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Catholic Tradition

Many protestants and Christian sects reject Catholic Tradition but with time some of them have admitted some of the traditions – such as Lutherans, Episcopalians and Evangelicals. They are all governed by a certain supreme authority – The Queen of England is the head of the Anglican Church, the King of Prussia was at the head of the Reformed Lutherans, and there is scarcely a non-Catholic denomination in which some sort of ‘board of directors’ is not vested with a supreme authority in its administration. Many denominations reject all Catholic Traditions on the grounds that they are subject to corruption. When any doctrine, they claim, is carried on for generations – from father to son – necessarily so many legends and myths arise that little truth is left.

This is an affirmation on their part that the Church is not infallible. What, according to them, happened to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete? Had they believed that the Church is infallible, they would not have forgotten so soon the assistance promised to the Church by Christ.

They forgot that, strictly speaking, all Revelation, whether contained in the Scriptures or in other documents, on monuments, on the walls of the catacombs, in usages, and so on, were all written down and transmitted to posterity. The Apostles wrote that part of Revelation which is contained in the Scriptures, while their disciples wrote what the Apostles preached, taught or instituted in the Church, but which had not been written by the Apostles.

It is a mistake to speak only of an oral tradition carried on from generation to generation through the help of word of mouth. For Tradition, in the first place, is not ‘oral’ in the sense that it is maintained and propagated ‘only’ through man’s lips. It is oral in the sense that in the beginning it was received by the Faithful from the Apostles themselves, not in writing, but through their preaching, teaching or institutions, established in the Church by the same Apostles. What the apostles did not write, but preached, taught or instituted, was afterwards written by their immediate disciples, and sometimes by the disciples of these immediate Apostolic disciples (the Church Fathers). Therefore Tradition is ‘oral’ not in the sense that it was never written, but in the sense that ‘what in the beginning was not written’ by the inspired authors was written ‘afterwards’ by their disciples. What the disciples heard or were taught by the Apostles and not committed to the Scriptures, they afterwards laid down in writing. Tradition is ‘oral’ as distinguished from that part of Revelation which was written by the Apostles – namely, Scripture. For what the Apostolic disciples afterwards wrote, as heard, learned or as instituted by the Apostles, is what we call, properly speaking, Tradition.

The Apostles, who were the ‘ancients’ and legislators of the Church, instituted certain days of the week or certain seasons of the year as time of penance, of joy or of rest, to be observed by all. Abstinence from meat on Friday, fasting in Lent, the Sunday observance instead of Saturday, Easter Joys, the ceremonies of Holy Mass, etc., were instituted by the Apostles as a help to the Christian to save his soul and as an ornament to divine worship. All these things were a part of the routine of the Church. All accepted them as a matter of course and as a part of the daily life of the Church. Hence, there was no necessity on their part to write them down – they preached and taught the Faithful what they must do as members of the Church of Jesus Christ. It was therefore natural that what the Apostles did not write, their disciples, in order to refresh their memories, as well as to transmit it to other generations, did write,  according to the warning of St. Paul, ‘to teach others also’ (2 Tim 2:2). ‘Hold the traditions, which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle’ (2 Thess 2:14).

Traditions, therefore, according to St. Paul, are of two kinds, written and unwritten. The written are the Scriptures, because tradition means anything that is delivered or transmitted to others. In this case, the Scriptures are traditions, although improperly so called. The unwritten are all those other Traditions which are not contained in the Scriptures, but which, as the Apostle says, his disciples received through his preaching. They are properly called ‘Traditions’.

As both kinds of Traditions – received, as the Apostle says, ‘through my preaching’ (properly called Traditions) ‘and through my Epistle’ (The Scriptures, improperly called Traditions) – come to us from the Apostles, both are to be accepted, both are to be believed, both must be lived up to because, according to the command of the Apostle, we must hold both.

The written Traditions, or the Scriptures, contain the greater part of Revelation. But it is not less true that what the Apostles preached, taught or instituted in the Church, but did not write, are a very important part of the Deposit of Faith. They were written by their disciples.

