Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Confiteor

 
 
(A form of the Confiteor taken from the Sacramentary of Amiens, c.1001-1100)

Ante conspéctum divínæ majestátis tuæ, Dómine, his sanctis tuis confíteor, ego reus et indígnus peccátor, tibi Deo meo et creatóri meo, mea culpa, quia peccávi, in supérbia, in odio et invídia, in cupiditáte et avarítia, in fornicatióne et inmundítia, in ebrietáte et crápula, in mendácio et perjúrio, et in ómnibus vítiis, quæ ex his pródeunt. Quid plura? Visu, audítu, olfáctu, gustu et tactu et ómnino in cogitatióne et actióne perdítus sum; quapropter qui justíficas ímpios, justífica me et resuscíta me de morte ad vitam ætérnam, Dómine Deus meus.
 
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Before Thy Divine Majesty, O Lord, to these Thy Saints, I, a wretched and unworthy sinner, confess to Thee my God and my Creator that I have sinned through my fault by pride, hatred and envy, lust and avarice, fornication and impurity, drunkenness and gluttony, lying and swearing, and all other vices that derive from these sins. What else? I have damned myself with my sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch and with my every thought and action. Therefore, O Thou Who savest  the wicked, save me and resurrect me from death to eternal life, O Lord my God.
 
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Al cospetto della tua divina maestà, Signore, a questi tui santi, io, colpevole e indegno peccatore, confesso a te, mio Dio e mio creatore, per mia colpa, che peccavi di superbia, di odio e di invidia, di cupidigia e di avarizia, di fornicazione e impurità, di ebbrezza e gola, di menzogna e spergiuro, e tutti i vizi che da questi peccati derivano. Che dire ancora? Mi sono dannato con la vista, con l'udito, con l'olfatto, col gusto, col tatto, col pensiero e con l'azione; quindi, o tu che salvi gli empi, salvami e risuscitami dalla morte alla vita eterna, Signore Dio mio.
 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Homily on the Beginning of the Holy Season of Lent


Homily On The Beginning Of The Holy Season Of Lent
(On fasting)
By John Chrysostom
 
 

I arose this morning with more than the usual enthusiasm since I wanted to become a herald for you of the approach of Lent — the medicine, I might say, for your souls.  Like a loving father, you see, the Lord of us all, in his desire that we be cleansed of the sins we have committed with the passing of time, desired a remedy for us through holy fasting. So let no one be gloomy, no one look sullen, but exult and be glad, and glorify the guardian of our souls, who shows us the best way, and welcome with great joy his approach. 
Let the pagans be ashamed and the Jews dismayed to see the love revealed by our welcoming the approach of this season with such excitement, and let them learn through the experience of these things the extent of the difference between them and us. Let them designate as their feasts and festivals, drunkenness and all other kinds of licentious and shameful behavior, which is typical of them to wallow in, but let the church of God, unlike them, identify feasts with fasting, neglect of the appetite and all the virtues that accompany it.  This, in fact, is a true feast, where there is saving of souls, where there is peace and harmony, where the harsh realities of daily life are missing, without tumult and din and the antics of good cooks and slaughter of brute beasts.  Utter rest and quiet, love and joy, peace and gentleness, and a thousand other good things are the order of the day in place of that other behavior.
          It is not, after all, idly and to no purpose that we have come here, for one person to do the talking and the other simply to applaud what is said, and so for us to off home.  Instead, it is for me to utter something useful and relevant to your salvation, and for you to profit from what is said and so to leave here for home after gaining much benefit.  The church, you see, is a pharmacy of the spirit, and those who come here ought to acquire some appropriate remedies, apply them to their own complaints, and go off the better for it. 
I mean, blessed Paul confirms this, that mere listening without showing practical response is of no value, when he says: “It is not, after all, the listeners to the law who are at rights with God, but doers of the law who are set at rights.”  Christ, too, in his preaching said: “Not everyone saying to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven.”  Accordingly, dearly beloved, since we know that no benefit comes to us from listening unless it is brought to its completion in the good works that follow, let us not be listeners only but doers, so that the works following the words may be for us grounds for confidence.
          I know, of course, that what I say today will strike many of you as novel.  I beg you, however, not to let ourselves heedlessly become the slaves of habit, but let us subject these matter affecting ourselves to the process of reason.  After all, do you get any benefit from daily gluttony and extreme indulgence?  Far from benefit, all you get is harm and intolerable damage.  You see, whenever reason becomes sodden through drinking to excess, immediately the benefit gained from fasting is wiped out without trace. I ask you: what could be more distasteful, what more unseemly than people quaffing wine right up till midnight, up to the dawning of the first rays of the rising sun, reeking to high heaven from drinking all that wine, a disagreeable spectacle to people they meet, an object of contempt to their household, the laughing stock of all who have some little idea of correct behavior and in the eyes of everyone when they draw on themselves the displeasure of God through this extreme intemperance and ill-timed, mindless indulgence.  “Drunkards,” scripture says, “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 
          God forbid that anyone of you gathered here should be overcome by that weakness.  May you instead celebrate each day as it comes with restraint and sobriety, and be free of the storms and tempests that indulgence is accustomed to cause, and thus reach the harbor of your souls — I mean fasting — so as to be in a position to gain its advantages in abundance.  I mean, just as indulgence proves to be cause and promoter of countless evils for the human race, in like manner fasting and neglect of appetite have invariably proved the cause of innumerable benefits to us.  God, you remember in forming human beings in the beginning, knew that they had particular need of this remedy for the salvation of their souls, and so from the outset he gave the first human creature this command: “From all the trees in the garden you are to eat your fill, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil do not eat.”  That text about eating and not eating refers figuratively to fasting. 
Although man was obliged to keep that command, he did not do so: overcome by intemperance and guilty of disobedience, he incurred a sentence of death.  When the devil, as you remember, evil spirit and enemy of our nature as he is, saw the first human being living in the garden, how his life was carefree and how he lived on Earth in bodily form yet like an angel, he wanted to trip him up and dislodge him with the hope of greater promises, and so he cheated him of the possession of what he had.  This is the extent of the evil of not keeping within proper limits but aspiring to greater heights.  A wise man has made this clear in the words:  “Through the devil’s envy death entered the world.”  Do you see, dearly beloved, how from the beginning it was from intemperance that death had its entry?  Notice likewise that later, too, sacred scripture repeatedly accuses indulgence, in one place saying, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to entertain themselves:” in another, “He ate and drank, grew fat and heavy and for his love returned him scorn.”  The inhabitants of Sodom, too, brought that implacable anger upon themselves from this sin, not to mention their other faults.  Listen again to the words of the prophet, “This was the sin of the Sodomites; indulgence amid plenty.”  In short, it crops up repeatedly like some fount of source of every evil.


