samedi, mars 28, 2009

Sermon for the 4th Sunday of Lent

As the Sundays of Lent follow one another, we continue our reflection on the Christian perfection and the means to acquire it. We know now that perfection is the will of God for each man and that it is not enough to just keep the commandments of God in order to answer this call of our Father. Furthermore, the experience teaches us that many souls that content themselves of just trying to keep the commandments fall occasionally or regularly in mortal sin and hardly make progress in their spiritual life. And if they finally obtain eternal life, we can reasonably suppose that they will see God after a substantial time of purification in purgatory. The truth is that one has to be holy in order to see God. If you do not use the grace of God in this life to be perfect, then God will have to make you perfect without your own participation in purgatory, provided that you are in state of grace at the time of your death. Another truth is that the sufferings of this world are nothing in comparison to the pains of purgatory.

And there is also a difference between the pains suffered in this present life and the pains suffered in purgatory. In the first case, you can offer these pains in satisfaction for your sins and this satisfaction is meritorious. It is a gain for eternal life, an increase of your future glory and happiness. In purgatory your sufferings are no longer meritorious. The soul in purgatory accepts these sufferings because it understands that it is good, but they are more endured than offered. For that reason, we speak about satispassion.

God wants you to be perfect. Is it also want you want? Is your ambition is to become a Saint? How do you think the Saints became Saints? “I have always wanted to become a Saint” Saint Therese of Lisieux says. And that was her concern during her whole life. What about you? Do you want or not to be a Saint? If you do, then you can be a Saint. You can! Now you still have to change the simple desire into a firm resolution, as Saint Francis de Sales says. We are now in the field of practical realization of a program of life. Your desire of holiness has to be effective.

"I have always wanted to be a Saint!"

We have seen that a condition for the achievement of this goal is self-denial, which is the practical acceptance of the cross in our live. We have seen that it is also necessary, as it is a part of self denial, to practice the virtue of obedience, and for that to put ourselves under the guidance of a good man, which is the admonition of admonitions, as Saint Francis de Sales reminded us last week. It is even more necessary as we have a natural tendency to be individualist. I want to worship God and serve him in my way! Maybe you want, but are you sure that it is what God wants? We are very individualistic in our way of serving God and that is a serious obstacle in the process of our sanctification. Saint Ignatius of Loyola gives us rules that might help us overcome this obstacle. They are the rules that we should follow to acquire the true sentiment which we ought to have in the Church militant. I put these rules in the bulletins for many weeks. What use of them do you make? Do you even try to put them into practice? These rules are precious, as they help us to get rid of a selfish religious life centered more on ourselves rather than on Christ and His Church. They help us not only to follow the commandments but also to live with Christ and His Church by uniting our will to the will of Our Lord and to think and to feel with the Church – sentire cum Ecclesia. And this might be the difference between a Pharisee, who is a strict follower of the commandment, and a disciple in truth of spirit, who aspires not only to serve his Master but also to love and to please Him.

Cardinal Newman says that the Pharisee – in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican – looked upon himself with great complacency, for the very reason that the standard was so low, and the range so narrow, which he assigned to his duties towards God and man. He used, or misused, the traditions in which he had been brought up, to the purpose of persuading himself that perfection lay in merely answering the demands of society. He professed, indeed, to pay thanks to God, but he hardly apprehended the existence of any direct duties on his part toward his Maker. He thought he did all that God required, if he satisfied public opinion. To be religious, in the Pharisee’s sense, was to keep the peace towards others, to take his share in the burdens of the poor, to abstain from gross vice, and to set a good example. His alms and fastings were not done in penance, but because the world asked for them; penance would have implied the consciousness of sin. He thanked God he was a Pharisee, and not a penitent.

The danger of being a Pharisee is great. It is always a threat to the Christians. This is the usual and eternal temptation: self-satisfaction, self-sufficiency, self-esteem! If there is a “self” that we should observe, it is self-denial, which gives us the true spirit of penance. It is good to remember this, especially now in this time of Lent. Self-denial supposes also self-knowledge, and that will be our subject for next Sunday. In order to deny myself, I have to know who I am. Now, I ought to be a penitent, because I am a sinner. Let the penitent always feel pain for his sin, Saint Augustine says, and always feel joy for his pain. Today, the Church invites us to joy. But what is the motive of my joy?

May Our Blessed Mother continue to lead us of the way of self-denial and of penance, so that we can find the true joy of penance, the true joy of the cross, the true joy of the truth and the true joy of life. This way is the One who once said: I am the way, and the truth, and the life!

Cantemus Domino

Since 2000 the Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) has had an apostolate at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Cherokee Village, near Hardy. Every Sunday since then there has been a High Mass, with the Ordinary, the Propers, and various traditional Catholic hymns sung in Latin. The beauty of the Gregorian Chant and Polyphony has attracted a number of talented young people over the years, and the Cherokee Village Latin Mass Choir and Schola has made an impact within Latin Mass communities around the region.

