October 31, 2016

Novena for the 2016 Election, [U.S.] Day Three

Jesus at Herod's Court
Jesus at Herod's Court, Duccio, c. 1310.

November 1, 2016

Novena Prayer for the 2016 Election:  Day 3

Saint Thomas More, martyred for your uncompromising faith, join us in praying for this election and these intentions: [State your intentions here.]

Prayer for the Faithful Witness of Catholics in the United States

(By Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke)

O Lord Jesus Christ, You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Your Church You show us the Way, You teach us the Truth, and You give us Your Life. Grant, we humbly beg You, that, always and in all things, we may be faithful to You in Your Holy Church, and to Your Vicar on Earth, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis. Grant also, we beg You, that, in these times of decision, all who profess to be Catholic and who are entrusted with the sacred duty to participate in public life, may, by the strength of Your grace, unwaveringly follow Your Way and faithfully adhere to Your Truth, living in You with all their mind and heart, for Your greater glory, the salvation of souls, and the good of our nation. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, Pray for us.

Saint Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom, Pray for us.

Bishop Robert Barron Comments on All Saints' Day


Here is Bishop Robert Barron's beautiful commentary on the Solemnity of All Saints. If you have ten minutes to spare, His Excellency's cogent insights are worth your time. Explaining that the greatest tragedy in life is not becoming a saint, Bishop Barron urges us to seek out Christ's friendship. He states in part:

"At the very beginning of the 20th century, there were two young Parisian students, intellectuals. One was called Jacques Maritain, and his girlfriend was called Raïssa. Raïssa was a poet. Jacques Maritain was a student of philosophy. They were agnostics, more or less, and they decided that life was meaningless. One day in the Luxembourg Garden in Paris, they made a vow, and they said unless we can discover by the end of the school year the meaning of life we will commit suicide.

[W]hile they were waiting for the school year to come to an end, Jacques Maritain read a statement by Léon Bloy, who was a French spiritual writer. Léon Bloy said, 'There's only one real sadness in life, not to be a saint.' … That had a huge impact on young Jacques Maritain. Bloy was insinuating that there’s all kinds of sadness. I mean, I didn't become the success I wanted to be, I didn't achieve this and that, I didn’t get the money I wanted, there’s all kinds of sadness, but they don't matter. At the end of the day, there's only one real sadness; not to become a saint — not to be the person that Christ wants you to be."

Solemnity of All Saints | The Church Triumphant: Our Guides and Intercessors in Heaven

The Communion of Saints

In honor of the Solemnity of All Saints, here is a very brief survey of the Church Triumphant. The list is by no means definitive. It is impossible to give an exact number of saints. The majority are known only to God. The Virgin Mary has been omitted out of respect. The Mother of the Savior has a significant place in the divine economy of salvation. Contrary to popular imagination, the saints lived lives remarkably similar to our own. Living ordinary lives in extraordinary ways they were able to achieve heroic virtue. Such a life is possible for us today, with grace, unrelenting prayer, the sacraments and the saints as our guides. The number next to each saint is not intended as a rank. We have tried to include individuals who reflect the scope of a universal Church that spans two millennia.

(For more information about a saint, click on the saint's name.)

