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Saturday, March 18, 2017
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
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Double (1954 Calendar): March 18th

Today is the Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a Doctor of the Church.  On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was born in 313 AD around the same time that Christianity was finally legalized in the Roman Empire.  The holy saint would in 349 AD be ordained the bishop of the holy city of Jerusalem, yet he would not be free from sufferings even in the era of the legalization of Christianity.  On three occasions St. Cyril was banished from Jerusalem by various bishops and emperors who espoused the Arian heresy.

In May of 381, Theodosius called the second ecumenical council at Constantinople to resolve theological disputes. Since Theodosius was the Emperor of the East at this time (he did not become the Emperor of the entire Roman Empire until 392) only the Eastern Bishops were invited. The Council met in the church of Hagia Irene (Holy Peace). Although only 150 Bishops attended, several have become recognized as saints – Gregory of Nazianzus, Meletius of Antioch, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebaste, Pelagius of Laodicea, Eulogius of Edessa, Amphilochius of Iconium and Cyril of Jerusalem - just to name a few.  The most important contribution from this Council was the expansion of the Nicene Creed.  The new Nicene – Constantinopolitan Creed described the incarnation, suffering and death of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Italy on CrossRoad Initiatives further elaborates:
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem is one of the most important sources we have for how the church celebrated the liturgy and sacraments during the first few decades after the legalization of Christianity. In his famous 24 lectures commonly known as the Jerusalem Catecheses, Saint Cyril instructs new Christians in the days immediately before and after their initiation into the life of the Church at the Easter Vigil. In these catechetical instructions, which are the only documents that survive by St. Cyril, we find very strong insistence on the value and efficacy of the sacrament of baptism as well as heavy emphasis on the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  
St. Cyril of Jerusalem is considered to be one of the Early Church Fathers and is also reckoned among the number of the Doctors of the Catholic Church. St. Cyril of Jerusalem died about 386 AD, shortly after the First Council of Constantinople which completed the Creed commonly known as the Nicene Creed.  (bio by Dr. Italy)
You may read his 24 lectures online for free.  Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2.

Collect:

O Almighty God, may the prayers of Your blessed bishop Cyril help us to know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent, so that we may be numbered among the flock that obeys His voice. Through the same Jesus Christ . . .
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017
How Did Jesus Pay the Debt for All Sins?
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Meditations for Each Day of Lent
by St. Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday After the Second Sunday

The Passion of Christ brought about our salvation
because it was an act of satisfaction

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world.--I John ii. 2.

Satisfaction for offences committed is truly made when there is offered to the person offended a thing which he loves as much as, or more than, he hates the offences committed.

Christ, however, by suffering out of love and out of obedience, offered to God something greater by far than the satisfaction called for by all the sins of all mankind, and this for three reasons. In the first place, there was the greatness of the love which moved Him to suffer. Then there was the worth of the life which He laid down in satisfaction, the life of God and man. Finally, on account of the way in which His Passion involved every part of His being, and of the greatness of the suffering he undertook.

So it is that the Passion of Christ was not merely sufficient but superabundant as a satisfaction for men's sins. It would seem indeed to be the case that satisfaction should be made by the person who committed the offence. But head and members are as it were one mystical person, and therefore the satisfaction made by Christ avails all the faithful as they are the members of Christ. One man can always make satisfaction for another, so long as the two are one in charity.

2. Although Christ, by His death, made sufficient satisfaction for original sin, it is not unfitting that the penal consequences of original sin should still remain even in those who are made sharers in Christ's redemption. This has been done fittingly and usefully, so that the penalties remain even though the guilt has been removed.

(i) It has been done so that there might be conformity between the faithful and Christ, as there is conformity between members and head. Just as Christ first of all suffered many pains and came in this way to His glory, so it is only right that His faithful should also first be subjected to sufferings and thence enter into immortality, themselves bearing as it were the livery of the Passion of Christ so as to enjoy a glory somewhat like to His.

(ii) A second reason is that if men coming to Christ were straightway freed from suffering and the necessity of death, only too many would come to Him attracted rather by these temporal advantages than by spiritual things. And this would be altogether contrary to the intention of Christ, who came into this world that He might convert men from a love of temporal advantages and win them to spiritual things.

(iii) Finally, if those who came to Christ were straightway rendered immortal and impassible, this would in a kind of way compel men to receive the faith of Christ, and so the merit of believing would be lessened.
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Monday, March 13, 2017
Albertus de Chiavari: 10th Dominican Master
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Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we now arrive at the 10th Dominican Master: Albertus de Chiavari.  Albertus governed the Dominican Order after Nicola Boccasini (Pope Benedict XI), left the role when he was elected as the Supreme Pontiff.

For a quick recap on the previous Masters of the Order, please click here.

Albertus de Chiavari governed the Order only for less than one year.  In fact, little is known on Albertus of certainty.  A quick internet search reveals nothing on his life.  

Let us pray for this "forgotten" Dominican and all those in the past ages who have no one to pray for them now.

Pater Noster. Ave Maria.
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Sunday, March 12, 2017
St. Gregory the Great
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Double (1954 Calendar): March 12th

Today is the Feast of St. Gregory I (i.e. St. Gregory the Great) who ruled the Church as Pope from September 3, 590 AD until his death on March 12, 604 AD.  On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year.