In August 2008 the choir recorded a CD at the Christian Science Center in Batesville. This location was chosen for the quality of the organ and the acoustics in the building.

The choir is under the direction of 16-year old Emily Byrne, a Nursing student at the University of Arkansas Community College in Batesville. Miss Byrne has directed the choir for two years. In October 2007 she directed a combined choir at the Saint John Center in Little Rock at a Latin Mass at the diocesan priests meeting in which Pope Benedict’s document Summorum Pontificum was addressed and discussed.

The Chaplain of the Cherokee Village Latin Mass Community is Fr. Laurent Demets, FSSP, who has an intense interest in liturgical music. Fr. Demets, who participated in the recordings, sees the effort to preserve traditional Catholic music as a duty:

The Latin Mass community of Arkansas is a humble link of a great chain that goes back to the apostolic times. It is what we call Tradition. We have received from our elders a precious treasure, which is the Gregorian chant and the polyphonic music, as an authentic way of worshiping Almighty God. We have no other desire but to continue this ancient work of Divine praise and to hand it over the next generation that will come after us. The ultimate goal is simply the Glory of God and the edification of souls.

The organist is Mr. Robert W. Clayton, a native Catholic of Northeast Arkansas. Mr. Clayton is a 1982 graduate of The University of Dallas. He has worked professionally in various parishes of the dioceses of Dallas, Charleston, Owensboro and Little Rock.

The title of the CD is “Cantemus Domino” (We Sing to The Lord). It is a fascinating assortment of Catholic music: Gregorian Chant, polyphonic, and pilgrimage hymns. It includes selections of music from throughout the liturgical year, beginning with Christmas, then through Lent, Easter, and concluding with the beautiful Carolingian Acclamations (Christus Vincit) and two hymns of Pilgrimage. Michael Prince of All the Angels is traditionally sung during the Pilgrimage of the Feast of St. Michael, and Stella Splendens is a pilgrimage song from the famous Libre Vermeill de Monserrat.

Pope Benedict XVI declared in an address on Sacred Music, June 24, 2006, that

…sacred polyphony, particularly that of the so-called "Roman School," is a legacy to preserve with care, to keep alive and to make known, not only for the benefit of experts and lovers of it but also for the entire ecclesial community, for which it constitutes a priceless spiritual, musical and cultural heritage.

In the words of Bishop Taylor, Diocese of Little Rock, “The traditional music on this CD…has been sung by many generations of Catholic believers and borne the test of time.”

To order a copy of the CD ($15 that includes shipping), you can send e-mail to or fax to (870) 793-5279, Or write to:

Jim Mirabella
109 Leonard Drive
Bono, AR 72416

vendredi, mars 20, 2009

Declaration of President Blaise Campaoré

President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Campaoré made a statement on the use of condom: a lesson for our politicians who want to impose their own views to the whole world. I did not find an English translation of his speech that was posted on Le Salon Beige in French. I used google translator and made a few corrections so that it can be understandable.

It is a moral commitment when you are responsible for a community of 12 million people. In West Africa, AIDS threatens the lives of millions of men and women. Its impact on society is considerable. The head of state must be at the forefront. Burkina Faso has developed a strategic framework with the classic elements of the fight against AIDS: prevention, epidemiological monitoring, and care of patients. We are starting to achieve results - the prevalence rate decreased from 7% in 1997 to 4% in 2003. [...]

Faced with international agencies, it is important to resist. They can advise us, but they cannot do for us. [...] The Europeans do not feel the danger of AIDS in the same way as us. For Burkina Faso, the danger is immediate. The pandemic is a visible reality, it strikes your family, your closest friends. In Europe, you may have time to make arguments for or against morality. In Burkina, we do not have time. [...]
There is often a chasm between what the media say and what happens on the field. In Africa, we are living with AIDS every day. The debate on condoms, as you have, do not concern us. The French like controversy; it is their ‘Gaulois’ side! Some criticize the Church's position by claiming to defend the Africans. Very well! But most of them never came here! I advise them to come to stay in Burkina Faso. Here, the imam, the priest and the chief work together: they all have the ambition to face the same pain. Focusing on the condom, is ignoring the problem of AIDS. [...]
Many people ignore the work of the Church in Africa. In France, the intelligentsia does not understand the nearness with Catholic leaders. But in Burkina Faso, the Church means primarily schools and clinics. The debate on AIDS is not theoretical, it is practical. The Church makes its contribution. If abstinence is a means of prevention, we will not do without it! [...] The Church has no monopoly of abstinence! As head of state, I have made commitments in this direction since 2002 as part of the campaign "It's my life." The objective was to put people in front of their responsibilities. Among the commitments offered, some were directly call for abstinence, "I decided to abstain from sexual relations when my husband (my wife) is absent "and" I decided to abstain from sexual relations until marriage. "

