O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pics: Pontifical Low Mass with Cardinal Arinze

Earlier today, I had the privilege of being at Holy Name Church in Providence, RI (which consequently is where I go to Mass most weeks) for a Pontifical Low Mass celebrated by Cardinal Arinze for the feast of St. Wenceslaus on the occasion of his visit to the parish and the diocese. Mass was "from the throne" (being a cardinal, he can do so anywhere outside Rome), even though he didn't actually go to it because it was a Low Mass. Only the priests serving as deacons of the throne went there. This was the first time that His Eminence has offered the Traditional Mass. The assistance of several priests serving as archpriest and deacons of the throne kept his mistakes to a minimum (being a Low Mass, they were simply in cassock and surplice). I think many a priest wishes he could have had an assistant priest helping him the first few times he offered the Tridentine Mass because then he would have made far fewer mistakes. Being a prelate has its advantages. Personally, I think that if a priest is new to the Traditional Mass (even if he has been ordained for some time) he should be allowed an archpriest for his first few Masses as if he was a newly ordained priest.

In his homily, Cd. Arinze juxtaposed St. Wenceslaus with modern day government leaders. St. Wenceslaus was Duke of Bohemia and lived from 907-935. He was highly devout, assisting at Mass daily and even prayed the Divine Office daily. He was also devoted to giving alms and made a point to take care of the poor. His brother hated him for ruling this way, so he killed him and made himself duke. So St. Wenceslaus was killed by his own brother at the age of 28. St. Wenceslaus put his faith on display in every part of his life. His Eminence went on to say that St. Wenceslaus is a role model for us in that we must put our faith on display always, in every part of our life. He said we are not Christians just one hour a week on Sunday morning. We need to put our faith on display at home, taking care of the family. We need to put our faith on display when we go to work, whether we are blue collar workers or Senators in Washington. No one can say that "I am a Catholic, but..." and then tolerate some position contrary to the faith. That is hypocrisy. Such a person is not practicing the faith. Practicing the faith means practicing the faith always, even when serving in the government. It reminded me of his statement here.

Now the part you all want to see, the pictures:

Wide-shot of the Sanctuary before Mass

Close-up of the altar. Notice how the crucifix has a
pontifical candle built into it for just such an occasion. 

Prayers at the Foot of the Altar 


Kyrie and Gloria


Gospel. Notice the bugia was used.


Deacons of the Throne during the homily.




Elevation of the Sacred Host

Elevation of the Precious Blood

Domine Non Sum Dignus


Communion Verse

Dominus Vobiscum

Final Blessing

Last Gospel

Leonine Prayers



His Emminence blesses some Brides of Christ after Mass

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Raising Sinners from the Dead

XV Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
EpsitleGal. 5:25,26; 6:1-10 [If we live in the Spirit, we shall be guided by the Holy Ghost.]
GospelLk. 7:11-16 [Raising of the Son of the Widow of Naim]

Because the world and the Church are so filled with sin, us faithful Catholics spend much time praying for the conversion of the unfaithful Catholics (or at least we should be). We all have friends and family who are living lives of horrible sin. God created them with a great dignity and beauty but they degrade themselves to objects of pleasure and surround themselves with empty pleasure. After all, everyone says it's good, society says it's good and you can't go against it because then you're "uptight" or "intolerant". However, we know better. We know that all this goodness, is just a veneer on the outside to make sins look attractive. God created our loved ones (and ourselves too) to share in His beauty and His life, which continues forever and is the beauty for which.we were designed. But they all (and us too sometimes) turned away from that in favor of passing pleasure, an artificial beauty that rots away and leads only to Hell as it is a rejection of God in favor of ideas made up by man.

We can contemplate God's plan, His Majesty and our Divinely created beauty and see just how wrong they are and how much better they should be. But instead they degrade themselves and live a lie. They act as if these ideas made up by man are true and as if Divine Truth were a delusion. We see the truth but there is no way we could ever convince them of the truth. There is nothing we could ever say that will convince them to clean up there live and stop degrading themselves in sin the same way that there is no way that the widow or anyone else in Naim could raise up the young man from the dead. He was dead and that was it. There was no bringing him back. In the same way, sinners are dead in sin and they are gone, they have moved on, and they don't want us in their lives because we condemn the sins they love so dearly and try to force our opinions on them as if they were from God. They are gone forever and there is no bringing them back. At least that is what we are told by the world, which serves Satan alone. God tells us the opposite. He can raise sinners from the dead the same way he rose the son of the widow of Naim. He can convince sinners to return when no one else can. So let us stay close to Christ where it is safe. Let us trust in Him and give our loved ones to Him that He might draw them close to Himself and purify them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Patron of Politicians was a Crooked Tax Collector

