Restoring the Sacred

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sundays are for Beauty: Andrea Bocelli



And...Bocelli at Fatima:

https://aleteia.org/2018/05/18/andrea-bocelli-in-fatima-here-every-breath-is-a-prayer/

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column




Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column
June 24, 2018


The recent dedication of our parish’s shrine of Our Lady of Aradin for persecuted Christians evoked a powerful response. We heard the Our Father prayed in our Lord’s native Aramaic, which is still spoken in northern Iraq along the Nineveh Plain. When the ISIS militants finally were driven out from that area, 1,233 houses of Christians had been totally destroyed, another 11,717 were partially wrecked or burnt, 34 churches were totally destroyed and 329 partially ruined.

   Some years ago, I did a television program in Canada with the author Pierre Berton, who had published a book in 1965 called The Comfortable Pew. He was an atheist, albeit one of natural virtue sufficient to disdain the self-satisfaction of those who called themselves Christians but who had become relaxed about the Gospel imperative. A generation before, the ethicist H. Richard Niebuhr had described that sedated kind of Christianity as: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross." An English theologian whom I knew, summed up most of the preaching he had heard in the United States: “Might I suggest that you try to be good?”

   Laodicean lukewarmness (Revelation 3:16) tends to be discomforted by reports of men and women actually sacrificing all they have for the Faith. In one survey of issues that concern Catholics in the United States, economic matters and changes in the climate are prominent, while the persecution of Christians ranks last.

   Saint Francis of Assisi went to Egypt during the Fifth Crusade to convert the Muslim caliph who had him beaten and imprisoned, but then released him with some token gifts. The next year, five friars were beheaded in Morocco. The sight of their bodies, ransomed by the King of Portugal and returned to Coimbra, determined Saint Anthony to become a friar. He made the trip to Morocco, but returned after a grave illness.

   The great little man of Assisi wrote in his First Rule for the Friars Minor an instruction just as applicable today for dealing prudently with persecutors of the Faith:
 
"The brothers who are to live among the Saracens and other non-believers will enter into spiritual contact with them in one of two ways: The first way is by avoiding every conflict or discussion, and being subject to every human creature for God’s sake, while confessing at every moment that they are Christians. The second way is, at that moment when it is seen to be the will of God, to proclaim the word of God . . . because, as the Lord says in the Gospel: 'Everyone who recognizes me before men, I will recognize before my Father in Heaven And everyone who is ashamed of me and my doctrine, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes clothed in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.'”



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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column, June 17, 2018



Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column
June, 17, 2018

   Our Lord was probably a teenager when the Roman general Publius Quinctilius Varus impaled himself on his own sword in despair for having lost three legions in combat with Germanic tribesmen. Thirty years earlier Mark Antony had killed himself the same way in Egypt. The Celtic queen Boudica poisoned herself in Britain some sixty years later, and then, if the historian Josephus is to be believed, there was the mass suicide of Jews on Masada in the year 73.

   In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Albigensian cult thought that all created beings were the work of an evil power and considered suicide the ultimate good, as it freed the soul from the “prison” of the body. Contrary to those pessimists, life is sacred: “You have been purchased at a price, so glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Consequently, “We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2280).

   Thus Chesterton, who fought serious depression, said: “Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in life . . . The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.” Though suicides were once denied Requiem blessings, the Church now teaches that a suicide victim's responsibility can be diminished by "grave psychological disturbances, anguish or grave fear of hardship, suffering or torture” (CCC 2282).

   Much publicity attended the recent suicides of a woman who designed fashionable handbags, and a celebrity chef. I never availed myself of their apparent talents, yet one wonders whether such lives might have been spared had the victims of their own hands studied more intently the wounds in the hands of the One who died so that “none be lost and all be saved.”

   Suicide rates in our country in all age groups have climbed nearly 30% in the last generation. Among women between ages 45 and 64, who were promised sexual and social liberation, suicides have increased 60% in the last twenty years. While not wanting to lapse into the logical fallacy of “cum hoc ergo propter hoc” (a coincidence must be a consequence), these figures almost exactly match the increased number of Americans who say they have no faith or belong to no religion.

   The only suicide whose fate is certain was Judas, who fell into remorse rather than repentance, and the difference is that he was ashamed of himself out of pride, and so he “repented to himself” and became the “son of destruction” (Matthew 27:3; John 17:12). Christians should not lose hope for those they loved and lost. Saint John Vianney, that master of mystical intuition, told a woman whose husband had jumped off a bridge: “Do not despair. Between the bridge and the water, he made an act of contrition.”

