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Thursday, August 15, 2013
Servants of The Holy Family celebrate the Feast of The Immaculate Conception
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The community of Servants of The Holy Family celebrate the Feast of The Immaculate Conception of The Blessed Virgin Mary with a solemn high Mass. 

The Immaculate Conception of The Blessed Virgin Mary was defined solemnly by the Church.  Here are the words of the Dogma:
For the Honour of the Holy and undivided Trinity. For the glory and adornment of the virgin Mother of God. For the exultation of the Catholic Faith. And for the furtherance of the Catholic Religion. By the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul and by our own, we declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the most blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God. And therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Institute of Christ the King 2013 Ordination Week Photos
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The obligatory formation for all our candidates to the holy priesthood is comprised of a one-year course of Spirituality, a two-year course of Philosophy, and a four-year course of Theology. Upon completing the first year, the seminarians receive the black cassock, a symbol of mourning for Christ and dying to sin and the world. This year, sixteen seminarians received their cassocks in a solemn ceremony at the church of Sts. Michele e Gaetano in Florence, from the Prior General of the Institute, Monsignor Gilles Wach.

Please pray for the seminarians and their perseverance toward the priesthood!

Photo - the five deacons on their way to be ordained to the priesthood, on July 4, 2013. Please ask the intercession of St. John Vianney and pray for these new priests of the Church.


His Excellency, the Most Reverend Matthew Madega, Bishop of Mouila, Gabon, conferred Minor Orders on July 2, 2013. In the first minor order of Tonsure, five locks of hair are removed by the Bishop in the shape of the cross, and a white surplice is given to symbolize a new man in Christ. After the second year, the seminarian is called by the Bishop to the next step: the Minor Order of Porter. The duties of the porter are to ring the bells and to open the church and sacristy. A man learns responsibility for the care of the house of God.
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Why Should Catholics Build Beautiful Churches
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Why should Catholics build beautiful churches? First, because beauty is eternal and the Catholic faith is ever ancient and ever new. God’s love is eternal and the Catholic faith will last until the end of time. Something that is beautiful improves with age, and so with the Catholic faith, and therefore a beautiful Catholic church speaks of the antiquity and permanence of the faith it proclaims.
 
Secondly Beauty is attractive. It draws you in. It is an experience. I know a young priest who was raised a Baptist and went into a beautiful Catholic Church when he was fifteen years old. He immediately knelt and knew he was not only going to be a Catholic, but that he was supposed to be a Catholic priest. Beauty in a Catholic Church is something ‘crazy’ for God in a brutal utilitarian age. But that beauty speaks of the attraction of God himself and it helps to draw us into his presence.
 
Thirdly, Beauty is Truth and Truth Beauty. That’s all you need to know. We comprehend verbal expressions of Truth with our mind, but we apprehend beauty with our heart. The heart has reasons that the mind knows nothing of, and it is beauty which unlocks the secret chambers of the heart. Beauty is the language of worship. Beauty is the language of the soul, and how can our religion penetrate to the  heart of our soul unless it is beautiful? How can the liturgy be celebrated beautifully in a church that is harsh, utilitarian, nasty and cheap?
 
For more  resources on the importance of Traditional Architecture in sacred places, please see here for a full list of recommended books.
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Monday, August 12, 2013
The Catholic Church in Japan: Our Lady of Akita
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Holy Mass in Nagasaki Japan - June 1949

How wonderfully gratifying to see that despite the ruins no concession is made to the glory of God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I dread to think of what irreligious conduct will take place in such a place now.

O Lord, send us priests.  O Lord, send us holy priests.  O Lord, send us many holy priests.

THE MESSAGE OF
OUR LADY OF AKITA
(1973 - 1981)
  Apparitions Approved 
An Urgent Message 
 
In 1984, just before retiring at a venerable age, the diocesan Bishop of Niigata, Bishop John Shojiro Ito, in consultation with the Holy See, wrote a pastoral letter in which he recognized as being authentically of the Mother of God, the extraordinary series of events that had taken place from 1973 to 1981 in a little lay convent within his diocese, at Akita, Japan. Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in June 1988, approved the Akita events as "reliable and worthy of belief". In fact the Philippine ambassador to the Vatican, in 1998 spoke to Cardinal Ratzinger about Akita and the Cardinal: "personally confirmed to me that these two messages of Fatima and Akita are essentially the same". Hence in Akita we are dealing with a Church approved intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary as sure in this respect as Lourdes, La Salette, or Fatima. 

Only a few Catholics know of Our Lady of Akita but the message, like that of Fatima, is a specific warning of worldwide chastisement. The chastisement threatened is truly terrible � far worse than the possibility of annihilation of several nations prophesied at Fatima. Akita is absolutely consistent with prophecies of Scripture. 

The first message received by Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa on June 6, 1973, was a call for prayer and sacrifice for the glory of the Father and salvation of souls. The second message, August 3, 1973, was for prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices to soften the Father's anger. 

The third message on October 13, 1973, the actual anniversary of the final visions and miracle of Fatima is as follows: "As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son. Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and the priests. The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, and bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their Confreres. The Church and altars will be vandalized. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. 

"The demon will rage especially against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will no longer be pardon for them." 

