mercredi, décembre 08, 2010

A church for the Glory of God

Saint Pio de Pietrelcina Latin Mass Community needs your help
for a great project:

- A Romanesque Church, for the glory of God, where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass shall be offered daily according to the ancient magnificent Liturgy.

- A school for Saint John Bosco Academy and Saint Caecilia Academy where our children will receive an authentic Catholic education.

We need your help so that our dream may become reality. We found a beautiful property for sales in Ash Flat, Arkansas that would be perfect for our project. A house would serve as a rectory for the priest and a barn as a provisory chapel until we build our future Romanesque Church.

Rectory and office

A provisary chapel

The location of our future church

Help us and participate to a great project for the restoration of the Catholic culture. You may send your donation by check (order to Cherokee Village Latin Mass Community) at the following address:

Saint Pio de Pietrelcina Latin Mass Community
40 Matecumbe Drive
Cherokee Village AR 72529

Or with Paypal (click the link on the top right of the blog)

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered once a month for the Benefactors.

Ut In Omnimbus Glorificetur Deus

samedi, novembre 20, 2010

A pilgrimage in Louisiana

Pilgrimage of Thanksgiving and of Reparation
From Baton Rouge to New Orleans
November 25th – 27th

Three days of prayer, of sacrifice, but also of joy and Christian friendship, in thanksgiving for all the good graces received and in reparation for all the sins committed, especially the sin of abortion. As pilgrims on earth, we want to advance on the road to heaven and bring with us as many souls as we can. A pilgrimage is a time of conversion and of mission. Join us in this spiritual journey for the kingdom of Christ.

“On the uphill path, sandy and troublesome.
On the uphill road.
Dragged along, hanging from the arms of her two older sisters,
Who hold her by the hand,
The little Hope
Pushes on.
And in between her two older sisters she seems to let herself be carried.
Like a child who lacks the energy to walk
And is dragged along the road in spite of herself.
But in reality it is she who moves the other two
And who carries them,
And who moves the whole world.”

Charles Péguy, The Portal of the Mystery of Hope.

The pilgrimage will begin with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Thursday 25th at 7 am at Saint Agnes church, Baton Rouge (749 East Boulevard) We shall walk to New Orleans. Confession and spiritual direction will be available during the walk. For those who cannot walk all the way, vehicles will follow us. The pilgrimage will end Saturday 27th with a High Mass at the shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (2030 Constance Street, New Orleans) at noon.
Bring good shoes, food and beverage, a sleeping bag, your rosary and your joy and good zeal.

mardi, août 10, 2010

Sermon for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost

Saint Paul helps us today to continue our meditation on the virtue of humility. We have seen last week that this virtue is necessary for justification, and that all the works performed without this excellent virtue are useless. We have also seen that everything we have has been given by God and that, therefore, there is no reason for us to be proud. True humility does not make us deny our gifts, but rather use them for the glory of God. It supposes that we acknowledge first our gifts. It is what our Blessed Mother did when she said her Magnificat: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty has done great things to me: and holy is his name. It is what Saint Paul does when he says: By the grace of God, I am what I am. He, who was a persecutor of the Church, is now one of her Apostles, and this is the work of the grace of God.

Holy Scriptures teaches us about the virtue of humility. Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted. Commentating on this verse, Saint Benedict tells us what to do in order to be exalted. He describes humility as a ladder – the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream – on which Angels appeared to him descending and ascending. By that descent and ascent we must surely understand nothing else than this, that we descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility. And the ladder thus set up is our life in the world, which the Lord raises up to heaven if our heart is humbled. This ladder has 12 degrees that we have to climb one by one.
The first degree of humility, then, is that a person keeps the fear of God before his eyes and bewares of ever forgetting it. Let him be ever mindful of all that God has commanded; let his thoughts constantly recur to the hell-fire which will burn for their sins those who despise God and to the life everlasting which is prepared for those who fear Him. Let him keep himself at every moment from sins and vices, whether of the mind, the tongue, the hands, the feet,
or the self-will, and check also the desires of the flesh.
This is basically what Holy Mother Church constantly recalls us during the Sundays after Pentecost. There is even not an ounce of humility in a person who still lives in sin.

On the 5th Sunday, we were told by Saint Peter to refrain our tongues from evil and our lips that we speak no guile. We can never speak enough of the seriousness of the sins of the tongue, which are often the sins of the coward. Someone once asked Saint Anthony, "What is backbiting?" and he replied, "It is every sort of wicked word we dare not speak in front of the person about whom we are talking." This is truly the nature of backbiters. They cannot do physical harm to those who are absent, so they strike at them with their tongue. Saint Thomas Aquinas says, "Destroying a person's reputation is a very serious wrong." And Saint Bernard declares, "Backbiting is a great vice, a great sin, a great crime."

The Scriptures says You shall not curse the deaf! Here is how Saint Gregory explains these words: "Backbiting someone who is deaf means backbiting one who is absent and cannot hear you. Just as a deaf man cannot hear or understand what is said, so it is with an absent person someone backbites. He cannot reply or rectify the errors of which he is the object."

He who speaks evil commits a great sin. So does he who listens to him, as Saint Bernard explains: “I would have difficulty deciding which of them is more damnable," he says, "he who backbites or he who listens to the backbiter. Even if we excuse it as wit or banter, every jesting word must be banished not only from our mouth, but also from our ears. "

In today’s gospel, Our Lord heals a deaf and dumb man. Speaking and hearing are such gifts from God! But as well as every other gift, they must be used with humility for a good purpose. Sins of the tongues are unfortunately so common throughout the world. But when they come from Christians, they are even more serious, more reprehensible and more harmful. They hurt the Mystical Body of Christ and are object of scandal. On the day of your Baptism, the priest put the salt of wisdom on your tongue and touched your ears saying like Jesus: Ephpheta, be opened. This was done so that you can hear the teaching of God and speak out wisely in order to praise God.

Let us remember, brethren, that we are accountable for what we say and what we listen. The first degree of humility, then, is that a person keeps the fear of God before his eyes. May this fear make us use well all our faculties and abilities for the glory of God and not for our own satisfaction!

lundi, août 09, 2010

In Memoriam

August 6th 1945 - Hiroshima: about 90,000 casualties
August 9th 1945 - Nagasaki: about 40,000 casualties
Plus about 80,000 injured people who eventually died

Total: about 200,000 victims.

I have always considered the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a crime against humanity, there is absolutely no doubt about this. Then I was surprised, for not saying shocked, to hear some Traditional Catholic Americans who say that it was a necessary thing to end the war and to save the life of American soldiers. Ending the war and saving American lives is definitely a good purpose, but not at any cost. And patriotism is certainly a very good thing…as long as it remains virtuous, which means as long as it remains a prudent medium between defect and excess. One can love his country very much without justifying the crimes of its Government. The fact is that on a moral level, nothing can justify the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, according to the old principle: the end does not justify the means.
Besides, in the opinion of many, this was totally useless, as Japan was already almost defeated.

Dwight Eisenhower:
Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. ...the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.

"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude.. "

Admiral William Leahy:
"It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

"The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children."

"Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation." (Cathechism of the Catholic Churc # 2314)

mercredi, août 04, 2010

Righteousness is in us, not of us!

Sermon for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Men’s justice is definitively not like God’s justice, and this is a very good thing. It is a very good thing because God is infallible in his judgments and infinitely good and merciful in his sentences, whether He condemns or He acquits. Men are certainly not infallible and as for their goodness and mercy, though it is possible to find them in certain noble hearts, it is still in a relative proportion that will never attain the divine perfection. Most of the men are rather prompt to condemn their neighbor while they so easily justify themselves. And when these men pretend to be religious, such an attitude becomes simply more obnoxious as it is a caricature of religion. It is true that men have the tendency to belittle the holy things that God has given. This is our nature: we have this treasure in earthen vessels, Saint Paul says.

