A corporal work of mercy.

A corporal work of mercy.
Click on photo for this corporal work of mercy!

Sunday 23 November 2008

The wisdom of Newman for our time

"Do you think (the Prince of Lies) is so unskillful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the Truth? No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform. This is the way in which he conceals from you the kind of work to which he is putting you; he tempts you to rail against your rulers and superiors; he does so himself, and induces you to imitate him; or he promises you illumination, -- he offers you knowledge, science, philosophy, enlargement of mind. He scoffs at times gone by; he scoffs at every institution which reveres them. He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his." ...The Venerable John Henry CARDINAL Newman.

Friday 7 November 2008

They will all wither and die. Something new and beautiful will emerge.

From Father James Fargaglia at The Sunday Homily:
Ignore the Bishops and clergy that did nothing to stop Barack Obama. Ignore the majority of Catholics that voted for a pro-abortion candidate. They have no fecundity. Their seminaries are empty, their parishes are closing, and their dioceses are still riddled with scandals. They will all wither and die. Something new and beautiful will emerge.

Friday 31 October 2008

Sung Requiem Mass in Toronto-Extraordinary Form

Catholics enter the evening into a holy time of prayer and supplication. No, I'm not referring to trick or treaters and goblins at the door (my house will be dark, thank you) but it is All Hallows Eve; that is the evening before the Feast of All Saints. This is the celebration of the Church Triumphant, those who have gone before us into glory in heaven as they behold the beatific vision of God. November 2 is the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls)--the Church Suffering; the Feast of the Dead--the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Here on this side of eternity, we are the Church Militant.

The Toronto Oratory will celebrate a Sung Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite on Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 10:00 AM. This marks the 30th annivesary of the official foundation of the Toronto Oratory. The Oratory at Holy Family Church is located on King Street one block east of Jameson Avenue.

In the calendar for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Novus Ordo or 1970 Missal, when falling on a Sunday as is the case this year, the Feast of All Souls is celebrated on the Sunday. However, in the traditional calendar used up to 1970 and still applicable for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Feast is transferred to Monday, November 3, it does not supplant a Sunday liturgy.

Under the former indult for the Traditional Latin Mass and now under Summorum Pontificum there have been a few funerals in the usus antiquior or ancient use; and these have been sung with full Gregorian chant. I've sung one and attended two others, all at The Oratory.

On Monday, November 3, there will be a Low Mass for the Day at The Toronto Oratory Church of the Holy Family.

However For the first time in over 40 years, this Monday, November 3, 2008 at 7:30PM a Sung Requiem Mass in the Tridentine or Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite will be celebrated in Toronto for All Souls Day. The Celebrant will be Father Howard Venette, FSSP of the Priestly Fraterity of St. Peter. Father Venette will also celebrate two "Low" Masses as is the custom in the usus antiquior on All Souls Day.

The FSSP was established by Pope John Paul II in 1988 following the illicit epsicopal consecrations of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of the Society of St. Pius X. Archbishop Thomas Collins has invited the Fraternity to establish and apostolate here in Toronto. Currently, Mass is celebrated Monday to Saturday at Holy Cross Church and Sunday at 1:00 at St. Theresa Shrine Catholic Church in Toronto. For now, these Masses are "Low" or quiet Masses--they are not sung. At some point soon, the Sunday Mass will be a High Mass (Missa Cantata) Altar Boys are being trained and the Schola is being developed by your writer.

The Mass will take place at Holy Cross Catholic Church at the corner of Donlands Road and Cosburn Avenue. Parking can be found on the street and the school yard and the church can be accessed via the Bloor/Danforth subway at the Donlands stop with a short bus ride north.

Vox will be ably assisted in the Schola by three fine gentlemen as we will present the full Gregorian Ordinary, Propers including the Dies Irae and The Absolutions for the Requiem Mass.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Jews and Early Christians on Abortion

Given the error and distortion of the truth committed by so-called Catholics in the public square here in Canada and now particularly in the United States of America; I found this small blog today which summarizes quite nicely what has always been taught:

Josephus (flourished 75-95 A.D.) “The [Jewish] Law orders all the offspring to be brought up, and forbids women either to cause abortion or to make away with the foetus; a woman convicted of this is regarded as an infanticide, because she destroys a soul and diminishes the race.” (Against Apion, 2.202)

Philo of Alexandria (25 B.C.—A.D. 41) “If a man comes to blows with a pregnant woman and strikes her on the belly and she miscarries, then, if the result of the miscarriage is unshaped and undeveloped, he must be fined both for the outrage and for obstructing the artist Nature in her creative work of bringing into life the fairest of living creatures, man. But, if the offspring is already shaped and all the limbs have their proper qualities and places in the system, he must die, for that which answers to this descriptions is a human being, which he has destroyed in the laboratory of Nature who judges that the hour has not yet come for bringing it out into the light, like a statue lying in a studio requiring nothing more than to be conveyed outside and released from confinement.” (Special Laws III.108-109; cf. Exod 21.22 LXX)

“This ordinance carries with it the prohibition of something else more important, the exposure of infants, a sacrilegious practice which among many other nations, through their ingrained inhumanity, has come to be regarded with complacence. For if on behalf of the child not yet brought to the birth by the appointed conclusion of the regular period thought has to be taken to save it from disaster at the hands of the evil-minded, surely still more true is this of the full-born babe sent out as it were to settle in the new homeland assigned to mankind, there to partake of the gifts of Nature….If the guardians of the children cut them off from these blessings, if at their very birth they deny them all share in them, they must rest assured that they are breaking the laws of Nature and stand self-condemned on the gravest charges, love of pleasure, hatred of men, murder and, the worst abomination of all, murder of their own children. For they are pleasure-lovers when they mate with their wives, not to procreate children and perpetuate the race, but like pigs and goats in quest of the enjoyment which such intercourse gives. Men-haters too, for who could more deserve the name than these enemies, these merciless foes of their offspring? For no one is so foolish as to suppose that those who have treated dishonourably their own flesh and blood will deal honourably with strangers. As to the charges of murder in general and murder of their own children in particular the clearest proofs of their truth is supplied by the parents. Some of them do the deed with their own hands; with monstrous cruelty and barbarity they stifle and throttle the first breath which the infants draw or throw them into a river or into the depths of the sea, after attaching some heavy substance to make them sink more quickly under its weight. Others take them to be exposed in some desert place, hoping, they themselves say, that they may be saved, but leaving them in actual truth to suffer the most distressing fate. For all the beasts that feed on human flesh visit the spot and feast unhindered on the infants, a fine banquet provided by their sole guardians, those who above all others should keep them safe, their fathers and mothers. Carnivorous birds, too, come flying down and gobble up the fragments, that is, if they have not discovered them earlier, for, if they have, they get ready to fight the beasts of the field for the whole carcase. But suppose some passing travelers, stirred by humane feeling, take pity and compassion on the castaways and in consequence raise them up, give them food and drink, and do not shrink from paying all the other attentions which they need, what do we think of such highly charitable actions? Do we not consider that those who brought them into the world stand condemned when strangers play the part of parents, and parents do not behave with even the kindness of strangers? (P117) So Moses then, as I have said, implicitly and indirectly forbade the exposure of children, when he pronounced the sentence of death against those who cause the miscarriage of mothers in cases where the foetus is fully formed…when the child has been brought to the birth it is separated from the organism with which it was identified and being isolated and self-contained becomes a living animal, lacking none of the complements needed to make a human being. And therefore infanticide undoubtedly is murder, since the displeasure of the law is not concerned with ages with a breach of faith to the race. Though indeed, if age had to be taken into consideration, infanticide to my mind gives a greater cause for indignation, for in the case of adults quarrels and differences wupply any number of reasonable pretexts, but with mere babes, who have just passed into the light and the life of human kind, not even a false charge can be brought against such absolute innocence. Therefore those who gird themselves up to conspire against such as these must be judged to be the cruellest and most ruthless of men. The holy law detests them and has pronounced them worthy of punishment.” (Special Laws III.110-119).

