the missal, the rosary, or some other Mass prayers - but then active participation changed.

Old people - for whom the very devout 
are waiting to die off - do it.

Once in a while I used to murmur to myself about that stuff; the hand holding, sign of peace, and so on.  Nevertheless, it became so widespread, I just accepted it.  Otherwise it became a distraction for me at Mass.  So many people watch others at Mass, no wonder they do not even know how to recollect themselves.  People look around at how others are dressed, how they pray before Mass - if at all, others whisper, some talk.  Single moms feel conspicuous and left out.  Fat ugly people are embarrassed the way they look.  Pious Mary's evil eye the women with bare shoulders or no chapel veil.  This is vanity.  This is not devotion.  Very seriously, if you pray before Mass in preparation, you'll be able to focus and pray during Mass - without distracting yourself by what others are doing.

So - my post here is a waste of time and consideration - but I think the comments to Fr. Holguin's post are a waste as well.  More stuff for people to gripe about and guilt other people for.

I guess they do it in Europe too.

This is what is more important:

Go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation,
even if you are living in sin.
Pray at Mass and pray privately,
even if you aren't in the state of grace.
Assist at Mass attentively and devoutly,
in accord with the rubrics as you know them or have been instructed.
Don't worry about what others do at Mass.

Go to confession and reform your own life.

Even Cat-licks do it.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

3rd Day of preparation for the feast of St. Therese

Painting by Henry Wingate.
The best I have ever seen- he brings 
Little Therese to life in this portrait.

Little Therese,
Who gained countless souls for Christ, 
Who promised, after her death, a shower of roses, 
Who foretold: "I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth," 
pray for us.

"In Heaven the good God will do all I wish, because I have never done my own will upon earth." - Counsels and Reminiscences

Friday, September 23, 2016

Preparing for the feast of St. Therese... prayerful considerations.

"I am resigned to being always imperfect, and I even find happiness in it.  
I keep an eye on myself to see if I can discover any new imperfections." 
- Therese to Mother Agnes of Jesus

Therese - by those who didn't like her.

Not everyone liked Therese while she was alive, some of the sisters may have been jealous, others suspicious of her piety and little way.  I love those testimonies which questioned her sanctity.  My very first spiritual director wasn't a big fan of Therese.  When I told him that I was reading Story of A Soul, he said, "She was nuts you know!"  I laughed when he related the story of her 'mysterious illness' as a child, upon which he based his analysis.  I wasn't discouraged.  Recently another priest suggested St. Joseph Cupertino was nuts too.  If you believe these guys, the good news is that even nut cases can be saints.

On October 15, 1907, Bishop Lemonnier, newly appointed bishop of Bayeux, called for information from those who had known Sister Therese of the Child Jesus; he was investigating her reputation for sanctity within the diocese. On November 9, 1907, Sister Therese of Jesus, who had lived in the Lisieux Carmel since before Therese entered, but who later left the Carmel at her own request in 1909, answered with him this letter. 

I loved little sister Therese of the Child Jesus very much because of her youth. She was a good child, never making trouble, loving to give services. A good little character; she had her imperfections: everyone does.

I have never seen anything that suggests she could be raised to the altar. Getting up in the morning, filling her little day, never overloaded.

I lived 9 years and 6 months with her. I saw a child feted, cherished, adored, always placed on a pedestal.The Mother Prioress (then Marie de Gonzague) doted on her.

The blood sisters of little Thérèse considered her a paragon, always giving her compliments, telling her that she was a saint, and the rest. Ah! I thought: they are imprudent. Here is a child who is praised to the skies. When her hair was cut, they kept the hair as a relic. It is easy to be amiable when you are fawned upon." - Therese: By Those Who Knew her.

