Category Archives: Ut Unum Sint

I just don’t know what “I believe in” anymore

Growing up, it was tough enough keeping straight the Nicene Creed (1971 translation):

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
[bow during the next two lines:]
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

and Apostles Creed:

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell [or “the dead”];
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
{from there [thence?]} he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

Then I tried to learn the Nicene Creed in Latin:

Credo in unum Deum,
Patrem omnipoténtem,
Factórem cæli et terræ,
Visibílium ómnium et invisibílium.
Et in unum Dóminum Iesum Christum,
Fílium Dei Unigénitum,
Et ex Patre natum ante ómnia sæcula.
Deum de Deo, lumen de lúmine, Deum verum de Deo vero,
Génitum, non factum, consubstantiálem Patri:
Per quem ómnia facta sunt.
Qui propter nos hómines et propter nostram salútem
Descéndit de cælis.
Et incarnátus est de Spíritu Sancto
Ex María Vírgine, et homo factus est.
Crucifíxus étiam pro nobis sub Póntio Piláto;
Passus, et sepúltus est,
Et resurréxit tértia die, secúndum Scriptúras,
Et ascéndit in cælum, sedet ad déxteram Patris.
Et íterum ventúrus est cum glória,
Iudicáre vivos et mórtuos,
Cuius regni non erit finis.
Et in Spíritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem:
Qui ex Patre Filióque procédit.
Qui cum Patre et Fílio simul adorátur et conglorificátur:
Qui locútus est per prophétas.
Et unam, sanctam, cathólicam et apostólicam Ecclésiam.
Confíteor unum baptísma in remissiónem peccatorum.
Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum,
Et vitam ventúri sæculi. Amen.

I was still getting that memorized when the translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal (aka the “new” translation) came out:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 
Then, more recently, we’ve been periodically attending an Anglican Use Mass, which has this translation:

I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven,
Genuflect
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man;
Stand
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped
and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
 and the life of the world to come. Amen.

However, we’re now regularly attending the Melkite Divine Liturgy:

I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven
and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in
one Lord Jesus Christ, the OnlyVBegotten Son of God,
begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light, true
God of true God, begotten, not made, of one essence with
the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us
men and for our salvation, came down from Heaven, and
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and
became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
suffered, and was buried. He rose again on the third day in
accordance with the Scriptures, ascended into Heaven, and
is enthroned at the right hand of the Father. He will come
again with glory to judge the living and the dead and of
His Kingdom there shall be no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who
proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father
and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who spoke
through the prophets. And in one, holy, catholic, and
apostolic Church. I profess one baptism for the remission
of sins. I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and
the life of the world to come. Amen.

Then, every now and then in personal devotion I pray the Creed of Paul VI or the Athanasian Creed.
But the moral of the story is that, while standardization of words (and language) is a strong symbol of the unity of the Faith and of the One Liturgy, it also helps sometimes to not take words for granted because we have them memorized.

The Greatest Discount There is

Once again, people have died from being stampeded by people shopping for gifts to nominally celebrate the Mass of the Nativity of Our Lord, and to comemmorate the charity of Sts. Nicholas and Basil the Great.

The Fatima visionaries described seeing souls falling into Hell like snowflakes.  Things like this show why: a nation engaging in an orgy of greed and violence.

It used to be that Thanksgiving, a Protestant holiday that grew as an alternative to “Papist” Christmas but centers around the Catholic Native American Squanto, marked the beginning of secular Christmas decorations and gift-buying, which is why the “Day After Thanksgiving” was supposedly a big shopping day.  It was the first day of the “Christmas shopping season,” many people were still on Thanksgiving break, and those who weren’t watching football would go shopping.

Now it’s got to the point where, as Sue Heck put it on this week’s _The Middle_, “It’s no longer ‘Thanksgiving.’  It’s ‘Black Friday Eve.'”

It’s horrifying that people are willing to put a few hundred dollars in savings above other people’s lives, but that’s the Culture of Death in a nutshell.

Meanwhile, the greatest “discount” in history is waiting, and do people line up and wait to experience the infinite graces offered every day at Holy Mass?  The normal price of sin is everlasting torment in Hell, yet we are offered infinite forgiveness and everlasting paradise by Christ just for giving Him our love.

I’d call that a discount.

On Islam and the Great Schism

I once heard the dictum that “Islam conquers where Christianity has gone into heresy.”

The Syriac and Arabic Christians had rejected the Council of Chalcedon (451) and gone into schism from Rome and Constantinople.

Northern African “Christianity” was predominantly Arian, Pelagian, etc.

Islam swept through those regions like wildfire but was always staved off by the Roman and Byzantine Churches.  After the Great Schism, Islam overwhelmed the Byzantine Empire.

Now, here’s the thought that occurred to me, in terms of the old Constantinople versus Rome debate.  For the next several centuries, Europe was saved from Islamic incursions by Catholic prayers, Lepanto being the most famous example.

So, here’s my thought: if, in the Great Schism, Constantinople had been “right,” then Rome would have fallen, the Hagia Sophia would be the center of Christianity and the Vatican would be one of the biggest mosques in the world.

Pascal’s Wager, Applied to Purgatory:

Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, philosopher and scientist who gave us probability theory, among other things, framed theism versus atheism as a “wager” (his own attempt at apologetics was incomplete, so he never was able to argue beyond theism).  Pascal’s Wager, that the odds are in one’s favor to be a theist because one has eternal happiness to gain and nothing to lose, but the atheist has nothing to gain and eternal torment if he loses, can be applied to many aspects of theology, and here I apply it to the question of Purgatory, since November is the month when Catholics pray for the Souls in Purgatory.

First, I’d like to address a possible misconception. Though the Bible, as we will see, does discuss forgiveness of sins after death, Purgatory is not that sins can be forgiven. Catholic teaching is that all sins must be repented before death. However, sins carry temporal punishment, and even without sin, we still ahve attachments to things and inclinations that sin that make us impure. Nothing Nothing unclean can enter heaven (Rev. 21:27), so souls must be purified by God after they die, or else anyone with a single sin or sinful desire would go to Hell. St. Paul tells us:
“13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.I
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Cor 3:13-15).

1) If you, O Protestant, are right, how am I in danger?
You say, all I have to do is believe in Jesus and ask His forgiveness, and I’ll be “saved.”
I say that I have to confess belief in Jesus, ask His forgivess, ask it through His Church as He commanded (John 20:23), and then live it (Mt 7:21).
So if there is no additional purification of forgiven sins (we’ll get back to that later), how can I be in danger by following Jesus’ teachings?

Purgatory is not an excuse for doing evil; it’s a reason to do good.

However, 2) If I am right, you might be in danger.
If you’re living your life on the assumption that you don’t have to strive to “be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48), then, if I’m right, and you die forgiven by Jesus but imperfect, He will perfect you in the fires of His Love before you can enjoy Heaven, and that process will be long. Even a few minutes in Purgatory, the Saints tell us, can be worse than years of suffering on Earth.
Moreover, since I believe that Christians on earth can and should pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory to alleviate their sufferings, that while they cannot help themselves, praying for them is one of the easiest acts of charity we can do.

Now, for some of the Biblical “proof texts” of Purgatory (though it should be noted that nowhere in the Bible is there anything about “proof texts” for doctrine, and chapters and verses were added by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, so chapters and versus would qualify as “man-made Catholic doctrine,” according to most Protestant critics of the Church):

2 Maccabees 12:38-46 refers to praying for the dead that they may be forgiven their sins, not as a commandment but as somethign that was already a Jewish practice. It continues as a Jewish practice to this day. This passage is one of the main reasons that Martin Luther excised Maccabees from the Bible.

As for the New Testament, in Luke 12:59 and Matthew 5:26, Our Lord refers to souls being imprisoned till they “pay the last penny.” In Matthew 12:31-32, He says that “the sin against the Holy Spirit,” whatever it is, cannot be forgiven in this age “or the age to come,” so it must be possible for sins to be forgiven “in the age to come”; that is, after death.
In 2 Timothy 1:18, St. Paul prays for Onesiphorus, who has died.

