Wednesday, 15 September 2010

My Hopes...

Tomorrow our small nation will welcome the Vicar of Christ, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on a state visit to the United Kingdom. The very notion of a state visit has resulted in a great deal of ire and fanatical moral panic. In some sense, I am delighted at this outcry. The Cross which the Holy Father proclaims presents a challenge to a country 'imprisoned in its wickedness' and forces it to truly consider the nature of man and its purpose in existing. Catholic Christianity is not soothing, consoling the sinner in his misery that he is free and authentically human. The Gospel does not appeal to those who seek a sprightly answer to particular difficulties or queries, but attacks the fundamental presumptions and axioms of the human person in order to clear away the accumulated filth gathered through the centuries and reveal the human person in his true dignity. Such a newly found dignity is that which only becomes actualised in union with Christ, the Head of the Church, 'the perfect form of the image of the Father', 'in Him we live, move and have our being'. Man only finds his uniqueness and purpose in relation to the God Who created him and called him to share in the Trinitarian Communion of love and life. Man cut off from this essential element of humanity reduces himself to nothingness and is only ascribed a value based upon a consensus of certain members of society. Instead of being seen as a creature willed into existence, his worth is solely dependent upon either his comeliness of appearance or economic productivity. What is truly wretched is not this state that man has descended to, but how he jealously guards such a pitiable position and laments that he is still held back from lowering himself further. 'Progress!' they clamour.
Before the human person can embrace the goodness and mercy of God, and live in Him as his nature requires for authenticity, he has to reject what he has always assumed and believed to be true. In our current climate, it is considered in accordance with right reason and humanity to murder the unborn without any qualms and to pervert the ends and purpose of sexuality or marriage all in the name of liberty. Yet, the Roman Pontiff will come with the blessing of the Most High and will point out He Who is our Way, our Purpose, our Liberty and our Freedom. This message will not make comfortable hearing, yet why should truth be rejected simply as you believe you will be 'inconvenienced'? We in Scotland have forsaken the Faith handed on to us so that we may wander off in pursuit of fulfilment, yet it is always better in the Father's house.
I really do hope that we will see the humility, love and humanity of Joseph Ratzinger on his visit to our wee country and will reject facile classifications and see Christ Who is our only hope.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Some Questions To Consider

From a recent Lectio Divina on the Holy Gospel according to Luke, 8:4-15 (the sower going out to sow).

I wish to note some of the thoughts that occurred to me on this matter which I consider to concern predestination and grace (among others):

- The seed is sown generously
- For some, it does not settle. There have no true faith to embrace it.
- Let's say: Someone is grieving over a terrible incident in their lives, and God grants grace to bring them to faith in Him through this tragedy, yet because of their anger they reject His grace. Could not God has given it in more appropriate and favourable circumstances?
- God is not however bound to offer grace at all. Gratia dona gratis.. It is essentially a gift, the Good Lord is under no obligation to infuse it.
- Is it given deliberately to those who are not only unwilling to accept it, but to those who are unable to accept it? They are existing in poor soil or on the path. God is not ignorant nor negligent, so He must allow the word to come to those who are not disposed to receiving it.
- Does He allow men to remain incapable of receiving the seed?
-The ground needs tending. Only God can prepare the soul to grow in sanctity or to come to Him at all. Does He refrain from acting thus? Men on their own cannot bear true fruit without the divine initiative.
-Is His grace irresistable? Producing so great a delight in the will, that it cannot possibly fail to receive humbly?
-If the seed was sown in other situations, it would have borne fruit. Yet God permits souls to depart from Him while He leads others to Heaven. It is obvious that certain circumstances would render a person more favourable to accepting divine assistance and would allow them more easily to reject evil? (By being brought up in a holy and devout household etc).

I offer and cannot offer any solutions, but here is a starting point...


I have been reading a very dry, yet extremely informative book by the liturgical scholar Archdale A. King, 'The Liturgy of the Roman Church', where he vents his annoyance of the 'guitar-shaped' chasubles, that so many of us traditionalists love (I not being one of them). Vestments like:

...depart radically from the ancient style which King deplores. Raymond James writes scathingly of this sort by saying, 'Let us be as Roman as possible always, but in artistic matters let us look to Rome's good artistic periods...Skimped chasubles, gold braid and lace are not Roman, they are 18th century bad taste.' Ouch.

I much prefer:

But I suppose it is all a matter of taste eh...

This is certainly to be condemned regardless:

Unless you're an Anglican...

