Frightened and Offended

Something about the Scottish Church (the actual Church, not the Presbyterian conglomerate) that amazes me is their immense devotion to orthodoxy, or at least an attempt to be. His Grace Philip Tartaglia has been published in the latest online edition of  First Things, which I highly recommend. It is one of the best treatises in support and protection of the priesthood. He writes,

…the Church’s transcendent orientation fascinates our culture. Holiness offends and frightens people. As an old translation of the New Testament put it, when the angel of the Lord came to them, the shepherds in their fields were “sore afraid.” Holiness also arrests and romances. We flee from God, yet we crave to come into his presence.

While I won’t delve into the priesthood yet in this point, something else raises in my mind. His Grace points out something interesting: ‘holiness offends and frightens people.’ 

Why does it? Now, I won’t go full on Zizek with you; any time we encounter the truth it offends and disturbs the illusion of our day-to-day lives. When we receive the Eucharist, some may break into tears or humble ourselves or some might not even understand what’s happening due to ill catechesis. But if we truly knew what was occurring, we would die on the spot of happiness and piety! Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote something like that, and I can’t find the quote.

The “real” is shocking, and God is the highest love, truth, devotion. God is omniscient. Perhaps we ought to return to greater reverence, greater repentance, all in recognition of our sins and offences. God loves us so very much, and is closer than our very breath! His love is rapturing, and we see this in the saints – St Teresa flew into ecstasy, St Padre Pio bilocated, St Francis received the stigmata. We have to be saints! We need be frightened and offended, so that we might further the call to universal holiness.

 

This Feast Day

Today is the feast of St Alphonsus Liguori, a very important saint in the life of the Church especially within the Redemptorist order, one very active in my local area. St Alphonsus was also a well known scholastic, philosopher, theologian and poet. He was instrumental in debating Jansenist heresies, and for his devotion to the redemptive sacrifice of Christ and the author of the classic “The Glories of Mary,” which has led countless souls to Christ. He is also known as a true reformer of seminaries.

Our saint loved the Blessed Mother so much, and he was known for a beautiful painting of her. Now he is in her embrace up in Heaven, where he can pray for us, and so you should make every effort today to beg his holy intercession for our souls on earth.

St Alphonsus Liguoris, ora pro nobis!

Missa Cantata for the Feast of the Transfiguration

If anyone is in St John’s, Newfoundland (Talamh an Éisc)

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Missa Cantata (sung Traditional Latin Mass) will be celebrated on the Feast of the Transfiguration. The congregation is invited to participate in the singing of the Missa de Angelis.

This will be held at St Pius X Church Chapel, 16 Smithville Crescent, a parish of the Society of Jesus. Celebrant will be Fr William Browne, S.J.

The Latin Mass has endured on the very Irish island of Newfoundland due to the efforts of Una Voce – St Oliver Plunkett Chapter, and St John’s – the capital, is the oldest city in North America and sistered with Waterford.

A Latin Mass at a Jesuit parish! Don’t pass this up!

“Explain to us the tare in the field.”

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Then he sent the multitude away, and went back into the house. There his disciples came to him, and said, Explain to us the parable of the tares in the field. He answered, It is the Son of Man that sows the good seed. The field is the world, and the sons of the kingdom are the good seed; the sons of the wicked one are the tares. The enemy that sowed them is the devil, and the end of the world is the harvest; it is reaped by the angels. The tares were gathered together and burned in the fire, and so it will be when the world is brought to an end; the Son of Man will give charge to his angels, and they will gather up all that gives offence in his kingdom, all those who do wickedly in it, and will cast them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Then, at last, the just will shine out, clear as the sun, in their Father’s kingdom. Listen, you that have ears to hear with. St Matthew 13:36-43 (Knox)

Tunc, dimissis turbis, venit in domum: et accesserunt ad eum discipuli ejus, dicentes: Edissere nobis parabolam zizaniorum agri. Qui respondens ait illis: Qui seminat bonum semen, est Filius hominis. Ager autem est mundus. Bonum vero semen, hi sunt filii regnum. Zizania autem, filii sunt nequam. Inimicus autem, qui seminavit ea, est diabolus. Messis vero, consummatio sæculi est. Messores autem, angeli sunt. Sicut ergo colliguntur zizania, et igni comburuntur: sic erit in consummatione sæculi. Mittet Filius hominis angelos suos, et colligent de regno ejus omnia scandala, et eos qui faciunt iniquitatem: et mittent eos in caminum ignis. Ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium. Tunc justi fulgebunt sicut sol in regno Patris eorum. Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat. S. Matthias 13:36-43 (Vulgate)

To this day, we find the tare in the midst of the Church. Dissenters, who, in a spirit of fall charity and truth, peddle a gospel more compatible with the changes of the modern world. Clerics who, in an attempt to make people more comfortable rather than familiar with the truth of God, reconcile acceptance to sin with a plastic definition of “love” which we also call lukewarmness, or, apathy.

