Sunday, October 11, 2015



Posting here will be very sporadic for the foreseeable future. If we are particularly inspired to post something, or if there are important notices regarding the Society, then you will see a new post!

In the meantime, be sure to “like” the St. Gregory the Great Face Book page for links to interesting articles and news. Even if you are not a FB user, it may be possible to view the page.

We will continue to update the “Coming Events” section with the Mass times and any changes to be noted.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Traditional Latin Mass Should be Made Available

The year was 2008, following Pope Benedict’s promulgation of his apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum in July of the previous year.   Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, was President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.
As President of said Commission, His Eminence was appointed directly by the Pope as the official spokesman for the Holy See on matters pertaining to relations with the Society of St Pius X, as well as with what the Holy Father referred to (in Summorum Pontificum and its cover letter to the bishops) as “the extraordinary form”, the “older usage”, the “classical Roman Rite”, etc. Thus His Eminence’s comments can rightly be taken as expressing the thought of the Supreme Pontiff himself, unless otherwise indicated as his own personal thoughts.

At the June 15, 2008, London press interview with the Cardinal, in conjunction with a major conference of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, His Eminence was asked by a reporter from The Telegraph, one of the country’s major newspapers:

Damian Thompson: So would the Pope like to see many ordinary parishes making provision for the Gregorian Rite?

Cardinal Castrillón: All the parishes. Not ‘many’ – all the parishes, because this is a gift of God. He offers these riches, and it is very important for new generations to know the past of the Church. This kind of worship is so noble, so beautiful – the deepest theologians’ way to express our faith. The worship, the music, the architecture, the painting, makes a whole that is a treasure. The Holy Father is willing to offer to all the people this possibility, not only for the few groups who demand it but so that everybody knows this way of celebrating the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.

In his introduction for an instructional video about the EF Mass, the Cardinal also said:

All this liturgical richness, all this spiritual richness, and all the prayers so well-preserved during the centuries, all of this is offered by the Rome of today for all.   As a gift for all, it is not a gift merely for the so-called traditionalists.  No, it is a gift for the whole Catholic Church.

The “sacred silence” and contemplation of the ancient rite, the cardinal said, “makes present the Lord Jesus in an expression of rich liturgical beauty, as the conqueror of death and sin… this rite brought unity to the faith and became the single expression through which the Church adores God.”

The cardinal said that parishes and priests should make available the Extraordinary Form so that “everyone may have access to this treasure of the ancient liturgy of the Church.” He also stressed that, “even if it is not specifically asked for, or requested” it should be provided. Interestingly, he added that the Pope wants this Mass to become normal in parishes, so that “young communities can also become familiar with this rite.” 

[See Fr. Z’s report of the above on his blog, here.]

Sunday, September 13, 2015

To Lose One's Life, Or Save It

A Homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen
St. Stephen Catholic Church, Portland
September 13th, 2015
Dominica XXIV Per Annum, Anno B

“whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”

These words might call to mind the bloody martyrdom of Christians in the early Roman Empire, or even today in the Middle East. But one need not be a martyr in order to fulfill these words. There is also the unbloody martyrdom of living a pure and holy life. This coming Thursday, Sept 17th, the Franciscan Order commemorates the imprinting of the Sacred Stigmata into the hands, feet, and side of their holy founder St. Francis of Assisi. In his biography of St. Francis, St. Bonaventure writes this account:
  "Two years before he gave his spirit back to heaven after many and varied labors, he was led apart by divine providence to a high place which is called Mount La Verna. When according to his usual custom he had begun to fast there for forty days in honor of St. Michael the Archangel, he experienced more abundantly than usual an overflow of the sweetness of heavenly contemplation, he burned with a stronger flame of heavenly desires, and he began to experience more fully the gifts of heavenly grace (Ch. 13.1).
  Through divine inspiration he had learned that if he opened the book of the Gospel, Christ would reveal to him what God considered most acceptable in him and from him. After praying with much devotion, he took the book of the Gospels from the altar and had his companion, a holy man dedicated to God, open it three times in the name of the Holy Trinity. When all three times the book was opened the Lord’s passion always met his eyes, the man filled with God understood that just as he had imitated Christ in the actions of his life, so he should be conformed to him in the affliction and sorrow of his passion, before he would pass out of this world (John 13:1). And although his body was already weakened by the great austerity of his past life and his continual carrying of the Lord’s cross, he was in no way terrified but was inspired even more vigorously to endure martyrdom (13.2).
  …On a certain morning about the feast of the Exultation of the Cross, while Francis was praying on the mountainside, he saw a Seraph with six fiery and shining wings descend from the height of heaven. And when in swift flight the Seraph had reached a spot in the air near the man of God, there appeared between the wings the figure of a man crucified, with his hands and feet extended in the form of a cross and fastened to a cross…When Francis saw this, he was overwhelmed and his heart was flooded with a mixture of joy and sorrow. He rejoiced because of the gracious way Christ looked upon him under the appearance of the Seraph, but the fact that he was fastened to a cross pierced his soul with a sword of compassionate sorrow (Luke 2:35).

  …Eventually he understood by a revelation from the Lord that divine providence had shown him this vision so that, as Christ’s lover, he might learn in advance that he was to be totally transformed into the likeness of Christ crucified, not by the martyrdom of his flesh, but by the fire of his love consuming his soul.
  As the vision disappeared, it left in his heart a marvelous ardor and imprinted on his body markings that were no less marvelous. Immediately the marks of nails began to appear in his hands and feet just as he had seen a little before in the figure of the man crucified. …Also his right side, as if pierced with a lance, was marked with a red wound from which his sacred blood often flowed, moistening his tunic and undergarments (13.3).
  When…the forty days were over that he had planned to spend in solitude, and the feast of St. Michael the Archangel had also arrived, the angelic man Francis came down from the mountain, bearing with him the image of the Crucified, which was depicted not on tablets of stone, or on panels of wood by the hands of a craftsman, but engraved in the members of his body by the finger of the living God… (13.5).

