Monday, October 29, 2007

St. Peter's Basilica Has a Modesty Dress Code

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Chief Church of Catholicism, establishes a dress code. Could America just adopt theirs?

Location: Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City, Rome, Italy
Phone: 06-69881662 (for information on celebrations)
Hours: Basilica (including the sacristy and treasury) Oct-Mar daily 9am-6pm; Apr-Sept daily 9am-7pm.
Grottoes daily 8am-5pm.
Dome Oct-Mar daily 8am-5pm; Apr-Sept 8am-6pm
Cost: Basilica (including grottoes) is free.
Stairs to the dome €4; elevator to the dome €5.
Treasury 4 €.
Dress code: No bare shoulders or knees (for both men and women).
Photography: Permitted throughout (except in special necropolis tour)

Catholic Authors and Christendom's Future

French historian Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) in his work The Great Heresies, written in 1938, reveals the significance of September 11, warns about the violent rise of Islam, and predicts the disastrous effects of Modernism. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich in her private revelations (early 1800's) also revealed a date which ties together with Belloc's description of the modern day fall of Christendom.

"The last effort they made to destroy Christendom was contemporary with the end of the reign of Charles II in England and of his brother James and of the usurper William III. It failed during the last years of the seventeenth century, only just over two hundred years ago. Vienna, as we saw, was almost taken and only saved by the Christian army under the command of the King of Poland on a date that ought to among the most famous in history--September 11, 1683."
"But I ask the question in the sense, 'Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Mohammedan world which will shake off the domination of Europeans--still nominally Christian--and reappear again as the prime enemy of our civilization?' The future always comes as a surprise . . . And for my part I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam."

". . . very few men, even among those who are highly instructed in history, recall the truth that Mohammedanism was essentially in its origins not a new religion, but a heresy. Like all heresies, Mohammedanism lived by the Catholic truths which it had retained. . . Whatever the cause be, Mohammedanism has survived, and vigorously survived. Missionary effort has had no appreciable effect upon it. It still converts pagan savages wholesale."

"These things being so, the recrudesscence of Islam, the possibility of that terror under which we lived for centuries reappearing, and of our civilization again fighting for its life against what was its chief enemy for a thousand years, seems fantastic. . . I say the suggestion that Islam may re-arise sounds fantastic--but this is only because men are always powerfully affected by the immediate past:--one might say that they are blinded by it. . . the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it--we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today. The bad work begun at the Reformation is bearing its final fruit in the dissolution of our ancestral doctrines--the very structure of our society is dissolving."

On Modernism Belloc observes and further predicts:

". . . a Church of the future within which there will be intensity of devotion, indeed, but that devotion practiced by one small body, isolated and forgotten in the midst of its fellowmen" [and left on one side in the general current of the new Paganism].

"Those nations which had retained the Catholic culture are now in the third generation of anti-Catholic social education. Their institutions may tolerate the Church, but are never in active alliance with it and often in acute hostility."

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich in her private revelations recorded in The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ (c. 1824), which provided the inspiration for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, records this chilling event:

"In the centre of Hell I saw a dark and horrible-looking abyss, and into this Lucifer was cast, after being first strongly secured with chains; . . . God himself had decreed this; and I was likewise told, if I remember rightly, that he will be unchained for a time fifty or sixty years before the year of Christ 2000."

So with these authors from our Catholic past, making predictions of which we have seen fulfilled, we can at least learn from their foresight and steer our souls, our children's souls, and as many other souls as we can Heavenward to stem the tide of evil and give God little victories.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Firmilian, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (A.D. 256) - Epistle LXXIV To Cyprian, Against the Letter of Stephen:

(7) "Moreover, all other heretics, if they have separated themselves from the Church of God, can have nothing of power or of grace, since all power and grace are established in the Church where the elders preside, who possess the power both of baptizing, and of imposition of hands, and of ordaining. For as a heretic may not lawfully ordain nor lay on hands, so neither may he baptize, nor do any thing holily or spiritually, since he is an alien from spiritual and deifying sanctity.

