“In the space of one month I made Christians of more than ten thousand. This is the method I have followed. As soon as I arrived in any heathen village where they had sent for me to give baptism, I gave orders for all, men, women, and children, to be collected in one place. Then, beginning with the first elements of the Christian faith, I taught them there is one God — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and at the same time, calling on The three divine Persons and One God, I made them each make three times the sign of the Cross; then, putting on a surplice, I began to recite in a loud voice and in their own language the form of general Confession, the Apostles’ Creed, the ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ave Maria, and the Salve Regina. Two years ago I translated all these prayers into the language of the country, and learned them by heart. I recited them so that all of every age and condition followed me in them. Then I began to explain shortly the articles of the Creed and the Ten Commandments in the language of the country.
Where the people appeared to me sufficiently instructed to receive baptism, I ordered them all to ask God’s pardon publicly for the sins of their past life, and to do this with a loud voice and in the presence of their neighbours still hostile to the Christian religion, in order to touch the hearts of the heathen and confirm the faith of the good. All the heathen are filled with admiration at the holiness of the law of God, and express the greatest shame at having lived so long in ignorance of the true God. They willingly hear about the mysteries and rules of the Christian religion, and treat me, poor sinner as I am, with the greatest respect. Many, however, put away from them with hardness of heart the truth which they well know. When I have done my instruction, I ask one by one all those who desire baptism if they believe without hesitation in each of the articles of the faith. All immediately, holding their arms in the form of the Cross, declare with one voice that they believe all entirely.
Then at last I baptize them in due form, and I give to each his name written on a ticket. After their baptism the new Christians go back to their houses and bring me their wives and families for baptism. When all are baptized I order all the temples of their false gods to be destroyed and all the idols to be broken in pieces. I can give you no idea of the joy I feel in seeing this done, witnessing the destruction of the idols by the very people who but lately adored them. In all the towns and villages I leave the Christian doctrine in writing in the language of the country, and I prescribe at the same time the manner in which it is to be taught in the morning and evening schools. When I have done all this in one place, I pass to another, and so on successively to the rest. In this way I go all round the country, bringing the natives into the fold of Jesus Christ, and the joy that I feel in this is far too great to be expressed in a letter, or even by word of mouth.”
Dear friends, I deleted the last post about the cancellation of the TLM at St. John the Baptist in Chico. Against my better judgment, I was indiscreet and much too loquacious in my remarks – as usual. I apologize to those who left thoughtful comments. For informative purposes, let me just state that the nearest diocesan approved TLM is St. Stephen the First Martyr in Sacramento, a fully traditional parish served by the FSSP. There is a small chapel located in Chico that is served by the SSPX - St. Therese Chapel – with masses twice per month, on the 1st and 3rd Sundays, at 10:00am.
I love this man.
There was a lot of “fight” in Dr. McArthur.
The SSPX has been largely silent during the recent firestorms created by Pope Francis’ interviews. Today, the silence is broken with what strikes me as the most comprehensive and respectful criticism I have seen thus far:
After he has been in charge of the Holy Catholic Church for more than half a year, it is easier to understand the thought of Pope Francis. Due to many of his statements, even if we see a genuine movement in his way of focusing on our Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel as the Good News, we may feel real causes of concern.
In his declarations, we seem to find running through the papal thought a kind of idée fixe, which focuses on the Pauline teaching developed by St. Augustine regarding the gift of life and the fight against what may kill it. “St. Paul,” says the Pope, “is the one who laid down the cornerstones of our religion and our creed. You cannot be a conscious Christian without St. Paul… Then there are Augustine, Benedict and Thomas and Ignatius,” who was “especially a mystic.” And “naturally Francis.”
His model is Fr. Peter Faber, the Reformed Priest co-founder of the Jesuits. The Pope likes his gentleness and simplicity, his proximity to the poor and those on the margin of society, his availability and qualities of discernment and judgment.
“His two preferred contemporary thinkers are Henri de Lubac and Michel de Certeau.” Henri de Lubac, a founder of the New Theology, opened a theological battlefield and created a great confusion with his works on the natural and the supernatural. Moreover, he rejected the necessary ecclesial logical link, the continuity between the present beliefs and the explicit faith of the first centuries.
Would the word of the Apostle to the Corinthians: “For the letter kills, but the spirit vivifies,” help us to discern the web of his mind?
