Saturday, November 18, 2017

Greeting the Beatification of a Simple Priest--Blessed Solanus Casey

Blessed Solanus Casey on Life

"Barney" Solanus Casey is being beatified in a ceremony  in Detroit, Michigan on November 18, 2017.  Casey will be the second  American born male to be beatified. Cardinal Angelo Amato, the head of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints will celebrate the Beatification Mass. Among the 70,000 in attendance at Ford Field will be four Cardinals and 218 Capuchin Friars.

The beatification of Fr. Solanus Casey is remarkable for a  Wisconsin farm boy born in 1870.  When Casey was called to the priesthood, he academically struggled at the seminary since instruction was in German.  Thus, Casey was just ordained just a sacredos simplex and served in the early and mid-Twentieth Century as a lowly porter for the Capuchins friaries in Yonkers, Harlem, Manhattan and for 21 years in Detroit.  

Despite not being able to give homilies or hear confessions, Fr. Casey had a remarkable impact.  His reputation grew as a compassionate holy man who founded a soup kitchen in Detroit in 1929.  Casey became well known as a priest  who could relate with people. Fr. Casey was also known as an ordinary Detroiter who enjoyed Coney Island hot dogs and the Detroit Tigers.  

Yet Fr. Casey drew people to him from his holy reputation and as a miracle worker who had a knack at helping get prayers answered.   In his vocation as porter, Fr. Casey lent a listening ear and a caring heart to those who came to him. Fr. Casey would also offer visitors an opportunity to join a Capuchin Mass Memorial Society, in which he scrupulously wrote down their petitions and updated the log with how prayers were answered.  

In 1954, Fr. Casey suffered a severe case of eczema over his entire body and was transfered back to Detroit to receive better medical case.  Alas, complications set in and he died of untreatable psoriasis.  It was estimated that 20,000 people showed up to mourn Fr. Casey's passing from this world. But when Fr. Casey's remains were exhumed in 1987, his corpse was incorrupted, save for a little decomposition around the elbows.  

After Fr. Casey's death, lay friends of the Capuchins sought permission to create a Father Solanus Guild.  As early as 1966, there were 24 reports of cures attributable to Fr. Solanus. Fr. Casey was named Venerable in 1995. 

Normally, the Catholic beatification process involves the recognition of a miracle associated with a Servant of God.   The Miracle which was recognized by the responsible Vatican  dicastry is from 2012 when a Panamanian woman who visited Fr. Casey's tomb who suffered from an incurable skin disease but was healed by praying for Solanus Casey's intercession.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

On Pope Francis on Pre-Mass Silence and Lex Vivendi

Pope Francis on Pre Mass Silence

Recently, Pope Francis lamented the tendency of Catholics to engage in small talk before Mass when they ought to be spiritually preparing for the liturgy.

This may be related to how the Mass is considered by the faithful.  The Council of Trent affirmed the holy sacrifice of the Mass.  The spirit of Vatican II considers it a family meal, thus what would be wrong with some pre-supper conversation?

While it is laudable to have pre-liturgical silence to encourage the People of God to prepare for the Liturgies of the Word and the Eucharist, it should be tempered by fostering community.

It is my experience that at least in America, parishes are no longer the tightly knit and stable discreet communities that they once were.  Folks typically move around.  There are volitional parishes where people choose to attend.  People often do not make a day of worship, sticking around for coffee or pot luck.

The infrastructure can also be an issue.  My parish's main church was built in the 1850s and has a very small narthex, so there is not a courtyard for people to gather and make small talk before going into the sanctuary.  Many modern churches have incorporated a gathering area for such purposes.

So what would be the best way to cultivate more reverence prior to Mass?  I would suggest catechesis and clues.

While I want thoughtful exegesis from a homily, it can sometimes be edifying to also have some instruction.  I regret that I did not hear more priestly presiders educate the faithful about the change from dynamic translation to static translation of the new Roman Missal in 2011.  I sought to educate myself and attended some additional talks which helped me understand the logic of the syntax changes as well as to become accustomed to the "clunky" new sound.