The Feast of St. Gregory the Great is certainly worth mentioning in the midst of our Lenten discipline.  Let's read what the Roman Martyrology says of St. Gregory:
Also at Rome, the raising to the Sovereign Pontificate of St. Gregory the Great. This incomparable man, being forced to take that burden upon himself, sent forth from the exalted throne brighter rays of sanctity upon the world.
The following summary of his life is from Catholic Online:
Gregory's family was very wealthy and owned estates on the island of Sicily which provided income. 
When Gregory was just two years old in 542, the Plague of Justinian swept through the region. This plague was caused by a now-extinct strain of Yersinia Pestis, more commonly known as the Black Death. The plague was the most severe outbreak of deadly disease the world had ever known and remained the worst such incident until the Black Death in the 14th century. About a third of the population in Italy was wiped out by the disease. 
In addition to disease, the barbarian Ostrogoths sacked Rome in 546. The Franks attempted an invasion in 554. Both of these incursions were short lived. It is unclear how these massive events impacted Gregory's development as a child, but it is thought his family retreated to Sicily during part of that time. Peace followed in Italy after these upheavals. 
Gregory was well educated and excelled in all his studies. He also became an expert in law. He excelled so much he became the Prefect of Rome, just as his father had been. Gregory was only 33 years old. 
After Gregory's father had died, Gregory had the family villa in Rome converted into a monastery. Today the monastery still stands as the San Gregorio Magno al Celio. This famous monastery fell into ruin in the following centuries but was restored during the 17th and 18th centuries 
As a monk, Gregory was hard and strict. When a monk on his deathbed confessed to stealing three pieces of gold, Gregory ordered he be left to die alone. After the poor monk had died, Gregory ordered his body thrown on a dung heap along with the three coins. Then, in a turn of heart, Gregory offered 30 Masses for the deceased monk.
Pope Pelagius II, who reigned from 579 to 590, chose Gregory to serve as an ambassador to the imperial court in Constantinople. 
The Pope had a problem with the Lombards invading from the west. Gregory was ordered to request military aid from the emperor. But the emperor felt there were greater threats to the east, and he refused Gregory's request 
In 590, Pope Pelagius II died, and Gregory was proclaimed pope by acclamation. This was not something Gregory wanted, but he accepted the burden nevertheless.
Gregory made clear he preferred the monastic life in a series of writings praising it. He also referred to himself as a servant of God. The habit remains in practice to this day and many clergy still refer to themselves as servants. 
Pope Gregory was famous for the emphasis he put on missionary work. He sent many people out to bring many to Jesus and into the Church. Anglo-Saxon Britain was, at that time, still on the frontier of Christendom. It was Pope Gregory who dispatched St. Augustine (of Canterbury) to Kent in 597 (not to be confused with St. Augustine of Hippo). 
Pope Gregory made many changes to the Mass, some of which remain today, The position of the Our Father in the Mass remains where Pope Gregory placed it. 
He emphasized the aspect of service to the poor for deacons. The number of deacons was increasing in number and they were seen as less essential as extensions of the Bishop than they were in the early Church. Deacons were often tasked with giving alms to the poor, and at least one was assigned to each church and ordained for this purpose. 
Pope Gregory may have also established "cantus planus," known in English as plainchant. Most today know this style of singing as Gregorian Chant. The melodious, monophonic music is known throughout the Church and closely associated with medieval monasteries. Gregorian chant gives us the oldest music we still have in the original form, some dating to the centuries just after the death of Gregory. It remains a matter of some dispute just how involved Pope Gregory was in the development of the style. Some music historians argue the credit is a misattribution that rightly belongs to his less famous successor of a century later, Gregory II. 
Pope Gregory was well known for his alms to the poor, and he gave quite generously of the riches donated to the Church by the wealthy people of Rome. Everything from money to land was given to the poor in some fashion. He made clear to his subordinates that their duty was to relieve the distress faced by the poor. 
He ordered his clergy to go out into the streets to find and care for the poor in person. Any clergy who were unwilling to go into the streets and help the poor were replaced. Assets of the Church were liquidated to provide income for alms. Clergy doing this work were paid four times a year and given a gold coin as a sort of bonus. 
When a famine struck Rome in the 590s, Pope Gregory ordered the Church to use its assets to feed the poor. At that time, the Church controlled nearly two thousand square miles of land, overseen by the clergy and used to generate income. Now, instead of selling the produce of the land, Pope Gregory ordered it shipped to Rome and given away for free. In this way, he saved thousands of people from certain death. 
Pope Gregory himself refused to eat until his monks returned from their work of handing out food. 
He also made certain to dine with a dozen poor people at each meal. 
Gregory is widely considered the be the first medieval pope, and he was a prolific writer. 
Because of his great respect for the poor, it was Pope Gregory and the Church that became the most respected --and obeyed force in Rome and across Italy. 
From the time of Gregory onwards, the people looked to the Church for government rather than the distant and indifferent emperors in Constantinople. 
Pope Gregory suffered from arthritis in his last years. He died on March 12, 604 AD. He was immediately proclaimed a saint by means of popular acclaim. 
Saint Gregory's relics remain in St. Peter's Basilica to this day.
Collect:

O God, You rewarded the soul of Your servant Gregory with eternal happiness. Mercifully relieve us from the oppressive weight of our sins through the intercession of this saint. Through Our Lord . . .
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Prayer on the Imposition of the Papal Tiara
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In the coronation of all popes — including Pius XII, on March 12, 1939 — the tiara is placed on the candidate’s head with the words: “Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father of princes and kings, Ruler of the world, Vicar of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

If this phraseology had not been sanctified by long usage, it would not have been coined in this generation to express the relation of the pope to the political and social order; but it would not have been created in the first place if it had not meant then what it says — “Ruler of the world.”
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Thursday, March 9, 2017
Sacred Metals
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I recently came across the website SacredMetals.com which offers a a number of beautiful medals, crosses, Rosaries, Rings, and more.  While I have not used them personally, I have been very impressed with their selection and the apparent quality.

They are currently offering a Lenten sale of up to 50% off. Check them out and if you have used them, please let me know your thoughts.



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Wednesday, March 8, 2017
The Lenten Ember Fast Starts Today
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Although Ember Days are no longer considered required in mainstream Roman Catholicism following Vatican II, they can - and should - still be observed by the Faithful. In fact, many Traditional priests encourage the Faithful to observe the days. Ember Days are set aside to pray and/or offer thanksgiving for a good harvest and God's blessings. If you are in good health, please at least fast during these three days and pray the additional prayers. Remember the words from the Gospel: "Unless you do penance, you shall likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).  Ember Days are days of fasting and partial abstinence.

Ember Days this Lent: March 8, 10, and 11

From New Advent:

Ember days (corruption from Lat. Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after 13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. The immediate occasion was the practice of the heathens of Rome. The Romans were originally given to agriculture, and their native gods belonged to the same class.

At the beginning of the time for seeding and harvesting religious ceremonies were performed to implore the help of their deities: in June for a bountiful harvest, in September for a rich vintage, and in December for the seeding; hence their feriae sementivae, feriae messis, and feri vindimiales. The Church, when converting heathen nations, has always tried to sanctify any practices which could be utilized for a good purpose. At first the Church in Rome had fasts in June, September, and December; the exact days were not fixed but were announced by the priests. The "Liber Pontificalis" ascribes to Pope Callistus (217-222) a law ordering: the fast, but probably it is older. Leo the Great (440-461) considers it an Apostolic institution. When the fourth season was added cannot be ascertained, but Gelasius (492-496) speaks of all four. This pope also permitted the conferring of priesthood and deaconship on the Saturdays of ember week--these were formerly given only at Easter.

Before Gelasius the ember days were known only in Rome, but after his time their observance spread. They were brought into England by St. Augustine; into Gaul and Germany by the Carlovingians. Spain adopted them with the Roman Liturgy in the eleventh century. They were introduced by St. Charles Borromeo into Milan. The Eastern Church does not know them. The present Roman Missal, in the formulary for the Ember days, retains in part the old practice of lessons from Scripture in addition to the ordinary two: for the Wednesdays three, for the Saturdays six, and seven for the Saturday in December. Some of these lessons contain promises of a bountiful harvest for those that serve God.


From Catholic Culture:
Since man is both a spiritual and physical being, the Church provides for the needs of man in his everyday life. The Church's liturgy and feasts in many areas reflect the four seasons of the year (spring, summer, fall and winter). The months of August, September, October and November are part of the harvest season, and as Christians we recall God's constant protection over his people and give thanksgiving for the year's harvest.

The September Ember Days were particularly focused on the end of the harvest season and thanksgiving to God for the season. Ember Days were three days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) set aside by the Church for prayer, fasting and almsgiving at the beginning of each of the four seasons of the year. The ember days fell after December 13, the feast of St. Lucy (winter), after the First Sunday of Lent (spring), after Pentecost Sunday (summer), and after September 14 , the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (fall). These weeks are known as the quattor tempora, the "four seasons."

