Saturday, January 13, 2018

How far to follow?

That was the title of a book on the Trappist martyrs of Algiers.

As our Lord revealed, a martyr is like the 'seed that falls to the ground and dies'.  Martyrdom is the supreme annihilation of self.  In this vein, I often recall what St. John of the Cross taught regarding the self-denial the Christian must embrace - sooner or later - and how difficult it is:  “Oh that someone might show us how to understand, practice and experience what this counsel is which our Saviour here gives us concerning the denial of ourselves, so that spiritual persons might see in how different a way they should conduct themselves upon this road than that which many of them think proper.... Oh that someone would tell us how far Our Lord desires this self-denial to be carried!”

This morning, the daily meditation in Magnificat reminded me once again of how necessary and extremely difficult this self-abnegation can be. 

Oh how different are the ideas of God from our ideas...

The Blessed Virgin Mary 
and the Annihilation of Matthew

Oh how different are the ideas of God from our ideas. Oh how far removed from our ways are the ways he takes to attain his ends! How pleasing in his eyes are obscurity, humility, retirement, solitude, and silent prayer! A thousand times greater in his sight are they than all sorts of brilliant exterior works! Oh how true it is that to be anything in the sight of God we must be nothing, we must pretend to nothing; we must only desire to be ignored, forgotten, despised, and considered as the most vile and abject thing in the world.

If the life of the Blessed Virgin does not teach us this great truth, if it does not make us love it and embrace it, if it does not stifle in us the desire of appearing as something of importance, if it does not convince us that to find ourselves in God we must first lose ourselves entirely, what more touching example, what more powerful lesson, could ever be able to persuade us? Jesus and Mary demonstrate to every Christian that God finds his greatest glory in this world in our annihilation. And they also demonstrate to us that the more we are annihilated on earth, the greater, the happier, and the more powerful shall we be in heaven.

How shall we then show our solid devotion to the Blessed Virgin? By striving to imitate her interior life, her lowly opinion of herself, her love of obscurity, of silence, and of retirement; her attraction to little things, her fidelity to grace, the beautiful simplicity of her recollection and prayer, the only object of which was God and his holy will, Jesus Christ and his love, her continual sacrifice of herself and of all she loved most dearly and had the greatest reason to love. Let us ask her every day that she may serve us as our guide and model in the interior life, and let us beg of her to obtain for us the graces which are necessary for us, that we may correspond to the designs of God upon us. And these designs are most certainly our death to ourselves and the destruction of our self-love.

Father Jean-Nicolas Grou, s.j.

Father Grou († 1803) was a French Jesuit priest and a beloved spiritual master. - Source

"Oh how true it is that to be anything in the sight of God we must be nothing, we must pretend to nothing; we must only desire to be ignored, forgotten, despised, and considered as the most vile and abject thing in the world."

Friday, January 12, 2018

Something on the Indefectibility of the Church ...

Remember Leo Taxil?

Enemies of the Church "want to see the Catholic Church weakened, especially the authority of the pope, who they feel has too much influence over voters and consumer practice."

I came across the following comment by Emmett O'Regan, the author of  "Pope St. Pius X on the Indefectibility of the Church and the Prophecies of St. John Bosco"

I want to share it, because it corresponds with my own opinion and theory regarding the assault upon the Papacy we are witnessing in the Church in the United States, fueled by ultra conservative Catholic media.  Several years ago we only came across this type anticlerical, anti-Catholic rhetoric on sedevacantist sites, or by right-wing-fringe bloggers and Fr. Gruner followers and Fatima-cultists.  Now it is ever more pervasive on Catholic social media and even espoused by individual priests and religious.  

Recently Cardinal Burke urged Catholics: "Never apologize for Church teaching."  Frequently his words are understood by some to be veiled references to the Holy Father, as if he is straying from Catholic teaching, or even teaching error.  That is unfortunate.   Would that the Cardinal instead urged Catholics: Never make apologies for remaining faithful to the Church and the Holy Father. Beware of those who hold other views.

That said, the following is an opinion expressed by the author Emmett O'Regan on the current disrespect and detraction, and in some cases, calumnies  against Pope Francis and the Bishops in communion with him.

If you ask me, I think a lot of American politicians are pulling the strings behind some elements of the English speaking Catholic media, such as EWTN and the Register, CWR, etc., purely for their own agenda. Many politicians want to see the Catholic Church weakened (e.g. Masonic ones), especially the authority of the pope, who they feel has too much influence over voters and consumer practice. This is why you are seeing this new trend towards Gallicanism emerging - which was similarly politically oriented towards restricting papal authority. I think the similarities to the Gallican template is too systematic to be accidental. I think a political lobby group is purposely steering it in this direction, and is manipulating the right-wing Catholic media for its own ends. The dissent being stoked against the magisterium atm won't just affect this papacy, but all future papacies. If you can dissent from one magisterium, why not another? If this level of dissent is allowed to continue, will weaken the Catholic Church for ever. The vast majority of the media scorn is not Pope Francis' fault either - this hatred is being deliberately manufactured. He is being undermined on all levels, and there is some serious profiteering going on for doing so. Sites like 1P5 are raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, even though it isn't a charitable organisation helping the poor. It's sole purpose is to incite hatred against the pope, and it is turning this into a business operation. Books like "The Dictator Pope" are raking it in. There is absolutely no money to be made in defending the pope, only scorn and derision. 
The Holy Spirit will always protect the Church from heresy. It is Catholic dogma that the Church has to remain a perfect society to the end of time in order to fulfil the Great Commission. If it did not remain perfect, it simply could not fulfil this commission, which is why it is indefectible. - Emmett O'Regan


“Holy Spirit, inspire me. 
Love of God consume me. 
Along the true road, lead me. 
Mary, my good mother, look down upon me. 
With Jesus, bless me. 
From all evil, all illusion, all danger, preserve me.”
- St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, OCD

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Holy Father's catechesis on the Holy Eucharist.