  St. Francis was not called to martyrdom, but he endured suffering for the sake of the gospel. He did so not only by a life of self-denial, or mortification of the flesh, but also by praying for and accepting the very wounds of Jesus Christ onto his own mortal flesh. He did not wish to save his life, but to lose it for the sake of Christ. I remember many years ago when I was first discerning priesthood, that I wrote to my great aunt, Sr. Dolorine of the Immaculate Conception, a Franciscan sister, in her 90s at the time. I shared with her my romantic notion of wishing to suffer for Christ for the conversion of souls. She responded by saying, 'Dear great nephew, you do not have to ask for suffering, you will get plenty of it without asking.'
  Suffering is a stumbling block for many. We should never wish suffering on another person. When we love another person, it hurts us to see him or her suffer. We wish that we could take their suffering away. We might even pray to God that we might take some of their suffering so that they might be relieved and spared. Is that not just what Our Lord is asking from us? He asks us to imitate Him, to take on some of His sufferings, for the sake of His Body, the Church.
  “‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ If there is any one who must follow Jesus, it is he who seeks after perfection. But how can a lover of pleasure, of honors, of riches follow Jesus? How can one follow Christ, if one is unwilling to carry his cross daily––the cross that God Himself has chosen for him and sent to him?” (Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, ¶761). St. Francis was given his own share in the cross. But each of us has his or her own special cross chosen for us by God. It is special. As Jesus embraced His Cross and loved His Cross, let us consider how we must love the Cross given to us to carry. Let us give thanks to God for it everyday. Let us praise God for the Cross He has chosen for us. In that praise and thanksgiving, we will discover consolation, healing, and salvation by embracing and loving our cross, by taking it up daily and following Him.    

Friday, September 4, 2015

About Our Masses

 The date for the next Extraordinary Form (aka Latin Mass) at St. Francis in Bend, Oregon, is this coming Sunday (September 6, 2015) at 1:30 PM.  Here after celebrations of the Latin Mass at St. Francis will occur every other week (September 20, September 29th, October 4th, etc) at 1:30.

The Latin Mass at St. Francis is sanctioned and sponsored by Bishop Cary, but is not funded by Baker Diocese or St. Francis Parish.  The Society of Saint Gregory the Great (SSGG) defrays all expenses connected with celebrating the Latin Mass at St. Francis.  The Society and its members, however, also contribute to the financial support of St. Francis Parish.

It costs the Society $160.00 to bring in a priest to offer each scheduled Mass.  Approximately 70% of this sum is used to pay the priest’s mileage expenses round-trip to and from Chiloquin (222 miles).  This expense will continue until such a time as a Priest residing in Deschutes County or the northern end of Klamath County is made available.  

Please help the SSGG continue to have the resources to sustain the Latin Mass at St. Francis.

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Apostolic Letter "Summorum Pontificum" issued Motu Proprio
Benedict XVI

On Saturday 7 July 2007 Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter on the celebration of the Roman Rite according to the Missal of 1962. The following text is the unofficial Vatican Information Service translation of the official Latin text.

Up to our own times, it has been the constant concern of supreme pontiffs to ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy ritual to the Divine Majesty, 'to the praise and glory of His name,' and 'to the benefit of all His Holy Church.'
Since time immemorial it has been necessary - as it is also for the future - to maintain the principle according to which 'each particular Church must concur with the universal Church, not only as regards the doctrine of the faith and the sacramental signs, but also as regards the usages universally accepted by uninterrupted apostolic tradition, which must be observed not only to avoid errors but also to transmit the integrity of the faith, because the Church's law of prayer corresponds to her law of faith.' (1)
Among the pontiffs who showed that requisite concern, particularly outstanding is the name of St. Gregory the Great, who made every effort to ensure that the new peoples of Europe received both the Catholic faith and the treasures of worship and culture that had been accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries. He commanded that the form of the sacred liturgy as celebrated in Rome (concerning both the Sacrifice of Mass and the Divine Office) be conserved. He took great concern to ensure the dissemination of monks and nuns who, following the Rule of St. Benedict, together with the announcement of the Gospel illustrated with their lives the wise provision of their Rule that 'nothing should be placed before the work of God.' In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman use, enriched not only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples. It is known, in fact, that the Latin liturgy of the Church in its various forms, in each century of the Christian era, has been a spur to the spiritual life of many saints, has reinforced many peoples in the virtue of religion and fecundated their piety.
Many other Roman pontiffs, in the course of the centuries, showed particular solicitude in ensuring that the sacred liturgy accomplished this task more effectively. Outstanding among them is St. Pius V who, sustained by great pastoral zeal and following the exhortations of the Council of Trent, renewed the entire liturgy of the Church, oversaw the publication of liturgical books amended and 'renewed in accordance with the norms of the Fathers,' and provided them for the use of the Latin Church.
One of the liturgical books of the Roman rite is the Roman Missal, which developed in the city of Rome and, with the passing of the centuries, little by little took forms very similar to that it has had in recent times.
"It was towards this same goal that succeeding Roman Pontiffs directed their energies during the subsequent centuries in order to ensure that the rites and liturgical books were brought up to date and when necessary clarified. From the beginning of this century they undertook a more general reform.' (2) Thus our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St. Pius X (3), Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII all played a part.
In more recent times, Vatican Council II expressed a desire that the respectful reverence due to divine worship should be renewed and adapted to the needs of our time. Moved by this desire our predecessor, the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, approved, in 1970, reformed and partly renewed liturgical books for the Latin Church. These, translated into the various languages of the world, were willingly accepted by bishops, priests and faithful. John Paul II amended the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. Thus Roman pontiffs have operated to ensure that 'this kind of liturgical edifice ... should again appear resplendent for its dignity and harmony.' (4)
But in some regions, no small numbers of faithful adhered and continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms. These had so deeply marked their culture and their spirit that in 1984 the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a concern for the pastoral care of these faithful, with the special indult 'Quattuor abhinc anno," issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted permission to use the Roman Missal published by Blessed John XXIII in the year 1962. Later, in the year 1988, John Paul II with the Apostolic Letter given as Motu Proprio, 'Ecclesia Dei,' exhorted bishops to make generous use of this power in favor of all the faithful who so desired.
Following the insistent prayers of these faithful, long deliberated upon by our predecessor John Paul II, and after having listened to the views of the Cardinal Fathers of the Consistory of 22 March 2006, having reflected deeply upon all aspects of the question, invoked the Holy Spirit and trusting in the help of God, with these Apostolic Letters we establish the following:

Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.