+ prayer + 

O Lord, Who has said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven; 
grant us, we beseech Thee, so to follow in humility and simplicity of heart the footsteps of St. Therese, the virgin, that we may obtain everlasting rewards. Who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

Remember Little Therese, your promise to 'come down' ...
come down in our time now - when there is so much suffering!
You promised to spend your heaven on earth doing good...
you said "I shall come down".
We thank you for your constant companionship and help,
and the many favors and signs you have given us ...
but listen to our prayer now in these days of so much hatred,
'come down'
visit those suffering in war and terror - especially the 
people of Aleppo and greater Syria and 
throughout the Middle East.
'Come down' and help those most in need,
take what is ours, as it were,
and distribute these graces as a
shower of roses
upon those most in need.
Thank you little Therese,
wonder-worker of merciful love!
Thank you!

Palmar de Troya ... sorry I brought it up ...

A Basilica to make Traditionalists swoon.
"It’s likely that unless you’re involved in the world of fringe-Catholicism 
you’ve never heard of the Palmarians, 
and even in Spain they’ve largely been forgotten." - Nick Rider

But it seems it may be one of the best apparition cons in the history of Catholicism.

Today is the first day I ever came across a comparison with Medjugorje - although I knew their was some weird association with Garabandal.  It also seems to be the origin of the rumor that Pope Paul VI was drugged and held a prisoner in the Vatican, replaced by a double.  I have to admit I never paid any attention to the Palmarians, and had no idea they had a huge basilica and so much money to build it.  I'll just post some photos and a link to a rather good history on Palmar de Troya.

Clemente with his stigmata.  
Look familiar?

In ecstasy.

In case you never heard of this one, visit Journeys to the Bizarre.  It should be made into a movie like Dan brown's novels are ...

The impenetrable isolation of the Palmarians’ compound – like an ultra-Catholic version of a Bond villain’s lair – is one thing, but beyond that, the more you discover about it, the weirder, more bizarre, more entangled the story gets. It begins in 1968, when four young girls claimed to have had visions of the Virgin Mary while out picking flowers in the field of La Alcaparrosa, where the Basilica now stands. In the ever-fervid religious atmosphere of Andalusia the spot soon began to attract pilgrims and devotees, including some from the official Catholic clergy, and there were reports of miraculous cures and other phenomena. Among the crowds flocking to the spot were Clemente Domínguez, a Seville insurance agent, and his best friend Manuel Alonso Corral, a lawyer. Several things are said about the early life of Clemente: that as a little boy his ultra-devout mother always dressed him as a priest, that his only game was playing at saying Mass, but also that in his teens he was a flamboyant member of Seville’s then deep-underground gay scene. At El Palmar Clemente not only claimed to have had his own visions, a much bigger deal than those of the girls, but also to bear the stigmata or wounds of Christ, dramatically exhibiting his bleeding flesh. The official Church began to feel the phenomenon was getting out of hand and the Archbishop of Seville disauthorized the visions at El Palmar, especially those of Clemente, but he was unfazed. On one day in 1970 he supposedly entered into a mystical trance in front of 30,000 people. A key point came in 1972 when Corral, who always seems to have been the brains of the operation, used the first of many unexplained ‘donations’ to buy the Alcaparrosa estate. From then on he and Clemente effectively ‘owned’ the visions, and the original four girls were forgotten. - Full story here.

Papa Clemente after going blind.
I wonder if Fr. Z gets his hats from Palmar?

Vestments to die for.

San Francisco Franco.
They canonized him.

Padre Pio

On swearing and bad language.

A man was born in the region of Italy called Marche. He and a friend left their town in a truck, with some furniture they had to transport nearby to St. Giovanni Rotondo. While they were taking the last slope, before reaching their destination, the truck broke-down and it stopped. They tried to start the engine again but without success.

At that point the driver lost his calm and full of anger he cursed. The day after the two men went to St. Giovanni Rotondo where one of the men had a sister. With the help of his sister they succeeded in going to Padre Pio to confession.

The first man entered the confessional but Padre Pio sent him away. Then it was the turn of the driver. He started saying something to Padre Pio: "I have been angry". But Padre Pio shouted: "Wretch! You have cursed our Mother! What did she do to you, Our Lady?" Then he sent him away as well. - Source

On the subject of apparitions and private revelations ... a good report on Medjugorje.

