Sunday, 30 June 2013

Propers for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

INTROIT Ps. 27:8-9 
The Lord is the strength of His people, and the assurance of the salvation of His anointed. Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance, and guide them forever.
Ps. 27:1. I cry to You, O Lord my God; do not be deaf to me, lest if You heed me not, I become like those who go down into the pit.
V. Glory be . . .

O Mighty God, author of every good thing, implant in our hearts a deep love of Your name. Increase in us the true spirit of devotion and sincere virtue so that we may be supported by You and protected by Your loving care. Through our Lord . . . 

EPISTLE Rom. 6:3-11
Brethren: Know you not that all we who are baptized in Christ Jesus are baptized in his death? For we are buried together with him by baptism into death: that, as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. For he that is dead is justified from sin. Now, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ. Knowing that Christ, rising again from the dead, dieth now no more. Death shall no more have dominion over him. For in that he died to sin, he died once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

GRADUAL Ps. 89:13, 1
Turn a little, O Lord, and be moved by the entreaties for Your servants.
V. O Lord, You have been our refuge through all generations.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 30:2-3
I have hoped in You, let me never be put to shame. In Your justice rescue me and set me free. Incline Your ear to me; make haste to deliver me. Alleluia!

GOSPEL Mark 8:1-9
In those days again, when there was great multitude and they had nothing to eat; calling his disciples together, he saith to them: "I have compassion on the multitude, for behold they have now been with me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I shall send them away fasting to their home, they will faint in the way: for some of them came from afar off." And his disciples answered him: "From whence can any one fill them here with bread in the wilderness?" And he asked them: "How many loaves have ye?" Who said: "Seven." And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground. And taking the seven loaves, giving thanks, he broke and gave to his disciples for to set before them. And they set them before the people. And they had a few little fishes: and he blessed them and commanded them to be set before them. And they did eat and were filled: and they took up that which was left of the fragments, seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand. And he sent them away.

Keep my steps steadfast in Your paths, that my feet may not falter. Incline Your ear and hear my words. Show Your wondrous kindness, O Saviour of those who trust in You, O Lord.

Let our prayers win peace for Your people, O Lord, so that their offerings may be pleasing in Your sight. Grant us the requests we confidently make of You, so that it cannot be said that anyone hopes or calls upon You in vain. Through our Lord . . . 

I will draw near and joyfully offer a sacrifice in His tabernacle; I will sing and chant a psalm to the Lord.

O Lord, may we be cleansed and strengthened by the power and assistance of Your gifts, with which we have been filled. Through our Lord . . .

Friday, 28 June 2013

Pope Pius VI - Ambiguity, a Tactic of Innovators

The following is taken from Pope Pius VI's Auctorem Fidei, in which he exposes the errors of false council of Pistoia. In this passage he speaks of certain methods used by innovators and heretics; in particular, he is criticizing the persistent use of ambiguous language and formulas in theology. This is a technique very often used by the Modernists and Neo-modernists, and which unfortunately seeped its way into the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Formulas are adopted which open the way to opposing doctrines, and so the liberals seek to infiltrate the Church by introducing such ambiguities into Catholic theology. 


In order not to shock the ears of Catholics, the innovators sought to hide the subtleties of their tortuous maneuvers by the use of seemingly innocuous words such as would allow them to insinuate error into souls in the most gentle manner. Once the truth had been compromised, they could, by means of slight changes or additions in phraseology, distort the confession of the faith that is necessary for our salvation, and lead the faithful by subtle errors to their eternal damnation. This manner of dissimulating and lying is vicious, regardless of the circumstances under which it is used. For very good reasons it can never be tolerated in a synod of which the principal glory consists above all in teaching the truth with clarity and excluding all danger of error.

Moreover, if all this is sinful, it cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. It allows for both the possibility of promoting error and of excusing it.

It is as if the innovators pretended that they always intended to present the alternative passages, especially to those of simple faith who eventually come to know only some part of the conclusions of such discussions, which are published in the common language for everyone's use. Or again, as if the same faithful had the ability on examining such documents to judge such matters for themselves without getting confused and avoiding all risk of error. It is a most reprehensible technique for the insinuation of doctrinal errors and one condemned long ago by our predecessor St. Celestine who found it used in the writings of Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, and which he exposed in order to condemn it with the greatest possible severity. Once these texts were examined carefully, the impostor was exposed and confounded, for he expressed himself in a plethora of words, mixing true things with others that were obscure; mixing at times one with the other in such a way that he was also able to confess those things which were denied while at the same time possessing a basis for denying those very sentences which he confessed.

In order to expose such snares, something which becomes necessary with a certain frequency in every century, no other method is required than the following: Whenever it becomes necessary to expose statements that disguise some suspected error or danger under the veil of ambiguity, one must denounce the perverse meaning under which the error opposed to Catholic truth is camouflaged.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Spiritual Combat - The Exercise of the Will

The following is taken from Dom Scupoli's work, The Spiritual Combat.


We have spoken concerning the necessity of regulating one's understanding. It is necessary also to control one's will so that it is not abandoned to its own inclinations, but it is conformed entirely to the will of God.

It must be observed that it is not sufficient to desire, or even to execute what is most pleasing to God. It is also requisite to desire and to perform our action under the influence of His grace, and out of a willingness to please Him.

Here will arise the greatest struggle with our nature, constantly thirsty for its own pleasure. Even in lofty spiritual undertakings, it seeks its own satisfaction, residing there without the least scruple, since there is no apparent evil. The following is the result. We begin acts of religion not from the sole motive of doing the will of God, but for a sensible pleasure that often accompanies such acts.

The illusion is still more subtle as the object of our affection is more commendable in itself. Who would imagine that self-love, criminal as it is, should prompt us to unite ourselves to God? That in our desire to possess Him we should pursue our own interests rather than His glory and the accomplishment of His will, which should be the only motive for those who love Him, seek Him, and profess to keep His laws?

If we desire to avoid such a dangerous obstacle, we must accustom ourselves not to desire or execute anything unless it is through the impulse of the Holy Spirit, combined with a pure intention of honoring Him Who desires to be not only the first Principle, but also the last End of our every word and action, through the observance of the following method.

As soon as an opportunity presents itself to perform such a good action, we must prevent our heart from seizing on it before we have considered God. This will enable us to know whether it coincides with His will, and whether we desire it solely because it is pleasing to Him.

When our will is controlled and directed in this way by the will of God, it is motivated only with the desire to conform entirely to Him, and to further His glory. The same method is to be followed in rejecting whatever is contrary to His will. The first move is to raise our minds to God to know what is displeasing to Him, and then be satisfied that in its rejection we conform to His holy will.

We must remember that it is extremely difficult to discover the deceptions of our fallen nature. It is always fond of making itself, for very questionable motives, the focal point of all things; it flatters by persuading us that in all our actions our only motive is to please God. What we accept or reject, then, is actually done to please ourselves, while we erroneously imagine that we act out of a desire to please, or a dread of displeasing, our Sovereign Lord.

The most effective remedy against evil is purity of heart. Everyone engaged in the spiritual combat must be armed with it, discarding the old man and putting on the new. The remedy is applied in this way. In everything that we undertake, pursue, or reject, we divest ourselves of all human considerations, and do only what is conformable to the will of God.

