Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Papal Influence in Europe Intensifies
"At a time when the European Union appears to be falling apart at its seams,
European citizens and politicians are gradually turning to the leadership of
one man for solutions."
"There is a massive and highly dangerous void in European leadership. No one
is taking a definitive stand against Islam and the anti-religious sentiment
pervading European society. No one is providing long-term solutions to the
volatile problems besetting the Continent. No one is standing up to protect
European identity. No one is leading Europe!"
"Benedict left no ambiguity as to which Christian values he was specifically
referring to. Pope Benedict said certain principles 'are not negotiable';
they include the protection of human life from conception until natural
death, the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, and the right
of parents to determine how their children will be educated."
"Pope Benedict xvi is acutely aware of the state of Europe today, and he is
already working to restore the Continent from its ailing condition. The
pontiff has wasted little time in reaffirming the Vatican's influence in
European politics and society."
Then it became clear to me what the foundation of real liturgical piety is...
An interesting article on liturgical piety by Romano Guardini to whom Pope
Benedict XVI attributes much of his understanding of the liturgy, and it's
connection to the Faith.
The connection between Benedict XVI and Romano Guardini is very evident
even in the title of the book "Introduction to the Spirit of the
Liturgy" published by the present pope in 1999.
The preface to the book begins as follows:
"One of my first readings after the beginning of my theological studies,
at the beginning of 1946, was the first work by Romano Guardini, 'The
Spirit of the Liturgy,' a little book published for Easter of 1918. This
work made a decisive contribution to the rediscovery of the liturgy,
with its timeless beauty and grandeur, as the vital center of the Church
and Christian life. [...] This book of mine is intended to represent
another contribution to the renewal of this understanding."
Last Thursday, April 6, replying in St. Peter's Square to a young man's
question about his vocation, Benedict XVI again emphasized that when he
was a young man, his vocation emerged and flourished with the "discovery
of the beauty of the liturgy." Because "in the liturgy, the divine
beauty really appears to us, and heaven opens up."
"Then it became clear to me what the foundation of real liturgical piety
by Romano Guardini
Today I saw something grandiose: Monreale. I am full of gratitude for
its existence. The day was rainy. When we arrived there ? it was Holy
Thursday ? the solemn Mass had proceeded beyond the consecration. For
the blessing of the holy oils, the archbishop was seated beneath the
triumphal arch of the choir. The ample space was crowded. Everywhere
people were sitting in their places, silently watching.
What should I say about the splendor of this place? At first, the
visitor's glance sees a basilica of harmonious proportions. Then it
perceives a movement within its structure, which is enriched with
something new, a desire for transcendence that moves through it to the
point of passing beyond it; but all of this culminates in that splendid
So, a brief historical moment. It did not last long, but was supplanted
by something else entirely. But this moment, although brief, was of an
There was gold all over the walls. Figures rose above figures, in all of
the vaults and in all of the arches. They stood out from the golden
background as though from a star-studded sky. Everywhere radiant colors
were swimming in the gold.
Yet the light was attenuated. The gold slept, and all the colors slept.
They could be seen there, waiting. And what their splendor would be like
if it shone forth! Only here and there did a border gleam, and an aura
of muted light trailed along the blue mantle of the figure of Christ in
When they brought the holy oils to the sanctuary, and the procession,
accompanied by the insistent melody of an ancient hymn, wound through
that throng of figures, the basilica sprang back to life.
Its forms began to move. Responding to the solemn procession and the
movement of vestments and colors along the walls and through the arches,
the spaces began to move. The spaces came forward to meet the listening
ear and the eye rapt in contemplation.
The crowd sat and watched. The women were wearing veils. The colors of
their garments and shawls were waiting for the sun to make them shine
again. The men's faces were distinguished and handsome. Almost no one
was reading. All were living in the gaze, all engaged in contemplation.
Then it it became clear to me what the foundation of real liturgical
piety is: the capacity to find the "sacred" within the image and its
* * *
Monreale, Holy Saturday. When we arrived, the sacred ceremony had come
to the blessing of the Paschal candle. Immediately afterward, the deacon
solemnly advanced along the principal nave, bearing the Lumen Christi.
The Exultet was sung in front of the main altar. The bishop was seated
to the right of the altar, on an elevated throne made of stone, where he
sat listening. After the Exultet came the readings from the prophets,
and I rediscovered the sublime significance of those mosaic images.
Then there was the blessing of the baptismal water in the middle of the
church. All the concelebrants were seated around the font, with the
bishop in the center and the people standing around them. The babies
were brought forward ? one could see the emotion and pride in their
parents ? and the bishop baptized them.
Everything was so familiar. The people's conduct was simultaneously
detached and devout, and when anyone spoke to another person standing
nearby, it was not a disturbance. And so the sacred ceremony continued
on its way. It moved through almost every part of that great church: now
it took place in the choir, now in the nave, now under the triumphal
arch. The spaciousness and majesty of the place embraced every movement
and every figure, commingling them and uniting them together.
