Your Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point or two in the sermon you heard during your Mass to fulfill your Sunday obligation?

For my part, I spoke about the centurion and the Lord.  First, as a friend reminded me this week, Teresa of Avila notes that – now – it is only in the Eucharist that the Lord is vulnerable to abuse.  The Lord continues to “risk” in coming to us.  The centurion, in great humility and faith, took social risks to come to the Lord.  In this highly charged moment of encounter and risk we should not be complacent, thoughtless, indifferent.  Communion, and all the other things we do as Catholics, from making the sign of the Cross, etc., should not be allowed to become routine.  We must develop habits but without repetition that is mindless.    Saying, for example, the “Domine non sum dignus” three times should help us to be ever more mindful of what we are about to do and what a great gift it is.

All our devotions are gifts.  We must not abuse them directly or through carelessness.

I also brought up attacks on the sacrament of matrimony, which are also attacks on the Eucharist.    For our part we can battle the attacks by our own personal devotion and care.

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From a priest: an interesting experience saying Mass

From a priest…

I am a priest of ___, ordained now about a year and a half. I have been a regular reader of your blog since college, and I wanted to write you about an interesting experience I had the other day saying Mass.

I learned the Extraordinary Form in seminary, actually the semester before the practicum in the new rite. I joke that I’m one of the rare priests under the age of 70 who learned the old before I learned the new. I usually offer a low Mass about 2-3 times a week, on the days when I don’t have a public Mass. The other day, I went into the chapel to say Mass, and it had been a very long and tiring week, and I couldn’t really think straight. It had also been a few weeks since I’d been able to offer the EF Mass, as I’d been traveling a lot and my “mobile sacristy” does not as yet contain Extraordinary Form capability. I usually offer the OF in Latin when I travel, including on the great altar my brother built to put in my room at my parents’ house.

In any event, I found that even though it had been a few weeks, and even though I was very very tired, the rite just came back to me, just as natural as can be. I stumbled a bit on the pronunciation of the readings, being a bit out of practice, but other than that, I was able to just start the Mass and hang on, and it all came right back out again. It’s just a beautiful comfort for me of how much we can keep within us, how those words that give us access to God so intimately are always right there for us.

I think about something I told the first communion kids the other week, when their teacher asked me to tell them why learning their prayers was so important. I told them about the elderly folks I sometimes visit who don’t remember anything or anybody, but the moment I start saying the Our Father, they join right in. It stays with you, the gift of prayer the Lord gives us. I suspect that when I’m ancient and barely know my right from my left, I’ll still know my rites, and all it’ll take is that first Introibo to bring it all back.

God bless you and your work, Father!

Thanks for that!

First, I am encouraged at your story.  You have it now in your marrow.  That means that it is thoroughly yours now.  It is shaping you as a priest from within.

So many times I have encountered people who perhaps have not practiced their faith for many years but, when queued, they still know their prayers and catechism that they were required to memorize as children.   It is still within them, waiting to burst out.

Memorization is extremely important.

I am reminded of the way that priests who were to go into Russia during the long Communist nightmare memorized Mass formularies just in case.

With God in Russia The Inspiring Classic Account of a Catholic Priest’s Twenty-three Years in Soviet Prisons and Labor Camps by Walter J. Ciszek

US HERE – UK HERE

Of his imprisonment, Fr. Ciszek wrote:

It was impossible to say Mass in the barrack, of course. From time to time, however, Nestrov and I would take a walk into the forest, when we were free from work, and say Mass there. We used a big stump as our altar, and while one of us offered the Holy Sacrifice the other stood guard on the road. It was an experience I’ll never forget. In the heavy silence of the thick forest, you could hear the chipmunks running and the birds gathering overhead. Suddenly, you seemed very close to nature and to God. Everything seemed beautiful and somehow mysterious, all dangers for a time remote.

At other times, if we had an hour alone but couldn’t leave camp to say Mass, we would take turns reciting and memorizing the prayers of the Mass until we knew them all by heart. We were always aware that the Mass kit might be discovered, and we would lose our book and vestments, but we were determined that as long as we could get bread and wine we would try to say Mass.

And later…

After breakfast, I would say Mass by heart–that is, I would say all the prayers, for of course I couldn’t actually celebrate the Holy Sacrifice. I said the Angelus morning, noon, and night as the Kremlin clock chimed the hours. Before dinner, I would make my noon examen (examination of conscience); before going to bed at night I’d make the evening examen and points for the morning meditation, following St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. Every afternoon, I said three rosaries–one in Polish, one in Latin, and one in Russian–as a substitute for my breviary. After supper, I spent the evening reciting prayers and hymns from memory or even chanting them out loud: the Anima Christi, the Veni Creator, the Salve Regina, the Veni, Sancte Spiritus, especially the Dies Irae and the Miserere–all the things we had memorized in the novitiate as novices, the hymns we had sung during my years in the Society, the prayers I had learned as a boy back home. Sometimes I’d spend hours trying to remember a line that had slipped my memory, sounding it over and over again until I had it right. During these times of prayer, I would also make up my own prayers, talking to God directly, asking for His help, but above all accepting His will for me, trusting completely to His Providence to see me through whatever might lie ahead.

