Sunday, August 22, 2010

The narrow way

In 1534 John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester was arrested for refusing to swear to the Act of Supremacy. The Act was a law passed by parliament which required everyone to swear to its three clauses, which were: that any heir of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn was a legitimate heir to the the throne of England, that the marriage between Henry and Catherine was null and void, irregardless of what the Church said, and that the Bishop of Rome (as the Pope was designated in the act had no more authority or power in England than any other bishop. This John Fisher could not do.
Thomas More, lawyer, former Speaker of the House of Commons, and Chancellor of Henry, also refused to sign the oath, and in 1534 he was also arrested.
It is said that both men arrived at the Tower of London, the place they would spend the rest of their lives, both being executed the next year, at the same time.
Looking at the tower's door Thomas said," My Lord I believe the door is wide enough for both of us."
John Fisher replied, "Thomas, it is narrow enough."
Of St. Thomas More in 1929 G.K. Chesterton said, "Blessed Thomas More is important today, but he is not as important now as he will be in one hundred years from today."
Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy sought to make the state supreme over the teachings of God. Of all of the bishops of England only St. John Fisher chose the narrow way of adherence to the Church over the state.
When he was to die St. Thomas More declared that he died, "the king's good servant and God's first," one among many who would be a martyr for following the path laid down by Christ against the power of the English state.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Marian Gifts: The Assumption

The Angels, both holy and fallen have preternatural gifts. They have abilities beyond those of mortals, gifts of God at their creation.
Adam and Eve were also graced with preternatural gifts at their creation, infused knowledge, immortality of the body and integrity.
Infused knowledge is the ability to recognize the providence of God. Immortality of the body means that the body is immune to disease, incorruptible of body. Integrity is the perfect obedience of emotions to the intellect, to the will. It is the absence of concupiscence, the inclination to sin, though not necessarily to external temptation, as is evident in Adam and Eve's fall to the temptation of the serpent.
These preternatural gifts were lost by our first parents when they committed original sin. No human through the long history of humanity have regain these gifts. Not even Christs death on the cross restored them the humanity. Except for one. Except for the one created without the stain of original sin. Except for Mary.
The knowledge of Mary's sinless nature was not something created by the medieval Church, it was a belief common among the faithful from the second century. It only logically follows that Mary would posses those gifts which were integral to our humanity prior to their loss due to sin.
Infused knowledge is the ability to recognize the providence of God. Mary realized the supernatural significance of things others did not, so as Scripture says she “pondered them in her heart,” and eventually revealed them to St. Luke, where he recorded them in his Gospel.
Integrity is the perfect obedience of emotions to the intellect, to the will. Mary was not troubled by concupiscence, she had not inclination to sin, though she was tempted by external temptation as are all members of the human race, as were Adam and Eve. But though she was tempted she did not sin, not even venial sins.
Finally, immortality of the body means she was not subject to disease. In a very real way her Ascension into Heaven was a result of her preternatural gift of bodily incorruptibility.
The supernatural gift lost by Adam and Eve was to be in Gods family, that is to be Full of Grace. This is a gift that God returned to us through Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of Baptism. It is the gift that Mary possessed without baptism, because of her Immaculate Conception.
None of these gifts were Mary's by virtue of any act that she committed. She did not earn them, no more than we can earn God's gift of salvation. They were Gift's of God to His Mother.
In a very real way Mary was part of God' plan from the beginning. She is prefigured in the Old Testament, her place in salvation history reflected in the Book of Kings and in Psalms, in the relationship of the King of Israel to the Queen Mother. She is the Queen in Ophir , the King's daughter, who will be the mother of the King, and whose sons will be the princes of the Earth, who the nations will praise forever.
Through God's gifts she, who was to remain a virgin, saved from the pain of labor, which was a punishment visited on Eve as a result of Original Sin, would have her heart pierced at the foot of the cross, she would never know the death of corruption of the body. She was the first to receive the gift of Her only Son's victory over death. the gift that we will receive at the Last Judgement.
In the Eastern Churches, including the Eastern Catholic Churches the Feast of the Assumption is celebrated as the Dormition of the Theotokos, that is the falling asleep of the Mother of God.

