Perseverance & Confidence

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Lord, increase my confidence in Your help and grant that in this confidence, I may always find courage to begin again.

MEDITATION

What most distresses souls of good will who are seriously trying to live a spiritual life, is to find themselves falling so many times, despite their continual and sincere resolutions. When they begin a program of asceticism, they are usually very brave and have no doubts concerning their success; but being still inexperienced, and not having yet faced the demands of more advanced virtue, they know nothing of the struggles that await them on this way. And herein lies the danger: meeting with new difficulties, they fall; they rise and fall again; again they rise, and shortly after, find themselves prostrate once more until they are, at a certain point, attacked by that most dangerous temptation: to give up the undertaking which henceforth seems impossible. How many souls have fervently begun the ascent of the mount of perfection, but discouraged by their continual falls, have stopped halfway up or even turned back, because they lacked the courage to begin anew every day and every moment?

Humility is needed for the exercise of courage; we must be convinced that in spite of our lofty aspirations, we are fallible men like all the rest. Sacred Scripture affirms that the “just man shall fall seven times and shall rise again” (Proverbs 24:16); how then, can we, who are not just, pretend never to fall?

The real evil is not so much in falling as in failing to rise. The distinguishing mark of fervent souls, and even of saints is less their lack of faults, than their promptness in rising after each fall. The annoyance felt by so many souls when they see themselves continually falling, is not the fruit of humility but of pride. They are not yet convinced of their own misery and are astonished to experience it so constantly. They rely too much on themselves, and God, who wishes to lead them to the full realization of their nothingness, permits them to fall again and again. In the plan of Divine Providence, these falls are for the definite purpose of convincing us that we are miserable creatures. If we wish to adhere to the divine plan, we have but one thing to do: to humble ourselves. But if on the contrary, we become discouraged, and give up what we have begun, we shall be going farther away from our goal, to our very great loss.

COLLOQUY

“O Jesus, You see I am a very little soul and can offer You only very little things: I frequently miss the opportunity of welcoming these small sacrifices which bring so much peace; but, I am not discouraged—I bear the loss of a little peace and I try to be more watchful in the future. You are so good to me that it is impossible for me to fear You.

“If it is Your will that throughout my whole life I should feel a repugnance to suffering and humiliation; if You permit all the flowers of my desires and good will to fall to the ground without producing any fruit, I shall not be disturbed. I am sure that if I persevere in my good efforts, in the twinkling of an eye, at the moment of death, You will cause rich fruits to ripen on the tree of my soul” (cf. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul, 11 – Counsels and Souvenirs).

“O God, I am very weak in ability, poor in strength, and full of poverty, but if Your eye will look upon me, I shall be lifted up from my low estate, my head shall be exalted, and many will glorify You.

“Grant that I may be steadfast in Your covenant, and be conversant therein, and grow old in the work of Your commandments. I will trust in You and persevere in what I am doing, for it is easy for You to suddenly make the poor man rich. Your blessing will be my reward, and in a swift hour my efforts will bear fruit” (cf. Sirach 11:12-24).

Love & encouragement,
Matthew

Pope Francis transfers authority for liturgical translation to local bishops’ conferences

PTL!!!!!

9/9/17
-by Rev. John F. Baldwin, SJ. Father Baldwin is professor of historical and liturgical theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.
https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/09/09/liturgical-expert-explains-pope-francis-change-mass-translation-rules

“The question of who has appropriate responsibility for the translation of liturgical texts has been a kind of political football since the Second Vatican Council. On the one hand, the council clearly wanted that responsibility to rest mainly with episcopal conferences (i.e. national assemblies of bishops). On the other hand, even before the council ended, a Vatican instruction on implementing the liturgical reform put the weight of responsibility not on the national bishops conferences but on the recognition and confirmation of translated texts by the Holy See (i.e. the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments—as it is now known).

In English-speaking countries this procedure did not seem to cause much concern during the first wave of translation (through the 1970’s). However, beginning with the second generation of revisions, especially the revision of “Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum” (1983), the Vatican began to become more proactive in scrutinizing translations sent to them. In the meantime the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) made up of bishops of eleven English-speaking episcopal conferences continued to produce revised translations according to the principles laid out in the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments’ own document on translation, “Comme le Prévoit,” published in 1969.

