Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Pilgrimage to Rome: Part V
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This is my fifth installment sharing the experiences I gained in my pilgrimage to Rome this year.  I hope you are enjoying these posts and that it is worth the time to post these images.  Please post a quick comment if you are enjoying these so I know that it is worth continuing.

In addition to the following photos, you may find more images of these churches, and all sites on my travel, at my Flickr page by clicking here.

This 5th installment features a number of different churches in Rome.

The first place of pilgrimage in this edition of my Pilgrimage to Rome post series is the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. This Church is the French Church in Rome.  The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to St. Denis the Areopagite and St. Louis IX, king of France.  The church's most famous treasure is Caravaggio's works on the life of St. Matthew. This include the three world-renowned canvases of The Calling of St Matthew (on the left wall), The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (above the altar), The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew (on the right wall).





Next is the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, which was built in the 8th Century.  The church offers the Greek-Melkite Rite.  On the outside of the Church is the famous La Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth), but equally important inside is the skull of St Valentine.





Santa Maria in Traspontina features beautiful one chapel inside which contains the two columns to which Peter and Paul were said to have been bound prior to their martyrdom in the circus of Nero nearby.  This is a Carmelite Church, as can be seen by the Devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.



Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches in Rome.  The basic floor plan dates back to the 340s, and the first sanctuary was built by Pope Callixtus I in 221.  The Church has many important mosaics.





Church of St. Agnes (Sant'Agnese in Agone) is a massive structure from the outside and inside has some of the most beautiful ceiling work I have seen in my travels.  The Church features the important relic of the young virgin martyr, St. Agnes - it contains her skull.






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Sunday, May 22, 2016
Despite All Human Misery, See the Presence of the Infinitely Good God
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Extract from Bishop Fellay’s sermon.

…Let us ask God to help us understand this mystery a little better and understand that despite all human misery, despite the fact that even a pope is now saying unbelievable things on morality and trying to tell us that sin is the state of grace – what we are hearing today is unbelievable, unheard of! – well, despite that, this pope can still accomplish actions that sanctify and save. God has not taken from him his power to bind and to loosen (see Mt. 16:19). He can do good and he still does. It is the same with the bishops. These are great mysteries. It does not mean that we approve the evil that is done; far from it, we reject it and guard ourselves from it. But at the same time we recognize that in the Church there is something stronger and greater than the things we see: there is God, the infinite God, infinitely holy, infinitely good. There is one path that has been given to us for our salvation, for there is no other. If we wish to go to heaven, we have to go through the Church, the Roman Catholic Church; there is no other path. We can try to invent whatever we want: it is all to no avail. It is the only path. So we must not leave the Church.

There are scandalous things that happen these days, it is true, for what we see now is a situation of growing confusion, a more and more chaotic situation. You ask one bishop what he thinks, you ask another bishop what he thinks and they give contradictory answers, even on the essentials: the Faith, what we must do to be saved. So it is extremely serious. And as time goes on, the situation spreads.

And at the same time, we see how God works in His Church. At the same time we see that, especially among the youngest, there is starting to be a reaction, even high up in the hierarchy. There are cardinals and bishops who are starting to say: “This is too much.” They are starting to speak out. I would say that we are no longer the only ones protesting and reacting; there are others. This is new.
Adherence to the Council no Longer the Condition for Belonging to the Church

And in our relations with Rome, there are even more astonishing things that seem to result from this chaotic situation. Recently, for the very first time, we were told in Rome that we are no longer required to accept the Council. Do you realize? This is huge! We were told: “You have the right to uphold this opinion.” It is not yet: “We were wrong,” it is not yet: “the Council was bad”, but it is: “the Council cannot be obligatory.” We cannot oblige someone to accept the Council in order to be Catholic. And yet that was what they had been telling us until now. Until two years ago, it was: “If you wish to be Catholic, you have to accept the Council, you have to accept the goodness of the new Mass.” And now they are telling us: “No, you do not have to, because it does not have that degree of obligation;” they use terms that are not precise enough. They tell us: “It is not doctrinal, it is pastoral.” Which is what we have been saying ourselves: “This Council is pastoral and did not wish to be obligatory.” And suddenly now they are granting us this: “It is true, this Council did not wish to be obligatory.”

What does that give us now? We shall see, but it is a step that to me seems capital. We are living at a time that I believe to be a pivoting point in the history of the Church, in the history of this time in which we are living, we might even say in the history of this Council. This is the first time we have been told – and they say it openly – that the non-acceptance of religious freedom, ecumenism, and the new liturgy is not a criterion for rejection by the Catholic Church. No one has the right to say that someone who does not agree with Nostra Aetate, the relations with non-Christian religions, ecumenism, and religious freedom is no longer Catholic. This is the first time in 50 years we have heard that!