jeudi, mars 19, 2009

Les propos du Saint Pere

Merci a KTO pour avoir mis ces videos en ligne

Ce qu'a vraiment dit le Pape
Uploaded by KTOTV

Réactions des évêques africains
Uploaded by KTOTV

Communiqué du District de France de la Fraternité Saint Pierre

A propos de la déclaration du Saint Père sur le préservatif
Lors des premières campagnes de prévention contre le Sida, l’un des slogans répétés assurait : « Le préservatif préserve de tout, de tout sauf de l’amour. »
En osant dire que le préservatif n’est pas une solution mais qu’il risque même d’aggraver la propagation de la maladie, le Pape a simplement dit la vérité.
Il est reconnu qu’en matière de contraception, le préservatif est loin d’être efficace à 100%. Comment le serait-il alors comme barrière au Sida ?
Il est criminel de faire croire que l’usage du condom protège vraiment de la contamination. Combien de nos jeunes ont basculé dans la maladie alors qu’ils croyaient être protégés « de tout, de tout sauf de l’amour » ? Auraient-ils adopté le même comportement s’ils avaient su que le préservatif ne faisait que diminuer les risques de contamination lors d’un rapport sexuel ? S’ils avaient compris que la répétition des expériences soi-disant protégées n’était autre qu’une forme de « roulette russe » ?
Les politiques français avant de hurler avec les loups contre Benoît XVI devraient se souvenir du scandale du sang contaminé : à l’époque, les pouvoirs publics avait fermé les yeux en connaissance de cause sur un risque marginal d’infection. Mais au bout de ce risque marginal, il y eut bien des morts.
En face d’un risque d’être empoisonné à mort ou de véhiculer la mort, le seul discours responsable est celui qui dit la vérité, toute la vérité, qui ne cache pas les risques encourus et qui rappelle que seuls l’abstinence et la fidélité sont des moyens efficaces de lutte contre le SIDA. A une époque où l’on glose tant sur le « principe de précaution », dans le cadre de nuisances supposées pour la santé, ne devrait-on pas l’appliquer dans un cas aussi grave que celui du SIDA ?
On ne joue pas avec la vie des hommes. On ne crée pas le sentiment d’une fausse sécurité par une propagande mensongère qui entraîne les personnes à adopter des conduites finalement suicidaires car « à risques ». On ne joue pas avec la santé morale et physique de jeunes qui ignorent totalement les déficiences du préservatif. Au contraire, on doit éduquer leur sens des responsabilités.
Si demain des victimes du SIDA l’ayant contracté alors qu’ils utilisaient le préservatif se retournaient contre le ministère de la santé, ce ne serait que justice.
Ceux qui font la leçon au Pape devraient se méfier du possible effet « boomerang » de leur accusation assassine.

mardi, mars 17, 2009

Necessity of a guide

Sermon for the third Sunday in Lent

Let us continue our meditation of Lent on self-denial. We have already seen that self-denial is essential to Christian life as it is a quality of soul required by Our Lord himself in order to be counted among His disciples. Yet, it is unfortunately something rare. Does it mean that Christ has only a few disciples?

At this point, it would be necessary to make a distinction. We certainly do not deny the title of disciples to the great majority of Catholics who sincerely practice their faith and try to follow the commandments of God and of the Church. It is a sign of their charity, for those who love God keep His commandments as we can read in the gospel of Saint John. Now, there are different degrees of charity and not all the disciples are on the same level. We are all supposed to love God above all things, as we dare to say when we say the act of charity or during the Station of the Cross. But we have to recognize that it is not true, otherwise we would never commit sins. Does it mean that we lie when we say the act of charity? Maybe! Or maybe not! It depends in fact on your intention and your desire. It is the same thing when we say the act contrition. We claim that we will not sin again each time we go to confession, and yet, we all have to return again to the Sacrament, because we do sin again. Are we sincere when we say the act of contrition? Maybe! Or maybe not!
In this matter each one has to examine his conscience. “Do I really love God above all things? Do I really have the firm purpose to amend my life and to sin no more? If it were the case, I would be a saint by now. But I am not! So I do not love God above all things. I wish I loved Him above everything, but I do not.”
At least, you wish. You have here a foundation expressed by your desire of loving God. It is certainly not enough and you still have to build upon this foundation, but you have already something to begin with. Now listen to the Lord: Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
It is precisely love that allows us to do the will of God. When I say that I love God, I say Lord, Lord! When I truly love God, I do His will. I might be sincere when I say that I love God, but I still have to let my words followed by acts. In other word, I have to make my desires effective. Unfortunately, there are many good desires that remain vain.

