1/5/18: Welcome to the Month of Mary!

Comment:

To honour Our Lady in this Month of Mary, 2018, share your favourite hymns and prayers, stories and jokes (always of the good, clean fun variety, of course!)

Today, 1st May, is also the Feast of St Joseph, patron saint of workers – so we must honour him, as well, great and humble saint: ask for his intercession today, especially for those seeking employment, or in need of direction in choosing or re-directing their career path.  

Welcome to the Month of Mary, and a very Happy Feast of St Joseph the Worker to all bloggers and visitors to this site!  

Questions: Would YOU “Ask Father”?

Our American blogger, RCA Victor, writes…

Following up on the notion that the CT blog could be a sort of cyber-parish for modern Catholics, esp. as a source of orthodox catechesis, here’s a thought:

Is there a traditional priest up your sleeve who would be willing to answer questions from readers in the form of a blog topic, every so often? You could call it “Ask Father” or something of the sort, and create a separate email for these questions so you don’t get swamped. Webmaster or someone on the CT Team could collect the questions and forward them to Father, he could supply the answers, and the Team could post them.  End. 

Editor replies...

This, and similar suggestions, are put to us from time to time.  I find the idea understandable on one level, but very puzzling on another.  Here’s why. 

It is the ordained who are causing and/or supporting/perpetuating the crisis in the Church.  

I do have to admit, however,  that, even before I became aware of the crisis, I am on record as saying to various friends that a priest is the last person I would ever approach to discuss a personal problem.  It’s a kind of instinct.  Even from the age of 11 years when enquiring about membership of the junior Legion of Mary, I was not encouraged by our curate… I later discovered that he was the Spiritual Director of the parish group!  Clericalism is still a major problem in the Church and my own sense is that, when priests are so lacking in elementary understanding of the basic lay vocation, I can’t really be confident in the sort of answers they would give in any area of doubt, whether moral, religious or spiritual. Very recently a priest pointed out to me that St Catherine of Siena could criticise popes because she had been given a special grace from God – not because she was a Confirmed Soldier of Christ. So, that was me and moi put in our respective places! Now, of course, St Catherine of Siena was a great mystic and saint with a very important and special mission from God, but there was nothing to stop God choosing a priest or bishop for the task. The fact that He chose a lay woman signals to us that everyone, men, women and children, must be active lay apostles. That priests are simply not aware of that fact themselves, which is why it is seldom, if ever, a topic for preaching,  does not fill me with confidence that their answers to key questions and advice would be solidly reliable. 

The priestly vocation is to dispense the sacraments and preach the Faith.  From time to time, we’ve had priest contributors to this blog as part of their duty to “preach the Faith” but they tend not to stay the course. Perseverance in the work of the lay apostolate is not a widespread virtue.  The other day I was searching for a comment among very old blog topics and was astonished at the names of bloggers I’d totally forgotten.   They come and they go, priests included.  And I have to say that of the several priests who have blogged here, none have been “traditionalists” …  Indeed, when I asked one “traditionalist” priest if he reads our blog he replied in the negative, all the while assuring me that he supported what we are doing. Truly, you couldn’t make it up. Who was it said: “the blog has been betrayed, even by those who should have contributed to it?” 

So, in terms of “orthodox catechesis”, I would expect “traditional” priests to participate in our discussions and since they don’t, I lack confidence in their willingness to commit to the kind of role which RCA Victor (and others before him) suggest. And as for addressing individual concerns? Well…

I don’t see priests as problem-solvers; even “traditionalist” and “traditional leaning” priests don’t always get it right, and might do a great deal of damage with their “advice”. I remember some years ago, when my mother was elderly and with mobility issues, so that I was reluctant to leave her for any length of time in case she fell,  a priest made a comment about my spasmodic attendance at his weekday Masses. I did try to attend when I could but that entailed recruiting a  “mother-sitter” and although my siblings were happy to help when they could, they were in full time employment and had their own work and family commitments. They were already committed to staying with my mother on Sundays and Holy Days, to let me get to Mass.  When the subject next arose and I “asked Father” if he thought attending a weekday Mass took precedence over my duty to my mother, he replied, slowly… “Yes …I think so”.  Wrong!  For me to abandon my sick mother in order to attend a weekday Mass would have been sinful, not virtuous.  So, recommending priests to those seeking sound spiritual, religious and moral advice, is something of a daunting task these days. 