Therefore, the objection collapses, that Traditions, being oral, become corrupted in the course of time. Tradition, strictly speaking, is not oral. It was only such in its first proclamation. All Traditions have been written, if not by the Apostles, certainly by the  Church. As pastors and doctors, or as writers of the Church, the first Christians wrote what they heard or learned from the Apostles, or what was practiced in the Church. They wrote not as inspired writers, but simply as common teachers or believers who had nothing else in view but to defend and protect the Deposit of Faith. God, in His Providence, induced those men to write, to be witnesses of that Faith which is always old and always new, feeble and still strong. Although written in the documents of old, Tradition is still better written in the hearts of the Faithful and deeply engraved in the religious practices and belief of the Church.

What a presumption it was on the part of the Protestant Reformers (and still is on the part of many Christian denominations and sects) to claim that they knew better than the Fathers what the government and doctrine of the Church had been during the first three centuries! The Fathers were men of great learning and piety. They enlightened the Church and glorified the Faith with their great works. They were the great men of their times, writing first-hand about their contemporaries. And they testify that, besides the Scriptures, which they saved from oblivion and total loss, there is also in the Church another ‘Rule of Faith’ and that is the Church herself, to which Christ and the Apostles delivered the Deposit of Faith.

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Her voice is the voice of God

Christ called unto Himself twelve men, His first disciples, the nucleus of His Church. They were not learned. We do not even know if all of them were literate. But they had higher gifts: Faith in and obedience to the Master. It was to secure and save these gifts that He worked His miracles. St. Augustine puts it well: ‘By His miracles He gained authority. By authority, He secured their Faith. By Faith, He drew the multitudes’ (Utility of Belief, XIV, 32). And conversely we might say: Without obedience, there would be no Faith. Without Faith, there would be no Church.

Authority and obedience, then, were soul and body to the infant Church. Without them, she could not have been born, much less lived and grown. She simply would never have existed at all. She would have been just one more school, with its scholars free to come and go at will. And its Master another Socrates or Plato, only much greater. But the Church is not a school. She is a Church. She does not teach only. She commands. Her doctrines are not opinions. They are revealed truths. Her members may not come and go. They must come and stay. If they leave, it is to their own ruin. And Christ is not another Socrates or Plato, but greater. Christ is God. If He were less than God, He would have failed. It is authority that makes the difference. He spoke as one having power. And that is why the Church will live forever. She has in her that which is Divine. Like her Founder, she speaks as one having power. Her voice is the voice of God.

God in His infinite wisdom and providence instituted the Church to last as long as there are men to be saved. To that Church He gave teachers and doctors, to whom He communicated His authority and the power of preaching and teaching. He chose in a special way a few, to whom He gave a special power not given to others – upon them He founded His Church – through them He spoke to the future generations. He did not write any book to perpetuate His doctrine, commandments and institutions. Alone, a written book is a dead thing. The dead cannot speak. Only the living can give life to what is dead.

Authority, then, is necessary for the life of the Church, because such is the order chosen by Christ. Such authority cannot be anything accidental or secondary. It is something substantial and essential in the life of that society, which the Son of God established upon earth. Without authority, there is no obedience – and without obedience, there is chaos, a religious confusion that spells the end of any society. That authority is God Himself. ‘The book which Christ wrote was the Apostles, a book written not in ink, but with the Holy Spirit, who gave to the Apostles all authority, all power and jurisdiction in the Church. He appointed them to rule, to teach and to sanctify the faithful’ (Franzelin, Script et Trad., Th. IV).

During the three years of His public ministry, Jesus spoke of the Church as something that was yet to come. But on the evening before His death, the hour was at hand, and He called it into existence. At the Last Supper, He instituted the two Sacraments which perpetuate the life of the Church itself and sustain it in its members – Holy Orders and the Blessed Eucharist (Luke 22:14, 19-20). After His Resurrection, He completed the Sacraments, imparted His authority to the Apostles, conferred the Primacy on Peter, and crowned the work by a promise that He Himself would be with them until the End of the World (Matt 28: 18-19, John 20: 21-23).

