Sunday, 29 September 2013

Dom Lehodey - On Confidence in God

Taken from the book Holy Abandonment.



"THE human will is so amazingly suspicious that as a rule it trusts none but itself, and it is always in fear of prejudice to itself from the will and power of others. Anything we possess of particular value, our fortune, our honour, reputation, health, life itself, we refuse to commit to the care of another unless we are sure we can depend on him. For the practice of charity and of holy abandonment we must therefore have the fullest confidence in God." 1 Hence, perfect abandonment, as a habit, cannot be found outside the unitive way, because there alone confidence in God attains its highest development. 

Human wisdom is very short-sighted, and the human will very weak, changeable, and subject to a thousand failings. Consequently, instead of trusting to our own lights and distrusting all others, even God, we should rather supplicate and importune Him to cause His will to be done and not ours. For "His will is good, good in itself and beneficent to us, good as the good God and, I dare to say it, necessarily beneficent." 2 

Who is He That watches over us with solicitous love and disposes of us by His Providence? It is the good God. He is so good that He is essential Goodness and Charity Itself, and in this sense "none is good but God alone" (Luke xviii, 19). There have been Saints who participated to a wonderful degree in the Divine goodness. Nevertheless, even the very best of men have possessed only a rill, or a stream, or at most a river of goodness, whereas God is the ocean of all goodness, goodness limitless and inexhaustible. When He has poured out upon us benefits almost innumerable, let no one think Him either wearied from giving or impoverished by His munificence. He has still an entire infinitude of goodness to dispense. In truth, the more He gives away the richer He becomes, for He gains the glory of being better known, loved, and served, at least by generous hearts. He is good to us: "He maketh His sun to rise upon the good and the bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust" (Matt. v, 45). He never ceases from giving us proofs of His goodness, opposing to the multitude of our sins "the multitude of His tender mercies" in order by His goodness to conquer our malice. Sometimes He has to punish, because He is not alone infinitely good but infinitely just also, yet "even in His anger He is not unmindful of His mercy" (Hab. iii, 2). 

This God, so infinitely good, is our Father Who is in Heaven. Just as He delights in this title of "the good God," and recalls to us His ancient mercies over and over again; in the same way He loves to proclaim Himself our Father. Because He is so great and holy and we so little and sinful, we might well have been afraid to approach Him. Therefore, to win our confidence and our affection He never tires of repeating in Sacred Scripture that He is our Father and the Father of mercies. It is "from Him all paternity in Heaven and earth is named" (Ephes. iii, 15), and there is no father like our Father in Heaven. He is a father in His devotedness, a mother in His tenderness. There is nothing on earth comparable to a mother's heart for self-forgetfulness, profound affection, and inexhaustible mercifulness; hence, nothing that inspires so much confidence and abandonment. And yet God's tenderness for us immeasurably surpasses that of the best of mothers. "Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee" (Is. xlix, 15). What can He refuse us "Who hath so loved the world as to give us His Only-begotten Son?" (John iii, 16). He knows well, much better than we, what we require for soul and body; and He commands us to ask it of Him, and only reproves us for not asking enough. Nor will He give a stone to His child when he asks Him for bread. And if He sometimes has to exercise severity in order to prevent us from ruining ourselves, it is always the love of the Father that wields the rod. He measures the force of each blow, and when He judges the chastisement sufficient dries our tears and pours soothing balm into our wounds. Let us have confidence in God's love for us, and never doubt His Heart of a Father. 

He Who watches over us is our Redeemer. He is more than brother, more than the dearest and best of friends, for He is the physician of our souls, our own official Saviour. He is come to "save His people from their sins" (Matt. i, 21), to cure their spiritual maladies, to bring us "life and a more abundant life" (John x, 10), to enkindle on earth the fire of Divine charity (Luke xii, 49). To save us: there is His task, His mission, His essential purpose. To succeed in this mission and purpose: there is His glory, His happiness. Can He be otherwise than interested in us? His life of hardships and humiliations, His Body furrowed with wounds, His Soul saturated with sorrow, Calvary and the Altar: everything about Him shows to what follies His love for us has led Him. Assuredly He has bought us at a great price (1 Cor. vi, 20). How could we have cost Him more? And in whom, then, shall we put our trust if not in our sweet Saviour, without Whom we should be lost? Is He not besides the Spouse of our souls? Devoted, tender, and merciful towards everyone, He cherishes with a special predilection those who have left all things in order to attach themselves to Him alone. He makes it His delight to keep them near Him in the tabernacle, and to live with them in the sweetest of intimacies. 

"When you find yourself in affliction," says De la Colombiere, "remember that the cause of your trouble is He Who willed to pass His whole life in pain in order to save you from eternal pains; He Whose Angel is always at your side, by His order watching over your ways; He Who on our altars prays without ceasing and sacrifices Himself a thousand times a day in your interest; He Who comes to you in the Sacrament of the Eucharist with so much goodness; He Who has no greater pleasure than to unite Himself with you, to converse with you. But you will say: 'He smites me cruelly and lays His hand heavily on me.' How can you feel afraid of a hand that has been pierced for you and permitted itself for your sake to be fastened to the Cross? 'He makes me walk along a thorny path.' If there was no other path leading to Heaven, would you rather perish for eternity than suffer for a time? Is not this the same path which He has travelled before you and for love of you? Do you find in it a single thorn that has not been crimsoned with His Blood? 'He offers me a chalice full of bitterness.' Yes, but remember it is your Saviour Who offers it. Loving you so dearly, how could He have the heart to treat you with this severity unless He saw it was immensely profitable to you or urgently necessary?" 3 

Being so good and holy, He never exercises His influence upon us except for the noblest and most beneficent objects. His end is and must immutably remain the glory of God. " 'The Lord hath made all things for Himself and His Own glory' (Prov. xvi, 4), as Sacred Scripture tells us. But let us not complain of that, because the glory of God is nothing else than His joy in giving us eternal joy, His happiness in making us eternally happy . . . The universe having for its primary end the glorification of God through the beatification of the rational creature, it follows that the secondary end of all things, at least on the earth, is the Catholic Church, as the Mother of Salvation. All terrestrial events, all, even persecutions, are willed or permitted by God for the benefit of the Church. And in the Church herself everything is regulated with a view to the profit of the elect, since here on earth the glory of God is identified with man's salvation. Hence we must conclude that a further end of the evolutions and revolutions occurring here below is the attainment by the elect of their eternal destiny. And perhaps we shall see in Heaven how whole countries have been put in commotion for the salvation of some of the elect.  . . . Is it not wonderful to contemplate God governing the universe with the exclusive object of making us happy and rejoicing in our joy?" 4 

Therefore, God's will is the sanctification of souls. Always and everywhere, this is the work that exclusively occupies Him. It is the purpose underlying all the occurrences, great and small, which agitate in different ways nations, families, and the lives of individuals. It explains why God wills that I should be sick today, contradicted, humbled, forgotten; why He has prepared this happy event for me, faced me with this difficulty, caused me to hurt my foot against this stone, exposed me to this temptation. It is His love for me, His desire of my happiness that regulates all His actions. With what confidence and docility we should submit and correspond to His guidance if we better understood His merciful ways! The more so when we remember that He has always infinite power and infinite wisdom employed in the service of His paternal goodness. He knows the particular end appointed for each soul, the degree of glory He has destined for her in Heaven, the measure of sanctity He has prepared for her. In order that she may attain her end and become perfect, He knows what paths she must follow, what trials she must endure, what humiliations undergo. His Providence has control of the myriad events which make up the course of our earthly existence, and directs them all to the appointed end. On the side of God, with Whom rests ultimately the disposal of all things, there is nothing but light, wisdom, grace, love and salvation. Now, by reason of His infinite power He can do whatever He wills. He is the Sovereign Master "Who holdeth the power of life and death, Who leadeth down to the gates of death and bringeth back again" (Wisdom xvi, 13). We experience alternations of sunshine and shadow, times of peace and times of affliction, prosperity and adversity: all this comes from Him. There is no event whatsoever over which His will does not preside as sovereign mistress. Everything falls out in accordance with His free ordinances. When He decrees to save Israel there is none who can resist His will, none who can make Him alter His purpose. For "against the Lord there is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel" (Prov. xxi, 30). 

