Wednesday, August 18, 2021
Commemoration of St. Agapitus
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August 18th, a day during the Traditional Octave of the Assumption, is also when the Church commemorates the lesser-known martyr - St. Agaptius of Palestrina. The following is taken from The Order of St. Benedict Bethlehem Priory Servants of Jesus:

Triumph of the Faith by Eugene Thirion

Saint Agapitus (Agapetus) suffered in his youth a cruel martyrdom at Praeneste, now called Palestrina, twenty-four miles from Rome.  St. Agapitus was but 15 years old, when he was apprehended by the tyrant Aurelian, on account of being a Christian. As he unflinchingly proclaimed his belief in Christ, he was whipped with scourges and then cast into a dungeon, without any food, that he might thus be forced to forsake Christianity. When Antiochus, the prefect, found him, at the end of five days, more determined than before, he ordered a live coal to be put upon his head. The brave youth stood immovably under this torture, and praising God, said: “A head, which would wear an eternal crown in Heaven, must not hesitate to wear suffering and pain upon earth. Wounds and burns make my head the more worthy to be crowned with eternal glory.”

Antiochus, greatly provoked, ordered them to whip the holy youth till his body became one great wound, after which they hung him by the feet over a fire, hoping to suffocate him. But they failed; for, after a long silence, he addressed the prefect saying: “Behold, Antiochus, the people will say that all thy ingenuity, all thy wit, ends in smoke.” Enraged at this remark, the tyrant had him again cruelly whipped and ordered boiling water to be poured into the open wounds. After this, they knocked all his teeth out and broke his jaws with blows. God punished the tyrant for his cruelty; He caused him to fall from his seat and break his neck. Aurelian, hearing of this, ordered the martyr to be thrown to the wild beasts, but as they refused to touch him, he was finally beheaded. Thus ended the glorious martyrdom of the holy youth, Agapitus, in the year 275.  

Two churches in Palestrina and others in various places are dedicated to God under his name. 

Note: This is a different St. Agapitus than the one comemmorated with St. Xystus II on August 7th.

Collect

Grant, O Lord, that thy Church may with all gladness trust in the advocacy of thy blessed Martyr Agapitus, and that by his glorious intercession, it may be enabled to continue steadfastly in all godly devotion and established in security against all adversity.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
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The traditional Octave of the Assumption culminates on August 22 with the Feast of the Immaculate Heart, a time when Catholics reflect on the immense love Our Lady holds for the entire human race. With this love in mind, I encourage you to look to Mary in August with renewed fervency.

There are many needful things for which we can offer our prayers, in the Church, in the world, and in our families. Let us approach Jesus through Mary and ask her special favor and intercession.  A beautiful way we can join our prayers together is through the Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

We begin on the Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Aug. 14) and continue to the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Aug. 22). Recite the daily prayer during the nine day novena and offer the Solemn Consecration to the Immaculate Heart on the final day.

DAILY NOVENA PRAYER TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially... (special intention). 

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever. Amen. 

Say Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory be

A SOLEMN ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY BY POPE PIUS XII

Most Holy Virgin Mary, tender Mother of men, to fulfill the desires of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the request of the Vicar of Your Son on earth, we consecrate ourselves and our families to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, O Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and we recommend to You, all the people of our country and all the world. 

Please accept our consecration, dearest Mother, and use us as You wish to accomplish Your designs in the world. 

O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and Queen of the World, rule over us, together with the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, Our King. Save us from the spreading flood of modern paganism; kindle in our hearts and homes the love of purity, the practice of a virtuous life, an ardent zeal for souls, and a desire to pray the Rosary more faithfully. 

We come with confidence to You, O Throne of Grace and Mother of Fair Love. Inflame us with the same Divine Fire which has inflamed Your own Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Make our hearts and homes Your shrine, and through us, make the Heart of Jesus, together with your rule, triumph in every heart and home. 

Amen.

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Friday, July 30, 2021
Support Traditional Catholic Priests in Brazil
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Brazil is home to a unique traditional Catholic diocese, under the care of the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney, in communion with Rome. 

The diocese has its own seminary, 33 active priests, thirteen parishes, six rectories, fifteen private Catholic schools, four homes for the aged, and eight associations of women religious. It serves over 30,000 active parishioners! 

Friends of Campos, Inc. was founded in 2019 to help support the seminary, where 30 young men are currently in formation. The region is spiritually rich but materially very poor.