From http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-roots-of-purgatory
Testimony to Purgatory in the Early Church Fathers:
The Acts of Paul and Thecla
“And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again received her [Thecla]. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: ‘Mother, you shall have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the righteous’” (Acts of Paul and Thecla [A.D. 160]).
Abercius
“The citizen of a prominent city, I erected this while I lived, that I might have a resting place for my body. Abercius is my name, a disciple of the chaste Shepherd who feeds his sheep on the mountains and in the fields, who has great eyes surveying everywhere, who taught me the faithful writings of life. Standing by, I, Abercius, ordered this to be inscribed: Truly, I was in my seventy-second year. May everyone who is in accord with this and who understands it pray for Abercius” (Epitaph of Abercius [A.D. 190]).
The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity
“[T]hat very night, this was shown to me in a vision: I [Perpetua] saw Dinocrates going out from a gloomy place, where also there were several others, and he was parched and very thirsty, with a filthy countenance and pallid color, and the wound on his face which he had when he died. This Dinocrates had been my brother after the flesh, seven years of age, who died miserably with disease. . . . For him I had made my prayer, and between him and me there was a large interval, so that neither of us could approach to the other . . . and [I] knew that my brother was in suffering. But I trusted that my prayer would bring help to his suffering; and I prayed for him every day until we passed over into the prison of the camp, for we were to fight in the camp-show. Then . . . I made my prayer for my brother day and night, groaning and weeping that he might be granted to me. Then, on the day on which we remained in fetters, this was shown to me: I saw that the place which I had formerly observed to be in gloom was now bright; and Dinocrates, with a clean body well clad, was finding refreshment. . . . [And] he went away from the water to play joyously, after the manner of children, and I awoke. Then I understood that he was translated from the place of punishment” (The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity 2:3–4 [A.D. 202]).
Tertullian
“We offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries [the date of death—birth into eternal life]” (The Crown 3:3 [A.D. 211]).
“A woman, after the death of her husband . . . prays for his soul and asks that he may, while waiting, find rest; and that he may share in the first resurrection. And each year, on the anniversary of his death, she offers the sacrifice” (Monogamy 10:1–2 [A.D. 216]).
Cyprian of Carthage
“The strength of the truly believing remains unshaken; and with those who fear and love God with their whole heart, their integrity continues steady and strong. For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace [i.e., reconciliation] is given. Yet virginity is not therefore deficient in the Church, nor does the glorious design of continence languish through the sins of others. The Church, crowned with so many virgins, flourishes; and chastity and modesty preserve the tenor of their glory. Nor is the vigor of continence broken down because repentance and pardon are facilitated to the adulterer. It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory; it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord” (Letters 51[55]:20 [A.D. 253]).
Cyril of Jerusalem
“Then we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition; next, we make mention also of the holy fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep, and, to put it simply, of all among us who have already fallen asleep, for we believe that it will be of very great benefit to the souls of those for whom the petition is carried up, while this holy and most solemn sacrifice is laid out” (Catechetical Lectures 23:5:9 [A.D. 350]).
Gregory of Nyssa
“If a man distinguish in himself what is peculiarly human from that which is irrational, and if he be on the watch for a life of greater urbanity for himself, in this present life he will purify himself of any evil contracted, overcoming the irrational by reason. If he has inclined to the irrational pressure of the passions, using for the passions the cooperating hide of things irrational, he may afterward in a quite different manner be very much interested in what is better, when, after his departure out of the body, he gains knowledge of the difference between virtue and vice and finds that he is not able to partake of divinity until he has been purged of the filthy contagion in his soul by the purifying fire” (Sermon on the Dead [A.D. 382]).
John Chrysostom
“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice [Job 1:5], why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]).
“Weep for those who die in their wealth and who with all their wealth prepared no consolation for their own souls, who had the power to wash away their sins and did not will to do it. Let us weep for them, let us assist them to the extent of our ability, let us think of some assistance for them, small as it may be, yet let us somehow assist them. But how, and in what way? By praying for them and by entreating others to pray for them, by constantly giving alms to the poor on their behalf. Not in vain was it decreed by the apostles that in the awesome mysteries remembrance should be made of the departed. They knew that here there was much gain for them, much benefit. When the entire people stands with hands uplifted, a priestly assembly, and that awesome sacrificial Victim is laid out, how, when we are calling upon God, should we not succeed in their defense? But this is done for those who have departed in the faith, while even the catechumens are not reckoned as worthy of this consolation, but are deprived of every means of assistance except one. And what is that? We may give alms to the poor on their behalf” (Homilies on Philippians 3:9–10 [A.D. 402]).
Augustine
“There is an ecclesiastical discipline, as the faithful know, when the names of the martyrs are read aloud in that place at the altar of God, where prayer is not offered for them. Prayer, however, is offered for other dead who are remembered. It is wrong to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought ourselves be commended” (Sermons 159:1 [A.D. 411]).
“But by the prayers of the holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. The whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death” (ibid., 172:2).
“Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment” (The City of God 21:13 [A.D. 419]).
“That there should be some fire even after this life is not incredible, and it can be inquired into and either be discovered or left hidden whether some of the faithful may be saved, some more slowly and some more quickly in the greater or lesser degree in which they loved the good things that perish, through a certain purgatorial fire” (Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Charity 18:69 [A.D. 421]).
“The time which interposes between the death of a man and the final resurrection holds souls in hidden retreats, accordingly as each is deserving of rest or of hardship, in view of what it merited when it was living in the flesh. Nor can it be denied that the souls of the dead find relief through the piety of their friends and relatives who are still alive, when the Sacrifice of the Mediator [Mass] is offered for them, or when alms are given in the Church. But these things are of profit to those who, when they were alive, merited that they might afterward be able to be helped by these things. There is a certain manner of living, neither so good that there is no need of these helps after death, nor yet so wicked that these helps are of no avail after death” (ibid., 29:109).

First, a possible misconception. Though the Bible, as we will see, does discuss forgiveness of sins after death, Purgatory is not that sins can be forgiven. Catholic teaching is that all sins must be repented before death. However, sins carry temporal punishment, and even without sin, we still ahve attachments to things and inclinations that sin that make us impure. Nothing Nothing unclean can enter heaven (Rev. 21:27), so souls must be purified by God after they die, or else anyone with a single sin or sinful desire would go to Hell. St. Paul tells us:
“13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Cor 3:13-15).

1) If you, O Protestant, are right, how am I in danger?
You say, all I have to do is believe in Jesus and ask His forgiveness, and I’ll be “saved.”
I say that I have to confess belief in Jesus, ask His forgivess, ask it through His Church as He commanded (John 20:23), and then live it (Mt 7:21).
So if there is no additional purification of forgiven sins (we’ll get back to that later), how can I be in danger by following Jesus’ teachings?

Purgatory is not an excuse for doing evil; it’s a reason to do good.

However, 2) If I am right, you might be in danger.
If you’re living your life on the assumption that you don’t have to strive to “be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48), then, if I’m right, and you die forgiven by Jesus but imperfect, He will perfect you in the fires of His Love before you can enjoy Heaven, and that process will be long. Even a few minutes in Purgatory, the Saints tell us, can be worse than years of suffering on Earth.
Moreover, since I believe that Christians on earth can and should pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory to alleviate their sufferings, that while they cannot help themselves, praying for them is one of the easiest acts of charity we can do.

Now, for some of the Biblical “proof texts” of Purgatory (though it should be noted that nowhere in the Bible is there anything about “proof texts” for doctrine, and chapters and verses were added by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, so chapters and versus would qualify as “man-made Catholic doctrine,” according to most Protestant critics of the Church):

2 Maccabees 12:38-46 refers to praying for the dead that they may be forgiven their sins, not as a commandment but as somethign that was already a Jewish practice. It continues as a Jewish practice to this day. This passage is one of the main reasons that Martin Luther excised Maccabees from the Bible.
In 2 Timothy 1:18, St. Paul prays for Onesiphorus, who has died.

