Saturday, November 30, 2013
Why Should a Catholic Have a Devotion to Christ under the Title "Infant King"?

Since 2007, the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago has embraced a devotion to the Infant King, including a monthly novena. The devotion is gaining more and more adherents, both locally and nationally. In response to some queries about this devotion, Canons of the Shrine answer questions posed to them by the faithful in an interview format.

The questions generally fall into three separate categories: 1) about the Infant King Statue, 2) about the Infant King devotion in general, and 3) about the practice of the novena at the Shrine, including the Children’s Blessing

Part I - About this particular statue of the Infant King

How did this image come to be chosen as the symbol of, and the object of, devotion at the Shrine of Christ the King? A. The mission of the Institute is to draw people closer to our Lord and to spread the splendors of His Kingdom. The Divine Infant, being adorable and approachable, is an ideal representation of Christ's perfections that everyone can relate to; He is attractive and imitable.

Is there a special history behind this 18th century statue? A. Devotion to the Divine Infant is old. The devotion’s true origin appears already in Sacred Scripture with the example of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, the Shepherds, and, who could forget the Adoration of the Magi. The popular devotion as we know it has been particularly strong in Spain since the 15th Century. This statue at the Shrine was crafted in Spain, as part of that wave of devotion. It was gifted to the Shrine by a benefactor. Its craftsmanship, construction, and artistic merits suggest its age to be the 18th Century, if not earlier.

When the statute came into the Shrine’s possession, did it need a lot of restoration work? A. It was well-preserved and in very good condition; all it needed was some touching up and a new set of liturgical garments. You’ll notice that He wears a stole as well. This is to remind us that the Infant King is also Sovereign Priest.

Was it important that it be crowned and formally installed at the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago, IL by Cardinal George? A. "The more you honor Me the more I will bless you" is the promise of the Infant King. The coronation ceremony is a beautiful public display of honor. Having the Ecclesiastical authority do the crowning shows that the Cardinal grants full approval of this devotion and designates the Shrine to be a particular place of honor for the Infant King. This statue is a very special sacramental. Sacramentals are one of the means through which grace is conferred. The blessing and installation of relics and statues in a church, for example, are important because they can inflame our hearts to devotion and open our hearts to grace.

Continue Reading....
Thursday, November 28, 2013
President Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

In St. Augustine, Florida in 1565 the First Mass in the New World was celebrated and thus the first true Thanksgiving in North America was celebrated
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.
— President Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, Oct. 3, 1863
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
How the Miraculous Medal Changed My Life by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Feast on the 8th December 2013
Below is from a talk Fr. Hardon has given various times.

One of the most memorable experiences that I ever had was with the Miraculous Medal! It changed my life.

In the fall of 1948, the year after my ordination, I was in what we call the Tertianship. This is a third year of Novitiate before taking final vows.

In October of that year, a Vincentian priest came to speak to us young Jesuit priests. He encouraged us to obtain faculties, as they are called, to enroll people in the Confraternity of the Miraculous Medal. Among other things, he said, "Fathers, the Miraculous Medal works. Miracles have been performed by Our Lady through the Miraculous Medal."

I was not impressed by what the Vincentian priest was telling. I was not the medal-wearing kind of person and I certainly did not have a Miraculous Medal. But I thought to myself, "It does not cost anything." So I put my name down to get a four page leaflet from the Vincentians, with the then-Latin formula for blessing Miraculous Medals and enrolling people in the Confraternity of the Miraculous Medal. About two weeks later, I got the leaflet for blessing and enrolment, put it into my office book and forgot about it.

In February of the next year, I was sent to assist the chaplain of St. Alexis Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. I was to be there helping the regular chaplain for two weeks.

Each morning I received a list of all the patients admitted into the hospital that day. There were so many Catholics admitted that I could not visit them all as soon as they came.

Among the patients admitted was a boy about nine years old. He had been sled-riding down hill, lost control of the sled and ran into a tree head-on. He fractured his skull and X-rays showed he had suffered severe brain damage.

When I finally got to visit his room at the hospital, he had been in a coma for ten days, no speech, no voluntary movements of the body. His condition was such that the only question was whether he would live. There was no question of recovering from what was diagnosed as permanent and inoperable brain damage.

After blessing the boy and consoling his parents, I was about to leave his hospital room. But then a thought came to me. "That Vincentian priest. He said, 'The Miraculous Medal works.' Now this will be a test of its alleged miraculous powers!"

I didn't have a Miraculous Medal of my own. And everyone I asked at the hospital also did not have one. But I persisted, and finally one of the nursing sisters on night duty found a Miraculous Medal.

What I found out was that you don't just bless the medal, you have to put it around a person's neck on a chain or ribbon. So the sister-nurse found a blue ribbon for the medal, which made me feel silly. What was I doing with medals and blue ribbons.

However, I blessed the medal and had the father hold the leaflet for investing a person in the Confraternity of the Miraculous Medal. I proceeded to recite the words of investiture. No sooner did I finish the prayer of enrolling the boy in the Confraternity than he opened his eyes for the first time in two weeks. He saw his mother and said, "Ma, I want some ice cream." He had been given only intravenous feeding.

This Experience Changed My Life

Then he proceeded to talk to his father and mother. After a few minutes of stunned silence, a doctor was called. The doctor examined the boy and told the parents they could give him something to eat.

The next day began a series of tests on the boy's condition. X-rays showed the brain damage was gone.

Then still more tests. After three days, when all examinations showed there was complete restoration to health, the boy was released from the hospital.

This experience so changed my life that I have not been the same since. My faith in God, faith in His power to work miracles, was strengthened beyond description.

Since then, of course, I have been promoting devotion to Our Lady and the use of the Miraculous Medal. The wonders she performs, provided we believe, are extraordinary.

In teaching theology over the years, I have many semesters taught the theology of miracles. And I have an unpublished book manuscript on "The History and Theology of Miracles." My hope is to publish the manuscript in the near future.

Note: More stories about the miracles of the Miraculous Medal including the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne and the miraculous transformation of Claude Newman, an uneducated African American in prison in the 1940s, may be read here.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Feast of St. Sylvester, Abbot

The Statue of Sylvester Gozzolini at St. Sylvester's College Kandy Sri Lanka (Source)

Double (1954 Calendar): November 26

November 26th is the Feast of St. Sylvester, the saint who founded the Sylvestrine Order, a reform congregation of the Order of St. Benedict, in 1231.  He is not to be confused with Pope St. Sylvester.

Sylvester, of the noble Gozzolini family, was born in Italy in 1177. After making a distinguished record at the universities of Bologna and Padua, he was made a canon at Osimo, his native city. His inclination toward the contemplative life was strengthened by the sight of the dead body of a once handsome relative. "I am what he was," said Sylvester to himself, "and I will also be what he is."

