Breaking news! —document intercepted from Anglican Ordinariate

Heh heh heh.  The Society of Canadian Catholic Bloggers (SCCB) has broken the story:


Ypsilanti, United States - SCCB has recently come across a document that, because of recent instances of mail fraud in the Vatican City State, had been hand-delivered to cardinals and other key members of the Roman Curia.

The note originated from the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the ecclesial entity that oversees the Anglo-Catholic Rite in North America, and was signed by a Fr. Greg Carruthers. So far Carruthers has not been identified.

The note was dated November 4th, 2014, and addresses the fall-out of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family that had then recently concluded. We include excerpts of it here:

“If you pull a Henry VIII on the Church, Your Eminences, we will totally be asking for our money back. We didn’t go through all these shenanigans just to end up back at square one…”

Read the rest here.

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On Father Tom Rosica — an appeal for restraint

I deeply regret that Father Tom Rosica sent a legal letter to Toronto blogger David Domet, who blogs at Vox Cantoris, threatening a lawsuit.  I hope he does not follow through and I hope he lets David Domet know he is not going to follow through.

This is not to say that I think David Domet is the most temperate of bloggers.  I think he himself would admit he can be a hothead. Sometimes his posts are over-the-top. He needs to work on toning it down and putting himself in the shoes of those he criticizes before he presses “publish.”

As anyone familiar with social media could expect, there has been a huge negative reaction to the lawsuit threat and against Father Rosica in some of the Catholic blogosphere.

Even though my personal leanings are conservative, orthodox, with great love of traditional liturgy and of Pope Benedict’s Reform of the Reform, I’m saddened by what I am seeing in some blog posts and in comments sections that are calling him a “wolf,” a “heretic,” a “modernist,” and any number of other things.

No, I am not saying that some of his tweets or speeches or comments are not fair game for criticism and for debate, maybe even some good-natured satire here or there or fraternal correction even.  Let us disagree even vehemently without becoming divisive, partisan or spiteful; let us defend the faith without assuming we have special insight into the heart of the individual with whom we disagree or hope to correct.  Most people out there attacking him do not even know him, except for his public persona.

I am seeing Fr. Rosica made into a caricature, so that only his alleged faults are magnified. How would anyone of us like that done to us? We all have flaws, would you like them trumpeted all over social media so that your good points are totally ignored?

We often become inflamed about the faults in others that we ourselves share but may be unconscious us.  Have any of those people harping about the faults of Fr. Rosica thought about whether what they resent so much is not part of their own make up?   Perhaps you think Fr. Rosica is ideological and partisan.  Ask yourself, are you that way too?  I speak for myself that I constantly have to check my own tendency to partisanship, to getting in there with my sharp elbows and I do not think my behavior when I do that contributes to the good of the Church.  I pray to be an agent of reconciliation and unity, not division.

 If those of us who favor traditional liturgy,and claim to hold the Catholic faith in its entirety behave with an absence of the fruits of the Spirit, what kind of message are we sending when we lapse into anger, spite and frustration?  Most people I know who love traditional liturgy and care deeply about holding the Catholic faith are deeply faithful, loving people. They are not like what comes across in some blogs comments sections.   Dear Fellow Bloggers, please realize that you are responsible not only for what you write, but also what your commentators write.  Please moderate your comments, or, as Father Z did, close them on controversial subjects like this.  And as Catholics we have a responsibility to be charitable. Note I said charitable, not “nice.”

Father Rosica and I have had our differences from time to time, but when I started out writing for Catholic papers, probably no one else was more generous in opening doors for me, providing advice, creating opportunities for me and encouraging me.  So, I remember his big-hearted generosity, his passion for the Church and his many gifts as a communicator.  This is a side of Father Rosica that I have experienced as have the many young people whom he has mentored.  He is a gifted communicator and there are good reasons he was chosen under Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy to act as an English language spokesman for the Holy See.

I hope he will not pursue further legal action, because I think he is wrong to do so.  He will experience a backlash that will make the reaction over the last several days look like a warm shower and I do not wish that on him any more than I wish David Domet to be buried under a law suit.