The earliest Christian theologians, the Church Fathers, wrote Purgatory as early as the second century, taking it for granted:

From http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-roots-of-purgatory
“And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again received her [Thecla]. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: ‘Mother, you shall have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the righteous’” (Acts of Paul and Thecla [A.D. 160]).
Abercius
“The citizen of a prominent city, I erected this while I lived, that I might have a resting place for my body. Abercius is my name, a disciple of the chaste Shepherd who feeds his sheep on the mountains and in the fields, who has great eyes surveying everywhere, who taught me the faithful writings of life. Standing by, I, Abercius, ordered this to be inscribed: Truly, I was in my seventy-second year. May everyone who is in accord with this and who understands it pray for Abercius” (Epitaph of Abercius [A.D. 190]).
The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity
“[T]hat very night, this was shown to me in a vision: I [Perpetua] saw Dinocrates going out from a gloomy place, where also there were several others, and he was parched and very thirsty, with a filthy countenance and pallid color, and the wound on his face which he had when he died. This Dinocrates had been my brother after the flesh, seven years of age, who died miserably with disease. . . . For him I had made my prayer, and between him and me there was a large interval, so that neither of us could approach to the other . . . and [I] knew that my brother was in suffering. But I trusted that my prayer would bring help to his suffering; and I prayed for him every day until we passed over into the prison of the camp, for we were to fight in the camp-show. Then . . . I made my prayer for my brother day and night, groaning and weeping that he might be granted to me. Then, on the day on which we remained in fetters, this was shown to me: I saw that the place which I had formerly observed to be in gloom was now bright; and Dinocrates, with a clean body well clad, was finding refreshment. . . . [And] he went away from the water to play joyously, after the manner of children, and I awoke. Then I understood that he was translated from the place of punishment” (The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity 2:3–4 [A.D. 202]).
Tertullian
“We offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries [the date of death—birth into eternal life]” (The Crown 3:3 [A.D. 211]).
“A woman, after the death of her husband . . . prays for his soul and asks that he may, while waiting, find rest; and that he may share in the first resurrection. And each year, on the anniversary of his death, she offers the sacrifice” (Monogamy 10:1–2 [A.D. 216]).
Cyprian of Carthage
“The strength of the truly believing remains unshaken; and with those who fear and love God with their whole heart, their integrity continues steady and strong. For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace [i.e., reconciliation] is given. Yet virginity is not therefore deficient in the Church, nor does the glorious design of continence languish through the sins of others. The Church, crowned with so many virgins, flourishes; and chastity and modesty preserve the tenor of their glory. Nor is the vigor of continence broken down because repentance and pardon are facilitated to the adulterer. It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory; it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord” (Letters 51[55]:20 [A.D. 253]).
Cyril of Jerusalem
“Then we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition; next, we make mention also of the holy fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep, and, to put it simply, of all among us who have already fallen asleep, for we believe that it will be of very great benefit to the souls of those for whom the petition is carried up, while this holy and most solemn sacrifice is laid out” (Catechetical Lectures 23:5:9 [A.D. 350]).
Gregory of Nyssa
“If a man distinguish in himself what is peculiarly human from that which is irrational, and if he be on the watch for a life of greater urbanity for himself, in this present life he will purify himself of any evil contracted, overcoming the irrational by reason. If he has inclined to the irrational pressure of the passions, using for the passions the cooperating hide of things irrational, he may afterward in a quite different manner be very much interested in what is better, when, after his departure out of the body, he gains knowledge of the difference between virtue and vice and finds that he is not able to partake of divinity until he has been purged of the filthy contagion in his soul by the purifying fire” (Sermon on the Dead [A.D. 382]).
John Chrysostom
“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice [Job 1:5], why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]).
“Weep for those who die in their wealth and who with all their wealth prepared no consolation for their own souls, who had the power to wash away their sins and did not will to do it. Let us weep for them, let us assist them to the extent of our ability, let us think of some assistance for them, small as it may be, yet let us somehow assist them. But how, and in what way? By praying for them and by entreating others to pray for them, by constantly giving alms to the poor on their behalf. Not in vain was it decreed by the apostles that in the awesome mysteries remembrance should be made of the departed. They knew that here there was much gain for them, much benefit. When the entire people stands with hands uplifted, a priestly assembly, and that awesome sacrificial Victim is laid out, how, when we are calling upon God, should we not succeed in their defense? But this is done for those who have departed in the faith, while even the catechumens are not reckoned as worthy of this consolation, but are deprived of every means of assistance except one. And what is that? We may give alms to the poor on their behalf” (Homilies on Philippians 3:9–10 [A.D. 402]).
Augustine
“There is an ecclesiastical discipline, as the faithful know, when the names of the martyrs are read aloud in that place at the altar of God, where prayer is not offered for them. Prayer, however, is offered for other dead who are remembered. It is wrong to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought ourselves be commended” (Sermons 159:1 [A.D. 411]).
“But by the prayers of the holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. The whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death” (ibid., 172:2).
“Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment” (The City of God 21:13 [A.D. 419]).
“That there should be some fire even after this life is not incredible, and it can be inquired into and either be discovered or left hidden whether some of the faithful may be saved, some more slowly and some more quickly in the greater or lesser degree in which they loved the good things that perish, through a certain purgatorial fire” (Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Charity 18:69 [A.D. 421]).
“The time which interposes between the death of a man and the final resurrection holds souls in hidden retreats, accordingly as each is deserving of rest or of hardship, in view of what it merited when it was living in the flesh. Nor can it be denied that the souls of the dead find relief through the piety of their friends and relatives who are still alive, when the Sacrifice of the Mediator [Mass] is offered for them, or when alms are given in the Church. But these things are of profit to those who, when they were alive, merited that they might afterward be able to be helped by these things. There is a certain manner of living, neither so good that there is no need of these helps after death, nor yet so wicked that these helps are of no avail after death” (ibid., 29:109).

Let’s say the “worst case scenario” happens . . .

I happened to pray the Office of Readings for the first time in ages today, and it was a very appropriate reading from St. Gregory the Great that could have been written about the church today:

Beloved brothers, consider what has been said: Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest. Pray for us so that we may have the strength to work on your behalf, that our tongue may not grow weary of exhortation, and that after we have accepted the office of preaching, our silence may not condemn us before the just judge. For frequently the preacher’s tongue is bound fast on account of his own wickedness; while on the other hand it sometimes happens that because of the people’s sins, the word of preaching is withdrawn from those who preside over the assembly. With reference to the former situation, the psalmist says: But God asks the sinner: Why do you recite my commandments? And with reference to the latter, the Lord tells Ezekiel: I will make your tongue cleave to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be dumb and unable to reprove them, for they are a rebellious house. He clearly means this: the word of preaching will be taken away from you because as long as this people irritates me by their deeds, they are unworthy to hear the exhortation of truth. It is not easy to know for whose sinfulness the preacher’s word is withheld, but it is indisputable that the shepherd’s silence while often injurious to himself will always harm his flock.
There is something else about the life of the shepherds, dearest brothers, which discourages me greatly. But lest what I claim should seem unjust to anyone, I will accuse myself of the very same thing, although I fall into it unwillingly—compelled by the urgency of these barbarous times. I speak of our absorption in external affairs; we accept the duties of office, but by our actions we show that we are attentive to other things. We abandon the ministry of preaching and, in my opinion, are called bishops to our detriment, for we retain the honorable office but fail to practice the virtues proper to it. Those who have been entrusted to us abandon God, and we are silent. They fall into sin, and we do not extend a hand of rebuke.
– See more at: http://divineoffice.org/ord-w27-sat-or/?title=Oct+10%2C+Office+of+Readings+for+Blessed+Virgin+Mary&date=20151010#sthash.zuBnCfii.dpuf

