Monday, December 31, 2012
According to Nicolas Carr who wrote a book on the subject, too many external distractions inhibit concentration and contemplation. Thought becomes disjointed and shallow.
He reports, “A series of psychological studies over the past twenty years has revealed that after spending time in a quiet rural setting, close to nature, people exhibit greater attentiveness, stronger memory, and generally improved cognition. Their brains become calmer and sharper” (Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2010, p. 219).
Carr claims such calm environments allow the brain to relax and ponder matters, thus restoring attention and depth to thought. The human brain is not made to process information like a computer. It needs to put things into context and make relationships that give meaning and purpose to life.
Such conclusions are, of course, logical and even obvious. However, so many people simply do not take the time to consider these conclusions — until some scientific study gives them some kind of validity. Fewer take the time to implement the consequences that can be drawn from these conclusions since it would mean great effort and a rejection of much of today’s fast paced culture.
Return to Order: From A Frenzied Economy to An Organic Christian Society – Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go (Hard Cover)
In the ground-breaking book, Return to Order, John Horvat II explains the root cause of our shaken economic order is a moral crisis that manifests itself in the economy. Backed by nearly twenty years of research, Mr. Horvat offers an inspiring and hopeful path to reverse our crisis and offer solutions for the future.
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If You Cannot Come
In Person To The March For Life
In Washington, DC, We’ll March For You…
Just go here
and enter your name.
I’ll add it to our banner and we’ll carry it for you.
If you can’t make it to the National March For Life in Washington, D.C., on January 25th, then we’ll march for you.
Just enter your name on this page. And I’ll have it printed onto our banner and carry it down Pennsylvania Avenue for you just like we did last year…(IMPORTANT NOTE: to have time to organize and print the names on this year’s banner, we must insist on a submission deadline of 8 AM, Monday, Jan. 21)
Two ANF “daughters" carrying your names down
Pennsylvania Ave in the 2012 March For Life.
See, this way you will be marching in spirit. You will be part of the more than 300,000 pro-lifers marching in our nation’s capital, making an incredible statement to our political leaders in defense of the innocent unborn.
With an added benefit…
- Since the mainstream liberal media almost always ignores the March For Life, I’ll cover it for you. And then, after the March, we will send you pictures of the banner with your name on it being carried in the March, and
- we will place the banner on our site as a PDF, and send you the link, and you can pull up the PDF, and find your name on the banner by just holding down the ‘control’ key and tapping the ‘f’ key (ctrl + F).
MFL 2012: over 40 Minutes in front of Supreme Court
with prayers and slogans on your behalf
That way, your name on our banner becomes a big morale booster. Because people at the March will see your name and the thousands of names from all across the world “marching” right next to them.
So please say…
It will be an honor to march for you, for the unborn, for the future of America. God bless!
Reuters: Thousands of Dutch Catholics are researching how they can leave the church in protest at its opposition to homosexual “marriage”, according to the creator of a website aimed at helping them find the information.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
David playing the harp before King Saul
In the Bible the name David is borne only by the second king of Israel, the great-grandson of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth, iv, 18 sqq.). He was the youngest of the eight sons of Isai, or Jesse (I Kings, xvi, 8; cf. I Par., ii, 13), a small proprietor, of the tribe of Juda, dwelling at Bethlehem, where David was born. Our knowledge of David’s life and character is derived exclusively from the pages of Sacred Scripture, viz., I K., xvi; III K., ii; I Par., ii, iii, x-xxix; Ruth, iv, 18-22, and the titles of many Psalms. According to the usual chronology, David was born in 1085 and reigned from 1055 to 1015 B.C. Recent writers have been induced by the Assyrian inscriptions to date his reign from 30 to 50 years later. Within the limits imposed it is impossible to give more than a bare outline of the events of his life and a brief estimate of his character and his significance in the history of the chosen people, as king, psalmist, prophet, and type of the Messias.
The history of David falls naturally into three periods: (1) before his elevation to the throne; (2) his reign, at Hebron over Juda, and at Jerusalem over all Israel, until his sin; (3) his sin and last years. He first appears in sacred history as a shepherd lad, tending his father’s flocks in the fields near Bethlehem, “ruddy and beautiful to behold and of a comely face”. Samuel, the Prophet and last of the judges, had been sent to anoint him in place of Saul, whom God had rejected for disobedience. The relations of David do not seem to have recognized the significance of this unction, which marked him as the successor to the throne after the death of Saul.
The Triumph of David. Young David holds the impaled head of the Philistine giant, Goliath, and marches in front of King Saul, who is riding a white horse.
During a period of illness, when the evil spirit troubled Saul, David was brought to court to soothe the king by playing on the harp. He earned the gratitude of Saul and was made an armour-bearer, but his stay at court was brief. Not long afterwards, whilst his three elder brothers were in the field, fighting under Saul against the Philistines, David was sent to the camp with some provisions and presents; there he heard the words in which the giant, Goliath of Geth, defied all Israel to single combat, and he volunteered with God’s help to slay the Philistine. His victory over Goliath brought about the rout of the enemy. Saul’s questions to Abner at this time seem to imply that he had never seen David before, though, as we have seen, David had already been at court. Various conjectures have been made to explain this difficulty. As the passage which suggests a contradiction in the Hebrew text is omitted by Septuagint codices, some authors have accepted the Greek text in preference to the Hebrew. Others suppose that the order of the narratives has become confused in our present Hebrew text. A simpler and more likely solution maintains that on the second occasion Saul asked Abner only about the family of David and about his earlier life. Previously he had given the matter no attention.
David’s victory over Goliath won for him the tender friendship of Jonathan, the son of Saul. He obtained a permanent position at court, but his great popularity and the imprudent songs of the women excited the jealousy of the king, who on two occasions attempted to kill him. As captain of a thousand men, he encountered new dangers to win the hand of Merob, Saul’s eldest daughter, but, in spite of the king’s promise, she was given to Hadriel. Michol, Saul’s other daughter, loved David, and, in the hope that the latter might be killed by the Philistines, her father promised to give her in marriage, provided David should slay one hundred Philistines. David succeeded and married Michol. This success, however, made Saul fear the more and finally induced him to order that David should be killed. Through the intervention of Jonathan he was spared for a time, but Saul’s hatred finally obliged him to flee from the court.
Saul Attacking David. Painting by Guercino
First he went to Ramatha and thence, with Samuel, to Naioth. Saul’s further attempts to murder him were frustrated by God’s direct interposition. An interview with Jonathan convinced him that reconciliation with Saul was impossible, and for the rest of the reign he was an exile and an outlaw. At Nobe, whither he proceeded, David and his companions were harboured by the priest Achimelech, who was afterwards accused of conspiracy and put to death with his fellow-priests. From Nobe David went to the court of Achis, king of Geth, where he escaped death by feigning madness. On his return he became the head of a band of about four hundred men, some of them his relations, others distressed debtors and malcontents, who gathered at the cave, or stronghold, of Odollam (Adullam). Not long after their number was reckoned at six hundred. David delivered the city of Ceila from the Philistines, but was again obliged to flee from Saul. His next abode was the wilderness of Ziph, made memorable by the visit of Jonathan and by the treachery of the Ziphites, who sent word to the king. David was saved from capture by the recall of Saul to repel an attack of the Philistines. In the deserts of Engaddi he was again in great danger, but when Saul was at his mercy, he generously spared his life. The adventure with Nabal, David’s marriage with Abigail, and a second refusal to slay Saul were followed by David’s decision to offer his serves to Achis of Geth and thus put an end to Saul’s persecution. As a vassal of the Philistine king, he was set over the city of Siceleg, whence he made raids on the neighbouring tribes, wasting their lands and sparing neither man nor woman. By pretending that these expeditions were against his own people of Israel, he secured the favour of Achis. When, however, the Philistines prepared at Aphec to wage war against Saul, the other princes were unwilling to trust David, and he returned to Siceleg. During his absence it had been attacked by the Amalecites. David pursued them, destroyed their forces, and recovered all their booty. Meanwhile the fatal battle on Mount Gelboe (Gilboa) had taken place, in which Saul and Jonathan were slain. The touching elegy, preserved for us in II Kings, i, is David’s outburst of grief at their death.