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column: June 10, 2018



Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column

June 10, 2018


   The Internal Revenue Service would not be impressed by someone who paid taxes not in the formal way, but in a spiritual sense. Yet the equivalent of that has be come an esoteric mantra among many who identify as Catholics but reject Catholicism as their religion. The Pew Research Center found that 13 percent of those surveyed, who regard themselves as “indelibly Catholic by culture, ancestry, ethnicity or family tradition,” do not practice the precepts of the Faith.

   That “cultural Catholicism” does not work when challenged by Catholicism’s despisers. There is much to be said for inheriting the faith of ancestors, but ancestors are betrayed when that faith is a patrimony that is squandered by a spendthrift heir. In the Middle East there are Christians who can trace their religious identity back to the apostles, but theirs is not a mere cultural religion. A year after Christian towns of northern Iraq were liberated from the Islamic State, many families still live in refugee camps. Various organizations are providing assistance, but the challenge is to encourage resettlement, not by temporary financial relief, but by restoring and developing local economies to revive ghost towns. The pope’s creation of the Chaldean Patriarch, Louis Sako of Baghdad, as a Cardinal affirms hope of revitalization.

   In those areas, the faithful have had to resist attempts to make them renounce the Gospel by force. In decadent Western cultures, such surrender has been voluntary. Much of Europe has long since abandoned Christ through indifference. More recently, the illusion of Ireland as a Catholic country was shattered by the overwhelming vote for abortion, following the vote in 2015 for redefining marriage.

   Cultural Catholicism abandons the Holy Spirit for the Spirit of the Age, a seductive chimera that haunts once-holy halls. Saint Patrick could say once again: “I dwell amongst barbarians, a proselyte and an exile, for the love of God.” He preached Christianity as a vocation and not as an avocation: “That which I have set out in Latin is not my words but the words of God and of apostles and prophets, who of course have never lied. He who believes shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be damned. God has spoken.”

   Here in New York, the virtual evaporation of candidates for the priesthood, while vocations have grown in many other parts of the country, is like the canary in a coal mine. Facts are shrewd mentors, teaching that cultural Catholicism is not enough. Yet consider some of the most significant and diverse figures in the history of the Church in New York: Elizabeth Ann Seton, Isaac Hecker, Orestes Brownson, Paul Wattson, Rose Hawthorne, Thomas Fortune Ryan, Joyce Kilmer, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Clare Boothe Luce, Avery Dulles, Bernard Nathanson. As converts, they were counter-cultural, and they did not degrade the Sacrifice of Christ by being Catholic in a cultural, but not a religious sense.


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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column, June 3, 2018




Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column
June 3, 2018

At each Mass in our parish we recite the Prayer to Saint Michael, which was written by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 when the temporal sovereignty of the Holy See was under attack. While it used to be prayed universally after Low Masses, we continue it here since our patron is Saint Michael, and our neighborhood of “Hell’s Kitchen” historically has been in the crosshairs of Satan.

   A friend of ours, Father Benedict Kiely, founded an organization (Nasarean.org) to help Christians in the Middle East where, as Pope Francis has said, the Church is being persecuted in ways more violent than at any time since the early centuries. As I write this, Fr. Kiely is in Mosul, Iraq, which has been almost totally destroyed, and where only a few Christian families remain after thousands have fled. To the discredit of much of the Western media, this has been downplayed, not unlike the refusal to ignore genocides and persecutions by Soviets and Nazis in times past.

   The Aradin Charitable Trust, founded by Dr. Amal Marogy, in cooperation with the Nasarean organization, intends to have two shrines in the world dedicated to prayer for the persecuted Church. Our parish is fortunate to have the first such shrine, with an icon of Our Lady of Aradin that has been donated to us, in our important location in Manhattan. The icon depicts Mary in the traditional dress of an Iraqi bride. The border is written in Aramaic, the language of our Lord, which still is spoken in Qaraqosh, the home of the Iraqi Christian artist Mouthana Butres, who “wrote” the icon. Mr. Butres was driven from his home, along with all the Christians of Qaraqosh, by militant Muslims in August 2015, and he and his family now are refugees in Lebanon.

   On the Feast of Corpus Christi, we give thanks that Our Lord is with us always, as he promised. In recent decades, there has been a neglect of the sacrificial character of the Mass. The Blessed Sacrament is a triumph of the Resurrection, which would not have occurred without the Crucifixion. Pascal said, “Jésus sera en agonie jusqu’à la fin du monde” — “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.” There are lands today that once were Christian, at least in ethos, but have abandoned the Cross Triumphant through sloth. There are other countries, as we have recently seen in Ireland, that have lost that triumph by violating and repudiating the Cross. While bourgeois populations dance in the streets for legalized abortion and the blessing of perverse imitations of marriage, there still are Christians taking up the cross in foreign lands, and in ways that decadents prefer to ignore. But their cries may yet redeem those who act as though they had never known the Lord.