Since the late 5th century, the Ember Days were also the preferred dates for ordination of priests. So during these times the Church had a threefold focus: (1) sanctifying each new season by turning to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving; (2) giving thanks to God for the various harvests of each season; and (3) praying for the newly ordained and for future vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
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Friday, March 3, 2017
Book Review: Saint Junipero Serra's Camino by Stephen Binz
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Back in 2014 I spent a week visiting southern California - specifically Los Angeles down to San Diego. As part of my journey, I visited several missions including the Mission Basilica of San Diego de Alcala and Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Flash forward to early 2017.  I was contacted by Pete Socks in January with an opportunity to review one of Franciscan Media's newest books entitled Saint Junipero Serra's Camino by Stephen Binz.  As someone went on a pilgrimage to Rome last year, I jumped at the chance.  I found travel guide books very helpful in making the most out of pilgrimage in Rome, and I was excited to see how a guidebook would help in promoting the Catholicity of the California missions.  I was excited to have the chance to read Stephen Binz's book for myself.

And the result?  I wish I had this book back in 2014 when I first went to California.  In fact, I have not seen a book that so appropriately and usefully summarizes the missions.  This book importantly goes further than merely presenting the facts as to what is in each mission.  The book highlights the history of the missions and includes relevant prayers, litanies, and Scripture readings in each chapter, thus making this an ideal companion for those on pilgrimage in Southern California.

The book is easy to read, spiritually uplifting, and conveniently fits in your travel bag.  As a result, I'm happy to recommend this book to all.  To learn more, please check out Saint Junipero Serra's Camino by Stephen Binz on Amazon.com.

For those interested in journeying with this book to the missions founded by St. Junipero Serra, the following are just a few of the images from my travels there:







St. Junipero Serra, pray for us and for the Church!
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Thursday, March 2, 2017
31-Day St. Joseph Daily Reflection Manual: Free PDF
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Did you know that the Month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph?


31-Day St. Joseph Daily Reflection 

Originally composed by St. Alphonsus Liguori, the text in this booklet was adapted by Hugh J. O'Connell, C.SS.R. Printed with an Imprimatur in 1962, it is now difficult to find. The text was recently arranged as a pdf download, ready to print at home for family devotions. The booklet is composed of 31 short but fervent devotions to St. Joseph, arranged for each day in the month. Every line bears testimony to the respect, confidence, and love which St. Alphonsus felt for the foster father of Jesus.

http://sspx.org/sites/sspx/files/dailydevotionsstjoseph-liguori.pdf

Via: SSPX Website
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Sunday, February 26, 2017
Archbishop Purcell on Papal Infallibility
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"If the Pope, for instance, were to say that the belief in God is false, you would not be obliged to believe him, or if he were to deny the rest of the creed... The supposition is injurious to the Holy Father in the very idea, but serves to show you the fullness with which the subject has been considered and the ample thought given to every possibility.  If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I; and so in this respect the dogma of infallibility amounts to nothing as an article of temporal government or cover for heresy" (Archbishop Purcell in "The Vatican Council")
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Saturday, February 25, 2017
Do Penance Now Rather Than in Purgatory
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We must ask ourselves before we soon begin Lent: Is our process of purification a priority now or are we putting everything off until Purgatory?

The meditation themes for improvement of the "requisite qualities" of Christian heart, to make it worthy to receive the seeds of Divine Sower, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Fragments taken from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD.




"The Night of the senses"

PRESENCE OF GOD - O lord, strengthen my desire for union with You, so that I may have the courage to face, for love of You, the total purification of the senses.

MEDITATION.

1. "In order to attain to divine union with God, the soul must pass through the dark night of mortification of the appetites and the denial of pleasure in all things" (J.C. AS I, 4,1). St. John of the Cross calls the total mortification of the senses the "dark night", because the soul that renounces every irregular attachment to creatures and to pleasure it might find in them, remains "unoccupied and in the darkness" (ibid., 3,1) as far as the senses are concerned.

It is to help us to enter this night, through which we must pass in order to attain to union with God, that the Saint tells us to mortify our inordinate tendencies toward sensible satisfactions. However, it is evident that even if we sincerely wish to mortify our senses, we cannot always avoid seeing agreeable things, listening to interesting news, eating appetizing food, and so forth. Sometimes sensible satisfactions will be imposed on us by the necessities of life, by the duties of our state, or even by our superiors. It is absolutely necessary, even in these cases, that our soul remain wholly free from all attachment to creatures and to sensible satisfactions. It will suffice to desire not to have this pleasure, and promptly to "mortify our senses, voiding them of such pleasure," depriving them of everything, "as though they were in darkness" (cf. ibid., 13,4).

In other words, we should not stop at the selfish enjoyment of what pleases our senses, but try to raise our heart at once to God by offering Him the enjoyment we feel and which He permits for the renewal of our strength, so that we may be able to take up again with greater generosity the practice of mortification.

In this way even natural joys will help to bring us to God and to increase our love. This is what St Therese of the Child Jesus called "to rejoice for Love." This is the pure doctrine of St. Paul, who said, "Rejoice in the Lord always"; and again, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God" (Phil 4,4 - 1 Cor 10,31). If, on the contrary, we stop at the enjoyment of sensible things, we shall never be able to enter the night of the senses.

2. "The soul ordinarily enters this night of the senses in two ways: the one is active, the other passive. The active way consist in that which is the soul can do, and does of itself, in order to enter therein. The passive way is that wherein the soul does nothing, and God works in it, and it remains, as it were, patient" (J.C. AS I, 13,1). The active way include everything that we can do on our own initiative to rid ourselves of every affection for and attachment to creatures. For example, it is in our power to apply ourselves to the practice of poverty, corporeal mortification, penance, and chastity - all of which are virtues that detach the soul from the goods of earth and the satisfaction of the senses.

If we want to do all that we can to enter the night, we must practice these virtues generously, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, our divine model, who wished to give us an example in everything. But no matter how much we do, our own practices will never be sufficient to destroy completely all the roots of attachments. If we examine ourselves carefully, we shall see that, even in the practice of voluntary mortification, a little complacency may enter in because of what we have chosen, which is to our liking and according to our wishes. In order that our purification be complete, the work of God must intervene, that work which will bring us passively into the night of the senses. He does this by means of trials and contradictions both exterior and interior.

It is a time of submission rather than of action; we must accept with humility and docility all that God permits, without trying either to escape the trial or to lessen or change it. In the Ascent of Mount Carmel St. John of the Cross gives the picture of a soul which, "kindled in love with yearning, sings of the happy fortune which befell it to pass through the dark night. "In fact, to be brought into the passive night is one of the greatest graces the soul can receive, because then God Himself is preparing and disposing it for divine union. If we wish to obtain this grace, we must do everything we can to enter the active night, that is, we must practice renunciation and total detachment.

COLLOQUY

O Lord, deign to come to me with Your grace and inflame me with Your love, that I may be able to plunge enthusiastically into the dark night which is to prepare me for union with You. Night does not please my nature which loves the light, the sun, the full radiant daylight. But with your help, and for love of You, why should I not be willing to deprive my senses of all satisfactions and to annihilate them in the night, when all it amounts to is the giving up of a few worthless trifles in order to have the enjoyment of You, in whom are all light, all joy, all happiness? .......