It is true that in disposing of His rational creatures He respects their liberty. They have consequently the power to oppose their own wills to His will and apparently to thwart it. But in reality he has foreseen from all eternity the resistance of some and the submission of others, and He has formed His designs in the light of that prescience. In the infinite resources of His omnipotent wisdom He easily finds a way to change hindrances into helps, and to make the plots which demons and wicked men contrive for our ruin a means to our progress in virtue. "My counsel shall stand," so He speaks through Isaias, "and all My will shall be done" (Is. xlvi, 10). Your efforts, proud rebels, are all in vain, for God's will must be accomplished. He allows you in your actions to follow your free-will, until the time comes to render to everyone according to His works. But all the means you employ to frustrate His designs, He will know how to make subservient to their accomplishment. "Of what, then, can we be afraid? Rather what should we not hope for, being the children of so good a Father Who loves us and desires to save us, Who knows so well how to provide the most suitable means to that end and how best to put them in practice, Who manifests so much goodness in His ordinances, so much wisdom in His dispositions, so much prudence in the execution of His designs?" 5 

1. Le Gaudier, De perf. vitae spirit., p. iii, s. ii, c. xvii. 
2. Gay, op. cit., i.
3. Serm. sur la soum. à la vol. de Dieu. 
4. Desurmount, op. cit., c. iii.
5. St. Francis de Sales, Am. de Dieu, i, iv, c. viii.

Propers for the Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Let us all rejoice in the Lord as we celebrate the feast in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, upon which the angels rejoice and praise the Son of God.
Ps. 44:2. My heart overflows with good tidings; I sing my song to the king.
V. Glory be . . .

O God, Your only-begotten Son has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life by His life, death, and resurrection. May we who meditate on those mysteries in the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary imitate the virtues they proclaim and obtain the promises they offer. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord . . .

LESSON Prov. 8:22-24, 32-35
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made any thing from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old, before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived. Now, therefore, ye children, hear me: blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.

GRADUAL Ps. 44:5, 11, 12
For the sake of truth and meekness and justice, may your right hand lead you on wonderfully.
V. Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, for the king greatly desires your beauty.

Alleluia, alleluia! V.
This is the solemn feast of the glorious Virgin Mary, descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Juda, of the royal race of David. Alleluia!

GOSPEL Luke 1:26-38
At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end."
And Mary said to the angel: "How shall this be done, because I know not man?" And the angel answering, said to her: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren. Because no word shall be impossible with God." And Mary said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word."

OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Eccli. 24:25; 39:17
In me is all grace of the way and the truth; in me is all hope of life and virtue. Like a rose planted by the flowing stream I have budded forth.

Make us worthy to offer You these gifts, O Lord. May the mysteries of the holy rosary recall to our minds the life, passion, and triumph of Your only-begotten Son so that we may also reap the rewards which He has promised; who lives and rules with You . . .

Send forth flowers as the lily, and be fragrant; bring forth leaves in beauty, and with songs of praise bless the Lord in His works!

May Your most Blessed Mother, whose rosary we honor this day, o Lord, help us by her intercession so that we may be strengthened in virtue through the contemplation of these mysteries and the reception of Your Sacrament; who lives and rules with God the Father . . .

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Iota Unum - Critique of the Liturgical Reform

A passage from Romano Amerio's brilliant work, Iota Unum, in which he critiques the reforms and changes after Vatican II. In this particular passage from chapter thirty-eight, he critiques the principles of the liturgical reform. We can see here how the liturgical reform was in certain ways influenced by Modernism, which seeks to make religion a thing of self-expression.


The motivation underlying the reform combines various significant departures from traditional thinking, all of them connected with an incipient change in doctrine. 

The first change comes from supposing that the liturgy should give expression to the feelings of modern men, when in fact it is designed to express the timeless vision of the Church. Precisely because it is timeless, the Church's vision does include the mentality of contemporary men, but it is not restricted to it; the Church's mentality is not historical, but suprahistorical, and embraces the whole compass of every generation of Christians. According to the classic definition, repeated by the council, the liturgy is the priestly action of Christ and of his mystical body which is the Church: this gives rise to the public worship of God the Father. The priest action of Christ at Mass cannot happen without the action of an ordained priest; the priest given at baptism is utterly incapable of consecrating the Lord's Body which is the centre of the liturgy. This point of faith clearly reiterated in a document entitled Sacerdotium Ministeriale, put out by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in September 1983. Without a priest there can be no Eucharist and, in that sense, no public prayer of the Church, but conversely, a priest who celebrates Mass without a congregation is nonetheless fulfilling a "public and social" act. Mass is now coming to be thought of by some people not as an action essentially of the priest in persona Christi, but an action of the community, in the sense that the community not only offers the sacrifice together with the priest who effects it, but that the community co-offers and con-celebrates on an equal footing with the celebrant himself. 

All of this demonstrates that the new rite, as actually celebrated, has been influenced by theological schools of thought that weaken the special ontological status of the ordained priest, that attempt to enlarge the role of the people of God in worship at the expense of the sacred functions of the priest, that make the meeting of the people more important than the act of consecration, and that promote the subjectivization and thus the instability of the whole of Christian worship. In this view, the essence of divine worship is no longer the unchanging sacrament, and a consequently unchanging worship, but rather a changing set of human feelings that demand expression, and that stamp upon the liturgy the mentality and customs of different peoples. Thus the Church no longer aspires to a strict uniformity in rites but instead "looks favorably upon whatever is not strictly connected with superstition, and preserve it intact, if possible, and sometimes even introduces it into the liturgy itself."

The principle of creativity.

The new liturgy is thus psychological rather than ontological, subjective rather than objective, anthropological rather than theological, and expresses not so much a transcendent mystery as the feelings with which the people react to that mystery. The specific function of worship is to stimulate man's sense of the divine rather than to convey the reality of a divine gift; hence the congregation is more important than the eucharistic rite, and the laity more important than the priest.

