I remember as a young person hearing the priest exhort us to make a good Lent because “for someone in this congregation it will be their last Lent.” And he was always right.
Certainly, the obvious time of year to examine our sinful ways has to be the penitential season of Lent which begins today, Ash Wednesday. The clue is in those sobering words which the priest says as he places the ashes on our forehead: “Remember, soul, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.”
Trying to find something imaginative to post here, I visited a site listing one hundred possible Lenten penances, every one of which began with the words “Give up…” Chocolate was on that list. Can you believe it?
Seriously, small sacrifices are, of course, important, but is there another angle? All ideas welcome…
Reminder: we always close to blog to comments for the duration of Holy Week.
From Rorate Caeli – What does a Catholic bishop do when government orders the end of gatherings in times of Coronavirus? This:
Northern Italy is in a state of semi-lockdown due to the spread of the current most dangerous strain of the Coronavirus, as large public gatherings have been forbidden for several days in most of the regions — including Lombardy, Veneto, Liguria, Piedmont, CEmilia-Romagna.
Since some of the local “ordinanze” (decrees) include the prohibition of “religious” gatherings, and getting ahead of the public authorities, several dioceses in the region have suspended religious activities.
Now, as the very high death toll in a few days (over 50 so far, in only a week) in the Islamic Shia center of Qom, in Iran, has shown, religious gatherings can indeed lead to widespread infection and high mortality rates. But what if there is a way to keep the worship of God while complying with public demands to avoid contagion?
The Bishop of Pavia, in Lombardy, Corrado Sanguineti, shows that is possible. His pastoral letter on the matter is a lesson in common sense, and in particular we call your attention to this paragraph:
While unfortunately having to suspend the celebration of the Holy Masses until further notice, I order that Churches remain open, for the personal prayer of the faithful, and I ask that, even on weekdays, priests celebrate daily Mass, behind closed doors, praying in the name of the whole community, signaling with the sound of the bells that the Eucharist is being offered for the living and the dead: even if we cannot celebrate publicly, the liturgical prayer must not fail, which for us priests is a daily appointment of life and is an inexhaustible source of grace for all the people of God. Priests must keep in touch with the faithful, and must not fail to continue their presence among the sick and the elderly in homes and welcoming structures.
Of course, private daily Masses “without the people” are a traditional practice, and well known to Traditional Catholics, but not very common among large numbers of clergy raised with the Novus Ordo, so the reminder is necessary. Ends
There’s another very interesting article on the subject of the Coronavirusover at Rorate Caeli – well worth reading right through, but for now, here’s an extract from the close of the piece, where the author links the miracle of the Archangel St Michael in ending that plague with the apparition of the same Archangel at Fatima…
Pope Gregory I was canonized, proclaimed Doctor of the Church and went down in history known as the “Great”. After his death the Romans began calling the Hadrian Mausoleum “Castel Sant’Angelo” and, in remembrance of the miracle, placed at the top of the castle, the statue of St. Michael, head of the heavenly militia, in the act of sheathing his sword. Still today in the Capitoline Museum a circular stone with foot-prints is kept, which according to tradition, had been left by the Archangel when he stood to declare the end of the plague. Also Cardinal Cesare Baronio (1538-1697), considered one of the greatest historians of the Church for the rigor of his research, confirms the apparition of the Angel on top of the castle. (Odorico Ranaldi, Annali ecclesiastici tratti da quelli del cardinal Baronio, anno 590, Appresso Vitale Mascardi, Roma 1643, pp. 175-176).
We note only that if the Angel, thanks to the appeal of St. Gregory, sheathed his sword, it means that it had been first drawn to punish the sins of the Roman people. The Angels in fact are the executors of divine punishments on people, as the dramatic vision of the Third Secret of Fatima reminds us, by calling us to repentance: “an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’”
Is the spread of the Coronavirus related in some way to the vision of the Third Secret? The future will tell us. However the appeal to penance remains of prime urgency for our age and the prime remedy to guarantee our salvation, in time and eternity. The words of St. Gregory the Great must resound again in our hearts: “What will we say of the terrible events of which we are witnesses if not that they are predictions of a future wrath? Think then dearest brothers, with extreme care to that day, correct your lives, change your habits, defeat with all your might the temptations of evil, punish with tears, sins committed” (Omelia prima sui Vangeli, in Il Tempo di Natale nella Roma di Gregorio Magno, Acqua Pia Antica Marcia, Roma 2008, pp. 176-177).
