Thursday, February 28, 2013

Follow up on Biblia Clerus

After downloading and installing Biblia Clerus (see original post here), I gave it a shot this morning to see what all the fuss is about.  It is excellent!  There are so many valuable resources.  For today, I clicked the "liturgy" icon and it pulled up all the readings for today's Mass.  The first reading is from Jeremiah 17.  You can set your default bible to either the New American Bible (NAB) or the Revised Standard Version (RSV).  I prefer the RSV, so I set that as my default.  I actually prefer the Douay-Rheims or the Knox bible, but it doesn't really matter for purposes of Biblia Clerus.  I don't expect that I will spend much time reading the actual biblical text in this program.  I expect to spend more time just using the linked resources.  The only gripe I have so far is that the help/instructions are in a different language.  Maybe I will be able to figure it out.  It is actually pretty intuitive though, and you can get by without formal instructions.

After pulling up Jeremiah 17, a whole host of resources referencing this text is pulled up in the sidebar.  You can then click on any resource which pulls it up side-by-side with the biblical text.  Here is what I found in a matter of minutes concerning Jeremiah 17.  First the text itself:

Jeremiah 17: 5-13
5 Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? 10 "I the LORD search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." 11 Like the partridge that gathers a brood which she did not hatch, so is he who gets riches but not by right; in the midst of his days they will leave him, and at his end he will be a fool.
 12 A glorious throne set on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. 13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake thee shall be put to shame; those who turn away from thee shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.

References for study/meditation
1.  Catechism 150:   Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature.(17)

(17) Jer 17: 5-6

2.  Athanasius on the Persecution by Constantius:   Such were the proceedings of the Palatine commissioners; on the other hand, those admirable persons, confident in the patronage which they had obtained, display great zeal, and cause some of the Bishops to be summoned before the Emperor, while they persecute others by letters, inventing charges against them; to the intent that the one might be overawed by the presence of Constantius, and the other, through fear of the commissioners and the threats held out to them in these pretended accusations, might be brought to renounce their orthodox and pious opinions. In this manner it was that the Emperor forced so great a multitude of Bishops, partly by threats, and partly by promises, to declare, ‘We will no longer hold communion with Athanasius.’ For those who came for an interview, were not admitted to his presence, nor allowed any relaxation, not so much as to go out of their dwellings, until they had either subscribed, or refused and incurred banishment thereupon. And this he did because he saw that the heresy was hateful to all men. For this reason especially he compelled so many to add their names to the small number10 of the Arians, his earnest desire being to collect together a crowd of names, both from envy of the Bishop, and for the sake of making a shew in favour of the Arian impiety, of which he is the patron; supposing that he will be able to alter the truth, as easily as he can influence the minds of men. He knows not, nor has ever read, how that the Sadducees and the Herodians, taking unto them the Pharisees, were not able to obscure the truth; rather it shines out thereby more brightly every day, while they crying out, ‘We have no king but Caesar11 ,’ and obtaining the judgment of Pilate in their favour, are nevertheless left destitute, and wait in utter shame, expecting shortly12 to become bereft, like the partridge13 , when they shall see their patron near his death.

(13)  Jer 17:11

3.  The Enchiridion:  Chapter 114 - Having Dealt with Faith, We Now Come to Speak of Hope, Everything that Pertains to Hope is Embraced in the Lord's Prayer.

 Out of this confession of faith, which is briefly comprehended in the Creed, and which, carnally understood, is milk for babes, but, spiritually apprehended and studied, is meat for strong men, springs the good hope of believers; and this is accompanied by a holy love. But of these matters, all of which are true objects of faith, those only pertain to hope which are embraced in the Lord’s Prayer. For, “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man”222 is the testimony of holy writ; and, consequently, this curse attaches also to the man who trusteth in himself. Therefore, except from God the Lord we ought to ask for nothing either that we hope to do well, or hope to obtain as a reward of our good works.

(222)  Jer 17:5  

4.  St. Thomas Aquinas - Summa Theologica:  Whether God is a body?

Objection 5:   Further, only bodies or things corporeal can be a local term "wherefrom" or "whereto." But in the Scriptures God is spoken of as a local term "whereto," according to the words, "Come ye to Him and be enlightened" (Ps 33,6), and as a term "wherefrom": "All they that depart from Thee shall be written in the earth" (Jr 17,13). Therefore God is a body.  [Jeremiah 17 is being used here to argue that God has a body, which St. Thomas is going to refute]

On the contrary It is written in the Gospel of St. John (Jn 4,24): "God is a spirit."

I answer that it is absolutely true that God is not a body; and this can be shown in three ways.

 1. First, because no body is in motion unless it be put in motion, as is evident from induction. Now it has been already proved (Question [2], Article [3]), that God is the First Mover, and is Himself unmoved. Therefore it is clear that God is not a body.
 2. Secondly, because the first being must of necessity be in act, and in no way in potentiality. For although in any single thing that passes from potentiality to actuality, the potentiality is prior in time to the actuality; nevertheless, absolutely speaking, actuality is prior to potentiality; for whatever is in potentiality can be reduced into actuality only by some being in actuality. Now it has been already proved that God is the First Being. It is therefore impossible that in God there should be any potentiality. But every body is in potentiality because the continuous, as such, is divisible to infinity; it is therefore impossible that God should be a body.
 3. Thirdly, because God is the most noble of beings. Now it is impossible for a body to be the most noble of beings; for a body must be either animate or inanimate; and an animate body is manifestly nobler than any inanimate body. But an animate body is not animate precisely as body; otherwise all bodies would be animate. Therefore its animation depends upon some other thing, as our body depends for its animation on the soul. Hence that by which a body becomes animated must be nobler than the body. Therefore it is impossible that God should be a body.