 I am against SLAPP ( Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) on principle.   I am praying for David Domet and Father Rosica for forgiveness and reconciliation to prevail, and unity in Christ that only the Holy Spirit can bring.  Canada’s libel and defamation law needs to be changed, but we do need a law to protect people against vicious, malicious and concerted attacks on peoples’ characters like that in a story I read recently about a woman who was so angry she was outbid on her dream house that she put terrible lies on social media about the couple who did buy the house.     I fail to see how Vox Cantoris’ criticisms rise to this standard of calumny and vicious attack.  Yet, as the Fr. Gravel lawsuit against that cost them something like $250,000 before it even went to trial proves the process is the punishment. There’s a reason why these kinds of suits are called “lawfare.”

I think Father Rosica would have been so much better off if he had just stopped reading the negative comments about him on Vox Cantoris, which was a very small blog in terms of readership. By making the legal threat, news has spread to blogs with huge readerships.  All the things the priest had his lawyer charge were damaging to his character are now being “shouted from the rooftops.”

It saddens me to see Salt and Light TV called names and derided.  By all means, if you see things that fall short, speak up, but I know the people who work there who are young, faithful Catholics on a journey of ever deeper conversion like the rest of us.  If you don’t think they are well enough formed in their faith, can you point it out in gentleness and respect, or better yet pray for them?

Demonizing people, magnifying their flaws into a caricature is not the way to win hearts to conversion and growth in Christ or to attract people to a more robust Catholicism.   Of course not all bloggers and commentators are doing so, but even a small number contribute to giving us all a bad name as bitter and angry hardliners.

I do not want to minimize the anguish that David Domet has been going through with the threat of a lawsuit that could destroy him financially, to say nothing of the terrible stress of a protracted legal battle.

This fight could end up in the ruination of both men.  I hope and pray this does not escalate further.  Please join me in that prayer.

 Yes, last fall’s synod was an extremely stressful event in the life of the Church and there is rampant confusion and division afoot.  Father Rosica has become a lightning rod.

But remember we war not against flesh and blood and the weapons of our warfare are spiritual not carnal.  As a friend of mine always says, “Let peace be your umpire.”

Perhaps Father Rosica wanted to teach David Domet a lesson with a legal threat.  Now the blogosphere is teaching him a lesson.

Let’s be careful as Catholic bloggers.  I’m reminded of various social media campaigns like the one that forced the Mozilla/Firefox president to resign because it was discovered he had donated to a campaign to save traditional marriage or campaigns that forced the president of Harvard to resign because he said women were not statistically as likely to be brilliant in math. (Which was true, but the feminists did not like it).

What’s the goal of these types of mob media campaigns?  Crushing people into the dust, humiliating them until they are forced to do what the mob wants?  That’s what the totalitarian “progressive” left does.  Do we want to become like what we hate?

Yesterday morning’s readings at Mattins included the Gospel about how the Good Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to seek out the one that is lost.

Oh, had Father Rosica had that attitude towards a blogger who seems angry from time to time, and is perhaps wounded and feeling marginalized in his own church.

 Oh that we bloggers have that attitude toward Father Rosica, who may also feel wounded and threatened by the criticism for reasons we do not understand.  This is a flesh and blood man we are talking about here, a fellow human being, every bit as real as David Domet. Let’s remember that.

This is my dream, that there will be reconciliation and public apologies from both sides, not because anyone has been forced by external pressure and humiliated into doing so, but because the Holy Spirit has convicted hearts, brought those sweet tears of repentance that come from seeing one’s sinfulness at the same time as experiencing the overwhelming love of God in Jesus Christ.   I am not saying David Domet was wrong to criticize certain statements or tweets—but sometimes his word choices are imprecise and inflammatory.

I’d like to see both men free in Christ, aflame with divine love, exercising their supernatural gifts where God has placed them and reconciled with each other as brothers in Christ.   Would there be any need for punishment for anyone then?

Praying for a miracle.

 Join me?

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We have our work cut out for us

Dismal picture from the UK in an article at the Catholic Herald:

Here are some not so fun facts about Catholicism in contemporary Britain: 1) Two out of every five cradle Catholics now no longer identify as Catholic; 2) A Catholic upbringing is a stronger predictor of having “no religion” in adulthood than it is of being a once-a-month-or-more church-goer; and 3) For every one convert the Church attracts, 10 Catholic children grow up to regard themselves as non-Catholic adults. These are hard facts, in both senses of the phrase.

The numbers come from the respected British Social Attitudes survey. Since 1983, the BSA has been a crucial resource for policymakers and social scientists. Each year around 3,000 adults are interviewed on a wide range of topics, including a number of items relating to religious identity, belief and practice. Pooling several years’ worth of data yields a sizable number of Catholic respondents (in this case, nearly 2,500 cradle Catholics from 2007 to 2011).

