Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Modest Proposal

The Church is under attack everywhere. Most particularly, we see Moslems in Iraq and Syria poised to exterminate the remaining pockets of the Faith there. But everywhere that has a Moslem majority, or even a plurality or a substantial Moslem minority, Christianity is under assault.

Even where Moslems are a tiny minority, the Church is being attacked by the secular state with a newfound leftist consensus that traditional moral objections to homosexuality, abortion, birth control, divorce, etc. will no longer be tolerated in the Brave New Society they are constructing.

As Father Zuhlsdorf often warns, persecution is coming.

How has the Church traditionally dealt with persecution? Well, of course, new orders are founded, and there is a renewed emphasis on correct doctrine and preaching and outright conversion of sinners and unbelievers.

But the most direct response of the Church to persecution has always been harnessing the prayers of the faithful. Most specifically the Church added prayers to the end of Mass asking that the Church overcome persecution. Pope Leo XIII gave us what we know as the Leonine Prayers after Mass. The immediate object of the Leonine Prayers was the Church in Communist Russia. But they would be equally efficacious for all the situations in which the Church is being persecuted.

The Prayers After Mass consist (for they are still said after every Low Mass said in the Extraordinary Form) of three Aves, a Salve Regina, a short untitled prayer beginning "O God, our refuge and our strength...", The Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, and finally a triple invocation to the Sacred Heart.

The time has come, I think, for Pope Francis to harness the prayers if all the faithful throughout the world with the objective of changing hearts and minds everywhere to end the persecution of the Church where she is actively persecuted and to reverse trends against the teachings of Holy Mother the Church so that a new consensus favoring the traditional moral teachings of the Church can be built.

The best way to build a new consensus is to make use of a tool that was once powerfully and efficaciously invoked towards this same essential end. It takes only a few minutes more for the priest to lead the congregation in the Prayers After Mass. Adding it to the end of every Mass, in either Ordinary or Extraordinary Form will greatly help reverse the growing persecution challenging the Church everywhere today.

Talk it up, folks! Let the idea quickly percolate to the top!

Saint Mary Magdalene, Penitent

July 22nd is the feast of St Mary Magdalene, one of the great penitents, who stood by the Cross with Our Blessed Lady, and her sisters.

Note, there has been much confusion, conflating this Mary with either the woman taken in adultery, or Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. I see that the error about her being the sister of Martha and Lazarus is perpetuated in my St. Joseph's Daily Missal (1959), and in the Roman Breviary. The best scholarship indicates that she is a distinct person, and not either of these other identities.

Saint Mary Magdalene, please pray for us!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Saint Lawrence Of Brindisi, Confessor and Doctor Of the Church

July 21st is the feast of this Doctor of the Church, a Capuchin who wrote and preached vigorously against the twin perils of protestant and Moslem heresy.

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, please pray for us!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saint Vincent de Paul, Confessor

Read about the life of this model of charity here.
Saint Vincent de Paul, please pray for us!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Every US Catholic Priest Ought To Be Fluent In Spanish

I will stipulate to the fact that I am an advocate of new arrivals in the US assimilating with the traditional culture of the US, and not expect us to bend to them. Far from it. My own Italian ancestors had to learn English to get along here, because everything was done in English (except the Mass, which was, at that time, in Latin, just as in Italy). My Irish ancestors already spoke English, as confirmed by their entries in the 1901 census of County Clare. My grandfather at 14 spoke both, my grandmother is listed as speaking only English, but I am told that here in the States, when they were discussing something they did not want the kids to overhear, they spoke Gaelic.

I will also stipulate that I myself have never been open to learning Spanish. I took French in grammar school, because French was the traditional language of diplomacy and art (and because that was the only language offered). I took Latin in prep school and college. If someone had suggested Spanish, I would have thought it an odd suggestion, since all that would enable me to do would be to have a meaningful conversation with the landscaper. And why would I want to do that?

Even before the current invasion of illegal aliens across our porous southern border, I had come to the conclusion that the Church needs to be better able to minister to people in Spanish. Every US Catholic priest ought to be fluent in Spanish. There are an awful lot of Hispanics, most of whom are coming to work honestly and make a new and better life here. The ones who think of themselves as some sort of vanguard in an effort to turn the US southwest back to Mexico, and this w coming here to batten off our welfare state ought to be weeded out.