It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church. The conditions for the use of this Missal as laid down by earlier documents 'Quattuor abhinc annis' and 'Ecclesia Dei,' are substituted as follows:

Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.

Art. 3. Communities of Institutes of consecrated life and of Societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962, for conventual or "community" celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statues.

Art. 4. Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art.
2 may - observing all the norms of law - also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted.

Art. 5. § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.

§ 2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also be held.
§ 3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.
§ 4 Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded.
§ 5 In churches that are not parish or conventual churches, it is the duty of the Rector of the church to grant the above permission.

Art. 6. In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular, using editions recognised by the Apostolic See.

Art. 7. If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 õ 1, has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".

Art. 8. A bishop who, desirous of satisfying such requests, but who for various reasons is unable to do so, may refer the problem to the Commission "Ecclesia Dei" to obtain counsel and assistance.

Art. 9. § 1 The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects, may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it.

§ 2 Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation using the earlier Roman Pontifical, if the good of souls would seem to require it.
§ 3 Clerics ordained "in sacris constitutis" may use the Roman Breviary promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962.

Art. 10. The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it appropriate, may erect a personal parish in accordance with can. 518 for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or appoint a chaplain, while observing all the norms of law.

Art. 11. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", erected by John Paul II in 1988
(5), continues to exercise its function. Said Commission will have the form, duties and norms that the Roman Pontiff wishes to assign it.

Art. 12. This Commission, apart from the powers it enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See, supervising the observance and application of these dispositions.

We order that everything We have established with these Apostolic Letters issued as Motu Proprio be considered as "established and decreed", and to be observed from
14 September of this year, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, whatever there may be to the contrary.

From Rome, at St. Peter's, 7 July 2007, third year of Our Pontificate.

Pope Benedict XVI

(1) General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd ed., 2002, no. 397.    [back to text]
(2) John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," 4 December 1988, 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.    [back to text]

(3) Ibid.    [
back to text]
(4) St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Motu propio data, "Abhinc duos annos," 23 October 1913: AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cf John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," no. 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.    [back to text]
(5) Cf John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Motu proprio data "Ecclesia Dei," 2 July 1988, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.    [back to text]

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist

This is a re-post of a homily by Fr. Eric Andersen, who is currently at St. Stephen's in Portland, OR. This post first appeared on this blog three years ago.

A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, on The Passion of St. John the Baptist

“It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.” Death has no power over these words (cf. Gueranger. The Liturgical Year. vol. 14., p. 109). A tyrant may put to death the man who speaks these words, but he cannot put these words to death. They are truth itself. “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.” This is not a man made law. This is God’s eternal law that cannot be broken without dire consequences.

These are the dire consequences:

“Josephus relates how [Herod Antipas] was overcome by the Arabian Aretas, whose daughter he had repudiated in order to follow his wicked passions; and the Jews attributed the defeat to the murder of St. John. He was deposed by Rome from his tetrarchate, and banished to Lyons in Gaul, where the ambitious Herodias shared his disgrace. As to her dancing daughter Salome, there is a tradition gathered from ancient authors, that, having gone out one winter day to dance upon a frozen river, she fell through into the water; the ice, immediately closing round her neck, cut off her head, which bounded upon the surface, thus continuing for some moments the dance of death" (Gueranger 112).

This feast actually celebrates four events. The first event is the beheading itself. “The second event is the burning and gathering, or collecting, of St. John’s bones” (Voragine, The Golden Legend. Vol II., p. 135). This is called the second martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. His disciples had buried his body at Sebaste, a city in Palestine…and many miracles had occurred at his tomb (cf. Voragine 135). “For this reason the pagans, by order of Julian the Apostate, scattered his bones, but the miracles did not cease, and the bones were collected, burned, and pulverized, and the ashes thrown to the winds to be blown over the fields…” (135). On the day when the bones were collected to be burned, some monks from Jerusalem secretly mingled with the pagans and carried out many of the relics, saving them from destruction. They delivered these to Philip, bishop of Jerusalem, who sent them to Anastasius, the bishop of Alexandria. During the Crusades, many of them were brought into the West and distributed among many churches.

The third event commemorated on this feast is the finding of the head of St. John the Baptist which happened on this day. It is said that when John was beheaded, Herodias had John’s head taken to Jerusalem to be buried because “she feared that the prophet would return to life if his head was buried with his body. Four hundred years later some monks took the head to venerate it in a more proper place. It was stolen and hidden in a cave. The man who stole it revealed on his deathbed where it was, but the hiding place was kept secret for a long time. Many years later, a holy monk, St. Marcellus, had taken up residence in this cave. It was revealed to him where the head was hidden. The head was then enshrined in a beautiful church in Poitiers in France.

The fourth event is the translation of one of St. John’s fingers and the dedication of a church. The finger with which he pointed to the Lord, could not be burned. The finger made its way to Normandy, France where a church was built in honor of St. John the Baptist. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Why Ad Orientem? A Short Video Explanation

Here's an instructive video, with this description on You Tube:

Published on Jul 25, 2014
One of the most obvious differences between the Old Rite of Mass and the Novus Ordo is the direction in which the priest faces.

Worship 'ad orientem', or facing East, is an ancient practice going back to the earliest centuries of the Church. Criticised by advocates of the New Mass as 'the priest turning his back to the people', it is nothing of the sort. Quite the reverse, in fact, it unites priest and people in a deep and spiritual way unheard of in most Novus Ordo celebrations.