Do you now recognize the harm caused by intemperance?  Look in turn at the instances of good behavior due to fasting.  The great Moses, after keeping his fast for forty days, was able to get the tablets of the law; and when he came down from the mountain and saw the people’s sin, the tablets which he had been successful in obtaining through such intercession he threw down and smashed, thinking it was preposterous that an indulgent and sinful people should receive laws of the Lord’s own making.  Accordingly, that remarkable prophet had again to undergo forty days of fasting so as to be able to receive again tablets like the ones he had broken through the people’s sin, and bring them down the mountain. 
The great Elijah, too, underwent a similar period of fasting, escaping the power of death and going up as it were into Heaven with a fiery chariot, and to this day he has not experienced death.  Likewise Daniel, passionate man though he was, spent many days fasting and received as recompense an awesome vision so that he tamed the fury of the lions and turned them into the mildest of sheep, not by changing their nature but by diverting their purpose without loss of their ferocity.  The Ninevites made use of this remedy, too, and won from the Lord a reprieve, ensuring that animals as well as human beings should apply the remedy and so abstain each of them from evil practices; thus, they won the favor of the Lord of all.
We could list many other examples celebrated in both Old and New Testaments — but why refer to servants when we should come to the case of the common Lord of us all?  Our Lord Jesus Christ, you know, himself underwent fasting for forty days, and, thus prepared, he entered his contest with the devil, giving us an example that through fasting we should arm ourselves and by acquiring strength from that exercise we should come to grips with that formidable enemy.
          At this point, however, someone who looks critically at things and keeps his faculties alert may perhaps post the question: why is the Lord seen to fast for the same number of days as his subjects, and why did he not surpass that number?  It was not idly or to no purpose that this happened, but according to the Lord’s own wise purposes and his loving kindness.  I mean, in case it would appear that he had simply come on Earth without taking flesh and becoming a human being except in appearance, he fasted for the very same number of days to make this point, not adding any days, so as to curb the rivalry of people wanting to act unrestrainedly.  You see, if there are still those rash enough to speak this way even when the Lord acted as he did, what would they not have attempted to say if he had not in his providence robbed them of any pretext?  So he resisted the temptation to fast for a longer period of days than his subjects; thus he taught us a lesson, that he has taken the human condition on himself and is not living apart from our human situation.
          Since it is now clear to you from the example both of the Lord and his subjects that the value of fasting is considerable, and that great benefit accrues to the soul from it, I beg you, my dear people, now that you know its benefit not to resist its saving power through indifference nor lose heart at its approach, but rejoice and be glad, as blessed Paul says, “The more our external selves are destroyed, the more the inner person is renewed.”  Fasting is nourishment for the soul, you see, and just as bodily nourishment fattens the body, so fasting invigorates the soul, provides it with nimble wings, lifts it on high, enables it to contemplate things that are above, and renders it superior to the pleasures and attractions of this present life. 
And just as the lightest ships cross the seas more rapidly whereas those weighed down with much cargo take on water, in like manner fasting leaves the faculty of reason nimble and enables it to negotiate the problems of life adroitly and fly to Heaven and the things of Heaven, despising the things of this life as being no less evanescent than shadows and dreams.  Indulgence and intemperance, on the other hand, weigh down our reason, fatten the body, and shackle the spirit, hemming it in on all sides; they deprive the judgment of reason of any dependability, inducing it to follow dangerous courses, and thus work in every way against our salvation.
          Let us not be careless, dearly beloved, in dealing with matter concerning our salvation; recognizing instead the troubles that could come from that evil source, let us avoid the harm it produces.  After all, we are warned against intemperance not only in the new dispensation by its greater attention to right thinking, its more frequent struggles and greater effort, its many rewards and ineffable consolations.  Not even people living under the old law were permitted to indulge themselves in that way, even though they were sitting in the dark, dependent upon tapers, and brought forward gradually into the light, like children being weaned off milk.  Lest you think I am idly finding fault with intemperance in what I say, listen to what the prophet says: “Woe to those who fall on evil days in sleeping on beds of ivory, luxuriating on their couches, living on a diet of goats picked from the flocks and suckling calves from the herds, and drinking strained wines, anointed with precious unguents — like men treating this as a lasting city, and not seeking one to come.”  
Do you see the heavy accusation the prophet levels against intemperance in charging the Jews with these faults of stupidity, sensuality, and daily gluttony?  I mean, note the accuracy of the words: after attaching their gluttony and their drinking to excess, he added, “like men treating this as a lasting city, and not seeking one to come,” all but stating that their satisfaction got as far as lips and palate, and they went on to nothing better.  Pleasure, however, is brief and fleeting, whereas pain never lets up and has no end.  The truth of this comes from experience, the true meaning of lasting realities — “like men treating this as a lasting city” — and fleeting things — “not seeking one to come” — that is, not lasting for a moment.
          All human and carnal things, after all, are of this kind like pleasures, human glory and power, like wealth and all the prosperity of this present life; these things have nothing firm about them, nothing steady, nothing fixed, but shift more rapidly than the currents of a river, leaving naked and desolate those swept along in them.  Spiritual things, on the other hand are not like that — quite the opposite, in fact: firm and immovable, not subject to change, lasting forever.  What folly, then, would it be to exchange the immovable for the tottering, the permanent for the passing, the enduring for the fleeting, what promises to give joy in eternity for what offers us terrible punishment there?
          Considering all this, therefore, dearly beloved, and placing great store on our salvation, let us despise intemperance as mindless and harmful, let us embrace fasting, and right attitudes along with it; let us display a renewed lifestyle, and address ourselves daily to performance of good deeds.  In this way, having spent all the holy season of Lent dealing in spiritual goods and amassing great wealth of virtue, we would thus merit to arrive at the day of the Lord and approach with confidence that awesome spiritual banquet, and with conscience pure share in those ineffable and immortal goods, being filled therefrom with grace and with the prayers and intercessions of those well-pleasing to Christ, our loving God, to whom the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power, and honor, now and forever, for ages of ages.
          Amen.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