It may happen that in many things we do, and especially in the interior impulses of the heart, or in swiftly transient exterior actions, we may not always be conscious of the influence of this motive. But at least we should be so disposed that virtually and habitually we act from the viewpoint of pleasing God.

In more prolonged activities this virtual intention is not sufficient. It should be frequently renewed and developed to its full stature in purity and fervor. Without this, we run the great risk of deception by 
self-love, which always prefers the creature to the Creator and so deceives that, in a short time, we are imperceptibly drawn from our primary intention. Well meaning but vulnerable persons generally set out with no other purpose than to please God. But by degrees they permit themselves, without knowing it, to be lured away by vanity. They for get the Divine will which first influenced them and are completely absorbed in the satisfaction afforded by their actions, and in the advantages and rewards they expect. If it happens that, while they think they are accomplishing, great things, Providence permits them to be interrupted by sickness or some accident, they are immediately dissatisfied, criticizing everyone about them, and sometimes even God Himself. This is clear evidence that the motive, the force behind their actions was bad.

Anyone who acts under the influence of Divine grace and only to please God is indifferent as to his course of action. Or, if he is inclined to some particular activity, he completely submits to Providence the manner and time of doing it. He is perfectly resigned to whatever success attends his undertakings, and his heart desires nothing but the accomplishment of the Divine will.

Therefore, let everyone examine himself, let him direct all his actions to this most excellent and noble end. If he discovers that he is performing a work of piety in order to avoid punishment, or to gain the rewards of the future life, he should establish as the end of his undertaking the will of God, Who requires that we avoid hell and gain Heaven.

It is not within man's power to realize the efficacy of this motive. The least action, no matter how insignificant, performed for His sake, greatly surpasses actions which, although of greater significance, are done for other motives.

For example, a small alms, given solely in honor of God, is infinitely more agreeable to Him than if, from some other motive, large possessions are abandoned, even if this is done from a desire to gain the kingdom of heaven. And this, in itself, is a highly commendable motive, and worthy of our consideration.

The practice of performing all of our actions solely from the intention of pleasing God may be difficult at first. With the passing of time it will become familiar and even delightful, if we strive to find God in all sincerity of heart, if we continually long for Him, the only and greatest Good, deserving to be sought, valued, and loved by all His creatures. The more attentively we contemplate the greatness and goodness of God, the more frequently and tenderly our affections will turn to that Divine Object. In this way we will more quickly, and with greater facility, obtain the habit of directing all our actions to His glory.

In conclusion, there is a final way of acting in complete accordance with this very excellent and elevated motive. This is fervently to petition our Lord for grace and frequently to consider the infinite benefits He has already given us, and which He continues to bestow every moment from an undeserved and disinterested affection.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Dom Gueranger - The Anti-Liturgical Heresy

This article by Dom Prosper Gueranger cannot but be dubbed as truly prophetic. He wrote this in the mid-1800s, and what he describes here seems almost perfectly applicable to the liturgical reform of Pope Paul VI. It is frighteningly accurate, especially for having been written a whole century previously.  


1. - The first characteristic of the anti-liturgical heresy is hatred of tradition as found in the formulas used in divine worship. One cannot fail to note this special characteristic in all heretics, from Vigilantus to Calvin, and the reason for it is easy to explain.

Every sectarian who wishes to introduce a new doctrine finds himself, unfailingly, face to face with the Liturgy, which is Tradition at its strongest and best, and he cannot rest until he has silenced this voice, until he has torn up these pages which recall the faith of past centuries.

As a matter of fact, how could Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism establish themselves and maintain their influence over the masses? All they had to do was substitute new books and new formulas in place of the ancient books and formulas, and their work was done. There was nothing that still bothered the new teachers; they could just go on preaching as they wished: the faith of the people was henceforth without defense.

Luther understood this doctrine with a shrewdness worthy of the Jansenists, since he, at the beginning of his innovations, at the time he still felt he should maintain a part of the external form of the Latin cult, gave the following rule for the reformed Mass:

“We approve and preserve the Introits of Sundays and of the feasts of Our Lord, that is to say Easter, Pentecost and Christmas. We should much prefer that the entire Psalms from the Introits should be taken, as was done in former times; but we will gladly conform to the present usage. We do not blame even those who would wish to keep even the Introits of the Apostles, of the Blessed Virgin and other Saints, since these three Introits are taken from the psalms and other places in  Scripture.”

He hated too much the sacred songs composed by the Church herself as the public expression for her faith.  He felt too much in them the vigor of Tradition, which he wanted to ban.  If he granted to the Church the right to mix her voice with the oracles of the Scripture in the holy assemblies, he would expose himself thereby to have to listen to millions of mouth anathematizing his new dogmas.  Therefore, his hatred for everything in Liturgy which does not exclusively derive from Holy Scripture.

2. - This, as matter of fact, is the second principle of the anti-liturgical sect: to substitute for the formulas of the ecclesiastical teachings readings from the Holy Scripture.

This involves two advantages: first, to silence the voice of Tradition of which sectarians are always afraid.  Then, there is the advantage of propagating and supporting their dogmas by means of affirmation and negation. By way of negation, in passing over in silence, through cunning, the texts which express doctrine opposed to errors they wish to propagate; by way of affirmation, by emphasizing truncated passages which show only one side of the truth, hide the other the eyes of the unlearned.

Since many centuries we know that the preferences given by all heretics to holy Scripture, over Church definitions, has no other reason than to facilitate making the word of God say all they want it to say, and manipulating it at will.

( . . . ) Protestants . . . have nearly reduced the whole Liturgy to the reading of Scripture, accompanied by speeches in which one interprets by means of reason. As to the choice and determination of the canonical books, these have ended by falling under the caprice of the reformer, who, in final analysis, decides the meaning of the word itself.

Thus Luther finds that in his system of pantheism, the ideas of the uselessness of good works and faith alone sufficing should be established as dogmas, and so, from now on, he will declare that the Epistle of St. James is a “straw epistle” and not canonical, for the simple reason that it teaches the necessity of good works for salvation.

In every age, and under all forms of sectarianism, it will be the same: No ecclesiastical formulas, only Holy Scripture, but interpreted, selected, presented by the person or persons who are seeking to profit from innovation.

The trap is dangerous for the simple, and only a long time afterwards one becomes aware of having been deceived and that the word of God, “a two-edged sword”, as the Apostles calls it, has caused great wounds, because it has been manipulated by the sons of perdition.

3. - The third principle of the heretics concerning the reform of the Liturgy is, having eliminated the ecclesiastical formulas and proclaimed the absolute necessity of making use only of the words of Scripture in divine worship and having seen that Holy Scripture does not always yield itself to all their purposes as they would like, their third principle, we say, is to fabricate and introduce various formulas, filled with perfidy, by which the people are more surely ensnared in error, and thus the whole structure of the impious reform will become consolidated for the coming centuries.

4. - One will not be astonished at the contradictions which heresy shows in its works, when one knows that the fourth principle, or, if you will, the fourth necessity imposed on the sectarians by the very nature of their rebellious state is an habitual contradiction of their own principles.

It must be this way for their confusion on that great day, which will come sooner or later, when God will reveal their nakedness to the view of the people whom they have seduced; moreover, it is not in the nature of man to be consistent.  Truth alone can be consistent.