Pseudo-Phocylides (50 B.C.—A.D. 50) says that “a woman should not destroy the unborn babe in her belly, nor after its birth throw it before the dogs and vultures as a prey.”

1 Enoch (2nd-1st Cent. B.C.) says that an evil angel taught humans how to “smash the embryo in the womb” (68:18).

Athenagoras “Since this is our character, what man of sound judgment would say that we are murderers? For you cannot eat human flesh until you have killed someone…What reason would we have to commit murder when we say that women who induce abortions are murderers, and will have to give account of it to God? For the same person would not regard the fetus in the womb as a living thing and therefore an object of God’s care, and at the same time slay it, once it had come to life. Nor would he refuse to expose infants, on the ground that those who expose them are murderers of children, and at the same time do away with the child he has reared. But we are altogether consistent in our conduct. We obey reason and do not override it.” (Plea for the Christians, ca. 176-177 A.D.)

Justin Martyr (ca. 100-165 A.D.) “But as for us, we have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do any one an injury, and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution. And as the ancients are said to have reared herds of oxen, or goats, or sheep, or grazing horses, so now we see you rear children only for this shameful use; and for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation. And you receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them, whom you ought to exterminate from your realm. And any one who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother. And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy; and they refer these mysteries to the mother of the gods, and along with each of those whom you esteem gods there is painted a serpent, a great symbol and mystery. Indeed, the things which you do openly and with applause, as if the divine light were overturned and extinguished, these you lay to our charge; which, in truth, does no harm to us who shrink from doing any such things, but only to those who do them and bear false witness against us.” (First Apology, 27)

“And again [we fear to expose children], lest some of them be not picked up, but die, and we become murderers. But whether we marry, it is only that we may bring up children; or whether we decline marriage, we live continently.” (First Apology, 29)

Letter to Diognetus “[Christians] marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring.” (5; second century A.D.?)

Letter of Barnabas “The way of light, then, is as follows. If anyone desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this way, is the following…Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born.” (19:5; ca. 75-100 A.D.).

Apocalypse of Peter “And near that place I saw another strait place . . . and there sat women. . . . And over against them many children who were born to them out of due time sat crying. And there came forth from them rays of fire and smote the women in the eyes. And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion” (25; ca. 135 A.D.)

Didache (i.e., the so-called “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”) “And the second commandment of the Teaching; You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.” (Didache 2:2; ca. 100 A.D.?)

Minucius Felix “And now I should wish to meet him who says or believes that we are initiated by the slaughter and blood of an infant. Think you that it can be possible for so tender, so little a body to receive those fatal wounds; for any one to shed, pour forth, and drain that new blood of a youngling, and of a man scarcely come into existence? No one can believe this, except one who can dare to do it. And I see that you at one time expose your begotten children to wild beasts and to birds; at another, that you crush them when strangled with a miserable kind of death. There are some women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels, and thus commit a parricide before they bring forth. And these things assuredly come don from the teaching of your gods. For Saturn did not expose his children, but devoured them.…Among the Persians, a promiscuous association between sons and mothers is allowed. Marriages with sisters are legitimate among the Egyptians and in Athens. Your records and your tragedies, which you both read and hear with pleasure, glory in incest: thus also you worship incestuous gods, who have intercourse with mothers, with daughters, with sisters. With reason, therefore, is incest frequently detected among you, and is continually permitted. Miserable men, you may even, without knowing it, rush into what is unlawful: since you scatter your lusts promiscuously, since you everywhere beget children, since you frequently expose even those who are born at home to the mercy of others, it is inevitable that you must come back to your own children, and stray to your own offspring. Thus you continue the story of incest, even although you have no consciousness of your crime. But we maintain our modesty not in appearance, but in our heart we gladly abide by the bond of a single marriage; in the desire of procreating, we know either one wife, or none at all.” (Octavius, 30-31a; ca. 160-300 A.D.)

The Sibylline Oracles (80-250 A.D.? Thought Christian, but possibly Jewish) includes among the wicked two groups: women who “produce abortions and unlawfully cast their offspring away” and sorcerers who dispense abortifacients (II.345).

Clement of Alexandria “Our whole life can go on in observation of the laws of nature, if we gain dominion over our desires from the beginning and if we do not kill, by various means of a perverse art, the human offspring, born according to the designs of divine providence; for these women who, in order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs which expel the matter completely dead, abort at the same time their human feelings…Abortion is killing human life that is under God’s care, design and providence.” (Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus 2.10, ca. 190-200 A.D.)

Tertullian "In our case, a murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from the other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed" (Apology 9:8; ca. 200).

“Among surgeons’ tools there is a certain instrument, which is formed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for opening the uterus first of all and keeping it open; it is further furnished with an annular blade, by means of which the limbs [of the child] within the womb are dissected with anxious but unfaltering care; its last appendage being a blunted or covered hook, wherewith the entire fetus is extracted by a violent delivery… There is also [another instrument in the shape of] a copper needle or spike, by which the actual death is managed in this furtive robbery of life: they give it, from its infanticide function, the name of embruosphaktes, [meaning] ‘the slayer of the infant,’ which of course was alive…They all knew well enough that a living being had been conceived, and pitied this most luckless infant state, which had first to be put to death, to escape being tortured alive… Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does.” (The Soul 25, 27; 210 A.D.).

“The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion [Ex. 21:22–24]" (The Soul, 37 A.D.).

Hippolytus of Rome “Women who were reputed to be believers began to take drugs to render themselves sterile, and to bind themselves tightly so as to expel what was being conceived, since they would not, on account of relatives and excess wealth, want to have a child by a slave or by any insignificant person. See, then, into what great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by teaching adultery and murder at the same time!” (Refutation of All Heresies, 9.7 ca. 228 A.D.).