In his pastoral letter approving the events of Akita as supernatural, the Bishop of Niigata said: "After the inquiries conducted up to the present day, one cannot deny the supernatural character of a series of unexplainable events relative to the statue of the Virgin honored at Akita (Diocese of Niigata). Consequently I authorize that all of the diocese entrusted to me venerate the Holy Mother of Akita."


Concerning the messages, His Excellency said: "As for the content of the messages received, it is no way contrary to Catholic doctrine or to good morals. When one thinks of the actual state of the world, the warning seems to correspond to it in many points." His Excellency explained that he had taken eight years to give this judgment because of the importance and the responsibility in question. "The Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith has given me directives in this sense," the Bishop said, "that only the bishop of the diocese in question has the power to recognize an event of this kind."

The events of Akita have been confirmed by definite miracles, two of which are cited by the Bishop in his pastoral letter. While the warning given by Our Lady at Akita is terrible, the message, as the Bishop points out, is basically a repetition of the Message of Fatima. Our Lady stressed the importance of praying the Rosary, and above all of accepting from God whatever He may send in the course of each day . . . whatever suffering . . . and to offer it up in reparation for so many sins committed throughout the world at this time. Our Lady begged especially for prayers for bishops, priests, and religious, and for reparation before the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lady said: "I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering to the Father, together with all the victim souls who console Him, the sufferings endured by the Son on the Cross, by His blood and by His very loving Soul. Prayer, penance, and courageous sacrifices can appease the anger of the Father."

To the little religious community where Our Lady gave the messages, she asked that it "live in poverty, sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and the outrages of so many men."
The apparitions and events in Akita, Japan, center around a three foot high statue of Our Lady with a Japanese face in the chapel of the Eucharistic Handmaids of the Sacred Heart. These supernatural happenings also involve Sr. Agnes Sasagawa, one of the Sisters in the convent, to whom Our Lady gave Her messages. Sister had been very ill, requiring about 20 operations. When the apparitions began, she was nearly deaf. On June 12, 1973, when she opened the tabernacle for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a very strong light came from it and filled the entire chapel. This happened for three days. When Sister asked the other Sisters if they had seen anything out of the ordinary, they said no.

This strong light also came from the tabernacle on the feast of Corpus Christi. When Sr. Sasagawa told the Bishop of Akita (who was visiting the convent on the feast) of this, he advised her to keep it in her heart. On the Vigil of the Feast of the Sacred Heart that same year, Sr. Sasagawa's guardian angel appeared to her and asked her to pray the Fatima decade prayer* after each decade of the Rosary. In 1973 this prayer was not well known in Japan and Sister had trouble understanding it, but the Sisters began to recite the prayer and it has now spread throughout Japan. (* O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have the most need of Thy mercy. Amen.)

On the same occasion as the apparition of her guardian angel, a wound in the form of a cross appeared in the hollow of Sr. Sasagawa's left hand and began to bleed. The bleeding ended on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The following Friday, the wound bled and stopped the next day. This continued for a month. Sister's guardian angel later spoke to her in chapel. Although nearly deaf, she heard the angel saying: "Pray not only for yourself, but for the people of all nations. The world today is wounding the Sacred Heart of Jesus through so much sin and ingratitude." After hearing this, Sister heard a voice come from the statue in the chapel: "My daughter, you obeyed me very well; you have renounced everything. This deafness is a great suffering for you. Have patience; you will be healed. It is a trial. Pray in reparation for all people. Pray much for the Holy Father, for the bishops and the priests."

On July 6, 1973, a bleeding wound appeared on the right hand of the statue of Our Lady in the chapel. On other days, the face of the statue bled. Sister's guardian angel told her: "This flowing of blood is significant. It will be shed for the conversion of men and in reparation for sins. To the devotion to the Sacred Heart add the devotion to the Precious Blood." Other messages followed. About a month after seeing the wound in the right hand of Our Lady's statue, Sr. Sasagawa heard: 

"My daughter, if you love Our Lord, listen to me. Many people in the world grieve Our Lord. I ask for souls who will console Him, and who will make reparation. The Heavenly Father is preparing a great punishment for the world. Many times I have tried with my Son to soften the anger of the Father. I presented to Him many atoning souls who make reparation by prayers and sacrifices. That is what I ask of you. Honor poverty. Live poorly. You must keep your vows, which are like three nails to nail you to the Cross the nails of poverty, chastity, and obedience."

Beginning on September 20, 1973, the statue began to sweat from the face to the feet. Tears began to flow down the face. Also, a very pleasant odor was felt in the chapel. This happened many times in the presence of others, including the Bishop. In all, the statue wept a total of 101 times. On October 13, 1973, Our Lady gave Sister Sasagawa this serious message: "As I said before if mankind does not repent, the Heavenly Father will inflict a very serious punishment on the whole world; a punishment the likes of which has never happened before. Many people will perish. Pray the Rosary often. Only I can prevent the disaster. Whoever entrusts themselves to me will be saved." The statue continued to weep and other messages followed. Pilgrims came and many received answers to their prayers. Then, in 1981, Theresa Chon, who was suffering from terminal brain cancer, was miraculously healed through the intercession of Our Lady of Akita. This healing was well documented by Fr. Joseph Oh of Seoul, S. Korea. 