The impossible has happened. The Son of God has given His almighty power to eleven weak men: to bind and to loose, to rule and to guide, until the End of Time. The Apostles, then, are vested with the power and authority of Christ Himself. They are sustained in their great mission by the promise of Christ’s assistance and of the coming upon them of the Holy Spirit, to teach them all truth and preserve them from error (Matt 28:20, John 14:16, John 16:13). When Christ said to Peter and to Peter only, ‘Feed my lambs, feed my sheep’ , He conferred on him the supreme power of ruling over the people, the priests and the bishops of the Church. He fulfilled what He promised him before: ‘I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven – and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven’.

Behold, then, the Church of Christ – established by divine charter, endowed with divine life, sharing in divine immortality. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with a guarantee that they cannot fail and will not err, and in the company of the Master, who will never leave them, the Apostles go forth to preach and teach and baptize. The Church Christ founded was a Church with a Living Authority and will remain so to the end. The writings of the New Testament would come later, a proof – as the writings of the Old Testament had been a prophecy – that God had made good His word. These inspired writings of the Church would testify to that which already existed and which would have existed and been divine and true and everlasting even if the Apostles had never written a line.

Ultimately, the Church is what it is, not because Matthew, John or Paul or any other of its first members has written it, but because Christ commanded it. The Apostles had their authority and were using it, and the Church was doing its work … many years before a word of the New Testament was written.

Christ’s memorable words: ‘Behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world’ and ‘He shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you forever’ and ‘you shall be witnesses unto me, even to the uttermost part of the earth’, etc., were addressed not only to the individual persons of the Apostles, but also to all those who were to succeed them in office (Timothy and Titus were consecrated Bishops by the Apostle Paul, Acts 20:28, Peter’s first letter to Corinthians, etc.). The commission, therefore, of teaching and giving testimony was not simply personal. It was given to the teaching Church, to an Apostolic Succession until the End of Time.

Thus has Jesus Christ established a perpetual Apostolic Succession to govern the Church in His name.

A Catholic England?

The Roman Catholic Church is a constant source of controversy, as the ongoing outrage over clerical sexual abuse shows. But the Church also inspires great devotion and loyalty. The Spectator recently hosted a very interesting debate under the title ‘England should be a Catholic Country again’ (The Spectator, 3 April 2010). I quote part of the passionate argument for the motion by Piers Paul Read:

‘A weak priest inspires contempt’, wrote Francois Renee de Chateaubriand in the early 19th century, ‘a vicious one excites abhorrence – but a good priest, meek, pious, without superstition, charitable, tolerant, is entitled to our love and respect’. As it was then, so it is now. There have been degenerate popes, corrupt bishops and, recently, paedophile priests. The abuse of children by priests excites a particular abhorrence, and the cover-up of these crimes by some bishops is as bad as anything that has occurred in the past.

However, the wickedness of a few priests should not obscure the selfless and often heroic ministry of the overwhelming majority who work tirelessly and with little recognition at the core business of the Catholic Church, the saving of souls, through the sacraments of baptism, confession and above all the Eucharist which lies at the heart of Catholic belief and worship. There are also the Church’s corporal works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless. And when it comes to these tangible expressions of that love of God and one’s neighbor, the Catholic Church, both now and in the past, has a record second to none.

The overwhelming majority left alone in their tireless work for our souls ...