1. St. Peter - first pope, apostle, martyr
2. St. Paul of Tarsusmissionary, author of scripture, martyr
3. St. John - apostle, evangelist, bishop
4. St. Thomas - apostle, missionary, martyr
5. St. Andrew - apostle, missionary, martyr
6. St. James the Greater - apostle, martyr
7. St. Luke - evangelist, missionary martyr
8. St. Matthew - evangelist, apostle, martyr
10. St. James the Lesser - apostle, martyr
11. St. Mark - evangelist, martyr
12. St. Bartholomew - apostle, missionary, martyr
13. St. Simon the Zealot - apostle, preacher, martyr
14. St. Thaddeaus or Jude - apostle, missionary, martyr, wrote epistle
15. St. Matthias - apostle, martyr
16. St. Philip - apostle, martyr, missionary
17. St. Ambrose - bishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church
18. St. Gregory the Greatpontiff, theologian, Doctor of the Church
19. St. Augustine of Hippo - bishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church
20. St. Jerome - biblical scholar, priest, Doctor of the Church
21. St. John Chrysostom archbishop, preacher, Doctor of the Church
22. St. Basil the Great - bishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church
23. St. Gregory of Nazianzus - archbishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church
24. St. Athanasius - archbishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church
25. St. Peter Chrysologus - bishop, preacher, Doctor of the Church
26. St. Hilary of Poitiers - bishop, apologist, Doctor of the Church
27. St. Cyril of Jerusalem - bishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church
28. St. Cyril of Alexandria - archbishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church
29. St. Ephremdeacon, prolific author, Doctor of the Church
30. St. Bede the Venerable - priest, monk, Doctor of the Church
31. St John of Damascus - priest, monk, Doctor of the Church
32. St. Gregory VIIpontiff, great reforming pope
33. St. Albert the Great - bishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church
34. St. Anthony of Padua - priest, monk, Doctor of the Church
35. St. Francis of Assisi - monk, mystic, stigmatist, founder
36. St. Bonaventure cardinal-priest, Doctor of the Church, friar
37. St. Dominic - priest, founder, spread devotion to the Rosary
38. St. Thomas Aquinas - priest, theologian, Doctor of the Church
39. St. Catherine of Siena - mystic, advisor to pope, Doctor of the Church
40. Bartolomé de las Casas friar, bishop, missionary
41. St. Ignatius of Loyola - priest, missionary, theologian, founder
42. St. Anselm - theologian, archbishop, monk, Doctor of the Church
43. St Isidore of Seville - bishop, Doctor of the Church
44. St. Leo the Greatpontiff, Doctor of the Church
45. St. Peter Damian - cardinal-bishop, monk, Doctor of the Church
46. St. Bernard of Clairvaux - priest, founder, Doctor of the Church
47. St. Peter Canisius - priest, Doctor of the Church
48. St. John of the Cross - mystic, writer, founder, Doctor of the Church
49. St. Teresa of Ávila - mystic, writer, foundress, Doctor of the Church
50. St. John of Ávila - mystic, priest, Doctor of the Church
51. St. Charles Borromeo - cardinal-archbishop, reformer
52. St. Philip Neri - priest, founder, reformer
53. St. Robert Bellarmine - cardinal, reformer, Doctor of the Church
54. St. Vincent de Paul - priest, founder
55. St. Patrick - missionary, bishop, preacher
56. St. Francis de Sales - priest, writer
57. St. Irenaeus - bishop, apologist, theologian
58. St. Polycarp - priest, theologian, martyr
59. St. Ignatius of Antioch - bishop, theologian, martyr
60. St. Alphonsus de Liguori - bishop, founder, Doctor of the Church
61. St. Clare of Assisi - foundress, abbess 
62. St. Joan of Arc - martyr
63. St. Thomas More - lawyer, statesman, martyr
64. St. Lawrence of Brindisi - priest, diplomat, Doctor of the Church
65. St. Hildegard of Bingen - visionary, abbess, Doctor of the Church
66. St. Francis Xavier - priest, founder, missionary
67. St. John Vianney - priest, confessor
68. Fr. Jacques Hamel - French priest, martyr killed by ISIS
69. St. Pius Vpontiff, instrumental in the Council of Trent 
70. St. Martin de Porres - Dominican third order
71. St. John Paul IIpontiff, philosopher
72. St. Joseph - spouse of the Blessed Virgin, foster father of Jesus
73. St. Mary Magdalene- apostle to the apostles
74. St. Monica - mother of Augustine
75. Bl. John Henry Newman - cardinal, convert, theologian
76. St. Thérèse of Lisieux nun, author, Doctor of the Church
77. St. Teresa of Calcutta - nun, foundress
78. St. Stephen - first martyr, deacon
79. St. Faustina - nun, apostle of Divine Mercy
80. St. Macrina the Younger - sister of Sts. Gregory of Nyssa and Basil
81. St. Anthony - hermit,  father of monasticism
82. St. Louis Mary de Montfort - priest, confessor, founder and theologian
83. St. John the Baptist - preacher, forerunner of Christ
84. St. Valentine - priest, martyr
85. St. Lucy - martyr, virgin
86. St. Bernadette Soubirous - nun, visionary
87. St. Nicholas - bishop
88. St. Padre Pio - priest, stigmatist, visionary
89. St. Katharine Drexel - nun, foundress
90. St. Elizabeth of Hungary - countess, served the poor
91. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton - nun, foundress, educator
92. St. Benedict of Nursia - monastic, founder
93. St. Brigid of Ireland - nun, abbess, founder
94. St. Catherine of Alexandria - virgin, martyr
95. St. Columbanus - missionary, monk, founder
96. St. John Bosco - priest, educator, founder
97. St. Joseph of Cupertino - friar, mystic, confessor
98. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini - virgin, nun, foundress
99. St. Martin of Toursbishop, monk
100. St. Alexander of Jerusalem - bishop, martyr
101. St. Catherine Labouré - nun, visionary
102. St. Anthony Claret bishop, missionary, founder
103. St. Paul of the Cross - priest, mystic, founder
104. St. Isaac Jogues and Companions priests, missionaries, martyrs
105. St. André Bessette brother, Congregation of Holy Cross
106. St. Januarius - bishop, martyr, miracle worker 
107. St. Aloysius Gonzaga - Jesuit, 'hidden martyr'
108. St. Rose of LimaThird Order of Saint Dominic, ascetic
109. St. Wenceslaus - king, reformer, martyr
110. St. Stephen of Hungary - king, defender of the Faith
111. St. Angela Merici - religious, virgin, foundress
112. St. Jeanne Jugan - religious, virgin, foundress
113. St. Lawrence - deacon, martyr
114. St. Henry the Pius - king, builder, advocate for the Church
115. St. Josaphat - bishop, martyr, Ruthenian rite
116. St. Juan Diego - visionary, convert, hermit
117. St. Agnes - virgin and martyr
118. St. Bruno - priest, monastic, founder
119. St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions - martyrs
120. St. Joseph Calasanz - priest, founder, educator
121. St. Louis IX - king, defender of the faith
122. St. Jane Frances de Chantal - religious, foundress
123. St. Martha of Bethany - friend of Jesus, sister of Mary and Lazarus
124. St. Maria Goretti - virgin and martyr
125. St. Junipero Serra - Franciscan, missionary
126. St. Agatha - virgin and martyr
127. St. John Fisher - priest, cardinal, martyr
128. St. John XXIII - pontiff who called Vatican II
129. St. Andrew Kim Taegon and CompanionsKorean martyrs
130. St. John Eudes - priest, missionary and founder
131. St. Apollinaris - bishop and martyr
132. St. Camillus de Lellis - former soldier, founder
133. St. Stanislaus - bishop, martyr, patron of Poland
134. St. Bridget of Sweden - religious, mystic, visionary, foundress
135. St. Damien of Molokai - priest, missionary
136. St. John of God - founded religious institute to care for the poor sick
137. St. Thomas Becket - bishop, defender of the Faith, martyr
138. Sts. Cosmas and Damian - physicians, martyrs
139. St. Peter Claver - Jesuit missionary, 'slave to slaves'
140. St. Kateri Tekakwitha - virgin, convert, ascetic
141. St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions - Chinese martyrs
142. St. Paulinus of Nola - bishop, commentator, poet, counselor
143. St. Barnabas - apostle, missionary, martyr
144. St. Norbert - founder, Praemonstratensian Order
145. St. Justin - defender of the Faith, martyr
146. Sts. Timothy and Titus - disciples of Paul, bishops
147. St. John Neumann - Redemptorist, bishop, missionary
148. St. Martin I - pontiff, defender of the Faith, martyr
149. Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus - enemies who became friends, martyrs
150. St. Gemma Galgani - mystic, victim soul, "The Gem of Christ"

