Sunday, 24 October 2021

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost: Imitate St Paul to effect the reign of Christ the King


Dom Gueranger writes in his commentary for the twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost, that the Mass has references to the “days of the antichrist.” Indeed, the Epistle from St. Paul to the Philippians is written while he is in chains in his prison cell, suffering persecution for the sake of the Faith and his Lord. But despite the dire situation of the great missionary, he writes in tidings of hope, entrusting the Philippians to the renewed practice of the spiritual life.

    The holy abbot, Gueranger, writes: “If, unitedly with this prophetic sense, we would apply these words practically to our own personal miseries, we must remember the Gospel we had eight days ago, and which, formerly, was the one appointed for the present Sunday. Each one of us will recognize himself in the person of the insolvent debtor, who has nothing to trust to but his master’s goodness; and in our deep humiliation, we shall exclaim, If thou, O Lord, mark iniquities, who shall endure it?”

    The theme is similar in St. Alphonsus’s homily for this Sunday, in which he focuses on the torments of those who have reneged upon the practice of the spiritual life, and given themselves to other things instead. 

    Indeed, as the Church’s liturgical year draws to a close, She presents texts that naturally point Her children towards a meditation on death, on giving an account for one’s life, and on the fate that will await every man after death. Unlike much of the modern ecclesial spirit, St. Paul’s witness is one of militant Catholicism. His life has been given to the service of God, and for that he languishes in chains. 

    Yet, he writes of hope, declaring that trusting in Christ will ensure that the world cannot remove such a soul from his adherence to God. In fact, as the liturgical texts increasingly dwell on the end times, the reign of Christ the King, and the purgation of souls – all before the year recommences in Advent – the militant Catholicism of St. Paul is one which is most apt to bring about the victory of Christ the King once more.

    “We are confident in the Lord Jesus that He Who has begun a good work in you will bring it to perfection until the day of Christ Jesus.” For a king is not led to a victory by supporters and soldiers who are only half-hearted, who do not care about the cause nor have faith in their leader. Nor is he crowned after simply conversing with those who wish to destroy him, instead of vanquishing such foes on the field of battle. 

    A king needs followers who are committed to his cause, who believe in him, and who are prepared to sacrifice themselves so that he might righteously triumph. So much more so it is required that Christ the King must have such followers who imitate St. Paul.

    For this reason, as ever the liturgical texts are so apt and timely, for occurring just one week before the feast of Christ the King, and in an age where depravity and satanism is more praised that virtue, the Church calls Her children to dwell on how they are to answer when facing the judgement seat of God. She calls us to choose between following St. Paul’s model of strong, fearless Catholicism – which is the kind needed to effect the reign of Christ – or a weak, diluted imitation of religion, in which dialogue and compromise are more important than adherence to doctrine.

    “And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the better things, that you may be upright and without offense unto the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

    These words of St. Paul are an appeal to an almost distant form of Catholicism: one in which people strove to follow Christ and bring souls to Him, instead of forming bonds of irreligious fraternity and union, without being centred on God.

    Indeed, such is the command contained in the final line of the Gospel: “Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Thus St. Paul’s witness to the defense and spread of the faith, which brought countless souls to the knowledge and practice of the faith, is placed before the Church once again, almost as a clarion call for Her children to model themselves upon him, in order to bring about the reign of Christ the King.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost: The reality of spiritual battle

    “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high.” The words of St. Paul’s Epistle ring true in every age, for a crisis is never one dimensional. It is never merely an earthly crisis, wherein evil men seek to accomplish their desires completely divorced from a spiritual reality. Rather the earthly and spiritual realms are interconnected, meaning that in any, and in every, earthly crisis there is a spiritual element which is to be addressed. 

While various politicians and activists clamour about their respective concerns, the issue which is often ignored is the spiritual element of a particular crises. Even for those (very few) honest public figures, who recognise the crisis in society, they will often seek to solve it with legislation while ignoring the necessity for prayer, or for policy which draws society back to the moral law. Ultimately, any action which is not rooted in adherence to the law of God is destined to fail, and is like constantly attempting to cover a wound, instead of attempting to heal it instead.

Indeed, the ultimate source of catastrophe in the world comes from the disorder brought about through sin, through demonic influences, and through the fallen nature of man. Thus, in order to address any issue, a solution must be two-fold, combined of a material and a spiritual element.

Such is the message conveyed by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians, as he writes about the spiritual battle which they must be prepared to face. And while modern society, and even the modern Church, may seem less inclined to listen to the rhetoric of spiritual warfare, the facts remain that we are indeed engulfed in such a battle. Ignoring it is of no use; formulating the most intricate policy, while rejecting any spiritual solution, is also of no use. “I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Part of the wiles of the forces of evil is to seek to distract souls form the spiritual reality of the current crisis, and attempt to convince people into all sorts of activities, only to disctract them from attending to the spiritual necessities of each day which play a crucial part in combatting the forces of evil. Temptations will occur that time spent in prayer is of no use, or would be better spent in other, more visibly productive activities. In short, the devil makes use of any means possible to divert souls away from paying attention to the spiritual reality, for as long as souls attempt to combat the forces of evil using only earthly weapons, then their efforts will be in vain. 

