A Catholic scholar assesses a “turning point”

From The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion, and Culture (Herder & Herder, 2009):

We are at a turning point in the life of the Church in this country. Liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project. Essentially a critique, even a necessary critique at one point in our history, it is now parasitical on a substance that no longer exists. It has shown itself unable to pass on the faith in its integrity and inadequate, therefore, in fostering the joyful self-surrender called for in Christian marriage, in consecrated life, in ordained priesthood. It no longer gives life.

The answer, however, is not to be found in a type of conservative Catholicism obsessed with particular practices and so sectarian in its outlook that it cannot serve as a sign of unity of all peoples in Christ.

The answer is simply Catholicism, in all its fullness and depth, a faith able to distinguish itself from any culture and yet able to engage and transform them all, a faith joyful in all the gifts Christ wants to give us and open to the whole world He died to save. The Catholic faith shapes a Church with a lot of room for differences in pastoral approach, for discussion and debate, for initiatives as various as the peoples whom God loves. But, more profoundly, the faith shapes a Church which knows Her Lord and knows Her own identity, a Church able to distinguish between what fits into the tradition that unites Her to Christ and what is a false start or a distorting thesis, a Church united here and now because She is always one with the Church throughout the ages and with the saints in Heaven.

— Francis Cardinal George OMI (1937-2015)

“We need men in these dark days”

The following is a verbatim transcription, slightly abridged, of a post from the blog of Monsignor Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington. Because that website has been inaccessible for some hours, we reproduce the post here.

When I was growing up, my father would often exhort me to “be a man.” He would summon me to courage and responsibility and to discover the heroic capacity that was in me. St. Paul summoned forth a spiritual manhood with these words: We [must] all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ (Eph 4:13ff).

If the ladies will pardon me (for women have their own sort of strength), I want to issue a special summons to men, especially fathers, husbands, and priests. The summons is simple: be a man. We need men in these dark days, men who will heroically speak and act, men who will announce the truth and insist upon it wherever they have authority, men who will stop being passive fathers and husbands, priests who will stop “playing it safe” by remaining silent in the moral storm. Yes, be a man.

It has often been observed that men are rather disengaged from the practice of the faith and attendance at the Sacred Liturgy. Frankly, there is a reason—not a politically correct one, but a reason nonetheless. Most of the men I talk to find the Church rather feminized. There is much talk about forgiveness and love, about receptivity and about being “nicer.” These are fine virtues, all of them necessary. But men also want to be engaged, to be sent into battle, to go forth and make a difference.

After years of radical feminism, men are shamed for seeking to take up leadership and authority in their families and in the Church. It starts early.  Any normal boy is full of spit and vinegar, is aggressive, competitive, and anxious to test his wings. But many boys are scolded, punished, and even medicated for these normal tendencies. They are told to behave more like girls and to learn to be nicer and to get along, etc. It will be granted that limits are necessary, but the tendency for boys to roughhouse is normal. The scolding and “socializing” to more feminine traits continues apace into early adulthood. And then there are other cultural phenomena such as the slew of “Men are stupid” commercials, etc.

Though many in past decades have sought to describe the Church as “male-dominated,” nothing could be further from the truth. Most parish leadership structures are dominated by women. And women do fine work. But the Church has done a very poor job of engaging men as men and equipping them to be strong husbands, fathers, and priests. Virtues related to bold leadership and the effective use of authority are in short supply whereas other virtues such as collaboration, listening, empathy, and understanding are overemphasized.

This lack of balance, wherein traditionally manly virtues are downplayed—even shamed—has led many men to become disengaged from the Church.

Even as early as 1885, Pope Leo XIII saw coming a softness that was infecting the times. In a document aptly named (and using a word too many clergy and fathers are afraid to use) Quod Auctoritate, Pope Leo said:

You know the temper of the times—how many there are who love to live delicately and shrink from whatever requires manhood and generosity; who, when ailments come, discover in them sufficient reasons for not obeying the salutary laws of the Church, thinking the burden laid upon them more than they can bear . . . perils everywhere abound. The great virtues of our forefathers have in large measure disappeared; the most violent passions have claimed a freer indulgence; the madness of opinion which knows no restraint, or at least no effective restraint, every day extends further; [and yet among] those whose principles are sound there are many who, through a misplaced timidity, are frightened, and have not the courage even to speak out their opinions boldly, far less to translate them into deeds; everywhere the worst examples are affecting public morals; wicked societies which We ourselves have denounced before now, skilled in all evil arts, are doing their best to lead the people astray, and as far as they are able, to withdraw them from God, their duty, and Christianity . . . Therefore those who speak to the people should lay it down persistently and clearly that according not only to the law of the Gospel, but even to the dictates of natural reason, a man is bound to govern himself and keep his passions under strict control, and moreover, that sin cannot be expiated except by penance . . . In order therefore that Our teaching may sink into men’s minds, and what is the great thing, actually govern their daily lives, an attempt must be made to bring them to think and act like Christians, not less in public than in private.

