Saturday, April 06, 2019

Angel of the Apocalypse

St. Vincent Ferrer “the Angel of the Apocalypse, flying through the heavens to announce the day of the Last Judgment, to evangelize the inhabitants of the earth."

The saint was given that title by Pope Pius II.  It's rather astonishing when you think about it.  St. Vincent gives the signs of the end of the world in his writings and homilies centuries ago, and the Pope seemingly approved.  Kinda, sorta.

It's very interesting to me, because we live in times similar to what St. Vincent forecast.  Cardinals and bishops and mystics and ordinary people all seem to have an apocalyptic sense, even expectation in our day.  More so than I ever recall.  Growing up, priests and nuns would say things like, 'of course the end of the world will not happen in our lifetime - except for each of us facing the time of our inevitable demise'.  Similarly, they felt martyrdom extremely unlikely and remote for us in the United States - and yet in our times there are more martyrs than in the first centuries of Christendom.  

I was thinking of these things at morning prayer today, and I was consoled, thinking how Christ has graciously willed us to share in his Passion in these times - even to death.  It thrilled me, actually.  Wanting to know him and him crucified, as St. Paul said, to have a share - hopefully - in his Resurrection.  Christ is alive!  Christus vivit!

The stars falling.

When we read that in Scripture we sometimes think it referred to the fall of the angels, or the dissolution of the universe at the end, but there is the other meaning, and it is presented by St. Vincent as a sign of Antichrist which precedes the end.  From NCRegister:
Third, “Stars shall fall from heaven,” Christ said (Matthew 24:29). Looking to Daniel (12:3), Vincent proves that refers to the masters, doctors, and licentiates in theology, some of whom “will fall from heaven, that is from the heights of the Faith (Daniel 11:36). Christ also permits this “because of the scandalous and wicked lives and the many sins” of some. - NCReg
It seems to me, be it in the sense of the end, or simply in the sense of a 'purgative dark night of faith' for the Church, that the fall of so many bishops, cardinals, priests, as well as the desertion of so many vocations to religious life since the Council is indeed a sign of something catastrophic, at the least a chastisement.  

In the same way, in the time of Antichrist, the Sun of justice will be obscured by the interposition of temporal goods and the wealth which Antichrist will bestow on the world, inasmuch as the brightness of faith in Jesus Christ and the glow of good lives will no longer shine among Christians. For, lest they should lose their dominion, temporal rulers, kings and princes will range themselves on the side of Antichrist. In like manner, prelates for fear of losing their dignities, and religious and priests to gain honors and riches, will forsake the Faith of Christ and adhere to Antichrist. Now he will be a veritable man, but so proud that, not only will he desire to have universal dominion in the whole world, but will even demand to be called a god, and will insist on receiving divine worship. - NCReg

Maybe it's just an eclipse?

Our times seem to be obscured by "clouds of temporal goods” - materialism.  In this atmosphere, it seems to me we have all been seduced by the world's slow stain, as John of the Cross wrote:  "Where does this poisonous harm fail to reach? And who fails to drink little or much from the golden chalice of the Babylonian woman of the Apocalypse? ...There is hardly anyone of high rank or low, saint or sinner, who does not drink of her wine, subjecting his heart somewhat."  Thus we need to beware the worldly allure, knowing 'there are many antichrists' in the world, seeking to “seduce the nations” and “peoples, that is, with gold and silver and honors.”

Finally, St. Vincent exhorts us:  “If therefore you do not wish to be deceived, now with all your hearts contemn and despise all earthly goods, and long for those of heaven, considering that the goods of this world are transitory and empty, while heavenly and celestial goods are eternal. In this way you will be strong.”  [...]  “place the whole of your faith and confidence in the name of Jesus Christ., and refuse to acknowledge any miracle unless it is worked in that same name; and so you will be strong against seduction.” - NCReg

At one time some religious attempted to discourage me in my devotion to St. Vincent, telling me he was antisemitic and no longer relevant.   In truth, he converted many thousands of Moors and Jews to the faith.  He may be more relevant today than he ever was in history.

St. Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Why is Steve Bannon on World Over?

The Betrayal Of Christ, C.1621 by Guercino

Thinking out loud here.

I really do not watch World Over on a regular basis - I tuned in last night to see if there was any commentary on Archbishop Gregory - but Arroyo had Bannon on.

Why is Bannon on EWTN with Arroyo? Why is is advising on Vatican diplomacy? Why is he advising on anything? The Institute for the Judeo Christian West? He is going to reinforce Catholic teaching? Urging US FBI RICO investigations into Catholic archdioceses?

These crazy lay movements of disgruntled Catholics and Institutes to save Christendom are more political than Christian - with Bannon and the like at the helm, the entire approach is secular and ideological, and totally prey to corruption.

Bannon said he was embarrassed to be Catholic last week because of the Vatican policy with China - and yes, he criticized the pope and somehow praised Trump. It is fascinating to see this on a major Catholic network, dedicated to spreading the Word of God, propagating far right politics instead. Criticizing and judging the Holy See in exactly the same way political commentators do on network television.  Is EWTN a Fox affiliate?

The readings for Passiontide will certainly carry great relevance to how Catholics are dividing into camps. Christ is indeed hidden, while the disciples, steeped in politics, are looking for him to be declared king.

Same old, same old.

That's what I said about the appointment of Wilton Gregory to Washington.  It is the same old, same old.  However closely they vet the bishops they promote, it's always consistent - they all fall out of the same mold as their predecessors.  In this case, it speaks for itself.  That said, all the popes have chosen good and bad men to be bishops.  What can I say?  I do not understand why anyone would even want to be a bishop.

Bishops do not care about what I think, and that's fine with me.

Bonus Round

Bannon on the Bishops and immigration:
“The Catholic Church has been terrible about this,” he said. “The bishops have been terrible about this. By the way, you know why? You know why? Because unable to really—to—to—to come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. That's—it's obvious on the face of it. That's what – the entire Catholic bishops condemn him... They have—they have an economic interest. They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration.” - DB

Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon is helping to craft the curriculum for a leadership course at a right-wing Roman Catholic institute in Italy, stepping up his efforts to influence conservative thinking in the church. 
Benjamin Harnwell, director of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute based in a mountaintop monastery not far from Rome, told Reuters Bannon had been helping to build up the institute for about half of its eight-year life. 
Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading Vatican conservative who is president of the Institute’s board of advisers, said Bannon would be playing a leading role there. 
Burke told Reuters he looked forward to working with Harnwell and Bannon “to promote a number of projects that should make a decisive contribution to the defense of what used to be called Christendom”. - Reuters

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Seeking affirmation and approval.

How can you believe, when you accept praise (affirmation and approval) from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? - John 5: 31-47

This is one of my favorite sayings of Jesus.  It is so revealing to me personally.  Over the years, my life, and I'm guessing the lives of many, seem to be controlled - to some extent - by our need for approval and acceptance.  It's not a bad thing in itself, it's a natural need - but it often leads to some objectively disordered behavior, and at times, accounts for the double lives some people lead.  (Not to mention social media addiction.)  Which gives rise to so many lies, deceptions, affectations, pretentiousness and so on.

So I try to remember this passage in the Gospel, and repeat it to myself often - as an examen.  

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves ... -Philippians 2

Henry Karlson has a very good essay related to this, on Vainglory, I'll share an excerpt here:

Nothing is so quick to turn us away from the good than by seeking praise and honors for doing so, because once we become accustomed to accept such praise as signifying what is good and just, we will find ourselves malleable to the whims of what is temporarily popular. We shall change our ways, we shall change what we do, in order to continue to receive accolades from others. What could be more fickle than that? We might get what we desire, but we will find it is fleeting: the praise is momentary, while life continues on. We will find out that when we get such a reward that it does not satisfy us. When our fame dies down, we will have to do something once again to gain the attention of others ... - Vainglory

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

St. Nunzio Sulprizio

St. Nunzio Sulprizio
Terry Nelson
St. Nunzio, pray for us.