As things stand, when I do, occasionally, receive emails from people asking me to recommend a priest, I suggest one of the SSPX-affiliated priests, who has given me permission to distribute his contact details to anyone who asks.  This priest offers personal retreats for people on a one-to-one basis, in a beautiful setting, on the Scottish island of Stronsay, and I am always happy to email his details to anyone who wishes to contact him. 

However, if I “asked [any] Father” you care to name, to take on the role of a Catholic Truth Agony Uncle as outlined by our zealous RCA Victor I can say without fear of contraception contradiction, that he would decline the job.  Even with a six figure salary (£000.000) 😀

Of course, if YOU are a priest reading this who would relish the role – feel free to say so loud and clear. Your appointment begins with immediate effect! 

Why We MUST Judge Book By Cover

From LifeSiteNews…

April 3, 2018 – There is a strange tendency nowadays to think that the external aspects of a thing matter very little, while the “inside” is all that counts. For example: as long as you’re “a good person on the inside,” it doesn’t matter what you look like, how you dress, how you speak, what music you listen to, or even (taken to an extreme) what religion you profess.  

There is a grain of truth in this view: one’s height or build or skin color, for instance, are not moral qualities; sinners and saints come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. The problem is rather that we are too quick to forget how the outside wells up from within, how it often reveals to us just what is in the heart. A good person will dress modestly, speak respectfully, and listen to music that builds up a noble character instead of assaulting it—and all this, because of dispositions in the heart, invisible to men’s eyes but visible to God’s. The profession of a religion, while obviously done with external words and gestures, is rooted in the deep soil of the soul, and shows outwardly what a man’s most intimate worldview and priorities are.

The great British philosopher Roger Scruton comments:

There is truth in Oscar Wilde’s quip, that it is only a shallow person who does not judge by appearances. For appearances are the bearers of meaning and the focus of our emotional concerns. When I am struck by a human face this experience is not a prelude to some anatomical study, nor does the beauty of what I see lead me to think of the sinews, nerves and bones which in some way explain it. On the contrary, to see “the skull beneath the skin” is to see [merely] the body and not the embodied person. Hence, it is to miss the beauty of the face.

With perfect consistency, therefore, our medieval forebears would never have agreed with the platitude “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” For they spent enormous sums of money on Evangelaries or Gospel books with heavy bindings of gold, silver, and jewels, so that it was perfectly obvious that this book held the very words of God Himself, and deserved our utmost veneration.

The sacred liturgy, too, holds the very words of God—indeed, astonishingly, the Mass holds God Himself, the Word made flesh. It is utterly inconsistent with its inner content that the outward form of it should be anything but glorious, majestic, beautiful, solemn, reverent. We should be able to judge this book by its resplendent cover, that is, the Mass by its appearances, musical, textual, ceremonial; we should be able to see the heart in the actions. We should not “miss the beauty of the face.”

Nowadays we hear a lot of emphasis on not paying too much attention to externals in the Mass but just remembering that “Jesus is present.”

To lapse into a bit of slang: Sorry, this ain’t gonna cut it.

Throughout history, Christians have offered the best they can to God in the liturgy, especially the beauty attainable in the fine arts, in order that the souls of worshipers might be better disposed to adore and glorify the Lord. This is the sense in which St. Thomas insists that the liturgy is not for God’s sake but for ours. Of course it is directed to God; there would be no point in liturgy if God did not exist and if Christ were not our Redeemer by whose Sacrifice we are saved.    

But the liturgy does not benefit God or Christ, as if making them better; they are already as good, holy, and glorious as they can be. Rather, it benefits us who offer Him the sacrifice of praise, by ordering our souls to Him as our ultimate end, by filling our minds with the truth of His presence and our hearts with the fire of His love. These things are best accomplished by a liturgy that is impressive in its setting and furnishings, gestures and vestures, chants and ceremonies—one that is permeated from start to finish with manifestations of the nearness and otherness of God. A liturgy that is thoroughly sacral will be one that cannot be co-opted for secular purposes but compels the respect, wonder, and prayer of the beholder.

Put simply, man as a creature of intellect and sensation will not be benefited nearly as much by liturgy that is either verbal-cerebral or superficially flashy (as in the circus exhibitions of the Three Days of Darkness in Los Angeles) as he will by liturgy that is packed with rich ceremonial-textual content and saturated with sensuous symbols. This is exactly what all historic Christian liturgies are. Sadly, this is exactly what most contemporary Catholic liturgies are not.