The Church’s teaching on sexual ethics is, I suspect, a big stumbling block in today’s permissive society. Jesus makes it crystal clear to his disciples, by referring them to the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, that the heterosexual married couple is the aboriginal paradigm of humanity. ‘Have you not read’, he says to them, ‘that the creator from the beginning made them male and female, and that he said: This is why a man must leave father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the two become one body? They are no longer two, therefore, but one body’. How does this square up with today’s society? Clearly, not at all. We now have an institutionalization of sexual practices inimical to Catholic teaching – no fault divorce, gay adoption, same sex civil partnerships, etc., described by Pope Benedict as ‘pseudo forms of marriage that distort the Creator’s design and undermine the truth of our human nature’. The Catholic Church accepts that there is nothing sinful in being attracted to members of the same sex – it is involuntary. But a conflict arises when it comes to thoughts, words and deeds. Yet our politicians want to prevent Catholics from teaching an ethic on homosexuality which has existed since the beginning of history and is shared by all of the world’s religions. Nick Clegg has said that faith schools should be obliged by law to teach that there is nothing wrong with gay sex. Harriet Harman says that Catholic schools should be forced to employ teachers who reject Catholic teaching. David Cameron claims that ‘the Lord Jesus’ would favour the gay rights agenda. Elton John tells us that Jesus was in fact gay. How lucky we are to have so many Biblical scholars among our politicians and entertainers!

And there is birth control. People ridicule the Church’s teaching that every sexual act must be open to the transmission of life. At one time the Church of England shared that view but at the Lambeth Conference in 1930 it changed its mind. There are many church-going Catholics who refuse to accept it. Others assent to the teaching but find it difficult, if not impossible, to obey. But the dissociation of sex from procreation in the mindset of our culture has ramifications that extend far beyond the bedroom. It makes sex and end in itself. It raises expectations of sexual love that are rarely fulfilled. Partnerships are formed and then break up. There are fewer and fewer marriages and half of those that there are end in divorce. Recently the Conservative party has woken up to the damage done to England’s social fabric by the increasing number of broken homes. But think of what lies behind the cold statistics. Thing of the mute suffering of children when their parents part. There is much cant about protecting the rights of children but, as Pope John Paul II said, the right of a child to be brought up under one roof by its natural parents should be seen as one of the most fundamental of all human rights. And there is no doubt that it would be if children had the vote.

(…)

You may think that the link between people’s sex lives and the suffering of children is tenuous. Let me quote Matthew Parris, who so often puts things so well. ‘No man is an island’, he wrote. ‘There are ultimately no private acts. Everything we think, everything we say and do, however privately, shapes and influences us, our families and friends, and so touches the world outside. It is just fatuous to pretend that if a great many men are unashamedly making love to other men, however privately, that is without impact on the whole of society …’. What Matthew says about homosexuals applies equally to heterosexuals who embark on relationships where the love is tentative, probationary, conditional, not the wholehearted and fruitful giving of one’s entire person to the other which the Church teaches, and which we know in our hearts is the way love is meant to be.

The Catholic Church is not the preserve of the virtuous. A Catholic England would not be like Afghanistan under the Taleban. The Church is and has always been a refuge for sinners. We are a community of Prodigal Sons and Daughters. God loves the good and the bad alike. He understands human weakness. He forgives the sins of the repentant, and it is that confidence in God’s love, understanding and forgiveness, and the anticipation of an eternal destiny with God in heaven, that makes his yoke easy and his burden light.

There is no joy in the barren, selfish hedonistic individualism that defines our culture in the developed world today. It would greatly add to the sum of human happiness here in England if our country was Catholic once again.

The forgotten virtue

It is sometimes said of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality that, like the sixth commandment, it is primarily a list of ‘do nots’. Such a perception fails to take into account the profoundly human and beautiful vision of love that is the foundation for the Catholic Church’s moral teaching on marriage, human sexuality, and the integrity of the human person.

It is perhaps a com-mentary on our age and how far we have digressed from the path set out by the Creator that chastity is now a ‘forgotten virtue’.  Common amnesia concer-ning the value and place of chastity carries with it painful consequences. When we reflect on the offenses against the sixth commandment, we will find them rampant, condoned, and even encouraged in our age. The ‘lifestyles’ and ‘momentary commitments’ that are the storyline of most television ‘soaps’ and a great number of movies help form the attitudes and mores of our young people. In contrast, the Church holds up the image of personal integrity. Faithful to Scripture, the Church insists that love of God is incompatible with every form of fornication, sexual promiscuity, licentiousness, and other sexual behavior that deviates from the proper use of this gift from God. Christ warns that fidelity to God can be broken even by our desires (Matt 5:28).