And for us, it already seems that through these offers that seem a bit strong, it is already possible to see a coherent line of thought over the past year and a half, a line of thought that is very new as far as we are concerned. Again, we shall see how things develop; we have learned to be rather prudent in all this business. Is it just a fleeting moment? We do not think so! Now that they have given in on that point they cannot go back on it. Now that they have brought the Council down to the level of an opinion, they can no longer suddenly say that it actually was obligatory. These are very important things that are happening.

This does not at all mean, my dear brethren, that we have triumphed. It is a new phase in the war. It does not mean that since they say that, we are now going to have peace. Absolutely not. Besides, I would even go so far as to say that only a part of Rome says this, while another part still continues to say we are schismatic. The pope does not say so; he says that we are Catholic. But others say we are not. We are truly in an unbelievable situation.
In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum

In a situation like this, it is therefore obvious that we must grow in faith, take root in the Faith. And ceremonies like this one help us to do so. We must always return to God, to supernatural means, to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, to the saints who are there and who have won. They have won; they dominate the battle, the war in which we find ourselves. They are victorious. If we stay close to them, to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, if we seek her protection, the protection of the saints, then we are on the winning side. Obviously that does not relieve us of our obligations, the obligation to fight, the obligation to nourish our faith. But he who remains attached to God has this consolation, and even this certitude that comes from the virtue of hope: he will not be confounded. At the end of the ceremony, we will sing the Te Deum, whose last words are: “I have hoped in thee, I shall not be in confusion forever.” If we trust in God, we can be sure we will make it to heaven. Of course, we have to follow the commandments, we have to obey Him, but we can be sure we will make it to Heaven. For God has promised us His help, He has promised us His grace, and anyone who wants this grace and asks God for it will receive it.

We are not on earth with a fifty-fifty chance of winning or losing! That is not true: fifty per cent chance of going to Heaven, fifty per cent risk of going to hell. Absolutely not! God absolutely does not want us to be lost. He is the one who allows all these sufferings, these trials, not to make us fall, but to make us go to heaven, so that through these trials we may grow in virtue. Every time He allows a trial, He gives you the grace you need to be victorious. He wants you to be victorious; He does not want you to lose. Do not give in to defeatist, fearful visions that come from the devil. He is the only one who wishes to try to discourage you, by showing you your weaknesses – and we all have them! But God gives us His grace to make us strong and victorious.

So today let us lift up our eyes to heaven; the Church is not only on earth. When we consecrate this church, we think of the Church of heaven that we call the Heavenly Jerusalem. So let us raise our eyes to heaven. We are on earth for this and only for this: to go to heaven. And there is already a myriad of men who were here on earth like us and who are now in heaven; and they are our friends, and our fate is anything but indifferent to them. Let us ask their help, again, and especially that of the Virgin Mary. If she bothers to come down to earth to remind her children of the urgent need for prayer and penance, it is so that they can go to heaven. May this place that is now consecrated be a place that truly opens the gates of heaven, that leads you, all you who come into this church, to heaven where you will admire for all eternity the glory of God, the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, in union with all the angels and saints in heaven. Amen.

To preserve the sermon’s character, the oral style has been maintained.

source: FSSPX/MG – DICI no. 335 - May 6, 2016
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Thursday, May 19, 2016
The Third Secret Predicted a "Bad Council"
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Guest Post by David Martin

On the Feast of Pentecost, 2016, Fr. Ingo Dollinger, a long-time friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict told Dr. Maike Hickson that Cardinal Ratzinger [now Benedict XVI] told him in late summer 2000 that the Third Secret of Fatima spoke of "a bad council and a bad Mass" that was to come in the future (after 1960).

Consider the writings of nineteenth century Freemason and excommunicated priest, Canon Roca (1830-1893), who predicted that "the liturgy of the Roman Church will shortly undergo a transformation at an ecumenical council" in a move "to deprive the Church of its supernatural character, to amalgamate it with the world, to interweave the denominations ecumenically instead of letting them run side by side as separate confessions, and thus to pave the way for a standard world religion in the centralized world state."

Canon Roca speaks of a New World Order to come (Novus Ordo Seclorum) which would countermand the order of Apostolic Tradition. Yea, he speaks of "a bad council and a bad Mass" that would materialize after 1960, through which a wide body of the church would be misled.