Such statistics provide a stark illustration of what St John Paul II began pointing out a quarter of a century ago, in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio: “Entire groups of the baptised have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church.”


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The ongoing confusion left by the October synod

I see signs things are going to get far worse before they get better.  Lots to pray about this Lent.  Please join me in praying that a spirit of reconciliation, forgiveness and mutual respect despite differences will  prevail.

 Robert Royal, who was in Rome to cover the synod, examines some of the fall-out:

The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops of 2014, contrary to belief in some quarters, did not change Catholic teaching.

But synod participants were encouraged, by the Pope and others, to modify its style. Separating words and concepts, however, is not as easy as it sounds — witness the confusion after Vatican II.

By the mere fact of advocating “outreach” to various groups, for example, we now have — probably as a permanent thorn in the side of the Church — battles among Catholics themselves over divorced-and-remarried people receiving Communion, a practice never allowed in the Western Church. And (though Pope Francis made clear that same-sex “marriage” was not spoken of at the synod) deep divisions exist over how the Church is to deal with people in homosexual relationships.

Read more:

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Ash Wednesday homilies–two Popes —beautiful harmony

Just read Pope Francis’ Ash Wednesday homily today and Pope Benedict’s from 2013.  Amazing how many similar notes they stressed.  Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ homily via Vatican Radio with my emphases:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass in the Basilica of St. Sabina on the Aventine Hilll in Rome on Wednesday afternoon – Ash Wednesday – the beginning of the great penitential season of Lent. Below, please find Vatican Radio’s translation of the text the Holy Father prepared for the occasion.


As God’s people today we begin the journey of Lent, a time in which we try to unite ourselves more closely to the Lord Jesus Christ, to share the mystery of His passion and resurrection.

The Ash Wednesday liturgy offers us, first of all, the passage from the prophet Joel, sent by God to call the people to repentance and conversion, due to a calamity (an invasion of locusts) that devastates Judea. Only the Lord can save from the scourge, and so there is need of supplication, with prayer and fasting, each confessing his sin.

The prophet insists on inner conversion: “Return to me with all your heart” (2:12). To return to the Lord “with all [one’s] heart,” means taking the path of a conversion that is neither superficial nor transient, but is a spiritual journey that reaches the deepest place of our self. The heart, in fact, is the seat of our sentiments, the center in which our decisions and our attitudes mature.

That, “Return to me with all your heart,” does not involve only individuals, but extends to the community, is a summons addressed to all: “Gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. (2:16)”

The prophet dwells particularly on the prayers of priests, noting that their prayer should be accompanied by tears. We will do well to ask, at the beginning of this Lent, for the gift of tears, so as to make our prayer and our journey of conversion ever more authentic and without hypocrisy.

This is precisely the message of today’s Gospel. In the passage from Matthew, Jesus rereads the three works of mercy prescribed by the Mosaic law: almsgiving, prayer and fasting. Over time, these prescriptions had been scored by the rust of external formalism, or even mutated into a sign of social superiority. Jesus highlights a common temptation in these three works, which can be described summarily as hypocrisy (He names it as such three times): “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them … Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do … And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men … And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites. (Mt 6:1, 2, 5, 16)”

When you do something good, almost instinctively born in us is the desire to be respected and admired for this good deed, to obtain a satisfaction. Jesus invites us to do these works without any ostentation, and to trust only in the reward of the Father “who sees in secret” (Mt 6,4.6.18).

Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord never ceases to have mercy on us, and desires to offer us His forgiveness yet again, inviting us to return to Him with a new heart, purified from evil, to take part in His joy. How to accept this invitation? St. Paul makes a suggestion to us in the second reading today: “We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:20)” This work of conversion is not just a human endeavor. Reconciliation between us and God is possible thanks to the mercy of the Father who, out of love for us, did not hesitate to sacrifice his only Son. In fact, the Christ, who was righteous and without sin was made sin for us (v. 21) when on the cross He was burdened with our sins, and so redeemed us and justified before God. In Himwe can become righteous, in him we can change, if we accept the grace of God and do not let the “acceptable time (6:2)” pass in vain.

With this awareness, trusting and joyful, let us begin our Lenten journey. May Mary Immaculate sustain our spiritual battle against sin, accompany us in this acceptable time, so that we might come together to sing the exultation of victory in Easter.