Saint Francis de Sales, for being a great leader of souls, knows this fact very well. For that reason, he encourages Philothea – my soul – to find the true devotion. You aspire to devotion, dearest Philothea, because being a Christian, you know that it is a virtue extremely pleasing to the divine Majesty. At the beginning, there is an aspiration due to the fact that we are Christian. This is the word of God that we have heard, the seed that Christ has sowed in our souls. But we have seen, in the last past Sundays, that it is not enough. Now we have to find the true devotion, and there is only one.
What this true devotion is? Saint Francis says that it consists in a certain excelling degree of charity. We are speaking now about excellence. We are called to excellence, to perfection. It not only makes us ready, active and diligent in observing all the commandment of God, Saint Francis adds. That would be already a good thing. That would be marvelous if all men would do that. But it is not God’s will; it is not His whole will. He asks more. He wants us to be perfect. Saint Francis continues: Devotion prompts us to do readily and heartily as many good works as we can, even though they be not in any sort commanded, but only counseled or inspired.

Observing the all the commandments is good. It is necessary for eternal life. It the minimum required in order to be counted among the Disciples of Christ. Saint Paul is very clear about that in the epistle. There are things that are simply out of place for Christians. The wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience. The commandments of God are for all men and there is no dispensation possible in this matter. You follow them or you die!

But God asks you more than observing the commandment. He wants you to love Him as He loves you. And because He loves you, He expects you to do certain things that are not ordered but desired by Him. These things are not absolutely necessary for salvation, but when you really love God, you are even not concerned by your salvation but by things that please God. You would go to hell for His love if it were His desire.

Do you wish in good earnest to set out on the way of devotion? Seek out some good man to guide you and conduct you; it is the admonition of admonitions. It is a necessity to have a guide in order to enter on the path of devotion, Saint Francis de Sales says. It is a part of self-denial we were talking about last Sunday. If you want to be perfect, you have to let Christ lead you to the top of the mountain. You do need a guide to lead you in the mountain. Certainly, this guide is Christ, but Christ has chosen men to by His ministers on earth.
You cannot begin the ascension just by yourself. Even though you are a good mountaineer, it is still dangerous. It is almost impossible to come through an accident by yourself if you fall in a crevasse. And if you think that you are good enough a mountaineer so that you do not need a guide, then you are in great danger of falling for being presumptuous.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati: a great mountaineer who climbed the mountain of holiness at 24 years!

Seek out some good man to guide you and conduct you: it is the admonition of admonitions. Dear brethren, do you really want to follow Christ on the path of perfection? That is your choice. But if you make this choice which is the right choice, then you have to use the necessary means. Do not even think that you can become a Saint by yourself. Only God makes Saints, and God usually uses human instruments. Saint Francis de Sales is clear, and he is just faithful to the spiritual tradition of the Church: without a guide, without a good and wise spiritual director, you will not reach the top of the mountain. And spiritual direction is precisely a part of self-denial we are talking about since the beginning of Lent.
May our Blessed Mother help us find a good guide who will help us become a Saint and lead us safe to the height of holiness.

Read the chapter 4 of the Introduction to the Devout Life :

jeudi, mars 12, 2009

Pictures of the Passion

Just because a visual aid is often more useful than a speech!
May these pictures help meditate on the mystery of the Passion of Our Lord who died for our sins.

lundi, mars 09, 2009

Words of Cardinal Pie

Cadinal Pie

Louis-Edouard Cardinal Pie, Bishop of Poitiers, is certainly one of the greatest figures of the Church of France in the XIX century. He was the champion of orthodoxy against the error of liberalism and rationalism and a great leader in the battle against the Revolution. He wrote two synodal instructions against “the errors of the present days and of philosophy” that would become a basis for the Encyclical Letter Quanta cura and the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX. He was also a great artisan of the proclamation of the dogma of Pontifical Infallibility.
In France, he contributed in a large measure to the restoration of religious life. “He created many parishes, established in his seminary a canonical faculty of theology, founded for the missions of the diocese the Oblates of Saint Hilary, and brought the Jesuits to Poitiers and the Benedictines to Solesmes and Ligugé.” (Catholic Encyclopedia by Herbemann)
In 1879, Leo XIII created him Cardinal, just one year before he passed away. Pope Saint Pius X was a fervent admirer of Cardinal Pie and paid a tribute to him when he gratified the Cathedral of Poitiers with the title of minor basilica in 1912. Referring to “Saint Hilary, the intrepid champion of the divinity of Christ against the Arians” ,the Pope added: “ but alongside of him it is sweet to remember Louis-Edouard Pie, cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, who, like a second Hilary-alter Hilarius-avenged the integrity of the Faith against the modern Arians by his victorious eloquence.” We know that the writings of Cardinal Pie were among the favorites readings of Saint Pius X

Here are some excerpts of his works, that are still relevant today.