The offenses against the sixth commandment are fed by lust.  The catechism defines this vice as ‘a disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure’. First among the offenses against the marriage bond and family community is adultery, which grievously wounds a marriage, hurts the unity of the family, disrupts the proper relationship of parent and child. The distrust and doubt introduced into a family is evidence enough of why this action is considered wrong.

Offenses against the sixth commandment are not limited to those who are married. St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians points out a number of attacks on the virtue of chastity. Pornography attacks the dignity of human sexuality by rendering it a product and by reducing the person to nothing more than an object. While there may be temporary physical satisfaction, the attitude that it generates and what it says about another person is so degrading as to make it an offense against God’s law and the human community.

All sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong. The Church does not invent laws. It passes on and interprets what God has revealed through the ages. No one has the right to change what Jesus has taught. To do so would be to deprive people of saving truths that were meant for all time. Our faith teaches that a sexual relationship belongs only in marriage. Sex outside of marriage shows disrespect for the sacrament of marriage, the sacredness of sex, and human dignity. ‘Cohabitation’ or ‘living together’, when it refers to a man and woman who are sexually active and share a household though not married, cannot be reconciled with God’s plan for human sexuality and marriage.  It totally falls short of God’s plan. Sexual intimacy belongs only in marriage. Outside of marriage, sex is a lie. The action says: ‘I give you my whole self’ – but the man and woman are really holding back their commitment, their fertility, and their relationship with God. Before giving your body to another person, you need to give your whole life, and you need to receive your spouse’s whole life in return – and that can happen only in marriage.

God calls both heterosexual and homosexual persons to chastity.

While there are many ‘lifestyles’ and opinions on the meaning of life and sex, they fall short of the beauty of Christ’s plan for each of us. The Catholic vision of love holds out for us the promise that we can find in this life a communion of body and spirit, a level of happiness and joy, and the satisfaction and commitment that are signs of that ultimate completeness we will experience in heaven.

The dignity of human life

Our conviction about the dignity and sanctity of human life is confirmed in the Scriptures, the word of God. The Book of Genesis teaches us that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). ‘Thou shall not kill’, says the Lord in transmitting the commandments to Moses (Exodus 20:13). ‘Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live’, Moses warned the chosen people (Deuteronomy 30:19). And, of course, the whole life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus confirmed the dignity of human life and showed how dear each individual person is to God.

Jesus said, ‘Even the hairs of your head have all been counted’ (Luke 12:7). This teaching of the Scriptures, along with the clear and consistent teaching of the Church throughout the ages, reveals God’s infinite love for the life He has created and therefore the love we should have for life. In view of this testimony, the primordial transgression against God, the giver of life, is the act of destroying human life itself.

God holds us responsible for upholding human dignity. Each person, created by God, is endowed with a sacred and inviolable human dignity. In the Book of Genesis, God describes the persons he creates as ‘very good’ – not because of anything they have accomplished or produced, but by the very fact of their existence as his creatures.

Never has that responsibility for upholding human dignity been more difficult than in our day, in the third Christian millennium. At a time when many in society tend to judge a person’s worth on an obscure and subjective ‘quality of life’ scale, we are convinced that human dignity is not based on productivity or usefulness. As members of the human family and as Christians, we must ensure that every human life is protected from conception until natural death. This responsibility must be accepted on many levels. Each person has a charge – society and its leaders have a duty, and most assuredly so does the church community. Respect for every human being should be our first priority. Our words, actions, and prayers must reflect God’s command that we love one another as he has loved us.

