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Fifth Sunday of January 2011: Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

The Italian Front broadens against Modernist Rome

After the news of a canon [priest] of Great St. Bernard joining the SSPX at Econe (a few miles away) to the great consternation of the local authorities, there now comes news of a parish priest, 38 years old, in Italy, Dom Massimo Sbicego, who said goodbye to his parishioners over the Christmas break.

Italy flag

But this is also taking place on the doctrinal level, with no bones of who is the target of the recurring questions: Vatican II is being questioned and Rome needs to give answers on the qualms these authors and authorities have about it.

This movement is now gathering mass and speed. Hardly a week passes without hearing the news of another bishop, another community, another writer sending some chilling vibes in the back of the defenders of the post-conciliar Church: Bishops Biffi and Schneider; a congress on Vatican II organized at Rome by the Franciscans of the Immaculate; Msgr. Gherardini who is writing book after book on the conciliar problem, Prof. de Matei and Gnocci debating on Vatican II; conservative Italian thinkers raising doubts about Assisi III.

De Matei is a heavyweight in historical circles. His latest book Il Concilio Vaticano II: Una storia mai scritta (The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story) has started an all-out attack on the Bologna school of thought, including, [Massimo] Introvigne (speaking for the Italian bishops). The latter condemns de Matei for upholding “that hermeneutics of rupture Benedict XVI has time and again decried as harmful” to the Church. The pope, he adds, explained that the hermeneutics of rupture is upheld by both the progressive faction and the opposite end of the religious spectrum, the anti-conciliarists. Both claim that Vatican II has broken with Tradition: the former rejoice in this rupture, and the latter deplore it.

De Matei retorts and says that by the fact alone of affirming that Vatican II needs to be seen in continuity with the Magisterium of the Church is an avowal of the doubtful and ambiguous passages of the texts, which are in dire need of interpretation. Now, there are two ways of doing this interpretation: either the texts are interpreted in the light of Tradition (Benedict XVI’s position), or Tradition must be interpreted and muzzled into the light of Vatican II (implying the text and the spirit, which acquire a despotic power of twisting the texts and of setting the rule of the Magisterium (position of Viva Il Concilio, and Alberigo’s Storia del Concilio in 5 volumes). Msgr. Gherardini gave a good criterion of determination: those teachings which are new and do not refer to past definitions have no value by themselves and need to be interpreted in the light of past doctrine, otherwise under Vatican II become a dictatorial Mammoth crushing the teachings of 20 previous councils.

De Matei’s book offers the historian’s view of the Council, within its context and with its prolongation, which shed certainly some light as to the tenure of the texts themselves (against Introvigne). And if the historian discovers some discontinuity, why should one try to hide it? This discontinuity of Vatican II compared to other Church teaching can be revealed in the novelties of the language and the outlooks, but also in the silence which can be quite eloquent, take for example the refusal to condemn Communism!


Fourth Sunday of January 2011: Third Sunday after Epiphany

WHY THE PRO-LIFE CATHOLIC LOBBYING IS FAILING

It is encouraging to see American bishops again raising the flag on the ever-hot issue of aborticide—politely called “abortion”. Bishop Finn of Kansas City, for one, offers the example of a letter to those who will participate in the March for Life 1,200 miles away in Washington D.C. (published in The Catholic Key Blog on Jan. 18; 2011).

Baby with American flag

Based on the promotion of “the life and dignity of the human person”, against those who believe something is moral simply because it is legal, he explains that “man-made law does not, of itself, establish right and wrong.” We are approaching 40 years since the “particular destructive moment in our nation’s history”, the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade which launched the blood stream of 60 million abortions recorded in the country: “It is too monumental a disgrace to neglect or forget.” And therefore he takes a stance against the support of an “elected official or appointed judge… [who] will not support the most vulnerable of our human race.”

This is not the first time that our Catholic hierarchy has applied some pressure against those who craft laws favoring abortion. In 2004, a few bishops warned Catholics who voted for Democratic candidate John Kerry to refrain from receiving Communion. This tactic provoked an opposite swing of the pendulum which led to a more informational approach in the next elections. As many as 89 bishops taught their dioceses that pro-life questions should be the defining issue of elections. The fact that a majority of Catholic voted for Obama was seen as a repudiation of certain bishops who warned them that this was a grave sin. In 2009, it is claimed that only 52% Catholic are pro-life.