Basil the Great (329-379 A.D.) “Although keeping parrots and curlus, pagans do not adopt an orphaned child. Rather they expose children who are born at home. And yet they take up the young of birds. And so they prefer irrational creatures to rational ones…Fathers, forgetting about the children they have exposed, unknowingly have intercourse with a son who has debauched himself or with daughters who are prostitutes.”

"She who has deliberately destroyed a fetus has to pay the penalty of murder. The hairsplitting difference between formed and unformed makes no difference to us....Here it is not only the child to be born that is vindicated, but also the woman herself who made an attempt against her own life, because usually the women die in such attempts. Furthermore, added to this is the destruction of the child, another murder... Moreover, those, too, who give drugs causing abortion are deliberate murderers themselves, as well as those receiving the poison which kills the fetus." (Letter 188:2)

Council of Ancyra "Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them until the hour of death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use somewhat greater leniency, we have ordained that they fulfill ten years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees" (Canon 21; 314 A.D.).

Synod of Elvira (Spain, 306 A.D.) “If a woman becomes pregnant by committing adultery, while her husband is absent, and after the act she destroys the child, it is proper to keep her from communion until death, because she has doubled her crime.” (Canon 63).

John Chrysostom "Wherefore I beseech you, flee fornication. . . . Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit?—where there are many efforts at abortion?—where there is murder before the birth? For even the harlot you do not let continue a mere harlot, but make her a murderess also. You see how drunkenness leads to prostitution, prostitution to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather to a something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevents its being born. Why then do thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with his laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? For with a view to drawing more money by being agreeable and an object of longing to her lovers, even this she is not backward to do, so heaping upon thy head a great pile of fire. For even if the daring deed be hers, yet the causing of it is thine" (Homilies on Romans 24; 391 A.D.).

Ambrose of Milan (339 to 397 A.D.) The poor expose their children, the rich kill the fruit of their own bodies in the womb, lest their property be divided up, and they destroy their own children in the womb with murderous poisons. and before life has been passed on, it is annihilated."

Jerome (347-420 A.D.)** "I cannot bring myself to speak of the many virgins who daily fall and are lost to the bosom of the Church, their mother. . . . Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when, as often happens, they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder" (Letters 22:13, 396 A.D.).

“…seeds are gradually formed in the uterus, and it is not reputed homocide until the scattered elements receive their appearance and members.” (Epistle 121.4 to Algasa)

Augustine (354-430 A.D.)** “Sometimes, indeed, this lustful cruelty, or if you please, cruel lust, resorts to such extravagant methods as to use poisonous drugs to secure barrenness; or else, if unsuccessful in this, to destroy the conceived seed by some means previous to birth, preferring that its offspring should rather perish than receive vitality; or if it was advancing to life within the womb, should be slain before it was born.” (De Nube et Concupiscentia 1.17 [15])

Here the question of the soul is usually raised: whether what is not formed can be understood to have no soul, and whether for that reason it is not homocide, because one cannot be said to be deprived of a soul if one has not yet received a soul. The argument goes on to say, “But if it has been formed, he shall give soul for soul”….If the embryo is still unformed, but yet in some way ensouled while unformed…the law does not provide that the act pertains to homocide, because still there cannot be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation, if it is in the flesh not yet formed and thus not yet endowed with senses.” (“On Exodus 21:22″ CSEL 8:147)

**NB re: Jerome and Augustine: The Greek version of Exodus 21:22-24 is highly relevant here (and the Greek version of the Old Testament, often called the Septuagint, was the Bible for most early Christians -- as well as Jews! -- in the ancient world, including the writers of the New Testament documents). A translation of Exod 21:22-24 reads:

“And if two men strive and smite a woman with child, and her child be born imperfectly formed, he shall be forced to pay a penalty; as the woman’s husband may lay upon him, he shall pay with a valuation. But if it be perfectly formed, he shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

Friday 24 October 2008

Celebrating a Treasure of the Faith

From Toronto's Catholic Register

Celebrating a treasure of the faith
Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Contemplating the young Catholics I know who love the Traditional Latin Mass and are joining traditional religious orders, I think that it is too bad that the bishops did not take the careful conservational approach chosen by the curators of this 17th-century house. As weird modern sanctuaries in beautiful old churches attest, it is certainly difficult to reverse extreme makeovers. There is no doubt that some liturgical windows had to be opened. (My head cold testifies that some innovations — like central heating — are necessary for human flourishing.) But sometimes it seems that we have destroyed timeless rituals for a 1970s ethos that is as out of date as burnt-orange shag carpeting. Nevertheless, the old liturgical treasures of the faith remain, and I believe that those born after 1980 will restore them.

Recommend this article...

Dorothy Cummings

About the author:

Dorothy Cummings is a Toronto-based writer. She has an MA in English literature from the University of Toronto and an M.Div./STB from Regis College. She is currently on leave from doctoral studies in theology at Boston College.

Thursday 16 October 2008

A Widow who sought the "Pearl of Great Price"

+ Martha Joan Stephen Domet +
August 15, 1915 - October 16, 2006


Two years ago today, in her 92nd year, my mother was called home to the LORD. She was a woman of great faith in God and taught many lessons to all those who came into contact with her. This was especially true in her last few years. She suffered the loss of her first grandson and then her first son from cancer and bore much physical suffering with faith, trust and humility.

Today, October 16 according to the calendar for the usus antiquior or the Traditional Latin Mass calendar is the Feast of St. Hedwig a medieval Polish duchess who died on October 14, 1243. She was also maternal aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, incidentally my maternal grandmother's name. So it was then for me a serendipitous moment when at the Mass the Epistle was read from the First Letter of Blessed Paul the Apostle to Timothy:

Dearly beloved: Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children, or grandchildren, let her learn first to govern her own house, and to make a return of duty to her parents: for this is acceptable before God. But she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, let her trust in God and continue in supplications and prayers night and day. For she that liveth in pleasures is dead while she is living. And this give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. Let a widow be chosen of no less than threescore years of age, who hath been the wife of one husband having testimony for her good works, if she have brought up children, if she have received to harbour, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have ministered to them that suffer tribulation, if she have diligently followed every good work.

The Gospel was the parable about the "pearl of great price." Martha spent her life auctioning all for that pearl. I believe she found it.

A few days before she died we had a conversation and she told me that she was ready to go whenever God was to call her. Often we hear or read of those things that are “unexplained” except by coincidence, of course. To those who know and love God, “there are no coincidences.” Not even the fact that the Epistle read today is one of two from the "Common of Holy Women."

And so, that day started like many others. I woke my son for school, I got ready for work and before dashing out the door and bidding her adieu the home care girl was there to help her get ready for the day and stay with her whilst I was at work.

At around 1:00 PM the second girl arrived for the shift-change. As Bridget arrived she came into the family room. My mother had only moments earlier complained of difficulty breathing and then closed her eyes. Bridget yelled out her name, “Martha, Martha!” and gently slapped her. She stirred and let out a breath.

At that moment, Martha died.