By God’s command, David, who was now thirty years old, went up to Hebron to claim the kingly power. The men of Juda accepted him as king, and he was again anointed, solemnly and publicly. Through the influence of Abner, the rest of Israel remained faithful to Isboseth, the son of Saul. Abner attacked the forces of David, but was defeated at Gabaon. Civil war continued for some time, but David’s power was ever on the increase. At Hebron six sons were born to him: Amnon, Cheleab, Absalom, Adonias, Saphathia, and Jethraam. As the result of a quarrel with Isboseth, Abner made overtures to bring all Israel under the rule of David; he was, however, treacherously murdered by Joab without the king’s consent. Isboseth was murdered by two Benjamites, and David was accepted by all Israel and anointed king. His reign at Hebron over Juda alone had lasted seven years and a half.
Coronation of David
By his successful wars David succeeded in making Israel an independent state and causing his own name to be respected by all the surrounding nations. A notable exploit at the beginning of his reign was the conquest of the Jebusite city of Jerusalem, which he made the capital of his kingdom, “the city of David”, the political centre of the nation. He built a palace, took more wives and concubines, and begat other sons and daughters. Having cast off the yoke of the Philistines, he resolved to make Jerusalem the religious centre of his people by transporting the Ark of the Covenant (q.v.) from Cariathiarim. It was brought to Jerusalem and placed in the new tent constructed by the king. Later on, when he proposed to build a temple for it, he was told by the prophet Nathan, that God had reserved this task for his successor. In reward for his piety, the promise was made that God would build him up a house and establish his kingdom forever.
No detailed account has been preserved of the various wars undertaken by David; only some isolated facts are given. The war with the Ammonites is recorded more fully because, whilst his army was in the field during this campaign, David fell into the sins of adultery and murder, bringing thereby great calamities on himself and his people. He was then at the height of his power, a ruler respected by all the nations from the Euphrates to the Nile. After his sin with Bethsabee and the indirect assassination of Urias, her husband, David made her his wife. A year elapsed before his repentance for the sin, but his contrition was so sincere that God pardoned him, though at the same time announcing the severe penalties that were to follow. The spirit in which David accepted these penalties has made him for all time the model of penitents. The incest of Amnon and the fratricide of Absalom (q.v.) brought shame and sorrow to David. For three years Absalom remained in exile. When he was recalled, David kept him in disfavour for two years more and then restored him to his former dignity, without any sign of repentance. Vexed by his father’s treatment, Absalom devoted himself for the next four years to seducing the people and finally had himself proclaimed king at Hebron. David was taken by surprise and was forced to flee from Jerusalem. The circumstances of his flight are narrated in Scripture with great simplicity and pathos. Absalom’s disregard of the counsel of Achitophel and his consequent delay in the pursuit of the king made it possible for the latter to gather his forces and win a victory at Manahaim, where Absalom was killed. David returned in triumph to Jerusalem. A further rebellion under Seba at the Jordan was quickly suppressed.
King David, kneeling, praying to God. Jerusalem is in the background along with scenes from his life at the bottom.
At this point in the narrative of II Kings we read that “there was a famine in the days of David for three years successively”, in punishment for Saul’s sin against the Gabaonites. At their request seven of Saul’s race were delivered up to be crucified. It is not possible to fix the exact date of the famine. On other occasions David showed great compassion for the descendants of Saul, especially for Miphiboseth, the son of his friend Jonathan. After a brief mention of four expeditions against the Philistines, the sacred writer records a sin of pride on David’s part in his resolution to take a census of the people. As a penance for this sin, he was allowed to choose either a famine, an unsuccessful war, or pestilence. David chose the third and in three days 70,000 died. When the angel was about to strike Jerusalem, God was moved to pity and stayed the pestilence. David was commanded to offer sacrifice at the threshing-floor of Areuna, the site of the future temple.
The Prophet Nathan advises King David. Painting by Matthias Scheits
The last days of David were disturbed by the ambition of Adonias, whose plans for the succession were frustrated by Nathan, the prophet, and Bethsabee, the mother of Solomon. The son who was born after David’s repentance was chosen in preference to his older brothers. To make sure that Solomon would succeed to the throne, David had him publicly anointed. The last recorded words of the aged king are an exhortation to Solomon to be faithful to God, to reward loyal servants, and to punish the wicked. David died at the age of seventy, having reigned in Jerusalem thirty-three years. He was buried on Mount Sion. St. Peter spoke of his tomb as still in existence on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles (Acts, ii, 29). David is honoured by the Church as a saint. He is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology on 29 December.
The historical character of the narratives of David’s life has been attacked chiefly by writers who have disregarded the purpose of the narrator in I Par. He passes over those events that are not connected with the history of the Ark. In the Books of Kings all the chief events, good and bad, are narrated. The Bible records David’s sins and weaknesses without excuse or palliation, but it also records his repentance, his acts of virtue, his generosity towards Saul, his great faith, and his piety. Critics who have harshly criticized his character have not considered the difficult circumstances in which he lived or the manners of his age. It is uncritical and unscientific to exaggerate his faults or to imagine that the whole history is a series of myths. The life of David was an important epoch in the history of Israel. He was the real founder of the monarchy, the head of the dynasty. Chosen by God “as a man according to His own heart”, David was tried in the school of suffering during the days of exile and developed into a military leader of renown. To him was due the complete organization of the army. He gave Israel a capital, a court, a great centre of religious worship. The little band at Odollam became the nucleus of an efficient force. When he became King of all Israel there were 339,600 men under his command. At the census 1,300,000 were enumerated capable of bearing arms. A standing army, consisting of twelve corps, each 24,000 men, took turns in serving for a month at a time as the garrison of Jerusalem. The administration of his palace and his kingdom demanded a large retinue of servants and officials. Their various offices are set down in I Par., xxvii. The king himself exercised the office of judge, though Levites were later appointed for this purpose, as well as other minor officials.
When the Ark had been brought to Jerusalem, David undertook the organization of religious worship. The sacred functions were entrusted to 24,000 Levites; 6,000 of these were scribes and judges, 4000 were porters, and 4000 singers. He arranged the various parts of the ritual, allotting to each section its tasks. The priests were divided into twenty-four families; the musicians into twenty-four choirs. To Solomon had been reserved the privilege of building God’s house, but David made ample preparations for the work by amassing treasures and materials, as well as by transmitting to his son a plan for the building and all its details. We are told in I Par. how he exhorted his son Solomon to carry out this great work and made known to the assembled princes the extent of his preparations.
David playing the harp in from of the Arc. Painting by Viso Nicolò, part of the Artgate Cariplo Foundation.
The prominent part played by song and music in the worship of the temple, as arranged by David, is readily explained by his poetic and musical abilities. His skill in music is recorded in I Kings, xvi, 18 and Amos, vi, 5. Poems of his composition are found in II Kings, i, iii, xxii, xxiii. His connection with the Book of Psalms, many of which are expressly attributed to various incidents of his career, was so taken for granted in later days that many ascribed the whole Psalter to him. The authorship of these hymns and the question how far they can be considered as supplying illustrative material for David’s life will be treated in the article PSALMS.
David was not merely king and ruler, he was also a prophet. “The spirit of the Lord hath spoken by me and his word by my tongue” (II Kings, xxiii, 2) is a direct statement of prophetic inspiration in the poem there recorded. St. Peter tells us that he was a prophet (Acts, ii, 30). His prophecies are embodied in the Psalms he composed that are literally Messianic and in “David’s last words” (II K., xxiii). The literal character of these Messianic Psalms is indicated in the New Testament. They refer to the suffering, the persecution, and the triumphant deliverance of Christ, or to the prerogatives conferred on Him by the Father. In addition to these his direct prophecies, David himself has always been regarded as a type of the Messias. In this the Church has but followed the teaching of the Old Testament Prophets. The Messias was to be the great theocratic king; David, the ancestor of the Messias, was a king according to God’s own heart. His qualities and his very name are attributed to the Messias. Incidents in the life of David are regarded by the Fathers as foreshadowing the life of Christ; Bethlehem is the birthplace of both; the shepherd life of David points out Christ, the Good Shepherd; the five stones chosen to slay Goliath are typical of the five wounds; the betrayal by his trusted counsellor, Achitophel, and the passage over the Cedron remind us of Christ’s Sacred Passion. Many of the Davidic Psalms, as we learn from the New Testament, are clearly typical of the future Messias.