"O Lord, keep far from the heart of Your servant the thought that any kind of joy will bring happiness! On the contrary, there is a joy which is not granted to the wicked, but to those who honour You unselfishly. You are their joy. All happiness consists in this: to rejoice in You, because of You and through You; there is no other. He who believes that any other happiness exists is pursuing a strange and false joy" (St Augustine)
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An Act of Charity for Souls
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Eternal Heavenly Father,
Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer Thee the most precious Body and Blood,
Soul and Divinity of Thine Only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ,
With the merits and prayers of all Thy Saints,
And my whole self as victim-soul and holocaust,
In union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,
Offered throughout the world,
For all the Holy Souls in Purgatory,
And for the souls of all poor sinners on earth,
Especially bishops, priests, and religious,
And those within my home and family,
According to Thy most holy Will,
In Jesus’ Name and in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever.
Amen.

Mary, Mother of Jesus and my Mother, pray for us.
Holy Angels and Saints of the Living God, pray for us.
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Thursday, February 23, 2017
Pamphlets Defending the Catholic Faith to Distribute
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As we prepare to enter the holy season of Lent, we have to begin preparing ourselves.  What penance will you be doing?  Besides prayer, fasting, and alsmgiving, there are a lot of options.  Click here for my prior Top 20 Pious Practices for Lent article.

In addition to what I shared in that article, consider distributing flyers promoting the Catholic Faith to those who need to hear these words - fallen away Catholics, protestants, those in doubt, etc. 

Below is a list of various pamphlets available from St. Paul's Street Evangelization.  It's a good place to start.  Make it an effort to distribute some of these this Lent:
Permission Guidelines: “Individuals may print specific pages, such as tracts from this website for personal use. Permission needs to be obtained for large scale distribution (more than 20 copies).” See the full text here. Pamphlets: All tracts can be downloaded in pamphlet format in our Members Area.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017
Nicola Boccasini: 9th Dominican Master
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Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we arrive at the 9th Dominican Master: Nicola Boccasini.  Nicola Boccasini, who would become Pope Benedict XI, governed the order after Stephen of Besançon.

For a quick recap on the previous Masters of the Order, please click here.


Blessed Pope Benedict XI was born Nicola Boccasini in 1240 in Treviso, Italy, in the Holy Roman Empire.  He would live 64 years until his death on July 7, 1304.  

At a young age, his father died and left his mother, Bernarda, a widow.  It was at that time a Dominican friar left a sum of money in his will to Bernarda and the children.  And part of the will stipulated that if Nicola were to enter the Dominican Order, he would receive half of the legacy.  Bernarda worked as a laundress for the Dominican Friars in Treviso so the family was well familiar with the Order.

Even at a young age, the future Pope Benedict XI was preparing for a life of a monk.  His teacher was his uncle who was a priest of St. Andrea. And in 1254, at the age of 14, Nicola entered the Order of Preachers.   For the next seven years, Nicola pursued his basic education in Venice. In 1262, Nicola was transferred to Milan where he spent the next six years of his life.  At that time, he became a professed member of the Dominican Order. He served as lector for fourteen years, from 1268 to 1282.

The next greatest change took place in 1286 when Fr. Nicola was elected the Provincial Prior of Lombary. Instead of being firmly attached to a single convent for years, he would instead become peripatetic, moving from one convent to another on visits of inspection, encouragement and correction. In Lombardy at the time there were some fifty-one convents. After his tiring three year term was completed in 1289, he was released from the office of Provincial of Lombardy.  However, he was elected Provincial Prior of Lombardy again at the Provincial Chapter held at Brescia in 1293.

In 1296, Nicola was elected as the Master of the Order of Preachers, a role he would serve in until 1303.  During this same time, on December 4, 1298, he was made a Cardinal by Pope Boniface VIII.  He also served as Papal Legate to France.

When Pope Boniface VIII was seized at Anagni in September, 1303, Nicola was one of only two cardinals to defend the Pope in the Episcopal Palace itself.  He would be imprisoned for three days before being liberated.

On October 22, 1303, Nicola was elected to succeed Boniface VIII as the Supreme Pontiff. He took the name Benedict XI and reigned not one year until his death on July 7, 1304. Historians speculate he may have been poisoned.  It was after his death that the Papacy moved to Avignon from Rome and thus began the long and trying time known as the Avignon Papacy.

Pope Benedict XI, the first Dominican Pope, was widely regarded for his holiness.  And in response to his life and the miracles attributed to pilgrims who journeyed to his tomb, Pope Clement XII beatified him on April 24, 1736, and assigned his feastday to July 7th.

Blessed Pope Benedict XI, 9th Dominican Master, pray for us!

Pater Noster.  Ave Maria.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Pope St. Urban I
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Pope St. Urban I. Photograph on Wikipedia by User: Pleple2000.  Taken July 12, 2006.

Next in the continuing series of posts on the History of the Sovereign Pontiffs, after the death of Pope St.  Callistus I on October 14, 222, St. Urban I was elected as the Supreme Pontiff.

Pope St. Urban I was a Roman who served as the Successor of St. Peter for nearly nine years.  According to legend, St. Urban baptized Valerian, the husband of St. Cecilia.  But little is known with certainty of his life.  He died in 230 and is buried in the Cemetary of Callixtus.

Concerning St. Urban, Butler's Lives of the Saints offers the following:
The notice in the Roman Martyrology reads : "At Rome on the Via Nomentana, the birthday of Blessed Urban, Pope and Martyr, by whose exhortation and teaching many persons, including Tiburtius and Valerian, received the faith of Christ, and underwent martyrdom therefor ; he himself also suffered much for God's Church in the persecution of Alexander Severus and at length was crowned with martyrdom, being beheaded." 
It is to be feared that even this short notice is mainly apocryphal. The reference to Tiburtius and Valerian is derived from the very unsatisfactory Acts of St Cecilia, from which also the account of Urban in the Liber Pontificalis has borrowed. It is quite certain in any case that Pope Urban was not buried on the Via Nomentana, but in the cemetery of St Callistus, on the Via Appia, where a portion of his sepulchral slab, bearing his name, has been found in modern times. 
Not far from the cemetery of Callistus on the same main road was the cemetery of Praetextatus, and there another Urban, a martyr, had been buried. Confusion arose between the two, and an old building close beside the Praetextatus catacomb was converted into a small church, afterwards known as St Urbano alia Caffarella. The confusion of the two Urbans and the muddle hence resulting in the notices of the Hieronymianum are points full of interest, but too complicated to be discussed here. 
Collect (from his feastday on May 25th):

O Eternal Shepherd, who appointed blessed Urban shepherd of the whole Church, let the prayers of this martyr and supreme pontiff move You to look with favor upon Your flock and keep it under Your continual protection. Through our Lord . . .
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Feast of The Prayer of Christ (Masses in Some Places)
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Each year on the Tuesday after Septuagesima there was celebrated a "Mass in Some Places," according to the 1955 Missal. This special Mass is for The Prayer of Christ and has been around for several hundred years.  The Catholic Encyclopedia summarizes this special feastday that is worthy of our meditation:
This feast occurs on the Tuesday after Septuagesima (double major). Its object is to commemorate the prolonged prayer which Christ offered in Gethsemane in our behalf in preparation for His Sacred Passion. 
The Office insists on the great importance of prayer. The feast is placed at the beginning of Lent to remind us that the penitential season is above all a time of prayer. The Office probably was composed by Bishop Struzzieri of Todi, at the suggestion of St. Paul of the Cross (d. 1775), and, together with the other six offices by which the mysteries of Christ's Passion are celebrated (see FEAST OF THE PASSION OF CHRIST), was approved by Pius VI. 
The hymns were composed by Fatati (Schulte, "Hymnen des röm. Brev."). Outside the Congregation of St. Paul this feast was adopted later than any of the other feasts of the Passion. It is not found in the proprium of Salerno (1793) nor in that of Livorno (1809). Other dioceses took it up only after the city of Rome had adopted it (1831). It has not yet been inserted in the Baltimore Ordo.
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Monday, February 13, 2017
Francis Apparently not Happy with Roman Posters
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Image Source: CNN

Guest Post by David Martin

Pope Francis seems to have taken offense over an anonymous poster campaign which called into question his mercy. On February 4, Romans woke up to more than 200 posters of a stern-faced pope plastered all over the city, with a caption that asks, "But where is your mercy?"