A happy exception would be the growing number of places where the traditional Roman rite or “Extraordinary Form” [Ed: Traditional Latin Mass] is being offered, for this rite is saturated with sacrality and nearly compels one to pray, to go deeper into the mysteries of Christ through the outward appearances, just as the disciples at Emmaus “knew him in the breaking of the bread” (Lk 24:35). The liturgical rite is like bread miraculously multiplied down through all the centuries and placed in front of every king and pauper who seeks the food that will not perish. When we break this bread by entering into the rite, we come to know the risen Christ.

Matthew Schmitz has remarked:

It is amazing that the leaders of a ritual faith imagined that they could dispense with traditional forms of prayer. Among the few elites who saw the folly of this project, most were artists, naturally alert to the way supposedly superficial things can in fact be essential.

In like manner, aphorist Nicholas Davila observed: “When religion and aesthetics are divorced from each other, it is not known which is corrupted sooner.”

For all these reasons, then, a liturgy not only may but must be judged “by its cover,” by appearances—for, as Aristotle says, it is the appearances of a thing that point to its nature and substance. The Catholic Church has to care not only about realities but about appearances. Human beings come to know the truth through their senses; they cannot have concepts without phantasms. In religion, in the encounter with the God-man in His life, death, and resurrection, our senses, memories, imaginations, and emotions play as important a role as our intellects and wills. Source – LifeSiteNews

Comments invited…  

19/3: Happy Feast of Saint Joseph… 

Dear St Joseph, pure and gentle,
guardian of the Saviour child,
Treading, with the virgin mother,
Egypt’s deserts rough and wild.
Dear St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
blest above all saints on high,
When the death shades round us gather,
teach, O teach us how to die,
teach, O teach us how to die.

He who rested on thy bosom
is by countless saints adored,
Prostrate angels in his presence
sing hosannahs to their Lord.
Dear St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
blest above all saints on high,
When the death shades round us gather,
teach, O teach us how to die,
teach, O teach us how to die.

Now to thee, no gift refusing,
Jesus stoops to hear thy prayer;
Then, dear saint, from thy fair dwelling,
give to us a father’s care.
Dear St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
blest above all saints on high,
When the death shades round us gather,
teach, O teach us how to die,
teach, O teach us how to die.

Dear St Joseph, kind and loving,
stretch to us a helping hand;
guide us through life’s toils and sorrows
safely to the distant land.
Dear St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
blest above all saints on high,
When the death shades round us gather,
teach, O teach us how to die,
teach, O teach us how to die.

Comment:


St Joseph 
is a very powerful saint indeed, so if you’ve experienced his powerful intercession, share your story with us, here.
Publish, too, your favourite prayers and hymns to this great saint.
Happy Feast of St Joseph, everyone!

17/03/18: Hail, Glorious Saint Patrick!

I cannot allow the Feast of my patron saint to pass without marking it, so I wish everyone, bloggers and readers, A very happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

As always with devotional threads, feel free to post relevant comments, stories and jokes, favourite prayers and hymns… As well as the above rendition of the hymn to Saint Patrick, I’m posting the lovely Irish hymn to Our Lady of Knock… Enjoy!

Lent & Love of God…Join The Dots!

Comment: 

There can sometimes be a failure to understand the true nature of Lent.  It’s seen, rightly, as a time of prayer and penance, making atonement for sins, and reflecting on the Passion and Death of Our Lord. However, arguably,  the majority of Catholics pay insufficient attention to what should be the outcome of our Lenten prayers and penances – namely, an increase in our love for Our Lord.  It’s sometimes striking to reflect on the uncharitable way we behave towards others, sometimes even right after attending Mass or praying a rosary – indications that we are seriously lacking in charity, that charity which is the love of God, made manifest in our lives…  

I am ashamed to admit that I have never – ever – made a good Lent. My attempted penances over the years include the classics; giving up chocolate, crisps, soft drinks – and if I were fond of the less soft drinks, I would have, very likely, sacrificed those as well (pat on the back),  but I can’t , without fibbing, claim an increased love of God, manifesting itself in increased charity towards my neighbour, as a result.  The truth that no-one can stand still in the spiritual life – we either go forwards or back – terrifies me. I need help, therefore, and I’m hoping that this thread will do the trick…

As we mark the beginning of Lent today, Ash Wednesday, share your ideas for useful penances, and post any meditations, experiences, prayers, hymns and advice that you think will be helpful to us all this Lent, as we seek to grow in the love of God.