Pope Benedict XVI observed that the essence of liturgy disappears when we applaud in church and it becomes religious entertainment.  While the Mass that I frequently attend has a wonderful contemporary choir,  it still garners applause "from the crowd" after Mass.  Being shepherded by our Holy Father, I curbed my enthusiasm for post-prandial celebration.  It would have been instructive if clergy discerned if such a critique was praiseworthy and shared it with their flock.

Another moment where reverence not revelry ought to be instructed is during the "sign of peace". In some liturgies, it becomes a "half time" where people will briefly socialize with their neighbors.  Some celebrants campaign, needing to shake the hand of every Catholic "constituent".    Liturgically, we are sharing the unity coming from the altar after the fraction rite that comes sharing one body of Christ. So several years ago, the Congregation for the Divine Worship  published a piece which discouraged irrational exuberance during the sign of peace.  Yet this instruction received nary a mention from the pulpit.

One parish which I attend while visiting relatives has a barn-like sanctuary.  Several minutes before they start they dim the lights to get the People of God in the mood. Visually, they are giving them a clue.  Where I believe that they go off the right path in making announcements or having brief secular speakers come up front "before the show". 

For me, good liturgy is key.  However, community is also important.  There is probably not a one-size-fits-all approach.  But pastors and sacristans can discern what will work best for their "faith community".  And homilists ought not to be afraid to challenge their congregation to  prayerfully consider how we comport ourselves in the sanctuary before, during and after our liturgies.  And may the clergy not dismiss righteous chaffing from the faithful just because they are in charge. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Pope St. John Paul II on Faith

Pope St. John Paul II on Faith

The Polish Pope's predilections on faith can be seen through a Marian prism, which Pope St. John Paul II insisted was Christocentric, as true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary always leads to Christ. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Las Vegas Massacre Prompts Faith

The Las Vegas Massacre inspires faith in God by shooting victim

The Las Vegas Massacre  at the Country Music festival near the Mandolay Bay hotel exposed evil in humanity as well as goodness of people.  In the heat of the shooting and the aftermath, in which 58 people were killed and over 500 people injured, strangers helped one another to safety.  There were many stories in which off duty law enforcement officers and former military selflessly sprang into action to help others and possibly lay down their lives for the safety of others.

When CNN was interviewing victims of the shooting, one of the attendees professed that the horrible experience jolted him from agnosticism to faith in God. 

The humanity of how many responded to the terrible travesty and the faith which the adversity inspired is another instance  of how God writes straight with crooked lines

St. Francis of Assisi on the Works of God

St. Francis Assisi on the Works of God

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fr. James Martin on Traditional Catholics and the Church Militant

This "The Vortex" video  asserts that  Fr. James Martin being a heretic might explain the Jesuit media darling's animus against Church Militant TV as much as the cancelled public appearances.  

Canonically, Fr. Martin's claim that such associations have zero legitimacy is jesuitical, that is to speak with great force but not have facts on one's side.  Canons 298 and 299 allow for associations:

"[T]o foster a more prefect life to promote public worship or Christian doctrine or to exercise other works of the apostolate such as initiatives of evangelization, works of piety or charity and those which animate the temporal order with a Christian spirit." 

Moreover, Fr. Martin rails "Traditional Catholics" subverting tradition by challenging legitimate Church authorities.  However, Canon 212(3) recognizes the right, and even the duty, to make their opinions on faith and morality known to their public. 

Michael Voris, Church Militant TV
Michael Voris paints the internecine struggle as being heretics versus the Catholics.  A more charitable viewpoint is progressive ultramontanism versus upholders of traditional Magisterium.