Thus, all the sectarians without exceptions begin with the vindication of the rights of antiquity. They want to cut Christianity off from all that the errors and passions of man have mixed in; from whatever is “false” and “unworthy of God”. All they want is the primitive, and they pretend to go back to the cradle of Christian institutions.

To this end, they prune, they efface, they cut away; everything falls under their blows, and while one is waiting to see the original purity of the divine cult reappear, one finds himself encumbered with new formulas dating only from the night before, and which are incontestably human, since the one who created them is still alive.

Every sect undergoes this necessity.  We saw this with the Monophysites and the Nestorians; we find the same in every branch of Protestantism.  Their preference for preaching antiquity led only to cutting them off from the entire past.  Then they placed themselves before their seduced people and they swore to them that now all was fine, that the papist accretions had disappeared, that the divine cult was restored to its primitive form . . .

5. - Since the liturgical reform is being undertaken by the sectarians with the same goal as the reform of dogma, of which it is the consequence, it follows that as Protestants separated from unity in order to believe less, they found themselves led to cut away in the Liturgy all the ceremonies, all the formulas which express mysteries.

They called it superstition, idolatry, everything that did not seem to be merely rational, thus, limiting the expression of faith, obscuring by doubt and even negation all the views, which open on the supernatural world.

Thus, no more Sacraments, except Baptism, preparing the way for Socialism, which freed its followers even from Baptism.  No more sacramentals, blessings, images, relics of Saints, processions, pilgrimages, etc.  No more altar, only a table, no more sacrifice as in every religion, but only a meal.  No more church but only a temple, as with the Greeks and Romans.  No more religious architecture, since there is no more mystery.  No more Christian paintings and sculpture, since there is no more sensible religion.  Finally no more poetry in a cult which is no longer impregnated by love or faith.

6. - The suppression of the mystical element in the Protestant liturgy was bound to produce, infallibly, the total extinction of that spirit of prayer, which in Catholicism, we call unction.

A heart in revolt can no longer love, a heart without love will be all the more able to produce passable expression of respect or fear, with the cold pride of the Pharisee.  Such is Protestant liturgy.

7. - Pretending to treat nobly with God, Protestant liturgy has no need of intermediaries.  To invoke the help of the Blessed Virgin, or the protection of Saints, would be, for them, a lack of respect due to the Supreme Being.

Their liturgy excludes that entire “papist idolatry” which asks from a creature what only should be asked from God.  It purges the calendar of all those names of men, which the Roman Church so boldly inscribes next to the name of God.  It has a special horror for those names of monks and other persons of later times who one can find figuring next to the names of the Apostles, whom Jesus Christ had chosen, and by whom was founded this primitive Church which alone was pure in faith and free from all superstition in cult and from every relaxation in morals.

8. - Since the liturgical reform had for one of its principal aims the abolition of actions and formulas of mystical signification, it is a logical consequence that its authors had to vindicate the use of the vernacular in divine worship.

This is in the eyes of sectarians a most important item. Cult is no secret matter.  The people, they say, must understand what they sing.  Hatred for the Latin language is inborn in the hearts of all the enemies of Rome.  They recognize it as the bond among Catholics throughout the universe, as the arsenal of orthodoxy against all the subtleties of the sectarian spirit. ( . . .)

The spirit of rebellion which drives them to confide the universal prayer to the idiom of each people, of each province, of each century, has for the rest produced its fruits, and the reformed themselves constantly perceive that the Catholic people, in spite of their Latin prayers, relish better and accomplish with more zeal the duties of the cult than most do the Protestant people.  At every hour of the day, divine worship takes place in Catholic churches.  The faithful Catholic, who assists, leaves his mother tongue at the door.  Apart form the sermons, he hears nothing but mysterious words which, even so, are not heard in the most solemn moment of the Canon of the Mass.  Nevertheless, this mystery charms him in such a way that he is not jealous of the lot of the Protestant, even though the ear of the latter doesn’t hear a single sound without perceiving its meaning.(...) 

. . . We must admit it is a master blow of Protestantism to have declared war on the sacred language.  If it should ever succeed in ever destroying it, it would be well on the way to victory.  Exposed to profane gaze, like a virgin who has been violated, from that moment on the Liturgy has lost much of its sacred character, and very soon people find that it is not worthwhile putting aside one’s work or pleasure in order to go and listen to what is being said in the way one speaks on the marketplace.  ( . . .)

9. - In taking away from the Liturgy the mystery which humbles reason, Protestantism took care not to forget the practical consequence, that is to say, liberation from the fatigue and the burden of the body imposed by the rules of the papist Liturgy.

First of all, no more fasting, no more abstinence, no more genuflections in prayer.  For the ministers of the temple, no more daily functions to carry out, no more canonical prayers to recite in the name of the Church.

Such is one of the principal forms of the great Protestant emancipation: to diminish the sum of public and private prayers.

The course of events has quickly shown that faith and charity, which are nourished by prayers, were extinguished in the reform, whereas among Catholics both still nourish all the acts of devotion to God and men, since they are impregnated by the ineffable resources of liturgical prayer as accomplished by the secular and regular clergy, and in which the community of the faithful participate.

10. - Since Protestantism had to establish a rule in order to distinguish among the papist institutions those which could be the most hostile to its principle, it had to rummage around in the foundations of the Catholic structure to find the corner stone on which everything rests.  Its instinct caused it to discover first of all that dogma which is irreconcilable with every innovation: Papal authority.  When Luther wrote on his flag: “Hatred for Rome and its laws”, he only promulgated once more the underlying principle of every branch of the anti-liturgical sect.  From then on he had to abrogate, ‘en masse’ both cult and ceremonies as the idolatries of Rome.  The Latin language, the Divine Office, the calendar, the breviary: all were abominations of the great Harlot of Babylon.  The Roman Pontiff weighs down reason by his dogmas and the sense by his ritual practices.  Therefore, it must be proclaimed that his dogmas are only blasphemy and error, and his liturgical observances nothing but a means of establishing more firmly a usurped and tyrannical domination. (. . .)

One should here bring to mind the marvelous reflections of Joseph de Maistre in his book The Pope, where he demonstrates with so much wisdom and depth that, in spite of the disagreement which should isolate the diay aent sects, there is one thing in which they are all alike, namely, they are non-Roman.

11. - The anti-liturgical heresy needed, in order to establish its reign for good, the destruction in fact and in principle of all priesthood in Christianity.  For it felt that where there is a Pontiff, there is an Altar, and where there is an Altar there is a sacrifice and the carrying on of a mysterious ceremonial.

Having abolished the office of Supreme Pontiff, they had to annihilate the character of the bishopric, from which emanates the mystical imposition of hands, which perpetuates the sacred hierarchy.  From this derives a great presbyterianism, which is nothing other than the immediate consequence of the suppression of the Supreme Pontiff.  From now on there is no longer a priest, properly speaking.  How could simple election without consecration make a man sacred?  Luther’s and Calvin’s reforms only know of ministers of God, or of men, as you prefer.  But this is not enough.  Chosen and established by laymen, bringing into the temple the robe of a certain bastard ministry, the minister is nothing but a layman clothed with accidental functions.  In Protestantism there exit only laymen, and this necessarily so, since there is no longer a Liturgy.  (. . .)