An important indicator of a growing indifference toward human life is the position of those who excuse themselves from the abortion debate by arguing that they are ‘personally opposed to abortion but publicly neutral’. This display of indifference sends the message that it is acceptable to withhold protection from certain persons. The idea that a person can oppose abortion personally and defend and support it publicly is no more applicable to abortion than it is to any other critical social or moral question that challenges our world today.

Sanctioned disregard for the unborn has broadened into a so-called ‘right to die’ and a ‘duty to die’ mentality. Our elderly and disabled brothers and sisters are now seen as burdensome to society. Isolated but well-publicized efforts to give legal sanction to assisting in the suicide of sick or elderly people are only thinly disguised attempts to legalize the killing of such persons. This eugenic philosophy only adds to the problems of our societies, already mired in violence and death.

Deep within us is the voice of God’s natural moral law that finds expression in our conscience. Even when that voice has been silenced by so many alternative views of life in our highly secular and materialistic world, it continues to echo in our hearts. Some things we know are right and others wrong. Only human beings have the gift of knowing what we ‘ought to do’. The awareness of this distinction so critical to a civilization of love is rooted in the moral law etched into our very being by God at our creation.

Are we sure?

Our certitudes communally and individually within the Church derive from objective historical facts and not from mere philosophical theory.

There is a threefold linking that is the basis of our security:

  1. The Christ-event grounds its own reality and certitude. ‘The risen Jesus manifests Him-self to his disciples and thus creates in them an experiential certitude regarding his Resurrection – this certitude then finds expression in the Christian keryg-ma’ (Juan Alfaro ‘Theology and the Magisterium’)
  2. The apostolic community, the early ecclesia, enjoys a primary and privileged position in mediating this Christ-event to the entire world. This first Christian community experienced the risen Lord and received an abundance of his transforming Spirit. They had no doubts about their proclamation, for it was rooted in what they could not possibly deny: their day by day experience of Jesus of Nazareth culminating in his Passion and death and crowned by the staggering experience of his risen life. ‘For this reason, the apostolic Church is normative for the Christian faith of every age, not simply because it is not possible to come in touch with the Christ-event except through the testimony of the apostolic Church but also and above all because the apostolic Church came into being through a privileged grace and revelation of Christ’ (Alfaro)
  3. Within this early Church were conceived and from her womb were born the New Testament writings. These compositions were authored by her members and attested to by the whole community under the guidance of her leaders, the Apostles and their successors. Thus the New Testament and the apostolic Church are interlinked as normative for all later ages. They in turn are tied in with the unshakable Christ-event. The Spirit of the risen Jesus, who transformed the apostolic community on Pentecost, also inspired the Scriptures and continues to dwell in the Church which Jesus founded. This risen Lord through his Spirit is the radical ground of our certitude, for he caused the Resurrection, inspired the New Testament and dwells in the pilgrim Church.

The Catholic Church, this ecclesial community in unbroken continuity from the first century to the twenty-first and beyond, cannot betray its indwelling Lord for He is with her until the end of time (Mt. 28:20). She cannot teach error, for ‘when the Spirit of truth comes, He will lead you to the whole truth’ (Jn. 16:13).

Human beings cannot have a more secure source of certitude.

Wednesday, February 24 – Ember Day

The Ember days, which fall on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the same week, occur in conjunction with the four natural seasons of the year.

Autumn brings the September Embertide, also called the Michaelmas Embertide because of their proximity to the Feast of St. Michael on 29th September. Winter, on the other hand, brings the December Embertide during the third week of Advent, and Spring brings the Lenten Embertide after the first Sunday of Lent. Finally, summer heralds the Whitsun Embertide, which takes place within the Octave of Pentecost.

In the 1962 Missal the Ember days are ranked as ferias of the second class, weekdays of special importance that even supersede certain saints’ feasts. Each day has its own proper Mass, all of which are quite old. One proof of their antiquity is that they are one of the few days in the Gregorian rite, which has as many as five lessons from the Old Testament in addition to the Epistle reading, an ancient arrangement indeed.

