Archive for the 'Catholic tradition' Category

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.

Unity of the Faith

There are many reasons which show the necessity for an authoritative tribunal if the words of the Apostle ‘One Lord, one faith’ (Eph 4:5) are to be realized in every age and in the uttermost parts of the world.

Human nature is and always will be the same. Man is inclined to be independent in his views and tries to force his ideas on others, until he is shown to be evidently wrong. Nor does he sometimes stop even then. He persists in his error and resists the known truth, thus sinning against the Holy Spirit.

There will always be scandals in the Church, but Christ said ‘Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come, but nevertheless, woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh’ (Matt 18:7). God, however, permits this evil, that the faith of the elect may be strengthened. ‘Power is made perfect in infirmity’ (2 Cor 12:9).

This is especially true of our own times. All manner of literature floods the world. There are too many people who consider themselves the judges of everyone and of everything. Teachers of all kinds raise their chair of pestilence in every corner of our cities and villages. Perhaps the grand old Church is still there, or it has just made its appearance. Its doors are open. But most people pass by and go to hear those who suit their passions and inclinations. New fads are the order of the day. Wind and pride are sown in their hearts. Very little is left of the old and eternal truths, which Christ and the Apostles proclaimed to the world. ‘For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine – but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables’ (2 Tim 4:3).

Thus is Christianity divided and subdivided. The books of Revelation are made the anvil of centuries, on which every Christian is allowed to pound at his own pleasure. Should not such a condition of things open the eyes of all Christians and make them realize the necessity of a living tribunal, to which Christ has committed the sacred right and duty of keeping intact, at any cost, the Deposit of Faith? ‘Preach the word, be instant, in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke, in all patience and doctrine’ (2 Tim 4:2).

But the world does not want Christ. Nations and societies are governed by their own laws. Living judges are appointed to interpret a dead-letter code of laws or by-laws, and their decisions are final and binding. The same treatment is not accorded the Church by those same children of the world. Are not perhaps the Scriptures and the laws made by man equally a dead letter in themselves? The Scriptures are indeed the Word of God but at the same time, they need living interpreters. If the laws of man, made by man and for man, need living and authoritative inter-preters for their enforce-ment, how much more does the Word of God need interpreters to explain it without error and enforce it with authority?

If the Scriptures are clear to understand, why did Martin Luther and his imitators make new catechisms of Christian doctrine? Why are libraries filled with innumerable books of interpretations, explanations and commentaries? Above all, why are there any churches where the Scriptures are explained, if the Scriptures are sufficient? And if there should be a church, why so many churches, of so many denominations, in every city and in every town?

If there is a clear statement in the Scriptures which all Christians should endeavor to put into execution, it is certainly the desire which Christ expressed in His prayer to the Eternal Father on the eve of His Passion and Death, ‘That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee – that they also may be one in us’ (John 17:21).

What else do such words mean than that all Christ’s followers should first of all have the same faith? – ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph 4:5).

Unfortunately, there are too many controversies which agitate and divide Christianity. How are they to be settled? If there must be a judge, can it be the Scriptures? Can the Scriptures speak and pronounce the sentence in such unmistakable terms that both litigants know who is right and who is wrong? Well did the old Roman wisdom proclaim more than 2000 years ago: ‘No one is judge in his own case’. Hence, it was not to the Scriptures, but to Peter and his successors that Christ said ‘confirm thy brethren’ (Like 22:32). Tertullian declared that ‘Religious controversies should not and cannot be settled only by the Scriptures because, not only does the Apostle forbid such disputes among Christians, but also because they bear no fruit. Avoid foolish questions (Titus 3:9) and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law. For they are unprofitable and vain. What good will it do if what you will defend shall be denied – or on the contrary, what you will deny shall be defended? You will certainly lose nothing but your voice in the contention – you will gain nothing but bile from the blasphemy ‘ (Tertull. Prescript, XV). And he comes to the following unanswerable conclusion: ‘We must not have recourse to, nor constitute a fight on the Scriptures, in which victory is uncertain or none at all but the order of things required to be first proposed, and what is now only to be disputed: To whom belongs the Faith itself, whose are the Scriptures? By whom, and through whom, and when, and to whom was the authority to teach delivered, by which men are made Christians? For where the true Christian discipline and doctrine are shown to be, there will also be the truth of the Scriptures and of their interpretation and of all Christian Tradition’ (Tertull. C. XIX).

A living, infallible tribunal is therefore essential and necessary to keep intact, not only the Deposit of Faith and to propose it without error, but also to keep everywhere and at all times the Unity of the Faith, which is so essential in the Religion of Christ.

An incomprehensible reality

The central doctrine of the Catholic faith is the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

‘The history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the plan by which God, true and one, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, reveals Himself to men, and reconciles and unites with himself those turned away from sin’ (Vatican General Catechetical Directory).