But knowing this should precisely make us humbler, acting with fear, like a person who would have to handle precious porcelain and would be afraid of breaking it. Cardinal Newman, commentating on Saint Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians, says that righteousness is in us, but not of us. The Corinthians "had had gifts given them, he says. They did not forget they had them; they used, they abused them; they forgot, not that they were theirs, but that they were given them. They seem to have thought that those gifts were theirs by a sort of right, because they were persons of more cultivation of mind than others, of more knowledge, more refinement. In spite of the clear views which the Apostle had doubtless given them on their conversion of their utter nothingness in themselves; in spite too of their confessing it, yet they did not feel that they came from God. They seemed, as it were, to claim them, or at least to view their possession of them as a thing of course; they acted as if they were their own, not with humbleness and gratitude towards their Giver, not with a sense of responsibility, not with fear and trembling, but as if they were lords over them, as if they had sovereign power to do what they would with them, as if they might use them from themselves and for themselves."
Such is the Pharisee of today’s gospel who reckons that he is justified. Such is his judgment. He is sanctimonious, satisfied of himself. He is so full of himself that he even gives thanks to God for what he is. He thanks God for not being like the others that he looks down upon. Pride and prejudice! It seems to be a very old sin. In fact, "in every age of the Church, Cardinal Newman says again, Christians have been tempted to pride themselves on their gifts, or at least to forget that they were gifts, and to take them for granted. Ever have they been tempted to forget their own responsibilities, their having received what they are bound to improve, and the duty of fear and trembling, while improving it."

Every age of the Church, Cardinal Newman says. Dear Brethren, let us well consider that we might be tempted to act like the Corinthians of the time of Saint Paul, like the Pharisees of anytime. For us, who by the grace of God, have been preserved from the modernist errors, for us, who might know well our catechism and the teaching of the Popes, for us who can worship according to the old and venerable Tradition of the Church, there is a danger if we forget that we have precisely some responsibilities for having received such gifts. God asks more to those who have received more, and if you take for granted what you have received, remember that it may be taken away from you one day.

Without humility, all these beautiful gifts from God would become the object of our condemnation. Attending the Latin Mass is not always and necessarily a ticket for heaven. It can also be your ticket for hell if you do not humble yourself. Dom Guéranger, commentating on today’s gospel, reminds us of what humility is:

Humility, which produces within us this salutary fear, is the virtue that makes man know his right place, with regard both to God and to his fellow-men. It rests on the deep-rooted conviction, put into our hearts by grace, that God is everything, and that we, by nature, are nothingness, nay, less than nothingness, because we have degraded ourselves by sin. Reason is able, of herself alone, to convince anyone, who takes the trouble to reflect, of the nothingness of a creature; but such conviction, if it remain a mere theoretical conclusion, is not humility: it is a conviction which forces itself on the devil in hell, whose vexation at such a truth is the chief source of his rage.

So, do not thank God for what you are, because you are just a sinner. Give thanks to God for what you have received. And since what you have is what you have received, do not keep it for yourselves, but share it with others. This is where charity blossoms and it cannot blossom if it is not rooted in the soil of humility.

mercredi, juillet 28, 2010

Only one surgical abortion site in Arkansas

It is still too much, but we can rejoice for the following news received from 40 Days for Life. Deo gratias!

It appears to be official - William Harrison is closing the Fayetteville Women's Clinic due to health reasons. In case you missed it, this story aired on KFSM.,0,7890155.story

Please continue to pray for Harrison, his health, conversion, family and that no other abortionist comes to take his place.

We give all the glory and praise to God that abortions have stopped at the Fayetteville Women's Clinic. Thank you to each one of you who has prayed for an end to abortion in our town, state and nation and taken a stand against the injustice of abortion. As we rejoice over the babies that will be saved and the parents who will be spared from a lifetime of regret by currently not having an abortionist at the FWC, we must continue to pray that abortions will also stop at Planned Parenthood on Township. Planned Parenthood performs medical abortions through RU-486 and distributes abortifacient contraceptives. In addition, it is rumored that Planned Parenthood may be considering building a mega clinic in Arkansas, which means our prayers are all the more important at this time.

In case you are wondering, 40 Days for Life will take place as planned this fall in Fayetteville. Given the recent events, we are carefully discerning the location of the fall campaign. We will be sure and keep you updated. God bless.

dimanche, juillet 25, 2010

Destruction of Jerusalem

Commentary of Saint Gregory the Great on today's gospel

"The evil spirits lay siege to the soul, as it goes forth from the body, for being seized with the love of the flesh, they caress it with delusive pleasures. They surround it with a trench, because bringing all its wickedness which it has committed before the eyes of its mind, they close confine it to the company of its own damnation, that being caught in the very extremity of life, it may see by what enemies it is blockaded, yet be unable to find any way of escape, because it can no longer do good works, since those which it might once have done it despised. On every side also they enclose the soul when its iniquities rise up before it, not only in deed but also in word and thought, that she who before in many ways greatly enlarged herself in wickedness, should now at the end be straitened every way in judgment. Then indeed the soul by the very condition of its guilt is laid prostrate on the ground, while its flesh which it believed to be its life is bid to return to dust. Then its children fall in death, when all unlawful thoughts which only proceed from it, are in the last punishment of life scattered abroad. These may also be signified by the stones. For the corrupt mind when to a corrupt thought it adds one more corrupt, places one stone upon another. But when the soul is led to its doom, the whole structure of its thoughts is rent asunder. But the wicked soul God ceases not to visit with His teaching, sometimes with the scourge and sometimes with a miracle; that the truth which it knew not it may hear, and though still despising it, may return pricked to the heart in sorrow, or overcome with mercies may be ashamed at the evil which it has done. But because it knows not the time of its visitation, at the end of life it is given over to its enemies, that with them it may be joined together in the bond of everlasting damnation."

jeudi, juillet 15, 2010

La voici, la voilà!

L'intégrale du Défilé du 14 juillet 2010, qui plus est, sans les commentaires !
Merci au Ministère de la Défense !

mercredi, juillet 14, 2010

I like this octopus

There is no need to present Octopus Paul, the most famous octopus in the world who was 100% right for his predictions during the World Cup. He can now enjoy a peaceful and well deserved retirement but Paul thought he still had a prediction to make. Is this the announcement of the near coming of the Great Monarch?

mardi, juillet 13, 2010

The truth about Bastille Day

The following text was written by John Zmirak and published on the blog (July 15th 2008.)

Yesterday probably passed without much fanfare in your home, but July 14 is a day I usually try to commemorate. Not because I carry a single drop of French blood (more's the pity -- I'd be proud to be a cousin of Joan of Arc and François Mauriac). No, it's because I think Bastille Day is a solemn occasion every Catholic should remember -- like the feast of the Martyrs of Mexico, or the Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

Bastille Day marks the beginning of the greatest organized persecution of the Church since the Emperor Diocletian, and the explosion onto the world of ideologies that would poison the next two centuries: socialism and radical nationalism. Between them, those two political movements racked up quite a body count: In his 1997 book Death By Government, scholar R. J. Rummel pointed out that during the first 88 years of this century, almost 170,000,000 men, women, and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed, or worked to death; or buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed, or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens or foreigners.

And the first such modern genocide in the West took place in France, beginning in 1793. It was undertaken by modern, progressive apostles of Enlightenment and aimed at Catholic peasants, and by its end up to 300,000 civilians had been killed by the armies of the Republic.

It was ordinary peasants of the Vendée and Brittany regions who rose up in that year against the middle-class radicals in Paris who controlled the country. The ideologues of the Revolution had already

• executed the king and queen, and left their young son to die of disease in prison;
• declared a revolutionary "war of liberation" against most of the other countries in Europe;
• seized all property of the Church, expelling thousands of monks, priests, and nuns to fend for themselves, then sold the property to their cronies to raise money for their wars;
• ordered all clergy to swear allegiance to the French state instead of the pope; and
• launched the first universal conscription in history, drafting ordinary people (most of them devout peasants bewildered by the slogans that held sway in Paris) to fight for the Revolution.

When the Parisians came to take away their sons for the army, the Vendeans finally fought back and launched a counter-revolution in the name of "God and King." It quickly spread across the northwest of France, tying down the government's professional armies -- fighting untrained bands of devout guerillas, many of them armed only with muskets suited to hunting.