October 30, 2016

The Baptismal Rite Includes an Exorcism

Exorcism

ChurchPOP discusses a little known fact:

"Most of the time when people think of exorcisms, they think of dramatic situations like those depicted in movies like The Rite or The Exorcist. But did you know that an exorcism is performed with something as common as the rite of baptism?

There are two kinds of exorcisms: major exorcisms and minor exorcisms. A major exorcism is a solemn ritual performed by a priest when a person is believed to be possessed by a demon. They are rare and are only performed by authorized exorcists. A minor exorcism, on the other hand, is a more general exorcism performed even if the recipient is not believed to be possessed and is included in the baptismal rite."

More Thoughts on Baptism from the Catechism

"Since the time of early Christianity, Baptism has been the rite of initiation into the Christian community of the Church. In Baptism, the 'one Spirit' makes us members of the Body of Christ and of 'one another.'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1267)

"The baptized are called to imitate Jesus’ example and strive in thought, word, and action to live his love. This means working to heal the wounds of sin, living the Beatitudes, practicing the twofold commandment of love of God and neighbor, and imitating the lives of the saints." (CCC, nos. 1694-97)

"Incorporation into Christ and into the community of the People of God means agreeing to take part in, and to self-identify with, its mission to become disciples in the world." (CCC, no. 1276)

"After being baptized, we acknowledge or receive a white garment to signify that we have risen with Christ. We receive a lighted candle, which symbolizes that we are a new creation, enlightened by Christ. We are now called to carry that light into the dark world to extend the light to others." (CCC, no. 1243)

Novena for the 2016 Election, [U.S.] Day Two

Jesus at Herod's Court
Jesus at Herod's Court, Duccio, c. 1310.

October 31, 2016

Novena Prayer for the 2016 Election:  Day 2

Saint Frances Cabrini, you who tirelessly built the Kingdom of God in America, join us in praying for this election and these intentions: [State your intentions.]

Prayer for the Faithful Witness of Catholics in the United States

(By Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke)

O Lord Jesus Christ, You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Your Church You show us the Way, You teach us the Truth, and You give us Your Life. Grant, we humbly beg You, that, always and in all things, we may be faithful to You in Your Holy Church, and to Your Vicar on Earth, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis. Grant also, we beg You, that, in these times of decision, all who profess to be Catholic and who are entrusted with the sacred duty to participate in public life, may, by the strength of Your grace, unwaveringly follow Your Way and faithfully adhere to Your Truth, living in You with all their mind and heart, for Your greater glory, the salvation of souls, and the good of our nation. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, Pray for us.

Saint Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom, Pray for us.

Homily for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 30, 2016, Year C

Zacchaeus and Jesus

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

(Click here for today’s readings)

The basic message of today’s gospel account is that Jesus went into Zacchaeus’ house and Zacchaeus ended up going into God’s house. The message in all three of today’s scripture readings is all about receiving God’s life-changing love, about receiving and accepting the presence, power, and love of God, which is why He has invited us here today into His house.

Let’s take a deeper look into what I am talking about.

Last week we heard Jesus telling us of the tax collector sitting in the back of the Temple and the self-congratulating Pharisee sitting up in the front. You remember them, I’m sure. The Pharisee was in the front of the Temple justifying himself and claiming to be better than the tax collector who was huddled in the back of the Temple asking only for God’s mercy.

Today we have another tax collector, a chief tax collector named Zacchaeus, whom Jesus encountered in real life. Note that today’s Gospel account isn’t a parable; it’s an account of what Jesus actually said and did with a real person, a named person, Zacchaeus.