During the 80’s and 90’s relations between the Vatican and ICEL became more and more strained. A crucial moment came with ICEL’s new translation of the liturgical psalter in 1995. Three years later the Vatican forced the U.S. bishops conference to withdraw its approval (imprimatur) for the translation. In 1997 the Vatican responded to the proposed ICEL translation of the Rites of Ordination with a letter citing 114 errors and claiming that many more were found in the translation that had been sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. It should be noted that each episcopal conference needs to approve translations to be sent to Rome by a two-thirds vote.

With the new U.S. representative to ICEL, Cardinal Francis George, taking the lead the Vatican proceeded to change ICEL’s constitution and remove its long-term executive secretary, Dr. John Page, as well as all of the advisors who had done the work of preparing the translations for the bishops’ approval. At the same time the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a new instruction on translation, “Liturgiam Authenticam” (2001), which reversed the translation strategy of “Comme le Prévoit” insisting on a much more literal translation of the Latin texts (including word order and punctuation) than the previous philosophy which was commonly called dynamic equivalence.

As is well known, this change imposed by the Vatican led to the scrapping of a translation of the Roman Missal that had been approved by all of the English-speaking conferences in 1998 (again by a two-thirds vote in each conference). A new translation of the Missal was prepared and approved in 2010. It had been preceded by a revised ordination rite and followed by a translation of the rite of confirmation and just a year ago by a new translation of the second edition of the marriage rite, which had appeared in 1992!

Last December Pope Francis announced that he was appointing a commission of bishops and experts under the chairmanship of the secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (second in command), Archbishop Arthur Roche, to review “Liturgiam Authenticam.” They met sometime last winter. The motu proprio, “Magnum Principium,” issued by Pope Francis today is presumably a response to their report.

This latest document may not be a bombshell but it is certainly a significant change in direction with regard to who has responsibility for liturgical translations. The pope has changed Canon 838 in two important ways.

The first change is to the text that formerly read:

§2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books and recognise their translations in vernacular languages, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.

It now reads (changes in bold):

§2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books, recognize adaptations approved by Conferences of Bishops according to the norm of law, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.

The second change is to the text that formerly read:

§3. It pertains to the conferences of bishops to prepare and publish, after the prior review of the Holy See, translations of liturgical books in vernacular languages, adapted appropriately within the limits defined in the liturgical books themselves.

It now reads (changes in bold):

§3. It pertains to the Conferences of Bishops to faithfully prepare versions of the liturgical books in vernacular languages, suitably accommodated within defined limits, and to approve and publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See.

This latest document may not be a bombshell but it is certainly a significant change in direction with regard to who has responsibility for liturgical translations.
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The most important key here is found in §2 where “translations” is replaced by “adaptations.” The latter refer to significant changes to the original Latin text (typical edition) published by the Vatican—i.e., additions made by the conferences themselves. They are subject to a closer vetting by the Congregation. Now the translations (§3) are to be confirmed by the Holy See. The import of this seemingly small change is noted by the pope himself in the motu proprio:

“In order that the decisions of the Council about the use of vernacular languages in the liturgy can also be of value in the future a vigilant and creative collaboration full of reciprocal trust between the Episcopal Conferences and the Dicastery of the Apostolic See that exercises the task of promoting the Sacred Liturgy, i.e. the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, is absolutely necessary.”

To put it more simply, the weight of responsibility now falls much more on the shoulders of the various episcopal conferences. This is made clearer in the official Vatican commentary on the motu proprio:

“In brief, the “confirmatio,” ordinarily granted based on trust and confidence, supposes a positive evaluation of the faithfulness and congruence of the texts produced with respect to the typical Latin text, above all taking account of the texts of greatest importance (e.g. the sacramental formulae, which require the approval of the Holy Father, the Order of Mass, the Eucharistic Prayers and the Prayers of Ordination, which all require a detailed review).”

In his explanatory “key” to reading the motu proprio Archbishop Roche asserts that “Liturgiam Authenticam” needs to be reinterpreted in light of the new document with regard to how it deals with the Vatican’s stamp of approval.