Three distinct persons, ONE GOD

The Holy Trinity is in the strictest sense of the word a mystery of faith. It is one of those incomprehensible realities that the First Vatican Council in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith describes as ‘hidden in God which, unless divinely revealed, could not come to be known’.

The fact that incomprehensible realities such as the Trinity can be grasped only by faith is in no way an affront to human reason. Divine mysteries are not contrary to human reason, nor are they incompatible with rational thought. Even in our relationship with other human persons, we must fall back upon faith – a form of human faith – to know the truth of their inmost lives and their love for us. When we speak of the inner life of God, it is a life so far beyond us that we can never completely and fully comprehend its true meaning. But, through faith, we can nonetheless be aware of the truth that God tells us about himself.

Centuries ago, St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out that ‘it is impossible to believe explicitly in the mystery of Christ without faith in the Trinity, for the mystery of Christ includes that the Son of God took flesh, that he renewed the world through the grace of the Holy Spirit, and again, that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit’. Obviously, we could not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and true God sent by the Father if we did not believe in the plurality of persons in one God. Neither would we be able to understand the meaning of eternal life, nor the grace that leads to it, without believing in the Trinity, for grace and eternal life are a sharing in the life of the most Holy Trinity.

The importance of the Trinity in Catholic teaching is evident from the beginning of the Church. When Christ sent the apostles forth to go and ‘make disciples of all nations’, He instructed them to baptize in the name of the Trinity:  ‘baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ (Matt 28:19). From the earliest centuries of the Church and in the most ancient professions of faith, we find a belief in the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Athanasian Creed which dates from the fourth century, declares: ‘No the Catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity … the Father is a distinct person, the Son is a distinct person, and the Holy Spirit is a distinct person, but the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have one divinity, equal glory and co-eternal majesty’.

The doctrine of the Trinity was not revealed with full clarity at the very beginning of God’s revelation to us. Only gradually, step by step, did God make known to His people the mystery of His inner life. What the New Testament teaches us is captured with clarity and reverence in the statements of the early councils of the Church that we use today: the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed.

The preface for the Mass on Holy Trinity Sunday summarizes our belief in what God has told us about Himself: ‘We joyfully proclaim our faith in the mysteries of your Godhead. You have revealed your glory as the glory also of your Son and of the Holy Spirit: three persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendor, yet one Lord, one God, ever to be adored in your everlasting glory’ (Roman Missal).

Sanctum Rosarium

Next to the cross itself, the most ubiquitous symbol of Catholic devotion is probably the rosary. Usually, in the shorter five-decade form, ‘the beads’ are the basis for the private prayer life of countless millions of people throughout the Church in every land.  

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we learn that ‘medieval piety in the West developed the prayer of the rosary as a popular substitute for the Liturgy of the Hours’. In fact, in a concise and miniature re-presentation of the Liturgy of the Hours and the liturgy calendar, the rosary takes us through the mysteries of Christ’s redemption. We make the journey mystery by mystery.  While reciting a decade of the rosary, one is expected to meditate on the particular mystery for that decade and on its meaning in our life. Thus we proceed bead by bead, using the words in the New Testament to engage us as we turn our mind and heart to the mystery before us.

The rosary is an exceptionally versatile instrument of prayer. It can be prayed privately as an individual or collectively as a small community. It combines vocal prayer with meditation and can be utilized in almost any setting. I find, as do so many others, that reciting the rosary while driving not only converts a time-consuming activity into a moment of communion with God, but also helps reduce the frustrations and temptations to impatience and anger that are increasingly a part of driving in urban settings.

There is a long-standing tradition in the Church that encourages us to offer each decade of the rosary for a particular intention. In this way we are able to call to mind and place before God our needs and those of our loved ones, our petitions for the good of the Church and our human community. Perhaps you might frequently include as an intention for one of your decades the intentions of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Durante un ricevimento di nobili inglesi a cui erano stati invitati anche famosi artisti e, tra questi, il compositore Joseph Haydn, venne discusso, tra le altre cose, il problema sul modo con cui un artista si dispone a creare in se e intorno a se l’atmosfera adatta per comporre un’opera d’arte, sia essa un dipinto o una poesia o un brano di musica.

Io devo bere almeno una caraffa di vecchio vino d’Oporto’, disse un pittore paesaggista inglese d’alto rango e fama, ‘dopodichè mi sento in forma’. Un altro invitato, un noto pittore scozzese, esclamò: ‘Io ho bisogno di qualche bicchiere di Champagne, poi … nella mia mente spuntano le migliori trovate’. Finalmente fu la volta di Haydn, il geniale creatore di composizioni musicali. Era considerato l’artista più ragguardevole in quel convegno, una vera perla di inestimabile valore. Tutti erano impazienti di conoscere a quali mezzi stimolanti ricorresse il maestro prima di accingersi alla creazione di un’opera d’arte.

