Spain’s Astonishing Catholic Revival

Posted on June 16, 2014 by

The cathedral of the Good Shepherd in San Sebastian, Spain

Although experts can’t say for sure why it’s happening, the Church in Spain has been undergoing a remarkable revival in recent years, including a jump in Mass attendance, new abortion restrictions and even a famous model who gave up the runway for a cloister.

Filip Mazurczak, writing for First Things, notes that the proportion of Spaniards attending Mass increased from 12.1 to 15 percent between 2011 and 2012. Between 2012 and 2013, it jumped an astonishing 23 percent.

“Not only are Spaniards attending Mass more frequently, but also youths are rediscovering the priesthood and religious life,” Mazurczak reports.

Last year, the number of diocesan seminarians increased for a third consecutive year from 1227 to 1321. In addition, an estimated 400 Spanish women a year are now entering religious orders, a number that has been slowly increasing as well. This is especially impressive because Spain has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe and has also been experiencing high rates of youth emigration to more prosperous countries like Chile, Germany and Britain.

“Perhaps no one puts a more attractive face on Spain’s return to Catholicism than Olalla Oliveros,” Mazurczak writes. “Last month, the 36-year-old Spanish model stunned Spanish society by becoming a nun of the semi-cloistered Order of Saint Michael. Perhaps Oliveros did this out of frustration? On the contrary, she was at the height of her career and was recently offered a lead role in a big-budget film. Oliveros experienced a conversion several years back and made her decision after much thought.”

The country has also been recovering its moral balance since the progressively secular government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was replaced by the conservative Mariano Rajoy in 2011.

Zapatero legalized abortion and same-sex marriage and made “express divorce” legal, as well as ended mandatory religious education in schools and removed crucifixes from public buildings. However, according to Mazurczak, Spanish elites felt that Zapatero went too far in de-Christianizing the nation.

Rajoy, on the other hand “is challenging Zapatero’s revolution” and is pushing a bill banning abortion except when the pregnancy results from rape or threatens a mother’s health or life. If passed, the bill will make Spain more pro-life than it has been since 1985.

Some say the country’s economy and high unemployment rate – the highest in Europe – but Mazurczak says other periods of economic depression in the country’s history didn’t show any such rates in religious revival. For instance, in the early 90′s, during a depressed economy and high unemployment, religious observance and vocations actually declined.

Instead, he believes something else is at play in the country’s revival, “whether a response to Benedict’s summoning of Europe to return to its roots, a rediscovery of the beauty of religious life, weariness with Zapatero’s secularist aggression, or something else entirely.”

Whatever the cause, Spanish Catholicism is regaining a vibrancy it has not seen in decades, Mazurczak says.

“When Pope Francis visits Spain next year, he will find a struggling local Church, but one where Catholic culture is being visibly reborn.”

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Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

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Immaculate Heart of Mary NovenaChristians  look to Mary, the Mother of our Lord, as the first Christian and the model of  holiness. This novena presents a profound opportunity for us to pray that Jesus  may give us the Grace to be more and more like His mother and thus come closer  to Him through His Immaculate  Mother.

Please join us in praying this novena here and invite your friends and family  to pray with us!

Immaculate Heart of Mary Novena Prayers

Immaculate Virgin, by the holy will of your Son my Lord Jesus Christ, you are  my Mother in Heaven. Your Immaculate Heart is full of love, mercy and compassion  for sinners like me. I ask that you intercede for me today for…

(mention your prayer intentions)

I trust in your intercession before the throne of God for my needs. Please  pray also that if my requests are not in accordance with the will of God, that I  may be, like you, conformed to His will and not my own.

Hail Mary…

Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pray for us!


Act of Consecration

– by Pope Pius XII

Most Holy Virgin Mary, tender Mother of men, to fulfill the desires of the  Sacred Heart of Jesus and the request of the Vicar of Your Son on earth, we  consecrate ourselves and our families to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, O  Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and we recommend to You, all the people of our  country and all the world.

Please accept our consecration, dearest Mother, and use us as You wish to  accomplish Your designs in the world.

O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and  Queen of the World, rule over us, together with the Sacred Heart of Jesus  Christ, Our King. Save us from the spreading flood of modern paganism; kindle in  our hearts and homes the love of purity, the practice of a virtuous life, an  ardent zeal for souls, and a desire to pray the Rosary more faithfully.

We come with confidence to You, O Throne of Grace and Mother of Fair Love.  Inflame us with the same Divine Fire which has inflamed Your own Sorrowful and  Immaculate Heart. Make our hearts and homes Your shrine, and through us, make  the Heart of Jesus, together with your rule, triumph in every heart and  home.


More About the Consecration

This celebration will have strong ties to the apparitions that occurred at  Fatima.

Cardinal Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the  Promotion of the New Evangelization said “The Holy Father strongly desires that  the Marian Day may have present, as a special sign, one of the most significant  Marian icons for Christians throughout the world, and, for that reason, we  thought of the beloved original statue of Our Lady of Fatima,”

You can find  more Novenas like this one here.

Find the Original Here:

“Whose Sandal Strap I am Not Worthy to Untie”

The book by the prominent Spanish scripture scholar Luis Alonso-Schokel called I Nomi Dell’Amore (The Names of Love) provides a fascinating and spiritually rich look at marriage symbols in the bible. I’d like to offer a brief summary of some of the insights of the chapter from that book entitled “The Levirate.”

Schokel begins by noticing 5 similar texts from the New Testament all dealing with St. John the Baptist:

Matthew 3:11 he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry

Mark 1:7 After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie

Luke 3:16 he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

John 1:27 even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.

Acts 13:25 after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.

Now any text repeated in all of the gospels (and the book of Acts too) must have a grand significance. Most people will see it as illustrating the humility of the Baptist, unworthy to untie the sandals of the Lord, but several internal hints point to a deeper, more profound answer.

Schokel points out three textual clues:

1) In John 1:30 the Baptist speaks of Christ as, “This is he of whom I said, `After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.'” The word translated as “man” here is not the Greek word “anthropos” usually translated as man, instead it is “aner” a word, as Schokel points out, having more of a “sexual” (in the sense of gender) or relational meaning. It isn’t man, but “male” (maschio in Italian); a male in relation to a female. The passage would better be translated in English, “After me comes a male who ranks before me.” [John the Baptist is the “anthropos” – see John 1:6, 3:27]. Schokel also points out the references in John 1-3 to Isaiah 40-66, esp. chapter 54:1-10, where Yahweh is referred to as the Bridegroom/husband and in the LXX, the “aner”)

2) At least in the synoptics the word “unworthy” or “unfit” has a juridical sense. That word is “ikanos” while John uses “axios.” So it seems to be more of unfitness according to some type of Judaic law, and with the use of “aner” possibly a marital law.