Every now and then a ray of sunlight pierced through the vault, and a
golden smile spread across the space above. And anywhere a subdued color
lay in wait on a vestment or veil, it was reawakened by the gold that
spread to every corner, revealed in its true power and caught up in an
harmonious and intricate design that filled the heart with happiness.
The most beautiful thing was the people. The women with their veils, the
men with their cloaks around their shoulders. Everywhere could be seen
distinguished faces and a serene bearing. Almost no one was reading,
almost no one stooped over in private prayer. Everyone was watching.
The sacred ceremony lasted for more than four hours, but the
participation was always lively. There are different means of prayerful
participation. One is realized by listening, speaking, gesturing. But
the other takes place through watching. The first way is a good one, and
we northern Europeans know no other. But we have lost something that was
still there at Monreale: the capacity for living-in-the-gaze, for
resting in the act of seeing, for welcoming the sacred in the form and
event, by contemplating them.
I was about to leave, when suddenly I found all of those eyes turned
toward me. Almost frightened, I looked away, as if I were embarrassed at
peering into those eyes that had been gazing upon the altar.
Conscience and Catholic Politicians (Part 1)
An excellent interview on Zenit with Father Koterski of Fordham University.
While he recognizes, as the Church does, the "supremacy" of conscience. He
gives a succint definition of conscience:
"In the correct sense of the term, conscience is the judgment that we make
about whether an action we have done or are about to do is in conformity
with the objective and universal moral law that comes from God and that can
be known by us as the natural law. "
"Q: To what extent are Catholic politicians and public officials bound by
their individual consciences, even when they conflict with Church teaching?
Father Koterski: The issue here, I think, concerns the meaning of the term
"conflict with Church teaching."
The term "Church teaching" is a broad term by which people group together
various things that need to be carefully distinguished. The term can easily
run the range from "universal moral precepts that bind always and
everywhere" to recommendations of a practical nature made by one's local
pastor on a particular question.
Catholic politicians and public officials are bound just like the rest of
us to conform to Catholic teaching on matters of moral principle. In fact,
they have a special duty in this regard, precisely by reason of the office
they hold and their obligation to work for the common good. "
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Liturgy a sign of unity or a sign of Indivdiuality?
Archbishop Marini said he understood why Pope John Paul gave permission for bishops to authorize the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Mass in some churches for "older faithful" who were attached to the old rite.
"But to go beyond this is to go beyond the church," he said. "If the liturgy is the sign of the unity of the church, you cannot create groups of faithful who pray in a certain way on this day at this hour, then an hour later another group prays in another way."
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Bishop Rifan and the 7 Capital Sins of traditionalists
In a recent interview the traditional Bishop Rifan of Campos
had this to say about faults to be cautious of as traditional Catholics:
"1. Pride ? feeling like we have some exclusive and personal knowledge of
truth, cultic idea that we are the only Catholics, the Church's savers.
2. Systematic lack of charity - "See how they hate each other" That's the
contrary of what pagans said about the first Christians. The art of
changing one's friends into enemies. The spirit of division.
3. Rash judgement - Spirit of suspicion. Conspiracy theory.
4. Scandalmongering ? Criticism as a sytem. Ministery of criticism.
5. Spirit of dispute - Systematic disobedience. Independence toward
hierarchy and Church's Magister.
6. Cultish group spirit - "no salvation outside of us".
7. Pessimism - against Christian hope (In spe gaudentes). To some point,
satisfaction with the anormality of one's situation - and with errors by
the human part of the Church ? like if this could justify one's own
It's Time to Wake Up
The Holy See has been strongly urging Bishops and Pastors to restore the
faithful to understanding of sin and the predominance of it in society
today. If they only understood their would be much cause to celebrate.
In an article from New Oxford Review, Robert Allard connects the abundance
of sin with the abundance of grace, especially from the sacrament of
penance and the Feast of Divine Mercy:
"If it is true that 'where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more' (Rom.
5:20), then indeed with all the sin that is around today there should be an
ocean of graces available. How and from where might all these graces come
Divine Mercy Sunday! Our Lord keeps His promise to provide the graces to
counteract sin. We have been sitting here in the boat like the Apostles who
had been fishing all night and caught nothing. Just like then, our Lord has
been calling out to us and has been telling us where and when to cast out
our nets. Couldn't we use a nice big catch, right about now?"
In one of her visions, the Lord said to Saint Faustina:
"When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting
there for you. I am only hidden by the priests, but I Myself act in your
soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. When you go to
confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came
forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every
time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy with great
trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul?. Make your
confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen.
Never analyze what sort of a priest it is that I am making use of; open
your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My
Remainder of the article here:
Monday, April 03, 2006
Freedom for the Traditional Latin Mass
The rumors regarding this have been steadily growing all week. Since
Sunday, we have increasingly heard that something was imminent.