We can understand the significance of 1960 as the appointed year for disclosing the Third Secret, since it was only two years later that they would convene the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), setting into motion the so-called reform of the Mass that would advance the Church's unity with the world.

Bear in mind that Benedict XVI has read the Fatima Third Secret, and being of serious import, he does not speak idly on weighty topics of this nature. Therefore, this latest scoop on the Third Secret should encourage Catholics concerning the documented accounts of what actually took place at Vatican Council II.

COUNCIL INFILTRATED 

In a word, Vatican II was hijacked and controlled by the Church's enemies, though this hijacking was done under the guise of a renewal so that unsuspecting Catholics would think that the ensuing change was the work of the Holy Spirit.

There is no disputing the disaster wrought by Vatican II and how it set into motion an insidious departure from tradition that has left the Holy City "half in ruins." Even as we recall the conciliar tempest that first convened in 1962, its gale force continues to uproot the Faith, blow apart revered Catholic practices, topple the Church’s edifice, and spread doctrinal debris throughout the Church.

Does this mean that Pope John XXIII was guilty of convoking a conspiratorial council? Nay. His design in convening the Council was not to change the Church, but to restate sacred tradition, evidenced in his opening speech at Vatican II on October 11, 1962: "The major interest of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred heritage of Christian truth be safeguarded and expounded with greater efficacy."

Without diluting the Faith, the pope was simply trying to adopt a more effective means of projecting the orthodox Faith to the modern world. His update did not include the watering down of doctrine or the alteration of liturgy, but consisted in utilizing state-of-the-art technology to better project the light of tradition to a spiritually darkened world.

For there were dangers threatening the Faith at that time. Apostasy was forthcoming and man was already on the eve of forgetting his Maker, so the pope was making a special effort to dispel the ensuing darkness and uphold the orthodox Faith "with greater efficacy."

To this end he and his best men worked arduously for almost three years to draft the outline for the Second Vatican Council, known as the 72 schemas. According to the most conservative thinkers of Rome, the preparatory schemata were orthodox and worthy of use, but modernists were enraged that the Holy Father had put together the outline without conferring with them beforehand. Hence a decision was made before the Council to block Pope John’s plan for Vatican II.

According to Michael Davies and many others, a number of "suspect theologians" hijacked the opening session of the Council by seizing control of its drafting commissions, thus enabling them to scrap Pope John’s plan and to draft a new plan of their own. A key instigator of the pack was Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx of the Netherlands, a known heretic who denied the historicity of the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and the Eucharist (Transubstantiation), and who had drafted and disseminated a 480-page critique aimed at rallying the radical "Rhine bishops" to reject the original plan for Vatican II. The design of these progressivists was to revive Luther’s "Reformation" under the guise of a renewal, something that Schillebeeckx had openly confessed to.

Benedict XVI himself pointed out in 2013 how a "virtual council" had risen up to usurp the "real Council" at Vatican II, and lamented how "it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy." (Benedict XVI, addressing the parish churches of Rome, February 14, 2013) This echoes the words of Pope Paul VI who stated that the good efforts at Vatican II were hampered by "the devil" who came along "to suffocate the fruits of the Ecumenical Council." (June 29, 1972) Hence it is worth recounting the opening session, that we have a clearer perspective of what really took place at the Second Vatican Council.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE COUNCIL 

At the center of this coup to overthrow Vatican II were Cardinals Alfrink, Frings, and Liénart of the Rhine Alliance. A crucial vote was to be taken to determine the members of the drafting commissions when Cardinal Liénart, a 30th degree Freemason, seized the microphone during a speech and demanded that the slate of 168 candidates be discarded and that a new slate of candidates be drawn up. His uncanny gesture was heeded by the Council and the election was postponed. Leinart’s action deflected the course of the Council and made history, and was hailed a victory in the press. The date was October 13, 1962, the 45th Anniversary of Our Lady’s last apparition at Fatima.    (Fr. Ralph Wiltgen, the Rhine Flows into the Tiber)

In his February 14, 2013, address to the clergy of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI brilliantly recounts this coup d’etat at Vatican II: "On the programme for this first day were the elections of the Commissions, and lists of names had been prepared, in what was intended to be an impartial manner, and these lists were put to the vote. But right away the Fathers said: 'No, we do not simply want to vote for pre-prepared lists. We are the subject.' Then, it was necessary to postpone the elections, because the Fathers themselves…wanted to prepare the lists themselves. And so it was. Cardinal Liénart of Lille and Cardinal Frings of Cologne had said publicly: no, not this way. We want to make our own lists and elect our own candidates."