Fathers, seminarians, do you memorize?   It could be good to memorize a Mass formula, such as the classic Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary along with the Ordinary of Mass.

Frankly, we all should have the necessary prayers of Holy Mass memorized, right?

Parents, perhaps you could motivate your children (and yourselves) to memorize prayers and hymns and catechism answers through some prizes and so forth.

Memorization fell out of favor.  But once you have something memorized, it’s yours in way that it otherwise is … not.

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OLDIE PODCAzT 127: The Eve of St. Agnes and a Bleak Midwinter

It is a little late in the day, but today is the Eve of the Feast of St. Agnes.  This reminds us all, of course, of the famous poem by Keats.

This is the Eve of St. Agnes and, therefore, time once again for a PODCAzT I made a while back.  HERE

I, fan of poetry that I am, read out Keat’s poem, 42 Spencerian stanzas.  It is torrid and lush, with marvelous moments and imagery, imbued with the revival of romantic, courtly love which was coming back into vogue in the early 19th century.  The poem takes inspiration from a superstition, which I explain in an introduction.

The Eve of St Agnes would inspire the Pre-Raphaelites, as a matter of fact.

Speaking of Pre-Raphaelites, one of their circle, was Christina Rossetti, a poet in her own right.

Christina Rossetti wrote a poem which later was made into a Christmas carol: In the Bleak Midwinter.  We are still within the Christmas cycle until Candlemas.

When I first posted this, a few prudish knuckleheads had a spittle-flecked nutty in my combox, but we pretty much ignored or deleted them.

 

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My View For A While: Counter March

Time to head home.

Another wonderful Delta experience greeted me at the airport.

First, in my app, all my flights, today’s and future, vanished. That was strange.

Hence, I had to go through the check in process. At least there were not problems with security.

I shared a ride with friends and, hence, got to DCA way in advance of my flight, thinking I could get work done in the lounge.

Lounge temporarily closed.

So, I have a view of counters, as I do my counter, or “reverse” march from the March.

UPDATE:

At long last, having been bored, we’ve boarded.

I have a good book on Kindle, a medieval Japanese mystery. Of course you need the right music.

Quite a few folks have asked if I was at the March. The interesting part is that only a couple of them went to the March. Most watched coverage on TV. This suggests to me strong good will.

UPDATE:

In my app, I see that my flights are back from their silent retreat and that my bag was loaded onto the airplane I am presently sitting in.

UPDATE:

Ready for the next flight.

While on the ground I’ve been reading about those who have distanced themselves from Pope Francis’ less than opportune words in S America. The NYT (aka Hell’s Bible) went for him. Other rather surprising sources did too.

Interesting.

UPDATE:

Still at the gate.

We’ve been delayed for over a half hour while they dispute about a “clerical error”.

I NEVER! Cross my heart. It’s not my fault!

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#March4Life numbers and Pres. Trump’s words

LifeSite has posted the text of Pres. Trump’s address to the March for Life.

Highlights…

[…]

The March for Life is a movement born out of love: you love your families; you love your neighbors; you love our nation; and you love every child born and unborn, because you believe that every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God.

We know that life is the greatest miracle of all. We see it in the eyes of every new mother who cradles that wonderful, innocent, and glorious-newborn child in her loving arms. I want to thank every person here today and all across our country who works with such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure that parents have the caring support they need to choose life.

Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full God-given potential, because of you. You’re living witnesses of this year’s March for life theme, and that theme is, ‘Love Saves Lives.’

As you all know Roe versus Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world. For example, in the United States, it’s one of only seven countries to allow elective late-term abortions along with China North Korea and others. Right now, in a number of States, the laws allow a baby to be born [sic, aborted] from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month.

It is wrong. It has to change.

Americans are more and more pro-life. You see that all the time. In fact, only 12% of Americans support abortion on demand at any time.

Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independent, and that is the ‘right to life.’

[…]

Contrast that with the last guy.

Today is the 1st anniversary of his inauguration.

This morning a friend said that she heard a major network say that there were maybe 40000 people at the “so-called” March for Life.

Go HERE to LifeSite to watch an AMAZING time-lapse video and ask yourself if that was 40K.

I’d like to know the true estimate. 500K?

Meanwhile, in Chile, Pope Francis celebrated a Mass.  I think they expected more people.