"Hear this maxim, O you, Catholics full of temerity, who so quickly adopt the ideas and the language of your time, you who speak of reconciling the faith and of reconciling the Church with the modern spirit and with the new law. And you who accept with so much confidence the most dangerous pursuits of what our age so pridefully labels "Science," see to what extent you are straying from the program set out by the great Apostle, "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane novelties of words, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so-called" (I Tim. 6:20). But take heed. With such temerities, one is soon led farther than he first had thought. And in placing themselves on the slope of profane novelties—in obeying the currents of so-called science—many have lost the Faith.
Have you not often been saddened, and taken fright, my venerable brothers, on hearing the language of certain men, who believe themselves still to be sons of the Church, men who still practice occasionally as Catholics and who often approach the Lord's Table? Do you still believe them to be sons, do you still believe them to be members of the Church, those who, wrapping themselves in such vague phrases as modern aspirations and the force of progress and civilization, proclaim the existence of a "consciousness of the laity," of a secular and political conscience opposed to the "conscience of the Church," against which they assume the right to react, for its correction and renewal? Ah! So many passengers, and even pilots, who, believing themselves to be yet in the barque, and playing with profane novelties and the lying science of their time, have already sunk and are in the abyss. "

(Homily , nov 25th 1864)

"Is not ours an age of miss lived lives, of unmanned men? Why?...Because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Wherever the people are true Christians, there are men to be found in large numbers, but everywhere and always, if Christianity wilts, the men wilt. Look closely, they are no longer men but shadows of men. Thus what do you hear on all sides today. The world is dwindling away, for lack of men; the nations are perishing for scarcity of men, for the rareness of men...I do believe: there are no men where there is no character; there is no character where there are no principles, doctrines, stands taken; there are no stands taken, no doctrines, no principles, where there is no religious faith and consequently no religion of society. Do what you will: only from God you will get men".

(Homily for Christmas 1871)

"My brothers, all of you, if you are condemned to see the triumph of evil, never applaud it. Never say to evil: you are good; to decadence: you are progess; to death: you are life. Sanctify yourselves in the times wherein God has placed you; bewail the evils and the disorders which God tolerates; oppose them with the energy of your works and your efforts, your life uncontaminated by error, free from being led astray, in such a way that having lived here below, united with the Spirit of the Lord, you will be admitted to be made but one with Him forever and ever: But he who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit."

"Do you know why during the past half century we have seen perish among us every form of government, including even that to which we are returning today? I am going to tell you. All these forms in which society has dressed itself have perished because, beneath the forms, a soul was lacking. Now, it may be wonderfully provided with joints and a network of muscles, but a body without a soul is a cadaver, and it is the lot of a cadaver eventually to fall apart. The soul of every human society is belief, doctrine, religion, God. Our modern societies have been too long divorced from God.” (1848)

"Neither in His Person, nor in the exercise of His rights, can Jesus Christ be divided, dissolved, split up; in Him the distinction of natures and operations can never be separated or opposed; the divine cannot be incompatible to the human, nor the human to the divine. On the contrary, it is the peace, the drawing together, the reconciliation; it is the very character of union which has made the two things one: 'He is our peace, Who hat made both one. . .' (Eph. 2:14). This is why St. John told us: 'every spirit that dissolveth Jesus is not of God. And this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh: and is now already in the world' (1 John 4:3; cf. also 1 John 2:18, 22; 2 John: 7). When I hear certain talk being spread around, certain pithy statements (i.e., 'Separation of Church and State,' for one, and the enigmatic axiom 'A free Church in a free State,' for another) prevailing from day to day, and which are being introduced into the heart of societies, the dissolvent by which the world must perish, I utter this cry of alarm: Beware the Antichrist !"

"France will be Christian, or she will not be!"

dimanche, mars 08, 2009

Sermon for the second Sunday of Lent

Last Sunday, we were thinking over the necessity of self-denial with the help of Cardinal Newman who reminded us that it is something essential to Christian life. Yet, there are only few Christians who practice it. Many hear the word of Christ and do not become true followers for different reasons. We said last week that those men are not necessarily enemies of Christ and that they even have a good will, but alas, their will is not strong enough to accept the message of the Cross. We have an example in the gospel with the rich young man.

This young man knows and keeps the commandment of God as they are necessary in order to receive life everlasting. Saint Paul reminds us today that we ought to walk to please God. And God loves those who walk in the path of the commandments. For that reason, it is good to pray with the Psalmist: Set before me for a law the way of Thy justification, O Lord, and I will always seek after it. Give me understanding, and I will search Thy law, and I will keep it with my whole heart. Lead me into the path of Thy commandments. (Ps 138)

The rich young man certainly has the desire of doing good and certainly prays with the words of the Psalm. Jesus loves him for that. Then the Lord asks him more: sell whatsoever thou hast and follow me! Saint Marks reports that the young man went away sorrowful for he had great possessions. The young man does not receive the word of God with joy but goes away sorrowful because of the passion of avarice. Christ has just promised him a treasure in heaven yet he does not want to give up his earthly and perishable treasure. How the way of the perfect abandon is hard! The passions keep us prisoners of the temporal good and prevent us of rising up into the summits of holiness. And if it is not avarice, it might be another vice that keeps you enslaved. As the Fathers points out, among the poor, some are overcome by pride, intemperance or any other vicious inclination.

