Wednesday, October 01, 2014

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Brethren, Peace and Good to all of you.

Today is the feast day of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, Virgin, and Doctor of the Church. St. Thérèse of Lisieux is the patron saint of AIDS sufferers, aviators, florists, illness, missions, and Russia. She is the secondary patroness of France (after Saint Joan of Arc). In 1927 she was made a patron saint for foreign missions. In the Apostolic Letter Divini Amoris Scientia ("The Science of Divine Love") of October 19, 1997, Pope John Paul II declared her a "Doctor of the Universal Church". A movement is under way now to canonize her parents (Wikipedia). She's also my wife's special protectress, whose name my wife assumed after having made a final consecration to Christ as a lay Benedictine. What follows is from today's Office of Readings, an excerpt from her classic work, Story of a Soul:
Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of St. Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer. By chance the 12th and 13th chapters of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand. Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace.

I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others. For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind.
When I had looked upon the mystical body of the Church, I recognised myself in none of the members which St. Paul described, and what is more, I desired to distinguish myself more favourably within the whole body. Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realised that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting.
Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.
Let us pray:
O God,
who open your Kingdom
to those who are humble and to little ones,
lead us to follow trustingly
in the little way of Saint Theresa,
so that through her intercession
we may see your eternal glory revealed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

- Checkout the Little Flower's Centenial site at EWTN.

- Check out the Wikipedia's article on St. Thérèse

- Read Pope John Paul II's Divini Amoris Scientia, the solemn declaration of St. Thérèse as Doctor of the Church, also at EWTN.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Marijuana is not all it's cracked up to be...


Brethren: Peace be with you this day we remember St. Jerome, Father and Doctor of the Church and the Church's first accomplished biblicist who wrote in Latin.

This article by Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph. D was published at the Catholic Education Research Center's website. Titled Clearing the air around marijuana use,  it provides truthful and timely information regarding marijuana use. Here's an excerpt:
A June 2014 article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), written by researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health, points out that marijuana is not the harmless drug that many imagine.
Rather, it is associated with "substantial adverse effects, some of which have been determined with a high level of confidence."

Negative outcomes

 
These negative outcomes include the risk of addiction, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, an elevated incidence of fatal and non-fatal motor vehicle accidents, and diminished lifetime achievement and school performance in cases of long-term use, especially beginning in adolescence.

We can add that the decision to use a drug recreationally for the purposes of dissociating ourselves from reality through induced euphoria raises significant moral concerns, and like all unethical human choices, it can be expected to correlate with significant adverse ramifications.
Part of the unethical character of drug abuse flows from the fact that we are treating something good, namely our personal, conscious experience, as if it were an evil to be avoided.  Recreational drug users seek to escape or otherwise suppress their lived conscious experience and instead pursue chemically-altered states of mind or drug-induced pseudo-experiences.

Any time we act in such a way that we treat something objectively good as if it were an evil by acting directly against it, we act in a disordered and immoral manner.
The decision to pursue inebriation and drunkenness, similarly, is a choice directed against the good of our human conscious experience that raises serious moral concerns.
Please read the whole thing here.

Commentary. Like the push raise same-sex "marriage and abortion as legitimate moral activities - some call them "blessings" - the push for legalization and normalization of marijuana has also been relentless. Barely anyone raises any objections. We ought to. Father Pacholczyk's article is a timely reminder of the medical and moral risks involved in marijuana use.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Who must meet the burden of proof for normalizing same-sex "marriage" (#SSM)?

Brethren, Peace be with you on this day that we honor the holy archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

To answer the question above: the burden of proof lies on those who affirm that, to put it bluntly, a fallus-intra-rectum is a wholesome and holy act of love, that such an action fulfills the deepest longing aspirations of man and woman joining as one being, that the feelings and affections deriving from such an act are equal in dignity and worthy of societal protection, recognition, and celebration, as natural - yes, *natural* marriage.

They must also prove that the right of child to a mother and a father must be subordinated to the feelings and perceived entitlements of two adults of the same sex who live in this kind of "marriage."

