Sunday, December 26, 2021

Pray For Vocations

 I'm told the Trappists have very few vocations and many houses have small communities of mostly elderly monks.  I was reading the biographies of a few monks who were part of New Melleray Abbey.  One, Br. Conrad, I was able to meet before he died.  Such an edifying life.  Pray for us Br. Conrad.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Francis the Festivus Pope

 Airing grievances.

Not really - at least I don't read him that way.  I happen to love his sober calls to conversion right before Christmas - for all of us - not just the Curia. Sadly, others think he's mean, I don't - but I'm a Seinfeld fan and my humor is a bit dark.

ROME — Pope Francis on Dec. 23 told members of the Vatican bureaucracy that their work should be guided by humility and service, not a "spiritual worldliness" masked by liturgy, doctrine and religious devotion.

In his annual pre-Christmas address to a room full of men often dubbed as "princes of the church," the pope told the cardinals and bishops who work in the Vatican that it was time to "discard the trappings of our roles, our social recognition and the glitter of this world" and to adopt humility. 

In past years, Francis has not hesitated to use his annual speech to lash out at Vatican officials for blocking his reform efforts and to criticize the spiritual "diseases" that he believes hamper their work. In this year's address, however, the pope took on a more pastoral tone, offering a reflection on the Old Testament figure of Naaman, an accomplished military commander who had leprosy. 

"His armor that had won him renown, in reality covered a frail, wounded and diseased humanity," said Francis. "Sometimes great gifts are the armor that covers great frailties. Naaman came to understand a fundamental truth: we cannot spend our lives hiding behind armor, a role we play, or social recognition." 

Christmas, Francis said during the 45-minute address, is a time to "find the courage to take off our armor." 

"Once we strip ourselves of our robes, prerogatives, positions and titles, all of us are lepers in need of healing," he said. - NCR

I love this Pope! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

So. Let's take a closer look.

Resisting the Pope to his face?

Two issues caught my attention, as readers know: The reactions by some contemplative nuns to the document Cor Orans and the implementation of its guidelines. And, the reactions of Traditionalists devoted to the TLM and their outright rejection of Traditionis Custodes and the implementation of the disciplines proposed.

First let me say I do have sympathy for those attached to the TLM and the rubrics and sacramental rite involved therein.  I respect their attachment to Latin and ceremony.  I personally love the Mass celebrated so elegantly and mysteriously, especially on Christmas and Easter, yet I also love very much the OF and the vernacular - which is always well celebrated in the parishes I attend.  Thus I don't see the problem between the two - it is the Mass.  Up until now, it was understood as one rite under two forms.  The only difference I felt was wanting is that the calendar was not updated for the TLM to include new saints and that the readings were not the same as in the OF.  

That said, I came across an article at Crisis which helped me understand better the affliction felt by ordinary Catholics who love the TLM.  The article by Sean McClinch, It's Time to Occupy the Churches is not something I would promote, but it helped me understand a bit better the passionate response traditionalists have.  His citation of occupying the churches relates to the events in France and can be linked to the history of the SSPX, when Parisian traditionalists did just that.  His position and proposals sound similar.  Which is an unfortunate position, to be sure,

On April 12, 1977, Parisian traditionalists got sick of worshipping in the community hall the petty New Church bureaucrats relegated to them for the celebration of their banned Mass. So they did what any decent, God-fearing Catholics should – they processed into the church of St. Nicholas with priests, occupied it, and stayed there. Every living Trad should know by heart the exchange that occurred between the parish clergyman of St. Nicholas du Chardonnet and one of the occupying priests. - Sean McClinch

The SSPX influence, especially the doctrine of Archbishop Lefebvre can't be obfuscated.  Many, perhaps most of the adherents to the TLM, be they SSPX or FSSP  tend to believe what Lefebvre taught about VII and the NO:

"Now it was during the Council that the enemies of the Church infiltrated Her, and their first objective was to demolish and destroy the Mass insofar as they could." - 50th Jubilee sermon.
Like I said, I have some sympathy for McClinch and those like him.  I lived through wreckovations of churches and experimentation in liturgical forms, changing readings and responses at Mass, and so on.  When JPII came along, the liturgical rubrics and orthodoxy was more or less restored.  My Archdiocese is especially blessed with good priests and bishops - the younger ones more traditional than their seniors, but very good nonetheless.  All the renovations after the Council were imposed - parishioners had no say in how the parish church was modernized.  All I'm trying to say is that I understand how traditionalists feel, yet I, along with many faithful older people, went through it.  We maybe had to ask a progressive priest to give us absolution in confession, and sometimes we could only be sure we were receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ because at least the Consecration, the words of institution were said properly.  Yet we persevered, said our penance after confession and spent a long time in thanksgiving after Communion.  That's all - I just want to acknowledge that I get it.

Father Ducaud-Bourget (center), accompanied by a thousand traditionalists,
 occupied the Church of Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet in Paris back in 1977.

With few exceptions, it was never about the Liturgy.