As Sophie Masson -- herself a descendant of Catholics who fought in the Vendée resistance -- has written:

The atrocities multiplied, the exterminations systematic and initiated from the very top, and carried out with glee at the bottom. At least 300,000 people were massacred during that time, and those of the intruders who refused to do the job were either shot or discredited utterly. But still the people resisted. Still there were those who hid in the forests and ambushed, who fought as bravely as lions but were butchered like pigs when they were caught. No quarter was given; all the leaders were shot, beheaded, or hanged. Many were not even allowed to rest in peace; the body of the last leader was cut up and distributed to scientists; his head was pickled in a jar, the brain examined to see where the seed of rebellion lay in the mind of a savage. . . .

"Not one is to be left alive." "Women are reproductive furrows who must be ploughed under." "Only wolves must be left to roam that land." "Fire, blood, death are needed to preserve liberty." "Their instruments of fanaticism and superstition must be smashed." These were some of the words the Convention used in speaking of the Vendée. Their tame scientists dreamed up all kinds of new ideas -- the poisoning of flour and alcohol and water supplies, the setting up of a tannery in Angers which would specialise in the treatment of human skins; the investigation of methods of burning large numbers of people in large ovens, so their fat could be rendered down efficiently. One of the Republican generals, Carrier, was scornful of such research: these "modern" methods would take too long. Better to use more time-honoured methods of massacre: the mass drownings of naked men, women, and children, often tied together in what he called "republican marriages," off specially constructed boats towed out to the middle of the Loire and then sunk; the mass bayoneting of men, women and children; the smashing of babies' heads against walls; the slaughter of prisoners using cannons; the most grisly and disgusting tortures; the burning and pillaging of villages, towns and churches.

The persecution only really ended when Napoleon came to power in 1799 -- and needed peace at home so that he could launch his wars of conquest. He patched together a modus vivendi with the pope, and the Vendée quieted down.

This story is little discussed in France. Indeed, a Catholic historian who teaches at a French university once told me over dinner, "We are not to mention the Vendée. Anyone who brings up what was done there has no prospect of an academic career. So we keep silent." It is mostly in the Vendée itself that memories linger, which may explain why that part of France to this day remains more Catholic and more conservative than any other region. The local government, to its credit, opened a museum marking these atrocities on their 200th anniversary in 1993 -- with a visit by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who pointed out that the mass murders of Christians in Russia were directly inspired by those in the Vendée. The Bolsheviks, he said, modeled themselves on the French revolutionaries, and pointed to the Vendée massacres as the right way to deal with Christian resistance.

Of course, it wasn't supposed to work out this way. The Revolution had begun with a financial crisis, and promised to pare back an absolutist monarchy, perhaps along British lines. King Louis XVI -- a kindly if not terribly competent king, who'd lifted legal penalties against Protestants and Jews -- had bankrupted his kingdom bankrolling the American Revolution. (In gratitude, the U.S. Congress hung a portrait of the monarch in the Capitol, and named for his family the southern county which gave birth to bourbon.) The legislators who met in 1789 for the first time in over a century intended at first to reform their government, not replace it.

And some reforms were certainly needed: the ruthless centralization imposed by Louis XIV and XV had hollowed out French political life and concentrated power over the lives of citizens almost entirely in Paris, in the hands of technocrats. Predictably, they'd made a mess of things.

Unlike its sister kingdom across the channel, France had no sitting parliament, no common law protecting its subjects from arbitrary arrest, and an economy largely driven not by free citizens but the state. The French "Gallican" Church, while still in communion with Rome, was largely controlled by the kings -- who appointed its bishops and set its policies. Indeed, the kings of France, Portugal, and Spain had arranged in 1767 for the suppression of the Jesuits -- whose loyalty to Rome and rejection of the Divine Right of Kings made them suspect, and whose defense of the rights of Indians got in the way of "progress."

The educational vacuum created by the destruction of this order was quickly (and ironically) filled by Enlightenment philosophes. The first generation to rise without the Jesuits would come of age in 1789. The abuses that would mark the Revolution -- including mass executions of priests and nuns -- were endorsed by intellectuals schooled on the slanderous pamphlets of Diderot, full of pornographic falsehoods about the "secret lives" of monks and nuns.

Indeed, there's a chilling similarity between the anti-clerical literature that prepared the public for the looting of monasteries and the anti-Semitic canards that were spread by the Nazis. The euphemism that was used to describe stealing monastic property for the state -- "secularization" -- found its echo in the 1930s in the term the German government employed for robbing the Jews: "aryanization." If the Jews are indeed a priestly people, it is not surprising that such diabolical parallels exist.

Just as fascists excused their atrocities by pointing to Jewish prominence in the financial sphere and the press, leftists still defend the persecution of the Church by pointing to her political influence. We shouldn't let them get away with it. I wait in vain for the historian who will write a comprehensive comparison of anti-Semitism and anti-clericalism.

In the meantime, I'll mark Bastille Day as best I can. In 1989, I helped organize a Requiem Mass for all the Revolution's victims (we invited the French consul-general, but he pleaded a prior engagement). On several subsequent anniversaries, I've thrown a memorial party on the day, with foods and wines from the Vendée and counter-revolutionary songs. (Recipes and lyrics appear in each of my Bad Catholic's guides.) In the Christian spirit of transforming suffering into joy, I think that the hearty folk who fought for God and king would appreciate the gesture. But in the Vendée itself, a French friend has told me, some people still wear black armbands on their country's national holiday.

samedi, juillet 10, 2010

Rediscovering simplicity of life!

I was happy when I recently found the English translation of a very good book that I read some years ago when I was in the Seminary: Abandonment to Divine Providence by Father de Caussade, s.j.
Father de Caussade (1675-1751) was a French Jesuit, director of souls, preacher of the Spiritual Exercises. He wrote several books of spiritualy that are all helpful and accessible to anyone. He is known for his belief in the sacredness of the present moment, or the "eternal now", proof that the Jesuits can be be close to the Benedictines.... sometimes! We will come back to this notion soon.
For now, as an appetizer, enjoy the following words of Father de Caussade. May they help us to discover the simplicity of life that we need.

"God still speak today as he spoke to our fathers, when there were no spiritual directors or set methods. Then, spirituality consisted in fidelity to the designs of God, for it had not yet been reduced to an art and explained in a lofty and detailed manner with many rules, maxims, and instructions. Surely our present needs demand this, but it was not so in former times when we were more upright and simple. Then it was enough for those who led a spiritual life to see that each moment brought with it a duty to be faithfully fulfilled. On that duty the whole of their attention was fixed at each successive moment, like the hand of the clock which marks each moment of the hour. Under God’s unceasing guidance their spirit turned without conscious effort to each new duty as it was presented to them by God each hour of the day."

vendredi, juillet 09, 2010

Le Mont Saint Michel

De magnifiques images de la Merveille de l'Occident.
Merci à MGRoyaume

"Plus loin, dans la ligne bleuâtre des flots aperçus, d'autres roches noyées montraient leurs crêtes brunes ; et l'œil, continuant le tour de l'horizon vers la droite, découvrait à côté de cette solitude sablonneuse la vaste étendue verte du pays normand, si couvert d'arbres qu'il avait l'air d'un bois illimité. C'était toute la nature s'offrant d'un seul coup, en un seul lieu, dans sa grandeur, dans sa puissance, dans sa fraîcheur et dans sa grâce; et le regard allait de cette vision de forêts à cette apparition du mont de granit, solitaire habitant des sables, qui dressait sur la grève démesurée son étrange figure gothique." (Guy de Maupassant)
Au centre

mercredi, juillet 07, 2010

The Nature of Sacramental Grace (V)

By Father Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
Our dignity is further revealed in the Sacrament of Penance. In order to receive absolution, men and women entrust the priest with their secret thoughts and desires, which not even the Angels themselves are allowed to know. And thus the priest actually cooperated with God in giving back life to the soul. So, whether he is celebrating Mass or ministering to souls, he is another Christ. His priesthood is a splendid participation in the priesthood of Christ; he is Christ’s minister, His living, conscious instrument for the saving of souls.

Remember that the priest in celebrating Mass is so closely united to Christ – the principal Offerer – as his instrument that the one effect of Consecration is produced by both of them together, just as a writer and his pen produce the same effect. The effect of Consecration – the changing of the substance of bread and wine – is produced by God as the principal agent, by the huminity of Christ as the instrument conjoined to the divinity, and by the celebrant as a separate instrument, conscious and free.

