Friday, April 30, 2010

A Liberty Greater Than is Just

"Although man, when excited by a certain arrogance and contumacy, has often striven to cast aside the reins of authority, he has never yet been able to arrive at the state of obeying no one. In every association and community of men, necessity itself compels that some should hold preeminence, lest society, deprived of a prince or head by which it is ruled should come to dissolution and be prevented from attaining the end for which it was created and instituted. But, if it was not possible that political power should be removed from the midst of states, it is certain that men have used every art to take away its influence and to lessen its majesty, as was especially the case in the sixteenth century, when a fatal novelty of opinions infatuated many. Since that epoch, not only has the multitude striven after a liberty greater than is just, but it has seen fit to fashion the origin and construction of the civil society of men in accordance with its own will." ~ His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, "Diuturum"

Friday, April 23, 2010

There Evil Breeds

"The Earth is beautiful, and bright, and kindly, but that is not all. The Earth is also terrible, and dark, and cruel. The rabbit shrieks dying in the green meadows. The mountains clench their great hands full of hidden fire. There are sharks in the sea, and there is cruelty in men’s eyes. And where men worship these things and abase themselves before them, there evil breeds; there places are made in the world where darkness gathers [...] The ancient and holy Powers of the Earth before the Light, the powers of the dark, of ruin, of madness…" ~ Ursula K. Le Guin "The Tombs of Atuan"


*I know that Miss Le Guin is a Taoist, but the passage struck me as interesting.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An Unlimited God

"... all my own experience has been that of a writer who believes, in Pascal's words, in the 'God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and not of the philosophers and scholars.' This is an unlimited God... Who has revealed Himself specifically. It is One Who became man and rose from the dead. It is one Who confounds senses and sensibilities, One known early on as a stumbling block. There is no way to gloss over this specification or to make it more acceptable to modern thought. This God is the object of ultimate concern and He has a Name." ~ Flannery O'Connor, "Mystery and Manners"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

If I Were Not Catholic...

If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hated. My reason for doing this would be, that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, He must still be hated as He was when He was on earth in the flesh.

If you would find Christ today, then find the Church that does not get along with the world. Look for the Church that is hated by the world as Christ was hated by the world. Look for the Church that is accused of being behind the times, as our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned. Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because He came from Nazareth. Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which, in seasons of bigotry, men say must be destroyed in the name of God as men crucified Christ and thought they had done a service to God.

Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because He called Himself the Truth. Look for the Church which is rejected by the world as Our Lord was rejected by men. Look for the Church which amid the confusions of conflicting opinions, its members love as they love Christ, and respect its Voice as the very voice of its Founder, and the suspicion will grow, that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world, then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly it is other worldly. Since it is other-worldly, it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ Himself. But only that which is Divine can be infinitely hated and infinitely loved. Therefore the Church is Divine. ~
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tolkien on Reform

"'Trends' in the Church are...serious, especially to those accustomed to find in it a solace and a 'pax' in times of temporal trouble, and not just another arena of strife and change. But imagine the experience of those born (as I) between the Golden and Diamond Jubilee of Victoria. Both senses of imaginations of security have been stripped away from us. Now we find ourselves nakedly confronting the will of God, as concerns ourselves and our position in Time. 'Back to normal' - political and Christian predicaments - as a Catholic professor once said to me when I bemoaned the collapse of all my world that began just after I achieved 21. I know quite well that, to you as to me, the Church which once felt like a refuge, now often feels like a trap. There is nowhere else to go! (I wonder if this desperate feeling, the last state of loyalty hanging on, was not, even more often than is actually recorded in the Gospels, felt by Our Lord's followers in His earthly life-time?) I think there is nothing to do but pray, for the Church, the Vicar of Christ, and for ourselves; and meanwhile to exercise the virtue of loyalty, which indeed only becomes a virtue when one is under pressure to desert it.

