Wednesday, July 27, 2016

THE VERY MODEL OF A VIRTUOUS MAN







This Post first appeared om 10th November, 2011, and  sixteen months later His Holiness abdicated.The Post is revealing for what it tells us about him And it is instructive when we consider his Successor.
OUR HOLY FATHER
Last night as I read from Father Nicola Avancini's marvellous "Meditations"("The Life and Teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ") I came across this passage :

"How crafty are our passions! They drag our virtues into their allegiance , thus pride ruins our acts of humility, and anger our zeal. It is so necessary to watch this, and not to allow our actions to be tainted with passion."

It immediately occurred to me that the last sentence provides the key to Pope Benedict XVI' serenity and humble yet authoritative calm in the face of so many trials, even from within the Church.

The usually authoritative Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli is reported to say that the Holy Father is suffering from Arthrosis which is apparently a quite painful degenerative disease of the joints, hence the recent entry into Saint Peter's Basilica on the wheeled platform.

Let us pray that this further cross will be accompanied by every possible measure of Grace to assist him. Not all Popes have been Saints, but I believe we have one with us now!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

PROTESTANTS' SCRIPTURAL CAFETERIA

PROTESTANTS’ SCRIPTURAL CAFETERIA


My Great Great Great Grandfather - Lutheran - created this heroic statue of Martin Luther- this is the mythical man so much admired by Adolf Hitler and many others - the founder of Protestantism and arch defacer of Sacred Scripture. Luther was also a vicious anti-Semite, alcoholic and womaniser and more importantly a Blasphemer. 



There was a time when some Catholics believed that Protestants knew more about the Bible than Catholics generally speaking did.

But the reality was always rather different.

The Protestantism of that time was based on parts of the Bible- the parts that were convenient for the few hundred years of deteriorating  ideas that constituted Protestant concepts -  which had increasingly led them back into the Old Testament. This fact was reflected in the Victorian era Protestant affection for Old Testament names, which was  evident in the American Civil War, from ABRAHAM Lincoln to Gen. JUBAL Early, not to mention the peppering of Jedediahs, Hezekiahs, Moses etc. The Old Testament was for them, happily free of mention of "Thou art Peter and upon this Rock...", "Unless a man eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood......"and "Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon Earth...."and all those Catholic  commissioning words  Our Divine Lord had spoken.


                                              "Her eyes always fixed firmly on the Lord."

 But the Catholic Church, sure of her foundation,with her eyes always fixed firmly on the Lord, and sustained by His seven Sacraments, has always been happy to embrace the whole of Sacred Scripture. She has from her beginnings two millennia ago, integrated Sacred Scripture into her Liturgy and her Liturgy of the Hours. She also knows the Truth about the Communion of Saints and has rejoiced in celebrating the memory of her members who have gone to their reward for heroic sanctity, by marking specially the Commemoration of their entry into Eternal Life and by naming little infants for them and seeking their patronage and intercession.

CHRIST - The ALPHA and the OMEGA
for the Catholic Church He says' I  AM WITH YOU ALL DAYS...'
It is ironic really, that in the eternally fragmenting realm of Protestantism, some of the sects have even come to call themselves "Full Gospel" churches. They are,  of course, nothing like it.Like the "Peoples'Republic of China"etc. their very name contradicts their reality.

Strangely, most Protestants never think where the Bible came from. That is to say , who said what constitutes the Bible! They are shocked to learn that it was a Council of the same Catholic Church they have been taught to loathe, and look at askance, for generations.

Catholics, it is true do not normally learn limited passages of Sacred Scripture deliberately by heart, much less have off pat Chapter And Verse of a few passages for quoting in the Protestant manner. Rather, from continual repetition in the Sacred Liturgy and in prayers and preaching, they instantly recognize, and more importantly, appreciate the true significance of, a broad spectrum of scriptural passages and situations.As has been said decades ago , and repeated by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, Truth is symphonic - there is no dissonance in authentic Catholic teaching, preaching and worship and Sacred Scripture.

