British author challenges dubia cardinals, calls abuse of Pope ‘satanic’

Stephen Walford, a British Catholic author, has challenged the four cardinals who submitted doubts about ‘Amoris Laetitita’ to Pope Francis to change course, arguing they’re largely wrong on the merits and also fueling a ‘satanic’ form of abuse directed at the pontiff on traditionalist and conservative websites and blogs.

ROME – In an essay published by “Vatican Insider” today in three languages, a British Catholic author has challenged the four cardinals who submitted a set of dubia, or doubts, about Amoris Laetitia to Pope Francis to drop their opposition, arguing they’re largely wrong on the merits and fueling abuse directed at the pontiff and his supporters.

“We cannot come to any other conclusion than Pope Francis …has legitimately made possible the reception of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried in certain carefully considered cases where grace is working in their souls, and a sincere desire to strive for holiness is present,” Stephen Walford writes.

“If we cannot accept this premise,” Walford adds, “then we are not accepting the teaching of previous popes.”

Walford also warns the four cardinals about forces in the Church their perceived resistance to Pope Francis is encouraging.

“The abuse from many, including those who run websites and traditionalist blogs aimed at the Holy Father and those who are loyal to him, is nothing short of satanic,” he writes.

“In the desire for the unity of the Church around Peter, it is essential to affirm the pope has the authority – ratified in heaven – to make disciplinary changes for the good of some divorced and remarried souls, and so I ask you to bring to an end this situation by accepting the constant tradition of the Church that popes are free from error in matters of faith and morals,” he says.

Walford’s last book, Communion of Saints (Angelico Press), carried endorsements from two cardinals – Gérald Lacroix of Quebec, and George Alencherry of the Syro-Malabar Church in India – as well as two members of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, one of whom is also a former chief of staff for the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.

Given that Vatican Insider is edited by veteran Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, who’s known to be close to Pope Francis, Walford’s essay is likely to be seen as reflecting views held by key figures around the pontiff.

The dubia were submitted to Francis in September 2016, and then made public in November when the pope did not respond. The four cardinals presenting them were Italian Carlo Caffarra, American Raymond Burke, and Germans Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner.

The cardinals asked the pope to respond to five questions, one about whether Amoris Laetitia indeed permits divorced and civilly remarried Catholics in some cases to receive the sacraments, and the others about whether certain previous Church teachings on marriage, conscience and sin had been amended.

On the first point, Walford says the cardinals appear to “have trouble accepting the two authentic interpretations of Pope Francis” affirming that sacramental discipline has changed. One, Walford said, came in response to a question from American journalist Frank Rocca aboard the papal plane returning from Lesbos in April 2016, shortly after the document appeared, and the other in a letter to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region in his native Argentina in September 2016 approving their draft guidelines for implementing Amoris.

Walford cites several papal and Vatican documents to assert that Francis has the authority to make such a change, and concludes that “there is no possibility of a formal correction,” an idea that Burke floated at one stage, “in relation to matters of faith and morals taught as part of the magisterium.”

On the other dubia, Walford contends that the cardinals are basically overreacting, saying that even after the publication of Amoris Laetitia:

  1. “The teachings on the indissolubility of marriage remain.”
  2. “Each person must strive to follow the moral teachings of the Church.”
  3. “Divorce is an evil, and adultery is always evil — even if guilt can be reduced or erased altogether.”
  4. “Consciences must be formed. Nowhere does the text allow anyone to come to the conclusion they can do as they please.”
  5. “In no way does Pope Francis suggest that irregular unions are a ‘good’ alternative option to the original marriage. However, it cannot be denied that grace is at work in some of these unions.”

Walford concludes by asking the four cardinals to reverse course, in part because he argues their stance is emboldening ugly currents within the Church.

“You may or may not be aware that there is a growing section of traditionalists and even some conservative Catholics who see you as the standard bearers for the rejection of this papacy,” he said. “I know from experience that some of it is deeply troubling … You are their role models, and that is an intolerable situation.

“In reality, there is no confusion but only outright rejection and defiance towards the legitimate pope and his magisterial teachings,” Walford writes. “If all the cardinals had accepted and defended Pope Francis’s clear teaching, there would have been no fuel for the dissenting fire.”

Walford’s essay is published simultaneously by Vatican Insider in English, Spanish and Italian.

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Taken from: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/06/27/british-author-challenges-dubia-cardinals-calls-abuse-pope-satanic/

Pope Francis: The Church is called to reflect the Trinity’s goodness

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.- Through God’s mercy the Church can become an image of the communion and goodness of the Trinity, Pope Francis said Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.
“The Christian community, though with all its human limitations, can become a reflection of the communion of the Trinity, of its goodness and beauty,” he said Jun 11 during his Angelus address.

“But this – as Paul himself testifies – passes necessarily through the experience of the mercy of God, of his pardon.”
The Pope’s address on Trinity Sunday reflected on the “mystery of the identity of God,” which so affected St. Paul.
“God is not distant and closed in on himself,” Francis reflected, “but rather is the Life which wishes to communicate itself; he is openness; he is the Love which redeems man’s infidelity.”
God’s revelation “has come to completion in the New Testament thanks to words of Christ and to his mission of salvation,” he said.

Christ “has shown us the face of God, One in substance and Triune in Persons; God is all and only Love, in a subsisting relationship that creates, redeems, and sanctifies all: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
The Son of God showed that God first sought us, and revealed that eternal life is precisely “the immeasurable and gratuitous love of the Father that Jesus gave on the Cross, offering his life for our salvation.”
“And this love, by the action of the Holy Spirit, has irradiated a new light upon the earth and in every human heart that welcomes it.”
“May the Virgin Mary “help us to enter ever more, with our whole selves, into the trinitarian Communion, to live and bear witness to the love that gives sense to our existence,” Pope Francis concluded.