...of the Greek Variety

Saint John Chrysostom:

'Work is not shameful; idleness is. If work were shameful, Paul would not have worked and he would not have boasted of it. The origin of all the miseries which have fallen on humanity lies in the fact that many people have reckoned it an honour not to have any occupation and have thought work degrading. Paul was not ashamed to hold a needle in his hand to sew skins together to make tents, even if he was talking to important people. He had learned his trade when he was a boy, and he did not cease to practise it when he grew up, despite the fact that God had initiated him into his unfathomable mysteries'

Comment: Toil and labour were introduced into this world as a punishment for sin, yet our Lord did not lack wisdom is decreeing this penalty for man. By humble submitting to this, man allows himself to regain the divine likeness by loving God through suffering and difficulty. By entrusting ourselves to him faithful, no matter how menial the task may be deemed by society, we imitate the example of the Logos Who worked tirelessly with Saint Joseph in a carpenter's shop.

On Reforming the Catholic Church Today

Glory be to our Lord Christ!

A poll conducted by the BBC recently discovered that 49% of Catholics interviewed believed that the Holy Father should drop his (in fact, the Latin Church's) insistence on clerical celibacy in light of the sexual abuse scandals. Now, we must ask whether such a measure would be beneficial to the Church's mission, which is to perpetuate the Incarnation and bring the Redemption wrought by Christ's Precious Blood to all nations. Will a relaxing of discipline allow the Church to fully witness to the salvific work of God and make it effective in the lives of mankind? The simple answer is no.

What must be done is a return to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and an embrace of her teachings and her disciplines in their fullness. The Catholic Church (thankfully) is not founded as a democracy, otherwise she would have consumed and mutilated herself by impatiently attempting to conform to the prevailing trends in society. However, in a short period of time, these 'absolute values' of the world will be classed as outmoded and contrary to the judgment of right-minded and rational people. If we as a modern, technical and 'humane' society have progressed such a great deal in the past 50 or so years, could we even contemplate the marvellous nature of our country in another hundred years time? Will not our current 'truths' be decried as preposterous and Medieval? Let us not latch on to the latest novelty for the mere sake of it being 'new'. It must be noted however that not all developments must be rejected out of hand without due consideration, we must be careful not to throw out the wheat with the chaff.

Many have commented that if the Church does not alterate her doctrines and practices, there will not be a Church to worship in shortly. We are being warned that great multitudes will depart from her bosom as the Sacrament of Salvation is not fulfilling their needs. What should we do? Let them go. Our Blessed Lord said that 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God' (Lk 9:62) and 'anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me' (Mt 10:38). Such are hard (dare we say, harsh?) demands that require the conversion and consecration of the whole person to Christ Who descended to save all men and all of man. Let not an itch of your being remain cut off from Christ. Let your words be the words of Christ, your thoughts be of Christ, and your actions be of Christ. A recommitment to our Divine Lord especially to the Holy Sacrifice and to His Most Holy Mother Mary will allow us to be conformed to His likeness, resulting in an unconditional renunouncement of ourselves to our Lord. Do we not say at Compline, 'Into Your hands Lord, I commend my spirit'? Why do we idly recite those precious words of the Crucified and then retire to our beds without a single change of heart, of true repentence and desire for sanctity? The soul who verily acknowledges his debt to the God Who created, sustains and has redeemed him counts nothing as too much. 'Oh but it is too hard' we lament and blubber. Yes it is, for you. We must listen attentively to the words of our Lord to the Divine Apostle, Paul, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' (2 Cor 12:9) He, as the fashioner of human nature, knows exactly what we are capable and by His grace and illumination He allows man to live a divine life. A life free of disordered passions and worries of the ephemeral sort.

This will shrink the Church, they cry. Certainly. Yet, we must remember that few souls will enter and savour the Beatific Vision for all eternity anyway. Our Way is in the steps of our Master Who has went before us and He promised His chosen ones nothing less than sorrow, persecution and repudiation in return for eternal felicity. Is the servant greater than the Master? (Jn 13:16). Let us not be blinded by secular oppression and accept a Gospel other than the one 'entrusted once for all to the saints'(Ju 1:3). The Church cannot witness to the Redemption of the Incarnate Logos by attenuating her commitment to her Bridegroom and the salvation of souls. So if it has to be that men walk away sad from her like the rich man (Lk 18:23), or those gathered around our Lord as He spoke of the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood who departed at this 'hard teaching' (Jn 6:60), so be it. However, I would greatly prefer that we educate our children in the Faith and hand it on to them whilst leading a holy and cheerful life, in willing obedience to Christ and His Church. By our example to our friends, family and extended society, let us become channels of grace for this darkened time and with the Apostle may we say honestly, 'I feel as if I'm going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.' (Gal 4:19).

