Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Thank You, Abp. Cordileone!

April 17th, 2015, Promulgated by Hopefull
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone,  Archdiocese of San Francisco

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone,
Archdiocese of San Francisco

Tonight’s LifeSiteNews describes efforts by some self-styled “Catholics” of San Francisco to remove their Archbishop, who has been appointed to lead the flock for the salvation of their souls.  Unnaturally, they choose not to hear, but rather to petition Pope Francis to give them what they do want to hear.  It couldn’t have been more clearly said:  ”Holy Father, Please Provide Us With a Leader True to Our Values….”  Those petitioners (avid Democrats for the most part; Pelosi and Obama supporters, e.g.) could not have been clearer:  ”Teach us what we want to hear; i.e. that the sins in which we are enmeshed are perfectly acceptable behaviors and consistent with the Gospels and our own distorted understanding of Who Christ really is, and what He really taught.”  What is so ironic is that this group can actually publicly identify their desire to be lied to about the very teachings that have the potential to save their souls.  They are not ignorant; just disobedient.  They have what St. Paul calls “itchy ears.” And it is an apt demonstration of how being trapped in the darkness of sin can completely alter perception.

There seems to be an implicit group think that goes something like this:  ”If we all stick together, demanding accommodation of our sins, God can’t send ALL of us to Hell, can He?  And if we can get the Archbishop to permit our sins, even endorse them, well then surely we won’t go to Hell, as we’ll have someone else to blame — the Archbishop who didn’t do what God called him to do!” Hah!  That might work with some bishops and a few Cardinals, but not with Abp. Cordileone.  Thank God for such a brave, committed, heroic man after God’s own heart.  Thank God for a God Who permits His Alter Christus to suffer the taunts and rejections as Christ did, so that he can exclaim like the Apostles in ACTS 5:41 in leaving the Sanhedrin where they had been abused:  ”And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name.”

The spotlight which the SF abusers are shedding on Abp. Cordileone is creating a great teaching opportunity in the Church and across the country.  It is amazing how God seizes such opportunities.  If the San Francisco Archdiocese wanted to buy this kind of publicity, for defining what is sinful and what isn’t, and how children should be protected, and what faithfulness means, they could not have come anywhere near capturing this teaching moment, as the world deliberately sorts itself into wheat and weeds, sheep and goats.  Let us pray for the faithful Archbishop, and for the people in his care.  Let’s also consider sending him a personal note, thanking him for representing the Catholic Faith so well, and for being such an inspiring example for us.  His address is:

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone

Archdiocese of San Francisco

One Peter Yorke Way

San Francisco, CA  94109

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Sound Bite Evangelization

April 14th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris
The Cross found in the ruins of the World Trade Center is an apt metaphor for evangelizing in the culture of death.

The Cross found in the ruins of the World Trade Center is an apt metaphor for evangelizing in the culture of death.

What are we really doing about the call for a new evangelization?  Doesn’t it start with evangelizing and preparing ourselves for the battlefield?  How are we to do so, when even the call from many pulpits is ambiguous or non-existent? How are we to do so in the shadow of a Synod that threatens to change the unchangeable?  How are we to do so without preparation, training and practice?

Four ideas:  quick prayer, clarification of the question; immediate response with Sound Bite Truth; extend an offer to discuss further or to provide information.  One need not be a trained public speaker, or have memorized the Catechism or Bible, or be an accredited logician or theologian.  Probably we already know most of the answers.

1. Quick Prayer:  the words are simple and easy.  ”God, help me to answer this with what You want me to say.”  They can be said privately or aloud.  This is not a long, embellished invocation.  It is easy, as in: “Okay; I pray God helps me with this one; I’m no expert.” But we don’t want to dwell on what we don’t know, rather on what we do know.  So we have to trust that, having prayed, we’ll be given the right response FOR THE GOOD OF THE OTHER PERSON’S SOUL; not because we don’t want to be embarrassed.  And, if the inquirer doesn’t want to hear us, that does not mean that the little we have said or done won’t bear fruit at some future point.  Such a quick prayer for help can also prevent our damaging God’s Truth; e.g. answers like “Well, the Church is opposed to contraception, but I think….” should obviously be left unsaid.  Prayer helps to avoid our wandering into our own weaknesses, being less than faithful.

2. Clarification (or correction of the question).  For example, how do we answer the question: “Why do you Catholics hate homosexuals?”  Before proceeding with any answer, it is helpful to clarify:  ”We don’t hate homosexuals.  But we do oppose homosexual lifestyle (or same-sex marriage, etc).  Do you want me to tell you why?” Thus, we create an opportunity to go further and witness more to God’s teachings; but if the person doesn’t want to hear, they at least have heard that their presupposition is wrong — and heard a statement of truth.”

3.   Sound Bite Truth:  Most faithful Catholics already know the short form answer to many questions that touch on areas of popular sin, or defined doctrine.  Today, the former is more often argued than the latter.  Instead of reaching for some eloquent answer, citing Chapter and Verse from the Bible, or Catechism answers, or flipping the question to a priest, many of our most poignant and clear answers are simply “Because it is a sin.” Period.  For example, how do we answer the question: “How can you deny abortion to a young girl who has been raped?” Answer: “Because abortion of any kind is a sin.”  Or “How can you Catholics refuse to help people to die when they are suffering?”  Answer:  ”Because euthanasia is a sin; life is precious.” In today’s culture, where the pro-sin onslaught is very vocal against those who stand for God, we are rarely granted much time to elaborate or explain.  They hated Christ; naturally they will hate us. Thus, the sound-bite answer is more important than ever. Even the famed “elevator speech” is too long to hold attention or interest.

