Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Last Emperor, The Lord's Servant


In these years of commemoration of the First World War, the figure of Blessed Charles of Austria, may be studied in greater depth by historians. He was an important figure, one who sought peace in the midst of war and was willing to take chances to achieve that peace. That he failed to do so is no fault of his, the hearts of all parties in the war had been hardened, as feared by US president Woodrow Wilson. 

Some historians regard Charles as naive, even incompetent, a man ill-suited to his role. I do not agree with this, he was a man, perhaps not well versed in the ways of political intrigue - he had too much integrity for that, but he was a realist, a realist in that he saw what war was, how ugly it was, and he did not care about a victory, he was not prepared to pay any price for victory, he sought peace. He alone of all the combatants listened to the pleas of Pope Benedict XV and did what he could to respond to them.

It is also interesting to note that of all the leaders in that war he fared the worst. As the Kaiser settled into a life of comfort in Switzerland, Charles, refusing to renounce what he saw as his duty of service to his people, would not abdicate, and so faced exile, separation from his children for a time, and then an early death.

In these years of commemorations, as we remember the dead of World War I, as we lament over the uselessness of war, and of this war in particular, as we remember peacemakers, let us promote one of the greatest of them all: Charles of Austria. Today is his feast day, he was one of the last Beati declared by St John Paul II, and he may well be canonised soon as a strong miracle is making its way through the Congregation of Causes of Saints. How wonderful it would be if he were to be canonised during these years of remembrance.

May Blessed Charles intercede for us all; may he pray for peace, for peacemakers and for the hearts of those torn apart by anger, violence and despair. 

Blessed Charles moments after his death 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Prophet Of Life Is Beatified


In Rome we celebrate the beatification of Blessed Paul VI. I am remembering you all in prayer at the ceremony and later as I get to the tomb of the new Beatus (all going well!). Let us remember today the Pro-Life cause throughout the world. We commend to the prayers and the protection of our new Blessed those whose lives are in danger through abortion, euthanasia and those technologies which destroy and manipulate human life.
Almighty ever-living God
who chose Blessed Paul VI to preside over your whole people
and benefit them by word and example,
keep safe, we pray, by his intercession,
the shepherds of your Church
along with the flocks entrusted to their care,
and direct them in the way of eternal salvation.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.
Heavenly Father,
you glorify your servant, Blessed Paul VI,
Universal Pastor, Prophet of Life, Servant of your people;
as we entrust ourselves to his intercession
may we may be faithful servants of your Gospel,
zealous witnesses to Christ,
courageous prophets of life,
so that one day we may come to share in the life
you have given to your faithful servant.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Paul VI Novena: Day 9


"Venerable brothers, beloved sons, all men of good will, great indeed is the work of education, of progress and of charity to which We now summon all of you. And this We do relying on the unshakable teaching of the Church, which teaching Peter's successor together with his brothers in the Catholic episcopate faithfully guards and interprets. And We are convinced that this truly great work will bring blessings both on the world and on the Church. For man cannot attain that true happiness for which he yearns with all the strength of his spirit, unless he keeps the laws which the Most High God has engraved in his very nature. These laws must be wisely and lovingly observed. On this great work, on all of you and especially on married couples, We implore from the God of all holiness and pity an abundance of heavenly grace as a pledge of which We gladly bestow Our apostolic blessing."

Humanae Vitae, 31

Novena Prayer
Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the witness of your Servant, the Venerable Paul VI, who served you and the Church as Universal Pastor in difficult times.  
As a pilgrim among pilgrims he sought to reveal the beauty and joy of the Gospel to the men and women of his time, choosing the way of gentleness and forbearance.
As Shepherd of the flock he sought to proclaim the truth in a time of great confusion in imitation of his patron the Apostle to the Gentiles.
As Servant he proclaimed the Gospel of Life and in doing so bore the cross of suffering and isolation in union with your Crucified Son becoming a Prophet in the midst of the growing culture of death.
As we prepare for the glorification of your Servant, may his example of faith, courage and patient endurance inspire us in our daily living of the Gospel and in our witness to Jesus Christ.
May we too be Prophets of life, respecting, protecting and cherishing the gift of life, most especially in its most vulnerable moments.
May we too be your missionaries at this time, seeking to transform the hearts of all men and women through the joy we find in Christ.
Hear our prayers, most Merciful Father, and grant us through the intercession of Venerable Paul the graces we now ask………………………
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Friday, October 17, 2014

Paul VI Novena: Day 8


Venerable Paul reminds the Bishops to be faithful to the teachings of Christ and his Church. Let us pray for our bishops, particularly in these days of the Synod, that they may stay true to the Gospel.