Fasting and partial abstinence during the Ember days were also enjoined on the faithful from time immemorial until the Second Vatican Council when the popularity of these observances atrophied. It is the association of fasting and penance with the Embertides that led some to think that their peculiar name had something to do with smoldering ash, or embers. But the English name derives from their Latin title, the Quatuor Tempora or ‘Four Seasons’.

The history of the Ember days brings us to the very origins of Christianity. The Old Testament prescribes a fourfold fast as part of its ongoing consecration of the year to God (Zech. 8:19). In addition to these seasonal observances, pious Jews at the time of Jesus fasted every Monday and Thursday. Early Christians amended both of these customs. The Didache, a work so old that it may actually predate some books of the New Testament, tells us that Palestinian Christians in the first century A.D. fasted every Wednesday and Friday – Wednesday because it is the day that Christ was betrayed and Friday because it is the day He was crucified. The Wednesday and Friday fast were so much a part of Christian life that in Gaelic one word for Thursday, Didaoirn, literally means ‘the day between the fasts’. After this weekly fast became less prevalent, it was the Ember days which remained as a conspicuous testimony to a custom stretching back to the Apostles themselves.

The Ember days stand out as the only days in the supernatural seasons of the Church than commemorate the natural seasons of the earth. We are invited to consider the wonder of the natural seasons and their relation to their Creator. The four seasons, for example, can be said to indicate the bliss of Heaven, where there is ‘the beauty of spring, the brightness of summer, the plenty of autumn, the rest of winter’ (from a prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas).

In addition to commemorating the seasons of nature, each of the four Embertides takes on the character of the liturgical season in which it is located. The Advent Ember days, for example, celebrate the Annunciation and the Visitation, the only times during Advent in the 1962 Missal when this is explicitly done. The Lenten Embertide (today, Friday and Saturday) allows us to link the season of spring, when the seed must die to produce new life, to the Lenten mortification of our flesh. The Whitsun Embertides, curiously, have us fasting within the octave of Pentecost, teaching us that there is such a thing as a ‘joyful fast’ (the medieval called this the jejunium exultationis – the fast of exultation). The Fall Embertide is the only time that the Roman calendar echoes the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles and the Day of Atonement, the two holidays that teach us so much about our earthly pilgrimage and about Christ’s high priesthood.

As Chesterton quipped, Christians can truly love nature because they will not worship her. The Church proclaims nature’s goodness because it was created by a good and loving God and because it sacramentally reflects the grandeur of God’s goodness and love. The Church does this liturgically with its observance of the ‘Four Seasons’, the Embertides.

It is a shame that the modern Church unwittingly let the glow of Embertide die at the precise moment in history when their witness was needed the most, but it is a great boon that Summorum Pontificum makes their celebration universally accessible once again.


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INDIFFERENTISM is a mortal sin; a condemned heresy. That's the Catholic view of the matter. INDIFFERENTISM paves the way to MORAL RELATIVISM. I have been accused of the opposite of ‘Indifferentism’, which is defined as ‘Rigorism’, and the charge is not without some merit. I believe in a rigorous following of Church doctrine and in strict accuracy in proper Catholic catechesis, and I openly attack watered-down Catholic doctrine and catechesis whenever and wherever I encounter it. Many friends scold me saying that for me it’s either my way or the highway. But here’s the thing … it’s not my way; I didn’t make up all (or any of) the rules of Catholicism. I’ve been told “you’re too rigid in your doctrine,” as if it were my doctrine. When it comes to Catholic catechesis, there is only one Church teaching, and it is represented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I’m prepared to defend any item in it, against any opponent. I draw the line at ‘indifferentism’ and ‘moral relativism’. All belief systems are not the same. The ones who push it the most are the ones who seek to replace it with something less. Again, indifferentism paves the way to moral decay. Don’t let it seep into your thinking. May you please God, and may you live forever.

“Oremus pro beatissimo Papa nostro Benedicto XVI: Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.”