I got the call at work and on the way home it was clear from speaking to the paramedics that she was gone. They were working on her with adrenalin and the heart paddles but were not having any success. I spoke to Bridget and told her that a priest from the local parish was on his way (the Sacrament of the Sick, what we used to call Extreme Unction had already been administered by one of her faithful Oratorian Priests a few weeks earlier.) I asked Bridget to go to my mother’s bedroom and retrieve the sick visit Crucifix from the wall above her bed. (This is a Crucifix which slides off and is placed in a stand; on either side are then candle holders and some of the necessary items for the Sacrament).

When I arrived my mother’s eyes were open and she was semi-conscious. Father Greg arrived a few moments later and anointed her. She was transported to “St. Joe’s” where my father also died, and we removed the medical intervention around 5:00 PM. Just after 8:00 I went outside for some air and a few minutes later my sister came to get me that our mother had died. She had just gone out of the room to the Nurses desk to make a phone call. My sister was not out of the room a half-minute and no more than 5 metres away and mother passed. It was like she could not let herself go whilst we were with her.

So, what does this have to do with coincidence?

The next day I called Bridget and asked her to stay on for a few more days to be at the house to tidy and answer the phone and assist with guests. Bridget was quite upset to be sure. She had been with my mother daily for the last year and often spoke of how well she was always treated and “their little talks.” She came to me with apprehension that she really needed to talk to me about something.

The paramedics, with all of their intervention, “brought her back.” It took 14 minutes from the time they began to get a pulse. What was disturbing Bridget was that there was no reaction to their work; nothing, until my car screeched in the driveway.

“I have a pulse!” exclaimed the paramedic. It was simultaneous with the screeching of my tires.

But there is more.

Bridget was shaking and in tears.

“David, I had a dream Sunday night," my mother having died on Monday.

She went on to say that she had typically forgotten the dream until she went to my mother’s bedroom to get the Crucifix. Upon seeing Jesus on the Cross the dream came back to her for just a moment. Again, it was gone. The house after all was a mass of confusion, police, fire-fighters, the paramedics, and eventually me, and the Priest; Bridget was now a bystander.

After we left for the hospital, Bridget was alone and tidying up and it was what happened then that she was so desperate to tell me.

At a singular moment in time something happened that she will never forget. Nor will I.

Bridget recalled for me her dream.

“I was standing on a street-corner in small town with other people. We were laughing at this man dressed in a robe and with long-hair. He said his name was Jesus and we were making fun of him. Just then a young beautiful woman stepped off of the curb and started to cross the street; she turned around and looked at us, she had tears in her eyes, tears of overwhelming joy, she was happy, really happy. It was then that Jesus took her hand and walked across the road with her.”
That was Bridget’s dream.

She went on to say that when she woke up from it she was aware that she needed to be more like the woman who walked across the street. That she needed to have “more faith in Jesus.”

I told her that it seemed like a pretty plausible conclusion.

“Wait” Bridget said, “There is more.”

I waited and listened as she started to cry.

“David, I remembered the dream only for a moment when carrying the Cross.”

“When I was tidying up I put the Cross on the end-table over there.”

“Yes, it looks nice there” I replied.

“No, David, you don’t understand, the picture, the picture beside the Cross.”

“Yes, Bridget, what is it?”

“That picture of your mother at graduation.” Bridget started to cry.

“It was her; she was the girl in my dream.”

Tuesday 29 July 2008

"Forty years I have endured that generation..."

"The memories are not forgotten; they are painful . . . They inhabit the whirlwind where God's wrath dwells. In 1968 something terrible happened in the Church. Within the ministerial priesthood ruptures developed everywhere among friends which never healed. And the wounds continue to affect the whole Church. The dissent, together with the leaders' manipulation of the anger they fomented, became a supreme test. It changed fundamental relationships within the Church."...James Francis Cardinal Stafford, Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Read it all, here.

Monday 7 July 2008

On Sacred Music

Leaving the polemical combox behind, let us focus on something more sublime with my emphasis, courtesy of ZENIT:


Father Samuel Weber on Sacred Music Institute

By Annamarie Adkins

ST. LOUIS, Missouri, JULY 4, 2008 (Zenit.org). Parish music directors -- and congregations -- in the Archdiocese of St. Louis soon will benefit from Archbishop Raymond Burke’s recent initiative: The Institute for Sacred Music.

Archbishop Burke, who has since been named to head the Apostolic Signature, the Church's supreme court, appointed Benedictine Father Samuel Weber as the first director of the new institute earlier this year.

Father Weber is a professor in the divinity school of Wake Forest University in North Carolina and also a monk of the St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana.

Q: Why did Archbishop Burke found the Institute for Sacred Music? What is its mission?

Father Weber: As Archbishop Burke explained, he established the institute to help him to cultivate more fully sacred music in the celebration of the complete Roman Rite.

The Institute will have many activities. First, it will form programs of sacred music, especially Gregorian chant, for parish musicians, musicians of other archdiocesan institutions and interested individuals.

Second, it will assist parishes with the singing of the Mass in English, for example, the entrance antiphon, the responsorial psalm and the Communion antiphon. Third, it hopes to foster the singing the Liturgy of the Hours.

A fourth activity of the institute is assisting parishes that wish to develop a "schola cantorum" for singing Gregorian chant; a fifth goal is aiding the full implementation of the English translation of the Roman Missal in the archdiocese.

Lastly, the institute aims to give particular assistance to the programs of sacred music at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

Q: Is there a difference between sacred music and religious music?

Father Weber: Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, we can make a distinction.

Sacred music, properly speaking, is music that is united to a sacred text -- especially psalms and other scriptural texts and texts of the Mass, such as the Introit, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc., and it includes certain traditional hymns that are -- or have been -- part of the official liturgical books.

The authority of the Church must confirm all the liturgical texts; these sacred words are not to be altered in setting them to music.

All sacred music is “religious music,” obviously. But religious music would encompass everything from classic hymns to contemporary songs with a religious theme in a wide variety of styles and varying quality. Not all religious music is suitable for sacred worship, certainly.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of competent authority -- i.e., the bishop or the Holy See -- to determine the suitability of all religious music for sacred worship, even though parish musicians will usually choose the music for a parish Mass and other liturgical celebrations.

All Church musicians need to be able to make truly informed choices about appropriate music for use in the liturgy, based on authentic Church teaching. This is not always easy, nor is the choice simply a matter of taste.

Q: Many complain about popular or secular forms of music creeping into the liturgy, but this has been a perennial problem for the Church. What causes this recurring problem, and how have the great renaissances in sacred music such as those fostered by Palestrina and Pope St. Pius X turned the tide?

Father Weber: Yes, you could say that the concern about secular -- or frankly anti-Christian -- musical styles supplanting sacred music in worship is perennial -- though it may manifest itself differently in different cultures and historical periods.

For example, in early centuries, all music other than chanting was strictly forbidden by Church authorities, because use of musical instruments had strongly pagan associations.

