During Holy Week the blog is usually closed to comments. This year, due to the unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves, we’ve decided to leave the blog open, while encouraging everyone to spend less time blogging – the Catholic Truth team plan to do just that, in order to focus as fully as possible on the events of this Holy Week through spiritual reading, reflection and prayer. The various topic threads will remain open, but we won’t be posting any new topic threads. Instead, everyone is free to post any news updates here, if the topic is not already listed. So, whether it is a news update on the Coronavirus crisis or a specifically Church-related matter, this thread should serve the purpose.
We would ask bloggers to resist the temptation to continue any conversation which looks like ending in an unpleasant argument – this week should be a peaceful week, where we find time to think seriously about what our Saviour suffered in order to afford us the possibility of saving our souls from eternal misery in Hell. Any outbreak of animosity will force the administrator to take the necessary steps to restore peace. Hopefully, we will all be able to benefit from the religious and spiritual content posted, and any news updates will be understood to be for information and reasonable commentary only. Thank you everyone for your co-operation in this regard.
The first purpose of this thread, of course, is to allow us to reflect on the Passion and Death of Our Lord. Bloggers may post their own favourite reflections, poems, prayers and hymns to share, and since we are unable to attend the usual Church services, we may take advantage of the temporary provision of Live-Stream services here (UK) and/or here (USA)
We wish everyone a very peaceful and spiritually fruitful 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?
News commentators are enjoying dissecting the ITV documentary interview with Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, generally known as “Harry & Meghan”, in which they both speak very openly about the negative impact of their royal public life on their mental health.
The reaction from viewers has been mixed. Given that they are able to travel the globe at taxpayers’ expense, and use the camera and thick column inches in newspapers to lecture us all not to do the same (in the interests of saving the planet), there has been lots of criticism along the lines of “hypocrites”.
However, whether true or not, that’s not the purpose of this discussion. We can all be hypocrites on occasion. Right now, we are much more interested in the growing custom within once “stiff upper lip” British society, of just about everyone – royal or not – wearing their hearts on their sleeves and claiming poor mental health at every turn.
The following point was made in conversation with a friend on the topic earlier today: what, at one time, a Catholic would have offered up in silent prayer for the sake of his/her own soul, and the souls of others in spiritual danger, is now considered a matter for counselling and/or medication. Stress, anxiety, depression, you name it, there seems to be an increased sensitivity, to the point of hyper-sensitivity in many, if not most people, for – more often than not – trivial/no good reason. Lamentably, that includes Catholics. Surely, Catholics should be living on a rather higher level – notwithstanding that there will be, of course, those with genuine, diagnosed, mental health illness.
Or is the above assessment a bit too hard? Harsh, even?
On this Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, share your favourite prayers, novenas, hymns, experiences etc. And perhaps reflect on the dedication of the nuns, brothers and priests of the Carmelite Order who pray and make sacrifices for the Church and the world. The short film below about one community of Carmelite nuns is a reminder that we are perhaps not grateful enough for the sacrifices made by our Religious.
Some parents try to put off the day when their offspring are allowed smartphones and thus unsupervised access to the internet.This, however, can cause bad feeling and cultivate rebellious attitudes in the young towards their concerned parents. And once they reach the older teenage years, it really isn’t possible to ban things, not when the youngster has a job or unthinking relatives who buy them technological presents for birthdays and Christmas.
Having established a routine of family prayer and spiritual reading, some parents have witnessed a weakening of their children’s faith, which, rightly or wrongly, they blame on the technological craze. If a teenager prefers YouTube to spiritual reading, that’s a problem, they argue.
As always with devotional threads, feel free to post your favourite hymns, prayers, stories and jokes of the “good clean fun” variety. Above all, however, please pray for Ireland today; the Faith has gone, and the state of both Irish politics and the Irish hierarchy appear to be in terminal decline. So much so, that I feel the need to add the hymn to Our Lady of Knock, as we all, I hope, seek her intercession in prayer for that once great Catholic country, now among the (if not THE) most secular of all the nations in Europe.
At a time when raw evil is consuming the world, I have no doubt that Donald Trump’s efforts to keep God in the picture is the main reason his enemies hate him so. Of course, he’s not Catholic but his innate desire to use his office to remind the world about God certainly is not not Catholic.
We distinguish, of course, between sound theology (which Trump obviously lacks) and the President’s basic, almost childlike, attempt to remind a nation hellbent on destruction that God exists and that our nation must acknowledge Him and the power of prayer.
Once this distinction is made, we can take solace in the fact that Trump’s Godly presidential reminders are not wasted efforts, nor are they the deceptive words of papal ecumania which, coming from that exalted office, serve not truth but error. Trump has not the benefit of sound theological training, access to the Sacraments, and the habit of formal prayer. In other words, he’s doing the best he can with the little he’s been given in a world where even the Catholic Church’s moral authority has become something of a joke.
Somehow, this man is acting more like a Catholic than are most Catholic leaders in the Church today:
Who knows where this will end? But without him, what are the chances Americans will hear words about God, the Bible and the power of prayer from the North Lawn ever again?
In fact, given the cast of democratic characters threatening to run in 2020, it’s more likely they’d be sacrificing babies to Moloch on the North Lawn. And obviously it would be supremely unlikely that any one of them would be seeking out the services of a Catholic Priest to conduct an exorcism upon taking office.
Keep praying. TRUMP 2020!
There’s so much to say about the above heartening report, but let’s focus on considering the fact that, in the closing words of said report, referring to the candidates for election in 2010: “…it would be supremely unlikely that any one of them would be seeking out the services of a Catholic Priest to conduct an exorcism upon taking office. “
Which, of course, begs the question: what did Donald Trump know about the goings-on in the White House that the rest of us don’t know (and are unlikely to find out), that prompted him to arrange for an exorcism?
And notice that photo at the top, of the President holding the statue of Our Lady of Fatima and clutching a rosary in his hand… We really MUST pray for the grace of conversion to the Faith for him – it seems to me that he has a great deal more Catholicity in his soul right now than certain of the U.S. Bishops, if not Pope Francis! Recall that, on his election, a number of Catholic Truth readers sent President Trump material on Fatima. It would be wonderful to think that he may have received and read that information. Whatever, let’s pray now that through Divine Providence the President finds the traditional Catholic Faith – Our Lady of Fatima, pray for him!
The blog will be closed to comments throughout Advent, to allow us all to prepare spiritually and materially for the Feast of Christmas.
As we all know, in Advent we prepare firstly to welcome the long-awaited Messiah into the world, in celebration of the first Christmas when He came into the world to save us from sin and eternal death. Secondly, we reflect on the Second Coming of Christ when He will come to judge the world. Salvation and Judgment, then, are themes which give us plenty of food for meditation, reflection and prayer during the four weeks of Advent.
Again, as we know, and it is good to remind ourselves, Advent, like Lent, is a time of penance – the “famine before the feast” – so, the Catholic Truth team wishes all of our bloggers, readers and lurkers, a very peaceful and productive Advent.
The blog will re-open to comments on Christmas day.
As we’ve had discussions on books which have helped us know the Faith better, on spiritual reading books, and even blogged to share jokes, and as the Feast of St Cecilia, Patron Saint of Music approaches (22 November), now might be a good time to reflect on the role – if any – of music in building our spiritual life.
There are people who misinterpret the exhortations of the great mystical saints who teach us to avoid seeking sensible consolation in prayer, as meaning that any sense of uplift within the soul is a bad thing and to be avoided This is nonsense. Singing a devotional hymn should lift our mind and soul to God and so it is with other beautiful music. I remember hearing a composer once explain her conversion to Christianity by telling a radio interviewer that, while she could explain how she chose the notes that created a beautiful melody, she could not account for, nor take credit for, the impact it had on the listener’s innermost being – the soul. That set her thinking anew about the whole question of the existence of God and ultimately led her into Christianity. Unfortunately, I had switched on the radio halfway through the interview, and this was some years ago, so I’m unable to provide the name of said composer. Anyway, it stands to reason that a composer may well have the talent to create a lovely piece of music, but is unable to foresee the impact it will have on individual listeners. That recognising this fact has led at least one composer to seek Christ, is wonderful.
So, in honour of St Cecilia, let’s share some of our favourite pieces of music, whether hymns or some moving pieces which may raise our minds and souls to God. The two videos included in this introduction are among my own favourites … Enjoy!
Reminder – to post a video directly onto the page, simply find it on YouTube and copy the link from your browser. Bring it back to the blog, and paste it into a comment box, with your own remarks, perhaps explaining why it is one of your favourites. No limits, either, feel free to post as many as you wish! If you can’t find a video-presentation, just tell us what kind of music helps your prayer and meditation. Of course, if you disapprove of hymn singing or of seeking any sensible consolation in prayer, let us know, but be aware that the saints were not banning sensible consolation – they were simply warning us against thinking that we are not praying well if we lack such sensible consolation. Over to thee!