3) Looking a few chapters down, we come to the last words of John recorded in the gospel. In responding to questions as to who this Jesus is, he responds, “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full” (John 3:28-29). John here is challenging Israel’s Messianic expectations – they expect their Christ to come as a political leader, or a warrior, or even a prophet like John the Baptist, but John says this is incorrect. He says that the messiah will come as the Bridegroom of his bride Israel; ultimately that Israel has the wrong expectations.

So keeping all of this in mind: the repeated reference to untying of sandals, the “maleness” of Christ, the juridical context, and the spousal-messianism John uses to describe the Christ, Schokel (along with the Fathers) exegetes this text in light of the Levirate Law in the Old Testament.

The Levirate Law (derived from Latin levir, meaning “a husband’s brother”) is the name of an ancient custom ordained by Moses, by which, when an Israelite died without issue, his surviving brother was required to marry the widow, so as to continue his brother’s family through the son that might be born of that marriage (Gen 38:8; De 25:5-10 ) comp. (Ruth 3:1 4:10) Its object was “to raise up seed to the departed brother.” But if the surviving brother refused (for whatever reason) to marry the widow, a rite called “Halizah” would occur. Deut 25:5-10 describes the Levirate and Halizah:

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no offspring, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.

And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his brother who is dead, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders, and say, `My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak to him: and if he persists, saying, `I do not wish to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot, and spit in his face; and she shall answer and say, `So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, The house of him that had his sandal pulled off” (Deuteronomy 25:5-10).

The sandal is the key – the sandal is symbolic of he who has the right to marriage. The one who wears the sandal is the Bridegroom. As St. Cyprian said, this is why both Moses (Ex 3:2-6) and Joshua (John 5:13-15) were told by Yaweh that they had to remove their sandals; although they might have been prophets, they were not the one who had the right to marry Israel the Bride. In saying that he is not fit (juridically) to remove the sandal from Jesus’ foot he is saying that Jesus is the bridegroom, he is the one who has the right to marriage, not John – even though he came first.

“Even though he came first” – John admits to this, being the precursor of the Messiah-Bridegroom, but he is not the one that will marry the bride (as he is not the Messiah, as some of the Jews had thought). To understand this better (and the entire Levirate process) one must look to the book of Ruth. In it, the widow Ruth is set to marry her “next of kin” via the levirate law, but Boaz arrived first to claim Ruth, It does not matter though, the next of kin has first choice. But he decides to pass up the marriage to Ruth, and gives her to Boaz. And in doing so he “drew off his sandal” (Ruth 4:8). Even though John came first, Jesus is the one with the right to the woman, and he opts for the marriage – and thus does not remove his sandal. John will not be given the chance to take his place.

This interpretation of these passages are not new, as Schokel points out. Several of the Fathers, including Jerome, Cyprian, and Gregory all see the Levirate law being referred to in the passages about John the Baptist. As Jerome writes, “being as that Christ is the Bridegroom, John the Baptist is not merited to untie the laces of the bridegroom’s sandal, in order that, according to the law of Moses (as seen with Ruth) his house will not be called “the house of the un-sandaled,” [a reference to the refusal to carry on the name of the deceased brother].

So, if John is not the messiah-bridegroom, and is unfit to untie the bridegroom’s sandals, as the “friend of the groom” – what is his duty, esp. in the Levirate context? The root of his mission “to prepare the way of the Lord” can be found in Ruth 3:3 when the elders tell Ruth before her wedding to “Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes.” John’s baptism of repentance is done to prepare the bride for the wedding.

Liturgically, he cleans her from her impurities (see also Ezekiel 16) preparing the bride “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26). To prepare Israel the Bride for her nuptial with Christ her bridegroom is the heart of the Baptist’s mission.

Now with all symbolism and typologies, it is hard to “stretch” the analogy too far. But in order to get the full meaning of Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Testament, one has to twist symbols around a bit. In order to do understand one other crucial aspect of the Levirate, that of the “deceased” brother, we must be a bit creative, and look at it from a different perspective. Christ marries his bride, consummates his union with her, on the cross (see Eph 5) – but this leads to his death. So he could be seen as the “dead husband.” So who will be the “brother” who takes his place in marrying his bride? For the answer we must again turn to the gospel of John.

“When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27).

Jesus had no other brothers, so he gave his mother to John – and thus in becoming her son, John (and all apostles and Christians likewise) became Jesus’ brother. But we cannot forget that on a different level (see Rev 12) Mary is the “icon of the church,” the bride – so John as he becomes Jesus’ brother, is given to the Church as her bridegroom. Here we have what Schokel says might be seen as the “root of apostolic succession.” The Church is passed on from brother/apostle to brother/apostle – yet the bride still keeps the name of her first husband, as Paul writes, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13). The name of the husband is carried on by the generation of new sons, thus the brother through his preaching of the word, causes the bride to become fruitful. Look to St. Paul (a Jew well versed in the Law) again, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers.

For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15). The bishops/apostles have their charge to carry on the name of Christ by preaching the gospel and celebrating the sacraments – and in doing so the church/bride becomes church/mother and the Levirate law is thus fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Taken from:

Birthday of John the Baptist


Feast: June 24

We are given the story of the ministry of John the Baptist, called the Precursor or Forerunner of the Lord, with some variation of detail, in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as in the Book of John. Luke tells us of the birth of John the Baptist in a town of Judaea, about six months before the birth of the Saviour. The attendant circumstances, which we have already recounted under the headings of <St. Elizabeth> and <St. Zachary>, his parents, suggest the miraculous and wonderful. The New Testament tells us nothing of John’s early years, but we know that his pious, virtuous parents must have reared the boy with care, conscious always of the important work to which he was appointed, and imbuing him with a sense of his destiny.When John began final preparations for his mission, he was probably in his thirty-second year. He withdrew into the harsh, rocky desert beyond the Jordan to fast and pray, as was the ancient custom of holy men. We are told that he kept himself alive by eating locusts and wild honey and wore a rough garment of camel’s hair, tied with a leathern girdle. When he came back to start preaching in the villages of Judaea, he was haggard and uncouth, but his eyes burned with zeal and his voice carried deep conviction. The Jews were accustomed to preachers and prophets who gave no thought to outward appearances, and they accepted John at once; the times were troubled, and the people yearned for reassurance and comfort. So transcendant was the power emanating from the holy man that after hearing him many believed he was indeed the long-awaited Messiah. John quickly put them right, saying he had come only to prepare the way, and that he was not worthy to unloose the Master’s sandals. Although his preaching and baptizing continued for some months during the Saviour’s own ministry, John always made plain that he was merely the Forerunner. His humility remained incorruptible even when his fame spread to Jerusalem and members of the higher priesthood came to make inquiries and to hear him. “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,”-this was John’s oft-repeated theme. For the evils of the times his remedy was individual purification. “Every tree,” he said, “that is not bringing forth good fruit is to be cut down and thrown into the fire.” The reformation of each person’s life must be complete—the wheat must be separated from the chaff and the chaff burned “with unquenchable fire.”The rite of baptism, a symbolic act signifying sincere repentance as well as a desire to be spiritually cleansed in order to receive the Christ, was so strongly emphasized by John that people began to call him “the baptizer.” The Scriptures tell us of the day when Jesus joined the group of those who wished to receive baptism at John’s hands. John knew Jesus for the Messiah they had so long expected, and at first excused himself as unworthy. Then, in obedience to Jesus, he acquiesced and baptized Him. Although sinless, Jesus chose to be baptized in order to identify Himself with the human lot. And when He arose from the waters of the Jordan, where the rite was performed, “the heavens opened and the Spirit as a dove descended. And there came a voice from the heavens, Thou art my beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased” (Mark i, 11).John’s life now rushes on towards its tragic end. In the fifteenth year of the reign of the Roman emperor, Tiberias Caesar, Herod Antipas was the provincial governor or tetrarch of a subdivision of Palestine which included Galilee and Peraea, a district lying east of the Jordan. In the course of John’s preaching, he had denounced in unmeasured terms the immorality of Herod’s petty court, and had even boldly upbraided Herod to his face for his defiance of old Jewish law, especially in having taken to himself the wife of his half-brother, Philip. This woman, the dissolute Herodias, was also Herod’s niece. Herod feared and reverenced John, knowing him to be a holy man, and he followed his advice in many matters; but he could not endure having his private life castigated. Herodias stimulated his anger by lies and artifices. His resentment at length got the better of his judgment and he had John cast into the fortress of Machaerus, near the Dead Sea. When Jesus heard of this, and knew that some of His disciples had gone to see John, He spoke thus of him: “What went you to see? A prophet? Yea, I say to you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say to you, amongst those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Matthew xi, 10-12).Herodias never ceased plotting against the life of John, who was not silenced even by prison walls. His followers now became even more turbulent. To Herodias soon came the opportunity she had long sought to put an end to the trouble-maker. On Herod’s birthday he gave a feast for the chief men of that region. In Matthew xiv, Mark vi, and Luke ix, we are given parallel accounts of this infamous occasion which was to culminate in John’s death. At the feast, Salome, fourteen-year-old daughter of Herodias by her lawful husband, pleased Herod and his guests so much by her dancing that Herod promised on oath to give her anything that it was in his power to give, even though it should amount to half his kingdom. Salome, acting under the direction and influence of her wicked mother, answered that she wished to have the head of John the Baptist, presented to her on a platter. Such a horrible request shocked and unnerved Herod. Still, he had given his word and was afraid to break it. So, with no legal formalities whatever, he dispatched a soldier to the prison with orders to behead the prisoner and return with it immediately. This was quickly done, and the cruel girl did not hesitate to accept the dish with its dreadful offering and give it to her mother. John’s brief ministry was thus terminated by a monstrous crime. There was great sadness among the people who had hearkened to him, and when the disciples of Jesus heard the news of John’s death, they came and took the body and laid it reverently in a tomb. Jesus, with some of his disciples, retired “to a desert place apart,” to mourn.The Jewish historian Josephus, giving further testimony of John’s holiness, writes: “He was indeed a man endued with all virtue, who exhorted the Jews to the practice of justice towards men and piety towards God; and also to baptism, preaching that they would become acceptable to God if they renounced their sins, and to the cleanness of their bodies added purity of soul.” Thus Jews and Christians unite in reverence and love for this prophet-saint whose life is an incomparable example of both humility and courage.

Saint John the Baptist, The Precursor. Scriptural Saint. Celebration of Feast Day is June 24. Taken from “Lives of Saints”, Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.

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Amazing Achievements Made by Pope Francis

Catholic leader Pope Francis smiling

Posted by on June 22, 2014 in , | 89 Views | Leave a response

Pope Francis has been in his position as leader of one billion Roman Catholics for less than a year and, in that time, he has had accomplished amazing achievements. In December of 2013, Time Magazine named Pope Francis their “person of the year.” A prestigious title given to him that people worldwide celebrated and supported. Let’s take a look at a few amazing achievements made by Pope Francis.

The excommunication of the Mafia

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, Pope Francis added to his list of achievements when he announced that the Catholic Church was no longer in need of support from the Italian Mafia. Not only that, he stated that the Mafia members were no longer welcome in the church, and were therefore excommunicated. Excommunication means that they are banished from the Catholic Church, and this also puts them out of communion. During mass, when Pope Francis was addressing this issue, he stated, “Those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the Mafia, they are not with God, they are excommunicated.”

The men who are members of the Mafia in this area are already making threats against Pope Francis, as they consider themselves to be assets to the community and the Catholic Church, as a whole. This certainly isn’t the first time a Pope has spoken out about the Mafia and their unlawful actions, but it is the first time a Pope has even brought up the idea of excommunication of the Mafia, let alone going through with it.

Pope Francis’s vision of economic justice

In November of 2013, Pope Francis created a 50,000 word statement, known as an Apostolic Exhortation, and named “Evangelii Gaundium” (The Joy of the Gospel). In this statement the Pope became a voice for the poor. He blasted free market capitalism, and called for the Church and world leaders to care for their poor population. He insisted that the Catholic Church may be too “obsessed” with certain issues, such as contraceptive use, which suggests that the Church might change its focus in the future. In a challenge to global Capitalism, Pope Francis asked the powerful question, “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

The first Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis
The first Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis was published Nov. 26, 2013.

He also used the document to back up his stance on church teachings of homosexuality and abortion. While he did not speak of acceptance of abortion or homosexuality, he did say that the church has not been supportive of women making difficult, life-changing decisions, and supports ministering the homosexual population.

Frivolous Spending

In yet another amazing achievement made by Pope Francis, the Pontiff brought up the church’s spending, and launched an investigation of the Vatican Bank. The Catholic Church has come under fire for spending an excess of money on non-essential items, and Pope Francis brought it under attack. He made a plea to Cardinals, whose wardrobe often exceeds $20,000 dollars, to dress in a more modest way.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst was recently stripped of his title for profligate spending.

He also demanded a German Bishop explain how he managed to spend over three million dollars on a marble courtyard. Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst also spent over $41 million dollars on his own living quarters (including a bathtub that was reportedly over $20,000) and various other church buildings. The Bishop went to Rome where he tried to defend his lavishness. Ultimately the Bishop was unconvincing and stripped of his title. It seems that Pope Francis is staying on top of the unwarranted spending of the Catholic Church, and is determined to make a permanent change.