Monday, August 9, 2010

St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross

On this day in 1942, Edith Stein, along with her sister, Rosa were gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Stein was a member of the Discalced Camerlite monastery at Cologne. Her religious name was Teresia Benedicta of the Cross.
Born a Jew, she flirted with atheism as a teen but converted to Christianity. She was baptized a Roman Catholic in 1922. She was doctor of philosophy and a professor at Freinburg. She attributed her conversion to Catholicism to her reading of the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila.
In 1933 she wrote a letter to Pope Pius XI denouncing Germany's Nazi regime and asked to Pope to opening denounce them. that same year she entered the convent.
Because of her Jewish background her order transfered her to a monastery in the Netherlands.
In 1942, in the face of great acts of horror on the part of the Nazi regime the bishops of the Netherlands spoke out against them. The response was the arrest of all Jewish converts in the Netherlands and their shipment to Auschwitz. It is very indicative that these prisoners received no numbers. It was the obvious intent that they be executed immediately.
The situation of Edith Stein is a clear indication of what we can sometimes expect when the Church speaks out against evil in the world. It's lesson is not that the Church should not speak out against evil, but that we should be prepared to pay the price Our Lord paid for speaking out against the prince of the world and his minions. It is perhaps even a sign of what we can one day expect in our own lifetimes. It should be remembered that Henry VIII was declared "Defender of the Faith" by the Pope only years before he declared himself head of the Church of England and dissolved the monasteries, in the one of the greatest grabs of Church property in European history.
We may see it's like again.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Tomorrow is the anniversary of that horrific event, the destruction of Hiroshima by the atomic bomb Little Boy, dropped by the U.S. Army Air Corps B-29 bomber Enola Gay. On the next day the bomb named Fat Man was dropped on the Japanease port city of Nagasaki.
Brother Anthony Josemaria looks at this event in light of the large population of Japanese Catholics who died at Nagasaki in The Catholic Holocaust of Nagasaki—“Why, Lord?”
I had known some of the story of the evangelization of Japan before. Who has not heard the story of Paul Miki and the twenty-five martyrs? I even knew a little of the story of Fr. Petitjean and the Urakami Christian. Brother Josemaria gives a very elightening view of Christian suffering and the historical framework of these evnts. An article well worth reading.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dedication of Saint Mary Major

The Dedication of Saint Mary major is the liturgical feast celebrated in honor of the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, which is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
This feast commemorates the rededication of the church by Pope Sixtus III just after the First Council of Ephesus.
This council was called to answer the problems caused by the teachings of Nestorius. Nestorianism split the natures of the Christ into human and divine. So while believing that Jesus was God, it denied that Mary was the mother of God. Cyril contested this belief, and at the Council it was declared that Mary was indeed the Theotokos, the birth giver of God.
This church is also called the Church of Our Lady of the Snows. It is said that in the forth century, during the pontificate of Liberius, a Roman patrician named John and his wife, who were without child, pray to the Virgin Mary, that she might make known a way that they might dispose of their property in her honor. On August 5th, in the heat of the Roman summer, snow fell on the Esquiline Hill. The couple had a vision of this event, and on the spot on the hill side which had been covered with snow they built a church.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Don’t Need your Catechism!�|�Catholic Exchange

What is the basis of the Catechetical program in your parish?

I Don’t Need your Catechism!�|�Catholic Exchange

Prayer Time

In our busy world it often seems very hard to find the time to pray. We wake up already having more things to do than time to do them in. The kids need us. We don't get spend enough time with our spouse. We have more work than can possibly be accomplished in the time we have to do it. Where are we suppose to find the time to pray?
St. Francis de Sales when asked how much one should pray said that you should pray for half hour a day, unless you are really busy. If you are really busy, you should pray for an hour.
The great doctor of the Church understood that in being busy we are concerning ourselves with earthly things. Like Martha, the industrious sister of Lazarus and Mary, fluttering around concerned with the tasks of hospitality, but missing the presence of the bridegroom. We must, like Mary, choose the better half and subjugate our earthly concerns to the transcendent.

Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog: Chesterton on the real difference between Paganism and Christianity

Chesterton on Christian virtues by way of Ignatius Insight:

Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog: Chesterton on the real difference between Paganism and Christianity