This change in turn produces another, which might be described as the principle of liturgical creativity. According to this view, the people of God pour their own culture and their own spirit into the Church's rites, and the priest acts as the means of expressing all this in the celebration. The objectivity of the liturgy, which is a reflection of the absolute Object, must retreat before the importance of a human subject seeking self-expression. Sacrosantum Concilium distinguishes between a changeable and an unchangeable part of the liturgy, but without saying what the latter actually includes. If even the words of consecration are changed, it is hard to see just where the immutability of the liturgy lies. Of course, there has been change down the centuries in the changeable elements of the liturgy, but it has occurred cautiously, modestly, and prudently. The recent reform could certainly find antiquate elements in the liturgy, which were in nee of change. One example would be the Ember Days or Quarter Tense, now out of place in a Church that has spread to countries that have only two seasons, or again the prayer pr Christianissimo Imperatore in the liturgy of Good Friday. It was certainly time to abolish the oath taken by a bishop at his consecration not to murder, or conspire to murder, the pope; and this has been duly abolished. But it is one thing to change rites like this in order to accommodate them to conditions which have obviously changed, and quite another to lay down a general principle that the Church's rites ought to be dependent on the psychology, customs, or spirit of particular peoples, or even of private individuals.

The new liturgy legitimates and encourages the idea of creativity, even though creativity is not a legitimate concept even in artistic matters, because underlying all artistic invention there is something uncreated, indeed uncreatable. Firstly, there are hardly any binding rules in the new liturgy; at many points the celebrant is present with a range of options as to what he should say or do, from which he can choose freely. The idea of creativity does away with conditions and limits, and thus tends to remove the very idea of breaking the rules. This optional spirit means that every celebrant can adjust, add or omit, and thus create whatever form he finds most congenial; as if it were a case of expressing himself instead of adoring God, as if he had to give a form to the mystery, rather than conform himself to it. Hence the enormous variety in the celebration of Mass, which ought to be the same throughout the Catholic world....

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Propers for the Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

INTROIT Eccli. 36:18
Grant peace, O Lord, to those who wait for You, that Your prophets may be found faithful. Hear the prayers of Your servant of Your people Israel.
Ps. 121.1. I rejoice at the tidings which were told me, "We shall go into the house of the Lord."
V. Glory be . . .

O Lord, let Your mercy direct our hearts, for without You we can do nothing to please You. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE I Cor. 1:4-8
Brethren: I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus: That in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance and in all knowledge; As the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, So that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who also will confirm you unto the end without crime, in the days of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

GRADUAL Ps. 121:1, 7
I rejoiced at the tidings which were told me, "We shall go into the house of the Lord."
V. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your towers.

Alleluia, alleluia! V.
The nations shall revere Your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth shall reverence Your glory. Alleluia!

GOSPEL Matt. 9:1-8
At that time, Jesus entering into a boat, passed over the water and came into his own city. And behold they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: "Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee." And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: "He blasphemeth." And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: "Why do you think evil in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise, and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins," (then said he to the man sick of the palsy,) "Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house." And he arose, and went into his house. And the multitude seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to men.

Moses consecrated an altar to the Lord, offering holocausts on it, and sacrificing victims. He made an evening sacrifice to the Lord God for an odor of sweetness, in the sight of the children of Israel.

O God, who allows us to share in Your own divine nature by partaking of this sacrifice, grant that our conduct may be guided by Your revealed truth. Through our Lord . . .

Bring offerings, and enter his courts; worship the Lord in His holy temple.

We thank You, O Lord, for nourishing us with Your Sacred Gift. In Your mercy, make us worthy of the Sacrament we have received. Through our Lord . . .

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Pope Gregory XVI on False Reform

Pope Gregory XVI

A remarkable passage from Pope Gregory's encyclical Quo Graviora, in which he states that just because something in the Church is a discipline and not a doctrine does not mean that it is easily changeable:

“For many years there has been growing and spreading in this country the very false opinion, the result of the impious and absurd system of indifferentism, which holds that the Christian religion is capable of continually perfecting itself. And since the champions of this false opinion hesitate to apply this pretended perfectibility to the truths of faith, they do so to the external administration and discipline of the Church. And to give credit to their error they employ, for the most part not without inconsistency and fraud, the authority of Catholic theologians who, on occasion, establish this distinction between doctrine and discipline: that discipline is subject to change, doctrine remains always the same and is not subject to any modification. Once this is laid down, they state without any hesitation that on many points the discipline, the government, and the forms of external worship in use in the Church are no longer suitable to the character of our times, and that what is harmful to the progress and prosperity of the Catholic religion must be changed, (which is possible) without the teaching of faith and morals suffering any harm. Thus, under color of religious zeal and behind the mask of piety they introduce innovations, project reforms, devise a “regeneration” of the Church… Moreover, without realizing it, or pretending that they do not realize it, they are in direct contradiction to sound doctrine which they say they wish to reestablish and protect. For in fact, when they pretend that all the forms of the Church without distinction can be changed, are they not subjecting to this change those points of discipline which have their foundation in the divine law itself, which are joined to doctrines of faith by so close a bond that the rule of faith determines the rule of action?”

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Traditionalism and Disciplinary Infallibility

In the year 1794, Pope Pius VI wrote the bull Auctorem Fidei, in which he authoritatively condemned the errors of the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia, which had been convoked in 1786. Traditionalists are fond of quoting one of the condemned propositions in this bull, as it is very relevant to certain aspects of the current Modernist crisis which we are witnessing in the Church. The oft-quoted passage is as follows: 
The proposition of the synod by which it shows itself eager to remove the cause through which, in part, there has been induced a forget-fulness of the principles relating to the order of the liturgy, "by recalling it (the liturgy) to a greater simplicity of rites, by expressing it in the vernacular language, by uttering it in a loud voice"; as if the present order of the liturgy, received and approved by the Church, had emanated in some part from the forgetfulness of the principles by which it should be regulated,—rash, offensive to pious ears, insulting to the Church, favorable to the charges of heretics against it.
This passage is a resounding condemnation of certain tendencies which seem to have influence the creation of the Novus Ordo under Pope Paul VI. Essentially, it is a condemnation of the proposition that the received and approve liturgy of the Church must not be rejected; and this is precisely what seems to have happened, in practice, with the creation of the New Mass. 

However, there is another passage in the very same document which I think traditionalists tend to overlook, and as a result they get carried away when they criticize the New Mass. Canon number 78 of the bull condemns the idea that the Church could ever establish a discipline which is harmful or dangerous:
The prescription of the synod about the order of transacting business in the conferences, in which, after it prefaced "in every article that which pertains to faith and to the essence of religion must be distinguished from that which is proper to discipline," it adds, "in this itself (discipline) there is to be distinguished what is necessary or useful to retain the faithful in spirit, from that which is useless or too burden-some for the liberty of the sons of the new Covenant to endure, but more so, from that which is dangerous or harmful, namely, leading to superstitution and materialism"; in so far as by the generality of the words it includes and submits to a prescribed examination even the discipline established and approved by the Church, as if the Church which is ruled by the Spirit of God could have established discipline which is not only useless and burdensome for Christian liberty to endure, but which is even dangerous and harmful and leading to superstition and materialism,—false, rash, scandalous, dangerous, offensive to pious ears, injurious to the Church and to the Spirit of God by whom it is guided, at least erroneous.
The traditional theological opinion holds that the Church is infallible in matters of faith and morals. But she also enjoys the gift of infallibility when she prescribes disciplinary measures for the universal Church. What this means is that the disciplines which the Church establishes cannot possibly contain anything that is contrary to true doctrine. From this it would have to follow that she could not establish any discipline that would by its nature lead people away from the true faith and towards the destruction of their souls. Given this teaching, how can the traditionalist critique of the New Mass stand? 