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Taken from: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-the-church-is-called-to-reflect-the-trinitys-goodness-76906/

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The Family as the Icon of the Holy Trinity

My nephew Tom came home from first grade in anguish. At dinner he could barely keep the tears out of his six year old eyes. When his parents pressed him to find out what was wrong, he replied that “this kid at school says I have a funny name.” His parents glanced at each other, thinking, “‘Tom Shea’ is a funny name?” So summoning their best parental wisdom, they told him to ignore the kid and he would go away.
Of course, this didn’t work. The kid kept it up for another day or two till Tom was really beginning to worry: maybe he did have a funny name.
Finally, Tom’s parents decided it was time to take action. Reasoning that they would have to go talk to his folks, they asked at dinner that night, “What’s the boy’s name, Tom?”
Tom looked at them, blinked his big blue innocent eyes and said, “Farquhar Muckenfussen, Jr.”
Minutes later, after Tom’s parents had crawled out from under the kitchen table (whence they had slid in their uncontrollable convulsions of laughter), wiped the milk off the wall (don’t laugh with your mouth full) and daubed the tears from their eyes, they explained to their little boy what other issues might be driving little Farquhar to bully Tom about his name.
I think of this story often when I reflect on the place of the Christian in the world. For like Farquhar, the world is constantly trying to tell us Christians we have a funny name. Worse still, it is constantly laboring to tell our children the same. Children, say the worldly, should be called “Madonna” or “Beavis” or “Dennis Rodman” or “Bart Simpson” or “Trent Reznor” or “Ted Turner.” They should be victims who can only be helped by the State or consumers who exist to service the machine of commerce. They should be so wealthy they need nobody or they should be so obsessed with equality that they are jealous of everybody. They should be Imperial Autonomous Selves accountable to none or they should be wards of the State dependent upon all. They should be Rugged Individuals or Workers in the Hive. They should join the herd of independent minds and accept the fact that the basis of society is the State… or the Corporation… or the Individual (we’re not sure yet) and get with the program of building the secular Tower of Babel. But they should not be Christians. Christians are strange. Christians have a funny name.
The reason Christians have a funny name is because we are neither fish nor fowl. We think pleasure, wealth and the created order are not gods but gifts. We think that the State, the Corporation, and the Individual are nice things but not ultimate things. And, supremely, we believe that the Family, not the State, the Corporation, or the Individual, lies at the very heart of a healthy social order and even points us to eternity. For we believe that the Family is the Icon or living embodiment of the life of the Holy Trinity Himself, who created the social order and calls us to eternal life.
Catholic teaching says the Family is the basic building block of society. It is the oldest human institution, according to revelation. Older than the state, the Church, Israel, the Patriarchs, paganism and Noah. It goes all the way back to our first parents, Adam and Eve. And it is rooted in a God whose oneness is the oneness, not of singleness but of love between the three Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not surprisingly, then, the author of Genesis captures this sort of oneness when he writes “in the image of God created he man, male and female created he them” (Gen 1:27). For Genesis, it is male and female together who express the image of God. And just as the union of love between the Father and Son is a fusion of love so real that from it proceeds the Holy Spirit, so we see a sort of shadow of this in the sexual union of man and woman bringing forth children. It is not good for man to be alone, because humanity is in the image of a Trinitarian God. The family images in flesh what God is in Spirit.

The nature of the Trinity and the nature of the family are then primordially linked in some unthinkable way. When we are baptized, we are called by name into the life of the Blessed Trinity. But it is our mothers and fathers who are called to teach us our names, not just with word but with their very being. Fathers and mothers are great high priests who stand in the place of God in a way no Pope or bishop could ever hope to do. Families–those great roystering messes of praise and poop, panic and pleasure–give flesh to the vision of the Trinity in the lovely, painful and beautiful expression of real human beings living out the gospel under grace. They are icons, windows on to a miracle. In their faces, we see the first face of Christ we will ever meet. By them, we are enrolled in the primal school of charity. Under their fumbling caresses and awkward disciplines, we are introduced to the touch of God’s own hand. From them, we learn our names and discover that we are not Wards of the State, Slaves of the Corporation or Rugged Individuals but sons and daughters called into the life of the Blessed Trinity with a name we can honor, a home we can love and an eternity we can rejoice in.

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Taken from: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/the-family-as-the-icon-of-the-holy-trinity

Census in Luke 2

2015.12.11 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

  

 

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

 Luke 2:1-3 (NIV)

 

 

 

This NIV translation of the Greek of Luke 2:1:

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην·

 

appears to me potentially to over-extend the meaning of the Greek phrase, πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην, in the same way as I noted in:

 

Creationists will interpret the Hebrew kol ha aretz in modern global terms

https://www.academia.edu/33327003/Creationists_will_interpret_the_Hebrew_kol_ha_aretz_in_modern_global_terms

 

that the Hebrew word kol can be greatly over-extended (in geographical terms) in connection with ha-aretz.

Clearly, there is no specific reference to “Roman” in the Greek, thereby allowing for the word, οἰκουμένην, to convey a more local meaning.

According to Strong’s Concordance (http://biblehub.com/greek/3625.htm) the word means: “Definition: (properly: the land that is being inhabited, the land in a state of habitation), the inhabited world, that is, the Roman world, for all outside it was regarded as of no account”. However, Luke the Evangelist was writing a Gospel that pertained to Israel, which had little regard for “the Roman world”.

