Restoring the Sacred

Saturday, January 20, 2018

University of Mary’s Katrina Gallic Inspires Youth with Powerful 2017 Ma...

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column, January 21, 2018

Father Rutler's Weekly Column
Sunday, January 21, 2018

In the late 1990s I watched the rebuilding of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, replicating the nineteenth-century cathedral that had been dynamited by Stalin in 1931. It can hold an estimated ten thousand worshipers (they stand throughout the long services, for pews are abhorrent to venerable tradition) and is the tallest Orthodox church in the world with a dome reaching 338 feet. Stalin’s plan to build on its site a Palace of the Soviets with a huge statue of Lenin atop its dome was never realized because of World War II. That recalls the statue of Zeus, “the Abomination of Desolation,” which the Greek ruler of Syria, Antiochus IV, erected in the Jerusalem temple after he despoiled its sacred vessels. Antiochus basked in the title Epiphanes, which means “radiance of God,” but the Jews punned that as Epimanes, or “the mad man.”

   Two hundred churches are planned for Moscow, along with an estimated thousand across the nation, replacing and adding to those destroyed in the Communist period, during which priests were crucified on the church doors. These are in the classical Byzantine style, not the modern biscuit boxes and flying saucers that were the bane of the West over the last few decades. In some towns, the local people are taught iconography and mosaic art, so the churches really are the work of their own hands.

   These days in China, where Christianity is oppressed, not especially for theological reasons, but because it is a threat to the political hegemony of the state, churches are being destroyed. Within the past few months, for example, in Henan Province an evangelical church was dynamited in Shangqiu, with a blithe ferocity paralleling that of Stalin.
In the West, churches are getting demolished for reasons other than political: redundancy, the lack of need for “ethnic” parishes, and the sheer cost of maintenance. Often, people who are much wealthier than their ancestors who built the churches sacrificially out of their penury, do not contribute enough for maintenance. Between 1995 and the present, the Catholic population in the United States has increased from 57 million to over 70 million.  New churches are being built in the South and West where populations are growing faster than the decline in other parts of the country.
There is another factor, however, in the loss of churches in much of our nation, and it is simply indifference. The vice of sloth is a spiritual malignancy, and many of our great metropolises have become hospices for lapsed believers. When I was sent to our parish here in “Hell’s Kitchen,” which is experiencing a phenomenal population growth, I was asked, “How many Catholics live there?” The proper question is, “How many Catholics will live there?”
The Ascending Lord did not send his disciples into Catholic neighborhoods, because there were none.

Faithfully Yours in Christ, Fr. George W. Rutler

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Trump to Pro-Lifers: "We are with you all the way!"

Friday, January 19, 2018

Mariawald Trappist Abbey Closed Down -- Summorum Undone by Current Vatican Regime

From Rorate Caeli today:

In a letter dated November 21, 2008, Benedict XVI granted the abbey the privilege to return to the old usages of the Trappist Order in liturgy and monastic life. This concerned especially a return to the venerable Old Rite. The pope saw this project as a "renewal of the church in the spirit of tradition". Now this renewal is over before it could get off the ground. 
It is true that while the Church will survive all obstacles, religious houses, cathedrals, abbeys have been closed and destroyed many times before. Yet, we are confident in the hope that, just as abbeys ravaged by savagery, in the Reformation and in the post-conciliar storm, did not last forever, the current regime in the Vatican will not last forever either.

Fr. Ray Blake: Imagine Pastoral Opportunities

Not everyone thought the "marriage" performed by Pope Francis in mid-air.  This is from Fr. Ray Blake's Blog today:
Imagine if you lived in theatreland in London or New York and had priests competing with jugglers and street magicians, offering free marriages whilst people waited for tickets. 
Imagine the Marriage of Figaro with real Marriages! 
Imagine, Romeo and Juliet actually getting married! 
Imagine, a two for one offer at your local supermarket! Two couples at one go. 
Imagine the possibilities for an airport chaplain, you could marry people as they waited to check-in, or as they wait for luggage at the carousel.
Imagine the mass weddings that could take place at the next Glastonbury Rock Festival...
To read the whole post click on the link below:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fr. Schall at 90

Today's post at The Catholic Thing pays tribute to the great Fr. James Schall on the upcoming occasion of his 90th birthday (January 20).  It's a must read for anyone who has ever had the pleasure of reading Fr. Schall or, for that matter, anyone who never had the pleasure.