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DC March for Life 2018 – DAY 2: Forward MARCH!

Today before the rally on the mall we grabbed some sandwiches at a nearby cafe and headed out.

Perfect weather.

We parked ourselves near the speakers stand, but also near to a flag from my native place.

It was great to hear Pres. Trump address the crowd.  It was a good, long speech, too.  Not just a quick greeting.

 

During the President’s talk, I noticed two American Bald Eagles circling, a fact that made my friends from Rome rather pleased.  After all, the appearance of eagles at a public event of this magnitude.

Alas, it was hard to get them through the branches.

A sign along the march.

The crowds for the march are always vast.  Today, however, I had the feeling that they were beyond what I had seen before.

My friend Fr. Pasley!

This was different.

So that was the march.  It was a wonderful, recharging experience.

Later I walked to Old St. Mary’s for the Mass, but I made sure to walk through the Law Enforcement Memorial.

Old St. Mary’s.  JAMMED.

I saw so many wonderful people after the Mass.  Many old friends said hello and quite a few readers.

Then… off to supper.  Friday, so no flesh.

Afterwards… which is mine?  Hint, all three contain Pappy Van Winkle.

A wonderful day.

Tomorrow, home again.

QUAERITUR: Will the government shut down affect travel?

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DC March for Life 2018 – DAY 1: Paintings and plots

It is a whirlwind jump to DC, but one of my main reasons for coming this year was also to see the exhibition of Vermeer and other Dutch genre painters at the National Gallery.   It did not disappoint.

His paintings are on the small side, but they have great details.

We didn’t have a lot of time in the gallery after the extensive exhibit, but there was a space for some of the great Medieval pieces.

Here is one with a Christological Goldfinch but… differently.   The Christ Child has not yet grabbed hold of the critter, which is being offered by an angel.

The goldfinch in these paintings is a symbol of the Passion, a foreshadowing.   The European Goldfinch has a spray of red feathers on its head.  Legend says that the finch tried to give comfort to the Lord on the Cross by pulling thorns from His head.  In doing so, the finch’s head was colored with the Lord’s Blood, which remained ever after.

NB: The little Lord holds in his little hand a pomegranate, a symbol of the resurrection!

I like to think that this angel is the angel of the Passion that came to comfort Christ in the garden before His betrayal.

The Capitol Building is all spiffed up and clean.

In the evening, supper with friends.

Which drink is mine?

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Canonist Ed Peters on the Papal mid-air airplane nuptials

From canonist Ed Peters comes a post.  I wrote about it, HERE.   There are some striking parallels.  I wonder why?

Any way…

Thoughts on a mid-air marriage

Show of hands! Who wants to rain all over the sentimental parade lining up behind (what is being presented as) the pope’s facilitation of married love? Anyone? Anyone?

I thought not. Oh well.

Readers of this blog know that I am no fan of canonical form for marriage (cc. 1108, 1117)—a cure that has far outlived the malady (clandestine marriage) it was designed to treat—but canonical form is still law for Catholics and that law goes to the validity of Catholic marriage. Based on the reports offered here and here, I cannot tell whether the ‘wedding’ that the pope put together for an unsuspecting couple satisfies Church requirements on marriage, and several other laws impacting the liceity of marriage seem simply to have been disregarded in the event. As happened several times under earlier administrations, a representative from the Vatican Press Office assures us that “everything was valid”. Such assertions by canonically unqualified and unauthorized PR staff carry, of course, no weight. Real questions worthy of real answers are still raised by this event.

Before getting into details, however, let me say that I am sorry for Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi, two perfectly pleasant flight attendants who paid a courtesy call on their celebrity guest and, next thing they know, their names, faces, and rather odd marriage history are being broadcast to the world. They did not ask for a wedding and were astonished when Pope Francis suggested it. This was not their idea.

Now, about the matter itself.

Popes have jurisdiction for the external forum anywhere on earth (cc. 134, 331, 1108), so Francis can officiate at a wedding anywhere, anytime.

But officiating at a wedding means something specific: it means asking for and receiving the consent of the contracting parties to marrying each each other (c. 1108) here and now. Per the Rite of Matrimony consent is sought from each party individually and must be oriented to marrying the other party at this time; the request is not posed as a joint question to the couple about being married, akin to, ‘do you two want to be married?’, but rather is framed ‘do you marry him/her?’ at this point in time. If consent (the heart of marriage per c. 1057) is not adequately asked for and received, it is not exchanged, and such a couple would not be married [NB] (and, No, ‘Ecclesia suppletcannot make up for a failure in what is actually sacramental—as opposed to canonical—form). The above reports mention, as far as I can see, [Alas, we don’t know what really happened.] only the pope’s broaching the topic of marriage by asking the couple whether they wanted to be married, placing their hands together, saying a few inspirational words about marriage, and pronouncing them husband and wife. But such a sequence describes, not at all, a present exchange of consent by the parties. Let us hope, then, that in the actual event considerably more was said than has been reported.