Such are the principal maxims of the anti-liturgical sect.  We certainly did not exaggerate in any way.  All we did was to reveal the hundred times professed doctrines of the writings of Luther, Calvin, the One Hundred Signers of Magdeburg, of Hospinien, Kemnitz, etc.  These books are easy to consult.  That is to say that what comes out of them is under the eyes of all the world.  We thought it useful to throw light on the principal features of sectarianism.  It is always profitable to know error.

It is now up to the Catholic logician to draw the conclusions.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Pope Leo XIII on the Adaptability of the Priesthood

The following is a selection from the encyclical Fin Dal Principio by Pope Leo XIII, in which he speaks of the education of the clergy. I think this offers some very valuable insights with regard to the adaptability of the priestly office to modern times. Too often it is said today that the Church must change with the times, so as to conform itself to the modern world. This is often what is meant by the use of the term "aggiornamento," which came into use under Pope John XIII. The false "aggiornamento" so often praised today is one that looks with scorn upon the detachment of the Church from the world. It is absolutely crucial that one's notion of "aggiornamento" not become distorted, so as to actually bring about a change in the most important parts of religion. This includes the liturgy of the Church. The priesthood is especially connected to the liturgy, so I think that Pope Leo's words here are quite valuable.


Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

1. From the beginning of our Pontificate having gravely considered the serious conditions of society, we are not slow to recognize, as one of the most urgent duties of the Apostolic office, that of devoting a most special care to the education of the clergy.

2. We see in fact that all our designs to bring about a restoration of Christian life among our people, would be in vain if in the ecclesiastical state the sacerdotal spirit was not preserved intact and vigorous. This we have not ceased to do, as far as was possible to us, both with institutions and writings directed to that end. And now a particular solicitude regarding the clergy of Italy moves us, venerable brethren, again to treat on this subject of so great importance. It is true, beautiful and continued testimonies have been shown of learning, piety and zeal, among which we are glad to praise the alacrity with which, seconding the impulse and direction of their bishops, they cooperate in that Catholic movement which we have so much at heart. We cannot altogether, however, hide the preoccupation of our soul at seeing for some time past a certain desire of innovation insinuating itself here and there, as regards the constitution as well as the multiform actions of the sacred ministry. Now it is easy to foresee the grave consequences which we should have to deplore if a speedy remedy were not applied to this innovating tendency.

3. Therefore, in order to preserve the Italian clergy from the pernicious influences of the times, we deem it opportune, venerable brethren, to recall in this our letter, the true and invariable principles that should regulate ecclesiastical education and the entire sacred ministry. The Catholic priesthood - divine in its origin, supernatural in its essence, immutable in its character - is not an institution that can accommodate itself with ease to human systems and opinions. A participation of the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ, it must perpetuate even to the consummation of ages the same mission that the Eternal Father confided to His Incarnate Word: "Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos."'[1] To work the eternal salvation of souls will always be the great commandment of which it must never fall short, as to faithfully fulfil it, it must never cease to have recourse to those supernatural aids and those divine rules of thought and of action which Jesus Christ gave His Apostles when He sent them throughout the whole world to convert the nations to the Gospel. Therefore St. Paul in his letters reminds us that the priest can never be anything but the legate, the minister of Christ, the dispenser of His mysteries,[2] and he represents him to us as dwelling in a high place [3] as a mediator between heaven and earth, to treat with God, about the supreme interests of the human race, which are those of everlasting life. The idea that holy books give us of the Christian priesthood, is that it is a supernatural institution superior to all those of earth, and as far separated from them as the divine is from the human.

4. This same high idea is clearly brought out by the works of the Fathers, the laws of the Roman Pontiffs, and the Bishops, by the decrees of the Councils, and by the unanimous teaching of the Doctors and of the Catholic schools. Above all, the tradition of the Church with one voice proclaims that the priest is another Christ, and that the priesthood though exercised on earth merits to be numbered among the orders of heaven[4]; because it is given to them to administer things that are wholly celestial and upon them is conferred a power that God has not trusted even to the angels[5]; a power and ministry which regard the government of souls, and which is the art of arts.[6] Therefore, education, studies, customs, and whatever comprises the sacerdotal discipline have always been considered by the Church as belonging entirely to herself, not merely distinct, but altogether separate from the ordinary rules of secular life. This distinction and separation must, therefore, remain unaltered, even in our own times, and any tendency to accommodate or confound the ecclesiastical life and education with the secular life and education must be considered as reproved, not only by the traditions of Christian ages, but by the apostolic doctrine itself and the ordinances of Jesus Christ.

5. Certainly in the formation of the clergy and the sacerdotal ministry, it is reasonable that regard should be had to the varied conditions of the times. Therefore we are far from rejecting the idea of such changes as would render the work of the clergy still more efficacious in the society in which they live, and it is for that reason that it has seemed necessary to us to promote among them a more solid and finished culture, and to open a still wider field to their ministry; but every other innovation which could in any way prejudice what is essential to the priest must be regarded as altogether blameworthy. The priest is above all constituted master, physician and shepherd of souls, and a guide to an end not enclosed within the bounds of this present life. Now he can never fully correspond if he is not well versed in the science of divine and sacred things, if he is not furnished with that piety which makes a man of God; and if he does not take every care to render his teachings valuable by the efficacy of his example, conformably to the admonition given to the sacred pastor by the Prince of the Apostles: "Forma facti gregis ex animo."[7] For those who watch the times and the changeable condition of society, these are the right and the greatest gifts that could shine in the Catholic priest, together with the principles of faith; every other quality natural and human would certainly be commendable, but would not have with regard to the sacerdotal office anything but secondary and relative importance. If, therefore, it is reasonable and just that the clergy should accommodate themselves as far as is permitted to the needs of the present age, it is still more necessary that the present depravity of the century should not be yielded to, but strongly resisted; and this while corresponding naturally to the high end of the priesthood, will also render their ministry still more fruitful by increasing its dignity, and therefore gaining it respect. It is seen everywhere how the spirit of naturalism tends to penetrate every part of the social body, even the most healthy; a spirit which fills the minds with pride and causes them to rebel against every authority; depraves the heart and turns it after the desire of earthly goods, neglecting those eternal.

6. It is greatly to be feared that some influence of this spirit, so evil, and already so widely diffused, might insinuate itself even among ecclesiastics, particularly among those of less experience. What sad effects would not arise if that gravity of conduct which belongs to the priest, should be in any way lessened; if he should yield with lightness to the charm of every novelty; if he should deport himself with pretentious indocility towards his superiors; if he should lose that weight and measure in discussion which is so necessary, particularly in matters of faith and morals.

1. Jn 20:21.
2. 2 Cor 5: 20; 6: 4; I Cor 4: 1.
3. Heb 5: 1.
4. John Chrysostom, De sacerdotio III, n. 4.
5. Ibid. n. 5.
6. Gregory the Great, Regula pastoralis, pars 1, cap. 1.
7. I Pt 5: i.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Mystery of Mass

The following poem is half-inspired by a lecture given by Archbishop Alexander Sample, at the Sacred Music Colloquium, in which he contrasted certain liturgical tendencies with the actual Catholic understanding of the mass. Certain people in modern Catholic circles seek to celebrate the mass in a sentimentally celebratory fashion; hence the all-too-common "happy-clappy" masses which are celebrated these days. But a proper understanding of the mass and its infinite gravity reveals that the joy of the mass is of a different nature. It is a joy indeed, but it cannot be separated from the sorrow of Christ's passion and death, His sacrifice on the cross at Calvary - the single most heart-wrenching drama in the history of mankind. Indeed, this is one of the most essential parts of the mass, as taught by the Catholic Church: it is a sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus, His passion and death on the cross. And yet, by the tragedy of His death, Christ merited for man the graces necessary to attain holiness and eternal salvation. Thus, He accomplished for man what man himself could never do: He satisfied the infinite justice of God, which had been grievously offended by the sin of Adam, and which continues to be offended by every sin committed by man. 

