Monday, December 28, 2015

Commemorating Childermas

Say, ye celestial guards, who wait
In Bethlehem, round the Saviour's palace gate,
Say, who are these on golden wings,
That hover o'er the new-born King of kings,
Their palms and garlands telling plain
That they are of the glorious martyr-train,
Next to yourselves ordained to praise
His Name, and brighten as on Him they gaze?

But where their spoils and trophies? where
The glorious dint a martyr's shield should bear?
How chance no cheek among them wears
The deep-worn trace of penitential tears,
But all is bright and smiling love,
As if, fresh-borne from Eden's happy grove,
They had flown here, their King to see,
Nor ever had been heirs of dark mortality?

Ask, and some angel will reply,
"These, like yourselves, were born to sin and die,
But ere the poison root was grown,
God set His seal, and marked them for His own.
Baptised its blood for Jesus' sake,
Now underneath the Cross their bed they make,
Not to be scared from that sure rest
By frightened mother's shriek, or warrior's waving crest."

Mindful of these, the firstfruits sweet
Borne by this suffering Church her Lord to greet;
Blessed Jesus ever loved to trace
The "innocent brightness" of an infant's face.
He raised them in His holy arms,
He blessed them from the world and all its harms:
Heirs though they were of sin and shame,
He blessed them in his own and in his Father's Name.

Then, as each fond unconscious child
On the everlasting Parent sweetly smiled
(Like infants sporting on the shore,
That tremble not at Ocean's boundless roar),
Were they not present to Thy thought,
All souls, that in their cradles Thou hast bought?
But chiefly these, who died for Thee,
That Thou might'st live for them a sadder death to see.

And next to these, Thy gracious word
Was as a pledge of benediction stored
For Christian mothers, while they moan
Their treasured hopes, just born, baptised, and gone.
Oh, joy for Rachel's broken heart!
She and her babes shall meet no more to part;
So dear to Christ her pious haste
To trust them in His arms for ever safe embraced.

She dares not grudge to leave them there,
Where to behold them was her heart's first prayer;
She dares not grieve--but she must weep,
As her pale placid martyr sinks to sleep,
Teaching so well and silently
How at the shepherd's call the lamb should die:
How happier far than life the end
Of souls that infant-like beneath their burthen bend.

It is easy to be so absorbed in the joy of Christmas to forget some of suffering and turmoil that was associated with the miracle of the Incarnation.

Childermas, or the Feast of the Holy Innocents, commemorates the massacre of all males under the age of two in Bethlehem ordered by Herod to preclude a rival king.

The Coventry Carol is a haunting hymn which mourns the loss of the first Christian martyrs in the form of a lullaby to the Holy Innocents. 

G.K. Chesterton on Miracles

G.K. Chesterton on Miracles

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Recalling Lunar Liturgies on Christmas Eve

Apollo 8' astronaut Frank Borman's Christmas Eve Prayer
 Three NASA astronauts circled the Moon in December 1968 on a mission to prepare for the first human landing on the Moon the next year. 

When transmitting to Mission Control in Houston, Frank Borman and the crew of Apollo 8  gave a Christmas Eve prayer which might scandalize avowed atheists or today's adherents to the creed of political correctness.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Rabbi's Polemic Progressive Prayer Blesses White House Hanukkah Celebration

Rabbi Susan Talve's Strangely Secular Hanukkah Blessing

On the third day of Hanukkah in the year 5776 (per the Jewish calendar), President Barack Obama hosted the President of Israel Reuven Rivlin and Rabbi Susan Talve, a founder of the Central Reform Congregation from St. Louis, Missouri. 

Rabbi Talve gave a sui generis  "blessing" in which she weaved in Black Lives Matter, immigration, fluid sexuality, Islamophobia, homophobia, justice for Palestinians with barely an allusion to anything in Jewish scripture.  In fact, the only time that Susan Talve mentioned God it was the Islamic Arabic expression "Ins'Allah" (meaning God willing).