And in the midst of the debates about the Synod, there’s something I’ve never understood about people’s understanding of Papal primacy and infallibility. The “Old Catholics” broke off because they rejected Vatican I’s declaration of Infallibility. Then the “traditionalists” broke off, or whatever, because by their understanding of papal infallibility, and previous papal statements about modernism, religious liberty, etc., Vatican II was in violation of Vatican I, and they developed various approaches to the question. Now, I take the doctrines of infallibility and indefectibility to mean that the Holy Spirit will protect the Church from falling into error–She just can’t. It has never happened in many situations similar to our own–though some crises have come close, and there was even at least one pope in history who was a material heretic.
Now, let’s say that the Synod does something directly at odds with the words of Christ in the name of Mercy. In practice, it means no more than a regional or national bishops’ conference. After all, B16’s Synod on Liturgy came up with some pretty strong statements that have been mostly ignored, such as calling for an end to “bilingual” Masses, and saying that it needs to be Latin, one vernacular and Latin, but not multiple vernaculars, and any congregation with significantly multiple languages should be Latin–how many diocese have implemented those guidelines?
Now, let’s say Francis, either with the support of the Synod, or unilaterally, does something that directly contradicts the words of Christ. *I am not saying I think it will happen*, but it is not outside the realm of possibility.
What becomes of infallibility and indefectibility?
The way I have always seen it, both the Vatican I schisms that we now consider to be morally “liberal” groups, and the Vatican II schisms and “not in schism but not fully in communion” groups that we call “traditionalist” are taking intellectually dishonest positions.
If Vatican II was heretical, then just saying, “It’s pastoral and not doctrinal” isn’t enough–“pastoral and not doctrinal” means that it is formulating authentic teaching, and promoting an approach to methodology, that is not necessarily “wrong” but one is free to disagree with. If one truly believes that teaching contradicts previous anathemas, one cannot simply say, “it’s pastoral and not doctrinally binding.” That only works for rectifying the apparent contradiction in approach.
That’s why the sedevacantists say that the “Seat is vacant,” and compare to times when there were exceptionally long papal interregnums, the Great Western schism, the Cadavar Trial and surrounding events, etc. Yet the sedevacantist position is that Vatican I was right.
What if Vatican I was wrong? Then we get to the “Old Catholic” position that Vatican I was wrong to say the Pope has unilateral infallibility, yet they hold to the teachings of Trent.
What I have not understood for a long time is how either group still clings to Trent.
If it’s possible for a Council to err, what makes this Council erroneous and not that one?
Between “in union with Rome” Catholics, anti-Vatican II traditionalists, anti-Vatican I “Old Catholics,” Protestant of various sorts, Greek and Russian Orthodox, and “Oriental” Orthodox (Copts and Chaldeans), Rome and Byzantium had the strongest and most intellectually consistent claims.
For me, though, one of the key proofs of Rome’s being the true Church of Christ is that She holds fast to Christ’s teachings on the indissolubility of marriage. If that ceases to be true, it creates a theological rift that simple sedevacantism cannot rectify. It cannot simply be “The Pope of Rome is infallible until I disagree with him.” It *has* to be, “maye he was never infallible to begin with.”

To the Baptists who came to our yard sale this morning

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Dear missionaries of Lighthouse Baptist:

First, let me say, I commend your faith. I commend your courage and bravery in coming to strangers’ homes and trying to win them over to Jesus.
Further, compared to others like yourselves, I commend you for accepting that I am already a Christian. Too often, when I’ve been approached by evangelicals, if I say, “I’m already a Christian” or “I already have a church,” there is a certain kind of anger that bubbles up. A “transitional” deacon friend who was my Catholic hospital chaplain when I was in cardiac rehab 2 years ago described the same when he visited some non-Catholic patients on the floor.
I hope that, if I had my voice and had spoken the words, “I’m a Catholic,” you would have kept that smile and “we’re brothers in the Lord” attitude.

2 and a half years ago, before I lost my left vocal cord, I would have welcomed a conversation. Hopefully, it would have proceeded in mutually respectful dialogue.

However, I’d like to point out a few things:
1. Jumping in with “You have to believe in Jesus because there’s a judgment coming” isn’t the best way to approach people.
2. You handed me a pamphlet and said it had “All the verses you need to know.” I had intended to look at your pamphlet but misplaced it, so I dug around your website, and found a list. Assuming it’s the same list, I have a few questions, which I might have asked had the conversation proceeded in such manner.
a) If I had been a nonbeliever, why would I care what the Bible says at all?
b) As I am a believer, where in the Bible does the Bible speak of “verses”? Why must I only “need to know” a few out of context verses? Are you aware that “verse numbers” were added to the Bible by Medieval Catholic theologians to help make it easier to reference?
I know that ” All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). I know that St. Paul says, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thess 2:15), and that Peter says: “19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:19-20).
So how can it be “just me and Jesus,” when Jesus said, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” (Mark 14:24). Yes, He knew Me from before time, and yes, if I had been the only sinner ever, Christ would have still died for me, but He died for many, including me, not just me.
c) If all I have to is confess faith in Jesus, why bother coming to your church?
And what about where Jesus Himself says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

3. I would hope that, having shared your verses with me, you would be interested in hearing some of the verses upon which I base my life and faith. For example, one of my favorites is Gen 3:15, which is also on your list. I suppose then, that you honor the Woman (Jn 2:3) whom the beloved disciple must take as his mother? (Jn 19:26-27).

Another verse I find interesting is John 20:30-31:
“30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

Interesting that the Gospel which my evangelical brethren seem most ready to dismiss and most ready to downplay (other than John 1 and 3:16) is the one in which Jesus says the above words from the Cross to the author of the Gospel.

One of the things I have learned from having vocal cord paralysis is how painful it is to speak when you can’t breathe. I cannot breathe and speak at the same time. When I speak too long, it becomes deathly painful because I asphyxiate a bit. Every word I speak these days is deliberate. Someone being crucified asphyxiates. Jesus was asphyxiating on the Cross, and took the time to say, “Woman, behold your son,” and “Man, behold your mother,” and the disciple who calls himself the beloved, who tells us that his Gospel only includes Jesus’s most important sayings, tells us he took her into his home. In that context, was the Man who said, “Let the dead bury their dead,” and Who knew fully well His death was coming and could have done it before, *really* just tending to His mother’s temporal care, especially by putting her into the care of a non-related apostle when He had, as the Scriptures tell us, “brothers”?

Oh, speaking of “brothers,” Jesus and His followers spoke Aramaic. We know they were not multilingual since, on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles astonished everyone by suddenly being not just multilingual, but people of different languages were hearing their own tongues when the Apostles spoke.

So, while the Gospels were originally written in Greek, they were written by people whose native tongue was Aramaic, recounting stories they’d heard or witnessed that originally *happened* in Aramaic.

So in Aramaic, there is one word for “kinsmen” or “brethren.” When the Apostles wrote their accounts in “Greek,” they translated the Aramaic for “brethren” as the Greek for “brothers,” identifying James, Simon, Joseph, and as “Jesus’ brothers.” Note there are no “brothers” mentioned in the Finding in the Temple. Note that they never identify “James, Simon,” etc. as “Mary’s children.”  If James, Simon and Jude were Mary’s biological sons, why would Jesus have given her to John to take care of, especially when John’s own mother was standing by the Cross, as well? (John 20:20). Also note that Jews do not name babies after their fathers, but only after deceased family members: St. Joseph could not have had a son named “Joseph” and been the just law-abiding Jew that Scripture tells he was!

Surely, there must be something to the fact that the early Church decided that she whom Elizabeth identified as Mother of the LORD (Lk 1:43).

4. Another passage that struck me as conveniently out of context is your inclusion of Matthew 16:21-26, but not Matthew 16:13-20:

Matthew 16King James Version (KJV)

16 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.

2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

This is another case where knowing that Jesus spoke Aramaic is important. The Aramaic Cephas, “bedrock,” is gender neutral. Greek “Petra” for bedrock is feminine, so Matthew translated “Cephas” to “Petros,” masculine, the first ever occurrence of that name in Greek, and the first ever use of “Cephas” as a name in Hebrew. Elsewhere in Scripture, it is rendered “Cephas,” rather than Peter, though I’ve encountered people who insist that the Cephas St. Paul refers to is someone else.

Thus, Jesus, who promised to raise up descendents to Abraham from the stones told Simon that he was to be called stone and on this stone Jesus would build His Church.

21. Lastly, in John the Gospel which only told us the important stuff, Jesus gave us the “Bread of Life” discourse (John 6; whole chapter)

53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

When the people take offense, Jesus “doubles down,” as they say. When the Apostles take offense, Jesus points to Judas as a “Devil.”