In the 19th century, the style of opera had so greatly influenced Church music that Pope St. Pius X warned strongly against this “profane” music, and forbade composing music imitating operatic styles. He initiated the 20th Century Liturgical Movement by his 1903 document, “Tra le Sollecitudini.”

In particular he encouraged Gregorian chant, which he said in the third paragraph of the document, “has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music,” thus “it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: 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.”

It was Pope Pius X, also, who coined the phrase “active participation” of the people. And he also said in paragraph five of the document that “modern music is also admitted to the Church, since it, too, furnishes compositions of such excellence, sobriety and gravity, that they are in no way unworthy of the liturgical functions.”

After the Second Vatican Council it was the pop and folk style music of the late 1960s and 1970s that dominated newly composed music for worship -- Catholic and Protestant. Despite the Constitution on the Liturgy’s emphasis on the “pride of place” for Gregorian chant in the liturgy, the council’s teaching was ignored, and chant virtually disappeared.

The reasons for this are many and complex. But one major element was plain confusion and misunderstanding. The liturgical reform following the Council was astoundingly rapid, and serious upheavals in the secular world of those times also affected the anti-authoritarian mood within the Church.

This was played out dramatically in the liturgy. Changes were made precipitously with too little consultation with the bishops.

During the papacy of Pope John Paul II, we began to see a sober reassessment of the post-conciliar liturgical changes, culminating in his last encyclical, “Ecclesia de Eucharistia.”

The present “renaissance” in liturgical music we are now seeing is in large part due to Pope Benedict XVI and his many scholarly works on the subject even before he became pope.

The historic heritage of sacred music, then, always serves as an indispensable teacher and model of what best serves the celebration of sacred worship, and leads worshipers to greater holiness.

Q: Why did the Second Vatican Council state that Gregorian chant should be given "pride of place" in the Church's liturgy?

Father Weber: The Second Vatican Council's constitution on the liturgy, "Sacrosanctum Concilium," as well as numerous statements of the Popes and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal [GIRM], teach us that Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony -- that is, sacred music sung in harmony -- such as compositions of Palestrina, are to enjoy "pride of place" in sacred worship.

This means that chant is not only to be in common use in the liturgy, but it is also to provide examples and inspirations for new compositions.

The reason for this is to assure a genuine organic development in the sacred music Catholics experience in worship -- in continuity with the Church's history, and transcending limitations of time and cultures.

Understanding and appreciating this universality in Catholic music for worship might be seen as one facet of the obedience of faith.

We need to remember, of course, that the Council teaches under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God is telling us both how he wants to be worshiped, and what best serves the religious needs of those gathered for sacred rites.

Before all else, worship is about God. It is the duty of the creature to know, love and serve the Creator, and to render to God the service of prayer, praise and thanksgiving that is his due.

Worship is about us, the creatures, only insofar as we desire with all our hearts to serve God as he tells us he wants to be served.

Historically, Gregorian chant is in direct, organic development with ancient cantilation -- chanting -- patterns of the psalms in temple and synagogue. This was the background and experience of the first Christians. So our chanting today is in direct relationship with theirs.

One can see, then, that when we sing the chant, we are truly "in connection" with our fathers and mothers in the faith.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph heard and sang many of these patterns of sacred chant in synagogue and temple worship. The apostles, the martyrs, the great saints whose witness continues to inspire us today, were all nourished on these traditions of sacred chanting.

Even the saints and blesseds of our own day -- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, for example -- all sang, heard and knew the chant and the traditions of sacred music inspired by the chant.

They were formed in this "school of sacred music" that is the chant, and, to borrow a phrase from St. Athanasius, the "gymnasium of spiritual exercises" that is the Psalter -- the Psalms of David.

I think, too, of my grandparents and parents, so many beloved family members, teachers and friends, who have gone before us "marked with the sign of faith."

How they loved the sacred chants, and passed them on to me with piety, devotion and reverence. What an opportunity to participate in the Communion of Saints. What could be richer or more spiritually satisfying?

Gregorian chant serves the word of God. It has no other purpose than to draw us to the sacred text, especially the Psalms, and to enable us to treasure God's word ever more deeply in our hearts.

It is entirely free of anything that is contrary to the faith, free of purely human agendas or experiences that lead us away from God's will and plan for us. To use the language of our computer age: The chant is "safe and secure." No viruses can enter.

Q: Benedict XVI has given a number of speeches discussing the importance of preserving the Church's heritage of sacred music, and a number of documents have been issued by the Holy See calling the universal Church back to that grand tradition, yet little seems to have changed on the ground. Why is there resistance to what should be seen as a form of Vatican II's concept of "ressourcement," that is, return to the sources?

Father Weber: Perhaps it is not so much resistance as a lack of communication and ineffective teaching that stalled things.

Pope Benedict is tireless in his teaching -- even before he became Pope -- for example, "A New Song for the Lord." An accomplished musician himself, he fully understands the power of music on the human heart, thus the central role of music in the liturgy.

Clearly, part of our task is to help "get the word out." I think we can already see many positive results of the recent actions of the Holy See concerning the liturgy.

For one thing, there is a growing interest among Catholic people in reviving their immensely rich heritage of music and art, and a real desire for greater beauty, reverence and solemnity in worship.

But when there is actual resistance? In the end, I believe that this comes down to the perpetual struggle between good and evil. God is constantly giving us all the grace we need to know, love and serve him.

But we are tempted by the devil, and suffer under the effects of original sin, so we sometimes make choices that, sadly, draw us away from God our Creator, and even extinguish the fire of love in our hearts.

It is the duty of all the pastors -- that God in his love has given us -- to call people back to that which will bring us true peace and blessedness. With great wisdom, over the centuries the popes, the Councils, have understood the importance of sacred music, art, architecture and ritual in the spiritual formation of the human person.

As a result, they have never ceased to teach us about the care that must be exercised in cultivating all sacred arts that serve divine worship.

Now it is our job to receive this teaching and implement it in our lives for our spiritual good.

Q: The book "Why Catholics Can't Sing" highlighted the abysmal state of congregational singing present in most American parishes. Why do you think parishes will be able to handle Gregorian chant? Isn't that harder to sing?

Father Weber: The author, Thomas Day, suggested -- among other things -- that people don't sing because the music they often encounter at Mass is not really worth the effort. Silence is one response to music that is inappropriate -- whether from the standpoint of aesthetics or theology.

Another factor is the disappearance of choirs from parishes, since choirs can effectively lead and encourage congregational singing.

It's encouraging to know that many people who are discovering chant for the first time are so strongly attracted by its beauty and solemnity that they want to become a part of its revival.

Speaking from experience, I would agree that Gregorian chant may require a greater discipline, more attention and sacrifice of time and energy in order to "make it happen" in our parishes.

But difficulty is not a real impediment.

In our American society we greatly value sports. I'm a Green Bay Packers fan myself, rabid, actually. I'm really grateful to the Packers for all the hours they spend in practice and preparation for their games. All the sacrifices they make. It's worth it.