This year Friends of Campos is funding food and medicine for the seminary, improvements to the library and dormitories, and food and medicine for the largest convent. Click here for 2021 project details.

Now more than ever we could use your help! Your contributions of any size are gratefully appreciated, as are your prayers! Click here to donate

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Monday, July 26, 2021
Pontifical High Mass by Bishop Vitus Huonder at the SSPX Seminary
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Images were recently shared online of Bishop Huounder offering a Pontifical Mass at the SSPX Seminary. The video is available on YouTube.

In 2019, Pope Francis relieved Bishop Vitus Huonder of his duties as Bishop of the Diocese of Chur (Switzerland) for him to live at the house of the Society of St. Pius X. In a joint statement in 2019, Bishop Huounder and the Superior General of the SSPX, Father Pagliarani, stated:

On Monday, May 20, 2019, Pope Francis relieved Bishop Vitus Huonder of his duties as Bishop of the Diocese of Chur (Switzerland), while appointing an administrator with a view to the election of his successor. According to an intention that he stated long ago, Bishop Huonder is retiring to a house of the Society of Saint Pius X. The one sole purpose of this step is to dedicate himself to prayer and silence, to celebrate the traditional Mass exclusively, and to work for Tradition, the only way of renewing the Church. The Society of Saint Pius X appreciates Bishop Huonder’s courageous decision and rejoices to be able to provide him with the spiritual and priestly surroundings that he desires so deeply. May this example be followed by others, so as to “restore everything in Christ”.

May Bishop Huonder help to restore Tradition in his work, and may his presence at the SSPX help quash the slanders against the Society of St. Pius X.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Go Ahead and Eat With Sinners – But Never Compromise on the Faith
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Prayer before Meal, c.1663 - 1665 - Jan Steen

Reprinted from a 2019 Catholic Family News Article. Subscribe to CFN for more such articles.

St. Mark early in his Gospel recounts how Our Lord ate with sinners.  "And it came to pass, that as he sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat down together with Jesus and his disciples. For they were many, who also followed him. And the scribes and the Pharisees, seeing that he ate with publicans and sinners, said to his disciples: Why doth your master eat and drink with publicans and sinners? Jesus hearing this, saith to them: They that are well have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For I came not to call the just, but sinners" (Mark 2:15-17).

Just this past Easter Sunday I invited over to Easter dinner a few people.  All of whom were not Catholic.  One man, a friend of my mother, grew up Lutheran but has largely fallen away from any religious practice aside from occasional Bible reading while he hunts deer.  The other man was a friend of my sister who grew up in a household that loved carnal desires, rock-n-roll, and what we might just call downright debauchery. And when I related to a friend of mine, let’s call him Jim, of their presence at dinner, he was outwardly scandalized.  “Why would you invite them over to Easter dinner?  Don’t you know they aren’t Catholic?”

“Yes, I certainly do,” I replied.  I continued, “In fact, that’s why I invited them to begin with!”  He was confused.  So I took a few moments to explain.  

We are often quick to condemn the sins of others – and rightfully so!  But while we should admonish sinners, our battle in this world is not to chase away souls.  Our Lord prayed, “Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he hath given me, I should lose nothing” (John 6:39), and we who are called to help preserve and diffuse the Catholic Faith should pray that our actions likewise should lose not a single soul.  

As a Third Order Dominican and as a catechist, I often say that we can never study the truths of the Faith enough.  We cannot read the catechism or re-study Christian doctrine too much.  So I reminded Jim that we first and foremost are in a battle.  He certainly agreed.  But, this battle is not one that will be won with an outward assault on our enemies.  It will be won in the deepest reaches of our soul (cf. Matthew 11:12) and through our persistent, subtle actions that target souls held in slavery by the camp of Satan.

Whether we like it or not, we are in a battle, and this battle is one which we did not create.  In fact, this battle has existed far before the errors of Vatican II even seeped into the Church.  Our battle is namely the same that St. Paul referenced when he said, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places” (Ephesians 6:12).  And we fight this battle by virtue of our Confirmation.

In the traditional Confirmation Rite, the bishop lightly slaps the cheek of the one who has been confirmed as an outward expression of the inward reality, namely that those confirmed must be ready to suffer all things, even death, for the sake of Jesus Christ.