 

Now Daryn Graham, in his convincing effort to account for this historically much-disputed census account, has queried another part of the NIV translation of Luke 2, thereby giving it a whole new meaning (http://thebirthofjesuschrist.blogspot.com.au/2009/09/ancient-history-archaeology-and-birth.html):

 

 

Ancient History, Archaeology and the Birth of Jesus Christ

 

 

By Daryn Graham

Even though the countless Christians throughout the ages have differed significantly from person to person, all have but one true test of faith and that is the belief in Jesus Christ being none other than the Son of God, and indeed, God himself. According to the Bible which contains the earliest surviving accounts of Jesus life, Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem in the Roman province of Judaea, during which time a census was being taken. Of course, once we determine exactly which census that was we can also discover the precise date for Jesus’ birth. But as to which census that was has left many an accomplished modern historian without an answer. However, doubting the accuracy of the Bible on these grounds is literally jumping hastily to unnecessary conclusions. As with so many things ancient, a little investigative work can help to fill in the picture. As I will now explain, the birth of Jesus Christ as told of in the Bible is firmly rooted in solid historical facts, and this is true also of the census during that humble, yet historically momentous and epoch-making birth.

The Census

The problem many historians in the past have faced is that the most common English translations of Luke’s gospel’s description of the census can be translated several ways. But, of course, considering millennia have passed since Luke wrote it, it is forgivable that some things have been lost in translation. The common NIV translation reads: “Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria) And everyone went to his own town to register.”[1] The problem for past historians is that the particular detail regarding Quirinius in this NIV translation can not have been the intended meaning by Luke. True, there was a census in Judaea during Quirinius’ governorship which began in 6AD,[2] but it was certainly not of the entire Roman Empire. The 1st century AD Jewish historian Josephus made that crystal clear by writing Quirinius’ census was confined only to Syria to determine the local inhabitants’ tax payments.[3] Of course, it is unlikely that Luke, who was a meticulous historian, was incorrect – it is rather that case that the translation itself is incorrect. But considering that even the influential, though at times unreliable, 4th century AD Christian historian Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History maintained this reading[4] it is understandable that it has gained so much credibility.

We can be sure of Luke’s true meaning when we consider the following. There are two other translation possibilities raised by experts, the second of which discussed here is perfectly consistent with archaeological and historical records and is, I firmly believe, Luke’s intended translation. But for the sake of interest, we will look at both. The first possibility some say should read: “This first census was taken when Quirinius was governor”.[5] But this is on very shaky ground. For one thing it is known by historians that it was not the first census decreed. The Res Gestae Divi Augusti, (The Accomplishments of the Divine Augustus) written by the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar himself, shows that Augustus carried out previous censuses in 28BC and again in 8BC[6] – years before Quirinius’ governorship of Syria. The Res Gestae was written by Augustus in his final years in the early 1st century AD and was inscribed on the walls of temples around the empire. It has been preserved for us today in the temple of Rome and Augustus at Ancyra (Ankara in modern Turkey). Fragments from Pisidia (also in modern Turkey) have also survived. It is doubtful Luke, who wrote his Gospel only about 50 years later, was not aware of such facts as the ones recorded in Augustus’ Res Gestae. But the second alternative translation held by some experts and very much so myself to be Luke’s intended one, however, makes all of the ancient evidence fall into place with Luke’s original meaning, showing that his Gospel is historically precise and grounded in solid fact. According to this translation the census described by Luke originally in ancient Greek was not taken ‘while Quirinius was governor’ but ‘before Quirinius was governor’.[7]

In regard to which of Augustus’ censuses before Quirinius’ governorship Luke could have referred to, the solution is crystal clear. The 28BC census was taken of Roman citizens alone, so that one is ruled out. However the 8BC census, which was not only for Roman citizens, but also for the whole empire’s population, is exactly like the one Luke referred to. Inscriptions discovered in Spain, Cyrene and Turkey show that the purpose of it was for everyone in the empire to register their allegiance to Augustus – an effort that resulted in a large measure of peace throughout the Roman world. An inscription from Turkey reads, “I will be loyal to Caesar Augustus and to his children and descendants all my life in word, in deed, and in thought.”[8] Another from Spain says, “Of my own volition I express my regard for the safety, honor and victory of the Emperor Caesar Augustus…”[9] The wording of the oath of allegiance in Judaea was probably somewhat similar to these. Incidentally, in later years the Romans conducted such censuses to determine taxes, but that was not yet the case of the actual one we are looking at. So, the translation that the census Luke referred to was the one before Quirinius’ term holds up to scrutiny, and that it involved ‘entire Roman world’ is verified by the archaeological findings.

You may be wondering, as have I in the past, why Luke bothered to describe the registration ‘before Quirinius’ at all – why not write who really was governor of Syria at the time of the 8BC census? There is a good answer for that. The ‘entire Roman world’ census Luke referred to was a huge undertaking that spanned years under many governors throughout the whole massive empire. Papyrus found in Egypt a century ago show it took place there in 9BC,[10] while inscriptions discovered more recently indicate it was conducted in Cyrene around 7BC,[11] Spain in 6BC[12] and Paphlagonia (in northern Turkey) in 3BC.[13] As to when it took place in Judaea, Josephus, is of help. He stated Judaea registered during Saturninus’ governorship of 8-6BC, adding that the census there was brought to a close nearly a year prior to the end of that governorship.[14] Given that in those times the period for registration lasted for a whole year, this means that Saturninus began conducting it soon after he entered office in 8BC. As you can appreciate, it must have been so much easier for Luke, then, to simply use the basic terms he did than go into such endless particulars his audience would have been quite familiar with anyway.

As to what was involved in that census, Luke summed it up well – “everyone went to his own town to register”.[15] By comparing this statement with the archaeological evidence, it is clear, thankfully, that in this case nothing at all is lost in translation. Papyri preserved in Egyptian sands are impressive in number and a few even show what was involved in a Roman census. In one papyrus, recording an edict for a census by a Roman governor of Egypt in 104AD, all Egyptians were required to return to their hometowns for registration. It even states “anyone found without a permit [to stay away from their hometown] thereafter will be severely punished”.[16]

In those days it was essential for the Romans to maintain ties between its empire’s population and their homelands in order to sustain the local economies. In that way landlords had a ready and constant supply of tenants. A census was one means of achieving that end. Although Joseph lived in Galilee when Augustus ordered his census, his lineage went back to King David, and hence he had to travel to Bethlehem, David’s hometown.[17] But of course, as always, there were some exceptions to the rule. In Alexandria, Egyptians needed to remain there to keep the city going could obtain permits to stay there to register.