Tax collectors were hated, and Jewish tax collectors were the most hated of them all because they were puppets of the Romans. They were given a quota of taxes to collect and had the power Roman soldiers to enforce the actual collection of those taxes. All the Romans demanded was their quota. The tax collectors, however, could collect more than they owed the Roman authorities. They could unleash the Roman soldiers upon Jews who didn’t pay the amounts set by those tax collectors. Not only were these tax collectors traitors to the Jewish people; they were traitors to the Jewish religion. Furthermore we need to note this particular one, Zacchaeus, was the chief tax collector in Jericho, a very wealthy city that was famous and envied by all for its economic privilege and very well-off citizens. All of which meant that Zacchaeus was indeed a very wealthy and powerful man.

With that background you can now realize the shock that electrified the Jews when Jesus calls out to him and says “Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I am coming to stay in your house.” Not only was Jesus going to dine at Zacchaeus’ table, He was going to stay in his house! For the Jews that was unthinkable. Yet Jesus did it.

Zacchaeus, wealthy and oppressive at the expense of others, was friendless up to this point in his life. No one of his own people would associate with him. No one, that is, until Jesus came down the road. Suddenly he had the greatest Friend anyone could ever have!

Two things need to be seen. One was that the Jews had completely misjudged Zacchaeus. The second was that as a result of his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus was completely changed. Not only would he make good on any fraud or extortion he had committed, he would see to it that his victims were more than repaid. He went beyond simple restitution and in effect put those whom he had oppressed into standards of living they had never known before.

Well, so what? What’s the point?

The first thing is to ask of ourselves just who it is that we condemn and harshly judge. By what standards do we judge them and condemn them? And how do we think God judges them? Do we know what’s in their hearts and do we know their intentions better than God does?

More importantly, when we judge our very own selves, why do we apply such rigid and perfectionistic standards to ourselves? Perhaps we have such an idealistic image of ourselves that we set ourselves up with impossible standards to meet. Is it false pride lurking within us?

Two evils flow from that. One is despair. Because we despair of ever meeting our impossible standards we excuse ourselves from prayer, from going to church, or any sense of closeness to God. In place of high standards we toss up our hands and rid ourselves of any and all standards.

Despair is a terrible evil. It leads to a complete giving up on ourselves. It leads to self-punishing behavior that certainly doesn’t please God. It forces others to live with a person who is miserable. They don’t deserve that… God doesn’t… and neither do you.

The other effect is to rationalize ourselves out of coming to Mass. It provides a convenient excuse for not participating in the Sacraments and in the life of the Church. “I’m such a terrible sinner,” we say, “that even God couldn’t forgive me.” Therefore I don’t need to go to church any more.

Pride and egoism lurk behind such sentiments. Why do we think our miserable little sins can restrain Almighty God and keep Him from giving us His loving mercy and tender forgiveness? What arrogance it is to declare that you are the worst of all sinners… so bad that God Himself stands powerless in front of you! Are our miserable sins more powerful than Almighty God?

So, just as the Son of God ignored the judgments and opinions of the local populace about Zacchaeus, so also He ignores our judgments and opinions about others… and particularly our opinions about ourselves.

Finally, observe that Zacchaeus is much like the prodigal son who lived among the pigs and who came home to find his father to be even more prodigal in forgiveness while the elder son stood aloof in icy condemnation and furious judgment. The story of the prodigal son and the story of Zacchaeus are stories of God’s unbounded prodigality in sharing His forgiveness along with His all-powerful, life-changing love.

Do you find yourself to be up a tree and distantly observing Christ as He walks by? If so, be prepared to hear Him call out to you and tell you that He wants to come to your house today and stay with you. Hopefully your response will be as holy as Zacchaeus’ response. For it is God who justifies us — we can never succeed in our own self-justifications. It is God who sanctifies us, we can never succeed in making ourselves holy. It is God who saves us. We are total failures when it comes to saving ourselves.

Is there anything in your life that you would like to change? Do you really want to change?

We are here in God’s house because He has invited us to come to His house. The paradox is that God wants to enter your “house” and stay with you. In Holy Communion God enters into the house that is your heart and soul, there to give you His love, there to stay with you. There’s no other house in which that can happen. It happens only here in Holy Communion. God’s life-changing love is here in an infinitely unique way.

If you want to have your life changed, give up the self-delusion that you can change your life. Only God can change your life. And He can do it just as easily as He changed the life of Zacchaeus, that hated and traitorous Jewish tax collector who found holiness in simply responding to God’s invitation. God’s life-changing love is here for you in a way that is infinitely more powerful than the life-changing experience that came to Zacchaeus. Why not humbly accept God’s invitation each and every day of your life?

October 29, 2016

Novena for the 2016 Election, [U.S.] Day One

Jesus at Herod's Court
Jesus at Herod's Court, Duccio, c. 1310.

October 30, 2016

Novena Prayer for the 2016 Election:  Day 1

Saint Jude, Patron of Impossible Causes, join us in praying for this election and these intentions: [State your intentions here.]

Prayer for the Faithful Witness of Catholics in the United States

(By Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke)

O Lord Jesus Christ, You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Your Church You show us the Way, You teach us the Truth, and You give us Your Life. Grant, we humbly beg You, that, always and in all things, we may be faithful to You in Your Holy Church, and to Your Vicar on Earth, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis. Grant also, we beg You, that, in these times of decision, all who profess to be Catholic and who are entrusted with the sacred duty to participate in public life, may, by the strength of Your grace, unwaveringly follow Your Way and faithfully adhere to Your Truth, living in You with all their mind and heart, for Your greater glory, the salvation of souls, and the good of our nation. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, Pray for us.