"We turn Our mind to you, reverently and lovingly, beloved and venerable brothers in the episcopate, with whom We share more closely the care of the spiritual good of the People of God. For We invite all of you, We implore you, to give a lead to your priests who assist you in the sacred ministry, and to the faithful of your dioceses, and to devote yourselves with all zeal and without delay to safeguarding the holiness of marriage, in order to guide married life to its full human and Christian perfection. Consider this mission as one of your most urgent responsibilities at the present time. As you well know, it calls for concerted pastoral action in every field of human diligence, economic, cultural and social. If simultaneous progress is made in these various fields, then the intimate life of parents and children in the family will be rendered not only more tolerable, but easier and more joyful. And life together in human society will be enriched with fraternal charity and made more stable with true peace when God's design which He conceived for the world is faithfully followed."

Humanae Vitae, 30

Novena Prayer
Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the witness of your Servant, the Venerable Paul VI, who served you and the Church as Universal Pastor in difficult times.  
As a pilgrim among pilgrims he sought to reveal the beauty and joy of the Gospel to the men and women of his time, choosing the way of gentleness and forbearance.
As Shepherd of the flock he sought to proclaim the truth in a time of great confusion in imitation of his patron the Apostle to the Gentiles.
As Servant he proclaimed the Gospel of Life and in doing so bore the cross of suffering and isolation in union with your Crucified Son becoming a Prophet in the midst of the growing culture of death.
As we prepare for the glorification of your Servant, may his example of faith, courage and patient endurance inspire us in our daily living of the Gospel and in our witness to Jesus Christ.
May we too be Prophets of life, respecting, protecting and cherishing the gift of life, most especially in its most vulnerable moments.
May we too be your missionaries at this time, seeking to transform the hearts of all men and women through the joy we find in Christ.
Hear our prayers, most Merciful Father, and grant us through the intercession of Venerable Paul the graces we now ask………………………

Through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Can We Criticize A Pope?

St Catherine of Siena rebukes the Pope

There is a debate going on between Fr Dwight Longenecker and Sean Fitzpatrick over at Crisis Magazine over whether a pope can be legitimately criticized. Fr Longenecker says yes; Mr Fitzpatrick says no. Here is the link to the debate, it is worth reading

Some believe that one can criticize a pope, in charity and with respect of course. The first to do it was St Paul who publicly rebuked St Peter (Galatians 2:11-14). Among others was St Catherine of Siena who didn't spare her words and did not hesitate to publicly rebuke the pope whenever she saw it needed to be done. And in the last pontificate the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires publicly criticized Pope Benedict following the Regensburg speech in 2006.

An interesting debate. But let us never forget we are Christians, committed to truth and to charity. 

The "Robber Synod"?

Believe it or not, that is what some are now calling the Synod on the family. Following my post this morning, there has been a major upheaval, the Synod Fathers have revolted against Cardinal Baldisseri, the Secretary of the Synod who has been controlling proceedings and press releases, when he announced that the reports from the subcommittees, the Circuli Minores, would not be made public. 

According to accounts, Cardinal George Pell stood up, condemned the decision and demanded that the reports be made public. He then announced that the Synod Fathers were tired of the manipulation which has been taking place since the beginning of the Synod. Apparently Cardinal Baldisseri stood his ground and reiterated the reports would not be made public, and this provoked angry protests from the bishops who rose up against him. He was shouted down, it seems, and, if I may use the metaphor, all hell broke loose in the chamber. Cardinal Baldisseri had to turn to the Pope who remained silent but seemed furious with the bishops. The Pope had to relent, nodded to the Cardinal and so permitted the publicizing of the reports. For more see Fr Z's blog, he has a few posts on it.

The proceedings have been published on the Vatican website, go and consult them, because at last we may well have an accurate account of what is actually going on in the Synod chamber, unfiltered. At last, it seems, the Synod Fathers, who for the most part are orthodox and faithful, are standing up. 

Reflecting on all this, I wonder, are these protests the voice of the Holy Spirit, using the faithful bishops to ensure that the Pope and Church will not fall into error? These last few months I have come to see the reaction of the Cardinals to Cardinal Kasper's talk last February as a movement of the Spirit. If these events are such, Pope Francis would do well to pay close attention to them.

*

PS: I see a comment on another blog and it just sums things up, it's very good: "If the bishops go crazy, the pope puts down the foot. If the pope goes crazy, the bishops put down the foot. And if both go crazy, the Holy Ghost puts down the foot."

The Smoke Of Satan?

I have been tempted many times to post on the developments at the Synod, but I held back to allow prudence and charity sift me. What days! In my life I have not seen anything like this. I was not around for the fiasco of 1968 when those who rejected the Church's teaching on sexual morality turned on the Pope and crucified him. We have been celebrating the memory of that Pope in our online novena here and on Sunday I will be in St Peter's Square to see him beatified.

But what is happening now? All I can think of is Ven Paul's words that the smoke of Satan had entered the Church, and now it seems those who seek to be faithful to Christ's teaching are being suffocated. What an awful turn of events. 