Reply to Objection 5:   We draw near to God by no corporeal steps, since He is everywhere, but by the affections of our soul, and by the actions of that same soul do we withdraw from Him; thus, to draw near to or to withdraw signifies merely spiritual actions based on the metaphor of local motion.

5.  Gaudium et spes (Vatican II):  Humanity's Essential Nature

14......... Now, man is not wrong when he regards himself as superior to bodily concerns, and as more than a speck of nature or a nameless constituent of the city of man. For by his interior qualities he outstrips the whole sum of mere things. He plunges into the depths of reality whenever he enters into his own heart; God, Who probes the heart,(7) awaits him there; there he discerns his proper destiny beneath tho eyes of God. Thus, when he recognizes in himself a spiritual and immortal soul, he is not being mocked by a fantasy born only of physical or social influences, but is rather laying hold of the proper truth of the matter.

(7)  Cf. 1 Kings 16:7, Jer 17:10.

The list goes on and on and on..........

There are tons of different resources to help you study the faith from a biblical perspective, and to do biblical exegesis through the lens of Tradition and the Magisterium.

If you have ever ran across a biblical passage that may be a stumper for you, or you aren't sure how to interpret it, this is the resource for you!  Also, this would be great for priests that are preparing homilies, catechists of all levels, and group bible studies.

The only thing lacking in Biblia Clerus is extensive tools on understanding the original languages (Hebrew, Greek and Latin).  However, this is probably not a big deal for the average lay person that is just getting into biblical study.  Another great resource is Verbum, which contains several additional resources, word studies, etc.  I would venture to guess that Verbum is probably a better overall resource from what I have read around the blogosphere, but the downside is that it will cost you over $200 for just the base package.  The great thing about Biblia Clerus is that it is FREE!  From what I've seen, Biblia Clerus has everything that the average lay person would want to study the faith more deeply.  I'm certainly impressed.

Coffee of the month: Guatemalan Antigua Sereno

February coffee of the month from the Mystic Monk
So yesterday I received my first bags of coffee for my "coffee of the month" subscription from Mystic Monk Coffee.  The February coffee of the month is "Guatemalan Antigua Sereno".  I also received a free Monk Press Travel Mug for signing up for the coffee of the month (this mug usually sells for $29.95).  It has a built-in French press.  I also purchased a ceramic monk mug which is pretty sleek as well.  On my way home from work yesterday, I stopped by Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up a coffee grinder since the coffee of the month only comes in whole beans (to keep it fresh).  I had to decide between a blade grinder or a burr grinder.  My internet research showed that a burr grinder keeps the flavors locked in much better, and also grinds the beans more evenly.  Plus you can set the type of grind (fine for espresso, medium for regular drip coffee, and course for a French press).  A blade grinder would work similar to a Magic Bullet, and you would have to hope that the blades don't pulverize the beans into dust (if you are going for a course grind with the French press).  So it was a no-brainer to go with the burr grinder.  Although it was a little more expensive, I think it will be worth it in the long run.

Mystic Monk Travel Mug
The cool part about the travel mug is that it contains a secret chamber underneath the mug that lets you store your beans until you are ready to use them.  So last night, I grinded up some coffee (using a course grind for my new French press travel mug), and sealed it in the secret chamber.  This morning, I tried my first cup of this coffee using the French press.  You just throw the beans in the cup and pour in hot water.  You then let it steep for about 4 minutes, and then use a plunger that pushes all the beans down to the bottom of the mug.  So it basically works the same way as steeping tea, except you use a plunger to push the beans down instead of using a tea bag.

The "Monk Mug"
I was hopeful that I grinded the beans to the right course consistency, because if you grind them to fine, they can get clogged in the metal grid of the plunger, or worse they can escape past the plunger and you will end up drinking sand with your coffee.  And what was the final verdict? worked like a charm!  It was perfect!  Not to mention the coffee is delicious!

Here is the review of this coffee from Mystic Monk.  Click the "More..." link to read the full review.  I wish I had the palate of a true coffee connoisseur.  For example, they describe the aftertaste as "desert wine, caramel and a hint of passion fruit", and the complexity as "dark chocolate, nut, citrus, honey and floral tones".  I don't know about all that, but it is delicious!

They have not released what the March coffee is going to be.  I should receive it around March 15th.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Biblia Clerus

For those of you interested in bible study, there is a free resource on the web called "Biblia Clerus".  This was released by the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican.  In addition to the biblical text, it provides cross-references to church documents, encyclicals, early church fathers, canon law, commentaries, etc.  Here is the link:

When you get to the site, click on "to download" under the "Download or update Biblia Clerus" heading.  This will install the program and add an icon to your desktop.  I am in the middle of installing right now as I type this, so I can't give an official review of it.  The various blogs that I have read have good things to say about it.  Plus, it comes directly from the Vatican, so I figure you can't go wrong.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Today begins St. Louis de Montfort's "Total Consecration"

St. Louis de Montfort's Way of Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary

Today (February 20th) begins the 33 days of preparation for "Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary" for those who want to consecrate themselves on March 25th (the Feast of the Annunciation).  You can technically perform this consecration on any day of the year, but St. Louis recommends consecrating yourself on a Marian feast day.  Of all the Marian feast days, the Feast of the Annunciation is most recommended by St. Louis because it is the day that our Lord himself began to rely on the Blessed Virgin through the incarnation.