In his pastoral letter, Bishop Ito said that it would have been difficult to believe in a message from Our Lady that is so terrible, unless there was overwhelming proof that it was indeed from Her. But he points out that the terrible chastisement of which Our Lady speaks is on the condition: "If men do not repent and do not better themselves . . ." The Bishop added it is a serious warning, while at the same time one perceives in it the maternal love of Our Lady. In Her message warning the world of the annihilation of a great part of humanity, She said: "The thought of the loss of numerous souls makes me sad."

This impending chastisement can be averted if enough people pray the Rosary daily and do penance which Our Lady requested at Fatima in 1917. We urge you to order large quantities of this brochure for circulation at Catholic Churches. After you have read this urgent message please pass it on to others.

Source: OLRL.org
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St. Clare of Assisi
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Double (1955 Calendar): August 12

She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life—the first monastic rule known to have been written by a woman. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honor as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares.

The life of a Poor Clare is occupied with work and prayer, penance and contemplation. Sisters fast at all times, except the Feast of the Nativity, with no meat at any time. The great silence is from Compline until after the conventual Mass. During the day there is one hour of recreation, except on Friday. Meals are eaten in silence. The Divine Office is recited, not sung, and they use the Franciscan breviary. The habit is a loose fitting garment of gray frieze; the cord is of linen rope about one-half inch in thickness having four knots representing the four vows; their sandals are cloth.

There are two branches of Poor Clares, the Colettines, so called because their Rule was modified by Saint Colette, and the Urbanists, whose Rule was modified by Pope Urban IV. Colettines follow a rigorous rule; they are enclosed, fast, abstain from meat, are discalced, and possess no property, not even in common. Urbanists sometimes work outside their convents, and are less austere than the Colettines. 

Clare’s father was a count, her mother the countess Blessed Orsolana. Her father died when the girl was very young. After hearing Saint Francis of Assisi preach in the streets, Clare confided to him her desire to live for God, and the two became close friends. On Palm Sunday in 1212, her bishop presented Clare with a palm, which she apparently took as a sign. With her cousin Pacifica, Clare ran away from her mother‘s palace during the night to enter religious life. She eventually took the veil from Saint Francis at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi, Italy.   

Clare founded the Order of Poor Ladies (Poor Clares) at San Damiano, and led it for 40 years. Everywhere the Franciscans established themselves throughout Europe, there also went the Poor Clares, depending solely on alms, forced to have complete faith on God to provide through people; this lack of land-based revenues was a new idea at the time. Clare’s mother and sisters later joined the order, and there are still thousands of members living lives of silence and prayer.   

Clare loved music and well-composed sermons. She was humble, merciful, charming, optimistic, chivalrous, and every day she meditated on the Passion of Jesus. She would get up late at night to tuck in her sisters who’d kicked off their blankets. When she learned of the Franciscan martyrs in Morrocco in 1221, she tried to go there to give her own life for God, but was restrained. Once when her convent was about to be attacked, she displayed the Sacrament in a monstrace at the convent gates, and prayed before it; the attackers left, the house was saved, and the image of her holding a monstrance became one of her emblems. Her patronage of eyes and against their problems may have developed from her name which has overtones from clearness, brightness, brilliance – like healthy eyes.   

Toward the end of her life, when she was too ill to attend Mass, an image of the service would display on the wall of her cell; thus her patronage of television. She was ever the close friend and spiritual student of Francis, who apparently led her soul into the light at her death.

On August 9, 1253, the papal bull Solet annuere of Pope Innocent IV confirmed that Clare's rule would serve as the governing rule for Clare's Order of Poor Ladies. Two days later, on August 11, Clare died at the age of 59. Her remains were interred at the chapel of San Giorgio while a church to hold her remains was being constructed.

On August 15, 1255, Pope Alexander IV canonized Clare as Saint Clare of Assisi. Construction of the Basilica of Saint Clare was completed in 1260, and on October 3 of that year Clare's remains were transferred to the newly completed basilica where they were buried beneath the high altar. In further recognition of the saint, Pope Urban IV officially changed the name of the Order of Poor Ladies to the Order of Saint Clare in 1263.

Some 600 years later in 1872, Saint Clare's remains were transferred to a newly constructed shrine in the crypt of the Basilica of Saint Clare where they can still be seen today.  Her body is still incorruptible.

"Praise and glory be to you, O loving Jesus Christ, for the most sacred wound in your side . . . and for your infinite mercy which you made known to us in the opening of your breast to the soldier Longinus, and so to us all. I pray you, O most gentle Jesus, having redeemed me by baptism from original sin, so now, by your Precious Blood, which is offered and received throughout the world, deliver me from all evils, past, present and to come" (St. Clare's own words).

Sources: SQPN & Catholic Encyclopedia
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Sunday, August 11, 2013
Traditional Mass Propers: 12th Sunday after Pentecost
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INTROIT
Ps. 69:2-3 O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me. Let my enemies who seek my life be put to shame and confounded. Ps. 69:4. Let those who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. V. Glory be . . .

COLLECT - Almighty and merciful God, it is through Your grace that the faithful are able to serve You fittingly and laudably. Grant that we may hurry, without faltering, toward the rewards You have promised to us. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE
II Cor. 3:4-9
Brethren: And such confidence we have, through Christ, towards God. Not that we are sufficient to think any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God. Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter but in the spirit. For the letter killeth: but the spirit quickeneth. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious (so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance), which is made void: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather in glory? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory.