Centre of Christianity, St Peter's Basilica is raised above The Apostle's Tomb
on the Vatican Hill across the ancient road from Nero's Circus where "the Rock"was crucified upside down as he said he was unworthy to die as the Lord had done.


We should thank God for the activity of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s Church guaranteeing her free from error until the end of time. For this very reason, our ecumenical activity has to be necessarily, discreet, carefully measured and circumspect.

This is even more true in these times, in which many Protestant organizations have even abandoned the Old Testament as well as the New testament as they have pursued apparent "relevance" at the expense of even claiming an interest in, or conviction that there is, Truth. More and more of them have ended up in the doctrine free zone the Unitarians entered perhaps 100 years ago. Even in the one organisation it is possible to find the wildest extremes in positions, from something approaching Christian belief to a sort of licentious social democracy which feels scant need for, let alone belief in, a God, as long as you are Green, Homosexual and Feminist.

We should always remember in our prayers the need for the conversion of Protestants and engage in authentic ecumenical activity toward that end.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

PRIESTS BEING TRUE

FLECTAMUS GENUA

The following extract is taken from a marvellous post at VULTUS CHRISTI BLOG:A Priest's One Necessary Sermon:http://vultus.stblogs.org. Please take the time to go there and read the whole post by Dom Mark Daniel Kirby.

A Priest's One Necessary Sermon

The Lamb who is adored in the glory of heaven is present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar here on earth. If a priest were to preach but one sermon from the day of his Ordination until his death, that one sermon could be this: 

Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi

Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29).


Disappear Into Adoration

The priest is but a herald. He announces the presence of the Immolated Lamb, and then annihilates himself in humble adoration. Adoration leads inexorably to self-effacement. The Lamb is exalted; the herald of the Lamb disappears. The Bridegroom shines forth in all His beauty; the friend of the Bridegroom withdraws, content to listen to the sound of his voice.


Praedicatio Prima

A priest's adoration -- be it expressed in the liturgical rites (and especially at Holy Mass) or in silence before the Blessed Sacrament -- a priest's adoration is his praedicatio prima, his primary preaching. Without the praedicatio prima of adoration, no other preaching has credibility or meaning.

Preparing for Heaven

The priest who adores does on earth, does what the angels and saints do in heaven. He is employed on earth in the worship of the Lamb that will be his everlasting employment, his rest, and his glory in heaven.

The Compass That Orients One's Priesthood

The priest who is not first an adorer has lost the compass that orients all the rest of his life. The priesthood is ordered to adoration, and the summit of adoration is sacrifice: the immolation of a victim to God. The loss of the spirit of adoration is the ruin of the priesthood.

The truth is here expressed with marvellous clarity.

Friday, July 22, 2016

" A WORLD OF ILLUSION "


I have to confess upfront that, five years ago I had not read George Bernanos' classic novel "Diary of a Country Priest"despite having lived 71 years plus. In my teens I saw it on bookshelves and assumed it was a bit of salacious anti-clerical propaganda. Later, when I realised from the comments of those I respect that it was a work of great quality, I simply did not get around to it.

But now, thanks to my marvellous Amazon KINDLE , I have been able to read it. What a joy !What I would like to share with you is an excerpt from the Foreword written by Remy Rougeau a monk . The entire Foreword is beautiful and insightful. This final paragraph distills its essential message :




"Saints have a difficult position in society not because they suffer. We all suffer. They, however, are ambassadors of truth in a world of illusion. Our world is more of an illusion than ever, a narcotic upon senses and judgment. Grace is perhaps more necessary than ever. And in this novel we can see it in mysterious but visible action.






Remy Rougeau "


"A world of illusion" how very true! So few things are as they are presented to us. From the absurdity of "Age defying" creams and lotions, to the multi-lifted faces of "forever young personalities and "beauty" that is no more than glamour, "love"that is no more than sex, all is illusion. When we move into the realm of ideas the same truth holds : "reform" that is nothing more than change, "rights" that are nothing but inventions of social engineers , "science" that is true to-day but not tomorrow, not to mention the "image"of public figures that is dismantled the moment they leave office - now the media will give us another truth.