Here Dr Joseph Shaw explains the ancient roots of Mass facing East, its theological and spiritual symbolism, and why arguments claiming that Mass facing the people was the practice in the early Church are totally spurious.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Fr. Andersen Homily: Becoming New Through Confession and the Eucharist

Homily for Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

Fr. Eric M. Andersen
August 2nd, 2015
St. Stephen Catholic Church

Dominica XVIII Per Annum, Anno B

  The philosophers and scientists of Ancient Greece and Rome had incredible intellects: Socrates, Plato, & Aristotle––to name a few. God gave them their intellect as He gives it to all of us. Man can achieve amazing things through the use of his God-given genius. It might sometimes seem like nothing is beyond what man can achieve through science. We turn to science to unlock the mysteries of creation and to reveal the truth. Science is always progressing. Truth however, does not progress. Truth was truth in the beginning, is now, and it ever shall be truth. 
  The great men of antiquity discovered and passed on to us the fruits of their inquiry by the natural use of their minds. Yet, as great as they were, these great men of science from pagan antiquity represent the old man, about which St. Paul writes. The old man has much to commend him. The natural state of man is pretty amazing, by God’s design; but it pales in comparison with the supernatural state of man––also by God’s design. Who, then, is the new man? If the old man is one in his natural state, the new man is one in a supernatural state, elevated by God with sanctifying grace. St. Paul teaches us that we are to put off the old man and put on the new man. 
  St. Thomas writes: “The substance of human nature is not to be rejected or despoiled, but only wicked actions and conduct” (Aquinas. Commentary on Ephesians. C.4 L.7 §241). First, we must be renewed in the spirit of our mind, which refers to our rational spirit. Here is a good example of how pagan antiquity got it right, but not fully. Aristotle observed that human beings are distinguished above all other creatures by their rational intellectual souls. St. Thomas Aquinas is famous for christianizing the philosophy of Aristotle. St. Thomas corrected it based upon his own intellect having been elevated by means of sanctifying grace. Aristotle represents the old man; St. Thomas represents the new man of grace.   

  The ancient Greek and Roman philosophers sought truth, and by the natural use of their reason, they came close. They discovered some truth, but not the fullness of truth. The fullness of truth cannot be discovered by unaided reason. God assists the new man by elevating his intellect by grace through faith. Faith and reason must accompany one another to arrive at a higher truth which must be revealed by God.
  Likewise, Plato and Aristotle, by the natural use of their reason arrived at the truth of monotheism (one God), but they could not arrive at the truth that there is one God in three persons. Unaided reason cannot arrive at that. It must be revealed by God and received with the help of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of knowledge and understanding. 
  Now, I must clarify something. Earlier I spoke of the old man who is natural and the new man who is supernatural. I need to clarify: The true order of nature is the state of original justice, like Adam and Eve before the fall. What we refer to as nature today is fallen nature. The true natural state is restored in us by God in the sacrament of Baptism. God gives us new life, as the new man, by placing His Holy Spirit within us by means of the sacramental life. He tells us “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven…who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (Jn. 6:34). And then the clincher: “I AM the bread of life.” 

  The Church takes this literally. I AM is the name of God given to Moses. Jesus not only identifies that He is God––the very same God revealed to Moses––but He also identifies Himself with a bread from heaven that is greater than the miraculous manna given in the desert. The Manna was miraculous. This bread, however, is not just miraculous, it is even more. This bread from heaven is the Holy Eucharist that we celebrate in this and every Mass. The old man cannot understand this by the unaided use of his reason. We must put off the old man and put on the new man in order to understand what Jesus is saying. We must receive it with the help of the Holy Spirit who elevates our intellect to understand it. 
  But what if I doubt? Am I lacking faith? Is it a sin to doubt? Is it my fault that I doubt? These are good questions. Doubt can be a temptation. What happens when we entertain thoughts that are temptations? We risk giving into the temptation. When that happens, we become like the old man again. Do not despair. Take it to Confession. Confess that you struggle with doubt. Give it over to God. He will renew and refresh each of us as new men, as new women, putting off the old man of doubt. St. Paul says, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” In Confession, the Holy Spirit renews our minds and infuses our souls with the supernatural virtue of faith to combat doubt. God will help us, but we must cooperate with Him. 
  By our cooperation with Him––as new men, as new women––we can far exceed in faith what the most brilliant men of old acquired by unaided reason. We may not become geniuses in the eyes of the world when it comes to science, but being renewed in the Spirit, we will come to know the mind of God and to share in His knowledge. We will look upon the Sacred Host in adoration, understanding deeply in our souls that the Eucharist is not just a piece of bread, not just a symbol, but in reality, the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ who is the Almighty and Eternal God. That’s pretty incredible! Now, imagine what the most brilliant of scientific minds could achieve in our day in a habitual state of sanctifying grace through regular confession and worthy reception of Holy Communion. Now, imagine what each of us could achieve in our day in a habitual state of sanctifying grace through regular confession and worthy reception of Holy Communion. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Feast of St. Martha, Virgin

From the Office of Matins:

Martha was the daughter of noble and wealthy parents, but is best known as having been the hostess of the Lord Christ. After that He was ascended into heaven, Martha, along with her brother Lazarus, her sister Mary Magdalene, her waiting-woman Marcella, Maximin, who was one of the seventy-two disciples of the Lord Christ, and who had baptized the whole of the family, and many other Christians, was taken by the Jews, and turned adrift upon the open sea in a ship without sail or oars, to meet with certain wreck, but by the governance of God the ship came to land at Marseilles with all safe.