GRADUAL
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall ever be in my mouth. V. My soul shall glory in the Lord; the humble will hear and be made glad.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 87:2 O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and by night in Your presence. Alleluia!


GOSPEL
Luke 10:23-37
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: "Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see. For I say to you that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you hear and have not heard them." And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him and saying, "Master, what must I do to possess eternal life?" But he said to him: "What is written in the law? How readest thou?" He answering, said: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself." And he said to him: "Thou hast answered right. This do: and thou shalt live." But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: "And who is my neighbour?" And Jesus answering, said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among robbers, who also stripped him and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead. And it chanced, that a certain priest went down the same way: and seeing him, passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by. But a certain Samaritan, being on his journey, came near him: and seeing him, was moved with compassion: And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine: and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two pence and gave to the host and said: 'Take care of him; and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee.' "Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbour to him that fell among the robbers?" But he said: "He that shewed mercy to him." And Jesus said to him: "Go, and do thou in like manner."

OFFERTORY
Ex. 32:11, 13, 14
Moses prayed before the Lord his God, saying, "Why, O Lord, should Your wrath blaze up against Your own people? Let Your anger die down. Remember Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, how You swore to give them a land flowing with milk and honey." And the Lord relented in the punishments He had threatened to inflict of His people.

SECRET O Lord, look with mercy upon the offerings we have placed upon Your altar. May they win pardon for our sins and give glory to Your name. Through our Lord . . .

COMMUNION
Ps. 103:13, 14-15
The earth is filled with the fruit of Your works, O Lord, that You may bring forth food from the earth and wine to cheer the heart of man, oil to make his face gleam, and bread to sustain his strength.


POST COMMUNION - May the reception of this Sacrament bring us life, O Lord, and win for us Your pardon and Your protection. Through our Lord . . .

Sources: Saint Andrew Daily Missal and the Marian Missal , 1945
 
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Friday, August 9, 2013
Angel Disguised as Priest Attends to an Auto Accident
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This is a beautiful story and beautiful commentary on the Catholic Faith, both in showing where the true grace of Heaven abides and in showing forth the beautiful soul of a young woman so resigned and tranquil under siege. Here she was crushed under all the twisted metal in the wake of a head-on collision, and she was talking about her religion and prayer, even before the "priest" arrived. Certainly this cleric had all the markings of an angel, as you will see.

Full story here...
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Thursday, August 8, 2013
Upcoming Film on the Council of Nicea
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Following in the tradition of Mel Gibson's ground breaking masterpiece, The Passion of Christ, the film Nicaea promises to be the second in what I hope will be a growing trend in the cinematic presentations of the divine and human drama of the 2000 year history of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Executive Producer and brainchild behind Nicaea is Catholic layman Charles Parlato, a former hedge fund manager and currently, a private investor. One March morning in 1991, he awoke with the idea of capturing the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.), one of the major turning points in the history of Christianity, on film. It's been a long and difficult road, but Parlato is on the threshold of success.

With preliminary production tasks completed, the scheduling for the filming of Nicaea is set for early 2014 at the famed European Cinecitta Studies in Rome, site of the filming of Ben-Hur (1959) and The Passion (2004). Nicaea's distinguished production staff includes Rob Draper, Director, Enzo Sisti, Executive Producer for The Passion and Nicaea, and Francesco Frigeri – Design Producer for The Passion and Nicaea.

Historic Background on Nicaea

While most Christians are acquainted with the Nicene Creed, the profession of the Christian Faith held by the Roman Catholic Church and common also to all Eastern Churches and major Protestant Denominations, details surrounding the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea and its importance in the life of Christianity are not generally well known by the layman, especially the pivotal role played by Emperor Constantine and the almost unimaginable cast of characters ever assembled under one roof for an ecclesiastical event which would define and affirm the basic tenets of Christianity forever. 


(Continued at http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/engel/130808)
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013
St. Cajetan
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Double (1955 Calendar): August 7

In honor of this Feast of the Founder of the Theatines, the following short biography is taken from Catholic Encyclopedia:
Founder of the Theatines, born October, 1480 at Vicenza in Venetian territory; died at Naples in 1547. Under the care of a pious mother he passed a studious and exemplary youth, and took his degree as doctor utriusque juris at Padua in his twenty-fourth year. In 1506 he became at Rome a prothonotary Apostolic in the court of Julius II, and took an important share in reconciling the Republic of Venice with that pontiff. On the death of Julius in 1523 he withdrew from the court, and is credited with founding, shortly after, an association of pious priests and prelates called the Oratory of Divine Love, which spread to other Italian towns. Though remarkable for his intense love of God, he did not advance to the priesthood till 1516.
Recalled to Vicenza in the following year by the death of his mother, he founded there a hospital for incurables, thus giving proof of the active charity that filled his whole life. But his zeal was more deeply moved by the spiritual diseases that, in those days of political disorder, infected the clergy of all ranks, and, like St. Augustine in earlier times, he strove to reform them by instituting a body of regular clergy, who should combine the spirit of monasticism with the exercises of the active ministry.