I have attempted this consecration before, but have fallen short each time.  I usually end up missing a day, and then giving up after that in hopes of success next time.  I'm going to try again, and hopefully, by the grace of God, I can make it through all 34 days (the 33 days of preparation and the day of consecration).  The 33 days represent our Lord's 33 years on this earth according to tradition.  I figure this will also coincide with our Lenten call to prayer.

If anyone else is going to attempt this, let me know!  We can be accountability partners to make sure we are saying the readings and prayers each day.

Superhero Priest

Creative Minority Report: Holy Heretic Batman - Priest Wears Superhero Vestments

The holy water gun takes the cake....

Friday, February 15, 2013

Beauty matters

I have harped from time to time on how important it is to restore the beauty and sacredness of the Mass.  One of the reasons that my generation does not always appreciate the sacredness of the Mass is because of the lack of beauty in many modern churches.  The wreck-o-vation projects of the 1970s (in the "spirit of V2" of course) were a disaster that was never called upon by the Church.

I like how Cardinal Arinze quipped that he would give anyone a turkey that could show him where in the documents of V2 that the stripping out of altar rails was called for.  I suppose if it was Thanksgiving, that would be a pretty sweet deal.

Apparently turkeys are a popular food of choice in Nigeria as Cardinal Arinze has used this turkey line on other occasions.  I've also seen a quote of his which states, "Suppose a priest comes at the beginning of Mass and says: 'Good morning, everybody, did your team win last night?' That's not a liturgical greeting. If you can find it in any liturgical book, I'll give you a turkey." I've seen this quote floating around the blogosphere, but I unfortunately cannot find the exact source of this quote.  It seems like something he would say, but I digress.......Back to the topic at hand.......

A priest of the Society of Jesus the Priest, which serves in the Diocese of Madison, is becoming the new pastor of Queen of All Saints parish in Fennimore, Wisconsin.  He is undergoing a project to revitalize St. Mary's Church, which is part of the newly merged parish.  I found out about this at Father Z's blog.  Here is a picture of the Church as it stands now.

Notice that this looks like your typical suburban parish that went along with the transformations of the 1970s.  Here is a computer-generated graphic of what the Church is going to look like after the upgrade is completed.  

Father Z still has a problem with the "ironing board altar" that they are going to keep in the middle of the sanctuary (he is quite the stickler for detail.....).  Notice the re-introduction of the altar rail.  Also notice the steps that lead up to the high altar so that the priest can "ascend to the altar" (kind of like Moses ascending the Mount to face God).  The picture of the Church as it is today shows steps leading up the altar, but I particularly like the style of the traditional altar steps that have that "wedding cake" formation.  The high altar will also re-introduce ad orientem worship with both priest and people facing Liturgical East.  It is not that the priest has his "back to the people" (that is a pet peeve of mine).  Rather, it is both priest and people facing Liturgical East together.  Notice how the altar rail and steps sort of "box in" the sanctuary.  That has been one thing that I've noticed about attending Mass at St. John Cantius and Institute of Christ the King the past couple of years.  There is definitely a feeling at these churches of a "sacred place".  A place that a person should not tread on lightly.  In many churches today, there is no clear definition of the "sanctuary".  This makes it dangerously easy for someone to march up to the altar without thinking about the sacred place that he is walking on.  And if there is a careless priest or EMHC (God forbid.....), think about the "crumbs" that you may be trampling on.  Clearly defining the sacred space of the sanctuary is a great step in the right direction of reinvigorating Catholic worship and recognizing a sense of the sacred.  

Where did the idea of facing Liturgical East come from?  The fact is, I have not been able to find a solid answer on where it originated.  It goes so far back that it fades deep into history.  We know that it originated in the Latin Church of the West (which is the Rite that I and most American Catholics belong to).  The idea is that us Catholics of the Latin Rite (standing in the West) face East towards the Mount of Olivet (the mountain ridge east of Jerusalem) where our Lord had ascended into Heaven, since he will be returning from the same place that he ascended.  Acts 1:9-12 states the following:
9 And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10 And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments.
11 Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven.
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day's journey.

There is also much symbolism involved in the reading of the Epistle at the right side of the altar (Liturgical South), and the reading of the Gospel at the left side of the altar (Liturgical North).  The Epistles of St. Paul were primarily written to converts that have already embraced the faith.  We are then told to "preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).  The Church recognized early on that the four Gospels were the starting point of evangelizing the pagans/barbarians.  In other words, non-Christians need to be nourished with milk before meat (Hebrews 5:12).  

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, they were then trying to evangelize the barbarian nations of Northern Europe.  As a result, the Epistles were preached from the South (right side of the altar) to the Christians in the Roman Empire, while the Gospels were preached to the barbarians of the North (left side of the altar).  After praying the Collect (opening prayer), Epistle, and chanting the Gradual from the right side of the altar, the priest would then cross over to the left side of the altar to recite the Gospel.  This "crossing over" symbolized the new covenant being handed over from the Jews to the Gentiles.  The Traditional Latin Mass (or the Extraordinary Form using the 1962 Missal) has retained these ancient customs.  The Ordinary Form of Mass, which came onto the scene in 1970, has unfortunately tossed out these customs from the liturgy.  