After the funeral services, the words of our Lord kept ringing in his ears, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). At the age of 50 he resigned his post and became a hermit. Many disciples came to him, and these he organized under the rule of St. Benedict. After his death the order became known as the Sylvestrines, especially noted for their spirit of poverty. Their founder died at the age of 90.

The members of his Order wear a Benedictine habit, Turkish blue in color. Today there remain seven Sylvestrine monasteries in Italy and several mission houses in Ceylon and in the United States. Dom Gueranger writes on the significance of St. Sylvester: "God often brings the world to those who flee from it, as Sylvester Gozzolini among others experienced. In the thirteenth century, the world, all in admiration at the sanctity and the eloquence of the new Orders, seemed to have forgotten the monks and the desert. God, who never forgets, led his elect silently into solitude, and the wilderness began again to rejoice and flourish like the lily; strength was restored to the weak hands and feeble knees of the sons of the cloister. The austerities of olden days and the fervor of prolonged prayer were revived at Monte Fano, and extended into sixty other monasteries; the new religious family of the Sylvestrians was approved by Innocent IV in 1247. Though originated seven centuries after St. Benedict, and distinguished from the elder families by its blue habit, it claims the Patriarch of Cassino for its legislator and father."

Adapted from The Church's Year of Grace by Fr. Pius Parsch.

Traditional Matins Reading:

Sylvester was born of a noble family at Osimo in the Marches of Ancona, and in his boyhood was remarkable for his love of study and his good conduct. As a youth he was sent by his father to Bologna to study jurisprudence, but was admonished by God to devote himself to sacred learning. This incited his father to anger, which Sylvester patiently endured for ten years. On account of his remarkable virtue, the Canons of Osimo elected him an honorary mem­ber of their chapter, in which position he benefited the people by his prayers, his example, and his sermons.

While assisting at the funeral of a nobleman, his relative, who had been remarkably handsome, he looked into the open coffin, and seeing the corpse all deformed, said to himself: What this man was, I am now; what he is now, I shall be hereafter. As soon as the funeral was over, reading these words of our Lord: If any one will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, he retired into solitude in order to attain greater perfection; there he gave himself up to watching, prayer and fasting, often eating nothing but raw herbs. The better to conceal himself from men he frequently changed his place of abode ; and at length settled at Monte Fano, which, though near to Fabriano, was at that time a desert. There he built a church in honour of the most holy father Benedict, and founded the Congregation of Sylvestrians, under the rule and habit shown him by St. Benedict in vision.

Satan, roused to envy, strove in many ways to terrify his monks, making assaults by night at the monastery gates. But the man of God repressed the enemy's attack with such vigour, that the monks, recognizing their father's sanctity, were more and more confirmed in their holy purpose. Sylvester was remarkable for the spirit of prophecy and other gifts, which he guarded by deep humility. This so stirred up the devil's envy that he cast the saint headlong down the oratory stairs and well nigh killed him, but the blessed Virgin at once graciously restored him to health. In gratitude for this benefit, Sylvester showed her the tenderest unfailing piety to the end of his life. He died at the age of about ninety years, renowned for sanctity and miracles, on the sixth of the Kalends of December, in the year of salvation 1267. The Sovereign Pontiff Leo XIII. extended his Office and Mass to the universal Church.


O Most merciful God, You gave the holy abbot Sylvester his vocation to be a hermit as he stood before an open grave, contemplating the vanity of this world; and then later made his hidden life brilliant with merit. May we imitate him in despising the pleasures of this life, so that we may enjoy Your presence for all eternity. Through our Lord . . .

Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Save Souls One Book at a Time - Take the Pledge

I’ve recently started an initiative that I would like to share with all of you, my readers. My hope is that you will join me in your own way and together we will serve our Lord Jesus Christ and help to bring about sound doctrine in this world.

There is no doubt that you’ve seen it. Picture yourself in your local Goodwill store, thrift shop, or garage sale. Venture over to the book section and scan through the religious books in the stacks. You’ll undoubtedly find little in Catholic thought. Instead, you’ll find protestant books on the Rapture, protestant books containing all sorts of heresies and false teachings, Protestant Bibles, Jewish prayer books, New Age or Occult manuscripts, and much more.

 Spanish painting from the 1400s by Pedro Berruguete showing the miracle of Fanjeaux. The books of the heretical Albigensian and those of the Catholics were thrown together into the fire before Saint Dominic. The Catholic books were miraculously preserved, being rejected three times by the flames, while the heretical ones burned. 

My heart goes out to the people who search in such places for doctrine. These souls – like everyone – is searching for God. And they will likely not find Him in the midst of protestant heresy and paganism.

I was recently at a Goodwill store and browsing their book section when I decided to take action. I repositioned the Catholic books, which included a book by Scott Hahn, one by St. Alphonsus, and a few prayer books in a way that they were eye level for those browsing the section.

I then placed into my basket a handful of the heretical books which included works by protestant “ministers” on the Rapture as well as protestant Scripture commentaries. I purchased them for $0.86 each and took them home and tossed them into the trash bin. These books are unfit to be produced. They would have led souls into heresy. How many Catholic souls have been lost because of bad books? How many searching souls have been led into false churches and false religions because of these errors?

What are the "bad books"?  To start, I'd encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Index of Forbidden Books that was published by the Holy Church up until Vatican II.  But, I'm sure you'll never be in short supply of these heretical books.  If it's written by a protestant minister, atheist, "New Age" guru, etc then it's not true spirituality. 

I have made it my personal mission – and I ask all of you to do so as well – to purchase second-hand heretical books when I see them in order to destroy them. Rip out the pages and toss them into the recycling bin or toss the book into a bonfire. In so doing, we help win souls for Christ by saving them from the devil one evil book at a time.

So next time you see heretical works, buy them (as long as they are second-hand copies and the proceeds do not go to the publisher), and destroy them.

Monday, November 25, 2013
Book Review: The Celebration of Mass: A Study of the Rubrics of the Roman Missal

I have for many years now had a copy of "The Celebration of Mass: A Study of the Rubrics of the Roman Missal" by John O'Connell on my bookshelf.  The book itself is a beautiful product and it sits next to the Holy Scriptures on my shelf. I have finally gotten around to writing a review on this book.

Who is this book for?  If you consider yourself a Liturgist or you just love the Traditional Latin Mass and want to help parishes start celebrating it then this book is a must-have!  Have you ever had an unusual liturgy question?  With chapters (not just sections) devoted to topics such as "Mass Celebrated in the Presence of a Greater Prelate," "The Low Mass of a Bishop," "Mass without a server," and "Votive Masses," this is the most complete volume on the Liturgy ever produced.