   Our icon will be blessed on Tuesday, June 12, at 6:30 PM in a brief service of dedication. All are welcome.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Remnant: Remembering the Women Who Educated America



I know some nuns, and I honor them. They are lovely women, dedicated and devout, but it’s not the same. Their commitment appears more individualistic now, even though they belong to an order. Apartments, cars, and laptops don’t resonate in our hearts the same way as wimples and veils.
The culture would be lifted if they returned. Amazing things would happen. The world would be so much better. More refined. More respectful of the feminine ideal. Just think of it. Sisters teaching. Sisters living in community.  Sisters singing their office. Each one exercising her talents to the best of her ability, reaching for the Kingdom of God, pushing, prodding, cajoling the half-awake student to something higher, something better, something permanent and true.
We would all have something to admire and emulate. Something that would ignite the flame of holiness, the desire to seek the summit of perfection. Something that would remind people that Heaven can, indeed, begin on Earth.


Fr. Nix: Prophesy of St. Francis of Assisi



Prophesy of St. Francis of Assisi


“Act bravely, my brethren; take courage and trust in the Lord. The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase. The devils will have unusual power; the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who obey the true Supreme Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal ears and perfect charity.
“At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death. Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it.
“There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God….
“Those who persevere in their fervor and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth…
“Some preachers will keep silent about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Our Lord Jesus Christ will send them, not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.”
Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, published in 1882 by the London-based Catholic publishing house R. Washbourne, 1882, pp. 248-250.



Monday, May 28, 2018

Anthony Esolen: Threats of Murder at Providence College



This article is a continuation of the previous, written on behalf of Michael Smalanskas, the brave student at Providence College who posted a sign affirming reality: because the Catholic teaching that only a man and a woman can feasibly marry is but a plain recognition of what is biologically, physically, and anthropologically the case. We do not need special revelation to tell us that the sun rises in the east, that two and two are four, and that the congress of the sexes requires the sexes. But we live in a time of political madness.

So after Michael was threatened with rape, and had for several nights to walk a gauntlet just to go to the bathroom and brush his teeth, and after the president, Father Brian Shanley, refused to meet with him or his father, and he became a marked man on campus, what could possibly be worse?

A murder threat is worse.

Prager U: America's 2nd War of Independence, Brian Kilmeade

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column, May 27, 2018


Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column
May 27, 2018


An MRI scan gives more details about someone than a portrait, but it is the portrait that conveys personality. Dating agencies ask for photographs, not X-rays. So it is with using diagrams and natural analogies to explain the Blessed Trinity. They are inadequate for conveying the oneness of threeness.

   For instance, to compare the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to water, which can be liquid, ice and steam, would mean that the Father morphs into the Son and the Son into the Holy Spirit. As a formal heresy, this is called Modalism, condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 381. A similar mistake is to portray the Father as Creator, the Son as Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier, as if they were divided in their actions. The beguiling image of the Trinity as sun, light and heat is the heresy of Arianism, depicting the Son and Holy Spirit as creatures of the Father. 

   The legend of Saint Patrick using a shamrock to explain the Trinity to the Druids on Tara makes the mistake of Partialism, depicting the Three Persons of the Godhead as different parts of one God, as though each were one-third of the whole. God is one Being who is three Persons, and not one Being who is three parts. The shamrock story was first mentioned more than a thousand years after Patrick died. That great saint was imbued with Trinitarian theology and referred to the Three in One in his Confessio with a mystical rapture capturing the mystical essence of God as a lover singing a song, and not as a technician performing a biopsy.

   The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity follows Pentecost, because only God can explain himself: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Limited human intelligence complicates the simplicity of the Three in One. In Islam, the Trinity is considered a blasphemous denial of the One God (Koran 4:171; 5:73; 5:116) and no wonder, since Mohammed thought Christians worshipped the Virgin Mary as the Third Person. Modern heresies are even cruder: Mormonism multiplies the Trinity into polytheism, by which any man can become a god. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, like the Arians, Christ is a creature and therefore not divine.

   Saint Paul travelled more than ten thousand miles, mostly on foot, and painfully so, since tradition says his legs were misshapen. He declared the Trinity, not with formulas, but often in triple cadences like a hymn. This was the great secret that the Son of God finally made public at his Ascension (Matthew 28:19). Had humans invented the Three in One as a concept, it would be perfectly lucid. Instead, it is not a puzzle, but it is a mystery, which is why the saints can say in awe: “I am not making this up.”


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