"Once, when the Madonna was narrating her life to me,
when the Virgin showed me the Child Jesus in her arms,
he bended so, while she was holding Jesus, 
I thought he would slip." - source

I know!

By good, I mean an objective report.

From Ines San Martin for Crux.

It's one of the best articles I've read recently.  It's an objective overview and history of the events, and in addition, the author offers a very good summary of the Church's discernment process as it relates to private revelations.

I'm not as closed to the phenomena at Medjugorje as those who contend it is diabolical, nor would I ever promote the  seers or the message - precisely because the local ordinary has said nothing supernatural can be affirmed and since the Holy See is now in charge, I'm happy to wait for the official decision of the Church.  What does impress me about Medjugorje is the good fruit produced.  The people who have been there as pilgrims seem to me to be very devout and faithful.  That said - my opinion on these matters means nothing - but I appreciated the article in Crux.

Why the delay?

Many attribute the long delay in getting a Vatican verdict to that ambivalence among the local bishops, but there’s an even more basic factor at work. Generally speaking, for the Vatican to even consider issuing a finding on a reported apparition, the revelations have to be over, and in Medjugorje they’re definitely not.
Such waiting periods, by the way, aren’t terribly unusual. St. Bridget of Sweden had visions for a quarter century, St. Hildegard for 70 years and Our Lady of Laus allegedly appeared in France for 54 years in the late 1600s - yet this last apparition wasn’t formally recognized until 2008.
For 350 years, since a decree of Pope Urban VIII in 1625, the Church has severely forbidden any publication of the accounts of what are called “private revelation and visions” without special ecclesiastical approbation. This ban was imposed in an attempt to protect people from the dangers of “apparition enthusiasm” and delusion.
No matter what Rome might say, however, in the digital era keeping the messages of Medjurgorje hidden has proven impossible. There’s a site, www. medjugorje.org, collecting them all, and they’re quickly shared among hard-core devotees when new ones are published.
Many Catholic theologians agree that private revelations have to be approached with caution, keeping in mind the strong possibility of human illusion, self-deception, diabolical influence, and even outright fraud.
In the last five decades, the Church has overruled several hundreds of alleged private revelations.
As long as the apparitions are ongoing, the Vatican’s preferred course is to defer to the local bishop. The last two bishops of Mostar-Duvno, the diocese to which Medjugorje belongs, have said clearly that nothing supernatural is happening here. - Finish reading here.

Whatever works: If it gets you to confession, communion, inspires a desire for prayer and penance, and you change your life - that is: stop loving sin and living in sin ... nothing wrong with that ... I guess.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Preparation for the feast of St. Therese ...

First day of the novena.
September 22 to September 30. 
To think about her more than pray many prayers.
To listen to her - read her words - and ponder them, rather than speak much about them.
To allow ourselves to be taught and guided by her, rather than interpret her teaching.
To be with her, pray with her, in the presence of God.

I almost forgot this year, but thanks to Angela, I can begin the novena tonight.

I want to share a thought from St. Therese, which was similar to what my prayer was about at adoration today ...

"I was unable to believe there were really impious people who had no faith... [but] Jesus made me feel that there were really souls who have no faith, and who, through the abuse of grace, lost this precious treasure, the source of the only real and pure joy." 

St. Therese wished to be found at the 'table of sinners'... expressing that sentiment in the depths of her night of faith, her trial of temptations against faith was a sort of martyrdom, which culminated in her death of love.  In that abject state, she experienced the faithlessness of the atheist, the bitter taste of rancor of the unbeliever, even the hollow, vacuous, hopelessness of those who hate the faith. Like her Master, "who had not known sin, yet became sin," little Therese, who was innocent (as she had been once assured she had never committed a mortal sin), became sin, as it were. Not in the exact same sense as Christ of course, but she shared, or imitated His redemptive suffering in and through that experience... seated with Christ crucified, at the table of sinners. That is the secret of St. Therese.