Feast of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist - II Class
Commemoration of Ember Wednesday in September

As Ember Wednesday in September, this is the first day of Autumn on the Church's calendar. Autumn is also election season in the US. Sure, the big election (for President of the US) is next year, but there are elections every year at one level of government or another. St. Matthew is the patron saint of politicians as he was a crooked tax collector. This is a great day to pray for elected officials. We should try to convert them. If a rotten crook like St. Matthew can convert, than so can any politician. If a hate-monger like St. Paul can convert, then so can any anti-Catholic bigot. If a promiscuous man like St. Augustine...you get the idea. We hear much about the conversions of Sts. Paul and Augustine, but not much of the conversion of St. Matthew. Considering how politicians are typically corrupt tax collectors, we need greater devotion to St. Matthew.

Whenever we want something, we simply pray for it. Ungrateful people pray and expect God to give it to them right away as if God was bound to obey them. They are like bratty children who demand things of their parents as if their parents were bound to obey them. The devout pray and beg knowing that they might not get what they want, as it is God's decision and not theirs. They are like children who nag incessantly for something, anxious because they know that they might not get it. Someone more devout will not only pray but also do penance to ask God for something. They are like children who not only beg, but also do work around the house to gain what they ask for.

The bigger the petition, the more prayer and penance is required to obtain it. We hear in today's Gospel (or what would have been the Gospel if it wasn't St. Matthew's feast-day), "This kind of devils can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting." Does that mean that we can gain anything? Of course not. God will only give that which He wills to give. Accordingly, the biggest penance we can offer is our own wills, letting God decide what our lives will be, what will become of us, and letting Him move us where He wants us to go, giving things we want up to God. Of those things, the fire of His love will destroy that which is evil and polish that which is good. This is a very necessary step to take in this life, since if we die with those evil things on our souls, the resulting fire and suffering is rather...permanent. The fire and suffering of this life is brief and passing, since this life is brief and passing. So let us suffer now and not later.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rite of Betrothal

Una Voce Portugal recently posted this on the Rite of Betrothal (in Portuguese, Ecce Homo translation, emphases & comments):

Currently the period of engagement is merely the time span that goes from the engagement until the marriage properly so called. The future marriage is taken for granted [Nooo... That presupposes that marriage is something you do and that you will accomplish. No. It is a vocation and an act of God, not an act of man and woman. It is something that God conforms you to, that His love for His Bride the Church might be reflected in your love for each other.], so the engagement is seen only as a period of preparation for "external" aspects of marriage. [No. Marriage is not merely something exterior and physical. While it has an external/physical aspect, it is even more so internal and spiritual. It is a vocation and a state in life like the priesthood or religious life.] But engagement is not only that, at least it shouldn't be for the Christian who loves God. [Indeed.] It is a period of preparation, yes, but not just of the exterior. It is above all a period of internal preparation. It is a period of serious reflection and prayer about one's vocation. [Marriage is not natural as much as it is supernatural. The couple's love reflects God's love and that union is used by God to create new life.] The Christian must ask whether the marriage is in fact his vocation, and if so, whether it is with the person to whom he just got engaged. [It is not to be taken lightly as it is not something you do as a couple, but rather something God does to the two of you.] It is a period in which the couple will deepen mutual understanding of each other. This may seem strange to modern man, because now the period of courtship involves mutual knowledge already; many times, couples date for many years before getting married, if they ever get married one day. [That greatly devalues marriage as it isn't something "special" anymore. They have already given their bodies away and made them common and used.]

The rite of betrothal ends up being more than a mere formalization of the intention to marry, as is the case in the secular world. The rite of betrothal is in a certain way an anticipation of marriage; one sees through signs the reality of what is to come. [I am reminded of the Offertory prayers at Mass which anticipate the Consecration. The priest offers up the bread and wine as he will shortly thereafter offer up the Body and Blood of the Lord.] The bride and groom communicate their intention to marry not only to one another but to God and the whole Church. [They are not alone. They have God helping them.] The bride and groom exchange promises, which in some way prefigure the vows they will exchange vows in matrimony, and the priest blesses the engagement ring (which becomes a sacramental) and the couple. Thereafter, the engagement is no longer just in the hands of the couple - it is in the hands of God, and is helped by the prayers of the Church. [The engagement started with God as He was the one who called them to the Married Vocation. Now they have accepted God's will and offered it back to Him that He might consummate it.]