Thank you, Brother Remy Rougeau.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

PERSPECTIVE A SENSE OF HISTORY AND WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

This Post from 2011 is interesting for attempting to look into the future. It did not work out as it seemed it might   as Thomas A'Kempis wrote in "The Imitation of Christ"(Book 1 Ch. 19) "For Man proposes, but God disposes." What surprises does the near future hold for us?



CARDINAL GEORGE PELL 8TH ARCHBISHOP OF SYDNEY
We Australians sometimes need to pause for breath as we race ahead in pursuit of "progress" or even "reform"( have you noticed how Left inclined Governments always speak of reform when giving birth to mere change?) . A little more circumspection, might lead us to more careful reflection on where we have come from and what should be the way ahead, and how we might consolidate what we have.


Cardinal Moran - Statue outside St. Mary's Basilica

Archbishop Kelly - Statue outside St. Mary's Basilica



ST.MARY'S BASILICA SYDNEY, MOTHER CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA

Think of the Church in Australia. In 1842 Archbishop John Bede Polding became the first Archbishop of Sydney. He was succeeded by Archbishop Roger Bede Vaughan both men  were English Benedictines. Next came two Irishmen, Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran, who was succeeded by Archbishop Michael Kelly; then came the Australians Cardinal Norman Thomas Gilroy, Cardinal James Darcy Freeman, Cardinal Edward Bede Clancy and now Cardinal George Pell. This short paragraph outlines the history.

But now let us consider Cardinal Angel Scola, recently appointed Archbishop of Milan in Northern Italy, whom the Holy Father called to Castel Gandolfo  the Popes' Summer Residence to confer on him individually the Pallium - a special distinction - for this is normally done annually for the group of  Metropolitan Archbishops appointed during the preceding year. But the Archdiocese of Milan is hugely important, and, it just might be that Cardinal Scola himself  may in time be even more hugely important - even the successor to Benedict XVI.


The Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente , Milan, Italy


With 4,860,000 Catholics the Archdiocese of Milan is only 300,000 short of the entire Catholic population of Australia.

But, according to my addition of a very fine print list, there is a remarkable difference in the number of Archbishops and Bishops. For Cardinal Angelo Scola is the 150th Archbishop/Bishop of Milan ( which has been an Archbishopric since about A.D.400) and numerous of his predecessors have been Saints including the great Saint Ambrose ( who baptised Saint Augustine) and the great Saint Charles Borromeo. Milan preseves its own Rite of the Mass - the Ambrosian Rite- and its own distinctive Chant - a place of formidable antiquity in the Faith, achievement and privilege.

Cardinal Scola is himself a man of truly notable achievement. Born in 1941, the son of a truck driver, he was ordained Priest at age 28yrs and Bishop of Grosseto 21 yrs later. He became Rector of the Lateran University and held a number of offices in the Roman Curia before being made Patriarch of Venice by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 2002. He had a long period of association with Catholic Youth Movements in his younger life and has gained a reputation not only for academic brilliance and achievement, but also for pastoral activity and accessibility.


Pope Benedict and Cardinal Scola at the Imposition of the Pallium
In appointing him to this great See, is Pope Benedict hoping not only to deliver a strong antidote to the liberal tendencies of his predecessors Tettamanzi and Martini and their remaining influence, but also hoping to elevate Cardinal Scola in the eyes of members of the next Conclave?

HORROR OF HERESY THE LATER DE LUBAC



From the Comment Box over at "RORATE CAELI" Blog the following gem from Father ( later Cardinal)  HENRI De LUBAC: 


Father(later Cardinal) Henri de Lubac

"If heretics no longer horrify us today, as the once did our forefathers, is it certain that it is because there is more charity in our hearts?

Or would it not too often be, perhaps, without our daring to say so, because the bone of contention, that is to say, the very substance of our faith, no longer interests us?


