Friday, 31 May 2013

Garrigou-Lagrange on the Queenship of Mary

May 31, The Queenship of Mary

Taken from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's The Mother of the Savior, excerpts of which can be found here.


Can it be said of Mary, since her Assumption especially, and her crowning in heaven, that she shares in God's universal Kingship in the sense that she is Queen of all creatures in subordination to Christ? [3]

She could certainly be called a queen in the wide sense of the term by reason of her spiritual qualities and her fulness of grace, of glory and of charity which raise her above all other creatures. It is quite customary to use the words king and queen to designate persons of such eminence. Her motherhood of Christ the King would also entitle her to be called a queen ---- still in a wide sense of the term at least.

But would it not appear that she is a queen in the literal sense of the term by the fact of having received royal authority and power? Has she not, in dependence on Jesus and through Him, not only a primacy of honor in regard to the Angels and Saints, but a real power to command both Angels and men? This is, in fact, what emerges from an examination of Tradition as expressed in the preaching of the universal Church, the Fathers, the statements of different Popes, the Liturgy. There are theological arguments besides in favor of the affirmative answer.

The Fathers of both East and West referred frequently to Mary under such titles as Domina, Regina, Regina nostrae salutis. It is sufficient to mention a few among many: in the East SS. Ephrem, Germanus of Constantinople, Andrew of Crete, John Damascene; in the West St. Peter Crysologus, the Venerable Bede, St. Anselm, St. Peter Damien, St. Bernard. The same titles occur also in the works of the theologians: in St. Albert the Great, [4] St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas, [5] Gerson, St. Bernadine of Siena, Denis the Carthusian, St. Peter Canisius, Suarez, St. Grignon de Montfort, St. Alphonsus. Different Sovereign Pontiffs have often used the same expressions. [6]

The Coronation of the Virgin
by Fra Angelico
The Roman and Oriental liturgies proclaim Mary Queen of the heavens, Queen of Angels, Queen of the world, Queen of all the Saints. Among the mysteries of the Rosary commonly recited in the Church since the 13th century the last of all is that of the crowning of Our Lady in Heaven ---- a scene represented in one of Fra Angelico's most beautiful frescoes.

The arguments adduced by theologians to prove that Mary has universal Queenship in the proper, non-metaphorical sense of the term, are conclusive. They may all be reduced to the following three. 

Jesus Christ is King of the universe, even as man, in virtue of His Divine Personality. But Mary as Mother of God made man belongs to the hypostatic order and shares in the dignity of her Son, for His Person is the term of her Divine motherhood. Hence she shares connaturally, as Mother of God, in His universal Kingship. [7] Our Blessed Lord owes it to Himself to recognize His Mother's title in gratitude.

A second argument is that Jesus is King of the universe by His fulness of grace and by the victory which He won over Satan and sin by His humility and His obedience unto death, 'For which cause God hath exalted Him . . . ' But Mary was associated with His victory over Satan, sin, and death by her union with Him in His humiliations and sufferings. She is therefore really associated with Him in His Kingship.

The same conclusion may be arrived at by considering the close relationship in which Mary stands to God the Father, of Whom she is the first adoptive daughter and the highest in grace, and God the Holy Ghost through Whose operation the Word took flesh in her womb.

It has been objected that the mother of a king, the queen-mother, is not by that simple fact queen in the strict sense of the term: she has nothing of royal power. Neither then has Mary. We have answered this objection already. There is no parity between the two cases. A queen-mother is simply the mother of a child who later became king. But Mary is the mother of Him Who from the instant of His conception is King of the universe by His hypostatic union and His fulness of grace. Besides, Mary was associated closely with the victory by which He obtained universal kingship as a right of conquest, even though He possessed it already as Son of God. Mary is therefore associated with His Kingship in a true, even if in a subordinate, manner.

Many consequences follow from this truth. As universal King, Jesus has power to establish and promulgate the New Law, to propose revealed doctrine, to judge the living and the dead, to give souls sanctifying grace and all the virtues. [8] Mary shares in this universal kingship especially by dispensing in an interior and hidden manner the graces which she merited in dependence on Jesus. She participates in it exteriorly also by the fact that she gave on earth the example of all the virtues, that she helped to enlighten the Apostles, and that she continues to enlighten us when, for example, she manifests herself exteriorly in sanctuaries such as those of Lourdes, La Salette, and Fatima. Theologians note that she does not seem to share in any special way in the royal judicial power of inflicting punishment for sin, for Tradition calls her not the Mother of justice but the Mother of mercy, a title which is hers in virtue of her mediation of all graces. [9] Jesus seems to have kept to Himself the reign of justice [10] as is becoming Him Who is the Judge of the living and the dead.' [11]

Mary has a radical right to universal queenship by the fact of her Divine motherhood, but the Divine plan was that she should merit it also by her union with her suffering Son, and that she should not exercise it fully before being crowned queen of all creation in Heaven. Her royalty is spiritual and supernatural rather than temporal and natural, though it extends in a secondary way to temporal affairs considered in their relation to salvation and sanctification.

We have seen how Mary exercises her queenship on earth. She exercises it in Heaven also. The essential glory of the blessed depends on Jesus' merits and hers. She contributes to their accidental glory ---- as well as to that of the Angels ---- by the light she communicates to them, and by the joy they have in her presence and in the realization of what she does for souls. To both the Angels and the Saints she manifests Christ's plan for the extension of His Kingdom.

Mary's queenship extends to Purgatory, for she prompts the faithful on earth to pray for the souls detained there and to have Masses offered for them. She herself offers their prayers to God, thereby increasing their value. She applies the fruits of the merits of Jesus and of herself to the Holy Souls in Jesus' name.

Her queenship extends to the demons too who are obliged to recognize her power, for she can make their temptation cease, can save souls from their snares, and can repulse their attacks. 'The demons suffer more', says St. Grignon de Montfort, 'from being conquered by the humility of Mary than by the Omnipotence of God.' Her reign of mercy extends to Hell itself, as we have seen, in the sense that the lost souls are punished less than they deserve, [12] and that on certain days ---- including possibly the Assumption ---- their sufferings become less fearful.

Thus Mary's queenship is truly universal. There is no region to which it does not extend in some way. 