Not a bad summons to heroic and public witness to the faith! Not a bad summons to manly virtues like sacrifice, strength, insisting on what is right, meeting perils toe-to-toe, courage, speaking out, self-control, and so forth. The Church used to speak more often in this way. Today there seems to be only the goal of not hurting or offending anyone.

The disengagement of men from the Church has come to mean that many Christian men are passive fathers and husbands. They have not matured in their faith but remain in a kind of spiritual childhood. They are not the spiritual leaders in their homes that Scripture summons them to be (cf. Eph 5). If they go to Church at all, their wives have to drag them there. They do not teach their children to pray, insist that they practice the faith, or read Scripture to them. Too often, they leave this for their wives to do.

Thankfully, many men do take up their proper role. They have reached spiritual manhood and understand their responsibilities in the Lord. They live courageously and are leaders. They are the ones first up on Sunday morning leading their families to Church and insisting on religious practice in the home. They initiate prayer and Scripture reading and are vigorous moral leaders and teachers in their families, parishes, and communities. They are willing to battle for the truth and to speak up for what is right.

You see, the Lord is looking for a few good men. Are you a Christian man? Have you reached spiritual manhood? This is not the kind of manhood that comes merely with age. It comes when we pray, hear, and heed Scripture and the teachings of the Church. It comes when we live the faith courageously and summon others to follow Jesus without compromise. It comes when we speak the truth in love and live out the truth. It comes when we fear God and thus fear no man, for when we are able to kneel before God we can stand before any human threat. . . .

The general goal is to re-engage men as men, to summon them to discipleship as men, and to engage them in the masculine virtues that God gave them. [Matthew] Christoff [host of the New Emangelization website] has pulled together some information and written some interesting articles:

Becoming a Committed Catholic Man

The Catholic “Man-Crisis” Fact Sheet

The Catholic “Man-Crisis” and Why It Matters

The Casual Catholic Man

The Top Ten Reasons to Be a Catholic Man

Here are a few good websites for Catholic Men . . .

The Catholic Gentleman

Those Catholic Men


Radiating Christ

This prayer, cited and praised by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and frequently associated with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and her Missionaries of Charity, was written in the 1800s by noted English convert Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.

Dear Jesus,
help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Thy spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly
that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine.
Shine through me,
and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with
may feel Thy presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me
but only Jesus!
Stay with me,
and then I shall begin to shine
as Thou shinest,
so to shine as to be a light to others;
the light, O Jesus, will be all from Thee;
none of it will be mine;
it will be Thou shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise Thee in the way Thou dost love best
by shining on those around me.
Let me preach Thee without preaching,
not by words but by my example,
by the catching force of the sympathetic influence
of what I do,
the evident fulness of the love my heart bears to Thee.

Reparation for planned Oklahoma Black Mass sought by Tulsa ordinary

On Sunday evening, September 21, a Satanic Black Mass is scheduled to be held at the Oklahoma City Civic Center.  In response to this planned blasphemy, the Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery, bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa, has issued a letter exhorting all Catholics in his diocese to participate in exercises of reverence and reparation toward the Blessed Sacrament.

Bishop Slattery’s letter asks the faithful to keep a nine-day period of abstinence from August 6 to August 14 in preparation for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15.  A special prayer to St. Michael for the defense of the Church is to be offered at Mass on Assumption Day, on which intercession for the protection of the Church will be asked of Our Lady.

If the September 21 Black Mass proceeds as scheduled, the Bishop asks parishes to conduct Holy Hours and processions of the Blessed Sacrament on that evening to honor Our Eucharistic Lord against whom the sacrilege of the planned Satanic event is directed.

H/T: Fr. Z’s Blog

Saint Dominic, pray for us

Monday, August 4, is the feast of Saint Dominic, founder of the Order of Friars Preachers, who was tireless in the practice of the works of charity and penance, in the proclamation of the Gospel of Our Lord, and in the promotion of devotion to Our Blessed Mother through the Rosary.

Prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary:

O Virgin Mary, grant that the recitation of thy Rosary may be for me each day, in the midst of my manifold duties, a bond of unity in my actions, a tribute of filial piety, a sweet refreshment, an encouragement to walk joyfully along the path of duty. Grant, above all, O Virgin Mary, that the study of thy mysteries may form in my soul, little by little, a luminous atmosphere, pure, strengthening and fragrant, which may penetrate my understanding, my will, my heart, my memory, my imagination, my whole being. So shall I acquire the habit of praying while I work, without the aid of formal prayers, by interior acts of admiration and of supplication, or by aspirations of love. I ask this of thee, O Queen of the Holy Rosary, through St. Dominic, thy son of predilection, the renowned preacher of thy mysteries, and the faithful imitator of thy virtues. Amen.