One of the Original Drafts for Vatican II that Got Discarded

These excerpts are from one of the original drafts meant to be part of the Second Vatican Council - these drafts did not make it into the Council discussions, for obvious reasons!
 
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DRAFT OF A DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON CHASTITY, MARRIAGE, THE FAMILY, AND VIRGINITY

 


1. The Church, Model of Both States
 
All the Christian faithful constitute one great family which has arisen out of the at once virginal and spousal union of the Church with Jesus Christ, since never does the Savior cease by the word of life and the grace of the Holy Spirit to render his Bride, purchased by His blood, most chastely fruitful. For this reason, the Holy Synod has decided to extol and defend in a single dogmatic Constitution the nobility both of chastity in the unmarried and its most beautiful fruit, sacred virginity, and of chaste marriage and its heavenly fruit, the Christian family.
 
2. Introductory Note
 
Since all that is about to be presented presupposes the divinely ordained differences between the sexes and their mutual relationship, a few things are said first about the origin and nature of sex and about man’s dominion over his own body insofar as this serves the propagation of the human race.
 
3. The Origin and Nature of Sex
 
God Himself “from the beginning made man male and female” (Mt 19:4), and He blessed them, saying, “Increase and multiply” (Gn 1:28). When He had given this blessing, He saw that all that He had made was “very good” (Gn 1:31). Thus, it is that the things that in this respect are naturally found in man are also good and proper, as the Church has often stated in order to proclaim the sanctity and dignity of marriage. But after Adam’s sin, they demand a proper modesty and protection (see Gn 2:25 and 3:7), but without any false or scrupulous shame. By the merits of Christ the bodies of those reborn have become temples of the Holy Spirit, which is why God can and should be glorified in human bodies also (see 1 Cor 6:19-20).
It clearly follows, therefore, that things which pertain to sex should be considered and treated simply, reverently, modestly, and chastely. In affirming this original dignity of human sex, however, false over-praise should be avoided, as if it were precisely by making man male and female that God made them in His image or as if it were principally by sexual elements that man were man. For in this mortal life, although human sex also enjoys other human qualities, it is nevertheless primarily ordered towards marriage and its spiritual and temporal goods, as Sacred Scripture teaches (see Mt 19:4), until that time is fulfilled when, as the Lord said, “at the resurrection they will neither marry nor be given in marriage” (Mt 22:30).
 
4. Man not the Absolute Lord of the Body
 
It should be noted that God alone is the absolute Lord of man’s life and of its integrity, particularly with respect to what makes man naturally capable of and associates him with God in the propagation of human life. Attempts to change one’s sex, therefore, when this is sufficiently determined, are wicked; nor is it allowed, in order to save the health of the whole man, to mutilate his genital organs or to render them infertile, if there are other ways to provide for his health. Nor in any case is or can there be a right to transplant into the human body the sexual organs of animals which produce the germinative cells of their own genus, or vice-versa; nor also to try to unite the human germ cells of each sex in a laboratory, even if this is done without violating modesty and chastity and solely for the sake of scientific progress.