The rite reflects above all on the dependence on God on the part of the couple. [Marriage is from God and done by God, so they cannot do anything of themselves.] The marriage is not taken for granted. Your preparation - especially the internal - is put in the hands of the Lord, asking His help so that you can get to the first day of your particular vocation which is marriage. [If your love is true, it came from God, so therefore you could never do anything without Him, as He is the source of everything.] Marriage is a mutual submission through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, and one must begin to prepare for this reality since the beginning. [If you go into it with the wrong idea, that marriage is a contract, the "next step" of human affection, or whatever, then you will have to restart from the beginning and learn that marriage is really a reflection of Christ's love for the Church between a man and a woman, the union of which exists that God might use it as an environment to beget children. This immediately rules homosexuality and contraception as intrinsically evil and sacrileges against the Sacrament of Matrimony, as they cannot result in pregnancy. It doesn't matter how unpopular or "offensive" the truth is, it's still true.] Who is not aware of this reality should not be married. [Amen!]

At a time when there is much confusion about marriage, which is despised or instead people try to equate homosexual unions with this, it makes sense to recover/(re-)introduce the rite of betrothal. This clear distinction between dating, courtship, and marriage, also helps to emphasize that each state [in life] has its requirements and limitations, and that not everything is permitted to all states. [!!!] We are called to bear witness to our faith - this is a visible and clear testimony. This remains as a suggestion for our readers.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Love You, That Means I Don't Love You

XIV Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: Gal. 5:16-24 [The desires of the spirit and the lusts of the flesh.]
Gospel: Mt. 6:21-33 [Service of two masters; God provides for our needs.]
Full Latin-English propers here.

I've mentioned it in the past that the English language is inadequate in describing love. There are two words in Latin that are translated love. The problem is that they are contrary to one another. Dilectio is a self-less, sacrificial desire. It is supernatural. It is a grace from God that moves the person to sacrifice themselves to take care of another in this life and into the next. Amor is a natural human emotion that seeks pleasure and a happy life from another. Dilectio is self-less and giving, expecting nothing in return, whereas amor is selfish and only seeks to gain happiness and good times. The Greeks call dilectio agape and amor philos. Some might argue that using the terms amor and philos to refer to lust is an insult to the words amor and philos.

However, the English language (which isn't alone on the matter, Portuguese makes the same mistake) insists on translating the two words the same way. St. Paul tells us plainly today that "these are contrary one to another". Indeed one is supernatural, the other natural. One is self-less, the other selfish. St. Paul also says that both change you "so that you do not the things that you would." While lust is a part of human nature, it isn't supposed to exist. It is a part of fallen human nature. It degrades the human person, created by God, and not just one of God's creatures, but the masterpiece of the Divine Artist, endowed with a certain beauty above all creation. Lust degrades this person with such great beauty into a piece of flesh to be used for pleasure. She, a person created by God for a purpose He Himself selected, becomes but an object used for someone's pleasure.

Dilectio on the other hand, is not natural. It never was and never will be. It is supernatural. It is a grace from God. It is the very Love of God, the fire of the Holy Ghost, between two people. It is God teaching them how to care for each other, that His love for His Bride the Church, giving His whole Self for Her on the cross, might be reflected as clearly as possible in their love for each other. When someone loves another, he does not look at her the way everyone else looks at her. He sees her differently. He looks at her the way God looks at her. That is love; God teaches him to look at his beloved the way God looks at her. God elevates him above his natural ways of thinking to Divine ways of thinking; that he might see the bigger picture: her Divinely designed place in this word and the two extreme opposite possibilities for the next life: the glory of Heaven and the eternal fire of Hell. Love famously changes you, but it is a sad error in judgement to mistake one for the other and say that dilectio is bad or amor is good. The two are so extremely contrary to each other that the difference is literally the difference between Heaven and Hell.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why Criticizing Public Breastfeeding is Hypocrisy

I found this via Facebook (a word of warning, it contains samples of lewd magazine covers and ads). It's about how society hypocritically condemns public breastfeeding when sexually provocative clothing and nude ads are considered normal and even win awards. Two women exposing themselves, one is OK, the other isn't. That's textbook hypocrisy.

The important differences here are first of all that sexually provocative ads degrade the body from the beautiful masterpiece of the Divine Artist to a piece of meat to be used for pleasure, whereas breastfeeding is not a degradation, but rather the fulfillment of the body's Divinely designed purpose. The other difference is that a woman breastfeeding in public will reveal <5% of her body (if anything at all) and is considered lewd, whereas the sexually provocative ads reveal 80+% of the female body and is considered "good" (because we don't want to be "uptight" or "prudes"). So showing your breasts in a sexually provocative manner, but not using them, isn't lewd, but if you use them for their natural purpose, even if you are not revealing them, then you're lewd? Is that the big difference? That you can show off your breasts all you want, so long as you don't use them for their correct purpose? But as soon as you start respecting your breasts and using them properly, it doesn't matter how much skin you show, you're lewd. So what then do we say to all this? What offends the world is obeying God and using things the way He designed them to be used. What pleases the world is pride and disobedience, perverting God's creation for what mankind considers "good". That's the difference. When you behave virtuously, the world is offended, but if you behave sinfully, then you are "good" and not "up-tight". That's why a harlot perverting her body on a magazine cover is OK, but a modest mother breastfeeding is lewd. The world loves vice and hates virtue.