When Pope Benedict was just Cardinal Ratzinger, he had this to say about facing Liturgical East in his book entitled "Spirit of the Liturgy" (my emphases in bold):
In the early Church, prayer toward the east was regarded as an apostolic tradition. …[I]t is certain that it goes back to the earliest times and was always regarded as an essential characteristic of Christian liturgy (and indeed private prayer). This “orientation” of Christian prayer has several different meanings. Orientation is, first and foremost, a simple expression of looking to Christ as the meeting place between God and man. It expresses the basic Christological form of our prayer. 
The fact that we find Christ in the symbol of the rising sun is the indication of a Christology defined eschatologically. Praying toward the east means going to meet the coming Christ. The liturgy, turned toward the east, effects entry, so to speak, into the procession of history toward the future, the New Heaven and the New Earth, which we encounter in Christ. It is a prayer of hope, the prayer of the pilgrim as he walks in the direction shown us by the life, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ. Thus very early on, in parts of Christendom, the eastward direction for prayer was given added emphasis by a reference to the Cross. …[T]he symbolism of the Cross merges with that of the east. Both are an expression of one and the same faith, in which the remembrance of the Pasch of Jesus makes it present and gives dynamism to the hope that goes out to meet the One who is to come. But, finally, this turning toward the east also signifies that cosmos and saving history belong together. The cosmos is praying with us. It, too, is waiting for redemption. It is precisely this cosmic dimension that is essential to Christian liturgy. It is never performed solely in the self-made world of man. It is always a cosmic liturgy. The theme of creation is embedded in Christian prayer. It loses its grandeur when it forgets this connection. That is why, whenever possible, we should definitely take up again the apostolic tradition of facing the east, both in the building of churches and in the celebration of the liturgy.” [pages 68-70]
Fr. Joseph Fessio, the President of Ignatius Press, also notes that ad orientem worship was never forbidden by Vatican 2:
The Council did not say that Mass should be celebrated facing the people. That is not in Vatican II; it is not mentioned. It is not even raised in the documents that record the formation of the Constitution on the Liturgy; it didn’t come up. Mass facing the people is not a requirement of Vatican II; it is not in the spirit of Vatican II; it is definitely not in the letter of Vatican II. It is something introduced in 1969. [Essay written by Fr. Joseph Fessio]
Back to the renovation of St. Mary's Church mentioned above.  The pastor has actually created an online donation form to help raise funds for this renovation.  I wish that a project like this would be taken up by more parishes.  In case you were wondering what this Church used to look like prior to Vatican 2, here is a picture of the Church from 1914.

I like the lighted angels on both ends of the altar rail.  That's a nice touch......

I would like to meet the hippies from the 1970s that came into this Church one day and started "renovating" by tearing everything down and creating the bland worship space that it is today.  Unfortunately, this story is a dime a dozen as Churches across the world have suffered the same fate.  My prayer is that younger, orthodox priests will wake up one day and realize that what has gone on in our churches for the past 40 years needs to change.  

It reminds me of It's a Wonderful Life when every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.  I contrast this with every time an altar rail and high altar are put back into a church, a liberal catholic loses his wings.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Plenary Indulgence for All Fridays of Lent

As Lent approaches, it is a good idea to remember that you can receive a plenary indulgence each Friday of Lent (up to and including Good Friday) by reciting the En ego, O bone et dulcissime Iesu. 

This indulgence is listed in the Manual of Indulgences, which was translated into English under the direction of the USCCB from the Fourth Edition (1999) of the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum.  The Manual of Indulgences states:
§1     A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who.......       
2°  on any of the Fridays of Lent devoutly recite after Communion the prayer En ego, O bone et dulcissime Iesu before a crucifix. [Remember that this has to be done after receiving Holy Communion in the presence of a crucifix.  If this work is performed on any other day of the year outside of Fridays during Lent, it will be a partial indulgence instead.]  
Here is the prayer:

En ego, O bone et dulcissime Iesu 
Behold, O kind and most sweet Jesus, I cast myself upon my knees in thy sight, and with the most fervent desire of my soul, I pray and beseech thee that thou wouldst impress upon my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope, and charity, with true contrition for my sins and a firm purpose of amendment; while with deep affection and grief of soul I ponder within myself and mentally contemplate thy five wounds, having before my eyes the words which David the prophet put on thy lips concerning thee: “My hands and my feet they have pierced, they have numbered all my bones.” (Roman Missal, Thanksgiving after Mass)

Here are the other norms to keep in mind concerning any plenary indulgence that you wish to gain:

N18. §1. A plenary indulgence can be acquired only once in the course of a day; a partial indulgence can be acquired multiple times.

§2. The faithful however can obtain the plenary indulgence at the hour of death, even if they have already gained one on the same day.

N19. The work prescribed for acquiring a plenary indulgence connected with a church or oratory consists of a devout visit during which an Our Father and the Creed are recited, unless other directives have been laid down. [This does not apply to the plenary indulgence for the Fridays of Lent noted above, as it is not connected to any specific church or oratory.]

N20. §1. To gain a plenary indulgence, in addition to excluding all attachment to sin, even venial sin, it is necessary to perform the indulgenced work and fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

§2. A single sacramental confession suffices for gaining several plenary indulgences; but Holy Communion must be received and prayer for the intention of the Holy Father must be recited for the gaining of each plenary indulgence.