Soon we will make the gesture of the imposition of ashes on the head. The celebrant says these words: “You are dust and to dust you shall return, (cf. Gen 3:19)” or repeats Jesus’ exhortation: “Repent and believe the gospel. (Mk 1:15)” Both formulae are a reminder of the truth of human existence: we are limited creatures, sinners ever in need of repentance and conversion. How important is it to listen and to welcome this reminder in our time! The call to conversion is then a push to return, as did the son of the parable, to the arms of God, tender and merciful Father, to trust Him and to entrust ourselves to Him.

Here is Pope Benedict XVI’s Ash Wednesday homily from 2013, his last public celebration of the Eucharist before he stepped down from Zenit with my emphases.

Venerable Brothers,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin a new Lenten journey, a journey that extends for forty days and leads us to the joy of Easter, the victory of Life over death. Following the ancient Roman tradition of Lenten stationes, we have gathered for the celebration of the Eucharist. The tradition says that the first statio should take place in the Basilica of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill. The circumstances have suggested that we gather in St. Peter’s Basilica. Tonight we are great in number around the tomb of the Apostle Peter, also to request his intercession for the Church’s journey at this particular time, renewing our faith in the Supreme Pastor, Christ the Lord. For me it is a good opportunity to thank everyone, especially the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, as I prepare to conclude my Petrine ministry, and ask for a special remembrance in prayer.

The readings that have been proclaimed provide us with ideas that, with the grace of God, we are called to make concrete attitudes and behaviors during this Lent. The Church proposes to us, first, the strong appeal that the prophet Joel addressed to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning” (2:12). Please note the phrase “with all my heart,” which means from the center of our thoughts and feelings, from the roots of our decisions, choices and actions, with a gesture of total and radical freedom. But is this return to God possible? Yes, because there is a force that does not reside in our hearts, but that emanates from the heart of God. It is the power of his mercy. The prophet says, further: “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, ready to repent of evil” (v. 13). The return to the Lord is possible as a ‘grace’, because it is the work of God and the fruit of that faith that we place in His mercy. But this return to God becomes a reality in our lives only when the grace of God penetrates to our inmost being and shakes it, giving us the power to “rend our hearts.” The same prophet causes these words from God to resonate: “Rend your hearts and not your garments” (v. 13). In fact, even today, many are ready to “rend their garments” before scandals and injustices – of course, made by others – but few seem willing to act on their own “heart”, on their own conscience and their own intentions, letting the Lord transform, renew and convert.

That “return to me with all your heart,” then, is a reminder that involves not only the individual, but the community. We have heard, also in the first reading: “Play the horn in Zion, proclaim a solemn fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, convoke a solemn assembly, call the old, gather the children and the infants at the breast; let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her bridal chamber”(vv.15-16). The community dimension is an essential element in faith and Christian life. Christ came “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (cfr. Jn 11:52). The “we” of the Church is the community in which Jesus brings us together (cf. Jn 12:32): faith is necessarily ecclesial. And this is important to remember and to live in this time of Lent: each person is aware that he or she does not face the penitential journey alone, but together with many brothers and sisters in the Church.

Finally, the prophet focuses on the prayers of the priests, who, with tears in their eyes, turn to God, saying: “Do not expose your heritage to the reproach and derision of the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ “(v.17). This prayer makes us reflect on the importance of the testimony of faith and Christian life of each of us and our community to show the face of the Church and how that face is sometimes disfigured. I am thinking in particular about sins against the unity of the Church, the divisions in the ecclesial body. Living Lent in a more intense and evident ecclesial communion, overcoming individualism and rivalry, is a humble and precious sign for those who are far from the faith or indifferent.

“Behold, now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). The words of the Apostle Paul to the Christians of Corinth resonate for us, too, with an urgency that does not allow omission or inaction. The word “now” repeated several times says that we cannot let this time pass us by, it is offered to us as a unique opportunity. And the Apostle’s gaze focuses on the sharing that Christ chose to characterize his life, taking on everything human to the point of bearing the very burden of men’s sins. The phrase St. Paul uses is very strong: “God made him sin for our sake.” Jesus, the innocent one, the Holy One, “He who knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), bears the burden of sin, sharing with humanity its outcome of death, and death on the cross. The reconciliation offered to us has cost a high price, that of the cross raised on Golgotha, on which was hung the Son of God made man. In this immersion of God in human suffering and in the abyss of evil lies the root of our justification. The “return to God with all your heart” in our Lenten journey passes through the cross, following Christ on the road to Calvary, the total gift of self. It is a way on which to learn every day to come out more and more from our selfishness and our closures, to make room for God who opens and transforms the heart. And St. Paul recalls how the announcement of the Cross resounds to us through the preaching of the Word, of which the Apostle himself is an ambassador; it is a call for us to make this Lenten journey characterized by a more careful and assiduous listening to the Word of God, the light that illuminates our steps.