Our Church shepherds are owed our allegiance when they preach the Gospel in accords with the Magisterium.  Alas, as seen in Amoris Laetitia, progressive pastoral proposals dealing with marriage are treated as almost as Ex Cathedra announcements, even when the aforementioned Apostolic Exhortation did not align with the sensus fidae of the Extraordinary Synods on the Family

Friday, September 8, 2017

On Blessed Alan de la Roche and the Rosary

Dominican Friar Blessed Alan de la Roche on the Rosary

"Blessed" Alan de la Roche, O.P. (1428-1475) was a 15th Century friar who is considered to be the restorer of the Dominican Rosary. Although Alan has no official Church feast day, he is unofficially honored on September 8th, which is also the feast for the Nativity of Mary.

According to Dominican tradition, St. Dominic (1170-1221) founded the Rosary in 1208 as a meditative prayer which sought to spiritually combat the Albigensian heresy (which believed that only spiritual realities were good and vehemently opposed God taking flesh in Jesus Christ).  But this meditative Marian prayer featuring just the Angelic Salutation and the Evangelical Salutation  fell into disuse during the 14th Century during the era of the Black Death in Europe.

In the mid 15th Century in a Dominican monastery  in Brittany, Alan de la Roche experienced visions from the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Lord which eventually convicted him to revive and renew the Dominican Rosary.  De la Roche was not the perfect emissary for this divine mission.  At one point, Jesus appeared to De la Roche and said: "You have all of the learning and understand that you need to preach my mother's rosary, and you are not doing so. The world is full of devouring wolves, and you, unfaithful dog, know not how to bark."  The latter phrase was a pointed wake up call to a Dominican like Blessed Alan, as the Order of Preachers held the moniker "Dog of God" (Latin domini canus which sounds similar to Dominicanus)

Blessed Alan stressed the 15 mysteries of the Dominican Rosary, rather than the alternative of 50 clauses of the Carthusian Rosary.  Moreover, the 150 Hail Marys imitated the 150 psalms of the Old Testament, which harkened back to the proto-origins of the lay Marian psalter. Blessed Alan was successful at renewing popular devotion to the Rosary and reinvigorating the Confraternity of the Rosary. The Confraternity featured "after death" benefits for Rosarians. Thus Blessed Alan de la Roche may be considered one the greatest champions of the Rosary to ever live. 

Although Blessed Alan wrote an instructional pamphlet Book and Ordinance regarding the renewal of the Dominican Rosary, about 1/3 of  the Vatican documents were lost after Napoleon sacked the Vatican archives from 1810-1813.  So much of quotable material about Blessed Alan comes from St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716) whose 18th Century works True Devotions to the Blessed Virgin and The Secret of the Rosary were buried in a field in France for over 125 years, thereby escaping the irreligious impulses of the French Revolution. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fatima Seer Sister Lucia on the Rosary

Fatima Seer Sister Lucia on the Rosary

Post Scriptus: One reader of this post repeatedly inveighed "You must be out of your mind" concerning credence to Our Lady of Fatima. Of course, it was a shrill anti-Catholic screed. Regrettably the writer of the ad hominem comment lacked the testicular fortitude to attach a name or any means to colloquy. Some profession of faith--not! The poster must have been out of his mind if he was seeking to convince anyone of his conviction. God bless his little heart.

Pope St. John Paul II on How Our Lady of Fatima Saved His Life

Pope St. John Paul II on How Our Lady of Fatima Saved His Life

Friday, May 12, 2017

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on Prayer

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVII, on Prayer
Pope St. John Paul II was so convicted that the Blessed Virgin Marry saved his life as the first apparition of the lady in white was on May 13th 1917 and he was shot on May 13th 1981. One year after the assassination attempt, JPII gave one of the bullets lodged in his body to be melded into the crown of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

President Trump on Freedom

President Trump on Freedom and God

As President Trump commemorated the 2017 National Day of Prayer by signing Executive Orders protecting religious liberty, he noted where this fundamental first freedom is derived.