As I prayed, I thought of the great sufferings of so many around the world and in our country, who do not understand the violence, the hate, the cruelty and rage in our country and around the globe.  It seems so hard to believe there are so many impious people ... people who hate.

I think this must be our attitude in our prayer, in union with the prayer of faith of little Therese.
"While Jesus was at table many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him... " - Mark 2: 13-17

O Lord, Who hast said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven; grant us, we beseech Thee, so to follow in humility and simplicity of heart the footsteps of St. Therese, the virgin, that we may obtain everlasting rewards. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.

Scared? Want to buy a gun? Want to form a militia? Want to call down fire from heaven on the heathens?

How did St. Maximilian Kolbe pray? (Kolbe founded the 'Militia of Mary Immaculate'* or the Knights of the Immaculata.)

Did he organize a militia to engage in insurrection and rioting and counter terrorism?

Did he use religion to call down divine wrath upon his enemies?

Did he try to ‘weaponize the rosary’ to destroy the enemies of the Church?


He prayed:
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee, and for those who do not have recourse to thee, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to thee.

Later he died a martyr of charity.

St. Max seated with his friars 
wearing symbolic helmets.

*In 1917 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbon, renowned anti-Catholic and agnostic of Jewish lineage, St. Maximilian was moved by divine grace to found a pious association of the faithful known as the Militia of the Immaculate.
The Militia was to be a loosely organized tool in the hands of for the conversion and sanctification of non-Catholics, especially those inimical to the Church. Its members consecrated themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoked Her daily for the conversion of sinners, and strove by every licit means to build up the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart throughout the world. - More here.

Sensationalizing Fatima ...

Like a Dan Brown novel.

Concerning Fr. Longenecker's essay and Special Copyrighted Reports from Spirit Daily ...

What do they do?  Sensationalize messages from heaven.

Yes they do.

So why does it bother me?

Because, since I was little - and that is a long time ago now - the message of Fatima excited the morbid curiosity of pious fear mongers everywhere.  Or so it seemed.  Mrs. Duffie with her blue sparkled chapel veil, rosary draped over her arm, dress down to her ankles, trooping around warning churchgoers of impending doom...  The Fatima message was always misinterpreted, or misrepresented in apocalyptic terms.  To be honest, I really think subsequent apparition claims maybe picked up on all of that, and their messages were influenced in that way.  It's very difficult to separate what the visionaries imagine and what is genuine.  But I digress.

Suffice it to say, some people use private revelations to threaten souls into submission.  It doesn't work that way.

That said, the message of Fatima - essential for the people to know - was pretty much revealed from the start - shortly after the October miracle - which was performed, not to scare, not to fascinate, but so people would believe.  Faith.  The message of Our Lady is a call to faith, the amendment of life, penance and prayer - and to stop sinning, 'because Our Lord  is already too much offended':
Commenting on Our Lady's request for penance, Sr. Lucia wrote: "The part of the last apparition which has remained most deeply imprinted on my heart is the prayer of our heavenly Mother begging us not to offend any more Almighty God, Who is already so much offended."
Our Lord explained to her: "The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require." - Sr. Lucia

Does the pope know something we don't?

God love Fr. Longenecker, but he's getting a little Gruner-ite and Mrs. Duffie-ish with this one.  There's an underlying sensationalist, conspiracy-theory prompting his question, "does the pope know something we don't" about Fatima, the coming centenary, and the end of an era-end of the world crap.  "You cannot tell by careful watching" is a Gospel passage which often comes to mind when people discuss their theories and interpretations of Fatima and the end times.