I implied that in another post, writing:  "The rejection of the NO is directly linked to the rejection of the Council, and it leads to rejection of Papal/Magisterial authority and threatens the unity of the Church, which is in virtual schism at the moment because the propagandists have rejected Peter – like it or not, Pope Francis."  That is what this is all about.  I've already made too long of a post so I will just post a couple excerpts from articles I feel help me make my point.  The first from Larry Chap.  I admire him very much, I don't take as critical a stance of Pope Francis as does he, but I respect his POV and appreciate his gallantry in expressing his position so respectfully.

I am reminded of an excellent essay by Shaun Blanchard in Catholic Life Journal wherein he says something that I think is entirely correct: Traditionis Custodes was never about liturgy at all. What we are witnessing with regard to the recent “clarification” is not about the so-called “liturgy wars” but is instead about Vatican II and its interpretation. You can access Blanchard’s marvelous essay here. It is all worth reading, but for me here is the most salient thing he says:

“No single English word encapsulates the concept I am trying to convey, but thankfully the Germans have a word for everything. I believe Pope Francis’ motu proprio is the latest in a long series of papal assertions of Deutungshoheit over the legacy of Vatican II. Literally “interpretation-sovereignty,” to have Deutungshoheit means to have sovereignty over a narrative, which is the power to control meaning. Pope Francis’s many and virulent critics (my fellow Americans are especially numerous and sometimes vicious in this regard) typically see dangerous innovation and glaring discontinuities littered throughout his pontificate.”

In other words, Traditionis Custodes is about whose interpretation of the post-conciliar reforms will be ascendent in the Church going forward, and the Pope making it clear that he wants it to be his vision of the Council and not that of the traditionalists. - Read the rest here.



Pope Francis is not the destroyer.

There is a false prophecy attributed to Francis of Assisi that Pope Francis is the destroyer Pope.  I'm convinced many traditionalists and even contemplative monastics believe this.  Especially as it concerns "Cor Orans" IMPLEMENTING INSTRUCTIONOF THE APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION “VULTUM DEI QUAERERE” ON WOMEN’S CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE.

From Archbishop Vigano, to former members of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, and some Discalced Carmelite nuns, rumor and fears are promulgated that the Holy See - Pope Francis himself is out to destroy contemplative life in the Church.  The notion defies reason and is based upon rumor, lies, conspiracy theories concerning infiltration as well as apocalyptic paranoia.  There is so much misinformation circulating regarding contemplative communities of nuns. I can't help connect this to the recent outcry against the discipline imposed upon the TLM, which so many claim is spiritually abusive.  That said, I will link to a couple excerpts from Where Peter Is and the fifth article in a series defending contemplative life, Welcome the Light, by Sr. Gabriella Hicks, OCD.

Sr. Gabriella's series is surprisingly candid and direct, unusual in my experience for a Carmelite, but very welcome to better understand what has been going on and clearing away so much of the misinformation circulating on the subject.  I don't have a direct quote but even H.M. St. Teresa of Avila remarked that outsiders, lay people and even clerics do not understand the inner workings of religious communities - which may explain why clergy like Vigano have such a deranged view of things. 

"Spiritual abuse is especially rampant in communities with sectarian aberrations. As Dom Dysmas de Lassus wrote, “in the Culture of Lies, we are touching on an element that is omnipresent in communities with sectarian aberrations.”
I posted the Open Letter to Archbishop Vigano on our website on October 4, and on the same day LifeSiteNews posted an article about the chaplain at the Fairfield Carmel, Fr. Maximilian Mary Dean. The article presented an interview with Fr. Dean which had been made over a month before. As I read the article and watched the interview, I was shocked to read Fr. Dean’s report of the meeting we Carmelite Nuns had with our former Father General and members of the Definitory (the governing body) in St. Louis in April 2017. In the interview, Fr. Dean claimed that the Father General said “that the times have changed and that they, contemplative, cloistered nuns, need to adapt to the times… that they can’t live the way they were living before.”
This was totally incorrect. Immediately, some of us who were present went online to say so. Although Fr. Dean said, “I heard some reports from what took place at the meeting, he didn’t say where he got his information. Since both Mother Stella-Marie, the Prioress of Fairfield Carmel, and Mother Therese, the Sub-Prioress, were present at the meeting[i], as well as Mother Agnes, the Sub-Prioress of Valparaiso, they could have told him directly what was said. The full address of Father General is available online (you can read it here). In his address he did not say anything about needing to “adapt to the times,” but that we need to respond to “the challenges that the times we live in present to contemplative life.” Furthermore, he affirmed and upheld “the truth of our vocation, the truth of Carmel, of its message, of its extraordinary pertinence for modern times.” Moreover, all the conferences and question-and-answer periods were recorded on video, so it is easy to establish the truth. - Read more here.

Sorry for the long post - I just wanted to document these thoughts for my own reference and share them with you.  Beware 'sectarian aberrations'.  Avoid lies and concocted myths meant to destabilize the Church, parishes, religious communities and families.  Do not follow false apparitions and prophecies - remember, as with Fatima, it is the Church which is responsible for the interpretation and approval of all alleged prophecies, locutions, apparitions and heavenly messages. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Francis, The Grinch Who Stole the TLM...

But the Whos lacked meekness and rebelled and remained obstinate in their resistance.