(14) "But if the spouse of Christ is one, which is the Catholic Church, it is she herself who alone bears sons of God. For there are not many spouses of Christ"

(16) "But what is the greatness of his error, and what the depth of his blindness, who says that remission of sins can be granted in the synagogues of heretics, and does not abide on the foundation of the one Church which was once based by Christ upon the rock, may be perceived from this, that Christ said to Peter alone, "Whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." And again, in the Gospel, when Christ breathed on the apostles alone, saying, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them, and whose soever sins ye retain they are retained." Therefore the power of remitting sins was given to the apostles, and to the churches which they, sent by Christ, established, and to the bishops who succeeded to them by vicarious ordination. But the enemies of the one Catholic Church in which we are, and the adversaries of us who have succeeded the apostles, asserting for themselves, in opposition to us, unlawful priesthoods, and setting up profane altars, what else are they than Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, profane with a like wickedness, and about to suffer the same punishments which they did, as well as those who agree with them, just as their partners and abettors perished with a like death to theirs?"

Tertullian (A.D. 200) - The Demurrer Against the Heretics


"Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men,—a man, moreover, who continued stedfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter."

St. Irenaeus (A.D. 180-199) - Against Heresies


"We are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times...For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to "the perfect" apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity."
St. Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 110)

Letter to the Smyrneans:

CHAP. VI—UNBELIEVERS IN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST SHALL BE CONDEMNED.: "Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God."

CHAP. VII.—LET US STAND ALOOF FROM SUCH HERETICS.: "They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in His goodness raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes."

Letter to the Ephesians:

: ". . . and are now ready to obey your bishop and clergy with undivided minds and to share in the one common breaking of bread – the medicine of immortality, and the sovereign remedy by which we escape death and live in Jesus Christ for evermore."

St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 151) - First Apology, Chap. 66, Of the Eucharist:

"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these, but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus"
Theodore (A.D. 405) - Catechetical Homilies 5:1:

"When [Christ] gave the bread he did not say, "This is the symbol of my body" but, "This is my body." In the same way when he gave the cup of his blood he did not say. "This is the symbol of my blood," but, "This is my blood," for he wanted us to look upon the [Eucharistic elements] after their reception of grace and the coming of the Holy Spirit not according to their nature, but receive them as they are, the body and blood of our Lord. We ought . . . not regard [the elements] merely as bread and cup) but as the body and blood of the Lord, into which they were transformed by the descent of the Holy Spirit"
Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 350) - Catechetical Lectures On the Mysteries IV, On the Body and Blood of Christ, 22:6,9:

"Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that, for they are, according to the Master's declaration, the body and blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the body and blood of Christ. . . [Since you are] fully convinced that the apparent bread is not bread, even though it is sensible to the taste, but the body of Christ, and that the apparent wine is not wine, even though the taste would have it so. . . partake of that bread as something spiritual, and put a cheerful face on your soul"

Friday, October 26, 2007

St. Irenaeus (A.D. 180-199) - Against Heresies

"[we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority"

St. Irenaeus (A.D. 180-199) - Against Heresies


"2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; . . . but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.

3. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Where- fore they must be opposed at all points, if per- chance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sermon on the Sanctification of Sunday by Saint John Vianney

St. John Marie Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859)
Patron Saint of Parish Priests
The Incorrupt Body of the Cure' of Ars Situated in the Basilica at Ars, France

You labor, you labor, my children; but what you earn ruins your body and your soul. If one ask those who work on Sunday, "What have you been doing?" they might answer, "I have been selling my soul to the devil, crucifying Our Lord, and renouncing my Baptism. I am going to Hell; I shall have to weep for all eternity in vain. " When I see people driving carts on Sunday, I think I see them carrying their souls to Hell.

Oh, how mistaken in his calculations is he who labours hard on Sunday, thinking that he will earn more money or do more work! Can two or three shillings ever make up for the harm he does himself by violating the law of the good God? You imagine that everything depends on your working; but there comes an illness, an accident. . . . so little is required! a tempest, a hailstorm, a frost. The good God holds everything in His hand; He can avenge Himself when He will, and as He will; the means are not wanting to Him. Is He not always the strongest? Must not He be the master in the end?