I was attracted to Nunzio Sulprizio many years ago, since he led a difficult life and suffered abuse in his childhood and teen years.  His story and example of patience in suffering is remarkable.  Go here for an overview of his life.

I repost the painting I did of him, having added a rosary, one of his attributes.  He was nineteen when he died, and I tried to depict him as a young man, rather than a child.  Very faintly at the top of the hill is an indication of Our Lady, the alley is an impression of the location of the blacksmith shop he worked at.  

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

The Litanies

(I love how the Blessed Sacrament 
is carried in the tabernacle,
like the Ark.)

Fr. Z has a post up about litanies, but since I am not signed up to comment on his site I just would like to add some more information I had learned years ago from a book on the liturgy by Louis Boyer.

I once regarded litanies as part of private worship and not necessarily liturgical, whereas in fact, the litany is used in psalmody, in the Divine Office and in the Mass, most notably in the Penitential rite, while the responsorial psalm is a sort of litany, as are the intercessions or prayer of the faithful.  They have their origins in Judaism and Jewish liturgy.  I love that. 

So the litanies approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship are very much grounded in the official prayer of the Church, and united to the liturgy, as it were, in so far as they are approved for liturgical use. 

I just think it's cool that this form of prayer is so ancient and efficacious.

From Fr. Z:
There are eight Litanies officially approved by the Church for public use.
Litany of Saints, used at the Easter Vigil and during ordinations, Rogation days, exorcisms, etc.
Litany of Loreto, the Marian Litany, often recited after the Rosary
Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus
Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Litany of the Most Precious Blood
Litany of St. Joseph
Litany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim
Litany of the Most Holy Sacrament

*I think they need to restore Rogation and Ember days. 

St. Mary of Egypt


The Orthodox celebrate the Fifth Sunday of Lent in honor of St. Mary of Egypt, the penitent. (Her actual feast day is kept elsewhere on April 1, 2 and 3.) For those who have been addicted to sexual promiscuity - of any kind - St. Mary is a powerful intercessor and edifying example of penitence.  If they take away the title of penitent for the Magdalen, they can never do so for Mary of Egypt.

Briefly, the story of her conversion informs us that she was a 'dancer' and a harlot, on a pilgrimage to venerate the relics of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.  She also plied her trade on the way, 'turning tricks' as one might say today.  Our Lady's icon paralyzed her, keeping her from entering the church to venerate the relics.  She begged Our Lady for help, repented of her sins, and was able to enter.  Shortly after, instructed by the Blessed Virgin, she left everything and fled into the desert to do penance.

Of its very nature, a conversion is an experience of divine mercy.
The prodigal son was certainly consumed with shame and regret when he made his decision to return to his father. The real test of his conversion, however, lay still in his future. His taste of mercy on his arrival home hopefully led to a prodigality of humble gratitude that never forgot the embrace of his father on that day. Humility of soul will always remain strong in a soul that understands the mystery of mercy. - Fr. Donald Haggerty
The identity of 'penitent' is much more meaningful than 'former prostitute' or former anything, even recovering addict, as a way to describe oneself.  Penitent is better and keeps us focused on Jesus and him crucified.

Monday, April 01, 2019

My last attempt ...

Matt Talbot on the street where he died.

To depict Matt Talbot as a young man.

I went back to an earlier style.  I showed a kid with a bottle and a fidler who had his fiddle stolen.  Matt was a penitent, with a history.

The photo is a bit blurred, my apologies.  Neuropathy and tremors are catching up with me.

The Pope in Morocco ...

What he did and what he said.