Seriously, the Pope stole nothing and he's not the Grinch and Trads are not Who-villagers.  Their reaction to Responsa ad dubia of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on some provisions of the Apostolic Letter in the form of "Motu Proprio" Traditionis Custodes of the Supreme Pontiff Francis, 18.12.2021 definitely is not like the citizens of Whoville.  They act as if the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Eucharist has been taken from them - which is completely untrue.  After all, the Ordinary Form is the Mass, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ remains in the Eucharist reserved in tabernacles throughout the world, the sacraments of the Novus Ordo are indeed valid and remain "an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace"  - and they are efficacious.

The reactions have been mindboggling and far more baffling than anything Pope Francis has decreed.  I'll make this short and simply share some commentary I posted yesterday on FB and in emails.

In response to The Crisis article: The Spiritual Abuse Continues.

Talk about a Woke Catholicism, using the 'spiritual abuse - abusive father' trope is wearing thin. I disagree with this article. The author is wrong. 
The Holy Father does not hate the TLM or Latin, much less any Roman Catholic. That is a childish thing to say. Every pope since Paul VI has been intent upon implementing Vatican II and renewing the liturgical rites. It’s absurd to look upon the pope as an abusive father, or a tyrant making war? How far off have people been led astray? How is it so many have been deceived to believe such nonsense? Even if these new regulations are difficult for some, they must be perceived in charity and meekness and understood as discipline – not punishment or revenge – for the good of the Church. It's a discipline from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Discipline - not abuse. 
I urge people to pray and read. Read the documents from Vatican II. Read the words of the Popes. Especially read St. Paul VI on the new Missal. Read Scripture. Perhaps keep in mind the following exhortation of St. Paul to the Hebrews. 
"In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons: “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.” Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards." - - Hebrews 12

 I posted some reactions by Traditionalists, which I find scandalous and genuinely spiritually abusive.*

"Our opinion: in the midst of the gigantic crisis afflicting the Church in the West, including the crisis of attendance following the pandemic, that this violence is the priority of the Vatican is very revealing. It is revealing of the false mercy of this Evil Shepherd elected by irresponsible Cardinals in 2013. It is revealing of the spirit of spite that reigns in this totalitarian pontificate. It is revealing of the disgusting presence of Satan in the middle of the Church. 
Benedict XVI had brought liturgical peace to the Church. An end to the liturgical wars. The current pope has chosen to reignite them. There is no logical reason for that. Just an underlying desire for division and violence. 
Despite it all, this shall pass. This grotesque spectacle of a pontificate will come to an end. The Traditional Rite has not seen its last chapter, certainly not under this charade of a ruler, a caricature of a comical Latin American caudillo! No, no, if Paul VI in all his power and the great power of the Council in the 1970s was not able to crush us, this clique of geriatric marauders will certainly not succeed. Just hang on. Time is on our side." - New Catholic at Rorate 
Others appear to be equally upset. In fact, Fr. Z thinks the whole thing is a lie - imagine that. The Holy See lying to the faithful... how did he come to this? Publicly calling the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments liars, deceiving the faithful. Imagine a priest in good standing doing such a thing.
"I must say that, reading through the questions, I have a very hard time believing that these are actual questions that came from outside the Congregation, unless they were collaborations, like that risible exchange between the Prefect and the Archbishop of Westminster. I strongly suspect that the “dubia” were concocted inside the Congregation. I also do not believe for a nanosecond that the “survey” sent to bishops came back with even a sliver of evidence that something had gone awry with Summoum Pontificum. In essence, I suspect that we are being lied to. They are simply imposing their will." - Fr. Z "I’m dubious about the dubia."

* I have found trads to be genuinely spiritually abusive.  A friend commented that he does not know of any Catholic who is fed spiritually by the Extraordinary Form who hates the Ordinary Form.  While others insist Trads are welcoming and not at all abusive towards ordinary Catholics.  Spiritual abuse happens when someone uses spiritual or religious beliefs to exploit, hurt, scare or control you. Discipline is not abuse.

My experience of Trads.

I know many EF adherents who hate the OF. Some are priests who celebrate the EF. The others are former co-workers at a Catholic Religious Goods company and those I knew who shopped there, who also attended another parish I belonged to. They actually said things like, “It’s probably a mortal sin to attend the NO once having found the EF/TLM.” “The NO isn’t even Catholic, it’s another religion.” In fact Steve Skojec just Tweeted that a few days ago. Others claim “The EF is holier.” “You can’t be sure the NO is valid.” “The sacraments of the old rite are valid – but there are questions regarding the NO sacraments - even some NO ordinations may not be valid because they use the new ritual.” “Holy Water blessed in the new ritual is not efficacious.” The famed exorcist Gabriele Amorth and others claimed the new ritual is not as powerful as the old. Then of course the old saying, "The devil hates Latin" repeated to convince people everything needs to be done using Latin - even the Rosary.  (Although at every approved apparition of the Mother of God, she used the vernacular.) There are many examples of this online and off over the years.  Some religious have founded monastic communities based upon the Tridentine rite in rejection of the NO.  I know because I know a few of them and have witnessed their retreat from the 'Post Vatican II' Church.  This mindset has infiltrated contemplative monasteries of nuns, as well.

The rejection of the NO is directly linked to the rejection of the Council, and it leads to rejection of Papal/Magisterial authority and threatens the unity of the Church, which is in virtual schism at the moment because the propagandists have rejected Peter – like it or not, Pope Francis. 