“We have to find a new balance. Otherwise, even the moral edifice of the church is likely to
fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
- Pope Francis
Radical, earth-shaking, disruptive policy changes don’t generally happen before subtle hints have been dropped in order to gauge reactions and initiate some low-level discussions. A prudent leader wants to anticipate problems and objections in advance. On several occasions now, Pope Francis has hinted that he would like to relax the Church’s perennial discipline as it pertains to withholding communion from those living in invalid “second unions” (those who have divorced and remarried without an annulment). He believes that the present discipline is “unmerciful”. Yesterday, it was announced that the pope will call an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops next year to discuss the matter. This appears to be a subject close to Pope Francis’ heart. His previous remarks on this topic may have seemed unscripted and “off the cuff”, and perhaps subject to translation problems, etc., but he seems very determined to move forward on this subject.
As every Catholic should know, the sacramental theology of the Church requires that communicants be in a state of grace, or free from mortal sin. A person who contracts a civil “marriage” while still validly married to another person is, objectively, living in a state of adultery until this second union is renounced or the first union is canonically annulled. That is reason enough to bar such persons from the reception of the Eucharist. Furthermore, there is the additional problem of scandal, whereby even if such persons were subjectively ignorant of their sin, by publicly receiving communion they would still give scandal to the faithful.
This is a big deal, folks. In theory, I suppose it is possible that Pope Francis could change the longstanding discipline of the Church without, in theory, unraveling the Catholic doctrine of indissoluble marriage. But a change in discipline wouldn’t change the objective reality of sacrilege at the altar. Furthermore, with respect to the faithful, the psychological effect would be devastating, effectively making a mockery of marital “indissolubility” and thereby poisoning every marriage at the outset with an escape clause. I can’t help but think of the insult this would send to thousands of faithful Catholics who, in obedience and faith, have remained faithful to their marriage vows, even when deserted by and divorced from their spouses, and whose fidelity has been – until now – honored by the discipline of the Church.
In the La Cavilta Cattolica interview quoted above, the pope expresses concern that the Church’s “moral edifice” could collapse like a “house of cards” unless the Church finds a “new balance”. He seems to be saying that the Church must relax her disciplines or risk losing her moral authority in the lives of the faithful. The danger is that this “new balance” will itself reduce the Church’s “moral edifice” to a paper tiger.
We speak with our TAC children almost weekly, and by all accounts they are loving the experience so far. The classes and discussions are stimulating for both of them, and the school’s rigorous curriculum takes up the majority of their time. They like their sections and their tutors. They are taking advantage of the incredible spiritual life available to them. But they are also making friends and participating in extra-curricular activities – music groups, dances, pro-life activity, and so forth. Already I can hear more confidence and maturity in their voices.
Recently after Mass on Sunday I was able to catch up with a gentleman, about my age, who graduated from TAC in the early years. He mentioned how difficult it was coming home to his family for extended periods because “the conversations just couldn’t measure up” to those he had every day on campus. I suppose that would be a bit of an adjustment. TAC is going to be a hard act to follow during the holidays!
I have always appreciated how the college markets itself. It’s a serious place for serious students, and the school’s promotional work is truth-in-advertising. TAC’s new introduction video adheres to the same high standard.
A blessed feast of St. Francis of Assisi to my few readers. Some of you have read the words spoken by Pope Francis in a homily given earlier today. Courtesy of Fr. Peter Carota, I thought it would be good to post a letter from St. Francis himself given to all the faithful in the year (most scholars agree) 1215 A.D. If the Holy Father’s choice of name brings more attention to this great saint of the Church, that is all to the good!
“LETTER TO ALL THE FAITHFUL” by St. Francis of Assisi
TO ALL CHRISTIANS, religious, clerics and lay folk, men and women; to everyone in the whole world, Brother Francis, their servant and subject, sends his humble respects, imploring for them true peace from heaven and sincere love of God. I am the servant of all and so I am bound to wait upon everyone and make known to them the fragrant words of my Lord. Realizing, however, that because of my sickness and ill-health I cannot personally visit each one individually, I decided to send you a letter bringing a message with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Word of the Father, and of the Holy Spirit, whose words are spirit and life (Jn 6: 64).
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the glorious Word of the Father, so holy and exalted, whose coming the Father made known by St. Gabriel the Archangel to the glorious and blessed Virgin Mary, in whose womb he took on our weak human nature. He was rich beyond measure and yet he and his holy Mother chose poverty.