Isn’t it funny how we never have an intense feeling or lukewarmness? But we often have a hatred against truth, and the devil is the one who confuses us. I think of groups like “Catholic For Choice” and the ilk. Satan sows tare, or weeds, just like this. Since we often fail to have an informed conscious; another tare of Satan. But the warning of disaster coming to those not guarded up by the angels of God are in fact a statement of immense love from Our Blessed Lord (and really, every word of Christ is one burning with love), and a warning against being deceived. It is a a battle cry!

“Then, at last, the just will shine out, clear as the sun, in their Father’s kingdom. Listen, you that have ears to hear with.”

We, who can hear: we can hear the word of God. But we need to use our intuition, and our natural reason will tell us whose voice is speaking, whether ours or God’s. He gives us His grace to hear His word, and we have to choose to obey it: and if we don’t choose to obey it, if we don’t choose to love, if we don’t choose to instruct sinners, then who will instruct us? If do not accept the nature of our indifference, then how can we come to love our brethren and to love the Lord? How can we benefit in the great goodness of our Merciful Saviour and His Blessed Mother, the co-redemptrix, whose intercession rains down innumerable numbers of graces!

The truth shines out – as clear as the sun. Even when it’s foggy, we can see the spot in the sky where that shadowy glimmer of light exposes the sun.

 

God’s Movement towards Mankind

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God’s love is the source of all our love, and he is the one taking the initiative in the lovestory between him and us. For this reason, the heart of Christ is the starting point of the dynamics of love.  Christ is the incarnation of the Godhead, which means that he is the embodiment of God, who is love. Because he is Love incarnated, he is the standard by which all love is measured. Since love has its seat in the heart, Christ’s heart is the symbol of this love.

It is an important property of this love that it makes the lover shift his gaze from himself to the beloved. As a consequence, none has greater love than he who gives his life for his friends. It follows from this that the love of God is most profoundly revealed in Christ crucified, and to Francis de Sales he is the best teacher of the dynamics of love: «Mount Calvary is the true school of love.»

  • Taken from the writings of Susanne A. Kjekshus Koch,”SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES AND THE THEOLOGY OF HEARTS: The Dynamics of Love” (link)

Deep in Thy Wounds

Inspired by yesterday, I present to you one of my favourite hymns.

Soul of my Saviour, sanctify my breast,
body of Christ, be thou my saving guest,
blood of my Saviour, bathe me in thy tide,
wash me with water flowing from thy side.

Strength and protection may thy Passion be,
O blessèd Jesus, hear and answer me;
deep in thy wounds, Lord, hide and shelter me,
so shall I never, never part from thee.

Guard and defend me from the foe malign,
in death’s dread moments make me only thine;
call me and bid me come to thee on high
where I may praise thee with thy saints for ay.

Sanctify my Breast

e6eddd651a2f499abd793f57cccac174--blessed-mother-mary-blessed-virgin-maryToday during Low Mass, in the midst of our recessional hymn when the choir was gussied up with wind and conviction singing the final verse of “Soul of My Saviour,” I observed our parish priest, Fr Browne, and the change of his demeanour as we all recalled Jesus’s unfailing comfort and protection until our death and thereafter. Our breasts were truly filled with God’s peace and comfort, and Father who, after sixty years of ordination can still genuflect and bow and offer the sacrifice of Mass without any bodily complaints, kept a well-folded away secret: it was his birthday. Fr Browne is truly a humble man, and a true Jesuit. One of the only few left. Probably the only one still around offering the Mass according to the 1962 Missal.

But what remains remarkable is the immense humility of this gentle man, a character to say the least, and a man of humour and quiet contentment. My grandparents remember him, also, as a quiet and graceful soul often found in prayer. When preaching, he most usually concludes with

“and find yourself a good, Catholic bible. And read about the passion and death of our Lord. And pray the Rosary, and read about Our Lord’s passion. Meditate on what your saviour has done for you.”

We need priests like this! Each suffering an offering, every word a prayer, many gestures, a sacrifice. Today I experienced the lovingkindness of God in another, new way.  Through an eighty-six year old priest, whose life is dedicated to the love of the children of God. I hope to God that some day I can be his age, and as good a priest as him.

So, what is the lesson? It is hard to find role-models for young men, aspiring to be priests, when free-love hippies dominate the priesthood. I know one after the other whom, in this diocese alone, campaign and celebrate gay ‘marriage.’ I know one after another whom, in an effort to be ‘understanding’ or ‘loving’ stash away the truth and accept a parishioners obvious sin, such as living in a state of cohabitation. We need more priests who will tend to the sin-sick soul: and this is all of us. I need someone to tell me about the love of God, and not what I want to hear, but what I NEED to hear.

And for this, oh Lord, we pray.