JOHN CORBETT (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Everyone can agree that the horrific massacre of innocent grade-school children in Newtown, Conn. was truly monstrous. It was an event that defies the imagination to conceive how someone might do something so cruel and inhuman. Worse yet, this is not an isolated incident. Similar cases are occurring with greater frequency, prompting many to ask what is to be done.
While many will admit that all these shootings are monstrous, few will call these gunmen what they are – monsters. The descriptions that the media circulate generally describe these young men as quiet loners, misunderstood students, misfits, mentally disturbed individuals or other such labels that somehow imply a profound mystery deep inside their souls that we really cannot understand.
Yet there is no mystery. Why not call a spade, a spade? The dictionary defines a monster as “one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character; a person of unnatural or extreme wickedness or cruelty.” These individuals no longer felt constrained to behave normally.
Perhaps the real reason we experience difficulty in calling these murderers monsters is because it somehow implicates the nightmarish course our American way of life as a whole has taken. When our pursuit of happiness is based on the false premise of complete freedom to do as one pleases, there are no limits to the fantasies that can be entertained. There are no social norms that have to be respected. The moral order has broken down. The reason why these individuals acted the way they did is they simply accepted no restraints and took this false premise of doing anything they want to its logical consequences in the monstrous, abnormal and bizarre.
Moreover, they were raised that way. These are not individuals living in abject poverty. In fact, they were pampered with everything they wanted. These are the spoiled children of a frenetic society without restraint. They were spared every effort or suffering. They were not taught order, responsibility and duty. They were not told “No” at the right times.
We find absent in their lives all the elements that contribute to the mental stability of youth. Nearly all of these young men are the result of broken families, divorce and shattered lives, which we must admit contributed to their mental instability. They did not have the warmth and security of a healthy family to support them and aid them in their journey through life. They rejected the moral compass of religion to guide them in their purposeless lives.
Worst of all, they live and immerse themselves in our general culture that glorifies violence, sexualizes everything and relativizes the sense of right and wrong. They surrounded themselves with movies, video games and entertainment that are full of brutality, vulgarity and sensuality. They believe the purpose of life is the instant gratification of their desires. They lived in the shadows of bizarre sub-cultures.
And yet we wonder why we have these gunmen? Perhaps we might better ponder why we have so few. Among the youth of our days, there is a volatile subset of individuals that we have raised as monsters. They live among us and defy all possibility of detection. They are like ticking bombs ready to detonate with extraordinary cruelty when their lives break down.
The question remains as to what measures might be taken to resolve the problem of this lost generation of monsters. There are already cries for better security, more control on firearms and more federal funding for social programs. However, none of these “solutions” address the problem of how to stop raising monsters.
Where are the calls for stronger families? These young men needed strong father figures together with compassionate and principled mothers. Will no one condemn our culture of violence, sex and death? Will no one dare to teach the duty, restraint and discipline children crave and need for their formation? When will we see role models for these young men to inspire them to moral behavior or heroism? Should we not teach our youth about religion, morals and God’s law instead of moral relativism? Such politically incorrect calls for reform will probably not be heeded, and yet they are urgently needed.
and who now live undetected among us. It should surprise no one that law-biding citizens seek to arm themselves as a protection against this threat that is turning even a trip to the supermarket into a dangerous adventure.
We need to address the real issues. We need a return to a moral order. If not, nothing will be resolved and we will be condemned to see this tragedy repeat itself. Indeed, the pain of this latest tragedy will gradually fade. All we will hear are new calls for gun control as we wait for the next monster to appear.
Friday, December 28, 2012
A Roman matron of rank, died 27 December, 399 or 400.
Painting by Jean-Jacques Henner
She was one of the company of noble Roman women who, under the influence of St. Jerome, gave up all earthly pleasures and devoted themselves to the practice of Christian asceticism and to charitable work. At the time of St. Jerome’s stay at Rome (382-84), Fabiola was not one of the ascetic circle which gathered around him. It was not until a later date that, upon the death of her second consort, she took the decisive step of entering upon a life of renunciation and labour for others.
Fabiola belonged to the patrician Roman family of the Fabia. She had been married to a man who led so vicious a life that to live with him was impossible. She obtained a divorce from him according to Roman law, and, contrary to the ordinances of the Church, she entered upon a second union before the death of her first husband. On the day before Easter, following the death of her second consort, she appeared before the gates of the Lateran basilica, dressed in penitential garb, and did penance in public for her sin, an act which made a great impression upon the Christian population of Rome. The pope received her formally again into full communion with the Church.
Fabiola now renounced all that the world had to offer her, and devoted her immense wealth to the needs of the poor and the sick. She erected a fine hospital at Rome, and waited on the inmates herself, not even shunning those afflicted with repulsive wounds and sores. Besides this she gave large sums to the churches and religious communities at Rome, and at other places in Italy. All her interests were centered on the needs of the Church and the care of the poor and suffering.
In 395, she went to Bethlehem, where she lived in the hospice of the convent directed by Paula and applied herself, under the direction of St. Jerome, with the greatest zeal to the study and contemplation of the Scriptures, and to ascetic exercises. An incursion of the Huns into the eastern provinces of the empire, and the quarrel which broke out between Jerome and Bishop John of Jerusalem respecting the teachings of Origen, made residence in Bethlehem unpleasant for her, and she returned to Rome. She remained, however, in correspondence with St. Jerome, who at her request wrote a treatise on the priesthood of Aaron and the priestly dress. At Rome, Fabiola united with the former senator Pammachius in carrying out a great charitable undertaking; together they erected a Porto a large hospice for pilgrims coming to Rome. Fabiola also continued her usual personal labours in aid of the poor and sick until her death. Her funeral was a wonderful manifestation of the gratitude and veneration with which she was regarded by the Roman populace.
St. Jerome wrote a eulogistic memoir of Fabiola in a letter to her relative Oceanus.
J.P. KIRSCH (1913 Catholic Encyclopedia)
By Alessandro Speciale| Religion News Service,
APPublished -- VATICAN CITY — Faced with recent setbacks in the United States and in Europe, the Catholic Church has intensified its increasingly uphill battle against gay marriage. The latest salvo came on Monday (Dec. 17), with a front-page article in the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Read more:
Nicole Hawkins‘ three daughters have matching glittery boots, but none has the same father. Each has uniquely colored ties in her hair, but none has a dad present in her life. Read more:
Thursday, December 27, 2012
1. Be honest. Know yourself. What is your strongest virtue? What is your worst vice? Therefore, tailor your resolution so it strengthens your good side and fights your bad one. A one-size fits all resolution is useless.
2. Be specific. Don't use generalities. They don't work. For example, if you need to be more humble, just saying "I am going to be more humble," is useless. You need to zero in on one situation where you need to practice humility and resolve to improve in that one situation.
3. Be simple. Don't make it complicated. Focus on something you can see and measure easily and that does not overwhelm you each time you try to obtain it. Otherwise, you will become distracted and your energy will be dispersed and misdirected.
4. Be reasonable. Don't try to do too much at once. You won't become a saint in one day. Remember: you have one MAJOR point upon which is hinged your entire fidelity to God and His Holy Laws. This is a called your primordial light. Find out and work on improving it. Everything else will improve if you improve on that one major point.
5. Be consistent. It's far better to do something small everyday to improve on that one key point in your soul than to make a big resolution that you cannot keep for more than a week or two. Slow and steady wins the race!
6. Be humble. Recognize that you cannot do any good action which has value in the supernatural order without God's grace and the intercessory help of the Blessed Mother. Beg God's grace through Our Lady's intercession constantly in all your thoughts, desires and actions
7. Be disinterested. Remember that God wants us to defend His rights and interests, and to share His thoughts and ways. And therefore, to focus on things, happening and events that are very close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that are not necessarily linked to our own personal interests.
8. Write it down. It's important to write down your resolution so you can refer back to it often during the year. Also, by writing it down, you will be able to review it when the year is over, and to evaluate your progress since the time the resolution was made.
9. Public expressions of faith. Don't hide your faith. That's just what the devil wants. He knows when you express your faith publicly, others see you and are encouraged to follow your good example. Say grace openly and proudly before meals in a restaurant so people can see. You'll be surprised with the good reactions you will get.
10. Devotion to Our Lady. Have more devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Devotion to the Mother of God is a panacea. Saint Louis de Montfort said that devotion to Holy Mary is the easiest, safest, fastest, most secure, and surest path to Jesus and to our own salvation. If you can do nothing else, resolve to say the Rosary everyday. Saint Louis de Montfort wrote:
"If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins 'you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.' Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if-- and mark well what I say-- if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins."
