Europe At the Polls. But the Church Must Also Decide On Its Future – Settimo Cielo

Today, Sunday May 26, the polls close in the election of the parliament of the European Union. But what is happening between the Catholic Church and Europe? On the continent that for centuries has been the heart of the Christian faith, most of its inhabitants no longer seem interested in this faith. And vice-versa the Catholic Church, led by an Argentine pope, seems ever less interested in Europe, looking instead to Latin America, to Africa, to Asia.

It is this twofold “disinterest” that sparks the analysis that Sergio Belardinelli signs together with Angelo Panebianco in this book released on the verge of the elections:

Continue reading here:

Source: Europe At the Polls. But the Church Must Also Decide On Its Future – Settimo Cielo – Blog – L’Espresso

“Recite the Salve Regina every day and meditate on death”

“Father, I would like to change my life, but temptation is too strong for me.”

Saint Philippe Neri looked at this young man of good will and gently encouraged him:

“Take courage, my child. I recommend only that you do two things: Recite the Salve Regina every day, and meditate on death. Force yourself to imagine your body decomposing deep in the earth, with two hollow sockets in the place of your eyes already devoured by worms. And ask yourself: Is it for this that I am running after physical pleasures and losing Heaven?”

Following both pieces of advice, the young man prayed every day to the Virgin of mercy, life and hope, and pondered upon death. With God’s grace he learned how to resist temptation until the very end.

Taken from: 365 jours d’espérance avec François-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, éditions du Jubilé.


Source: “Recite the Salve Regina every day and meditate on death”

Pope Francis: Church Must Learn to Abandon Old ‘Traditions’

Getty Image

by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Today is the Feast of St. Vincent of Lérins.  He bequeathed to the generations a few principles of identifying sound doctrine.  I wrote something at length about that HERE.   It might be a good idea to read that in tandem with what I offer here below.

There’s a story today at Breitbart about Francis address to Caritas International, a very influential organization because it doles out money to needy churches.  The head of Caritas is in a position to garner gratitude from many in regions where aid is needed.  But I digress.

Francis made a remarkably odd speech to Caritas.  However, the Breitbart piece explains in part why Francis made his comments.     We should always try to understand what Francis said, no matter how incoherent it seems at first.

Pope Francis: Church Must Learn to Abandon Old ‘Traditions’

It is a mistake for the Church to try to hold onto old traditions or to have clear answers for everything, Pope Francis said Thursday.  [For everything?  No.  But for those things which can lead to or impede salvation, it is our duty to find clarity.  And we can find clarity, with reason and the help of revelation.]

Jesus intentionally omitted telling his disciples many things so that the Church would learn to renounce the desire for clarity and order, the pope told participants in the 21st general assembly of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s global charitable outreach. [Ummm…. really?  Maybe He didn’t tell them everything precisely so that they would strive to figure them out!  After all, He gave them HIS authority to teach.  What we believe MUST be rooted in some old and traditional, namely, the Apostolic Faith, the Apostolic Tradition.  As far as Christ wanting the  Church to renounce clarity and order, the Apostles seem to have had another impression.  There was the Council of Jerusalem, for example.  Paul, who understood the difference between local customs (as in the case of veils on women) didn’t write to various Church’s to leave them in doubt or to say “do as it seems best to you.”] 

When pagans first embraced the Christian faith, the question arose as to if they would have to abide by all the precepts of the Jewish law, something Jesus never spoke of, the pope noted.

By not always giving “clear rules” that would quickly resolve issues, Jesus was protecting the Church from the temptation of “efficientism,” Francis said, which is the desire for the Church to have everything under control, avoiding surprises, with its agenda always in order.  [And yet… there they were, a very short time after the Ascension, resolving questions and conflicts.]

This is not the way the Lord acts, he continued. He does not send answers from heaven. “He sends the Holy Spirit.”  [And the Holy Spirit isn’t separate in will from the Son.  The Lord said I will send MY Spirit.  Distinct Persons, but one divinity.  They cannot conflict.]

“Jesus does not want the church to be a perfect model, satisfied with its own organization and able to defend its good name,” he said. “Jesus did not live like this, but on a journey, without fearing the upheavals of life.”  [Isn’t this a bit of a mishmash?   “Jesus did not want the church to be a perfect model…”.   Oh?  He did say to His disciples, “be perfect”.  He told them to love on another.  He desired that they “be one”.  Francis introduced the notion of “organization”, as if that’s a bad thing.  The Apostles right away chose deacons.   That was a moment of “organization” that the Holy Spirit clearly guided.]