Then, as his passion drew near, he celebrated the Pasch with his disciples and, taking bread, he blessed and broke, and gave to his disciples, and said, Take and eat; this is my body. And taking a cup, he gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, This is my blood of the new covenant, which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins (Mt. 26: 26-29). And he prayed to his Father, too, saying, Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me (Mt. 26: 39); and it was the Father’s will that his blessed and glorious Son, whom he gave to us and who was born for our sake, should offer himself by his own blood as a sacrifice and victim on the altar of the cross; and this, not for himself, through whom all things were made (Jn 1: 3), but for our sins, leaving us an example that we may follow in his steps ( 1Pet. 2: 21). It is the Father’s will that we should all be saved by the Son, and that we should receive him, or want to be saved by him, although his yoke is easy, and his burden light (Mt. 11: 30).
All those who refuse to taste and see how good the Lord is (Ps. 33: 9) and who love the darkness rather than the light (Jn. 3: 19) are under a curse. It is God’s commandments they refuse to obey and so it is of them the Prophet says, You rebuke the accursed proud who turn away from your commands (Ps. 118: 21). On the other hand, those who love God are happy and blessed. They do as our Lord himself tells us in the Gospel, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul…and thy neighbour as thyself (Mt. 22: 37-39). We must love God, then, and adore him with a pure heart and mind, because this is what he seeks above all else, as he tells us, True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth (Jn. 4: 23). All who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4: 24). We should praise him and pray to him day and night, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven (Mt. 6: 9), because we must always pray and not lose heart (Lk. 18: 1).
And moreover, we should confess all our sins to a priest and receive from him the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The man who does not eat his flesh and drink his blood cannot enter the kingdom of God (cf. Jn 6: 54). Only he must eat and drink worthily because he who eats and drinks unworthily, without distinguishing the body, eats and drinks judgment to himself (1 Cor. 11:29); that is, if he sees no difference between it and other food.
Besides this, we must bring forth therefore fruits befitting repentance (Lk. 3: 8) and love our neighbours as ourselves. Anyone who will not or cannot love his neighbour as himself should at least do him good and not do him any harm.
Those who have been entrusted with the power of judging others should pass judgment mercifully, just as they themselves hope to obtain mercy from God. For judgment without mercy to him who has not shown mercy (Jn. 2: 13). We must be charitable, too, and humble, and give alms, because they wash the stains of sin from our souls. We lose everything which we leave behind in this world; we can bring with us only the right to a reward for our charity and the alms we have given. For these we shall receive a reward, a just retribution from God. We are also bound to fast and avoid vice and sin, taking care not to give way to excess in food and drink, and we must be Catholics. We should visit churches often and show great respect for the clergy, not just for them personally, for they may be sinners, but because of their high office, for it is they who administer the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. They offer It in sacrifice at the altar, and it is they who receive It and administer It to others. We should realize, too, that no one can be saved except by the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and the holy words of God, and it is the clergy who tell us his words and administer the Blessed Sacrament, and they alone have a right to do it, and no one else.
Religious especially are bound to make greater efforts, without neglecting the duties of ordinary Christians, because they have left the world.
Our lower nature, the source of so much vice and sin, should be hateful to us. Our Lord says in the Gospel, it is from the heart of man that all vice and sin comes (cf. Mt. 15: 18-19), and he tells us, Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you (Lk. 6: 27). We are bound to order our lives according to the precepts and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so we must renounce self and bring our lower nature into subjection under the yoke of obedience; this is what we have all promised God. However, no one can be bound to obey another in anything that is sinful or criminal.The man who is in authority and is regarded as the superior should become the least of all and serve his brothers, and he should be as sympathetic with each one of them as he would wish others to be with him if he were in a similar position. If one of his brothers falls into sin, he should not be angry with him; on the contrary, he should correct him gently, with all patience and humility, and encourage him.
It is not for us to be wise and calculating in the world’s fashion; we should be guileless, lowly, and pure. We should hold our lower nature in contempt, as a source of shame to us, because through our own fault we are wretched and utterly corrupt, nothing more than worms, as our Lord tells us by the Prophet, I am a worm; the scorn of men, despised by the people (Ps. 21: 7). We should not want to be in charge of others; we are to be servants, and should be subject to every human creature for God’s sake (1Pet. 2: 13). On all those who do this and endure to the last the Spirit of God will rest (cf. Is. 11: 2); he will make his dwelling in them and there he will stay, and they will be children of your Father in heaven (Mt. 5: 45) whose work they do. It is they who are the brides, the brothers and the mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. A person is his bride when his faithful soul is united with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit; we are his brothers when we do the will of his Father who is in heaven (cf. Mt. 12: 50), and we are mothers to him when we enthrone him in our hearts and souls by love with a pure and sincere conscience, and give him birth by doing good. This, too, should be an example to others.