And like a good and noble soldier, this war is not our cause.  It has existed long before our time.  In fact, we have been thrown into the very middle of the warfare as a paratrooper would land deep into the heat of the battle.  And just as the noble soldier who undertakes such a perilous mission behind enemy lines knows, his battle ends only at death.  We too, as confirmed Catholics, must continue to remind ourselves that our battle is one that will end with the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, but it is a battle in which we must die.  We must die to ourselves while persisting in the state of sanctifying grace until death. For the battle is fought first within ourselves through penance and prayer (1 Corinthians 9:27) before we can battle against the principalities of this world of darkness.

So imagine yourself in the heat of battle.  Immorality and carnal lust swirls around us.  Debauchery, idolatry, greed, and envy reign in the highest places.  Darkness is around.  You paratroop in and hit the ground.  Everything goes black.  Suddenly you awaken to the sound of battle.  So what do you do?  

What soldier in the midst of battle does not arise and double back in order to pick up a sufficient weapon lest he stand no chance?  The same is true for the spiritual conduct we find ourselves in.  It doesn’t matter if we were baptized and confirmed long ago before the battled raged as it does today.  It doesn’t matter if we are timid by nature or not.  On the contrary, we are in the battle!  Our focus is not to understand why we got here – the immediate focus is on what we can do to fight the good fight and press on.

And our weapons in this battle are plentiful.  In fact, Heaven has showered our battlefield with a myriad of weapons.  My focus as a catechist is on the Doctrine of Christ which is sweet and awe-inspiring to souls.  There are in fact other weapons though – the Rosary, the various Scapulars given by our Lady, the St. Benedict Medal, the Miraculous Medal, the Cord of St. Philomena, and countless others.

My “weapon of choice” though besides these Sacramentals which I wholeheartedly encourage nonetheless, is the sweetness of the Doctrine of Christ.  For those wishing to ground yourself in authentic Catholic teaching, I recommend a few essential books that must be in your library.

Firstly, the Baltimore Catechism and the Roman Catechism are foundational.  Use the Baltimore Catechism with your children and read it yourself too.  Keep these simple but true axioms of the Faith in mind.  Whereas modern churchman are accustomed to lengthy and complicated theological studies, the Catechisms provide in clear and easy to understand language the truths of the Faith that are timeless and unchanging.  

Next, pick up a copy of the Douay Rheims Bible and pair with it a copy of Fr. George Leo Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary.  Fr. Haydock's Douay Bible with his extended commentary was originally published in 1811 and became the bestselling English Catholic Bible in the 19th century in the world.  The text is available freely online - and the same is true for the Baltimore Catechism and the Roman Catechism.

And as any good soldier would do as he surveys the battlefield and fills his satchel, you need some stronger weapons for the stronger enemies on the battlefield.  In our spiritual conquest, we too will find those enemies.  Whether they be in the form of the unrepentant sinner of 50 years, the Jehovah’s Witness at our door, or the Protestant street preacher, we need to be prepared.  

For those tougher battles, find a copy of the Summa Theologia of St. Thomas Aquinas.  The text is one of the best summaries of the Catholic Faith with various arguments and their refutation by chapter.  While the Summa is a truly massive text, fear not.  Two years before he died, St. Thomas Aquinas asked by his assistant, Brother Reginald, to write a simple summary of the Faith for those who lacked the time or the ability to tackle his massive Summa Theologica.  That text is known as the “Shorter Summa” and is available for purchase online.  

And last of all, for those hardlined modernists who assail Catholic Tradition, let us take as our weapon the “Liturgical Year” by the Abbot Dom Prosper Gueranger.  Written in 15 volumes, no work today better expresses the beauty, majesty, and symbolism of the entirety of the Traditional Catholic Liturgical Year.  

As “soldiers of Christ,” we often are prone to envision these battles as glorious opportunities to defend Christ.  On the contrary, every battle is a grind.  We will slip in mud.  We will fall and scrap our legs.  We will lose our hearing as the bombs explode and we will lose our sight at times from the glow of the bombs.  We are the in trenches.  We fight.  We get up through the Sacrament of Confession and refresh our souls through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, worthily received.  

Our time for rest and glory is only after our fight in the battle ends – not during it.  And our battle ends only at death.

So then I stopped and Jim understood why I invited the lapsed Lutheran over and the agnostic, worldly man.  Far from keeping the day to only celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection with family, I wanted to spend it using persistent but subtle conversations to plant the seed of Faith in other souls.  I may never reap those fruits or see them reaped.  But that’s fine!  May the souls that I plant seeds of the Faith in, one day ripen nonetheless.  And through them, may God be glorified.