When it comes to gaining proper respect for the human body, especially the female body, the most powerful intercessor is the Blessed Virgin Mary, not only for her obvious purity, but also because of the many images of Maddona Lactans, Our Lady of the Milk. Now I have no idea why there are parrots in the painting below, but the human body is a work of art created by God, not something to be used for pleasure, so therefore nudity has featured in sacred art for centuries. The Sistine Chapel ceiling (under which the popes are elected) and Michelangelo's David are the most famous examples. The Christ-Child appears nude in sacred art all the time, Maddona Lactans images in particular. Our Lady of the Milk is an important devotion for promoting proper respect for the human body, as it is about the body being used for it's correct purpose, not being degraded for pleasure. Also, breastfeeding is the particular issue pertaining to the body that we're talking about in the first place.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Fate Worse than Leprosy & the Land of Make-Believe

XIII Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: Gal. 3:16-22 [Abraham's Faith and the Law]
Gospel: Lk. 17:11-19 [Cleansing of the Ten Lepers]
Full Latin-English propers here.

When we consider just what leprosy is like, it becomes clear why the Law of Moses threw lepers out of society and why these 10 lepers kept their distance and had to raise their voices to be heard by Our Blessed Lord. Simply put, leprosy causes the body to decompose while it is still alive. Leprosy is not a disease, but rather a type of disease. The Book of Leviticus, in chapter 13, describes leprosy as any illness that leaves shining white sores that go down below the skin. Leviticus describes the many different kinds of leprosy, what is healthy and what is not. Any such disease is leprous and will cause body parts to rot and fall off. It is extremely contagious. Close contact results in one catching the disease and likewise having their body rot while still alive until they die.

What leprosy is to the body, sin is to the soul. God created us humans with a great beauty and dignity for the purpose of knowing, loving, and serving Him. Our purpose, the meaning of life, is to be joined to God forever, sharing in the joy of Our Lord. Sin then is a rejection of God and His Statutes in favor of whatever pleasures society and the world say are good and laudable. Sin is a degradation of the person from the great dignity God gave to human beings in order to make people happy or just go after empty pleasure. Sin degrades the person more and more the longer it persists. The more concrete and all-consuming the sins become, the more degraded they are from the beauty and purpose for which they were created.

Like leprosy, sin is extremely contagious as people constantly tolerate sin, give in to sin, and participate in sin to avoid offending others. They degrade themselves and attack God through their sins for the sake of not offending others. Then, to rub it in God's face and make matters worse, they lie and say that God accepts their sin, that He has no problem with it because He is all-loving or all-merciful. They are so addicted to their sins that they deny the fact that God is all-just and deny the existence of Hell or that anyone actually goes there because the pleasure and happiness they desire is so important to them that they want even God Himself to bow down before them to help them get it and not punish them for it.

People will do anything to legitimize sin, even taking a part of the Catholic Faith out of context and lie about it to defend their sin, all the while denying the parts of the Catholic Faith that prove them wrong. They consider the sin to be good, so no one can call it bad, not even God Himself. It is a satanic, all-consuming pride. Some such sinners (sodomites) openly call it pride and consider it a good thing. People will use any such excuse to defend sin, creating a fictional, fanciful version of the Faith where their sin is tolerable. They will use their excuses and these lies about the faith to promote their sin to anyone who will listen and all those who won't. Therein lies the contagiousness of sin. Those who practice it fight and claw with every ounce of strength to promote it and legitimize it, because they are so addicted to it that they do not want it to go away.