The most important part of Our Lady's message, the most important part of the secret for all to know is this:
"Sacrifice yourselves for sinners; and say often when you make some sacrifice, 'My Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'"
After showing the children a vision of hell, Our Lady said to them: "You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish throughout the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people do as I shall ask many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.... But if people do not cease offending God... another and more terrible war will begin. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign that God gives that the chastisement of the world for its many transgressions is at hand through war, famine, persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father."
"To prevent this, I shall come to ask the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and Communions of reparation on the first Saturdays. If my requests are heard, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, fomenting wars and persecution of the Church. The good will suffer martyrdom; the Holy Father will suffer much; different nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted, and some time of peace will be granted to humanity. 
"NOTE: From the above, we must not think of the Five First Saturdays merely in terms of personal salvation, of receiving "at the hour of death the graces necessary for salvation;" but also in terms of world peace, of avoiding the terrible social consequences mentioned above by Our Lady. - source

So.  The Pope knows exactly what we know, he knows what the Church knows and teaches about Fatima.

Sensationalizing the events and message of Fatima changes the focus, it does nothing but excite curiosity - Today's First Reading from Ecclesiastes expresses it well:
All speech is labored;there is nothing one can say.The eye is not satisfied with seeingnor is the ear satisfied with hearing.
Dissatisfied with what is revealed because it doesn't conform with our expectations.  Therefore we keep adding on to messages and applying our own interpretations, building conspiracy theories and trying to scare people into repentance?  The question, 'does the pope know something we don't' is a leading question.  Pope Francis and Pope Benedict know what we know.  Is there a hidden crisis to be revealed?  So Fr. L has to ask?  "Is a crisis looming that will bring us to a turning point in some way?"

Huh?  What?

Look around you people.  What signs are you still looking for?  What has been going on in Syria?  What is ISIS doing?  What happened in Charlotte the past few days?  What about the floods, the earthquakes, the martyrdoms, the Mexican priests murdered, on and on and on?

I can only conclude most of us know what Fr. Longenecker doesn't - so it it stands to reason he and Michael Brown of Spirit Daily would ask questions and write edge -of-your-chair articles on secrets revealed and 'new' apparitions revealing the obvious.

I only mention Spirit Daily because Brown has posted an 'exclusive', copyrighted, subscription only, Special Report on "The Hour of Peril".  So.  If it's so important, why not make the hour of peril story more accessible?  I found information on the alleged apparitions and messages - Our Lady of the Rosary of El Pozo - the site has everything you want to know about the messages.  Read about it if you are curious.

"And Herod kept trying to see him." - Luke 9:9 (Today's Gospel)

The 'real', one and only, Sr. Lucia.

Keep the following in mind regarding Fatima and private revelations:

"What matters is the public message ... Sr. Lucia was charged not only to transmit a secret to the Pope, but also to make known to all the world a public message."  - Cardinal Ottaviani, 11 February 1967

Concerning the content of the secret, Sr. Lucia explained, "The part necessary for the people to know was already known since 1917."

So what was essential to be known was already known in 1917.
"This had all been said in 1917, that is, that men must amend their lives, that they must not offend God, that he is already much offended." - Sr. Lucia
Anything more, or demanding this or that be revealed, or waiting in anticipation for some Divine intervention to rapture the faithful out of a crumbling world, seems to me to border upon presumption and tempting God.
We must be guided humanly and visibly in all by the law of Christ the man and that of his Church and of his ministers. This is the method of remedying our spiritual ignorances and weakness; here we shall find abundant medicine for them all. Any departure from this road is ... extraordinary boldness ... one must ever adhere to Christ's teaching. - John of the Cross
In Chapter 21 of Book II of the Ascent, St. John goes on to say that God is displeased by the request for revelations and locutions, despite the fact that some believe their curiosity to know these things is good because God has revealed himself in this manner in the past. St. John asserts that God is not pleased, saying not only is he displeased, he is 'frequently angered and deeply offended.' The following may well apply to the inordinate curiosity some have regarding the secret of Fatima, a morbid inquiry which may likewise displease God:
The reason lies in the illicitness of transcending the natural boundaries God has established for the governing of creatures. He has fixed natural and rational limits by which man is to be ruled. A desire to transcend them, hence, is unlawful... consequently, God who is offended ... is displeased. - John of the Cross
 It is also important to keep in mind the precautions of St. Hannibale Maria di'Francia:

My dear father, to consider any expression of the private revelations as dogma or propositions near of faith is always imprudent! The mistakes could amount to thousands. Poulain substantiates this fact with examples of saints we venerate on the altars. It is not surprising because the visions or the news undergoes some modifications while passing through human channels… Aptitudes and dispositions may not be the same: a psychological, moral spiritual, physical event can modify them, hindering the spiritual enlightenment from shining perfectly in the soul. Thus the person is unaware of circumstances, details or propositions, and is mistaken involuntarily. In fact, everything is received through and according to the subject.
This is proved by experience, by the mystical theologians, such as St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa, Castrotevere, Poulain, etc. By prudence and reason we cannot accept all the words of revelations as they were propositions near to the faith; still less when they are contrary to the authoritative opinion of renowned writers and to the simple, beneficial devotion of the saints. - Source

And she looked at me contemptuously ...

"Mr. Nelson, you'll never amount to anything."

And I answered:

"Yes Sister.  Thank you Sister."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On 'ecstatic flight' and 'levitation' in the life of St. Joseph of Cupertino

Fr. Longenecker thinks we have "to take the more exaggerated stories of St. Joseph’s flight with a pinch of salt." - source

I disagree.

Much of the details of the mystical phenomena in the life of St. Joseph is recorded by eye-witnesses - sometimes several eye-witnesses.  The events are also recorded in the documents for his canonizations.  Many saints have had similar experiences - but perhaps the most well documented is that of St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, Discalced Carmelite of Bethlehem, who died in 1878 and was recently canonized.  She too experienced ecstatic flight and ascensional ecstasy, well documented by her community and prioress, as well as workmen.  Such phenomena is not a guarantee of sanctity, nor are Catholics obliged to believe it - so yes, one can take it with a pinch of salt - but that doesn't mean it is not true nor does it mean that it is not important for the edification of the faithful - in some cases, for the conversion of non-believers.

The Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis, as well as the Feast of the Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila are definite examples of how elevated and worthy of devotion these signal graces are for the edification of the faithful; to renew devotion, and to give glory to the Holy Trinity, among other things.

"One must see in it a divine or angelic intervention, which grants to the bodies of the saints an anticipation of the gift of agility which is proper to glorified bodies." - Benedict XIV

That said, articles by popular religious writers, devoid of actual theological understanding on such phenomena, tend to trivialize the charisma and do little to excite devotion, and in the process, they end up more or less conforming to modern revisionist theories downplaying the supernatural.  All in all, Fr. L certainly affirms the supernatural aspect of the ecstasies of the Saint, and though he offers a slightly 'naive' reflection on his virtue and charismatic gifts, it seems to me a more reliable understanding of the phenomena would certainly complete Fr. L's article.

So what is ecstatic flight and levitation?