4.  Offer to Discuss Further:  In order that the Sound Bite isn’t dismissive of genuine interest, one can offer: “Would you like to talk more about this?” or, especially when our own knowledge is vulnerable, “May I find some information and give it to you?” Sometimes we might refer to someone else or to a resource, but we don’t just leave the inquirer with an unhelpful answer equivalent to “Buy a Catechism and look it up!” The reaction of the inquirer may vary from an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to anger and hostility. But then we have done all that we needed to do.  And that is consistent with Christ’s words in Luke 17:10 “So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” And it is helpful to remember that we aren’t called to be successful, just faithful. Christ Himself allowed for the fact that some of the disciples He sent out were going to be rejected.  In Mark 6:11 we read:  “And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.”  It is comforting for us to know we don’t have to nag anyone to effect their conversion (God does that!), just to present them with the Truth.

So Many Questions on “How” to Evangelize are just not being discussed

Answering a question is but one kind of evangelization.  So too is publicly blessing ourselves before saying grace in a restaurant, our referring to having heard something at Mass (instead of just the more common “at Church” which fits almost any faith community).  Sometimes instead of waiting for a question, we can simply offering an opinion:  ”I disagree with that (comment, platform, conclusion).  ”Why?” we are asked, and hence the opportunity to answer “Because it is a sin.” The basic answer “Because it’s a sin” submits to the Authority of God and so is the most defensible of all.  And He does help us when we are not ashamed to acknowledge Him before the world.  If the inquirer is seriously interested in the details, he or she will welcome our return to the subject, to discuss further, unless all that was wanted was an argument or a fight. But avoiding the question isn’t what the Lord is calling us to do and, in particular, Christ’s words in Mark Chapter 8, verse 38 are a reminder to alert our consciences to the need to respond, not to be silent.  “For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”  Not everything is this clear, of course, but the basics  can and do seem quite simple.  It’s not a question of whether simplicity works; rather, it seems to be that there is often waffling or ambiguity in giving a direct response. Sometimes it even seems that there can be a deliberate effort not to say the Holy Name, not to call something ‘sin.’

If we really need to be extensively catechized, in order to evangelize, it becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy that very few people will ever be ready to evangelize! What a clever way to delay all evangelization!   Read the rest of this entry »

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Church Architecture Styles: Neoclassicism

April 13th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

Previously in this series:

1. “House” Churches  2. Early Christian  3. Byzantine

4. Romanesque  5. “Pilgrimage Churches”  6. Gothic

7.  Italian Renaissance  8. Baroque

Neoclassicism was a widespread and influential movement in the visual arts that began in the 1760s, reached its height in the 1780s and ’90s, and lasted until the 1840s and ’50s.

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The neoclassical style Baltimore Cathedral (completed 1821), by Benjamin Latrobe. Left: By Smallbones (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.   Right: photo source

The Protestant Reformation had challenged the authority of the Catholic Church (and all human authority, for that matter). To Protestants, the Bible alone was authoritative and only one’s subjective reading and interpretation of the Bible was required to leading a good life. Biblical literalism and subjectivism aside, the Protestant challenge certainly had a positive effect on history in that it stimulated individual and personal commitment to faith and it led, much more generally, to a healthy challenging of authority and assumed truths of any kind, releasing an inquisitive and adventurist view of life among the growing middle class.

Religious beliefs or moral reasoning based on faith increasingly relinquished control over economics and politics as a questioning attitude spread. The secular realm gradually freed itself from religious faith and the Church, both Catholic and Protestant.1 Spiritual goals in life gradually became restricted to personal life, replaced in the wider world by secular and material goals.

In the 18th century the Churches were almost completely pushed aside. It was the century of the philosophes and encyclopedists: Montesquieu (1689-1755); Voltaire (1694-1778); Rousseau (1712-78) and many others. It was the Age of the Enlightenment (1700-1789), a time of forward looking thinkers, kings, emperors and empresses, and enlightened despots who believed, for the first time, in the possibility of material and intellectual progress. Earthly life, it was held, could progress and get better.

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“The greatest single accomplishment in the effort to disseminate the ideas of the Enlightenment came with the publication of the Encyclopedia edited in France by Denis Diderot (1713-1784). The skeptical, rationalist Diderot used the Encyclopédie as a powerful propaganda weapon against Ecclesiastical authority and the superstition, conservatism, and semi-feudal social forms of the time.” quote source

“Far-reaching also was the faith of the age in natural faculties of the human mind. Pure skepticism, the negation of reason, was overcome. Modern people not only ceased to fear the devil; they ceased also to fear God. They thought of God less as a Father than as a first cause of the physical universe. There was less a sense of a personal God or of man’s need for saving grace. God was less the God of love; he was the inconceivably intelligent being.”2

God had become a kind of watchmaker.

The Christian view of things was replaced with scientific theories of good and evil and secular theories of society. Christian love became secularized humanitarian goodwill 3 and the good life was measured not in spiritual terms but by the progress toward a more comfortable and decent existence on earth.