It’s a sign of the times.  People do their own research and come to their personal conclusions.  For instance, Trump was chosen by God to restore Christianity.  That COVID is not serious, vaccines are immoral and dangerous and evil, that a Great Reset is underway, that Francis is an anti-pope and that for over 40 years God has been offended by a bad Mass and Council, and so on.  Today many reject the canonization process and determination of sainthood, many question sacramental/liturgical validity, they claim the Mass has been taken away and that Rome is intent upon destroying contemplative monastic life.  At the same time they accuse the Pope of approving gay marriage and homosexual acts – neither is true BTW.  He’s decidedly pro-life and anti-abortion, on record numerous times calling it murder, but his enemies claim he’s lying.  So many people are deceived and misled, but they think they know more and are wiser and that the enemy is in the Church.  

The enemy is in the Church alright – and it’s not the Pope.  One particular enemy writes letters to the American church filled with conspiracy theories and spiritual abuse against the Pope.

Friday, December 10, 2021

A sign of contradiction.

Sister Jeannine Gramick and Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, 
St. Peter's Square after Pope Francis' weekly audience, February 18, 2015. 

How I understand Pope Francis.

The Pope's latest statement on the resignation of the Archbishop of Paris and how sins of the flesh are not necessarily the most serious.  As well as yesterdays news the Holy Father sent conciliatory letters to New Ways Ministry, encouraging the group in their ministry and praising the work of Sr. Jeannine Gramick.  Both appear to be a sign of contradiction as regards Catholic teaching, not to mention a contradiction of an earlier condemnation by the Holy See of New Ways and the 'silencing' of Sr. Jeanine.  Not a few people were disappointed and many more very angry with the Holy Father. So Many SSA-Gay Catholics feel betrayed when the Pope does stuff like that. 

Neither statements affect me, neither does his recognition of New Ways change my attitude towards homosexuality and Catholic teaching.  When I am confused by what the Pope says, I check the sources and take it to prayer.  Frequently - as a result of prayer - I comment on Facebook that I don't understand how or why so many can be confused by what Pope Francis says.  Today, I can understand healthy and reasonable questioning some of the off the cuff things he says, as well as some confusion after it is revealed he called or sent a letter of affirmation to someone.  As in the case of his letters to New Ways.

I'm not going to itemize all the details in either case.  (Go here for that.) Online Catholics and those who watch EWTN know about the controversies.  I don't have any criticism for those who are convinced the Pope errs and ignores Catholic teaching.  Suffice it to say, I disagree with them.  My love and respect for the Pope remains firm and intact.

That said, todays Gospel is helpful - for me at least - allowing me to remain at peace before the mystery of Christ, knowing the teaching of Christ: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” (Jn 5:17)  Todays Gospel, Christ is speaking about the apparent contradiction between his ministry and that of John the Baptist.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by her works.” - Mt. 11:16-19

I think the Gospel of Matthew holds the answers to many questions regarding the papacy of Pope Francis.  The Call of Matthew is especially telling, as is todays accusation against Christ: ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’  In that instance, Christ doesn't answer the dubia in the hearts of those present - he instead explains, 'wisdom is vindicated by her works'.  It is only a bit later in the Gospel that Jesus answers the dubia and explains from his heart, what his purpose is about.

The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher* eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.*
Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” - Mt.9:9-13

 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Catholic teaching cannot change.  Mortal sin is mortal sin - we who are sinners and have sinned just as much as those who some wish to be condemned, we have been formed by Catholic teaching, we know the path to salvation is narrow and constricting.  Not everyone accepts that in the same sense, some struggle, some believe they can't accept this or that.  All is not lost, however.  The Holy Father knows that, I believe.

For "life is so short, the path leading to eternal life so narrow, and I know the just man is scarcely saved, while the things of the world are vain and deceitful, and all comes to an end and fails like falling water. The time is uncertain, the accounting strict, perdition very easy and salvation most difficult... I know well I must render an account of everything - from the beginning of my life as well as this later part - unto the last penny, when God will search Jerusalem with lighted candles, and it is already late - the day far spent - to remedy so much evil and harm..." - St. John of the Cross

 So I think the Vicar of Christ is calling out to his sheep, going out to find them and care for them, to bind their wounds and to let them know God loves them - while there is still time, knowing it is already late, the day far spent, to remedy so much evil and harm.  With his Master, the Vicar of Christ can say:  “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” (Jn 5:17)

Pray for the Holy Father.  Our Lady asked for that at Fatima, revealing he would suffer much.  

"I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him." - St. Jacinta

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

On Spiritual Abuse in 'Communities with Sectarian Deviations.'

Valparaiso Carmel, barricaded against Visitators.

The truth behind the fear mongering.

Archbishop Vigano has famously called contemplative nuns to resist 'Cor Orans' and the 'Bergoglian' assualt against traditional contemplative life.