Returning to Rome in 1523 he laid the foundations of his new congregation, which was canonically erected by Clement VII in 1524. One of his four companions was Giovanni Pietro Caraffa, Bishop of Chieti (in Latin Theate), afterwards Paul IV, who was elected first superior, and from whose title arose the name Theatines. The order grew but slowly. During the sack of Rome in 1527 the Theatines, then twelve in number, escaped to Venice after enduring many outrages from the heretic invaders. There Cajetan met St. Hieronymus Æmiliani, whom he assisted in the establishment of his Congregation of Clerks Regular. In 1533 Cajetan founded a house in Naples, where he was able to check the advances of Lutheranism. In 1540 he was again at Venice, whence he extended his work to Verona and Vicenza. He passed the last four years of his life, a sort of seraphic existence, at Naples where he died finally of grief at the discords of the city, suffering in his last moments a kind of mystical crucifixion. He was beatified by Urban VIII in 1629, and canonized by Clement X in 1671. His feast is kept on the 7th of August.
Prayer:

O Lord, we cannot exist without You. Inspire us to think and act rightly, that we may always live as You would have us live. Through our Lord . . .

Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
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Sunday, August 4, 2013
Virtual Tour: National Shrine of St. Therese of Lisieux
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For some time I have been hoping to stop by the National Shrine of St. Therese in Darien, IL.  Today I managed to stop by after Mass.  Despite the modernist chapel there, the rest of the museum was beautiful with the traditional and beautiful artifacts from the life of St. Therese.  The Shrine holds several reliquaries with 1st Class relics in addition to numerous 2nd class relics.

Below are images from that Shrine.














O Little Therese of the Child Jesus,
Please pick a rose for me
From the heavenly gardens
And send it to me
As a message of love.

O little flower of Jesus,

Ask God today to grant the favors
I now place with confidence
In your hands.


(Mention your specific requests)


St. Therese,
help me to always believe,
As you did,
In God's great love for me,
So that I might imitate your
"Little Way" each day. Amen




O Glorious St. Therese, whom Almighty God has raised up to aid and inspire the human family, I implore your Miraculous Intercession. You are so powerful in obtaining every need of body and spirit from the Heart of God. Holy Mother Church proclaims you 'Prodigy of Miracles... the Greatest Saint of Modern Times.' Now I fervently beseech you to answer my petition (mention here) and to carry out your promises of spending Heaven doing good on earth...of letting fall from Heaven a Shower of Roses. Little Flower, give me your childlike faith, to see the Face of God in the people and experiences of my life, and to love God with full confidence. St. Therese, my Carmelite Sister, I will fulfill your plea 'to be made known everywhere' and I will continue to lead others to Jesus through you. Amen




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Saturday, August 3, 2013
Feast of the Finding of St. Stephen's Relics
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SemiDouble (1955 Calendar): August 3rd

Source for the below (Lives of the Saints):

THE second festival in honor of the holy protomartyr St. Stephen was instituted by the Church on the occasion of the discovery of his precious remains. His body lay long concealed, under the ruins of an old tomb, in a place twenty miles from Jerusalem, called Caphargamala, where stood a church which was served by a venerable priest named Lucian. In the year 415, on Friday, the 3d of December, about nine o'clock at night, Lucian was sleeping in his bed in the baptistery, where he commonly lay in order to guard the sacred vessels of the church. Being half awake, he saw a tall, comely old man of a venerable aspect, who approached him, and, calling him thrice by his name, bid him go to Jerusalem and tell Bishop John to come and open the tombs in which his remains and those of certain other servants of Christ lay, that through their means God might open to many the gates of His clemency.

This vision was repeated twice. After the second time, Lucian went to Jerusalem and laid the whole affair before Bishop John, who bade him go and search for the relics, which, the Bishop concluded, would be found under a heap of small stones which lay in a field near his church. In digging up the earth here, three coffins or chests were found. Lucian sent immediately to acquaint Bishop John with this. He was then at the Council of Diospolis, and, taking along with him Eutonius, Bishop of Sebaste, and Eleutherius, Bishop of Jericho, came to the place. Upon the opening of St. Stephen's coffin the earth shook, and there came out of the coffin such an agreeable odor that no one remembered to have ever smelled anything like it.

There was a vast multitude of people assembled in that place, among whom were many persons afflicted with divers distempers, of whom seventy-three recovered their health upon the spot. They kissed the holy relics, and then shut them up. The Bishop consented to leave a small portion of them at Caphargamala; the rest were carried in the coffin with singing of psalms and hymns, to the Church of Sion at Jerusalem. The translation was performed on the 26th of December, on which day the Church hath ever since honored the memory of St. Stephen, commemorating the discovery of his relies on the 3d of August probably on account of the dedication of some church in his honor.

Reflection.—St. Austin, speaking of the miracles of St. Stephen, addresses himself to his flock as follows: "Let us so desire to obtain temporal blessings by his intercession that we may merit, in imitating him, those which are eternal."
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Friday, August 2, 2013
Little Flowers Family Press in Need of Support After Devastating Fire
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In a very sad piece of news, I have learned that Little Flowers Family Press has suffered a devastating fire. The horrific house fire has destroyed their 17yr old traditional catholic publishing business. The family barely got out with their lives and has a tremendous amount of work to rebuild.