The theologian Van Noort, in the second volume of his manual on Dogmatic Theology, offers some insight when he speaks of the infallibility of the Church:
By the term “general discipline of the Church” are meant those ecclesiastical laws passed for the universal Church for the direction of Christian worship and Christian living. Note the italicized words: ecclesiastical laws, passed for the universal Church.

The imposing of commands belongs not directly to the teaching office but to the ruling office; disciplinary laws are only indirectly an object of infallibility, i.e., only by reason of the doctrinal decision implicit in them. When the Church's rulers sanction a law, they implicitly make a twofold judgment: 1. “This law squares with the Church's doctrine of faith and morals”; that is, it imposes nothing that is at odds with sound belief and good morals.  This amounts to a doctrinal decree. 2. “This law, considering all the circumstances, is most opportune.” This is a decree of practical judgment.

Although it would be rash to cast aspersions on the timeliness of a law, especially at the very moment when the Church imposes or expressly reaffirms it, still the Church does not claim to be infallible in issuing a decree of practical judgment. For the Church's rulers were never promised the highest degree of prudence for the conduct of affairs. But the Church is infallible in issuing a doctrinal decree as intimated above — and to such an extent that it can never sanction a universal law which would be at odds with faith or morality or would be by its very nature conducive to the injury of souls.

The Church's infallibility in disciplinary matters, when understood in this way, harmonizes beautifully with the mutability of even universal laws. For a law, even though it be thoroughly consonant with revealed truth, can, given a change in circumstances, become less timely or even useless, so that prudence may dictate its abrogation or modification.
Soon afterwards, Van Noort cites none other than the authority of Pope Pius VI in Auctorem Fidei, in defense of this explanation.

This passage contains much important information. First, it is important that although a disciplinary law for the universal Church cannot be contrary to the faith, nonetheless it may not be the best law that prudence demands for a particular situation. Thus, it is possible to maintain that a given disciplinary law, while not being contrary to faith, is indeed very imprudent. Normally, of course, one shouldn't even have to question the prudence of a law of the Church; to do so could only ever be condoned under the rarest circumstances (such as we are witnessing today). The standard by which the prudence of the Church ought to be exercised is evident in her very rich tradition. Hence, one oughtn't to lightly dismiss the traditionalist critique as completely devoid of plausibility. It is possible to maintain this position (albeit there are many variants of it) while not ignoring the disciplinary infallibility of the Church, if it be recognized that the Novus Ordo was not an error in doctrine, but in prudence. 

The fact that the texts and prayers of the new liturgy contain many ambiguities in their expression of doctrine, as well as the fact that they have suppressed the traditional prayers with all their doctrinal clarity and spiritual depth, does not in fact indicate anything which is contrary to Catholic doctrine. One could go through each and every prayer of the new mass and see that nothing expressed in it is actually false or contrary to the faith, only that much has been suppressed and watered down. But this amounts only to a deficient prudential judgment on the part of the Church, not a deficient doctrinal judgment: the Church has not made a judgment of doctrine which is in any way contrary to the truth. Thus, any grounds for (respectful) resistance towards the Magisterium must be founded not on doctrinal reasons primarily, but upon prudential reasons: that the Church has not exercised the best prudential judgment in creating a liturgy which expresses Catholic doctrine in a weak manner and with minimal spiritual depth. Doctrine does enter the question of course, but in an indirect manner. Throughout these debates it must always be recognized that the Church has not and could not deny or contradict a single one of her own teachings, even if, perhaps, she has not done her best to teach them. If the Novus Ordo should be abrogated (which is itself a matter for debate), this cannot be on doctrinal grounds per se, but on prudential grounds.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Propers for the Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost


Ps. 118:137, 124
You are just, O Lord, and Your judgment is right. Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy.
Ps. 118:1. Blessed are they who are undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
V. Glory be . . .

O Lord, keep Your people from falling under the influence of the devil, and let our hearts follow You, our only God, that they may remain pure. Through our Lord . . .

O God, You filled the blessed confessor John with a wondrous zeal to spread the faith among pagans, and through him You established in Your Church a new congregation to instruct the faithful. Grand that his teachings may lead us, Your servants, to the reward of eternal life.

O God, You sent Rusticus and Eleutherius to join blessed Denis in preaching Your glorious name to the pagans, and on this day You so strengthened this martyr bishop in virtue that he was able to endure martyrdom courageously. May we follow the example of Your saints for love of You and spurn the pleasures of the world, without fearing to face any of its trials. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE Eph. 4:1-6
Brethren: I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called: With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity. Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one Spirit: as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all, who is blessed forever and ever. Amen.

GRADUAL Ps. 32:12, 6
Blessed the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen for His inheritance!
V. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all the celestial bodies thereof were created.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 101:2
O Lord, hear my prayer and let my cry come unto You. Alleluia!

GOSPEL Matt. 22:34-46
At that time, the Pharisees, hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together. And one of them, a doctor of the law, asked him, tempting him: "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"
Jesus said to him: " 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind.' This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets."
And the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying: "What think you of Christ? Whose son is he?" They say to him: "David's." He saith to them: "How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying: 'The Lord said to my Lord: Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool?' If David then call him 'Lord,' how is he his son?" And no man was able to answer him a word: neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Dan. 9:17, 18, 19
I, Danial, prayed to my God, saying, "Hear, O Lord, the prayers of Your servant; show Your face upon Your sanctuary, and look down favorably upon this people upon whom Your name is invoked, O God."

We humbly implore Your majesty, O Lord, to grant us, through the sacred rite that we here celebrate, pardon for our sins of the past and preservation from sin in the future. Through our Lord . . .

Make vows and fulfill them to the Lord your God, all you round about Him who bring gifts; to the awesome God who destroys the pride of princes, to Him who is awesome among all the kings of the earth.

Almighty God, may the grace of this Sacrament cure our sinfulness and be an everlasting remedy for our weakness. Through our Lord . . .

Friday, 13 September 2013

Tradition and the Immutability of the Church

The Catholic Church as founded by Christ is essentially immutable in her constitution. This is the doctrine of the indefectibility of the Church, according to which it is impossible for the Church to depart from the path which Christ set out for her when He was on earth. It is impossible for the Church to fail in the carrying out of those functions which are most essential to her. This means that the Church could never change her doctrines or the meaning of them. The Church must always keep intact the deposit of faith. The Church could never teach or approve anything which would lead to the destruction of souls. The Church could never pass beyond the limits of the authority and power conferred upon her by Christ. 

Divine tradition (often called “big-T” Tradition) is the sign of this essential immutability of the Church. Thus, tradition in this sense is itself immutable. The development of doctrinal understanding does not constitute any kind of real change in the doctrines contained in divine tradition. The dogmas themselves remain always the same, and it is impossible for them to change into something else. Hence it is impossible for the Church, in exercising her supreme authority, to teach anything contrary to these doctrines. What the Church teaches, she has always taught, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding. 

But there are other parts of the Church, not essential to the divine constitution, which are not so immutable. These are contained in what is called the ecclesiastical tradition (sometimes called “small-t” tradition). Though derived from the immutable doctrines of faith and morals just discussed, these traditions are extrinsic to them and subject to the prudential judgment of the Church. Hence they are, in theory, more able to be changed – or even abandoned if need be – without compromising the essential immutability and indefectibility of the Church. 