That's your burden of proof, and good luck proving it.

The state may have an interest to well-order other pair-bonds and relationships not limited to same-sex associations, I am willing to agree, and also tolerate and permit however reluctantly because such a concession will be seen by advocates of SSM as just a stepping stone toward normalization of their unions.

Marriage SSM ain't though, because these unions lack fundamental attributes of marriage, among them, opposite sexual complementarity, unitive affection and permanence geared to the conception, birth, and nurturing of children. These attributes are *fundamental* to marriage. Drop them, and marriage ceases to be marriage and becomes a hateful, ugly concoction.

Just a thought.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Today we pray for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization
Day of Prayer
for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the
Synod of Bishops
Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sunday, 28 September (today) is to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 21 October to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.

Particular churches, parish communities, institutes of consecrated life, associations and movements are invited to pray for this intention during Mass and at other liturgical celebrations, in the days leading to the synod and during the synod itself. The faithful, individually but above all in families, are invited to join in these prayers.

The suggested prayers include the Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod, composed by Pope Francis, and the following proposed intentions during the Prayers of the Faithful which can be adapted at Sunday Mass on 28 September and during the synod. The recitation of the Holy Rosary is also recommended for the duration of the synodal assembly. These intentions can also be included in the petitions at Lauds (Morning Prayer) and Vespers (Evening Prayer).

I – Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendour of true love,
to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.
Amen.

II – Prayer of the Faithful

Brothers and Sisters,
gathered together as God’s family and inspired by our faith, we raise our minds and hearts to the Father, that our families, sustained by the grace of Christ, might become true domestic churches where all live and bear witness to God’s love.

Together we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For Pope Francis: the Lord has called him to preside over the Church in charity; sustain him in his ministry of service to the communion of the episcopal college and the entire People of God, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For the synod fathers and the other participants at the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: may the Spirit of the Lord enlighten their minds so that the Church might respond, in faithfulness to God’s plan, to the challenges facing the family, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For those who have the responsibility of governing nations: that the Holy Spirit might inspire programmes which acknowledge the value of the family as the basic unit of society in God’s plan and which offer support to families in difficulty, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For Christian families: may the Lord who has sealed the union of husband and wife with his presence, make our families cenacles of prayer and ardent communities of life and love, after the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For couples undergoing difficulties: may the Lord, rich in mercy, be present to them through the Church’s motherly care and concern in showing understanding and patience in their journey towards pardon and reconciliation, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For families who, for the sake of the Gospel, are forced leave their fatherland: may the Lord who endured exile with Mary and Joseph, comfort them with his grace and open for them paths of fraternal charity and human solidarity, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For grandparents: may the Lord who was received in the Temple by the elders Simeon and Anna, make them wise collaborators with parents in transmitting the faith and the raising their children, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For children: may the Lord of life, who in his ministry welcomed them and made them a model for entering the Kingdom of heaven, inspire a respect for life in the womb and programmes in raising children which conform to the Christian outlook towards life, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For young people: may the Lord, who made holy the Wedding at Cana, lead them to discover the beauty of the sacredness and inviolability of the family in God’s plan and sustain engaged couples as they prepare for marriage, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

O God, you never forsake the work of your hands, hear our prayer; send the Spirit of your Son to enlighten the Church as the synodal journey begins, so that contemplating the splendour of true love which shines forth in the Holy Family of Nazareth, she might learn the freedom and obedience to respond with boldness and mercy to the challenges of today’s world. Through Christ Our Lord.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Two recent ecclesiastical developments giving me pause and cause for prayer


In which Teófilo reflects about two recent developments in the Church, the onslaught against the Culture of life, the words of Pope Francis, and the five non-negotiable moral teachings of the Church, and the letter Teófilo wrote to Pope Francis a year ago.


Brethren: Peace be with you.

As you know, I am and always will be a faithful son of the Church and servant of the current Successor of Peter. That loyalty is based upon faith and it is unconditional. I make no excuses for disobeying Pope Francis or any Pope whatsoever, even when he speaks as a personal theologian. That's the nature of true, sanctifying obedience.