5. Chastity in the Unmarried
 
Every man has the serious but equally honorable duty to dominate his sexual impulses and feelings by the exercise of chastity by which, with the help of God’s grace, the flesh and the senses are rightly subordinated to reason, by which man is raised to higher things, and, through reason illuminated by faith, to the law of the Gospel. Thus, by chastity sexual relations and intercourse are so ennobled that they are worthy of man, created in God’s image, and of the Christian. But the exercise of chastity differs in the unmarried and the married since only in the unmarried is continence linked with it; and in addition, while it ordinarily prepares the unmarried for marriage or for sacred virginity, for the married it is the splendor of marriage itself.
          For by divine ordination, revealed also in the law of nature, that man has a healthy sexual power does not give him the right to exercise it. That right is obtained only in a legitimate marriage and indeed within morally prescribed limits. An unmarried man, therefore, has a serious duty to refrain from actions which, alone or with others, of their nature constitute perfect or imperfect use of his properly and specifically sexual power or which by free and conscious will are directed to such use. The severe warning of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle should be remembered: “Do not be deceived: neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor the effeminate nor homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10). Indeed, even deliberate evil internal acts against chastity are severely forbidden by the Lord (see Mt 5:28; 15:18-19). Nor should it be said, especially today, that they cannot be avoided. For even the unmarried, if they humbly beg for and are helped by God’s grace, are able to maintain chastity, as the Sacred Council of Trent already declared and the Church has always taught about them.
          No less today than in the past the teaching of the Apostle applies, even for young people: “The body is not for immorality but for the Lord.... Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Cor 6:13, 19-20). “God did not call us to impurity but to holiness” (1 Th 4:7). While chastity is not the only nor the primary good in men’s moral life, still without it the moral life cannot be whole; and no one can deny how important God considers the life of those who, even outside of marriage, keep themselves pure and immaculate in this world; for it is not without reason that, along with charity, modesty, continence, and chastity are also listed among the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

6. The Defense and Care of Chastity
 
          If chastity, which is so important to God, is really to be preserved, it must be loved effectively and be humbly and vigilantly guarded, defended, and promoted by apt natural and especially by supernatural means. Human nature itself helps in this, through a certain innate shame, which develops and assists if it is imbued with a Christian spirit. That opinion must not be followed, therefore, which thinks that immodest acts, that is, acts which by their nature promote sexual desire, must be considered indifferent. A fortiori, that aberration must be rejected according to which such acts against modesty are recommended so that, by directly seeking and attaining lustful pleasure in them, a person may better preserve chastity and avoid the sin of consummated and perfect lust.
          No less condemned is that other extreme which adduces various reasons of the natural order and even invokes religion itself and morality in order to defend and spread a veritable cult of nudity, which neglects men’s condition after Adam’s sin (see Gn 2:25; 3:7). As for so-called “sexual initiation,” this Sacred Synod is ready to recommend modest and Christian education and instruction in matters sexual in accord with individual conditions and needs. Indeed, it blames parents who out of excessive shame or false modesty neglect or take this serious obligation lightly or who, thinking themselves incapable of it, entrust it to people who are not fit for it.
          On the other hand, it must reject that sort of education with is given to boys and girls together, without any moderation, immodestly, and without consideration of religion. With supreme loathing, furthermore, the Sacred Synod knows how many and how great are the detestable onslaughts today against chastity, by which in countless manifestations of today’s culture, even if under the pretext of play, recreation, science, art or praiseworthy beauty, souls redeemed by the blood of Christ are in fact constantly and almost everywhere, even within the family, being encouraged and even handed over to evil. It urges all, therefore, to arm themselves against such dangers by prayer, fasting, the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, and devotion to the Virgin Mary. They should also flee what are called near occasions. For how can they honestly pray, “Lead us not into temptation” (Mt 6:13), if they freely seek temptations? Mindful of the Lord’s words against those who scandalize, the Church has the right and duty to repudiate those who give scandal and especially the public corruption of sexual morality. And civil authority also must guard and defend morality by appropriate and effective means, especially by assisting the efforts of all, individuals or groups, to foster public morality, including cases where it is being harmed by writings, radio programs, television, or other instruments of human culture.
 

7. Some Errors are Condemned
 
They are seriously opposed to the Church’s teaching who maintain that even in a healthy man, almost everything, including religious, moral, and even supernatural matters, are to be explained a priori by sexuality, with the further accusation that shepherds of souls are to be considered unworthy and incapable of their office if they do not know these and other modern claims. It is also an error not to wish to acknowledge internal sins against chastity or to measure external sin itself by new, e.g., psychoanalytical, criteria, opposed to the teachings of the Church. Quite false are the views, which harmfully insinuate that actions which the traditional ethics of the Church considers opposed to chastity are instead demanded by nature itself or by a healthy development of the human person. The worst is to maintain that the most shameful love for persons of the same sex is the prerogative of a higher culture***.
          This Sacred Synod furthermore declares to be most pernicious the errors of those according to whom, if you believe it, precisely and above all in the area of chastity, there never or hardly ever are subjectively and seriously evil acts, especially in the time of youth or among habitual, occasional, and recidivist sinners, on the grounds that they are presumed to lack sufficient freedom; or indeed that such actions are inevitable. This error even reaches the point of maintaining that it is permitted to lead someone to such objectively seriously evil acts when they are only and at most material sins. Finally, the Sacred Synod rejects as harmful the errors that maintain that the Church by its teaching on chastity and modesty harms a healthy and vigorous education of the young. These views are directly aimed at God, since God himself says through the Apostle: “Immorality or any impurity... must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones” (Eph 5:3).
 