Our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to holiness. Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. It is important to understand that, dear brethren. He does not call us to happiness but to holiness and perfection. He is the way that we have to take. He is the example that we have to follow. It means that our fate in this present life is the Cross. Certainly, God wants our happiness. But it will not come first. We have to seek after holiness, and then we will find true happiness. But many men want happiness without holiness and they find their happiness in ephemeral pleasures that can be legitimate or not. And when those pleasures are illegitimate, they fall into a life of sins that leads them directly to hell. Saint Paul warns us again in the epistle: This is the will of God, your sanctification; that you abstain from immorality. God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

It is on the Mount Tabor that we shall find holiness. It is there and only there that we shall see the glory of God. Holiness has to be found on the heights of contemplative life. We have seen with Saint Teresa of Avila a few weeks ago that when a soul makes progress in the prayer’s life, it becomes less active and more passive because Christ takes more and more possession of it. If you want to reach the top of the mountain, you have to let Christ take you as He did with the three disciples. Jesus took unto Him Peter and James, and his brother John. Jesus takes unto Him a soul. The Latin word in the Gospel of the Matthew is ‘assumit’. We use the same verb when we say that He assumed – He took upon Him – the human nature. The assumption of the human nature by Christ is also for us an assumption – a climb – toward God. Assumption has a passive meaning unlike ascension that is active. It means that we do not rise ourselves to God but that we let Him raise us to Him. And again, this supposes self-denial.

Cardinal Newman helps us again understand what self-denial is. Look up to Christ, he says. That is the preliminary. If you look on yourself – and we have the terrible habit of looking on ourselves – you will not find Christ. So, look up to Christ, and deny yourselves everything, whatever its character, which you think He would have you relinquish. You need not calculate and measure, if you love much. You need not perplex yourselves with points of curiosity, if you have a heart to venture after Him. He bids you take up your cross; therefore accept the daily opportunities which occur of yielding to others, when you need not yield, and of doing unpleasant services, which you might avoid. He bids those who would be highest, live as the lowest: therefore turn from ambitious thoughts, and, as far as you religiously may, make resolves against taking on you authority and rule. He bids you sell and give alms; therefore, hate to spend money on yourself. Shut your ears to praise, when it grows loud. Set your face like a flint, when the world ridicules, and smile at its threats. Learn to master your heart, when it would burst forth into vehemence, or prolong a barren sorrow, or dissolve into unseasonable tenderness. Curb your tongue, and turn away your eye, lest you fall into temptation. Avoid the dangerous air which relaxes you, and brace yourself upon the heights. So shall self-denial become natural to you, and a change come over you, gently and imperceptibly.

Then, dear brethren, if you can do this, Our Lord will take you upon Him and bring you up into a high mountain apart. Apart! That is another important word written by Saint Matthew. If you let Him bring you on the top of the mountain you will be separated from the rest of the world, from the profane things. That is precisely the meaning of the word saint.
Let us turn to Our Blessed Mother and ask her to fill our hearts with the desire of holiness. But let us not forget that only her Son can make us saint and certainly not ourselves. That will not happen until we will have totally surrendered ourselves. May this Lenten season help us realize this.

vendredi, mars 06, 2009

Is the modern Catholic political theory really Catholic?

The following text is an excerpt from Liberty or Equality by Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, an Austrian Catholic monarchist who used to describe himself as "an extreme conservative arch-liberal." For him, the majority rule in a democracy is a threat to individual liberty. One may not agree with him, but I like his works as they give us a different point of view than the one genrally admitted in our modern societies. After all, being unpolitecally correct does not necessary mean being wrong. For those who have not given up their sound reason and their common good sense, these words might be interesting. They are also an invitation to read his works since a few lines cannot be sufficient to apprehend the whole subject.

