jeudi, juillet 30, 2009

Matrimony 3

The Great Sacrament
Saint Paul: "This is a great sacrament." (Eph 5,32)

Tertullian: “How can I ever express the happiness of the marriage that is joined together by the Church strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels and ratified by the Father? ...How wonderful the bond between two believers with a single hope, a single desire, a single observance, a single service! They are both brethren and both fellow-servants; there is no separation between them in spirit or flesh; in fact they are truly two in one flesh and where the flesh is one, one is the spirit.”

Our Lord raised Matrimony to the rank of a Sacrament.

The theologians of the Middle-Ages have distinguished three things in the Sacraments:
- Sacramentum tantum - the sacramental sign: The consecrated material sign taken in the context of a form or rite but not itself caused or signified in the rite and not remaining permanently in the subject following completion of the rite ( except perhaps in marriage with the rings). The water in Baptism and the consecrated bread and wine would be good examples of this element
- Sacramentum et res - the sacramental reality: The symbolic reality or mystery whose presence is caused or signified by the Sacramentum Tantum and also signifies and causes the res tantum. This element remains in the subject permanently in the indelible Sacraments. In Baptism this would be the initiating seal of The Holy Spirit, and in The Eucharist this would be The Real Presence.

- res tantum - the reality that the sacrament pointed to: The inward and spiritual grace which is signified and caused by the res et Sacramentum but does not itself signify or cause.

In the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the sacramental sign is the exchange of the consents.
The sacramental reality is the bond that unites the spouses.
The res tantum is the production of the grace and the union of Christ with the Church. This union is signified by the union between the spouses but obviously not created by it.

For two Christians who marry together, Matrimony is and can only be sacramental.
John Paul II: “He reveals the original truth of marriage, the truth of the "beginning," and, freeing man from his hardness of heart, He makes man capable of realizing this truth in its entirety.
This revelation reaches its definitive fullness in the gift of love which the Word of God makes to humanity in assuming a human nature, and in the sacrifice which Jesus Christ makes of Himself on the Cross for His bride, the Church. In this sacrifice there is entirely revealed that plan which God has imprinted on the humanity of man and woman since their creation; the marriage of baptized persons thus becomes a real symbol of that new and eternal covenant sanctioned in the blood of Christ. The Spirit which the Lord pours forth gives a new heart, and renders man and woman capable of loving one another as Christ has loved us. Conjugal love reaches that fullness to which it is interiorly ordained, conjugal charity, which is the proper and specific way in which the spouses participate in and are called to live the very charity of Christ who gave Himself on the Cross.
Indeed, by means of baptism, man and woman are definitively placed within the new and eternal covenant, in the spousal covenant of Christ with the Church. And it is because of this indestructible insertion that the intimate community of conjugal life and love, founded by the Creator, is elevated and assumed into the spousal charity of Christ, sustained and enriched by His redeeming power

The Sacramental character is the third blessings of Matrimony described by St Augustine – the first one is the offspring and the second is fidelity. St Augustine says: “Sacrament signifies that the bond of wedlock shall never be broken, and that neither party, if separated shall form a union with another, even for the sake of offspring.” We have seen that even a natural marriage is indissoluble. The sacramental dimension of Matrimony does not change its nature but reinforces the bond of unity. It gives the spouses the grace in order to be faithful and united together until death.

John Paul II: “By virtue of the sacramentality of their marriage, spouses are bound to one another in the most profoundly indissoluble manner. Their belonging to each other is the real representation, by means of the sacramental sign, of the very relationship of Christ with the Church.”