It's a quick search, a short read and easily found online - The Three Ages of the Interior Life:
By levitation is understood the phenomenon of the elevation of the human body above the ground without any apparent cause and in such a way that it remains in the air without any natural support. This phenomenon is also called ascensional ecstasy, ecstatic flight, or ecstatic walking when the body seems to run rapidly without touching the ground. 
The Bollandists relate numerous cases of levitation. They cite particularly those attested in the lives of St. Joseph of Cupertino (September 18), St. Philip Neri (May 26), St. Peter of Alcantara (OctoBer 19), St. Francis Xavier (December 3), St. Stephen of Hungary (September 2), St. Paul of the Cross (April 28), and others. It is related that St. Joseph of Cupertino, seeing some workmen having trouble in trying to put up a very heavy mission cross, took his aerial flight, seized the cross, and without effort placed it in the hole destined for it. 
In contradistinction to levitation, they cite cases of extraordinary weight of the bodies of certain saints: for example, when an attempt was made to violate and drag St. Lucy of Syracuse to a place of debauchery, her body remained fixed to the earth like the pillar of a church. 
Suggestion or autosuggestion of hysterical persons has never been able to provoke levitation. After an examination extending over several years, Professor Janet of Paris was able to establish that the body of the person was never raised, even a millimeter, even sufficiently to slip a cigarette paper between his feet and the ground.(21) 
Rationalists have tried to explain naturally the levitation proved in the case of several saints by the deep breathing of air into the lungs; but, in the face of the manifest insufficiency of this reason, they have had to have recourse to an unknown psychic power ­ an explanation that is merely so many words. 
Benedict XIV states the traditional and reasonable explanation.(22) He requires first of all that the fact be well proved in order to avoid all trickery. Then he shows: (I) that because of the law of gravity, well-proved levitation cannot be naturally explained; (2) that it does not, however, exceed the powers of angels and the devil, who can lift bodies up; (3) that consequently the physical, moral, and religious circumstances of the fact must be carefully examined to see whether there is not diabolical intervention; and that, when the circumstances are favorable, one can and must see in it a divine or angelic intervention, which grants to the bodies of the saints an anticipation of the gift of agility which is proper to glorified bodies. - Garrigou-Lagrange

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"Say the black do the red" Sounds rather perfunctory, don't you think?

JFK funeral.
The nation was in mourning, 
the Mass was anything but perfunctory.

Fr. Blake posts a nostalgic look back at the Requiem Mass for JFK.

Fr. Blake commented on the Old Rite - or Ordinary Form of the time, the Low Mass - without making the post about Kennedy.  I  find it interesting to read such commentary on the "Mass of the Ages" as some traditionalists often refer to it.  What is depicted in the video Fr. B posted is the way Mass was always celebrated in the churches I attended, although without a bishop.  They celebrated Pontifical Masses in the Cathedrals of course, but I do not remember ever having attended one.   On Sundays and holy days, there was always a High Mass of course - but I almost think Fr. B would have noted that it too was celebrated in a somewhat perfunctory manner, as he noted for the Kennedy Requiem Mass.  I could be wrong - but flourishes and external signs of 'extraordinary piety and devotion' such as saints like Padre Pio exhibited, were severely criticized.  Which is why 'say the black - just do the red' is such a throw back to that perfunctory style of saying Mass.  It's ironic.

That said, I left a comment on Fr. Blake's blog saying:
You wrote: "Of course what we might do with Old Rite today might well be regarded by our forefathers as a bit prissey."
Having been around in those days, as well as having been an altar boy, 'perfunctory' was indeed the 'ordinary form'.  It strikes me as very much in keeping with the adage, 'say the black, do the red'.  More to the point, I think our forefathers would regard what is done with the 'Old Rite' today as overly pious and affected.
I'm not sure if the comment will be published or not, so I reprint it for my post here - just because I like these discussions.

So maybe celebrating ad orientem isn't enough now?

Say the black, do the red - git 'er done.

One ought to appreciate Fr. Blake's commentary for calling attention to the ordinariness of the ordinary form of the time, or the 'Old Rite'.  As well as the idealism glowing around those who idealize the Extraordinary Form of Mass.  It very clearly demonstrates how the Pre-Conciliar Mass may have been in need of reform, since viewing it now, a priest can say it was a perfunctory Rite celebrated in a perfunctory way.  Even the vestments were very simple.  I should also mention that a low Mass was 'quicker' if you will - so much so, daily Mass could be celebrated in 10 minutes, and often was.  (Not everyone went to communion in those days either.)  A common complaint among Protestants at the time was that Catholic funerals were too long.  I'm serious.

Rose Kennedy went to daily Mass all of her life,
this photo shows how many Catholics assisted
at Mass in those days.

Cardinal Cushing - yes, I clearly remember him - wasn't especially charismatic either.  But the Church wasn't about personality nor celebrity in those days.  Indeed, 'trendy priests' were discouraged from singularizing themselves in those days.  Which just might explain why the Cardinal Burke of that day, Archbishop Sheen, was more or less banished from NYC and sent to Rochester, but that's another story.