Hence St. Paul writes to instruct the Church that She must be first and foremost adept with the weapons of the spiritual realm. Armed with these, the forces of evil will waste themselves upon the bulwarks of the Church, as She fights with the all-powerful weapons of God.

“Therefore, take up the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breast-plate of justice, and having your feet shod with the readiness of the Gospel of peace, in all things taking up the shield of faith, with which you may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, that is, the word of God.”

This is not to say that souls should abandon any attempt to remedy the ills of the world, and instead abandon themselves to constant prayer, but nothing else. On the contrary, the Church has the mission of preaching the Gospel, converting and saving souls, and this cannot be achieved if everyone remains reclusive in their homes, never venturing out into the world. Spiritual and temporal remedies are necessary, and while the temporal must be guided ultimately by the spiritual, it should not be disregarded. 

Indeed, there have been times and may well be again, when the military style language of St. Paul is not restricted to mere allegory, but is translated in a more literal manner. Souls may well be called upon to take up arms in defense of the faith, of morality, of the Church, of the family. During the Sack of Rome in 1527, the Swiss Guard were killed down to a man in their defence of the Pope from the Masonic and Protestant forces. While God has raised up many holy martyrs whose blood is the seed of the Church, so He also raises up champions for the Church, such as those members of the Swiss Guard, so that the Church may defend Her own when the forces of evil turn against Catholics.

Consequently, the response to the evil of modernity and the crisis of the day, must always be guided by the acknowledgement of the spiritual battle which is being constantly waged. Only when this aspect is addressed can the Church, or indeed any man, hope to bring about the reordering of society in accordance with God’s law. 

Sunday, 10 October 2021

The month of the Holy Rosary

October continues to give numerous feasts of Our Lady for the Church to celebrate. Only days ago, She honoured Our Lady of the Rosary, recalling the 450th anniversary of the triumphant victory over the Islamic forces at Lepanto. Tomorrow the Church pays homage to Mary once again in the feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin, and the day following is the lesser found feast of Our Lady of the Pillar. Added to this is the month-long dedication to the holy rosary, and the 54-day rosary novena which commenced on the 7th of October, for the intentions of the Church and the world.

    The need for devotion to the rosary increases with every day, as the devil continues his war against God and the Blessed Virgin. The satanic hatred which he bears for the pious virgin-mother, means that his attacks are turned against her, and so it is increasingly common that those virtues which she embodies are the ones which the world and the devil reject. Purity, chastity, humility, oblation to God, and willingness to suffer: all of these were exemplified by Mary, and are the trademarks of the Catholic life. All of these same viruses, then, are the subject of relentless attacks in modern, pagan, even satanic society. 

    Is it even possible to walk down the street without seeing signs, hearing music, observing behaviour, which treats such admirable virtues as if they were the practice of fools and madmen? On the contrary, the world argues, the opposing vices should be allowed to flourish: let impurity be practiced by all; let children be coerced into believing themselves the opposite sex; let promiscuity and abortion be rife; let there be no suffering in this life, but only hedonistic pleasure. Above all, argues the world, let there be no hint of humble, self-oblation to God.

    In contrast, the rosary recalls the intimate union of Christ and Mary, documenting her co-operation with His salvific mission, the horrendous sufferings, tortures and death, and the glorious resurrection. The first mystery recounts her act of profound humility, uniting her will with God’s, desiring only to do His will and not her own. The Annunciation is the antidote the daily message of the world in every way, a point which makes meditating on it and the Joyful mysteries all the more essential. Each of the mysteries of the rosary is centred upon humility, oblation to God, willingness to suffer for Him, and the desire for souls. Each one is an opportunity to imitate the Blessed Virgin, and to join her as one of the Friends of the Cross, as St. Louis-Marie de Montfort wrote.

    Pope Pius XII wrote of this aspect, in his 1952 encyclical Ingruentium Malorem: “And truly, from the frequent meditation on the Mysteries, the soul little by little and imperceptibly draws and absorbs the virtues they contain, and is wondrously enkindled with a longing for things immortal, and becomes strongly and easily impelled to follow the path which Christ Himself and His Mother have followed. The recitation of identical formulas repeated so many times, rather than rendering the prayer sterile and boring, has on the contrary the admirable quality of infusing confidence in him who prays and brings to bear a gentle compulsion on the motherly Heart of Mary.”