The above statement is of no small significance. Herein Benedict confesses that Liénart and his clique rejected the list of candidates that John XXIII had approved in an "impartial manner," so that they could create their own list and elect their own candidates in a partial manner.

The preeminent Romano Amerio who had contributed significantly to the drafting of the original Vatican II outline cites the illegality of this move, saying, "This departure from the original plan" came about "by an act breaking the Council's legal framework" so that "the Council was self-created, atypical, and unforeseen." (Professor Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, 1985)

When the "election" resumed, a number of radical theologians were then appointed to chair the commissions, including Hans Kung, Karl Rahner, de Lubac, Schillebeeckx and others whose writings had been blacklisted under Pius XII. The liberals now occupied nearly 60% of the seats, giving them the needed power to steer the Council in their direction. Thereupon they proceeded to trash the pope’s carefully prepared agenda that had taken nearly three years to formulate.

Through deceitful promises and skillful use of the media, the Council approved their plan for a new Mass on December 7, 1962, known as the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. This in turn became the hub of the liturgical reform that was to set the Church on a new revolutionary path of change.

The Constitution was principally the work of the infamous Annibale Bugnini whom the pope had earlier removed from two posts because of sinister activity. The Constitution in fact was the outgrowth of the one schema drafted by Bugnini, which Vatican liberals had spared because of its designs for a new Mass. It is important to note that Monsignor Bugnini, and not the pope, was the author of the New Mass.

What is mind boggling is the dictatorial force wherewith the conciliar elite took the law into their own hands and were able to junk Pope John’s outline for Vatican II without rebuttal. With the procedural rules laid down by the pope, a mere one-third vote was needed to get the schemata passed, which in fact did pass by a 40% vote. But the Rhine fathers stirred up a ruckus and insisted that this minority vote not be honored in favor of the 60% vote against the schemata, even telling the pope, "This is inadmissible!" They abhorred the orthodoxy of the preparatory outline with its strict formulations and resented the idea of having it imposed on them by a pope who "clung to the old absolute traditions."

The pope, fearing a tumult, backed down and consented to let the Rhine fathers have their way against game rules. Though he had planned things differently, his strength failed him at this point, thus allowing the pirates of innovation to wrest the Council from his hands.

Hence the most meticulous and painstaking preparation ever undertaken for any council of Church history was suddenly dumped to the glee of this Council confederacy. Only the liturgical schema remained.

We gather that Cardinal Tisserant, the key draftsman of the 1962 Moscow-Vatican Treaty who presided at the opening session, was at the center of this coup to usurp the Vatican Council. According to Jean Guitton, the famous French academic, Tisserant had showed him a painting of himself and six others, and told him, "This picture is historic, or rather, symbolic. It shows the meeting we had before the opening of the Council when we decided to block the first session by refusing to accept the tyrannical rules laid down by John XXIII." (Vatican II in the Dock, 2003)

This story of what happened at Vatican II is well documented and has been told in great depth by the most qualified witnesses, including Father Ralph Wiltgen, Monsignor Bandas, Michael Davies, Cardinal Heenan and many others. Archbishop Lefebvre himself who was on the Central Preparatory Committee for checking and overseeing all the Council documents had this to say:

"From the very first days, the Council was besieged by the progressive forces. We experienced it, felt it…We had the impression that something abnormal was happening and this impression was rapidly confirmed; fifteen days after the opening session not one of the seventy-two schemas remained. All had been sent back, rejected, thrown into the waste- paper basket…The immense work that had been found accomplished was scrapped and the assembly found itself empty-handed, with nothing ready. What chairman of a board meeting, however small the company, would agree to carry on without an agenda and without documents? Yet that is how the Council commenced." (Archbishop Lefebvre, Open Letter to Confused Catholics, 1986)

This is how the modern "reform" was born. Pope John’s agenda for Vatican II would never resurrect from that point, but would remain buried to this day. The rebellious "virtual council" would now proceed to put together the Vatican II we all know, including its sixteen documents and its reform of the Mass. The documents would contain elements of orthodoxy here and there, but this would only be for cosmetic purposes. Under the pretext of a restoration, the documents would apologize for tradition and would attempt to unite the Catholic Church with other world religions.