However, there are strict prudential limits and rules which must be upheld in the changing of these traditions. The first of these rules is that the very purpose of these extrinsic, ecclesiastical traditions is to preserve and protect the outward identity of the intrinsic essence of the Church herself. The ecclesiastical traditions exist principally for the sake of protecting the divine tradition itself. As such, they grow and develop within the Church through the centuries in such a way that best suits the protection of the deposit of faith. According as these observances are well suited to the protection of the faith, they are maintained by the Church for whatever length of time she deems necessary. If they are found to be unsuitable in some way, they may be changed and improved upon, or even abolished. Otherwise they are presumed to be carrying out their function well enough to be maintained by all the faithful.

Generally speaking, then, an ecclesiastical tradition which enjoys the extent of a very long period of time is, for that reason, held to be better suited to protecting the deposit of faith. The longer a tradition has existed and contributed to the life of the Church, the greater certainty one may have that this tradition is the best that can be expected for the practice of the Faith – not that other options are necessarily unsuitable, but that they are less likely to be so, and experimentation would carry an unjustified risk. The rule of prudence dictates that, in general, an ecclesiastical custom should not be abolished if it has been established for a very long time. Thus, throughout the history of the Church there has always been an attitude of reverence and preservation towards tradition, while at the same time some traditions have died out when they no longer carried out their function. The rule of tradition is not incompatible with the necessities of changing times. But it was always considered an act of impiety to abolish a tradition which was healthy and flourishing and building up the faith of Catholics. Modifications were only introduced when a tradition was lacking in this respect.

Now, it is impossible for the Pope, in his official capacity as the supreme authority of the universal Church, ever to abolish or depart from a divine tradition of the Church. This is a consequence of the indefectibility of the Church (as explained above), as well as of the infallibility of the Church (according to the teaching of the First Vatican Council). But it is not impossible that the Pope may, in the exercise of his authority, depart from an ecclesiastical tradition of the Church. In so doing, he would not be violating the limits of his authority as such (for that is impossible), but the limits of the prudent exercise of that authority. For as just explained, whether the ecclesiastical traditions ought to be retained or changed is a matter which pertains to prudence. Hence Pope Leo XIII writes that "it is not the part of prudence to neglect that which antiquity in its long experience has approved..."

It is important to stress that despite exercising his authority imprudently, nonetheless the Pope cannot approve or teach anything which is contrary to the deposit of faith. This means that even in the act of imprudently changing or abolishing an ecclesiastical tradition, the Pope could not depart from anything that is contained in the divine tradition. Thus, although a papal act abolishing an ecclesiastical tradition may be imprudent or even immoral (by reason of extreme imprudence), nonetheless, that which the Pope approves by such an act cannot itself be immoral or evil in any way. This is a critical distinction: the act of change must be considered apart from the substance of what is being changed. Therefore it is possible that, while the state of being without an immemorial ecclesiastical custom is not evil or harmful in itself, it may nonetheless have been brought about by an act of imprudence if it clears the way, as it were, for some possible future harm.

Thus, for example, although the Church would not illegitimately or fallibly promulgate a law whereby communion under both species was reinforced, nonetheless this would be gravely imprudent, since it might appear to indicate a doctrinal error, namely that the entire Christ is not equally present under each species. But in promulgating such a law, the Church would not actually be contradicting the true doctrine of the faith, and thus the discipline could not be intrinsically harmful or evil (this is also evident by the fact that the Church did at one time allow this practice). But to promulgate such a law would indeed be gravely imprudent, even immoral, since it would be accompanied by the possibility of causing serious confusion in the minds of the faithful.

Or to use another example, although the Church would not err in faith or exceed her authority were she to impose a law whereby the elevation at mass was to be discarded. Nonetheless, this would be gravely imprudent and immoral, since by so rashly abandoning one of her own traditions, she would appear to be denying the very reason for which that tradition came into being in the first place, namely, the reverence and veneration due to the Real Presence. But such a law would not in itself be contrary to faith; after all, the elevation has not always been practiced in the Mass. In the promulgation of such a law, it would not and could not be the case that the Church had in fact denied the true doctrine, only that she might appear to have done so. Obviously, there would be a harm here caused not by a departure from true doctrine, but by a lapse in prudential judgment on the part of the Church.

This is all a consequence of the fact that ecclesiastical traditions exist precisely as a means of expressing true doctrine in the minds of the faithful. It has always been acknowledged by Catholics that to abandon such a tradition, especially one which has long been in force, is the height of rashness and impiety, because in doing so one opens the door, so to speak, for harm to come to the faith. Ecclesiastical tradition is like a great fortress surrounding a treasure of inestimable worth, namely the faith. To tear down that fortress is not necessarily to harm the treasure; but it would be the height of imprudence, since doing so would leave the treasure susceptible to possible harm. Now, one might propose replacing the fortress with another; but why do this when the already existing fortress has served its purpose to perfection for a great length of time? To replace it hardly seems necessary, and there is the risk that the new fortress will be less perfect in its function. It is essentially the same with tradition – indeed, more so.

The implications with regard to the modern liturgy should be evident. On the one hand, one ought to conclude on this evidence that there is a definite problem with the New Mass insofar as, in practice at least, it results from an abandonment of immemorial ecclesiastical tradition. This itself is evident from the fact that the New Mass is just that: a new mass. Authoritative voices in the creation of the Novus Ordo have testified to its novelty, such as Archbishop Bugnini (the main author of the new text), Fr. Joseph Gelineau (one of Bugnini's collaborators), and Pope Paul VI himself. But an actual examination of the text of the new liturgy reveals a very stark departure from the traditional prayers in both content and meaning. The liturgical formulas and expressions traditionally used by the Church have been replaced by language that is imprecise, susceptible to doctrinal misinterpretation, and devoid of spiritual depth. 

On the other hand, none of these prayers say anything which is actually false or contrary to the faith, and therefore nothing which is directly harmful to the faith. Pope Paul VI had every legal right to establish the Novus Ordo as an official rite of the Church, and he did not depart from his divinely granted authority in doing so. The fact that the prayers contain nothing actually false in them is evidence that Paul VI was truly protected by the Holy Ghost in sanctioning those prayers. The harm lies not in anything intrinsic to the reformed liturgy, but in the imprudence of abandoning a liturgy that was doctrinally unambiguous, theologically deep, and spiritually rich, and replacing it with relatively shallow and weak expressions of the Catholic faith. It is evident that the change itself - as distinct from the content of the new liturgy considered on its own merits - by virtue of being such a radical departure from immemorial ecclesiastical tradition, was a serious error on the level of prudence.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

St. Leonard-Port Maurice - The Excellence of the Mass

St. Leonard-Port Maurice
The following is taken from Chapter I of St. Leonard's The Hidden Treasure of the Mass.


I. It requires great patience to endure the language of careless livers, breathing atheism itself, and ruinous to devotion; as for instance, "A Mass more or less counts for little." "It is no small thing to hear Mass on festivals." "The Mass of this or that priest is for length like one in Holy Week; when he appears at the altar, I generally get out of church forthwith." He who talks in this way lets it be perceived that he has little or no esteem for the thrice-holy sacrifice af the Mass. That sacrifice is the sun of Christianity, the soul of faith, the centre of the Catholic religion, wherein are beheld all her rites, all her ceremonies, and all her Sacraments; in fine, it is the compendium of all the good and beautiful to be found in the Church of God. Wherefore, O ye who now read my words, ponder well how great are the matters to be spoken of in these instructions.