Prayer Request

I ask for you all to pray for three young men who will be commencing their seminary life and formation in some time soon. Let us pray that they will receive a truly Catholic formation, with a strong emphasis on the Sacred Liturgy and theology. Our Church is in urgent need of faithful, intellectually capable and holy priests to perpetuate the Incarnation and bring the redemption wrought by our Redeemer's Precious Blood to their flock.

Their names are:

Mark Miles
Christian de Lisle
Gary Dench.

Please offer daily prayers for them and all other Catholic seminarians that they may be conformed to the likeness of Christ, our High Priest.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Latin Doctor Quote Of The Day

Saint Bernard:

''And so too, my brothers, I tell you that to this very day it is evident that the words of Jesus are spirit and truth to some people, and for that reason they follow him. To others, His words seem hard, and they seek elsewhere a consolation that can only end in misery''

It would be foolish for a sick man to discard the directives of a doctor, if he wished to become well again. Would it not also be madness to reject the counsel of the Author of human nature if we wish to become satisfied and eternally happy? Such revelation of God through Christ is too often seen as an infringement upon liberty, yet it is only in Him that man can scatter the bands that chain him to perversity. I have a great distaste for the values and principles of this world, however I lack the trust in His divine Goodness to prostrate myself fully at His feet and enter life. I acknowledge the futility of earthly seeking, but I struggle to step across that threshold to the city of God.

Monday, 6 September 2010

One For Stephen...

Let us note some articles of truth which should enlighten Hawking:

1) For something to be it must either exist through itself or be brought into existence and sustained by another. It has to be sustained as there is no reason for it to exist and its essence and existence must be held together.

2) If the universe came into being at one point, it is not therefore eternal.

3) As it is not eternal, it is subject to change and decay.

4) There is nothing of the 'essence' of the universe that necessitates its existence. Otherwise it would be eternal. It would simply BE, rather than Becoming.

5) Therefore, the universe is situated in time and space. Otherwise it would remain as it is, rather than being changed and altered frequently. Outside time and space, it would not be subject to certain factors that would cause it to actualise a potentiality which would be impossible as it would be the Supreme. As it came into being, it is not the Supreme.

6) It is accordingly constrained by what it occupies and does not exist independently from them.

7) No thing could possibly cause itself. God exists necessarily as His essence is the same as His existence (He does not create Himself!). This is because, in order to act as the Supreme Good (or whatever) from which all good (or whatever) derives (which they do), it must exist (even if nothing else did). For something to cause itself, it would have to exist prior to this 'creation' which contradicts itself.

8) The laws of gravity are properties of space, and therefore describe what goes on within this space. It is not independent of this. These properties must be caused by another

9) The universe can only be caused by an external agent who brought it forth out of nothing. Nothing can not form itself into something, as it would lack all capability to do such a thing. Ultimately it would lack existence.

10) God created the universe...

Latin Doctor Quote Of The Day

Pope Saint Leo the Great:

'The blessedness of seeing God is rightly promised to those who are pure of heart. For the eye that is filled with dirt cannot see the brightness of true light; what is joy to the clear, shining mind is punishment to the mind which is stained. Let the darkness of the empty things of this world be set aside and the eyes of the soul be cleansed of all the filth of sin so that the inward sight may enjoy in peace the wonderful vision of God'.

Comment: Within the divine simplicity, there is no change or alteration. He Who Is exists through Himself and rejoices in His own eternal felicity. But fallen man is dragged around by the various waves of passion and emotion, leading to insecurity and confusion. However, the saint clings to God as his only refuge and transforms these disordered loves to the glory of the Undivided and Most Holy Trinity. As he increases in likeness to that Ineffable Holiness, he is impelled to reach higher and higher, purifying himself by the divine light and grace, never satisfied with the state of mediocrity. The beauty of God is revealed to him, and in fact, he sees within himself, this glory reflected and he cries out for the Archtype with ever greater confidence. On the other hand, the reprobate only sees in God, opposition, demands, and a state that could never be attained. He is repulsed by such a height which makes him dizzy. Like the unguarded eye glancing at the sun, he turns away and rots in his pride.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Just a thought

Maybe I should post some pictures of birds (of the feathery variety) to generate more interest...