"Behind this purging operation, like everything that distinguishes the work of the Bergoglian Church, there is a hatred and an iconoclastic fury towards the communities of contemplative life, and in a particular way against those tied to Tradition and the ancient rite. This hatred has become commonplace with the infamous instruction Cor Orans and its cruel and merciless application. What also stands out is an insane interest in the finances and donations that these communities receive, which the Vatican tries to grab for itself using any pretext it can." - Vigano Letter

The Archbishop and his supporters and followers, in their campaign against the Franciscan Papacy, fuel the fires of controversy with their lies, infiltrating even into the cloister.  One such influencer appears to be the Fairfield Carmel chaplain, Fr. Maximilian Mary Dean, a former Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate.  His congregation was the subject of a Visitation and reform by the Holy See.  Many traditionalists claimed persecution as a result.  I will reprint an excerpt from another excellent article from WPI by Sr. Gabriela Hicks, OCD which clears up much of the disinformation disseminated by LifeSite News, Fr. Dean and Archbishop Vigano.  (Be sure and follow the link and read the entire essay.)

Welcome the Light

I posted the Open Letter to Archbishop Vigano on our website on October 4, and on the same day LifeSiteNews posted an article about the chaplain at the Fairfield Carmel, Fr. Maximilian Mary Dean. The article presented an interview with Fr. Dean which had been made over a month before. As I read the article and watched the interview, I was shocked to read Fr. Dean’s report of the meeting we Carmelite Nuns had with our former Father General and members of the Definitory (the governing body) in St. Louis in April 2017. In the interview, Fr. Dean claimed that the Father General said “that the times have changed and that they, contemplative, cloistered nuns, need to adapt to the times… that they can’t live the way they were living before.”
This was totally incorrect. Immediately, some of us who were present went online to say so. Although Fr. Dean said, “I heard some reports from what took place at the meeting, he didn’t say where he got his information. Since both Mother Stella-Marie, the Prioress of Fairfield Carmel, and Mother Therese, the Sub-Prioress, were present at the meeting[i], as well as Mother Agnes, the Sub-Prioress of Valparaiso, they could have told him directly what was said. The full address of Father General is available online (you can read it here). In his address he did not say anything about needing to “adapt to the times,” but that we need to respond to “the challenges that the times we live in present to contemplative life.” Furthermore, he affirmed and upheld “the truth of our vocation, the truth of Carmel, of its message, of its extraordinary pertinence for modern times.” Moreover, all the conferences and question-and-answer periods were recorded on video, so it is easy to establish the truth.
Since Fr. Dean’s statements concerning the Carmelites were so far from reality, I had questions about the veracity of his other statements. Fr. Dean was previously a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate, and he was obviously negatively affected by the Apostolic Visitation of that Institute. He seemed to imply that any apostolic visitation led directly to the suppression of an institute. He mentioned the Hanceville Poor Clares, and I looked into the matter and found that they were doing well and had recently elected a new Abbess.
For the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, I looked into reports of the Visitation, and even such conservative websites as Catholic Culture and Catholic World Report agreed that the apostolic visitation was justified. There was also a long and detailed report in La Stampa. These gave a very different view of an apostolic visitation from what one gets in watching Fr. Dean’s interview. In the end, far from being suppressed, the Hanceville Poor Clares and the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate seem to have come through their apostolic visitations diminished in numbers but invigorated and strengthened in spirit. - SISTER GABRIELA HICKS


Sunday, November 21, 2021

New paintings.

S. Martin de Porres
S. John Macias
in the style of Angelico.
T. Nelson

Recent paintings after Fra Angelico.

The reason I began painting icons years ago was because I always want a real icon, or one I had seen in a museum.  So I decided to try and make my own, to copy the masters - which is how I learned to paint.  Icons were religiously fashionable in the early 1970's, considered more theologically correct, not to mention the preferred form of sacred art to the romantic art of the West - especially the Baroque style.  As time went on and the incredible snobbism associated with iconography left me discouraged, I turned my attention to Spanish Colonial and the Italian-Greco style of sacred art, perfected by Giotto and Fra Angelico, as well as the Sienese School - namely Duccio.  Having been self taught in iconography, I graduated to painting in the other styles - by imitating the other techniques.  Now, in my old age, I paint what I want.  Most recently, I've collected very antique frames and filled them with my reproductions, or original works painted in the style of the masters I admire.

S. Martin in Grand Tour Frame 24"x9"

S. Juan Macias in Grand Tour Frame 24"x9"

St. Francis after Angelico

Divine Mercy after Duccio

Friday, November 19, 2021

To Quell the Error

Carmel of Mary Immaculate and St. Mary Magdalen

The mystery of the contemplative vocation in Cor Orans.

I have been following the controversy over the supposed threat by the Holy See against contemplative nuns, orchestrated by Tridentinist Catholics and Archbishop Vigano.  Vigano fuels the fire with erroneous interpretations of every document, teaching and comments made by Pope Francis.

Mike Lewis, editor of Where Peter Is has published a series of rebuttals against the scare mongering regarding the new instructions for contemplative nuns.  I've linked to the series on FB and Twitter and I think I've done so on this blog as well.  

The fourth in the series was published today.  It contains an open letter by a Carmelite nun to Archbishop Vigano.  Sr. Gabriella, OCD of the Flemington New Jersey Carmel received permission from her prioress to counter the misinformation regarding the contemplative vocation in the light of Cor Orans.  I don't need to editorialize, except to say the articles have been extremely helpful to me, reassuring may be a more accurate term.  I encounter so much conspiracy based posts online, it can be disturbing.  The propaganda generating by Vigano and sites like The Remnant, Church Militant, Fr. Z and those who follow them is surreal - something I expressed in my fantasy post highlighting Buñuel's cinematography in "La voie lactée".