II. It is a certain truth that all the religions which have existed from the beginning of the world have ever had some sacrifice as an essential part of the worship which they offered to God. But because their whole law was either vain or imperfect, so were their sacrifices either vain or imperfect. Most vain were the sacrifices of the idolaters, nor is there any occasion to mention them; and those of the Hebrews, although, indeed, then professing the true religion, were poor and deficient, by St. Paul called infirma et egena elementa, "weak and poor elements" (Gal. iv. 9), because they could neither cancel sin nor confer grace. The sole sacrifice which we have in our holy religion, that is to say, Holy Mass, is a sacrifice, holy, perfect, in every point complete, with which each one of the faithful nobly honors God, protesting at one and the same time his own nothingness and the supreme dominion which God hath over him; a sacrifice called, therefore, by David, sacrificium justitiae, "the sacrifice of justice" (Ps. iv. 5); both because it contains the Just One Himself, and the Saint of Saints, or rather justice and holiness themselves, and because it sanctifies souls by the infusion of grace and the affluence of gifts which it confers. Being, then, a sacrifice so holy-----a sacrifice the most venerable and the most excellent of all
-----in order that you may form a due conception of so great a treasure, we shall here explain, in a manner quite succinct, some of its Divine excellencies. To express them all were not a work to which our poor faculties could attain.

III. The principal excellence of the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass consists in being essentially, and in the very highest degree, identical with that which was offered on the Cross of Calvary: with this sole difference, that the Sacrifice on the Cross was bloody, and made once for all, and did on that one occasion satisfy fully for all the sins of the world; while the Sacrifice of the Altar is an unbloody sacrifice, which can be repeated an infinite number of times, and was instituted in order to apply in detail that universal ransom which Jesus paid for us on Calvary. So that the bloody Sacrifice was the instrument of redemption; the unbloody is that which puts us in possession: the one threw open the treasury of the merits of Christ Our Lord; the other affords the practical use of that treasury. And, therefore, observe that in Mass there is made not a mere representation, nor a simple commemoration of the Passion and Death of the Redeemer, but there is performed, in a certain true sense, the selfsame most holy act which was performed on Calvary. It may be said, with all truth, that in every Mass Our Redeemer returns mystically to die for us, without really dying, at one and the same time really alive and as it were slain
-----vidi Agnum stantem tamquam occisum, "I saw a Lamb standing as it were slain" (Apoc. v. 6). On the anniversary day of the holy Nativity there is represented by the Church the birth of the Lord, but Our Lord is not then born. On the day of the Ascension and on the day of Pentecost, there are shadowed forth the ascent of the Lord to Heaven, and the coming of the Holy Spirit down to the earth; yet it is by no means true that, as each of these days comes round, the Lord again ascends to Heaven, or the Holy Spirit visibly descends to earth. But the same cannot be said of the mystery of Holy Mass, for in it there is made no simple representation of a bygone event, but the selfsame Sacrifice is unbloodily made which, with the shedding of Blood, was made upon the Cross. That same Body, that same Blood, that same Jesus Who then offered Himself upon Calvary, now offers Himself in the Holy Mass. Opus, says the Church, opus nostrae redemptionis exercetur (Orat. s. in Mis. Dom. 9, post Pent). Yes; exercetur; in Mass there is effected, there is continuously practised, that same Sacrifice which was made upon the Cross. Oh, awful, solemn, and stupendous work!

Now, tell me whether, when you enter church to hear Mass, you thoroughly well consider that you are going up as it were to Calvary, to be present at the death of the Redeemer. If so, would you go with behavior so unsubdued, with dress so flaunting? If the Magdalene had gone to Calvary, to the foot of the Cross, all dressed out, perfumed, and adorned, as when she associated with her lovers, what would have been said of her? What, then, shall be said of you who go to holy Mass as if you were going to a ball? But what shall be said if you profane those functions of most dread sanctity with nods and becks, with tattle, with laughter, with the petty attentions of courtship, or with graver sacrileges of thought, word, or deed? Wickedness is hideous at any time, and in any place; but sins committed during the time of Mass, and before the altar, draw down after them the curse of God. Maledictus homo qui tacit opus Domini fraudulenter (Jer. xlviii. 10). Think seriously upon this, while I proceed to disclose to you yet other marvels and glories of this all-precious treasure.

IV. It seems to me impossible for a religious function to possess a prerogative more excellent than this of the Holy Sacrifice of Mass, that it is no mere copy, but one original with the Sacrifice of the Cross. Still further is its eminence enhanced by having for its priest none else than God made man. In so great a sacrifice three things attract consideration: the priest who offers, the Victim offered, and the majesty of Him to Whom the offering is made. Now observe the marvellous grandeur of Holy Mass, in virtue of each of these three considerations. The Priest Who offers is the Man-God Christ Jesus; the Victim is the Life of God; nor is it offered to any other than unto God. Rekindle, then, your faith, and recognize the true celebrant to be not so much the human priest as the adorable person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the primary offerer, not only because He has instituted this Holy Sacrifice, and has given to it all its efficacy through His merits, but also because in each Mass He Himself deigns for our good to, transubstantiate the bread and wine into His most Holy Body and into His most Precious Blood. Behold, then, the chiefest privilege of Holy Mass, to have for priest God made man; and when you see the celebrant at the altar, know that his highest dignity consists in being the minister of that invisible and eternal Priest, Our Redeemer Himself. Hence it results that the sacrifice itself does not cease to be agreeable to God, although the priest who celebrates may be wicked and sacrilegious, seeing that the principal offerer is Christ Our Lord, and the priest is His mere minister. In the same way, anyone who gives alms by the hand of a servant is called in all truth the giver; and even though his servant may be wicked and infamous, yet if the master be good, the alms do not cease to be praiseworthy and holy. Blessed, then, be God, Who hath bestowed on us a holy, a most holy Priest, Who offers to the Eternal Father this Divine Sacrifice, not only in every place (the holy faith being now everywhere diffused), but every day, and even every hour; since the sun is rising to others, while to us it sets. At every hour, then, in various parts of the world, this most perfectly holy Priest offers to the Father His Blood, His Soul, and His whole self for us: and all this He does as many times as there are Masses celebrated in the whole world. O boundless treasure! O mine of inestimable stores thus possessed by us in the Church of God! O happy we if we could but assist at all these Masses! What a store of reward would be thus acquired! What a heaping up of graces in this life, what a fund of glory in the other, would be the fruit of so loving an attendance!

V. But what is implied in this word "attendance?" Those who hear Mass not only perform the office of attendants, but likewise of offerers, having themselves a right to the title of priests. Fecisti nos Deo nostro regnum et sacerdotes (Apoc. v. 10). The celebrating priest is, as it were, the public minister of the Church in general; he is the intermediary between all the faithful, particularly those who assist at Mass, and the invisible Priest, Who is Christ; and, together with Christ, he offers to the Eternal Father, both in behalf of all the rest and of himself, the great price of human redemption. But he is not alone in this so holy function, since all those who assist at Mass concur with him in offering the sacrifice; and, therefore, the priest turns round to the people and says, Orate fratres ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat-----"Pray, O my brethren, that mine and your sacrifice may be acceptable to God;" in order that the faithful may understand that, while he indeed acts the part of principal minister, all those who are present make the great offering together with him. So that when you assist at Holy Mass, you perform, after a certain manner, the office of priest. What say you, then? Will you ever dare, from this time forward, to be at Mass sitting, prating, looking here and there, perhaps even sleeping, or content yourselves with reciting some vocal prayers, without at all taking to heart the tremendous office of priest which you are exercising? Ah me! I cannot restrain myself from exclaiming, O dull and incapable world, that understandest nothing of mysteries so sublime! How is it possible that anyone should remain before the altar with a mind distracted and a heart dissipated at a time when the holy Angels stand there trembling and astonished at the contemplation of a work so stupendous?