It is these words, not the dream of Amazzonia felix, that today are needed in the Church which appears the way St. Gregory described it in his times: “A very old ship, horrifically gashed; waves and rotted planks getting in everywhere; shaken everyday by a violent tempest, foreshadowing a shipwreck (Registrum I, 4 ad Ioann. episcop. Constantinop.)”. But way back then Divine Providence called forth a helmsman, who, as St. Pius X states: “amid the raging waves was able not only to dock in the harbor, but also secure the ship from future storms” (Enciclica Jucunda sane del 12 marzo 1904). Ends.
So… Is the Catholic response to the Coronavirus simply prayer and penance? Really? Why?
Reflecting on our forthcoming Education Seminar (23 May), and given that Barbara Coupar, the Director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES) has ignored my emailed invitation to her to participate in said seminar, I decided to take a look at some of the resources on the SCES website which are used in Catholic schools. As a retired secondary school /sixth form teacher, I am particularly interested in the materials used with the older students, so I ambled along to the SCES website and clicked on the Religious Education section. However, they require login details to access those lessons so, as a follower of the old maxim if at first you don’t succeed, give up, I moved on to visit the section headed Equality & Inclusion Learning and Teaching, and clicked on resources for Levels Three, Four and Senior Phase – see sidebar on right of the SCES page: click here
I had technical problems with the Word documents at Level Three – they just wouldn’t open. However, I did see the video “The Story of Human Rights” which was very lively. Only two “hero” figures stand out in the film – 6th century Cyrus the Great, who freed the slaves in Babylon, thus bringing civilisation to the region and, of course, Mahatma Gandhi. If there were any notable Catholics, missionaries and saints, doing good in the world at any point in history, they didn’t make it into The Story of Human Rights” video shown in Catholic schools in Scotland.
Levels Four and Senior Phase concentrate on driving home the importance of the Equality Act, 2010, with time divided more or less equally between the Equality Act 2010 and the Stonewall Riots – credited with sparking the fight for LGBT+ rights. At the top of the list of resources for Level Four, however, we find a video in which pupils are presented with two dolls, one white, one black, and asked (by white interviewers) to point to the “bad” doll and the “ugly” doll and the “good” doll and the “pretty” doll. In the majority of cases, children pointed to the white dolls as being the good/pretty etc and to the black doll as being the bad/ugly. This “research” is used to point to rampant racism – it will be interesting to see if our bloggers agree…
Take some time to research the SCES materials yourself and then share your thoughts. Should parents be concerned about these materials? And is SCES guilty of embedding the LGBT+ worldview, indoctrinating young people with the philosophy of “gay rights”?
Saint Robert Southwell (c. 1561 – 21 February 1595), was an English Catholic priest of the Jesuit Order. He was also a poet, hymnodist, and clandestine missionary in post-Reformation England.
After being arrested and imprisoned in 1592, and intermittently tortured and questioned by Richard Topcliffe, Southwell was eventually tried and convicted of high treason for his links to the Holy See. On 21 February 1595, Father Southwell was hanged at Tyburn. In 1970, he was canonised by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
To mark the Feast, the short sermon below is delivered by a relative of the saint – Edinburgh-born priest, Father Andrew Southwell
It’s interesting, is it not, to reflect on the fact that in times of persecution from governments and false religions, Catholics have been willing to die in defence of the truths of the Faith. Yet, in times of internal strife, as in our times, when the Faith is under attack from within, in her liturgy, dogma and moral teaching, only a minority of the faithful is putting up a fight. Interesting?
Behold the Church of bridges and mercy, open and outreaching! Cardinal Burke is forced to annul a Mass in Ostuni: the parish priest had demanded the celebration be held behind closed doors as his arrival in Brindisi displeased the high levels of the diocese. The newspapers attacked him as an enemy of the Pope. The Bishop of Ostuni however, will tomorrow meet with the Valdese in church to talk about immigration.
Here we see the Church of mercy, the Church of open ports and the Church of out-reach. So open, so merciful and so out-reaching, that clandestine Masses are reserved for troublesome Cardinals. It is happening in Ostuni, Puglia as in China, where, according to the Vatican Chancellor, Sorondo, the Social Doctrine of the Church is applied.