It might be objected that the Sacramental grace of the priesthood is of less worth than the priestly character, for although the latter is indelible, sacramental grace, like Sanctifying Grace, is lost by mortal sin. This is a serious difficulty, since the more perfect an accidental reality, the more firmly does it inhere in the substance to which it belongs. Therefore, grace, which can be lost, does appear to be less perfect than the character which can never be lost.

In reply to this objection, notice why it is that the character cannot be lost. It is not because of its own perfection and dignity, but because it is conferred for the valid celebration of Mass and for the valid administration of Penance, which provide for the spiritual welfare of the faithful. This is very well explained by St. Thomas: “The sacramental character is a sharing of Christ’s priesthood by His faithful…”; also, in answer to the first objection: “Grace is present in the soul as a form complete in its being, whereas the character is there as an instrumental power. Now a complete form is present in its subject according to the condition of that subject , so that grace is present in the soul of a person here on earth according to the volatile nature of the will. But an instrumental power is to be considered rather from the point of view of the condition of the principal agent; hence the character is indelibly present in the soul not because of any perfection of its own but because of the perfection belonging to Christ’s priesthood, from which the character originates as an instrumental power.” (IIIa, Q.63, art 5c).

Again, in answer to the third objection, St. Thomas says: “The character endures even after this life, in the good as redounding to their glory, in the wicked as stressing their disgrace, just as the character of military service remains in a soldier after the victory has been won, as the mark of honor in the victors, as a mark of dishonor in the vanquished.”

This concludes for the present our study of the dignity of Christ’s priesthood and of ours.

vendredi, juillet 02, 2010

Saint John Bosco Academy coat of arm

We are glad to present our new coat of arm

Visit Saint John Bosca Academy's website:

The Nature of Sacramental Grace (IV)

By Father Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange
Therefore the sacramental grace of the priesthood, since it is a permanent and intrinsic mode of habitual grace, can be looked upon as a feature of the priest’s spiritual character which is meant to develop and grow to perfection – to the age of maturity in the spiritual life.

It follows that while no growth is possible in the character of Holy Orders, which empowers a man to exercise validly the priestly functions, yet the sacramental grace, having as its aim an increasingly holy celebration of Mass and administration of Penance, is intensified at the same time as habitual grace, which it modifies and strengthens in a special way. True, this is not expressed in so many words in the theological works, but it is deduced as certain from the purpose of these divine gifts.

And thus all are agreed that the sacramental grace of Holy Orders should bear fruit and that it entitles a man to further and higher actual graces – provided no obstacle is put in the way. It develops rather like the features of a child countenance, which change with the different facial expressions of smiling, crying, blinking, etc. Therefore, “how careful we must be not to lose that sacramental grace or prove ourselves unworthy of it by receiving the Sacrament without the suitable disposition.” (Billuart )

The value of our priesthood is also evident in the fact to which we have already alluded – namely, that so far as the Consecration of the Eucharist is concerned, the Bishop himself has no greater power than the priest. And this power of consecrating the body of Christ is far more outstanding than the power of consecrating priests and chalices, because the Holy Eucharist is the supreme Sacrament and Sacrifice, containing not merely the gift of grace but the very Author of grace. So we find St. Thomas, St. Albert, St. Bonaventure, Scotus and Soto of the opinion that the Episcopate is not a separate Sacrament from that of priesthood but is its extension and perfect complement, giving the power to ordain, confirm and govern. It is, therefore, the fullness of the priesthood and is intended to be as fruitful in the Bishop as the grace of priesthood should be in the priest.

mercredi, juin 23, 2010

The Nature of Sacramental Grace (III)

By Father Garrigou-Lagrange, o.p.
Is it possible to be more precise in determining the nature of this permanent supernatural reality if it is not a new habit distinct from Sanctifying Grace, the infused virtues or the gifts? So far we have moved in the realms of certainty but now we must descend to probability.

It seems to be the more probable opinion, held by John of Saint Thomas, the theologians of Salamanca, Contenson, Hugon, Merkelbach and many other Thomists, that the sacramental grace is a special modification and strengthening of Sanctifying Grace, which exerts an influence on the acts of the various virtues. We know already that the grace of original justice had a particular vital force of its own in addition to habitual grace which has now been restored to us, and it is this special vigor which is given back to us in some measure by the proper effect of each of the Sacraments. This modal reality added to habitual grace forms the basis of the moral right to the future reception of actual graces corresponding to the Sacrament received. We find something similar – although on a higher plane – in the lives of Our Lady and St. Joseph. Our Lady was given the grace of motherhood, the love and tenderness of a mother, St. Joseph the love and prudence of a foster father, both of them thus receiving a special modification and strengthening of Sanctifying Grace.

Although all the statements in this section have been deduced from the purpose of the Sacraments, this final conclusion cannot be put forward as anything other than the more probable opinion. But our view can be confirmed by considering each of the Sacraments in turn. The grace of Baptism is given not merely to make us capable of living a supernatural life – such as was enjoyed by Adam before his fall and by the Angels – but in order to help us to live as Christians by following the example of Christ in His work of Redemption. And so this grace, by enabling us to live as Christians, disposes us to love the Cross, a disposition not present either in the good Angels or in Adam before the fall.

The grace of Confirmation is intended to make us constant and prudent in witnessing to the truth of the Christian Faith. The grace of Holy Communion is given to unite us more closely to Christ through an increase of charity. The sacramental grace of Penance is meant as a help for avoiding the occasions of sins. The sacramental grace of Marriage strengthens the parties to live as followers of Christ in their married state and to educate their children according to Christian principles. The grace of Holy Orders is conferred that the priest may fulfill his sacred duties – the act of Consecration, sacramental absolution, preaching, spiritual direction – with ever-increasing holiness: and so we speak of priestly love and priestly prudence. It is clear, therefore, that the modality of habitual grace, about which we have spoken above, exercices an influence on the infused virtues, which flow from Sanctifying Grace.

dimanche, juin 20, 2010

The nature of sacramental grace (2)

By Father Garrigou-Lagrange, o.p.
The Council of Florence uses a similar argument, although expressing it in a different form: “By Baptism we are spiritually reborn; by Confirmation we receive an increase of grace and are strengthened in faith; already reborn and strengthened, we are then nourished with the divine food of the Eucharist. If the soul should fall sick through sin, we are spiritually healed through penance, etc.” The Council of Trent declares: “If anyone should say that the Sacraments of the New Law are not essential for salvation but superfluous, let him be anathema.” Therefore the sacramental grace does add something to habitual or Sanctifying Grace.

But what does it add? This can also be deduced from its purpose, but in order to be methodical, we must first decide what it does not add and what is the general teaching of theologians on this point. In this way it will prove possible to discover what is admitted as certain by everyone and what is the more probable opinion where certainty cannot be attained.

It is the common teaching of theologians that sacramental grace is not a new infused habit distinct from Sanctifying Grace. On the one hand, the soul is already sufficiently sanctified in its essence by habitual grace, which makes us sharers in the divine nature, just as Adam before his falls and the Angels were sanctified without receiving the Sacraments; on the other hand, the faculties of our soul are sufficiently empowered to perform supernatural acts by the infused virtues and the seven gifts, which flow from Sanctifying Grace. Therefore, sacramental grace is not a new infused habit.

All theologians are also agreed that the sacramental grace adds to Sanctifying Grace a definite right to receive at the appropriate moment those actual graces which correspond to the end of each of the Sacraments. Without this addition, the sacramental grace would be possessed by anyone in the state of Sanctifying Grace, and thus no special grace would be produced by any of the Sacraments. So the very least we can say of each of the Sacraments is that they give this title to special actual graces.