What are the consequences? In the first place, the Vatican still has the last say on translations. That has not changed—nor is it likely to for fairly obvious reasons like the unity of the faith. But, second, the Vatican commission, Vox Clara, which had been established by Pope John Paul II in 2002 to help the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments vet English translations is now redundant. For many it had been a clear violation of the spirit and the letter of Vatican II in the first place. Third, those conferences which have been experiencing tension with the Vatican over revised translations, like the French-speaking and German-speaking, now have much more breathing room in deciding what is best for translating liturgical texts. Fourth, conferences will now have great latitude in applying the rules set out in “Liturgiam Authenticam.” In any case it would be a good time for the Vatican to issue a more balanced statement on translation in line with the pope’s obvious desire to respect the “entire communicative act” (surely a reference to “Comme le Prévoit”) as well as to be faithful to sound doctrine.

Finally, what about the English-speaking Catholic world? It is no secret that the 2010 translation has received a mixed reception and a number of prominent Catholics, not least the Australian Jesuit theologian, Gerald O’Collins, have called for a reconsideration of the current missal. Many will rejoice greatly if the current translation is revisited. Certainly, some will not. The bishops, particularly the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, will have to decide how to proceed. They now have much more authority over liturgical translation. The ball is in their court.

‘America’ Magazine Editor’s note: the author has clarified this article with respect to which changes to the Latin text fall under the authority of episcopal conferences and also which aspects of “Liturgiam Authenticam” stand in need of reinterpretation.

Love & real ‘Merican English!!,
Matthew

Coincidences 3

“It turns out that planet Earth is no less a miracle than the universe. Earth is just the right distance from the sun for life to exist: If it were a little closer, the water would boil away; if it were a little farther away, all the water would freeze. And Earth’s orbit must be circular rather than elliptical1.

The atmosphere is permeable enough to let poisonous methane and ammonia escape, while holding on to life-sustaining and slightly larger water vapor. Meanwhile the sun’s luminosity has increased 35 percent since life was first introduced on the earth, and this has been matched, step by step, with a clearing of the earth’s atmosphere and a gradual decrease in the “greenhouse” effect.”

From Atheism to Catholicism: Nine Converts Explain Their Journey Home (Kindle Locations 1094-1100). EWTN Publishing, Inc. . Kindle Edition.

1 Like all planets in our solar system, the Earth is in an elliptical orbit around our Sun. In Earth’s case, its orbit is nearly circular, so that the difference between Earth’s farthest point from the Sun and its closest point is very small.

Love & science,
Matthew

Coincidences 2

“God cannot lie or deceive, the words of the Bible and the facts of nature must agree. If they appear to disagree, then either the Scripture has been misunderstood or the science is wrong. A good example of this is the apparent disagreement between the first chapter of Genesis and the discoveries of science. Young Earth Creationists understand Scripture to say that the earth was created in 6 24-hour days roughly 6,000 years ago, but science says that the earth is 4.54 billion years old. These young-earth believers base their timeline on a translation of the Hebrew word yom as a literal 24-hour day. But this is only one possible translation. Yom can also be understood to mean a 12-hour day (sunrise to sunset), a portion of the daylight hours, or a finite but extended period of time (such as, in English, “the day of the dinosaur”). If one takes yom to mean a finite but extended period, then Scripture and science can be brought into accord!…

…Science tells us that the earth is 4.54 billion years old and that life first appeared here 3.83 billion years ago — literally at the first moment in the earth’s history that would allow its presence. The nucleated cell arrived 1.2 billion years ago, again in a sudden event. At the beginning of the Cambrian Period, 542 million years ago — the equivalent of day 5 in the Genesis account — came biology’s big bang. There was an explosion of highly organized life forms for which not a single ancestral fossil can be found. The Precambrian strata of rock is perfectly suited for the preservation of these transitional species that Darwinism predicts, but they are not there. In a geologic flash — two to five million years — five thousand species suddenly appeared — not single-cell organisms but highly organized animals with skeletons, shells, nervous systems, and complex eyes.

It is hard to see how Darwinian evolution — that is, gradual descent with modification — could explain this rapid appearance, in which most major categories of animals emerged. Even if one day it is discovered how such rapid evolution could have occurred, that would only demonstrate how God accomplished His creation.

What struck me as an agnostic was the fact that advanced life occurred at the precise moment conditions occurred on Earth that would allow for it. Paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Gould have pointed out that the fossil record shows that species remained in extended periods of stasis followed by quantum jumps in which species disappeared and were replaced suddenly by more advanced ones. The actual record of the appearance and development of life on Earth does indeed present a huge problem for the atheist and the agnostic.”