The churchmen of the established Churches during the Age of Enlightenment were of a similar mind-set as the modernists: educated and sophisticated gentlemen, suspicious of religious zeal. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church had always been enthusiastic followers of scientific developments and discoveries. Of the Catholic religious orders, the Jesuits, especially, produced numerous important scientists and were responsible for many important scientific advances during the 17th through 20th centuries and, now, into the 21st century.The hierarchy of the Church had a history of separating biblical truth from scientific truth and so had no qualms about investigative thinking. Like today, much of the criticism of the Church was based on a popular idea of what the Church taught rather than on the actual doctrines of the Church. The criticism leveled by some of the philosophes was really a reaction to the social position and influence traditionally held by the Church. Many churchmen came to grudgingly accept the Church’s new position on the sidelines regarding economic and political matters.

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Left: Baroque.  Right: Neoclassical. photo: By Camille Gévaudan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Not surprisingly, the emotional and dramatic late Baroque style of architecture –associated mostly with the authoritative Catholic Church and with kings who claimed to rule by divine right– fell out of favor with Enlightenment thinkers. A more restrained architectural style emerged that reflected the progressive spirit of the Enlightenment. Ironically, it was the ancient style of classical Greece and Rome that became the face of modern thinking. The historical period of ancient Greece is often called the Age of Reason for it was the age of the first philosophers and the birth of reasonable thinking.  And, just as the philosophes believed Reason should guide human individuals and societies, it was thought by the neoclassicists that Reason should also direct artistic creation.

And, so, neoclassical architects retired the dramatic, unique, and emotional of the Baroque in favor of a style that expressed logical, rational organization. It did not seem to celebrate the established institutions like the Church or the monarchy, as the Baroque had done, but rather seemed to celebrate a way of thinking that promoted usefulness and reasoned progress.

Saint_Isaac's_Cathedral_in_SPB

Saint Isaac Cathedral, Saint Petersburg, Russia. photo: By Alex Florstein [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Neoclassical churches (and secular buildings), therefore, often look exactly like ancient Greek temples, faithful in general appearance as well as details. The Greek porch –consisting of steps, columns, classical entablatures and triangular pediments– predominates. While ancient models were certainly very much involved, the style could also be regarded as a revival of the Renaissance style and so Renaissance style domes were also popular. The ancients’ concern for proportion is expressed in the neoclassical style. The sculptural curves and dramatic lighting of Baroque architecture was rejected in favor of a return to a basic geometric style. The neoclassical style emphasizes the flat wall as opposed to the sculptural Baroque style of undulating surfaces. Curves gave way to verticals and horizontals. Neoclassical is minimalist in contrast to the late Baroque style.

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St. Anna church (1786), Warsaw, Poland. photo: By Alina Zienowicz Ala z (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

But the neoclassical style also appealed to the more traditional thinkers who prized order, and social control; those who prized an orderly, stable society –the traditional ordering of social classes and governance.

“Neoclassical thinkers (of a more established order bent) could use the past as a guide for the present because they assumed that human nature was constant–essentially the same regardless of time and place. Art, they believed, should express this essential nature…   If human nature has remained constant over the centuries, it is unlikely that any startling new discoveries will be made. Hence neoclassical artists did not strive to be original so much as to express old truths in a newly effective way… “7

 

Clearly the popularity of the neoclassical style among both progressives and traditionalists is an indication of the divergent and inconsistent thinking prevalent in the 18th and 19th centuries.

…………………………………………..

1 Most Protestant Churches actually became far more authoritarian than the Catholic Church had ever been.

2 Palmer, R. R., A History of the Modern World, second edition, (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1961), p 290

3 Palmer 299

4 From wikipedia ” The Jesuits have made numerous significant contributions to the development of science. For example, the Jesuits have dedicated significant study to earthquakes, and seismology has been described as “the Jesuit science”.[75] The Jesuits have been described as “the single most important contributor to experimental physics in the seventeenth century”.[76] According to Jonathan Wright in his book God’s Soldiers, by the eighteenth century the Jesuits had “contributed to the development of pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter‘s surface, the Andromeda nebula and Saturn’s rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon affected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light.”[77] The Jesuit China missions of the 16th and 17th centuries introduced Western science and astronomy, then undergoing its own revolution, to China. One modern historian writes that in late Ming courts, the Jesuits were “regarded as impressive especially for their knowledge of astronomy, calendar-making, mathematics, hydraulics, and geography”.[78] The Society of Jesus introduced, according to Thomas Woods, “a substantial body of scientific knowledge and a vast array of mental tools for understanding the physical universe, including the Euclidean geometry that made planetary motion comprehensible”.[79] Another expert quoted by Woods said the scientific revolution brought by the Jesuits coincided with a time when science was at a very low level in China.

5 Late Baroque was called Rococo; a more jocular, florid, and graceful approach to the Baroque. The style was ornate consisting of asymmetrical designs, curves, and gold. The Rococo was considered by neoclassicists as melodramatic and flamboyant and frivolously decorative –not serious. Unlike the political Baroque, the Rococo often had playful and witty themes.

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photo: Bernie

6 Renaissance: “rebirth” of classical learning

7 http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/neocl.html

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Good grief, Saint Patrick!

April 9th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

You may have already seen recent reports of this parish on several popular blogs: The Crescat, New Liturgical Movement, Fr. Z’s Blog, and Public Catholic.

Well, here is our contribution: a link to Saint Patrick’s Facebook page.