There was once a woman who came to her priest to ask leave to get in her hay on Sunday. "But, " said the priest, "it is not necessary; your hay will run no risk. " The woman insisted, saying, "Then you want me to let my crop be lost?" She herself died that very evening; she was more in danger than her crop of hay. "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting. " [Jn. 6:27].

What will remain to you of your Sunday work? You leave the earth just as it is; when you go away, you carry nothing with you. Ah! when we are attached to the earth, we are not willing to go! Our first end is to go to God; we are on the earth for no other purpose. My brethren, we should die on Sunday, and rise again on Monday.
Sunday is the property of our good God; it is His own day, the Lord's day. He made all the days of the week: He might have kept them all; He has given you six, and has reserved only the seventh for Himself. What right have you to meddle with what does not belong to you? You know very well that stolen goods never bring any profit. Nor will the day that you steal from Our Lord profit you either. I know two very certain ways of becoming poor: they are working on Sunday and taking other people's property.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Children's Books

Our current culture is having fun toying with our children's imaginations. JK Rowling just announced that a major character in her book, Harry Potter, is gay. Why did she have to do this? What good did it do for her to disclose something so culturally grating? Why now? Why, after everybody has already bought and sold themselves into her clever story, does she do this?

This is the infuriating part: she does this AFTER all of her books were released, read by millions of children across the planet, and after she made hordes of money hand over fist on unsuspecting parents. She probably would not have been so successful had she disclosed this little tidbit to her audience immediately with the character's first appearance. No, she waits until trusting parents are hoodwinked into her story and fork over their dough making her a rich gal. Now she's a rich girl so she doesn't need those fans of hers anymore so she unveils her true colors. She roped a lot of good, trusting parents and innocent children into her well received story.

In her books, the gay character apparently doesn't commit any acts and the story doesn't mention any romances involved with the character. Let's face it however, children have imaginations. Vivid imaginations. Once they discover this revelation it only opens the door for the devil to do his handiwork on our children's mental images. Rowling has purposefully blindsided millions of faithful readers. These readers however are not mature adults, mentally desensitized to these matters, who can easily brush this kind of thing off. No, the children are her target audience - and they'll be the ones who have to sort it out within themselves. Let's pray that the damage is not one that drags the children's souls into a downward spiral.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Catholic Combat Chaplains

"By their fruits you shall know them."
"No greater love than this, to give up your life for your brethren."

When combat chaplains are mentioned, the image of a Catholic priest amidst the grime of war always comes to mind. Catholic battlefield chaplains are the ones absolving a sailor, saying mass on the hood of a jeep, or giving Holy Communion to a B-17 crew before their next and perhaps final mission. They are the ones in the trenches dodging mortars just to get to a dying soldier to hear their last confession. Was this imagery put there by Frank Capa WWII films with a bias in filming more priests than, say other denomination ministers? Probably not. The reason is, Catholic chaplains were always ready at the side of fighting and dying men to prepare them for a heavenly banquet by delivering, to what many would receive as their last Sacraments - and their last living act as a man on earth.

The Sacraments is what separates Catholicism from the rest. A priest would risk his life and knowingly run into a battle to administer Extreme Unction to a dying man. During WWII the Imperial Japanese infantry were known for their devilish trickery. A priest would, sometimes knowingly, crawl into the foxhole of an Imperial soldier who, while feigning an American accent, would repeatingly called out 'help . . father' just to bayonet the unsuspecting priest to demoralize the Americans. U.S. Marines would warn a priest of the trap, but the dutiful father would merely sigh and answer "what if it isn't?" The priest understands well what God Himself in the Person of Christ calls him to. The battlefield chaplain puts his life on the line because the truth of our immortal destiny supercedes any danger the world presents. Christ Himself instituted all 7 Sacraments to give grace to His faithful through the channel of a priest who acts in His place. The battlefield chaplain knows all too well the struggle against unseen principalities and powers and answers his angelic call to bring another soul to Paradise.

We read of chaplains miraculously surviving munitions blasts, unopened parachute drops, and direct hits. We can be sure that God protected His servants to bring a specific soul to Heaven - for God is a merciful God.