Yet, as Aristotle astutely observed, man is a political animal and two recent moves by the Holy See have given me pause and make me reflect on how the politics of the Church may indicate impending change. God writes straight with twisted characters and there isn't any human activity as twisted as politics - but even in this, God has something to tell us.

First, the sidelining of Cardinal Burke and his move from the Church's highest tribunal to become the Patron of the Order of Malta, one of the few remaining equestrian orders of pontifical right in the Church and a descendant of the long-suppressed Knights Templars Hospitaller. The position is mostly honorific and that's fine. If I were in Cardinal Burke's place I would embrace it gladly, for the Knights of Malta do a lot of great work for the Church. Fr. Z explains the probable reasons behind this transfer better than I can.

Yet the move signifies a demotion and makes it certain that Cardinal Burke will not be a participant in the upcoming Synod on the Family. That bothers me somewhat, although not as little as Fr. Z, nor as much as many other more conservative-minded Catholics.

The second event that's giving me pause is the appointment of Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich as the new Archbishop of Chicago. As a serious adherent of the Church's Social Doctrine I have no objections to any bishop, prelate, priest, deacon or religious living out the Church's Social Teaching and exemplifying this teaching to us, the lay people, who have the ultimate charge of implementing it.  We are called to be "salt of the earth" and if Bishop Cupich exemplifies this aspect of Catholicism I am happy to have him lead one of the nation's largest local churches.

What I fear though is some precedents he may have set regarding the five non-negotiable social teachings of the Church that we must defend against:
  • Abortion
  • Euthanasia
  • Embryonic Stem Cell Research
  • Human Cloning
  • Homosexual “marriage”
These teachings are now more than ever under fire in our society and the media aided and abetted by decontextualized, impromptu (and maybe intemperate) comments made by Pope Francis himself (1) and now oft-repeated by anyone hoping to bury the Church's commitment to life and the family with lies and spin. I'm not saying that Bishop Cupich is such a one, but according to one source, as bishop of Spokane he did forbid his priests to pray at pro-life activities. Precedents don't fix the future, yet it is often true that men and women declaring themselves champions of the poor and marginalized are often reluctant to take up the cause of the unborn, the elderly, and the Gospel's teaching on the rightful means and ends of human sexuality. I am concerned about Bishop Cupich's elevation, but I hope for the best because Christ is always in charge of His Church.

Regarding the "non-negotiables" and society's perception of Pope Francis' statements, I did address my concerns to Pope Francis himself about this and other issues in a letter I sent to him in Spanish in October of last year, an edited copy of which you may read here. Whether Pope Francis ever read the letter I sent him, or received a summary of it and several others written along similar lines, I will never know. (I do, however, appreciate the perfunctory acknowledgment of the letter sent by the nuntiature in Washington, DC and the picture of Pope Francis contained within).

Brothers and sisters, the Tradition of the Church is not the personal property of any one Pope - despite Pope Pius IX's claims to the contrary (2) - or prelate, bishop, priest, deacon, or (God deliver us from ourselves!) my fellow theologians. It belongs to the whole Church as the Body of Christ. Holding fast to the traditions we have received (2 Thessalonians 2:15) is the often ignored and undervalued "check and balance" the People of God must exercise against those in holy orders or tenured academics who would tamper with the Tradition on one side in the name of "mercy"; and those who will reduce the voice of the People of God to a matter of general preferences and demands as expressed in poll numbers.

I want to make clear that I'm advocating for neither "resistance" nor "disobedience." I find those two options quite unpalatable and arrogant at their root. On the contrary, the time for thoughtful, prayerful obedience is now. It will also be a time for testing as many will take Pope Francis' words, whether real, perceived, or spun, as a mandate to suppress vocal activism against the five non-negotiable teachings by those in holy orders and religious life, as well as an order to sideline those of us among the christifideles laici who fight for a continuum of moral sanity in our culture.

Finally, let us pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and the bishops in union with him.  Let us pray without ceasing for our Church and for our world. Let's remain with courage and decision with our sweet Christ on earth, the Roman Pontiff.