From Atheism to Catholicism: Nine Converts Explain Their Journey Home (Kindle Locations 1018-1027, 1079-1093). EWTN Publishing, Inc. . Kindle Edition.

Love & science,
Matthew

Coincidences

“The universe is conspicuously well organized for human existence and has all the necessary and narrowly defined characteristics to make man and his sustained survival possible. It would take a book to explain all these parameters, so I will list just a few that demonstrate the point.

If the “strong nuclear forces” that hold protons and neutrons together were 2 percent weaker, only hydrogen would exist, and nothing like the universe we know would be possible. And if they were 0.3 percent stronger, hydrogen would be rare and life would be impossible.

The neutron is 0.138 percent more massive than the proton, and at creation seven times more protons were created than neutrons. If neutrons were 0.1 percent more massive, so few neutrons would have emerged from the big bang that life would not have been possible. If neutrons were 0.1 percent less massive, the universe would have collapsed into neutron stars or black holes — and again, life would have been impossible. Nobody knows why neutrons are larger — except that this is necessary to allow the universe to exist and support life.

Unless the number of electrons in the universe is equivalent to the number of protons to an accuracy of one part in 10^37 or better, electromagnetic forces would have overcome gravitational forces, and so stars and galaxies would have never formed. With that many dimes — ten to the thirty-seventh power — you could cover North America, with the dimes stacked to the moon, and do this a billion more times. If you colored one dime red and blindfolded yourself, your chance of picking it out would be 1 in 10^37!

The expansion rate of the universe determines what kinds of stars, if any, are able to form. If the rate of expansion were slightly less, the whole universe would have collapsed before any sun-type stars could have settled into stability. If the universe were expanding slightly more rapidly, no stars or galaxies could condense. According to the theoretical physicist Alan Guth, this expansion rate must be fine-tuned to an accuracy of one part in 10^55. As massive as that number is, the gravitational constant must be fine-tuned to one part in 10^60, and dark energy density to one part in 10^120. To get an idea of just how large these numbers are: The number of cells in the human body is roughly 10^14, and the number of seconds since time began 13.8 billion years ago is only 10^20!”

From Atheism to Catholicism: Nine Converts Explain Their Journey Home (Kindle Locations 1049-1072). EWTN Publishing, Inc. . Kindle Edition.

Love & science,
Matthew

Sep 14 – St Theodore the Studite (759-826 AD) – “Oratio in adorationem crucis”

“How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise but opens the way for our return.

This was the tree on which Christ, like a king on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in his hands, feet, and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature. A tree once caused our death, but now a tree brings life. Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality, that shame should become glory! Well might the holy Apostle exclaim: Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world! [cf Galatians 6:14] The supreme wisdom that flowered on the cross has shown the folly of worldly wisdom’s pride. The knowledge of all good, which is the fruit of the cross, has cut away the shoots of wickedness.

The wonders accomplished through this tree were foreshadowed clearly even by the mere types and figures that existed in the past. Meditate on these, if you are eager to learn. Was it not the wood of a tree that enabled Noah, at God’s command, to escape the destruction of the flood together with his sons, his wife, his sons’ wives and every kind of animal? And surely the rod of Moses prefigured the cross when it changed water into blood, swallowed up the false serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians, divided the sea at one stroke and then restored the waters to their normal course, drowning the enemy and saving God’s own people? Aaron’s rod, which blossomed in one day in proof of his true priesthood, was another figure of the cross, and did not Abraham foreshadow the cross when he bound his son Isaac and placed him on the pile of wood?

By the cross, death was slain and Adam was restored to life. The cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the sanctification of the saints. By the cross, we put on Christ and cast aside our former self. By the cross, we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfolds of heaven.”

Love,
Matthew

Fortitude (Courage)

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Lord, make me strong and courageous in Your service.