Saint Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom, Pray for us.

Why Do Progressives Refuse to Say ‘under God’?

Lady Liberty weeping

The 2016 election is almost here. Since the outcome will very profoundly affect religious liberty in the United States, as well as the protection of the vulnerable in our society; the unborn, the ill and disabled, and the elderly, we should pray that God's will be done, and that those who are voting will do so with a well-formed conscience. To that end, Phil Lawler asks a timely question about Progressives and the apparent inability of some to acknowledge God. For examples, (including one referenced by Mr. Lawler,) go here, here, here and here. Saint Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom, Pray for us.

October 28, 2016

Indulgences Available on All Souls' Day

Praying for the Church Suffering
A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in Purgatory is granted to the faithful who devoutly visit a church or oratory on All Souls Day (November 2nd).

Requirements for Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence on All Souls Day:

◗ Visit a church and pray for souls in Purgatory.
◗ Say one "Our Father" and the "Apostles Creed" in the visit to the church.
◗ Say one "Our Father" and one "Hail Mary" for the Holy Father’s intentions (see Pope Francis' prayer intentions for November 2016).
◗ Worthily receive Holy Communion (ideally on the same day).
◗ Make a sacramental confession within 20 days of All Souls Day.
◗ For a plenary indulgence, be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin (or the indulgence is partial, not plenary).

You may gain one plenary indulgence a day.

These partial indulgences are applicable only to the souls in Purgatory:

◗ A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One may obtain a plenary indulgence by visiting a cemetery each day between November 1st - 8th.

◗ A partial indulgence can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This can be prayed all year, but especially during the month of November:

Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

From the Enchiridion of Indulgences.

Some families add the second half of the "Eternal Rest" prayer to the "Prayer Before Meals":

Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, Which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

We ought to pray for the faithful departed throughout the year, not just during November. After these souls in Purgatory are in Heaven, they will intercede on our behalf.

Pope Francis Overhauls Vatican Liturgical Congregation

Pope Francis' coat of arms Pope Francis, in a shocking and unprecedented move, has replaced all 27 members of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, the body that oversees liturgical matters. Typically, the pope appoints to the congregation a few new members to replace those who have served for several years. The overhaul stunned vatican-watchers. The appointments are a blow to Cardinal Robert Sarah's efforts to achieve a "reform of the reform" as a proponent of more reverent liturgy.

The new members of the congregation include: Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, the prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and Archbishop Piero Marini, who clashed with liturgical conservatives while serving as master of ceremonies for Saint John Paul II. The liberal bent of the congregation is marked.

The conservative prelates who were removed include: Cardinals Raymond Burke, Angelo Scola, George Pell, Marc Ouellet, Angelo Bagnasco, and Malcolm Ranjith. Is this what Pope Francis meant when he urged Catholics to "make a mess"?

Prayer for Saint Jude’s Intercession

St. Jude

Saint Jude Thaddeus, by those sublime
privileges with which you were adorned in your
lifetime, namely, your relationship with Our Lord
Jesus Christ according to the flesh, and your
vocation to be an Apostle, and by that glory
which now is yours in Heaven as the reward of
your apostolic labors and your martyrdom, obtain
for me from the Giver of every good and perfect
gift all the graces of which I stand in need:

(Mention your request here)

May I treasure up in my heart the divinely
inspired doctrines that you have given us in your
Epistle: to build my edifice of holiness upon our
most holy faith, by praying for the grace of the
Holy Spirit- to keep myself in the love of God,
looking for the mercy of Jesus Christ unto eternal
fife; to strive by all means to help those who go astray.
May I thus praise the glory and majesty, the
dominion and power of Him Who is able to keep
me without sin and to present me spotless with
great joy at the coming of our Divine Savior, the
Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for November 2016

Pope Francis' coat of arms Please remember the Holy Father Pope Francis' intentions in prayer through the month of November:

Universal: Countries Receiving Refugees

That the countries which take in a great number of displaced persons and refugees may find support for their efforts which show solidarity.

Evangelization: Collaboration of Priests and Laity

That within parishes, priests and lay people may collaborate in service to the community without giving in to the temptation of discouragement.

October 27, 2016

Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles

St. Simon and St. Jude
Saints Simon the Zealot and Jude (Thaddeus)

October 28th is the feast of Saint Simon the Zealot and Saint Jude Thaddeus, two of the twelve Apostles named by Jesus. They share a common feast day because, according to later tradition, they ministered in Persia where they received the crown of martyrdom on the same day in c. 65 AD. In Matthew and Mark, Simon is referred to as the Cananean. Luke calls him the Zealot, perhaps due to his zeal in upholding the Law, or perhaps he was a member of the radical Jewish sect so named. This designation helped to distinguish him from fellow Apostle, Simon Peter. After Christs' Ascension and the Council of Jerusalem, Simon preached the Gospel in Egypt, Carthage, Spain and possibly Britain, before going to Jerusalem. There, he joined Jude on missionary journeys to Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia. Popular piety attests that he was sawed in half and devoured by lions. Simon is most often depicted in art with a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom.