Men of too familiar and too passive a faith, perhaps for us dogmas are no longer the Mystery on which we live , the Mystery which is to be accomplished in us. Consequently then, heresy no longer shocks us; at least, it no longer convulses us like something trying to tear the soul of our souls away from us..... And this is why we have no trouble in being kind to heretics, and no repugnance in rubbing shoulders with them...


It is not always charity, alas, which has grown greater, or which has become more enlightened: it is often faith, the taste of things of eternity, which has grown less." 













Tuesday, July 19, 2016

BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME


In 2011 Pope Benedict XVI made an apostolic journey to his homeland Germany. The problems with the German church were already in evidence. Since the they have increased and multiplied as we have seen in the antics of Cardinals Marx and Kasper at the recent Synods and since. The Post has a timeless quality about it.



Pope Benedict XVI in Berlin just a few hours ago.


"To abide in Christ means, as we saw earlier, to abide in the Church as well. The whole communion of the faithful has been firmly incorporated into the vine, into Christ. In Christ we belong together. Within this communion he supports us, and at the same time all the members support one another. They stand firm together against the storm and they offer one another protection. Those who believe are not alone. We do not believe alone, but we believe with the whole Church.

The Church, as the herald of God’s word and dispenser of the sacraments, joins us to Christ, the true vine. The Church as "fullness and completion of the Redeemer" (Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, AAS 35 [1943] p. 230: "plenitudo et complementum Redemptoris") is to us a pledge of divine life and mediator of those fruits of which the parable of the vine speaks. The Church is God’s most beautiful gift. Therefore Saint Augustine also says: "as much as any man loves the Church of Christ, so much has he the Holy Spirit" (In Ioan. Ev. Tract. 32:8 [PL 35:1646]). With and in the Church we may proclaim to all people that Christ is the source of life, that he exists, that he is the one for whom we long so much. He gives himself. Whoever believes in Christ has a future. For God has no desire for what is withered, dead, ersatz, and finally discarded: he wants what is fruitful and alive, he wants life in its fullness. "

To read the Holy Father's addresses and Homilies is a thorough and authentic refreshing  of our knowlege of the Catholic Faith - you won't get it in the mass media. Follow the Holy Father as he makes his way through his fatherland, poor, estranged and wounded Germany, calling her folk back to Christ.And to His holy Church. Follow the Apostolic Voyage and read the texts at :


http://www.romereports.com/palio/index.php?newlang=english


The Papal Flag at the historic Brandenburg Gate



And please pray for the Holy Father and for the success of his historic mission to Germany.





N.B. I find it difficult to credit the obstructions, mysterious malfunctions and errors which have blighted my efforts to complete this short post, but it is done despite them all . Thank you Lord for the gift of perseverance.




















Sunday, July 17, 2016

IT IS THE MASS THAT MATTERS - 2002 PILGRIMAGE IN BRISBANE

SAINT BRIDGET'S CHURCH, RED HILL
"AS OFTEN AS YOU DO THIS........"

It took an encounter in a car workshop to set me on my pilgrim way.


I had been saddened and confused  by recent events. Two weeks earlier it had been announced that no public Masses were to be celebrated whilst the Diocesan clergy attended from 3rd to 7th June,2002,  a Retreat at Banyo Seminary. A truncated version of the Divine Office Morning Prayer was proposed to take the place of Daily Mass.




In a Northern Suburbs car workshop I was handed a photocopied slip of paper by a salesman who received one  from his boss, who had received one from ......It detailed "Daily Masses celebrated during the month of the Sacred Heart from 3rd June to 7th.". Poorly typed and far from being an aid from the Archdiocese to the Faithful, it was simply Christ's Faithful co-operating to get round their abandonment.


This simple slip of paper set me on a 5 day Pilgrimage around the Archdiocese.