MEDITATION

The more a soul loves God, the more courageous it will be in undertaking any work, no matter how laborious, for love of Him. Fear of fatigue, of suffering, and of danger, is the greatest enemy of fortitude; it paralyzes the soul and makes it recoil before duty. Courage, on the contrary, is invigorating; it enables us to confront anything in order to be faithful to God. Courage, therefore, incites us to embrace death itself, if necessary, rather than be unfaithful to duty. Martyrdom is the supreme act of Christian fortitude, an act which is not asked of all, yet one which it is well not to ignore as a possibility. Every Christian is, so to speak, a potential martyr, in the sense that the virtue of fortitude, infused into him at Baptism and Confirmation, makes him capable, if necessity requires it, of sacrificing even his life for the love of God. And if all Christians are not actually called upon to render to the Lord this supreme testimony of love, all should, nevertheless, live like courageous soldiers, accustoming themselves never to desert any duty, little or great, through fear of sacrifice.

It is true that the virtue of fortitude does not exempt us from the fear and alarm which invade our nature when faced with sacrifice, danger, or above all, the imminent danger of death. But fortitude, like all the other virtues, is exercised by the will; hence, it is possible to perform courageous acts in spite of our fear. In these cases, courage has a twofold function: it conquers fear and faces the difficult task. Such was the supreme act of fortitude Jesus made in the Garden of Olives when He accepted to drink the bitter chalice of His Passion, in spite of the repugnance of His human nature. It is by uniting ourselves to this act of our Savior that we shall find strength to embrace all that is painful in our lives.

COLLOQUY

“O Lord God of hosts, You said in Your Gospel, ‘I am not come to bring peace but the sword’; provide me then with strength and weapons for the battle. I burn with desire to fight for Your glory, but I beseech You, strengthen my courage. Then with holy King David, I can exclaim: ‘You alone are my shield, O God; it is You who prepare my hands for war.’

“O my Jesus, I will fight for You as long as I live, and love will be my sword. My weakness should never discourage me; when in the morning I feel no courage or strength for the practice of virtue, I must look upon this state as a grace, for You teach me that it is the very moment to put the ax to the root of the tree, counting only on Your help.

“What merit would there be in fighting only when I feel courage? What does it matter even if I have none, provided that I act as if I had? O Jesus, make me understand that if I feel too weak to pick up a bit of thread, and yet do it for love of You, I shall gain much more merit than if I had performed some nobler act in a moment of fervor. So instead of grieving, I ought to rejoice seeing that You, by allowing me to feel my own weakness, give me an occasion of saving a greater number of souls” (cf. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Prayer – Letters, 40 – C).

Love,
Matthew

Sep 8 – Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary


-“The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary”, by Giotto, in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy (circa 1305 AD)

I was privileged in my volunteer work with hospice to sit vigil this morning with Frederick “Fred” J. from 4am to 8am, my preferred shift. My new friend Fred is 89, an orphan, no family, and one female friend. I said my Lauds/Morning Office for him and with him this morning. I am blessed. This was the hymn for Morning Office today.

Mary the Dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the Gate, Christ the Heav’nly Way!
Mary the Root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the Grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the Wheat-sheaf, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the Rose-Tree, Christ the Rose Blood-red!
Mary the Font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the Chalice, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the Temple, Christ the Temple’s Lord;
Mary the Shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the Beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the Mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the Mother, Christ the Mother’s Son.
Both ever blest while endless ages run.

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Mary, my Mother, teach me to live hidden with you in the shadow of God.

MEDITATION

The liturgy enthusiastically celebrates Mary’s Nativity and makes it one of the most appealing feasts of Marian devotion. We sing in today’s Office: “Thy Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, brings joy to the whole world, because from you came forth the Sun of Justice, Christ, our God.” Mary’s birth is a prelude to the birth of Jesus because it is the initial point of the realization of the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God for the salvation of mankind. How could the birthday of the Mother of the Redeemer pass unnoticed in the hearts of the redeemed? The Mother proclaims the Son, making it known that He is about to come, that the divine promises, made centuries before, are to be fulfilled. The birth of Mary is the dawn of our redemption; her appearance projects a new light over all the human race: a light of innocence, of purity, of grace, a resplendent presage of the great light which will inundate the world when Christ, “lux mundi,” the Light of the World, appears. Mary, preserved from sin in anticipation of Christ’s merits, not only announces that the Redemption is at hand, but she bears the firstfruits of it within herself; she is the first one redeemed by her divine Son. Through her, all-pure and full of grace, the Blessed Trinity at last fixes on earth a look of complacency, finding in her alone a creature in whom the infinite beauty of the Godhead can be reflected.