Haydn esitava a rispondere, ben sapendo che tra i convenuti c’erano aristocratici frivoli e artisti di vario livello. Ma poi, tutto cerimonioso, infilò la mano destra nella giacca e mostrò ai presenti molto sorpresi, un rosario. ‘Io’, disse con semplicità e modestia, ‘sono solito a pregare prima di mettermi a comporre’.

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.

Sequences

If you get distracted you might miss it, the beautiful Easter Sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes. It’s a mere eighteen lines long and usually, no matter the tempo, it’s over in about a minute and a half. Then you will need to wait until next year to hear it again – the Church allows this hymn only from Easter Sunday through the octave thereof, inclusively. For me, it is the highlight of all the chant I hear the year round. Another Sequence, just a bit longer, which many think of still greater beauty, is the Veni Sancte Spiritus (may be the work of Pope Innocent III), sung only at Pentecost and again, through the octave of Pentecost.

There are five Sequences – these include Lauda Sion Salvatorem, written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the feast of Corpus Christi and Dies Irae, attributed to the friend of St. Francis of Assisi, Thomas of Celano, for the Requiem Mass. The Stabat Mater, sung on Friday in Passion Week and again on September 15th, the Feast of Mary of the Seven Sorrows, is the fifth one. If I’m not mistaken, the Novus Ordo retains only the Easter and Pentecost Sequences although frequently you hear them recited rather than sung.

By a rough calculation, you can trace the first Sequences to the ninth century. They became widespread by the tenth, and were at their zenith in the fourteenth century. Gathered into collections, in some places, their popularity eclipsed Gregorian chant. Each Sequence has its own characteristics, depending on its author and time of composition, but there are a few commonalities. Unlike hymns, which properly speaking you find in the breviary, these chants are not primarily poems. Rhyme does occur in some, especially the Veni Sancte Spiritus, where every third line of the Latin ends in ium. The melody is generally not repeated. Each stanza or couplet of stanzas enjoys it own. All are designed for back and forth choir singing, with the telling of a dogmatic truth as the goal, rather than an offering of praise.

The real beauty of the Sequences lies in their simple music and the concrete ways these occasionals bring home to us the profound truths of the Faith. Their strategic inclusion at major feasts draws us into the seasonal cycle of the Church, itself reflective of the life of Christ. Like much of the Mass, they remind us of the centuries-old practices of believers long forgotten.

Thus, at Easter we remember that Christ the Lamb has ransomed us, sinners all, and reconciled us to His Father. The Magdalene did truly see the sepulcher of the Risen Christ – Angels did witness His Resurrection. Now we believe and affirm these truths – now we beg for mercy.

Or consider, from Lauda Sion:

 Lo! Beneath the species dual

(Signs not things), is hid a jewel.

Far beyond creation’s reach!

Though His Flesh as food abideth,

And His Blood as drink – He hideth

Undivided under each.

What could be more instructive or clear? Similarly, the Holy Ghost, whom our Veni Sancte Spiritus implores to come, will truly grant the sevenfold gifts of grace so that we may die in peace and rest forever in joy before His face. With the Stabat Mater we beg to join in Mary’s sufferings just as she joined in Christ’s: At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping … make me feel as thou hast felt. And nothing quite captures the urgency in contemplating the final judgment like the words of the Dies Irae during a Requiem Mass:

O just, avenging Judge, I pray,

For pity take my sins away,

Before the great accounting-day.

I groan beneath the guilt, which Thou

Canst read upon my blushing brow;

But spare, O God, Thy suppliant now.

There is so much more to know, especially if you have an interest in music and its history or are curious about the development of the Mass.

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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Another beautiful day! Praise the Lord.

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THE LATIN MASS


The most beautiful thing this side of heaven!




FALANGI, TRUPPE, DIVISIONI CORAZZATE. ECCO CHE AVANZA IL NUOVO CATTOLICO: INNAMORATO DI GESU', INTRANSIGENTE, MOVIMENTISTA, IL CROCIATO DEI VALORI, IL SOLDATO DI CRISTO, UN CUORE TRADIZIONALISTA, AMANTE DELLA MESSA DI TUTTI I TEMPI ...



e-campagna: Io sto con il Papa

IL CANTO DEL PARADISO


Dopo due millenni di studi, di ricerche e di esplorazioni scientifiche, la genesi del canto gregoriano resta un mistero irrisolto


RELIGIOUS LIBERTY MIGHT BE SUPPOSED TO MEAN THAT EVERYBODY IS FREE TO DISCUSS RELIGION. IN PRACTICE IT MEANS THAT HARDLY ANYBODY IS ALLOWED TO MENTION IT.



PRAY THE ROSARY


The story of our salvation!







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IN HOC SIGNO VINCES




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”.