Second, canonical form demands two independent actual witnesses to the exchange of consent, meaning that five persons must be immediately present for the wedding—not folks who heard about it a few minutes later, or who saw something happening and wondered, hey, what’s going on back there?—but five persons acting together and at the same time: a bride, a groom, an officiant, and two other actual witnesses. While reports are unclear as to how many people actually witnessed this event, and while this photo shows four people in the event (plus a camera man?) and four signatures on a document, another photo shows five names on the marriage document, so one may presume (c. 1541) accordingly.

Third, several canons impacting the liceity of weddings (norms on ‘liceity’ often being regarded as wink-wink rules in Church life, especially when higher-ups model the wink-winking) were apparently ignored here, including: the requirement for [NB] serious pastoral preparation prior to a wedding [Not ever omitted by a loving and merciful pastor…] (c. 1063), administration of Confirmation before Matrimony (c. 1065), urging of Penance and holy Communion before a wedding (c. 1065), verification that no obstacles to validity or liceity are in place (c. 1066), securing evidence of the contractants’ freedom to marry (c. 1068) upon pain of acting illicitly without it (c. 1114), an expectation that Catholic weddings be celebrated in a parish church (cc. 1115, 1118), and making use of the Church’s treasury of liturgical books for celebration of the sacramental rite (c. 1119).

As this story reverberates ‘round the world, now, deacons, priests, and bishops who try to uphold Church norms fostering values such as deliberate marriage preparation, an ecclesial context for a Catholic wedding, and the use of established and reliable texts for expressing consent will, undoubtedly, have the Podest-Ciuffardi wedding tossed in their face as evidence that, if Pope Francis does not insist on such legalistic silliness and only cares about whether two people love [Luuhv.] one another, why shouldn’t they do likewise? The ministry of conscientious clergy in this regard just got harder.

As mentioned above, I would be happy to see the requirement of canonical form for marriage eliminated, this, for several reasons, one of which is that—long story omitted—we could actually make higher demands of Catholics who want to marry before our clergy than we can currently demand. But the pope’s example of a spontaneous, zero-preparation, wedding is not at all what I and like-minded others have in mind. This couple undoubtedly gave more thought and attention to what they did by civilly marrying before a magistrate back in 2010 than they could have possibly given to what the pope suggested to them, on a few seconds’ notice, while at work, high above the Andes mountains.

If I have to say it, I will: I hope Podest and Ciuffardi are married and that they live happily ever after, but I worry whenever momentous life decisions are taken on a minute’s notice and under circumstances bound to contribute to one’s being carried away by events.

The pope has opined, apparently more than once, that “half of all sacramental marriages are null”. Here’s hoping that Podest and Ciuffardi beat those odds.

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The Pope marries a couple on the papal airplane. Hmmm.

I fairly dread papal trips these days. You never know what is going to happen on the papal airplane. Will there be another presser in which the Holy Father will say something like, “Who am I to judge?” That was a gift – now perpetually taken out of context and abused – that keeps on giving.

I read at Crux that the Holy Father married (witnessed the marriage) of a steward and stewardess on the papal airplane – during the flight.

Paula Podest, 39, and Carlos Ciufardi, 41, have been together for over ten years. They met in the air, where she was his boss as a flight attendant for LATAM, Chile’s flagship airline.
They have been civilly married since 2010. Days before they were scheduled to have their church wedding, an earthquake destroyed the church where they were supposed to marry.  [According to the Daily Mail, that was 8 years ago.  8 years… and they haven’t married in church?  I suppose they had marriage prep.  Also, in the case of an earthquake, the church building isn’t a sine qua non for getting married.  It is sad that they couldn’t get marriage in that church, but… marriage is the really important part of the equation, not the building or photos.]
On Thursday, as they were posing with Francis and the rest of the crew for the official picture, Francis asked them if they were married in the Church. They told him no, and the pontiff immediately took charge, asking them if they wanted him to marry them, and they agreed.

The newlyweds shared the conversation they had with the pontiff with the journalists, with Podest acknowledging that she was “still in shock,” so he did most of the talking, even though, from what they told journalists, “she’s still the boss in the house,” as she was at the airline when they met.
“It was historic,” the pope told them. “Never has a pope married a couple on a plane.”
“He asked us if we were married, I said no because of the earthquake, and he said, ‘well, I’ll marry you’,” according to Ciufardi.
The spouses asked the pontiff if he was certain about marrying them on the plane, asking him “are you sure?”