Saint Jude or Judas, also called Thaddeus or Lebbeus, wrote the New Testament Epistle that bears his name. Scripture identifies him as "the brother of James," and it is generally believed that this is Saint James the Less. It is probable that Jude was a childhood companion of Jesus as it is widely held that Jude was the nephew of the Blessed Mother and a cousin of Christ. In the Gospel of John, at the Last Supper, Jude asks Jesus why he does not manifest himself to the whole world. Jesus replies: [to Jude and to us) "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me." (John 14:23-24)

The Apostle known as the patron of impossible causes, ordered demons out of pagan temples and once miraculously healed a pagan king by showing him an image of Christ and proclaiming the Name of Jesus over him. St. Jude, together with St. Simon, is credited with converting the Persian King Varardach and his court to the Faith. Several accounts contend that Jude was crucified as an example to perspective converts, but most hold to the tradition that he was beaten and beheaded. He is frequently depicted holding the face of Christ and a club, the means of his martyrdom. In some depictions, a flame extends from his forehead, symbolizing the power and action of the Holy Spirit.

O God, through the work of the Apostles You have spoken your Word of love, your Son, into our world's deafness. Open our ears to hear; open our hearts to heed; open our will to obey, that we may proclaim the Good News with our lives. Almighty Father, graciously grant, through the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in You. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

October 26, 2016

Novena to Saint Jude 2016 | Day 9

St. Jude icon

October 27, 2016

Most holy St. Jude – apostle, martyr and friend of Jesus, today I ask that you pray for me and my intentions!

(State your intentions here)

You are the patron of the impossible. Pray for me and my intentions! O St. Jude, pray that God’s grace and mercy will cover my intentions. Pray for the impossible if it is God’s will.

Pray that I may have the grace to accept God’s holy will even if it is painful and difficult for me.

St. Jude, pray that I may have your zeal to preach the Gospel.

O St. Jude, pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love and in the grace of Jesus Christ. Pray for these intentions, but most of all pray that I may join you in heaven with God for all eternity. Amen.

Archbishop Cordileone’s Powerful Defense of Marriage: "The Question of Our Civilization is at Stake."



Orthodox priest, Father Josiah Trenham, interviews His Excellency, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Prefect of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco. Although this was recorded prior to the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision legalizing ‘gay marriage’, Archbishop Cordileone powerfully illustrates why redefining marriage is destructive to the health and well-being of marriage and society. The following are Archbishop Cordileone's concluding remarks.

Beginning at 32:35

Fr. Trenham: "Your Excellency… your speaking has been very educational for us. I'm wondering if you could speak directly to us, how can we assume our responsibility also, as an Orthodox community, what can we contribute, how can we co-labor in this?"

Abp. Cordileone: "One sort of side benefit I see to what's going on in the culture is God, in His own way, is bringing His people together. The ecumenical cooperation has been very heartening, and I think we see where we need to stand together in terms of what's happening to our civilization. We all, as people of faith, or whatever Christian tradition we’re coming from, and even non-Christians see, that it's the question of our civilization that's at stake. As huge as that is, there's something even greater at stake, and much deeper, and this is where I think the Orthodox can make a very needed contribution to the effort.

[ ... ]

Our faith is a covenant. Our religion is a religion of covenant. The whole Judeo-Christian religious tradition is one of covenant. God created, at the very beginning, He created them male and female to be fruitful and to multiply, and to subdue the earth. He made a covenant with the people of Israel; that covenant was a marriage covenant. The prophets, when they were excoriating the people for their infidelity to the covenant, compared them to an adulterous wife. It was a marriage covenant. Then, God fulfills that covenant through the blood of his Son; Christ the Bridegroom and the Church is the Bride, and He brings it to fulfillment at the end of the Bible; the wedding feast of the Lamb. And this nuptial imagery is expressed in our Christian liturgy going back to the Jerusalem Temple. Remember? This Holy of Holies was veiled. That veil was sheltering what is sacred, the Holy of Holies.

In Christian liturgy, we use veils because what is sacred is veiled. The veil then, when Christ dies, the veil is torn, because now the marriage is consummated. So, the great Catholic orator, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, even refers to Christ's blood on the cross as His seminal fluid. Christ gives the seed of truth to the Church. The Church receives the seed of truth and, as mother generates new life for God's kingdom through the grace of the sacraments, especially baptism, nurtures that life as a mother nurtures the life from her breast, nurtures that life by the teaching of the truth that Christ guarantees to His Church. Christ is Bridegroom, Church is Bride. …

In classic Christian liturgy, and this is where the Orthodox have a huge contribution to make because, the Orthodox liturgy and the different Eastern Churches it's replete with this, especially with this veiling, that the veil is removed or the great doors are open at the moment of communion, because that is the consummation. Just as in a marriage, what is most sacred about us? What is most sacred is what is most intimate. We wear clothes, but no matter how skimpy our clothes are, we keep the most intimate parts covered because that's what's sacred. But that has to be unveiled for a marriage to be consummated. This is what happens in the Christian liturgy. So, the whole concept of our relationship to God, and who God is to us in the covenant He made with us, is resting on the imagery of marriage. Marriage is everything. We've lost that in the West to a large extent. It’s become a little more academic. In the East, it's still experiential. You can, you can sort of instinctually know that from the liturgy, even if you don't, can't articulate it academically. So, the East with its more mystical spiritual experiential focus on how all this the meaning of all this is expressed in the liturgy which is the very heart of our religion. We need that influence in the West."