Pius XI: “If we wish with all reverence to inquire into the intimate reason of this divine decree, Venerable Brethren, we shall easily see it in the mystical signification of Christian marriage which is fully and perfectly verified in consummated marriage between Christians. For, as the Apostle says in his Epistle to the Ephesians the marriage of Christians recalls that most perfect union which exists between Christ and the Church: " This is a great sacrament: but I speak in Christ and in the church." which union, as long as Christ shall live and the Church through Him, can never be dissolved by any separation. And this St. Augustine clearly declares in these words: "This is safeguarded in Christ and the Church, which, living with Christ who lives for ever may never be divorced from Him. The observance of this sacrament is such in the City of God . . . that is, in the Church of Christ, that when for the sake of begetting children, women marry or are taken to wife, it is wrong to leave a wife that is sterile in order to take another by whom children may be hand. Anyone doing this is guilty of adultery, just as if he married another, guilty not by the law of the day, according to which when one's partner is put away another may be taken, which the Lord allowed in the law of Moses because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of Israel; but by the law of the Gospel."

It is only by considering the sacramental dimension of Matrimony that we can understand the verses of Saint Paul: "Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ: so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things." This has nothing to do with certain social conventions and customs of the time of Saint Paul or with his supposedly misogyny as some feminist or modernist would believe, but it lies in the very essence of the Sacrament of matrimony. It would not be a sign of the union of Christ and the Church is the wife would not be submit to her husband, as well as if the husband would not love his wife as Christ loves the Church.

There are moral and juridical consequences that we shall see later.

Let us say also that as a Sacrament, Matrimony is ordained to the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is also a Sacrament that is for the benefit of the common good: the human society on earth and ultimately the people of God and the elect in heaven.

mercredi, juillet 29, 2009

Matrimony 2

Dogmatic Part: Definition - Nature
CCC 1601: The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.

CCT: Matrimony, according to the general opinion of theologians, is defined: The conjugal union of man and woman, contracted between two qualified persons, which obliges them to live together throughout life.

It is a conjugal union. Jugum in Latin means yoke. By this union the spouses are yoked, joined together. It is a contract, a pact between a man and a woman that is different than any other contracts. Saint Augustine in his treatise on Matrimony De bono Conjugali – The Good of marriage says that the union of the man of the woman is the first natural bond of human society. Then he adds that another bond is formed by the children with is a worthy fruit of the sexual intercourse between the spouses.
This is established in our nature by the Creator as it is expressed in the narrative of the Creation as Saint Augustine points it out: Nor did God create these each by himself, and join them together as alien by birth: but He created the one out of the other, setting a sign also of the power of the union in the side, whence she was drawn, was formed.

First narrative (Gn1): "And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it."

Second narrative (Gn2): "And the Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.

Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam: and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman: and brought her to Adam. And Adam said: This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh."

In his commentary on Genesis, Saint Augustine explains that it is for the reproduction of human species that the woman was given to man. This is expressed by the Commandment of God given to Adam and Eve right after their creation: Male and female He created them. Then He blessed them and said: Increase and multiply.
Motherhood is in the very nature of woman and finds its perfect realization in the Divine motherhood of Our Lady. We shall speak about this later.

Divine institution
The Church has always proclaimed this truth: marriage has been instituted by God Himself even in its original state of nature. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting the Council says: The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by Him with its own proper laws… God Himself is the author of marriage. (CCC 1603)

God has given authority to men in order to subdue the earth. It is a sign of his dignity and a call to collaborate with the Creator to the work of creation. But men cannot change the nature of things. Attempting this means desiring to be like God. Here is the sin of the creatures who want to be like the Creator. Regarding marriage men cannot change its very nature.

Casti Connubii: And to begin with that same Encyclical, which is wholly concerned in vindicating the divine institution of matrimony, its sacramental dignity, and its perpetual stability, let it be repeated as an immutable and inviolable fundamental doctrine that matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God; not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed, and hence these laws cannot be subject to any human decrees or to any contrary pact even of the spouses themselves. This is the doctrine of Holy Scripture this is the constant tradition of the Universal Church; this the solemn definition of the sacred Council of Trent, which declares and establishes from the words of Holy Writ itself that God is the Author of the perpetual stability of the marriage bond, its unity and its firmness.