When the pope asked for a witness, they tapped the CEO of the airline, and to make sure there was no doubt over the validity of the sacrament, the pope “asked the cardinals who were with him” to draft the license, which they did. The document is handmade, signed by one of the cardinals, also a witness.
“He held our hands, blessed the rings, and he married us in the name of God,” Ciufardi said.
“What he said to us is very important: ‘This is the sacrament the world needs, the sacrament of marriage. Hopefully, this will motivate couples around the world to get married’,” Ciufardi said.
Speaking about the rings, Francis said that they shouldn’t be either too tight, because “they would be a torture,” or too loose, or else they might risk misplacing them.

These days there are controversies over the meaning of marriage.  These days, fewer and fewer couples are marrying.

For example, if a couple who are in an adulterous relationship because at least on party divorced his true spouse and then civilly marries another woman – without the church giving a declaration of nullity concerning his first, true marriage, can that remarried, adulterous couple be admitted to Holy Communion, even though they haven’t made any commitment to live chaste lives? Some say, “Yes!”, and, by doing so, they call into question the very meaning of matrimony and also the Eucharist.

At the very least, they make a mockery of matrimony, trivialize it.

I trust that this well-intentioned gesture by Pope Francis isn’t taken merely to be some sort of stunt, which the badly-motivated will utilize to trivialize the sacrament of matrimony even more than is is being trivialized today.

Another thing: may this couple stay together!  It would be… not so great were they to split up after this rather dramatic aerial display.  Headline: Papal midair marriage crashes!

I can’t say that I like the whole airplane thing.   The Pope makes his calls.  Who am I to judge?

Can we put sentimentality aside for a moment?   Gestures like this have consequences.  This wasn’t some odd priest on an airplane, it was the Vicar of Christ.

Again, this is all very huggy and warm and fuzzy.  But let’s think about this.

I wasn’t there, of course, but I think it could have been a good idea to make sure they knew what matrimony is really all about.   That’s what marriage preparation is for.  They’ve been civilly but not sacramentally married for 8 years.   All this time they didn’t seek the sacrament?  What’s that about?   Maybe the Pope got their story.

When a priest marries a couple, he should be reasonably sure that they know what they are getting into.  He can be fairly sure if they had some kind of marriage prep, done by himself or by another priest, etc.  You have to know before you witness the marriage of couple – if they are going to enter into this sacramental bond – whether or not they have the right intentions.   Does the couple – I’m speaking generically now – any couple – intend to remain together for life?   Do they intend for their bond to be exclusive?   Do they intend to accept the gift of children?

Also, the sacrament of matrimony is one of the “sacraments of the living”.  It should be received in the state of grace, after a good examination of conscience and confession.   Not by “surprise”, as it were.

Moreover, you have to ascertain if they are both free to marry, having no previous bond that the Church had to examine.  I imagine that, before tying their knot the Holy Father asked them about these things.  Right?   He was a diocesan bishop.  He knows about these things.

The Pope can dispense immediately anything that can be dispensed.  But if there is a previous bond… nope.  And an airplane isn’t the place to deal with Pauline or Petrine Privilege.   Get that wrong when you are Pope and problems result.

Sure, this on-the-spot – well…it was “on-the-spot” only relatively speaking – marriage took care of one instance of a couple living together. There are a lot more out there.

I wonder if the on-the-spot thing won’t spur odd situations:

“The Pope married someone on an airplane!   Why won’t you, Father, marry us right now here at the zoo?”

What do you want to bet that sort of thing will pop up for priests after this?

I hope that this no doubt well-intentioned gesture by the Holy Father won’t also wind up being one of those gifts that keep on giving, but not in a good way.

Anyway, I wish that couple a holy and happy life.

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Big Business Is WATCHING!

Two stories.  Both alarming.

First, apparently the group which secreted cameras and caught out Big Business Abortion (aka Planned Parenthood) has stung Twitter.  HERE

HIDDEN CAMERA: HUNDREDS of Twitter employees paid to view, mine your PERSONAL, PRIVATE posts

NB: Not all the language in that story is pious.

Next, Amazon has a gizmo with sensitive microphones and cameras which can pick up just about everything. It’s at the Daily Mail.  I won’t connect to that just now.

Amazon’s creepy plan to put a camera and microphone in every BEDROOM with launch of its £120 Echo Spot ‘smart alarm’

  • The latest edition to the tech giant’s family of devices is powered by Alexa

  • Each device has a camera and microphone for making video calls

  • The camera will probably be facing directly at the user’s bed

  • The Echo Spot, which will cost £119.99 ($129) will be shipped on 24th January [It’s already out in these USA]

I won’t have one of those damn things in my dwelling!

I also cover cams and detach things with mics.  And then there’s my phone.  There are things that can be done.