People are coming to me and asking me what is happening. Good, devout souls who pray are wondering why this is happening, why are Cardinals and bishops fighting, what was that relatio, what is the Pope up to?  And now: why did Cardinal Kasper say such racist things about the Church in Africa? Is the Church in crisis, I was asked?  I can answer that: the Church is always in crisis, she is always living with tension, not only with the values of the world, but also within with the effects of sin and other dimensions of fallen humanity, and then there is Church politics. She is always the focus for those who reject the Gospel because, despite her many failures and the sins of her members, she hangs on to Christ's teaching and it remains the ideal, and she strives to live it, successfully for the most part, and encourages her children to do the same, and many of them do, and they are the Saints/saints.

But now, listening to the cacophony coming out of the Synod, those in charge - the minority, seem to be abandoning those teachings for the sake of what they call "mercy", seeking to repress/oppress those who hold to those teachings. The Pope's own actions are strange and ambiguous, particularly his appointment of six liberals to oversee the work of the three orthodox moderators elected by the Synod. With all due respect to the Holy Father, but this Synod has all the hallmarks of a very South American coup, only this time it is not a dictator or a democratically elected leader that is being shafted, but, it seems, the very teaching of Jesus Christ and the magisterium of his Church.

Now let us remember this is only a Synod, it is not binding and it is not proposing new doctrine, and it is only a preparation for what is going to happen next year. But, God help us, what lies ahead?  For one, I believe the Holy Spirit will prevent the Church from falling into heresy - her members  may, but there will always be a number, sometimes a small minority, who stay true - a faithful remnant, and the Popes are always among them, so we must have confidence and we must pray. The Church is being sifted, there is no doubt about that, the values of a godless, permissive world are rampaging within the Body of Christ, dressed up as compassionate pastoral ideas which will ultimately end up spreading despair among those they claim they want to help. 

The Lord is allowing this, perhaps to remind us, correctly, that we must reach out to those in irregular situations, not break God's law to make them feel accepted, but to remind them of God's love and the reality of his grace to help them strive to embrace the way of holiness. I hope in their attempts to resist the attack on the Church's moral teachings, its defenders do not cast aside those who do not live up to them, but rather will try to bring them on board to help them rise to the way of life Jesus has laid out for us, as we strive to live it ourselves. That said, no one is served by ignoring the truth and canonizing the lie. The truth with love and patience.

Let us continue to pray. This is a difficult time. But the Church has been through worse - the Arian crisis was hell! But we got through it, we were stronger for it, and we will get through this. Who knows what God will do to sort this out, there may be a few surprises before next year's Ordinary Synod, who knows. We must trust in the Lord, defend our faith with charity, love our enemies, pray for them. We must not forget that we are Christians! And we must, genuinely, seek real solutions to real problems, solutions firmly grounded in the teaching and discipline of the Church which are themselves grounded in Christ's own teaching, and that teaching cannot be abandoned. 

Is the smoke of Satan whirling around the Church? Probably, it is usually lurking somewhere within it. So, get the gas masks on, keep calm, and carry on. 

Paul VI Novena: Day 7


Venerable Paul speaks to priests. Let us commend to his intercession our priests so they may proclaim the Gospel with fidelity, gentleness, conviction and compassion.

"And now, beloved sons, you who are priests, you who in virtue of your sacred office act as counselors and spiritual leaders both of individual men and women and of families—We turn to you filled with great confidence. For it is your principal duty—We are speaking especially to you who teach moral theology—to spell out clearly and completely the Church's teaching on marriage. In the performance of your ministry you must be the first to give an example of that sincere obedience, inward as well as outward, which is due to the magisterium of the Church. For, as you know, the pastors of the Church enjoy a special light of the Holy Spirit in teaching the truth...

Husbands and wives, therefore, when deeply distressed by reason of the difficulties of their life, must find stamped in the heart and voice of their priest the likeness of the voice and the love of our Redeemer.

So speak with full confidence, beloved sons, convinced that while the Holy Spirit of God is present to the magisterium proclaiming sound doctrine, He also illumines from within the hearts of the faithful and invites their assent. Teach married couples the necessary way of prayer and prepare them to approach more often with great faith the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance. Let them never lose heart because of their weakness."