I'm so grateful that he just keeps going, aware of all the problems, aware of all that is said against him, he has his face firmly set to continue his journey and mission.  This is why we have a pope, to strengthen and confirm us in the Faith.

I was so impressed when he greeted one of the surviving monks of  the Atlas Abbey of Tibhirine - it seemed to me to support the Holy Father's mission to find peace and understanding with Islam.  Recalling the last testament of Dom Christian de Chergé, it seems to the martyr's testament somehow defines the Church's approach to Islam.  Bl. Christian did not desire to have his beloved Algerians to be made responsible for his death...
I could not desire such a death. It seems to me important to state this. I do not see, in fact, how I could rejoice if this people I love were to be accused indiscriminately of my murder. It would be to pay too dearly for what will, perhaps, be called “the grace of martyrdom,” to owe it to an Algerian, whoever he may be, especially if he says he is acting in fidelity to what he believes to be Islam. I know the scorn with which Algerians as a whole can be regarded. I know also the caricature of Islam which a certain kind of Islamism encourages. It is too easy to give oneself a good conscience by identifying this religious way with the fundamentalist ideologies of the extremists. For me, Algeria and Islam are something different; they are a body and a soul. I have proclaimed this often enough, I believe, in the sure knowledge of what I have received in Algeria, in the respect of believing Muslims—finding there so often that true strand of the Gospel I learned at my mother’s knee, my very first Church. - Bl. Christian

And may we find each other,
 happy “good thieves,” in Paradise, 
if it pleases God, the Father of us both. Amen.

 The Holy Father continues to clarify Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

Faithful to Catholic teaching on homosexual acts, the Pope made clear that "homosexual tendencies “are not a sin.”

Asked about his famous soundbite “Who am I to judge?”, the pope said, “Tendencies are not sin. If you have a tendency to anger, it’s not a sin. Now, if you are angry and hurt people, the sin is there.” 
“Sin is acting, of thought, word and deed, with freedom,” Francis said. 
Asked by Spanish journalist Jordi Evole if he thinks it’s a “rarity” for parents to have a homosexual child, the pope answered that “in theory, no.” 
“But I’m talking about a person who is developing, and parents start to see strange things … Please consult, and go to a professional, and there you will see what it is and may not be homosexual, that is due to something else,” he said. 
Francis also said that in his opinion, it’s usually challenging for a family to have a homosexual child, as they can be “scandalized by something they don’t understand, something out of the ordinary … I’m not making a judgement of value, I’m doing a phenomenological analysis,” he said. - Crux
It seems to me he is not speaking of 'conversion therapy' but rather discernment in understanding if the inclination is 'fixed' as it were.  (The only difficulty I have with that advice is that many people can't afford to take their kids to a professional, others do not have access or insurance and so on.  Likewise, as history demonstrates, some professionals may not be competent.  Just saying.)  Others will disagree, but I never think the Pope departs from Catholic teaching, nor does he condemn homosexual persons.  Not even priests - if they are faithful to their vocation and Catholic teaching.
Once a homosexual identity is “set,” Francis said, a homosexual man or woman “has the right to a family, and that father and mother have the right to a son [or daughter], come as it may, and no son or daughter can be thrown out of the home.” - Crux
In the interview, the Holy Father makes it known he is aware of all the criticism, especially regarding the abuse crisis and how some victims are not happy about how it is being handled.   He gets that.
The concrete result of the summit, he argued, was to “start processes, and this takes time,” he said, but it’s the only way “for the cure to be irreversible.” - Crux
I don't regret having confidence in God and trusting his providence which gave us Pope Francis.  I do not regret my confidence in Pope Francis, and conviction that he is a faithful servant of God, and true son of the Church.  Even when I may not understand the sketchy journalism which interprets his words and actions in a worldly, often profane sense contrary to Catholic teaching, and or, in a way which will be controversial.  To use the Pope's words, media can report on such things in a way that "is ill-intentioned.”  Those who dislike the Pope run with that sort of reporting.