“My Peace” author Eden to speak July 31 at CIC

Theologian and journalist Dawn Eden will speak this Thursday, July 31, at the Catholic Information Center, 1501 K Street NW, Washington, on the topic “Healing the Memory: What St. Ignatius Loyola and Pope Francis Can Teach Us.” The program begins at 6:00 pm and is free of charge.

Dawn Eden, who holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, is the author of the books My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints (2012) and The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On (2006).  She is a frequent speaker on the topics of sexual abuse recovery and Catholic spirituality, and writes on these and other subjects in her blog, The Dawn Patrol.

Information and registration is available on the CIC website.

Ab omne hoste faciat esse securos

July 3 is the date of the feast of St. Irenaeus in the traditional calendar.  Renowned for his refutations of Gnosticism, he exemplified the exhortation of the Apostle Paul at a time — not unlike our own — foreshadowed in the latter’s second letter to Timothy (4.3-5):

Erit enim tempus, cum sanam doctrínam non sustinébunt, sed ad sua desidéria coacervábunt sibi magístros, pruriéntes áuribus, et a veritáte quidem audítum avértent, ad fábulas autem converténtur. Tu vero vígila, in ómnibus labóra, opus fac Evangelístæ, ministérium tuum ímpie.

For there will come a time when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lusts, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and turn aside rather to fables. But be watchful in all things, bear with tribulation patiently, work as a preacher of the Gospel, fulfill your ministry.

The Secret Prayer of the Mass of the Feast of St. Irenaeus:

Deus, qui credéntes in te pópulos nullis sinis cóncuti terróribus: dignáre preces et hóstias dicátæ tibi plebis suscípere; ut pax, a tua pietáte concéssa, christianórum fines ab omni hoste fáciat esse secúros. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

O God, Who do not allow the nations that believe in You to be troubled by any distress, graciously accept the prayers and sacrificial gifts Your people dedicate to You, so that the peace bestowed by Your love may make Christian lands safe from every foe. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Dilexerunt homines magis tenebras quam lucem

On June 6, 2014, the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, as affirmed in the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, was struck down by a United States federal judge.

As Our Lord reminds us (John 3:17-21), the renunciation of Truth has consequences:

Non enim misit Deus Filium suum in mundum, ut judicet mundum, sed ut salvetur mundus per ipsum.  Qui credit in eum, non judicatur; qui autem non credit, jam judicatus est: quia non credit in nomine unigeniti Filii Dei.  Hoc est autem judicium: quia lux venit in mundum, et dilexerunt homines magis tenebras quam lucem: erant enim eorum mala opera.  Omnis enim qui male agit, odit lucem, et non venit ad lucem, ut non arguantur opera ejus: qui autem facit veritatem, venit ad lucem, ut manifestentur opera ejus, quia in Deo sunt facta.

For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him.  He that believeth in him is not judged.  But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil.  For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved.  But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God.

Beati Bonifatii zelo

As announced by the Apostleship of Prayer, the Holy Father’s evangelization intention for June is that Europe may rediscover its Christian roots through the witness of believers.  Those engaged in that witness would do well to invoke the intercession of St. Boniface, whose feast is this Thursday, June 5.

Born sometime between ad 675 and 680, Boniface renounced the seclusion of an English abbey to spend his life bringing the good news of Christ to Germany.  Alongside dozens of confirmands, he was martyred on June 5, 755.

The Collect from the Traditional Mass of the Feast of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr:

Deus, qui multitúdinem populórum, beáti Bonifátii Mártyris tui atque Pontíficis zelo, ad agnitiónem tui nóminis vocáre dignátus es: concéde propítius; ut, cuius sollémnia cólimus, étiam patrocínia sentiámus. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

O God, Who, through the zeal of blessed Boniface, Your Martyr and Bishop, graciously called a multitude of people to the knowledge of Your name, mercifully grant that we who keep his feast may also enjoy his patronage. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Prædicate super tecta

From the Gospel for the Feast of St. Athanasius, Confessor and Doctor of the Church:

Ne ergo timuéritis eos. Nihil enim est opértum, quod non revelábitur: et occúltum, quod non sciétur. Quod dico vobis in ténebris, dícite in lúmine: et, quod in aure audítis, prædicáte super tecta. Et nolíte timére eos, qui occídunt corpus, ánimam autem non possunt occídere: sed pótius timéte eum, qui potest et ánimam et corpus pérdere in gehénnam.

Therefore do not be afraid of them. For there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in darkness, speak it in the light; and what you hear whispered, preach it on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather be afraid of Him, Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:26-28