§3. The three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the prescribed work; it is, however, fitting that Communion be received and the prayer for the intention of the Holy Father be said on the same day the work is performed. [This has traditionally been 8 days before or after, but it is now up to 20 days before or after based on the most recent statements from Rome.  However, I would try to complete the three conditions as close as possible to the indulgenced act.]

§4. If the full disposition is lacking, or if the work and the three prescribed conditions are not fulfilled, saving the provisions given in Norm 24 and in Norm 25 regarding those who are “impeded,” the indulgence will only be partial. [The most common defect usually occurs because of our lack of complete detachment from all sin, even venial sin.  We can try our best to be completely detached from sin at the time we perform the indulgenced act, but it is not always guaranteed.  So while we shoot for a plenary indulgence, it may only be a partial indulgence.  Since God can read our minds and our hearts better than we can, I guess we will only find out if our indulgences are plenary or partial when we get to the afterlife.]

§5. The condition of praying for the intention of the Holy Father is fully satisfied by reciting one Our Father and one Hail Mary; nevertheless, one has the option of reciting any other prayer according to individual piety and devotion, if recited for this intention.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (2012-04-11). Manual of Indulgences (Kindle Locations 489-494). United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Kindle Edition. 

St. Peter Novena and the Resignation of B16

Since I have started this blog, I have posted some novena prayers, but not nearly as many as I had originally intended.  I put a "Catholic Resources" tab at the top of the blog, which contains many of the novena prayers that can be prayed during the liturgical year.  However, I plan on posting more novenas as they approach as a reminder of these wonderful prayers.  These novenas can prayed during any nine-day period, but it is typically best to pray them on the nine days prior to the corresponding feast day (so that the entire faithful are praying these novenas in harmony, and to build up anticipation of the feast day).  I just finished a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes yesterday, as her feast in the Extraordinary Form was today (February 11th). 

The feast of the Chair of St. Peter (our first pope) is celebrated on February 22nd in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Latin Rite.  Therefore, you can pray a novena to St. Peter from February 13th - February 21st.  Since February 13th is Ash Wednesday, this would be a good way to kick off Lent. You can find a novena to the Chair of St. Peter by clicking HERE.

The timing could not be better as this would also be a nice time to ask St. Peter, our first pope, to guide the Church as we get ready to elect a new Roman Pontiff. My understanding is that Pope Benedict is set to resign on February 28th, and a new pope will not be elected until sometime in mid-March.

I hate to speculate why the pope is resigning, but I presume it is a combination of old age, health concerns, and lack of strength to meet the continuous demands of being Pope. I'm sure more details will come out as this all unfolds.

I plan on doing a blog post about other popes that have resigned in the history of the Church. Canon Law does allow this, but it is VERY rare that it ever occurs. The last that I am aware of is Pope Gregory XII who resigned in 1415 during the so-called "Western Schism". That was a whopping 600 years ago! I hope that this does not set a precedent for future popes to resign, but only time will tell. Pope Benedict XVI will be missed as he was a great theologian and writer. His trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth was a tremendous contribution to the Church. I'm in the middle of finishing that series, and I've been blown away by what I've read so far.

Let's pray for whoever our new Pope will be. As the attacks from inside and outside the Church continue to ramp up, and as the wave of modernism that has crept into the Church continues to do damage from within, I hope our new leader will be up to the task. We can only put our trust in the Holy Ghost now.

On a lighter note, it will be interesting to see what name the next Pope takes. We have already had a couple John Paul's, so how about George Ringo I. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Oldest video and audio of a pope

Since I've been on a Leo XIII kick lately, I thought I would share something that you may find interesting.

This is the oldest known footage of a Pope in existence. This film of Pope Leo XIII was created in 1896. The audio portion is the oldest known audio recording of Pope, also of Pope Leo XIII recorded in 1903. The audio is Pope Leo XIII chanting the Ave Maria in Latin.

Pope Leo XIII (2 March 1810 - 20 July 1903), born Count Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci, reigned from 1878 to 1903 in succession to Pope Pius IX. Reigning until the age of 93, he was the oldest pope, and had the third longest pontificate, behind his immediate predecessor Pius IX and John Paul II. He is also the author of the
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Some believe that this prayer was given to Pope Leo XIII by a special revelation during Mass.
It is amazing to think that Pope Leo XIII was born in 1810! We have video and audio from a man who was almost born in the 18th century!
Here is the footage and audio (occurring on separate dates as noted above), which is stored in the Vatican Film Library.

Arcanum (On Christian Marriage) - Leo XIII

With the attacks on marriage being the center of attention, I offer the thoughts of Pope Leo XIII (one of my favorites) in his encyclical Arcanum. My emphasis in bold and my comments in red.