I see deterioration in the Catholicity of these people. Fifty years ago, Mexico and Central and South America were 99% Catholic. Now, that number is around 70% or less. Protestant heretic missionaries have been hanging like vultures over these Catholic countries and picking off the poorly catechized. And I have a sense that this is going on in even greater percentages once Hispanics get to the US. There is also what we Irish have long known as the "Souper" phenomenon. Poor hungry Catholics start gravitating to heretic protestant missions for the free meals. Next thing you know, they have traded the True Faith for the protestant soup.

The Church in the US really does need to reach these people. And since few speak adequate English (even people I meet who have been here for 10-12 years are not able to hold a conversation in English!) that has to be done in Spanish. The souls of these folks are in danger, and not just from the heretics and schismatics. There are also the heathen Moslems to consider. They are very aggressive and use harder means of persuasion to swell their ranks. The Church needs to be more pro-active in protecting the souls of our unwary brethren in the Faith.

So how do we go about getting every priest and deacon in the US up to speed in Spanish? Young seminarians should be proficient in it (as well as in Latin and the Traditional Mass!). The bishops need to put their heads together and find wealthy Catholic donors willing and able to pay for all existing priests to learn Spanish. I think it has to be mandatory. How much does it really cost to learn to be proficient in Spanish? I would guess $3,000-$4,000. So we are talking about at least $200,000,000.00. That is a lot for the Church. Of course, it is a drop in the bucket compared to what the Church has paid out to settle pervert priest cases in the last decade and a half, though much of that came from insurance. It isn't easy to go to the donor well again with another pressing need. But getting the faithful to part with their dollars for this good cause should be easier than getting them to cover the cost of perverts.

But priests and deacons are not the only ones who need to be able to speak Spanish fluently. Parish secretaries and administrators, who field the calls and figure out why this person needs to see Father, and CCD teachers who teach to kids their catechisms, too.

And more Masses have to be said in Spanish. A better alternative would be more traditional Latin Masses, where there is no expectation of the Mass being readily understood by the people in the pews. But even there, when the readings and sermon are translated, they have to be done in Spanish as well. That is an argument for brevity and concision in sermons. But think of all the things the priests have to do outside the Mass! Confessions, baptisms, marriage preparation and counseling to name just a few! How do you effectively hear the confession of a Spanish- speaking Catholic if you only speak English? How does an English-only priest counsel a troubled marriage when the couple does not speak adequate English?

I know this is a poor time to hand down this requirement. Priests are stretched thin, often running 2 or more parishes by themselves. An awful lot is required of t already. And here is more. But what else is there to do?

I think this is a pressing necessity for the whole Church in the US, for the good of the Church itself, and for the good of so many souls.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Holy Carmelite Martyrs Of Compiegne

Today is the feast day of the Blessed Carmelites of Compiegne. On July 17th, 1794 a number of Carmelites from that city were guillotined at Paris during the Reign of Terror. Their brutal execution and the manner in which they conducted themselves (mounting the scaffold singing Laudate Domino) helped end the terror. Within a week of their execution, Robespierre fell from power and was himself introduced to Madam Guillotine.
That is not merely post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning. The French public was genuinely shocked at the brutality of the executions of these holy women. And that shock led to a reaction against the Jacobins.

They are very worthy of admiration in my view on two counts. First they were members of the Carmelite order, for which I have a special reverence. The Carmelites were instrumental in bringing me back to an active faith and regular attendance. Secondly, they were martyred by the French revolutionaries in that orgy of blood known as the Terror. Anyone martyred for the sake of the Faith by the French revolutionaries, or the Spanish Communists, or the Russian, Chinese, Cuban, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian Communists, or by the Moslems, or as part of the protestant rebellion, has a special place in my devotions and is a worthy example of the devotion we all ought to have for the Faith.

A few years ago, John at The Inn At the End of the World posted this about the Carmelite martyrs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our Blessed Lady Of Mount Carmel

Flos Carmeli
Flos Carmeli
vitis florigera,
splendor caeli,
virgo puerpera

Mater mitis
sed viri nescia
esto propitia
stella maris.

Radix Iesse
germinans flosculum
nos ad esse
tecum in saeculum

Inter spinas
quae crescis lilium
serva puras
mentes fragilium

fortis pugnantium
furunt bella
tende praesidium

Per incerta
prudens consilium
per adversa
iuge solatium

Mater dulcis
Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam
reple laetitia
qua bearis.

clavis et ianua,
fac nos duci
quo, Mater, gloria

Flower of Carmel,
Tall vine blossom laden;
Splendor of heaven,
Childbearing yet maiden.
None equals thee.