From a local news story:
(Updated on July 24, 2013) Lanark Highlands Business Tourism Association is passing along unfortunate news. One of our members, Little Flowers Family Press, experienced a devastating fire on Friday morning and the family’s home and business has been destroyed. Rita and Mark Davidson and their four boys escaped without harm, but they lost everything in the blaze. Rita is also a member of the LHBTA volunteer board.

Photo courtesy of Beth Girdler

Located at 2988 Elphin-Maberly Road (in the former Elphin General Store), the fire consumed everything from personal items to their vehicle. The cause of the fire is still unknown.
Anyone wanting to donate immediately, can do so at any Scotiabank, noting that they want to contribute to the Davidson Trust.

Also, please visit the “Our Community Cares” Facebook page (click here) and request to join to learn more about what items are still needed by the family.

The following is taken directly from the family:
My friends it is with a heavy heart beyond words, I share that we lost our home, our business, our entire livelihood last Friday (July 19th 2013) with a fire.

We barely got out with our lives. Just 45 min later our entire house was done. We are thankful God found reason to spare us and our 4 boys, three with autism. The devil was mighty upset for our work i guess.

I’m hope you don’t mind my posting this and asking for your prayers and support. We had no insurance and rebuilding our lives will be a huge job. Rebuilding ‘Little Flowers Family Press’ will be an even larger job. But, if God wills it, this won’t be the last from us.

As we try to make sense of our life, we cling to God, who is our ‘all’ now that all our earthly possessions have been stripped away. In His mercy, He has saved us from destruction, for a purpose.
Please find it within your heart to join their Facebook Page and offer any help that you may be able to offer them.  Prayers are needed.
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August's First Friday Devotion
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Today is the First Friday of August. Because today is the first Friday of the Month, many Catholic parishes will have special Masses today for the First Friday Devotion.

Beginning on December 27, 1673, through 1675, Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque asking her to receive Him in Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month and to meditate on His passion from 11:00 PM to 12:00 midnight each Thursday. He also revealed to her twelve promises for all who are devoted to His Sacred Heart; he asked for a Feast of the Sacred Heart to be instituted in the liturgical calendar of the Church. Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque with twelve promises for those devoted to His Most Sacred Heart.

Promises for those devoted to the Sacred Heart:

1. "I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life."
2. "I will establish peace in their homes."
3. "I will comfort them in their afflictions."
4. "I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death."
5. "I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings."
6. "Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy."
7. "Tepid souls shall grow fervent."
8. "Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection."
9. "I will bless every place where a picture of My Heart shall be set up and honored."
10. "I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts."
11. "Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out."
12. "I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."

Prayer of Reparation:


O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore thee profoundly. I offer thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of thee the conversion of poor sinners. Amen.
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Thursday, August 1, 2013
Virtual Tour: Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia
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Continuing a trend with my recent posts here and here, I wish to share these images from a recent visit of mine to Philadelphia. These images are of the Catholic Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.











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Analysis of Pope Francis's First Encyclical in Light of Catholic Tradition
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Is Pope Francis' first encyclical, Lumen fidei, in line with Tradition? DICI examines the text and gives some conclusions.  The following is directly quoted from that source.

Lumen fidei [published on June 29, 2013] claims to be “in continuity with all that the Church’s magisterium has pronounced”;  thus there is an explicit reference—but only in a footnote—to Chapter 3 of the Constitution Dei Filius of the First Vatican Council (no. 7, note 7).  It is also about the “faith [that is] received from God as a supernatural gift” (no. 4), and it specifies that faith is a “theological” and “supernatural” virtue given by God (no. 7). Similarly we read:
Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity” (no. 48); not a single article of the Creed can be denied;  there is a need for vigilance to ensure that the deposit of faith is passed on “in its entirety (no. 48).
But those are the only traces of the traditional teaching.

All the rest of the Encyclical buries these all-too-rare allusions in a context that is quite foreign to them. This context connects the idea of faith with the idea of experience and personal encounter, which establishes a relation between man and God, without making it clear whether this is the intellectual relation of knowledge[1] or the affective relation of love.[2] Nor is it very clear whether this personal encounter corresponds to the profound requirements of nature or whether it surpasses them by introducing man into a specifically supernatural order.[3] The problem is compounded by the failure to cite the classical notions of natural and supernatural in describing this relation: it is above all a question of existence.[4]

The central idea is that faith is first of all existential, the product of an encounter with the living God that reveals love and leads to communion (no. 4, no. 8).  It is essentially dynamic, openness to the promise of God and memory of [that promise about] the future (no. 9), openness to love (no. 21, no. 34), attachment to the source of life and of all fatherhood (no. 11), an experience of love (no. 47)…. It consists of “the willingness to let ourselves be constantly transformed and renewed by God’s call” (no. 13).

There is no definition of what a theological virtue is, and the reader will search in vain for a specific definition of the three theological virtues, which consequently are mixed up. Never is faith related to the authority of God who reveals (the word “authority” appears once, in no. 55, but in reference to another subject). The revealed deposit of faith is mentioned only in no. 48, but it is not defined—particularly the fact that it was completed at the death of the last apostle.

No. 18 recalls that “Christian faith is faith in the incarnation of the Word and his bodily resurrection; it is faith in a God who is so close to us that he entered our human history.” But it must be admitted that it is quite difficult to recite the act of faith on the basis of the considerations proposed here, according to which faith relies not on the authority of God who can neither deceive nor be deceived, but rather on the “utter reliability of God’s love” (no. 17), and on the reliability of Jesus “based… on his divine sonship” (ibid.). In other words: I believe in God because he is love and not because he is truthful.