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Another thing I love about the Latin Mass….

April 9th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

I do love the Latin Mass for many reasons, and one reason has nothing to do with the language: it is how Communion is received.  It isn’t just a matter of receiving on the tongue instead of in the hand.  One of the things I have come to really love about the Latin Mass, with everyone receiving on the tongue, is that I no longer see those horrible Eucharistic abuses.  I no longer wonder if I should run after someone who just put a host in his pocket, when I have just received myself and fear being disrespectful to the Lord whom I now tabernacle.  I don’t see someone chewing gum on the line for Communion.    There is no chalice to receive in hand and realize the outside of the cup is wet.  And I don’t see so-called Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (still called EEM’s in some places) trying to give blessings, dropping hosts, or allowing intinction or other abuses.  Such abuses no longer disturb my moment of receiving God Himself.  And I love receiving at an altar rail, because I can fully concentrate on that moment when the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ is laid on my tongue, without trying to get out of line quickly to make room for the next person.

I thought I could simply excerpt a few sentences from a homily given by Fr. Heilman in 2014, and which has been reprinted several other places since.   But so much of it is of value that it is difficult to delete anything,  so please do read the  whole homily. Here is a bit to whet your appetite, further revised from my original posting for the sake of brevity.

The Truth About Communion in the Hand While Standing

by Fr. Richard Heilman 

Fr. Richard Heilman

Fr. Richard Heilman

“On May 28, 1969 the Congregation for Divine Worship issued Memoriale Domini, which concluded: “From the responses received, it is thus clear that by far the greater number of bishops feel that the present discipline [i.e., Holy Communion on the tongue] should not be changed at all, indeed that if it were changed, this would be offensive to the sensibility and spiritual appreciation of these bishops and of most of the faithful.” 

“[....] the pope would not authorize Communion in the hand. He was, however, open to bestowing an indult – an exception to the law – under certain conditions … the Holy See set down seven regulations concerning communion in the hand; failure to maintain these regulations could result in the loss of the indult.”

Fr. Heilman sets forth in exquisite detail the machinations of Archbishop Joseph Bernardin and the NCCB to produce a 2/3 vote among U.S. Bishops for receiving in the hand.  That section is worthwhile reading just for validation that Machiavellian techniques are not obsolete, even in the Church or in US elections, where absentee ballots sometimes win the day. The author understandably reaches the conclusion that some of Pope Paul VI’s conditions were not achieved, at least in the US.  He notes three in particular:

1) Respecting the laity who continue the traditional practice:  ”Reports are now widespread of priests refusing Communion to those who wish to receive kneeling and on the tongue. Even reports of priests berating people for this.” 

2) Maintaining the laity’s proper respect of the Eucharist.  The author cites e.g. a deacon’s experience with a number of ‘lack of respect’ situations.  ”The Vatican does not allow communion in the hand … one reason is because tourists were taking the Holy Eucharist home as a souvenir of their trip to Rome.”

3) Strengthening the laity’s faith in the Real Presence:  “In 1950, 87% believed in the Real Presence. Today, that number has plummeted to a mere 34%. The abusive and hurried manner in which the practice of Communion in the hand was imposed after Vatican II lead to a widespread lack of reverence for the Eucharist …

Fr. Heilman offers a fascinating quote from Pope Benedict, regarding kneeling and its importance. Read the rest of this entry »

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In Defense of Holy Images

April 9th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

A post on the New Liturgical Movement website by PETER KWASNIEWSKI :

…Given the iconoclastic half-century that has passed, it can never be amiss to remind ourselves of why the Catholic Church of East and West has always produced, loved, venerated, and defended “icons” or holy images of Christ, His Mother, and all the saints. Although in what follows I will be speaking primarily of icons in the usual sense of the term, the theological principles definitely apply to stained glass, relief carvings, sculptures or statues—in short, any art that seeks to bring the holy ones into our midst or, more properly, to bring us into contact with their glory.

In response to heretics who were rejecting and destroying holy images (the iconoclasts), the seventh Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, called the Second Council of Nicaea (787), unambiguously…

Read the entire post.

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St. Pius X Holds Mass in Tents

April 8th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Channel 10-WHEC: Church holds Mass following fire

Members of St. Pius X Church in Chili gathered for Easter Sunday Mass in a large heated tent, months after a fire.

Please keep this community in your prayers. They’ve been through a lot recently.

hat tip Interstate Catholic

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Mass Mob planned at Rochester’s St. Michael Church on April 19

April 6th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Mass Mob planned at city church By Jennifer Burke/Catholic Courier

Diocesan officials are hoping a mob of people will descend on Rochester’s St. Michael Church on April 19 for its regularly scheduled 4 p.m. Mass.

That is the point of a Mass Mob, after all.

The first Mass Mob was held in the Diocese of Buffalo in November 2013, when a successful social-media campaign drew 400 people to a Mass at St. Adalbert Basilica. The concept of holding one-time events to boost attendance at and awareness of historic inner-city churches took off, and since then, Mass Mobs have been held in other dioceses across the country as well as locally, where bloggers organized a Mass Mob at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Rochester last May.
read more

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Fellowship of Saint Alban Tenebrae Service

April 2nd, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

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Click here to view Tenebrae film clips

Here is a link to some clips of last night’s Tenebrae service at the Fellowship of Saint Alban.