Living like Jesus demands the “courage of renunciation,” the pontiff said, a willingness toabandon traditions that are dear to us.  [What just would those traditions be, I wonder?  Is he setting up something for the upcoming Synod?  This is to Caritas after all, and the Synod will deal with places that Caritas works with.  Is this a set up for dropped celibacy?  After all, that’s a “dear tradition”.   What traditions is he talking about?]

Changing and adapting is not about imposing something new, he said, “but leaving aside something old.”  [With all respect, this is hardly to be understood.  Natura abhorret a vacuo.  Nature abhors a vacuum.   Create a vacuum and something else will rush in to fill it.   Think of this in our human, lived experience.  If you have a bad habit, you will more than likely never break it, unless you replace it with a good habit.  In the parable of the Lord about the demons driven out, they return to the empty house in greater numbers – it wasn’t filled with that which could resist the demons.  It was empty.  When there is lack of clarity in law or teaching, unity breaks down as home-brewed ideas and customs fill the blanks.  Also, when you impose something new, you can create chaos, just as what happened with the sudden and largely undesired imposition of the Novus Ordo.  Stability allows for slow and organic development.  Patience and tradition are key.]

Those early Christians had to learn to leave behind “important religious traditions and precepts, dear to the chosen people,” he said, by which their very “religious identity” was at stake.  [Hang on.   Sure, early Christians changed, for example, laws about food and circumcision and the day they worshiped God.   But these changes were explained in light of the Good News, the New Creation in the person of the New Adam, Christ, who made all things new and who will make all things new in the end.  Moreover, the changes were explained even as new practices were introduced… nay rather… imposed even in the face of the resistance of the Judaizers.]

In the end, they did not need a bunch of doctrines and traditions. but the simple announcement that “God is love,” Francis said, and in the face of this great truth, “even convictions and human traditions can and must be abandoned, since they are more of an obstacle than a help.” [!.. !..! Wait just a minute!  Jesus challenged the human traditions of the Jews when he outlawed divorce and remarriage in so stunning a way that even the Apostles gasped for air (Matt 19).  So, Jesus did NOT come merely to teach that “God is love” and leave us on our own. Also in the Council of Jerusalem, Peter, while giving in to Paul’s demands, nevertheless banned Gentile converts from INCEST AND POLYGAMY (porneia). So not everything that looks like marriage is marriage.  From the beginning, the Lord gave rules, structures,
laws and the Apostles, who understood Him clearly, continued in that line probably because of all the things Christ told them before He ascended.  They didn’t just make things up.]

“God often purifies, simplifies, and makes us grow by taking away, not by adding, as we might do,” he said.

“True faith cleanses from attachments,” he said. “As a church, we are not called to corporate compromises, but to evangelical enterprise.”  [Hang on!   Every credal formula of every Council was a “corporate compromise”.  They were the very definition of corporate compromises!  Various factions came together in moments of unclarity to seek clarity.  They fought over language.  They came up with compromise formulas that were simultaneously rooted in Apostolic Tradition but also just ambiguous enough that all parties could sign on.   If every problem wasn’t solved at that moment, what they passed on would be the foundation for another Council’s work when more questions came up.  Rinse and repeat.  Slowly, over centuries, the Church came up with, for example, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed which we recite at Masses.   Is that something we give up, because it was a corporate compromise?  It is a dear tradition, too.  The documents of the Second Vatican Council were all “corporate compromises”, worked on in draft after draft and eventually voted on.  Let’s jettison those first, since they are chronologically nearest.   Wait, no.  John XXIII when he called for Vatican II also called for a new Code of Canon Law.  That came out in 1983.  That has to go, too.]


I get it, in a way.   Above all law and formulations of doctrine is the love of God, our love for Him and His for us.   That grasped, all our formulations of doctrine and law, all our customs and productions of art and music, our gestures of liturgical worship grow up simultaneously in different cultures, side by side, reflecting at their core the same Apostolic Faith handed down through the Church to us today.

Christ gave Peter the obvious vice-headship of the Church when He renamed him, gave him His “keys” and then revitalized him three times over on the shores of the sea after the Resurrection.   That’s a visible sign of unity for clarity.

The Church has its Four Marks for the sake of clarity, so that know which Church is the Church Christ founded, lest we stray.  The Church has its Attributes, again for clarity and security within her embrace.

Unity in worship is guaranteed by laws so that we do not become, over time, divided in prayer and divided in belief, because how we pray affects what we believe.   Common worship connects us not only with people overseas, but also over the boundary of death, across generations.