One such example comes from the book Currahee! by Donald Burgett who writes:

Limping along behind I heard someone yell, "Look out"; almost overhead a man came hurtling down with an unopened chute. It was pulled out of the pack tray, but remained closed, a streamer. The man hit a few yards away, making the sound of a large mattress going "floomp" against the ground, and for the second time in a week I witnessed a man hitting the ground so hard that he actually bounced. Limping over, I looked down at him and nearly fell over when he opened his eyes and asked me, "What happened?" "Your chute didn't open," I told him. "You're kidding," he said. "Help me up, I've got to get going." . . . It was then I noticed the crosses on his collar; who else but a chaplain could fall 1000 feet with an unopened chute and live?

What tender care and devoted interest our Father in Heaven shows us by channeling His graces through the words of a priest so that our souls become united to the Creator of the Universe. Such unity has been exemplified by the mystics who bore the wounds of Christ on their bodies (St. Francis of Assisi, St. Pio of Pietrelcina), by those so united to Him that they elevated in prayer (St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Joseph of Cupertino) and those Catholics so in love with God that they gave their lives for Him (St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Thomas More, St. Lawrence). Catholic chaplains can be likened to the martyrs who willed to die for their trust in Christ's words.

The Christian martyrs made this quite clear by their willingness in allowing others to torture, dismember, burn alive, behead, disembowel, have their eyes gouged out, fingers chewed off, and otherwise painfully end their lives for their Catholic faith and God's greater glory. They died not claiming any earthly victory or, as in the case with Islam, claiming other lives in their 'process', but rather, the Catholic martyrs died as abandoned orphans; helpless, unarmed, and in cold blood - but - joyfully - always joyfully and always while forgiving their persecutors. The ultimate acts of hatred and violence were met with loving sympathy and a charitable desire for their return to God.

Similarly, the Catholic battlefield chaplains held in their hearts a burning love for God and the desire to bring a suffering soul to Christ. Their victory was to beat the devil and ensure that God claimed the soul as the soldiers lied bleeding and taking their last desperate gasps for life. The victory was not for themselves, for their career, or to meet a quota. The victory was for God and Him alone. Their motto, we can be sure, must have been repeated to themselves, just as the martyrs, in St. Pauls words: "May God increase and I decrease."

Another story of devoted priestly chaplain service was reenacted in a recent Hollywood production. Steven Spielberg, in his film Saving Private Ryan, to his credit depicted a priest on Omaha Beach hearing the Confession of a dying soldier. However, the hero of the true story was not an Army Ranger (Tom Hanks), but a Roman Catholic priest who saved Private Ryan. The Private's real name was Sgt. Fritz Niland, a polish Catholic who lost two of his brothers on D-Day. When Father Francis L. Sampson, chaplain of the 501st, learned that two of Niland's brothers were dead, and that a third was presumed dead, he began the paperwork necessary to send Niland home.

These examples of self sacrifice point in one direction - to the Father in Heaven who gave us His Sacraments, and His priests to administer them, so that men can be gathered in His Heavenly Family and share in all his richness. For God is a merciful God.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

How the Modern American Church will Dodge Saying No to Female Altar Boys

A bishop recently asked the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments whether a Diocesan Bishop would be able to obligate his priests to admit women and girls to service at the altar. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments considered it opportune to send this letter to the Bishop in question, and given its particular importance to publish it [in Notitiae].

An excerpt from the letter reads:

". . . the non-ordained faithful do not have a right to service at the altar, rather they are capable of being admitted to such service by the Sacred Pastors (cf. Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences, March 15, 1994, no. 4, cf. also can. 228, s.1, Interdicasterial Instruction Ecclesiae de mysterio, August 15, 1997, no. 4, see Notitiae 34 [1998] 9-42). Therefore, in the event that Your Excellency found it opportune to authorize service of women at the altar, it would remain important to explain clearly to the faithful the nature of this innovation, lest confusion might be introduced, thereby hampering the development of priestly vocations."