In the Gospel of Matthew, to which belongs the so-called Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to three fundamental practices required by Mosaic Law: almsgiving, prayer and fasting; they are also traditional indications in the Lenten journey to respond to the invitation to “return to God with all your heart.” But Jesus emphasizes that it is both the quality and the truth of the relationship with God that determines the authenticity of each religious gesture. For this reason He denounces religious hypocrisy, the behavior that wants to be seen, attitudes seeking applause and approval. The true disciple does not serve himself or the “public”, but his Lord, in simplicity and generosity: “And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Mt 6:4.6.18). Our witness, then, will always be more effective the less we seek our own glory, and we will know that the reward of the righteous is God himself, being united to Him, here below, on the journey of faith, and, at the end of life, in the peace and light of coming face to face with Him forever (cf. 1 Cor 13:12).

Dear brothers and sisters, we begin our Lenten journey, trusting and joyful. May the invitation to conversion resonate strongly in us, to “return to God with all your heart”, accepting His grace that makes us new men, with the surprising novelty that is sharing in the very life of Jesus. Let none of us, therefore, be deaf to this appeal, that is addressed to us also in the austere rite, so simple and yet so beautiful, of the imposition of ashes, which we will perform shortly. May the Virgin Mary accompany us in this time, the Mother of the Church and model of every true disciple of the Lord. Amen!

[Original text: Italian]

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Archbishop Prendergast’s message for Lent

A beautiful message, now posted on his blog. An excerpt:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

For years Catholics have been asking each other as Lent approaches: What are you doing for Lent?  What are you giving up? This year, don’t ask what you can do for Lent; ask, rather what Lent can do for you!  The graces of Lent, you see, are all God’s doing.  All we need to do is open ourselves to them.

Some well known practices of Lent are highlighted in the gospel of Ash Wednesday: prayer, fasting and almsgiving (see Matthew 6.1-6, 16-18).

The Church encourages Catholics to make the entire Lenten season a period of discipline with attention to personal prayer, participation in Mass and the observance of fasting (only one full meal that day) and abstinence (not eating meat that day).

In Lent, there is obligatory fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence on the other Fridays.  These are the basics for everyone and I ask you to observe these traditional practices.

This year, I ask all in the Church of Ottawa to build on these in order to deepen our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—what is known as the Paschal Mystery—and so strengthen our relationship with the Lord.

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Fr. Blake reflects on Ash Wednesday

Fr. Ray Blake writes:

Ashes, for Ash Wednesday are supposed to made out of the palms which were carried in procession last Palm Sunday. The symbolism is earthly glory turned to dust and ashes: Palm Sunday – Good Friday.

There is a high oil content in palms so once you have them started them they burn pretty quickly but the smoke is pretty acrid, not like the smoke of incense. I know priests who have used any old ash, ash from ash trays, some of the ecclesiastical suppliers even send ash in a little sachet, I knew one who used to get an envelope of ash from the local crematorium, a rather overstated emphasis of ‘Remember Man you are dust and to dust you shall return’, though he himself tended to use the alternative, ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel’.

‘Authenticity’ in the Liturgy should be important, it is important in the Christian life, it should be important in Lent. ‘Authenticity’ is the brother of Truth, one of the most important aspects of Lent is the Sacrament of Penance, one significant reason people fail to go to Confession is that they are afraid of facing the truth about themselves and afraid of admitting it to another human being. There is a cowardliness here that is quite alien to the Gospel.

Living in shadows, living with half truths, living with illusions is not Christian. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christians are supposed to be both truthful and honest, especially about themselves and the Lord.

So thankful for the graces of sacramental Confession, but my oh my, it does not get easier to go, even if one has been recently and the “list” is comparatively short.   I remember realizing once how easy it is to repent of everything plus the kitchen sink, all kinds of “big” sins rather than admit to the small(er) thing the Lord is putting on our hearts, that “small” thing that is foolish, embarrassing, petty perhaps that is humiliating to admit to.