For pity’s sake, there are so many ways by which big biz or gu’mint can intrude.

It’s getting ridiculous.

In any event, be careful people.

And remember: If you put it on the internet in some way, there’s no getting it back.  Don’t be stupid.  Think.

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My View For Awhile: March For Life 2018 Edition

I’m off to the nation’s capital, where at least one good thing will be accomplished on Friday: the 2018 March For Life.

Among other events, I will probably attend the TLM at St. Mary’s and the customary meet up afterward across the way.

And, Delta is up to its antics…

Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, weather forecasts look promising.

UPDATE:

Okay, they keep pushing back our flight to DCA, but now the culprit is unmasked and the end is in sight.

UPDATE:

I just read that Pres. Trump will address the March via video feed. Too bad he isn’t coming in person. However, it’s a first. HERE

UPDATE:

The flight from BOS arrived. So they are getting off at the time we ought to be boarding. Delays and delays.

Now I’ll watch for bag alerts.

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“The Triumph of Marcantonio Colonna” described

The Laudator, whom I check often – I add some of his pithier quotes to my commonplace book – has a fascinating entry with descriptions of the Triumph given to Marcantonio Colonna after his victory at Lepanto.  It makes for great reading.

Maracant… where I have heard that name recently?

The first description is from a spiffy book which I have recommended for years about the painter Caravaggio.  Langdon treats well the spirituality underlying his work:

Helen Langdon, Caravaggio: A Life (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998), p. 9:  [US HERE – UK HERE]

On 4 December 1571 an enormous theatrical triumph was staged in Rome. Its hero was Marcantonio Colonna, scion of one of the most illustrious of all Roman families, and commander of the papal galleys in the triumph of the Holy League over the Turks at Lepanto. He progressed from the church of San Sebastiano, on the Appian Way, passing the Baths of Caracalla, and under the triumphal arches of Constantine and Titus, to the monastery of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, built on the holiest site of the Capitol, at the very centre of the old Roman Empire.

Colonna rode, unarmed, on a white horse. He was escorted by a glittering cortège of five thousand people, and 170 liveried and chained Turkish prisoners were driven before him. Before them the standard of the sultan was trailed in the dust. The procession pressed forward through tumultuous applause. ‘Here from every part’, wrote an observer, ‘his name rang out. Everyone rushed to the street, clapping their hands. Crowds of people thronged together, crying out, while trumpets serenaded him. He was greeted from far and near, by people gesturing, shouting, waving caps and banner’. Ringed by twenty-five Cardinals, Colonna crossed the Tiber at the Ponte Sant’ Angelo, and then rode to St Peter’s and the Vatican Palace, where Pope Pius V received him in the Sala Regia.

His progress was modelled on the triumphs that were granted to generals in ancient Rome and it drew on the splendour of ancient myth. Yet it was also an intensely Christian event. The façade of the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli was decorated with captured Turkish flags. It bore the proud inscription: `The gratitude which, in their pagan folly, the Ancients offered to their idols, the Christian conqueror, who ascends the Aracoeli, now gives, with pious devotion, to the true God, to Christ the Redeemer, and to His most glorious Mother’. Colonna seemed to bring the new promise of a more joyful Christian era.


Francesco Tramezzino, L’entrata solenne fatta dall’ecmo. Sigr. Marcantono Colonna in Roma doppo la felicissima vittoria havuta dall’armata Christiana contra Turchi (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 47.105.10). Click to enlarge.

Ludwig Pastor (1854-1928), The History of the Popes, Vol. XVIII, tr. Ralph Francis Kerr (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1929), pp. 431-433 (footnotes omitted):

All Rome was in a stir when the bright and sunny day of December 4th dawned. Thousands of people had gathered along the Via Appia, where, near the basilica of St. Sebastian, Girolamo Bonelli and the Swiss Guard, the Senator and the Conservatori, awaited the arrival of Colonna, who was to come from Marino. Unarmed, and with no decoration but the Golden Fleece, Marcantonio rode upon a white horse given him by the Pope; a black silk mantle lined with fur covered his tunic of cloth of gold, and on his head he wore a black velvet cap, with a white plume fastened with a pearl clasp.

Amid scenes of extraordinary rejoicing, the clash of trumpets, and the firing of guns, the cortège was formed, in which were to be seen the gaily coloured banners of all the city corporations, and the 13 Rioni of Rome. As can easily be understood, the chief interest was excited by the 170 Turkish prisoners, dressed in red and yellow, in chains, and guarded by halbardiers. In front of them rode a Roman in Turkish dress dragging the standard of the sultan in the dust. At the side of the prisoners walked a hermit, who had taken part in the battle, and whom the people, by whom he was greatly loved, called Fate bene per voi, from the words which he was always saying. The standard of the Church was borne by Romegasso, and that of the city of Rome by Giovan Giorgio Cesarini, with whom rode Pompeo Colonna and Onorato Caetani, and the two nephews of the Pope, Michele and Girolamo Bonelli; then came Marcantonio Colonna, who was rapturously acclaimed by all, and was followed by the Senator of Rome and the Conservatori, and a large number of his friends and comrades. The Papal light cavalry brought the procession to an end.