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments clearly explains the use of female altar boys as an "innovation" and further stresses concern that female altar boy programs may hamper the development of priestly vocations. Now we've touched on the heart of the matter. Beginning in March 15, 1994 there was introduced the modernist agenda and real drive behind the use of female altar boys. Its purpose was clear a decade later when priestly vocations were at their all time low. The devil hates Christ and the priesthood so it is his intent to discourage priestly vocations at a young age by turning young boys off from serving alongside girls. For young boys serving at mass no longer becomes a manly occupation together with, say being a fireman. The agenda is obvious yet some bishops (like the one addressed to above) and pastors are either too naive or too afraid to point it out and say one simple word - "no".

St. Pio of Pietrelcina once told a woman in confession that her son's soul was lost because she never said no to her children as a parent. A bishop and pastor to care for the souls in their care is no different than a parent who cares for the family in his/her care. Both need to lead their parish and family manfully through the lies, deceits, and false promises that the prince of the world throws at them. Just as Adam should have said no to Eve in the Garden so must a bishop and pastor say no to Eve in the Temple.

However, once some of the modernist bishops and pastors figure out that they must say no to girls they will simply dodge the issue. And here is how they'll do it. Since altar serving is a long standing tradition, pastors and bishops know that they just simply can't do away with it completely, so they'll devise, in vain, other methods to attempt making the issue insignificant. Here is the issue: since girls serving at the altar is fueling rebellious groups like Call to Action and We Are Church to pressure the Holy See to ordain women, the bishops and pastors will find a way to make both sides happy. However, making both sides happy is never the real outcome whenever this philosophy is attempted. The GIRM will probably be updated or pastors will probably innovate mass serving manuals that find a way to continue allowing girls to serve alongside boys, thereby pleasing outspoken feminist groups like Call to Action, while simultaneously sending a message to the Vatican and the Universal Church that they are 'doing their part' in keeping girls out of the sanctuary and disinterested in the priesthood. The new server manual could look something like this:

"Altar servers (boys and girls) will no longer sit in the sanctuary but rather in the front pew with the Congregation. They will no longer wear altar serving attire as they will now be considered the worshiping Congregation with altar serving status. They will receive training that would notify them when it is opportune to approach the sanctuary and perform their functions. They will not process in or recess out with the priest but rather take their proper position in the front pew of the Church before mass begins. They would respond to the prayers and exchange the sign of peace with the Congregation while remaining in the front pew. The front pew will be reserved for altar servers and the elderly will be placed in the rear of the Church. The front pew will have various initiation ceremonies at each altar server graduation in order to instill the sacredness of altar serving so that altar boys may still show interest in the priesthood."

So now that I've loosely predicted what the USCCB will attempt in their next GIRM revisions let's hope and pray to St. John Berchmans that we cut them off at the pass and that manhood in the Church may be preserved with service in the sanctuary reserved for males.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ave Maria by Josquin Desprez

Josquin des Pres (c. 1440-1521) Missa Mater Patris

Josquin pioneered the technique of pervasive imitation, by which the entire schola repeats one melody in different times in other voices.

In this prayer, the opening section declaims the four phrases of text - 'Ave Maria', in order. Clear and unobstructed imitation of each phrase (as if in a litany) occurs dramatically from the highest voice to the lowest; the imitated melody resembles a Gregorian chant version. Though the phrases of this section are completely balanced in length, the counterpoint increases in density, producing a strong climax at the first juncture where all four voices sing together. The lyrics to Josquin's Ave Maria comprises one of the most touching hymns to Our Lady.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with thee, gentle Virgin.
Hail, thou whose Conception,
Full of solemn joy,
Fills heaven and earth
With new gladness.
Hail, thou whose Nativity
Became our great celebration,
As the light-bringing rising light
Coming before the true sun.
Hail, blessed humility,
Fertility without man,
Whose Annunciation
Was our salvation.
Hail, true virginity,
Immaculate chastity,
Whose Purification
Was our cleansing.
Hail, glorious one
In all angelic virtures,
Whose Assumption
Was our glorification.
O Mother of God,
Remember me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Ave Maria - Franz Biebl

A most touching Ave Maria.

Lincoln Log Catholic Church

Just look at that interior! If I can customize a Lincoln Log set into this, what are our modern American Church designers doing?