Anyway, these are the essential thoughts which I have translated into the following poetic language. 

The Mystery of the Mass

What celebrations here and now take place
Doth give us weighty cause for Christian joy.
For from this source doth flow God’s saving grace,
Which we for our salvation may employ.

But lo, what is this sacred mystery
Which hath such great esteem in Christian hearts?
What is the meaning of this liturgy,
Which hath in Christian lives so large a part?

Indeed, the tale behind this sacred prayer,
Upon which Christians spend their every breath;
What we do celebrate on this affair
Is nothing but the mystery of death.

Ah yes, but why so grim a thing, you ask?
What law doth bind us to so sad a feast?
Whence comes this great and weighty task
Of celebrating that which man loves least?

The story of salvation hath its source,
Not in mere lowly labors wrought by man,
(For man hath not the power nor the force)
But in the action of the God-made-man.

The work of man alone doth not suffice
To bring him to the end for which he’s made.
But if be made a Godly sacrifice,
‘Tis then at last that man can e'er be saved.

For Adam didst incur the wrath of God,
Offense against a justice infinite.
From that time forward, man was ever flawed,
His pow’r to save himself, inadequate.

In this most sacred rite which you behold
Are gathered all the fruits of God’s good grace.
For here a thing occurs of worth untold:
The sacrifice which saved the human race.

That gruesome death upon the altar-cross,
Didst win for man a glory radiant.
By taking on Himself so great a loss,
Christ gained for man a splendor eminent.

And thus Christ’s pain and passion, unsurpassed,
Gave cause for saintly joy, the greater still.
‘Tis this we celebrate at Holy Mass:
That Christ our retribution didst fulfill. 

Propers for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

INTROIT Apoc. 5:9-10
You have redeemed us, O Lord, with Thy Blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us for our God a kingdom.
Ps. 88:2. The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever; my mouth shall proclaim Your truth through all generations.
V. Glory be . . .

O Almighty and Eternal God, You willed that the world should be redeemed and the sins of man atoned for by the shedding of the Blood of Your Only-Begotten Son. May we on this solemn feast pay fitting honor to the Precious Blood that was the price of our salvation; may that Blood defend us against the evils of our present life so that we may enjoy its everlasting fruit in heaven. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE Heb. 9:11-15
Brethren: But Christ, being come an high Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hand, that is, not of this creation: Neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer, being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? And therefore he is the mediator of the new testament: that by means of his death for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

GRADUAL I John 5:5, 7-8
This is He who came in water and in blood, Jesus Christ: not in the water only, but in the water and in the blood.
V. There are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these Three are One. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, and the water, and the Blood; and these three are one.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. John 5:9
If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater. Alleluia!

GOSPEL John 19:30-35
At that time, Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: "It is consummated." And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost. Then the Jews (because it was the parasceve), that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day (for that was a great sabbath day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken: and that they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came: and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him.
But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side: and immediately there came out blood and water. And he that saw it hath given testimony: and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true: that you also may believe.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not the sharing of the Blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not the partaking of the Body of the Lord?

May these divine mysteries draw us closer to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant. We renew upon Your altar, O Lord of Hosts, the sprinkling of the Blood of Christ which is far more efficacious than the sacrifice offered by Abel. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord . . .

Christ was offered once to take away the sins of many; the second time with no part in sinHe will appear unto the salvation of those who await Him.

We have been admitted to Your sacred banquet, O Lord, and have joyously refreshed ourselves with the waters from the fountain of our Saviour. May His Blood spring up within us as a saving water for eternal life; who lives and rules with You . . .

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Qualities of Sacred Music

I am currently in Salt Lake City, participating in the Sacred Music Colloquium for my fourth year in a row. We are singing a great deal of Gregorian Chant, both in Latin and in English, for both the old and new masses, every day of the week. It is an amazing experience. Anyhow, I decided that while I am here, I will post on the blog an article I wrote some time ago about Sacred Music. This is another article which was published in an unofficial newsletter organized by my fellow students in school. 

Pope St. Pius X is known, among other things, for having laid down the characteristics of true liturgical music in the Motu Proprio Tra le Sollicitudini.  He draws these characteristics from the purpose of liturgical music. Music is an important of the sacred liturgy, for which reason its purpose can be none other than “the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful.” Liturgical music is a kind of adornment, an enhancement, of prayer itself; for as St. Augustine is famously quoted as saying, “he who sings prays twice.” Thus, liturgical music ought to bring forth the prayerful nature and the meaning of the liturgical texts, thereby heightening its efficacy and contributing to the greater glory of God, and rousing the minds of the faithful to a greater devotion. Pope Pius notes that this can even better dispose the souls of the faithful for “the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the most holy mysteries.” Thus it can be seen that music is no small part of the life of the Church.

Drawing from these principles, the Holy Father enumerates three primary qualities of good liturgical music. These qualities are sanctity, beauty, and universality.

1. Sanctity. Liturgical music should be holy or sacred because its very purpose is the worship of God. But what is it that makes music holy? Remember the saying of Augustine: “he who sings prays twice.” As was said before, liturgical music must be a kind of enhancement of the prayer itself. Prayer is essentially a lifting of the heart and mind to God. Now, music has the particular power of moving the emotions of man in a way which corresponds with the music itself. Thus, liturgical music ought to arouse in the listener those emotions which are most conducive to prayerful devotion. For example, it would be entirely improper for marching music to be played during the liturgy, for the passions aroused in such music are not helpful to the meditative nature of prayer. Rather, prayer is made with a serene and tranquil disposition. Thus, liturgical music ought to imitate the passions associated with such a disposition, and in this way it will be better able to aid the faithful in their participation in the Church’s prayer.

2. Beauty. The music must have an intrinsic goodness of form and must be sung with artistic excellence. St. Thomas teaches that beauty consists in three things: integrity, proportion, and clarity. Integrity implies a kind of perfection and wholeness, a conformity of a thing to its nature. Music, then, must not depart from the rational bounds imposed on it by nature, it being an inherently human thing, a product of man’s rational creative powers. Thus, because music has the peculiar power of moving the emotions, it ought to do so in a way that is consistent with reason. Proportion implies a kind of order, symmetry, or harmony in a thing, such that it is ultimately without chaos or anarchy, that all its parts come together as a single harmonious whole, that it be properly ordered to its ends, and so forth. Proportion applies to music in a very special way, since one of the essential components of music is harmony, the relationship between different pitches on the musical scale. There is a very ordered mathematical relationship between the different pitches, which determines what is or isn’t proper musical harmony. Beautiful music must be harmonious. Clarity implies a certain brightness, such that the object radiates in such a way that shows its perfection and harmony. Clarity is often defined as the splendor of the form. It is thus the most important element of beauty, for a beautiful thing must first be perfect, but must more importantly show that it is perfect. This manifestation of perfection is the primary element of beauty that incites pleasure in the mind that beholds it. Beautiful music shows forth the perfection of its nature, it makes it “shine” (albeit to the ears and not the eyes), so that the mind can easily grasp it and derive satisfaction from it. Music which is obscure, messy, ambiguous, or the like, cannot be beautiful.