That is to say, the documents themselves, and not any misinterpretation thereof, would generate the problems ahead, since they would be penned by the pope’s enemies and not his friends. For instance, it was the Freemason Msgr. Bugnini who oversaw the drafting of the 1964 Vatican II instruction Inter Oecumenici, which outlined the new ruling for the Mass and sanctuary. The following from Article 91 laid the foundation for the Novus Ordo Mass:

"The main altar should preferably be freestanding, to permit walking around it and celebration facing the people"

The Mass of Vatican II was historic in that it marked the first time in history that the priest offered the Holy Sacrifice facing the people with his back to the tabernacle. This point is affirmed by acclaimed liturgist Monsignor Klaus Gamber, whom Pope Benedict while a cardinal proclaimed as a prophet for our time: "We can say and convincingly demonstrate that neither in the Eastern nor the Western Church was there ever a celebration facing the people."

Yea, we can say that the profanation of the Mass at Vatican II effectively served to bring about a shift of focus in which the emphasis today is on the community and not on God. The church today is all but alienated from the Faith, thanks to "a bad council and a bad Mass" that altered the Faith.

Before his election to the papacy as Pius XII, Cardinal Pacelli in 1931 gave his response to the Third Secret of Fatima, saying that the Secret of Our Lady was "a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in her liturgy." It goes to show just how closely the Faith is tied to the liturgy of Holy Mass.

We are grateful to Fr. Dollinger for truthfully relaying what Cardinal Ratzinger said about the Third Secret. His word is certainly credible when we consider that St. Padre Pio was his personal confessor for many years. This speaks volumes!

Fr. Dollinger relayed to Dr. Hickson yet another revelation from his in-depth conversation with Cardinal Ratzinger in 2000, namely, that there is still a part of the Third Secret that hasn't been released. "There is more than what we published," Ratzinger said. We pray that Fr. Dollinger might come forward with still more revelations of this kind.

But especially, we pray that Pope Emeritus Benedict will finally disclose the entire Third Secret of Fatima to the Church for its encouragement and edification. The good pope has no one to answer to but God Himself. If His Holiness feels remorse for having fled his post "for fear of the wolves," he can certainly make up for it by disclosing the truth to the Church, even if it has to be done in a private interview. The church today is bewitched by "the operation of error to believe lying" (2 Thess. 2:10), so the truth of the Fatima Secret is needed to liberate the church from this curse. "The truth will make you free." (John 8:32)
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Monday, May 16, 2016
Fast During the Whit Embertide This Week
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During the Octave of Pentecost, the Church traditionally celebrates the Summer Ember Days. This Wednesday is Ember Wednesday. This Friday and Saturday will also be Ember Days. As per the traditional discipline of the Church, Ember Days are days of Fast and Partial Abstinence. (Friday of course being a day of complete abstinence). If you wish to read more about the Ember Days, please see my post from a prior year.

This week serves as an excellent opportunity for all of us to fulfill Heaven's request at Lourdes and Fatima of "Penance, Penance, Penance." (We can also read about the importance of Penance from the very teaching of our Lord and King in the Gospels, for example see Lk 13:3,5 and Mt 4:17, 11:20-21; Mt 12:41)
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Warning Before the 100th Anniversary of Fatima
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This timely warning comes from the recent newsletter of the Society of St. Vincent Ferrer.  Let us do all that we can in the next year to spread the news of Fatima, to participate in our Lady's request for the Five First Saturdays, and to pray the Rosary daily.

In 1689, our Lord gave a message to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that the King of France was to consecrate France to His Sacred Heart. The king disobeyed our Lord's request and exactly one hundred years later, the French Revolution began. The Revolution in France, contrary to what we were all taught in school, caused so much devastation and destruction to the French way of life, the Catholic Church in France, and the lives of many French priests and nuns. (A side note: St. John Marie Vianney received his First Holy Communion in a barn in hiding as a direct result of the French Revolution.) 
 Imprisoned during the Revolution and shortly before losing his head at the guillotine, the French king finally made the consecration of his nation in obedience to God's request. The French Revolution truly devastated the Church in France and brought many, many evils. In many ways, the revolution we are seeing today (from the Errors of Russia) is but a continuation of the French Revolution on a global scale. 
We are nearing one hundred years that the popes have disobeyed Our Lady at Fatima. They have failed to reveal the full text of the Secret of Fatima (in totu) and they have not consecrated Russia to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart in the manner requested by Heaven. Our Lord told Sr. Lucia that the pope would eventually consecrate Russia, but it would be too late, like the French king. Terrible chastisements have already inflicted our world and worse ones are coming so long as this disobedience continues. Terrible wars and natural disasters are on the horizon, nations will be annihilated, and the True Faith will be completely lost in many places. We must each do our best to do as our Lady asked. 
Our Lady has promised that once she is obeyed there will be a time of peace in the world (complete peace!). Russia will convert en masse to the one true and only Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation. A period of glorious flourishing will occur for mankind and the Catholic Church. The Immaculate Heart of Mary will be honored everywhere. Let us pray that this glorious restoration will occur soon, and let us do our part. (Small note: The Miracle of Fatima took place on 13 Oct 1917, however, it was not until 1929 that Our Lord told Sr. Lucia that now was the time for the Holy Father to consecrate Russia.)