The payoff is really something awesome. We, the fans, would settle for no less. Doesn't this same expectation apply to the things of God? It really isn't that hard to understand, is it?

St. Augustine taught the people of Hippo: "Cantare amantis est." Singing is characteristic of a lover. If the supreme love is, as we believe, between Christ, the Bridegroom, and the Church, his Bride -- can any effort be spared to express this love in true beauty? Is any sacrifice too much?

We don't have to guess at the song. This tremendous Lover of ours tells us the song that he wants to hear from our lips and our hearts.

This is our Catholic faith. What more need be said? Let us begin!

Thursday 3 July 2008

The Missal of Benedict XVI

Courtesy of the blog, Summorum Pontificum and the "astute" observer on the Regina Caeli combox known as your humble Vox Cantor...

There is a very encouraging report making its way around the blogs. Rorate Caeli posted about it here and Fr. Z. here.

Here's the substance of the report:


The rite of the Mass [Rorate: i.e. the Mass of Paul VI] could change. According to some indiscretions, Benedict XVI has charged the Congregation for Divine Worship to study some modifications in the liturgy. In particular, the Pope is said to have the intention to restore Latin for the formula for the Eucharistic consecration within the Mass in the "vernacular language", i.e. the one celebrated in the different national languages. The same could happen to the formulae of Baptism, Confirmation, Confession and of the other sacraments. In addition, the exchange of peace among the faithful during the Mass, which today takes place prior to the distribution of the Eucharist, could be anticipated (as in the Ambrosian rite) to the offertory so as not to disturb the recollection that precedes Communion.

These would be changes which would be added to the changes in the liturgy and regarding sacred vestments which the Pope, together with his Master of Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, has made in recent months, to recover ancient traditions: the restoration of the crucifix at the center of the altar, the distribution of Communion to the faithful in the mouth while kneeling, the recovery of the pastoral staff of Pius IX (the ferula), the changing of the style of pallium (the strip of white wool with red crosses worn by the Pope), the restoration of the papal throne used in the Consistory and the celebration of Mass with the back to the assembly, as happened in January in the Sistine Chapel.

A poster on the thread at Rorate Caeli made an astute observation:

I recall a video on You Tube by Bishop Bernard Fellay of the SSPX. It was from May of 2007 from their chapel in Oregon; he was giving a conference. At the time, he was not too confident that there would even be the motu proprio which came, thanks be to God, not long thereafter.

However, in this lecture he said, if I can paraphrase, “about a year ago spring 2006) I was made aware that a high-level panel was in secret, working on a new Missal for the Novus Ordo to repair the damage and make it more Catholic."

Essentially, it involved fewer options, though one option would be using the “Offertory” from the 1962 Missal in the vernacular in the Novus Ordo and the
suppression of all Eucharistic Prayers except EPI, the Roman Canon, and EPIII.

The three year lectionary would remain.

If this were to happen, it would make sense and it would coincide with the new Vox Clara Commission translation including the “pro multis.”

Could this then be true?

Could we also be on the verge of the elimination of the indult for Communion in the hand and a strong push or even mandatory ad orientem celebration?

If the above happens, would that not be a “Novus Ordo” that the SSPX, while not required to celebrate, could accept without theological reservation?
Certainly worth hoping and praying for.

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Pope Benedict to only give Communion to kneelers--Marini

VATICAN CITY (AP) - A papal aide says Pope Benedict XVI intends to return to the old way of distributing Communion at Masses.

Benedict's master of liturgical ceremonies said in an interview Wednesday in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that the pontiff will place the Communion host in the mouths of the faithful who kneel before him.

That's how Roman Catholics received Communion in the years before the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. The reforms made it possible for faithful to take the host in their hands while standing.

Benedict gave Communion to kneeling faithful during his trip this month to southern Italy.

The aide, Monsignor Guido Marini, says that distributing Communion the old way helps faithful be devout.

Saturday 14 June 2008

Toronto Archbishop Thomas C. Collins celebrates Mass in Latin "ad orientem"

To the musical perfection of Giovanni Pierluigi Palestrina's Missa Veni Sponsa Christi and William Byrd's Confirma Hoc, Deus; Toronto Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins today ordained the Reverend Brother Michael Eades to the Diaconate.

Reverend Brother Eades is a new Deacon of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Toronto.

Archbishop Collins celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite (1970/2000 Roman Missal) in Latin and facing "ad orientem"--to the east.

The significance of this cannot be underestimated.

"Ad orientem" has been mistakenly been referred to as the priest saying Mass with his "back to the people." This posture is the norm in the Traditional Latin Mass or the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite as referred to in Pope Benedict's motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum. However, what is little understood by the catholic-laity and many priests is that the Novus Ordo or Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite can and should be celebrated in this posture. In two places in the rubrics of the Mass the priest is instructed to "turn" to the people presuming, therefore, that he is not already facing them!

Archbishop Collins was an inspiration this morning leading the congregation "on a pilgrimage" with his "face before God." He spoke in his homily of the need for all us to evangelise while linking that with the day's scripture readings and what is now a particular charism imparted by the Holy Spirit through His Grace upon Reverend Brother Eades as he is now able to proclaim the Gospel at Mass.

Founded by Father Jonathan Robinson, C.O. the Fathers of the Toronto Oratory serve two parishes, Holy Family where the Oratory is located and St. Vincent de Paul, the neigbouring parish. Saint Philip's Seminary is an apostolate of the Oratory. It is affiliated with the Pontifical University of the Lateran and has been authorised to grand degrees by the Province of Ontario. It accepts students for the priesthood who are sponsored by their diocese or by their religious order.

May God abundantly bless Archbishop Collins as he shepherd's this most difficult archdiocese.

May God abundantly bless Father Jonathan Robinson and all the Fathers and Brothers of the Oratory for their work and service to His people in Toronto.

May God abundantly bless Reverend Brother Michael Eades as he continues along the journey of the call of Our LORD to His holy priesthood.

This morning, for the first time in my life I kissed a Bishop's ring.

It was the first time in my life that I actually wanted to!

Special thanks to Greg Schilhab for the Copyright photos.
You can visit and see his wonderful work at:


Monday 26 May 2008

Our Lady of America, Pray for Us

A fascinating and little known but growing awareness of Sister Mary Ephrem (Mildred Neuzil) 1916-2000 and her visions of the Blessed Virgin under the title of Our Lady of America approved by her spiritual director, the late Archbishop Paul Francis Liebold.

Could we consider for a moment what would happen if the American Bishops erected the statue shown below in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington and the consecrated America to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

From the incredible and powerful history and testimony at the official website.