This emphasis on numbers brings us to the next 2010 news item. In May, the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, announced that an abortion had taken place in late 2009 at St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. The hospital's ethics committee signed off on the abortion because of the danger to the mother. The committee included Margaret Mary McBride, a Sister of Mercy who, along with all involved, was judged by Olmsted to be "automatically excommunicated" for cooperating in “direct” abortion.

On the American Catholic website, uscatholic.org, Fr. Patrick McCormick, S.T.D., armed with his Roman degrees, and holding a teaching position at a Catholic university in America, raised questions about the Church’s stance which calls any direct killing of the innocent immoral. He introduced the ever-present Fr. Haering, a proponent of the the infamous system of “situation ethics” which does away with principles in cases of “tough” circumstances. McCormick raises his eyebrows at the return of the “medieval” condemnation which he tags with the word of “scandal” instead of being “good news.” He objects to the use of such pontifical acts because, if this is being done against defenseless women, why should it not also be exerted against aggressive pedophile priests? Perhaps McCormick is not aware that such priests, if found guilty, receive a much sterner punishment by automatically losing their status and livelihood. He then raises the question of whether the excommunication is serious at all, given that the “majority of practicing Catholic moral theologians” dissent from official Catholic teaching. He hammers the final nail into the coffin by adding that our moral teaching is “unpersuasive and even unintelligible” to educated Catholics. These controversies are worth a comment or two.

The abortion question is a mini-repetition of the Vatican II question. It shows the best among the Church spokesmen, like Bishop Olmsted, who are not afraid of getting their hands dirty and managing their own episcopal business. It also shows the polished churchmen who follow the general trend of the episcopal conference and who are willing say some firm words as long as they do not rock the boat. It shows the hidden power of the “experts” who set policies and regulations and lobby for the liberation of the Church according to the rights of man. This balance of power produces something quite problematic!

With this polemic about the unborn, we discover again the lack of a united and firm front of the American episcopate, the dichotomy between Roman regulations and the applications of the US bishops, and also the constant betrayal of the house from within by the teachers of our future Catholic elite, a repeat of the Notre Dame scandal honoring Obama. Should we wonder why, after 40 years of struggle, our pro-life activity has gained so little? It is not only because the doctors have mocked the Hippocratic Oath of curing and saving lives. Perhaps we could suggest that our religious teachers get back to their catechism, to rediscover terms long forgotten in their vocabulary, like “the rights of God,” “the 5th commandment,” “mortal sin,” “supernatural life,” “confession,” “penance,” “reparation,” and “the everlasting fires of hell.” After the complexity of rhetoric and polemics, having tried to act as serpents, perhaps our leaders could use the alternative route of the dove’s simplicity and the clarity of the Gospel: “yes, yes; no, no.”


Third Sunday of January 2011: Second Sunday after Epiphany

Bishop Ricken has approved Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion, diocese of Green Bay, Wis. (December 8, 2010). This may seem to be a minor religious item in the constant flow of Church news. Yet, for us, this represents a major step as the Champion site is the first United States shrine officially recognized as a Marian apparition which dates back to over 150 years before.

Bishop Ricken; Shrine of Our Lady of Good Hope

Incessant prayer has gone up in this place based upon the word of a young Belgian immigrant woman of 28 years old, Adele Brise who, in October 1859, said that the Blessed Mother, a Lady clothed in dazzling white, had appeared to her on this site. The Lady was elevated slightly in a bright light and gave words of solace and comfort and a bold and challenging mission for the young immigrant woman. The Lady gave her a two-fold mission of prayer for the conversion of sinners and catechesis. “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation… Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.