Extraordinary Synod

In October of 2013, Pope Francis prepared for, and created, an “extraordinary synod” that was meant to tackle sensitive “challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” Most people are aware of the Church’s views and positions on gay marriage, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, contraception, etc. While this gathering of high ranking church officials is not meant to change any of the teachings or ways of the Church, it was meant to discuss these controversial topics at length. The fact that a Pope is even willing to discuss these issues is monumental. It suggests that perhaps the Catholic Church recognizes the need for change.

Protection of the Amazon Rainforest

In a weeklong trip to Brazil, last year, Pope Francis met with locals who for years have been fighting to protect the land against ranchers and farmers. He also met with thousands of people in positions of power in Brazil. He pleaded that the Amazon and its natives be protected. He brought up the Church’s history of protecting the Amazon, but called for further work and a fresh start by the Church in the region.

Pope Francis calls to protect the Amazin rainforest and its natives
Pope Francis recently called for better protection for the Amazon rainforest and its natives.

These are just a few amazing achievements made by Pope Francis; there are many more, and surely there are many more to come. As of recent years, the Catholic Church hasn’t been in the news for many positive things. In fact, when they do make the headlines it seems to be for scandalous reasons. However, Pope Francis might be the one to change that. Regardless, he has definitely done quite a lot in less than one year, which suggests the Catholic Church might be on the road to change and improvement.

Last modified: June 22nd, 2014 by Lauren DiDonato

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Rediscover a ‘sense of the sacred’

About Honouring the Saints

The AMAIC has joyfully run with the recent remarkable series of canonisations/beatifications of modern era popes, for it is properly Catholic to honour Our Lady (hyperdulia) and the Saints (dulia). To God alone, however, belongs true worship (latria).

Catholics need to get this right into proper perspective. That is why we have followed up this little section with Pope Francis’s invitation (on next page) to ‘rediscover a sense of the sacred’. “The Eucharistic celebration”, he says, “is something else. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that street that we cannot control: only He is the unique One, the glory, the power… He is everything”. God is infinitely more interesting than any given saint.

An observer, watching some Catholics in church piously doing the rounds of the saints and the Stations, whilst totally ignoring the Blessed Sacrament as they cross right in front of It, might perhaps be excused for thinking that Catholics really do “worship” Mary and the saints.


Rediscover a ‘sense of the sacred’


(Vatican Radio) …. The first Reading of the day speaks about the “theophany” of God in the time of Solomon the king. The Lord came down like a cloud upon the temple, which was filled with the glory of God. The Lord, the Pope said, speaks to His people in many ways: through the prophets, the priests, the Sacred Scriptures. But with the theophanies, He speaks in another way, “different from the Word: it is another presence, closer, without mediation, near. It is His presence.” This, he explained, happens in the liturgical celebration. The liturgical celebration is not a social act, a good social act; it is not a gathering of the faithful to pray together. It is something else. In the liturgy, God is present,” but it is a closer presence. In the Mass, in fact, “the presence of the Lord is real, truly real.”

“When we celebrate the Mass, we don’t accomplish a representation of the Last Supper: no, it is not a representation. It is something else: it is the Last Supper itself. It is to really live once more the Passion and the redeeming Death of the Lord. It is a theophany: the Lord is made present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world. We hear or we say, ‘But, I can’t now, I have to go to Mass, I have to go to hear Mass.’ The Mass is not ‘heard’, it is participated in, and it is a participation in this theophany, in this mystery of the presence of the Lord among us.”

Nativity scenes, the Way of the Cross… these are representations. The Mass, on the other hand, “is a real commemoration, that is, it is a theophany: God approaches and is with us, and we participate in the mystery of the Redemption.” ….

“The liturgy is to really enter into the mystery of God, to allow ourselves to be brought to the mystery and to be in the mystery. For example, I am sure that all of you have come here to enter into the mystery; however, someone might say: ‘Ah, I have to go to Mass at Santa Marta, because on the sight-seeing tour of Rome, each morning there is a chance to visit the Pope at Santa Marta: it’s a tourist stop, right?’ All of you here, we are gathered her to enter into the mystery: this is the liturgy. It is God’s time, it is God’s space, it is the cloud of God that surrounds all of us.”

… So, the Pope concluded, “to celebrate the liturgy is to have this availability to enter into the mystery of God,” to enter into His space, His time, to entrust ourselves to this mystery:

“We would do well today to ask the Lord to give to each of us this ‘sense of the sacred,’ this sense that makes us understand that it is one thing to pray at home, to pray in Church, to pray the Rosary, to pray so many beautiful prayers, to make the Way of the Cross, so many beautiful things, to read the Bible… The Eucharistic celebration is something else. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that street that we cannot control: only He is the unique One, the glory, the power… He is everything. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord would teach us to enter into the mystery of God.” ….

Taken from:

‘All changed; changed utterly…’ Observations on the Church as it is today.

By Father David Watt


For over half a century the Church has been pursuing a policy of aggiornamento. Here I offer a few reflections on the Church as we have it now; reflections having no authority beyond that of one unspectacular priest, 15 years ordained. It is my hope and prayer that these thoughts will receive any necessary correction and supplementation from wiser heads than mine, especially as there are many important aspects of the modern Church which I must perforce pass over in silence. (These omissions were partially supplied by my most recent article in Matrix, ‘Grace, Freewill and Predestination’, Nov. 2012.) Also, in speaking of how I have found a particular group, I do not mean to extrapolate; the situation of that body world-wide may be either worse or, as I devoutly hope, better, than my experience of it.


  1. The Dissidents


This group typically regards Vatican II as a good start, but thinks we should go much further in modernizing the Church. Some of the issues raised are lifting the requirement of celibacy for priests, and allowing contraception and female clergy.


One thing dissidents have in common with many who are avowedly non-Catholic is confusion regarding which things the Church can change, and which she cannot. Any policy or custom the Church has introduced, she can also revoke, but things she has inherited from her Spouse she can only pass on intact, with the plea ‘Don’t shoot the messenger!’ For example, the teaching against contraception and women priests is so firmly entrenched in the Ordinary Magisterium that a volte face by the Church on these issues would effectively negate her claim to be the Spouse of Christ. Besides, on each of these matters there is also an intervention of the Extraordinary Magisterium: Humanae Vitae (Venerable Paul VI) and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (St John Paul II). See the superb article by my very good friend Fr Brian Harrison OS ‘The Ex Cathedra Status of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae’. There are also other theological works arguing for the same conclusion, but nothing, to my knowledge, shorter or more accessible than the article by Fr Harrison. Applying his principles to the document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis we can easily see that it too contains an intrinsically infallible definition; this time against the possibility of the Church ever ordaining women.