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Don't consider abortion ...


... give a child the chance to tell you how much life is appreciated



WARNING!!! This blog is heretic repellent ...


MODERN CATHOLICS SEE THE CHURCH AS AN ‘OLD-FASHIONED’ DISCRIMINATORY INSTITUTION OF WHICH THEY ARE ASHAMED – A TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC WILL DIE TO DEFEND IT.

MODERN CATHOLICS WOULD JUST AS SOON LEAVE THE CHURCH FOR A TRENDY ALTERNATIVE IF THEY DON’T GET THEIR WAY – A TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC WILL REMAIN UNTIL THE END OF TIME.


THE CHURCH MILITANT NOW, MORE THAN EVER, NEEDS STRONG WARRIORS.




The Catholic Church doesn’t need progressives, Nor does it need Reactionary Conservatives - It badly needs Catholic Traditionalists that practice faith, hope and charity. So don’t be shy! Come forward.

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward - in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed and will not prevail against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing - the historic Catholic Church - was founded upon a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”
(G.K. Chesterton)



Anno Sacerdotale

Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father on June 19, 2010.
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Quest'anno sia anche un'occasione per un periodo di intenso approfondimento dell'identità sacerdotale, della teologia del sacerdozio cattolico e del senso straordinario della vocazione e della missione dei sacerdoti nella Chiesa e nella società.
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Let your light so shine before men that, seeing your good works, they may glorify your Father in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
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In Domino laudabitur anima mea.





"That sense of the sacred dogmas is to be faithfully kept which Holy Mother Church has once declared, and is not to be departed from under the specious pretext of a more profound understanding."- Pope Leo XIII, Testem Benevolentiae

Nessuno di noi entrerà in Paradiso senza portare con sé un fratello o una sorella. Ciascuno di noi deve uscire dalla folla e reggersi sulle proprie gambe, fiero di essere un Cattolico e capace di testimoniare la sua Fede.
Ci stiamo comportando come se la Fede Cattolica fosse un affare privato. Questo non è affatto vero. Penso che potremo andare molto, molto lontano, se riusciremo a convincere tutti i Cattolici a farsi carico della salvezza del mondo intero.
Il mondo ha bisogno di essere salvato e deve essere ciascuno di noi a farlo.




Cantate …


Cantate Domino canticum novum. Cantate Domino omnis terra. Cantate Domino et benedicite nomini Ejus. Annuntiate de die in diem salutare Ejus.

Causa nostrae laetitiae




“We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe”.
(John Henry Newman)



Pueris manus imponit

Iesus vero ait eis - Sinite parvulos, et nolite eos prohibere ad me venire - talium est enim regnum caelorum.




“There is another essential aspect of Christianity: the interior, the silent, the contemplative, in which hidden wisdom is more important than practical organizational science, and in which love replaces the will to get visible results”.
(Thomas Merton)



Lo Spirito Santo


Uno dei Suoi nomi è "Consolatore"!




Confession

Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession.




“Almeno sei volte durante gli ultimi anni mi sono trovato nella situazione di convertirmi senza esitazione al cattolicesimo, se non mi avesse trattenuto dal compiere il gesto azzardato l'averlo già fatto”.
(G.K. Chesterton)



"Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me; I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more."

(St. Ignatius of Loyola - Spiritual Exercises, #234)



"Mia madre è stata veramente una martire; non a tutti Gesù concede di percorrere una strada così facile, per arrivare ai suoi grandi doni, come ha concesso a mio fratello e a me, dandoci una madre che si uccise con la fatica e le preoccupazioni per assicurarsi che noi crescessimo nella fede".
J.R.R. Tolkien scrisse queste parole nove anni dopo la morte di sua madre.






Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)




“Beati sarete voi quando vi oltraggeranno e perseguiteranno, e falsamente diranno di voi ogni male per cagion mia. Rallegratevi ed esultate perché grande è la vostra ricompensa nei cieli”.