The unidentified posters accused Francis of having "ignored cardinals" and "decapitated the Order of Malta" — references to a bitter dispute between the order and the Vatican that benched a conservative cardinal.

The day after the incident, the pope called on pilgrims during the Angelus prayer to stay far away from "the polluting germs of ego, envy, and slander."

The following Sunday he criticized the everyday use of "insults," an apparent reference to the anonymous posters, though it seems he was also alluding to a barrage of criticism he has received in recent months over his progressive Vatican reforms and his dissent from Church teaching and practice. In his weekly Angelus address, Francis highlighted Jesus' commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," saying the edict applied not only to actual homicide, "but also to those behaviors which offend the dignity of the human person, including insulting words." He added that he "who insults his brother kills that brother in his heart."

Insults indeed are grave sins against charity, especially insults against the Faith. However, the anonymous posters were not intended as insults to the pope, but were earnest inquiries as to where his mercy is at. After all, he has shown mercy for liberal U.N. anti-life agents who use his Vatican to promote a more "sustained" planet through population control (abortion), and he has exonerated people like Albrecht von Boseselager of the Knights of the Order of Malta after he was rightfully dismissed by his superior Fra' Matthew Festing for distributing $millions worth of contraceptives and abortifacient drugs, while Festing was asked by the pope to resign. Where is the pope's mercy?

He has shown his mercy to offenders like abortionist Emma Bonino whom he called "one of Italy's greats," and to Fidel Castro who lived by the firing squad, while demoting and showing disdain for outstanding Vatican prelates like Cardinals Burke and Sarah for their humble witness of the Catholic Faith.

Worse yet, he has made fun of young Catholics who prefer to attend the Traditional Latin Mass, and went so far as to say that the reason young people attend this more "rigid" form of the Mass is to "hide their evils." In an interview given by Pope Francis to his close confidant Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ, who is Editor-in-Chief of Civiltà Cattolica, he expressed wonder over why young people, who were not raised with the Latin Mass, nonetheless prefer it.

"And I ask myself: Why so much rigidity? Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid."

Words like these are "the polluting germs of ego, envy, and slander" that need to be cleansed from the Church. When Christ said "Thou shalt not kill," it also meant not to kill the spirit of young people, who after much prayer, deliberation, and struggle, have decided to do something right in life to the delight of their Maker. A crime it is that they should be insulted this way for their fidelity.

If Francis were true of heart, he would cry tears of gratitude that these young people, who could be using their time to engage in pop culture and sin, have chosen rather to grow up and to attach themselves to God in the old Mass. And he would be instant to understand that it is Christ himself who gently draws these precious souls to himself in the Traditional Mass. Why should Francis Wonder!?

He seems to have a phobia about the goodness of God. This goodness was manifest through the ages by the glories of tradition wherewith God enriched his Church. In his mercy He extended to us the jewels of sacred tradition and the Latin Mass, that it might be a joy and cleansing to his people, so why does Francis scorn these treasures while adulterating the Church with change? Women deacons? Lay Eucharistic ministers? Communion to adulterers? Respect for "gay orientation?" Youth Mass on the beach with guitars, beachwear, and gay dancers? What kind of scandal is he pushing on the youth? He discards rules and regulations and then teases the flock with this socialist merry-making that he calls mercy! "Woe to the world because of scandals!" (Matthew 18:7)

Nay, the posters in Rome were not an insult to the pope, but were providentially arranged for his instruction. Let us pray that Francis will revisit this matter and learn by it. And let him "dig, dig," that he might discover his own "rigidity" which makes him "defensive" against tradition.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/pope-francis-speaks-against-insults-175811979.html?soc_src=mail&soc_trk=ma
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Monday, February 6, 2017
Pope St. Pius X on the Importance of Religious Instruction
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Guest Post by CatechismClass.com
"How many and how grave are the consequences of ignorance in matters of religion! And on the other hand, how necessary and how beneficial is religious instruction! It is indeed vain to expect a fulfillment of the duties of a Christian by one who does not even know them." Pope St. Pius X - Acerbo Nimis
Let us all do our part to support traditional Catholic teachings in a world that increasingly hates the True Faith of Christ.

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Sunday, February 5, 2017
Pope is Disturbed over Contraceptive Scandal?
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Order of Malta leader Fra' Matthew Festing talks to Pope Francis (AP)

Guest Post by David Martin

Cardinal Raymond Burke who serves as patron to the Knights of the Order of Malta met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on November 10, 2016, and told him how the organization has been distributing contraceptives in Burma and other countries. The pope was "deeply disturbed" by what the cardinal told him and he ordered Burke to clean out the Freemasons from the Knights of the Order of Malta.

To recap, the Order of Malta through the years has been distributing contraceptives and abortifacient drugs through Malteser International (MI), the humanitarian arm of the order. Included in this distribution has been over a half million condoms. Edward Pentin has provided details of MI’s programs in his comprehensive article on the subject. An investigation by the Lepanto Institute provides further information about MI’s work promoting condoms and abortifacient drugs worldwide.

Throughout this period Malteser International was headed by Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager. An investigation by the Order of Malta found that von Boeselager was responsible for the programs involving the distribution of condoms and abortifacient drugs. This led to his dismissal by the Grand Master, Fra Matthew Festing, on December 6, 2016, who was acting on the advice of his spiritual advisor Cardinal Burke.

Von Boeselager then appealed to the Vatican. A commission was appointed to investigate his dismissal, though Edward Pentin provides extensive and disturbing information about the make-up of this commission, which seems to have consisted largely of von Boeselager’s friends and associates. The Military Order of Malta refused to accept the Vatican's interference into their internal affairs.

On January 24, Fra Matthew Festing was then asked by Pope Francis to resign, which he did. The next day it was announced by the Vatican Secretary of State that Pope Francis was declaring null and void all of Fra Festing’s acts since December 6, thus nullifying the dismissal of von Boeselager. Fra Festing’s resignation was accepted by the Sovereign Council of the Order of Malta on January 28 and it was announced that von Boeselager was restored to his position as Grand Chancellor of the Order.

In short, Pope Francis restored to office a man ultimately responsible for the distribution of condoms and abortifacient drugs, while removing from office the man who tried to ensure that Malteser International remained faithful to Catholic teaching.

The report says that the pope was "deeply disturbed" by MI's distribution of contraceptives. If this is truly the case, why did the pope fire Fra Matthew Festing for dismissing Albrecht von Boeselager for his distributing abortaficient drugs and contraceptives? The pope told Cardinal Burke that he wanted the Freemasons cleansed out of Malta, so why is he upset that Fra Festing removed an agent who works for the Freemasons?