(The quality is not great as I took the wrong camera to the service. My apologies.)

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Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – April 2015

March 31st, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your April 2015 calendar. Thanks to the good folks at mprp-roc.org for providing these calendars freely available to all on the Internet.

And the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for April :

Universal: CREATION
That people may learn to respect creation and care for it as a gift of God.

Evangelization: PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS
That persecuted Christians may feel the consoling presence of the Risen Lord and the solidarity of all the Church.

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What is this all about? A Meditation on the First Station

March 27th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris
2014 3rd Q Archive 069

Pilate Washing His Hands
Divine Mercy Center, Stockbridge MA

      In Matthew 27:24 we read:

“So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”

Meditation on the First Station of the Cross

One way to ‘do’ the Stations of the Cross is to pray up, into and through them, one at a time, during Lent.  It might take all 40 days to just go through the Stations once this way, but with many insights and spiritual uplifting from the Holy Spirit.  In the first station, Christ comes back to Pilate, after the scourging, and one senses from the reading that Pilate is looking for some way to release Jesus, some way around the “problem”.  He offers to release Him or Barabbas, but the crowd chooses Barabbas.  What to do with Christ? The crowd shouts “Crucify Him!”  Pilate dramatically tries to wash his hands of the blood of his own Redeemer.

For many years I felt a real distaste when the Passion is read, whether on Palm Sunday or Good Friday, especially when the assembly is given a few meager lines, the most memorable of which is “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.”  There have been years I just couldn’t bring myself to say the words at all, other years in which I muttered them quietly, anxious to get on with the reading.  But never did I utter those words with any enthusiasm, feeling it was a pretty poor part to give to the congregation.  But, one time, meditating on the first Station of the Cross, changed that perception forever .

That time, I could imagine Christ, returning all bloodied from the scourging, and standing before Pilate, waiting for an earthly decision that Pilate could not have made were he not empowered to do so by our Heavenly Father.  I could imagine that if I were there, with Christ’s followers, that the choice of Christ or Barabbas might have for an instant given me hope that Jesus would be spared.  I could imagine that I would be praying/hoping for His release.

But suppose Pilate had turned to me — or to you — and said “What would YOU have me do?  Should I crucify Jesus or Barabbas?”  If I knew everything I now know in faith, that without Christ’s crucifixion I am damned for all eternity, yet I had the love for Christ that comes through His Grace now abundantly poured out, what would I have said?  It is a vital question with which to struggle.  If I could fully realize that one of us had to die for my sins, Him agonizingly on the Cross or me in an eternity of death, what would I have said?  Knowing what I now know, I would have said “Crucify Him.”  And I would have looked away, too ashamed to look in Christ’s eyes.

After spending time ‘in’ the first Station (as opposed to ‘at’ the first Station) I realized that my distaste for the line “Crucify Him” from the Passion Reading is because of my reluctance to admit that I am the one who put Christ on the Cross.  But now I think the line “Crucify Him! Crucify Him” is one of the best lines in the Passion Reading, one of the purest, and a privilege to say.  Because not only do I own up to the fact that I put Christ on the Cross but, perhaps even more important, I open myself to accept more fully the fruits of that crucifixion.  Yes, God chose to sacrifice Himself for our sins, no matter what I would have decided but, when I say “Crucify Him,” in a sense I say “Amen” to God’s decision.  And in that “Amen” I say that I am willing to accept the Cross that Christ has for me too.  I say that I am grateful for God’s atonement for what I never could have reconciled.  By saying “Crucify Him” I am giving up forever the right to wash my hands of Christ’s Blood, as Pilate tried to do.  By saying “Crucify Him” I accept His washing me clean of my guilt for saying “Crucify Him.”  By saying “Crucify Him” I acknowledge that my love for Him, even now, is not so great that I would have been willing to sacrifice my eternity to save Christ from the Cross.  When I say “Crucify Him” I also admit how poor and weak my own love is, for His is the far greater Love, to lay down His Life for me.

Now it is a kind of joy to say those words: “Crucify Him; Crucify Him.”  Words I had long refused to utter. Perhaps we should, in the reading of the Passion, dwell upon those words longer and deeper, with individual emphasis.  Now, what would you have said, if Pilate had asked you “And what should I do with Jesus?”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Holy Week and Easter Services at St. Alban’s Ordinariate Fellowship

March 23rd, 2015, Promulgated by Ludwig

The St. Alban Ordinariate group has announced their holy week schedule on their website.

The services will be led by Reverend W. Becket Soule, OP, JCD.

The initials OP stand for “Ordo Praedicatorum” or Order of Preachers, so he is a Dominican priest.  The initials JCD are for Juris Canonici Doctor, or doctor of canon law. He is further a professor of canon law at the Pontifical College Josephinum, where he has a named chair, the Bishop James A. Griffin Chair of Canon Law.  The Ordinariate site mentions he is also the new Judicial Vicar for the Ordinariate.

We remind our readers that although established for those from Anglican tradition, any Catholic is permitted to attend these services and receive the sacraments there.  In particular, there are three opportunities for confessions mentioned, which will be the usual form for confession.

Further interesting information:  “Importantly, many of the services we will be using are newly approved Ordinariate Holy Week services, drawing from the same well of sources as our office and Mass.”