Make yourself go, you will be so glad you did!

Wonderful to discover at our Ordinariate parish yesterday, two priests available for Confession, and a steady stream of parishioners availing themselves of the opportunity to be “shriven.”


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A beautiful message for the start of Lent

I received an email in the very wee hours of this morning from a priest friend who seldom if ever emails me out of the blue. I opened it up before beginning my morning prayer.  So glad I did.  Such a beautiful message and so needed right now in my personal life.  Here it is:

Dear Deborah:
A thought from a favorite Pope leading us into Lent:
It is a thoroughly Christian impulse to combat suffering and injustice in the world. But to imagine that men can construct a world without them by means of social reform, and the desire to do so here and now, is an error, a deep misunderstanding of human nature. For suffering does not come into the world solely because of the inequality of possessions and power. Nor is it just a burden from which men should free themselves. Anyone who wishes to do that must escape into the distorted world of narcotics in order thus to destroy himself and to find himself in conflict with reality. It is only by enduring himself, by freeing himself through suffering from the tyranny of egoism, that man finds himself, that he finds his truth, his joy, his happiness. He will be all the happier the more ready he is to take upon himself the abysses of existence with all their misery. The measure of one’s capacity for happiness depends on the measure of the premiums one has paid, on the measure of one’s readiness to accept the full passion of being human. The crisis of our age is made very real by the fact that we would like to flee from it; that people mislead us into thinking that one can be human without overcoming oneself, without the suffering of renunciation and the hardship of self-control; that people mislead us by claiming that there is no need for the difficulty of remaining true to what one has undertaken and the patient endurance of the tension between what one ought to be and what one actually is. An individual who has been freed from all effort and led into the fool’s paradise of his dreams loses what is most essential, himself. There is, in fact, no other way in which one can be saved than by the Cross. All offers that promise a less costly way will founder, will prove to be false. The hope of Christianity, the outlook of faith, ultimately rest quite simply on the fact that faith tells the truth. The outlook of faith is the outlook of the truth that may be obscured and trampled upon, but can never perish.
From: Die Situation der Kirche heute, pp. 37–38
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (pp. 63–64). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
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Reading Danielou for Lent

The most beautiful and inspiring words I have read this week were in this post by Sandro Magister about Cardinal Jean Danielou.   They moved me so much I ordered several of his  books via Amazon and I cannot wait to start reading them.

Here they are:

The spiritual diary of the theologian and cardinal Jean Daniélou also displays his anxiety for the salvation of the soul of his homosexual brother, who was very dear to him. As for example when he recalls his desire to go on mission to China:

“The reasons for my desire to go to China stem from zeal for the salvation of souls that is the object of my vocation. Life as a Jesuit is complete only if it participates in the passion of Our Lord as well as in his public life. I know that nowhere does Our Lord refuse this participation to those who ask him for it; but I am afraid of allowing this desire to slacken within me. In the missions there is an almost certain dose of privations, disappointments, dangers, perhaps death, perhaps martyrdom. In addition to these reasons, I know that I have a capacity for adaptation that would help me to become Chinese with the Chinese; that missionary life offers more opportunities for performing corporal works of mercy than does life in France; that I will consider my life as not useless if because of it Alain’s soul is saved, and that I do not know the measure of immolation that God desires from me for this purpose.”

On another page of the “Carnets spirituels,” meditating on the passion of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, he comes to the point of wanting to take upon himself the weight of the “sins” of Alain and of anyone else:

“Jesus, I have come to know that you do not want me to distinguish my sins from the other sins of the world, but to enter more deeply into your heart and consider myself responsible for the sins of those persons whom you may wish: those of Alain, of anyone else as it may please you. You make me feel, Jesus, that I must descend even lower, take with me the sins of others, accept as a result all the punishments that these may draw down upon me from your justice, and in a particular way the disdain of the persons for whom I will offer myself. To accept, or rather to long for dishonor, even in the eyes of those whom I love. To accept the great abasements, of which I am not worthy, in order to be ready at least to accept the small ones. Then, Jesus, my charity will resemble that with which you have loved me.”

And always in perfect gladness:

“To live by faith, about which the clearest thing to me is that it is incomprehensible. To be of a Franciscan mood, mortified and cheerful, playful and mystical, totally poor. To admire the sense of humor with which the Curé d’Ars treated himself in order to flee from all vanity. To turn to the comical side all the vanity of my life.”