I will post an excerpt from the Where Peter Is, highlighting Sr. Gabrielle's excellent letter to Vigano.  To read the entire article and the other articles, go here.

Open Letter to

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

Concerning Cloistered Contemplative Nuns

Reverend Monsignore,

Praised be Jesus Christ!

On October 1st, 2021, the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, a Discalced Carmelite Nun and Doctor of the Church, you published a statement denouncing the treatment of cloistered contemplatives by Pope Francis. Your statement has so far appeared on Stilum Curiae, and Non Veni Pacem. In your statement, you inveigh against the visitation of cloistered contemplative nuns ordered by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz and Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo. The statement appeared on Non Veni Pacem under the heading Fairfield Carmelite Interrogations Concluded, Archbishop Viganò Issues Statement in Defense of Women’s Monasteries of Contemplative Life, and in it your refer to “the Apostolic Visitations that the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life is carrying out in various Convents of contemplative women religious in the United States.” Articles concerning the Fairfield Visitation have appeared on various websites including Non Veni Pacem, LifeSiteNews,, Fr. Z, and among others.

In your statement, you wrote: “Behind this purging operation, like everything that distinguishes the work of the Bergoglian church, there is a hatred and an iconoclastic fury towards the Communities of Contemplative Life, and in a particular way against those tied to Tradition and the Ancient Rite. This hatred has become commonplace with the infamous Instruction Cor Orans and its cruel and merciless application.” You also write: “I understand well how difficult it is, in the face of the perversion of ecclesiastical authority, to combine one’s solemn Vow of Obedience to one’s Superiors with the evidence of the evil purposes they pursue, and how painful it is to have to resist those who should be exercising authority in the name of Our Lord.”

Monsignore, you are obviously not familiar with the writings of St. Teresa of Jesus, who founded the Order of Discalced Carmelites in 1562. In the “Book of Her Life” she writes: “Some persons came to me with great fear to tell me we were in trouble and that it could happen that others might accuse me of something and report me to the Inquisitors. This amused me and made me laugh, for I never had any fear of such a possibility. If anyone were to see that I went against the slightest ceremony of the Church in a matter of faith, I myself knew well that I would die a thousand deaths for the faith or for any truth of Sacred Scripture. And I said they shouldn’t be afraid about these possible accusations; that it would be pretty bad for my soul if there were something in it of the sort that I should have to fear the Inquisition; that I thought that if I did have something to fear I’d go myself to seek out the Inquisitors; and that if I were accused, the Lord would free me.” (“Life”, 33, 5) If St. Teresa laughed at the thought of being investigated by the Inquisition, who were not known for their respect towards the persons they investigated, then her Daughters can have no reason to fear an investigation by the Church. “But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” (Jn. 3, 21)

You also denounced Cor Orans, the Instruction issued by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life to establish the norms for applying Pope Francis’s Apostolic Constitution, Vultum Dei quaere. In the March and July 2021, editions of “Amigas”, the newsletter of the St. Joseph’s Association of American Carmels, there appeared several articles written by various Carmelite Nuns concerning Cor Orans, and especially the norms presently regulating canonical visitations. The opinions expressed by the Carmelite nuns are overwhelmingly positive. You can read these articles on my Community’s website:

On the Home page of that website, you will also find the link to our Statement of Support for Pope Francis:

In your statement, you write, about the persecution of traditional, cloistered nuns. However, as someone wrote, when people speak of “tradition”, they mean how things were 75 years ago. But Tradition goes back millenia! Vatican II said to return to the sources. That is what we have tried to do in my Order, the Discalced Carmelites. We returned to what St. Teresa wrote and how she intended her sons and daughters to live. In my Carmel, we wear the full habit, sandals included, we keep the full enclosure and only go out for doctor’s visits and absolutely necessary business, and we have the full monastic schedule with 2 hours of prayer and 2 hours of recreation. We consider ourselves totally traditional, even if we don’t have the Liturgy in Latin or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, except when we have a visit from a FSSP priest or a priest of the Institute of Christ the King. We are glad to be fully traditional and fully faithful to the Holy Father and to the prescriptions of Vatican II.

You deplore the treatment meted out to cloistered contemplative nuns by the present Holy Father and his delegates. But there are some 6,000 cloistered contemplative nuns around the world, in various Congregations and Orders. How many of these nuns share your opinions about the way they are treated? I do not know for how many nuns you speak, but here in Flemington, New Jersey, there is one Community which does not share your views. We are all weak and we are all sinners who have been blessed by God’s mercy and grace, but we here in Flemington rejoice to give this witness to our gratitude to God for the blessings and graces we have received through Pope Francis and his delegates.

Reverend Monsignore, though I do not share your opinions, I gladly assure you of the prayers of my Community for you and your ministry. May Our Lord bless you and draw you ever closer to Himself.