We find in footnote 23 an excerpt from Dei Verbum that speaks about “[willing assent] to the revelation given by God”, which requires
the grace of God, anticipating it and assisting it, as well as the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, and opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth (no. 29).
Yet further on the Encyclical reads:
The creed does not only involve giving one’s assent to a body of abstract truths; rather, when it is recited the whole of life is drawn into a journey towards full communion with the living God (no. 45).
The necessity of faith in order to be saved is presented in a non-directive manner: the beginning of salvation is “openness to something prior to ourselves, to a primordial gift that affirms life and sustains it in being” (no. 19). Or else:  “Faith in Christ brings salvation because in him our lives become radically open” (no. 20). This is far from the Gospel clarity:
Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creation.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved:  but he that believeth not shall be condemned (Mark 16:15-16).
On the contrary, no. 34 says:
The light of love proper to faith can illumine the questions of our own time about truth…. As a truth of love, it is not one that can be imposed by force; it is not a truth that stifles the individual. Since it is born of love, it can penetrate to the heart, to the personal core of each man and woman. Clearly, then, faith is not intransigent, but grows in respectful coexistence with others.
Incidentally, one might wonder about the catechetical effectiveness of the definition of the Decalogue given in no. 46:
The Decalogue is not a set of negative commands, but concrete directions for emerging from the desert of the selfish and self-enclosed ego in order to enter into dialogue with God.
In short, faith, as it is presented in Lumen fidei, is first of all an experience of life and of love, fully realized in the “encounter with Christ” (no. 30): “Faith knows because it is tied to love, because love itself brings enlightenment” (no. 26). Jesus is said to be the one savior because “all God’s light is concentrated in him, in his ‘luminous life’ which discloses the origin and the end of history” (no. 35)….

It is much too early to propose, based on a first encyclical, a key to reading the teaching of Pope Francis; the next encyclical—which is said to be dedicated to poverty—will be more personal and will enlighten us more precisely. We will simply be so bold as to point out that Lumen fidei is indeed in line with post-conciliar teaching. Vatican II wanted to open up the Church to the modern world, which is characterized by its rejection of the argument from authority. Thus the Council claimed to be pastoral, avoiding all dogmatic definition so as not to give the impression of coercing contemporary minds.

From this perspective, the considerations on faith in Lumen fidei are somewhat reminiscent of what the immanentist philosopher Maurice Blondel wrote:
If faith increases our knowledge, it is not initially and principally inasmuch as it teaches us certain objective truths by authorized testimony, but rather inasmuch as it unites us to the life of a subject, inasmuch as it initiates us, through loving thought, to another thought and another love. (M. Blondel in A. Lalande, Dictionnaire technique et critique de la philosophie [Paris: PUF, 1968], 360, emphasis added.)
It is not learning objective truths, but becoming united to the life of a subject and being initiated by loving thought to another thought and another love. Hence a problem arises: how can one be content to propose to modern minds, which are smitten with autonomy, what the authority of divine revelation imposes on us? And how can we do this without giving the impression to those minds that the authority of divine revelation is contrary to their aspirations to autonomy? And without diluting the revealed deposit itself either or diminishing its authority? These are the difficulties with which the Magisterium has been struggling for fifty years.

In a recent article, Fr. Jean-Dominique, O.P., recalls the interest with which the Protestants of Taize welcomed the non-dogmatic teaching of Vatican II:
The Council’s intention is to drop an excessively static and notional language so as to adopt resolutely a dynamic, living language. This whole magnificent document [Dei Verbum, the conciliar document on Revelation—Editor’s note] will consider Revelation as the living Word that the living God addresses to the living Church composed of living members…. This whole document on Revelation will be dominated by the foundational evangelical themes of word, life and communion.  The Word of God, is the living Christ whom God gives to mankind so as to establish between him and them the communion of the Spirit in the Church.
Thus the Church gave up “speaking about the acceptance of revelation in terms of submission to authority” so as to speak primarily about a “personal faith that accepts God’s revelation” (Roger Schutz and Max Thurian, La Parole vivante au Concile [Les Presses de Taize, 1966], 77-78, cited by Fr. Jean-Dominique, “Concile ou révolution?” in Le Chardonnet [July 2013]: 6).

This intention no longer to resort to dogmatic definitions is deplored by the Declaration of the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X dated June 27, 2013:
We are truly obliged to observe that this Council without comparison, which wanted to be merely pastoral and not dogmatic, inaugurated a new type of magisterium, hitherto unheard of in the Church, without roots in Tradition; a magisterium resolved to reconcile Catholic doctrine with liberal ideas; a magisterium imbued with the modernist ideas of subjectivism, of immanentism and of perpetual evolution according to the false concept of a living tradition [which is also found in the writings of Maurice Blondel—Editor’s note], vitiating  the nature, the content, the role and the exercise of ecclesiastical magisterium.”  (See DICI no. 278, dated July 5, 2013).
(DICI no. 279 dated July 19, 2013)

Footnotes

[1] Recall: Faith  is defined as the adherence of our intellect to the truths revealed by God, because of the authority of God who reveals them. The spiritual life has faith as its principle, which receives from revelation its properly intellectual and therefore conceptual knowledge of the mystery. Without denying the fact that faith must be enriched by charity and flourish in loving knowledge, we must firmly maintain that, in order to be united in the actual spiritual life, faith and charity must remain formally distinct in their definition, in the eyes of the Magisterium and of theology.