The birth of Jesus excepted, no other was so important in God’s eyes or so fruitful for the good of humanity, as was the birth of Mary. Yet it has remained in complete obscurity. There is no mention of it in Sacred Scriptures and when we look for the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel, we find only what refers to Joseph; we find nothing explicit about Mary’s ancestry except the allusion to her descent from David. Our Lady’s origin is wrapped in silence, as was her whole life. Thus, her birth speaks to us of humility. The more we desire to grow in God’s eyes, the more we should hide ourselves from the eyes of creatures. The more we wish to do great things for God, the more we should labor in silence and obscurity.

COLLOQUY

“When I feel myself tossed about in the sea of this world amidst storms and tempests, I keep my eyes fixed on you, O Mary, shining star, lest I be swallowed up by the waves.

“When the winds of temptation arise, when I dash against the reefs of tribulations, I raise my eyes to you and call upon you, O Mary. When I am agitated by the billows of pride, ambition, slander or jealousy, I look to you and I invoke you, O Mary; when anger or avarice or the seductions of the flesh rock the fragile little barque of my soul, I always look to you, O Mary. And if I am troubled by the enormity of my sins, troubled in conscience, frightened at the severity of judgment, and if I should feel myself engulfed in sadness or drawn into the abyss of despair, again I raise my eyes to you, always calling on you, O Mary.

“In dangers, in difficulties, in doubts, I will always think of you, O Mary, I will always call on you. May your name, O Virgin Mary, be always on my lips and never leave my heart; in order that I may obtain the help of your prayers, grant that I may never lose sight of the example of your life. Following you, O Mary, I shall not go astray, thinking of you I shall not err, if you support me I shall not fall, if you protect me I shall have nothing to fear, if you accompany me I shall not grow weary, if you look upon me with favor, I shall reach the port” (cf. St. Bernard).

Love,
Matthew

Aug 28 – St Augustine & the heretics


-St Augustine icon, by Joseph Brown, Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY, ~2009

Rev Dwight Longenecker, Fr. Dwight Longenecker is an American who has spent most of his life living and working in England.
Fr Longenecker was brought up in an Evangelical Protestant home in Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Fundamentalist Protestant Bob Jones University with a degree in Speech and English, he went to study theology at Oxford University. He was eventually ordained as an Anglican priest and served as a curate, a school chaplain in Cambridge and a country parson on the Isle of Wight. Realizing that he and the Anglican Church were on divergent paths, in 1995 Fr. Dwight and his family were received into the Catholic Church. In December 2006 he was ordained as a Catholic priest under the special pastoral provision for married former Anglican clergy. He now serves as parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville, SC.

“A heresy is never totally wrong. Its just that it is never totally right. A heresy is a half truth or a truth twisted. The reason a heresy is attractive is that it always seems to make perfect sense. A heresy is a religious truth you would make up if you were making up a religion. However, Catholic truth is stranger and subtler than that, and it takes sound teaching to expose and battle the heresy.

Heresies are persistent because they are attractive, and they are persistent because they usually console the heretic in some way. In other words, it is easier to believe the heresy than the fullness of the Catholic truth. The fullness of the Catholic truth is either difficult to believe or difficult to obey or both. The heresy always offers an easy way out–either an easier way of believing or an easier way of behaving.

The first heresy Augustine battled was Donatism. The Donatists were a schism in the North African Church that were sort of like Puritanical Protestant or Jansenists. They thought the church should be pure, and should be a church of saints, not sinners. They were unwilling to accept back those Christians who, out of weakness, compromised their faith during the persecutions and they insisted that for sacraments to be valid the priest had to be faultless.

While this sort of rigorism is understandable, it doesn’t take much to see where it leads. It leads to unbearable self righteousness. “We few, we holy few. We are the remnant, the true church, the only real Christians…” Nonsense. If you think the core error of Donatism does not exist today, look a little harder. Although the name “Donatism” is now a footnote of church history there are plenty of rigorist schisms and sects and plenty of the attitude within individuals and groups in many different churches.

The fact is, most heresies, while seeming attractive, can be countered very easily with a passage from the gospel. Donatists should read the parable of the wheat and tares. The sinners and the saints grow together and God will sort it out.

The second heresy Augustine battled was Manicheanism. This false religion was started by a Persian prophet named Mani (274 AD). He blended elements of occult Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity and came up with a complicated New Age kind of religion. His core heresy was dualism. He taught that the physical world was evil and the spiritual world was good. Manicheanism had a huge influence in the 3-4 centuries. We can see it in the harsh asceticism of the early monks for example.