Then, in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, St. Paul tells us the importance of the Eucharistic meal. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16). This is no mere community pot luck, he tells us, for we can eat at home (1 (Cor 11:22).

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

1 Cor 11:23-29

5. One other passage I find that my evangelical brethren love to cite, which is on your website, is some variant of Romans 3 (23-25, in this case), to try to emphasize “sola fide,” yet I never hear anyone cite Romans 3:31: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law,” and Our Lord Himself says,
“17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18).

5. Thank you for taking the time to consider these passages as I have considered the passages you sent me, many times in fact, as I’ve made a point since I was a young boy of being familiar with the Scriptures. God bless you in your ministry. I pray you find the fullness of Christ’s truth.

I would like to reciprocate your invitation: come experience the Real Presence of Jesus. If you’re not ready for Mass yet, come visit one of our local churches during Adoration and just spend time in silent prayer. See what the Holy Spirit can do:

St. Mary Help of Christians, Aiken, SC

St. Gerard, Aiken

Our Lady of the Valley, Gloverville

Our Lady of Peace, North Augusta

St. Edward, Murphy Village

The Most Holy Trinity, Augusta, GA

St. Mary on the Hill, Augusta

St. Ignatios

Or else, enter your zip code into http://masstimes.org/

Where is the Immaculate Conception in the Bible?

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Gen 3:15, KJV)

Enmity:
“a feeling or condition of hostility; hatred; ill will; animosity; antagonism.” (Dictionary.com)

If “Jesus answered them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin,'” (John 8:45, KJV) and ” all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, KJV), how can a woman who sinned, before Christ, have been at enmity with the Devil, unless by a special grace from God?

They’ll know We Are Christians by Our  Blocks?  “Unity” and the Francis Effect

Somewhere in 2013/14, my Landlord asked me, casually, my opinion of Pope Francis. I wasn’t in a mood to elaborate, so I shrugged. My answer would be the same today.

1) I am troubled by the things lots of others are troubled by, and there are plenty of red flags but also plenty to be happy about. Pope Francis is, ultimately, a typical “good” priest of his generation, especially a Jesuit, someone I’d probably admire as a pastor or bishop, but as Pope?

2) the current papacy challenges certain notions we have of what a Pope should be like, and I think that’s a good thing.  For one,we really shouldn’t assess Popes as if they’re politicians even if they are.

3) It’s been two years. He is only the third Pope to have 24/7 scrutiny in the new media or even cable news. It’s interesting that sedevacantism only really became a “thing” with the rise of television. Suddenly, day to day papal activities that were previously ignored are international headlines. A casual Papal remark, like a movie star’s wisecrack on a press junket, gets dissected in the media.  Would “Pio Nono” have worn a clown nose to amuse suck kids or accepted a photo op with an environmentalist group?  I think probably, but we can’t know because photography as we know it didn’t exist then.  Might Leo XIII have made a throwaway comment about not judging people who are sincerely trying to follow God but struggling with sin?  Would St. Pius Zx have changed Eucharistic discipline?  Oh, wait, he did.

Regardless, 2 years is a short time.  Look at John Paul II in 1980 versus 1990 versus 20000.  People expected  Paul VI to permit contraception for like 5 years then were devastated by Humanae Vitae.  Though comments from numerous cardinals are giving the appearance otherwise, I still expect a repeat of that.

4). What if he doesn’t?  Either we go in with this muddled confusion till the next Conclave elects Cardinal Burke, or else he does something unquestionably wrong and shows all the antiPope prophecies are true, which means something really good would be coming after a short time if trial.  

Nevertheless, what I find troubling most of all about the “Francis Effect” is that it’s affecting people.   From top-down, regardless of where the proverbial buck stops, people are being told to stop talking about certain issues, that the pope has changed this or that, . . . It’s the 80s all over again.  In the midst of all that, I see people who should be 99.999999% in agreement and uniting with common cause instead unfriending and blocking each other over things the Pope has said.  Ultramontanist, the equivalent of “Papist,” is being used as a pejorative by people who once wore it as a badge of honor, who in turn are being accused of heres, not trusting the Holy Spirit, etc.

It’s very sad.  “If they’ll know we are Christians by our love,” what does that tell us?  Are love and peace and mercy flowing like a river through you and me?

On Riots, Racism, and Standardized Testing: All you need is Love, and that means Christ

Our nation is in turmoil.  Everything distopian novelists and “crazy conspiracy theorists” have written about seems to be coming true.  Early in the Obama administration, for example, people said he’d create a national crisis to declare Martial Law and establish a dictatorship.  Well, the tensions are arising, and Obama  established aprogram under everyone’s noses to begin nationalizing local police forces.  Major cities keep erupting in race riots.  The Supreme Court is likely to overturn every state law on marriage and establish yet another fictious constitutional “Right.” Some people are being driven out of business for expressing thir Christian beliefs while other businesses are denying Christians their services.   Hillary Clinton says if (and when) she’s “elected” President, she wants to force all religions to accept abortion.

All of it just shows society’ need for Christ.   

Attempts to “fix” broken schools with more money and more legislative interference for 50-60 years have only made things worse.  All we have is a “race to nowhere” with high stakes standardized tests that demonstrate nothing about real learning, line the pockets of educational conglomerates, and cause students to burn out, or worse, from the stress.  When I was in elementary school, the teachers would say, discussing the differences between the US and Communist countries, taht Communists made students take tests that determined their entire lives.  When I was a young adult, a teacher friend went through a few years where a faculty member had a heart attack or stroke during standardized testing, because it was so stressful.  

We can’t fix something unless we know why it’s broken, and what’s broken is a lack of transcendent values.   
If the reason people riot is lack of advantage, or discrimination by police, what is served by looting or burning small businesses and charities?  One of the reasons the July 1832 revolt that Hugo immortalized failed was that most of “the people” were mad at the students for stealing their stuff.  But, at least they knew whom they were revolting against (a just, Catholic king who was popular for giving he people more rights than the “Republic” or Napoleon) and why (they believed that secular government could and should end poverty). I saw a meme pointing out how people riot over sports games, and implying that race riots at least have a point.  The way I see it, it’s equally meaningless: unbridled anger, expressed in random violence.  If revolution is ever effective or just–and the Church has always been wary of revolution, even in the case of the Cristeros–it needs to be focused on the right enemy.  

I often refer to Catechism 676, the passage that tells us to beware of any movement that claims to try and solve all the world’s problems through  secular means because that is the “spirit of Antichrist.”  This was the reason the Church condemned Freemasonry.  It’s what Pope Benedict XVI expounded on in _Caritas in Veritate_, saying taht charity must be from love and truth, both of which are personfied in Christ, and that since the Church is the arbiter of Christ’s teachings and the Natural Law, economic justice cannot be divorced from the Church.

Prayer, fasting and forgiveness are the only solutions to these crises.  The more we abandon Christ as a society, the worse thigns will get.  If as 1 Samuel warns us, we choose a “King” over God, the warnings Samuel gave to the Israelites will continue to be proven. 

“Where are we, Daddy?” “We’re in a metaphor.”

Twice a week, alternating groups of 2 of my 4 kids go to Occupational Therapy. The office is on a fairly major and busy highway, and it’s a quick turn. I briefly confused my landmarks this morning, and I missed it, so I took a right into the next neighborhood. I thought I could take another couple rights and come out behind the office, but it didn’t work out that way, and somehow I ended up further down the highway than I was before, so I took a left at the next light and turned around in a little trailer park, which itself apparently had a one way road, and I was going the wrong way.

When I was turning back onto the main road, one of my daughters asked, “Where are we, Daddy?”

“We’re in a metaphor,” I replied.

The thought had just occurred to me how that exemplifies the metaphorical “wrong turns” we make in life. C. S. Lewis says that being “progressive” implies a goal, and if we find we’re not progressing towards the goal, sometimes being progressive means turning around and going back, even quite far back, to get there.

We know the way to go, whether in our spiritual, professional or family lives, and we know where we’re heading, yet we sometimes lose sight of the goal and get off track. Then, rather than simply stopping and turning around, we feel trapped where we are, or we think we can find an alternate path to the goal, but there is none, so either way we get ourselves further lost and further off course, when we just need to turn around and go back to where we got off track.