I. Cf. Pius XI, encyc. Quas primas, Dec. 11th, 1925 (Denz. 2194): 'E ius principatus ilIa nititur unione admirabili, quam hypostaticam appellant. Unde consequitur, non modo ut Christus ab angelis et hominibus Deus sit adorandus, sed etiam ut e ius imperio Hominis angeli et homines pareant et subjecti sint: nempe ut vel solo hypostaticae unionis nomine Christus potestem in universas creaturas obtineat.' Because ofits personal union with the Word the Humanity of Christ is entitled to adoration and participation in God's universal kingship over all creatures. Christ as Man has been predestined to be Son of God by nature, not by adoption, whereas Angels and men are only adoptive sons. 
2. Since He accepted the humiliations of His Passion in love 'God also hath exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth' (Phil. ii, 9-10). 
3. Cf. De Gruyter, De B. Maria Regina, Buscoduci, 1934: Garenaux, La Royaute' de Marie, Paris, 1935; M. J. Nicholas, La Vierge Reine, in the Revue Thomiste, 1939; Merkelbach, Mariologia, 1939, p. 382. 
4. Mariale, q. 43, 2: 'Virgo assumpta est in salutis auxilium et regni consortium . . . habet coronam regni triumphantis et militantis Ecclesiae, unde ...est regina et domina angelorum ...imperatrix totius mundi . . . ; in ipsa est plenitudo potestatis coelestis perpetuo ex auctoritate ordinaria . . . ; legitima dominandi potestas ad ligandum et solvendum per imperium; totam habet B. Virgo potestatem in coelo, in purgatorio et in inferno. . . B. Virgo vere et jure et proprie est domina omnium quae sunt in misericordia Dei, ergo proprie est regina misericordiae . . . ipsa enim ejusdem regni regina est cujus ipse est rex.' Cf. Ibid. qq. 158, 162, 165. 
5. In expos. Salut. Angelicae. 
6. In his letter to St. Germanus of Constantinople read at the 2nd Council of Nicaea (787), Pope Gregory II terms Mary Domina Omnium, and the council itself approves of statues erected in Mary's honor. Leo XIII frequently spoke of Mary as Regina and Domina universorum in his encyclicals. Similarly Pius X in the encyclical Ad diem ilIum: 'Maria adstat regina a dextris ej us.' 
7. Cf. Merkelbach, of. cit., p. 385. 
8. Cf. Encyc. Quas prim as (Denz. 2194) and Ia IIae, q. 106, a.1. Jesus is all the more King of minds, hearts and wills, by the fact that the New Law is not primarily a written law, but one imprinted on the soul by grace. 
9. Cf. Mariale, q. 43, 2. 
10. John v, 22, 27: '. . . the Father . . . hath given all judgement to the Son.' 
11. Acts x, 42; cf. IlIa, q. 59, a.1. 
12. Ia, q. 21, a. 4, ad 1: 'In damnatione reproborum apparet misericordia non quidem totaliter relaxans, sed aliqualiter allevians, dum (Deus) punit citra condignum.' This intervention of Divine Mercy is not independent of the merits of Jesus and Mary.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Propers for the Feast of Corpus Christi

INTROIT  Ps. 80:17
He fed them with the finest wheat, alleluia! and filled them with honey from the rock, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Ps. 80:2. Sing joyfully to God, our helper, sing aloud to the God of Jacob.
V. Glory be . . .

O God, we possess a lasting memorial of Your Passion in this wondrous Sacrament. Grant that we may so venerate the mysteries of Your Body and Blood that we may always feel within ourselves the effects of Your redemption; who lives and rules with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

EPISTLE I Cor. 11:23-29 
Breathren: For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, And giving thanks, broke and said: "Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me." In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: "This chalice is the new testament in my blood. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come." Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.

GRADUAL Ps. 144:15-16 
The eyes of all look hopefully to You, O Lord, and You give them food in due season.
V. You open Your hand and fill every living creature with blessing.
Alleluia, alleluia! V. John 6:56-57
My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him, alleluia!


Sion, lift thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King;
Praise with hymns thy Shepherd true:
Dare thy most to praise Him well;
For He doth all praise excel;
None can ever reach His due.

Special theme of praise is thine,
That true living Bread divine,
That life-giving flesh adored,
Which the brethren twelve received,
As most faithfully believed,
At the Supper of the Lord.

Let the chant be loud and high;
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt to-day in every breast;
On this festival divine
Which recounts the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.

At this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite;
Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead;
Here, instead of darkness, light.

His own act, at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
In His memory divine;
Wherefore now, with adoration,
We the Host of our salvation
Consecrate from bread and wine.

Hear what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending,
Leaps to things not understood.

Here in outward signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things, are all we see:-
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine;
Yet is Christ, in either sign,
All entire confessed to be.

They too who of Him partake
Sever not, nor rend, nor break,
But entire their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat,
All receive the selfsame meat,
Nor the less for others leave.

Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food;
But with ends how opposite!
Here 'tis life; and there 'tis death;
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.

Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before;
Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form,
The Signified remaining One
And the Same forevermore

Lo! upon the Altar lies,
Hidden deep from human eyes,
Angels' Bread from Paradise
Made the food of mortal man:
Children's meat to dogs denied;
In old types foresignified;
In the manna from the skies,
In Isaac, and the Paschal Lamb.

Jesu! Shepherd of the sheep!
Thy true flock in safety keep.
Living Bread! Thy life supply;
Strengthen us, or else we die;
Fill us with celestial grace:
Thou, who feedest us below!
Source of all we have or know!
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the Feast of Love,
We may see Thee face to face.
Amen. Alleluia. 

GOSPEL  John 6:56-59
At that time, Jesus said to the crowds of the Jews: "For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever." 

The priests of the Lord offer incense and loaves to God; therefore they shall be sacred to their God and shall not profane His name, alleluia!

O Lord, graciously bestow upon Your Church the gifts of unity and peace, which are symbolized in this Sacrifice we offer You. Through our Lord . . .

As often as you shall eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, alleluia!

O Lord, grant that we may enjoy the eternal presence of Your divinity, which is foreshadowed by our earthly reception of Your Precious Body and Blood; who lives and rules with God the Father . . .

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Dom Gueranger - The History of the Time after Pentecost


Dom Gueranger
The Solemnity of Pentecost and its Octave are over, and the progress of the Liturgical Year introduces us into a new period, which is altogether different from those we have hitherto spent. From the very beginning of Advent, which is the prelude to the Christmas festival, right up to the anniversary of the descent of the Holy Ghost, we have witnessed the entire series of the Mysteries of our Redemption; all have been unfolded to us. The sequel of Seasons and Feasts made up a sublime drama, which absorbed our very existence; we have but just come from the final celebration, which was the consummation of the whole. And yet, we have got through but one half of the year. This does not imply that the period we have still to live is devoid of its own special mysteries; but, instead of keeping up our attention by the ceaseless interest of one plan hurrying on its completion, the sacred Liturgy is about to put before us an almost unbroken succession of varied episodes, of which some are brilliant with glory, and others exquisite in loveliness, but each one of them bringing its special tribute towards either the development of the dogmas of faith, or the furtherance of the Christian life. That year’s Cycle will thus be filled up; it will disappear; a new one will take its place, bringing before us the same divine facts, and pouring forth the same graces on Christ’s mystical body.