How glorious, how holy and wonderful it is to have a Father in heaven. How holy it is, how beautiful and lovable to have in heaven a Bridegroom. How holy and beloved, how pleasing and lowly, how peaceful, delightful, lovable and desirable above all things it is to have a Brother like this, who laid down his life for his sheep (cf. Jn. 10: 15), and prayed to his Father for us, saying: Holy Father, in your name keep those whom you have given me. Father, all those whom you gave me in the world, were yours and you gave them to me. And the words you have given me, I have given to them. And they have received them and have known truly that I have come forth from you, and they have believed that you have sent me. I am praying for them, not for the world: Bless and sanctify them. And for them I sanctify myself, that they may be sanctified in their unity, just as we are. And, Father, I wish that where I am, they also may be with me, that they may see my splendor in your kingdom (cf. Jn 17: 6-24).
Every creature in heaven and on earth and in the depths of the sea should give God praise and glory and honour and blessing (cf. Ap. 5: 13); he has borne so much for us and has done and will do so much good to us; he is our power and our strength, and he alone is good (cf. Lk. 18:19), he alone most high, he alone all-powerful, wonderful, and glorious; he alone is holy and worthy of all praise and blessing for endless ages and ages. Amen.
All those who refuse to do penance and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are blind, because they cannot see the light, our Lord Jesus Christ. They indulge their vices and sins and follow their evil longings and desires, without a thought for the promises they made. In body they are slaves of the world and of the desires of their lower nature, with all the cares and anxieties of this life; in spirit they are slaves of the devil. They have been led astray by him and have made themselves his children, dedicated to doing his work. They lack spiritual insight because the Son of God does not dwell in them, and it is he who is the true wisdom of the Father. It is of such men as these that Scripture says, their skill was swallowed up (Ps. 106: 27). They can see clearly and are well aware what they are doing; they are fully conscious of the fact that they are doing evil, and knowingly lose their souls.
See, then you who are blind, deceived by your enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, our fallen nature loves to commit sin and hates to serve God; this is because vice and sin come from the heart of man, as the Gospel says. You have no good in this world and nothing to look forward to in the next. You imagine that you will enjoy the worthless pleasures of this life indefinitely, but you are wrong. The day and the hour will come, the day and the hour for which you have no thought and of which you have no knowledge whatever. First sickness, then death, draws near; friends and relatives come and advise the dying man, “Put your affairs in order”. Wife and children, friends and relatives, all pretend to mourn. Looking about, he sees them weeping. An evil inspiration comes to him. Thinking to himself, he says, “Look, I am putting my body and soul and all that I have in your hands”. Certainly a man who would do a thing like that is under a curse, trusting and leaving his body and his soul and all that he has defenseless in such hands. God tells us by his Prophet, Cursed shall he be that puts his trust in man (Jer. 17:5). There and then, they call a priest; he says to the sick man, “Do you want to be absolved from all your sins?”
And the dying man replies, “I do”. “Are you ready then to make restitution as best you can out of your property for all that you have done, all the fraud and deceit you practiced towards your fellow men?” the priest asks him. “No”, he replies. And the priest asks, “Why not?” “Because I have left everything in the hands of my relatives and friends”, is the answer. Then his speech begins to fail and so the unfortunate man dies an unhappy death. We should all realize that no matter where or how a man dies, if he is in the state of mortal sin and does not repent, when he could have done so and did not, the devil tears his soul from his body with such anguish and distress that only a person who has experienced it can appreciate it. All the talent and ability, all the learning and wisdom which he thought his own, are taken away from him, while his relatives and friends bear off his property and share it among themselves. Then they say, “A curse on his soul; he could have made more to leave to us and he did not.” And the worms feast on his body. So he loses both body and soul in this short life and goes to hell, where he will be tormented without end. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In that love which is God (cf. 1 Jn. 4: 16), I, Brother Francis, the least of your servants and worthy only to kiss your feet, beg and implore all those to whom this letter comes to hear these words of our Lord Jesus Christ in a spirit of humility and love, putting them into practice with all gentleness and observing them perfectly. Those who cannot read should have them read to them often and keep them ever before their eyes, by persevering in doing good to the last, because they are spirit and life (Jn. 6:64). Those who fail to do this shall be held to account for it before the judgment-seat of Christ at the last day. And may God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless those who welcome them and grasp them and send copies to others, if they persevere in them to the last (cf. Mt. 10:22).