We often hear things like, “We’re all in different boats going to the same place,” but that’s not true. There is ultimately only one true path in life, and it is a narrow way–He is a narrow way. “I am the gate,” He tells us. Anyone who tries to hop the fence or bypass the gatekeeper is a thief, He tells us. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.”

One at a time

Yes, faith is ultimately an individual gift and an individual choice, but as St. Francis Xavier laments, there are so many who aren’t even given the chance to make the choice. As Ven. Fulton Sheen tells us, there are millions who reject the Church not because of what She is but what they think She is. Worldwide, 1 in 7 people claims to be Catholic. What if every person who claims to be Catholic reached out to *one* non-Catholic a year? What if every weekly mass attending, daily praying Catholic reached out to just one “lapsed Catholic” a year?
Invite someone to mass with you. Invite them to pray the Rosary or the Office with you. Give them books–not just apologetics but spirituality, lives of the saints, etc.
What if, as parishes (and this takes both volunteers and pastoral support) did the sorts of “parish life” activities that Protestants, Mormons and Muslims attract members by having, but Catholics usually dismiss as “proselytism”?

“Go and preach the good news to the world.”

Pray for Peace and Reparation!

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. And by the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins , save us from the fire of hell. Take all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.
O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Pray the Rosary for Peace! Please!

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Pray for peace; forgive each other, please!

I give you a new commandment:* love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
-John 13:34

“Forgive as you would be forgiven” (Luke 6:37)

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Mat 6:14)

[21] Then came Peter unto him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? [22] Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times. [23] Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. [24] And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought to him, that owed him ten thousand talents. [25] And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

[26] But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. [27] And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go and forgave him the debt. [28] But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow servants that owed him an hundred pence: and laying hold of him, throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. [29] And his fellow servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. [30] And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt.

[31] Now his fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came and told their lord all that was done. [32] Then his lord called him; and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: [33] Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? [34] And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. [35] So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

(Matthew 18:21-35)

St. Louis IX, pray for us!
St. Katharine Drexel, pray for us!
St. Florian, pray for us!
St. Martin de Porres, pray for us!
St. Peter Claver, pray for us!
St. Andrew Corsini, pray for us!
Our Lady of Peace, pray for us!
Viva Cristo Rey!

Psalm 30

2 I will extol you, LORD, for you have raised me up,
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
3 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
4 O LORD, you have lifted up my soul from the grave,
restored me to life from those who sink into the pit.
5 Sing psalms to the LORD, you faithful ones;
give thanks to his holy name.
6 His anger lasts a moment; his favor all through life.
At night come tears, but dawn brings joy.
7 I said to myself in my good fortune:
“I shall never be shaken.”
8 O LORD, your favor had set me like a mountain stronghold.
Then you hid your face, and I was put to confusion.
9 To you, O LORD, I cried,
to my God I appealed for mercy:
10 “What profit is my lifeblood, my going to the grave?
Can dust give you thanks, or proclaim your faithfulness?”
11 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me;
be my helper, O LORD.
12 You have changed my mourning into dancing,
removed my sackcloth and girded me with joy.
13 So my soul sings psalms to you, and will not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will thank you forever.

Psalm 142

2 With all my voice I cry to the LORD;
with all my voice I entreat the LORD.
3 I pour out my trouble before him;
I tell him all my distress
4 while my spirit faints within me.
But you, O LORD, know my path.
On the way where I shall walk,
they have hidden a snare to entrap me.
5 Look on my right hand and see:
there is no one who pays me heed.
No escape remains open to me;
no one cares for my soul.
6 To you I cry, O LORD.
I have said, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
7 Listen, then, to my cry,
for I am brought down very low.
Rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are stronger than I.
8 Bring my soul out of prison,
and I shall give thanks to your name.
Around me the just will assemble,
because of your goodness to me.

St. Francis and the Sultan; the question of conversion

I’ve long been familiar with the account of St. Francis going to Sultan in Egypt, demonstrating his faith, and gaining free passage through the Holy Land (a right which has historically extended to all Franciscans).  Last week, however, I picked up on a detail I’d never noticed before, from at least two sources: the Sultan spiritually accepted Christ.  From a later Evangelical perspective, one could argue the Sultan had been “saved.”  He did not want to openly convert, however, because not only would he have been killed, but so would Francis, and he knew the Saint had greater work ahead.

Scandal versus Scandal, and Controversial Cardinals

I believe that, 10 or 20 years in the future, people will look back on “the Francis Effect” as they now look at “the Spirit of Vatican II.”  In the meantime, we seem to be reliving the 1960s and 70s.
Two cases in point: the upcoming Synod on the Family, which is supposed to be about determining how to more effectively articulate the Church’s teachings, but the media and some cardinals–most notably Walter Cardinal Kasper–are trying to make it about changing teaching.  Meanwhile, there are the still-unofficial rumors that Raymond Cardinal Burke will be removed from his post as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, in the wake of a book that Burke and other “conservatives” published that upholds the Church’s teachings against Cardinal Kasper’s “approach” to divorce.
Simultaneously, Timothy Cardinal Dolan will grand marshal the first ever New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade to include “gays” marching as homosexuals.  Dolan defends this position by appealing to the “Francis Effect,” and the idea–which he used a year ago to applaud openly homosexual football player Michael Sam for his “courage”–that the Church says it’s OK to identify with a disordered inclination so long as one doesn’t act on it.  Kevin O’Brien asks if he can start a chapter of Irish Adulterers and march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, since–following Cardinal Dolan’s reasoning–having a disordered inclination to adultery makes one an “adulterer.”
Sadly, though, Dolan’s reasoning is not that far off from Kasper’s.  Kasper contends that we cannot know for certain if a couple who are divorced and remarried are living in a Josephite marriage.  Kasper has

accused his opponents of faulty interpretation of Scripture, saying, “We cannot simply take one phrase of the Gospel of Jesus and from that deduce everything.” That would be Luke 16:18, which quotes Jesus saying, “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

He apparently has not read St. John Paul II’s _Theology of the Body_, since that’s exactly what John Paul does (though “induce” would probably be the more accurate verb).  Cardinal Kasper heads into dangerous ground by suggesting that those who are divorced and remarried “don’t look like they’re committing adultery,” that somehow superficial happiness and later fidelity can atone for the previous infidelity–neo-pelagianism, indeed!

So, on the one hand, we have “you can be a homosexual, and be in a ‘homosexual relationship,’ and not act on it.”  Then we have “you can be divorced and remarried and not act on it.”  Both propositions are *technically* true.

Then we have the more important question, one of the foundational questions of Christian spirituality and praxis and the juridical question of Catholic governance.  If we set aside Cardinal Kasper’s 1960s theology of “conscience,” let’s focus on the objective viewpoint.  Technically, he’s correct that people can sometimes live in Josephite marriages or similar situations.  Technically, he’s correct that we shouldn’t assume the worst of other people.  However, in practice, his views defy common sense.

Why would someone get divorced and remarried and not act on it? Even if it is possible, and people are willing to (sometimes, they are), the Church should still say, “this is what you’re supposed to do in this situation.”

This is a paradox at work in much of “pastoral” theology and canon law: two meanings of the word “scandal.”  To the world, and many members of the clergy, scandal means rumor-mongering.   If Y knows X is divorced and remarried with no annulment and Y sees X receiving Communion, it is true that Y is possibly breaking the 8th Commandment in one or more respects to be scandalized by it in the secular sense and definitely breaking the 8th Commandment to gossip about it.

However, in traditional Catholic parlance, “scandal” means behavior that encourages other people to sin.  Maybe N is thinking about divorce and follows X’s example.  Maybe B *is* divorced and remarried and thinks it’s OK.  . . .