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Some Remarks for this Sunday's Gospel

From the Holy Gospel according to Luke (7:11-16):

- It is Jesus Himself Who comes to the gate where he is met by dead human nature, dead in grace and good works. This mass of humanity heading towards the grave would have decayed further if the Divine Physician had not provided His assistance.

- Faith is of the divine initiative, man can do nothing, he cannot rouse itself up to God. God must first love us and call us to Himself. This does not mean that human free-will is negated, but that authentic choice is only liberated by His call and grace. 'They that carried it stood still', the carriers of the bier did not resist His healing action, which allowed its efficacy to manifest itself in curing the young man. Only at His hand does human nature return to wholeness. Man may recover physical health through his own natural processes without recourse to medicine, yet grace is not part of the gift of nature, but accords with the mystery hidden in God. It is not something that we can apply when it suits us. It must be given.

- It is interesting that our Divine Lord will often heal bodies not simply by willing it (which would accomplish the same effect) but often engages in human action. He will speak, touch, use spittle etc to bestow grace and mercy in a human manner. In our holy religion, the flesh is not deemed evil, but by the assumption of flesh (the 'hinge of salvation' according to Tertullian) by the Logos, it is transformed and glorified. Our composite, dual nature is not a punishment but an essential element of our humanity. By His Cross, Jesus reconciled men to God, and by founding His Catholic Church, He reconciles men to men. Our Lord by His ineffable power may have chosen to bring men to Him and salvation by appearing to individuals to enlighten them in heavenly things, yet as He acts in accordance with what it most fitting, He chose from all eternity to establish His Church to perpetuate the Incarnation and bring the redemption wrought by His Most Precious Blood to the ends of the earth. The Church carries out her mission, faithful to her Bridegroom by healing men through the Sacraments and sacred rites and symbols.

- It is said that our Lord cured 'being moved with mercy towards her'. He has compassion, yet it is He Who has been offended and will be pierced by sin. He was rejected, yet He wishes to accept and console. Even though we have all too often spurned His mercy, He pursues us with burning love so that we may be converted. We have departed from life, so He becomes our Physician.

- 'Arise!' (Surge). That is, Do not remain where you are, fickle in thought and deed. Turn to Me, and I will give you true rest. I am the One you seek, the One you long for. Only in Me do you find true life, depart from Me and you will return to the dust without hope.

Whether the First Man Was Created in Grace?

P1, Q 95, A1.

So far we have examined according to the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas whether Adam saw God through His Divine Essence and whether he knew all things. Now we must consider spiritual constitution of Adam in regards to his soul and its possession of grace.
The Angelic Doctor affirms that our first parent was created in grace, but first states a number of objections to this position. First of all, the Divine Apostle contrasts dramatically the state of Adam and Christ when he writes, 'The first Adam was made into a living soul; the last Adam (that is, Jesus our Lord) into a quickening spirit' (1 Cor. 15:45), accordingly Christ alone was made in grace. Since the soul is animated (that is, given true life) by grace, and no such mention is said of the condition of Adam, it implies that he was not made in grace.
2) Further 'evidence' for this position may be taken from an unknown writer (was thought to be Augustine) who stated, 'Adam did not possess the Holy Ghost', and the objection runs that, 'whoever possesses grace, has the Holy Ghost'. 3) The Doctor of Grace also explains that, 'God so ordered the life of the angels and men, as to show first what they could do by free will, then what they can do by His grace, and by the discernment of righteousness'. Therefore, the initial condition of man was one of free will which possessed authentic liberty and only after the Fall did God infuse men with grace. 4) One may also say that, for man to possess grace he must consent to the divine initiative, and since one is unable to consent to one's creation, grace would have been infused without agreement, which is contrary to what we believe concerning grace. Other objections may be stated, but we must proceed to how Saint Thomas answers such positions and how he elucidates the truth.
Saint Thomas states, 'man and angel are both ordained to grace' and since the angels were designed in such a condition, which the Bishop of Hippo affirms when he says, 'God at the same time fashioned their nature and endowed them with grace'. It follows therefore, that the rational creature of the earth possessed grace as well. Justice requires that the lower is subject to the higher or to the superior. Creatures must acknowledge their dependence upon the Lord, realising the ontological chasm that exists between them. Furthermore, the soul, in which the imago Dei consists, is therefore more conformed to the likeness of God than corporeal matter, so in justice, the body will exist in subjection to the soul, as servant to master. 'God made man right' (Eccles. 7:30) which requires that no such disorder, chaos or irrationality reign as this is proper to the state of banishment, of sin and shame. In Eden, all things were ordered to the glory of God, conducting a harmony of praise to His Divine Goodness whereby our first parents shared in some sense in the life of God. Reason which is the correct and truthful ordering of men to God, necessitates the subordination of the body to soul, not in the manner of bridling the passions, but allowing physical matter to exist according to its nature. Saint Thomas confirms that such an arrangement and perfect symphony to the majesty of God 'was not from nature; otherwise it would have remained after sin'. As a direct result of the Fall, grace was banished by the soul, signified by the casting out from the Garden, into the unknown and the dangerous. The discord and infirmity caused, turns man away from his Source of being and reduces him to corruption and death, spiritual as well as physical. Let us realise the great confusion and distress the first sin caused man, in himself, in relation to the other and with God. Both our parents were shamed at their nakedness, which they have not previously noticed. When God accuses Adam of eating the fruit he blames it on his wife (actually he refers culpability to God as Adam states 'the woman You placed with me), who in turn assigns the fault to the 'serpent'. Accordingly, 'the primitive subjection by virtue of which reason was subject to God, was not merely a natural gift, but a supernatural endowment of grace; for it is not possible that the effect should be of greater efficiency than the cause'. One must note here that the Angelic Doctor is following the Greek Fathers in asserting that the natural of man remains untouched after the Fall.
Saint Augustine also states, 'as soon as they (Adam and Eve) disobeyed the Divine command, and forfeited Divine grace, they were ashamed of their nakedness, for they felt the impulse of disobedience in the flesh, as though it were a punishment corresponding to their own disobedience'. The grace that fled from their souls resulting in that discord which far removed them from that orginal state of peace, unity and harmony. The lower powers rose up against their master and caused embarrassment and confusion.
Now let us return to the objections stated earlier.