This section of the Liturgical Year, which comprises a little more or a little less than six months, according as Easter is early or late, has always had the character it holds at present. But, although it only admits detached solemnities and Feasts, the influence of the ~noiecb~e portion of the Cycle is still observable. It may have as many as twenty- eight, or as few as twenty-three weeks. This variation depends not only upon the Easter Feast, which may occur on any of the days between the 22nd of March and 25th of April, inclusively; but, also, on the date of the first Sunday of Advent, the opening of a new Ecclesiastical Year, and which is always the Sunday nearest the Kalends of December.

In the Roman Liturgy, the Sundays of this series go under the name of Sundays after Pentecost. As we shall show in the next Chapter, that title is the most suitable that could have been given, and is found in the oldest Sacramentaries and Antiphonaries; but it was not universally adopted by even all those Churches which followed the Roman Rite; in progress of time, however, that title was the general one. To mention some of the previous early names:- in the Comes of Alcuin, which takes us back to the 8th Century, we find the first section of these Sundays called 'Sundays after Pentecos't; the second is named 'Weeks after the Feast of the Apostles' (post Natale Apostolorum,); the third goes under the title of 'Weeks after Saint .Laurence' (post Sancti Laurentii,); the fourth has the appellation of 'Weeks of the Seventh Month' (September); and, lastly, the fifth is termed Weeks after Saint Michael (post Sancti Angeli,), and lasts till Advent. As late as the l6th Century, many Missals of the Western Churches gave us these several sections of the Time after Pentecost, but some of the titles varied according to the special Saints honoured in the respective dioceses, and which were taken as the date-marks of this period of the Year. The Roman Missal, published by order of Saint Pius the Fifth, has gradually been adopted in all our Latin Churches, and has restored the ancient denomination to the Ecclesiastical Season we have just entered upon; so that the only name under which it is now known amongst us is, 'The Time after Pentecost' (post Pentecosten.)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A Meditation on Death

These words are much inspired, as always, by some of the spiritual reading that I have done, in which the saints advise us to have a desire for death, coupled however with a desire to do God's will. 

On Longing for Death

Each night I sleep, my body to restore,
Yet morning rise, as weary as before.
The day renewed, such newness life has not:
Each day is with the same despondence fraught.

Down on my knees I pray my daily prayer;
Yet, with it, consolation is but rare.
My faith is threatened at its very root,
And in my heart arises grave dispute.

My duties I perform mechanically,
A mere observance of necessity.
Success comes not with pleasure nor delight,
But only adds unto this wretched plight.

In health or illness, burdens never cease,
In rest or labor, never have I peace.
Alas, this life holds no true joy for me,
But ‘tis a tank of parched aridity.

What goodness that there is upon this earth,
Whatever hath true beauty or true worth;
Such things have little joy for me in store,
But only stir a want for something more.

If life holds not for me what my heart craves,
What left is there for me except the grave?
If troubles haunt me at my every breath,
Why should I not desire the sting of death?

Ah, death, thou door to blissful liberty!
To many minds thou art a penalty,
A defect that our nature must endure –
But nay, to me, thou art a needed cure!

A man might think of death and cower in fear:
Yet ‘tis the only thought that gives me cheer.
For death provides for me the sole relief
From all this world of sorrow and of grief.

In death I am released from this dread cage,
And sundry sorrows finally assuaged.
In death my soul at last can fly away
And free itself from life’s monotonous ways.

But lo! For all my grief-filled heart’s desire,
There is a settled time I must expire.
This time alone may I my death expect,
Or death itself will lose its sweet effect.

Till then, I must in waiting persevere,
For not in vain hath Fortune placed me here,
But that I may my duties well perform,
And brave the agitation of the storm.

Unless I do what God hath had in mind,
Then even death itself will not be kind.
Unless I act in concert with God’s grace,
I shall not ever look upon His face.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Vatican I - Condemnation of Agnosticism and Vital Immanence

The First Vatican Council contains the following canons:
If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema. (De Revel.)
If anyone says that it is impossible, or not expedient, that human beings should be taught by means of divine revelation about God and the worship that should be shown him : let him be anathema...(Ibid.)
...If anyone says that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men and women ought to be moved to faith only by each one's internal experience or private inspiration: let him be anathema. (De Fide.)
Essentially, this all contains a condemnation of two principles which Pope Pius X notes constitute the philosophical foundation of modernism. The first of these principles is agnosticism. Agnosticism claims, primarily, that nothing can be known by the intellect which is not perceptible by the senses; the world beyond what the senses perceive is inherently unknowable. The intellect is limited only to the knowledge of phenomena. This doctrine has its origin in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, one of the principal figures instrumental to the decline of western thought. The Modernists adopted the philosophy of Kant and attempted to apply it to religion, blind to the fact that religion and agnosticism are inherently incompatible with each other. True religion assumes the existence of a deity, which can be known by human reason. Indeed, that God can be known by reason is not only taught by the tradition of the Church, as manifest in the above condemnation, but it is also taught in scripture itself: "The knowledge of God is clear to their minds; God himself has made it clear to them; from the foundations of the world men have caught sight of his invisible nature, his eternal power and his divineness, as they are known through his creatures" (Romans 1,19-20). 

The other half of the philosophical foundation of modernism is called vital immanence. Pope Pius X, again in his encyclical Pascendi, teaches us that according to vital immanence, religion arises purely from within man himself, deriving all its credibility and force from man's own personal experience as its source. Religion essentially arises from an inner sentiment in the heart of man, and this sentiment is not only where the modernists locate faith, it is also where they locate revelation itself. Further, this is also the origin of the divine reality itself, God, for God is the object and the giver of revelation; the revelation of God consists in that religious sentiment, God revealing and God revealed. Thus, in a sense, man himself turns out to be the creator of religion, of religious truth, of God Himself, rather than being the discoverer of it all.