Ends of marriage
- Procreation and education of children: Thus amongst the blessings of marriage, the child holds the first place. And indeed the Creator of the human race Himself, Who in His goodness wishes to use men as His helpers in the propagation of life, taught this when, instituting marriage in Paradise, He said to our first parents, and through them to all future spouses: "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth." As St. Augustine admirably deduces from the words of the holy Apostle Saint Paul to Timothy when he says: "The Apostle himself is therefore a witness that marriage is for the sake of generation: 'I wish,' he says, 'young girls to marry.' And, as if someone said to him, 'Why?,' he immediately adds: 'To bear children, to be mothers of families'." (Casti Connubii.. cf 1 Tim 5,14)

- Mutual assistance and quieting of concupiscence:
CCT: We have now to explain why man and woman should be joined in marriage. First of all, nature itself by an instinct implanted in both sexes impels them to such companionship, and this is further encouraged by the hope of mutual assistance in bearing more easily the discomforts of life and the infirmities of old age.
A second reason for marriage is the desire of family, not so much, however, with a view to leave after us heirs to inherit our property and fortune, as to bring up children in the true faith and in the service of God. That such was the principal object of the holy Patriarchs when they married is clear from Scripture. Hence the Angel, when informing Tobias of the means of repelling the violent assaults of the evil demon, says: I will show thee who they are over whom the devil can prevail; for they who in such manner receive matrimony as to shut out God from themselves and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power. He then adds: Thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham thou mayest obtain a blessing in children. It was also for this reason that God instituted marriage from the beginning; and therefore married persons who, to prevent conception or procure abortion, have recourse to medicine, are guilty of a most heinous crime ­­ nothing less than wicked conspiracy to commit murder.
A third reason has been added, as a consequence of the fall of our first parents. On account of the loss of original innocence the passions began to rise in rebellion against right reason; and man, conscious of his own frailty and unwilling to fight the battles of the flesh, is supplied by marriage with an antidote by which to avoid sins of lust. For fear of fornication, says the Apostle, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband; and a little after, having recommended to married persons a temporary abstinence from the marriage debt, to give themselves to prayer, he adds: Return together again, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency. (Cf 1 Co 7,9: But if they do not contain themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to be burnt.)
These are ends, some one of which, those who desire to contract marriage piously and religiously, as becomes the children of the Saints, should propose to themselves. If to these we add other causes which induce to contract marriage, and, in choosing a wife, to prefer one person to another, such as the desire of leaving an heir, wealth, beauty, illustrious descent, congeniality of disposition ­­ such motives, because not inconsistent with the holiness of marriage, are not to be condemned. We do not find that the Sacred Scriptures condemn the Patriarch Jacob for having chosen Rachel for her beauty, in preference to Lia.

Properties of marriage: Indissolubility and unity
CCC 1644 The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: "so they are no longer two, but one flesh." They "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving." This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.

CCC 1645 The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection." Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive.