Mother so tender,
Who no man didst know,
On Carmel's children
Thy favors bestow.
Star of the Sea.

Strong stem of Jesse,
Who bore one bright flower,
Be ever near us
And guard us each hour,
who serve thee here.

Purest of lilies,
That flowers among thorns,
Bring help to the true heart
That in weakness turns
and trusts in thee.

Strongest of armor,
We trust in thy might:
Under thy scapular,
Hard press'd in the fight,
we call to thee.

Our way uncertain,
Surrounded by foes,
Unfailing counsel
You give to those
who turn to thee.

O gentle Mother
Who in Carmel reigns,
Share with your servants
That gladness you gained
and now enjoy.

Hail, Gate of Heaven,
With glory now crowned,
Bring us to safety
Where thy Son is found,
true joy to see.

Both the reformed and traditional calendars of feasts specify today as the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For generations, Carmelite monks maintained a monastery on Mount Carmel in what is now Syria. At the time, the Carmelites were a contemplative order under the patronage of the Blessed Mother.

In the Thirteenth Century, Simon Stock, an Englishman, became general of the Carmelite order. In 1226 Pope Honorious III recognized the rule of the Carmelite order on July 16th. On July 16th, 1251, the Blessed Mother appeared to Simon Stock, and provided him with a brown scapular, with a promise that those who wore it to honor her would be released from Purgatory on the Saturday after they died. This feast was extended to the whole Church in 1726. Simon Stock was later canonized.

I have a special devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For one thing, July 16th is my birthday. For another, when I returned to an active practice of the Faith many years ago, it was largely through the Carmelites. As I started to become active in the Church again, a Carmelite priest heard my first confession in about ten years. At the time I was without very much in the way of direction or guidance. And the Carmelite Gift shop at the North Shore Shopping Center was where I bought so many books that fed my hungry soul, books from TAN, Ignatius, Sophia and Liguori.

The Carmelite Chapel at the North Shore Shopping Center became my regular parish for almost two years. Yes, for those not familiar with the area, there is a Carmelite chapel on the lower level of a shopping mall here (and another Catholic chapel-though not Carmelite- on the main level of the Prudential Mall in Boston). It is very well-frequented - SRO for most of its Saturday Masses. It appeals to people who don't want to be attached to a regular parish, dislike the pastor at their own parish, or just don't have the time or resources to seek out a new parish.

The Carmelite Chapel in Peabody is still a very special place for me.

And since then, I have become acquainted with several third order Carmelites, and one cloistered Carmelite who took her final vows some years ago today in Iowa.

There is, of course, a standard Carmelite Scapular, for members of the order and others. But there are also many acceptable variations of the Brown Scapular. Today, I wear a very special version of the Brown Carmelite Scapular, one that depicts the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts on the front-piece.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mass Circa 1450

A very good recreation of Holy Mass as it would have been said circa 1450.

I had never seen this before.

I am not an expert on Mass before the Council of Trent codified the Tridentine Mass. But this is sufficiently familiar that I was able to follow along even without my Missal. It was a Missa Cantata, with only a clerk in place of a choir, and one acolyte. Must have been a saint's day. A Low Mass would have been the more common experience.

There were a few things I thought were anomalous. The first was that there was no commotion in the congregation as people move forward to get a good view, sometimes just outside the Rood Screen, of the Consecration. The second anomaly was that two parishioners were housled. That would not have been common prior to Pope Saint Pius X's encouragement of receiving more frequently than the required once a year at Easter. But it wasn't unheard of. Margery Kempe communicated frequently, at the urging of her spiritual director. I didn't see anybody saying their Rosary during Mass. That was common until the 1970s, and my own mother continued to do so until her death.

The congregation was certainly "actively participating". They followed the action at the altar through the Rood Screen actively, and blessed themselves and genuflected at the appropriate times. They were just as attentive as any modern congregation.

No Last Gospel. Of course no Leonine Prayers after Mass, as they were not added yet. I am sure that someone who studies the Mass as such more closely than I would have more pertinent observations.

This was a beautifully done recreation. I found myself absorbed in it. It was so familiar, with just a few little differences. It would be more of a shock if you are not familiar with the Tridentine Mass. But this is the way our ancestors worshipped, and it would not be unfamiliar to most of us. People who only know a suburban American Novus Ordo Mass would be lost.

Saint Henry, Emperor And Confessor

Saint Henry, please pray for us!

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