Through this miracle and the preaching of the Saints, the people of Marseilles first, and then those of Aix, and of the uttermost tribes, believed in Christ, and Lazarus was made Bishop of Marseilles, and Maximin Bishop of Aix. Mary Magdalene sat still at Jesus' Feet, being altogether given to prayer and the contemplation of heavenly blessedness, that that good part which she had chosen might not be taken away from her, withdrew herself to a great cave in an exceeding high mountain, where she lived for thirty years, utterly cut off from all conversation with men, and every day during that time carried up by Angels into the air, to listen to them that dwell in heaven praising God.

Martha, by the wondrous holiness and charity of her life, drew upon herself the love and wonder of all the inhabitants of Marseilles. She withdrew herself in company with some other honourable women into a place out of the way of men, where she lived long, with great praise for godliness and discretion. She foretold her own death long before, and at last, illustrious for miracles, passed away to be ever with the Lord, upon the 29th day of July. Her body is held in great worship at Tarascon.

Commentary on the Gospel for this Feast

From the Holy Gospel according to Luke
Luke 10:38-42
At that time: Jesus entered into a certain village, and a certain woman, named Martha, received Him into her house. And so on.

Homily by St Austin, Bishop of Hippo.
26th upon the Words of the Lord.
The words of our Lord Jesus Christ which have just been read from the Gospel, give us to wit that there is one thing toward the which we are making our way, all the while that we are striving amid the divers cares of this world. Thitherward we make our way, while we are still strangers and pilgrims, unpossessed as yet of any abiding city, still on the journey, not yet come home, still hoping, not yet enjoying. Still thitherward let us make our way, not slothfully nor by fits and starts, but so that some day we may arrive thither. Martha and Mary were sisters, not in the flesh only, but also in godliness; together, they clave unto the Lord; together, with one heart they served the Lord present in the Flesh.

Martha received Him into her house. It was just as strangers are received, but it was the handmaiden receiving her Lord, the sick receiving her Saviour, the creature receiving her Creator. She received Him, to give bodily meat unto Him by Whom she herself was to be fed unto eternal life. It had been the Lord's will to take upon Him the form of a servant, to be fed by servants, (still out of His good pleasure, not of necessity,) and in that form of a servant which He had taken upon Him. This was His good pleasure, to offer Himself as a subject for hospitality. He had Flesh, wherein He was sometimes hungered and thirsty, but know ye not how that, when He was in the desert and was an-hungered, angels came and ministered unto Him. Himself it was therefore, That gave unto them of whom He was fain to be fed, the wherewithal. And what wonder is this if we consider how that holy Elijah, coming from being fed by the ministry of ravens, asked bread of the widow of Zarephath, and himself gave her the wherewithal to feed him? Had God failed to feed Elijah when He sent him unto the widow? God forbid. He did so that He might bless that godly widow for a service rendered unto His servant.

Thus was that same Lord received as a guest, Who came unto His own, and His own received Him not, but as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, adopting servants and making them children, redeeming prisoners and appointing them coheirs. Perchance some of you will say: O how blessed were they who were worthy to receive Christ as a guest into their own home! but mourn not, neither murmur, for that thou hast been born in an age wherein thou canst no more see Christ in the flesh. He hath not put the honour of receiving Him beyond thy reach. Inasmuch, saith He, as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me. The above remarks have occurred to me regarding the Lord considered as fed in the flesh, and I shall now touch briefly, as time permits, upon the Same, considered as the Feeder of the soul.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Save the Liturgy, Save the Large Family

The theme for Natural Family Planning Week 2015 is July 19-25, 2015 is “NFP Awareness Week”. Although the USCCB intends this to be a week of promotion of NFP, this post presents the other side of the issue, and makes a point concerning the importance of the liturgy as it influences how we choose to live our lives.

An NFP-teaching couple once made the following comment:

My husband and I are NFP teachers, and we do the "sex talk" at the marriage prep our cluster hosts every spring. We work hard to put forth the essence of the Church's teaching in the 45 minutes given to us. We also think carefully about how we present ourselves verbally and physically in an attempt to make Catholic Large Family life attractive. (we have 7 children so far).

This is what it looks like in the trenches (at least in the Northeast). One or 2 couples out of 30 in these prep classes have an understanding of Church teaching. Most are openly living together and contracepting. Even those who go to Mass every weekend are often introduced to the reasons behind the teaching against contraception for the first time at our session!...

It is a fact that most couples – even Catholics – live together and/or are having sex before marriage, and often they are using contraception. Bishops, priests, and the laity are all quite aware of this.

And why are people living this way?  Consider this possibility:

Historically, right around the time of Humanae Vitae and Roe v. Wade, Catholics had also been introduced to the Novus Ordo, and they were being shown that it was acceptable to tamper with the liturgy, to make it “more relevant”, to not follow the rubrics. What would this tell them about the Church? It would suggest that if we may interpret the “source and summit” the way we want to, then surely we may interpret other Church teaching that way, too. And it would suggest that surely we should be living contemporary lives; maybe the Church is just behind the times on this contraception thing. We’ve got to help her along and make the change ourselves so that the Church will be more relevant to others.

Now, if we are free to re-write liturgical rules for the Mass, why should we not be free to form our consciences according to moral relativism? And this is what happened.

Dissident theologians and priests, aided and abetted by silent bishops (and some vocal ones, as well), led the faithful astray by blatantly asserting that disobedience was the order of the day when it came to Humanae Vitae’s affirmation of the Church’s ban on contraception.

The changes in the Mass took away some of the mystery that had been there previously, including the mystery of the Eucharist. Belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has declined precipitously since Vatican II. Reverence at the typical Novus Ordo Mass has declined compared to what it was (and still is) in the extraordinary form. The number of religious vocations has declined. The number of children born to Catholic families has declined. It seems unlikely that all these things are unrelated.

The liturgy has suffered in its redefinition and revision; and our faith has suffered because of that: lex orandi, lex credendi.