But this title, being a relative and morale reality, needs a real foundation which cannot be other than the sacramental grace enduring in the soul as an intrinsic reality. We know already that our right to an eternal inheritance is founded on habitual grace – the seed of glory – and our meritorious acts which obtain an intensification of that grace. So in a similar way, the right to the actual graces corresponding to the particular end of each Sacrament is founded on the sacramental grace itself, which cannot be regarded as a mere moral or relative entity, but must be the foundation of that right; it is a permanent, intrinsic and supernatural reality inhering the soul. Of this we are certain from what has been revealed about the purpose of sacramental grace. St. Paul speaks about this permanent reality in Timothy: “Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood.”
(To be continued...)

mercredi, juin 09, 2010

The nature of Sacramental Grace

The Nature of Sacramental Grace (I)
With Special Reference to the Priesthood
By Father Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
(From The Priest in Union with Christ)

It is difficult to determine accurately the nature of sacramental grace, and the question is rarely given a sufficiently systematic treatment. Yet it does help to bring out in a greater relief the dignity of our priesthood. We will begin by noting what is more well known and certain about this question from Revelation.
At once we discover that more is known with certainty about the purpose of this grace than about its nature. In fact, the same holds true of habitual grace (sanctifying Grace); what is primarily known with certainty about this gift is that it is the seed of glory of eternal life. But we know that this eternal life is a sharing in God’s own intimate life through the Beatific Vision and an unceasing act of love – acts which necessarily presuppose a share in the divine nature. Therefore, habitual grace must be some kind of participation in the divine nature or Godhead, in order to be the seed of glory.

And so it is the purpose of sacramental grace which is first made known to us by Revelation through Sacred Scripture and Tradition. It is conferred on man to help him exercise worthily and in close union with God those actions which he can perform validly by reason of the character he has received. Hence, the sacramental grace of the priesthood is intended for the worthy and increasingly holy fulfillment of our priestly duties – consecration and sacramental absolution. This much is admitted as certain by all theologians.

But what of the nature of this grace? This can be deduced from its purpose, which is the primary cause of any being; an agent only acts with a definite end in view and produces a perfection which corresponds to that end. St. Thomas asks whether the sacramental grace adds anything further to habitual grace, which he calls “the grace of the virtues and gifts,” since the infused virtues and the seven gifts (of the Holy Ghost) have their origin in that grace – that was true even of Adam before his fall, and of the Angels, although they had not received the Sacraments. He replies that it must add something, otherwise there would be no point in conferring the Sacraments on those who already possess the grace of virtues and gifts. (Cf IIIa, Q.62, art 2)

Confirmation and the Eucharist are received by persons already baptized, but such Sacraments are meaningless unless they produce some special effect. To suggest that they merely produce an increase of grace is not sufficient, for the frequent repetition of one and the same Sacrament would have a similar effect. Certainly there would never be any need for more than three Sacraments: Baptism for the reception of the first grace, Penance for those who had lost their baptismal grace, and a third Sacrament for the increase of the grace in a just. So any solution of the problem along those lines could never explain why there are seven Sacraments specifically distinct from each other, which must, therefore confer a special grace if they are not to be pointless. The whole question depends on this notion of “purpose.”

lundi, juin 07, 2010

Sermon for Corpus Christi

Not surprisingly at the end of the Year for the Priests, the Holy Father invited the faithful to meditate on the relation that exists between the Eucharist and the Priest. There is certainly more than a relation of causality between the priest and the Eucharist. Yes, it is true that it is the priest who confects the Eucharist and as such is really the agent that produces this admirable Sacrament. In fact he is not the first and primary agent. The changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus is produced first by God as the principal agent, by the humanity of Christ as the instrument conjoined to the divinity, and by the celebrant as a separate instrument, conscious and free, Father Garrigou-Lagrange explains.

And this shows the great dignity of the priest, who, though simply an instrumental cause, has still a power on God Himself who obeys him. In virtue of his priesthood, the priest has a power on the Body of Christ that he can confect here or there whenever he wants, as a conscious and free agent. But again, there is more than a relation of causality. Consider what the Eucharist is and consider how it is confected, or what does the priest say when he confects it.
The Eucharist is the Sacrament that contains the body, the blood, the soul and the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine. It means that a consecrated host is Jesus Himself. In his sermon for the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Holy Father recalled who Jesus is. He is the High Priest. And His Priesthood results from His very own Humanity. He was not a priest according to the Jewish tradition, the Holy Father says. He did not belong to the lineage of Aaron. He is rather a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek! Nobody knows really who he was. The Scriptures give just few information about him: he was King of Salem, priest of the Most High who brought bread and wine and that’s all what we know. And Jesus is priest according to the order of this mysterious man and not in reason of his belonging to the tribe of Aaron. It shows the superiority of the priesthood of Christ and its mysterious origin that has to be found in the hypostatic union.

The degree of excellence belonging to any priesthood depends on the intimacy of union, first between the priest and God, Father Garrigou-Lagrange says. Since there is no higher degree of union with God than the hypostatic union, there is no higher priesthood than the one Of Christ. Secondly the degree of excellence of any priesthood depends also on the intimacy of union between the priest and the victim possessing the greater purity and value and which is more completely destroyed. In our case, Christ is both Priest and Victim; no other victim would have been worthy of His priesthood.

And being consummated, he became, to all that obey him, the cause of eternal salvation.(Hb 5,9). Being consummated can also be translated by ‘made perfect.’ Then the Pope explains: The term "teleiotheis," translated correctly as "made perfect," belongs to a verbal root that, in the Greek version of the Pentateuch, namely the first five books of the Bible, is always used to indicate the consecration of the ancient priests. This discovery is quite precious, because it tells us that the Passion was for Jesus as a priestly consecration. He was not a priest according to the Law, but he became so essentially in his Passion, Death and Resurrection: He offered himself in expiation and the Father, exalting him above every creature, constituted him universal Mediator of salvation.

The offering of the bread and wine, prefigured by Melchizedek and that is now the offering of the body and of the blood of Christ is the perfect Sacrifice. When a priest confects the Eucharist, he also renews the Sacrifice of Jesus, and both are intimely connected. The Eucharist is both a Sacrament and a Sacrifice, and if we can distinguish between them we cannot separate them. The permanence of the physical presence of Christ is a fruit of His Sacrifice.

We return, in our meditation, to the Eucharist, Pope Benedict continues, which in a while will be the center of our liturgical assembly and of the subsequent solemn procession. In it Jesus anticipated his sacrifice, not a ritual sacrifice but a personal one. In the Last Supper he acted moved by that "Eternal Spirit" with which he will offer himself later on the Cross (cf. Hebrews 9:14). Giving thanks and with a blessing, Jesus transformed the bread and wine. It is divine love that transforms: the love with which Jesus accepts in advance to give himself completely for us. This love is none other than the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, which consecrates the bread and wine and changes their substance into the Body and the Blood of the Lord, rendering present in the Sacrament the same sacrifice that is made later in a bloody manner on the cross.

The priests who consecrate every day the bread and the wine make the Sacrifice of Christ present. As such, it is the greatest sign of the love of God for us. Priests renew the only one Sacrifice of Jesus and make possible the permanence of the physical presence of our Redeemer by saying the words that Jesus said: This is my body – this is the chalice of my blood. And this time, they act in persona Christi. Like Christ was made perfect by his Sacrifice, priests are made perfect when they celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass. By confecting the Eucharist, they perfect themselves, and in a certain way “they confect themselves” if we can say this, because they act in persona Christi, Priest and Victim. This is why there is more than a relation of causality between the priest and the Eucharist. This is a great mystery! This is why the Church, through the mouth of the Bishop admonishes the priests on the day of their ordination: Imitamini quod tractatis: Imitate that which you celebrate – or what you do!

The feast of Corpus Christi is a call for all the priests to live a holy life, the life of Christ. May Our Blessed Mother pray for them and protect them.

samedi, mai 15, 2010

The Cathedral of the Kings

Built in the XIII century on the site of the previous basilica where Clovis received the Sacrament of Baptism – one of the founding acts of the very Christian Kingdom of France – the Cathedral Our Lady of Reims is a jewel of the Gothic art. It is the Cathedral where the Kings of France were anointed and crowned. (The anointing was even more important than the crowning and was considered to be a “quasi-sacrament” similar to the consecration of the Bishops: the King of France was referred as “l’évêque du dehors.”) Twenty five Kings have been anointed in this Cathedral. Louis VIII was the first in 1223 and Charles X the last in 1825.

jeudi, mai 13, 2010

Sermon for the 5th Sunday after Easter

Our collects are some of the oldest evidence of the faith of the early Church, Dom Gérard says. They have survived the slow transformation of the Liturgy and they have now a considerable interest. They are a jewel of the Liturgy for the beauty of their composition with their well balanced rhythm, as it is often the case, and the wisdom that shows through their words. They undoubtedly bear the mark of the Holy Ghost.