1) Saint Paul means in that statement, 'that there is a spiritual body, if there is an animal body, inasmuch the spiritual life of the body began in Christ, who is the 'firstborn from the dead', as the body's animal life began in Adam'. From His Glorious Resurrection from the dead, which no man had even done before (it is certain that men had been raised from the dead, however they would soon perish again), His Sacred Body shown forth in majesty, there was no need for food or drink, no threat of pain or discomfort, as these are associated with the life of fallen man. It follows that Adam although possessing a spiritual soul, did not come into possession of a spiritual body. It was not the appointed time.
2) Saint Augustine clarifies when he writes, 'he (Adam) did not possess the Holy Ghost, as the faithful possesses Him now', as those in possession of the Sanctifier, Who dwells in our hearts, making us into a spiritual offering to the glory of God and joins us together in unity in the Church, permits us to enter perpetual felicity after our death immediately.
3) The Angelic Doctor explains, 'Augustine does not assert that angels or men were created with natural free-will before they possessed grace; but that God shows first what their free-will could do before being confirmed in grace, and what they acquired afterwards by being so confirmed.'
4) It must be stated that not all graces to be infused are in conjunction with the will of the human person. Infants are baptised even when they are unable to consent to this bath of regeneration, and with which faith, hope and charity are poured into their hearts.

September 3 - Saint Pius X - 3 Cl.

One for the 'Lefebvrists'...

Pope, Confessor.

Joseph Sarto was born at Riese in Venetia on June 2, 1835. He was successively curate, parish priest, bishop of Mantua, patriarch of Venice. He was elected Pope on August 4, 1903. As chief pastor of the Church he realised to the full the value of the liturgy as the prayer of the Church and spared no effort to propagate the practice of frequent and daily Communion. He died on August 20, 1914 and was canonised on May 29, 1954.


O God, who to safeguard Catholic faith and to restore all things in Christ, didst fill the Supreme Pontiff, Saint Pius, with heavenly wisdom and apostolic fortitude: grant in Thy mercy: that by striving to fulfill his ordinances and to follow his example, we may reap eternal rewards. Through the same...

'Come, children, hearken to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord'
'Even so we speak, not as pleasing men but God...for neither have we used at any time the speech of flattery...'

"Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: "There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land" (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man. " - His Holiness Pope Saint Pius X

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Latin Doctor Quote Of The Day

Saint Alphonsus Liguori:

"Realize that you may gain more in a quarter of an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament than in all other practices of the day."

Comment: The heart of our Catholic Faith is the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, when our Divine Redeemer calls us forth to worship Him in reverence and awe. Such is the great privilege of entering a Catholic Church, where we find our Lord and God waiting for us. Why do we fail to make use of this gift?