    The world in which evil is promoted as a virtue, in one in which the Church has utmost need to heed the call of Mary at Fatima, when she asked for the daily recitation of the rosary. Indeed, in the times when the satanic assault is directed on the family, what better way is there to combat it, than to meditate on the actions of the Holy Family, and for families to strengthen themselves through the recitation of the rosary. “In vain is a remedy sought for the wavering fate of civil life, if the family, the principle and foundation of the human community, is not fashioned after the pattern of the Gospel,” notes Pius XII.

    As promoters of the modern satanistic worldview become emboldened by their apparent victories, Catholics must take heart from the fact that Our Lady has already noted how such men are destined to fail. “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,” she said. In order to join in bringing about this triumph, Catholics must heed the call, coming from the Mother of God, to pray the prayer which so angers, infuriates and confounds the devil. By this means, every household becomes a fortress of prayer, devoted to imitation of Mary, and imitation of Christ. With the home of a Catholic family thus becoming an “earthly abode of sanctity,” the reversion of society to God can begin. 

    “This meditation will bring to the knowledge of the little ones the main truths of the Christian Faith, making love for the Redeemer blossom almost spontaneously in their innocent hearts, while, seeing, their parents kneeling before the majesty of God, they will learn from their very early years how great before the throne of God is the value of prayers said in common.”

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Sts' Michael and Thérèse - united in their devotion to God.

This past week has seen the feast of St. Michael and the holy Angels, and today marks the feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. 

Rather than attempting to synthesise the majestic humility and devotion to God, which both St. Michael and St. Thérèse exemplified, this blog will instead note two prayers. The first is to St. Michael, and is the full prayer to the archangel composed by Pope Leo XIII, after his vision of the evil spirits released from hell so as to destroy the Church. While the shorter version is commonly known, the full prayer is less so:

“O Glorious Prince of the heavenly host, St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and in the terrible warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come to the aid of man, whom Almighty God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of Satan.

Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. That cruel, ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly find mercy in the sight of the Lord; and vanquishing the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, the root of David.
V. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as supplicants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious St. Michael the Archangel, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen.”

Meanwhile, the admirable devotion to God demonstrated by St. Michael is mirrored by St. Thérèse, who although she confined herself to the walls of Carmel, was filled with such a zeal for God and for souls, that she is proclaimed a patron of the missions. The humble nun took her lead from the archangel in dedicating her life to the service of God, and just as St Michael gave himself in service to Him, so St. Thérèse dedicated herself completely to Him so that she might accompany Him in life and in death.

To this end, she composed the beautiful act of oblation, presented on this blog one year ago. However, the humble Carmelite also penned numerous poems, one of which amply demonstrates her love for the Almighty - 'My wishes before the tabernacle.'

O little key! I envy thee, For thou canst ope, at any hour, The Eucharistic prison-house, Where dwells the God of Love and Power. And yet — Oh, tender mystery! — One effort of my faith alone Unlocks the tabernacle door, And hides me there with Christ my Own. 

O lamp within the holy place, Whose mystic lights forever shine! I fain would burn with fires of love As bright, before my God and thine. Yet, miracle of wondrous bliss! Such flames are mine; and, day by day, I can win souls to Jesus Christ, To burn with His pure love for aye. 

O consecrated altar-stone! I envy thee with every morn. As once in Bethlehem’s blessed shed, The Eternal Word on thee is born. Yet, gentle Saviour! hear my plea;

Enter my heart, O Lord divine! ‘Tis no cold stone I offer Thee, Who dost desire this heart of mine! 

O corporal that angels guard! What envy of thee fills my breast! On thee, as in His swaddling bands, I see my only Treasure rest. Ah Virgin Mother! change my heart Into a corporal pure and fair, Whereon the snow-white Host may rest, And thy meek Lamb find shelter there. 

O holy paten! Jesus makes of Thee His sacramental throne. Ah! if He would abase Himself, To dwell awhile with me alone! Jesus fulfils my longing hope, Nor must I wait until I die; — He comes to me! He lives in me! His ostensoriumam I! 

The chalice, too, I fain would be, Where I adore the Blood divine! Yet, at the holy sacrifice, That Precious Blood each day is mine. More dear to Jesus is my soul, Than chalices of gold could be; His altar is a Calvary new, Whereon His Blood still flows for me. 

Only one little bunch of grapes That gladly disappears for Thee, O Jesus, holy, heavenly Vine! Thou knowest I rejoice to be. Beneath the pressure of the cross, I prove my love for Thee alway; And ask no other joy than this, — To immolate myself each day! 

Among the grains of purest wheat, O happy lot! he chooses me. We lose our life for Him, the Christ, — What rapturous height of ecstasy! Thy spouse am I, Thy chosen one.

My Well-Beloved! come, dwell in me. Thy beauty wins my heart. Oh, come! Deign to transform me into Thee!

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost: Imitate St Paul to effect the reign of Christ the King

  Dom Gueranger writes in his commentary for the twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost, that the Mass has references to the “days of the anti...