The innovations and modifications that resulted in a weakening of the sense of reverence that was previously shown for the Eucharist include:
  • receiving Holy Communion in the hand instead of on the tongue (which diminishes the sense of the Real Presence of Christ);
  • allowing lay “ministers” to handle the Eucharist (creating a false sense of our “equality” with priests and therefore with Jesus);
  • renovations that lower the sanctuary to the level of the people;
  • removing “barriers” (like communion rails) between the people and the sanctuary;
  • having the priest face the people as if he is a talk-show host; de-emphasizing the altar as a place of sacrifice and over-emphasizing the concept of Mass as a shared meal;
  • introducing popular music as a replacement for Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.

Likewise, our sense of the mystery, beauty, and inherent dignity of life – from conception to natural end, and even of life that has not yet been conceived – has been compromised by the innovations, modifications, and revelations of science. While scientific advances themselves have the potential to increase our sense of reverence for life, they can also be used for evil: the capability of creating a new human being outside the womb; the advances in fertility treatment that result in “extra” babies being aborted; the use of human embryos to harvest stem cells for research. All of these things give us the sense that we mere creatures have become Creators, able to “create” (and destroy) life at our own whim; able to regulate the health and genetic soundness of that life; and able to “create” or “not create” that life as we see fit – as if life is just another commodity or resource we must learn to exploit to our advantage.

To recap: After Vatican II, the liturgy changed…dramatically: Less reverence…less respect…fewer “absolutes”. After Vatican II, Humanae Vitae confirmed the Church’s perennial teaching against contraception, but dissident theologians and clergy encouraged dissent and rebellion against that teaching: Less reverence for life…less respect for large families…fewer “absolutes”.

People saw that the Church could change the liturgy; why couldn’t the Church change the teaching on contraception? And why didn’t She?! If the stodgy old men in Rome won’t make the Church more “contemporary”, the faithful must do it themselves…right?!

So the Catholic faithful were taught to follow their consciences with regard to birth control, and many of them chose illicit contraception. Family size decreased. The vocations “crisis” ensued. Etc.

Interestingly, if you find a group of people who attend the EF Mass regularly, you will often find large families. While correlation does not imply causation, it’s worth a try: if we return to the reverence and mystery and awe of the EF Mass, perhaps we can recover the sense of reverence and mystery and awe of life that leads couples to embrace the concept of not limiting the number of children they will accept from God.

Save the liturgy, save the large family.

But instead, for now, NFP has been called in to save the day. The commenter mentioned above added:

But in defense of NFP teachers, we need to meet people where they are before we hit them with the deeper issues behind Catholic teaching. “Hmmm, NFP might work for us...” is a more possible step than “I need to get off contraception and be open to life!” Though I have seen this happen too, happily!

There is some truth to this statement, too: Our bishops and priests have neglected to talk about the evil of contraception for over 40 years now. To counteract contraceptive use, the USCCB calls for NFP programs in every diocese; NFP teachers have to deal with the contraceptive mentality of today’s culture, which has infected an overwhelming proportion of Catholics.

And why does the USCCB call for NFP programs? It’s not because NFP is a good thing. It’s because unrestrained use of NFP is a lesser sin than the use of illicit contraception. The teaching of NFP is promoted because “if we don’t teach them NFP, they’ll use contraception.”

That may well be true. The illicit use of NFP is to be preferred over the use of illicit contraception (it is permitted to choose a lesser evil over a greater evil)…but only if there is no other option.

There is another option in this case, though: Teach the evil of contraception. Teach the need for “serious reasons” to avoid procreation. Teach the sanctity and value of life – the blessings and joys – and yes, the sacrifices – of large families.

Teach the Truth.

And follow the thread back to the source: restore to the liturgy the dignity, reverence, and devotion that is proper to the worship of God – who is, after all, the Author of Life.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Angels, Demons, and Healing: Fr. Eric Andersen

This is Fr. Eric Andersen's homily for Sunday, July 12, 2015, taken from his Face Book page.

Fr. Eric M. Andersen
St. Stephen Catholic Church
July 12th, 2015

Dominica XV Per Annum, Anno B

“The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them."