12. The Power of the Church
 
As belonging to the divine order, marriage was entrusted by Christ, not to individuals, but to the Church that it might preserve, explain, and determine the doctrine and norms by which it is governed. The Church must exercise this power not only for the good of souls but also for the benefit of Christian faith and the growth of the Mystical Body. For this reason, Christ, who wished the Church to defend to the utmost the indissolubility which he restored to marriage, also gave it the power, within limits and conditions established by divine law, to dissolve the bond of all other marriages, both natural and sacramental, always excepting, however, a marriage consummated after the baptism of both parties.
 
 
14. Errors are Repudiated
 
The Sacred Synod knows how greatly the salvation of the Mystical Body of Christ depends on a right acknowledgment of the divine order with regard to marriage. To defend it, it knows first of all that it is its duty to condemn all the radical errors of those who maintain that marriage in its origin and constitution is some merely social phenomenon in continuous evolution and without any natural or supernatural value, and that it does not come from God and from Christ and is not subject to the power of the Church in the new economy of salvation.
Likewise it condemns those errors by which it is held that the marriage of Christians either is not a sacrament or that the sacrament itself is something accessory and separable from the contract itself. It also rejects the view of those who state that the use of marriage is the specific means for attaining that perfection by which man is truly and properly an image of God and the Most Holy Trinity. It severely rejects the errors and theories by which is denied the immutable divine order with regard to the properties and purposes of marriage. And it explicitly confutes as a supreme calumny the statement that the indissolubility of marriage does not come from God but is a cruel invention of the Church, no less cruelly retained. Finally, it rejects the theories by which, in an inversion of the right order of values, the primary purpose of marriage is esteemed less than biological and personal values and conjugal love, in the objective order itself, is proclaimed to be the primary purpose.
 
20. Civil Divorce
 
Spouses are seriously prohibited from seeking so-called civil divorce as a proper dissolution, as if a valid bond before God could be dissolved by civil authority; indeed neither is it licit for others directly and formally to cooperate in such a civil divorce. In no case and for no reason, even if it is not rarely serious and painful, is it licit for the faithful, while the sacred bond lasts, to dismiss a wife in order to take another, as the Lord himself clearly teaches (Mk 10:11), although sometimes civil authority invalidly allows this.
Sometimes, however, “civil divorce,” while the bond endures and without contradiction of ecclesiastical authority, can be sought. So-called simple separation is not to be done lightly, without just, serious, and proportionate cause.
 
22. Errors are Rejected
 
The Sacred Synod must severely condemn so-called “temporary” or “experimental” or “companionate” marriages. It also rejects as unworthy of a man and especially of a Christian those instructions by which through various skills a real hedonism in sacred and holy marriage is propagated. It also rejects theories by which a violation of marital fidelity is considered allowed to spouses, either when the mutual love between the couple has failed or when the sexual impulse is falsely thought to be impossible to keep within the limits of monogamous marriage.
It is also mistaken to state that civil authority itself never has the power to punish adulterers, and indeed with an equal penalty for both men and women. It also rebukes those who say, and indeed under the pretext of benefitting the Church, that mixed marriages are generally and in themselves to be fostered rather than tolerated. That position is also mistaken which maintains that a marriage can be declared invalid or dissolved solely because of a failure of love. Finally the Sacred Synod most severely condemns so-called “free love,” by which, under a false pretext of constructing a new fraternity and society, sin is committed against the divine order and a lethal wound is inflicted not only on marriage but also on the family and society.


*** Today the vice of homosexuality is also quite widespread. Not only is simple horror at this most foul vice missing, but the claim is being made that it should be praised and presented as the mark of a loftier love and higher culture. For, it is said, to love a person of the other sex is easy; but sexually to love a person of the same sex is not for all, but only for the few who are suitable and educated for it. That is why that deplorable fact is spread, that even men of superior genius were addicted to this vice.



35. The Excellence of Sacred Virginity
 
If holy Mother Church has always especially honored chastity as a choice fruit of the Holy Spirit, it has certainly always regarded as among its supremely precious treasures that perfect chastity by which a person consecrates himself to God’s service by sacred virginity and, out of singular love for God, for the sake of the Kingdom of God (see Mt 19:12), by a spiritual and free decision abstains from marriage and from its bodily delights. This honor given by the Bride of Christ is still greater when that chastity is undertaken by a permanent bond and is thus surrounded by a greater strength and firmness.
          By such a consecration, a man emulates in some ways the purity of the Angels, in some degree already here on earth he anticipates the state of heaven, is more perfectly likened to Christ the Virgin, born of the immaculate Virgin, and is more closely united with God, the most pure Spirit. By such a consecration, with the help of God's grace, a person can totally hand himself over to the service of the divine Majesty, more easily engages in the contemplation of divine things, and, free from secular and fleshly cares, undertakes apostolic works in order to spread the Kingdom of God. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Consecration of a Catholic Church