In another victory for pro-life advocates challenging the pro-abortion HHS mandate in Obamacare, a pro-life Catholic group has won a legal battle in court to get an exemption from having to comply with the mandate.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
From the Allocution of Leo XIII to the Roman Patriciate and Nobility on January 24, 1903:
The Holy Family in Nazareth. Painting by Diego Quispe Tito, 1675
And Jesus Christ, although He chose to spend His private life in the obscurity of a lowly dwelling, passing for the son of a laborer, and although in public life He so loved to associate with the common people, helping them in every manner possible, still He chose to be born of royal stock, choosing Mary as a mother and Joseph as putative father, both of them scions of the Davidic line. And yesterday, the feast of their marriage, we were able to repeat with the Church the beautiful words, “Regali ex progenie Maria exorta refulget” [Mary shows herself to us all refulgent, born of royal stock].
Leonis XIII Pontificis Maximii Acta (Rome: Ex Tipografia Vaticana, 1898), Vol. 22, p. 368 in Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), Documents IV, p. 470.
St. Peter Nolasco
Born at Mas-des-Saintes-Puelles, near Castelnaudary, France, in 1189 (or 1182); died at Barcelona, on Christmas Day, 1256 (or 1259). He was of a noble family and from his youth was noted for his piety, almsgiving, and charity. Having given all his possessions to the poor, he took a vow of virginity and, to avoid communication with the Albigenses, went to Barcelona.
St. Pedro Nolasco has a vision of Jerusalem. Painting by Francisco de Zurbarán
At that time the Moors were masters of a great part of the Iberian peninsula, and many Christians were detained there and cruelly persecuted on account of the Faith. Peter ransomed many of these and in doing so consumed all his patrimony. After mature deliberation, moved also by a heavenly vision, he resolved to found a religious order (1218), similar to that established a few years before by St. John de Matha and St. Felix de Valois, whose chief object would be the redemption of Christian slaves. In this he was encouraged by St. Raymond Penafort and James I, King of Aragon, who, it seems, had been favoured with the same inspiration. The institute was called Mercedarians (q.v.) and was solemnly approved by Gregory IX, in 1230. Its members were bound by a special vow to employ all their substance for the redemption of captive Christians, and if necessary, to remain in captivity in their stead. At first most of these religious were laymen as was Peter himself. But Clement V decreed that the master general of the order should always be a priest.
cfr. Acta SS.; DE VARGAS, Chronica sancti et militaris ordinis B. M. de Mercede (Palermo, 1619); GARI Y SIUMELL, Bibliotheca Mercedaria (Barcelona, 1875); MARIN, Histoire de l’eglise (Paris, 1909).
Mercedarians (Order of Our Lady of Mercy)
Foundation of the Order of Mercy, part of the center altarpiece of the Cathedral of Barcelona.
A congregation of men founded in 1218 by St. Peter Nolasco, born 1189, at Mas-des-Saintes-Puelles, Department of Aude, France. Joining Simon de Montfort’s army, then attacking the Albigenses, he was appointed tutor to the young king, James of Aragon, who had succeeded to the throne after the death of his father, Pedro II, killed at the battle of Muret. Peter Nolasco followed his pupil to his capital, Barcelona, in 1215. From the year 1192 certain noblemen of that city had formed a confraternity for the purpose of caring for the sick in hospitals, and also for rescuing Christian captives from the Moors. Peter Nolasco was requested by the Blessed Virgin in a vision to found an order especially devoted to the ransom of captives. His confessor, St Raymond of Pennafort, the canon of Barcelona, encouraged and assisted him in this project; and King James also extended his protection. The noblemen already referred to were the first monks of the order, and their headquarters was the convent St. Eulalie of Barcelona, erected 1232. They had both religious in holy orders, and lay monks or knights; the choir monks were clothed in tunic, scapular, and cape of white. These religious followed the rule drawn up for them by St Raymond of Pennafort. The order was approved, first by Honorius III and then by Gregory IX (1230), the latter, at the request of St Raymond Nonnatus presented by St Peter Nolasco, granted a Bull of confirmation and prescribed the Rule of St. Augustine, the former rule now forming the constitutions (1235). St. Peter was the first superior, with the title of Commander-General; he also filled the office of Ransomer, a title given to the monk sent into the lands subject to the Moors to arrange for the ransom of prisoners. The holy founder died in 1256, seven years after having resigned his superiorship; he was succeeded by Guillaume Le Bas.
La Mercè Basilica, in Barcelona, where her incorrupt body reposes on the right side of the altar.
The development of the order was immediate and widespread throughout France, England, Germany, Portugal, and Spain. As the Moors were driven back, new convents of Mercy were established. Houses were founded at Montpelier, Perpignan, Toulouse, and Vich. The great number of houses, however, had a weakening effect on the uniformity of observance of the rule. To correct this, Bernard de Saint-Romain, the third commander general (1271), codified the decisions of the general chapters. In the fourteenth century, disputes arose from the rivalry between the convents of Barcelona and Puy, and from the discord between the priests and knights, which ended in the latter’s suppression, disturbed the peace of the order. Christopher Columbus took some members of the Order of Mercy with him to America, where they founded a great many convents in Latin America, throughout Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Ecuador. These formed no less than eight provinces, whereas they only had three in Spain and one in France. This order took a very active part in the conversion of the Indians. At the beginning of the seventeenth century Father Gonzales, who had made his profession in the convent of Olmedo in 1573, conceived the idea of a reform, at that time necessary. The commander-general, Alfonso de Montoy, at first supported this scheme, but ended by opposing it. In this undertaking, Gonzales was assisted by the Countess of Castellan, who obtained for him the necessary authorization from Clement VIII, and presented him with three convents for the reformed monks (at Viso, Diocese of Seville; Almoragha, Diocese of Cadiz; Ribas). The reform was confirmed at the provincial chapter of Guadelajara in 1603. Father Gonzales took the name of John Baptist of the Blessed Sacrament, and died at Madrid in 1618. Paul V approved his reform in 1606; in 1621 Gregory XV declared it independent of the monks of the Great Observance. Their convents formed two provinces,with houses at Madrid, Salamanca, Seville, and Alcalá, with a few foundations in Sicily.
St. Peter Nolasco
Father Antoine Velasco founded a convent of nuns of Our Lady of Mercy at Seville in 1568, of which the first superioress was Blessed Ann of the Cross. This foundation had been authorized by Pius V. The reformed branch also established houses of barefooted nuns, or Nuns of the Recollection, at Lura, Madrid, Santiago de Castile, Fuentes, Thoro, and elsewhere. The female tertiaries go back to the very beginning of the order (1265). Two widows of Barcelona, Isabel Berti and Eulalie Peins, whose confessor was Blessed Bernard of Corbario, prior of the convent there, were the foundresses. They were joined by several companions, among them St. Mary of Succour (d. 31 Decemb., 1281), the first superior of the community. Blessed Mary Anne of Jesus (d. 1624) founded another community of tertiaries, under the jurisdiction of the reformed branch. The Order of Mercy of late years has much decreased in membership. The restoration of the reformed convent at Thoro, Diocese of Zamora, Spain, is worthy of note (1888). At present the order has one province and one vice-province in Europe, and four provinces and two vice-provinces in America, with thirty-seven convents and five to six hundred members. The Mercedarian convents are in Palermo; Spain; Venezuela (Caracas, Maracaibo); Peru (Lima); Chile (Santiago); Argentina (Cordova, Mendoza); Ecuador (Quito); and Uruguay. The Mercedarians of Cordova publish “Revista Mercedaria”.