So gone on, eat with sinners!  Don’t be afraid to befriend Muslims or Pagans or Protestants.  Go to their homes.  Be friends with their children.  Care about them.  Pray for them.  Carry the Cross and make reparation for them.  

But with any battle, do so only with the weapons of catechesis properly in your mind and lived out in your heart.  Fight until the Good Lord calls us to the end of our battle.  And on that day may we hear the blessed words, “Well done, good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23)

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Friday, July 16, 2021
Must Catholics Obey Traditionis Custodes?
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Jorge Mario Bergoglio (centre) in Argentina c 1976. Photograph: Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Today, in the sharpest reversal and attack on a predecessor, Pope Francis has issued Traditionis Custodes, which seeks to make the celebration of the Tridentine Mass harder. It is in effect a reversal and repudiation of both Pope Benedict XVI and Summorum Pontificum.

For those seeking to understand the issue and its implications, I encourage the following articles: Rorate Caeli: Canon Lawyer's Analysis of the Anti Summorum Pontificum Motu Proprio & Latin Mass Society: Some Comments on the Apostolic Letter 'Traditionis Custodes'.

In good news, reports already are surfacing of diocesan bishops affirming the continued celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in places ranging from San Francisco to Albany to Arlington. Pittsburgh has affirmed such as well. And the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius in Chicago affirmed that they will continue doing so as well. Of course, this could change at a moment's notice in any of these places or elsewhere. The Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas has just ended all Diocesan TLM's in the state except for two FSSP locations.

But all of this forces the question: Do Catholics have to obey Traditionis Custodes or any motu proprio? Yes but with two very important exceptions but of which are based on Church law and common sense legal arguments:

1. If the person issuing the statement lacks authority, no law is created.

A law must come from a valid lawgiver. It requires the government to pass laws according to the rules of the Constitution and laws already in place. The one issuing the law must do so in the lawful manner and have the power to do so by the office he holds. Not just anyone can do this. 

In the Church, this requires the Pope generally to issue a law. A man who is truly elected Pope ceases to be the pope and thus a valid lawgiver when he died, abdicates, or loses his office due to heresy. For instance, if Pope Francis was a heretic, he would not possess the authority to rule. And if he lacks the authority, this motu proprio can - and must - be rejected. This is based on developed and established Church teaching as shown, among others, in the following two sources:

X. Wernz, P. Vidal (1943) 

"Through notorious and openly divulged heresy, the Roman Pontiff, should he fall into heresy, by that very fact [ipso facto] is deemed to be deprived of the power of jurisdiction even before any declaratory judgement by the Church.. A pope who falls into public heresy would cease ipso facto to be a member of the Church; therefore, he would also cease to be head of the Church." Ius Canonicum. Rome: Gregorian 1943. 2:453. 

Udalricus Beste (1946) 

"Not a few canonists teach that, outside of death and abdication, the pontifical dignity can also be lost by falling into certain insanity, which is legally equivalent to death, as well as through manifest and notorious heresy. In the latter case, a pope would automatically fall from his power, and this indeed without the issuance of any sentence, for the first See [i.e., the See of Peter] is judged by no one. 

"The reason is that, by falling into heresy, the pope ceases to be a member of the Church. He who is not a member of a society, obviously, cannot be its head. We can find no example of this in history." Introductio in Codicem. 3rd ed. Collegeville: St. John's Abbey Press 1946. Canon 221.

Thus, a papal document like a motu proprio must come from a valid Pope who has not lost his office. Otherwise, the document is worthless. 

2. If the law is harmful to souls, it must be rejected.

Assuming that the person has authority a law must still be rejected if it is harmful to souls or encourages, promotes, or orders what is sinful. The adage "salus animarum, suprema lex" (the salvation of souls is the supreme law) which is this blog's motto underpins all of this. For this reason, while obedience is to be highly valued, if a superior orders what is sinful, we must disobey his command.

Is the Latin Mass harmful to souls? No. It was and is the Mass of the saints. Are the fruits of the Latin Mass overwhelmingly positive? Yes. And is the fruit of the Novus Ordo evil? Sadly yes. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre famously said, "The Novus Ordo Missae, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism...it bears within it a poison harmful to the Faith." He was right and the rotten fruits of fifty years show us this.