17. (Speaking about people who attack the Church's teaching on marriage...) Now, since the family and human society at large spring from marriage, these men will on no account allow matrimony to be the subject of the jurisdiction of the Church. Nay, they endeavor to deprive it of all holiness, and so bring it within the contracted sphere of those rights which, having been instituted by man, are ruled and administered by the civil jurisprudence of the community. Wherefore it necessarily follows that they attribute all power over marriage to civil rulers, and allow none whatever to the Church; and, when the Church exercises any such power, they think that she acts either by favor of the civil authority or to its injury. Now is the time, they say, for the heads of the State to vindicate their rights unflinchingly, and to do their best to settle all that relates to marriage according as to them seems good. [This is the problem with States trying to "define marriage". The States have assumed this role upon themselves, when in reality, what gives them the right to "define marriage"? The State is trying to have the Church get out of the marriage business, when in fact, it should be the other way around. If States want to recognize unions for tax statuses, wills, etc., then great. But by trying to define "marriage", they are taking it too far and infringing on something that is outside the realm of their power, and which belongs to the Church. You may ask why this distinction is important. It is because States might use this to force Church's to perform gay weddings or be closed down, force bakeries to provide wedding cakes for gay marriages against their consciences, etc. Because the State thinks they have a right to define marriage, they also think they have a right to be everyone's thought police, and put the law of the land above the religious convictions of free citizens.]
18. Hence are owing civil marriages, commonly so called; 'hence laws are framed which impose impediments to marriage; hence arise judicial sentences affecting the marriage contract, as to whether or not it have been rightly made. Lastly, all power of prescribing and passing judgment in this class of cases is, as we see, of set purpose denied to the Catholic Church, so that no regard is paid either to her divine power or to her prudent laws [Dignitatis Humanae from Vatican II did not do the Church any favors in this area, but I'll bite my tongue]. Yet, under these, for so many centuries, have the nations lived on whom the light of civilization shone bright with the wisdom of Christ Jesus.
19. Nevertheless, the naturalists, as well as all who profess that they worship above all things the divinity of the State [I like that phrase...], and strive to disturb whole communities with such wicked doctrines, cannot escape the charge of delusion. Marriage has God for its Author, and was from the very beginning a kind of foreshadowing of the Incarnation of His Son; and therefore there abides in it a something holy and religious; not extraneous, but innate; not derived from men, but implanted by nature. ...... So mighty, even in the souls ignorant of heavenly doctrine, was the force of nature, of the remembrance of their origin, and of the conscience of the human race. As, then, marriage is holy by its own power, in its own nature, and of itself, it ought not to be regulated and administered by the will of civil rulers, but by the divine authority of the Church, which alone in sacred matters professes the office of teaching.
24.......But it is easy to see at a glance the greatness of the evil which unhallowed marriages have brought, and ever will bring, on the whole of human society. [In other words, perhaps the lack of sanctity attributed to marriage by self-professed Catholics/Christians has brought this whole problem on. High divorce rates, contraception, and cheating spouses by people who profess Christianity has made it possible for the State to infringe upon marriage in the first place.]
43. Care also must be taken that they do not easily enter into marriage with those who are not Catholics [Here we go.....the topic that makes people uncomfortable....]; for, when minds do not agree as to the observances of religion, it is scarcely possible to hope for agreement in other things. Other reasons also proving that persons should turn with dread from such marriages are chiefly these: that they give occasion to forbidden association and communion in religious matters [Once again, we can thank the "hermaneutic of rupture" imposed by liberal Catholics on Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate from Vatican II for the greater confusion on this topic]; endanger the faith of the Catholic partner; are a hindrance to the proper education of the children; and often lead to a mixing up of truth and falsehood, and to the belief that all religions are equally good. [Make no mistake about it, people will get up in arms when you bring up this topic. This is because when you give people an inch, they take a mile. Just because something is "allowed" by the Church (in certain circumstances), doesn't mean it should become the norm everytime and everywhere (female altar servers, communion in the hand, and EMHCs to give a few examples). The Church does not outright forbid mixed-marriages, but I have NEVER seen a Church document or papal writing that promotes it as a good idea (for the exact reasons that Leo XIII just gave above). It may be too late for my generation, but it is something to think about for those of you having kids or going to have kids in the future. Live the faith as a married couple and be a witness to your kids to show them the importance of a Catholic marriage.]

Read the rest of Arcanum by clicking HERE.
LEO XIII, ora pro nobis!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Angelic Warfare Confraternity

I recently received my packet in the mail from the Angelic Warfare Confraternity.  The mission of this confraternity is stated on their website:  "The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is a supernatural fellowship of men and women bound to one another in love and dedicated to pursuing and promoting chastity together under the powerful patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary."

Check it out here:

I recently found out about this Confraternity through Dr. Marshall's site which I visit frequently.

One of the things that drew me to this Confraternity is that it was founded based on one of my favorite saints, St. Thomas Aquinas.  You might ask yourself, "Why is St. Thomas Aquinas considered a powerful intercessor when it comes to chastity?  I thought he was the real smart theologian that was esteemed more for his intelligence than his chastity?"  However, the Angelic Warfare Confraternity mentions this story about St. Thomas Aquinas:

St. Thomas Aquinas is powerful because in his own life he received a special grace of chastity and purity and is ready now in heaven to share it with others. St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1226 as the youngest son of a noble family in Italy. His parents wanted him to become a Benedictine so that he might one day secure the prestigious title of abbot. But at the age of eighteen he instead joined the Dominicans – a group that at the time was new and had no social prestige. His parents so vehemently opposed his decision to become a Dominican that they had him arrested and jailed in one of the family castles. They would not release him until he relented, and many times attempted to persuade him to change his mind. For a full year he refused to relent, and instead quietly studied the bible. Finally, after becoming tired of waiting, the brothers of St. Thomas conceived one last plan. They were certain that physical temptation would drive him to break his vow of chastity, after which he would surely abandon his religious vocation. 
So one night, the brothers introduced a scantily clad prostitute into the room where St. Thomas was being held. The plan did not work as intended. Immediately, St. Thomas snatched a burning brand from the hearth, drove the woman out of the room, slammed the door behind her, and emblazoned the sign of the cross on the door with the red-hot brand. He then fell to his knees with tears of thanksgiving and prayed to be preserved in his chastity, purity, and intention to live the religious life. 
According to the records of his canonization, Thomas at once fell into a mystical sleep and had a vision. Two angels came to him from heaven and bound a cord around his waist, saying, “On God’s behalf, we gird you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle which no attack will ever destroy.” In the records of his canonization, many different witnesses who knew St. Thomas at different points in his life remarked about his evidently high degree of purity and chastity. The angels’ gift preserved St. Thomas from sexual temptation and bestowed upon him an enduring purity that ennobled all his thoughts and actions. Pope Pius XI wrote: “If St. Thomas had not been victorious when his chastity was in peril, it is very probable that the Church would never have had her Angelic Doctor.” 
Over his lifetime, St. Thomas’s conduct revealed that he had indeed received a special grace of chastity and purity – a grace that he is now ready to share with others through the communion of saints.
The Confraternity began to grow in different parts of Europe in the 1400′s, and was officially founded for the whole Church in 1727 by Pope Benedict XII.  It is one of the ancient Confraternities of the Dominican Order (remember that St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican). 

Various Saints and Blesseds, such as St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Columba Rieti and Blessed Stephana Quinzan (who actively promoted the Confraternity among women), have belonged to this Confraternity.

There are three essential things that you must do to be enrolled in the Confraternity and to reap the spiritual benefits of it. 
1)  Enrollment and Registration. In the enrollment ceremony, a Dominican priest confers the blessing upon the cord and medal of St. Thomas Aquinas and the person who will wear it. The name of the person enrolled and place of the enrollment ceremony goes into the official Register.
2)  Wearing either the blessed cord of St. Thomas or blessed medal of St. Thomas (or both) as continuously as one reasonably can for the rest of one’s life.
3)  Daily prayers for purity for oneself and all the members of the Confraternity. The daily prayers consist of two special prayers for chastity and fifteen Hail Mary’s.

The cord of St. Thomas is a thin cord with fifteen knots in it and blessed by a Dominican priest. It is worn around the waist underneath one’s clothing.  This is included in the packet that they send in the mail to you.  I have not worn it yet, but it looks to be pretty easy to wear and it is not very bulky.  The fifteen knots on the cord represent the fifteen traditional mysteries of the Rosary (the Luminous Mysteries were not around when this Confraternity was founded).  Each of the fifteen knots has three wraps representing the Holy Trinity and the virtues of faith, hope, and charity.  There are two strings that come off the end of the cord, which represents the natural life and supernatural life joining together. 

The medal has on one side the image of St. Thomas being girded by the angels, and on the other side it has the image of Our Lady of the Rosary. It is worn like any other medal.

The Church has reserved the blessing of the cord and medal of St. Thomas to the Dominican Order. Therefore, only Dominican priests, or priests with authorization from the Director of the Confraternity, can give this blessing.  There are some Dominicans around the Chicago-land area that should be able to enroll you, or you can contact the Confraternity to get authorization for your local parish priest to perform the ceremony.

All Confraternity members wear the blessed cord or medal as continuously as reasonably possible for the rest of their lives, but this does not bind under pain of sin.  You simply lose out on the spiritual benefits if you stop wearing either the cord or medal, but you regain those spiritual benefits when you start wearing them again.  Of course, you can take them off for obvious reasons, but should try to continue wearing them as soon as reasonably possible.

The Popes have heaped many indulgences upon the Confraternity as a sign that they want people to join. All the members are eligible to receive a plenary indulgence:
1)  Once on the day of enrollment
2)  Every year on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, St. Thomas (Jan. 28), the Annunciation (March 25), the Assumption of the B.V.M. (Aug. 15), and All Saints Day (Nov. 1).

Members gain a plenary indulgence on these days given the following four conditions:
1)  Receive Holy Communion on that day with the intention of gaining the indulgence
2)  Go to the Sacrament of Penance within eight days before or after that day
3)  Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Apostle’s Creed for the intentions of the Holy Father
4)  Renew privately the intention to live according to the practices and Statute of the Confraternity.

If you want to learn more, read the Catechesis on the Confraternity here:

If you want to see what the daily prayers are, you can find them here:

If you decide that you want to enroll, follow the instructions here:

After deciding that you want to enroll, you will need to obtain the packet for enrollment which contains everything you need including the cord, medal, ceremony instructions that you give to your priest, and a certificate which you fill out and send back to the Confraternity.  This packet can be ordered here by scrolling down to the very bottom of the page:

I found The Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Albert the Great in Chicago:

I've sent them an email to see if they could enroll me in the Confraternity.  Otherwise, you could always have another non-Dominican priest obtain permission from the Contraternity to do the enrollment.  I figure I would try to get the Dominicans to do it first.  I'll let you know if they ever get back to me. 

Mystic Monk K-Cups

Mystick Monk Coffee has now come up with K-Cups!  My variety pack of their K-Cups just came in the mail recently.  Check out their site here:

Their "monk shots" come in a variety of flavors, so I'm trying out the variety pack to see what I like best.  This includes Mystic Monk Blend, Midnight Vigils Blend, Breakfast Blend, Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Royal Rum Pecan, and Decaf Arabica. 