Dom Gérard point out two characters of these collects: their doctrinal richness and their educational value. It is clearly the mark of the Church, Mater et Magistra, mother and teacher, who educates her children with so much love, care and attention. And it is first our minds and our hearts that Holy Mother Church tries to educate. I say try, because the Church does not compel us, but really educates us according to the etymology of word: ex-ducere. She leads us from where we are so that we can move forward. And this is a work of patience as we often turn a deaf ear to the Church.

Yes, the Liturgy is definitively a locus theologicus, a theological place where we learn about God and where we are educated in His wisdom. It is a theology whose literary form is poetry. It is for this very reason that it is often very difficult to translate it into vernacular languages, but though the translations cannot always preserve the literary form, they can still express the theological substance.

The Exsultet, the Lauda Sion and the Dies Irae are sung dogmas, Dom Gérard says again. They infuse into the soul light and love. In the time of faith, the Liturgy has been the great teacher of the children of the Church. Hymns, Psalms, Gregorian chant and the Sacramental order poured into the souls the light of the truths of faith and roused men to look at God rather than to look at themselves.

It is still the case, but we do not understand it very well. The frequent meditation of the collects from the missal can certainly help us to rediscover the beauty and the greatness of the Divine Liturgy and therefore to taste more fruitfully the Divine Wisdom. Let us consider today’s collect: O God, from Whom all good things do come, grant to us Thy suppliants, that by Thine inspiration we may think what is right, and under Thy guidance perform it; Through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Meditation on this collect)

There is a great sweetness when we pray with the very same words and the same accents as the first Christians, freshly reborn with the Baptismal water did. Listening to the same readings; modulating the same chants, like them we are attentive to the mysterious voice of the Spirit and of the Bride who says: Come Lord Jesus.

In Memoriam

Dom Gérard Calvet o.s.b. (1927-2008)

vendredi, avril 30, 2010

The Church is our Mother

28th Pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres

The Paris-Chartres Pilgrimage is a three-day walk from Notre-Dame de Paris to Notre-Dame de Chartres, approximately 75 miles. Pilgrims are organized into groups of 20-65 people, that are referred to as "chapters". The "walk" is through the streets of Paris, and then into the countryside. It can be muddy, rocky, and demanding-and the rewards of such a penitential exercise are eternal. Good sturdy shoes are a must. Each chapter is accompanied by at least one chaplain, who hears confession and gives spiritual direction to each pilgrim who avails himself of the priest's presence. This pilgrimage originated in the 12th century, with interruptions for the various wars our European brethren seem to find themselves in from time to time. A plenary indulgence is granted, under the usual conditions.
Pilgrims will meet in front of Notre Dame de Paris at 6 a.m. on May 22nd, and the journey of faith and foot begins.

Information and registration here:

dimanche, avril 18, 2010

Intellectual weapons to win the public square.

I have received the following letter from the Sapientis Institute with a proposal for the readers of this blog and the parishionners of Saint Pio de Pietrelcina. A good doctrinal formation supposes a good education and first, it requires what many people lack because they have been brain-washed by the system (Public school, televison, modernism...): to learn how to think well, according to our human nature.
Please, take a look and consider it.
The vocation of lay Catholics is to regain the public square for the Church. The Holy Father’s vision is that we must do this by "imbuing the temporal order with the Christian spirit and transforming it according to the divine plan". But we cannot perform this mission unless we have been fully formed in the intellectual traditions of the Catholic Church. Only then will we have the tools required to bring the voice of the church to the public square.
To provide that intellectual formation the Sapientis Institute is presenting a unique online program that combines modern technology and a timeless program of Thomistic studies. Through this medium we are able to reach potentially hundreds of thousands of students who, for reasons of geography, age and financial situation, would never be able to complete a course of Thomistic study in the conventional way.

Many people are intimidated by philosophy, mainly because they have been thrown in the deep end by starting with Metaphysics. But we start with Logic. This mirrors perfectly how our intellects develop and therefore makes philosophy accessible to all. We have a number of teenagers as students.

Lectures are delivered via an online classroom that allows students to have the benefit of immediate interaction with the lecturer. We also offer the benefits of traditional distance education. All lectures are available as downloads after the class.

Our course fees are not per person but are per household, so the whole household, even every member of a large family, can afford to get the best in Scholastic formation.

We are currently registering students for courses in Beginning Latin, Formal and Material Logic and Philosophical Physics. Once these courses are completed students can go on to study Ethics, Economics, Politics, and Metaphysics.

Readers of De Fide Catholica and members of the St. Pio da Pietralcina community are invited to attend the first three sessions of any of our courses on a trial basis. Just go to the Trial Offer page.

Link Trial Period Offer:

Link Sapientis Institute:

God Bless

Christopher Cordeiro
Marketing and Student Affairs Director

vendredi, avril 16, 2010

Trip to Saint Louis

Some pictures of Saint John Bosco Academy's trip to Saint Louis on the week of Easter.

Visit Saint John Bosco Academy website:

samedi, mars 20, 2010

The wounded Liturgy

An outstanding speech from Bishop Marc Aillet at the Theological Convention on the Liturgy.

His Excellency Marc Aillet, Bishop of Bayonne

mardi, mars 16, 2010

Lenten Sermon (III)

We often know a thing by its effects according to the principle of causality. It is particularly true in the case of things that do not fall directly under the senses. For instance, it is the case of our souls and of God. An atheist would say: God does not exist; nobody has ever seen him. Certainly, we can answer that a thing does not have to be seen in order to exist. Furthermore, denying God is denying the principle and the cause of everything we know and see. Saint Paul calls such an atheist, a foolish person, for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. (Rm 1,20)
As for our souls, our intellect knows itself not by its essence but by its acts, which put us, men, in the lower rank among the rational creatures. We are not as intelligent as we may think. God knows Himself and everything that He has created by His own essence, Saint Thomas explains. An angel can also understand himself – and only himself and not other created things – by his own essence. But for us, it is more complicated. We are sometimes a mystery to ourselves. But again we can still know our intellect by its acts. If you want to know who you are, consider what you do. With Saint Augustine, we say: I understand that I understand.
Our acts can be divided into two categories: good and evil. The object of our meditation is now about out evil acts, namely sins. In order to understand better the nature of sin, we shall use the principle of causality and consider its effects. Two years ago, when we had a tornado here in North Arkansas, I did not fully realize how bad it was until I saw its effects the next morning when I went out. It is only when I saw all the damages, the trees down, the houses flattened, the land devastated that I understood that it was a serious tornado. Similarly, in order to understand how bad sin is, let us consider its effects.
The first effect is the corruption of nature. In fact we had already the occasion to meditate on this in our first meditation of Lent – remember the triptych. The corruption of nature is signified by the parable of the Good Samaritan as the Fathers explain it. A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Saint Augustine: that man is taken for Adam himself, representing the race of man; Jerusalem, the city of peace, that heavenly country, from the bliss of which he fell. Jericho is interpreted to be the moon, and signifies our mortality, because it rises, increases, wanes, and sets.
This man fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. This is how mankind is now: stripped and wounded, half-dead, among the thieves who are the spirits of darkness. Saint Augustine says again: they stripped man of his immortality, and wounding him, by persuading to sin, left him half dead; for wherein he is able to understand and know God, man is alive, but wherein he is corrupted and pressed down by sins, he is dead.
Yes, because of our sins, the good of nature is now diminished and corrupted. Saint Thomas says that the good of human nature is threefold. First, there are the principles of which nature is constituted, and the properties that flow from them, such as the powers of the soul, and so forth. Secondly, since man has from nature an inclination to virtue, this inclination to virtue is a good of nature. Thirdly, the gift of original justice, conferred on the whole of human nature in the person of the first man, may be called a good of nature.
Then Saint Thomas continues: Accordingly, the first-mentioned good of nature is neither destroyed nor diminished by sin. The third good of nature was entirely destroyed through the sin of our first parent. But the second good of nature, viz. the natural inclination to virtue, is diminished by sin because human acts produce an inclination to like acts. Now from the very fact that thing becomes inclined to one of two contraries, its inclination to the other contrary must needs be diminished. Wherefore as sin is opposed to virtue, from the very fact that a man sins, there results a diminution of that good of nature, which is the inclination to virtue.
There is something that we have definitely lost with original sin; it is original justice: the condition of mankind that we have considered in the beginning of Lent. We suffer each day of the loss of it. And we even make things worst each single time we commit a personal sin. We make things worse for ourselves as Saint Thomas just said. Human acts produce an inclination to like acts. In other words, the more I sin, the more I am inclined to sin against and I can easily be driven into a vicious circle if I do nothing against it. Furthermore, as a result of the loss of original justice, all the powers of the soul are left destitute of their proper order.
There are four of the soul's powers that can be subject of virtue: the reason, where prudence resides, the will, where justice is, the irascible, the subject of fortitude, and the concupiscible, the subject of temperance. Therefore in so far as the reason is deprived of its order to the true, there is the wound of ignorance; in so far as the will is deprived of its order of good, there is the wound of malice; in so far as the irascible is deprived of its order to the arduous, there is the wound of weakness; and in so far as the concupiscible is deprived of its order to the delectable, moderated by reason, there is the wound of concupiscence.
This means that a sinner can ignore that he is a sinner, and this ignorance would be a shameful and guilty ignorance. Or he may acknowledge it and like it, which would be merely malicious.
I think we have for now enough matter for our meditation. Let us continue to consider the effects of sin in our own personal lives. How much am I wounded? how much am I inclined to sin? How much am I guilty? How much am I ignorant, weak and malicious?
Next Friday, with the help of God, we will continue our meditation by considering more effects of sin.