Mercedarias Descalzas Convent in Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Besides the founder, St. Peter Nolasco, the following illustrious members of the order may be mentioned: St. Raymond Nonnatus (d. 1240), the most famous of the monks who gave themselves up to the work of ransoming captives; Blessed Bernard of Corbario, already mentioned; St. Peter Paschal, Bishop of Jaen, who devoted all his energies to the ransom of captives and the conversion of the Musselmans, martyred in 1300; St. Raymond was a cardinal, as also were Juan de Luto and Father de Salazar. It is unnecessary to enumerate the archbishops and bishops. Writers were numerous, especially in Spain and Latin America in the seventeenth century. To mention only a few: Alfonso Henriquez de Almendaris, Bishop of Cuba, who founded a college for his order at Seville, and from whom Philip III received an interesting report on the spiritual and temporal condition of his diocese in 1623; Alfonso de Monroy, who drew up the constitutions of the reform, and who was a bishop in America; Alfonso Ramón, theologian, preacher, and annalist of his order; Alfonso Velásquez de Miranda (1661), who took a considerable part in political affairs; Fernando de Orio, general of the order, who translated and learnedly commented on Tertullian’s treatise “De Poenitentia”; Fernando de Santiago (1639), one of the favourite preachers of his time; Francisco Henríquez; Francisco de Santa Maria; Francisco Zumel; Gabriel de Adarzo (1674), theologian, preacher, and statesman; Gabreil Tellez (1650), dramatic author; Gaspar de Torrez, Bishop of the Canary Islands; Pedro de Ona, whom Philip III sent on important missions both in America and in the Kingdom of Naples.
(1913 Catholic Encyclopedia)
Fr. Francisco Zumel Painting by Francisco de Zurbarán
Ginny Jimmo · 1 day ago
Thank you! I did not realize that the Mercedarians converted Indians in the New World. Also, that a reform was necessary like those of the Carmelites. Reform is necessary at periodic times in many congregations. Push the world out so our only thoughts are on the Almighty! Do we need that now?
Monday, December 24, 2012
The year is closing and it is time to glance back at everything that happened during 2012. We can say that we are in the midst of generalized chaos that has gown a lot during this time not just in our country but also throughout the whole world.
In this moment, seemingly so void of peace, we should remember the angelic canticle which, through the designs of Providence, was heard by the shepherds on that first rustic and poetic Christmas night, when the angels sang: “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, peace to men of good will.”
The angels came to bring peace and tranquility. However, it was not just any peace and tranquility. Saint Thomas of Aquinas teaches that, “Peace is the tranquility of order.” Where there is order, there is true peace. Where there is simply a lack of commotion, there is not peace, but merely hidden disorder, a simulated order, but not true peace.
For example, peace does not exist in cemeteries. In cemeteries, there is death, dissolving cadavers, and the transformation of men from what they were in life to dust and ashes. In cemeteries, there is immobility, sadness and silence, but it would be a stretch to say that there is peace.
Where, then, do we find peace on earth? We find it in very few places if we are able to find it at all. However, there is one place we will still find it. Peace exists in the churches where Catholic doctrine is still taught in its integrity, where the sacred rites are still performed in entire harmony with Catholic worship and doctrine; where people love and understand each other and feel the same way because they are all imbued with the Holy Ghost, Who is eminently the Spirit of Peace.
This peace which Our Lord Jesus Christ wanted to bring to Earth, He expressed in the following magnificent words: “Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you” (St. John 14:27). In other words, He gives His peace to men, the tranquility of His order. He left this gift for men in the world when He left the world and ascended into Heaven.
Now, let us return to the manger where we should consider Jesus Christ as the king of peace. We should remember that He is the descendent of the most kingly and excellent dynasty on earth. Other descendants of this dynasty are also gathered around the Infant Jesus under the humble form of a carpenter, his wife and their newborn Child.
Before the Magi Kings arrive, bringing their precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, God willed that the humble creatures would enter and be received with love. Not only the shepherds, but even the animals, for example the ox was invited to warm the newborn Child Jesus with their breath, as He warmed with His Love the group of shepherds who paid Him the first acts of adoration.
All this is peace; all this is order. We should be soldiers of peace and soldiers of order, those who fight for order — those who are truly the soldiers of Christ in the Reign of Christ.
There seems to be a contradiction in these affirmations: how can one be a soldier of peace when by definition, peace means an absence of fighting? How can one be a soldier of order if war, at first glance, seems like an immense disorder?
Peace exists when men are in order. It is the Peace of Christ in the Reign of Christ. But this peace does not only exist where there is no fight. There is also peace when one fights for order and against disorder.
Even in Heaven, there was a great fight between Saint Michael and the faithful angels on one side and Satan and the unfaithful angels on the other. This fight was so intense that the Scriptures tell us: “And there was a great battle in Heaven.”
At the very moment this battle was taking place, peace did not cease to reign in Heaven because the good angels were on God’s side and they fought for God to expel the unworthy demons from Heaven.
This was a fight of health against sickness, life against revolted death, good against rebellious evil. This fight did not disturb order, because it was a fight of that which should exist, against that which should not exist. Thus, at the very moment of the fight, there was order.
In the contemporary world we can be likewise be factors of peace to the degree that we peacefully and legally fight against the bad angels and those factors of disorder that afflict our society. In this fight, there is peace because it is a fight of the agents of peace against the agents of war and of the agents of good against the agents of evil. This is true peace. This is the kind of peace that I wish you in 2013.
By Michael Whitcraft
Who'd have guessed it? When the Chinese aren't busy effecting forced abortions, persecuting political dissidents, sending contaminated products to our shores, or shipping us other junk that malfunctions a month after you buy it, they concern themselves with our well-being. Read more:
Sunday, December 23, 2012
The breakdown of the traditional family in America. Marxists everywhere would be proud:
CBN NEWS – More children are now being born outside of marriage, according to a new study by the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values.
Ben Johnson contributed to this story.
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 21, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who less than one year ago described same-sex “marriage” as “pagan behavior,” has told the Republican Party it must “come to grips” with the “reality” that marriage redefinition is “inevitable.”
In an interview with The Huffington Post, the former House Speaker said public opinion is moving inexorably toward allowing homosexual couples to legally wed.
“It is in every family. It is in every community. The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to ... accommodate and deal with reality,” he said. “And the reality is going to be that in a number of American states—and it will be more after 2014—gay relationships will be legal, period.”
The author of the Contract with America said he “didn’t think that [marriage redefinition] was inevitable 10 or 15 years ago, when we passed the Defense of Marriage Act.”
But as recently as last year, while he was seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Gingrich opposed gay “marriage,” saying it signaled the"rise of paganism.” At the time, he said he thought the public support it enjoyed was a “temporary aberration that will dissipate.”
“Reading the interview made me proud of my brother,” said Gingrich’s lesbian half-sister, Candace Gingrich-Jones. She took at least partial credit for her famous brother’s change of heart, saying, “The time that my wife Rebecca and I have spent with Newt has had an effect, and he has evolved on marriage.”
“Thanks for the early Solstice present, Brother,” Gingrich-Jones added. “I look forward to your and the GOP’s continued evolution on issues of LGBT equality.”
Social conservatives suggested a different course of action.
“The Republican Party needs to go back to its roots,” Peter Sprigg, senior research fellow at Family Research Council, told LifeSiteNews.com.
“If you go back to the Republican Party’s roots, what they were founded on back in the nineteenth century, it was their opposition to what they called the ‘twin relics of barbarism,’ slavery and polygamy,” he said.
Sprigg doubts the media narrative that says same-sex “marriage” is overwhelmingly popular with the American people in the first place.
“If you focus on the definition of marriage, 60 percent of Americans still believe that it’s between one man and one woman,” he told LifeSiteNews.
Rather than back down, he said pro-family advocates need to be more vocal in explaining the benefits of traditional marriage to those whose views are otherwise formed by popular culture.
“The key question people should be asking is why marriage is a public issue in the first place. What benefit is it to society for people to get married?” said Sprigg.
The American tax code has been modified since the late 1940s to encourage family formation through child tax credits and exemptions. This reflects society’s interest in providing children – the workforce of tomorrow – with a stable home.
“People see these couples saying it would benefit them to be able to get married, but marriage isn’t for the couple,” he said. “The public purpose of marriage is for the raising of children.”
“Same-sex marriages serve no public purpose, so there’s no reason to publicly recognize them,” Sprigg told LifeSiteNews.
Since Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential elections, the Republican Party has been rent over social issues and the future direction of the party.
Gingrich, who converted to his most recent wife’s Catholicism, told reporters he continued to believe marriage is between a man and a woman personally. However, he believes the new political reality requires the GOP to compromise its longstanding position.
“The Republican Party should make policy based on what’s right, not what’s politically expedient,” Sprigg stated.
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
Thus does Saint John's Gospel (1:14) announce the ineffably grand moment when the Son of God "dwelt among us" in order to manifest His glory.
Yet, how discreet, how humble, how hidden was this first step taken by the King of the universe along His path of suffering, struggle, and triumph!