The schedule of services is as follows, at Good Shepherd church, 3302 E Henrietta Rd  (Hwy 15A), Henrietta, NY 14467:

Wednesday, 1 April
7:30 pm     Tenebrae
8:30 pm     Confessions

Friday, 3 April [Good Friday]
12:00 noon    Celebration of the Passion, Solemn Collects, Veneration of the Cross, Holy Communion
1:30 pm         Confessions

Saturday, 4 April [Holy Saturday]
10:00 am    Morning Prayer [and Blessing of Easter Baskets]
10:30 am    Confessions

Sunday, 5 April [Easter Day]
3:00 pm    Mass

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Invoking the Intercession of St. Tarcisius for the Synod

March 21st, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Nearly 4 years ago I wrote on Cleansing Fire about St. Tarcisius , but it seems timely to do so again, especially leading up to the Synod, where the Holy Eucharist is being targeted for abuse.  This time the wild beasts in the arena are not lions and tigers, but those who don’t believe in the Real Presence (else how can they advocate what they do?), or who see giving His Precious Body away to those whom Christ called adulterers is a fair trade for the modern 30 pieces of silver in government funding (Germany, e.g.), or who simply don’t have even the faith of a child to defend against the sacrilege.  

How ironic it should be that all is again happening in Rome!  How ironic that it should be coming from within the Church, with secularity, modernity and avarice being the concubines uniting themselves to the wayward prelates.  It is indeed becoming clearer what Christ meant when he asked in Luke 18:8: “… when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”  And how He promised (in Matthew 24:22):  ”… if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”   St. Tarcisius, PRAY FOR US!  

St. Tarcisius, Boy Martyr

Statue of St. Tarcisius by Alexandre Falguière at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Statue of St. Tarcisius by Alexandre Falguière at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Long, long ago, when Catholic Schools were run primarily by religious orders and it was unusual to find even a lay teacher, every student learned the story of St. Tarcisius.  It was one of the stories in the second grade reader, and produced much discussion in the classroom.  What would each of us be willing to do for the sake of the Eucharist?  It was an apt question for second graders who were about to embark on their First Communion.

I was always enthralled by the story of Tarcisius; so much so that I wanted to take his name in Confirmation in 5th grade.  But the good sisters squelched that as inappropriate; so I obeyed them, and probably avoided scandalizing that Bishop!

In recent years, when I mention Tarcisius to faithful Catholics, most seem unfamiliar with the boy saint.  It is a shame, because he inspired many generations of young people.  Perhaps because his Feast Day in the Roman Martyrology is the same day as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tarcisius is passed over in memorials. However, one would think that he is grateful to have reserved the place on the calendar, waiting to cede the major recognition to Our Holy Mother in the 6th century.

Tarcisius is said to have been about 12 years old, and to have lived in the third century.  What little is known of him comes from a poem composed by Pope Damasus I, about a century later.  As the story in the primary readers recounted, Tarcisius one day was carrying the Holy Eucharist to prisoners awaiting martyrdom under Valerian.  Instead of a priest, he went because he was less recognizable.  He was accosted by a gang of youths who wanted whatever he was carrying so close to his heart.  When he would not surrender the Blessed Sacrament, he was beaten to death, or perhaps stoned, as the poem refers also to St. Stephen.

Legend is, that in spite of killing Tarcisius, those thugs were unable to pry open his hands to get control of the Body of Christ.  Only later, when his body was returned to a priest, could the Eucharist be easily taken from his dead hands.  Another version is that the assailants could find no trace of the Eucharist any place on his body.  And yet another version is that a Roman soldier, secretly a Christian, completed the task of taking the Eucharist to the prisoners. Where fact stops and legend begins is a bit uncertain, but that a young boy achieved sainthood by giving his life for Christ is quite clear.

He is the patron saint of first communicants and of altar servers, and also of teenage boys.  His relics are kept at the minor basilica of The Church of Saint Sylvester in Capite, along with other martyrs’ relics from the Catacombs.  Here is the poem of Pope Damasus :  (Please feel free to offer a translation in the comments.)

Text of the poem by Pope Damasus

A poem in Latin, composed by Pope Damasus, serves as the only positive historical evidence of the saint’s existence:

Par meritum, quicumque legis, cognosce duorum,
quis Damasus rector titulos post praemia reddit.
Iudaicus populus Stephanum meliora monentem
perculerat saxis, tulerat qui ex hoste tropaeum,
martyrium primus rapuit levita fidelis.

Tarsicium sanctum Christi sacramenta gerentem
cum male sana manus premeret vulgare profanis,
ipse animam potius voluit dimittere caesus
prodere quam canibus rabidis caelestia membra.

Damasi Epigrammata, Maximilian Ihm, 1895, n. 13
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Baroque Lenten Station Church

March 16th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

Here is one of the Seven Station Churches of Rome, “Holy Cross in Jerusalem” (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme), originated in 320. (More info here)

Rome was the center of the Baroque style of church architecture and this is a good example. “Holy Cross”  assumed its current Baroque appearance under Benedict XIV (1740-1758)

This church was recently featured on the New Liturgical Movement website. (Here)

web 26 Santa Croce in Gerusalemme 1_edited-1

The facades of Baroque churches are treated like sculpture and appear more three-dimensional than the flatter previous Renaissance style. Contrasting curved lines and forms often animate a facade creating an undulating surface. Sculptures are common and cornices can be large, casting a dark shadow underneath. The curves and dark recesses create drama. Pediments are often broken by advancing and receding sections. Sometimes the center of a pediment is missing as is the one over the doorway, above. Columns or, in this case, pilasters rise to the height of two stories. The intention is drama and excitement. Most of all it is meant to communicate an impression of power and authority.