For those of you who wish to have as a resource the rubrics for the 1962 Missal, this is an absolute must have!  I have owned this copy since 2008 and have turned to it on multiple occasions. 
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Traditional Latin Mass: Last Sunday after Pentecost

The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction: you shall call upon Me, and I will hear you; and I will bring back your captivity from all places. -- (Ps. 84. 2). Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . -- The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace . . .

COLLECT - Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the wills of Thy faithful people, that they more earnestly seeking the fruit of divine service, may receive more abundantly healing gifts from Thy tender mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth . . .

Col. 1. 9-14
Brethren, We cease not to pray for you, and to beg that you may be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might according to the power of His glory, in all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through the His Blood, the remission of sins.

Thou hast delivered us, O Lord, from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us. V.: In God we will glory all the day: and in Thy Name we will give praise for ever.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Ps. 129. 1, 2). From the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer. Alleluia.

Matthew 24. 15-35

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: When you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place; (he that readeth, let him understand:) then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains; and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house; and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child and that give suck, in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the sabbath: for there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been found from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be: and unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved; but for the sake of the elect, those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo, here is Christ, or there; do not believe him; for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you beforehand. If therefore they shall say to you: Behold His is in the desert, go ye not out; Behold He is in the closets, believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even in the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved; an nd then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty. And He shall send His angels with a trumpet and a loud voice, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them. And from the fig tree learn a parable: when the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh at the doors. Amen I say to you that this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.

Ps. 129.1, 2
From the depths I have cried out to Thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my prayer: from the depths I have cried out to Thee, O Lord.

SECRET Be gracious, O Lord, to our humble entreaties; and receiving the offerings and prayers of Thy people, turn the hearts of all of us to Thee: that freed from greed of earthly things, we may pass on to heavenly desires. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .

Mark 11. 24
Amen I say to you, whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you shall receive and it shall be done to you.

POST COMMUNION - We have received, O Lord, the gifts of this sacred Mystery, and humbly beseech Thee, that what we do at Thy bidding in memory of Thee, may avail us in our weakness. Who livest and reignest . . . 

Sources: Saint Andrew Daily Missal and the Marian Missal , 1945

Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877  

"Then shall appear, the sign of the Son of Man in heaven."--Matt. 24, 30. 

Today is the last Sunday after Pentecost. Today, we are reminded by Christ, in the Gospel, of the signs and warnings which shall herald the day of judgment, that terrible day which will witness at once the resurrection of the dead and the approach of the divine Judge. Of all these signs, I have selected for your consideration today the appearance in the heavens of the sign of the Son of Man, the cross, which will announce the coming of Christ.

What Christ has revealed to us of the signs which shall be sent as warnings of His advent, should cause us to reflect most deeply upon those things which shall come; upon us at the end of the world, when, in the expressive words of the Gospel, “Men shall wither away with fear and expectation of what is to come upon them.”

It should so dispose our hearts that we may be ready to appear before the tribunal of Christ, whenever He shall call us from this earth. There is one circumstance of which our Lord makes mention, and which alone is of sufficient weight to strengthen us in our resolution to live only for the purpose for which He has given us our very existence, and for which He has accomplished in us the great work of redemption. I allude to the appearance of the cross in the heavens on the last day. This cross will show forth all the infinite and adorable perfections of the divine nature.

Mary, mother of God and mirror of His adorable perfections, pray for us that we, upon the terrible day of final reckoning, may be enabled to rejoice with thee when that cross, by which thou didst stand to hear the last sigh of thy dying Son, appears unto the world once more! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God!

God would not one day judge the world if He were not just, on account of the angels, as St. Paul assures us. A remarkable expression. The sense of these words of the Apostle may be thus explained: If the ways of God were not all the ways of truth and emanations of His infinite perfections, the angels, whom God created as beings of the highest order, and at the same time pure and holy, would never allow what is wrong to pass as just.

In this world we are not permitted to behold our Lord face to face, nor to know Him as He is in the splendor of His majesty; so it is with His works which are, as it were, concealed by a vail which we dare not, if we could, remove. I will make use of a comparison. The mysterious workings of divine Providence, as time passes on, weave, as it were, a carpet of the various acts and scenes of our lives. Look upon the reverse side, and you will see the threads running hither and thither, without beauty or apparent design. But upon the day of judgment the gorgeous texture will be turned in the presence of all mankind, of the angels, and of all the devils. All will then behold with vision, clear and distinct, how the Lord hath ever worked to lead the souls created by His divine power to eternal happiness, and that what ever came to mar His benignant plans arose from an abuse of that free-will with which every rational being has been endowed. Even Lucifer, with all his fallen angels will pronounce his confiteor, and, with the millions of reprobate souls who chose to array themselves under his standard, will give testimony to the justice of God, impelled to it by the sight of the cross in the heavens.

The cross on the last day will stand forth in bold relief upon the sky, as the symbolical expression of the work of redemption, and also as a mirror in which the divine attributes appear most brilliant and resplendent.

First, it will reflect the splendor of the divine omnipotence by which He called the world into existence; for nothing is impossible with God, as the angel declared to Mary when he announced the great mystery of the incarnation, the most sublime triumph of the Almighty. By naught, save omnipotence, could this wonder of wonders have been effected. Omnipotence alone could unite the divine nature with a human nature by the hypostatic union of the second person of the blessed Trinity with that human nature. O miracle! God might create myriads of worlds, each one more glorious than the other, yet it would not be such a proof of His almighty power as His becoming man. For He did not join Himself to a human person, but assumed the human nature in Christ, and thereby became as truly man, as He was God from all eternity. O wonder of wonders!

The cross will also shine forth brilliantly on the last day, as the glorious reflex of the divine understanding and wisdom, whose triumph comes from the Incarnation of the Son of God. Only a God could have conceived this sublime idea of thus reconciling the fallen human race to God, of changing the curse of sin into a source of happiness, the loss of paradise into eternal beatitude.

The holy cross will also sparkle on the last day in the firmament as the reflected splendor of God’s in finite mercy. How fitting it is that this divine attribute should not only be glorified by the ransom of the fallen human race, as illustrated in the cross, but also be entirely vindicated before all men. If it were possible for one person to take upon himself the burden of the sins of the entire world, and if he had at the same time been guilty himself of the most heinous crimes which the heart can conceive, in the Sacrament of Baptism, at the words “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,”–supposing true contrition on his part,–all those sins would be remitted, and every stain washed away from his soul; so that if he were to die that moment, he would immediately enter heaven through the merits of Christ. And if a Christian had sullied the whiteness of his baptismal robe, and marred its beauty not only, with some venial faults, but with the most diabolical crimes; after a true contrition and sincere confession on the part of that sinner, at the words of the priest: ” I absolve thee,” united to the petition of Christ: “Father, forgive!” his guilt would be washed away.

Upon the day of final doom the cross will reflect the sanctity and holiness of the Lord of heaven and earth; for upon it the Sacred Heart of Jesus was opened, and from the wound came forth the Holy Church supplied with the means of salvation sufficient to make us, even in this life, pure as the angels in heaven.