[2] “Believing means entrusting oneself to a merciful love which always accepts and pardons, which sustains and directs our lives, and which shows its power by its ability to make straight the crooked lines of our history” (no. 13). “Faith transforms the whole person precisely to the extent that he or she becomes open to love. Through this blending of faith and love we come to see the kind of knowledge which faith entails, its power to convince and its ability to illumine our steps. Faith knows because it is tied to love, because love itself brings enlightenment. Faith’s understanding is born when we receive the immense love of God which transforms us inwardly and enables us to see reality with new eyes” (no. 26). “Faith transforms the whole person precisely to the extent that he or she becomes open to love. Through this blending of faith and love we come to see the kind of knowledge which faith entails, its power to convince and its ability to illumine our steps. Faith knows because it is tied to love, because love itself brings enlightenment. Faith’s understanding is born when we receive the immense love of God which transforms us inwardly and enables us to see reality with new eyes” (no. 32).

[3] “The life of faith, as a filial existence, is the acknowledgment of a primordial and radical gift which upholds our lives. We see this clearly in St. Paul’s question to the Corinthians: ‘What have you that you did not receive?’ (1 Cor 4:7)” (no. 19). Does this refer to the gift of creation or to the gift of grace? “In accepting the gift of faith, believers become a new creation; they receive a new being, as God’s children”; this is well put, but it does not specify whether this newness is part of the natural order and in continuity with creation or whether it surpasses it.

[4] “The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence” (no. 4). “For those early Christians, faith, as an encounter with the living God revealed in Christ, was indeed a ‘mother’, for it had brought them to the light and given birth within them to divine life, a new experience and a luminous vision of existence for which they were prepared to bear public witness to the end” (no. 5). “The Second Vatican Council enabled the light of faith to illumine our human experience from within, accompanying the men and women of our time on their journey. It clearly showed how faith enriches life in all its dimensions” (no. 6). “Thus wonderfully interwoven, faith, hope and charity are the driving force of the Christian life as it advances towards full communion with God” (no. 7). “Believing means entrusting oneself to a merciful love which always accepts and pardons, which sustains and directs our lives, and which shows its power by its ability to make straight the crooked lines of our history” (no. 13). “The beginning of salvation is openness to something prior to ourselves, to a primordial gift that affirms life and sustains it in being” (no. 19). “Those who believe are transformed by the Love to which they have opened their hearts in faith. By their openness to this offer of primordial Love, their lives are enlarged and expanded” (no. 21). “The realization that God is light provided Augustine with a new direction in life and enabled him to acknowledge his sinfulness and to turn towards the good” (no. 33).
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Prayers to our Lady of Good Counsel for Virtue and Victor
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Most Glorious Virgin, chosen by the Eternal Counsel to be the Mother of the Eternal Word made flesh, thou who art the treasurer of Divine graces, and the advocate of sinners, I, thy most unworthy servant, have recourse to thee; be thou pleased to be my guide and counselor in this vale of tears. Obtain for me through the Most Precious Blood of thy Divine Son, the forgiveness of my sins, the salvation of my soul, and the means necessary to obtain it. In like manner, obtain for Holy Mother the Church victory over her enemies, and the spread of the kingdom of Jesus Christ upon the whole earth. Amen.

Many popes have been great champions of Our Lady of Good Counsel and her image. Paul II first approved devotion to her. Popes Urban VIII, Pius IX and John XXIII all made trips to the church in Genarazzo to honor her. Pope Benedict XIV established the Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel in 1753, which has included among its members the popes Pius VIII, Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius XII, who placed his papacy under her maternal care. He later composed this prayer to Our Lady of Good Counsel, which can be used as a novena:

O Holy Virgin, to whose feet we are led by our anxious uncertainty in our search for and attainment of what is true and good, invoking you by the sweet title of Mother of Good Counsel, we beseech you to come to our assistance, when, along the road of this life, the darkness of error and of evil conspires towards our ruin by leading our minds and our hearts astray. O Seat of Wisdom and Star of the Sea, enlighten the doubtful and the erring, that they be not seduced by the false appearances of good; render them steadfast in the face of the hostile and corrupting influences of passion and of sin. O Mother of Good Counsel, obtain for us from your Divine Son a great love of virtue, and, in the hour of uncertainty and trial, the strength to embrace the way that leads to our salvation. If your hand sustains us, we shall walk unmolested along the path indicated to us by the life and words of Jesus, our Redeemer; and having followed freely and securely, even in the midst of this world's strife, the Sun of Truth and Justice under your maternal Star, we shall come to the enjoyment of full and eternal peace with you in the haven of salvation. Amen.
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Virtual Tour of the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
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Last week I took part in an East Coast road trip, visiting historical sites and shrines.  My travels took me to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC on the campus of the Catholic University of America. Below is a virtual tour of the Basilica including the many altars in the crypt, the statues, the museum quality artifacts, and the Church.





















 

Tiara is from Paul VI and the stole was worn by John XXIII at the beginning session of Vatican II


















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