 VI. You are surprised, perhaps, to hear me speak of the Mass as a stupendous work. But what tongue, human or angelic, may ever describe a power so immeasurable as that exercised by the simplest priest in Mass? And who could ever have imagined that the voice of man, which by nature hath not the power even to raise a straw from the ground, should obtain through grace a power so stupendous as to bring from Heaven to earth the Son of God? It is a greater power than that which would be required to change the place of mountains, to dry up seas, and to turn round the heavens; it even emulates, in a certain manner, that first fiat with which God brought all things out of nothing, and in some sort would seem to surpass that other fiat with which the sweet Virgin drew down into her bosom the Eternal Word. She did nothing else than supply matter for the body of Christ
-----made indeed from her and her most pure blood, but not by her, in the sense of her own potential act. But altogether different, and most marvellous, is the sacramental manner in which the voice of the priest, operating as the instrument of Christ, reproduces Him, and does so as often as he consecrates. The Blessed Giovanni Buono made this truth (S. Ant. 3 p. hist. tit. 24, c. 13) in some sort comprehensible to a hermit, his companion, who was unable to imagine how the words of a priest could be allowed such power as to change the substance of bread into the Body of Jesus Christ, and the substance of wine into His Blood, and who, unhappily, had consented to the devilish suggestions of doubt. The good servant of God, perceiving this man's error, conducted him to a fountain, took thence a cup of water, and gave it him to drink. He, when he had drunk of it, declared that during his whole life he had never tasted a wine so pleasant. Then Giovanni Buono said, "Do not you now feel, my dear brother, the marvellous truth? If, through means of me, a miserable man, water is changed into wine by Divine power, how much more ought you to believe that, through means of the words of God-----for the priest only uses the words instituted for the purpose by God Himself-----the bread and wine are converted into the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ? Who shall dare to assign limits to the omnipotence of God?" This so effectually enlightened the hermit that, banishing every doubt from his mind, he did great penance for his sin. Let us have but a little faith, a little living faith, and we shall confess that the mighty and admirable things contained in this adorable sacrifice are without number; nor will it then seem too strange to us to behold the marvel repeated continually-----the thrice-holy humanity of Jesus multiplying itself in thousands and thousands of places, enjoying, so to speak, a kind of infinity denied to every other body, and reserved to it alone through the merit of His life, sacrificed to the Most High. It is said to have been once granted to an unbelieving Jew to have the mystery of this multiplied existence illustrated by the mouth of a woman. He was amusing himself in the public square, when there passed a priest who, accompanied by a crowd, carried the most holy Viaticum to a sick person. All the people, bending the knee, rendered due homage of adoration to the Most Holy Sacrament; the Jew alone made no movement, nor gave any token of reverence. This being seen by a poor woman, she exclaimed, "O miserable man, why do you not show reverence to the true God, present in this Divine Sacrament?" "What true God?" said the Jew, sharply. "If this were so, would not there be many Gods, since on each of your altars there is one during Mass?" The woman instantly took a sieve, and holding it up to the sun, told the Jew to look at the rays which passed through the chinks; and then added, "Tell me, Jew, are there many suns which pass through the openings of this sieve, or only one?" And the Jew answering that there was but one sun. "Then," replied the woman, "why do you wonder that God incarnate, veiled in the Sacrament, though one, indivisible, and unchanged, should, through excess of love, place Himself in true and Real Presence on different altars?" Through this illustration, he was held on to confess the truth of the faith. O holy faith! A ray of thy light is needed in order to reply with energy of spirit to the captiousness of carnal minds. Yes, who shall ever dare to assign limits to the omnipotence of God? Through the great conception which St. Teresa had of the omnipotence of God, she was wont to say that the more lofty, deep, and abstruse to our understandings are the mysteries of our holy faith, with so much the more firmness, and with so much the greater devotion, did she believe them; knowing full well that the Almighty God could work prodigies infinitely greater still. Revive, then, your faith with heavenly grace, and, acknowledging this divine sacrifice to be the miracle of miracles, feelingly confess that majesty so great must needs be incomprehensible to our poor minds, and is, therefore, the more sublime; then, full of astonishment, exclaim again and yet again, "O treasure, how great!  treasure of O love, how immense!"

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Propers for the Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost

INTROIT Ps. 85:3, 5
Have pity on me, O Lord, for to You I call all the day; for You, O Lord, are sweet and mild, and plentiful in mercy to all who call upon You.
Ps. 85:1. Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am needy and poor.
V. Glory be . . .

O Lord, may Your grace always be with us to make us diligent in performing good deeds. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE Eph. 3:13-21
Brethren: Wherefore I pray you not to faint at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named: That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened by his Spirit with might unto the inward man: That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts: that, being rooted and founded in charity, You may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, To know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge: that you may be filled unto all the fulness of God.
Now to him who is able to do all things more abundantly than we desire or understand, according to the power that worketh in us: To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, unto all generations, world without end. Amen.

GRADUAL Ps. 101:16-17
The nations all revere Your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth shall reverence Your glory.
V. For the Lord has built up sion, and He shall appear in His glory.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 97:1
Sing to the Lord a new canticle, for He has done wondrous deeds. Alleluia!

GOSPEL Luke 14:1-11
At that time, when Jesus went into the house of one of the Pharisees, on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And behold, there was a certain man before him that had the dropsy. And Jesus answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying: "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?"
But they held their peace. But he taking him, healed him and sent him away. And answering them, he said: "Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit and will not immediately draw him out, on the sabbath day?" And they could not answer him to these things.
And he spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them: "When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him: And he that invited thee and him, come and say to thee: 'Give this man place.' And then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee cometh, he may say to thee: 'Friend, go up higher.' Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee. Because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

Look down, O Lord, to help me. Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek to snatch away my life. Look down, O Lord, to help me.

Cleanse us by this Sacrifice, O Lord, and in Your mercy make us worthy to participate in it. Through our Lord . . .

O Lord, I will be mindful of Your singular justice. O God, You have taught me from my youth, and when I am old and gray, O God, forsake me not!

Purify our souls, O Lord, and instill new life into them through this Heavenly Sacrament, so that even our bodies may find strength now and for the future. Through our Lord . . .

Thursday, 5 September 2013

St. Claude de Colombiere - Prayer of Hope and Cofidence

My God, I believe most firmly that Thou watchest over all who hope in Thee, and that we can want for nothing when we rely upon Thee in all things; therefore I am resolved for the future to have no anxieties, and to cast all my cares upon Thee.

People may deprive me of worldly goods and of honors; sickness may take from me my strength and the means of serving Thee; I may even lose Thy grace by sin; but my trust shall never leave me. I will preserve it to the last moment of my life, and the powers of hell shall seek in vain to wrestle it from me.