====

1. The Washington Post - "The pope has said that the church must end its obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality, and must become more merciful, or risk collapsing 'like a house of cards.'"

2. Blessed Pius IX is credited with the words "Tradition? I AM Tradition!" in a discussion defending the impending promulgation of Papal Infallibility during the First Vatican Council, a statement I consider quite overreaching and overbearing to this day. Nevertheless, the only academic authority I can use as a source for Blessed Pius' statement is Hans Küng in his Infallible? An Inquiry. You all know about the low regard I have for Fr. Küng as an academic theologian and failed Catholic thinker. Whether Pope Pius IX ever uttered those words or not, as a sentiment, these words are wrong or at least, misleading in my considered opinion.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Holy Matrimony is Forever

Brethren,

My wife's and my hands over the source of our values
Peace be with all of you in Jesus Christ our Lord, the Church's faithful spouse whom we are called to emulate.

There has been some discussion inside and outside the Church about changing the discipline surrounding the Sacrament of Marriage in the name of "mercy," by allowing some Catholics living in irregular unions to receive Holy Communion. Some of the cheer-leading is mere spin by the mainstream media. Other such hand-wringing comes from a senior churchman who then cried "foul" at public criticism of his public stance.

My position is with the Church's historical Tradition and teaching regarding the institution of the Sacrament of Matrimony by our Lord and all the moral implications deriving from it.

The appeal to "mercy" is an emotional appeal, for who can be against mercy? But is mercy to be construed as permission to deviate from the Lord's sovereign will regarding matrimony?

The disciplines surrounding the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony are not to be the sole playground of canon lawyers looking for, or creating loopholes because, I assure you, elephants will frolic through these loopholes until the Sacrament because meaningless. Lawyers have rendered civil marriage meaningless through redefinition, we don't need canon lawyers and misguided churchmen, no matter how senior, redefining the sacrament to adjust to a feeble definition of "mercy."

Let us pray for the upcoming Synod on the Family, that the Holy Spirit keep our bishops within the doctrine we have received from the Apostles, within which we find true mercy and acceptance by God. Let us also pray for every single marriage in the world, that each husband and wife find the union and openness to new life in the love they have for each other, forever.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sign This Petition Against the Satanic Black Mass in Oklahoma City

Brethren: Peace be with you.

The following petition is from the TFP Student Action and I now share it with you:

Protest-Black-Mass-Oklahoma-City

Updated: Sept. 15, 2014 - I regret to inform you that satanists are still planning a "Black Mass" on city property at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City on Sunday, September 21, 2014.

Please spread the word to all your friends so we can stop this sacrilege.  Your voice and prayers were decisive at Harvard University ­-- the "Black Mass" there was stopped.  Canceled.  Saint Michael won a great victory that day. And God can win again.

Our first goal of 50,000 petitions has been achieved.  The new goal is now 100,000.  Your petition, together with many more, will be presented to the Civic Center, as well as the Mayor of Oklahoma City and the Governor of Oklahoma before September 21.

One news item refers to the "Black Mass" in these terms:  “A Religious Black Mass will be conducted as a public event to help educate the public about Religious Satanism.  Enjoy the delights of the Devil.”

Registered sex offender Adam Daniels will be leading the anti-Catholic satanic ritual on public property.

Every black mass is a direct, deliberate and sinful act of hatred against God.  Typically, a Consecrated Host is stolen from a Catholic Church and then used to desecrate, mock and insult the Catholic Mass.  The Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ is attacked in a most vile and unspeakable manner.  These insults against God are not only offensive to Christians, but also repulsive to everyone of good will.

Spread the word.  Ask your friends to sign this petition.  Thank you & God bless!

  • Sign the petition here.
  • See more information here.

Commentary: I urge all of my readers to sign this petition and to call the pertinent Oklahoma City authorities to stop this travesty. I'm pretty sure that if someone had scheduled a KKK rally or a Koran stumping we would not be witnessing this controversy. Let us also keep our spiritual warfare going.