On that momentous day, the cross will beam with glorious light,–indeed, the splendor of its radiance will fall with scathing brightness upon those wretched spirits whose doom is everlasting fire, for it will be the reflection of that divine attribute justice.

It will also irradiate the heavens with a lovely light, the reflex of God’s longanimity. As Christ stretched forth His arms upon the cross, so will He continue to do unto the end of time, as a sure refuge for all the children of men.

On that last and terrible day the holy cross will brightly shine to reflect the truth and fidelity of the Lord. For the truths of our divine faith are the Word of God promulgated by the Church, which remains as unchangeable and infallible in its doctrines as when it came forth from the Heart of our Lord on the cross. The work of redemption, consummated by Christ on the cross, was not a work of necessity, but of the infinite love of God.

Happy we, beloved in Christ, if we, as the cross continually exhorts us to do, glorify God in all His attributes by our virtues while on earth; then will we most surely hail its appearance in the heavens with joy and rapture on the resurrection morn! Amen!
Saturday, November 23, 2013
SSPX's Eastern Europe Apostolic Missions

The SSPX's Eastern European Autonomous House has just published a beautiful full-color presentation of its apostolic work in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

In addition to detailing the many ongoing missionary efforts in Slavic countries, the newsletter also gives information on you can help the apostolate.
Video: New SSPX Church in Phoenix

In this video, see a glimpse of the Romanesque style Catholic Church that contains elements of Southern Mission style architecture to blend in with its Southern environment.

Seating 750 faithful, with 12,000 square feet on the main and 9,000 square feet filling the basement and crypt, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church on Baseline Road in Southern Phoenix will be a landmark for centuries to come. Built for the traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, this goliath of a Church will the House of God for this generation, and their children's children, sacred place for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, sacraments.

I was at Our Lady of Sorrows in early 2012 when the project was just in its infancy.  The cornerstone was just recently blessed. I'm so glad to see this progress.  Please pray for this project and consider making a donation.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Feast of St. Cecilia

Double (1955 Calendar): November 22

Today is the Feast of St. Cecilia, the illustrious virgin and martyr who died at Rome. She is the patroness of Church music. In honor of her feast day and to spread awareness of her life, I present the following excerpt from The Catholic Encyclopedia available on New Advent.

This saint, so often glorified in the fine arts and in poetry, is one of the most venerated martyrs of Christian antiquity. The oldest historical account of St. Cecilia is found in the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum"; from this it is evident that her feast was celebrated in the Roman Church in the fourth century. Her name occurs under different dates in the above-mentioned martyrology; its mention under 11 August, the feast of the martyr Tiburtius, is evidently a later and erroneous addition, due to the fact that this Tiburtius, who was buried on the Via Labicana, was wrongly identified with Tiburtius, the brother-in-law of St. Cecilia, mentioned in the Acts of her martyrdom. Perhaps also there was another Roman martyr of the name of Cecilia buried on the Via Labicana. Under the date of 16 September Cecilia is mentioned alone, with the topographical note: "Appiâ viâ in eâdem urbe Româ natale et passio sanctæ Ceciliæ virginis (the text is to be thus corrected). This is evidently the day of the burial of the holy martyr in the Catacomb of Callistus. The feast of the saint mentioned under 22 November, on which day it is still celebrated, was kept in the church in the Trastevere quarter at Rome, dedicated to her. Its origin, therefore, is to be traced most probably to this church. The early medieval guides (Itineraria) to the burial-places of Roman martyrs point out her grave on the Via Appia, next to the crypt of the Roman bishops of the third century (De Rossi, Roma sotterranea, I, 180-181). De Rossi located the burial-place of Cecilia in the Catacomb of Callistus in a crypt immediately adjoining the crypt or chapel of the popes; an empty niche in one of the walls contained, probably, at one time the sarcophagus with the bones of the saint. Among the frescoes of a later time with which the wall of the sepulchre are adorned, the figure of a richly-dressed woman appears twice and Pope Urban, who was brought personal into close relation with the saint by the Acts of her martyrdom, is depicted once.

The ancient titular church of Rome, mentioned above was built as early as the fourth century and is still preserved in the Trastevere. This church was certainly dedicated in the fifth century to the saint buried on the Via Appia; it is mentioned in the signatures of the Roman Council of 499 as "titulus sanctae Caeciliae" (Mansi, Coll, Conc. VIII, 236). Like some other ancient Christian churches of Rome, which are the gifts of the saints whose names they bear, it may be inferred that the Roman Church owes this temple to the generosity of the holy martyr herself; in support of this view it is to be noted that the property, under which the oldest part of the true Catacomb of Callistus is constructed, belonged most likely, according to De Rossi's researches, to the family of St. Cecilia (Gens Caecilia), and by donation passed into the possession of the Roman Church. Although her name is not mentioned in the earliest (fourth century) list of feasts (Depositio martyrum), the fact that in the "Sacramentarium Leoniam", a collection of masses completed about the end of the fifth century, are found no less than five different masses in honour of St. Cecilia testifies to the great veneration in which the saint was at that time held in the Roman Church ["Sacram. Leon.", ed. Muratori, in "Opera" (Arezzo, 1771), XIII, I, 737, sqq.].

Her church in the Trastevere quarter of Rome was rebuilt by Paschal I (817-824), on which occasion the pope wished to transfer thither her relics; at first, however, he could not find them and believed that they had been stolen by the Lombards. In a vision he saw St. Cecilia, who exhorted him to continue his search, as he had already been very near to her, i.e. near her grave. He therefore renewed his quest; and soon the body of the martyr, draped in costly stuffs of gold brocade and with the cloths soaked in her blood at her feet, was actually found in the Catacomb of Prætextatus. They may have been transported thither from the Catacomb of Callistus to save them from earlier depredations of the Lombards in the vicinity of Rome. The relics of St. Cecilia with those of Valerianus, Tiburtius, and Maximus, also those of Popes Urbanus and Lucius, were taken up by Pope Paschal, and reburied under the high altar of St. Cecilia in Trastevere. The monks of a convent founded in the neighbourhood by the same pope were charged with the duty of singing the daily Office in this basilica. From this time the veneration of the holy martyr continued to spread, and numerous churches were dedicated to her. During the restoration of the church in the year 1599 Cardinal Sfondrato had the high altar examined and found under it the sarcophagi, with the relics of the saints, that Pope Paschal had transported thither. Recent excavations beneath the church, executed at the instigation and expense of Cardinal Rampolla, disclosed remains of Roman buildings, which have remained accessible. A richly adorned underground chapel was built beneath the middle aisle, and in it a latticed window, opening over the altar, allows a view of the receptacles in which the bones of the saints repose. In a side chapel of the church there have long been shown the remains of the bath in which, according to the Acts, Cecilia was put to death.

The oldest representations of St. Cecilia show her in the attitude usual for martyrs in the Christian art of the earlier centuries, either with the crown of martyrdom in her hand (e.g. at S. Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, in a sixth-century mosaic) or in the attitude of prayer, as an Orans (e.g. the two sixth and seventh-century pictures in her crypt). In the apse of her church in Trastevere is still preserved the mosaic made under Pope Paschal, wherein she is represented in rich garments as patroness of the pope. Medieval pictures of the saint are very frequent; since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries she is given the organ as an attribute, or is represented as playing on the organ, evidently to express what was often attributed to her in panegyrics and poems based on the Acts, viz., that while the musicians played at her nuptials she sang in her heart to God only ("cantantibus organis illa in corde suo soi domino decantabat"); possibly the cantantibus organis was erroneously interpreted of Cecilia herself as the organist. In this way the saint was brought into closer relation with music. When the Academy of Music was founded at Rome (1584) she was made patroness of the institute, whereupon her veneration as patroness of church music in general became still more universal; today Cecilian societies (musical associations) exist everywhere. The organ is now her ordinary attribute; with it Cecilia was represented by Raphael in a famous picture preserved at Bologna. In another magnificent masterpiece, the marble statute beneath the high altar of the above-mentioned church of St. Cecilia at Rome, Carlo Maderna represented her lying prostrate, just as she had received the death-blow from the executioner's hand. Her feast is celebrated in the Latin and the Greek Church on 22 November. In the "Martyrologium Hieronymainum" are commemorated other martyrs of this name, but of none of them is there any exact historical information. One suffered martyrdom in Carthage with Dativus in 304.


We are made happy, O God, by the annual feast of Your blessed virgin martyr Cecilia. May we be inspired by the example of Your saint, as we honor her in this Mass. Through Our Lord . . .

Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Double (1955 Calendar): November 19

St. Elizabeth of Hungary was born a princess, the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary.  She would become the great-aunt of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal.

She married Prince Louis of Thuringa at age 13. St. Elizabeth built a hospital at the foot of the mountain on which her castle stood and tended to the sick herself. Her family and courtiers opposed this, but she insisted she could only follow Christ’s teachings, not theirs. Once when she was taking food to the poor and sick, Prince Louis stopped her and looked under her mantle to see what she was carrying, and miraculously the food had been changed to roses.

Upon the death of Louis, St. Elizabeth sold all that she had, and worked to support her four children. Her gifts of bread to the poor, and of a large gift of grain to a famine stricken Germany, led to her patronage of bakers and related fields. Part of the Matins readings for the Feast of St. Elizabeth relate the extraordinary life she lived, despite being born into wealth:
After husband died (on his way to the Holy War, on the eleventh day of September, 1227.) Then Elizabeth, more utterly to be God's only, laid aside all the garments of earthly state, clad herself in mean raiment, and entered the Third Order of St. Francis, wherein she was a burning and shining light of long suffering and lowliness. (Her brother-in-law) stripped her (and her three little children) of all their goods, and turned them out of their own house. She was deserted by all, and assailed with insults, gibes, and calumnies, but she bore it all with patience, yea, even rejoicing that she suffered such things for God's sake. She gave herself to the meanest services toward the poor and sick, and sought for them the needfuls of life, while she lived herself only on potherbs and vegetables.
Remarkably, she died at the young age of 24. At that time she was the mother of three child, a widow, a Third Order Franciscan, and a role model for all of us. If she did so much in her short life despite the allurements of the world, what is stopping us?


O God of mercy, enlighten the hearts of Your faithful and grant us grace through the prayers of the glorious blessed Elizabeth, so that we may scorn the wealth of the world and see heaven as our joy and consolation. Through our Lord . . . 

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Traditional Mass Propers: Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany (transferred to 26th Sunday after Pentecost)

SAID THE LORD: "I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. You shall call upon Me and I will hear you, and I will bring you back from captivity from all places." Ps. 84:2. Lord, You have blessed Your land; You have restored Jacob from captivity.V. Glory be . . .

COLLECT - ALMIGHTY GOD, let our minds always be fixed on Your truths, so that, in every word and deed, we may do what is pleasing to You. Through Our Lord . . .

I Thess. 1:2-10
Brethren: We give thanks to God always for you all: making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing, being mindful of the work of your faith and labor and charity: and of the enduring of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our Father. Knowing, brethren, beloved of God, your election: For our gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also: and in the Holy Ghost and in much fullness, as you know what manner of men we have been among you for your sakes. And you became followers of us and of the Lord: receiving the word in much tribulation, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that you were made a pattern to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you was spread abroad the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and in Achaia but also in every place: your faith which is towards God, is gone forth, so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves relate of us, what manner of entering in we had unto you: and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. And to wait for his Son from heaven (whom he raised up from the dead), Jesus, who hath delivered us from the wrath to come.

YOU HAVE FREED us from those who afflict us, O Lord, and You have put to shame those who hate us.V. In God we will glory all the day and praise Your name forever.

Alleluia, alleluia! Ps. 129:1-2 V. Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my prayer! Alleluia!

Matthew 13:31-35

AT THAT TIME, Jesus spoke this parable unto them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. Which is the least indeed of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell in the branches thereof." Another parable he spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened." All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes: and without parables he did not speak to them. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world."

Ps. 129:1-2
OUT OF THE DEPTHS I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my prayer, out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord.

SECRET O GOD, may this offering cleanse us from sin and bring us life, that by it we may be guided and protected. Through Our Lord . . .

Mark 11:24
AMEN I say to you, all things whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come to you.

POST COMMUNION - O LORD, grant that we who have been nourished with the Food of Heaven may always hunger after this Bread which truly makes us live. Through Our Lord . . .

Sources: Saint Andrew Daily Missal and the Marian Missal , 1945
Friday, November 15, 2013
Why Go on a Retreat?

The following article, distributed as a handout in the recent SSPX newsletter, concisely summarizes some of the key reasons to go on a retreat. Last year I went on one at Our Lady of Sorrows Retreat Center.

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Music Review: Songs for the Eucharist, Ancient and New

I recently had the opportunity to review a wonderful CD: Songs for the Eucharist, Ancient and New.

The repertoire of Songs for the Eucharist, Ancient and New consists entirely of pieces sung at the Eucharistic liturgy when it is celebrated in the Traditional Latin Rite, this being the primary function of a schola cantorum. The repertoire here illustrates this pedagogical function of the schola cantorum, for it spans the centuries from the ancient Church to the near-present, giving appropriate emphasis to Gregorian Chant and Renaissance polyphony.

I can happily recommend this CD to all!

1. Invocabit me, Gregorian Introit, Mode VIII (GN)
2. Oculi mei, Gregorian Introit, Mode VII (GN)
3. Pater manifestavi, Gregorian Office Antiphon, Mode VI (AM)
4. Laudabo, Gregorian Office Antiphon, Mode IV* (PsM)
5. Cum venerit, Gregorian Office Antiphon Mode, VIII (AM)
6. Cantate Domino, Gregorian Office Antiphon, Mode II (GS)
7. Per illud Ave, Josquin des Prez
8. Ego, ego ipse consolabor vos, Ludwig Senfl
9. Benedictus, Orlando di Lasso
10. Hear Ye, Israel, from Elijah, Op. 70 - Felix Mendelssohn
11. Kyrie - Messe Basse, Gabriel Fauré
12. Sanctus - Messe Basse, Gabriel Fauré
13. Benedictus - Messe Basse, Gabriel Fauré
14. Agnus Dei - Messe Basse, Gabriel Fauré
15. Eucaristica, Pablo Casals
16. Tantum ergo, Georges-Émile Tanguay
17. Ave Maria, Jehan Alain
18. Ego sum panis vivus, Valentino Miserachs Grau 

Click here to listen to samples.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
St. Stanislaus Kostka

Today Holy Church celebrates the life of St. Stanislaus Kostka.

St. Stanislaus was born son of a noble Polish senator at Rostkowo, Przasnysz County, Poland, on October 28, 1550. He attended the Viennese Jesuit college from age 14 with his brother Paul, who badly mistreated him. While staying at the home of a Lutheran, he became gravely ill, but was not allowed to call for a priest. He prayed to his personal patron, Saint Barbara, who appeared to him in a vision with two angels, and administered Communion. He was then cured from his disease by Our Lady who told him to become a Jesuit, though it was against his family’s wishes.

He entered the Society of Jesus in Rome on his 17th birthday on October 28, 1567.  He attended the Jesuit college in Rome, Italy. He was a friend of Saint Peter Canisius and a student of Saint Francis Borgia. He died at Rome during the night of 14–15 August 1568.

Saint Stanislaus Kostka was brutally bullied by his brother and fled to Rome, to join the Jesuits at the Novitiate, where he died not long after. This painting, by Andrea Pozzo, is in the first of the rooms dedicated to Kostka's memory.

On the evening of his departure from this world, he wrote a letter to the Blessed Virgin begging her to call him to the skies there to celebrate with her the glorious anniversary of her Assumption. His confidence in the Blessed Virgin, which had already brought him many signal favours, was this time again rewarded; on August 15th, towards four in the morning, while he was rapt in pious utterances to God, to the saints, and to the Virgin Mary, he died.
Saint Stanislaus had drawn as his monthly patron for August the glorious martyr Saint Lawrence, and in his honour he performed daily some penance or devotion. On the eve of his feast, he obtained leave to take the discipline; in the morning he went to Communion, and then laid before the image of the saint a letter addressed to Our Lady, in which he begged that he might die on her Feast of the Assumption, and he prayed Saint Lawrence to present to her his petition. That night he was seized with a slight fever, which, however, rapidly increased; and on Assumption Eve, he received the last sacraments. Then, as he lay dying, he had brought to him a little book containing a litany in his own writing of his monthly patron saints, whom he constantly invoked. At 3 a.m. on the Feast of the Assumption, he face suddenly lit up with joy, and he breathed forth his soul to the Mother of God, who had come to conduct him to heaven (Source from Miniature Lives of the Saints by Bowden)
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
St. Martin I

SemiDouble (1955 Calendar): November 12

Today the Church celebrates the holy life of Pope St. Martin I.  Born in Umbria, St. Martin would become the head of the Catholic Church from July 21, 649, until his death in 655.

He was born near Todi, Umbria, in a place now named after him (i.e. Pian di San Martino). St. Martin acted as the papal apocrisiarius or legate at Constantinople and was held in high repute for his learning and virtue. He succeeded Pope Theodore I in July 649. He was the only pope during the Byzantine Papacy whose election was not approved by a iussio from Constantinople.

St. Martin I conduced the Lateran Council which condemned the patriach of Constantinople for Monothelitism, which heretically claimed that Christ had no human will. This put the holy saint in opposition to Emperor Constans II who had him arrested and tortured. Paul, Patriarch of Constantinople, repented of his stance which saved Martin from execution, but the pope died  in the Crimean Peninsula soon after from damage done during his imprisonment.  He is considered the last martyred pope.


O Eternal Shepherd, who appointed blessed Martin shepherd of the whole Church, let the prayers of this martyr and supreme pontiff move You to look with favor upon Your flock and to keep it under Your continual protection. Through our Lord . .

Monday, November 11, 2013
Feast of St. Martin of Tours

Double (1955 Calendar): November 11

November 11th (besides being Armistice Day), is the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, the great worker of charity who is said to have raised three persons from the dead.  In honor of this saint's light, I present the following record of his life from Catholic Online:
Born in 315 or 316 in Pannonia, a Roman province that includes modern Hungary, Martin came into a world in transition. Christians were no longer persecuted by the Roman empire but Christianity was still not accepted by all. Martin's father, an Roman army officer who had risen through the ranks, remained faithful to the old religion and suspicious of this new sect, as did Martin's mother. Therefore it was Martin's own spiritual yearning and hunger that led him to secretly knock on the door of the local Christian church and beg to be made a catechumen -- when he was ten years old. In contemplative prayer, he found the time to be alone with God that he ached for. In the discussion of the mysteries, he found the truth he hoped for.

He was still an unbaptized catechumen when he was forced to join the army at 15. The Roman army apparently had a law that required sons of veterans to serve in the military. Still, Martin found this so far removed from his desire to be a Christian monk that he had to be held in chains before taking the military oath. Once the oath was administered he felt bound to obey. He was assigned to a ceremonial cavalry unit that protected the emperor and rarely saw combat. Like his father, he became an officer and eventually was assigned to garrison duty in Gaul (present-day France).

Even in the military Martin attempted to live the life of a monk. Though he was entitled to a servant because he was an officer, he insisted on switching roles with his servant, cleaning the servant's boots instead of the other way around!

It was on this garrison duty at Amiens that the event took place that has been portrayed in art throughout the ages. On a bitterly cold winter day, the young tribune Martin rode through the gates, probably dressed in the regalia of his unit -- gleaming, flexible armor, ridged helmet, and a beautiful white cloak whose upper section was lined with lambswool. As he approached the gates he saw a beggar, with clothes so ragged that he was practically naked. The beggar must have been shaking and blue from the cold but no one reached out to help him. Martin, overcome with compassion, took off his mantle. In one quick stroke he slashed the lovely mantle in two with his sword, handed half to the freezing man and wrapped the remainder on his own shoulders. Many in the crowd thought this was so ridiculous a sight that they laughed and jeered but some realized that they were seeing Christian goodness. That night Martin dreamed that he saw Jesus wearing the half mantle he had given the beggar. Jesus said to the angels and saints that surrounded him, "See! this is the mantle that Martin, yet a catechumen, gave me." When he woke, it was the "yet a catechumen" that spurred Martin on and he went immediately to be baptized. He was eighteen years old.

We don't know much about the two years that followed but his baptism must have fed his growing desire to make a total commitment to Christ, a commitment that was in conflict with his military role. This conflict came to a crisis when the nomad Franks and Allemanni invaded the empire.

It was the practice at the time to give money to soldiers before battle, in order to infuse the soldiers with a greater love of their country and desire to fight. When Julian lined up the soldiers in Gaul to give them their bounty, Martin refused to accept the money -- and to fight -- saying, "Put me in the front of the army, without weapons or armor; but I will not draw sword again. I am become the soldier of Christ." There seems to be no evidence that Martin had been in combat before so perhaps he never had to reconcile his Christian beliefs with war. In any case, it does seem an unfortunate time to make such a decision. Julian, furious at what he saw as cowardice, told Martin he would grant him his wish and put him right in the middle of battle the next day. Until that happened, he had Martin imprisoned. However, against all predictions and all explanation, the nomads sent word that they wanted to negotiate for peace and the battle was postponed. Martin was released from his prison and from the army.

Searching for direction in his new life, Martin wound up in Poitiers, seeking the guidance and example of Saint Hilary. Hilary wished to make this promising young man a priest but Martin, out of humility, refused even to be ordained a deacon. He finally agreed to be ordained an exorcist (someone who performed rituals for those who were sick or possessed) when Hilary told him his refusal meant that he thought he was too good for such a lowly job.

On a trip over the Alps to visit his parents, he was attacked by robbers who not only wanted to steal what he owned but threatened to take his life. Calm and unperturbed, Martin spoke to the robbers about God. One was so impressed he converted and became a law-abiding citizen who told his own story to Sulpicius years later.

But Martin was to find even more trouble in his own home town. Though his mother converted, his father stubbornly refused. When Martin began to denounce publicly the Arian heretics that were then in power throughout the empire -- even within the Church -- Martin was whipped and driven out of his own hometown!
He could not escape trouble by leaving. When he discovered that Hilary had been exiled from Poitiers as well for the same reason, Martin went to an island near Milan to live as a hermit. The Arians soon discovered that Hilary was even more trouble in exile, because of the writing he did, and let him come back. When Hilary returned to Poitiers, Martin was there to meet him and renew their old friendship. In order to fulfill Martin's call to solitude, Hilary gave Martin a wilderness retreat. As disciples came to Martin for direction, he founded a monastery for them called Ligug‚. It was there he performed the first of many miracles. When a catechumen died before baptism, Martin laid himself over the body and after several hours the man came back to life. Sulpicius also had talked to this man who was baptized immediately but lived many years after that. Martin remained in this monastery near his teacher and friend until after Hilary died.

This was still the era when bishops were chosen by the people and when the bishop of Tours died, the people decided they wanted an example of holiness as their new bishop. After that their choice was simple -- Martin. But as well as they knew his holiness, they also knew he would never agree to be a bishop so they conceived a trick. A citizen of Tours came to Martin and begged him to come visit his sick wife. When the kindhearted Martin got to Tours crowds of people came out of hiding and surrounded him. Unable to escape, he was swept into the city. The people may have been enthusiastic about their choice but the bishops there to consecrate the new bishop declared they were repelled by this dirty, ragged, disheveled choice. The people's reply was that they didn't choose Martin for his haircut, which could be fixed by any barber, but for his holiness and poverty, that only charity and grace could bring. Overwhelmed by the will of the crowds the bishops had no choice but to consecrate Martin.

Instead of living in a palace, Martin made his first home as bishop in a cell attached to a church in hopes of being able to maintain his lifestyle as a monk. But at that time bishops were more than spiritual pastors. With the Empire's administration disintegrating under outside invasion and internal conflict, often the only authority in a town like Tours was the bishop. People came to Martin constantly with questions and concerns that involved all the affairs of the area.

To regain some of his solitude Martin fled outside the city to live in a cabin made of branches. There he attracted as many as eighty disciples who wanted to follow him and founded the monastery of Marmoutiers. He kept in touch with Tours through priest representatives who reported to him and carried out his instructions and duties with the people. 
It may seem from this that Martin did not get involved with what was going on but Martin was deeply committed to his responsibilities.
One of those responsibilities was, he felt, the missionary conversion of those who still held to various non-Christian beliefs. In those early days of Christianity such old beliefs survived in abundance. He did not attempt to convert these people from a high pulpit or from far away. His method was to travel from house to house and speak to people about God. Then he would organize the converts into a community under the direction of a priest of monk. In order to let them know of his continued love and to keep them following the faith, he would then visit these new communities regularly.

Of course he ran into resistance. In one rather ridiculous scene, locals decided to get back at him by dressing up as the gods. So in the middle of the night, he was visited by a waggish talkative Mercury, a doltish Jupiter, and an enthusiastically naked Venus, as well as various "wood spirits." Needless to say, he was unconvinced by this show.

In one town, when he tried to convince the locals to cut down a pine tree they venerated, they agreed -- but only if Martin would sit where the tree was going to fall! Martin seated himself directly under the path of the leaning tree and the townspeople began to cut from the other side. However, just as the tree began to topple, Martin made the sign of the cross and the tree fell in the opposite direction -- slowly enough to miss the fleeing townspeople. Martin won many converts that day.

Martin tore down many non-Christian temples and always built a Christian church in their place to make a point about true worship and give people a genuine replacement for their false idols. In once case when a huge tower was not torn down under his orders, a bolt of lightning came to destroy it after his prayers.

Martin was also dedicated to freeing of prisoners, so much so that when authorities, even the emperors, heard he was coming, they refused to see him because they knew he would request mercy for someone and they would be unable to refuse. Martin was so dedicated that few escaped his entreaties. One who didn't was a general named Avitianus who arrived at Tours with ranks of prisoners he intended to torture and execute the next day. As soon as Martin heard of this cruel plan, he left his monastery for the city. Although he arrived there after midnight, he went straight to the house where Avitianus was staying and threw himself on the threshold crying out in a loud voice. Sulpicius tells us that it was an angel who awakened Avitianus to tell him Martin was outside. The servants, certain Avitianus was dreaming, reassured him there was no one out there (without looking themselves). But after the angel woke him up the second time, Avitianus went outside himself and told Martin, "Don't even say a word. I know what your request it. Every prisoner shall be spared." Remarkably enough Sulpicius had this story from Avitianus himself, who loved to tell it.

Martin was human and made mistakes. In spite of what we may think of people in earlier times, many were skeptical of his visions of demons, believing them to come from too much fasting. He also announced eight years before he died that the Antichrist had been born. But his visions, whatever the source, are still instructive.