It is clear then that sin is a horrible, evil disease that goes about in sheep's clothing. Just looking at this landscape is depressing, but we have two things in our favor. First, we must keep our distance from sin. It is not enough to know that those promoting sin are wrong and (when speaking of God) are lying about God. We must avoid them entirely. We cannot stay and fight, as temptation is a battle that is only won by cowards. The only way to win against temptation is to flee from it and towards God and Our Lady. The other thing in our favor is that Christ cures the disease of sin as fast as He cured the lepers. The One who allegedly tolerates "sin" because He is all-loving and all-merciful is the one who brutally destroys sin because it degrades His creation and goes against the very reason why that creation exists in the first place. That same creation is cleansed and made stronger by that brutal destruction of sin, the same way the body is cleansed and made stronger by the destruction of disease. The fact that Christ is all-loving and all-merciful does not mean that He tolerates sin, but rather it means that He destroys sin. Only an idiot, an absolute fool with no regard for his neighbor's well being, will campaign for "leper's rights", that people have the right to live with deadly leprous diseases if they so desire and that we need to tolerate lepers and that God loves them anyway. That is absolute stupidity and a blatant disregard for people's health. Anyone with any sense whatsoever will fight and claw to cure the lepers. We must do likewise with sin. No sin is any different. A land of make-believe where God tolerates sin is exactly that.

This fight against sin for the well-being and dignity of God's creation is not anything that can be put off. If someone is dead in sin and they die, then they are forever dead in sin and burn in Hell, which let's face it, is far more populated than Heaven. After the Yaroslavl Air Disaster last week and the 9/11 anniversary today, I don't need to remind you that we can die at any moment. The gravity of the problem demands action now; not action after we do whatever we have to do in life, but right now. Even if we cannot do anything else, we can always pray for conversions and pray for our own sanctification. Once the sinner dies, he is forever a sinner and burns for all eternity. That includes ourselves. We have our own souls to save. Nothing is more important.

Benedict XVI on IX/XI

It seems a little eerie just how symmetrical 9/11 is in roman numerals. This is the Holy Father's statement on the 10th anniversary:
To my Venerable Brother
The Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [and Archbishop of New York, no less.]

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

On this day my thoughts turn to the somber events of September 11, 2001, when so many innocent lives were lost in the brutal assault on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the further attacks in Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. I join you in commending the thousands of victims to the infinite mercy of Almighty God and in asking our heavenly Father to continue to console those who mourn the loss of loved ones.

The tragedy of that day is compounded by the perpetrators’ claim to be acting in God’s name. Once again, it must be unequivocally stated that no circumstances can ever justify acts of terrorism. Every human life is precious in God’s sight and no effort should be spared in the attempt to promote throughout the world a genuine respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of individuals and peoples everywhere.

The American people are to be commended for the courage and generosity that they showed in the rescue operations and for their resilience in moving forward with hope and confidence. It is my fervent prayer that a firm commitment to justice and a global culture of solidarity will help rid the world of the grievances that so often give rise to acts of violence and will create the conditions for greater peace and prosperity, offering a brighter and more secure future.

With these sentiments, I extend my most affectionate greetings to you, your brother Bishops and all those entrusted to your pastoral care, and I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and serenity in the Lord,

From the Vatican, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Tridentine Rite's Instruction on Marriage

Just found this via His Hermeneuticalness (here via here). My comments and emphases:
Encouragement for engaged couples

The following passage is the introduction from the old rite of Marriage. I think that it sums up many of the things that we would want to bring to the mind of a couple who are being married. [Seeing how the ceremony itself starts with immediately with the vows, such an introduction is important to have some sort of proper beginning to the ceremony.]

N. and N., you are about to be married. Now for children of God and members of the Catholic Church marriage is more than a human contract. It is something supernatural and holy and must be approached with that thought in mind. [Love is not a human emotion; it is a grace. Marriage is not a human institution; it is a Divine Institution.] It was God himself who joined our first parents as husband and wife, and with the first nuptial blessing made them the founders of the family and the home. And it was our divine Saviour who raised marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament, thus adding to it the grace he won for us when he died upon the Cross. [Marriage is not a worldly thing, but rather a vocation and a Sacrament...] Remember what St Paul told the Ephesians. The union of a husband and wife is only to be compared with the union between Christ and his Church. [...whereby God shows forth His love for His Bride the Church through the couple. The more the couple's marriage mirrors Christ's sacrificial love for the Church, the healthier it is.]

The life, therefore, to which God has called you, is noble and sublime. Yours it is to cooperate with God in his creation, bringing into the world new lives, to be children of the Church and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. [Marriage is not a worldly thing, but the act of being taken up into God, into His love, into His role as Creator. It is not something the couple does, but rather something God does to them. It is not the result of emotion and commitment to each other, but God's vocation and His plan for them.] Here today, before the altar, in the presence not only of your relatives and friends but of the angels of God and the whole court of heaven, [Marriage does not just exist on the physical level but on the spiritual level as well.] your two lives are to be united in a bond that will endure as long as life shall last. May God in his goodness never cease to strengthen the love that unites you.