There are other times where the Church says precisely that we shouldn’t endanger people’s souls by encouraging people to put themselves into a possible occasion of sin, or of setting a bad example.  Another topic being hotly debated in mass and social media is Pope Francis’s example of officiating a wedding of couples who have been cohabiting.  Conventionally, pastors have discouraged marriage of cohabiting couples, although canonically they cannot refuse to marry anyone.  Sacramentally, as with any sacrament, a state of grace is necessary to confer the Sacrament of Matrimony, which is why couples are expected to go to Confession before their weddings.   The reasoning behind discouraging such practices is to discourage setting a bad example.  Since our society is heavily scandalized in that regard already, and in some ways always has been, I suspect the Holy Father is right that it’s better to encourage marriage.

Nevertheless, there is that understanding that people of opposite sexes who are not related by law or biology should usually not live under the same roof because they put themselves into situations of temptation and setting a bad example.

More surprisingly, I was reading an article somewhere recently about the notion of impediments–how, just as an annulment can be granted for inability to consummate, supposedly one of the few reasons the Church will preemptively deny a request for marriage is if one of the spouses is known to be incapable of consummation.  To the question of how that’s to be known without presuming attempts at fornication, I was told that obvious cases include people who are mutilated or paralyzed.

Apparently, go figure, the reasoning is that the non-deformed partner cannot be expected to go through life with a person of the opposite sex and not act on it, that he or she cannot be expected to contract marriage and be continent!  Of course, any argument in favor of such a relationship raises complex issues about those who struggle with same sex attraction, and “what about those who become deformed after marriage” was answered with little more than “That’s complicated.”

So, we cannot expect heterosexuals to live in continence (even though it has been done), but we cannot presume those who are married are having marital relationships, and we can expect people who identify as homosexual, have homosexual “significant others,” kiss in public, and so on, to be courageously living in chastity.

On the other end of the spectrum is Cardinal Burke, who argues in favor of presuming sacramentality in the vast majority of cases.  Perhaps such a presumption is good, but there is much to be said for simplification of the annulment process.

The Miraculous Medal Challenge

I want to suggest a new social media “challenge” to pass along to your friends.  You may be familiar with the miraculous conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne, co-founder of the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, who was challenged by an acquaintance to wear the Miraculous Medal and say the Memorare twice a day.  I have read several versions, but apparently, he was given the challenge on January 8, 1842, and experienced a vision of the Blessed Virgin, and miraculous conversion, on January 20.
If you, gentle reader, are Catholic, get yourself a supply of inexpensive (even free) Miraculous Medals.  Get them blessed.  If you’re *not* Catholic, and are brave enough to try the challenge, get one.  Again, you can request one free from the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal.
Then just say this prayer twice a day:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.  Amen.

If, like Alphonse, you or the acquaintance you’re challenging are a skeptic, atheist, secularist, lapsed Catholic, etc., then you’re just wearing a harmless “charm” for a few weeks and taking about 60 seconds out of your day to recite some pretty worms.  It won’t do you any harm and may do some great good.

If you prefer something more Biblical, try reciting Luke 1:28 and 1:42. 🙂

Just give it a try.  Set aside all the arguments and ask Our Lady to help you know her Son better, in the morning and in the evening, all while wearing her medal.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Again Catholic readers, order some Memorare cards to pass out to your friends you “challenge.

Pass on this link to others.  Explain it in your own words. Just do it.  Imagine what we Catholics could accomplish with a little bit of faith and a little bit of courage to ask our friends to do this seemingly simple pair of activities.  It should come as naturally to us as recommending a book or a movie or a TV show, right?

Is Pope Francis “too vague”?

A common complaint about Pope Francis is that he’s too vague.  For some, that complaint means “he speaks outside my set categories, so I don’t want to agree with him.”  For others, it means just that: he’s vague.  He sends mixed messages, at least as they’re received.  For anyone following the trends of his papacy, it clearly echoes the papacy of Paul VI and the early years of St. John Paul II: appointments of bishops who lean to the “left” politically and liturgically; demotion (generally) of bishops and curial officials who lean to the “right” politically and liturgically; statements that are worded with lots of “wiggle room.”   People forget that they made the same complaints about JPII when he was still getting adjusted to the Papacy.
Still, to the extent that I agree with those complaints, a common response is to say, “You’re being like the Pharisees, who complained Jesus was too vague.”
Actually, they didn’t.
It was the *disciples* who complained that the parables were too hard to understand (cf. Matthew 13:10,36).
The Pharisees understood *exactly* what Jesus was saying.  They took offense not at His symbolism, but His clarity.  When He spoke to them directly, He used no uncertain terms.  As Amy Jill Levine, author of a recent book on the parables, points out, for the 1st Century Jews, a Samaritan was scum.  It would be like someone  preaching in modern day Israel and saying, “A member of Hamas was walking along,” or telling an American, “an al Qaeda member. . . .”
The *Pharisees* were, so to speak, vague.  Their hypocrisy was based upon finding exceptions for themselves and holding others to stricter standards (the classic example of Qorban–essentially “laundering money” or embezzling through the Temple).  When they preached, it was always, “Rabbi Simeon says X, but Rabbi Judah says Y. . . .”
Jesus said, “You have heard it said X, but I say to you. . . .”
That, as Fr. Robert Barron points out in _Catholicism_, is why they are amazed at His teaching “with authority” (Matthew 7:29).
And when He speaks with authority, He always says something stricter.  It always rankles me when people say, “The Church’s attitude towards divorce is very Old Testament.  It’s not what Jesus would do.”  Uh, yes, it is.  The modern attitude towards divorce is “very Old Testament.”
Our Lady told Bl. Francisco that he would have to say “many Rosaries” to avoid Purgatory.  Our Lord showed St. Faustina the *years* she would spend in Purgatory for a single venial sin and offered her the choice between a longer life here or dying and spending *more* time suffering in Purgatory.
I still believe that Pope Francis is going to surprise everyone doctrinally, as Paul VI and JPII did, and  I pray that, given time, his appointments will reflect more what we saw with JPII, though in some cases, years of damage may have already been done–and years in this life could equate to eternity in the case of some souls and years of purgatory for others.

The SSPX, like the Dwarves in _The Last Battle_, will refuse to be taken in

Haven’t written much lately, and have several posts saved as drafts, but wanted to post some thoughts on a report that talks are still continuing informally between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X’s superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay.