I get it, in a way.  He wants to stress the love of God.

I don’t see the need to create a conflict between that vision and the traditions various peoples have evolved, with love, over centuries.

It seems to me that structure also frees us up to love as we ought.

At the top I mentioned St. Vincent of Lérins and a previous post about him   Here is an excerpt.

Tracking back to Vincent of Lérins I found a sobering and consoling passage.

Allow me a slight editing choice from “he” to “you”… which doesn’t change the sense at all!

“….he is the true and genuine Catholic who loves the truth of God, who loves the Church, who loves the Body of Christ, who esteems divine religion and the Catholic Faith above every thing, above the authority, above the regard, above the genius, above the eloquence, above the philosophy, of every man whatsoever; who set light by all of these, and continuing steadfast and established in the faith, resolves that he will believe that, and that only, which he is sure the Catholic Church has held universally and from ancient time; [Here start reading aloud…] but that whatsoever new and unheard-of doctrine you shall find to have been furtively introduced by some one or another, besides that of all or contrary to that of all the saints, this, you will understand, does not pertain to religion, but is permitted as a trial, being instructed especially by the words of the blessed Apostle Paul, who writes thus in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, ‘There must needs be heresies, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you:’ as though he should say, This is the reason why the authors of Heresies are not forthwith rooted up by God, namely, that they who are approved may be made manifest; that is, that it may be apparent of each individual, how tenacious and faithful and steadfast he is in his love of the Catholic faith.” Commonitorium 20.48

Opportunity, dear readers.  Opportunity!

If you hear something strange, then that strange thing becomes the cause of the clearer revelation of the truth.  God even tolerates heresies for the sake of pointing more clearly to the good teachers and teachings.


Fr. Rutler’s Weekly ColumnMay 26, 2019rev-george-w-rutler_avatar_1401662624-75x75-1
A chronic temptation of the historian is to play the “Monday morning quarterback” who assumes that he would have made a correct decision in a past crisis. But the players at the time could only postulate consequences. The appeasers who signed the Munich Agreement in 1938 do not enjoy a happy legacy, but then the thought of repeating the carnage of the Great War was unspeakable. In his first use of the term, back in 1911, Churchill described “une politique d’apaisement” as a wise strategy.   A magnanimous Churchill wept at the coffin of Neville Chamberlain and eulogized: “The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions.” But if blundering by innocence is forgivable, not learning from mistakes is unconscionable. That distinguishes innocence from naiveté. Experience has crafted the adage: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”   Some future historian may impute a lack of probity to the Vatican agreement with Beijing in 2018, which conceded civil interference in the appointment of bishops. Though difficult to assess since the full text has not been published, this clearly contravenes the canonical stricture that “In the future, no rights and privileges of election, nomination, presentation, or designation of bishops are granted to civil authorities.” (Code of Canon Law c. 377.5)   After Pope Pius XI realized that the Reichskonkordat of 1933 had been abused by Nazi Germany, he issued the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge—“with burning indignation.”Damage had been done, just as the Yalta Agreement of 1945 put Poland on the chopping block, a betrayal never forgotten by a Polish pope (Centesimus Annus, n. 24). He denounced the fallacy of communism in Warsaw in 1979, and Reagan did the same in his Westminster speech in 1982. The New York Times displayed its propensity to be fooled more than twice, by editorializing that John Paul II “does not threaten the political order of the nation or of Eastern Europe” and that Reagan was “bordering on delusional.”   While the Holy See invokes two thousand years of diplomatic experience, China beats that by more than twice, and has treated the 2018 agreement as tissue, tearing down churches and persecuting faithful Catholics, not to mention banishing over a million Uighur Muslims and Falun Gong cultists to concentration camps. The issue is not theology but control. The Vatican Secretary of State said that “an act of faith is needed” for the agreement to work, but the heroic Cardinal Zen replied that a “miracle” is needed, and miracles are rare in Rome and Beijing.    Diplomacy is a delicate art, and there have been saints among Catholic emissaries, though few remember Eusebius of Murano, Conrad of Ascoli, Anastasius Apocrisarius, and Fulrad of Saint Denis. There remains the haunting specter of the only diplomat among the Twelve Apostles, “who by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place” (Acts 1:25).


The wonders of Our Lady of Bargemon

In 1635, Elisabeth Caille, a resident of the village of Bargemon (diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, southern France) had been suffering for 2 years from a constant fever accompanied by a retraction of the nerves, which made her prone to accidents. She fell about five or six times a day, and all medical treatments were useless.