mardi, juillet 28, 2009

Matrimony 1

This post and those that will follow are the framework of the Recollection on the Sacrament of Matrimony given at Cherokee Village in July 2009.
In 1930, Pope Pius XI gave the Church an encyclical letter on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. This is an important text on this topic as it is a magisterial document that teaches the faithful on such an important subject. The Pope began by recalling the dignity of Matrimony, but right after he expressed his sorrow for “a great number of men, forgetful of that divine work of redemption, either entirely ignore or shamelessly deny the great sanctity of Christian wedlock, or relying on the false principles of a new and utterly perverse morality, too often trample it under foot. And since these most pernicious errors and depraved morals have begun to spread even amongst the faithful and are gradually gaining ground, in Our office as Christ's Vicar upon earth and Supreme Shepherd and Teacher We consider it Our duty to raise Our voice to keep the flock committed to Our care from poisoned pastures and, as far as in Us lies, to preserve it from harm.”(Casti Connubii)
In spite of the great renewal promised with the Council of the Vatican, we can notice that today the situation is certainly worst that in 1930. Religious ignorance is wildly spread among the people of God and is more devastating than ever. It is the greatest enemy of faith and consequently of life – the supernal and divine life of God in our souls and even natural life. The Sacrament of Matrimony establishes the spouse in a state of life that is the most common state of life in the Church. Yet, the truth about Matrimony is ignored by a great majority of the faithful who come to the church for their wedding with a vague notion of its nature, of its dignity and of the rights and obligations of the spouses. Many chose this state of life only because of a natural love for their spouse. It is certainly not a bad motive, but it cannot be sufficient in order to establish a stable state of life whose purpose is first to gain eternal life. According to the Principle and foundation given by Saint Ignatius of Loyola - Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul – one should carefully chose only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created. In other words, one should not chose the state of marriage only because he fell in love with someone but first because of a moral certitude that it is the way wanted by God for his eternal salvation.
The danger of founding a marriage only on a natural love is that if this natural love fades or vanishes – and this can happen with time – is that the temptation of divorcing is great. Unfortunately many Catholics couples come to a divorce. Imbued with the spirit of the world they come to this conclusion that the world considers as wise and good but that is in fact is totally opposed to the will of God: “Well, obviously we love each other no longer. It is better for each of us to separate and to continue our lives on our own separated ways.”
Another sign of the crisis of marriage is the great number of annulments that we can see nowadays. An annulment is a legal procedure of the Church for declaring a marriage null and void. It is a statement from a competent authority that states that a marriage has never existed. It was null and void from the very beginning. This can happen and the Church has always contemplated this possibility. But the Church can only make a statement and declare if this marriage is valid or not. In any case, she can make a valid marriage null. A famous and sad example is given by Henry VIII, king of England. If the Church could make a marriage null, she would have accepted the case of Henry VIII in order to avoid a schism. But this was impossible simply because “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mc 10,9)

Annulments are possible, yet there is an abuse of this practice today. Pope Benedict XVI in an address to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota in January 2009, deplored and condemned this abuse. “One can still perceive the urgent need to which my venerable Predecessor pointed: that of preserving the ecclesial community "from the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage being destroyed in practice by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity, in cases of the failure of marriage, on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties” (Quote from the Address to the Roman Rota, 5 February 1987 by John Paul II)
Benedict XVI, and already John Paul II before him, gave some remedies against this abuse.
"In this regard it is helpful to recall several clear-cut distinctions. First of all, the distinction between "the psychic maturity which is seen as the goal of human development" and, on the other hand, "the canonical maturity which is the basic minimum required for establishing the validity of marriage" (Address to the Roman Rota, 5 February 1987, n. 6). Second, the distinction between incapacity and difficulty, inasmuch as "incapacity alone, and not difficulty in giving consent and in realizing a true community of life and love, invalidates a marriage" (ibid., n. 7). Third, the distinction between the canonical approach to normality, which, based on an integral vision of the human person, "also includes moderate forms of psychological difficulty", and the clinical approach, which excludes from the concept of normality every limitation of maturity and "every form of psychic illness" (Address to the Roman Rota, 25 January 1988, n. 5). And finally, the distinction between the "minimum capacity sufficient for valid consent" and the ideal capacity "of full maturity in relation to happy married life"
Basically, what the Popes say is that difficulties in living the state or marriage do not make the marriage null. Difficulty does not mean incapacity and cases of incapacity are rare. Benedict XVI says: “there is a need for a new and positive appreciation of the capacity to marry belonging in principle to every human person by virtue of his or her very nature as a man or a woman. We tend in fact to risk falling into a kind of anthropological pessimism which, in the light of today’s cultural context, would consider marriage as practically impossible. Apart from the fact that this context is not uniform in the various parts of the world, genuine incapacity to consent cannot be confused with the real difficulties facing many people, especially the young, which lead them to conclude that marital union is, as a rule, inconceivable and impracticable. Rather, a reaffirmation of the innate human capacity for marriage is itself the starting point for enabling couples to discover the natural reality of marriage and its importance for salvation.”
Man and woman have a natural capacity to marry, because it is in our human nature. Sometimes there are exceptions, accidents, but they are rare. In order to understand well the nature of marriage, it is important to understand the human nature. Now, Matrimony is also for the baptized people a Sacrament. In order to understand it, we have to understand the plan of God for mankind, what we call the Economy of Salvation.

mercredi, juillet 22, 2009

Saint Mary Magdalene and Provence

Excerpt from the work of Father Henri Lacordaire, O.P.
"Sainte Marie-Madeleine"

Jesus is no longer of this world in visible form. He has left the Apostles, his Mother, his personal friends, but in providing to each of them a life and a death that He had predestined. St. Peter dies in Rome the same mode of death as his Master; all of the Apostles confirm their faith by martyrdom. St. John, himself, is not entirely spared; he suffers in Rome, in front of the Latin Gate, a painful process of torture, and only escapes death by conserving the glory of a willing martyrdom. However, it is clear that the Saviour watches over him with the memory of the special affection he bore him; escaping from the ordeal by a miracle, and from exile by the overthrow of a hated tyrant, he prolongs his days into an old age which attracts the attention of the entire Church, and which allows him to render to the divinity of Jesus Christ, in the last and most sublime of the Gospels, an irrefutable testimony. He belongs to him also, by a privilege unique in the New Testament, to see prophetically the future of the Church, and he dictates the revelation under a form which will enlighten one day and fortify, in their tribulation, in the Elect of the end of time. He dies after that, wrapped in peace and only knowing how to repeat to Christians these words fallen from the mouth of Jesus Christ: "My children, love one another."

The Mother of Jesus does not survive by so many years the Resurrection and the Ascension of her beloved Son. She feels herself borne towards Him by an aspiration that unbinds in the depths of her soul everything which held it captive, and from his tomb, visited by him, she mounts to the throne from where she reigns for ever over the angels and over mankind saved by the fruit of her womb.

The Sainte-Baume Mountain

Like the Mother of God and like St. John, Mary Magdalene will not finish her days by martyrdom. She will also live in the tranquil benediction of her love. She will live at the feet of the vanished Christ, as she lived in Bethany and in Calvary, a lover accustomed to the delights of contemplation, and having no other need but to look with her soul at the One whom she looked upon in other times through the transparent veil of mortal flesh. But what famous or obscure havens will have been prepared for her? Where will she hide the blessed remainder of her existence? Are they to be the deserts of the East, the river banks of the Jordan, Mt. Sion, the field after the harvest of Nazareth or of Bethlehem, which will be the last witnesses of her inaccessible charity? Jesus Christ bequeathed his Mother to Jerusalem, St. Peter to Rome, St. John to Asia --- to whom will he have bequeathed Mary Magdalene?

We know already, it is France who received from the hands of God this part of the Testament of His Son. Tradition, history, the monuments tell it to us clearly, and Providence has taken care to give to their testimony an invincible clarity. One cannot bring one's feet down on the soil of Provence without encountering at each step the memory of St. Mary Magdalene. Everywhere present, she does not live there under the form of an isolated accident; she is linked to the soil by the fact which holds the first place in the history of all Christian people, by the great events of their conversion and nothing doubtless ought to have perpetuated more obstinately in the memory of a race and of a country, than this change brought to its beliefs and customs by a new cult, proscribed, and triumphant by dint of its own virtue. In addition, there is no Christian nation which has not kept the memory of its first Apostles, which has not honored their tombs, built churches in their name, invoked their help, and which does not laugh at the vain reasonings of a blind science against this popular and all-powerful tradition. Provence was not a barbarous grouping of an insignificant people when Christianity appeared there; it was since more than a century a Roman province. It had received from its masters all the culture of Rome, and from its origin all that of Greece. It was connected by Marseilles to all the seaports of the Mediterranean, and untiring vessels conveyed to it from then on the tribute of the furthest shores. When, then, the first sound of the Gospels struck its ears, it could not be in error about those who were bringing to it from the East this great revelation. It knew them, judged them, and, converted by them to the new law, their names were sacred to them as no name had been for them until that moment. Who could doubt it? Who does not see that a people, above all when it is a question of its religion, has a more reliable memory than that of a man, and that age, instead of altering it, renews it without ceasing? That which is engraved on the altar by worship and in the heart by prayer, lasts longer than marble and than bronze, and the kings who have only history to live by have assuredly less than the soul of generations gives to their apostles.

From whom then does Provence date its faith? To whom does it give thanks, after nineteen centuries, for having received, on the day after the proclamation of the Gospels, a ray of the light that had just risen over the deep shadows of humankind? It gives thanks to this illustrious family of Bethany which had had Jesus Christ as a guest and as friend to Lazarus, to Martha, to Mary Magdalene and to their companions Trophime and Maximin. These are the names that the sons have learned from their fathers, and which the fathers have received from the knowledge of their ancestors. Marseilles wishes that St. Lazarus had been its first bishop; Aix attributes this glory to St. Maximin, Arles to St. Trophime; Avignon and Tarascon name St. Martha as the apostle who delivered them from error; and St. Mary Magdalene, united to all by a memory which is supported by this which goes beyond it, hovers over the whole Church of Provence, like the sovereign of the apostolate which established it.

The monuments respond to the acclamation of the centuries. It is in vain that the barbarians have covered Provence with their fleets; it is in vain that, renewing their ferocity once it was appeased, the Saracens have added to the ruins already there long and terrible scimitar blows: those ruins, already consummated twice, have not been able to prevail against the monuments that the people and Providence have destined to perpetuate the memory of the holy founder of the Church of Provence. Marseilles still sees, in the cavern of the ancient abbey of St. Victor, the crypt where there assembled under St. Lazarus the first Christians which it had formed for God, and where rested the very body of its first bishop, right up to the day when he was plucked away from the ravages of the followers of Islam by a translation with which the Church of Autun was endowed. Tarascon venerates the tomb where the relics of St. Martha are enclosed, where it keeps them still, and of which the mark, stronger than time, enables the pilgrim to recognize, despite its mutilation, the very living scene of the resurrection of Lazarus. Two other tombs, still more famous, two tombs reunited in the same crypt by a fraternal piety, recall to the traveler that St. Magdalene lay there opposite St. Maximin, and the name even of St. Maximin, given to the spot when this double and unique burial took place, testified to the impression which it produced in the people -- an impression that has never been extinguished. It is there that St. Mary Magdalene ended her pilgrimage; it is there that St. Maximin buried her in an alabaster sepulchre, in memory of that other alabaster where the saint had twice enclosed the ointment with which she anointed the Savior; it is there that St.Maximin himself wanted his mortal remains to be deposited, beside those other remains so dear to his heart, to Jesus Christ, to the angels, and to mankind and where they came in quest of it -- a veneration that will soon be twenty centuries old.

The tomb of St. Maximin stands for the apostolic mission that was given to him by Jesus Christ. That of St. Magdalene retains the trace of the various characteristics of the life of the Son of God, and on a frieze that the piety of the faithful has more than mutilated, one could see at one time, according to venerable and reliable testimonies, the ointment that she poured on her beloved Master.
All of these tombs, linked together by the divine relationships of Time, of people and of sanctity, convey the impression of the first period of Christianity. One recognizes first of all the Roman form, and this unusual mixture of Christian subjects with the symbols of idolatry, that was familiar to this epoch. There is no archaeologist who has not been struck by it, and the avowals of the least credulous have confirmed people in the respect they attach to these old and faithful witnesses.

They are not the only ones. The liturgy of a multitude of churches is in accord with them and with the tradition, and finally history itself, supporting tradition, the monuments and the liturgy, has put the seal of a final demonstration on all these certainties. For a long time it was believed that the pen of no classical writer had touched upon the life of St. Mary Magdalene and engraved the important events of her life into the solid block of history. Against the belief of people through the ages, the mute language of marble, the feasts and lessons of the Church, the chain of all this proof -- was opposed the primitive and continuous silence of human writings. It was asked where was the history of St. Magdalene and if before the 11th or 12th century there had been found in the libraries of Europe any trace of a biography consecrated to a woman who ought so naturally to have seduced the heart and to have inspired the genius of saints. At Oxford, in one of the 24 colleges of this famous university, a college still dedicated today to St. Mary Magdalene, pious hands have discovered a manuscript bearing the name of Raban-Maur, Archbishop of Mainz at the beginning of the ninth century, and containing the life of St. Martha and of St. Mary Magdalene. The authenticity of this manuscript has been confirmed by the collection of letters that in the archaeological world inspire confidence in the date of the book, its authenticity and its integrity.

We will not enter into these details, which are to be found elsewhere, and we will limit ourselves to saying that Raban-Maur was, in the 9th century, by his knowledge, his piety, his influence, his renown and his dignities, one of the most considerable men of his time. Abbot of Fuld for 20 years, then retired voluntarily, by the resignation of this office, into a deep solitude, then called despite himself to the archbishopric of Mainz, he shines out in his century by everything that can recommend him to posterity, the exactitude and sincerity of a historian. His biography of St. Martha and of St. Mary Magdalene is sober, he follows the Gospels step by step, and when the Gospel vanishes with the ascension of our Savior, he draws on writings that he declares to be ancient and to have been the foundation of his account.
And, moreover, these ancient writings have been rediscovered as have his own; they have been unearthed in the public libraries of Paris: pages all the more precious and venerated in that in comparing them to the history of Raban-Maur, one recognizes them almost word for word. They are of the kind, according to the testimony of the Archbishop of Mainz, that are well before the ninth century, since he calls them ancient, and they are in effect, in their naturalness and their brevity, of the taste of a century that had not yet known, with regard to saints, the vain amplifications of a false rhetoric. They are thought to be of the fifth and sixth centuries, that is to say from an epoch where all the monuments of St. Magdalene's apostolate and of her companions in Provence were still young, where the invasion of the barbarians and that of the Saracens had not yet destroyed the very names of our churches, from which, as a consequence, it had been easy to draw, in order to write them, annals true and certain.

Scenic view from the grotto of Saint Mary Magdelene that she could contemplate every day

It is thus that time, instead of weakening the glory of St. Mary Magdalene, has prepared for her resurrection. What is happening today for the Christian Bible, whose veracity has been confirmed by the same lapse of time, has happened also for the Bible of St. Mary Magdalene. A deeper science has reclothed the tradition in a more vivid light, and, taking up henceforth the life of our dear and illustrious saint at the empty sepulchre of the Savior, we can follow its course in this blessed land of Provence.

Today there is a little Dominican community that takes care of the grotto of Saint Mary Madgelene. Find more information and beautiful pictures on their website:

They come in the clothing of sheep

Sermon for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost
(Without the story of the bottle of wine and the drop of gazoline)
By their fruits you shall know them! With these words Our Lord warns us against the false prophets. They come in the clothing of sheep. We shall not recognize them by their appearances or their looks but by their fruits. It usually takes time before you can see the first fruits of a tree. It is a process that takes several years. So, Our Lord asks us to be patient and to not succumb immediately to the enthusiasm of novelty or to the appeal of extraordinary facts. “I have heard about this priest or this minister, what does he do! He is amazing, and so nice! He is a man of God for sure, he can heal people and he performs miracles.” Then you leave your church and change your habits to follow this new shepherd who will lead you to Christ… until you find another one that you find more attractive.
This kind of behavior is unfortunately not rare in a country where religion has become a business and with its market. Thousands of Christians are simply the victims – more or less consenting – of the false prophets against whom Christ precisely warns us. They come in clothing of sheep. Saint John Chrysostom explains that they are neither the Jews nor the Gentiles, but the heretic Christians who have the clothing, the look of the sheep. The clothing is the appearance of Christianity, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. They pretend to give you God but in fact they devour your soul.
Of course we think first about all the different Christian denominations that are so flourishing in the U.S. especially here in the South. They all look good. After all it can not be a bad thing to speak about Jesus Christ, especially in a corrupted world that returns to secularism and paganism. Many would tell you that it is better to be a Christian, whatever is your denomination, rather than an atheist or a pagan. They would add that there are different ways of worshiping Christ; you just have to find the one that is the best for you, according to your preference, to what you like.
The problem, brethren, is that we do not have – in fact we cannot – choose between two evils. I do not care if it is a better to be a Christian of whatever denominations rather than a pagan, because unless you belong to the true Church founded by Christ, being a Christian is not a good thing. Being a heretic is a very grave sin that leads to hell! Who is not with Christ is against Him. The fact is that all the false religions that pretend to be Christian are in the same side as the atheists and pagans. They are together against the truth.
Until a recent time, this was the clear teaching of the Catholic Church that has always warned and defended her sheep against the wolves. And it is still the teaching of the Church today, because it cannot change. There is no salvation outside the Church. It is a dogma and it will remain a dogma until the end of times. But today, this truth is tainted and dissolved in an insipid soup, because many wolves have put on the clothing of the sheep, and they are within the Catholic Church. They officially belong to the Church of Christ but they do not give the doctrine of Christ.
We recognize a tree by its fruits. What are the fruits of these false prophets? An abandon of the true doctrine and spirit of the Church for a kind of universal humanism! A loss of missionary zeal – if everybody is saved, why would you make some efforts to convert other? A loss of the preaching of the truth for an exaltation of tolerance as if it were the highest virtue! The absolute rule is now to not offend people and to respect their beliefs and behaviors, whatever they are. A loss of spirit of penance and of mortification! A loss of the sense of sin! A loss of the sense of reparation! A loss of the true meaning of the priesthood and of the hierarchical dimension of the Church! A loss of the sense of the sacredness which has for horrible consequence the fact that the churches are now social halls where people spend a lot of time to chat instead of being the sacred temple where we adore with humility the King of Kings hidden in the tabernacle! A loss of many things which are so characteristic of the Catholic Church! Is it the prelude to the great apostasy? It might be, but we shall see.

lundi, juillet 20, 2009

Recollection for married couples

Seeking Christ in the Sacrament of Matrimony

From Monday 27th to Thursday 30th
Lecture each day at noon and 7 pm
Saint Michael's church, Cherokee Village

"This is a great Sacrament" (Ephesians 5,32)

vendredi, juillet 10, 2009

Saint John Bosco Academy

Saint John Bosco Academy is opening soon, in August 2009.

A new Catholic school in Northern Arkansas

"Saint John Bosco Academy is founded by and supported by families who are dedicated to the traditional Mass of the Latin Rite. As such, we place great emphasis on understanding the Catholic customs and traditions which have survived the test of time. The school schedule is based on the liturgical cycle, and academic life revolves around the liturgical calendar and feast days."
Information about Saint John Bosco Academy:

mercredi, juillet 01, 2009

Little thought

Yesterday evening, as I was returning from Mountain Home after Holy Mass, I turned on the radio in my car. Yes, I do not listen only to Baroque music and Corsican Polyphony, things that we do not hear often on the local radios of North Arkansas. Instead, there was a protestant Pastor who spoke on the station – and this happens often on the local radios of North Arkansas. I listened to him, out of curiosity, to know what our separated brothers have to say. In fact it was a commentary of the Our Father and the Pastor said many good things that Catholics can receive. Then he came to the subject of our personal relationships with God and with others. He explained that we must acknowledge a hierarchy in our relations with others. Our relationship with God must be above all other kinds of relations with others. In fact, our relationships towards others must be grounded on our relationship with God, but on the other hand, our relationships with others affect our relationship with God. As Catholics, we can only agree.

Now this Pastor said that as a minister, he follows this order of relationships: first with God; then with his wife and children; finally with his flock – I am not sure of the word he used, but he meant the people he has care in his ministry. So, his family comes right after God and before his ministry. He is right. This is the right order that everyone should follow. So, I thought that this protestant minister, certainly even without thinking about that, gave a very good point for the celibacy of the ministers of Christ. The consecrated celibacy is truly a richness of the Catholic Church. Men and women who have embraced it are signs of the Kingdom of God, as Matrimony is… but in a different manner. Let the priests of Jesus Christ be totally dedicated to their flock. Thanks to this protestant minister for helping us to remember this, even though it was certainly not his intention!