It is extremely important for every Catholic to be familiar with Our Lady's Message and strive to live it as best as possible. This includes (1) the Daily Recitation of the Rosary, (2) The First Saturday Devotion, (3) Making acts of Reparation to her Immaculate Heart (and the Sacred Heart and Blessed Sacrament), (4) Doing Penance, especially the duties of our state in life, (5) Wearing her Brown Scapular, and (6) Praying and doing penance for the Pope, especially so that the Pope, in union with all the bishops of the world, will consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  
Heaven gave us several unique and special prayers at Fatima. We should pray these often as well. You can find them HERE (just scroll down a bit).
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Sunday, May 15, 2016
Pentecost Sunday @ St. John Cantius Catholic Church (Chicago IL)
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On Pentecost Sunday at St. John Cantius, a beautiful ancient custom takes place at the end of Mass that dates back at least to the 5th century.

In Rome, rose petals would be dropped through the the circular “oculus” at the Pantheon (now a minor basilica called “Sancta Maria ad martyres”). The petals would fall to the crowd below reminiscent of the coming of the Holy Spirit like tongues of flame.

This beautiful custom takes place at the end of the Masses on Pentecost Sunday at St. John Cantius Church. Rose petals are dropped through the ciruclar opening of the transept of the church during the recessional hymn, “Come Holy Ghost.” Some are surprised while others wait expectantly for the rose petals to fall.

Visit this awe inspiring Church at their 12:30 PM Tridentine High Mass each Sunday of the year
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Pilgrimage to Rome: Part IV
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Continuing the series, the next post detailing my pilgrimage to Rome will showcase the beauty of the four major Basilicas: St. Peter's Basilica, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran, and St. Paul Outside the Walls.  Each of these treasures of Christendom are massive and contain some of the most precious objects in Christianity.  To walk through the Holy Doors of each of these basilicas was a tremendous honor and privilege that I will never forget.

St. Peter's Basilica (Vatican)

St. Peter's Basilica is the largest and grandest Church in the entire world.  Besides its massive size (i.e. the altar is 2 football fields away from the entrance of the door), it is full of some of the most precious items in the world.  I was able to visit the Tomb of St. Peter and the Popes, see the body of St. Pius X and several other saints, venerate the statue of St. Peter, and visit the 7 altars in St. Peter's (which is attached to an older indulgence and tradition in the Raccolta).  The famous Pieta is also here.  This church is something that everyone must see in their lifetime.  It is truly a wonder of the world.










St. Mary Major

Inside St. Mary Major are several relics - the most important of which is the Crib in which our Lord Jesus Christ was born.  This most holy of items is preserved in a reliquary and housed under the altar for veneration.  The 2nd photo below is the holy door (Porta Sancta).








St. John Lateran

St. John Lateran might have been my favorite of the basilicas.  It featured awe-inspiring statues of the 12 Apostles with some of the most beautiful artwork and details I had ever seen.  It was the first of the four basilicas that I visited. 

After visiting on Palm Sunday, I walked across the street and took part in the time-honored custom of walking up the holy stairs.  The Holy Stairs are the same stairs that Jesus ascended before His Passion.  They were brought to Rome and for a time, the chapel there at the top of the stairs (called the Sancta Sanctorum) contained some of the most holy relics in the world.  The chapel there was considered up until then the most holy place in the world.  Today those who ascend the Holy Stairs must still ascend only on their knees in prayer and penance, and in so doing, an indulgence may be gained. 









St. Paul Outside the Walls

As the name denotes, the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls is further from the center of the city and more difficult to reach than the other basilicas.  However, it is still easily accessible off of the public transit's train route.  Inside the basilica is preserved the chains that housed St. Paul.  This basilica, built on the spot of his martyrdom is a testimony of the power of God to convert anyone - even people like Saul who persecuted Christians. 






For more photos of these basilicas as well as more photos from throughout the trip, please visit my Flickr page.
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