Yesterday, ACIPrensa published in Spanish that the Holy Father would
grant freedom to the Traditional Latin Mass. And today, our dear
friends at the extremely trustworthy Archivum have published that His
Holiness actually signed yesterday the papal act granting (or
recognizing) this freedom (Archivum reminds its readers that this has
always been one of the negotiating conditions for the Society of
Saint Pius X).
We had been shy to report this (which is why we suggested the "grain
of salt") because some extremely important details, regarding the
exact nature of the act itself and of the amplitude given (or
recognized) to priests, are still missing. When we have the details
(and when we can confirm the date of signing), we will post them as
soon as possible.
P.S. We are still somewhat doubtful -- not because we do not trust
these sources, but because this optimism seems familiar to us and may
lead to disappointment. We really need to see this published... Let
us pray, let us pray!
2 Key Threats to the Family
2 Key Threats to the Family
According to Theologian Father Michael Hull
NEW YORK, APRIL 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of an address Father
Michael Hull of New York delivered at a theologians videoconference last
Tuesday. The Congregation for Clergy organized the international
* * *
Threats to the Family
By Father Michael Hull
The family is the beginning and the basis of all human society. Thus has it
been from creation: "Then the Lord God said: 'It is not good that the man
should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him'" (Genesis 2:18).
Aristotle has a sense of this when he describes the family as the
fundamental community between men and women ("Politica" I.2). St. Augustine
speaks of marriage as "the first natural bond of human society" ("De bono
Threats to the family are those that imperil this bond, especially when it
is sealed as a sacrament. Perhaps the two gravest threats to the family are
divorce and artificial birth control. The former destroys the family by
tearing it asunder; the latter frustrates natural expansion of the family
and the human community.
Civil divorce has become de rigueur in many developed countries and is on
the rise all over the world. In most countries these days, divorce is a
simple civil matter, easily obtained and no longer socially stigmatized.
The breakup of families is common and carefree, with little concern for Our
Lord's solemn admonitions against divorce (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark
10:2-12; Luke 16:18; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:10-16).
In the United States of America, for example, surveys place the current
divorce rate at about 40% among the general population and 20% among
Catholics. Interestingly enough, these rates are significantly lower,
approximately 10% to 15%, than they were 10 years ago.
The reason? Marriage has fallen into such disfavor that many couples elect
to live in sin, either temporarily or permanently. Many young adults engage
in a number of short-term or even long-term relationships before they marry
-- if they ever marry at all.
Many younger and older couples decide specifically against marriage and opt
to live their lives in so-called common-law marriages. Surely the Church
must minister to the divorced -- as is illustrated so well in Pope John
Paul II's "Familiaris Consortio" (see Nos. 83-84) -- but the Church must
continue to speak out vociferously against the breakup of marriages and,
Like divorce, artificial birth control seems to be the order of the day. On
the one hand, it is utilized by those who are married, frustrating or
limiting God's plan of procreation. On the other hand, it contributes
substantially to the contemporary malaise of sin by eradicating many of the
consequences of immoral sexual intercourse.
Both Pope Pius XI in "Casti Connubii" (Dec. 31, 1930) and Pope Paul VI in
"Humanae Vitae" (July 25, 1968) put a special emphasis on artificial birth
control as a principal threat against the sanctity of marriage and the
family in modern times.
Pius was clear: "Any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way
that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate
life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who
indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin" (CC, No. 56).
Paul was prescient when he noted that artificial birth control would "open
wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral
standards" (HV, No. 17).
There is no doubt that such unfaithfulness is on the rise as moral virtue
declines. Indeed, artificial birth control has opened the way so wide and
facilitated such a lowering of moral principles that Paul's words seem but
modest and understated.
In order to defend the family, the Church must be vigilant in proclaiming
the sanctity, inviolability, and permanence of marriage, as well as the
importance of leaving the marital act open to life. The aforementioned
threats to the family are best met by remembering what the family is,
namely, the cornerstone of society and the domestic Church ("Lumen
Gentium," No. 11; FC, No. 21), without which man is bereft of his natural
and supernatural community.
Pope Supports 2-Day Fast for Iraq
Pope Supports 2-Day Fast for Iraq
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI encouraged believers
worldwide to fast and pray Monday and Tuesday for peace in Iraq and the
After reciting the midday Angelus today from the window of his study, the
Pope echoed the initiative announced in a message signed by Chaldean
Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly of Babylon and Iraqi bishops.
"We are estranged from God with our deeds," wrote the patriarch in his
message, "we do not fulfill his will, and we have abandoned piety, virtue
and forgiveness and, because of this, the blood of so many brothers has
been shed and so many children have been left orphans.
"We must return, repentant, to the house of the Father to do the will of
our sovereign God; to attain this sublime objective, we invite all Iraqis,
in and outside of Iraq, and all believers and men of good will, to prayer
and fasting on next Monday the 3rd and Tuesday the 4th, so that the Lord
will restore peace, tranquility and security to Iraq, country of beloved
Benedict XVI invited "all to join this initiative of our brothers of that
tormented country, commending this intention to the intercession of Mary
Most Holy, Queen of Peace."