A movement of great consequence has commenced for a definite response by the United States Catholic Bishops in response to private revelations which long ago received official Church recognition as having occurred in the United States. The revelations included apparitions of Our Lord and St. Joseph as well as St. Gabriel and St. Michael, as well as apparitions of The Blessed Virgin Mary as "Our Lady of America" to Sister Mary Ephrem (Mildred Neuzil), of the Precious Blood Sisters (1933-1979) who was later a Contemplative of the Indwelling Trinity (1979 - until death) . Sister Mary Ephrem, deceased on January 10th, 2000, said she was asked by The Blessed Virgin Mary to draw a picture according to the vision of Our Lady of America and have a statue constructed accordingly and placed after a solemn procession into the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, D.C.. The Blessed Virgin Mary wishes to be honored in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Washington D.C. as Our Lady of America. Our Lady says that if this is done, the United States of America would turn back toward morality and the shrine would become a place of "wonders."

Prayer to Our Lady of America, Patroness of our Land Written at the behest of Our Lady, October 5, 1956 by Sister Mary Ephrem

Oh Immaculate Mother, Queen of our country, open our hearts, our homes, and our land to the coming of Jesus, your Divine Son. With Him, reign over us, O heavenly Lady, so pure and so bright with the radiance of Gods light shining in and about you. Be our leader against the powers of evil set upon wresting the world of souls, redeemed at such a great cost by the sufferings of your Son and of yourself, in union with Him, from that same Savior, Who loves us with infinite charity.

We gather about you, O chaste and holy Mother, Virgin Immaculate, Patroness of our beloved Land, determined to fight under your banner of holy purity against the wickedness that would make all the world an abyss of evil, without God and without your loving maternal care.

We consecrate our hearts, our homes, our Land to your Most Pure Heart, O great Queen, that the kingdom of your Son, our Redeemer and our God, may be firmly established in us.

We ask no special sign of you, sweet Mother, for we believe in your great love for us, and we place in you our entire confidence. We promise to honor you by faith, love, and the purity of our lives according to your desire.

Reign over us, then, O Virgin Immaculate, with your Son Jesus Christ. May His Divine Heart and your most chaste Heart be ever enthroned and glorified among us. Use us, your children of America, as your instruments of peace among men and nations. Work your miracle of grace in us, so that we may be a glory to the Blessed Trinity, Who created, redeemed, and sanctifies us.

May your valiant spouse, St. Joseph, with the holy Angels and Saints, assist you and us in "renewing the face of the earth." Then when our work is over, come, Holy Immaculate Mother, and as our Victorious Queen, lead us to the eternal kingdom, where your Son reigns forever as King.

(200 days)

Nihil Obstat: Daniel Pilarczyk, S.T.D.
Imprimatur: +Paul F. Leibold, V.G.
Cincinnati, Jan. 25, 1963

Thursday 22 May 2008

Corpus Christi in Rome: Communion Kneeling and on the Tongue!

Reprinted here from New Catholic at Rorate Caeli from Pope Benedict's homily today:

Adoring the God of Jesus Christ, made bread, broken for love, is the most valid and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday and of today. Kneeling in front of the Eucharist is a profession of freedom: who bends to Jesus cannot and must not prostrate before any earthly power, as strong as it may be. We, Christians, kneel only before God, before the Most Holy Sacrament, because we know and believe that in it is present the one true God, who has created the world and has so loved the world to give his only begotten Son.

We prostrate before a God who first inclined himself toward man, as Good Samaritan, to rescue him and give him life, and who knelt before us to cleanse our filthy feet. Adoring the Body of Christ means believing that there, in that piece of Bread, there is truly Christ, who gives true meaning to life, to the immense universe as well as to the smallest creature, to the entire human history as well as to the briefest existence. The adoration is a prayer which prolongs Eucharistic celebration and communion, and in which the soul continues to nourish itself: it is nourished with love, with truth, with peace; it nourished itself with hope, because the One before whom we prostrate does neither judge us, nor humiliates us, but transforms us and makes us free.
Benedict XVI
Homily (Most Holy Body of Christ)
May 22, 2008

Reprinted here from Father Z at What Does The Prayer Really Say:

During the Holy Father’s Corpus Christi Mass, the Holy Father gave Communion only to people kneeling at a kneeler set up before him. This is a very interesting development. The Holy Father has been trying to provoke conversation and a rethinking of many practices, not very good innovations, that have become more or less standard. You can see the kneeler set out.

And the people knelt and received on the tongue. I am sure they were instructed to.

I watched and rewatched the coverage and did not spot anyone receiving in another way from the Holy Father. In so many places it is simply accepted that Mass must be celebrated "facing the people", versus populum, instead of "facing God", ad orientem. So the Holy Father celebrated Holy Mass in the Sistine Chapel, when he was also going to do something very much in his role as Bishop of Rome, when he baptized. He got the conversation going.
Now, in another moment when he is very much Bishop of his diocese, for this great City celebration of the Eucharist, he adminsters Holy Communion on the tongue at a kneeler.
Surely this will start another conversation.
Remember that just the other day the newspaper of the Diocese of Toronto attacked Benedict’s reforms as "backward steps" and the mere suggestion that Communion in the hand wasn’t wonderful.
Remember that His Holiness’s Secretary in the Cong. for Divine Worship, Archbp. Malcolm Ranjith, wrote a preface to a book, Dominus Est: riflessioni di un vescovo dell’Asia Centrale sulla Santa Comunione, printed by the Vatican press which argues for a return to Communion kneeling and on the tongue.
The book is by Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan and it will eventually be in English, I am sure. In the Vatican’s newspaper, Bp. Schneider asked "Wouldn’t it correspond better to the deepest reality and truth about the consecrated bread if even today the faithful would kneel on the ground to receive it, opening their mouths like the prophet receiving the word of God and allowing themselves to be nourished like a child?"
It may be that at the next Mass Pope Benedict will do the same. Maybe he won’t.
But people are now going to be talking.
Piece by piece, he is challenging assumptions.
Brick by brick he is rebuilding what was devastated.
His Marshall Plan for the Church is very much underway.

• • • • • •

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Clarity from Archbishop Prendergast, S.J.

Nearly spilling my coffee on the laptop keyboard this morning when seeing this, I reprint here from LifeSite for your edification...

Archbishop: For the Clergy, Obedience to Church "Requires Preaching About the Moral Evil of Contraception"

By John-Henry Westen

BARRYS BAY, May 13, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Archbishop of the Canadian capital city of Ottawa addressed the convocation of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Barrys Bay Ontario last week, leaving attendees awestruck. The speech focused on Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae. Faithful Catholics leaving the event told LifeSiteNews.com "I've been waiting 35 years to hear that from a Canadian bishop."

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast described for the graduates and their families the tumultuous times of the 60's when Humanae Vitae was published (July 25, 1968). He recalled that many expected a "green light" on contraception from the Vatican and were "thunderstruck" when the encyclical was published.

"In the midst of the chaos caused by the sexual revolution and the arrival of the birth control pill, many Catholics felt unsure of the Church's position on artificial contraception," said Archbishop Prendergast. "The Church responded to this urgent need for clear teaching and sound pastoral guidance when Pope Paul VI released his encyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) in 1968."