The Baroque Style was described as part of the Church Architecture Style series. (Here)

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New York Post: A friend in Jesus: New York’s new Catholic PAC

March 15th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

New York Post: A friend in Jesus: New York’s new Catholic PAC

“Finally the Catholic Church will have a voice in Albany commensurate with our numbers and with the contributions our church makes to our state and our communities,” says Robert Flanigan, co-founder of Educate LLC, a company that coaches schools in technology. “Especially in education.”

In essence, the new PAC is an attempt to restore some sanity to education policy by rewarding success and punishing failure in a state capital that does just the opposite.

In short, while Albany may debate the Dream Act, it won’t mean anything without the grammar and high schools that put kids on a path to college.

Here’s the problem. New York’s traditional public schools already enjoy the highest funding per pupil in the nation, while Catholic schools are closing.

Still, when it comes to education, there’s another fact at play here: Many would be happy to see the Catholic schools fold because each day they show up their public-school counterparts by demonstrating that black and Latino kids can learn and achieve in the right school.

All while saving New York’s taxpayers billions.

I pray this has an effect. It’s a social injustice that parents who choose to save the public school system hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions* by not sending their children to public schools don’t have a single incentive from NYS to do so. Schooling is an often overlooked battle for the future of our country. If you’re perfectly happy with yet another generation of Catholics who vote for the Obamas of the world and can’t tell you who the second person of the Trinity is, then by all means just sit back and let New York State continue to waste your money on efforts that only make the school system worse. If, however, you’d like to help give parents a choice to say “NO!” to the secular humanist brainwashing of the socialist regime all while horribly failing at the only goal they’re set out to accomplish (producing widget-makers), then it’s time to take a stand and push back.


NOTE 1: 5 children x 12 years of public school x 20k per year = $1.2M [updated thanks to Sid]

Even setting aside non-monetary benefits to society, the remote monetary benefit to society is even greater than the above formula as the difference between contributing a wealth-creating, tax-paying, citizen to society is exponentially more beneficial than someone who becomes a drain.


NOTE 2: This post in no way is intended to denigrate those families who make use of the public school system. There are sundry scenarios in which the public school system is the best option for a family and if the family is strong and the parents do their job, the children will not become cogs in the socialist regime.

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Language Matters

March 13th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Language makes a big difference, especially when there is an overt agenda to shape public opinion, and when the objective of the agenda runs counter to truth and morals.  Let’s revisit a few examples of hijacked language, to shed some light on the current question “What in the world is the Vatican thinking?”

CHOICE

least of theseThe pro-abortion lobby of 40 years ago didn’t use the term “pro-baby-murder,” and they made those who did into social outcasts. Insisting on a term like “baby murder,” would have better framed the battle, and revealed the real intent of the pro-death contingent. But, almost without consciously thinking, pro-lifers took up the words “pro-choice” to write and talk about the other side, and inevitably played into the hands of the culture of death.  After all,  isn’t having a choice a good thing?  Who can argue with having the right to pick and choose?   Aaah!  But choose what? That is where the agenda and the language run silent. Thus, the pro-death lobby was able to put the emphasis on the woman rather than on the child, and shaped the politics for 40 years and into the future, entrenching themselves on ceded ground by controlling the language and shaping the public conversation.

The rightly-named “pro-lifers” aided and abetted the pro-death lobby by using their language, by using the term “pro-choice” themselves, strengthening the culture of death, laying the groundwork for the current efforts  to characterize pro-lifers as terrorists.  Language does matter.  Now the same “right to choose” permeates the nascent wave of euthanasia. Many Catholics report that during the 42 years of shame they can count on one hand the number of sermons they heard against abortion.  Some say they never heard any such sermon.  It can pretty well be said that while language was being hijacked, “the pulpits were silent.”

MARRIAGE

A similar misuse of language permeates the same-sex unions agenda. Allowing that lobby to seize the word “marriage” distorts the entire issue,  and the irrational becomes difficult to rationally debate.  Using the word “marriage” to describe what the Judeo-Christian ethic (and others) saw as immoral and sinful for thousands of years isn’t even debated on the grounds of injury to the moral structure and/or good order of a country.  Use of the word “marriage” prepared the way for arguments not about the intrinsic identity of marriage, not about the care of children, but about perceived elements of marriage: as a good, a social institution, a legal structure, a celebratory event, a sexual relationship.   The elements, or the denial thereof, framed the argument for “same-sex marriage” even though it can never meet the test of true marriage.   Hence, it was necessary for that lobby to strike down the legitimately passed Defense Of Marriage Act, either in social practice, in the courts, or both.  The procreation of  children,  as a vital aspect of marriage, is naturally unachievable in a same-sex union, yet it has not prevented vain attempts to create trophy progeny.  And the pro-abortion lobby, by devaluing life and children, cultivated the ground for treating children as an afterthought to the argument.  

As in the case for abortion, the government’s role in driving the social engineering experiment is highly visible, from the early closing of adoption centers which refused to place children with same sex couples, to opening the military to all sorts of questionable permissiveness, to the economic pressures on African countries to force them to permit same-sex unions.  On a simple citizen impact level, when a baker is fined $100,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for such a union, there can be no doubt that cruel and unusual punishment is part of the strategy.  