Let us meditate on the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ with the Gospel of Saint Luke (2:1-7).
And it came to pass that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.
And all went to be enrolled, everyone into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child.
And it came to pass that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Let us picture a poor wedded couple, dressed with simplicity and bound for Bethlehem, crossing the arid countryside of the Holy Land, aridity alleviated only by a few streams and olive groves. Mary travels seated on a young donkey, while Joseph proceeds on foot, pondering the words of the angel who revealed to him the miraculous character of his virgin spouse's pregnancy.
As they reach Bethlehem, the winter night falls. But no one receives them, "because there was no room for them in the inn."
Is it for them that there is no room, since they have no prestige? Prestige commonly comes, especially in decadent times, from money and concessions to the vices of the times and the spirit of the "world" (this spirit being understood in the sense the Gospels give it). But this holy couple is poor and gifted with a highly religious spirit -- virtues the "worldly" find particularly detestable.
Nevertheless, Saint Joseph and Our Lady descend from the highest lineage of Bethlehem of Judea. Saint Joseph is a prince of the House of David, and Our Lady likewise descends from the kings of Judea.
However, so decadent are the Chosen People that in their eyes Saint Joseph is nothing but a poor carpenter, while Our Lady, his relatively well-off cousin, has chosen to share his poverty.
What are they doing in Bethlehem?
They are obeying the decree of the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, who, certainly for vanity's sake, had ordered a census to ascertain how many were subject to his power.
The Prince of the House of David, in travelling to the city of his birth, manifests the glory of the foreign emperor. Saint Joseph is conquered, Caesar Augustus is the conqueror. And Bethlehem fails to recognize her illustrious children.
"He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11). Mary and Joseph, bearing the very Son of God, are rejected by their own people and are thus obliged to seek shelter in a cave inhabited by animals. So it is in the intimacy and isolation of that dwelling place for beasts that history's most important event up till that time unfolds: the Word of God, made flesh in the most pure womb of Mary, comes into the world.
* * *
Thus does one understand the kind of joy proper to the Nativity: great solitude and deprivation, but at the same time great elevation. For over such misery descended riches without name, riches unlike any others on the face of the earth: the Child-God, wrapped in swathes of cloth and lying in a manger where animals feed.
None save that couple witness or know how to appreciate this scene of indescribable grandeur.
The highest glory is there present in a tender child who, crying, hungry, and cold, extends his little arms towards his mother, requesting a little milk or cloths for a covering. And Our Lady knows that it is the Creator who opens his arms unto her! The Sovereign of the universe cries, beseeching a bit of milk and warm clothing!
We can imagine the contrast between the supernatural ambience and the poverty of the grotto. There the Child Jesus is adored by all the angels in a magnificent choir, the celestial court celebrating the greatest feast up to then. Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, with extraordinary brilliance, give glory to God through the Nativity. That glory permeates the grotto discreetly, for it is necessary that those outside not take note, that only souls of faith perceive it, and only in intimacy. There, reclining, praying, is Our Lady, the most perfect soul in all the history of mankind, save only the divine Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
For Our Lady alone is worth more than all the souls before her, during her time, and thereafter; more than all who existed, exist, and will exist until the end of the world. She alone is worth more than all the angels.
A short distance away, praying to the Child-God and to Our Lady, is the humble cabinetmaker, the deposed prince, obscured by history and by the misfortunes that befell his ancestors. That man received an honor proper to no one else: He was chosen to be the spouse of the mother of the Word Incarnate, the adoptive father of the very Son of God!
* * *
This takes place at midnight, when little moved in the ancient world. We can imagine the silence, the abandonment. The inhabitants of the nearby city of Bethlehem comfortably rest in their beds. Outside, even the livestock sleep, while the Divine Infant is born. Everything is empty and alone; darkness reigns. Only within that grotto does a small light flicker. Only that couple is there, they and the Child Jesus, the King of ages, the God-Man Himself.
This divine event takes place before few. The greatest of honors is born and resides entirely in a frail infant. The most important historical event up to that time comes to pass in secret, in such a way that the sole witnesses to that august scene desire to meditate, to remain silent, with more appetite to feel the Nativity within themselves than to proclaim it in a loud and clear voice. It is the affectionate reverence of those who know not how to render gratitude for the extraordinary honor of touching, in such an intimate way, so high a mystery, coupled with pity and compassion for a God who consented to make Himself so small. How to express respect so great that it approaches fear, and tenderness so profound that it seems almost to liquefy the soul? Lofty veneration, then, lofty adoration, and lofty tenderness.
This also seems to explain the nocturnal aspect of the Nativity. We cannot conceive of it taking place save at night, for darkness is necessary for radiating so discreet a light. Therein we find the joy characteristic of Christmas, which hesitates to expand itself for fear of losing its delicacy and intimacy.
* * *
Thus does one understand why such Christmas carols as "Stille Nacht" are customarily sung in a low voice, almost as if to oneself. They are sung as if not to awaken the Child Jesus. This is one aspect of the genius of "Stille Nacht," composed by a simple German schoolmaster in the last century, yet now the preeminent Christmas carol of all ages. Hearing it, we have the impression that the choir is in a corner of the cave of Bethlehem. The choir sings with such emotion, for it almost cannot help it, yet in a very low voice, so as not to disturb the Divine Infant, nor the ineffable and almost internal song with which Our Lady is lulling her Son.
In this way one understands the thousand delicacies that sound in "Silent Night," and the tenderness of the Nativity. It is a song expressive of a kind of compassion for Him who is being celebrated: How little this infinite God; how infinite this little God!
Centuries of Christian civilization were necessary that the most celebrated of Christmas songs might blossom like a flower in the Catholic Church.
(Taken from Crusade Magazine, Nov-Dec 1996)
Saturday, December 22, 2012
A Christmas Reflection
We gather to celebrate the beautiful feast of Christmas, a lovable tradition, established and handed down to us through the centuries.
As 2012 comes to a close, we look back on this year and find shocking events such as school shootings, the increase in socialism, the uncertainty of the fiscal cliff and chaos in every field of human activity.
Our situation is similar to last year's with an even greater potential for confusion and despair as a general atmosphere of apprehension spreads over the whole country.
Peace in Truth is found in the Holy Roman Catholic Church
Yet, at this Yuletide, we recall the angelic chant to the shepherds on that rustic and poetic first Christmas Eve as the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to men of good will".
Yes, peace is tranquility, but not just any tranquility.
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that "peace is the tranquility of order". Where there is order there is real peace. Where there is an absence of order there is no peace. What exists is a veiled disorder, an artificial order, but no real peace.
Peace exists, rather, in churches where Catholic doctrine is professed in its integrity; where people all love, understand and feel the same way because they are imbued with the Divine Holy Ghost, who is eminently a Spirit of Peace.
In temporal society we find this peace in a very few places, namely at such gatherings as these, where men live who indeed strive to give glory to God in the highest and, therefore, peace on earth reigns among these men of good will.
But you who are a supporter of America Needs Fatima are also an agent of peace. You savor this peace, you appreciate this peace, you take it to your families, and thus bring them the law of Christ, the Faith of Christ, the order of Christ and the Reign of Christ. As you take into your families the doctrine of His Holy Catholic Church and live by its sweet rule and yoke, you have true peace.
This is the peace that our Lord Jesus Christ wanted to bring to the world and which He expressed in these magnificent words: Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis, "I give you My peace, I leave you My peace." Which means, He gave them His peace, which is the tranquility of order, leaving this gift to men, to the world, at the time that He was about to leave earth to ascend to heaven.
Great and small gather around the manger
So, let us approach that heavenly crib of Jesus Christ, the King of Peace, the descendant of a regal dynasty from which also descended Mary Most Holy and Saint Joseph, who, nevertheless, now kneels in the capacity of a humble carpenter before the Savior just born of his wife, the Virgin Mother.
And before great potentates draw near the crib with precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, God wished for humble shepherds to approach and be received with tender love. Even the ox and the donkey were invited to warm Baby Jesus with their breath.
We must be soldiers of peace and soldiers of order
All this is peace; all this is order. We should be soldiers of peace and soldiers of order, fighting in an orderly manner as true soldiers of Christ in the Reign of Christ.
But aren't these terms, peace and fight, contradictory? Isn't peace concomitant with non-aggression? So how can we be "soldiers of peace"? Likewise, how can we call ourselves "soldiers of order" in case of war, when war is such a huge mess?