As Charles V. had done 35 years before, so Marcantonio Colonna, entering the city by the Porta S. Sebastiano, and passing the Baths of Caracalla, and under the triumphal arches of Constantine and Titus, chmbed the hill of the Capitol, and came to S. Marco, passing thence along the Via Papale to the Bridge of St. Angelo. On the way he came to the statue of Pasquino, which was gaily decorated; in the left hand was the head of a Turk, with blood pouring from the mouth, and in the right a drawn sword.  [Pasquino is still there!]

After praying in St. Peter’s at the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, and offering, in allusion to his own name, a column of silver, Colonna proceeded to the Vatican, where the Pope received him, accompanied by 25 Cardinals, with the greatest honour. He exhorted the victor of Lepanto to give the glory to God, Who, despite our sins, had been so kind and merciful.

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ASK FATHER: Would anything prevent a priest from always using the traditional formula of absolution?

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

The reformed Rite of Penance added a whole bunch of stuff to the rite of confession—optional Scripture readings and so on—but I have never seen any of it used, even non-optional parts like how the priest should supposedly say “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good” to me at the end. The only real difference in the old and new rite of penance seems to be in the words of absolution, and even at this point lots of priests seem to just say whatever they want anyway. [Idiots.]

I wonder: do you think there is anything in practice preventing a traditional-minded priest from unilaterally making every confession an Extraordinary Form confession?

Provided the priest has faculties to absolve, the priest can use the traditional form of absolution validly.

Is there something that might prevent him in practice?   If I stretch my imagination, I guess I could come up with something.

Perhaps were people suddenly to hear a different formula, a different language, some of them might be momentarily confused for a bit or puzzled.  Some might not immediately get the Latin.

However, if they are in the confessional, they are probably going to accept the Latin and the traditional form happily, especially if the priest says ahead of time that he is going to use the traditional form.

In all my years of absolving penitents – in Latin – I’ve never had a single person react badly.  Once in a while if I might tell a convert or revert or someone whom I suspect isn’t all that well-formed, what’ll happen so they aren’t surprised.  The confessional isn’t a place for big surprises.

I think that, when it comes right down to it, people are a) enormously relieved once they’ve made their confession and b) eager to receive validly absolution.

If Father starts rambling away or adding stuff or changing the form of absolution around… how does that put the penitent at ease?

But, if Father starts up in LATIN, the penitent is probably going to think that she’s getting The Genuine Article™.

However, Father should make sure through catechesis that everyone can rest assured that the newer form is valid.  By switching to the older form, he isn’t calling into question the validity of the newer form, in Latin or in the vernacular.

When it comes to the confessional, Father needs to avoid doing something weird.  Hence, he should let people in on what he is doing.  If he does that, I suspect that everything will be okay as far as the penitents are concerned.

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2 Feb – MADISON – Candlemas – Pontifical Mass at the Throne

Put this in your calendars.

Candlemas is coming up on 2 February.

His Excellency Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino will be the celebrant for this Pontifical Mass at the Throne.

The rites include the blessing of candles.

The music will be provided by a visiting choir, the Schola Cantorum from Eau Claire. They will sing, among other pieces, the Missa Papae Marcelli by Palestrina.

A splendid new pipe organ was recently installed.  I am going to ask the organist to blow the roof off the place.

The Mass will begin at 6 PM at the chapel of Holy Name Heights (formerly the Bishop O’Connor Center).

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Card. Müller on authority of Popes, possibility of others correcting contradictory papal teachings

Back in December, First Things published a piece by the former Prefect of the CDF, Gerard Ludwig Card. Müller on the sacrament of penance. His observations on objective sin and subjective guilt, about knowledge, etc., are germane to a whole raft of questions being raised today, from the admission of the civilly remarried to Communion (some claim that with Amoris laetitia this is now permitted), to the celebration of funerals of manifest sinners (I wrote about that today in another post).

Today I see a new piece by Card. Müller in First Things about the Pope’s authority and teaching.

How do the pope’s Magisterium and the Tradition of the Church relate? When he interprets the words of Jesus, must the pope be in continuity with the Tradition and the previous Magisterium, including that of the most recent popes? Or is it rather the Church’s Tradition that has to be reinterpreted in the light of the pope’s new words? What if there are contradictions?