Liberty or Equality : Available at Mises Institute - Auburn, AL

One of our modern authors has made the remark that, from a Christian point of view, the efficiency of democracy remains a secondary question; any form of government has to be judged by the Christian primarily as to its ethical content. The validity of this statement cannot be doubted, and it is theoretically possible that the Christian here, as in other matters, is faced by a tragic dilemma between the good and the useful. Only a Benthaminte would refuse to see a potential antithesis between these two notions. The days are also past when infinite wisdom has been attributed to collective judgments.
But, on the other hand, the chorus of those defending democracy on ethical grounds has been considerably swelled in recent years; indeed, the ranks of the philosophic defenders of democracy have been strengthened by moral theologians, not only of the Protestant persuasion, but even of the Catholic Church. It has been argued again and again that self-government pertains to man’s nature, and that democracy actually is self-governing. In spite of Saint Thomas’ condemnation of democracy, we have seen Neo-Thomists trying to prove conclusively that democracy is not only a good form of government but even the only truly moral one. These thinkers often insist on debating their problem in vacuo. This is, of course, their right, provided that they are able to withstand the temptation to introduce into their deliberations entirely fictitious elements. We believe that their concept of man is artificial, that their notions of the common good are out of focus, that their idea of society is a curious patchwork of opposites partly atomistic and partly totalitarian, and that their desire to make a popular idea plausible may have blurred their vision. Their mistakes are not only of a philosophical but also of a theological nature. There is a very strong flavor of Rousseau in their arguments. I t must, in fact, be admitted that Catholic political theory in general looks, from a strict Lutheran point of view, rather optimistic and even Roussellian.

mercredi, mars 04, 2009

On fasting

Fasting is not really something that we naturally like, yet it is something good and even necessary, and as such we should learn how to like it. The following texts may help us and encourage us to fast with a true spirit of penance.

"After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry."

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1434 The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one's neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one's neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity "which covers a multitude of sins."

1969 The New Law practices the acts of religion: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, directing them to the "Father who sees in secret," in contrast with the desire to "be seen by men."

2043 The fifth precept (“You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.") ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts; they help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.

N.B: The Code of Canon Law prescribes only two days of penance: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Even though there is no canonical obligations to fast on other days, it is not prohibited to fast more. (Christian life is not only doing what is prescribes by the Laws, but is firt a life of union-imitation of Christ) Fasting during Ember Days, Vigil Days and more often during Lent would be a good thing to do - and conform to the old disciplinary traditions of the Church.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

An act is virtuous through being directed by reason to some virtuous good. Now this is consistent with fasting, because fasting is practiced for a threefold purpose. First, in order to bridle the lusts of the flesh, wherefore the Apostle says:"In fasting, in chastity," since fasting is the guardian of chastity. For, according to Jerome: "Venus is cold when Ceres and Bacchus are not there," that is to say, lust is cooled by abstinence in meat and drink. Secondly, we have recourse to fasting in order that the mind may arise more freely to the contemplation of heavenly things: hence it is related of Daniel that he received a revelation from God after fasting for three weeks. Thirdly, in order to satisfy for sins: wherefore it is written (Joel 2:12): "Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning." The same is declared by Augustine in a sermon: "Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one's flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, kindles the true light of chastity."

Saint Augustine

First and foremost, clearly, please remember the poor, so that what you withhold from yourselves by living more sparingly, you may deposit in the treasury of heaven. Let the hungry Christ receive what the fasting Christian receives less of. Let the self-denial of one who undertakes it willingly become the support of the one who has nothing. Let the voluntary want of the person who has plenty become the needed plenty of the person in want.

Venerable Louis of Granada

Gluttony urges: God created all these things for us, and he who refuses them despises the benefits of God. Temperance answers: True, God created these things for our maintenance, but He willed that we should use them with moderation, for He has also imposed upon us the duty of sobriety and temperance. It was principally a disregard of these virtues which brought destruction upon the city of Sodom. (Cf. Ezech. 16:49). Therefore, a man, even when enjoying good health, should consult necessity rather than pleasure in the choice of his food. He has perfectly triumphed over this vice who not only limits the quantity of his food, but who denies himself delicacies except when necessity, charity, or politeness prompts him to accept them.

Saint John Mary Vianney

We should gain a great deal for Heaven at our meals; we should deprive ourselves of many little things which, without being hurtful to our body, would be very pleasing to the good God; but we choose rather to satisfy our taste than to please God; we drown, we stifle our soul in wine and food. My children, God will not say to us at the Day of Judgment, "Give Me an account of thy body"; but, "Give Me an account of thy soul; what hast thou done with it?" . . . What shall we answer Him? Do we take as much care of our soul as of our body? O my children! let us no longer live for the pleasure of eating; let us live as the saints have done; let us mortify ourselves as they were mortified. The saints never indulged themselves in the pleasures of good cheer. Their pleasure was to feed on Jesus Christ! Let us follow their footsteps on this earth, and we shall gain the crown which they have in Heaven.

John Henry Cardinal Newman

Fasting is clearly a Christian duty, as Our Savior implies in His Sermon on the Mount. Now what is fasting but a refraining from what is lawful; not merely from what is sinful, but what is innocent? – from that bread which we might lawfully take and eat with thanksgiving, but which at certain times we do not take, in order to deny ourselves. Such is Christian self-denial, - not merely a mortification of what is sinful, but an abstinence even from God’s blessings.

mardi, mars 03, 2009

Continuation of the One Hundred Years War

You would excuse me, but I did not give up humour during Lent!
They are brave and strong! They will fight for the Rose and for their flag!
They look over the Channel and wait for them!