lundi, mars 01, 2010

Terribilis est!

I am on my way to Denton, Nebraska for the Dedication of the chapel of our seminary. This is not terrible, except for the drive that is long - but it gives times for many rosaries. What is terrible is that our seminarians will have a holy place where God will be served and loved with majesty and reverence. Deo gratias!
PS: terrible is an equivocal word. Pick the right meaning!

jeudi, février 25, 2010

Cathedral of Helena, Montana

Just some pictures of the Cathedral of Helena taken last summer (the pictures, and not the Cathedral)

Le sourire

Jean de Larigaudie, Etoile au grand large

Il est un bon moyen de se créer une âme amicale : le sourire. Pas le sourire ironique et moqueur, le sourire en coin de lèvres, qui juge et rapetisse. Mais le sourire large net, le sourire scout à fleur de rire. Savoir sourire : quelle force ! Force d'apaisement, force de douceur, de calme, force de rayonnement. Un type fait une réflexion sur ton passage... tu es pressé... tu passes... mais souris, souris vastement. Si ton sourire est franc joyeux, ton type sourira aussi... et l'incident sera clos dans la paix... Essaie. Tu veux faire à un camarade une critique que tu juges nécessaire, lui donner un conseil que tu crois utile. Critique, conseil, choses dures à avaler. Mais souris, compense la dureté des mots par l'affection de ton regard, le rire de tes lèvres, par toute ta physionomie joyeuse. Et ta critique, ton conseil porteront mieux... parce qu'ils n'auront pas blessé. Il est des moments où, devant certaines détresses, les mots ne viennent pas, les paroles consolatrices ne veulent pas sortir... Souris avec tout ton cœur, avec toute ton âme compatissante. Tu as souffert et le sourire muet d'un ami t'a réconforté. Tu ne peux pas ne pas avoir fait cette expérience. Agis de même pour les autres. « Christ, disait Jacques d'Arnoux, quand ton bois sacré me harasse et me déchire, donne-moi quand même la force de faire la charité du sourire ». Car le sourire est une charité. Souris à ce pauvre à qui tu viens de donner deux sous..., à cette dame à qui tu viens de céder ta place..., à ce monsieur qui s'excuse parce qu'il t'a écrasé le pied en passant. Il est malaisé parfois de trouver le mot juste, l'attitude vraie, le geste approprié. Mais sourire ! C'est si facile... et cela arrange tant de choses ! Pourquoi ne pas user et abuser de ce moyen si simple. Le sourire est un reflet de joie. Il en est source. Et là où la joie règne - je veux dire la vraie joie, la joie en profondeur et en pureté d'âme - là aussi s'épanouit cette "âme amicale" dont parlait si bien Schaeffer. Routiers, soyons des porteurs de sourires, et par là des semeurs de joie.

lundi, février 22, 2010

Letter to Bishop Taylor

As many other people, I was surprised to read the sermon that His Excellency Anthony Taylor, Bishop of Little Rock delivered on January 17th. In this sermon, General Robert E. Lee was simply associated with the culture of death. The same day, I gave a sermon – I was not aware of Bishop Taylor’s sermon at this time – and said that Robert E. Lee, though non Catholic, was a great man of honor and of principle who did not hesitate to sacrifice many things for what he thought being good. It is precisely for the sake of honor – it is justice to defend someone’s honor – that we had to react against this statement of Bishop Taylor, who happens to be my Bishop in Arkansas. It is with all due respect, without any unsound volition against the authority of our Bishop, but simply because we think it is the right thing to do that we sent the following letter to Bishop Taylor. It was written by Earnie Cavin and signed by 56 persons including myself.

Your Excellency,

After hearing about your sermon delivered Sunday, January 17th, AD 2010 and reviewing the text in the Arkansas Catholic, we were struck by your level of insensitivity towards the memory and the honor of a man who is considered to be a great Christian hero by many, many people, including Catholics, across this great state and nation. In addressing the timely and wholly appropriate topic of abortion, you used, what appears to be, your low personal opinion of an honorable 19th century military commander along with your obviously high personal opinion of a 20th century social action figure, to illustrate some perceived dichotomy between the two; linking Lee to the “culture of death” and King to the “culture of life”…

From your words, it appears you hold that, because Lee led an army in a bloody war, he was aligned with the “culture of death”… What’s more, you postulate that Lee was leading this army to keep slavery alive and well. However, you declare that because King led an effort in reforming social laws, through “non-violent” means, he was of the “culture of life”.

You express “astonishment” that Lee would be honored with a holiday in Arkansas. Let us assure you that we are astonished, indeed shocked, that the Ordinary of a diocese in a state which left the United States, and was honored to become a state of the Confederacy, would make such detrimental statements about a man who courageously led many secessionist Catholics into battle against an overwhelming invasion force of a tyrannical government. A holiday for Lee on the same weekend that we have a holiday for King? You asked, ”Why in the world would we ever want to do that?” Well, let us respectfully point out that “we” did not include “you”. Lee’s birthday (January 19) was a state holiday, long before King came to prominence. No dichotomy existed then.

Indeed, the very war which Lee fought was over the centralization of power, by the federal government. Because the war was lost, that same centralization has grown in nature to the point in which the ability of states to nullify laws, such as Roe vs. Wade, has been all but extinguished. When you think about it, the victory of the various northern states paved the way for the current federal system which mandates that every state allow abortion. Considering this possibility, perhaps Lee’s motives are a little more complex and noble than your sermon indicated. Could it be that Lee was more aligned with the “culture of life” than you realized? Therefore, to try and make the point that Lee fought on the side that wished to preserve slavery, making him somehow morally inferior to Dr. King, is a disregard of the facts as well as the bigger picture. Chattel slavery in the west (evil that it was), was on its way out… This was a given. Only two western countries still allowed slavery: The United States and Brazil. Lee was sympathetic towards the repeal of slavery, as were many other southerners who fought and died against an overwhelming invading army, in their quest for independence. The repeal of slavery would have certainly come about, soon, with or without the war.

Your comments would consequently hold the same contempt for all southerners of the period (Black, White, Catholic, Protestant, and Jew) who supported this great state, the Confederacy, and their struggle against an invasion. Were these people also aligned with the “culture of death”?