In Jesus and Mary,

Sr. Gabriela of the Incarnation, O.C.D.
Carmel of Mary Immaculate and St. Mary Magdalen

October 4th, 2021
Feast of St. Francis and Anniversary of the
Death of St. Teresa of Jesus

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Something from St. Teresa of Avila

"A long time after the Lord had already granted me many of the favors I've mentioned and other very lofty ones, while I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell. I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared there for me and which I merited because of my sins. This experience took place within the shortest space of time, but even were I to live for many years I think it would be impossible for me to forget it. The entrance it seems to me was similar to a very long and narrow alleyway, like an oven, low and dark and confined; the floor seemed to me to consist of dirty, muddy water emitting foul stench and swarming with putrid vermin. At the end of the alleyway a hole that looked like a small cupboard was hollowed out in the wall; there I found I was placed in a cramped condition. All of this was delightful to see in comparison with what I felt there. What I have described can hardly be exaggerated. 

"What I felt, it seems to me, cannot even begin to be exaggerated; nor can it be understood. I experienced a fire in the soul that I don't know how I could describe. The bodily pains were so unbearable that though I had suffered excruciating ones in this life and according to what doctors say, the worst that can be suffered on earth for all my nerves were shrunken when I was paralyzed, plus many other sufferings of many kinds that I endured and even some as I said, caused by the devil, these were all nothing in comparison with the ones I experienced there. I saw furthermore that they would go on without end and without ever ceasing. This, however, was nothing next to the soul's agonizing: a constriction, a suffocation, an affliction so keenly felt and with such a despairing and tormenting unhappiness that I don't know how to word it strongly enough. To say the experience is as though the soul were continually being wrested from the body would be insufficient, for it would make you think somebody else is taking away the life, whereas here it is the soul itself that tears itself in pieces. The fact is that I don't know how to give a sufficiently powerful description of that interior fire and that despair, coming in addition to such extreme torments and pains. I didn't see who inflicted them on me, but, as it seemed to me, I felt myself burning and crumbling; and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair.
"Being in such an unwholesome place, so unable to hope for any consolation, I found it impossible either to sit down or to lie down, nor was there any room, even though they put me in this kind of hole made in the wall. Those walls, which were terrifying to see, closed in on themselves and suffocated everything. There was no light, but all was enveloped in the blackest darkness. I don't understand how this could be, that everything painful to see was visible." (St. Teresa of Avila)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Something Prophetic About "La voie lactée " (The Milky Way).

Filmmaker Luis Buñuel

He, along with Fellini and others, were consider filmmakers hostile to the faith.  Yet they displayed a marvelous insight into the Church and its flawed clericalist ideals.  I often wonder if Pope Francis is a fan of the late 1950 through the 1970's foreign cinema - especially as it concerns the Church?  I know he loves La Strada, but I wonder about the films of Buñuel?

As a visual artist, the scenes of these films speak louder than plot or dialogue.  Especially the Buñuel cinematography.  "La voie lactée"  is especially surreal for its time, yet it makes so much sense today, in so many ways, especially since the Camino Santiago is so trendy these days.

For myself, I've gained some insights into popular rad-trad ecclesiology and politics, pondering some of the images in the film.  I may be way off base, but we live in really bizarre times.  Sensationalist conspirators like Vigano, Coffin, Taylor Marshall, Fr. Altman, Michael Voris and others have attained great influence over the devout and pious who fear Pope Francis.

One scene, of Jansenist nuns reminded me of the suppression of a couple Italian monasteries which from all reports was more or less because the nuns preferred the Tridentine rite over the NO.  (I can't find that story at this time.)  Yet it never occurred to me that their strict observance may have been tainted with Jansenist spirituality.  Perhaps Cor Orans and Traditionis Custodes were necessary safeguards against a growing rigorous backlash against the apostolate of mercy and accompaniment so encouraged by the Pope?  Not a few critics of the Pope wish him dead, hence the firing squad scene in the film seems to reflect that sentiment as well.

I may be way off on this, but for all those who follow QAnon crap, this just might explain their existence.  I don't mind being wrong about things I have no control over.


Religious studies for homeschoolers.

( La Voie lactée)


Friday, November 12, 2021

In memoriam


Friar Camillus Delude

✞ 2014
American. Diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) in 1993 and given only a few years to live, Brother Camillus defied the odds and went on to live with this cross for more than two decades. He was always prayerful and never a complaint was heard, even as he slowly began to lose the ability to move. He was a dedicated member of the Militia Immaculata as a ‘Knight at the Foot of the Cross’, offering up his suffering and praying for the intentions of the MI, the Order, and the Church.


I was fortunate to meet him and live with him while I stayed at Marytown in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  Such a humble, simple friar, always joyful and kind.  

I discovered his story while searching for a priest I knew.  Br. Camillus did a lot of the menial work around the friary, but he was also active in the publishing of The Immaculata and books published by the Militia.  He was well treated, but considered rather simple by some of the friars and others who encountered him.  

I think he is a saint.

Franciscans of St. Bonaventure Province

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

What Traditionis Custodes is not.



A Pogrom.

A pogrom is "an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jewish people in Russia or eastern Europe."  The Nazis did it as well - Kristallnacht: the anniversary of that night is today, it happened the 9-10 November 1938.  Ninety one Jews were murdered and 30,000 were sent to concentration camps.  

Fr. Z outrageously appropriates the term for traditional Catholics attached to the EF Mass, suffering from the restrictions imposed upon the TLM and sacraments by Angelo Card. DE DONATIS, Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome.  He insults the Roman Pontiff, Bishop of Rome, his Vicar, and the document itself, while appropriating a term which compares the actions of the Holy See to that of Imperial Russia and the Nazi persecution of the Jews.  Completely disrespecting those who were murdered on a massive scale in WWII.  Fr. Z writes:

I don’t have the energy to translate the hideous letter from the Vicar of Rome. Rorate has a translation, HERE, which I will lift, below.

Suffice that… this repression is for, “facilitating ecclesial communion for those Catholics who feel bound to some previous liturgical forms”. Orwell stands in awe.

The repression is done with “lively pastoral charity”.

This pogrom is carried out “for the spiritual good of the faithful.”

The Vicar is setting up a Commissioner to handle requests from priests… blah blah blah… - Fr. Z

He calls it the 'anti-Catholic pogrom in Rome'.   


What pogroms look like.



Pogrom dead.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

The Stranger

The Fall

My lifelong existential crisis continues.  Kind of.  I'm simply perplexed these days.  It seems everything is in a state of collapse, or else threatened by it.  Some days I feel like the last Catholic who loves and supports the Holy Father - when I may not understand what he says or does sometimes, I usually don't try to either.  However, I do try to understand why so many dislike him or don't trust him.

To be honest, I think it is often because individuals and groups have formed themselves into 'clans' if you will - borrowing from Michael Matt's call to 'unite the clans'.  Maybe that's what I have done as well, yet I see the Pope as a sign of hope, pretty much a prophet, albeit his ways can be as abrasive as a Jeremiah.  Yet I try to maintain a 'supernatural' attitude regarding his authority and pastoral care - that is, recognizing that he is the one God has placed over our heads.  To dispute that he is Pope by God's will is to mistrust Divine Providence - even if one thinks his papacy was arranged by the St. Gallen Mafia - he's the Pope.

And that's where people get tripped up.  That's where the resistance originates.  

I can be as confused as the next person - in fact I'm often confused.  Remember that prayer, "Jesus I surrender myself to you, take care of everything."  I pray that a lot - along with 'Jesus, I trust in you.'  It helps.  Especially when I worry that some institutions, apostolates, religious communities and so on, may change or disappear.  All of us have seen it going on for decades, yet today, it appears to be accelerating, which entails not a little bit of suffering.

"My church will be different; my people will be different; difficulties and trials will come upon you."

Years ago a group of Franciscans in Boston befriended me because we shared a devotion to Charles de Foucauld and sought to emulate his contemplative life in an urban environment. The brothers were part of the Charismatic movement, which I was familiar with before entering the monastery. Long story short, they invited me to go with them to the Conference at Notre Dame. A donor gave them an extra ticket and we flew there from Boston. It was teeming with prophecy and great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in and through adoration. It was quite a sight to see hundreds of people my age and younger sitting around the altar in prayer and adoration - I'll never forget the sight.  Anyway, long story short, but fresh from Rome was the Ralph Martin prophecy, which seems to me we are living through now. It's a good reminder for Catholics and Christians to get a grip and not be taken in by every wind of resistance, especially towards the Holy See.

“Because I love you, I want to show you what I am doing in the world today. I want to prepare you for what is to come. Days of darkness are coming on the world, days of tribulation....Buildings that are now standing will not be standing. Supports that are there for my people now will not be there. I want you to be prepared, my people, to know only me and to cleave to me and to have me in a way deeper than ever before. I will lead you into the desert...I will strip you of everything that you are depending on now, so you depend just on me. A time of darkness is coming on the world, but a time of glory is coming for my church, a time of glory is coming for my people. I will pour out on you all the gifts of my spirit. I will prepare you for spiritual combat; I will prepare you for a time of evangelism that the world has never seen.... And when you have nothing but me, you will have everything: land, fields, homes, and brothers and sisters and love and joy and peace more than ever before. Be ready, my people, I want to prepare you...” (given by Ralph Martin)
“I speak to you of the dawn of a ‘new age’ for my church. I speak to you of a day that has not been seen before....Prepare yourselves for the action that I begin now, because things that you see around you will change; the combat that you must enter now is different; it is new. You need wisdom from me that you do not yet have.
You need the power of my Holy Spirit in a way that you nave not possessed it; you need an understanding of my will and of the ways that I work that you do not yet have. Open your eyes, open your hearts to prepare yourselves for me and for the day that I have now begun. My church will be different; my people will be different; difficulties and trials will come upon you. The comfort that you know now will be far from you, but the comfort that you will have is the comfort of my Holy Spirit. They will send for you, to take your life, but I will support you. Come to me. Band yourselves together, around me. Prepare, for I proclaim a new day, a day of victory and of triumph for your God. Behold, it is begun.” (given by Bruce Yocum)

"In time, one faith, one baptism, one Church, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic."
Our Lady to Sr. Lucia

“Come, Holy Spirit! You inspire new tongues and place words of life on our lips: keep us from becoming a ‘museum church,’ beautiful but mute, with much past and little future. Come among us, so that in this synodal experience we will not lose our enthusiasm, dilute the power of prophecy, or descend into useless and unproductive discussions.” - Pope Francis