They have rave reviews, so I'm expecting some delicious coffee.  Why support the hipsters at Starbucks with $5 lattes, when you can support Carmelite monks in Wyoming.  Their website is also promoted in my sidebar. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fr. Z's Blog » Prayers requested for Fr. Phillips of St. John Cantius in Chicago

Fr. Z's Blog » Prayers requested for Fr. Phillips of St. John Cantius in Chicago

Fr. Frank from St. John Cantius in Chicago is having complications after a knee surgery. Say a quick prayer for him today if you can. I have a link to their church in my sidebar.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Quod Apostolici Muneris (On Socialism) - Leo XIII

Given at St. Peter's, in Rome, on the twenty-eighth day of December, 1878, in the first year of Our pontificate.
My emphasis in bold and my comments in red.

8. Even family life itself, which is the cornerstone of all society and government, necessarily feels and experiences the salutary power of the Church, which redounds to the right ordering and preservation of every State and kingdom. For you know, venerable brethren, that the foundation of this society rests first of all in the indissoluble union of man and wife according to the necessity of natural law, and is completed in the mutual rights and duties of parents and children, masters and servants. You know also that the doctrines of socialism strive almost completely to dissolve this union; since, that stability which is imparted to it by religious wedlock being lost, it follows that the power of the father over his own children, and the duties of the children toward their parents, must be greatly weakened. But the Church, on the contrary, teaches that "marriage, honorable in all,"(Heb. 13:4) which God himself instituted in the very beginning of the world, and made indissoluble for the propagation and preservation of the human species, has become still more binding and more holy through Christ, who raised it to the dignity of a sacrament, and chose to use it as the figure of His own union with the Church.  [It's important to realize that the issues we face as a society today are the same issues that the Church battled long ago.  It's nothing new.]
9. But Catholic wisdom, sustained by the precepts of natural and divine law, provides with especial care for public and private tranquility in its doctrines and teachings regarding the duty of government and the distribution of the goods which are necessary for life and use. For, while the socialists would destroy the "right" of property, alleging it to be a human invention altogether opposed to the inborn equality of man, and, claiming a community of goods, argue that poverty should not be peaceably endured, and that the property and privileges of the rich may be rightly invaded, the Church, with much greater wisdom and good sense, recognizes the inequality among men, who are born with different powers of body and mind, inequality in actual possession, also, and holds that the right of property and of ownership, which springs from nature itself, must not be touched and stands inviolate. For she knows that stealing and robbery were forbidden in so special a manner by God, the Author and Defender of right, that He would not allow man even to desire what belonged to another, and that thieves and despoilers, no less than adulterers and idolaters, are shut out from the Kingdom of Heaven.  [Notice how the Pope correlates socialist (or commonly called "redistribution of wealth" in our political world) to stealing.  In other words, don't let the government deceive you into thinking that government is simply doing a charitable act in accordance with God's commands by redistributing wealth.  Taking someone else's property and giving to someone else makes the person taking a stealer, while the person whose property was stolen cannot be credited with a charitable act when this action was done involuntarily against their free choice.]  But not the less on this account does our holy Mother not neglect the care of the poor or omit to provide for their necessities; but, rather, drawing them to her with a mother's embrace, and knowing that they bear the person of Christ Himself, who regards the smallest gift to the poor as a benefit conferred on Himself, holds them in great honor. She does all she can to help them; she provides homes and hospitals where they may be received, nourished, and cared for all the world over and watches over these [Nobody has done this better than the Church in 2,000 years.  Period.]. She is constantly pressing on the rich that most grave precept to give what remains to the poor; and she holds over their heads the divine sentence that unless they succor the needy they will be repaid by eternal torments.  [In other words, society should be prompted to give to the poor as a free choice and charitable act, instead of by government coercion.  The closing down of Catholic Charities adoption services because they do not offer services to gay couples is a grave disservice to society overall.  The government's ideology is to usurp charitable organizations, and make the government the primary caregiver of society.  That way the government can dictate where our resources go, instead of allowing free citizens to decide where they want to give their own hard-earned resources.  This sort of tyrannical behavior has become prominent by our leftist government, and don't expect it to get better anytime soon.  I think the elimination of tax deductions for charitable contributions will be the next drastic step that our government will try to take to give more power to the government.  Maybe it will take something like this to awaken the American people.]  In fine, she does all she can to relieve and comfort the poor, either by holding up to them the example of Christ, "who being rich became poor for our sake,(2 Cor. 8:9) or by reminding them of his own words, wherein he pronounced the poor blessed and bade them hope for the reward of eternal bliss. But who does not see that this is the best method of arranging the old struggle between the rich and poor? For, as the very evidence of facts and events shows, if this method is rejected or disregarded, one of two things must occur: either the greater portion of the human race will fall back into the vile condition of slavery which so long prevailed among the pagan nations, or human society must continue to be disturbed by constant eruptions, to be disgraced by rapine and strife, as we have had sad witness even in recent times.
Read the rest HERE.
It's amazing to see how a major topic of discussion over a century ago (this was written in 1878), still has relevance in our society today. 
As a dog that returneth to his vomit, so is the fool that repeateth his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)


This has been making the rounds on the blogosphere.  It is the Oscar-nominated animated short by Disney, and will only take 6 minutes of your time.