Really good questions.  Several Cardinals respectfully offered questions in this vein to the Pope about how certain aspects of Amoris laetitia seem to contradiction earlier, crystal clear teachings of Pope St. John Paul II.

Read the whole thing, but here is the last part…

[…]

What has been said above refers to the teaching of the Church, but also to the administration of her means of grace in the sacraments. In its Decree on Holy Communion, the Council of Trent declares that the Church has the power to determine or modify the external rites of the sacraments. [For example, after the Council a new form of the sacrament of Confirmation was introduced.] At the same time, the Council denies that the Church has the right or ability to interfere with the essence of the sacraments, insisting that “their substance is preserved.” [For example, the Church cannot say that rice cakes and sake can be used for the Eucharist.  No Pope can change that.] When the Council of Trent defines that there are three acts of the penitent that form part of the sacrament of penance (repentance with the resolve not to sin again, confession, and satisfaction), then the popes and bishops of subsequent ages, too, are bound by this declaration. [NB] They are not [NOT] free to grant sacramental absolution for sins, or to authorize their priests to do so, when penitents do not actually show signs of repentance or where they explicitly reject the resolve not to sin again. [No expression of sorrow for sin committed, no expression of firm purposes of amendment… no absolution.  It must not be given.] No human being can undo the inner contradiction between the effect of the sacrament—that is, the new communion of life with Christ in faith, hope, and love—and the penitent’s inadequate disposition. Not even the pope or a council can do so, because they lack the authority, nor could they ever receive such authority, because God never asks human beings to do something that is both self-contradictory and contrary to God himself.  [Those who do not have a firm purpose of amendment of their lives cannot be validly absolved and, hence, cannot be admitted to the Eucharist, which is to be received when the communicant knows she is not in the state of grace, and the minister must not administer when there is a PUBLIC manifestation of sin and probability of scandal.]

One must keep in mind that doctrinal statements have varying degrees of authority. They require varying degrees of consent, as expressed by the so-called “theological notes.” The acceptance of a teaching with “divine and Catholic faith” is required only for dogmatic definitions. [The controversial bits of Amoris are no where near that level. Nor are innovative interpretations of those controversial bits.] It is also clear that the pope or bishops must never ask anyone to act or teach against the natural moral law. The obedience of the faithful toward their ecclesial superiors is therefore no absolute obedience, and the superior cannot demand absolute obedience, because both the superior and those entrusted to his or her authority are brothers and sisters of the same Father, and they are disciples of the same Master. Therefore, it is harder to teach than to learn, because teaching is associated with a greater responsibility before God. The affirmation “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) has its validity also and especially in the Church. Against the principle of absolute obedience prevailing in the Prussian military state, the German bishops insisted before Bismarck: “It is certainly not the Catholic Church that has embraced the immoral and despotic principle that the command of a superior frees one unconditionally from all personal responsibility.” [Earlier, Müller had introduced his topic with a review of Bismark and the Kulturkampf and the reaction to the Church’s teaching about papal infallibility.]

[NB] When private opinions or spiritual and moral limitations enter into the exercise of ecclesiastical authority, then sober and objective criticism as well as personal correction are called for, especially from the brothers in the episcopal office. Thomas Aquinas will not be suspected of relativizing Petrine primacy and the virtue of obedience. All the more elucidating is the way in which he interprets the incident in Antioch, culminating in Paul’s public correction of Peter (Gal 2:11). According to Aquinas, the event teaches us that under certain circumstances an apostle may have the right and even the duty to correct another apostle in a fraternal way, that even an inferior may have the right and duty to criticize the superior (cf. Commentary on Galatians, Chap. II, lecture 3). This does not mean that one may reduce the magisterium to a private opinion, so as to dispense oneself from the binding power of the authentic and defined teaching of the Church (cf. Lumen Gentium 37). It only means that one must understand well the precise meaning of authority in the Church in general and the role of Peter’s ministry in particular. This is especially true when the conflict does not arise between the pope’s teaching and one’s own vision, [HERE IT IS…] but between the pope’s teaching and a teaching of previous popes that is in accordance with the uninterrupted tradition of the Church[That’s it.  There is a seeming conflict between what Pope Francis taught in Amoris and what St. John Paul taught in Familiaris consortio, 84, Reconciliatio et paenitentia, 34, Sacramentum caritatis, 29, and Veritatis splendor, 56, 79 and 81, etc.]

As Pope Benedict XVI explained during the Mass on the occasion of his taking possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome on 7 May 2005, “The power that Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors is, in an absolute sense, a mandate to serve. The power of teaching in the Church involves a commitment to the service of obedience to the faith.” He continues, “The pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: The pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.”

Thus, Card. Müller.

 

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