Luke’s remark that ‘everyone went to his own town’ is also historical. In an actual census declaration preserved on papyrus from the Egyptian village of Bacchias dated to 91AD it is clear that the male head of the household took himself and his family to his own hometown where he registered himself firstly, then his house, and then his family. In the case of that particular declaration, it was written down by a village secretary because those registering were illiterate.[18] In Joseph’s case, though, he may have possessed the literary skills to write his own declaration. As a carpenter, Jew, and inhabitant of the Galilee during his time he could have been well-versed in geometry and the Jewish scriptures.[19] Jesus’ ability to read may also be a strong indication that the rest of their family, including Joseph, could also read and write.

This all means that Luke’s gospel is much more than a collection of stories. Its narrative is factual and reliable. As Luke wrote, Jesus must have been born sometime between early 8BC to early 7BC during the empire-wide registration conducted before Quirinius’ governorship of Syria. Of course, I would love to take the credit for determining this approximate date of Jesus’ birth, but I must confess I am not the first by a long stretch. The famous ancient Christian Tertullian, a legal expert from northern Africa, writing over a century earlier than Eusebius a few years after the turn of the 3rd century AD, recorded that indeed Jesus was born during Saturninus’ governorship of Judaea.[20] This is important because Tertullian had valuable access to official Roman records and was thus in a perfect position to know such a fact.

In case you were wondering, as for why the turning of our era takes place in our calendar 8 years later – it is actually a mishap. In the 6th century AD, the monk Dionysius, while reforming the calendar, wrongly dated some key historical events, and so his miscalculations are with us today.
But besides Luke’s gospel, another Biblical book also describes events surrounding Jesus’ birth – the Gospel of Matthew – and it is also very useful. This gospel provides us with valuable insight into the life of Jesus since Matthew was a disciple of Jesus himself. Like Luke, Matthew wrote that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He also wrote that he was born during the reign of Herod the Great, who ruled Judaea during Saturninus’ governorship during the census mentioned by Luke. So given Luke’s gospel’s trustworthiness, that Matthew’s one agrees with it places it too on solid historical ground.

….

[1] Gospel of Luke, 2. 1-3.
[2] Acts of the Apostles, 5. 37. Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 17. 13. 5.
[3] Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 17. 13. 5., 18. 1. 1.
[4] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 1. 5.
[5] Lewis, N., & Reinhold, M., (eds.) Roman Civilization: Selected Readings, vol 2 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990) p308.
[6] Res Gestae Divi Augusti, 8.
[7] Barnett, P., Is the New Testament History? (Sydney: Aquila Press, 2004) p111.
[8] Lewis, N., & Reinhold, M., (eds.) Roman Civilization: Selected Readings. Vol 1. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990) p589.
[9] Ibid., 590.
[10] Ramsay, W., The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1915) p255f.
[11] Lewis, N., & Reinhold, M., op cit., p592.
[12] Ibid., p589-590.
[13] Ibid., p588-589.
[14] Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 17. 2. 4. According to Josephus (Jewish Antiquities, 17. 4. 3.) Saturninus’ replacement by another governor, Varus, in 6BC, took place at least 7 months after the conclusion of the census conducted by Saturninus, meaning it must have been carried out between 8 and 7BC given that they took up a whole year in Roman times.
[15] Gospel of Luke, 2. 3.
[16] Lewis & Reinhold, op cit., Vol 2., p308-309.
[17] 1 Samuel, 16.
[18] Lewis & Reinhold, Vol 2., p309.
[19] Millard, A., ‘Literacy in the Time of Jesus’, in BAR July/August 2003, pp37-45.
[20] Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4. 19.

 

“… the same Spirit creates diversity and unity”

Pope Francis presides over Mass for the Solemnity of Pentecost, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, 04 June 2017 – ANSA

04/06/2017 12:58

Pope Francis: homily for Pentecost, 2017

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday, the Solemnity of Pentecost, in St. Peter’s Square. Below, please find the full text of his homily in its official English translation************************************Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis

Solemnity of Pentecost

4 June 2017

Today concludes the Easter season, the fifty days that, from Jesus’ resurrection to Pentecost, are marked in a particular way by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is in fact the Easter Gift par excellence.  He is the Creator Spirit, who constantly brings about new things.  Today’s readings show us two of those new things.  In the first reading, the Spirit makes of the disciples a new people; in the Gospel, he creates in the disciples a new heart.

A new people.  On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came down from heaven, in the form of “divided tongues, as of fire… [that] rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages” (Acts 2:3-4).  This is how the word of God describes the working of the Spirit: first he rests on each and then brings all of them together in fellowship.  To each he gives a gift, and then gathers them all into unity.  In other words, the same Spirit creates diversity and unity, and in this way forms a new, diverse and unified people: the universal Church.   First, in a way both creative and unexpected, he generates diversity, for in every age he causes new and varied charisms to blossom.  Then he brings about unity: he joins together, gathers and restores harmony: “By his presence and his activity, the Spirit draws into unity spirits that are distinct and separate among themselves” (CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA, Commentary on the Gospel of John, XI, 11).  He does so in a way that effects true union, according to God’s will, a union that is not uniformity, but unity in difference.

For this to happen, we need to avoid two recurrent temptations.  The first temptation seeks diversity without unity.  This happens when we want to separate, when we take sides and form parties, when we adopt rigid and airtight positions, when we become locked into our own ideas and ways of doing things, perhaps even thinking that we are better than others, or always in the right.  When this happens, we choose the part over the whole, belonging to this or that group before belonging to the Church.  We become avid supporters for one side, rather than brothers and sisters in the one Spirit.  We become Christians of the “right” or the “left”, before being on the side of Jesus, unbending guardians of the past or the avant-garde of the future before being humble and grateful children of the Church.  The result is diversity without unity.  The opposite temptation is that of seeking unity without diversity.  Here, unity becomes uniformity, where everyone has to do everything together and in the same way, always thinking alike.  Unity ends up being homogeneity and no longer freedom.  But, as Saint Paul says, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).

So the prayer we make to the Holy Spirit is for the grace to receive his unity, a glance that, leaving personal preferences aside, embraces and loves his Church, our Church.  It is to accept responsibility for unity among all, to wipe out the gossip that sows the darnel of discord and the poison of envy, since to be men and women of the Church means being men and women of communion.  It is also to ask for a heart that feels that the Church is our Mother and our home, an open and welcoming home where the manifold joy of the Holy Spirit is shared.

Now we come to the second new thing brought by the Spirit: a new heart.  When the risen Jesus first appears to his disciples, he says to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them” (Jn 20:22-23).  Jesus does not condemn them for having denied and abandoned him during his passion, but instead grants them the spirit of forgiveness.  The Spirit is the first gift of the risen Lord, and is given above all for the forgiveness of sins.  Here we see the beginning of the Church, the glue that holds us together, the cement that binds the bricks of the house: forgiveness.  Because forgiveness is gift to the highest degree; it is the greatest love of all.  It preserves unity despite everything, prevents collapse, and consolidates and strengthens.  Forgiveness sets our hearts free and enables us to start afresh.  Forgiveness gives hope; without forgiveness, the Church is not built up.

The spirit of forgiveness resolves everything in harmony, and leads us to reject every other way: the way of hasty judgement, the cul-de-sac of closing every door, the one-way street criticizing others.  Instead, the Spirit bids us take the two-way street of forgiveness received and given, of divine mercy that becomes love of neighbour, of charity as “the sole criterion by which everything must be done or not done, changed or not changed” (ISAAC OF STELLA, Or. 31).  Let us ask for the grace to make more beautiful the countenance of our Mother the Church, letting ourselves be renewed by forgiveness and self-correction.  Only then will we be able to correct others in charity.

The Holy Spirit is the fire of love burning in the Church and in our hearts, even though we often cover him with the ash of our sins.  Let us ask him: “Spirit of God, Lord, who dwell in my heart and in the heart of the Church, guiding and shaping her in diversity, come!  Like water, we need you to live.  Come down upon us anew, teach us unity, renew our hearts and teach us to love as you love us, to forgive as you forgive us.  Amen”.

Pope Francis: A shepherd must freely follow the Spirit

Image result for good shepherd

.- Pope Francis on Tuesday urged priests and bishops not to be afraid to “step down completely” from their assignment when they are called to a new duty.

“All shepherds have to step down. There comes a moment where the Lord says ‘go to another place, come here, go there, come to me.’ And it’s one of the steps that a shepherd must take,” he said during his homily May 30 at the chapel of the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.

The shepherd must “be prepared to step down in the correct way, not still hanging on to his position,” he said.

In the first reading of the Mass, St. Paul addresses the Church leaders in Ephesus. The Pope said Paul left the Ephesus to go to Jerusalem, following the Holy Spirit’s call.

The Pope highlighted what he called the three “apostolic attitudes” demonstrated by St. Paul during a council with the priests of Ephesus, and he urged the faithful to pray that priests, bishops, and the Pope would live their lives accordingly.

The first attitude involves never turning back, and guiding the Church without compromise.

The second is obedience to the Spirit and the recognition that the life of a shepherd is a “journey,” always open to the voice of God.

St. Paul left Ephesus “because he had nothing of his own, he had not wrongly taken control of his sheep. He had served them … this is a shepherd without compromises who is now a shepherd on a journey.”

The third attitude involves the acknowledgement that “I am not the center of history. Whether it’s large history or small history, I am not the center, I am a servant.”

“With this most beautiful example, let us pray for our shepherds, for our parish priests, our bishops,” Pope Francis exhorted. “Let us pray for our shepherds.”

….
Taken from: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-a-shepherd-must-freely-follow-the-spirit-34251/

Pope Francis celebrates the feast of the Ascension

https://www.blogger.com/static/v1/jsbin/3095787282-ieretrofit.js
Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's Square during the Regina Coeli prayer - AFP

Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square during the Regina Coeli prayer – AFP

28/05/2017 15:15
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated the feast of the Ascension of Jesus to heaven, celebrated forty days after Easter.
Speaking to the faithful present in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Caeli prayer, the Pope reflected on the reading from the Gospel of Matthew which presents us with the moment of the definitive departure of the Risen Lord from his disciples.
The scene, he said, is set in Galilee, the place where Jesus had called them to follow him and form the first nucleus of his new community. The disciples have gone through the “fire” of the Passion and Resurrection, and at the sight of the risen Lord, they bow down to him. Some of them however are still doubtful.  It is to this frightened community, the Pope said, that Jesus leaves the immense task of evangelizing the world. He gives them this assignment ordering them to teach and to baptize in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis said the ascension of Jesus to heaven represents the end of the Son’s mission and the beginning of the continuation of this mission by the Church.
From this moment, he pointed out, the presence of Christ in the world is mediated by his disciples, by those who believe in Him and announce Him. This mission, the Pope continued, will last until the end of history thanks to the daily assistance of the Risen Lord, who assures us that: “I am with you every day until the end of the world”.
The Pope said His presence gives strength to those who are persecuted, it gives comfort to those who are suffering, and it gives support to those in difficult situations.
The Ascension, he said, reminds us of Jesus’ help and of His Spirit in whom we can trust as we offer our Christian witness to the world. It explains to us why the Church exists: the Church exists in order to proclaim the Gospel.
And let us not forget, Pope Francis said, the joy of the Church in proclaiming the Gospel. He said that the Church is all baptized Christians and today we are invited to better understand better that God has given us great dignity and the responsibility of announce its message to the world, of making it accessible to humanity.
On this Ascension Day, the Pope said, as we turn our gaze to heaven, where Christ ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father, let us be strong, enthusiastic and courageous in our earthly journey, in our mission of witnessing and living the Gospel in every place.
We must be aware however, he continued, that this does not depend solely on our own strength, organizational skills and resources; only with the light and the strength of the Holy Spirit will we be able to effectively fulfill our mission of spreading Jesus’ love and tenderness.
Pope Francis concluded asking the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the heavenly goo0ds which the Lord promises us, and become credible witnesses of his Resurrection, of true Life.

….
Taken from: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/05/28/pope_francis_celebrates_the_feast_of_the_ascension/1315358

The Devil’s Anti-Kingdom, based on lies

satan_tempting_jesus_5

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

“He who holds the entire world under his sway, instead dominates through lies. Jesus says of Satan: ‘He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies’ [John 8, 44]”.

Cardinal Caffarra

 

 

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra gave this talk at the Rome Life Forum on May 19, 2017.

It is a perfect illustration of Satan as the ‘ape of God’.

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/how-satan-destroys-gods-creation-through-abortion-and-homosexuality

 

ROME, May 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” [John 12, 32]. “The whole world is under the power of the Evil One” [1 John, 5, 19].

 

Reading these divine words gives us perfect awareness of what is really happening in the world, within the human story, considered in its depths. The human story is a confrontation between two forces: the force of attraction, whose source is in the wounded Heart of the Crucified-Risen One, and the power of Satan, who does not want to be ousted from his kingdom.

 

The area in which the confrontation takes place is the human heart, it is human liberty. And the confrontation has two dimensions: an interior dimension and an exterior dimension. We will briefly consider the one and the other.

 

  1. At the trial before Pilate, the Governor asks Jesus whether he is a king; whether – which is the meaning of Pilate’s question – he has true and sovereign political power over a given territory.

Jesus responds: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” [John 18, 37].

“Jesus wants us to understand that his kingship is not that of the kings of this world, but consists of the obedience of his subjects to his word, to his truth. Although He reigns over his subjects, it is not through force or power, but through the truth of which he is witness, which “all who are from the truth” receive with faith” [I. De La Potterie].

Thomas Aquinas puts the following words into the mouth of the Saviour: “As I myself manifest truth, so I am preparing a kingdom for myself”. Jesus on the Cross attracts everyone to Himself, because it is on the Cross that the Truth of which he is witness is resplendent.

Yet this force of attraction can only take effect on those who “are from the truth”. That is, on those who are profoundly available to the Truth, who love truth, who live in familiarity with it. Pascal writes: “You would not seek me if you had not already found me”.

He who holds the entire world under his sway, instead dominates through lies. Jesus says of Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies [John 8, 44].

The wording is dramatic. The first proposition – “He was a murderer from the beginning” – is explained by the second: “and he does not stand in the truth”. The murder which the devil performs consists in his not standing in the truth, not dwelling in the truth.

It is murder, because he is seeking to extinguish, to kill in the heart of man truth, the desire for truth. By inducing man to unbelief, he wants man to close himself to the light of the Divine Revelation, which is the Word incarnate. Therefore, these words of Jesus on Satan – as today the majority of exegetes believe – do not speak of the fall of the angels. They speak of something far more profound, something frightful: Satan constantly refuses the truth, and his action within human society consists in opposition to the truth. Satan is this refusal; he is this opposition.

The text continues: “because there is no truth in him”.

The words of Jesus go to the deepest root of Satan’s work. He is in himself a lie. From his person truth is completely absent, and hence he is by definition the one who opposes truth. Jesus adds immediately afterwards: “When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies”. When the Lord says “speaks according to his own nature”, he introduces us to the interiority of Satan, to his heart. A heart which lives in darkness, in shadows: a house without doors and without windows.

To summarise, this therefore is what is happening in the heart of man: Jesus, the Revelation of the Father, exerts a strong attraction to Himself. Satan works against this, to neutralise the attractive force of the Crucified-Risen One. The force of truth which makes us free acts on the heart of man. It is the Satanic force of the lie which makes slaves of us.

Yet, not being pure spirit, the human person is not solely interiority. Human interiority is expressed and manifested in construction of the society in which he or she lives. Human interiority is expressed and manifested in culture, as an essential dimension of human life as such. Culture is the mode of living which is specifically human.

Given that man is positioned between two opposing forces, the condition in which he finds himself must necessarily give rise to two cultures: the culture of the truth and the culture of the lie.

There is a book in Holy Scripture, the last, the Apocalypse, which describes the final confrontation between the two kingdoms. In this book, the attraction of Christ takes the form of triumph over enemy powers commanded by Satan. It is a triumph which comes after lengthy combat. The first fruits of the victory are the martyrs. “The great Dragon, serpent of the primal age, he whom we call the devil, or Satan, seducer of the whole world, was flung down to earth… But they [= the martyrs] overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of the testimony of their martyrdom” [cfr. Ap. 12, 9.11].

 

  1. In this second section, I would like to respond to the following question: in our Western culture, are there developments which reveal with particular clarity the confrontation between the attraction exerted over man by the Crucified-Risen One, and the culture of the lie constructed by Satan? My response is affirmative, and there are two developments in particular.

The first development is the transformation of a crime [termed by Vatican Council II nefandum crimen], abortion, into a right. Note well: I am not speaking of abortion as an act perpetrated by one person. I am speaking of the broader legitimation which can be perpetrated by a judicial system in a single act: to subsume it into the category of the subjective right, which is an ethical category. This signifies calling what is good, evil, what is light, shadow. “When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies”. This is an attempt to produce an “anti-Revelation”.

What in fact is the logic which presides over the ennoblement of abortion?

Firstly, it is the profoundest negation of the truth of man. As soon as Noah left the floodwaters, God said: “Whoever sheds the blood of a man, by a man shall that person’s blood be shed, for in his own image God made man” [Gen. 9, 6].

The reason why man should not shed the blood of man is that man is the image of God. Through man, God dwells in His creation. This creation is the temple of the Lord, because man inhabits it. To violate the intangibility of the human person is a sacrilegious act against the Sanctity of God. It is the Satanic attempt to generate an “anti-creation”.

By ennobling the killing of humans, Satan has laid the foundations for his “creation”: to remove from creation the image of God, to obscure his presence therein.

St Ambrose writes: “The creation of the world was completed with formation of the masterpiece which is man, which… is in fact the culmination of creation, the supreme beauty of every created being” [Exam., Sixth day, Disc 9, 10.75; BA I, page 417]. At the moment at which the right of man to order the life and the death of another man is affirmed, God is expelled from his creation, because his original presence is denied, and his original dwelling-place within creation – the human person – is desecrated.

The second development is the ennoblement of homosexuality. This in fact denies entirely the truth of marriage, the mind of God the Creator with regard to marriage.

The Divine Revelation has told us how God thinks of marriage: the lawful union of a man and woman, the source of life. In the mind of God, marriage has a permanent structure, based on the duality of the human mode of being: femininity and masculinity. Not two opposite poles, but the one with and for the other. Only thus does man escape his original solitude.

One of the fundamental laws through which God governs the universe is that He does not act alone. This is the law of human cooperation with the divine governance. The union between a man and woman, who become one flesh, is human cooperation in the creative act of God: every human person is created by God and begotten by its parents. God celebrates the liturgy of his creative act in the holy temple of conjugal love.

In summary. There are two pillars of creation: the human person in its irreducibility to the material universe, and the conjugal union between a man and woman, the place in which God creates new human persons “in His image and likeness”. The axiological elevation of abortion to a subjective right is the demolition of the first pillar. The ennoblement of a homosexual relationship, when equated to marriage, is the destruction of the second pillar.

At the root of this is the work of Satan, who wants to build an actual anti-creation. This is the ultimate and terrible challenge which Satan is hurling at God. “I am demonstrating to you that I am capable of constructing an alternative to your creation. And man will say: it is better in the alternative creation than in your creation”.

This is the frightful strategy of the lie, constructed around a profound contempt for man. Man is not capable of elevating himself to the splendour of the Truth. He is not capable of living within the paradox of an infinite desire for happiness. He is not able to find himself in the sincere gift of himself. And therefore – continues the Satanic discourse – we tell him banalities about man. We convince him that the Truth does not exist and that his search is therefore a sad and futile passion. We persuade him to shorten the measure of his desire in line with the measure of the transient moment. We place in his heart the suspicion that love is merely a mask of pleasure.

The Grand Inquisitor of Dostoevsky speaks thus to Jesus: “You judge of men too highly, for though rebels they be, they are born slaves …. I swear to you that man is weaker and lower than You have ever imagined him to be! Man is weak and cowardly.”

How should we dwell in this situation? In the third and final section of my reflection, I will seek to answer this question.

The reply is simple: within the confrontation between creation and anti-creation, we are called upon to TESTIFY. This testimony is our mode of being in the world.

The New Testament has an abundantly rich doctrine on this matter. I must confine myself to an indication of the three fundamental meanings which constitute testimony.

Testimony means to say, to speak, to announce openly and publicly. Someone who does not testify in this way is like a soldier who flees at the decisive moment in a battle. We are no longer witnesses, but deserters, if we do not speak openly and publicly. The March for Life is therefore a great testimony.

Testimony means to say, to announce openly and publicly the divine Revelation, which involves the original evidence, discoverable only by reason, rightfully used. And to speak in particular of the Gospel of Life and Marriage.

Testimony means to say, to announce openly and publicly the Gospel of Life and Marriage as if in a trial [cfr. John 16, 8-11]. I will explain myself. I have spoken frequently of a confrontation. This confrontation is increasingly assuming the appearance of a trial, of a legal proceeding, in which the defendant is Jesus and his Gospel. As in every legal proceeding, there are also witnesses in favour: in favour of Jesus and his Gospel.

Announcement of the Gospel of Marriage and of Life today takes place in a context of hostility, of challenge, of unbelief. The alternative is one of two options: either one remains silent on the Gospel, or one says something else. Obviously, what I have said should not be interpreted as meaning that Christians should render themselves… antipathetic to everyone.

St Thomas writes: “It is the same thing, when faced with two contraries, to pursue the one and reject the other. Medicine, for example, proposes the cure while excluding the illness. Hence, it belongs to the wise man to meditate on the truth, in particular with regard to the First Principle …and to refute the opposing falsehood.” [CG Book I, Chapter I, no. 6].

In the context of testimony to the Gospel, irenics and concordism must be excluded. On this Jesus has been explicit. It would be a terrible doctor who adopted an irenical attitude towards the disease.

Augustine writes: “Love the sinner, but persecute the sin”. Note this well. The Latin word per-sequor is an intensifying verb. The meaning therefore is: “Hunt down the sin. Track it down in the hidden places of its lies, and condemn it, bringing to light its insubstantiality”.

I CONCLUDE with a quotation from a great confessor of the faith, the Russian Pavel A. Florenskij. “Christ is witness, in the extreme sense of the word, THE WITNESS.

At His crucifixion, the Jews and Romans believed they were only witnessing a historical event, but the event revealed itself as the Truth”. [The philosophy of religion, San Paolo ed., Milan 2017, page 512].

 

 

Years ago, from her convent, Sr. Lucia wrote a letter to Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, saying:

“Do not be afraid … Our Lady has already crushed his head.”

 

Archbishop’s Prayer of Consecration for Fatima Anniversary


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
12 May 2017


Archbishop Fisher’s Prayer of Consecration for the Fatima Anniversary

The Archbishop of Sydney, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP has written a prayer of consecration to Our Lady on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima.
Archbishop Fisher has invited all to join in prayer for this important milestone as the Church worldwide marks 100 years since Our Lady’s miraculous appearances at Fatima to three Portuguese children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.

Pope Francis is travelling to Fatima this weekend, he told a general audience on Wednesday, “to place humanity’s destiny at the feet of the Virgin Mary, as well as the destiny of each individual”.  He will pray at the location where the apparitions took place, participate in a rosary candlelight prayer vigil and also canonise two of the young visionaries.

Archbishop Fisher noted the alignment of Mothers’ Day on the same weekend which fittingly allows us to be grateful to God for the gift of motherhood.
“It’s a very happy coincidence that this weekend, we have the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and Mothers’ Day together,” said Archbishop Fisher.

Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, the children of Fatima to whom Our Lady appeared

“If our Fatima Day draws attention to our heavenly Mother, who comes to us with her lessons of childlike humility, our Mothers’ Day holiday draws our attention to the loving mothers who brought each of us into the world and nurtured us in faith and life.

“New Age spiritualities might tell us to hug trees and worship Mother earth, but between our heavenly mother and our earthly ones we have more than enough genuine motherhood to inspire and support us”.
On 13 May, Archbishop Anthony Fisher will celebrate a special mass in St Mary’s Cathedral to commemorate this occasion. There will be a procession at 11.30am and Mass will be celebrated at 12.10pm.
Across the Archdiocese many parishes will be celebrating the Fatima anniversary with Masses, prayer vigils and processions.

Consecration Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima
by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP
O Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of heaven and earth, and tender Mother of humanity,
in accordance with your ardent wish made known at Fatima, I consecrate to you myself,
my brothers and sisters of the Archdiocese of Sydney, and the whole human race.
We commit to you all the members of this local Church, beginning with the weakest ones,
from the unborn to the sick, the disabled and the elderly.
We commit to you our families, our children, our young people, the single, the widowed and the lonely.
We entrust to your Immaculate Heart especially hurt and broken families,
for those who seek the meaning of life but who are getting lost in a world of confusion, immoral influences, and distorted ideas.
Reign over us and teach us how to make the Heart of Jesus reign and triumph
in us and around us, as it has reigned and triumphed in you!
Reign over us, dearest Mother, that we may be your children in prosperity and in adversity,
in joy and in sorrow, in health and sickness, in life and in death!
O most compassionate Heart of Mary, Queen of Virgins, watch over our minds and hearts,
and preserve them from the deluge of impurity which you lamented  so sorrowfully at Fatima.
We want to be pure like you. We want to atone for the many crimes committed against Jesus and you.
We want to call down upon our city, our country and the whole world the peace of God in justice and charity!
Help us as we resolve to live according to the Gospel, to fulfil the Commandments of God and those of the Church,
to receive the sacraments worthily, especially the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist,
and to contribute to the building up of the Kingdom of your divine Son,  in union with his most Sacred Heart.

https://www.sydneycatholic.org/news/latest_news/2017/2017512_1213.shtml

Pope Francis reflects on Mary Magdalene at General Audience

 Francesco Hayez - Crucifixion with Mary Magdalene kneeling and weeping (1827)

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on “Christian Hope” at his General Audience on Wednesday, focusing this week on the figure of St Mary Magdalene.
The Holy Father’s reflections were based on a passage from the Gospel of St John, which relates how St Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus after His Resurrection. Her visit to Jesus’s tomb, the Pope said, mirrored “the fidelity of so many women” who visit cemeteries to keep alive the memory of those who have passed away. “The most authentic bonds,” he said, “are not broken even by death.”
Pope Francis noted that Mary Magdalene’s first visit to the tomb was a disappointment: Seeing the empty tomb, she went to the place the disciples were hiding and told them that someone had stolen the body of Jesus.
But although she was sorrowful, she returned to the sepulchre. The Pope continued, “It was while she was standing near the tomb, with eyes filled with tears, that God surprised her in a most unexpected way.” She hardly noticed the two angels who spoke to her, and at first she did not even recognise Jesus, whom she took to be a gardener. Instead, Pope Francis said, “she discovers the most shocking event in human history” only when Jesus “calls her by name.”
“How beautiful it is to think that the first apparition of the Risen One – according to the Gospels – should occur in such a personal way!” the Pope said. How beautiful it is “that there is someone who recognizes us, who sees our suffering and disappointment, and is moved for our sake, and calls us by name.” Although many people seek God, he said, the “wonderful reality” is that God has sought us first, and sought each of us personally. “Each one of us,” Pope Francis said, “is a story of the love of God. God calls each of us by name.”
When Jesus said Mary’s name, her life was changed. “The Gospels describe Mary’s happiness for us,” the Holy Father said. “The Resurrection of Jesus is not a joy given with an eyedropper, but a cascade, a waterfall that fills our whole life.” Pope Francis called for everyone to reflect on that fact that, even with all the “disappointments and defeats” in our life, “there is a God who is close to us and who calls us by name, who says to us, ‘Arise, don’t cry, because I have come to set you free.’”
God, he continued, “is a dreamer: He dreams of the transformation of the world, and has realised it in the mystery of the Resurrection.”
Saint Mary Magdalene, who, before she met Jesus, was at the mercy of the evil one, became “the apostle of the new and greatest hope.” Her life was changed because she had “seen the Lord.” Mary’s experience is an example for us, too, whose lives are changed because we have seen the Lord. This, Pope Francis said, “is our strength, and our hope.”