And too, why is the pope allowing Freemasons and U.N. anti-life agents to use his Vatican to advance population control? It is no secret that pro-abortion advocate Paul Ehrlich, father of the modern population control movement and author of the 1968 best-seller "The Population Bomb," has been invited to speak at the Vatican during a February 27-March 1 conference that will discuss "how to save the natural world."

This is deplorable when we consider the possible millions of deaths globally that he and his ideas may have indirectly been responsible for over the past five decades and how he has repeatedly slammed the Catholic Church for its anti-abortion policy. Is the Vatican deliberately seeking to put the unborn to death?

The Stanford biologist, who advocates forced abortion for population control along with every kind of contraception, will be given a platform to lecture the Church on how it should conform to the United Nations "Sustainable Development Goals" of making the planet a safer place through population control.

Hence the pope's "disturbance" over the contraceptive scandal in the Knights of the Order of Malta raises some serious eyebrows. Why isn't he disturbed about Ehrlich's upcoming speaking engagement at the Vatican or about the Vatican's collusion with pro-abortion advocate Jeffrey Sachs who has spoken now at 19 Vatican conferences?

https://www.ewtn.co.uk/news/europe/pope-ordered-card-burke-to-clean-out-freemasons-from-the-knights-of-malta
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38 Receive Cassock on February 2nd from the SSPX
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On the Feast of the Purification each year, men who are discerning their vocation receive the cassock: this year 38 men in 3 seminaries.
On February 2, 2017, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais gave the cassock to 17 seminarians: 14 Americans, one Dominican, one Mexican and one Canadian. 

See the photo gallery from this ceremony

Those seminarians enrolled in the Year of Spirituality (first year) received the cassock, and those seminarians in the Year of First Philosophy (second year of studies) received the clerical tonsure. In the Society of St. Pius X, the present custom is to receive the cassock one year before becoming a cleric. 

The same day, at the Séminaire Saint-Vianney Flavigny in France, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, gave the cassock To 14 seminarians: 12 French, 1 Swiss, 1 British. In his sermon he recalled what the ecclesiastical habit represented: renunciation of the world and its individualism, destructive of authority, and obedience.

Finally, in Germany, at the Seminary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta gave the clerical habit to 7 seminarians, giving a grand total worldwide in the SSPX on this date to 38 men.

(Sources: FSSPX / Flavigny / Dillwyn / Zaitzkofen - DICI of 03/02/17)
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Thursday, February 2, 2017
Candlemas
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This Thursday, February 2nd, is Candlemas day.  This feast celebrates the Presentation of Jesus in the temple and the Purification of our Lady, forty days after the birth of our Savior; it belongs to the Christmas season. The Purification is a festival of light. The procession, in which the blessed candles are carried by clergy and faithful, recalls by its symbolism the manifestation of Christ, the Light of the world, received in the temple by Simeon as God's messenger: "A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." This feast was kept in Jerusalem in the fourth century and is one of the oldest of Marian feasts. (St. Andrew's Missal)




For my previous posts on Candlemas including the various Liturgical Traditions for today, please click here.
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Sunday, January 22, 2017
Octave of Christian Unity Prayers
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We are currently in the midst of the Octave of Christian Unity.  Even if you have not been praying for these intentions since the Octave started on January 18th, I encourage you to check out my post from the prior years on this important and special Octave by clicking here.

Also, it is never too late to pray these prayers:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the octave of prayers for the unity of the Church from the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter in Rome (Jan. 18) to the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul (Jan. 25). (Apostolic Brief, Feb. 25, 1916; S. P. Ap., Nov. 15, 1927 and Dec. 10, 1946).
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Bishop of Rockford Attempts to Return Church to the Chaos of the 70s
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The following is taken from EWTN.  I would encourage our readers to not only pray for the Bishop in his misguided efforts but to contact the Ecclesia Dei Commission in Rome. Simply put, what the Bishop is attempting to "forbid" and "require" is illegal and contrary to the law of the Church.  As such, it is no law at all.
Bishop David J. Malloy has doubled down against our Catholic liturgical tradition under the false banner of unity. As noted today by Fr. Z at his site:

In this letter, a follow up to their diocesan “Presbytery Day” (where he spoke to them about “challenges”), the bishop writes:

“Following that talk, I write now to ask for your cooperation on several matters that have since been referred to me in connection with my comments last September:

First, as I noted at that time, we are all aware of the on-going discussion surrounding the celebration of the Mass “ad orientem”. However, for the reasons I discussed at that time, and in order to underscore our unity in prayer and to avoid differences between and even within parishes on this point, I ask that no Masses be celebrated “ad orientem” without my permission.”

Of course this move, which runs contrary to the liturgical tradition of the Roman Rite, contrary to the recent recommendations of Cardinal Sarah (prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship), and contrary to the GIRM itself, is the heavy handed modernist tactics of the Seventies and Eighties revisited.

Additionally, the bishop has forbidden…yes FORBIDDEN…his priests from offering Mass in the Extraordinary Form without his permission, specifically citing Articles 5 & 2 of Summorum Pontificum. As Fr. Z correctly notes:

The Bishop of Rockford wrote “with due regard to Art. 2” and then he completely ignored it and wrote something that precisely contradicted it. According to Art. 2, priests of that diocese – or any other diocese in the world for that matter – do not need his permission.

So now, for the faithful of Rockford, they are being returned to a time in the Church when self-loathing Catholicism ruled the day. Back to the days when one need look no further than the chancery to find anti-Catholicism; for that’s what any attack against our liturgical heritage is. Against our past. Against tradition. It’s anti-Catholicism.

But wait; there’s more.

In his letter Bishop Malloy has also advised his priests that “any modifications being carried out in the sacred space of parish churches” requires diocesan approval. Specifically cited are the moving of altars, tabernacles, or “questions involving altar rails.”

In the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois it would seem that the groovy Seventies have indeed returned; at least liturgically.

Those who oppose our Catholic tradition, who oppose the Latin Mass, and who (apparently) believe that mercy and accompaniment do not apply to traditionalists, are feeling quite emboldened these days.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Trust me.

And pray for Rockford.

Published with permission of Brian Williams, Liturgy Guy
Source: EWTN
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Friday, January 20, 2017
The Inauguration of President Trump
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On this historic day, the Holy Father issued the following statement to our newest President:
Upon your inauguration as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office. 

At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation's commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide.  
Under your leadership, may America's stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door. With these sentiments, I ask the Lord to grant you and your family, and all the beloved American people, his blessings of peace, concord and every material and spiritual prosperity.


Let us join in praying for President Trump to exercise the Office of the President of the United States to be a true instrument of God's will - ending an era of abortion on demand, oppression of workers, proliferation of injustice and debauchery.  Lord have mercy on our nation.


Image Source: Reuters
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Thursday, January 19, 2017
Feast of St Canute
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): January 19

Besides being the Feast of Sts. Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum, January 19th is the Feast of St. Canute.  St. Canute is commemorated in the Liturgy today.  He was the martyred King of Denmark who was slain while in prayer at the foot of the altar.

St. Canute succeeded his brother Harald III Hen in 1081.  He built many churches and monasteries during his reign.  In 1085, after planning an invasion of England, the nobles rebelled against him and forced him to flee to the Isle of Funen.