The case of clerical celibacy is not so clear. I, for one, cannot exclude the possibility of the Church one day relaxing her discipline in this matter, though I devoutly hope and pray this never takes place. It should be noted that Cardinal Stickler RIP has done much historical work on the basis for requiring celibacy of priests.


Similarly, Pope Francis has I believe rightly repudiated the notion of women cardinals. However, were they to be introduced by a subsequent Pope it would be crucial to precede this with a clearly infallible declaration that no female cardinal would ever be eligible for the Papacy, in saecula saeculorum.


When considering dissidentsa sine qua non is to bear in mind the distinction between material and formal heresy. For example, a believer in the ordination of women could still be a good Catholic – and indeed a far better one than myself – if his ignorance of the weight of Church teaching on this matter is not culpable.


  1. The Ultramontanists

This is a very sizable portion of the devout Catholics today. Their motto is Roma locuta est, causa finita est. Once a decision has been made by the Pope or his legitimate representatives – say to allow altar girls – then questioning the wisdom of that decision, even internally, is disloyal.


We will touch again on this group later; for now suffice it to say that it is much safer, on the whole, than the preceding one. For the ultramontanist can never go completely off the rails. We know a priori that God will never permit a Pope to command the whole Church to believe something which is false, or to do something which is sinful. It is also to the credit of ultramontanists that in a time of such confusion in the Church, and consequent erosion of respect for those in authority, they should lay such stress on this respect. Better, by far, that some expressions of respect should be exaggerated, than that we should err in the opposite direction.


  1. The Caros and the Neo Cats

These orthodox-minded groups would seem, on the whole, to be a force for good. To be sure, just as you can pick holes in any individual, you can do so with any group. In the case of the charismatics, or as I affectionately term them, the caros, there is sometimes an exaggerated emphasis on the marvellous – praying in tongues, prophesizing etc. It is noteworthy that the Blessed Virgin, in Her appearances, to my knowledge never asks for any such extraordinary practices. Instead, what does She request? The ‘boring’, humdrum prayer of the Rosary. Therefore I was very pleased to hear about a caro group which started its prayer meetings with the Rosary. Unfortunately however I believe this would be the exception rather than the rule.


What are we to make of all the allegedly charismatic phenomena – praying in tongues and so forth?   We know they were common in Apostolic times, presumably to give the Church a kick-start in the midst of a hostile pagan culture. It is possible, I believe, to view the current explosion of such occurrences in the same light – once again, we are surrounded by a hostile culture – ‘the absoluteness of relativism’ – in addition to which the Church has been so devastated by heresy and disobedience that it is almost like starting again. Nevertheless, it is obviously possible for the devil to counterfeit these extraordinary things. So if having a spiritual director is invaluable for anyone (see my Internet article on the subject), how much more in the case of someone purporting to have charismatic gifts. I do not seem to have any myself; nor do I feel called down that particular path.


Nonetheless, we can all learn a great deal from caros – particularly concerning the need to be child-like and if need be ‘fools for Christ’ – and that ‘the joy of the Lord is our strength’. Caros often impress with their energy and enthusiasm for the Lord. Interestingly, the most significant book I have read for years, Will Many Be Saved?, is by a caro, Dr Ralph Martin. I have steered people towards caro groups if that seems to be their bent.


Like the caros, Neo Cats are zealous and often successful evangelizers of pagans or less than keen Catholics. The only real weakness I can see in Neo Cats is an exaggerated and romantic emphasis on the Early Church – or what they think was the Early Church. (With so many documents having perished, any reconstruction of those times will often be conjectural, extrapolating from quite sketchy data. For example, some think Communion in the hand was universal for the first 1000 years of the Church, and yet I, for one, am aware of only one document from one bishop, indicating that it was practised in his diocese.)


Having attended Neo Cat Masses I found them quite edifying in their fervour, and that is the main thing. The Communion arrangements, however, left something to be desired. For example, everyone received on the hand – as if there were no other way – and not ordinary Hosts either but chunky pieces of ex-bread – an absolute nightmare from the perspective of particles.   There are some comments on the underlying issues in my article ‘God be in my hand – or on my tongue?’ (New Oxford Review, June 1999, pp23-25). In that article I promote the receiving of Communion kneeling and on the tongue. (NOR was the main forum for my articles before I started writing for Matrix.)


  1. The Traddies

The space I devote to this section might appear disproportionate; however there is a reason for that. By far the group with which I have had most contact, it includes some of my closest friends, which would be impossible did I not believe there is a great deal of truth in what they say. Nevertheless, even here the primeval serpent has managed to worm his way in; indeed he is having a field-day.


Traddies basically regard aggiornamento as an experiment which has failed. As one of my long-time friends put it to me, when Coke changed the formula for their drink, sales and shares diminished, so they reverted to the original formula whereupon sales and shares reverted as well. The clear implication being that we should revert to the pre-Vatican ‘formula’.


It is difficult not to recognize here the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc; the situation pre-and –post Vatican II being enormously more complex than that of Coke. For a start, if Vatican II was such a terrible thing, well, it was the pre-Vatican Church which produced it!   Also, the mere fact that the Church suffered such catastrophic haemorrhaging immediately after Vatican II, proves that we cannot lay all the blame at the feet of the Council. A sound oak does not rot overnight.


Here are some concrete indications from about 1955 which confirm that, despite the imposing edifice of the pre-Vatican II Church, all was not well. One priest told me that when he was in the seminary, the instructor asked the class ‘Can we say that anyone is in Hell?’ Our priest-to-be bravely put up his hand, saying ‘Judas’, whereupon he was torn to shreds. (Significantly, in my experience, those who claim Judas was or might have been saved, a) never say they are praying to or for him; lex orandi lex credendi; b) never provide any alternative explanation how, of someone who, let us suppose, did not go to Hell, it could still be truly said (Mt 26:24, Mk 14:21) that it were better for that man had he not been born.)


Another priest told me that when it came time to take the Oath against Modernism, his class was told ‘This is just a formality – close your eyes and rattle it off; you don’t have to mean it’. Another proof that, despite the heroic efforts of Pope St Pius X against Modernism, the many-headed Hydra was not totally vanquished.


