Irreversible

In his first public lecture as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Arthur Roche left no doubt as to the direction the congregation will take under his leadership. He did so by quoting Pope Francis’ words, referring to the reform of the liturgy approved by the Second Vatican Council: “We can affirm with certainty and with magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.” He spoke not only as prefect of the Vatican congregation but also from 46 years experience as a priest, 20 as a bishop (10 as a diocesan bishop, almost 10 as secretary of the congregation) and as a Catholic who “straddled the pre- and post-Vatican II eras.” Continue reading

Did you know – the Rosary

Prayers with beads like the rosary may have begun as a practice by the laity to imitate the Christian monasticism of the Liturgy of the Hours, during the course of which the monks prayed the 150 Psalms daily. As many of the laity and even lay monastics could not read, they substituted 150 repetitions of the Our Father for the Psalms, sometimes using a cord with knots on it to keep an accurate count. During the middle ages, evidence suggests that both the Our Father and the Hail Mary were recited with prayer beads. Continue reading

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus

Therese_01OctoberToday is the Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church. On October 1, Catholics around the world honor the life of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, or St. Thérèse of Lisieux on her feast day.  She is popularly known in English as “The Little Flower of Jesus”, or simply “The Little Flower.”

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Hildegard of Bingen

hildegard-von-bingen

From the first reading from the Book of Wisdom on the Memorial celebration:

Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm;
For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away

A very appropriate selection for this Rhineland saint.

Abbess, artist, author, composer, mystic, pharmacist, poet, preacher, theologian—where to begin in describing this remarkable woman? Born into a noble family, she was instructed for ten years by the holy woman Blessed Jutta. When Hildegard was 18, she became a Benedictine nun at the Monastery of Saint Disibodenberg. Ordered by her confessor to write down the visions that she had received since the age of three, Hildegard took ten years to write her Scivias (Know the Ways). Pope Eugene III read it, and in 1147, encouraged her to continue writing. Her Book of the Merits of Life and Book of Divine Works followed. She wrote over 300 letters to people who sought her advice; she also composed short works on medicine and physiology, and sought advice from contemporaries such as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

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Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian

Cornelius-n-CyprianSaint Cornelius was elected Pope in 251 during the persecutions of the Emperor Decius. His first challenge, besides the ever present threat of the Roman authorities, was to bring an end to the schism brought on by the first anti-pope Novatian of Carthage. The great controversy that arose was as a result of the Decian persecution. In the wake of the persecution the question faced by the Church was whether or not the Church could pardon and receive back into the Church those who had apostatized in the face of martyrdom.

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St. Clare of Assisi

In the last several articles we have described the brothers who gathered around Francis and committed themselves to his way of following Christ. Two of the earliest arrivals were Leo and Rufino.  The first became Francis’ chaplain and confessor, as Leo was an ordained priest already. Rufino, a lifelong confidant and wisdom figure for Francis, was also the first cousin of an aristocratic woman of Assisi, the niece of Monaldo, lord of Coriano.  Clare di Favarone di Offredicio was a woman from the very class of landed aristocrats that the young Francis had imitated and longed to join socially. Continue reading

Virginia and the death penalty

Today, Bishop Michael Burbidge (Arlington) and Bishop Barry Knestout (Richmond) issued the following joint statement on the abolition of the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia:
“We welcome today’s vote by the Virginia House of Delegates to abolish the death penalty, as well as the vote by the Virginia Senate to do so earlier this week.
“We offer – and affirm the utmost need for – prayerful support for the families of victims of horrific crimes. We also affirm, with clarity and conviction, the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: ‘[T]he death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person’ (no. 2267).

“The same paragraph of the
Catechism also notes, ‘[T]here is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes.’ We see this increasing awareness at work in the many voices that joined together to advocate for this legislation, and ultimately in the votes by the Senate and House in favor of ending the death penalty in Virginia, which has executed more people than any other state.

“In the words of Pope Francis, ‘Indeed, nowadays the death penalty is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person. It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice’ (Remarks to 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty, June 2016). As
Pope Francis, his predecessors and the U.S. Catholic bishops have consistently noted, we have other ways to provide punishment and protect society, without resorting to executions. We too have been consistently clear in our stand on the abolition legislation this year and on similar legislation in years past, and in our direct interventions before executions occurred in Virginia and at the federal level.”

Why the name “Guadalupe”?

Our Lady of Guadalupe.Today it is common to find villages, towns, cities, and even districts in Mexico, Central and South America named “Guadalupe.”  But in the year 1531 there was no such place in Mexico. So, I have always wondered why the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to as “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

Guadalupe is the name of an area, a city, a river, and a Marian shrine in Spain. The word itself comes from a mixture of  Arabic and Latin roots. Remember that Spain was occupied in part and whole by an Islamic regime from 720 CE until 1492 CE, hence many words have Arabic origin. The Arabic wadi (seasonal river bed) became the Spanish “quadi” having the same meaning. “Quadi” seems to have been combined with the Latin lupus (wolf) to come up with Guadalupe. Continue reading

Ineffabilis Deus

The Immaculate Conception of the Venerable One...It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what “immaculate” means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings. Continue reading

Coronavirus, flu, wars and terrorism

I hope that we are all taking the pandemic seriously. I remain appalled at the local pastor who held services in his church despite warning about large crowd gatherings. Before he was arrested, the sheriff noted that the church was already equipped to broadcast its services online and had been doing so. Our parish is closed out of love and concern for the parishioners – even as we figure out ways to continue our works of charity. Continue reading