St. Canute - along with his brother and 17 companions - were martyred in the Church of St. Alban in 1086. Pope Paschal II canonized St. Canute in 1101.

Collect: 

O God, You have added glory to Your Church by granting to the blessed king Canute the gift of miracles and the crown of martyrdom. May we walk in the footsteps of Your saint and follow our Lord's own path of suffering, so that we too may enter into everlasting happiness. Through Our Lord...
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Stephen of Besançon: 8th Dominican Master
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Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we arrive at the 8th Dominican Master: Stephen of Besançon.  Stephen of Besançon governed the order after Munio of Zamora

For a quick recap on the previous Masters of the Order, please click here.

Stephen, who was born in c. 1250 in the Free Imperial City of Besançon, which was a self-governing city in the Holy Roman Empire from 1184 until 1654.  He began his studies in 1273.  He graduated in 1286 with a Bachelor of Theology in Biblical Studies and two years later earned his Masters from the world renowned Theology program at the University of Paris.

In 1291, Stephen was made a Prior Provincial of Northern France and then in 1292 he was elected as the Master General of the Order of Preachers.  As the Order had slowly drifted from its original severity, he sought to restore that Order under his rule. On November 22, 1294, while on his way back to Rome for a canonical visitation of the priories of the Order, Stephen died in Lucca in Tuscany.

May his soul rest in peace.  Pater Noster.  Ave Maria.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Pope St. Callistus I
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Next in the continuing series of posts on the History of the Sovereign Pontiffs, after the death of Pope St.  Zephyrinus on December 20, 217, St. Callistus I was elected as the Supreme Pontiff with his reign beginning on December 20th.  He would reign for nearly 8 years until his martyrdom which occurred on October 14, 222.

Interestingly, the best information we have that is historically verifiable on St. Callistus comes from one of his greatest enemies: St. Hippolytus.  St. Hippoltyus was an early antipope of the Church who, after his conversion and repentance, would go on to die as a martyr for the True Faith.

The following is taken from Fr. Don Miller, OFM:
St. Callistus was a slave in the imperial Roman household. Put in charge of the bank by his master, he lost the money deposited, fled, and was caught. After serving time for a while, he was released to make some attempt to recover the money. Apparently he carried his zeal too far, being arrested for brawling in a Jewish synagogue. This time he was condemned to work in the mines of Sardinia. He was released through the influence of the emperor’s mistress and lived at Anzio.

After winning his freedom, Callistus was made superintendent of the public Christian burial ground in Rome (still called the cemetery of Saint Callistus), probably the first land owned by the Church. The pope ordained him a deacon and made him his friend and adviser.

He was elected pope by a majority vote of the clergy and laity of Rome, and thereafter was bitterly attacked by the losing candidate, Saint Hippolytus, who let himself be set up as the first antipope in the history of the Church. The schism lasted about 18 years.

Hippolytus is venerated as a saint. He was banished during the persecution of 235 and was reconciled to the Church. He died from his sufferings in Sardinia. He attacked Callistus on two fronts—doctrine and discipline. Hippolytus seems to have exaggerated the distinction between Father and Son (almost making two gods) possibly because theological language had not yet been refined. He also accused Callistus of being too lenient, for reasons we may find surprising: 1) Callistus admitted to Holy Communion those who had already done public penance for murder, adultery, and fornication; 2) he held marriages between free women and slaves to be valid—contrary to Roman law; 3) he authorized the ordination of men who had been married two or three times; 4) he held that mortal sin was not a sufficient reason to depose a bishop; 5) he held to a policy of leniency toward those who had temporarily denied their faith during persecution.
Callistus was martyred during a local disturbance in Trastevere, Rome, and is the first pope (except for Peter) to be commemorated as a martyr in the earliest martyrology of the Church.
St. Callistus's decree that a marriage between a woman and a slave could be valid put the Holy Father in direct conflict with Roman civil law, but he stated that in matters concerning the Church and the Sacraments, Church law trumped civil law. He taught what the Church has taught for centuries, including today, and though a whole host of schismatics wrote against him, his crime seems to have been that he practiced pure, orthodox Christianity.  While he was vigorously opposed to heresy, his charitable attitude toward repentant sinners incurred the wrath of contemporary rigorists.

May St. Callistus pray for us in our world today that we have the courage to defend the unchanged teachings of the Church and the Faith even against enemies inside and outside of the Church.

Collect from his feastday on October 14th:

O God, You see that we fail because of our weakness. Be merciful to us and let the example of Your saints renew our love of You. Through our Lord . . .
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On the Greatness of the Liturgy
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"I am struck by the greatness of the ceremonies of the Church," said St. Teresa of Avila.

If we inquire into the secret of this greatness, we perceive that it comes much less from the relief and magnitude given it by our human industries than from the very essence of the liturgy and its relation to two orders of Great magnitude: the cosmic grandeur of our created universe and the supernatural grandeur of the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Dom Gérard, The Holy Liturgy
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Monday, January 16, 2017
90,000 Christians Died for the Faith in 2016
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27,000 Christians died in terrorist attacks, the destruction of Christian villages, or by government persecution.  Christians are now the most persecuted group in the world. May the souls of all of the Faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Pakistan had the most fatal attacks against Christians, “even more than Northern Nigeria,” the report noted. Mexico also saw a violent spike in the killings of 23 Christian leaders in 2016, including the abductions of several priests. The country has seen 15 priests killed since the election of current President Enrique Pena Nieto in 2012.

For the 16th consecutive year, Communist dictatorship North Korea was determined to be the “worst place on earth for Christians,” Open Doors UK said. There are 300,000 Christians amidst the population of 25.4 million.

Christians there suffer from a totalitarian police state that closely monitors their actions and requires them to worship the ruling family, the report said. They must pray privately. Those discovered by the state to be Christian may end up in harsh labor camps where an estimated 50-75,000 Christians currently suffer.

“Every day was as if God was pouring out all ten plagues on us simultaneously,” revealed one Christian women who was held captive in the camps but escaped. “That’s how hard it was. But God also comforted me and brought a secret fellowship into existence. Every Sunday we would gather in the toilets and pray.”

All top 10 countries with the worst persecution of Christians are in Asia and Africa. Somalia ranks second on the list, followed by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Eritrea.

Somalia, ranked the second-worst country for persecution of Christians, “has persecution levels nearly as high as in North Korea,” Open Doors UK noted.

“Islam is Somalia's state religion and all Christians come from a Muslim background,” they explained, meaning that for converts to Christianity, if their conversion is discovered, it can mean persecution and even a “rushed beheading.”

“If a Christian is discovered in Somalia, they are unlikely to live to see another day,” Lisa Pearce stated. There are only hundreds of Christians in the country with a population of over 11 million.
Source: Catholic News Agency
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Sunday, January 15, 2017
The Mass is the Greatest Means of Evangelization
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We evangelize most effectively when we present the timeless truth and beauty of Catholicism. As important as it is to teach others about the faith, even more importantly we must show them the faith. There is nothing more beautiful to behold, nothing more worthy of our time and participation, than the beautiful Catholic Mass.

The [above] video features highlights from the First Mass of Thanksgiving for Father Jason Barone of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina. Following his ordination in June 2012, Fr. Barone chose to offer a Solemn High Mass at the outset of his priestly ministry.

Photographed by Brent Hohman and the team at Momentum Studio, this video remains to date one of the best visual presentations of a Traditional Latin Mass that I have ever seen.