At one point the devil appeared to him dressed in magnificent robes, encrusted with gold and gems, and announced he was Jesus and that Martin was to adore him. Martin immediately saw the mistake the devil had made (and had to make) and asked, "Where are the marks of the nails? Where the piercing of the spear? Where the crown of thorns? When I see the marks of the Passion I shall adore my Lord." Jesus would not come in riches but with the signs of his suffering and poverty.

Martin's compassion was as well-known as his miracles. In just one case out of many a father came to him griefstricken that his daughter had never spoken. Martin healed her by asking her to say her father's name -- which she did.

However it was this compassion and mercy that led to what he considered his greatest mistake. Bishops from Spain including a bishop named Ithacius had gone to the emperor soliciting his help in destroying a new heresy taught by a man named Priscillian. Martin agreed completely that Priscillian was teaching heresy (among other things, he rejected marriage, and said that the world was created by the devil) and that he should be excommunicated. But he was horrified that Ithacius had appealed to a secular authority for help and even more upset that Ithacius was demanding the execution of Priscillian and his followers. Martin hurried to intervene with emperor Maximus, as did Ambrose of Milan. Martin stated his case that this was a church matter and that secular authority had no power to intervene and that excommunication of the heretics was punishment enough. He left believing he had won the argument and saved the heretics but after he left Ithacius began his manipulation again and Priscillian and the other prisoners were tortured and executed. This was the first time a death sentence had been given for heresy -- a horrible precedent.

Martin's mistake was yet to come. He hurried back in order to forestall a massacre of the Priscillianists. Once there he absolutely refused communion with the bishops who had murdered the people. This was a strong statement that rejected the persecuting bishops as part of the communion of the Church.

Unfortunately, the emperor Maximus knew the key to Martin's heart. He had prisoners that supported the former emperor Gratian in captivity and knew Martin wanted mercy for them. Maximus said that he would free these prisoners if Martin would share communion with Ithacius. Martin agreed to do so, but afterwards was so overcome with shame and guilt for giving in to such evil that he never went to any more assemblies of bishops.

On his way home, still weighed down with a feeling that he had sinned by communicating with Ithacius, he had a vision of angel who told him that although he was right to regret what he did, he was wrong to brood over his faults. "You saw no other way out," the angel said. "Take courage again: recover your ordinary firmness; otherwise you will be imperilling not your glory but your salvation." This advice we all should remember if we dwell too much on our mistakes.

Martin died when he was over 80 years old on November 8. Historians disagree on the year and place it anywhere from 395 to 402. His feast is November 11, the day he was buried, at his request, in the Cemetery of the Poor.
Tomb of St. Martin of Tours


O God, You see that we cannot depend upon our own strength. Mercifully preserve us from all harm through the intercession of Your blessed confessor bishop Martin.

Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Armistice Day: 95th Anniversary

The Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month at the Eleventh Hour...

Before Omaha Beach, D-Day (June 1944)

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be

During World War I (1914 - 1918)

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

Funeral Mass (Date Unknown)

A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers blest by the suns of home.

Mass on the Battlefield (Date Unknown)

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thought by England given;

Mass on the Battlefield (Date Unknown)

Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English Heaven

Source: "The Soldier" by Rupert Brooke (1887 - 1915)

Image Sources: Believed to be in the Public Domain
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Feast of the Dedication of the Archbasilica of our Savior (John Lateran)

Image (c) A Catholic Life Blog 2016

Double of the II Class (1955 Calendar): November 9

Today Holy Mother Church triumphantly celebrates the Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Savior Jesus Christ, commonly referred to as the Basilica of St. John Lateran.   Its association with the name of Lateran is due to the fact that the Church was in ancient times occupied by the palace of the Laterani family.
The palace of the Laterani, on the Coelian Hill, belonged then to Constantine's wife Fausta. After his conversion the Emperor gave it to the Pope as his private residence and founded in it the church of the Lateran which became the mother and mistress of all the churches of Rome and the world. It was dedicated to Christ our Saviour by Pope St. Silvester on November 9, 324. In the twelfth century it was given as its second title St. John the Baptist whose name was also that of the ancient baptistery connected with the church; hence the present name of the basilica, St. John Lateran. The first basilica having been destroyed, it was rebuilt in the tenth century by Sergius III and consecrated by Benedict XIII in 1726.

Source: Passionist Nuns

Dom Guernager writes in the Liturgical Year:

Today is the birthday of the mother and mistress of churches, called “of our Saviour, Aula Dei (God's palace), the golden Basilica;” it is a new Sinai,[3] whence the apostolic oracles and so many Councils have made known to the world the law of salvation. No wonder this feast is celebrated by the whole world.

Although the Popes for centuries have ceased to dwell in the Lateran palace, the Basilica still holds the first rank. It is as true now, as it was in the time of St. Peter Damian, to say that “as our Saviour is the Head of the elect, so the church which bears his name is the head of all churches; those of St. Peter and St. Paul, on its right and left, are the two arms with which this sovereign and universal church embraces the whole earth, saving all those who desire salvation, cherishing and protecting them in its maternal bosom.” And St. Peter Damian applied conjointly to our Saviour and his Basilica the words of the prophet Zacharias; Behold a Alan, the Orient is his name: and under him shall he spring up, and shall build a temple to the Lord. Yea, he shall build a temple to the Lord: and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit, and rule upon his throne: and he shall be a priest upon his throne.

It is still at the Lateran Basilica that the Roman Pontiffs take official possession of their See. There each year, in the name of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, the episcopal functions are performed, viz: the blessing of the Holy Oils on Maundy Thursday, and on Holy Saturday the blessing of the Font, solemn Baptism and Confirmation, and the general Ordination. Could the great poet of the age of triumph, Prudentius, return to life in these our days, he might still say: “The Roman people hasten in eager crowds to the Lateran, whence they return marked with the sacred sign, with the royal chrism. And are we yet to doubt that Rome is consecrated " to thee, O Christ!”

The Proper of the Mass for today's Mass of the Dedication of St. John Lateran is called the Missa Terribilis, taken from the beginning Introit from Genesis 28: 17, "Terribilis est locus iste..." which is translated as "Terrible is this place: it is the house of God, and the gate of Heaven; and it shall be called the court of God."

The meaning of the word "Terrible" is derived from the Latin word terrere meaning "awesome" or "awestruck," signifying the amazement one should feel in the presence of Almighty God, the Creator and Ruler of the Universe. However, far from seeming awestruck, modern man often forsakes reverence and downplays the grandeur of God who dwells among us in the tabernacle. 

To read the proper prayers for today's Mass in PDF please click here:  Page 1 & Page 2

In honor of today's triumphant celebration, I encourage you to read the beautiful ceremony and prayers for the Dedication of a Church.

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