Pope Pius notes that while agnosticism is the negative half of the philosophical basis of modernism, vital immanence is the positive side; for whereas agnosticism tells us how religion does not arise, vital immanence tells us how it does. Agnosticism tells us that man cannot discover God; vital immanence tells us that, in a sense, man creates God. Agnosticism denies external revelation; vital immanence claims that revelation is completely internal. This is contrary to reason and to all of Catholic teaching, which is built upon the assumption that man must discover God, even if with God's supernatural help. God has created man in order that man might find Him and worship Him; man does not create God according to his own subjective experience and liquid necessities. God is prior to man, not the other way around. Modernism inverts that order, turning religion into an anthropocentric thing, rather than a theocentric thing. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Trinity Sunday - St. Thomas on Our Knowledge of the Trinity

The following is taken from St. Thomas' Summa Theologia, Ia, q. 32, a.1.

It is impossible to attain to the knowledge of the Trinity by natural reason. For, as above explained (12, 4, 12), man cannot obtain the knowledge of God by natural reason except from creatures. Now creatures lead us to the knowledge of God, as effects do to their cause. Accordingly, by natural reason we can know of God that only which of necessity belongs to Him as the principle of things, and we have cited this fundamental principle in treating of God as above (Question 12, Article 12). Now, the creative power of God is common to the whole Trinity; and hence it belongs to the unity of the essence, and not to the distinction of the persons. Therefore, by natural reason we can know what belongs to the unity of the essence, but not what belongs to the distinction of the persons. Whoever, then, tries to prove the trinity of persons by natural reason, derogates from faith in two ways.

Firstly, as regards the dignity of faith itself, which consists in its being concerned with invisible things, that exceed human reason; wherefore the Apostle says that "faith is of things that appear not" (Hebrews 11:1), and the same Apostle says also, "We speak wisdom among the perfect, but not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world; but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery which is hidden" (1 Corinthians 2:6-7).

Secondly, as regards the utility of drawing others to the faith. For when anyone in the endeavor to prove the faith brings forward reasons which are not cogent, he falls under the ridicule of the unbelievers: since they suppose that we stand upon such reasons, and that we believe on such grounds.

Therefore, we must not attempt to prove what is of faith, except by authority alone, to those who receive the authority; while as regards others it suffices to prove that what faith teaches is not impossible. Hence it is said by Dionysius (Div. Nom. ii): "Whoever wholly resists the word, is far off from our philosophy; whereas if he regards the truth of the word"--i.e. "the sacred word, we too follow this rule."

Propers for Trinity Sunday - First Sunday after Pentecost

INTROIT Tobit 12:6
Blessed be the Holy Trinity and undivided Unity. We will give glory to Him, because He has shown mercy to us.
Ps. 8:2. O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is Your name over all the earth!
V. Glory be . . .

Almighty and ever-living God, to You we owe the grace of our true faith, which enables us to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and to adore the blessed Unity through the power of Your majesty. Grant that by holding fast to that faith we may always be guarded against all afflictions. Through our Lord . . .

O God, the strength of all who place their trust in You, graciously hear our prayers. Because of our weak human nature, we can do nothing without You. Help us by Your grace that we may fulfill Your commands and please You in will and action. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE Rom. 11:33-36
O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him? For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen.

GRADUAL Dan. 3:55-56
Blessed are You, O Lord, who behold the depths and are enthroned upon the Cherubim.
V. Blessed are You, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven, and worthy of praise forever.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Dan. 3:52
Blessed are You, O Lord the God of our fathers, and worthy of praise forever. Alleluia!

GOSPEL Matt. 28:18-20
At that time, Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." 

Blessed be God the Father, and the only-begotten Son of God, and the Holy Spirit, because He has shown mercy to us.

Bless this Sacrificial Offering as we call upon Your holy name, O Lord our God, and through it let us too become an eternal offering to You. Through our Lord . . .

Graciously accept the offerings we dedicate to You, O Lord, and let them win for us Your unending assistance. Through our Lord . . .

We bless the God of heaven, and we will praise him before all men, because He has shown mercy to us.

O Lord, our God, let us be made strong in body and soul by the reception of this Sacrament and by acknowledging the Holy, Eternal Trinity and its undivided Unity. Through our Lord . . .

We have received Your exceedingly great Gifts in all their fullness, O Lord. Grant that we may use these graces for our salvation and never cease to sing Your praises. Through our Lord . . .

Friday, 24 May 2013

Pope Pius XII - On the "New Theologians"

This brilliant passage from Pope Pius XII's Humani Generis demonstrates very clearly the folly of "neo-modernism," or the "New Theology," which has become so rampant in these times. It also shows the folly of departing from scholastic theology, which is given a place of particular esteem in the ranks of the Catholic Church. The words of this encyclical are almost prophetic, having been written just before the time of Vatican II, when the New Theology began to infiltrate mainstream Catholicism. 


14. In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.

15. Moreover, they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that this can and must be done, because they hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.

16. It is evident from what We have already said, that such tentatives not only lead to what they call dogmatic relativism, but that they actually contain it. The contempt of doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it is expressed strongly favor it. Everyone is aware that the terminology employed in the schools and even that used by the Teaching Authority of the Church itself is capable of being perfected and polished; and we know also that the Church itself has not always used the same terms in the same way. It is also manifest that the Church cannot be bound to every system of philosophy that has existed for a short space of time. Nevertheless, the things that have been composed through common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation. These things are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things. In the process of deducing, this knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the human mind through the Church. Hence it is not astonishing that some of these notions have not only been used by the Ecumenical Councils, but even sanctioned by them, so that it is wrong to depart from them.

17. Hence to neglect, or to reject, or to devalue so many and such great resources which have been conceived, expressed and perfected so often by the age-old work of men endowed with no common talent and holiness, working under the vigilant supervision of the holy magisterium and with the light and leadership of the Holy Ghost in order to state the truths of the faith ever more accurately, to do this so that these things may be replaced by conjectural notions and by some formless and unstable tenets of a new philosophy, tenets which, like the flowers of the field, are in existence today and die tomorrow; this is supreme imprudence and something that would make dogma itself a reed shaken by the wind. The contempt for terms and notions habitually used by scholastic theologians leads of itself to the weakening of what they call speculative theology, a discipline which these men consider devoid of true certitude because it is based on theological reasoning.

18. Unfortunately these advocates of novelty easily pass from despising scholastic theology to the neglect of and even contempt for the Teaching Authority of the Church itself, which gives such authoritative approval to scholastic theology....