In our days of endemic acute visionitis and apparitionitis, a dangerous virus prevalent in our conservative but enclosed circles, it is worth our while getting into the question of apparitions and their connection with the Catholic hierarchy. There have always been souls endowed with the spirit of prophecy and receiving private revelations from God. Such revelations deal, perhaps with future events, but often—and here this is the case—with present problems which heaven is urging the seer to remedy. Such gifts of prophecy and revelations are given, not only for the benefit of the seer, but especially for that of others. As we are not dealing with the public or official revelation of God—sealed with the death of St. John—it follows that such divine manifestations cannot command or alter our faith. Each is free to accept or refuse them and no one will go to hell by rejecting them and this would apply even to one who, mysteriously but for some good reason, would deny the authenticity and efficacy of Fatima, for example. And yet, if heaven makes it a point of visiting the earth, there must be some urgency and it is most imprudent not to check this out with all diligence. The Apostle commands us: “Do not believe all spirits, but examine them.” This is what the Church, as always, needs to do in such cases: apply the rules for discerning the spirits. These can be quickly summed up thus:

  • Reject any revelation opposed to the Catholic dogma and moral code: this applies particularly to the radical and uncatholic ecumenism of Medjugorje.

  • Reject any revelation of useless, curious or indecent things. As a rule, divine revelations are brief and discrete and are not made to satisfy our vain curiosity (against Medjugorje again).

  • Examine the character of the seer. One should be cautious of a soul naturally tormented, extenuated by austerities or infirmities, affected by nervous sickness, exalted and unbalanced, who divulges easily its revelation, not in good standing with the Church laws. This applies to the apparitions of New York (to Veronica Lueken in Bayside NY, USA) and Bolivia (to Catalina Rivas of Cochabamba).

  • Finally—and this is a main source of discernment—check the results of such apparitions in the seer and the people attending them: “the good tree cannot give evil fruit and the bad tree cannot give good fruit” (Mt. VII 18).

Now, this work of discernment of the revelation falls properly on the lap of the competent Church authority, namely the bishop of the place—in this instance, the bishop of Green Bay—although at the time of the apparitions, this Diocese may not have even existed. He and his diocesan tribunal for the case at hand are to judge the authenticity of the apparition. His judgment consists in affirming—or denying—with certitude the supernatural character of the apparitions and allowing—or preventing—the visitation of the shrine by the faithful. In this case, the judgment was positive and the document goes on explaining some of the reasons for this:

  • Many physical cures, unofficially attested to by the number of crutches, together with a constant tradition of Marian prayers around the shrine.

  • This holy place was preserved from the infamous Peshtigo fire of 1871 by the prayer of Adele to Our Lady.

  • Adele herself has fulfilled faithfully her difficult mission, regardless of endless opposition, to the benefit of many souls and even founded a Third Order of Franciscan sisters at the Shrine.

  • The accounts of the apparitions and locutions are judged to be free from doctrinal error and consistent with the Catholic faith.

This is obviously a serious work done by the proper authority and based on the safe and sound critical judgment, and totally in agreement with the Church’s tradition. Therefore, it can certainly be considered authentic and worthy of honor by our traditional faithful. The negative side of this is that the Shrine is using the Protestantized Mass and that the website sounds very emotional a la modernist to our more austere ears as if the advertising was simply to speak of making a new experience in love. See the shrine's website.

We could certainly draw a spiritual lesson, a call for zeal from the simple but demanding message of the Mother of God. However young you may be, God wishes to use your hidden talents to give your time to fulfill what is lacking to edify the Church, starting with those simple things every Catholic adult can do: make a general confession, pray for sinners and teach catechism. In other words, intensify your spiritual life by a regular prayer life; begin the work of conversion with yourself as we can hardly help others from shipwreck unless we are on safe grounds ourselves; teach the faith in season and out of season. Here, anyone who has had a tiny bit of teaching experience will readily acknowledge how demanding it is. No one can claim to teach others unless he firstly practices it, lives and loves it, especially when it touches our wholesome all-or-nothing faith. What Our Lady demanded of Adele was a serious program of life which, echoing in our own soul, makes similar demands. Blessed are those who listen to such counsel and put it into practice.

Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!