Bellarmine Forum: John Manos on Papal Awards (and Papal Bull)

John Manos, writing yesterday at the Bellarmine Forum Blog:

Pope Francis bestowed the honor of “Commander in the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great” upon Lilianne Plouman, a Dutch politician. Plouman is heralded as a global force to raise money for abortion. So, when pressured on this award, the Vatican issued a statement on January 15...  
“The honor of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great received by Mrs. Lilianne Ploumen, former Minister of Development, in June 2017 during the visit of the Dutch Royals to the Holy Father, responds to the diplomatic practice of the exchange of honors between delegations on the occasion of official visits by Heads of State or Government in the Vatican.  Therefore, it is not in the slightest a placet [an expression of assent] to the politics in favor of abortion and of birth control that Mrs Ploumen promotes.”

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fr. Nix's Sermon, January 14, 2018

This sermon was given on the Second Sunday after Epiphany, 2018.  The featured picture on the blog for this sermon is from a stained glass window at my basilica of residence downtown.

A continued thanks for the music-bumpers of my sermons to the holy nuns of Ephesus.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column, January 14, 2018

Father Rutler's Weekly Column
January 14, 2018

The romantic soul of William Wordsworth thrilled over the French Revolution: “Oh! Pleasant exercise of hope and joy!  . . . Bliss was it in the dawn to be alive. But to be young was very heaven!” He crossed the Channel to see it in action, but when the Terror began he fled in horror. Then there is the story of Beethoven tearing up the first page of his Sinfonia Eroica, originally dedicated to Napoleon, upon news that his hero had succumbed to the vanity of a crown. The anarchist Emma Goldman hailed the Russian Revolution, but when fact obliterated her fantasy, she acidly described the Bolshevik State “crushing every constructive revolutionary effort, suppressing, debasing, and disintegrating everything.” The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact shattered the illusions of many armchair Communists.

   Disillusionment can decay into cynicism, but it can also be a salvific dose of reality.  Eugenicists in the last century envisioned a demographic utopia, only to find that illusion cruelly mocked by the Nazi death camps and made macabre by abortion mills today. Arthur and Elizabeth Rathburn of Grosse Point, Michigan are just the latest of people on trial for trafficking in the body parts of unborn babies. In 2013 the FBI discovered in their warehouse over one thousand heads, limbs and organs of infants. Their indictment seems to have been delayed because of what was previously a political reluctance to implicate Planned Parenthood. Increasing numbers of our population are recognizing unpleasant truths.

   Recent changes by our Executive Branch mark a shift in policy—reinstating the pro-life Mexico City Policy, moving to defund the United Nations Population Fund, expanding the religious exemption to the Health and Human Services Department’s contraception mandate, and favoring a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act—as well as encouraging the annual March for Life this January 19, marking the 45th anniversary of the tragic Roe v. Wade decision. One does not want to be overly optimistic, but illusions are being shattered and, save for stone hearts, the consciences of many may be recognizing the consequences of naïvely underestimating the forces of evil cloaked as social progress.

   The Scottish king Robert the Bruce provided a lesson in persistence. Defeated in battle, he was tempted to give up, but for three months he took refuge in a cave where he watched a spider persevere in building a web, after failing numerous times. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” The line has edified schoolchildren, but it also helped the Bruce secure his kingdom after victory at Bannockburn. Various places claim the site of the cave—Dumfriesshire, Arran Island, Craigie, Taitlin Island—but that cave is wherever people learn from their mistakes and do not succumb to cynicism. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Anthony Esolen: Church Teachings on Chastity

Professor Anthony Esolen writing today at Crisis Magazine Blog:

When the Church upholds the rules of chastity, she is not so much prescribing a diet, as she is identifying what is good for man’s sexual being, and what is not good. She is describing facts. You may say that these are not facts; you may not be a Roman Catholic. But we must be clear about what the Church is affirming. She says that to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage is bad for you, and by extension it is bad for the people around you, because no man is an island, and autonomy is a lie. There are things that chaste people can do and can enjoy that are spoiled or rendered impossible by the vice; and there are things that a society that expects chastity can enjoy that a society that expects vice cannot. 
People who believe that the Church can change her teaching about these things do not see what is implied. They believe, it seems to me, that the teachings are arbitrary, “mere dogma” as they say. But we are arguing ultimately about facts. The Church is saying, “This here is laced with poison. It will riddle your bones. You will begin to cough and spit up blood. You might as well be bound and fettered. Here are the directives instead that will make you powerful. They work.”