"There are, of course, various elements in the present situation, which are confused, though in fact distinct...The 'protestant' search backwards for 'simplicity' and directedness-which, of course, though it contains some good or at least intelligible motives, is mistaken and indeed vain. Because 'primitive Christianity' is now and in spite of all 'research' will ever remain largely unknown; because 'primitiveness' is no guarantee of value, and is and was in great part a reflection of ignorance. Grave abuses were as much an element in Christian 'liturgical' behavior from the beginning as now. (St. Paul's strictures on eucharistic behavior are sufficient to show this!) Still more because 'my church' was not intended by Our Lord to be static or remain in perpetual childhood; but to be a living organism (likened to a plant), which develops and changes in externals by the interaction of its bequeathed divine life and history - the particular circumstances of the world into which it is set. There is no resemblance between the 'mustard seed' and the full-grown tree. For those living in the days of its branching growth the Tree is the thing, for the history of a living thing is part of its life, and the history of a divine thing is sacred. The wise may know that it began with a seed, but it is vain to try and dig it up., for it no longer exists, and the virtue and powers that it had now reside in the Tree. Very good: but in husbandry the authorities, the keepers of the Tree, must look after it, according to such wisdom as they possess, prune it, remove cankers, get rid of parasites, and so forth (with trepidation, knowing how little their knowledge of growth is!). But they will certainly do harm, if they are obsessed with the desire of going back to the seed or even to the first youth of the plant when it was (as they imagine) pretty and unaffected by evils.

"The other motive (now so confused with the primitivist one, even in the mind of any one of the reformers) aggiornamento: bringing up to date: that has its own grave dangers, as has been apparent throughout history. With this 'ecumenicalness' has also become confused. I find myself in sympathy with those elements that are strictly 'ecumenical,' that is concerned with other groups or churches that call themselves (and often truly are) 'Christian.' We have prayed endlessly for Christian reunion, but it is difficult to see, if one reflects, how that could possibly begin to come about except as it has, with all its inevitable minor absurdities. An increase in 'charity' is an enormous gain." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, CBE, "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Lord is merciful and just, and our God showeth mercy

"Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

"Also well known is the Catholic teaching that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church. Eternal salvation cannot be obtained by those who oppose the authority and statements of the same Church and are stubbornly separated from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, to whom "the custody of the vineyard has been committed by the Savior." The words of Christ are clear enough: "If he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you a Gentile and a tax collector;" "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you, rejects me, and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me;" "He who does not believe will be condemned;" "He who does not believe is already condemned;" "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters." The Apostle Paul says that such persons are "perverted and self-condemned;" the Prince of the Apostles calls them "false teachers . . . who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master. . . bringing upon themselves swift destruction." ~ His Holiness Pope Blessed Pius IX, "Quanto Conficiamur Moerore"


Title of post is from Psalm 114:5.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Prophecies of Humanae Vitae

Only a few days before he died, Father Paul Marx returned to the topic that had so often occupied him during his long decades as a pro-life missionary, namely, the great encyclical Humanae Vitae. He sent me this short article, in which he underlines the accuracy of Pope Paul VI's predictions about what would happen if conception became prevalent in society. We send it out now both because it contains timeless truths, and also to honor our Founder and long-time Chairman, Fr. Marx, who has gone to be with the Father.

Steven W. Mosher

Prophecies of Humanae Vitae

by Fr. Paul Marx, OSB

On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae re-affirmed the Catholic teaching on life, love and human sexuality. In that document, he listed the consequences of life lived outside Catholic teaching.

He predicted that:

1. Contraception would lead to conjugal infidelity.

2. Contraceptive practice would lead to a “general lowering of morality.”

3. Contraception would lead men to cease respecting woman in their totality and would cause them to treat women as “mere instruments of selfish enjoyment” rather than as cherished partners.

4. And finally, widespread acceptance of contraception by couples would lead to a massive imposition of contraception by unscrupulous governments.

In other words, Pope Paul VI predicted that contraception would evolve from “a lifestyle choice” into a weapon of mass destruction. How dreadfully his prophecy has been vindicated by population control and coercive sterilization programs, fertility reduction quotas and the promotion of abortion literally everywhere in the world.

Contraception's destruction of the integrity of the marital act—as unitive and procreative—has dire consequences for society and for our souls. Contraception, in other words, is a rejection of God's view of reality. It is a wedge driven into the most intimate sphere of communion known to man outside of the Holy Sacrament of the Mass. It is a degrading poison that withers life and love both in marriage and in society.

By breaking the natural and divinely ordained connection between sex and procreation, women and men—but especially men—would focus on the hedonistic possibilities of sex. People would cease seeing sex as something that was intrinsically linked to new life and to the sacrament of marriage.

Does anyone doubt that this is where we find ourselves today?