The latest Brindisian newspapers present us with a very disturbing sign concerning Cardinal Leo Burke, who was politely shown the door in that sordid and humiliating way only the prevailing clericalism is capable of. “The conservative Cardinal is not welcomed by the priests”, were yesterday’s headlines in the Quotidiano di Puglia: Annulled the American high-prelate’s Mass scheduled in the Cathedral. The parish-priests had expressed embarrassment after his position against Pope Francis…
…This episode throws a sinister light on the increasingly political way things are run in the Church. Cardinal Leo Burke is not impeded canonically; he travels the world for conferences and moments of spirituality; he celebrates Masses, is involved in pastoral activities; he leads moments of prayer between the United States (where he was recently for the March for Life) and Italy. He was even a guest recently for the Nuova BQ Day. The idea that a priest, supported certainly by a bishop, can close the doors on him, is an indication of how grave the situation not only in the Church has become, but also of the restricted freedom those men of the Church, that the mainstream doesn’t like, are subjected to, because they are considered enemies. Is this the communion they want to impose by dint of dialogue? Are these the shepherds with the odour of the sheep and a knife between their teeth? Click here for the entire “must-read” report.
With yet another storm (Dennis) due to hit the UK this weekend, let’s challenge the secular wisdom, reinforced by Pope Francis that humans are causing extreme weather because we insist on using plastic bags and drive petrol cars. IS this erratic and often treacherous weather due to human behaviour, or is God telling us something about the way we are living – and I don’t mean that He wants us to start buying electric cars…
There is no shortage of biblical evidence that God controls the weather, although there is a manifest shortage of Catholic websites and videos reflecting that truth. God has established what we think of as scientific laws and principles governing the weather but He remains in charge. God can dispense with His laws for His own purposes, when He sees fit. Is that what is happening now, with professional weather forecasters struggling to explain what is going on these days?
Is “Storm Dennis” on its way because God wants to remind us of something? If so, what?
Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction of historical sexual abuse of two choirboys will be heard before the full High Court of Australia on March 11. Pell’s conviction in a Melbourne county court in December 2018 was affirmed by the Victorian Court of Appeal in August 2019. The conviction was for two incidents of abuse that allegedly occurred in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, in December 1996 and February 1997.
As several writers in Quadrant have recorded over the past twelve months, the conviction of Pell is one of the worst miscarriages of justice in Australian history. This is not just because of his status at the time as the most senior figure in the Catholic Church in this country, but also because it breached the fundamental legal principle that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That is not how George Pell was treated either at his trial or in his first appeal. The jurors did not make their decision on the weight of evidence by more than twenty witnesses, who demonstrated that Pell could not possibly have done what the complainant said. Instead, the jurors accepted the sole evidence of the accuser, given in camera, with his identity shielded, and without corroboration of any kind. A two-to-one majority of judges in the Victorian Court of Appeal confirmed both the process and the decision…
[After detailing the Prosecutor’s – Gibson’s – retraction, the Quadrant Online report continues…]
Now, Gibson must be a Crown prosecutor with a short memory. He seems to have forgotten all about this retraction. Because on January 31, 2020, the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd, submitted a response to the appeal to the High Court by Pell’s lawyers, Bret Walker and Ruth Shann. One of the four signatories to the DPP submission was Mark Gibson, signing himself as Victoria’s Senior Crown Prosecutor. In paragraphs 59 and 60 of this submission there is a version of what the altar servers supposedly did after they entered the priests’ sacristy. It is written as if the rebuke from the defence at the trial never happened, as if Judge Kidd had not told Gibson to retract what he said, and as if his retraction had never been made to the jury. End of extracts. To read entire report click here
The above article arrived in my inbox yesterday, courtesy of a reader of this blog, named Patrick. He wrote:
I have contacted you previously regarding the ‘kangeroo court’ verdict on Cardinal George Pell. Hopefully you will find time in your busy schedule to have a read of the [above] article. As far as I am concerned, the so called Catholic media should be shouting this from the rooftops.
It is sad that only two prominent commentators (and none outside Australia) are highlighting this satanic injustice perpetrated against a Prince of our faith. As far as I know neither of them are Catholic which should make us hang our heads in shame End of email.
Why is it, that journalists who purport to be keen to report injustices, miss something this big? I wonder what possible reason might explain their failure to cover something as serious as a Public Prosecutor admitting to false evidence while going on, later, to repeat it? This is what I look like when I’m “wondering”…
As for the legal profession – least said, soonest mended…