3. Universality. Pope Pius explains that while each nation may be permitted to make use of musical forms which are particular to itself, these forms must nonetheless be subordinated to a form which is recognizable in all nations. The highest form of music used in the liturgy must be of a kind that is fit to be used in all places and for all times. This is important, because the Church is one and universal – that is what the name “Catholic” means, after all. Hence it is most fitting that her worship be universal, that all people in all times and places be able to participate in the same essential form of worship, without any substantial division between them. A Catholic visiting a foreign country ought to feel that he is still at home, when worshipping with fellow Catholics. Furthermore, it ought to be such that if one of the saints were to rise from the grave and worship with Catholics in the present day, he would easily recognize the liturgy as essentially the same one in which he himself participated in his time. This universality, this transcendence over all times and places, is a beautiful reflection of the transcendence of God Himself.

These are the essential qualities of Catholic liturgical music. After enumerating these qualities, Pope Pius X goes on to say:
These qualities are to be found, in the highest degree, in Gregorian Chant, which is, consequently the Chant proper to the Roman Church, the only chant she has inherited from the ancient fathers, which she has jealously guarded for centuries in her liturgical codices, which she directly proposes to the faithful as her own, which she prescribes exclusively for some parts of the liturgy… (emphasis mine).
1. Gregorian Chant is sacred. Gregorian Chant is most fittingly described as the music of prayer. It best imitates and arouses the meditative disposition, a quieting of the mind and imagination, so as to direct the focus on God. Chant of its nature avoids imitating the rapid movement of everyday activity, and its gentle, flowing rhythms are perfect echoes of the quiet motions of the heart which take place in meditative prayer. As such, it inspires in the heart those emotions and passions which are best conducive to devotion and prayer, and quiets those emotions which, being associated with the rapidity of external activity, can only hinder the inner recollection of the soul which is so necessary for prayer. Thus, Gregorian Chant is eminently sacred, and is best suited to liturgical worship. 
2. Gregorian Chant is beautiful. Gregorian Chant truly possesses the three characteristics of beauty. It has integrity, for it adheres ever so strictly to the rational form and finality imposed on it in its imitation of emotion: the expression of the emotions connected to devotion and prayer. Indeed, in so doing, it rises above the limits of simple nature, setting foot in the territory of the supernatural. This is perfection of the highest degree. Gregorian Chant has proportion, for although it is but a single line of music, it avoids all excesses of chromaticism and dissonance. Harmony need not be said to exist only between multiple notes played simultaneously, but also between the notes of a single melodic line. This harmony exists without a doubt in Gregorian Chant. And finally, Gregorian Chant has clarity. Of its nature, it is truly the music of prayer, as has been stated. But not only is this so, it is very clearly and intelligibly, indeed, radiantly, the music of prayer. No one, upon walking into a grocery store and hearing Gregorian Chant being played from the speakers, would for a moment think that such music is fitting for such a setting: it belongs in the Church. But the Chant has clarity in another way as well, for if one examines its place in the particular parts of the liturgy, one observes that it is always composed in such a way that brings out the nature of the particular prayer to which it is attached, thus adding to its own beauty and the beauty of the liturgy as a whole.
3. Gregorian Chant is universal. Because it is sung primarily in Latin, it has acquired a truly universal character; for Latin is the universal language of the Church, as Pope John XXIII explains in Veterum Sapientia. But not only this, one observes that in the history of the Church, Gregorian Chant rose to the level of a musical form which accompanied the Church wherever she went. For centuries it has been sung in Churches all throughout the world. The Church has claimed it as her own music, a means which she herself has produced for the worship of God. Moreover, Gregorian Chant is possessed of a distinct musical character which transcends all others, being in itself quite independent of them; an ideal, a paradigm, to which all other forms of music have the ability to imitate in some way, while retaining some degree of their own qualities.
Because Gregorian Chant possesses in an eminent degree these three qualities of liturgical music, Pope Pius declares it to be the supreme model of all sacred music, and that
the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.
Hence, while other forms of music may be permitted in the liturgy, they must always be made to imitate Gregorian Chant. In the western Church, special place is given to renaissance polyphony, which is very well imitative of Chant in its character, and indeed, has the origin of its history in the Chant itself.
Good music is a very great necessity for good liturgy, when it makes use of music. Hence it is crucial that, today, in order to restore the liturgy to its former beauty, liturgical music also be restored. This is because music serves as a genuine enhancement of liturgical beauty, thereby contributing to greater glorification of God.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Bishop Challoner - The Mass is a Sacrifice

The following is taken from the Daily Meditations of Bishop Challoner. 


Consider first, that the blessed Eucharist is not only a sacrament, in which we receive the body and blood of Christ for the food and nourishment of our souls, but is also a sacrifice, in which the same body and blood of Christ is offered up to God, in remembrance of his death and passion, for the honour and glory of God, in thanksgiving for all his benefits, to obtain pardon for all our sins, and race in all our necessities. Sacrifice is a sovereign act of religious worship due to God alone, inasmuch as it testifies by the oblation made to him, that he is the sovereign Lord of all things, the master of life and death, our first beginning and last end. Now, from the beginning of the world, the children of God were accustomed to offer sacrifices to him, and this was the solemn worship in which they met together, to join in paying their homage and adoration to him. In the old law a great variety of these sacrifices was prescribed, of burnt-offerings, of sin-offerings, of peace-offerings, &c., but all these were but figures and imperfect shadows of the great sacrifice which was reserved for the law of grace, and which we celebrate in the blessed Eucharist; a sacrifice in which the Son of God himself in both priest and victim.

Consider 2ndly, that as the law of Moses was to give way to the law of Christ, of which it was a figure; and the priesthood of the sons of Aaron was to yield to him that is a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech; so all these ancient sacrifices of the old law, which were but figures and shadows, were to make way for the new sacrifice of Christs's institution; which is no other than that of his own body and blood, not as prefigured by the flesh and blood of calves or lambs, but as exhibited in truth, once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, daily to the end of the world, in an unbloody manner, on our altars, under the forms of bread and wine, agreeable to the priesthood and sacrifice of Melchisdech, which he offered in bread and wine, Gen. xiv. 18. Hence, in the thirty-ninth Psalm, spoken in the person of Christ, the sacrifice of his own body is substituted in the place of all those ancient victims, in these words. 'Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire, but thou hast fitted a body to me (for so St. Paul reads it, Heb. x. 5.) Burnt-offering and sin-offering thou didst not require, than said I, Behold, I come.' and this new sacrifice of the Christian church, this clean-offering, which should be 'offered in every place among the Gentiles,' is foretold (Malachi I. 11), and there accepted of by the Lord, at the same time that he declares he will receive no more of the Jewish sacrifices, v. 10.