By ceding the use of the word “marriage,” significant ground was overrun, which likely cannot be reclaimed on human effort alone, especially since people of good heart, though uncertain understanding, easily bought the civil rights argument.  And, again, “the pulpits were silent.”  Or mostly silent.  This past weekend, at the English Synod, Cardinal Burke (of recent heroic action) was quoted in LifeSiteNews as saying to “brace for martyrdom over marriage.”

GLOBAL WARMING / CLIMATE CHANGE

It appears to me that those who most embrace the political concept of Global Warming are those with the least knowledge of science, or those who are scientists getting paid for their work in “proving” that global warming exists (or will exist).  In a prior post on Cleansing Fire I gave my reasons against buying into this tenet of the Religion of the Environment (the one global religion to unite the masses.)   Usually when the agenda-shapers launch their efforts they grab language that will become the battle cry for an extended period.  It is my perception that “global warming” is more easily debunked than “climate change” — not because either is true, but it covers both directions.  It is hardly credible to stand on top of our winter whitestuff crying “global warming,” but the agenda shapers have switched to “climate change” and mumble about something happening somewhere else causing cold spots (or hot spots.)  (I remember when it was called “weather” and some humorist quipped “Weather!  Everybody talks about it.  Nobody does anything about it.”  Now we have people in elected office who misunderstood the humor and have decided to “do something about it.”)  Aaaahh!  The Lord must laugh at their choice of a battlefield. And we should remember, in this context, that we are awaiting an encyclical from Pope Francis on global warming / climate change which has the risk of making him the modern Pope Urban VIII.  For another view, see what you think of Newsmax yesterday “There is no Global Warming.”  

So “Climate Change” is all inclusive, because whatever happens weather-wise the agenda-shapers can say “SEE! We told you.”  The variation in natural swings are over long periods of time, and now will be ignored, and every hurricane, snow-storm or flood will be attributed to “Climate Change” — something we need to be taxed to prevent.  While we can’t predict any outcomes on plain foolishness (as we can on more glaringly moral issues), we can be sure increased taxes will be one result. How can we be so sure?  Because manipulating the language is easier to understand if we follow the money.  Same-sex unions create votes which translate to power and thence to money.  And the recipients of the abortion largesse (like Planned Parenthood) are grateful too.

DOESN’T THE VATICAN “GET IT?”

Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Vatican's UN Representative

Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Vatican’s UN Representative

All of the above would simply be a tirade on the use of language for abuse and manipulation were it not needed as a reminder on the latest mixed signals coming from “The Vatican,” reported in an excellent LifeSiteNews article (3/12/15) by Steve Jalsevac entitled: “Vatican use of Population Control Word ‘sustainable’ at UN worrisome.”   I encourage you to read the entire, short article.  Here are some highlights:

“Current Vatican representatives at the UN do not appear to understand the dangers of uncritically using key, population control invented phrases in official Vatican statements to the United Nations … that … are causing the Church to give huge international reinforcement to the deceits and manipulations of de-populationist agendas. The use of the phrases “sustainable environment,” “sustainability reports” and “sustainability-related impact and performance” in a March 9 statement by Archbishop Tomasi, the Vatican’s chief representative to the UN, is the latest example of this worrisome trend.”
Read the rest of this entry »

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Laetare Sunday, March 15th, at SKT-LMC

March 9th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

From the skt-lmc bulletin:

NEXT SUNDAY is the Fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally called Laetare Sunday, a joyful mid-season day in the midst of the penitential and sorrowful Lenten time. The 9 AM English Mass will be a CHOIR MASS and the 11:15 AM Latin Mass will be a HIGH MASS. Please consider inviting someone to come along with you.

Consider yourself invited.

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Four Catholic Journals and the Death Penalty

March 7th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

I’ll merely point you to Ed Feser: Capital punishment should not end

and to Steven A. Long: Four Catholic Journals Indulge in Doctrinal Solipsism

all the Doctors and Fathers of the Church–with the exception of Tertullian who died outside the faith– have taught the essential validity of capital punishment; and that it is the teaching of the Council of Trent that where all the Fathers and Doctors hold one interpretation of Scripture as the proper one, Catholics are to accept it, are two propositions that signify very little in the oppressive culture of mutationist accounts of doctrinal development.

and to Cardinal Ratzinger: Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles (feels like I just linked here).

While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

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The Stations of the Cross

March 7th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

Details from some of the Stations of the Cross at Our Lady of Victory/Saint Joseph Church, Rochester, New York. (Sorry, but I do not know the name of the painter.)

When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.” – Pope Francis

(Click on pictures for sharper images)

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Inaugural men’s conference set for May 16

March 6th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Inaugural men’s conference set for May 16 By Mike Latona/Catholic Courier

The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 16, in the gymnasium of St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. Also collaborating in the organization of the event is organizing the event is Exult Rochester — a coalition of Catholic men from Rochester-area parishes — in conjunction with the Diocese of Rochester. Registration is open to men in the diocese and beyond, with an attendance capacity of 1,000. Tickets are $50 per person and available at exultrochester.org.

Bishop Salvatore R. Matano will begin the event by celebrating Mass at 8 a.m. Three popular national Catholic speakers are scheduled to follow.

For more info see exultrochester.org.

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