  When God created the heavens and all things invisible, He created the angels. St. Paul writes (elsewhere in the scriptures) about thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers (Col. 1:16); elsewhere again about the virtues (Eph 1:21); angels (Heb. ch.1), archangels (1 Thess. 4:15), and cherubim (Heb. 9:5). The scriptures give us one other type of angel called seraphim (Is. 6:2). That makes nine different ranks or choirs of angels. Each of these nine choirs of angels are hierarchically ordered. We acknowledge that each of the various hierarchies exercise different offices, some higher and some lower. In order to learn about the science of angelology, we can look to one of the Church Fathers named Dionysius the Areopagite in his work, “The Celestial Hierarchy.” We can also look to St. Thomas Aquinas. 
  St. Thomas, keeping with Dionysius the Areopagite, “divides the angels into three hierarchies each of which contains three orders.” So, there are three sets of three. They are ranked and ordered according to their proximity to the God: The Supreme Being. “In the first hierarchy he places the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones; in the second, the Dominations, Virtues, and Powers; in the third, the Principalities, Archangels, and Angels”(cf. Pope, Hugh. "Angels." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. pg. 478 (column II). 11 Jul. 2015 <>.). 
  Venerable Prosper Gueranger writes that “It is from the lowest of the nine choirs, the nearest to ourselves, that the Guardian Angels are for the most part selected” (The Liturgical Year. Vol. XIV. Feast of the Guardian Angels). By this he is saying that the guardian angels may be called from among the other choirs of angels, but principally from among the lowest choir which are called angels. Other angelologists (cf. “Our Guardian Angel” available from Opus Sanctorum Angelorum. teach that our guardian angels are assigned to us from among all nine choirs of angels according to our needs, our talents, and our personality. To understand this, let’s look back at each of the nine choirs of angels to see what each of them do. Venerable Prosper Gueranger continues:
“God reserves to the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones the honour of following His Own immediate court. The Dominations, from the steps of His throne, preside over the government of the universe; the Virtues watch over the course of nature's laws, the preservation of species, and the movements of the heavens; the Powers hold the spirits of wickedness in subjection. The human race in its entirety, as also its great social bodies, the nations and the churches, are confided to the Principalities; while the Archangels, who preside over smaller communities, seem also to have the office of transmitting to the Angels the commands of God, together with the love and light which come down even to us from the first and highest hierarchy.” (The Liturgical Year. Vol. XIV. Feast of the Guardian Angels).
Each of us has a holy guardian angel. That holy angel will have been taken from among these nine choirs of angels and during the time of our life on earth, that angel will serve us and guard and protect us. He will encourage us to virtue and holiness. But there are other angels who are not holy. These angels seek to discourage us and tempt us to turn from God. 
  In the beginning, there was an angel from among the highest choir––the seraphim––who refused to stoop to serve a mere man. He said, Non serviam!  “I will not serve,” and by those words, he fell taking with him a third of the angels. Our Lord tells us elsewhere that He watched satan fall like lightening from heaven. Those angels spend their time prowling about the earth for the ruin of souls. We can call them fallen angels or demons. 
  So there are holy angels who encourage us and demons who discourage us. This is nothing to squirm about. Each of us encounters temptation every day of one sort or another. It is common to refer to a temptation as a demon or a spirit. For instance, if one is tempted to doubt a truth of the faith, one could acknowledge the doubt itself to be a spirit. It is the spirit of doubt that tempts one to doubt God. There is a spirit of jealousy, a spirit of unforgiveness, a spirit of self-pity, a spirit of sloth, pride, lust, etc. We can just as well call them spirits as we do demons. 
  When the gospel says that “The Twelve drove out many demons” this is the context. Some are more afflicted by demons than others. The Twelve drove out demons from those who were possessed, those who were oppressed, those who were obsessed, those who were harassed, and from those who were merely fighting normal temptations. This must happen before a person can be healed by anointing. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is referred to as a Sacrament for the living. The Church acknowledges that among the seven sacraments there are two sacraments of the dead and five sacraments of the living. The sacraments of the dead are baptism and penance: “sacraments of the dead aim to give sanctifying grace to one spiritually dead through sin” (LaRavoire Morrow, My Catholic Faith, pg. 251). “Sacraments of the living are those that may be received only by one living in the state of grace” (ibid.). 
  So first we must be given life; then that life may be healed. In the gospel, the Twelve first drove out the demons, then they anointed the sick and cured them. We see this in the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, aka., the Anointing of the Sick. One must be living in order to receive the healing grace of the Sacrament of Anointing. It is a sacrament of the living in order to prepare for a holy death which leads one to eternal life.
  The Council of Trent teaches us that the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, aka the Anointing of the Sick, is the completion of the Sacrament of Penance. Many are under the mistaken belief that the Anointing of the Sick forgives one’s sins. That is not true unless one is unconscious or unable to confess due to illness which would prevent it. In that case, the sacrament supplies the grace for the forgiveness of sins provided that one intends to confess. But ordinarily, as long as one is able to confess, then one must confess sacramentally to a priest first, and then receive the anointing as the completion of the Sacrament of Penance.
  Good health is not only physical, but also spiritual, mental, and emotional. When we are in a state of sanctifying grace, the Holy Spirit fills our souls and we are truly alive and we are truly healthy. We receive this health when we get rid of the spirits of anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, jealousy, self-righteousness, pride, lust, etc., in the sacrament of Penance. We make a good confession and ask God to banish all of these spirits, these vices and sins in the name of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit then comes to fill our souls. This is what our holy guardian angels will constantly encourage us to do. The fallen angels will constantly try to discourage us and fill us with fear and anxiety about going to Confession. They know that Confession will give us peace, and health, and eternal life. Our enemies prowl about the earth seeking the ruin of souls by spreading anxiety, sickness and death.
  Let us not listen to the voices of the fallen angels. Let us listen to the voices of the holy angels: our holy guardian angel, the holy archangel of this parish, the holy principality of this archdiocese and of this nation. But in order to hear the voices of the holy angels, we must listen. We must pray and we must have silence in our life. The demons will try to fill our ears and our eyes with noise and distractions. At the grocery store, we are bombarded with tabloids celebrating vice and scandal. Where will we hear the encouraging message of holiness, purity, and virtue if we do not listen to our guardian angels?  We must listen and we must repeat what they say to us. We must also be the voices of our guardian angels to the rest of the world. We must counter the messages of vice and scandal by our good example of living well and encouraging others to seek truth, goodness, beauty, and to live lives of virtue and holiness. We must be the voice of such things in this world because nobody else is going to do it. If the Church does not speak up, and if Christians do not encourage one another, then who will speak out against the evils of the world?
  Let us first confess our sins and ask Jesus Christ to drive out the demons so that we can be healed. Let us listen to our own guardian angels, and then be as guardian angels to one another and to the world, repeating their holy words of encouragement. Let us seek to counter the voices of discouragement and offer the hope of healing to a wounded world.   

Friday, July 10, 2015

Another Summary of Why to Attend the EF Mass

Be sure to read this article by Peter Kwasniewski and Michael Foley in its entirety here.

Here's an excerpt from the conclusion:

In sum, the classical Roman Rite is an ambassador of tradition, a midwife for the interior man, a lifelong tutor in the faith, a school of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication, an absolutely reliable rock of stability on which we can confidently build our spiritual lives.
As the movement for the restoration of the Church’s sacred liturgy is growing and gaining momentum, now is not a time for discouragement or second thoughts; it is a time for a joyful and serene embrace of all the treasures our Church has in store for us, in spite of the shortsightedness of some of her current pastors and the ignorance (usually not their own fault) of many of the faithful. This is a renewal that must happen if the Church is to survive the coming perils.
 Click here for the full article.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

We Are Obliged to Speak the Truth: Fr. Eric Andersen

Homily for Sunday, June 5th, 2015
Fr. Eric M. Andersen
St. Stephen’s Catholic Church
July 5th, 2015