Few Catholic pundits seem to comment on the things the Holy Father is saying.

He's discussing the Ordinary Form of Mass - the Liturgy.  He speaks of silence, the meaning and necessity for the Penitential rite, as well as the liturgy as a school of prayer.  Consistent with Sacrosanctum concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Holy Father is offering the catecheses on the Mass of Paul VI, otherwise known as the Ordinary Form or Novus Ordo. The Sacred Liturgy of the Church.

It is important to note since this has been the Ordinary Form of Mass since it was promulgated in 1969.  This is the Mass celebrated by the Popes ever since.  The changes implemented following the Second Vatican Council are legitimate.  Hostility to Vatican II and downright rejection by some in the Church is most likely the reason many Catholics online are ignoring the Holy Father's catechesis.

My prayer is formed by and united to the Liturgy, the prayer of the Church - which as the Holy Father noted “the Opening Prayer is also called the “Collect”, because it gathers up and presents to the Triune God all our individual prayers.”

It seems to me this is one reason we need one calendar for both forms of Mass.

Anyway, I am happy the Holy Father is making this catechesis and continuing to implement the reforms of Vatican II.  For too many years Catholics online have been promoting the idea that the OF of Mass is deficient and heretical, or even 'un-holy', and that Vatican II was a bad Council foretold by private revelation. 

Never make apologies for remaining faithful to the Church and the Holy Father.  Beware of those who hold other views.
Concluding his catechesis, the Holy Father underlined that “by reflecting on these rich prayers, and uniting ourselves with the Church in lifting them up to God, we see how the liturgy becomes for each Christian a true school of prayer.” - Pope Francis

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

When you feel like you can't go on ...

Don Dolindo Ruotolo

"And when I must lead you on a path different from the one you see, I will prepare you; I will carry you in my arms; I will let you find yourself, like children who have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, on the other bank of the river. What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, your thoughts and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal with what afflicts you." - Jesus to Fr. Dolindo
O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!

Song for this post here

Monday, January 08, 2018

Mass Chat: Eucharistic Adoration

At my parish we are preparing for Perpetual Adoration.

We are preparing for it by prayer, Mass, and catechesis.  Establishing an adoration chapel is a good thing.  I see it as a means to revive devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to make reparation for sin, and so on.  I think my pastor also sees it as a source for vocations.  It's a wonderful thing, a holy and sacred work.  Some of us at the parish have desired this for many years, and now it may become a reality.

Is this the best way to promote devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and restore faith in the Real Presence?

Because I think that is some of the motivation behind the initiative.  It seems to me there can be another, more practical approach taken before establishing a separate adoration chapel.  I think it is more necessary to restore the tabernacle to the center of the sanctuary.  We have a box off to the side - the interior falling apart, and in summer, the hosts sometimes become soft, due to humidity.  The box is on a shelf, and did I mention - off to the side, not very visible.  We desperately need a new tabernacle and it needs to be central in the church.  Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament needs to be rehabilitated to simple devotion to the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacles. 

I think it needs to start and be affirmed in connection with the Mass - the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The source and summit of our faith.  First things first - then a special adoration chapel - if needed.

When I was younger, we used to kneel whenever the priest went to the tabernacle and opened it, outside of Mass.

We also genuflected whenever we walked in front of the tabernacle attached to the altar reredos.  There was no disconnect from the Mass when the tabernacle was central and devotion clearly linked to the altar of sacrifice.

It seems to me devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and adoration can be jump started with 40 Hours Devotion, along with periods of silent adoration after feast day and Sunday Masses, concluding in solemn benediction.  As it stands, when parishes have a day set aside for adoration, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar of sacrifice - which seems to me most appropriate, since the devotion is thereby  an obvious extension of the Mass.  Frequently lay people recite the prayers of Benediction at the closing, and repose the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.  Sometimes awkwardly.  I think that's a problem, especially since solemn benediction seems to have become rare.  Likewise, I've seen some carelessness when reposing the Blessed Sacrament.

I love perpetual adoration, I'm just not sure it is always the ideal first step for a parish.  Especially when the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle is more or less ignored.  I'm sure people will disagree with me, but reverence for the Blessed Sacrament needs to begin at the foot of the altar, before the tabernacle, at Mass, and at Communion time - and after - especially in a silent period of thanksgiving.  As I stated, exposition and Solemn Benediction would be an excellent way to increase devotion and restore true devotion.

I may be wrong.