Consider 3rdly, that this great sacrifice of the Eucharist essentially consists in the consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, and in the offering up of the same body and blood to God; by the ministry of the priest, as a perpetual memorial of the sacrifice of the cross, and a continuation of the same to the end of the world. For, by the separate consecration of the bread into the body of Christ, and of the wine into his blood, performed by the priest, in the name and person of Christ, our great high priest, Christ Jesus, presents himself to his Father upon our altars, as slain for us, and his blood as shed for us, and under this figure of death offers up his own body and blood, to answer all the ends and intentions for which we ought to offer sacrifice to God. Not as if there were any deficiency, or insufficiency in the sacrifice of the cross, by which he completely redeemed us, and opened to us the fountain of all mercy, grace, and salvation, but that we might have in this eucharistic sacrifice a standing memorial of our redemption, a daily means of applying the fruit of it to our souls, a daily communion one with another, by joining together in the solemn worship of sacrifice as the children of God had always done from the beginning, and daily means of uniting ourselves in thee mysteries with our high priest and victim, Christ Jesus, and of coming to God with him and through him.

Conclude to frequent daily this means of salvation, which our Lord has prepared for us in the eucharistic sacrifice; admire and adore the wonders of the power and goodness of God, manifested to us therein, and resolve to correspond with them by faith, hope, and love.

Propers for the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

INTROIT Ps. 26:1, 2
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Mine enemies that have troubled me have themselves been weakened and have fallen.
Ps. 26:3. If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.
V. Glory be . . .

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that the world may be regulated in its course by Thy governance for our peace, and that Thy Church may with tranquil devotion rejoice. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE Rom. 8:18-23
Brethren: I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us. For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity: not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope. Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit: even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

GRADUAL Ps. 78:9, 10
Forgive us our sins, O Lord. lest the Gentiles should at any time say, "Where is their God?"
V. Help us, O God, our Savior; and for the honor of Thy Name, O Lord, deliver us.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 9:5
O God, who sittest upon the throne, and judgest justice, be Thou the refuge of the poor in tribulation. Alleluia!

GOSPEL Luke 5:1-11
At that time, when the multitudes pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them and were washing their nets. And going into one of the ships that was Simon's, he desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting, he taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when he had ceased to speak, he said to Simon: "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught." 
And Simon answering said to him: "Master, we have laboured all the night and have taken nothing: but at thy word I will let down the net." And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes: and their net broke. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking.
Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: "Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men." And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him.

Enlighten mine eyes, that I never sleep in death, lest at any time mine enemy say, "I have prevailed against him."

Accept our oblations, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and be appeased by them, and mercifully compel even our rebel wills to turn to Thee. Through our Lord . . .

The Lord is my firmament, and my refuge, and my deliverer, my God is my helper.

May the Mysteries which we have received, we beseech Thee, O Lord, purify us, and fulfill their purpose by defending us. Through our Lord . . .

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Desire for Eternal Life

"It is said that there is in Purgatory a special suffering, called the pain of languishing, for those souls who, while on earth, had little desire for Heaven. This is as it should be, for one shows small appreciation for the beautiful and eternal kingdom which Our Redeemer purchased for us by His death if he desires it but little. Therefore, Loving Souls, never forget to sigh often for Heaven, while saying to your God that it seems as if a thousand years separate you from the day on which you will see and love Him face to face. Develop a great longing to leave this land of exile, this place full of sin and fraught with danger of losing His divine grace: a great longing to come to that land of love where you will love Him with all your strength." 
-- St. Alphonsus Liguori

"My child, when you feel the desire for everlasting happiness poured out upon you from above, and when you long to depart out of the tabernacle of the body that you may contemplate My glory without threat of change, open wide your heart and receive this holy inspiration with all eagerness. Give deepest thanks to the heavenly Goodness which deals with you so understandingly, visits you so mercifully, stirs you so fervently, and sustains you so powerfully lest under your own weight you sink down to earthly things. For you obtain this not by your own thought or effort, but simply by the condescension of heavenly grace and divine regard."
-- Thomas Kempis

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Traditions: Big "T" and Little "t"

A distinction is often made between Tradition and tradition, and I have seen this distinction used in arguments  attacking the position of traditionalists. Essentially the point is this: that Tradition (big "T") is irreformable, while tradition (small "t") is changeable. Traditionalists are criticized for rejecting the fact that the smaller traditions can change. Hence their stubborn refusal to accept such things as the New Mass and other innovations. 

As a traditionalist myself, I actually have no problem with this distinction in itself, for there really and truly is a difference here. Big "T" tradition, also called Divine Tradition, is that Tradition which constitutes a remote rule of faith for Catholics, next to and equal to the authority of the scriptures themselves. This Tradition is intrinsic to the Deposit of Faith. But small "t" traditions, on the other hand, are those traditions which are not intrinsic to the Deposit of Faith, for example, liturgy and discipline. Hence they are called "extrinsic" or "ecclesiastical" traditions. Fr. Chad Ripperger makes this distinction in his article Operative Points of View, which I highly recommend. 

However, as can be deduced from Fr. Ripperger's explanation, the Divine and ecclesiastical traditions are not strictly speaking separable from each other. In fact, the smaller traditions are inherently directed to the purpose of preserving the Deposit of Faith itself in the minds of the faithful. Thus, there is in fact a very intimate connection between the two kinds of tradition. The smaller traditions develop always as a means of expressing the larger Tradition, and are always built upon it as on a foundation. 

From this it can be drawn that, while the extrinsic tradition is inherently more changeable than the intrinsic Tradition, nevertheless the extent and manner in which it may be changed is governed strictly by certain principles deriving from its intimate connection with the Divine Tradition. Thus, while it is a legitimate distinction, the distinction is not so stark that the two kinds of tradition are independent of one another. 

One of the distinctive marks of the traditionalist movement is its insistence that the smaller traditions of the Church be restored, and that we return to the organic process of development by which they have formed over the centuries. This means there must be a return to the principles by which this tradition must develop. These principles consist in the extrinsic tradition's close connection to the intrinsic Tradition, that it is a means of preserving it and keeping it alive in the thought and practices of the faithful. In application, this means that a radical change or abandonment of the smaller traditions will probably result in an abandonment of the greater Tradition itself, in the minds of the faithful. And indeed, this is exactly what has happened in the Church today. Whether mainstream Catholics are aware of it or not, they are no longer living in the extrinsic traditions of the Church. As a consequence, there has been a massive loss of faith itself. 

This is why it is possible to say that tradition in general - whether it is the Divine Tradition or the ecclesiastical tradition - is what constitutes a rule or standard of orthodoxy for Catholics. Obviously if one adheres to the Divine Tradition one's faith will not fail. But there is a logical connection between the Divine Tradition and the extrinsic tradition such that chances are one's faith will be much better safeguarded by embracing the smaller tradition as well. And indeed, this is the very purpose for which the Church has ever had the smaller traditions. 

An application of this principle is the oft-quoted-by-traditionalists maxim, lex orandi lex credendi: the rule of prayer is the rule of belief. Specifically, this is an application to the liturgy, which is one of the prime examples of a small "t" tradition which is intimately connected to the Divine Tradition. While the liturgy as such is not part of the Divine Tradition, it is nonetheless the Church's prime expression of the Faith in the worship of God. It is only logical, then, that in practice the strength of faith of the people has corresponded with the worthiness of their prayer; and this is true with regard to liturgical prayer as well. The traditions of liturgical prayer corresponded with the Tradition they expressed. And as is observable in today's Church, the degree to which the faithful have embraced the traditions of the liturgy has corresponded with their embrace of the Tradition itself. Today, both traditions have quite deteriorated in the minds and lives of the faithful, and unsurprisingly so.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Garrigou-Lagrange on the Nature of Charity

The following is taken from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's Three Ages of the Interior Life.