Humanae Vitae, 28, 29

Novena Prayer
Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the witness of your Servant, the Venerable Paul VI, who served you and the Church as Universal Pastor in difficult times.  
As a pilgrim among pilgrims he sought to reveal the beauty and joy of the Gospel to the men and women of his time, choosing the way of gentleness and forbearance.
As Shepherd of the flock he sought to proclaim the truth in a time of great confusion in imitation of his patron the Apostle to the Gentiles.
As Servant he proclaimed the Gospel of Life and in doing so bore the cross of suffering and isolation in union with your Crucified Son becoming a Prophet in the midst of the growing culture of death.
As we prepare for the glorification of your Servant, may his example of faith, courage and patient endurance inspire us in our daily living of the Gospel and in our witness to Jesus Christ.
May we too be Prophets of life, respecting, protecting and cherishing the gift of life, most especially in its most vulnerable moments.
May we too be your missionaries at this time, seeking to transform the hearts of all men and women through the joy we find in Christ.
Hear our prayers, most Merciful Father, and grant us through the intercession of Venerable Paul the graces we now ask………………………

Through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Paul VI Novena: Day 6


Pope Paul speaks to married couples:

"And now We turn in a special way to Our own sons and daughters, to those most of all whom God calls to serve Him in the state of marriage. While the Church does indeed hand on to her children the inviolable conditions laid down by God's law, she is also the herald of salvation and through the sacraments she flings wide open the channels of grace through which man is made a new creature responding in charity and true freedom to the design of his Creator and Savior, experiencing too the sweetness of the yoke of Christ.  

In humble obedience then to her voice, let Christian husbands and wives be mindful of their vocation to the Christian life, a vocation which, deriving from their Baptism, has been confirmed anew and made more explicit by the Sacrament of Matrimony. For by this sacrament they are strengthened and, one might almost say, consecrated to the faithful fulfillment of their duties. Thus will they realize to the full their calling and bear witness as becomes them, to Christ before the world.  For the Lord has entrusted to them the task of making visible to men and women the holiness and joy of the law which united inseparably their love for one another and the cooperation they give to God's love, God who is the Author of human life.

We have no wish at all to pass over in silence the difficulties, at times very great, which beset the lives of Christian married couples. For them, as indeed for every one of us, "the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life." Nevertheless it is precisely the hope of that life which, like a brightly burning torch, lights up their journey, as, strong in spirit, they strive to live "sober, upright and godly lives in this world," knowing for sure that "the form of this world is passing away."

Humanae Vitae, 25

Novena Prayer
Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the witness of your Servant, the Venerable Paul VI, who served you and the Church as Universal Pastor in difficult times.  
As a pilgrim among pilgrims he sought to reveal the beauty and joy of the Gospel to the men and women of his time, choosing the way of gentleness and forbearance.
As Shepherd of the flock he sought to proclaim the truth in a time of great confusion in imitation of his patron the Apostle to the Gentiles.
As Servant he proclaimed the Gospel of Life and in doing so bore the cross of suffering and isolation in union with your Crucified Son becoming a Prophet in the midst of the growing culture of death.
As we prepare for the glorification of your Servant, may his example of faith, courage and patient endurance inspire us in our daily living of the Gospel and in our witness to Jesus Christ.
May we too be Prophets of life, respecting, protecting and cherishing the gift of life, most especially in its most vulnerable moments.
May we too be your missionaries at this time, seeking to transform the hearts of all men and women through the joy we find in Christ.
Hear our prayers, most Merciful Father, and grant us through the intercession of Venerable Paul the graces we now ask………………………

Through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Paul VI Novena: Day 5


Venerable Paul defends and promotes chastity, urges those in the fields of communication and the arts to do so also.  We pray for those struggling with chastity and their sexuality.

"We take this opportunity to address those who are engaged in education and all those whose right and duty it is to provide for the common good of human society. We would call their attention to the need to create an atmosphere favorable to the growth of chastity so that true liberty may prevail over license and the norms of the moral law may be fully safeguarded.

Everything therefore in the modern means of social communication which arouses men's baser passions and encourages low moral standards, as well as every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency on the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization and the safeguarding of the outstanding values of the human spirit. It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture or by pleading the liberty which may be allowed in this field by the public authorities."

Humanae Vitae, 22

Novena Prayer
Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the witness of your Servant, the Venerable Paul VI, who served you and the Church as Universal Pastor in difficult times.  
As a pilgrim among pilgrims he sought to reveal the beauty and joy of the Gospel to the men and women of his time, choosing the way of gentleness and forbearance.
As Shepherd of the flock he sought to proclaim the truth in a time of great confusion in imitation of his patron the Apostle to the Gentiles.
As Servant he proclaimed the Gospel of Life and in doing so bore the cross of suffering and isolation in union with your Crucified Son becoming a Prophet in the midst of the growing culture of death.
As we prepare for the glorification of your Servant, may his example of faith, courage and patient endurance inspire us in our daily living of the Gospel and in our witness to Jesus Christ.
May we too be Prophets of life, respecting, protecting and cherishing the gift of life, most especially in its most vulnerable moments.
May we too be your missionaries at this time, seeking to transform the hearts of all men and women through the joy we find in Christ.
Hear our prayers, most Merciful Father, and grant us through the intercession of Venerable Paul the graces we now ask………………………

Through Christ our Lord.
Amen