When he spoke in Columbia several years ago, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, said that, in his experience, the higher you go in any given “denomination,” you’re generally more likely to find people who are reasonable and open to dialogue. He told a story of giving an address to a Baptist seminary once on the Marian dogmas and how they reinforce authentic Christology. He said the ordained ministers and the theology professors all nodded in agreement. The students and other laity present got angrier and angrier as his talk progressed.
I’ve only ever met one SSPX family “IRL” that I can recall. It was at the Traditional Latin Mass the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP; the Order established by St. John Paul II for former SSPX members who were willing to return) used to offer monthly in Columbia–ironically, after Summorum Pontificum, they said they could no longer afford to drive from Atlanta every month unless the attendance increased. They offered to train one of the local priests. The only one who was willing was transferred, and no other pastor would volunteer to host or celebrate the Extraordinary Form.
Anyway, one of the only times I brought my whole family, there was this “nice” young family visiting their family for the holidays (I am not being politically correct; I forget which holiday it was). Our kids played with their kids while we talked after Mass.
They told us, “We only came here because there wasn’t an SSPX parish nearby. . . . ” They actually said they felt guilty for attending a “fake” Latin Mass and that, back home, they had both FSSP and SSPX but attended the latter. That, to me, summed up the problem and crushed any hope of formal reconciliation.
Bishop Fellay seems like a man of good will. He may get some of the other bishops and many of the priests to agree to reconciliation with Rome, but the priests and the laity already have the freedom to rejoin “full communion” (I’m choosing my words carefully) if they want. The priests can join the FSSP. The laity can just come to a local EF, but they won’t, because they fundamentally oppose the “New Church.” If Rome tomorrow said, “The suspension of SSPX is lifted, and they are in full communion and enjoy full canonical status as a [personal prelature or ordinariate],” there would still be Ross Perot’s “Giant Sucking Sound” of people defecting to Williamson’s group, the SSPV, etc.
Most people think the Mass is the issue, but it’s really a relatively small issue. The real problems the SSPX and other (for lack of a better term) “RadTrad” groups have stem from the documents: the vague wording, the teachings on religious liberty, _Nostra Aetate_ (which Pope Benedict XVI said was open to criticism for its naivete), etc. The fundamental issue of the “schism” (for lack of a better word), though not an official SSPX position, was the new rite of episcopal ordination. Bishop Fellay and other critics of the Second Vatican Council argued that the new rite has key points in which it diverts from the common traditions of all Catholic rites in history that render all post-Vatican II episcopal ordinations, in their view, invalid–including that of Josef Ratzinger. That is why Bishop Fellay ordained the group of four relatively young priests as bishops in 1988 against Vatican approval: to ensure in his view a valid line of Apostolic Succession, but ignoring that the ordinations would be canonically illicit and incurring excommunication on himself and the four young valid but illicit bishops.
When B16 succeeded St. John Paul II, the SSPX website got friendlier to Rome. It praised him and featured him prominently when he lifted the excommunications of the four bishops and opened discussion. It praised him even more when he issued Summorum Pontificum. Then suddenly it got very quiet. Rome made an offer. The SSPX refused. Controversial Bishop Richard Williamson was expelled but Fellay started sounding like Martin Luther.
The Benedict, for whom reconciliation with SSPX was a target of his papacy (how could the Church expect to heal centuries of other divisions without starting from the most recent?) gave his radio address saying it’s OK to criticize _Nostra Aetate_. He appointed Archbishop Gerhard Muller, often seen as something of a “liberal” to many of us because of his sympathy for liberation theology and his calls for St. JPII to retire, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Then, a few months later, after few headline-grabbing statements, Benedict resigned. His resignation of course created the situation of “two Popes,” a scenario which many traditionalists and many who were not previously “traditionalists” saw as potentially fulfilling warnings from various saints and visionaries.
There is so much pride and anger and hard-heartedness mixed up in all of this. I don’t doubt there are forces at work in the Vatican who squashed the talks and probably contributed to the Holy Father’s decision to resign, but there is so much hard-heartedness among the rank and file of the SSPX that, if Rome issued a statement tomorrow saying, “The faculties of all bishops and priests of the Society of St. Pius X are reinstated, and the Society will enjoy canonical status as an Ordinariate,” even then you’d hear Ross Perot’s “Giant Sucking Sound” of SSPX members starting yet another group, joining Williamson’s group, or joining the Society of St. Pius V.

St. Pius X and St. John Paul II, pray for unity of the Pilgrim Church on Earth.

Praying the Office Online

I’ve been praying the Office since 1997 or ’98. My aunt and uncle sent me a copy of _Christian Prayer_ for, I believe, my Confirmation. My wife also had a copy she’d received from an uncle. We bought the four volume set (at least two of one). The latter is tricky because despite my best efforts, I always seem to be unable to find the correct volume for the season. The one volume versions have both fallen apart from use.

One of the goals of Vatican II was to make the Liturgy of the Hours more accessible to laity, reducing its complexity, but many people are still intimidated by all the “ribbons,” keeping track of the Psalter, the Proper of Seasons, the Proper of Saints, and the various Commons, etc.

It was about 10 years ago that I started thinking how it should be relatively easy to create an interactive version of the Office using HTML, where one could click on a link, bringing up a frame with the appropriate materials, and providing choices for optional memorials, or memorials celebrated as personal Feasts, etc.

So, I created several HTML files in Word, and made it part of my daily prayer to type the relevant sections into the appropriate files.

Then I discovered that others were already deep into similar projects, and I saw little need to recreate their work, though some of the problems still remain, as I will discuss in reviewing and linking each site in this post.

The Liturgy of the Hours is one of the oldest prayer forms in the Church, and is used by Catholics, the various Orthodox churches and many “mainline” Protestant denominations. In Roman Catholic (as opposed to Byzantine/Orthodox) theology, the Liturgy of the Hours is “public prayer” or liturgy, an extension of the Mass. To pray the Office is to pray “with the Church,” so it’s important the words be as unified as possible. This is distinguished from “private devotion.” So, in a popular internecine debate among faithful Catholics, 1,000 people saying the Rosary are in “private prayer,” while one person praying the Office under certain circumstances is engaging in “public prayer.” Catholic clergy (bishops, priests, deacons), religious (nuns, monks, friars, sisters) and members of secular orders are under canonical obligation to say the Office but also have the grace of praying “publicly” even when we’re “alone,” because in sharing the common texts that others are praying around the world, we are joining with them spiritually. For laity who are not in Third Orders, it’s still a private devotion, unless they’re saying it in community with others. Thus, the “trick” with online adaptations is whether the translations are appropriate.

Even a few years ago, there were not as many options there are now.

One of the first sites providing a daily Breviary online was Universalis, which is based out of England and provides detailed information on the degree to which its texts are approved for various English-speaking countries. It has gotten much more elaborate, of course, since 2005, and it provides apps. For those under obligation, I just discovered that Universalis provides the official Latin translations, so if you’re extra-cautious about whether the translation is official, you can always just use Latin. 🙂

Perhaps the most popular and well-made, and the one I use most regularly, is DIvineOffice.org.
It has all its copyrights in order and uses the canonically approved texts for the US. It also has very well-made podcasts of a group of people praying the Office, with licensed hymns, and the participants (mostly volunteers who, IIRC, started the project as a way of teaching the Office to an RCIA class) alternate methods of communal praying: sometimes chanting the Psalms, sometimes repeating the antiphons, sometimes having one person read or sometimes alternating. You can read the text with no audio, listen to the audio, or read and listen. The audio usually takes about 20-25 minutes for morning prayer and 15-20 minutes for evening prayer, depending upon how much is chanted.

Before Divine Office, I used to use PrayStation Portable from Fr. Roderick Vonhogen’s SQPN. I used to also have it on an RSS feed here but found it was unreliable. Sometimes, it seems to update too quickly and you can’t find the actual links for the day. Other times, there was a delay in posting. I hope they’ve fixed those issues, but it’s been a while since I followed it. It’s just Fr. Roderick reading it, not a group of people, and much simpler, but he does include prayer requests that listeners send him as part of the General Intercessions.

Plenty of websites and apps offer the Traditional Breviary, and several sites offer the various offices of Eastern Churches.

The added challenge, which led to my most recent discovery of a treasure trove of sites, is praying “Optional Memorials,” days that are not on the “General Calendar” (such as the Discalced Carmelite Propers), days that are personal/community Feasts or Solemnities, etc.

CatholicCulture.org* has a cool Liturgical Calendar page with the Feast(s) or Saint(s) of the day on both the Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form Roman Calendars, Collects, devotional prayer suggestions and other activities. So, if I’m looking for a Collect that’s not in DivineOffice.org, I have been turning to CatholicCulture.

Still, if it’s a day where I want, say, the Common of Doctors or the Common of the Blessed Virgin, and DivineOffice just has the regular Four Week Psalter options, I often find myself searching the Internet, and recently those searches have proven more fruitful:

Liturgy Archive is exactly what I imagined 10 years ago. It is a basic HTML page with links to every option for the entire year: the liturgical seasons, and the collect for every saint on the general calendar. It also has the Commons. So now, when it’s a Carmelite day, I go there for the Commons. I don’t know what their arrangements are with the copyright-enforcing USCCB, but it’s all there for now. Its wider “Archive” has both internal and external links for a variety of liturgical prayers from a number of Christian traditions.

iBreviary is also very good. Indeed, when I heard people say “iBreviary,” I always thought they meant “Divine Office.org”. It is based out of Italy, and defaults to Italian but offers a variety of language options, including both Latin and the official (Grail Psalter) English translations. It is a relatively simple website but is oriented towards tablets.

eBreviary offers everything in PDF format but only offers certain parts for free on its website or App and otherwise requires a subscription because of the copyrights.

More and more, with all these apps available, priests, deacons and religious are finding their confreres praying along in chapel with their phones, tablets and eReaders.

A Parable

A rich man dies and leaves his very young children his entire fortune, his company, and a gigantic castle, more room in one building than they or their future families could ever need–holdings around the world that they will probably never travel to. Do they claim that as evidence their father never loved them or never existed?

Does a man who gives his children a small home love them more?

then why does the size of the universe or location of the earth matter, one way or the other, as to God’s existence and love?