On the evening of March 17, 1635, a beautiful pilgrim knocked on the door of Elisabeth’s house. She was dressed in a poor and worn coat, but under it she wore a green velvet dress. Her face of rare beauty was smiling; her hair was long and blond; her eyes shone with a bright and soft light. She wore a little hat the color of her dress, adorned with a gold crown and pearls.

Astonished, Elisabeth asked her where she came from. The lady answered, “From far away,” and asked for directions to the church to pay homage to God. Elisabeth accompanied her there and prayed with her, then she invited the stranger to rest at her place. But the beautiful lady refused, saying that she had come only to cure Elisabeth of her illness and to ask her to make her a dress, for the first one she was wearing was too worn. Having obtained promise of this dress, the pilgrim disappeared.

The next day, white penitents knocked on Elisabeth’s door, carrying a statuette of Our Lady in a box covered with green taffeta. They wanted to ask her husband, who knew the master glassmaker of the region, to provide them with an encasement to house the statuette. Still struck by the vision of the day before, Elisabeth recognized in the statue the beautiful pilgrim who had spoken to her the day before! Her husband therefore went to see his friend the glassmaker to make the required encasement.

On the same day, Elisabeth was completely cured of her illness! The miracle was attested by doctors and by the local bishop. It was the first of a multitude of miracles for all those who have since come to honor and pray to Our Lady of Bargemon. In the 19th century, for various reasons, the shrine fell into disuse, but today it has regained its popularity, and healing and miracles are reported again.

Source: Notre Dame de Bargemon


Source: The wonders of Our Lady of Bargemon

What is the Common Link in Marian Apparitions? by Father Stanley Smolenski

The old and new basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, as seen from Tepeyac Hill
The old and new basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, as seen from Tepeyac Hill (Photo by Kevin Knight)
What is the Common Link in Marian Apparitions?
Our Lady’s apparitions are full of biblical imagery

When Our Lady appears, so does biblical symbolism connected to her and her messages for us.

I have often wondered about certain aspects in Our Lady’s apparitions. For instance, why did she appear at Lourdes with roses on her feet? Flowers are meant to beautify our churches, homes and gardens. Mothers receive corsages on Mother’s Day. But who puts a rose on their toes?

Our Lady does things intelligently and therefore there must have been a reason related to her message. My bewilderment was resolved when I came across Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful are the feet of those on the mountain who announce peace.” It came to me that Our Lady was using biblical imagery in her messages.

Another aspect of the Lourdes vision that I couldn’t comprehend was why she spoke to Bernadette from a niche in that massive rock. She sat in a chair when speaking to St. Catherine Labouré, which is quite normal. The biblical symbolism theory resolved that as well.

Scripture speaks of rocks in both the Old and New Testaments. Moses struck a rock and water gushed out (Numbers 20:11). St. Paul compared Christ to that rock, but who gives spiritual drink (1 Corinthians 1:4). That brings us to Christ Crucified who was pierced in his side from which blood and water flowed (John 19:34), signifying the grace by which the Church is born. Our Lady identified herself to Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception. She, then, as the Immaculate Conception, exemplifies the Church in its perfection emerging from the wounded heart of Christ.

The miraculous water flowing from the Lourdes Grotto fits into that imagery very well. “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (immaculate)” (Ephesians 25:27).

A third aspect of the Lourdes apparition which does not seem to be given much attention to are the first three days — perhaps because she did not speak to Bernadette verbally. But she got her message across through the Rosary, which Bernadette recited in her presence on those days. That was the first thing Bernadette did almost instinctively and noted that she could not raise her hand to make the sign of the Cross until Our Lady did. In other words, her physical actions were synchronized with that of Our Lady. This was an outward indication that inwardly Bernadette’s heart was synchronized with the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary. Since the first day was a Thursday, perhaps the Joyful Mysteries were commemorated, on Friday the Sorrowful Mysteries and on Saturday the Glorious. This could be in preparation for the verbal messages that would follow.

Our Lady’s frequent pose, as Bernadette described her, was that as found on the Miraculous Medal — which seems to link it to the chain of Immaculate Conception events. The position of Mary’s outstretched hands is essential to her title of grace. To appreciate its importance, we can look to Scripture, namely, Proverbs 31 which praises the virtues of a dedicated woman, wife and mother. Proverbs 31:20 is the key passage: “She extends her hand to the poor and stretches her hands to the needy.” Since it is especially to the needy that she extends her hands, this then identifies the particular virtue for which she is commended here – that virtue is mercy. Mercy desires to relieve misery.