Have no fears but rather great confidence. [The Devil wants nothing more than to discourage people into thinking that a virtuous life isn't possible.] Fulfil your religious duties, your prayer, your reception of the Sacraments. [Remember what's the most important.] Learn to love each other, but also to understand each other, sometimes to put up with each other. [Remember the old phrase "many people are married to their penance". Anyone who's been married for any length of time can sympathize.] Keep a place for Our Lord in your home. Where he is, there is no room for the evil things that can destroy your happiness and drive God’s grace away. [God has to be the priority. If you do not seek God, you will fail since the Devil will seek you no matter what.] Ask his holy Mother and St Joseph that they may be with you as well. Model your lives and your home upon theirs [We have the saints as role models and encouragement.]; and may their prayers obtain for you many years of happy life together.
I commented on the Anglican words of introduction here (before finding out these words existed). The Anglican words do a great job of explaining what marriage really is. The Traditional Catholic words (as one would expect) do so with much more precision.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flowers for Mom's Birthday

Feast of the Nativity of the BVM - II Class

Every prayer we give to Our Lady is a flower. The rosary is famously roses, but all kinds of prayers are flowers of every kind given to Our Blessed Mother. This being Mom's Birthday, let's give her some flowers.

In the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the Church prays one of the most well known prayers to the Theotokos, the Birth-giver of God:
It is truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos, who art ever blessed and all-blamelesss, and the mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, thou who without stain barest God the Word, and art truly Theotokos: we magnify thee.
Another famous prayer is the Akathist Hymn:

In the West we sing at Vespers of the Star of the Sea, who illumines the path for the Barque of Peter:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another Tragic Death in Sports: an Entire Team

After reporting on Bobby Rhine's sudden death yesterday, earlier today Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL (Russia's top hockey league) lost their entire team. One of the top teams in Europe's top domestic league, they were on their way to Minsk, Belarus for the first game of the season vs. Dynamo Minsk when their plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Yaroslavl. The plane hit an airport tower then crashed into the Volga River. Every member of the team, plus four from the youth side, was on board. Right winger Alexander Galimov was the only member of the team to survive the crash. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition and I've seen conflicting reports on whether or not he died in the hospital. Many former NHL players were on board. Flight engineer Alexander Sizov was the only survivor among the crew. So far 43 of 45 aboard are confirmed dead including former NHLers Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei, Karel Rachunek, Karlis Skrastins, Josef Vasicek, Alexander Vasyunov, and Brad McCrimmon, who was the coach.

The inaugural match of the KHL season, between last year's Gagarin Cup winners Salavat Yulaev Ufa and runners up Atlant Moscow Oblast was cancelled already in progress and the whole season postponed. The international hockey community is trying to fathom the idea of an entire team-players, coaches, everybody-dying in a horrible tragedy like this. Everyone on that flight did nothing more than get up to go to work and get on a business flight. It was just another day at work. "Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour." (Mt. 25:13) We must always be ready. We must constantly be ready to go be judged by Our Maker at a moments notice. Go to Confession regularly.

Unfortunately this is in the vernacular, but it is an Eastern/Orthodox chant in honor of the dead. I found it appropriate since most of the victims are Russian:


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This is Why We Go to Confession Regularly

Bobby Rhine, 35, dies of apparent heart attack - 3RD Degree - FC Dallas Blog - ESPN Dallas

I went on Twitter looking for the USA's starting XI vs. Belgium (with the match to kickoff shortly) and I found out this bit of news via Taylor Twellman. Bobby Rhine was a professional footballer who recently became a TV announcer. With that sort of life, he was certainly not in ill health. He was vacationing with his family during the international break when he died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack. This is why we go to confession regularly. "Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour." (Mt. 25:13) Any one of us could drop dead unexpectedly at any moment. Yesterday, it was Bobby Rhine's turn to experience exactly that. None of us can predict when it will be our turn. Let us be ready to meet our Maker, for we know not the day nor the hour.

Robertus et omnes fidelium animae requiescant in pace.

Monday, September 5, 2011

St. Joseph, Patron of Labor, Pray for Us

Today is Labor Day here in the States (we refuse to do it on May 1 because that's communist), so that calls for something in honor of St. Joseph. Here is his hymn from the office:

This is a great day to pray for those who suffer from a lack of labor, the unemployed-which includes myself.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Let Love Burn!