The Consecration of a Church
 
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Church of the Holy Innocents, consecrated in 1901
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The consecration of a Catholic church is a very solemn and impressive ceremony, with rites that devote the edifice exclusively to sacred use. The various parts of the traditional ceremonies of consecration are of very ancient date, and are substantially the same today as they were many centuries ago.
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As formally decreed by the Council of Trent, Holy Mass is not to be celebrated in any place except a consecrated or blessed church, which is why the Church wants that cathedrals and parish churches be solemnly consecrated, and that smaller churches be blessed. The consecration of a church is reserved to a bishop, by which that church is dedicated  to the service of God, thereby raising it perpetually to a higher order, removing it from the malign influence of Satan, and rendering it a place in which favors are more graciously granted by God (Pontificale Romanum).
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As part of the consecration of a church, at least one fixed altar must be consecrated. According to the Catholic Encylopedia (1913), before the time of Constantine, the consecration of churches was a private matter due to persecutions. However, after Constantine’s conversion, it became a public rite: “After these things a spectacle earnestly prayed for and much desired by us all appeared, viz. the solemnization of the festival of the dedication of churches throughout every city, and the consecration of newly-built oratories” (Eusebius of Cæsarea, Church History X).
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The consecration of churches dated probably from Apostolic times. It is believed to be, in a sense, a continuation of the Jewish rites instituted by King Solomon. Some authors date the rites to around the year 105 and attribute its origin to Pope St. Evaristus, but it seems probable that he merely promulgated as a law what had been the custom before his time. There are many examples to prove that churches were consecrated before peace had been granted to the Church, such as the one taken from the life of St. Cecilia, who prayed for a cessation from hostilities against the Christians so that her home might be consecrated as a church by St. Urban I (222-230). Another example is taken from the life of St. Marcellus (308-309), who consecrated a church in the home of St. Lucina (Breviarium Romanum, 16 January).
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On the evening before the consecration of a church, exposition of the relics that will be buried in the altar to be consecrated with the church, the keeping of the vigil, the blessing of the Gregorian water (a mixture of water, salt, ashes, and wine), the sprinkling of the altar, and the translation of the relics to the church are the same as those described for the consecration of a church. When the relics have been carried to the church, the consecrator anoints with holy chrism the four corners of the altar and the sepulchre of the altar, and then he incenses them. The incense symbolizes the sweet odor of prayer, which is to ascend from the altar to heaven.
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On the day of consecration, the candles under the crosses on the walls are lighted. After this, the bishop and the clergy go to the place in which the relics of the martyrs were deposited the evening before. Whilst the bishop is being vested the Seven Penitential Psalms are recited, after which all proceed to the main entrance of the church, where, remaining outside, the bishop blesses the water. The bishop then goes three times around the outside of the church, the first time sprinkling the upper part of the walls, the second time the lower part, and the third time at eye level.
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After each round, the bishop strikes the door with the base of his crosier and says, “Lift up your gates, ye princes, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in.” Every time the deacon inside the church asks, “Who is this King of Glory?” and the bishop twice answers, “The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord mighty in battle;” and the third time he says, “The Lord of Armies, He is the King of Glory.” According to Blessed Yves of Chartres in his Sermo de Sacramentis, this triple sprinkling and circuit of the walls symbolizes the triple immersion at holy baptism, the consecration of the soul as the spiritual temple of God.
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The essence of the consecration of a church consists in the anointing of the (12) twelve crosses on the inner walls with the form: “Sancificetur et consecretur hoc templum,” etc. According to a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites dated April 12, 1614, if before this ceremony the consecrator should become incapacitated for finishing the function, the whole rite must be repeated from the beginning. These crosses are not to be of wood or of any fragile material. They must never be removed (Cong. Sac. Rit., 18 February, 1696), and documents failing, they serve to prove that the church has been consecrated. Under each cross a bracket holding a candle is affixed.
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Such are the impressive ceremonies which our Church uses for the sanctifying of a temple of God. It is sprinkled, within and without, with holy water; the door and walls are signed with blessed Chrism, the altar is anointed with the same oil, and is made a tomb of one of God’s illustrious servants. The odor of incense fills the house of God, and the solemn prayers of the Church are used to consecrate both temple and altar to His service forever. ‘This is none other than the House of God and the Gate of Heaven’” (The Externals of the Catholic Church, Rev. John Sullivan).
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Upcoming Masses & Events

CHURCH OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS 
UPCOMING MASSES & EVENTS
 
1. TOMORROW, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2 – FEAST OF THE PURIFICATION/PRESENTATION:

Tomorrow, Friday, February 2, there will be a Sung Mass at 6PM for the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, also known as Candlmes. The Mass will start with the solemn blessing of candles and a procession inside the church.
 
Parishioners are encouraged to bring their own (beeswax) candles to be blessed (please, label your candles).
 
 
2. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3 – FEAST OF ST. BLAISE & BLESSING OF THROATS:

On Saturday, February 3, there will be the traditional blessing of throats following the 1PM Sung Mass.
 
 
3.           SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4 – ANNIVERSARY OF CONSECRATION OF THE CHURCH:
 
On the first Sunday of February, the Church of the Holy Innocents celebrates the anniversary of its solemn consecration. This year, it will be on Sunday, February 4, which will take the place of Sexagesima Sunday.
 
So, this coming Sunday, February 4, the traditional Masses at 9AM and 10:30AM will use the formulary for Mass for the Dedication of a Church (Terribilis est locus iste), which will be a first class feast for our parish.
 
In the Catholic Church, the practice of consecrating churches dates from Apostolic times. Consecrations were done privately under persecutions, but once persecutions stopped, the consecration of churches became solemn (public/festive) events. For the licit consecration of a church at least one fixed Altar must be consecrated.
 