Let others seek happiness in their wealth, in their talents; let them trust to the purity of their lives, the severity of their mortifications, to the number of their good works, the fervor of their prayers; as for me, O my God, in my very confidence lies all my hope. "For Thou, O Lord, singularly has settled me in hope." This confidence can never be in vain. "No one has hoped in the Lord and has been confounded."

I am assured, therefore, of my eternal happiness, for I firmly hope for it, and all my hope is in Thee. "In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped; let me never be confounded."

I know, alas! I know but too well that I am frail and changeable; I know the power of temptation against the strongest virtue. I have seen stars fall from heaven, and pillars of firmament totter; but these things alarm me not. While I hope in Thee I am sheltered from all misfortune, and I am sure that my trust shall endure, for I rely upon Thee to sustain this unfailing hope.

Finally, I know that my confidence cannot exceed Thy bounty, and that I shall never receive less than I have hoped for from Thee. Therefore I hope that Thou wilt sustain me against my evil inclinations; that Thou wilt protect me against the most furious assults of the evil one, and that Thou wilt cause my weakness to triumph over my most powerful enemies. I hope that Thou wilt never cease to love me, and that I shall love Thee unceasingly. "In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded."

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Pope Pius X on Modernism and the Evolution of Dogma

Today being the feast day of Pope Pius X, I present here a section of the magnificent encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, in which the Pope describes the heretical notion of the evolution of dogma. 

The Origin of Dogma

In that sentiment of which We have frequently spoken, since sentiment is not knowledge, God indeed presents Himself to man, but in a manner so confused and indistinct that He can hardly be perceived by the believer. It is therefore necessary that a ray of light should be cast upon this sentiment, so that God may be clearly distinguished and set apart from it. This is the task of the intellect, whose office it is to reflect and to analyse, and by means of which man first transforms into mental pictures the vital phenomena which arise within him, and then expresses them in words. Hence the common saying of Modernists: that the religious man must ponder his faith. - The intellect, then, encountering this sentiment directs itself upon it, and produces in it a work resembling that of a painter who restores and gives new life to a picture that has perished with age. The simile is that of one of the leaders of Modernism. The operation of the intellect in this work is a double one: first by a natural and spontaneous act it expresses its concept in a simple, ordinary statement; then, on reflection and deeper consideration, or, as they say, by elaborating its thought, it expresses the idea in secondary propositions, which are derived from the first, but are more perfect and distinct. These secondary propositions, if they finally receive the approval of the supreme magisterium of the Church, constitute dogma.

12. Thus, We have reached one of the principal points in the Modernists' system, namely the origin and the nature of dogma. For they place the origin of dogma in those primitive and simple formulae, which, under a certain aspect, are necessary to faith; for revelation, to be truly such, requires the clear manifestation of God in the consciousness. But dogma itself they apparently hold, is contained in the secondary formulae.
To ascertain the nature of dogma, we must first find the relation which exists between the religious formulas and the religious sentiment. This will be readily perceived by him who realises that these formulas have no other purpose than to furnish the believer with a means of giving an account of his faith to himself. These formulas therefore stand midway between the believer and his faith; in their relation to the faith, they are the inadequate expression of its object, and are usually called symbols; in their relation to the believer, they are mere instruments.

Its Evolution

13. Hence it is quite impossible to maintain that they express absolute truth: for, in so far as they are symbols, they are the images of truth, and so must be adapted to the religious sentiment in its relation to man; and as instruments, they are the vehicles of truth, and must therefore in their turn be adapted to man in his relation to the religious sentiment. But the object of the religious sentiment, since it embraces that absolute, possesses an infinite variety of aspects of which now one, now another, may present itself. In like manner, he who believes may pass through different phases. Consequently, the formulae too, which we call dogmas, must be subject to these vicissitudes, and are, therefore, liable to change. Thus the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma. An immense collection of sophisms this, that ruins and destroys all religion. Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and as clearly flows from their principles. For amongst the chief points of their teaching is this which they deduce from the principle of vital immanence; that religious formulas, to be really religious and not merely theological speculations, ought to be living and to live the life of the religious sentiment. This is not to be understood in the sense that these formulas, especially if merely imaginative, were to be made for the religious sentiment; it has no more to do with their origin than with number or quality; what is necessary is that the religious sentiment, with some modification when necessary, should vitally assimilate them. In other words, it is necessary that the primitive formula be accepted and sanctioned by the heart; and similarly the subsequent work from which spring the secondary formulas must proceed under the guidance of the heart. Hence it comes that these formulas, to be living, should be, and should remain, adapted to the faith and to him who believes. Wherefore if for any reason this adaptation should cease to exist, they lose their first meaning and accordingly must be changed. And since the character and lot of dogmatic formulas is so precarious, there is no room for surprise that Modernists regard them so lightly and in such open disrespect. And so they audaciously charge the Church both with taking the wrong road from inability to distinguish the religious and moral sense of formulas from their surface meaning, and with clinging tenaciously and vainly to meaningless formulas whilst religion is allowed to go to ruin. Blind that they are, and leaders of the blind, inflated with a boastful science, they have reached that pitch of folly where they pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true nature of the religious sentiment; with that new system of theirs they are seen to be under the sway of a blind and unchecked passion for novelty, thinking not at all of finding some solid foundation of truth, but despising the holy and apostolic traditions, they embrace other vain, futile, uncertain doctrines, condemned by the Church, on which, in the height of their vanity, they think they can rest and maintain truth itself.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Propers for the Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost

INTROIT Ps. 85:1, 2-3
Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me. Save Your servant who trusts in You. Have pity on me, O Lord, for to You I call all the day.
Ps. 85:4. Gladden the soul of Your servant, for I have lifted up my soul to You, O Lord.
V. Glory be . . .

O Lord, let Your abiding mercy purify and defend the Church. Govern her always by Your care, for without Your assistance she cannot remain safe. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE Gal. 5:25-26; 6:1-10
Brethren: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be made desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Brethren, and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are spiritual, instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens: and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ. For if any man think himself to be some thing, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every one prove his own work: and so he shall have glory in himself only and not in another. For every one shall bear his own burden.
And let him that is instructed in the word communicate to him that instructeth him, in all good things. Be not deceived: God is not mocked. For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit of the spirit shall reap life everlasting. And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing. Therefore, whilst we have time, let us work good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

GRADUAL Ps. 91:2-3
It is good to praise the Lord, and to sing to Your name, O Most high.
V. To proclaim Your mercy in the morning and Your truth throughout the night.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 94:3
For the Lord is a great God, and a great king over all the earth. Alleluia!

GOSPEL Luke 7:11-16
At that time, Jesus went into a city that is called Naim: and there went with him his disciples and a great multitude. And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother: and she was a widow. And a great multitude of the city was with her. Whom when the Lord had seen, being moved with mercy towards her, he said to her: "Weep not." And he came near and touched the bier. And they that carried it stood still. And he said: "Young man, I say to thee, arise." And he that was dead sat up and begun to speak. And he gave him to his mother. And there came a fear upon them all: and they glorified God saying: "A great prophet is risen up among us: and, God hath visited his people."

I have waited and waited for the Lord, and He inclined toward me and heard my cry. And He out a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God.

O Lord, may Your Sacrament safeguard and defend us always against the attacks of the devil. through our Lord . . .

The Bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.

Let the grace of your Heavenly gift rule our minds and bodies, O Lord, that we may overcome the unruly impulses of our nature. Through our Lord . . .