In the 1950's and 1960's the American Church was very much about being American and normal, baseball loving nuns and USO touring Cardinals and all that.  No longer prickly and decorous like the stern looking Pius XII - except at Mass, of course - but no one noticed at the time because they had nothing else to compare it to.

And then the Civil Rights Movement came along.

Hey sis, we're on kisscam!

The mystery of gender-queer ... Venerable Juana de la Cruz Vázquez y Gutiérrez

Spanish nun Juana Vázquez Gutiérrez, 
known as Venerable Juana de la Cruz

Transgender Saints.
Juana was born to farmers in the Spanish village of Azaña (today: Numancia de la Sagra) in Spain on May 3, 1481. She would later tell her community that God had been originally fashioning her as a male in the womb of her mother, but upon the intervention of the Blessed Virgin, she was changed into a female. As proof of this miracle, Juana pointed to her Adam’s Apple (in Spanish “nuez … en la garganta,” literally “nut in the throat”), as evidence of divine intervention. By the time she was 15, her family had identified a man to espouse her, but Juana would have nothing of this plan. Instead, she dressed in men’s clothing and fled her family home, walking to a community of women religious to begin a new life for herself. Each March, Christians continue to recreate her journey annually, pilgrimaging to Cubas de la Sagra (near Madrid) to visit the convent of “Santa Juana” -- officially known as the Convent of Santa María de la Cruz. - Source

Shocking, huh?

I posted about a 'trans' saint on my Tumblr blog - just because I was writing about the subject yesterday here.

I spent too much time on the subject, but I came across this story on Venerable Juana de la Cruz.  I found it on a gay blog - I think the information is reliable - but I'm not sure about the interpretation of Juana's writings are accurate.  Nevertheless, I wanted to add this to the transgender posts I've done from time to time.  As a man I can understand a woman wanting to be a man - but I cannot understand why a man would want to be a woman.  Not that there is anything wrong with women.  (I'm digging a hole here, aren't I.)

More on Madre Juana
In 1497 Juana professed as a member of the Franciscan sisters there in Cubas, Spain. By 1509, Juana was elected as Abbess of the community and became “Mother Juana.” Her community was unique in that it maintained a parish church and appointed its priest. Juana prudently appointed her own brother. Even more unique was Juana’s role in preaching lengthy locutions, giving detailed elaborations of Bible events and Jesus’ and Mary’s lives. These sermons were eventually collected in the book, El Libro del Conorte. It speaks to Juana’s personal charisma and vision, that in the midst of the Inquisition, she was both preaching and exercising oversight of a parish. To her credit, she sagely named God as the source and inspiration of her sermons, thereby placing the inquisitors in the position whereby if they questioned her, they were questioning God as well. 

In one of Juana’s sermons, Jesus says: “And all those who seek in me a father, will find in me a father. And those who seek in me a mother, will find in me a mother. And those who seek in me a husband, will find in me a husband. And those who seek in me a bride, will find in me a bride. And those who seek in me a brother, or a friend, or a neighbor, or a companion, likewise will find in me everything they desire…”
[“E todos los que me quisieredes en padre, en padre me fallares. E los que me quisieredes en madre, en madre me falleres. E los que me quisieren en esposo, en esposo me fallaran. E los que me quisieren en esposa, en esposa me fallaran. E los que me quisieren en hermano o en amigo o en proximo o en conpanero, por semejante me fallaran para todo lo quisieren...”- Kevin Elphick


I think, no, I know we will hear more about Madre Juana.  What is most interesting to me is that evidently she was allowed to preach and offer spiritual direction, if correct, that is an incredible concession to a woman religious in Spain at that time - in fact, it would be today as well.  It's an interesting read, as I said, and I'm sure it will inform the development of gay-spirituality today.

As always, I just want to say that LGBTQ concepts are peculiar to modern times, and were not at all known, much less understood in the same way in the past.  But I digress.