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Johannes Brahms - Piano Concerto No. 2

Johannes Brahms
The second piano concerto of Johannes Brahms has long been one of my all-time favorite selections of classical music. It is a rather unusual piece, for a concerto, having four movements instead of the traditional three. And this is also strange because Brahms is known as having been a stickler for the old classical musical forms. But despite this slight strangeness, the piece is otherwise very traditional, a classic example of Brahms' musical genius. It is a masterpiece for the piano as well as for the orchestra.

One of the great things I've noticed about Brahms is that, rather than trying to be dazzlingly showy or fantastically virtuosic, he seems to focus primarily on composing something that is simply a piece of musical and aesthetic excellence. The other Romantics were very focused on expressing human emotion at a more extreme level than previous composers, or portraying glorious imagery in their music; it was overall a very vivid, emotional, poetic kind of mentality that prevailed amongst the Romantics. Brahms, however, was what I like to call "the most Baroque of the Romantics," meaning that he, though a true Romantic, also seems to have preserved in his music the Baroque focus on "absolute music," music whose value is firstly in itself simply as music, in contrast to having value in the excellence of its portrayal of some external reality. The Baroque composers, especially those like J.S. Bach, were generally masters of "absolute music," whereas the Romantics maximized the idea of "program music." Brahms, however, being perhaps one of the greatest fans of Bach who ever lived, seems to have been strongly influenced by the latter's musical worldview of "absolute music." Brahms seems to have been very concerned with simply making music which was excellent just as music. This isn't to say that there is no poetry to his music; there is. He is both a Baroque and a Romantic composer simultaneously, which is why I love his music so much. His music partakes in the best of both worlds: the high intellectual mentality of the Baroque, on the one hand, and the poetic, imaginative, emotional drive of the Romantic, on the other. The complete formation of the human soul involves a deepening of the rational powers as well as the sensible powers, the emotions and passions. This is why Brahms is so amazing to me.

Anyway. Enough of my rambling. The best way to understand Brahms or any other composer is by listening to the music. So here it is: Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2, as performed by the famed pianist Maurizio Pollini. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

St. Therese on the Little Way

This passage is taken from St. Therese's autobiography. I find what she writes here to be quite encouraging. It serves as a reminder that we who are spiritually weak can still make use of our weakness, in order to become saints. 

[I]t has ever been my desire to become a Saint, but I have always felt, in comparing myself with the Saints, that I am as far removed from them as the grain of sand, which the passer-by tramples underfoot, is remote from the mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds. Instead of being discouraged, I concluded that God would not inspire desires which could not be realized, and that I may aspire to sanctity in spite of my littleness. For me to become great is impossible, I must bear with myself and my many imperfections; but I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new. We live in an age of inventions; nowadays the rich need not trouble to climb the stairs, they have lifts instead. Well, I mean to try and find a lift by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection. I have sought to find in Holy Scripture some suggestion as to what this lift might be, which I so much desired, and I read these words uttered by the Eternal Wisdom Itself: “Whosoever is a little one, let him come to Me.” (Proverbs 9:4). Then I drew near to God, feeling sure that I had discovered what I sought; but wishing to know further what He would do to the little one, I continued my search and this is what I found: “You shall be carried at the breasts and upon the knees; as one whom the mother caresses, so will I comfort you.” (cf. Isaiah 66:12-13).

Never have I been consoled by words more tender and sweet. Thine Arms, then, O Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up even unto Heaven. To get there I need not grow; on the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still less. O my God, Thou hast gone beyond my expectation, and I... “I will sing Thy mercies! Thou hast taught me, O Lord, from my youth and till now I have declared Thy wonderful works, and thus unto old age and gray hairs.” (cf. Psalms 71:16-18).

Monday, 20 May 2013

Failure, Discouragement, and Some Encouragement

The most basic challenge of the spiritual life is to avoid falling into sin. It isn't easy. We all know what it is like to go to confession, having some vague hope that we won't fall into the same sins again, after having confessed; and then, soon afterwards, sure enough, we do fall into those same sins. This happens to all of us quite regularly. So it is quite obviously not an easy thing. 

But another challenge, for particular kinds of temperaments especially (such as mine), is to not fall into discouragement after having fallen into those sins over and over again. We confess, we resolve; we are weak, we fail to keep our resolutions; and then we fall into those very same sins... And then we wonder: were we really even sorry in the first place? We confessed these sins, we wanted to confess them, we expressed regret, contrition, sorrow for having committed them. And then we went and committed them again - perhaps not just once again, but several times. Worse, it wasn't accidental or under pressure; it was really and truly deliberate, it was done with consent of the will. And so it hits us: how can we really say that we are sorry if we deliberately continue to do the thing for which we claim to be sorry? 

This thought can torment the mind to such a degree that allows the devil to tempt us to discouragement and despair. Why oughn't we to despair? If we continually fall into the same sins, over and over, and of our own free will, how can we hope that anything will improve? We long to be free of this enslavement of the will (it is a strange thing, this confliction in the will...). But it seems so impossible, for we seem to have made no progress whatsoever. Why oughn't we to despair?

Well. There is a reason why we oughn't to despair. We have knowledge of this reason, because we have faith. But it is this faith which is being tested, in our temptation to despair. By this faith we know that God is loving, merciful, that He will forgive us if we only continue to be sorry - even if we also continue to sin. If we are the worst sinners in the world, and are yet truly sorry, genuinely wanting to be cured of our evil ways, and placing our confidence in God, He will save us. It is our will that does the trick. Even if the will is conflicted within itself, as long as we do not let the malicious will take the reins, and as long as we maintain a genuine desire to sin no more, and as long as we continue to make the effort to cooperate with God's grace - even if we fail to do so - God will save us. It is the will that counts. 

Faith, Membership in the Church, and Salvation

The dogma that there is no salvation outside the Church has been the cause of much controversy, within and without Catholic circles. There has been much debate about what it means to be a member of the Church, how it is necessary for salvation, and so forth. After the Second Vatican Council, in particular, there has been much confusion over this subject. I myself don't understand it completely well. In this post I am going to try to explain - much for the benefit of my own understanding - the Church's teachings on this subject. 

The Council of Florence teaches us the following:
[The sacrosanct Roman Church, founded by the voice of our Lord and Savior,] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.
Pope Pius IX, in Singulari quadem, teaches:
Not without sorrow we have learned that another error, no less destructive, has taken possession of some parts of the Catholic world, and has taken up its abode in the souls of many Catholics who think that one should have good hope of the eternal salvation of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ. Therefore, they are wont to ask very often what will be the lot and condition of those who have not submitted in any way to the Catholic faith, and, by bringing forward most vain reasons, they make a response favorable to their false opinion. Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to presume on the limits of the divine mercy which is infinite; far from Us, to wish to scrutinize the hidden counsel and “judgements of God” which are “a great abyss” (Ps. 35.7) and cannot be penetrated by human thought. But, as is Our Apostolic Duty, we wish your episcopal solicitude and vigilance to be aroused, so that you will strive as much as you can to drive from the mind of men that impious and equally fatal opinion, namely, that the way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatsoever. May you demonstrate with skill and learning in which you excel, to the people entrusted to your care that the dogmas of the Catholic faith are in no wise opposed to divine mercy and justice. For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood...
The Holy Father then goes on to speak of invincible ignorance; I will get to that later.

Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis:
As you know, Venerable Brethren, from the very beginning of Our Pontificate, We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church, solemnly declaring that after the example of the Good Shepherd We desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it more abundantly. Imploring the prayers of the whole Church We wish to repeat this solemn declaration in this Encyclical Letter in which We have proclaimed the praises of the "great and glorious Body of Christ" and from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation.
I think that makes it pretty clear. One cannot have salvation outside the bonds of the Catholic Church. The question now is this: what does it mean to belong to the Catholic Church? Again we may look at Pope Pius XII:
Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.
Thus, we see that three things are necessary: 1) One must be baptized. 2) One must not be separated from the unity of those who profess the true faith; 3) one must not be separated from the lawful communion of the Church.

I should note here that the Church also teaches the necessity of faith for salvation. From the First Vatican Council:
Since, then, without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11,6) and reach the fellowship of his sons and daughters, it follows that no one can ever achieve justification without it, neither can anyone attain eternal life unless he or she perseveres in it to the end.
And the Athanasian Creed: 
Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith. For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever... He, therefore, who wishes to be saved, must believe thus about the Trinity... It is also necessary for eternal salvation that he believes steadfastly in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.... This is the Catholic faith. Everyone must believe it, firmly and steadfastly; otherwise He cannot be saved. 
But there is a distinction to be made here. While the Church teaches that faith is necessary for salvation, she does not in fact teach that it, along with the other theological virtues, is necessary for membership in the Church. Rather, what is taught is that the external profession of faith is necessary for membership. This is because whether one is a member of the Church does not depend on the extent to which one lives the life of grace; and the life of grace includes the virtue of faith. St. Robert Bellarmine thus makes a distinction between what he terms the body and the soul of the Church. This distinction has to be understood correctly. The body of the Church refers to those who have been baptised, who make an external profession of faith, and who are united under the authority of the Church - i.e. those who are strictly speaking members of the Church. The soul of the Church, on the other hand, refers to those who possess sanctifying grace, the internal theological virtues, and so forth. Those who belong to both the body and the soul of the Church may be called living members of the Church, and these are most fully Catholic; while those who belong only to the body are simply members, and those who belong only to the soul are not strictly members at all, at least not in an explicit sense.

It must be understood here that the distinction between the body and soul of the Church does not split the Church into two distinct societies. In fact, the society of the Church consists only in its visible element, the body; the soul of the Church is not a distinct society. Those who belong only to the soul thus cannot be said to be "members" of the soul, since membership implies a body, a visible structure. There is no invisible Church.

So strictly speaking, we must hold that membership in the Church, i.e. being in the body of the Church, is necessary for salvation. Yet in another way, we must also hold that it is necessary to be a living member as well, i.e. to be vivified by the soul of the Church, in possessing the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. The Church teaches that true interior faith is necessary for salvation, as we saw from Vatican I and the Athanasian Creed, above. This is so even if interior faith does not of itself make one a member of the Church, strictly speaking.

So it seems that there is some confusion here.

Can one be saved who has the interior virtues, particularly faith, but is not visibly united to the body of the Church? The answer to this is yes, it is possible. But this is not to say that one can be saved outside the Church. Indeed, this is only possible if one has a desire, implicit or explicit, to belong to the Church. Such a desire is sufficient to make one implicitly a member of the Church. In the end, then, there is always one means of salvation, and only one: the Catholic Church. Thus, the dogma remains completely untouched.

So to restate it: One can only have salvation by means of membership in the Church (according to which one is of the body of the Church), even if only an implicit membership, and even if only implicitly desired. And yet, this desire must be founded on true, interior virtue (according to which one is of the soul of the Church). This is made clear in the 1949 declaration from the Holy Office:
[I]t must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith: "For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). The Council of Trent declares (Session VI, chap. 8): "Faith is the beginning of man's salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellowship of His children" 
Thus, as long as it is animated by charity and built on faith, desire can indirectly incorporate one into the Church, and direct one towards salvation. This desire may itself be either explicit or implicit.

Invincible ignorance applies when one has implicit desire for membership in the Church. It amounts to a deficient understanding of what is necessary, but a readiness of disposition and a genuine will to please God and to do whatever is necessary for salvation, even if one is ignorant of how to do so. Thus, Pope Pius IX writes, continuing from the previous quote I gave from him: "but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, will not be held guilty of this in the eyes of God."

But he goes on to explain the imprudence of investigating the limits of such ignorance:
Now, in truth, who would arrogate so much to himself as to mark the limits of such an ignorance, because of the nature and variety of peoples, regions, innate dispositions, and of so many other things? For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains ‘we shall see God as He is’ (1 John 3.2), we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is “one God, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4.5); it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry.
Essentially what this means is that although it is certainly possible for one in invincible ignorance to attain salvation, we do not have the means or authority to determine the limits of such ignorance. Only God knows perfectly enough the dispositions of the souls of those who are ignorant of the Church; thus only God can judge them well enough to make such exceptions.  We rarely have knowledge enough of the souls of people to be able to judge them.

In the meantime, then, those of us who have the enlightenment of faith can only hold fast to that which we have been taught and which we know by faith to be absolutely true, namely that the Church is the one and only means of salvation, and that there is not good hope of salvation for those who remain outside her visible bonds. Thus, we ought to pray and work to this end: that all those who are outside the Church be brought into her visible structure and be enlightened by divine grace. We have no authority to make any exceptions to this rule whatsoever, even if we know that God may do so.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Pope Leo XIII - Pentecost, the Church, and the Holy Ghost

The following is taken from Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Divinum Illud.

5. The Church which, already conceived, came forth from the side of the second Adam in His sleep on the Cross, first showed herself before the eyes of men on the great day of Pentecost. On that day the Holy Ghost began to manifest His gifts in the mystic body of Christ, by that miraculous outpouring already foreseen by the prophet Joel (ii., 28-29), for the Paraclete "sat upon the apostles as though new spiritual crowns were placed upon their heads in tongues of fire" (S. Cyril Hier. Catech. 17). Then the apostles "descended from the mountain," as St. John Chrysostom writes, "not bearing in their hands tables of stone like Moses, but carrying the Spirit in their mind, and pouring forth the treasure and the fountain of doctrines and graces" (In Matt. Hom. 1., 2 Cor. iii., 3). Thus was fully accomplished that last promise of Christ to His apostles of sending the Holy Ghost, who was to complete and, as it were, to seal the deposit of doctrine committed to them under His inspiration. "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now; but when He, the Spirit of Truth, shall come, He will teach you all truth" (John xvi., 1213). For He who is the Spirit of Truth, inasmuch as He proceedeth both from the Father, who is the eternally True, and from the Son, who is the substantial Truth, receiveth from each both His essence and the fullness of all truth. This truth He communicates to His Church, guarding her by His all powerful help from ever falling into error, and aiding her to foster daily more and more the germs of divine doctrine and to make them fruitful for the welfare of the peoples. And since the welfare of the peoples, for which the Church was established, absolutely requires that this office should be continued for all time, the Holy Ghost perpetually supplies life and strength to preserve and increase the Church. "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you for ever, the Spirit of Truth" John xiv., 16, 17).

6. By Him the bishops are constituted, and by their ministry are multiplied not only the children, but also the fathers - that is to say, the priests - to rule and feed the Church by that Blood wherewith Christ has redeemed Her. "The Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops to rule the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own Blood" (Acts xx., 28). And both bishops and priests, by the miraculous gift of the Spirit, have the power of absolving sins, according to those words of Christ to the Apostles: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, and whose you shall retain they are retained" John xx., 22, 23). That the Church is a divine institution is most clearly proved by the splendour and glory of those gifts and graces with which she is adorned, and whose author and giver is the Holy Ghost. Let it suffice to state that, as Christ is the Head of the Church, so is the Holy Ghost her soul. "What the soul is in our body, that is the Holy Ghost in Christ's body, the Church" (St. Aug., Serm. 187, de Temp.). This being so, no further and fuller "manifestation and revelation of the Divine Spirit" may be imagined or expected; for that which now takes place in the Church is the most perfect possible, and will last until that day when the Church herself, having passed through her militant career, shall be taken up into the joy of the saints triumphing in heaven.

Propers for Pentecost Sunday

INTROIT Sap. 1:7
The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world, alleluia! and that which contains all things has knowledge of His voice, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! 
Ps. 67:2. Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Him flee before Him. 
V. Glory be . . . 

O God, who this day instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that through the same Holy Spirit we may always be truly wise and rejoice in His consolation. Through our Lord . . . 

EPISTLE Acts 2:1-11 
When the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming: and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire: and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost: and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: "Behold, are not all these that speak Galilean? And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God."

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 103:30.
Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth. Alleluia! (Here all kneel.)
V. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your love. 

Holy Spirit, come and shine 
On our souls with beams divine 
Issuing from your radiance bright. 
Come, O Father of the poor, 
Ever bounteous of your store, 
Come, our heart's unfailing light. 

Come, Consoler, kindest, best, 
Come our bosom's dearest guest, 
Sweet refreshment, sweet repose. 
Rest in labor, coolness sweet, 
Tempering the burning heat, 
Truest comfort of our woes. 

O divinest light, impart 
Unto every faithful heart 
Plenteous streams from love's bright flood. 
But for your blest Deity, 
Nothing pure in man could be; 
Nothing harmless, nothing good. 

Wash away each sinful stain; 
Gently shed your gracious rain 
On the dry and fruitless soul. 
Heal each wound and bend each will, 
Warm our hearts benumbed and chill, 
All our wayward steps control. 

Unto all your faithful just, 
Who in you confide and trust, 
Deign the sevenfold gift to send. 
Grant us virtue's blest increase, 
Grant a death of hope and peace, 
Grant the joys that never end. 
Amen. Alleluia! 

GOSPEL John 14:23-31 
At that time, Jesus answered and said to him: "If any one love me, he will keep my word. And my Father will love him and we will come to him and will make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard is not mine; but the Father's who sent me. "These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you. Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled: nor let it be afraid. You have heard that I said to you: 'I go away, and I come unto you.' If you loved me you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe. I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world: cometh: and in me he hath not any thing. But that the world may know that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandments, so do I. Arise, let us go hence."

Make lasting what You have wrought in us, O God; in Your temple in Jerusalem let the kings offer presents to You, alleluia!

Bless our offering, O Lord, and cleanse our hearts by the light of the Holy Spirit. Through our Lord . . .

Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a violent wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting, alleluia! And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began speaking of the wondrous deeds of God, alleluia, alleluia!

May the coming of the Holy Spirit cleanse our hearts, and, as a heavenly dew, water them to bring forth good fruit. Through our Lord . . .

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Spiritual Combat - On Distrust in Self and Trust in God

Taken from Dom Scupoli's The Spiritual Combat.


The presumptuous man is convinced that he has acquired a distrust of himself and confidence in God, but his mistake is never more apparent than when some fault is committed. For, if he yields to anger and despairs of advancing in the way of virtue, it is evident that he has placed his confidence in himself and not in God. The greater the anxiety and despondence, the greater is the certainty of his guilt.

The man who has a deep distrust of himself and places great  confidence in God is not at all surprised if he commits a fault. He does not abandon himself to confused despair; he correctly attributes what has happened to his own weakness and lack of confidence in God. Thus he learns to distrust himself more, and he places all his hopes in the assistance of the Almighty. He detests beyond all things the sin into which he has fallen; he condemns the passion or criminal habit that occasioned his fall; he conceives a deep sorrow for his offense against God. But his sorrow, accompanied by peace of mind, does not interrupt the method he has laid down, nor does it prevent the pursuit of his enemies to their final destruction.

I sincerely wish that what has been proposed here would be attentively considered by many who think they are very devout. yet from the moment they commit a fault they will not be pacified, but hurry away to their director, more to rid themselves of the distress arising from self-love than from any other motive. Their principal care should be to wash away the guilt of sin in the Sacrament of Penance and to fortify themselves with the Eucharist against a relapse.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

St. Teresa of Avila - On Prayer

From St. Teresa of Avila's Way of Perfection.

Let us now return to our vocal prayer, so that we may learn to pray in such a way that, without our understanding how, God may give us everything at once: if we do this, as I have said, we shall pray as we ought. As you know, the first things must be examination of conscience, confession of sin and the signing of yourself with the Cross. Then, daughter, as you are alone, you must look for a companion -- and who could be a better Companion than the very Master Who taught you the prayer that you are about to say? Imagine that this Lord Himself is at your side and see how lovingly and how humbly He is teaching you -- and, believe me, you should stay with so good a Friend for as long as you can before you leave Him. If you become accustomed to having Him at your side, and if He sees that you love Him to be there and are always trying to please Him, you will never be able, as we put it, to send Him away, nor will He ever fail you. He will help you in all your trials and you will have Him everywhere. Do you think it is a small thing to have such a Friend as that beside you?

O sisters, those of you whose minds cannot reason for long or whose thoughts cannot dwell upon God but are constantly wandering must at all costs form this habit. I know quite well that you are capable of it -- for many years I endured this trial of being unable to concentrate on one subject, and a very sore trial it is. But I know the Lord does not leave us so devoid of help that if we approach Him humbly and ask Him to be with us He will not grant our request. If a whole year passes without our obtaining what we ask, let us be prepared to try for longer. Let us never grudge time so well spent. Who, after all, is hurrying us? I am sure we can form this habit and strive to walk at the side of this true Master.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

St. Vincent of Lerins - On the Development of Catholic Doctrine

St. Vincent of Lerins is recognized by traditional theologians to be one of the best writers among the Fathers to treat of the question of tradition and change. The following passage is a brilliant treatment of true and false development in the Catholic Church, taken from his Commonitorium.

On Development in Religious Knowledge.

[54.] But some one will say, perhaps, Shall there, then, be no progress in Christ's Church? Certainly; all possible progress. For what being is there, so envious of men, so full of hatred to God, who would seek to forbid it? Yet on condition that it be real progress, not alteration of the faith. For progress requires that the subject be enlarged in itself, alteration, that it be transformed into something else. The intelligence, then, the knowledge, the wisdom, as well of individuals as of all, as well of one man as of the whole Church, ought, in the course of ages and centuries, to increase and make much and vigorous progress; but yet only in its own kind; that is to say, in the same doctrine, in the same sense, and in the same meaning.

[55.] The growth of religion in the soul must be analogous to the growth of the body, which, though in process of years it is developed and attains its full size, yet remains still the same. There is a wide difference between the flower of youth and the maturity of age; yet they who were once young are still the same now that they have become old, insomuch that though the stature and outward form of the individual are changed, yet his nature is one and the same, his person is one and the same. An infant's limbs are small, a young man's large, yet the infant and the young man are the same. Men when full grown have the same number of joints that they had when children; and if there be any to which maturer age has given birth these were already present in embryo, so that nothing new is produced in them when old which was not already latent in them when children. This, then, is undoubtedly the true and legitimate rule of progress, this the established and most beautiful order of growth, that mature age ever develops in the man those parts and forms which the wisdom of the Creator had already framed beforehand in the infant. Whereas, if the human form were changed into some shape belonging to another kind, or at any rate, if the number of its limbs were increased or diminished, the result would be that the whole body would become either a wreck or a monster, or, at the least, would be impaired and enfeebled.

[56.] In like manner, it behooves Christian doctrine to follow the same laws of progress, so as to be consolidated by years, enlarged by time, refined by age, and yet, withal, to continue uncorrupt and unadulterate, complete and perfect in all the measurement of its parts, and, so to speak, in all its proper members and senses, admitting no change, no waste of its distinctive property, no variation in its limits.

[57.] For example: Our forefathers in the old time sowed wheat in the Church's field. It would be most unmeet and iniquitous if we, their descendants, instead of the genuine truth of grain, should reap the counterfeit error of tares. This rather should be the result—there should be no discrepancy between the first and the last. From doctrine which was sown as wheat, we should reap, in the increase, doctrine of the same kind— wheat also; so that when in process of time any of the original seed is developed, and now flourishes under cultivation, no change may ensue in the character of the plant. There may supervene shape, form, variation in outward appearance, but the nature of each kind must remain the same. God forbid that those rose-beds of Catholic interpretation should be converted into thorns and thistles. God forbid that in that spiritual paradise from plants of cinnamon and balsam, darnel and wolfsbane should of a sudden shoot forth.

Therefore, whatever has been sown by the fidelity of the Fathers in this husbandry of God's Church, the same ought to be cultivated and taken care of by the industry of their children, the same ought to flourish and ripen, the same ought to advance and go forward to perfection. For it is right that those ancient doctrines of heavenly philosophy should, as time goes on, be cared for, smoothed, polished; but not that they should be changed, not that they should be maimed, not that they should be mutilated. They may receive proof, illustration, definiteness; but they must retain withal their completeness, their integrity, their characteristic properties.

[58.] For if once this license of impious fraud be admitted, I dread to say in how great danger religion will be of being utterly destroyed and annihilated. For if any one part of Catholic truth be given up, another, and another, and another will thenceforward be given up as a matter of course, and the several individual portions having been rejected, what will follow in the end but the rejection of the whole? On the other hand, if what is new begins to be mingled with what is old, foreign with domestic, profane with sacred, the custom will of necessity creep on universally, till at last the Church will have nothing left untampered with, nothing unadulterated, nothing sound, nothing pure; but where formerly there was a sanctuary of chaste and undefiled truth, thenceforward there will be a brothel of impious and base errors. May God's mercy avert this wickedness from the minds of his servants; be it rather the frenzy of the ungodly.

[59.] But the Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds, does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another's, but while dealing faithfully and judiciously with ancient doctrine, keeps this one object carefully in view—if there be anything which antiquity has left shapeless and rudimentary, to fashion and polish it, if anything already reduced to shape and developed, to consolidate and strengthen it, if any already ratified and defined, to keep and guard it. Finally, what other object have Councils ever aimed at in their decrees, than to provide that what was before believed in simplicity should in future be believed intelligently, that what was before preached coldly should in future be preached earnestly, that what was before practised negligently should thenceforward be practised with double solicitude? This, I say, is what the Catholic Church, roused by the novelties of heretics, has accomplished by the decrees of her Councils,— this, and nothing else—she has thenceforward consigned to posterity in writing what she had received from those of olden times only by tradition, comprising a great amount of matter in a few words, and often, for the better understanding, designating an old article of the faith by the characteristic of a new name.