But will they resist them?

If three strong and brave Englishmen are not enough to stop one French... I would seriously worry for them !

lundi, mars 02, 2009


Sermon for the first Sunday of Lent
Beginning our Lenten season, on Ash Wednesday, we were saying that having a good will is not sufficient in order to be saved. There are souls that are of good will and yet that are still in danger to go to hell. They do hear the word of God and even receive it with a certain good disposition, joy and peace, this peace that God gives to all the people of good will – et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. But then?

Then, there is just nothing, because their will is weak. They are those described by Our Lord, two weeks ago, that receive the word with joy but have no root. They believe for a while, and in a time of temptation fall away. They do not want to be enemies of Christ, but nor want they to follow him on the Calvary. They believe in the Divine Revelation and accept the Magisterium of the Church but they have not renounced to the world and remain its slaves. The love of the temporal good, human respect and maybe a certain fear inspired by Satan, keep them away from following Christ. It is true that following Christ means carrying His cross and that the cross of Christ is not something that we naturally love. It is true that the society where we live today does not encourage us to accept the message of the cross. We like our comfort, we like our habits and we certainly like ourselves too much. So, when we hear Christ say that if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me, we might be seized with fear. Then, our souls become the places of interior battles where two different spirits fight each other. On the one hand, Christ calls us and asks us to be crucified; on the other hand, we hear the world offering all its pleasures, comforts and attractions: All these things will I give you!

Third temptation of Christ: "All these things will I give you"

The temptation is great! The voice of the world sounds good. It is pleasant to hear, while many find the word of God hard. Who can hear it? (Jn 6,60) So, dear brethren, let us consider what is at stake. Let us consider not only the present advantages that the world offers now, but also and mainly the consequences of our choices. Christ warns us. He warns us many times: wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. (Mt 7,13) That is the way of easiness, the way of the passions that are not submitted to the will, the way of the reason that has rejected its principle, the way of the society that has banished its Master. It is the way that many take because it is simply the most convenient one. It is the way of those who would like Christ but not His cross, the way of those of good but weak will. This way leads to eternal death.
But there is another way: narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! Few they are that find it! Terrible word!

Now I am speaking to men of good will, otherwise you would not be here today, unless you entered this church by chance. You hear the voice of God, and certainly with a certain joy, but is your will strong enough so that you can choose the good way? Are you just a listener of the word of God or are you really ready to follow Our Lord wherever He asks you to go? If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Are you prepared for this agenda? It is certainly not an easy one. You have to deny yourself.

John Henry Cardinal Newman tells us what it is about: Self-denial of some kind is involved, as is evident, in the very notion of renewal and holy obedience. To change our hearts is to learn to love things which we do not naturally love – to unlearn the love of this world; but it involves, of course, a thwarting of our natural wishes and tastes. To be righteous and obedient implies self-command; but to possess power we must have gained it; nor can we gain it without a vigorous struggle, a persevering warfare against ourselves. The very notion of being religious implies self-denial, because by nature we do not love religion.
Self denial, then, is a subject never out of place in Christian teaching; still more appropriate is it at a time like this, when we have entered upon the forty days of Lent, the season of the year set apart for fasting and humiliation.

Dear brethren, self-denial is hard because it is against our nature. It is not the kind of thing that we naturally like to hear, but it is precisely the narrow gate that leads to life. And it is, alas, something that is rare, as Cardinal Newman points out. What he wrote in the XIX century is even truer today in a more materialistic and individualist society.

The Cardinal adds: It is strange, indeed, how far this same forgetfulness and transgression of the duty of self-denial at present spread. Take a class of men who profess much love for religion. Such persons at best seem to say, that religious obedience is to follow as a matter of course, an easy work, or rather a necessary consequence, from having strong urgent motive, or from some bright vision of the Truth acting on the mind; and thus they dismiss from their religion the notion of self-denial, or the effort and warfare of faith against our corrupt natural will, whether they actually own that they dismiss it or not. I say that they do this at best; for it often happens that they actually avow their belief that faith is all-sufficient, and do not let their minds dwell at all on the necessity of works of righteousness. All this being considered, surely I am not wrong in saying that the notion of self-denial as a distinct religious duty, and much more, the essence of religious obedience, is not admitted into the minds of the generality of men.

In conclusion, let us finish with the words of Pope Benedict XVI said at the Yankee Stadium a few months ago: Authority” … “obedience”. To be frank, these are not easy words to speak nowadays. Words like these represent a “stumbling stone” for many of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom. Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus Christ – “the way and the truth and the life” – we come to see the fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves.

May Our Blessed Mother help us surrender ourselves as she did during her life and especially at the Calvary! It is crucifying, but it is the way that leads to life and to true happiness.