Official Approval for a Marian Apparition... a first for the United States!
In October 1859, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on three occasions to Sister Adele Brise... 
12-28-2010


Second Sunday of January 2011: Feast of the Holy Family (Octave of Epiphany)
Bishop Fellay's Comments on Assisi III

Remarks on the Feast of the Epiphany during a sermon given at St. Nicolas du Chardonnet on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, January 9, 2011

After explaining the arrival of the Three Magi who traveled from the farthest ends of the pagan world to adore Our Lord Jesus Christ, Bishop Fellay contrasts this example of the Faith of the Magi with the unbelief of Herod and of the priests and the announcement of the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in October 2011.

Bishop Fellay


BISHOP FELLAY'S SERMON  In theory they know, in theory they believe. But in reality, do they believe? Do they really believe that Our Lord is God? Do they really believe that peace among men, among nations, is in His hand? Do they really believe in all the immediate, direct consequences of His divinity? …Are they all going, like the Magi, the Three Kings, to adore the true God and to look to Him for that peace and to ask Him for it? Are they going to the King of Peace: Rex Pacificus?

Oh, how history repeats itself, alas!

Yes, we are deeply indignant, we vehemently protest against this repetition of the days at Assisi. Everything that we have said, everything that Archbishop Lefebvre had said at the time [of the first World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in 1986], we repeat in our own name. It is evident, my dear brothers, that such a thing demands reparation. What a mystery!

Yes, to adore: what does that mean? To adore means first of all: to recognize, to recognize the divinity. Adoration is given to God alone. And recognizing His divinity immediately implies submission; a declaration of submission to the sovereignty of God. It is to recognize that God has every right over us, that we are really entirely dependent, absolutely dependent upon God for our existence, our life, our ability to act, think, desire, and will. Every good, every good thing that happens to us, comes from the goodness of God. And this is true—not only for believers, not only for Christians—this is true for every creature, absolutely every creature.

God, the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, is also the One who governs this world, the One who sustains all things by the power of His Word, the One in whom everything has its stability! Lord of life and death, of individuals and nations! Almighty, eternal God, to whom all honor and glory is due! Yes, to adore is to put oneself in this posture of humility which acknowledges God’s rights.

Let us go, then, let us go to Our Lord; even though He hides His Divinity, even though He is a tiny Child in the arms of His Mother, He is truly God! He is true God, sent by the mercy of the good God to save us. For He was made man, and in becoming a man he became the Savior, and His name, given by God Himself, is Jesus: the Savior! The only name that has been given under heaven by which we can be saved. The only Savior! The only Holy One, “Tu solus Sanctus” [as we say in the Gloria], who comes to bring us something unheard of: the invitation to God’s eternal happiness.

How can people hope to be able to receive His blessings when they insult Him, when they ignore Him, when they diminish Him? It is madness! How can anyone hope for peace among men when he makes a mockery of God?

And here modern thinking makes truly bizarre sorts of projections: it pretends that all religions, ultimately, adore one and the same true God. That is absolutely false; it is even in Revelation; we find it already in the psalms, in Psalm 96:5, “All the gods of the Gentiles are devils!” They are devils. And Assisi will be full of devils! This is Revelation, this is the Faith of the Church; this is the teaching of the Church!

Now where is continuity? Now where is rupture? What a mystery!

Yes, my dear brothers, if we want to be saved, there is only one way, and that is the way of Our Lord Jesus Christ.


First Sunday of January 2011: Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

Was St. Augustine talking about Archbishop Lefebvre?

Often also, divine Providence allows that, victim of seditious agitations excited by sensuous men, the just themselves be excluded from the assembly of the Christians. If they endure patiently these outrages and injustices, without troubling the peace of the Church by schismatic novelties or heresy, they show to all with what true devotion and sincere love man ought to serve God.

St. Augustine

These devoted Christians have a mind to return to the port, when the calm will have succeeded to the tempest. If they cannot, it is either because the thunder continues to rage, or because they fear lest their return excite a more terrible tempest.

Hence, they prefer to provide for the salvation of the stirrers which chased them away: and without joining the secret assemblies, they endure till death and confirm by their witness the faith which they know is preached in the Catholic Church. He Who sees their secrets struggles knows in secret how to crown their victory. This situation seems rare in the Church, but it is not without example, and it is even found more frequently than one might think.

De vera religione 6, 11

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