One point which Pope Francis seems to make - that there may not be two forms of the Roman Rite- is a position that I have come to believe as well. These "forms" are not the same Rite and not the same religion. Their spirituality and entire orientation are diametrically opposed - one is centered on man and one is centered on God.

Pope Francis stated in this document that the Novus Ordo Mass is the "lex orandi" of the his Church. Well said. If the "lex orandi" of Francis' church is the Novus Ordo, we know that is not the "lex orandi" of the Catholic Church. The Novus Ordo which is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism is not the "lex orandi" of the Catholic Church. 

As I mentioned some years ago in Should Traditional Catholics Attend the Novus Ordo, the very nature of the Novus Ordo Sacraments, while not necessarily invalid (but questionable in many instances), bear in them the theology of the New Rite and the Post Vatican II Church.  To frequent these Sacraments is to mix the good, true, and beautiful with that which is present in the New Sacraments: novelty.  By receiving the Novus Ordo Sacraments, you profess your Communion in and with the beliefs of the Novus Ordo Church, even those beliefs that are flawed.

Even those who generally follow the current Pope will admit that serious ambiguities exist in this document, raising questions on their legal effects, ramifications, and implementations.

Conclusion:

All Catholics should affirm either statement 1 or 2 above. As such, Catholics are not required to obey this document and must actually resist it openly. Traditionis Custodes is to be rejected totally and entirely without reservation. Salus animarum, suprema lex. Long live Tradition. Long live the True Catholic Church. Down with the counterfeit Church of the Modernists.

Reject Traditionis Custodes and direct your money to traditionalist orders and priests who do likewise.

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Monday, June 7, 2021
Errors in the Angelus Press 1962 Missal
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It's important to keep in mind that publishing errors do occur, even with modern-day technology, and hand missals are no exception. I have a copy of the Angelus Press Missal from the second printing in November 2005. In that Missal (and possibly subsequent printings) are a few errors to be aware of. I have contacted Angelus Press and these errors are part of the proposed errata for the next printing.

  • Page 1334. It lists the Preface of the Apostles for St. Alphonsus' Feastday. That is not correct. He would use the Common Preface.
  • Page 935. It lists the Preface of the Apostles for the Common of One of Several Popes. That is not correct. When the Common was created in 1942 by Pope Pius XII, this Preface was assigned but it was very soon after reversed and changed to the Common Preface. The Common Preface is the correct one used when this Mass is offered.
Keep these in mind for any handouts you create for Mass or articles you write online. And make priests aware who use this Missal as a reliable source of the rubrics in place as of 1962.

If you are aware of any other errors, share them in the comments below.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021
God Desires All Men to Be Saved
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God does not leave the souls of virtuous pagans who obey the natural law to eternal death. In one example, in the 1600’s Franciscan missionaries arrived in the New World in modern day Mexico and came upon a group of natives. They were intent on teaching them the Faith and to their amazement, they already knew it without having yet met any European. How could this be? The natives revealed that a woman would appear to them every Friday to teach them and that she had done so for the past five years. After describing her, the Franciscans recognized it as Sister Maria of Agreda. 

After returning home and notifying the bishop regarding this astonishing event, Venerable Maria of Agreda was questioned and asked to swear under oath if this was true. It was. God had sent her to instruct these pagans by means of bilocation on account of their obedience to the natural law. As related in the Life of Venerable Mary of Jesus of Agreda:

“This holy virgin burned with a most ardent love for God and for the salvation of souls. One day, she beheld in a vision all the nations of the world. She saw the greater part of men were deprived of God's grace and running headlong to everlasting perdition. She saw how the Indians of Mexico put fewer obstacles to the grace of conversion than any other nation who were out of the Catholic Church, and how God, on this account, was ready to show mercy to them. Hence, she redoubled her prayers and penances to obtain for them the grace of conversion. God heard her prayers. He commanded her to teach the Catholic religion to those Mexican Indians. From that time, she appeared, by way of bilocation, to the savages, not less than five hundred times, instructing them in all the truths of our holy religion, and performing miracles in confirmation of these truths. When all were converted to the faith, she told them that religious priests would be sent by God to receive them into the Church by baptism. As she had told, so it happened. God, in his mercy, sent to these good Indians several Franciscan fathers, who were greatly astonished when they found those savages fully instructed in the Catholic doctrine. When they asked the Indians who had instructed them, they were told that a holy virgin appeared among them many times and taught them the Catholic religion and confirmed it by miracles.”