This makes my heart burn within me.

Now, turning to what Pope Francis said to the new cardinals he created.

Reinstatement:  Jesus revolutionizes and upsets that fearful, narrow and prejudiced mentality.  He does not abolish the law of Moses, but rather brings it to fulfillment (cf. Mt 5:17).  He does so by stating, for example, that the law of retaliation is counterproductive, that God is not pleased by a Sabbath observance which demeans or condemns a man.  He does so by refusing to condemn the sinful woman, but saves her from the blind zeal of those prepared to stone her ruthlessly in the belief that they were applying the law of Moses.  Jesus also revolutionizes consciences in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5), opening new horizons for humanity and fully revealing God’s “logic”.  The logic of love, based not on fear but on freedom and charity, on healthy zeal and the saving will of God.  For “God our Saviour desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4).  “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Mt 12:7; Hos 6:6).

Jesus, the new Moses, wanted to heal the leper.  He wanted to touch him and restore him to the community without being “hemmed in” by prejudice, conformity to the prevailing mindset or worry about becoming infected.  Jesus responds immediately to the leper’s plea, without waiting to study the situation and all its possible consequences!  For Jesus, what matters above all is reaching out to save those far off, healing the wounds of the sick, restoring everyone to God’s family!  And this is scandalous to some people!

Jesus is not afraid of this kind of scandal!  He does not think of the closed-minded who are scandalized even by a work of healing, scandalized before any kind of openness, by any action outside of their mental and spiritual boxes, by any caress or sign of tenderness which does not fit into their usual thinking and their ritual purity.  He wanted to reinstate the outcast, to save those outside the camp (cf. Jn 10).

There are two ways of thinking and of having faith: we can fear to lose the saved and we can want to save the lost.

If the Holy Father is talking about a Danielou-type self-immolation to go out and save the lost, then I am all for it.  But when I received an email with this text, there was a note from a Holy See media spokesman that said: The Pope’s homily should be considered a very good prelude to and preparation for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family in October 2015.

When I look at some of the cardinals around Pope Francis, who have a big role as his advisors, I seem to be hearing something along these lines:  mercy means never having to say you are sorry.   That you can be welcomed and reinstated without repentance and a sincere desire to amend your life.

I sure hope I am wrong, but the midterm relatio was all about a gospel of welcome and inclusion that seemed to skip the part about how we are sinners in need of salvation and that our redemption was costly not cheap grace.

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Crisis Magazine on the Canadian Supreme Court’s latest decision

Great article by Joe Bissonnette:

On the morning of Friday, February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the law against assisted suicide was unconstitutional. Canada now joins a small, elite group of madly progressive countries in abandoning the most fundamental principle in all of nature.


We dare not take from God the power over life and death which belongs to Him alone.

But the Supreme Court of Canada long ago left behind nature and holy reverence. It has struck down laws prohibiting abortion, and for this the innocent blood of millions indicts the court. It has struck down laws preserving marriage, and for this, untold numbers of broken hearts and fatherless children indict the court. It has struck down laws prohibiting prostitution, and for this thousands upon thousands of persons created in the image of God have been reduced to meat, to be used and abused, these humiliated victims indict the court. And once again, in striking down laws which prohibit doctors from assisting their patients in killing themselves, the court has inserted a poisonous siringe in the heart of the one true test of the greatness of a people, how it treats the weak, the defenseless and the needy.


Physician-assisted suicide is an obvious continuation of the death logic of abortion. Like abortion which was initially promoted as a response to hard cases but has in practise become birth control, physician-assisted suicide has been promoted as a response to desperate pain, but elsewhere in the world where it is already practiced, physician-assisted suicide has become a means of disposing of the unwanted.


The Church defines a sacrament as a sign that achieves what it signifies, and in some profound sense, everything that we do on this side of the veil has the sacramental power of achieving a spiritual reality either of light and godliness, or of darkness and evil.  Our acts become habits which in turn become our characters; who we are. The slow-motion suicide of a culture which kills its children so that it can perpetuate its own fantasy of childhood is spiritually transforming. It is who we are. And now we have also officially abandoned those most in need of the most basic human covenant, supporting each other in the struggle to live.

I was there in the lock up when journalists had the decision explained to us.   I was joking that I had to get out of the building fast before it got struck by a thunderbolt from on high.

On a serious note, though, it is time for sackcloth and ashes and reparation.


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