At the Church of the Holy Innocents, which was consecrated on February 12, 1901, three (3) Altars (the High Altar and two side Altars) were consecrated. Sadly, the two side Altars were destroyed by the iconoclastic fury of modern times, but the High Altar still stands and it is still used.
 
Since 2008, the consecrated High Altar at Holy Innocents has been used for the traditional Mass – the Mass that was used for its Consecration in 1901. Since August 15, 2010, it has been used daily and uninterruptedly for the greater glory of God and of His Saints, as well as for the benefit of God’s faithful in the context of the immemorial rites and ceremonies of the Catholic Church.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Bishop Schneider on Archbishop Lefebvre

Bp. Schneider of Kazakhstan on Archbp. Lefebvre of the SSPX


 
The best English language vaticanista today is Edward Pentin.  He has an interview with Bp. Athanasius Schneider today at the National Catholic Register (that’s the good one that begins with “National”).  HERE
 
The whole thing is worth reading. However, I want to emphasize one part which caught my eye for two reasons.
 
First, it is Patristic.  Bp. Schneider is a student of the Fathers of the Church, as am I.  We need to return to the Fathers.  It is amazing how many things they treated in their day which apply to our own.
 
Next, because it concerns a figure I’ve long been interested in, the late Archbp. Marcel Lefebvre.  He was a great churchman and missionary in Africa who went on to found the SSPX.  Since I once worked for the PCED I remain interested – and hopeful – for a wonderful result.
 
Here is Schneider on Lefebvre:
PENTIN:
What are your views on the Society of St. Pius X? Do you have sympathy for their position? 
SCHNEIDER:
Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis on various occasions spoke with understanding towards the SSPX. It was particularly at his time, as Cardinal of Buenos Aires, that Pope Francis helped the SSPX in some administrative issues. Pope Benedict XVI once said about Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre: “He was a great bishop of the Catholic Church.” Pope Francis considers the SSPX as Catholic, and has expressed this publicly several times. Therefore, he seeks a pastoral solution, and he made the generous pastoral provisions of granting to the priests of the SSPX the ordinary faculty to hear confessions and conditional faculties to celebrate canonically marriage. The more the doctrinal, moral and liturgical confusion grows in the life of the Church, the more one will understand the prophetic mission of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in an extraordinary dark time of a generalized crisis of the Church. 
Maybe one day History will apply the following words of Saint Augustine to him: 
“Often, too, divine providence permits even good men to be driven from the congregation of Christ by the turbulent seditions of carnal men. When for the sake of the peace of the Church they patiently endure that insult or injury, and attempt no novelties in the way of heresy or schism, they will teach men how God is to be served with a true disposition and with great and sincere charity. The intention of such men is to return when the tumult has subsided. But if that is not permitted because the storm continues or because a fiercer one might be stirred up by their return, they hold fast to their purpose to look to the good even of those responsible for the tumults and commotions that drove them out. They form no separate conventicles of their own, but defend to the death and assist by their testimony the faith which they know is preached in the Catholic Church” (De vera religione 6, 11).
Thus, St. Augustine.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Carthusian Horse

The Carthusian Horse: Horse of Kings, Thief of Hearts
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They have such a heart and they are so generous. They will give you even what they don’t have, they will try give to you.” – Mercedes Gonzalez Cort
 
“When a man mounts a Carthusian Horse, he imagines himself in heaven, without leaving earth.”  – Juan Llamas Perdigo
 
From ancient times, the important role of horses in cultures has been demonstrated through numerous pictorial testimonies. In the Iberian Peninsula in particular, it is known that horses already formed part of the everyday life activities in the earliest civilizations.  These activities were to gain importance in parallel to the rise of the large cities that spread across the land and whose main writers were to praise the magnificence of the horse.
 
The Arabs organized their armies to include a light cavalry, which was almost exclusively formed by Andalusian horses. From their first contact with the breed, the invaders admired the virtues of the Andalusian horse and their great triumph lay in conserving and strengthening the characteristics of the Spanish race itself.  This led to the creation of several important breeding centres and horses were even sent as gifts to Constantinople, Baghdad and other major cities throughout the Islamic Empire.
 
The importance that Arabs gave to horses during their reign in Spain can be reflected in the Spanish words "caballero" (gentleman/knight/horseman) and "caballerosidad" (gentlemanliness/chivalry), which originated in the Middle Ages to classify with honor the owners of these prized animals and their virtues, respectively.
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The internal struggles of the Muslim rulers and the long years of reconquest decimated the horse population. The considerable increase in agriculture and farming activities from the end of the reconquest, in addition to the low demand for the use of horses for purposes of war, saw horses being replaced by mules, which were much more practical for hard work.  Horses had to be protected from undesirable crossbreeding through various government decrees, along with the intervention of Religious Orders, which protected horses within their monasteries, as was the case of the Carthusian monasteries.
 