Pray for Pagan Souls

God desires that all men be saved. He desires for us to pray for the souls of all pagans – those still alive in faraway lands and those who have died. We can pray for all the pagans who still die in far-off places who have never heard of Christianity and who died separated from the visible Church. We pray that their souls are not lost but are united in a mystical way with the Church before their death.

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Saturday, May 1, 2021
Help Me Run the 2021 Chicago Marathon And Support Catholic Outreach
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I’m happy to announce that for the first time in my life!

I am planning to train for and run a marathon! God willing, this October 10th, I will be running the 2021 Chicago Marathon for Mission Our Lady of the Angels, a Catholic Mission serving the poor on Chicago’s Westside. The Mission has been serving over 3,000 families a month with food and other basic material needs during the pandemic- this is three times the normal number of families they serve! They have been processing and distributing 175,000 to 200,000 lbs. of food a month.

The Mission also assists at-risk kids in after-school programs, serves bi-weekly community meals, and, most importantly, brings the hope of Christ to a neighborhood plagued by gangs, violence, and poverty. 

I am committed to train (running over 400 miles) over the long, hot summer and run 26.2 miles on Marathon Sunday (October 10) . . . and I am counting on your support as my blog reader! I need your prayers to persevere through training and finish the race. Your prayers are needed so I can successfully spread the good news about the Mission through my running. 

Finally, I need your financial support. The Mission is able to provide all of its services to its neighbors for free because of many generous donations from people like yourself. In order to run the Chicago marathon, I need to raise $1,750 for the mission. 

Can you please chip in and make a donation? Donations of any amount will help me toward crossing this finish line as well. Your contributions are to a 501(c)3 registered charity that will directly receive the funds.

The financial need is particularly great this year as the Mission continues their expanded COVID time outreach and finishes the renovations of their new outreach center. The Mission is in process of renovating its new outreach center that will dramatically improve its ability to distribute material resources, host neighborhood groups for meetings, and house the volunteers they rely upon for their work. 

Thank you in advance!

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Friday, April 30, 2021
How St. Paul of the Cross Celebrated Holy Mass
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A wonderful reflection on the care for the Most Blessed Eucharist and how St. Paul of the Cross celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass. His feastday was a few days ago and his devotion can surely inspire us all even nowadays.

He often perceived from a great distance whether the Blessed Eucharist was in any particular place, and these celestial favours excited him to still more ardent affections of devotion. This fervour never showed itself in a more lively manner than when he was celebrating mass. At those times the venerable Father appeared all tenderness and ardour, transformed into a seraphim of love. After a long and fervent preparation he ascended the altar, and then his face was often seen to change colour and become inflamed, while his eyes overflowed with tears of interior sweetness. 

For many years he could never say mass without weeping. Afterwards, being placed by our Lord in the crucible of aridities and desolations, his tears were not so continual, but he was often observed to shed them from the consecration to the communion. When he sang high mass, he generally fell into so deep a contemplation, that he was obliged to do violence to himself before he could proceed ; in chanting the Preface and Pater-Noster, he was constantly interrupted by his sobs, which gave edification to all who heard him. 

He was particularly exact in the observance of the rubrics, and of the prescribed holy ceremonies. After mass he retired to some quiet spot, where he could give vent to the burning affections of his heart, and enjoy the possession of his only love. He was most careful that everything belonging to the altar should be suitable for so high a service, and he was not content with bare decency, but he desired to see the most extreme cleanliness and purity. He sometimes sent away one corporal after another, until he got one that was perfectly clean. The smallest thing he said that is employed in the holy sacrifice, ought to be spotless. Our Lord was pleased to show by prodigies, how grateful in His sight was the faith and devotion of His servant in that sacred function.

Upon one occasion, when he was celebrating in the monastery of St. Lucia, at Corneto, the assistant, who was Signor Domenico Costantini, observed, to his great surprise, that when the venerable Father drew near to the consecration, there arose from the steps of the altar a kind of smoke like that of incense, which after the elevation gave forth a marvellous fragrance, quite indescribable and unlike any common odour. A still greater wonder was seen at the same time, which was that the servant of God was raised in the air, two palms above the altar steps, both before and after the consecration. 

Each time that he offered up the holy sacrifice, Father Paul imagined it to be the last mass that he should say, and he told one of his religious, "Whenever I celebrate I receive the holy communion as a viaticum.'' He recommended others to perform not only this sacred function, but every action of the day, as if it were the last of their lives.