Biblical Fatima

As to biblical imagery in the Fatima apparitions, there is the star at the bottom of Our Lady’s robe, which has a double significance. “Star” in Persian is “Esther,” the Jewish Queen who saved her people from extermination on the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. That signifies Mary’s mission as a modern Esther saving the Church in our times.

The second significance is as the Star of Evangelization. In his 1975 document on evangelization, St. Paul VI proclaimed Mary the Star of Evangelization. As the Magi were guided by a star in their search for Christ, so Mary can guide us to him because of her unique maternal relationship to him. In his 2007 encyclical On Christian Hope, Pope Benedict pointed out, “Who more than Mary could be a star of hope for us?”

As for the Fatima miracle of the sun, that has the symbols of the time of Noah: rain, rainbow and a new earth. It rained fiercely that day at Fatima. During the spinning of the sun, the Cova was covered with various colors, at the end of which the earth was cleared of the mud and water as was the clothing of the people. Thus, we see a miraculous renewal of the earth. In the Old Testament story, the former immoral population was replaced by Noah’s God-fearing family as a new beginning. Our Lady had said that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph, which implies another beginning. That was all signified in the Fatima miracle.


Biblical Guadalupe

At Tepeyac in Mexico, she imprinted her image miraculously. She is shown in a rose-colored robe decorated in a floral pattern according to Aztec religious hieroglyphics, and a blueish mantle sprinkled with stars according to the celestial pattern of that day. The biblical reference is to Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I make all things new.” Her floral robe represents the earth and her star-studded mantle represents the sky.

She appeared on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (celebrated at that time on Dec. 9) which commemorates her complete freedom from sin and perfect sanctity toward God — prefiguring creation totally restored to the Glory of God the Father. She certainly brought down the former evil Mexican culture, based on continuous human sacrifice, and renewed it through the life-giving Gospel of her Divine Son.


Biblical Knock

The 1879 apparition at the village of Knock, Ireland is replete with scriptural symbolism. It was an outdoor apparition at a church gable. In the center was a young lamb standing on an altar surrounded by angels. To the left were three figures in white. In the center was Our Lady wearing a crown with her arms raised in prayer like a priest at Mass and her eyes looking heavenward. There was a miniature rose where the crown touched her brow. To the left of her was St. Joseph turned toward Our Lady, his head bowing slightly and his hands folded in prayer. He seemed middle-aged because his hair was beginning to turn gray. Between Our Lady and the altar was St. John the Evangelist dressed as a bishop with an open book in his right hand and his left uplifted as though preaching.

Knock is a liturgical tableau reminiscent of the Book of Revelation where the Lamb of God is prominent. It portrays the inhabitants of heaven in worship. Mary is the Queen of the Liturgy, having treasured and pondered the mighty works of God in her heart. The rose near her crown recalls her title of Mystical Rose. St. Joseph is in a contemplative pose, while St. John is expounding the Mystery of the Eucharist as found in his Gospel. The fact that this apparition took place at the parish Church of St. John the Baptist, the prophet who prepared numerous hearts for the Lamb and his wedding feast, indicates the totality of the Gospel, St. John the Baptist symbolizing the beginning on earth and the apparition portraying the conclusion in heaven.

Our Lady is ingenious in creating such imaginative means to substantiate her verbal messages. Such settings wrap up the apparitions beautifully.


Father Smolenski is the director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Joyful Hope in Kingstree, South Carolina

View Comments


Bill Donohue comments on a vote yesterday by the California state Senate:

In a frontal assault on religious freedom, the California state Senate yesterday voted overwhelmingly to require Catholic priests to violate the seal of the confessional.

By a 30-4 vote, the Senate passed SB360, requiring Catholic priests to report to civil authorities when a penitent confesses to sexual abuse of a minor. The bill received the votes of 27 Democrats and 3 Republicans. Four Republicans voted No, while three Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.

While the bill had previously been amended to include only confessions from fellow priests or co-workers, it is still an unacceptable intrusion by government into a sacred sacrament of the Catholic Church. We stand with Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez in calling on California’s government to strengthen mandatory reporting requirements while respecting “the sanctity of penitential communications.”

This bill is absolutely unenforceable. No priest is going to respect it and violate the sanctity of the confessional. Moreover, Catholics are not required to respect unjust laws—and this is a clear example of such a law.

The bill now moves to the state Assembly, where hopefully more enlightened minds will see through its false presumptions. It is all smoke and mirrors. It will do nothing to help protect minors from the scourge of sexual abuse.