Since the traddy is in reaction to directions taken by the Church – even officially – for more than half a century, he is subject to the human tendency, when reacting, to over-react. And in fact this is exactly how the devil assaults those in the traditionalist movement. As St Ignatius Loyola says in his Spiritual Exercises, Satan, before he attacks us, first determines our natural bent, and then tries to push that to excess. So in the case of a traddy he will not propose support for women priests; instead he will try to make the person more and more “traditional” so that eventually he winds up as the only true Catholic. And this demonic deception is a splendid success; eg witness all the traddies who have become sedevacantists, including some I knew and whose excellent talks I had attended. [The simplest refutation of sedevacantism (for which credit goes to a traddy friend of mine) is this: how do we get out of it? All the appointments of a soi-disant Pope are invalid, so how do we elect a valid one? Rival sedevacantist groups have each resolved the matter by electing their own Pope; every one of these claimants is operating simultaneously with the others, complete with his own Cardinals and other entourage. How ever to know which is the true Pope? Clearly, in such a case, Christ would have abandoned His Church – contrary to His promise.] I remember once reading a long traddy screed, the whole point of which was to attack the Society of St Pius X and other traddy groups for being insufficiently “traditional”!


One might think that, because of traditional esteem for the priesthood, a traddy, on meeting a priest, would be very respectful and eager to learn from him. My own experience, though, is the exact opposite – he is eager toteach the priest, especially that he should say the Old Mass. You might hope that, if he must judge the priest at all, he would ask how devout he is, how humble, obedient, chaste, mortified, zealous and – very much in the last place – how learned. But no; it’s all about the Old Mass.


Ironically, all this emphasis on the Old Mass is actually quite untraditional. For a Catholic ‘It’s the Mass which matters’, far more than any particular form of it. We are perfectly entitled to have a preference, whether for the New Mass or the Old, but when we neglect to attend Mass on a particular day – even if not of obligation – simply because we cannot obtain it in our preferred form, something is terribly awry. (Of course, this point applies also to those with a preference for the Novus Ordo whose only way of attending Mass on a particular day is to do so in the Old Rite.) One young man challenged his fellow-traddies in these words: ‘Jesus   becomes present; what’s your excuse?’


Of course, some traddies deny – or doubt – that Jesus does become present in the Novus Ordo. This is an example of the centrifugal force wielded so successfully by the devil in the whole traddy movement. For while we are not obliged as Catholics to accept that the New Mass is an improvement, we are  obliged to believe that it is valid.   There is a clearly ex cathedra pronouncement to that effect in the way the Novus Ordo was promulgated, to say nothing of the sensus fidei in the acceptance of this validity throughout the Catholic world.


In theory there could be a celebration of the Mass so bad that to attend it would actually be sinful. However traddies exaggerate here, for instance posting pictures of clown Masses as if they were anything other than extremely rare. Likewise with the issue of heresy from the pulpit. For example, it is comparatively rare that a priest says ‘There is no Hell’ or ‘No one goes to Hell’. Much more common is to err by omission eg never to mention Hell from one end of the year to the next.


Even if the priest is actually preaching heresy, it does not necessarily follow, for example, that a home-schooling mother must always keep her children away. Each case must be judged individually. It could be that some children have been sufficiently inoculated against heresy by what they heard at home, and from orthodox priests, and that taking them to the Mass, warts and all, is preferable to having them miss out on Mass that day.


In any case, sooner or later the children will have to deal with the fact that there are priests offering valid Masses who nonetheless teach error on occasion. Also the problem of heresy from the pulpit is more one for Sunday Masses. I am always pleased when I hear of home-schooling families who, attending Latin Mass on Sundays but having limited opportunity to do so on weekdays, use the Novus Ordo instead.


Often the errors made by traddies can be ascribed, ironically enough, to ignorance of Church Tradition. Take for example traddy websites attacking Pope Francis, seemingly in blissful ignorance of eg St Ignatius Loyola’s Tenth Rule for Thinking with the Church.


Another instance is the traddy appeal to Pope St Pius V having promulgated their Mass ‘in perpetuity’; oblivious to the fact that in matters purely of Church discipline, anything introduced by one Pope can be abrogated by another. It is only in doctrinal matters that one Pope can tie the hands of all his successors.   Thus we knows, from Ordinatio Sacerdotalis if for no other reason, that if the Church lasts a million years, we will never have women priests, whereas we have no assurance that in a million years any of the current forms of the Mass will have survived. So when a Pope makes a non-doctrinal decision ‘for perpetuity’, that phrase must be understood as containing some such implicit condition as this ‘Provided no successor of mine revokes this declaration’.


Another fallacious argument is used when traddies ‘set up shop’ in a particular diocese without their priests having gone through the normal process of applying to the bishop for faculties to hear Confessions, conduct marriages and so forth.   The argument is ‘We’re in a state of emergency, so there’s no time to dot all the ‘i’s and cross all the ‘t’s; thus faculties are provided by the principle Ecclesia supplet.’ Though I agree with the premise of this argument – we are in a state of emergency – I would turn the conclusion on its head. Precisely because we are in a state of emergency, we must be even more careful to show respect for Church authority – and with even greater reason, when we disagree with it. (It is only then that our respect is really tested.) Otherwise, we risk scandalizing the faithful by our defiance. This is the lesson taught us by the Saints.   For example, when an excommunication was purportedly fulminated against St Mary Mackillop, though she was assured by her Jesuit confessors of its invalidity due to the lack of canonical form and so forth, to avoid scandal she complied with the decree in public, receiving the Sacraments only privately.


Yet another error is made by traddies in confounding what is not in Tradition with what is against Tradition. For example, Eucharistic Prayer III is not in Tradition, but that does not mean it is “untraditional”. In fact the history of the Roman Rite over the centuries is to a considerable degree one of additions which ex hypothesi were not in the liturgy before – and yet traddies themselves accept those accretions.


Sometimes however they do not accept deletions, even in the Old Rite. For example some traddy priests will say Mass in its pre-1962 form– with Octaves, Third Confiteor and so forth – justifying themselves with the Thomistic principle that an unjust law is no law.   But while this principle is very important, it is misapplied here. For even assuming the deletions made to reach the 1962 form were unjust, there is, once again, the question of scandal. No priest in 1962 would have thought himself entitled to use a pre-1962 form of the Mass, whatever his personal attitude to the changes. And if it is admissible, now, for a priest to use a pre-1962 form, where does it all end? Can he say Mass as it was said in 1900? 1600? 1500?


In general, the challenge for traddies is to accept the validity of changes in Church law, despite there being no obligation to like or to agree with these developments. To give only a few examples, as Catholics we are obliged to accept, whether we like it or not, the validity of satisfying our Sunday obligation by attending Mass on Saturday evening; the legitimacy of using lay ministers of Communion in the circumstances spelled out by Vatican documents; and the fact that many preconciliar indulgences have been abrogated.


In speaking of traddy errors I am of course presenting a composite picture; not every traddy falls into every error. For example, not a few traddy priests eschew saying Mass in its pre-1962 form, and will not operate anywhere without the consent of the Bishop. However, one problem that seems to cut across a wide spectrum of traddies is the lack of spiritual direction; interestingly, this lack was commented upon by someone I knew, a traddy seminarian, regarding the traddy church in which he was serving. To be fair, the proportion of traddies without a spiritual director is not necessarily greater than in the Church at large. However, in the case of traddies, the need for SD is even more pressing than for the average Catholic, precisely because they are strong-minded enough to reject much of the broad-scale spiritual direction provided by Church leaders for over fifty years.