"......YOU SHALL DO IT IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME"


Yes, I had been saddened and confused. Saddened by the calculated decision of the Archdiocesan Authorities not to organise the large numbers of retired clergy, religious clergy, and/or visiting clergy from surrounding Dioceses to provide daily Mass at strategic centres. Indeed, they went further, and made no effort to publicise the many Masses celebrated by the Religious Order clergy they knew would be available.A friend had suggested a specific solution for one church but had been put off with an incoherent and embarrassed response from the  relevant authority.


I had been confused too - how to react? How to cry out against this wrong, this example of contradiction of official duty? I firstly distributed copies of this slip of paper to others in my Parish. They received them with keen gratitude. Then I determined to continue my custom of assisting at Daily Mass by pilgrimage to some of the churches listed.


SIGNS OF THE TIMES


The central controllers of "pastoral planning", carefully shaped by documents brought back from Milwaukee, where they had been developed to suit Archbishop Rembert Weakland (who was about to be deposed by the Holy See for his homosexual liaison and more, disclosed days before), and which had been given a dose of localising process, had begun to have their effect. Even tenured Priests who were not judged "politically correct"could expect to have their responsibilities either swept away or impossibly increased unless they conformed. Their offence might be doctrinal orthodoxy, devotion to the Mother of God, love of the liturgy, failure to use "newspeak", or fidelity to the Holy Father or even calling heresy "heresy".


As I spoke to Priest friends and friends of other Priests I began to learn how reluctant many Priests were to attend the Retreat. Several previous mass clergy gatherings had an unhappy history in the Archdiocese. They had led  to those not "politically correct"being badly treated and being thoroughly alienated, many returning to their Parishes and having little more to do with what went on in the Archdiocese. Some had died years later beloved by their people but virtual strangers to their fellow Priests; some remain.


Many Priests were reluctant to attend, not only because of this unhappy history, but because of the compulsory abandonment of public Masses for the period of the Retreat.


".......WHO COME TO YOU IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING"


Grey and humourless, the group of pastoral planners and their Milwaukee influenced collaborators, had arranged that daily public Masses should be suppressed during the Retreat. Why? No doubt the Rockhampton rationale was put forward to the Archbishop - the people have to get used to Priestless Parishes. But not a few have suggested it was not to prepare for such a disaster, but to help engineer it. The same administrators had recently taken control of all of the communications apparatus of the Archdiocese.


It was appropriate that authority should be used to secure maximum attendance at a Priests' Retreat. But there was a perverse twist to this policing - in at least one case - and no doubt others. Very heavy pressure was brought to bear to ensure that a Priest did not celebrate a public Mass during the Retreat even though his accommodation arrangements made it easy to do so. Many were in the same situation.


I heard of one such case on the Sunday evening before the Retreat, and of the grievous hurt and scandal rightly felt by the Priest. He was sickened by the thought of it. He slept badly, his mind refusing to let go of consideration of this perversity, this great wrong; the frustration of a good Priest's natural wish to make his Lord present to His people in the daily Mass.


"...I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU DESOLATE".


After a night of tossing and turning ,I was up earlier than usual to attend 7.00 am Mass at Red Hill. The great red brick pile of St.Brigid's - based on the fortress-like Cathedral of Laon in France- stood starkly on its steep hilltop against the Winter morning's sky. 


The Parish Priest was a legend in the Archdiocese - even he was attending the Retreat. But he determined to say one last Public Mass for his people before departing. The congregation of about 50 or so was devout and the liturgy meticulously celebrated. St, Brigid's is one of the finest churches in Brisbane with its austere soaring walls, the beautiful, but restrained, marble altar and altar rails. At Communion time - in simple but ever appropriate reverence, those receiving Our Lord did so kneeling at the altar rails as the Celebrant moved back and forth in the time - honoured way.