Remembering English Martyrs

The Catholic Church commemorates May 4th the forty Martyrs of England and Wales. In the wake of the Protestant Reformation, England's Queen Elizabeth I intended supplant the old religion (Roman Catholicism) to the new religion loyal to the crown Anglicanism.  

From the Act of Supremacy in 1558 when Elizabeth ascended the throne to 1570 there were no Catholic martyrs for the faith.  But the English crown shifted their modus operandi  after Pope Pius V's bull Regnans in Excelsis  which excommunicated Elizabeth, the English crown began to crack down.  Five Catholics were slain for treason for plotting to overthrow the sovereign.

However, there were a slew of anti-Catholic laws which were promulgated.  In 1571, the English Crown denied the Holy See any jurisdiction, publishing anything from the Pope, forbidding "poperies" like crosses, rosaries and Agnus Dei from the the pope.  

Elizabeth also commanded that the Book of Common prayer be used in all churches.  Later, it became punishable to not attend Church of England services, draw anyone away from the state religion, teach without the blessing of an Anglican bishop or even celebrate the Catholic Mass.  In 1585, it became a capital crime to go abroad to be ordained as a Catholic priest.

One could rightly point to the 283 Protestants who were killed for their faith under Mary I were also martyred for their faith, during  an unfortunate era of intolerance in Christendom. May we now remember to have unity on essential thing,  liberty on dubious things and charity for all.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Celebrating Passover with Pesach Funk

What an exuberant way for Jews to celebrate their freedom for their bonds in Egypt!

Aside from the ritual Passover meal, observant Jews keep kosher by cleaning their kitchens of anything that is hametz (the fermented product from five grains: wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats).  

 Many Ashkinazi Jews will also avoid eating kitniyot, foods that include corn, beans and lentil, as they expand when they are heated  Conservative rabbis overturned the kitniyot prohibitions in 2015

Such dietary conscientiousness stems from following the Torah and remembering that Jews needed to flee their slavery in Pharaoh's Egypt in haste with no time to allow for leavened bread to rise.

Matzah is kosher because it is a quickly baked cracker and has no time for fermentation leavening to occur.  

Some find keeping kosher for Passover to be more of a crunch than others. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick on Life

St. Patrick on Raison D'Etre

But it is dubious if St. Patrick had such snarky savages to convert as Hans Fiene illustrated in Lutheran Satire.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Celebrating St. Leander of Sevilla

St. Leander of Sevilla (524-600 AD) was instrumental in instituting the recitation of the Nicean Creed during the Mass. Leander sought to combat confusion over the heresy of Arianism, which balked at the 324 AD Council of Nicea declaration that that God the Father was one in being with the Second Person of the Holy Trinity Jesus. This practice of clearly professing the tenants of faith in the Nicean creed spread from Spain to throughout the Universal Church.

St. Leander came from a very devout Catholic family, like all of his siblings,  in present day Cartegena, Spain.  Leander first became a Benedictine monk and later was named the Bishop of Sevilla in 578.   Leander's brothers St. Isadore and St. Fulgentius followed him as bishops of Sevilla.  Leander's sister St. Florentina was a Abbess oversaw 40 convents and 1,000 nuns.

St. Leander presided over the third Council of Toledo in 589 which decreed the consubstantiality of the Holy Trinity.  Leander also created an important rule for nuns on prayer and the renunciation of the world. 

St. Leander's influence was much broader than the Iberian engendering the ire of a local king.  To further combat Arianism amongst the Germanic rules in Iberia at the time.  By praying to God through the mediation of Our Lady, Leander sought graces in his apostolate.  His selfless prayers were answered and Leander achieved colossal conversions of Arian Christians, including Visogoth king's son. 

King Leovigild was enraged at these attacks and killed his own son while exiling Leander to Constantinople.  It was there that Leander become close friends of the Papal Legate, the future Pope Gregory V, who he encouraged to write Moralia, a famous commentary on the Book of Job.

[L] Pope Gregory V presenting St. Leander with Moralia

In Spain, St. Leander is considered to be a Doctor of the Church.