XII Sunday after Pentecost - II Class
Epistle: II Cor. 3:4-9 [The Faith is not about legal requirements, but about love.]
Gospel: Lk. 10:23-37 [The Two Commandments and the Good Samaritan]

You can ask the question, "What does one have to do in order to be a good Catholic?" and immediately get a thousand different answers. Internal modernist corruption aside, that is partly because we have so many laws and so many requirements and so many procedures. People often criticize the Law of Moses and the book of Leviticus for having a array of strict and complicated laws, but I don't see how Canon Law is any simpler. We can follow all the Church's canons and rubrics and laws of every kind to the t, but unless we live fueled by Divine Love, then we are nothing, we are chaff blowing in the wind, we are pharisees. St. Paul famously said, "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." (I Cor. 13:1)

The entire spiritual life, the entire life of a Catholic, all the complex and extensive rules, canons, and laws are summed up by the two Commandments. First and foremost, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind". This is above and before all other things. We are to love God with our whole being. In the second place, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." This is secondary. This is after loving God. This is to a much lower standard. When we love God, we are to love Him using our whole person, every drop of our being. When we love our neighbor, we are merely to love that person the way we love ourselves. Why this difference? Why are we to love God with far greater intensity than our neighbor? Why are we to love God with far greater priority than our neighbor? God loved us first. Before He created us he loved us (cf. Jer 1:5). God loves us with a Divine sacrificial love. It is a love where you give everything, your entire person and everything you have to take care of the other person. Christ poured out everything of Himself on the cross, giving everything He was and everything He had to take care of His Bride the Church.

This is love: a self-giving and a self-sacrifice for the good of another. Love does not seek good times but rather the good of another. Any idiot can stick with you through good and happy times. Only someone who actually loves you will stay faithful to you through pain and suffering in a miserable life. Love expresses itself through many different means: there is love of bride, love of sister, love of friend, but the greatest is love of God. Why is this the greatest? First and foremost, God loved us first. God gave His entire self on the cross to get us to Heaven. He has given us His love and one of the main characteristics of love is that love wants to be reciprocated. A man's love for his wife moves him to give himself entirely to take care of her, for her greater good, but it also causes him to want her to give herself in return. Love wants to be reciprocated. God loved us first and wants us to return His love. Since His love is so great and infinite, we then owe our whole selves to Him. We would not even exist unless He created us and we cannot survive death unless He allows it. Further, we are not capable of loving unless God teaches us how. When two people are joined by love, that love is a grace from God, His presence between them, pushing them to take care of each other. When you love someone, you are merely looking at them the way God looks at them. At this point God is the absolute highest priority for our lives.

Christ loving His Bride the Church on the cross is the supreme lesson in how to love. He gave Himself to get her to Heaven. That is how we are love ourselves: we do whatever it takes, no matter how unpleasant or unpopular to get ourselves to Heaven. We would be fools beyond all telling to burn infinitely and for all eternity in exchange for a few years or decades of pleasure here in this life. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. That means we do whatever it takes, no matter how unpleasant or unpopular to get our neighbor to Heaven. If we let our neighbor burn infinitely and for all eternity in exchange for a few years or decades of pleasure here in this life, then we do not care about them. There is no love in that. We are letting them burn, just to make them happy now in this life. That is not love. That is negligence. We are abandoning them. This brings us to the parable of the Good Samaritan. What lesson does this parable teach? It teaches us that all people we encounter are our neighbor. It is not just our family members and loved ones, but also random people we meet on the street. That is what the parable actually means. It means we are to love others even if it isn't convenient. We do whatever we can to help get them to Heaven, just like the Samaritan did whatever he could to get someone to good health-and it wasn't even someone he knew; it was a random person on the street.

This is the life of a good Catholic: loving God, giving everything you are to Him, reciprocating His love for you and then letting that love burn through you in the way you love others, doing whatever it takes, no matter how unpopular, to get them to Heaven. All the legal and canonical obligations all of a sudden aren't burdens anymore. At this point, you want to do them because you love God and by them you are giving yourself to God. Without love of God all those obligations and requirements are medieval torture, but with love of God, they are sweet and delicious.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tu Scis Quia Diligo Te-You Know That I Love You

Feast of St. Pius X, pope - III Class
Full Latin-English propers here.

Both the Gospel and the Saint are just so juicy today that I can't help but post twice. In English, we don't catch the distinction in what Christ and Peter say, but in the Latin and the Greek we do. The English language is deficient in that it uses the same word for both love, which is a grace, and human emotion, which is a natural passion. In Latin, amor refers to the attraction of human emotion and dilectio refers to Divine Love. In Greek, philos is used for amor, human desire, human passion and agape is used for Divine Love, dilectio. The error committed by the English language is using the word "love" to refer to both dilectio/agape and amor/philos when only the former is correctly called love. The latter is only a natural human desire, a human passion.