"We celebrate this year the 40th anniversary of that prophetic document," said Prendergast. "Time has shown it to be a gift from Christ to men and women everywhere. The late Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, former President of the Pontifical Council for the Family and one of Canada's great churchmen, called Humanae Vitae 'one of the most important documents in the history of the Church.'"

He explained: "The encyclical gives the Church a deeper understanding into the beauty of married love and responsible parenthood. It offers a clearer understanding of the harm of contraception and the great value of Natural Family Planning (NFP). Further, it challenges married couples, healthcare professionals and clergy to live and teach these profound truths about human sexuality and dignity."

Archbishop Prendergast's approach to the matter was refreshing and new, while he did not shy away from the fact that Catholics must obey Christ on the matter, he pointed out that embracing the teaching had tremendous benefits. "Should Catholics embrace this teaching just because the Church tells them they must? While obedience is a necessary virtue, the benefits of learning and living Humanae Vitae should convince couples of its wisdom," he said. One of the many blessings he listed as coming from couples embracing the teaching was, "Having happier children within stronger families."

Moreover, he said that obedience to Humanae Vitae's teaching fell not only on married couples but also the clergy. "For the clergy," he said, "this same obedience and submission of will and intellect requires preaching about the moral evil of contraception and how it violates God's plan for marriage, human happiness, and the dignity each person."

See related coverage:
Exclusive Interview: Ottawa Archbishop Explains Why Pro-Abortion Politicians are Denied Communion

View Story on LifeSiteNews.com

I'm speechless I say...speechless!

Monday 28 April 2008

Getting Jesus off the floor - one person at a time and it begins with you!

An update of an old post of April 28, 2008

After work today, I attended St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto for the late afternoon Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I arrived early and was able to pray the Rosary during the exposition and adoration which occurs daily at the Cathedral from after the lunch hour Mass until the end of the day. This daily exposition and adoration has been going on for as far as I can remember. It is probably what has kept this wretched City from sinking even further into the abyss.

The Cathedral in Toronto is indeed a wonderful example of Gothic revival. Oh, I could make a few improvements such as restoring the High Altar and a Communion Rail; but other than that it is quite stunning. Its windows must be amongst the most beautiful in Canada. Through the St. Michael's Choir School they have kept alive at every Sunday and Holy Day liturgy, Gregorian chant and the sacred choral music of the Church's patrimony.

You probably think a "but" is coming; well gentle people, it is.

After I received the Eucharist (on the tongue) I had no sooner closed my mouth and the woman who preceded me let out a little gasp; there He lay dropped on the carpet, 5 cm from my right foot and my steel-toed construction boot. She dropped Him, she dropped Him from her hand and He bounced off the toe of that boot.

How is this possible that she dropped Him from her hand? I mean, did she just let go!

Everyone stopped, including me. I stood perfectly still with Our LORD lying there beside my foot. Father bent down slowly and picked Him up and held Him in his hand against the ciborium

If that were not enough, a few moments later as I was kneeling on the right aisle the last communicant approached. She took the Host and started to walk away without consuming. I put up my hands to gain Father's attention and was prepared to stop her (after all, I am a Knight of Columbus) if he could not. Fortunately, she got the message and consumed Our LORD. Perhaps, she was just lazy or sloppy, perhaps she meant no sacrilege.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta often opined that this change (an indult which is optional for the local Bishop to accept and can be removed by the Pope) was the worst problem in the world today; "Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand."

If you are in your mid to late 50's, you will have had a similar experience to myself. When I celebrated my First Communion I was on my knees at the communion rail. Together, with my other classmates we held a white linen cloth which was hung over the rail by the altar boys and which we held up under our chins. An altar boy accompanied the priest holding a brass plate called a paten and placed it under our chins. The priest approached and held up the Holy Eucharist and with it made the Sign of the Cross whilst saying; "Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen" which translates; May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ bring you to eternal life. Amen.

A few years later I was told that I was "lucky" because I was part of the first class of altar boys that did not need to learn Latin. By this time, and in the new church building, there was no communion rail and nobody knelt any more for Holy Communion. People lined up and approached the priest in a similar fashion to what they did at McDonald's or now, Tim Hortons. We altar boys still held the paten and people received the Eucharist on their tongues. When the last person had communicated the altar boys would carefully carry their patens horizontally to the Altar and assist the priest with the ablution. I can clearly remember seeing little pepper sized particles of the Eucharist on the paten which the priest wiped off with his fingers into the chalice after which I rinsed his fingers over the chalice and he would consume the remains.

I don't need to describe how Our Blessed LORD is received today. So instead, let me pose a few questions:

Do you wash your hands before receiving his body?

Do you "make a throne with your left and receive Him in your right" and then bring your hands to your mouth to feed yourself? Or, do you take Him with your fingers and pop Him into your mouth like a cracker or a potato chip?

Do you purify your hands afterwards as was the actual practice in those days prior to the ninth century when the few laity that actually did receive the Eucharist received in their hands?

Have you ever noticed any particles left on your hands?

Do you think any particles would have fallen to the floor to be tramped under afoot, or mopped up and poured down a municipal drain or vacuumed up from the ubiquitous carpet?

Do you think someone did not consume the Sacred Species but instead stole Him so as to dishonour and defame Him in a black satanic ritual?

Did you ever find Him in a hymn book or under a pew or lying on the asphalt in the parking lot?

Something to think about isn't it?

There is an abbreviated Latin saying in the Church, Lex orendi, lex credendi. That is to say, the law of prayer becomes the law of belief. We are sensory beings and how we worship, how we pray, what we see and smell and hear affects how we think, how we believe and what we believe.

Receiving Holy Communion in the hand was an abuse that began in Holland and spread to Belgium and then to England before crossing the Atlantic. It was the late 1960's and it was wrong. Pope Paul VI, at worst, an ineffectual shepherd, was either incapable or unwilling to stop what was considered to be an abuse and abomination. He condemned it, regretted it and then with absurdity, legalised it!

Just because we can does not mean that we should.

Throughout history, it was often the laity, or one nun as in St Catherine of Sienna or a holy priest as with St. Philip Neri with the gifts of the Holy Spirit who helped to rescue the church from its corruption. Who says that it cannot be you and me, one person at a time. You can fix the problem, it really is very simple and you can begin the next time you attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

You can join Pope Benedict's plan which is becoming clearer.

I just didn't think it would be lead from Kazakhstan.

This situation today is a perfect time to send you to read here about the Archbishop of Lima in Peru. He has just banned Communion-in-the-Hand!

Here is a podcast by the ubiquitous Father Z on the subject.

Here is a lengthy and necessary read by Jude A. Huntz which appeared in the March 1997 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

This was just posted by Fr. Thomas Kocik on the New Liturgical Movement.

Be sure to read this essay by the Most Reverend Athanasius Schneider, Auxilary Bishop of Karaganda in Kazakhstan.