Now consider this: the average situation comedy on television today, minus commercials, runs approximately 22 minutes. The video below is only 18 minutes in length; time well spent.

As many of the faithful still have little opportunity to see such a beautiful liturgy in person, videos such as this become even more important to share.

This is our faith. This is our tradition. This is our beautiful Catholic Mass.

Source: Liturgy Guy
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Martin Scorsese’s "Silence" is Anti-Catholic at Its Core
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Based on the reviews I have read, I encourage you to not support this film.
The film represents a “struggle of faith” in which the priest must choose between the lives of his flock and his Faith. In the face of his trials, he finds God is silent to his entreaties, hence the film’s title. Finally, Christ Himself supposedly breaks the silence by interiorly telling the priest that he might outwardly deny the Faith by trampling upon His image to save his flock.

Such a shallow story so contrary to all Church teaching would usually pose no threat to Catholics who are firm in their Faith. However, Hollywood has tragically assumed the role of a teaching authority to countless American Catholics. Thus, the principal lesson taught by the film—that outwardly denying the Faith can sometimes be justified and even desired by God—does pose a danger to the many uncatechized that might mistake Hollywood script for Scriptures.
....

And that is why faithful Catholics cannot remain silent in the face of Scorcese’s “Silence.” Scorcese’s film is a tragic denial of God’s grace in a world in dire need of it. In these days when Catholics are being martyred, Catholics need to know that God is never silent. They will never be put in a situation where God betrays Himself. He will always be there when needed.

The secular worldview is so narrow-minded and asphyxiating, but alas so prevalent. Today’s obsession with self permeates the culture to the exclusion of God. It is little wonder that so many would think there is “silence” on the other side of martyrdom. It is largely because they find emptiness in their own lives. They cannot imagine the action of God and His grace.

Amid the frenetic intemperance of the times, the agitated crowds ironically do not seek out God where He is always found—in the silence of their own souls.
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Friday, January 13, 2017
Graduates of Jesuit colleges in Congress overwhelmingly pro-abortion
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Image Copyright 2013 by Matthew Plese
The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities recently celebrated the fact that 56 members of the new 115th U.S. Congress (a full 10 percent) attended a Jesuit college or university.

AJCU President Father Michael Sheeran, S.J., said, “A hallmark of Jesuit education is service to others, and we are proud to see that commitment represented by the alumni of Jesuit institutions who serve in the House and Senate. We appreciate their leadership and look forward to working with them during the 115th Congress.”

As boastful as the AJCU seems about this (it’s on the banner of their home page), I’m not sure a celebration is in order as among those legislators there are precious few who are reliably pro-life.

I searched their voting records and found that out of the 12 Jesuit-educated Senators, there are only two reliably pro-life legislators. Two! The rest are either reliably pro-abortion or have mixed voting records.

Out of the 44 congressmen who attended a Jesuit college or university there are only 12 reliably pro-life legislators while there are 32 legislators with pro-abortion or mixed records.

Those who defend and promote the abhorrent evil of abortion are not deserving of praise for “leadership” nor of “service to others.” One would think that the rejection of fundamental Catholic teachings on the dignity of life by alumni might cause Jesuits to reconsider how they’re educating their students.

Source: Cardinal Newman Society
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Sunday, January 8, 2017
Will Pope Francis Receive his Epiphany?
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Guest Post by David Martin

A longing for God means a longing for the Ancient of Days who knows no change. True Catholics are content with God and seek no change, and consider it a great honor to continue in this usual fare of keeping his Commandments. Being led by the Spirit of God, they keep their eye on the Messiah without veering to the left or the right, being ever rooted in His Law. This is what we call fidelity.

This sharply contrasts the mindset of the modernist, who is characterized by a restless need for change. In the same way adulterous spouses get antsy and run after new lovers, so these infidels develop itching ears and cast aside the true and lasting gold of Heaven, and run after the cheap desires of their heart. This is what we call temptation. 

On the Feast of the Epiphany, we reflected on the Three Wise Men who were privileged to come behold the new-born Messiah in the manger. They are called "wise" because they sought only God, and because of this God deigned to reward them by guiding them in a miraculous way to come behold the glory of the God made-man who had been the source of their peace all along.

Now at the Mass in honor of the Epiphany that was celebrated at St. Peter's Basilica on January 6, Pope Francis said: "The Magi experienced longing; they were tired of the usual fare. They were all too familiar with, and weary of, the Herods of their own day."

The Herods of our day are those who advocate adultery and who furiously lash out against the John the Baptists who censure their adultery and who refuse to grant their blessing thereto. The four cardinals who are in dubia of the pope's new policy of granting Communion to adulterers are certainly among the victims of today's Herodian persecution.

The pope continued his discourse on the Magi, saying, "Their hearts were open to the horizon.... They were guided by an inner restlessness, they were open to something new." He hinted that rules and regulations are a form of "tyranny," and said, "Longing for God draws us out of our iron-clad isolation, which makes us think that nothing can change."

The pope's homily is an indirect slap in the face to the saints of history who refused to change and who held tenaciously to the laws and traditions of Christ. But it's also an insult to the Magi themselves by saying that "they were guided by an inner restlessness" in quest of "something new." The implication is that the Magi were looking for change.

Nay, the Magi were holy men who were established in the law and spirit of God, and who sought no change. Being established in peace, God found them worthy to be first-hand witnesses of the newly born Prince of Peace who had been the Author of their peace all along. These wise men were not "tired of the usual fare," but were earnestly in search of its source.

Francis recounts how the Magi in their quest for the Christ Child were first led to "Herod's Palace," which being "iron-clad" and decked with all manner of "outward appearance and superiority," did not offer guiding light for the sojourners in their search, thus forcing them to move on. The implication is that expensive marble palaces that hold to "iron-clad" rules do not lead us to the sight of Christ.

This calls to mind the thinking of Martin Luther, who alleged that the Catholic Church is a man-made "palace" bound by its own iron-clad "traditions and rules" and which offers no guiding light for mankind. Luther's definition of "repent" was to forever leave the Catholic Church and seek Christ in "freedom."

How is it that the Vatican now officially recognizes Martin Luther—a condemned heretic—as a "witness to the Gospel," and is calling upon all Catholic dioceses of the world to commemorate Luther this upcoming January 18-25 as part of the 500th anniversary celebration of the Protestant Reformation? A statue of Luther has even been set up in the Vatican. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/vatican-catholics-now-recognize-martin-luther-as-a-witness-to-the-gospel

Is it any wonder why Francis is now echoing the heretical anti-church mentality of Luther by prodding Catholics to leave Church tradition and flow with the change of our times? The pope himself recently said that "resistance" to change that "takes refuge in traditions" is of "the devil" Pope Francis says that ‘malicious resistance’ to his reforms that ‘takes refuge in traditions’ is from the devil  Has Francis apostatized from the Faith? 

Let us pray that Pope Francis will receive his own Epiphany, wherein the light of holy tradition can permeate his heart and lead him back to the foot of the Cross, so that the Masses he says are not just empty pomp of a new order, but meaningful acts of reparation in acknowledgment of the fact that Christ today is being recrucified by his own Vatican hierarchy.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/01/06/the-magi-embody-all-those-who-long-for-god-says-pope-francis/
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