Nevertheless, peace is present when one fights against disorder through order. This must be well understood. Peace, the peace of Christ in the Reign of Christ exists when men are in order. But this peace does not exist only in non-combat. There is peace also when one fights for order against disorder.
There was also a great battle in heaven between Saint Michael the Archangel and the angels of fidelity and obedience against the angels of infidelity and disobedience. It was so great a battle that Scriptures describes it for us as a great battle was fought in heaven.
So, even at this moment peace did not cease to reign in heaven, because the good were on the side of God fighting to expel from the heavenly mansion the devils who, as agents of disorder, had become unworthy of it.
If there was a war in heaven, it was a war of health against disease, a war of life against death, a war of good against rebellious evil. This battle, by the very fact that it was a battle between what should exist against what should not exist, in itself is order.
In the contemporary world we are precious agents of peace in the measure that we fight against evil angels and those who are dedicated to spreading evil, the agents of war.
So also in the contemporary world we are precious agents of peace in the measure that we fight the evil angels and their minions in their multifaceted attack on faith, morality and good customs.
In the contemporary world we are precious agents of peace in the measure that we fight the evil angels and their minions in their multifaceted attack on faith, morality and good customs.
The peace that we desire for the coming year is the peace of order against the agents of disorder. Only then will we have the peace of order in the tranquility of order. So, let us be agents of order in the coming year, not only because we refuse to engage in useless battles, but also because we do choose to engage in the good fight of which Saint Paul speaks when he said of himself as he lay dying: "Lord, I fought the good fight, now give me the reward of Thy glory." If we do this in the coming year as we have done this year, we can end the year with peace and hope.
In this generation of thieves and adulterers let us be souls on fire, souls burning with love and strong warriors engendered by Faith. We were not born only to rejoice, or mainly to be happy. We were born, above all, to fight; we were born, above all, to serve the Holy Catholic Church.
Then whatever the furor of evil throughout the world, whatever their threats, we are agents of peace, we are children of Mary, and we are fighters of good order. Thus, by the grace of Mary we may say like Saint Paul and the end of next year: Lord, throughout this year we fought the good fight. Give us now during this year the reward of Thy glory.
(Adapted from a message of Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira to TFP Supporters on Dec. 18, 1992 at a Christmas gathering.)
Friday, December 21, 2012
Forget the pagan Mayan calendar and find the origins of Silent Night, the Most Beautiful Christmas Song
Far beyond the ocean, in a valley in the Austrian Alps, lies the age-old village of Oberndorf, looking now much as it did one, two, or three hundred years ago. In the center of the village, near a swift-flowing stream, stands a whitewashed church with a tall red-topped steeple. The low houses, their slanting roofs weighted down with stones, are scattered about the church like so many baby chicks around a red-combed white hen; and the church bell calls to them from the steeple in a quick, excited hen-like tone.
In the days of our story only peasants and a few artisans lived in Oberndorf, with an occasional trader coming in “from outside.” There were but two educated people in the village: Father Joseph Mohr, the twenty-six-year-old parish priest, and Franz Xaver Gruber, the organist and schoolteacher. Both being young and “from outside,” they soon became fast friends, and every Sunday they met to make music. As Gruber sang the bass parts to Father Mohr’s tenor and played the accompaniment on the guitar, the children gathered in the street before the rectory and nudged one another: “Listen, the priest and the teacher are singing again.” They enjoyed these informal weekly concerts.
On the twenty-fourth of December, 1818, Father Mohr sat alone in his study, reading his Bible. The sun had set behind the western mountains, and the blanket of snow draping their peaks had turned a steely blue-gray above the black forest, except where the first stars cast their silvery gleams on them. All through the valley the children were filled with excitement, for it was Christmas Eve and they would be staying up to attend Midnight Mass.
The young priest, sitting at his oaken study table and working on his sermon for the midnight service, had no eyes for the festively lighted valley just then. He had read chapter after chapter and had come to the story of the shepherds in the fields to whom the angel announced: “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people. For, this day, is born to you a Savior.”
Just as Father Mohr reached this well-known passage, someone knocked at his door. He rose and opened it. In came a peasant woman, wrapped in a coarse shawl. He knew that she lived on one of the highest alps in his parish. “Praised be Jesus Christ,” she greeted him. Then she went on to tell him of a child born earlier that day to a poor charcoal-maker’s wife. The parents had sent her to ask the priest to come and bless the infant, that it might live and prosper.
Father Mohr got up, put on his coat and mittens and overshoes, and followed the woman through the knee-deep snow of the spruce forest. The priest noticed neither the trails of animals in the fresh snow nor the brightly glistening stars, even as the one that had led the Wise Men to Bethlehem when they bore the world’s first Christmas gifts. Rather, he turned over in his mind the sermon he had to preach, for which he had nothing prepared.
At last he and his guide came upon a ramshackle hut. A big, awkward man respectfully greeted the priest and invited him to enter. The hut was low, filled with wood smoke, and poorly lighted. But on the crude bed lay the young mother, smiling happily, and in her arms lay her baby, peacefully asleep. Father Mohr baptized the infant and gave them all his priestly blessing and a few kindly words, then excused himself and departed.
He felt strangely moved as he trudged alone back out into the snow. The smoky mountain shack, with its crude bed, did not resemble the manger in the City of David; yet, somehow, the last words he had read in his Bible suddenly seemed addressed to him, Joseph Mohr. It seemed that the Christmas miracle had just happened before his eyes. As he made his way carefully down the mountain, he felt the promise of peace and goodwill in the silence of the forest and in the brilliance of the stars.
Coming at last into the valley, he saw that the dark slopes were alight with the torches of the mountaineers on their way to church, and from all the villages, near and far, bells began to ring and echo from the mountain walls: “Jesus Lord, at Thy birth….”
To Father Mohr, a true Christmas miracle had come to pass. The young priest celebrated the Midnight Mass, preached his sermon, and returned home. But he found no sleep. He sat in his study and tried to put on paper what had happened to him. The words kept turning into verse, and when dawn broke, Father Mohr had written a poem.
Franz Gruber, the other musician in Oberndorf, was twenty-nine when he became a teacher at the village school. As he no longer had his spinet, he soon learned to play the guitar of his new friend, the priest, to the delight of the village children who gathered about to hear their priest and teacher singing.
The two had been friends for two years on that Christmas Eve when Father Mohr wrote his poem. Little did he know that this poem would one day become the world’s best-known Christmas song. He had, quite simply, put his own miracle on paper. Wanting to give the poem to his friend for Christmas, he took it to him early the next morning.
The teacher read it over, and then read it a second time. Greatly moved, he said: “Father, this is just the Christmas song we need. God be praised.”
“But without the right tune, the words will be pretty lonely,” objected Father Mohr.
Franz offered to compose some music and went right to work on it. Since the church organ was out of order and he had no preparations to make in church that morning, he could use the time for working on the song.
Father Mohr, meanwhile, celebrated the Christmas Day Masses. Afterwards, as he contemplated the wax figures in the nativity scene — the Christ Child in the manger, His virgin mother arched over Him, and Saint Joseph standing reverently and protectively at His side — it seemed as though he had never seen the Holy Family look so alive. Though the organ had been silent, he thought he had heard singing and chiming during the service, as of a heavenly choir.
Not much later, Franz came to him, an hour before the appointed time, with a broad smile on his face and a sheet of music in his hand. “Here it is,” he announced. “It was easy; your words sang themselves. Let’s play it.”
“But how?” asked the priest. “We have no organ.”
Gruber chuckled. He had thought of that and had arranged the notes for what was at hand — two voices and a guitar. “The dear Lord,” he said, “can hear us without an organ.”
And so, on Christmas Day of the year 1818, the village children once again gathered in the street. They had no inkling of the significance of the event they witnessed that day, least of all that it was the birthday of a song that would be sung everywhere that Christmas is celebrated. No, they heard only their parish priest and the teacher singing, as usual, to the accompaniment of the old guitar.
Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon, Virgin, mother
Holy infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Thus did “Silent Night” come into the world, destined not just for little Oberndorf, but for the whole of Christendom. The same Divine Providence that had undoubtedly brought it into being through the pen of a good priest and the musical talent of a village teacher, had deigned that “Silent Night” should become the world’s Christmas carol.
Here is how this came about.