If you look at the Latin of today's Gospel (linked above) you will see that Our Lord uses two words when asking, "lovest thou me?" The first time he asks of Peter, "diligis me?", "Do you love Me with a Divine Love, the love of agape?" St. Peter responds, "tu scis quia amo te", "You know that I love You with a human emotion, the passion of philos". The same interchange happens again. Christ asks "diligis me?", "Do you love Me with a Divine Love, the love of agape?" and is told "tu scis quia amo te", "You know that I love You with a human emotion, the passion of philos". Then Our Blessed Lord changes the question. The third time He asks, He says, "Amas me?" "Do you love Me with human emotion, the passion of philos?" St. Peter is sad. He sees that he was being offered Divine Love and kept running away into human emotion. Now, he has lost that offer of Divine Love. He could have more. He could have had such a great gift. Now he has less because of his own stubbornness.

There is a lesson in here that we all must learn and that lesson is that when God offers us something, we must take it. We cannot hold out for something better. When God offers us something, then that is the best thing for us. God-who designed and created us mind you-knows us better than we know ourselves and-being infinitely powerful-can make us far happier than we can make ourselves. Therefore, when God offers us something, we must take it. It is the best thing for us. It might not make sense at the time, but later on it will be obvious why it was the best thing for us all along. God knows the future; we don't. God knows what we will need in the future and He prepares us now. So while what God offers us now is not what we want, it is what we need and it will be obvious later why we need it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Bridegroom and the Sorrowful Mysteries

I was praying the Sorrowful Mysteries before the Blessed Sacrament earlier and I was inspired to make these meditations on each of the Sorrowful Mysteries based on the Nymphios (Bridegroom).

1. The Agony of the Lord in the Garden of Olives
Christ the Bridegroom contemplates the sins of His Bride the Church, recalling each one in His All-Knowing Mind. The pain each act caused Him was so great that blood vessels in His Sacred Head burst and bled into His pores, the Nymphios sweating bullets of blood. The weight of her sins being more than what His Human Body could bear. He is terrified of what is about to happen, knowing He is about to die, but it is worth it, because it is all being done for her sake. In the midst of all His pain, He offers Himself up to the Father to take care of His Bride.

2. The Flagellation of the Lord in the Praetorium
The soldiers take whips consisting of three leather thongs with three small iron barbels on each one. They give Christ the Bridegroom His lashes, leaving whip marks and the iron barbels digging into the flesh of His back, each one like another of her sins digging into His body. In the midst of all His pain, He offers Himself up to the Father to take care of His Bride.

3. The Coronation of the Lord in the Praetorium
Now we see Christ the Bridegroom in full wedding regalia. When the Greeks write an Icon of the Nymphios, this is the image depicted. The Immortal King has a crown of a thousand needles on His head, each one piercing Him like another sin committed by His Bride against Him. He is vested in a demeaning cape and given the reed of mockery. He is mocked and insulted because He loves His Bride and will not give up on her. He could have changed His message to avoid giving offence and make people happy, but He refuses to give up on her; He is determined to be with her forever, for all eternity. This suffering is all worth it, because it is all being done for her sake. In the midst of all His pain, He offers Himself up to the Father to take care of His Bride.

4. The Lord Carries His Cross to Calvary
The Nymphios has a massive beam of wood, weighing more than half His own weight placed across His shoulders. It's splinters dig into His skin. It is the weight of the entire life of sin of His beloved, His precious pearl. It is so heavy He can hardly stand under it, but He soldiers on. He goes out to die, but it is worth it because it is all being done for her sake. He falls repeatedly under the weight, gaining new wounds and bruises as He moves on. His entire body is telling Him to give up, but He can't; He must continue, for her sake. In the midst of all His pain, He offers Himself up to the Father to take care of His Bride.

5. The Crucifixion and Death of the Lord on Calvary
Now we see the consummation of the marriage between Christ and the Church. The cross is the marriage bed of the Church. It is where the Nymphios and His Bride give themselves to each other through the Holy Eucharist. Now all the pains from before come at Him all at once. Knowledge of all her sins, the splinters of the cross digging into the holes left by the whips, the crown of thorns piercing Him like a thousand needles on His head, the crowd mocking Him because of His commitment to His cause. At the same time nails pierce Him like liquid fire punching through Him in four spots at once. He is naked, on full display to be mocked, unable to move and unable to even breathe. He is frozen in pain. His life have been lived. There is nothing else to look forward to now. He knows He is about to die. As the last few drops of life pour out of Him, His bruised Heart ruptures from the stress of such a massive loss of blood. He cries out to His Father and offers what little is left of His life for the sake of His beloved Bride. He hangs there, dead from a broken heart, as a soldier opens His side with a lance letting out the last of His Precious Blood. He has given everything for His Bride. He has poured out everything from His fountain. Now, all He needs is for her to come and drink; to bathe in His Blood and be washed of all her sins.