What about Confederate Catholics like:
Gen. Pierre Beauregard, who fired the first barrage at Fort Sumter ?
Gen. James Longstreet who commanded at Gettysburg ?
Rear Adm. Raphael Semmes who commanded the legendary CSS Alabama ?
Col. Santos Benavides of Texas ?
Gen. Joseph Finnegan of Florida ?
Stephen Mallory, Secretary of the Confederate Navy ?
Were these men also aligned with the “culture of death”?

What about the Catholic men who fought with valor such as those of the:
10th Tennessee?
Louisiana Tigers?
First Missouri?
…. “Culture of death”, also?

What about the courageous men of black Confederate regiments, such as the black Catholics in the 1st Louisiana Native Guard? …“Culture of death”?

What about the Southern priests, such as:
Fr. Abram Ryan, Poet Laureate of the South ?
Fr. Emmeran Bliemel (Killed in Action), Confederate Medal of Honor winner ?
Fr. John Bannon, fighting chaplain of the First Missouri ?
…Aligned with the “culture of death”, also?

Or what about your brother prelates, such as Bishop Patrick Lynch of Charleston, who was the ambassador of the Confederacy to the Holy See. Was he too aligned with the “culture of death”?

What about the Papal States? The Papal States were the only countries to exchange ambassadors with the Confederate States of America. Were they also complicit in the “culture of death”?

What about the Holy See and Blessed Pope Pius IX himself. . . . The only world leader to give de facto recognition of legitimacy of the Confederate States of America, addressing President Davis as the “Illustrious and Honorable Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America”? The same Holy Pontiff who wove a crown of thorns, with his own hands, and sent them to an embattled Jefferson Davis while Davis was held without trial for several years after the war? The same Holy Father who sent an autographed picture of himself to Davis, inscribed (from his own hand) with the words, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

Was the Holy Father then also aligned with the “culture of death” ?

Your Excellency, while your zeal for social justice and work to end abortion is very much appreciated, we feel that denigrating the honor and memory of such a great man, whose courage, leadership, and impeccable moral character has, for over a century, been a model of civic responsibility, to so many people across this land, is both offensive and abrasive. Your public sermon, which seeks to include such a moral man, who is a great hero to the people of Arkansas and the rest of the South, in the “culture of death”, is both insensitive and insulting.

We prayerfully ask that you re-investigate the man and the conflict carefully. We might also recommend that you look a little deeper into the relationship that Holy Mother Church worked to foster with the Confederate States of America. Arkansas’ and the other Southern states’ cause for independence cannot be so simply described as the result of panicked slave holders, as so many northern history scholars have depicted.

We also prayerfully ask that you humbly consider retracting the offensive comments, in the spirit of cultural and pastoral charity.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours, Respectfully in Christ,

jeudi, février 11, 2010

Pope's message for Lent

“The justice of God has been manifested
through faith in Jesus Christ” (cf. Rm 3, 21-22)

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Each year, on the occasion of Lent, the Church invites us to a sincere review of our life in light of the teachings of the Gospel. This year, I would like to offer you some reflections on the great theme of justice, beginning from the Pauline affirmation: “The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ” (cf. Rm 3, 21-22).

Justice: “dare cuique suum”

First of all, I want to consider the meaning of the term “justice,” which in common usage implies “to render to every man his due,” according to the famous expression of Ulpian, a Roman jurist of the third century. In reality, however, this classical definition does not specify what “due” is to be rendered to each person. What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law. In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift: we could say that man lives by that love which only God can communicate since He created the human person in His image and likeness. Material goods are certainly useful and required – indeed Jesus Himself was concerned to heal the sick, feed the crowds that followed Him and surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine – yet “distributive” justice does not render to the human being the totality of his “due.” Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God. Saint Augustine notes: if “justice is that virtue which gives every one his due ... where, then, is the justice of man, when he deserts the true God?” (De civitate Dei, XIX, 21).

What is the Cause of Injustice?

The Evangelist Mark reports the following words of Jesus, which are inserted within the debate at that time regarding what is pure and impure: “There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him … What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts” (Mk 7, 14-15, 20-21). Beyond the immediate question concerning food, we can detect in the reaction of the Pharisees a permanent temptation within man: to situate the origin of evil in an exterior cause. Many modern ideologies deep down have this presupposition: since injustice comes “from outside,” in order for justice to reign, it is sufficient to remove the exterior causes that prevent it being achieved. This way of thinking – Jesus warns – is ingenuous and shortsighted. Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious cooperation with evil. With bitterness the Psalmist recognises this: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps 51,7). Indeed, man is weakened by an intense influence, which wounds his capacity to enter into communion with the other. By nature, he is open to sharing freely, but he finds in his being a strange force of gravity that makes him turn in and affirm himself above and against others: this is egoism, the result of original sin. Adam and Eve, seduced by Satan’s lie, snatching the mysterious fruit against the divine command, replaced the logic of trusting in Love with that of suspicion and competition; the logic of receiving and trustfully expecting from the Other with anxiously seizing and doing on one’s own (cf. Gn 3, 1-6), experiencing, as a consequence, a sense of disquiet and uncertainty. How can man free himself from this selfish influence and open himself to love?

Justice and Sedaqah

At the heart of the wisdom of Israel, we find a profound link between faith in God who “lifts the needy from the ash heap” (Ps 113,7) and justice towards one’s neighbor. The Hebrew word itself that indicates the virtue of justice, sedaqah, expresses this well. Sedaqah, in fact, signifies on the one hand full acceptance of the will of the God of Israel; on the other hand, equity in relation to one’s neighbour (cf. Ex 20, 12-17), especially the poor, the stranger, the orphan and the widow (cf. Dt 10, 18-19). But the two meanings are linked because giving to the poor for the Israelite is none other than restoring what is owed to God, who had pity on the misery of His people. It was not by chance that the gift to Moses of the tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai took place after the crossing of the Red Sea. Listening to the Law presupposes faith in God who first “heard the cry” of His people and “came down to deliver them out of hand of the Egyptians” (cf. Ex 3,8). God is attentive to the cry of the poor and in return asks to be listened to: He asks for justice towards the poor (cf. Sir 4,4-5, 8-9), the stranger (cf. Ex 22,20), the slave (cf. Dt 15, 12-18). In order to enter into justice, it is thus necessary to leave that illusion of self-sufficiency, the profound state of closure, which is the very origin of injustice. In other words, what is needed is an even deeper “exodus” than that accomplished by God with Moses, a liberation of the heart, which the Law on its own is powerless to realize. Does man have any hope of justice then?

Christ, the Justice of God

The Christian Good News responds positively to man’s thirst for justice, as Saint Paul affirms in the Letter to the Romans: “But now the justice of God has been manifested apart from law … the justice of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (3, 21-25). What then is the justice of Christ? Above all, it is the justice that comes from grace, where it is not man who makes amends, heals himself and others. The fact that “expiation” flows from the “blood” of Christ signifies that it is not man’s sacrifices that free him from the weight of his faults, but the loving act of God who opens Himself in the extreme, even to the point of bearing in Himself the “curse” due to man so as to give in return the “blessing” due to God (cf. Gal 3, 13-14). But this raises an immediate objection: what kind of justice is this where the just man dies for the guilty and the guilty receives in return the blessing due to the just one? Would this not mean that each one receives the contrary of his “due”? In reality, here we discover divine justice, which is so profoundly different from its human counterpart. God has paid for us the price of the exchange in His Son, a price that is truly exorbitant. Before the justice of the Cross, man may rebel for this reveals how man is not a self-sufficient being, but in need of Another in order to realize himself fully. Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one’s own need – the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship. So we understand how faith is altogether different from a natural, good-feeling, obvious fact: humility is required to accept that I need Another to free me from “what is mine,” to give me gratuitously “what is His.” This happens especially in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thanks to Christ’s action, we may enter into the “greatest” justice, which is that of love (cf. Rm 13, 8-10), the justice that recognises itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected. Strengthened by this very experience, the Christian is moved to contribute to creating just societies, where all receive what is necessary to live according to the dignity proper to the human person and where justice is enlivened by love.

Dear brothers and sisters, Lent culminates in the Paschal Triduum, in which this year, too, we shall celebrate divine justice – the fullness of charity, gift, salvation. May this penitential season be for every Christian a time of authentic conversion and intense knowledge of the mystery of Christ, who came to fulfill every justice. With these sentiments, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.