From its foundation towards the end of the XV century, the Monastery of La Cartuja has been converted into the cornerstone of the Jerezano thoroughbred horses. In the mid 1400’s, the production of armor for horse and rider was mastered. This meant the addition of 350lbs to the weight carried into battle.  A decree was issued by the Spanish military authority, directing the Spanish breeders to blend their pure Andalusian mares with Neopolitan drafts. A small group of family breeders refused to do so, and selected their best horses and hid them away in the Carthusian monastery, donated by a wealthy patron, Don Alvaro Obertos de Valeto.
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For almost 400 years, which coincided with the centuries of greatest splendor of the kingdom of Spain, the Carthusian monks established a breeding stock (and kept detailed breeding records) which, through time, would be converted into one of the most celebrated and appreciated stocks in the world. Around the year 1835, the government dissolved the church’s ownership of lands, which led to horses being carefully passed on and treasured by a small handful of families beginning with Pedro José Zapata, who diligently preserved the original lines. He used the brand of the bit, called “Bocado.” Today we still refer to the horses as ‘Bocado’ or Cartujano. The Carthusian horse originated in Spain; it is also known as the Carthusian-Andalusian or Cartujano.
 
The Zamora brothers, who had mares of this breeding, purchased an old horse named El Soldado. They bred him to two mares. The resultant offspring were a colt and a filly; the former was Esclavo, the foundation sire of the Carthusian strain. Esclavo was dark gray, considered to be a perfect horse. He produced many outstanding offsprings, which were purchased by the breeders of Jerez. Esclavo produced a group of mares that about the year 1736 were sold to Don Pedro Picado, who gave some excellent specimens to the Carthusian monks to settle a debt he had incurred. The rest of the stock belonging to Don Pedro Picado went to Antonio Abad Romero and were eventually absorbed into the Andalusian breed. The Esclavo stock at the monastery was integrated into a special line and came to be known as Zamoranos.
 
The stallion Esclavo is said to have had warts under his tail, and his characteristics were passed on to his offspring. Some breeders felt that without the warts, a horse could not be of the Esclavo bloodline. Another characteristic sometimes seen in the Carthusian horse is the evidence of “horns”, actually frontal bosses thought to be inherited from Asian ancestors. Unlike the warts beneath the tail, the horns were not considered proof of Esclavo descent.
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Throughout the centuries that followed, the Carthusian monks guarded their bloodlines with fervor, even defying a royal order to introduce Neapolitan and central European blood into their stock.
 
Don Pedro and Juan Jose Zapata bought a good number of mares from the Carthusians. In 1854, Don Vincent Romero y Garcia, a Jerez landlord, purchased what he could of the excellent group of horses. Don Vincent lived to be ninety-two years old and because of his knowledge of breeding, greatly improved the quality of the horses without using any outside blood.

Without the dedication of the Carthusian monks, the Zapata family, and a few other breeders who refused to cross their horses with other breeds, the purest line of Andalusian blood would have been lost to the world.
 
Today Carthusian horses are raised in state-owned studs around Cordoba, Jerez de la Frontera, and Badajoz. The predominant color is gray, attributed to the important influence of two stallions of this color early in the twentieth century. Some Carthusian horses are chestnut or black. Nearly all of the modern Carthusian horses are descended from the stallion Esclavo.
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The Carthusian horse’s head is light and elegant with a slightly convex profile, broad forehead, small ears, and large, lively eyes. The neck is well proportioned and arched; the chest is broad and deep; the shoulder sloping; the back short and broad; the croup sloped; and the legs are sturdy with broad, clean joints.
 
What horse has such proud and lofty action? A showy and rhythmical walk? Or a high stepping trot full of impulsion? Where can you find a horse with a smooth rocking canter, natural balance, agility, and fire? Combine theses spectacular paces with a docile temperament and you have a breed of horse well suited for any horse owner.
 
The Carthusian horse is not a separate breed from the Andalusian, but rather a distinct side branch that is usually considered the purest remaining strain with one of the oldest studbooks in the world. Roughly 82% of the Pura Raza Espanola (PRE = Pure Spanish Breed) population in Spain contains Cartujano blood, but there are less than 3% pure Cartujano horses within the PRE population and only 500 pure Cartujanos in existence in Spain today.
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The French invasion and the subsequent War of Independence nearly devastated the breed as the monks were expelled more than once from their monastary. In 1810, the horses were saved when “Zapata, founder of the Hospital de Arcos de la Frontera, bought 60 mares and 3 stallions of the best calibre and hid them in ‘Breña del Agua,’ sending the Carthusian monks in Cluny the amount for the established price. From these horses was formed what is at present known as the Yeguada de la Cartuja - Hierro del Bocado.

For a horse to be considered “pure Cartujano” he must be validated by the Association of Cartujano Breeders in cooperation with the University of Cordoba. Horses receive a certificate such as the one pictured here which acknowledges their genetic purity.
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The Carthusian horse “is the most appropriate one for a king on his day of victory. … It is the aristocracy of horses of pure Spanish blood. … It is the noblest animal in the world.”
 
[The Carthusian horse] is a beautiful and loyal animal with a big heart … eyes that did not blink when the arrow grazed his neck and caught the ancient meaning in a fleeting, burning glance … ears that heard the cannons’ roar, the whispered words of love ... skin of shot silk that knew the summer’s heat, the winder’s frost … hooves that traced new paths to lands unknown to man … a heart whose beat would quicken keeping pace with the wishes of his master … tireless vigor, proving no demand for him so great … his spirit showed the cheers and hopes of Old Spain’s men of iron, while at his proud feet the conquered nations lay … he’ll forgive like no other your omissions, errors, thoughtless handling … his back, a throne of feathers, will bear you smoothly with the trot and gallop … he’ll go where others dare not … he’ll stand firm where others flee in terror … And at the last, you’ll understand why [the Carthusian horse] was the chosen one of kings.”