The signs of the progress of charity are deduced from its very nature. Scripture tells us in several places that the just man is the "friend of God." (3) St. Thomas,(4) explaining 'these words of Scripture, shows us that charity is essentially a love of friendship we should have for God because of His infinite goodness which radiates on us, vivifying us and drawing us to Himself.

Every true friendship, St. Thomas tells us, implies three qualities: it is first of all a love of benevolence by which a man wishes good to another, as to himself; in this it differs from the love of concupiscence or of covetousness, by which one desires a good for oneself, as one desires a fruit or the bread necessary to subsistence. We ought to wish our friends the good which is suitable for them, and we should wish that God may reign profoundly over minds and hearts.

Moreover, every true friendship presupposes a love of mutual benevolence; it is not sufficient that it exist on the part of one person only. The two friends should wish each other well. And the more elevated the good which they wish each other, the more noble is this friendship. It is based on virtue when friends wish each other not only what is pleasant or useful like the goods of earth and fortune, but what is virtuous - fidelity to duty, progress in the love of moral and spiritual good.

Lastly, to constitute a true friendship, this mutual love of benevolence does not suffice. We may, in fact, have benevolence for a person at a distance, whom we know only through hearsay, and that person may have the same benevolence for us; we are not, however, friends for that reason. Friendship requires in addition a community of life (convivere). It implies that people know each other, love each other, live together, spiritually at least, by the exchange of most secret thoughts and feelings. Friendship thus conceived tends to a very close union of thought, feeling, willing, prayer, sacrifice, and action.

These three characters of true friendship - the love of benevolence, mutual love, and community of life - are precisely found in the charity which unites us to God and to souls in Him.

The natural inclination which already subsists in the depths of our will, in spite of original sin, inclines us to love God, the Author of our nature, more than ourselves and above all, as in an organism the part loves the whole more than itself, as the hand exposes itself naturally to preserve the body and especially the head.(5) But this natural inclination, attenuated by original sin, cannot, without the grace which heals (gratia sanans), lead us to an efficacious love of God above all things.(6)

Far above this natural inclination, we received in baptism sanctifying grace and charity with faith and hope. And charity is precisely this love of mutual benevolence which makes us wish God, the Author of grace, the good that is suitable to Him, His supreme reign over souls, as He wishes our good for time and eternity. Such a desire is indeed a friendship based on community of life, for God has communicated to us a participation in His intimate life by giving us grace, the seed of eternal life.(7) By grace, we are "born of God," as we read in the prologue of St. John's Gospel; we resemble God as children resemble their father. And this community of life implies a permanent union, which is at times only habitual, for example, during sleep; at others, when we make an act of love of God, it is actual. Then there is truly community of life, the meeting of the paternal love of God for His child, and of the love of the child for the Father who vivifies it and blesses it. This is especially true when, by a special inspiration, the Lord inclines us to an act of infused love, which we could not make with common, actual grace. There is a spiritual communion, the prelude of the spiritual communion of heaven, which will no longer be measured by time, but by the indivisible instant of changeless eternity.

Such is indeed the friendship with God which begins on earth. Because Abraham had this love, he was called the friend of God. For the same reason the Book of Wisdom tells us that the just man lives in the divine friendship, and Christ says: "I will not now call you servants. . . but I have called you friends." By his analysis of the distinctive marks of friendship, St. Thomas only explains these divine words; he does not deduce a new truth; he explains revealed truth and enables us to penetrate it deeply.(8)

Charity, even in its least degree, makes us love God more than ourselves and more than His gifts with an efficacious love of esteem, because God is infinitely better than we and than every created gift. Efficacious love of esteem is not always felt, for example, in aridity; and at the beginning it has not yet the intensity or spontaneity that it has in the perfect, and especially in the blessed. A good Christian mother feels her love for her child, whom she holds in her arms, more than her love for God, whom she does not see; yet, if she is truly Christian, she loves the Lord with an efficacious love of esteem more than her child. For this reason, theologians distinguish commonly between appreciative love (love of esteem) and intensive love, which is generally greater for loved ones whom we see than for those who are at a distance. But, with the progress of charity, the love of esteem for God becomes more intense and is known as zeal; in heaven its impetuosity will exceed that of all our strongest affections.

Such is the nature of the virtue of charity; it is the principle of a love of God that is like the flowing of our hearts toward Him who draws us and vivifies us. Thus we ultimately find a great gratification in Him, desiring that He may reign more and more profoundly in our souls and in the souls of others. For this love of God, knowledge is not necessary; to know our heavenly Father through faith suffices. We cannot cease to love Him without beginning our own destruction, and we can cease to love Him by any mortal sin.

The efficacious love of esteem of God above all else, which may subsist in great aridity of the sensible faculties, is very much opposed to sentimentality, which is the affectation of a love one does not have.

Since such is the nature of charity, what are the indications of its progress? There are, first of all, the signs of the state of grace: 1) not to be conscious of any mortal sin; 2) not to seek earthly things, pleasures, wealth, honors; 3) to take pleasure in the presence of God, to love to think of Him, adore Him, pray to Him, thank Him, ask His pardon, talk to Him, aspire to Him. (9) To these signs must be added the following: 4) to wish to please God more than all those whom one loves; 5) to love one's neighbor effectively, in spite of the defects which are in him, as they are in us, and to love him because he is the child of God and is beloved by Him. Then one loves God in one's neighbor, and one's neighbor in God. Christ says: "By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another." (10)

These signs are summed up in St. Paul's words: "Charity is patient, is kind; charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (11)

Happy is the heart that loves God in this manner, without any other pleasure than that which it has in pleasing God! If the soul is faithful, it will one day taste the delights of this love and take an unequaled happiness in Him who is limitless good, the infinite plenitude of good, into which the soul may plunge and lose itself as in a spiritual ocean without ever meeting with any obstacle. Thus the just man begins to love God with a love of esteem (appreciative love) above all things, and he tends to love Him above all intensively with the ardent zeal which perseveres in aridity in the midst of trials and persecutions.

3. In the Book of Judith (8:22), Abraham is called the friend of God. Wisdom (7:27) says that the just man lives in the divine friendship. And Christ especially tells us: "I will not now call you servants. . . but I have called you friends."
4. Cf. IIa IIae, q.23, a.1.
5. Cf. St. Thomas, Ia, q.60, a.5; IIa IIae, q.26, a.3. See also St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on tbe Love of God, Bk. I, chaps. 9, 16-18.
6. Summa, Ia IIae, q.109, a.3.
7. In supernatural attrition which, with the sacrament of penance, justifies the soul, there is an initial love of benevolence, according to many theologians; but there is not yet community of life, the convivere, for there is not the state of grace.
8. St. Thomas shows that therein lies the essence of charity.
9. In Ia IIae, q. 112, a.5, St. Thomas speaks of these signs, and he adds others in the Contra Gentes, Bk. IV, chaps. 21 f. Among these last signs, St. Thomas enumerates the following: "To converse with one's friend, to delight in his presence, to be of one mind with one's friend through conformity of will, the liberty of the sons of God is in this conformity, most willingly to speak of God or to hear the word of God."
10. John 13:35.
11. Cf. I Cor. 13:4-7.