Notwithstanding all of the above, traddies perform many sterling services for the Church. Ironically, given all their emphasis on the Latin Mass, their greatest contribution, I believe, is not liturgical but doctrinal. Traddies remind us that Catholic belief is like a ratchet, or a skyscraper – it proceeds in only one direction. We can add further floors (new canonizations and so forth) but we can never take anything away. Furthermore, pace ultramontanists, aggiornamento, as a mere policy, does not participate in this infallibility. And yet, as Fr John Parsons shrewdly observes, while belief in Catholic doctrine has often become optional, belief in aggiornamento is not optional, at least for anyone wanting to go places in the Church.


With only a minute fraction of the conciliar-cum-postconciliar Magisterium being in the extraordinary form guaranteeing that it is infallible per se, there is no a priori impossibility of an inconsistency between some of this (voluminous!) corpus and infallible pre-conciliar belief. Traddies labour especially to demonstrate a contradiction between Vatican II and what the Church has held since time immemorial. However, from what I have seen of their efforts, I am unconvinced. As far as I can tell, the relevant statements of Vatican II are simply too vague to be clearly convicted of error. In this connection I alert readers to a very important book, Religious Freedom, by Arnold T. Guminski and Fr Brian Harrison OS, St Augustine’s Press, South Bend, Indiana USA, 2013. Guminski mounts a traddy-style argument for the inconsistency of Vatican II with preconciliar doctrine, while Fr Harrison maintains the opposite. I believe Fr Harrison wins this debate.


The important thing traddies show us, however, is that there can be a debate. Every statement – even Magisterial – which is not infallible in its own right, must be assessed by reference to the previous, weightier, Magisterium, and if found to be inconsistent with it, rejected.


On the liturgical front also we can learn much from traddies. Firstly, as I believe has been demonstrated by Count Neri Capponi, Advocate of the Roman Rota, the Old Mass was never validly abrogated. Count Capponi points out that an immemorial custom – in this case, saying the Old Mass – cannot be revoked by any authority – such as a Vatican Congregation – lower than the Pope. The Holy Father must do it himself, not through any of his representatives, and since this never happened, the Old Mass was never illegal. In the promulgation of the New Mass banning of the Old Mass was conspicuously absent. To be sure, when the Pope revises the Order of Mass, this can be taken as a tacit banning of the previous, unrevised version; however this argument will not work in the case of the Old Mass, because the difference between the two Rites is too great. [Count Capponi, I am glad to say, would not be accounted a ‘hard-line’ traddy, since he told me he attended the Latin Mass on Sundays and the Novus Ordo on weekdays (perhaps faute de mieux).]


Secondly, traddies recapture a sense of decorum for the liturgy and for Church architecture and internal furnishings. Tragically, after Vatican II, there was much re-inventing of the wheel. For instance, so much beautiful Church music was ditched in favour of the tawdry and banal. Another instance (one could go on and on, but it would be too depressing) was the ripping out of the altar rails. Often such changes were justified by the “spirit of Vatican II”; the word “spirit” conveniently avoiding any need to defend the innovation by a specific quotation from the Council documents.

External beauty in everything connected with Divine worship obviously has a value per se but also because of the weakness of our faith. It is harder to perceive the One who is Supreme Beauty in the midst of so much that is trite, commonplace, or even downright ugly.

Traddies however need to be reminded that ‘all the glory of the King’s daughter is within’ (Ps 44:14; sometimes given as Psalm 45, but I am a traddy when it comes to Scripture!). A Novus Ordo celebration in a hideous church, with painfully bad music and so on, may actually give more glory to God than a beautifully conducted Old Mass in an exquisite church, if the hearts of those present are not so much on fire for God. And it may sometimes be advisable to trade one form of beauty against another, eg forgo some additional time enhancing the celebration, for the sake of bringing extra people to it.



The Church of today is indeed a sorry sight. With souls falling into Hell like autumn leaves, we fritter away precious time and energy in bitter internecine strife. One might almost be tempted to despair, were it not for Our Lady’s promise at Fatima: ‘In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph’.


I do not mean we should not oppose error; indeed, much of my priesthood has been spent attempting to do just that. But when someone formulates an assertion ‘savouring of heresy’, then as St Ignatius Loyola says at the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises, we should be more ready to save the proposition than to condemn it, and if after due enquiry as to what the person meant, there is no possible interpretation in which the statement is correct, still wherever possible we should attack the error, not the errer.


If we should be chary of ascribing material heresy to anyone, our reluctance should be intensified one thousand fold when it is a question of formal heresy, because of the moral judgment involved. I always tell people angry at hearing heresy from a priest ‘Don’t judge him; pray for him. Ten to one he’s been taught that heresy in the seminary!’. He might believe in good faith that the Church has changed her teaching on this point.


Quite apart from that issue, priests need the support of penance and prayer, being subject to concentrated attacks from the devil on account of their position of leadership in the Church. But if support for priests in this regard has been lacking since time immemorial, still, it is really hard to be a priest today, in the astute observation of a traddy priest and very close friend of mine, since in so far as there was, traditionally, support for priests, in the world as we have it today, this support has largely dissipated.


The charity needed towards priests is merely an intensification of what is required in a Church far more variegated than it was 60 years ago, and presenting greatly increased demands on our tolerance. The Catholic way is to look for good in every individual and group, being far more interested in learning from them than in finding something to criticize. Whereas worldly people are very critical of others, but lazy to improve themselves.


The groups within the Church need more readiness to see that not everyone is called to join them. Rather than a blinkered focus on promoting just one’s own movement, there is sometimes a willingness to look and see what other groups are doing, lest one impinge on that. Where this fails to occur there may be, in the same town, three retreats organized for the same weekend, and then nothing else for months. In the face of so much ‘tunnel vision’ I am always heartened to come across individuals who are ‘interdisciplinary’; one surprising example, in my experience, being self-confessed caros with a penchant for the Latin Mass.


Even if one does not feel oneself drawn towards a particular group, we must recognize how the Spirit is moving there. For instance, since Vatican II, while long-standing Orders often rejected traditional expressions of religious life such as the habit, literally hundreds of new religious communities have sprung up emphasizing precisely those discarded expressions. Laus Deo semper et Mariae!