It is remarkable that President Obama was more clear in invoking the origins of the Jewish festival of lights than Rabbi Talve.  Perhaps this proves Mr. Obama's excited utterance from last year's Hanukkah celebration, when he declared "I am [Jewish] in my soul." 

As to an outsider, it sounds like Rabbi Talve is more dedicated to leftism than the the Torah.  But such a progressive bent is currently being mirrored in other creeds, as the Vatican has been prominently pushing the Paris Climate Change agreement under the debatable auspices of Laudato Si.

Appreciating Advent

Sunday, December 13, 2015

St. Théophane Vénard on Rejoicing

St. Theophane Venard on Rejoicing

The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday (from Latin meaning rejoice).  Advent is a penitential season in which the faithful ought to prepare for the Coming of Christ.  As Gaudete Sunday marks the halfway point of Advent, we are urged to rejoice as the Lord is near. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Remembering the Feast of St. Juan Diego

Juan Diego was a simple aboriginal American who had converted to Catholicism.  On December 9th, 1591, Juan Diego saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary, who asked that a church be built on that hill. Juan Diego conveyed the message to the bishop, who wanted proof for his incredible apparition story.  Juan Diego returned to the sight and bought back a tilma of out of season roses as proof.  

When the peasant revealed what was in his tilma, the bishop and the entourage dropped to their knees as the simple garment had a portrait of a mestizo Blessed Virgin Mary, replete with symbolic Aztec hermanuetics.

Within a decade, nearly the entire Mexico people converted to the faith.  And the humble tilma, which should have only lasted for 25 years has lasted for over 400 years.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Prayful Thanksgiving

Even when petitioning Divine Providence for our needs, were are implored to thank heaven for the blessing which we already have. 

"Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens".

Abraham Lincoln on Thanksgiving

In the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens". 

h/t: Tony Zapata

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pope Pius XI on Christ the King

Pope Pius XI on Christ the King

Many of the Catholic Faithful appreciate the Feast of Christ the King as marking the end of the liturgical year.  Those who pay attention to the scriptures explore eschatological issues. 

But it is useful to understand why the Feast of Christ the King was added to the Church calendar in 1925, through Pope Pius XI's Apostolic Letter Quas primus (1925). The Feast of Our Lord Christ the King emerged at a time in which nationalism, secularism, fascism and communism was sweeping the world.  It was placed as the last Sunday in October, and was intended to give the faithful strength and courage to live the Kingdom of God in this world.

In a motu propio Mysterii Paschalis  (1969) by Pope Blessed Paul VI, the feast was moved up to be a Solemnity and given a new formal name "Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe". By moving it to the last Sunday on the liturgical calendar, the significance of last things becomes more poignant.  

Many Protestant and Orthodox Christians, such as the Anglicans, Lutherans and the Russian Orthodox outside of Russia followed the motu propio after 1970 and moved celebration of "Christ the King" to the last Sunday before the start of Advent.

H/T: Fr. Geoffrey Plant, St. Michael's Catholic Church, Lane Cove, Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Archbishop Lori Urges Praying for Religious Freedom

Archbishop Lori on Religious Freedom and the Little Sisters of the Poor

The United States Supreme Court has taken up the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor objecting to the HHS Contraception Mandate (through the Qualified Health Plans) in Obamacare.

Archbishop Lori has long served as the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishop's Chairman of Committee for Religious Liberty and has spearheaded the annual Fortnight for Freedom initiative to celebrate and educate Americans about our Fundamental First Freedom--the free exercise of religion.

St. Jeanne Jugan, Little Sisters of the Poor
Considering the ways the Roberts Supreme Court has contorted the law to preserve the so called Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), prayers are in order to protect  the Little Sisters of the Poor's continued apostolate to faithfully care for the underserved in America, as they have done since 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pope Francis: "You can say today we are not living an era of change but a change of era"

Pope Francis on the Church and Change

During the 5th National Ecclesial Convention in Florence Italy, Pope Francis gave 45 minutes of remarks reflecting upon the Convention's theme of "In Jesus Christ, the New Humanism".

The Holy Father warned that Pelegianism (a heresy denying original sin) and Gnosticism (a heresy denying Christ's divinity) are temptations which defeat a true Christian humanism.

In this context, Pope Francis' exhortation to companion in Christ to all not limited by a closed system of doctrine makes more sense.  Pope Francis voiced a desire of a happy church with a face of a mother who understands, caresses and accompanies.  

These pastoral pronouncements echo the weltanshaaung of this papacy and look forward to the year of mercy.

What is concerning is the inference that Catholic doctrine can change, that moves and grows in the flesh of Jesus Christ. This doctrinal ambiguity led to much of the consternation concerning the recent Synod on the Family, in which "Mercy driven" (liberal) prelates may bend doctrine on marriage to accommodate civilly divorced and remarried Catholics so they receive Communion.

John Boehner on Catholic Guilt

Ex Speaker John Boehner on Catholic Guilt

It is dubious whether Boehner's pile of Catholic guilt was the deciding factor in new House Speaker Paul D. Ryan's decision making but the State of the Union episode illustrates the Ignatian admonition about discernment. Manipulating someone in order to escape a hard fate certainly seems like some bad spirits. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pending "Time Bombs" in Synod '15 Final Report

Rorate-Caeli published an exclusive long-form interview with Bishop Athanasius Scheider from the Diocese of Astana, Kazhakstan which critiqued controversial paragraphs contained in the Synod of the Family's Final Report as being "time bombs". 

The concern which many faithful who believe in the Gospel admonition that marriage is a sacrament between a man and a women which can not be loosened by divorce,. Thus,  subsequent unions without an ecclesiastical declaration of nullity (i.e. Annulments which parties did not enter into a covenant of marriage) puts Catholics into a mortal sin of adultery. 

Much like the documents from Vatican II tried to paper over serious divergences of opinion to claim a consensus document, the Synod of the Family's Final Report did not enumerate a change in doctrine toward neo Mosaic understandings of divorce.  But the ambiguity in paragraph 85 is worrisome.  The Synod '15 Final Report quoted Pope Saint John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (1981), but left out an important portion:

 “The way to the Eucharist can only be granted to those who take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.".

WIthout that decisive language, it inspires "merciful" bishops to implement some means of gradualism, in creating a pathway to the Eucharist for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. 

It is unclear how Pope Francis will act upon the Synod of the Family's Final Report. But the Holy See needed to knock down a recent rumor that during the upcoming year of mercy, all divorced Catholics who asked would be admitted to the Sacraments. A more likely scenario is that under a Pope Francis notion of Synodality, prelates who are inclined (or pecuniarily motivated) could implement gradualism on this issue for their own flock. 

Cardinal Donald Wuerl on the Fruits of the Synod of the Family

In order to discern what Cardinal Donald Wuerl meant about the fruits of the Ordinary Synod on the Family, it was necessary to learn the term antinomian,

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Scary Spiritual Costumes for All Hallow's Eve

The wag wearing the Spirit of Vatican II costume clearly is not a fan of the St. Louis Jesuits repertoire.  But the outfit does bring up a larger question in Catholic culture.  

Many of the changes to the Catholic Church post 1965 were not necessarily mandated by the Second Vatican Council but were enacted under the shaky assumptions of "The Spirit of Vatican II".   This is why during the 2012 "Year of Faith", then Pope Benedict XVI wanted people to contemplate the 50th anniversary of the start of Vatican II through a hermaneutic of continuity rather than a hermaneutic of rupture. 

Those who are not fond of some changes, like guitar masses, communion in the hand, and moving some feast days to Sundays rail through ridicule. 

Ironically, the musician who satirized Vatican II chose to make his point through a repetitious folk music setting which droned on the mundane rather than uplifting motifs. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cardinal Donald Wuerl on Machinations in the Synod of the Family

Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl on the Synod on the Family

Fr. Tom Reese on the Challenges at the Synod of the Family

Fr. Tom Reese on the Challenges at the Synod of the Family  

 The gradulalist penitential path for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion was proffered by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the 82 year old President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.   


 At the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope Francis opined that Cardinal Kasper was a superb theologian, for ideas that were contained in "The Gospel of the Family" (2014).

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cardinal George Pell on Doctrine

Cardinal George Pell on Doctrine

Romanian Doctor's Incisive Intervention at the Synod of the Families

Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea,  President of the Association of Catholic Doctors of Bucharest
[R] Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea,  President of the Association of Catholic Doctors of Bucharest

Along with the 270 Synod Fathers participating in the Ordinary Synod on the Family, there were some laity participating. Planners asked for a variety of input, including a couple of Catholic Pre Cana Marriage Counselors from India. 

But among the Synod interventions which have found their way out of the Paul VI Audience Hall was a pointed speech by Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea, the President of the Association of Catholic Doctors of Bucharest (Romania). Her views having come from a culture which had been wrecked by political Marxism, was insightful in interpolating how cultural Marxism could skew our weltanschauung and threaten our salvation.

Dr. Cernea's intervention in its entirety:

Your Holiness, Synod Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, I represent the Association of Catholic Doctors from Bucharest.
I am from the Romanian Greek Catholic Church.
My father was a Christian political leader, who was imprisoned by the communists for 17 years. My parents were engaged to marry, but their wedding took place 17 years later.
My mother waited all those years for my father, although she didn’t even know if he was still alive. They have been heroically faithful to God and to their engagement.Their example shows that God’s grace can overcome terrible social circumstances and material poverty.
We, as Catholic doctors, defending life and family, can see this is, first of all, a spiritual battle.
Material poverty and consumerism are not the primary cause of the family crisis.The primary cause of the sexual and cultural revolution is ideological.
Our Lady of Fatima has said that Russia’s errors would spread all over the world.It was first done under a violent form, classical Marxism, by killing tens of millions.Now it’s being done mostly by cultural Marxism. There is continuity from Lenin’s sex revolution, through Gramsci and the Frankfurt school, to the current-day gay-rights and gender ideology.
Classical Marxism pretended to redesign society, through violent take-over of property.
Now the revolution goes deeper; it pretends to redefine family, sex identity and human nature.
This ideology calls itself progressive. But it is nothing else than the ancient serpent’s offer, for man to take control, to replace God, to arrange salvation here, in this world.
It’s an error of religious nature, it’s Gnosticism.
It’s the task of the shepherds to recognize it, and warn the flock against this danger.“Seek ye therefore first the Kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
The Church’s mission is to save souls. Evil, in this world, comes from sin. Not from income disparity or “climate change”.
The solution is: Evangelization. Conversion.
Not an ever increasing government control. Not a world government. These are nowadays the main agents imposing cultural Marxism to our nations, under the form of population control, reproductive health, gay rights, gender education, and so on.
What the world needs nowadays is not limitation of freedom, but real freedom, liberation from sin. Salvation.
Our Church was suppressed by the soviet occupation. But none of our 12 bishops betrayed their communion with the Holy Father. Our Church survived thanks to our bishops’ determination and example in resisting prisons and terror.
Our bishops asked the community not to follow the world. Not to cooperate with the communists.
Now we need Rome to tell the world: “Repent of your sins and turn to God for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”.
Not only us, the Catholic laity, but also many Christian Orthodox are anxiously praying for this Synod. Because, as they say, if the Catholic Church gives in to the spirit of this world, it is going to be very difficult for all the other Christians to resist it.

It was remarkable that Dr. Cernea felt empowered to rail against the Church involving itself in climate change politics, particularly after Pope Francis' ecological cri-de-coeur Laudato Si.  It is a good thing that Pope Francis takes a broad view of Synodality. The question is how he will use this information.

h/t: LifeSite 

Rabbi Abraham Skorka on Pope Francis

Rabbi Abraham Skorka on Pope Francis

St. Ignatius of Antioch on Unity

St. Ignatius of Antioch on Unity