October 25, 2016

Novena to Saint Jude 2016 | Day 8

St. Jude icon

October 26, 2016

Most holy St. Jude – apostle, martyr and friend of Jesus, today I ask that you pray for me and my intentions!

(State your intentions here)

You are the patron of the impossible. Pray for me and my intentions! O St. Jude, pray that God’s grace and mercy will cover my intentions. Pray for the impossible if it is God’s will.

Pray that I may have the grace to accept God’s holy will even if it is painful and difficult for me.

St. Jude, pray that I may have your zeal to preach the Gospel.

O St. Jude, pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love and in the grace of Jesus Christ. Pray for these intentions, but most of all pray that I may join you in heaven with God for all eternity. Amen.

TOB Tuesday: Theology of the Body, Part 1

Matthew Coffin

Editor's note: Each Tuesday we will feature posts discussing Saint John Paul the Great's Theology of the Body; his reflection on our nature and life as persons made in the image and likeness of God, conjugal love, the meaning of celibacy, and the eternal beatitude to which every human being is called. Here is Matthew Coffin's updated summary.
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In his Theology of the Body, Saint John Paul II seeks to establish an adequate anthropology in which the human person, in both his spiritual and physical dimensions, reveals truths about God. George Weigel has called it, "one of the boldest reconfigurations of Catholic theology in centuries." Part 1 examines the philosophical developments that preceded it. Major schools of thought have been greatly oversimplified in order to show how St. John Paul II’s contribution is necessary, transformative, and faithful.

Augustinianism

Prior to the thirteenth century, the dominant school of thought in Catholic theology was that of St. Augustine. Early in the fifth century, Augustine refuted the heresy of Pelagianism. Pelagius taught that Adam’s original sin did not taint human nature. For that reason, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was neither necessary nor redemptive. A neo-Platonist, Augustine uses the philosophy of Plato, together with the deposit of faith, to oppose Pelagianism and create a new way of looking at everything.

The resulting synthesis, Augustinianism, is objective. It acknowledges truth, including moral truth, as outside of us, not a matter of personal opinion, therefore, universal, not particular to individuals, cultures, or circumstances. According to Augustine, we can know truth through Revelation, right reason, and the Church.

Augustine’s theology is also deductive. Deductive reasoning begins with a general idea and ends with a specific one. Father Richard Hogan describes this approach (later used by scholastics, especially Thomas Aquinas):

One started with a "given" which was accepted, e.g., God is a pure spirit, and added what was called the minor term, e.g., a pure spirit does not have a body… (then) drew a conclusion, e.g., God does not have a body.

Finally, Augustinian theology is principled. Principles flow from objective truth and deductive reasoning. The opposite of principled is experimental. Experimental knowledge comes from personal experience.

Thomism

In the thirteenth century, when better translations of Aristotle’s works came to the attention of European scholars, new questions emerged. The dissemination of these works along with doctrinal disagreements threatened to divide the Church between traditionalists, those adhering rigidly to the letter of Church law at the expense of the spirit of the law, and modernists, those embracing a theology based on novelty, often at the expense of Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

St. Thomas Aquinas answered these questions and in the process prevented a rift between traditionalists and modernists. His theology, Thomism, is a synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy and Revelation. Like his predecessors, Aquinas’s theology is objective, deductive, and principled.

For all the centuries between Augustine and Aquinas, the accepted worldview stayed largely intact. Thought and theology remained grounded in objective principles and deductive arguments.

Cartesian Philosophy

The Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, and Scientific Revolution caused social upheaval, cataclysmic shifts in thinking, and the democratization of knowledge, making all that came before seem antiquated, authoritarian, incomplete, or irrelevant. The world and how people viewed it changed. Written in 1611, the words of poet John Donne could apply to all of the aforementioned:

(The) new Philosophy calls all in doubt,
The Element of fire is quite put out;
The Sun is lost, and th'earth, and no man's wit,
Can well direct him where to look for it.

Of particular note is French philosopher René Descartes. Published in 1637, his treatise, Discourse on the Method, attempts to establish a set of principles that are certain beyond doubt. The result would turn philosophy on its head. His famous statement: "I think therefore I am," marks a radical departure from the objective view of reality held by Augustine and Aquinas.

This departure is so radical, Descartes’ philosophy (known as Cartesian philosophy), is a dividing line. Philosophers before him (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas) are pre-Cartesian; everyone after (Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, Sartre, Husserl, etc.) is a post-Cartesian. Pre-Cartesian schools of thought are objective, deductive, and principled. Post-Cartesian philosophy is largely subjective, deriving from personal experience, feelings, and perceptions.

"I think therefore I am."

Descartes observes that sometimes our senses deceive us. When a straw is placed in a glass of water the water’s refractive properties make the straw appear bent. This optical illusion is precisely that, an illusion. How can we know what is real with certainty, Descartes asks, if we cannot always trust our senses? Because our senses are fallible in his search for certitude Descartes employs "hyperbolical doubt." In other words, for Descartes nothing is certain – not even reality itself.

The fact that he can doubt, however, means something or someone exists to do the doubting. His mind thinks, in this case about doubt. Consequently, Descartes arrives at the first certainty, his famous "Cogito ergo sum," "I think therefore I am."

Descartes goes on to prove that God exists and that He is benevolent. Nonetheless, the foundation of Descartes’ philosophical system is man. Man or man’s mind is the ultimate source of everything. Man determines morality, knowledge, meaning, and reality; to the extent it can be known. That natural law (God’s law written in our hearts), could be the source of civil law or a universal morality, an idea central to Augustine and Aquinas, is all but abandoned.

After Descartes, truth is no longer objective. It resides in and is established by the individual. Morality, therefore, cannot be universal. Each person decides for himself what is right. This represented a revolution in philosophy that abandoned objective reality, moral norms and absolute truth as previously understood.  

Immanuel Kant

The German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, is considered the central figure of modern philosophy. Much like Descartes, Kant, was a pious man whose intentions seemed noble. The primary aim of his philosophical efforts was to restore human dignity to its rightful place in a world that increasingly worshipped science. Kant described his philosophy as "clearing away the pretensions of reason to make room for faith". His most important work, The Critique of Pure Reason, was dry, impenetrable and immensely influential in its assertion that reason is the source of morality (not God). In his Critique, Kant states:
The conviction [of faith] is not a logical but a moral certainty; and because it rests on subjective bases (of the moral attitude), I must not even say, It is morally certain that there is a God, etc., but I must say, I am morally certain, etc.
Kant’s philosophy allows individuals to choose their own visions for morality, since moral truth (according to Kant) cannot be arrived at using theoretical reason. Each individual’s conscience acts as a personal "lawmaker" for subjective morality. Kant’s assertion destroyed Aquinas’ medieval synthesis of faith and reason. It also directly contradicted the Church’s understanding that moral norms are discovered in objective truth as found in the natural law, not the creations of an individual’s conscience. Hence, more than any other thinker, Kant is responsible for making morality a matter of subjective opinion not objective truth.

Moreover, the modern-day notion that faith and reason are contradictory not complementary is largely owed to Kant who believed it was impossible for religion to be the subject of reason, evidence, argument, or even knowledge. Rather, religion was a question of feelings, motives and attitudes. The consequences of this shift in thinking have been catastrophic. Peter Kreeft notes:
[Kant’s] assumption has deeply influenced the minds of most religious educators (e.g., catechism writers and theology departments) today, who have turned their attention away from the plain "bare bones" of faith, the objective facts narrated in Scripture and summarized in the Apostles' Creed. They have divorced the faith from reason and married it to pop psychology, because they've bought into Kant's philosophy.
Kant's understanding of morality as personal, subjective and emotional finalized what Descartes had begun and helped to shape a new worldview. That worldview, our own, is subjective (based on feelings and opinions), inductive (moving from specific instances to general assumptions), and experimental (proof is everything whether in the laboratory or our everyday lives). It would give rise to skepticism, existentialism, nihilism, Freudian psychology, and secular humanism, among others, affecting government, law, culture, and religion.

The "new Philosophy" called all in doubt, leaving nothing to give man his bearings, direction, or purpose. Moral relativism replaced moral absolutes. Science, technology, material affluence, sexual permissiveness, and the threat of nuclear annihilation brought new concerns. Increasingly, the person was seen as a "something," not a "someone," to be indoctrinated, exploited, or used. A new synthesis of faith and reason would be needed to respond to these developments.

Phenomenology

At the beginning of the twentieth century a new school of thought, phenomenology, would reestablish the link severed by Cartesian philosophy and Kantian ethics between man and the world at large. Phenomenologists use the subjective experiences of persons to understand reality. Two in particular, Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler, would influence later thinkers responding to totalitarianism, Marxist ideology, genocide, materialism, war on an unprecedented scale, and more.

Broadly speaking, phenomenology (from the Greek phainómenon, "that which appears" and logos, “to study"), sees objects and events around us as understandable only through the person’s consciousness. By examining human consciousness (the collective experience of persons), an awareness of the world (objective reality), in which persons exist and act could emerge. The result is that things viewed subjectively can now be studied objectively.

Descartes tears man out of objective reality, making moral absolutes impossible. Karol Wojtyla (the future Pope John Paul II), restores man firmly at the center of reality, making moral absolutes essential. Like Augustine and Aquinas before him, Wojtyla confirms the fundamental harmony between faith and reason. Using phenomenology and Sacred Scripture, he affirms objective moral truth and the dignity of persons, who are shaped by and responsible for their actions.

The fruit of this synthesis, John Paul’s Theology of the Body, is a reflection on our nature and life as persons made in the image and likeness of God, conjugal love, the meaning of celibacy, and the beatitude to which every human being is called. This is the Holy Father’s catechesis for a culture where sex is an obsession, marriage and families are endangered, and the dignity of persons is denied. Teaching about human sexuality using language subjective, inductive, experimental minds can understand, the Theology of the Body is a light in the darkness, guiding us toward an authentic vision of the person as divine gift.

In Part 2, we will discuss perichoresis, or the interpenetration of the persons in the Trinity. This concept is key to understanding John Paul’s Theology of the Body.

[This article was also published under the title, "The Philosophical Developments That Led to Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body".]