Dominica XIV Per Annum, Anno B

  Our Blessed Lord went into His own country, i.e., Nazareth. He had grown up there. It was the hometown of St. Joseph who brought Mary up from Jerusalem to be his bride and settle down in Nazareth. After the Holy Family returned from Egypt, Jesus spent his mid-childhood up through his young adult life there, working side by side with St. Joseph. We look in upon the continuation of the Gospel today in the midst of Jesus’ public ministry. He returns to his own country, and His disciples follow Him. He teaches with wisdom and the people are offended by Him. Why are they offended? Let’s look back in time to see the origin of this scandal. 
  We know very little about the childhood of Jesus from the Gospels. We know that the Holy Family spent some time in Egypt and then returned to Nazareth by way of Jerusalem. We also know that at the age of 12, the Lord stayed behind in Jerusalem and conversed with the doctors of the Law in the Temple. At this young age, He manifested exceptional wisdom. Did the word of this get out? Did the people of Nazareth know about this child’s wisdom? We cannot say. But here we encounter Him as an adult manifesting His wisdom again. The people at the synagogue in His own hometown remark: “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!” 

 Wisdom and mighty works! Certainly, they should expect fine works wrought by His hands. After all, they remark that He is the carpenter. In Latin, the word used is faber. We might recognize this word in the English word ‘fabricator.’ He fabricated, or made things. So Jesus was recognized by his hometown citizens as a maker of things. Pseudo-Jerome comments: “Jesus is called the son of a workman, of that one, however, whose work was the morning and the sun…” (Catena Aurea). The allusion here is that the people are right in that He is a maker of things, but they do not realize the full impact in that through Him all things were made. Their eyes are covered with a veil and it has not yet been given them to see the fullness of that truth. They are, therefore, offended by Him. 
 Pseudo-Jerome comments: “Oftentimes…the origin of a man brings him contempt” (Catena). Any priest knows this. It is difficult for a priest to preach to his own family and to his childhood friends: they know him too well. Another early commentator by the name of Theophylact writes: “Or again, if the prophet has noble relations, his countrymen hate them and on that account do not honor the prophet” (Catena). Even if his relatives are not noble; in his own hometown, it is likely that someone will know his relatives, whether they like them or not–– and, on that account, they may dismiss what he has to say. But what the people often do not consider is that the words spoken by the priest, or the prophet (and in this case, the Lord Himself) are not His own words. He is speaking the words of the Father who has sent Him to speak to a hardhearted and rebellious people, as the prophet Ezekiel was sent to do. 
We might place ourselves in this same predicament! Can we not identify with the prophet Ezekiel who wrote: ‘And the spirit entered into me after he spoke to me, and he set me upon my feet: and I heard him speaking to me. And saying, Son of man, I send you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious people, that have revolted against me, they and their fathers, have transgressed my covenant even to this day” (Ez 2:2-3). How many times have we sat with friends or relatives who no longer practice their faith and get into unexpected debates over things we take for granted? We enter the conversation thinking that we are on the same page, and then we hear a comment like, “Do you really still believe all that stuff?” or “I gave up believing all that years ago.” This can be heartbreaking, and yet in that very situation, we are called to be like Ezekiel, but even more so, because through the sacraments, we are conformed to Christ. 
  We too have been given the Holy Spirit, but in a greater way than Ezekiel and the prophets who only received that charism to accomplish the work of God as prophets. We receive the Holy Spirit through the sacramental life to dwell in our souls. That is what we call sanctifying grace. And when we are in a state of sanctifying grace, the Holy Spirit elevates our intellects to an understanding of divine wisdom. Sanctifying Grace prompts us to conform our wills to the will of the Almighty Father. We are given an infusion of the virtue of Faith to help us to belief all that God has revealed. We do not summon up that faith on our own. It is infused into us, and through sanctifying grace, we are able to assent to things that are beyond our natural capacity and our natural understanding. When we are filled with faith, we encounter rebellious people. We might think it is a coincidence, but we are sent to them, or perhaps they are sent to us so that we might exercise our vocation to speak the truth of divine wisdom. When we are baptized, we are anointed on the crown of our head and we enter into a participation with Christ in his threefold office of Priest, Prophet, and King. Today we speak particularly about that office of prophet. We participate in that prophetic office by speaking the objective truth of the Catholic faith in love. This is the truth that is not our subjective truth, but objective Truth who is Jesus Christ Himself. We speak His words of divine wisdom but we leave the mighty works to Him.

  During those times when we sit with relatives or friends who disagree with our Catholic faith, we can recall those words spoken to the prophet Ezekiel: “I am sending you to…a rebellious people, that have revolted against me (and)…have transgressed my covenant.” The pitfall, or danger here is that we might get distracted by pride. In this situation, we must remember that we are no better than them. It is not to our credit that we have the gift of faith and they do not. It is a gift from God. But because we have the gift of faith, we are obliged to speak the objective truth of that faith to those who are hard of heart. We might dread such a thing because our relatives may refuse to listen to us. After all, they know our origin. They know our relatives. But that is not the point. Even if they do not listen to us, we still must speak the truth in love. That is a manifestation of the Lord’s wisdom. They may reject that divine wisdom. We have no control over that. We are not to be judged by God based upon whether or not people heeded our words. We will be asked whether we spoke the truth of the faith without hesitation or embarrassment. 

  Perhaps our Catholic faith in its integrity will provoke others to take offense at us. That can be a real cross. It is a sorrow to be rejected by others, but in that sorrow, we are truly one with Jesus Christ because it is He whom they reject. We must remember that when others reject our Catholic Faith, they are not rejecting us, they are rejecting Him who sent us. We share in His rejection and we enter into the wounds of His Sacred Heart, pierced and rejected by the indifference of men towards His unfathomable love for them. Let us not worry about performing any mighty deeds, but in docility, we allow God to be Almighty. He will perform mighty deeds where He sees fit to do so. Let us merely persevere as we are sent to lovingly speak the truth of divine wisdom even to those who will reject us.