As it is natural to one who loves, enjoys, and possesses an immense good, to desire to communicate his happiness to those especially who are capable of appreciating it, so Father Paul's ardent wish was that all priests, and particularly that the fathers of our congregation, should know how to enrich themselves with the priceless treasures of the adorable sacrifice, and that for this end they should prepare their hearts with the utmost care for the presence of Jesus Christ. " Endeavour," he said, “to be always ready to celebrate with the deepest devotion, watch day and night before the interior tabernacle, which is in the hearts of all priests. Guard with anxious care this living temple, keep always burning there the lamps of faith and charity, and let it be decorated as for a perpetual festival, with all Christian virtues. Jesus celebrated the divine mysteries in a furnished room, “ Cenaculum stratum.'" He inculcated to his religious that they should not only prepare themselves for mass by serious meditations upon the mysteries of faith, but that even while celebrating they should follow Jesus in spirit through the different stages of His passion, performing His obsequies with the mournful tenderness of Mary, St. John, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, and then depositing Him in the sepulchre of their hearts, " in quo nondum quisquam positus fuerat." 

He said that the mass was the most appropriate time for negotiating with the Eternal Father, while we offer to Him His only Son Incarnate for our salvation. "Before you celebrate,'' he wrote to a priest, "clothe yourself with the sufferings of Christ, by a sacred colloquy, placidly made in the midst of aridities. Carry to the altar the necessities of the whole world." With the same earnestness he sought to impress upon all the priests of the congregation, the utmost exactness in the observance of the rubrics. He particularly insisted that those who were newly ordained, should be well instructed and exercised in the ceremonies, and he often took upon himself the charitable duty of assisting them. He could not bear to see the least disorder or mistake in the sacred functions, and if he noticed any who failed in the correct performance of them, he took an opportunity of reproving them, saying, " The rubrics ought to have been studied beforehand." 

He could not tolerate the idea of a priest abandoning Jesus almost immediately after mass, without making the proper thanksgiving. He declaimed eagerly , and upon every opportunity, against this abuse, and he employed all the power of his ministry in engaging priests to render thanks to their loving Lord for so inexpressible a benefit. As far as he could, he endeavoured to prevent from approaching the altar, all those who testified little reverence for the tremendous mysteries, or who were not attired in the clerical garb.

An ecclesiastic of distinction came to say mass at one of our retreats, dressed in a coloured coat, and without the dignity required by the sacer- dotal character ; the good Father immediately reproved him, and would not permit him to celebrate, saying, “This is not the dress for a priest to wear at the altar." Full of these zealous sentiments, he wrote thus to a devout soul, •' You must fly in spirit to the heart of Jesus, in the adorable sacrament, and there weep with grief for the insults He receives from worldlings, from wicked priests, and from tepid religious, who return ingratitude and sacrileges for His infinite love. In reparation for all these outrages, let your soul offer herself upas a holocaust, all burning with love and praise, and thank Him in place of those who ill-treat Him. Above all, go to visit Him at those times when He is most neglected and forgotten," The love which consumed Father Paul while he offered the holy sacrifice, manifested itself in no less striking a manner when he administered holy communion. " When he uttered the words, "Ecce Agnus Dei," he spoke with so much energy, fervour, and reverence, that it might well have been imagined that he beheld his Divine Redeemer with his own eyes. And so also it was observed in carrying the Blessed Sacrament on the feast of Corpus Domini, his face was bathed in a torrent of tears. This festival was to him a day of peculiar solemnity, and he kept it with a marvelous spirit of faith. If he was at one of the retreats, he himself sang high mass, and carried the Sacred Host in procession round the enclosure; but if some urgent business separated him from his brethren, as was the case one year when he was at Ronciglione, he disposed himself with equal devotion to do homage to the Blessed Sacrament. Beholding the procession, he melted into tears, exclaiming, “0, what wondrous love! O, what a day this is O Charity, O love !" Alluding to this feast, he spoke thus in a letter to a devout person, "As the moth flies round and round a light until it is burnt in the flame, so does the soul turn about and within Divine Love, until it is utterly consumed in this great and blessed octave of the adorable sacrament.  “ O my daughter, eat, drink, and inebriate yourself, fly, sing, exult, and feast with the Divine Spouse."

Taken from The Life of the B. Paul of the Cross by Venerable Monsignor Strambi

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