One day a prominent organ maker of the region came to repair Oberndorf’s organ. He was Karl Mauracher, a venerable gentleman from a valley of the Zillertal in Austria. In a little while, he had the organ working as good as ever.
Franz Gruber settled in front of the keyboard. The church soon resounded with the sweet chords of the new Christmas melody, sounding far better on the organ than on the guitar. Father Mohr and Gruber promptly began singing together.
Mauracher listened in awe. When the last note died away he asked Gruber to play it again. Gruber happily obliged, and he and Father Mohr sang again.
“Where did you get that song?” Mauracher asked when it was finished. “I never heard it.” The priest and the teacher exchanged smiles but said nothing.
Mauracher had such a gifted memory for music that by just listening to the song twice he had learned both the melody and the words. So it was that he took it back with him to the Zillertal where the local children, always eager to learn a new tune, soon picked it up. Since no one in the Zillertal knew who the author of the song was, and because of its tranquil, penetrating, and heavenly melody, it soon became known there as the “Song from Heaven.”
Among the songsters of the Zillertal there were four children who excelled in music because of their voices. These were the Strasser children. Caroline was the oldest, followed by Joseph, Andrew, and the very young Amalie. They loved the new song that Mauracher taught them and soon had arranged it for four parts. On the following Christmas they sang it to surprise their parents.
The Strasser family made fine chamois gloves. When the children were old enough to help their parents in selling the gloves, they sang while waiting for customers, and every time they sang “Silent Night,” no matter how long past Christmas, people always crowded around to listen and seldom left without purchasing some gloves.
As the children grew older, their parents sent them to the surrounding towns with baskets packed with their finest wares. One day they travelled all the way to Leipzig, in the Kingdom of Saxony, where the world’s greatest annual trade fair took place. There, having set up shop, they began to sing the many folk songs they knew, but the one they sang most, for it was their favorite, was the “Song from Heaven.” They saw that its charm worked even in that busy city, as people began to gather around.
One day, a well-dressed, elderly gentleman greeted them. He asked the children if they would be so good as to agree to sing their folk songs for an audience. The children, quite taken aback by the thought, replied that they had to be getting back home for Christmas.
The following year, as soon as they had set up their little booth, the same gentleman made his appearance, this time asking them to accept four tickets to an orchestral performance. He gave them the address and the date and left the children absolutely delighted with the idea of attending a real musical concert for the very first time in their lives.
And so it happened that on the appointed day the children found themselves seated in four of the best seats in a magnificent gilded performance hall. People of all social classes were there, from simple folk and merchants to the best nobility of Saxony. Then came an announcement: “Their Royal Majesties the King and Queen!” The Strasser children, awestruck with all of this, were further amazed at seeing that the conductor of the great orchestra assembled before them was none other than the elderly gentleman who had given them their tickets. He was the Director General of Music in the Kingdom of Saxony! To their yet greater surprise, he suddenly turned and announced that there were four young persons present who, although not singers by profession, had some of the best voices he had heard in years. Perhaps, he said, they could be persuaded to treat their Majesties to some of their beautiful Tyrolean tunes. The youngsters faces reddened and they froze in their seats! But then little Amalie had an idea: “Let us shut our eyes and pretend we are at home.”
And so they did. Their first song was “Silent Night.” With the first notes, all of their stage fright vanished. To their listeners it was as though the young voices were bringing the tranquility of a mountain winter night into the crowded hall.
When they finished there was a moment of reverent silence. Then the applause broke loose and went on and on. The director, smiling broadly, patted the Zillertalers and told them to sing some more. They sang all the songs they knew, and when they knew no more, they sang “Silent Night” again. The applause was immense. The audience was entirely charmed. The King and Queen then invited the children to their box, for they wished to meet these nightingales of the Zillertal. Trembling a bit, the children went to the Royal box. Here they were invited, by their Majesties themselves, to sing at the palace! Even though that meant spending Christmas away from home, they could not refuse the King and the Queen, and so they accepted.
This Christmas marked fourteen years to the day that the two friends in the mountain village had written “Silent Night,” and still no one knew who its author was. People knew only what Joseph Strasser had told the king of Saxony — that it was a Tyrolean song. To the Zillertalers it was still the “Song from Heaven.”
Thus, “Silent Night” spread throughout the German provinces by means of the Strasser children. As the years went by, the little song struck out a path of its own and one day appeared in the cathedral hymnal book of the King of Prussia. One Christmas season, as the King sat in church, he was struck by the beauty of a particular song the choir was singing. Looking at the song in the hymnal book in his hands, he read the name “Silent Night” and the phrase “Author and composer unknown.”
Frederick William of Prussia was a meticulous man who liked having everything properly arranged. He could not believe that his orderly Prussian hymnal could have such a deficiency as a song with “Author and composer unknown.” He immediately ordered that the choirmaster be called to his presence. The poor man could not answer His Majesty’s query about the origin of the song.
Inquiries were made all around, but no one knew who composed the heavenly melody nor how the song had been included in the King’s hymnal. Now, there was in the kingdom a man who had a reputation for knowing everything there is to know about every kind of music. This was the Royal Concert Master, Ludwig Erk. But not even Ludwig could not satisfy the King’s curiosity. He simply did not know — for the first time in his life. He had never heard anyone speak of the origin of the song.
And so it came about that the Royal Concert Master received a mission from the King himself: to explore Europe in search of the origin of the mysterious, heavenly tune “Silent Night.”
Erk began his search in the Berlin library, but found nothing. Then, scrutinizing the song itself, he concluded that it seemed Austrian. It could perhaps have been composed by Mozart or Haydn. Ludwig decided to go directly to Vienna. There he searched high and low. Finding nothing, he took to the road once more, visiting many Austrian towns and cities — all to no avail. The Royal Concert Master eventually found himself sitting at a modest country inn just before crossing the German border. It was a charming inn; the food was good, the innkeeper was very polite and, in one corner, a caged bullfinch warbled sweetly. But Ludwig Erk noticed little of this. He just sat there frowning, wondering how he would explain the failure of his mission to the King. Suddenly, however, he noted with a start that the bullfinch had started warbling “Silent Night”!
“Where did you get that bird?” Erk asked the innkeeper.
“A traveler left him,” replied the innkeeper. “The man said he bought the bird in Salzburg, at Saint Peter’s Abbey.”
Ludwig Erk made straight for the abbey, an imposing edifice founded a thousand years before and where he knew Michael Haydn had once stayed. The venerable Abbot himself received the royal envoy, surrounded by all his monks. Erk quickly explained his mission, but neither his humming nor playing of the tune nor the story of the bullfinch provided a clue. The monks did not go in for training songbirds, the Abbot explained. Indeed, such was forbidden.
Nevertheless, the monks were more than happy to show him into the room Haydn had occupied, which was kept just as he had left it. There, Erk spent a full week perusing all of Haydn’s books and writings. Although Haydn had written many beautiful songs, “Silent Night” was not to be found among them. The search for the origin of “Silent Night” seemed to have reached another dead end.
In this life, however, ends are frequently only beginnings in disguise. The choir inspector, Ambrosius Prennsteiner, knew that one of the mischievous boys in the school attached to the abbey could easily have trained a bullfinch to sing “Silent Night.” It just remained for Prennsteiner to do a little detective work.
While all his boys awaited him at the vestry, he secretly posted himself outside the window and, with a leaf before his lips, whistled “Silent Night” in the manner of a bullfinch. After but a few bars, he heard one of the boys inside yelling, “Hey, you, your bird has come back!”
Well, so far, so good, thought Prennsteiner, and he continuedwhistling. A moment later,
he saw one of his nine-year-olds tiptoe around the corner to catch the winged singer, only to stop dumfounded at the sight of the inspector. “Well, well,” said Mr. Prennsteiner, “what’s your name?”
“Felix Gruber,” the boy replied in a small voice as he prepared to bend over. With a bit of further inquiry, the author of the “Song from Heaven” was finally discovered. Felix was the son of none other than Franz Xaver Gruber.
The choir inspector paid the composer a visit. Gruber was immensely surprised at the travels of his little song. He told Prennsteiner all about the origins of “Silent Night” from the inspiration of Father Mohr, who had died by then, and he corrected a few alterations that the song had suffered.
The corrected music was then sent to Ludwig Erk and inscribed in the King’s book, and in every Christmas book in the world since then, as: “Silent Night,” “by Mohr and Gruber.”