ST JAMES 'COORPAROO
On the Tuesday and the Wednesday I attended the 8.30 am Mass at St. James Coorparoo, which was convenient to the days' work.Under the care of the Augustinians, the church was built on a hill overlooking the city in the mid 1920's. In classical basilica style, its architecture is quite pleasing despite the modest materials. Efforts at morning prayer were obliterated by a vigorously-led recitation of the Rosary - which I very much prefer to recite in private.Mass was celebrated on both occasions with appropriate quiet dignity. The familiar face of one of my regular Daily Mass companions at the Cathedral, now at his own Parish church, was  pleasing. On the second day I arrived earlier still, in an effort to beat the Rosary reciters. No luck - they were in force and engaged in reciting a VERY long collection of prayers for every conceivable intention and remembering by name every member of the faithful departed and every retired Bishop, Priest and Religious for generations back ! For all their efforts frustrating my personal prayer, I had to say to myself "God love them"- and I'm sure he does.

Thursday of that week took me into the Northern Suburbs. High on its own hill stands the larger, modern fan shaped church of Saint Therese, in the care of the Franciscans.Indeed the hill at Kedron is a powerhouse of Franciscan spirituality including major colleges. The church is far larger than it seems from outside. It is one of the more successful examples of its type ( which I generally loath) - even providing a dignified and substantial Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The only discordant note is a HUGE wooden crucifix at least twice the size that any reasonable sense of proportion would suggest.


What a pleasure it was to find the beautiful and powerful Novena in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi in use. Prepared by the great Father Christopher Sharah of the Reformed Capuchin Brothers of Saint Francis, based in NSW it is a spiritual Treasury. The church contained about 100 people and Mass was celebrated with loving and gentle dignity.Again I recognised a friend and two acquaintances in the congregation - no doubt others in the congregation were also part of the Retreat Diaspora.


On the Friday morning, mists shrouded the river below as once again ,high on its own hill, the beautiful Mission-style Church of Our Lady of Victories, which commands a 270 degrees view to the horizon , welcomed us in.The Polish clergy here provide Masses in both English and Polish. The congregation of 30 included a solicitor and his son, from my regular Mass congregation and a regular interstate visitor I know. The reverence of the Celebrant was exemplary and humbling. The church is full of reminders of its Polish associations and is lovingly decorated and maintained.



OUR LADY OF VICTORIES, BOWEN HILLS


".........AND SOWED WEEDS AMONG THE WHEAT"


I reflected on the week, wondered how anyone charged with the care of Christ's Faithful could plan to isolate  them from the daily Mass. I felt sickened by all that.


I also took note of the controversy surrounding the Retreat leader - U.S. Bishop Morneau of the troubled Green Bay Diocese- whose associations with Milwaukee and the notorious Father McBrien, whose writings have been twice condemned by the American Catholic Bishops, speak volumes. What could one help but conclude?


Whilst the Clergy had their Retreat - forced to leave their flocks without organised Masses - I had been on pilgrimage. I prayed for the true success of the Retreat, but loathed and feared the alien attitudes to the Mass - and, no doubt, much else- revealed in the measures adopted.


How terrible the guilt of those who would plan, then manipulate clerics, to leave as many as possible of Christ's flock without the opportunity for daily Mass. I reflected on the times of anguish when my morning Mass and Communion had been the anchor of my sanity. 


Who would dare deprive those in great need of the means which Christ has used "from Age to Age"to nurture His flock? Who would dare!


"....I KNOW MINE AND MINE KNOW ME."


Within weeks my Parish Priest and a distinguished doctor would remind me that a British parliamentarian of the Nineteenth Century, advocating measures to suppress the Catholic religion by suppressing its Clergy, had said : "They act as if it is the Mass that matters!"


Those who love the Mass have, ever since turned his cry against his purpose.


What had I found on my pilgrimage? Marvellous orthodox Faith, devotion, prayerfulness, good humour and above all devout Celebrants of the Mass, most of them members of Religious Orders. Truly Christ's Faithful pleasing the Lord and frustrating the so-called "pastoral "planners!


Pray for the Church in Brisbane which has remained a victim of their ministration ever since , and pray for Archbishop Bathersby whose Retirement is due in just 7 and a half weeks.


And spare a prayer for all those responsible for this planning scandal.