“There is today, however, a growing confusion which leads many to leave the missionary command of the Lord unheard and ineffective (cf. Mt 28:19). Often it is maintained that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom. From this perspective, it would only be legitimate to present one’s own ideas and to invite people to act according to their consciences, without aiming at their conversion to Christ and to the Catholic faith. It is enough, so they say, to help people to become more human or more faithful to their own religion; it is enough to build communities which strive for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity. Furthermore, some maintain that Christ should not be proclaimed to those who do not know him, nor should joining the Church be promoted, since it would also be possible to be saved without explicit knowledge of Christ and without formal incorporation in the Church.”
I’m too physically weak at the moment to address all the problems with this one, but do read it for yourself.
This is a painful thing to admit for any Catholic, but denial is no use: Pope Francis is creating enormous difficulties for the Church. His problematic statements are too numerous for me to document or even to remember. Barring a miracle (for which we should all pray), it’s only going to get worse in the coming months and years. The members of a largely modernist hierarchy, along with leaders of Catholic institutions, have been emboldened by this pope in their liberalism and dissent. Already Pope Francis is being invoked to justify heterodoxy. Note the recent comments by Dr. Julie Sullivan, president of the University of St. Thomas, in her convocation address at 24:15 in the video:
We can certainly expect more of the same in the parishes, seminaries, and other institutions as this pontificate progresses.
Many Catholics with good intentions think all of this confusion is the fault of the media. I beg to differ. It’s not the media, it’s the pope himself. He gives a certain impression with his words, and he’s been around the media long enough to know how to do that. We’re only six months into this papacy: orthodox Catholic commentators are eventually going to get tired of scrambling to do damage control, and indeed this is already happening.
The fact is that Pope Francis is enamored with novelty. He believes we need “new ways” of doing practically everything. He has dismissed the efficacy of contemplation and mortification in the spiritual life. He derides “outdated manners and forms which …. are no longer meaningful.” He speaks as though Christ is found only in performing corporal works of mercy. In short, the pope doesn’t like the Church he has inherited, or her traditional piety and discipline, or even, one suspects, some of her doctrines. His many not-so-subtle jabs at “restorationists”, “Pelagians”, “triumphalists”, “legalists”, those “obsessed” with “doctrinal security” and “rule keeping”, etc., are obviously directed at traditional Catholics for whom he apparently has much contempt.
If there were any doubts about his deep hostility to the Church’s venerable Latin liturgy, his abrogation of Summorum Pontificum within the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate – the first serious disciplinary act of his papacy – should put those doubts to rest. I think we can safely assume that the Commission “Ecclesia Dei” is not going to enforce Summorum under this pontificate.
I must admit to feeling orphaned by this pope in other ways. Pope Francis seems unaware that those of us who do not suffer material poverty need the Church just as much as the poor need the Church – perhaps moreso. Most of us in the prosperous developed world are on the “existential periphery” when it comes to the salvation of our immortal souls. Can we have a little love too? That is not to say that he doesn’t call the non-poor to repentance, but he seems only to call us to repentance for treating our neighbors unkindly, and never for our faithlessness and unbelief, our immorality and licentiousness, our sins against God, our infidelity to Christ and His Church. As for the poor, it almost seems they cannot sin at all in the eyes of Pope Francis.
And yet, there is much to admire in this pope. His simple style of preaching inspires and convicts. He is a man of decision and authority by temperament. His personal austerity – while occasionally misapplied to things proper to his office – sets a good example for those of us soaked in the consumer-driven materialistic West. The car he drives, his place of residence, his impulsive personality, even his irrepressible loquacity do not bother me at all. These things have been criticized, but the problem with Pope Francis lies elsewhere.
Since I cannot possibly address the crisis adequately on this blog, below are just a few links detailing the growing unrest and confusion this papacy is creating among the faithful. Please pray for the Holy Father, the Holy Catholic Church, and all Catholics in this difficult time.