Augustine’s teachings on the nature of evil countered this. He taught that the created world is good because God does not make evil. Instead evil is good twisted, distorted or destroyed.

While Manicheanism is also a footnote in church history, the idea that the physical world is bad and the spiritual world is good continues today. It is present in some New Age teachings and in Eastern religions and philosophies. It also lingers like an echo in elements of Christianity. It is tempting to look down on physical pleasures, and the right embrace of holy poverty can be twisted into a hatred or disgust or guilt about the goodness of the physical world.

The third heresy is Pelagianism. This is named for the British monk Pelagius (d. 420) His teaching was probably misunderstood, but if so, the misunderstanding was that he taught that the human will was not so tainted by original sin that it lost its power to do good. In other words, you can do good without God’s help. This led to the conclusion that you can get into heaven through good works.

Augustine corrected this heresy with his teachings on grace. It is God’s grace, continually working in and through creation and in and through our own lives that empowers our faith, empowers our good works and empowers the supernatural transformation of our lives.

These three heresies do us the service of bringing to light the true Catholic teaching. The created world is beautiful, good and true. If this is true, then we also, created in God’s image are good. However, that goodness is wounded by original sin. While we don’t have to be perfect at once, that is our destiny, our calling and the hard adventure on which we must embark. God’s good grace gives us the power to do this. Without his grace we are paralyzed by sin and locked in darkness. With his grace we can be free.”

Love, & His grace,
Matthew

Prudence

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Help me, O God, to judge with rectitude so that I may be able to act accordingly.

MEDITATION

The first duty of prudence is to help us choose the best means for attaining our final end. Many times the choice is easy and presents itself spontaneously to a mind accustomed to making judgments and acting in the light of eternity. At other times, however, it is difficult and perplexing, as for example, when it concerns choosing one’s vocation or profession or solving complicated problems in which elements independent of one’s own will must be considered. In these cases we must take time to examine everything carefully and to consult prudent, experienced persons; to act hastily would show a want of prudence. In the Gospel, Jesus Himself tells us about the prudent man who “having a mind to build a tower, first sits down and reckons the charges that are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it” (Luke 14:28). The time spent in these examinations and calculations as dictated by prudence is not time wasted. Quite the contrary! When facing serious decisions, we must realize that God Himself often wants us to wait patiently until circumstances clearly manifest His will to us. In this waiting we should give a large place to prayer, begging Our Lord for the light which our own prudence cannot give us. In fact, prudence, even though it is an infused supernatural virtue, is always a virtue exercised by human faculties and, therefore, is affected by human limitations; however, to help it, God has given us a special gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of counsel, the actuation of which does not depend on us but is obtainable by prayer.

After using all the means suggested by supernatural prudence, we arrive at a decision. Prudence then commands us to put it into effect with courage and diligence, without needless delays on our part and without being discouraged by the difficulties we may meet.

COLLOQUY

“O God, one work performed with prudence is more pleasing to You than many done carelessly and imprudently, for this virtue thoroughly examines and weighs every action so that it may be turned to Your honor and glory.

“True and supernatural prudence belongs to You and is in You O Lord. Few there are in whom we find it, because many seek it through cunning, using their own wisdom to scrutinize Your designs; thus they lose their time and find nothing. Anyone who really desires to possess prudence must come to You, the Incarnate Word; he will find it in You, together with all the other virtues, but vastly different from human prudence, which tends to what exalts and not to what abases. In You, he will find the prudence which teaches us to humble and abase ourselves, as You willed to humble and abase Yourself, in order to show us the way which leads to salvation. You, O Lord, have said: ‘If you wish to be My disciple, renounce yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.’ Oh! this is prudence in the highest degree! Yet to human prudence it looks like utter madness. For, O crucified Christ, to the wise ones in this world it is the height of madness to take up one’s cross and follow You! But You teach me that the foolishness of the cross is supreme wisdom, and to deny oneself is supreme prudence. What wiser folly can there be than to take up the cross with You and follow in Your footsteps? And what greater prudence can there be than to die to self in order to find life in You, from Whom everything receives life?” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).”

Love, pray for me, that His grace may allow me the virtue of prudence,
Matthew

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