Fr. Paul Marx, OSB, is the Founder of PRI, and served as Chairman of the Board from 1996 to 2010.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Indifference

"When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns; red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

"When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him; they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

"Still Jesus cried, 'Forgive them, for they know not what they do,’
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary." ~ G. A. Studdert-Kennedy, "When Jesus Came to Birmingham"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

We Stand with Peter

The title really has nothing to do with the prayer below, but it is true, yes? Ad Multos Annos, Holy Father. This is a prayer for the Pope, written by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII:

"O Lord, we are the millions of believers, humbly kneeling at Thy feet and begging Thee to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every other day, he is praying for us also, and is offering unto Thee with holy fervor the sacred Victim of love and peace.

"Wherefore, O Lord, turn Thyself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do Thou unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Thine infinite mercy, as a sweet savor of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of Thee this day, we too ask it of Thee in unison with him.

"Whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Thy great mercy grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers unto Thee the Sacrifice of Thy blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in His hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: "The peace of the Lord be with you always," grant, O Lord, that Thy sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power. Amen."


Saturday, April 3, 2010

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom:

"Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

"Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

"For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

"Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

"You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

"Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

"He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

"Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

"Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

"To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!"


Domine, Deus salutis

"O Lord, the God of my salvation: I have cried in the day, and in the night before thee. Let my prayer come in before thee: incline thy ear to my petition. For my soul is filled with evils: and my life hath drawn nigh to hell. I am counted among them that go down to the pit: I am become as a man without help, Free among the dead. Like the slain sleeping in the sepulchres, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cast off from thy hand. They have laid me in the lower pit: in the dark places, and in the shadow of death. Thy wrath is strong over me: and all thy waves thou hast brought in upon me. Thou hast put away my acquaintance far from me: they have set me an abomination to themselves. I was delivered up, and came not forth: My eyes languished through poverty. All the day I cried to thee, O Lord: I stretched out my hands to thee.

"Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? or shall physicians raise to life, and give praise to thee? Shall any one in the sepulchre declare thy mercy: and thy truth in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark; and thy justice in the land of forgetfulness? But I, O Lord, have cried to thee: and in the morning my prayer shall prevent thee." (Book of Psalms 87:6-14, DRB)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ecce Homo - Behold the Man!

"Then therefore, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon his head; and they put on him a purple garment. And they came to him, and said: "Hail, king of the Jews"; and they gave him blows. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith to them: "Behold, I bring him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in him." (Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment.) And he saith to them: "Behold the Man." When the chief priests, therefore, and the servants, had seen him, they cried out, saying: "Crucify him, crucify him." (Gospel According to St. John 19:1-6a, DRB)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Prayers for Vocations and Priests

Prayer for Vocations
Through the Intercession of St. John Marie Vianney, Cure d'Ars


"O God our Father, You promised "I will appoint shepherds for My sheep who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble: and none shall be missing." (Jer. 23:4-5). Hear the prayers of Your flock. Through the intercession of Your beloved priest, Saint John Vianney, we beg You to call to the sacramental priesthood generous men who will desire nothing more than to serve You in imitation of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, our High Priest.
And after You call them, we pray that You sustain the doubtful, console the discouraged, and strengthen the weak as they start the long and demanding preparation for the priesthood.
Mary, Mother of priests, and example of faithful, humble, and joyful acceptance of God's will, help all those who are called to the priesthood to open their ears and hearts to the gentle call of the Holy Spirit.
Amen."

Prayer for Priests by St. Therese of Lisieux

‘O Holy Father, may the torrents of love flowing from the sacred wounds of Thy Divine Son bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple John who stood at the foot of the Cross; priests: who as a pledge of Thine own most tender love will lovingly give Thy Divine Son to the souls of men.
May Thy priests be faithful guardians of Thy Church, as John was of Mary, whom he received into his house. Taught by this loving Mother who suffered so much on Calvary, may they display a mother’s care and thoughtfulness towards Thy children. May they teach souls to enter into close union with Thee through Mary who, as the Gate of Heaven, is specially the guardian of the treasures of Thy Divine Heart.
Give us priests who are on fire, and who are true children of Mary, priests who will give Jesus to souls with the same tenderness and care with which Mary carried the Little Child of Bethlehem.
Mother of sorrows and of love, out of compassion for Thy beloved Son, open in our hearts deep wells of love, so that we may console Him and give Him a generation of priests formed in thy school and having all the tender thoughtfulness of thine own spotless love.’