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fr. Z: "Ad Orientem" Five Years Later

From Fr. Z's Blog today:

You long time readers might remember that I posted photos of a “table” altar being hauled by some men out of a church and over the the rectory.That was in 2013.  Five years ago. 
That’s when St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff, WI, where Fr. Richard Heilman is pastor, went ad orientem.
(Click on the above link to see the difference)

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky: Confronting the Gay Priest Problem

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky, one very courageous Catholic priest in the diocese of Arlington, Virginia, writing today at The Catholic Thing:

When a priest claims to be “gay and proud,” he is revealing that he has assented to his same-sex attraction. Free and deliberate thoughts have moral implications, as Jesus asserted: “But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt 5:28) The difference between internal assent and external action is only a matter of a sinful opportunity. An unabashed and proud “gay” priest has already committed sodomy in his heart.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column: January 7, 2018

Father Rutler's Weekly Column
Sunday, January 7, 2018

When The New Yorker magazine was peerless for its combination of erudition and wit, it ran a cartoon of Lilliputians contemplating Gulliver, whom they had fastened to the ground with ropes: “Either he’s very big or we are very small.”

   That is what we might say of the Creator when Epiphany directs our eyes to the stars. But while man must be humbled by the size beyond measure of the galaxies, the Creator does not humiliate us. In an interview in 1930, Einstein said: “We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how.” With the humility of a scientist who knows that there is much he does not know, that same professor wryly remarked to R. A. Thornton that he did not want to be like someone, including so many physicists, “who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest.”

   Well-meaning scientists have tried to calculate a physical explanation for the Star of Bethlehem. In 1604, Johannes Kepler proposed that at the time of Christ’s birth there was a supernova simultaneous with the conjunction of the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. This often is a feature of Christmas programs in astronomical observatories. There may be something to that, but saints like Chrysostom were of the opinion that this was no ordinary phenomenon, given the way it moved and came close to earth, but was “of some power endowed with reason.” For Aquinas, it is “probable that it was a newly created star, not in the heavens, but in the air near the earth, and that its movement varied according to God’s will.”

   Little is known of the Magi, and for that reason they are a mine easily plundered by romantics who make them so exotic that they seem too good to be true.  We do not even know their homeland; perhaps it was Persia or, according to one recent theory, what is now Yemen. We do know that God, unlike Gulliver, is beyond measure, and his grace has made us more than Lilliputians. Saint Hippolytus, before dying a hard death for Christ, said of him:

He wanted us to consider him as no different from ourselves, and so he worked, he was hungry and thirsty, he slept. . . . When we have come to know the true God, both our bodies and our souls will be immortal and incorruptible. We shall enter the kingdom of heaven, because while we lived on earth we acknowledged heaven’s King. Friends of God and co-heirs with Christ, we shall be subject to no evil desires or inclinations, or to any affliction of body or soul, for we shall have become divine.

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Fr. Gerald Murray: The Crisis We Are Living

                                                      (Cardinal Kasper and The Pope)

From The Catholic Thing today:

Here’s the problem: When a group of bishops teaches that persons in invalid second marriages are free to judge that it is not “feasible” for them to avoid committing acts of adultery, they are telling the faithful that they are not at fault for doing what the Catholic Church teaches to be gravely sinful. “Feasibility” means “the state or degree of being easily or conveniently done,” and even more precisely “capable of being done, accomplished or carried out.” The avoidance of mortal sin does involve difficulty and inconvenience. But the Church does not teach that grown-up people in their right minds are incapable of obeying God’s commandments.
To say to someone that it may be infeasible for him to refrain from acts of adultery is to advise him that, in effect, he is not subject to God’s law in this matter. When pastors tell Catholics living in sin that they are not really guilty of mortal sin as long as they decide that they cannot “feasibly” observe God’s law, the shepherds have seriously failed them.