In general, what attitude should we take towards aggiornamento? Many official directions are prudential and such that it is not immediately evident whether or not the decision is correct. Take for example the decision to allow greatly extended use of vernacular in the Mass. I am no liturgical peritus, but even if I were, and I made a lifetime study of this point, I doubt I could attain certainty on the matter. In such cases the better policy, I submit, is to go along with the way the Church has been moving – at least until such time as there is an official volte face. (On the particular issue of changes in the liturgy it is I believe significant that even though the Latin Mass is often promoted by those with no experience of the preconciliar Church, most of those I have found who do have such experience are glad the Mass has changed. They feel they can participate better in the New Mass.) This way of ‘thinking with the Church’ was recommendable even before the canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II – and all the more now.


Of course, holiness is quite compatible even with grave error; to give just one kind of historical instance, Saints have sometimes erred on even such a fundamental question as who was legitimate Pope. So the mere fact that as Catholics we are now required to believe that John XXIII and John Paul II are in Heaven does not exclude the possibility of one or other Pope sometimes making even sizable faux pas. (More generally, an overall preparedness to go along with aggiornamento does not preclude a belief that the policy has been mistaken on some individual points, and in fact I have this belief; details are beyond the scope of this article.) However, if on a particular point it cannot be proved they were wrong, but neither can it be shown they were right, the more logical course is a provisional acceptance of the direction they provide. With the proponents of aggiornamento working miracles, it is reasonable to ask that the opponents begin working them also.

Pope Francis calls out ‘greedy’ bankers: ‘Stop getting rich on financial speculation!’


Published time: June 17, 2014 08:35
Edited time: June 17, 2014 14:10

Pope Francis (Reuters / Giampiero Sposito)

Pope Francis (Reuters / Giampiero Sposito)

Pope Francis has called on “greedy” bankers to establish a stricter ethics code, and stop getting rich through financial market speculation. He attacked the practice of hedging as ‘intolerable’ equating it to stealing food from the poor.

“It is increasingly intolerable that financial markets are shaping the destiny of peoples rather than serving their needs, or that the few derive immense wealth from financial speculation while the many are deeply burdened by the consequences,” Pope Francis said at an investors ethics’ seminar at the Vatican on Monday.

Specifically, the pope denounced the practice of betting on the price of commodities such as corn, meat, and rice, which can drive up food prices and trigger periods of starvation in parts of the worlds.

“Speculation on food prices is a scandal which seriously compromises access to food on the part of the poorest members of our human family,” he said.

This Pope called for an end to this “scandal” and said that finance institutions should serve the interests of all mankind, and not just wealthy and privileged individuals.

Pope Francis has been more vocal than any other Pope on the modern superstructure of wealth, which in his first major published work as a Pope, The Joy of the Gospel, he slammed as a “new tyranny” and called on the rich to share their wealth. In the same speech he equated not sharing wealth with the poor to stealing.


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Pope Francis Sacks Entire Board of Vatican’s Financial Watchdog

Pope Francis Sacks Entire Board of Vatican’s Financial Watchdog

Juan C. Zarate


Noah Rayman@noahrayman

11:30 AM ET


The pontiff has replaced the all-Italian board of the Financial Information Authority with an international group of new members – including Juan C. Zarate, a Harvard professor and former Bush Administration official

Pope Francis replaced the entire, all-Italian board of the Vatican’s internal financial watchdog Thursday amid clashes over the pace of reform, the Boston Globe reports.

The Financial Information Authority was created in 2010 to combat money laundering and bring the Vatican into compliance with international standards, and Pope Francis has brought a renewed focus on the agency since he was elected over a year ago and made financial reform a priority.

But the board has faced infighting since Swiss anti-money-laundering expert Rene Bruelhart became its director in 2012, capped by Italian Cardinal Attilio Nicora’s resignation as its head in January.

Pope Francis and Bruelhart have pushed for a more international board, with new members hailing from Italy, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.S., including Juan C. Zarate, a Harvard professor and a former official in the George W. Bush administration.


Mother Teresa And The Devil

By Michael H. Brown

It’s all around the newswires. It’s in the headlines. “Exorcism performed on Mother Teresa.” It sounds like something out of the movies — and has to have created shock. How could a woman seen already to be a saint and a sure thing for canonization have been possessed by the devil?

The answer is that Mother Teresa was not possessed, and that the media was playing fast and loose by tossing around the term “exorcism.” Yes, the archbishop who released the information also used the term, but he was referring to a general prayer. He was referring to a lifting of evil. What they did with Mother Teresa was chase away a demon that was trying to assault her (as happens so often) in her final days. The same has afflicted many saints. Mother Teresa’s namesake, Therese of Lisieux, had terrible doubts toward her own end, and there were times when Padre Pio was physically attacked, even bruised, by devils.

And so everyone would be wiser to use the term “deliverance,” and that’s something everyone needs. Let’s recall that Jesus Himself needed the ministering of an angel when Satan tempted Him on the desert. Life is one constant series of encounters with evil, and that’s why Christ put it right there in the Lord’s Prayer: “deliver us from evil.” Actually, in its strictest translation, the prayer ends with the words “deliver us from the evil one.”

So it is that Christ knew we all need constant deliverance and so it is that Mother Teresa was no different. If you were the devil and saw her in a weakened state, you would also have pounced — and that’s what happened to this dear, precious nun: she was not possessed. She was attacked. And it is a time when we are all being attacked. We’re constantly hearing from people complaining about how the evil one has infiltrated their homes, caused division, or led to psychological problems and sickness. We’re seeing incredible things: nastiness at places that are supposed to be holy, harshness among those who are supposed to be on the same side, tremendous jealousies, competitions, and an absolute explosion of pride. Suddenly, everyone is important. Suddenly, everyone is a big deal. And that’s an invitation to demons: where there is pride, Satan (as prince of pride) has a legal territorial right.

As we will be exploring in coming days, this is a time of tremendous spiritual agitation. Every year, the intensity grows — and lately, every week. While many were sitting around waiting for fireworks in the year 2000 — waiting for overly apocalyptical events — the devil has been unleashing a largely undetected spiritual onslaught.

That too is a sign of our times: spiritual warfare. Last winter we carried an article that focused on the official exorcist in Rome, Father Gabriele Amorth, who says we are standing naked before the swarming enemy because dioceses no longer have exorcists, or treat such events as tremendously rare when in fact this is a war fought on a daily and indeed minute-to-minute basis. The stripping away of exorcism rites from Baptism and the elimination of the St. Michael’s prayer at the end of Catholic Mass, as well as the decline of deliverance and healing prayers, have greatly weakened our side at a time when the enemy rages. “Every diocese should have at least one exorcist at the cathedral,” urges Father Amorth, “and every large parish and sanctuary should have one as well.”

Let us add that every home should have an open Bible (preferably turned to Psalm 23 when not in use) and also blessed salt and holy water — which, these days, should be used on a daily basis.


Taken from: