Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The challenge to Pope Francis and Amoris Laetitia II: A Year After "Amoris Laetitia". A Timely Word

On April 22, 2017 at the Hotel Columbus in Rome and in the vicinity of St. Peter's Square a conference took place called "Seeing Clarity: One year after Amoris Laetitia." It featured six eminent Catholic laymen who called on Pope Francis to answer the dubia of the four cardinals on the matter of certain passages in Amoris Laetitia, passages that undermine the Church's magisterial teaching on adultery, mortal sin and the Holy Eucharist.

This is the second of six, which will be posted on subsequent days.

A Year After "Amoris Laetitia". A Timely Word
by Dr. Anna M. Silvas

‘I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out all over the world, and I said, groaning: ‘What can get through so many snares?’ Then I heard a voice saying to me: ‘Humility’. So said Abba Antony the Great, Father of Monks.

And so also it seems to me, in accepting to speak to you now, a year after "Amoris Laetitia". Please forgive me, for it seems to me any number of more qualified lay faithful should be speaking ahead of me. The current field of the Church is so strewn with canonical, theological, and ecclesiological snares, one would hardly dare say anything, so strange is this hour in the Church.

If I were to point to one issue the present crisis in the Church is, it would be ‘modernity’, and that mood in the Church that so greatly prizes ‘modernity’ and follows it at all costs. Theologian Tracey Rowland points out that ‘the modern’ to which we were urged to update, was never defined in the documents of Vatican II, a truly extraordinary lacuna. She says: ‘The absence of a theological examination of this cultural phenomenon called ‘modernity’ or ‘the modern world’ by Conciliar fathers in the years 1962-65 is perhaps one of the most striking features of the documents of the Second Vatican Council.’ (1)

The Latin word moderna means the ‘just now’, the ‘latest’, the ‘most recent.’ The cult of modernity happens when we make this an overriding object of desire, so to gain the approval of the elite classes, the captains of the media and arbiters of culture. If I were to place the finger of diagnosis, it would be precisely on this emulous desire.

Two years ago or so, a young friend of mine who is a teacher and passionately committed in her Catholic faith, took a new job in a new Catholic School. One day some of her Year 8 students did a class exercise in ‘politics’. Her students were in the second year of high-school, so they had been through eight years of Catholic schooling, and through the whole sacramental ‘program’—horrible word that; what does its use signify? She asked that if they were a candidate for an upcoming election, what would would be their policies. To her surprise, every one of them, except for one boy, nominated same-sex marriage and the LGBT agenda. So she began to engage them in remedial conversation. That brought home to me how far the values of a purely secular modernity have more ascendency among ‘Catholics’ today, than the values of the life in Christ and the teachings of the Church. Immersion in the practices of modernity has led to a de facto situation, that the mythos of modernity has seeped into the very bone-marrow and veins of Catholics. It permeates their way of thinking and acting implicitly. I look around, and I begin to wonder, with horror, how much this is now true of the leadership of the Church, perhaps even among the best of them. How many are deeply, deeply, more tributary to the modern world’s ‘program’, than obedient to Christ’s summons to our deepest mind and heart, really?

Under St John-Paul II we seemed to have something of a ‘push-back’ for a while, at least in some areas, especially his intense explication of the nuptial mystery of our first creation, in support of Humanae Vitae. This continued under Benedict XVI, with some attempt to address liturgical decay, and the moral ’filth’ of clerical sexual abuse. We had hoped that some remediation at least was in train. Now, in the few short years of Pope Francis’ pontificate, the stale and musty spirit of the seventies has resurged, bringing with it seven other demons. And if we were in any doubt about this before, "Amoris Laetitia" and its aftermath in the past year make it perfectly clear that this is our crisis. That this alien spirit appears to have finally swallowed up the See of Peter, dragging ever widening cohorts of compliant higher church leadership into its net, is its most dismaying, and indeed shocking aspect to many of us, the Catholic lay faithful. I look up at any number of higher prelates, bishops and theologians, and I cannot detect in them, by all that is holy, the least level of the sensus fidelium—and these are bearers of the Church’s teaching office? Who would risk their immortal soul by trusting to their moral judgment in Confession?
In preparation for this paper, I thoughtfully re-read "Amoris Laetitia" after nearly a year. As I waded into the murky waters of Chapter Eight, I was overwhelmingly confirmed in my reading of it last year. In fact it seemed to me a worse document than I thought it was, and I had thought it very bad.
There is no need here to offer further detailed analyses, carried out by so many thoughtful commentators in the intervening year, such as the early heroes Robert Spaeman and Roberto de Mattei, Bishop Schneider, the ’45 Theologians’, Finis and Grisez, and many others, all of whom should appear on an roll-call of honour when the history of these times comes to be written.
There is one group however, whose approach I find very strange: the intentionally orthodox among higher prelates and theologians who treat the turmoil arising from "Amoris Laetitia" as a matter of ‘misinterpretations’. They will focus on the text alone, abstracted from any of the known antecedents in the words and acts of Pope Francis himself or its wider historical context. It is as if they interpose a chasm that cannot be crossed between the person of the Pope on the one hand, over whose signature this document was published, and the ‘text’ of the document on the other hand. With the Holy Father safely quarantined out of all consideration, they are free to address the problem, which they identify as ‘misuse’ of the text. They then express the pious plea that the Holy Father will ‘correct’ these errors.

No doubt the perceived constraints of piety to the successor of Peter account for these contorted manoeuvres. I know, I know! We have been facing down that conundrum for a year or longer. But to any sane and thoughtful reader, who, in the words of the 45 Theologian’s Censures, is ‘not trying to twist the words of the document in any direction, but … take the natural or the immediate impression of the meaning of the words to be correct’, this smacks of a highly wrought artificiality.
Pope Francis’ ‘intent’ in this text is perfectly recoverable from the text itself, reading normally and naturally and without filters. Let us try some examples.

The first of the Cardinals’ Five Dubia concludes: ‘Can the expression “in certain cases” found in Note 351 of the exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live more uxorio?’ Without doubt, a papal clarification of the intent in this footnote is of urgent importance to the Church. Nevertheless, what the Pope intended is clear from the beginning of this current section #301. His topic is ‘those living in “irregular situations”’. All that is said a few lines later about those in situations of objective sin growing in grace and charity and sanctification, maybe with the help of the sacraments, Holy Communion in particular, is posted under this heading of ‘irregular situations’.

That those in supposedly ‘sanctifying’ ‘irregular situations’ who are admitted to the Eucharist include the divorced and civilly remarried who do not intend to abrogate their sexual relationship, is flagged in #298, where in footnote 329, a passage in G&S 51 which discusses the question of temporary continence within marriage, as taught by St Paul, is outrageously transposed to those not in a Christian marriage, i.e. in ‘irregular situations’, as an argument that they should not have to live as brother and sister. The intention, prefaced by a misrepresentation of St John Paul and a bare-faced lie about the meaning of G&S 51 is clear. So where is the difficulty in understanding what the Pope intends?

In #299 Pope Francis asks us to discern ‘which of the various forms of exclusion currently practised in the liturgical, pastoral, educational and institutional framework, can be surmounted.’ This indicates his aim clearly: how are we going to overcome those ‘exclusions’, liturgical first of all, practised till now? Where is the difficulty in grasping Pope Francis’ intent?

And there are many other instances like this. As early as the preface he alerts us that ‘everyone should feel challenged by Chapter Eight”, and then late in that chapter (#308) admits obliquely that his approach may leave room for confusion. Let us believe him: this is his intent, which is not at all that difficult to grasp.

We have noted the abstract focus on the text alone that punctiliously excludes the acts and the person of Pope Francis from all consideration of the document’s intent. Also strictly excluded as a means of ascertaining the Pope’s mind, are the wider historical antecedents. To pick off a few in a galaxy of incidents, these include Archbishop Bergoglio’s known practice in his archdiocese of tacitly admitting to Holy Communion all comers, the cohabiting, as well as the divorced and civilly remarried (2), his personal choice of Cardinal Kasper to deliver the opening address of the 2014 Synod, as if we are to politely turn a blind eye to the entire back-history of Kasper’s activities on these issues, the various ways in which these two synods were massaged, such as the papal order that a proposition on communion for the divorced and remarried, voted down by the bishops in the 2014 synod, be included in the final relatio (3), his scathing condemnations of the Pharisees and other rigid persons in his concluding address at the conclusion of the 2015 Synod, and more recently, his warm praise of Bernard Häring, the doyen of dissenting moral theologians throughout the 1970s and 80s, whose 1989 book on admitting the divorced and civilly remarried to the Eucharist in imitation of the Eastern Orthodox oikonomia, was ammunition in Kasper’s saddle bag. Then of course there was Pope Francis’ endorsement of the Argentinian bishops ‘interpretation’ of AL, precisely in the way that he intended: ‘No hay otras interpretaciones.’ (5) You know all these incidents, and many, many more, almost on a daily basis, in which it is not difficult to grasp Francis’ intent at all.
Pope Francis, I am sure, is very well aware of the doctrine of papal infallibility, knows how high are its provisos—and is astute enough never to trigger its mechanism. The unique prestige of the papacy in the Catholic Church, together with the practical affective papalism of many Catholics, however, are useful assets, and these he will exploit to the full. For to Francis, and we have to grasp this: infallibility doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter at all, if he can continue to be the sort of change-agent in the Church he wants to be. That this is his spirit we learn in AL #3 where he says:
‘Since “time is greater than space”, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does (5).

But I think ‘the spirit’ to which Francis so soothingly alludes, has more to do with Hegel’s Geist, than with the Holy Spirit of whom our blessed Lord speaks, the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him (Jn14:17). The Hegelian Geist on the other hand, manifests itself in the midst of contradictions and oppositions, surmounting them in a new synthesis, without eliminating the polarities or reducing one to the other. This is the gnostic spirit of the cult of modernity.

So Francis will pursue his agenda without papal infallibility, and without fussing about magisterial pronouncements. He tells us so in the third paragraph of AL: Since “time is greater than space”, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium". We are in a world of dynamic fluidity here, of starting open-ended processes, of sowing seeds of desired change that will triumph over time. Other theorists—you have here in Italy, Gramscii and his manifesto of cultural Marxism—teach how to achieve revolution by stealth. So within the Church, Francis and his collaborators deal with the matter of doctrine, not by confronting theory head on, because if they did so they would be defeated, but by an incremental change of praxis, played to the siren song of plausible persuasions, until the praxis is sufficiently built up over time to a point of no return. Such underhand tactics are clearly playing to the tune of Hegelian dialectic. That this is Pope Francis’s modus operandi, consider a certain ‘behind the scenes incident’ in the 2015 Synod, ‘“If we speak explicitly about communion for the divorced and remarried,” said Archbishop Forte, reporting a joke of Pope Francis, “you do not know what a terrible mess we will make. So we won’t speak plainly, (but) do it in a way that the premises are there, then I will draw out the conclusions.” “Typical of a Jesuit,” Abp Forte joked (6).

Then slowly, region by region, bishops around the world begin to ‘interpret’ AL to mean that the Church has now ‘developed’ her pastoral praxis to admit the divorced and civilly remarried to the Eucharist, setting aside the gravest of sacramental provisos that obtained up till now—provided of course that a sonorous note of ‘accompaniment’ is struck. And when Pope Francis sees this happening, what is his response? He rejoices to find that they have accurately picked up his cues in AL: I have already mentioned his famous ‘No hay otras interpretaciones’ to the Argentinian bishops; the latest is his letter of thanks to the bishops of Malta for their interpretations.

I think it an injustice to blame these bishops for ‘misuse’ of AL. No, they have drawn the conclusions patent to any thoughtful, unblinkered reader of this papal document. The blame however, and the tragedy for the Church lies in the intent embedded and articulated well enough in "Amoris Laetitia" itself, and in the naïve papalism on the part of bishops, that has so poor a purchase on the Church’s imperishable obedience of faith, that it cannot perceive when it is under most dangerous attack, even from that most lofty quarter.

In this game of subterfuge and incremental intent, the elaborate talk of painstaking ‘discernment’ and ‘accompaniment’ of difficult moral situations has a definite function—as a temporary blind for the ultimate goal. Have we not seen how the dark arts of the ‘hard case’ work in secular politicking, used to pivot the next tranche of social reengineering? So now in the politics of the Church. The final result will be precisely in accord with Archbishop Bergoglio’s tacit practice for years in Buenos Aires. Make no mistake, the end game is a more or less indifferent permission for any who present for Holy Communion. And so we attain the longed for haven of all-inclusiveness and ‘mercy’: the terminal trivialization of the Eucharist, of sin and repentance, of the sacrament of Matrimony, of any belief in objective and transcendent truth, the evisceration of language, and of any stance of compunction before the living God, the God of Holiness and Truth. If I may adapt here a saying of St Thomas Aquinas: Mercy without truth is the mother of dissolution (7).

Pope Francis has absolutely no intention of playing by anyone’s ‘rules’—least of all yours or mine or anyone else’s ‘rules’ for the papacy. You know well what he thinks of ‘rules’. He tell us so constantly. It is one of the milder disparagements in his familiar stock of insults. When I hear those who lecture us that Pope Francis is the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Church today, I do not know whether to laugh at the naivety of it, or weep at the damage being done to immortal souls. I would say that yes, Francis is the agent of a spirit, namely the Hegelian Geist of ‘modernity’ very much at work in the Church. It is, as I said earlier, a stale and musty spirit, an old spirit that has no life in it, a privative force that only knows how to feed parasitically on what already is. I am not sure that Newman’s Essay on the Development of Doctrine does not give us all we need to face the present crisis. In his seven ‘notes’ or criteria for discerning genuine development of doctrine from its corruption, Newman provides the needed response to the Hegelian praxis dialectically overwhelming theoria. The seventh note is “chronic vigour”. Over time, a corruption shows itself to be exceedingly vigorous—but only at the beginning of the “infection”, since it does not possess the life to sustain itself in the long term. It will run its course and die out. The Life of Grace, however, possesses in itself the Divine Life, and will therefore throw off in the course of time all that militates against it. Truth perdures. There will be moments of high drama, but, eventually, it must necessarily prevail. It is the way in which grace acts in the organic development of nature, the very reverse of the gnostic ‘time is greater than space’.
My dear fellow-believers in Christ Jesus our Lord, this false spirit shall not, cannot ultimately prevail. In the 16th Century, the Protestant revolt demoted Marriage from a sacrament, and set in train the secularisation of marriage in the West. Constantinople began to lose its purchase on the accuracy of the Gospel of marriage with the Emperor Justinian and his Roman civil law of divorce. As the scandalous example of adulterous Emperors and Empresses remarried in the lifetime of their true spouses filtered down into the Church and became the custom, so a fair-seeming theology of oikonomia grew up to cloak this grave breach with holy Tradition. This is what Häring, Kasper and co, in their ignorant folly, have been invoking as an example for us to follow. Only till now did the Catholic Church in communion with Rome hold fast the Dominical and Apostolic teaching on the sacramentality and indissolubility of Christian marriage. I qualify that: you should study the recent history of the Coptic Church on this issue: it is most inspiring and encouraging. Let us take the Copts for our allies, in this and in other ways too.

Is it still a possibility, the Cardinals’ proposed fraternal correction of the Pope? We heard of this last November, and it surely lifted our beleaguered spirits. But now it is the end of April, and nothing has come of it. I cannot help but think of that passage from Shakespeare: There is a tide in the affairs of men…, and wonder if the tide has come and gone, and we the lay faithful are left stranded again.
Yet Cardinal Burke has recently said: “Until these questions are answered, there continues to spread a very harmful confusion in the Church, and one of the fundamental questions is in regards to the truth that there are some acts that are always and everywhere wrong, what we call intrinsically evil acts, and so, we cardinals, will continue to insist that we get a response to these honest questions.” (8)
Well, I hope so, dear Cardinals, I hope so. We the faithful, beg you: forget about calculating prudent outcomes. Real prudence should tell you when it is the right time for courageous witness, whose other name is martyrdom.

Pope Francis will not heed any fraternal correction, as John XXII once did. But you know what? It would not matter much even if he did publish some statement along those lines. Let one 24 hour news-cycle go by, and we had better not count on it that further utterances do not subtly undercut or openly contradict what was said the day before. If we have not learnt that about his manner by now, then we truly are the stupidest of sheep—or shepherds, as the case may be. Pardon me if I venture to say this, but, however we account for it, the papacy is not working right now in the Church. Until we face this reality, unbelievable as it may seem, we are bound in intimidation and illusion, and the way out that the Lord would open up for us will be deferred. What kind of prophet do you want to show you the times? Hananiah or Jeremiah? Choose.

What then is the plight of us the lay faithful in these days of severe trial in the Church? I could hardly better the following comment, to an article by the honourable and courageous struggler, Steve Skojec, on 1P5. Pray for Steve and his family. The author of the comment is Roderick Halvorsen from Santa, Idaho. He came into the Catholic Church from Protestantism some years ago, and has no intention of leaving, but sees the follies of liberal Protestantism metastasizing in the Catholic Church. He speaks here of us, the lay faithful: "But in reality, God is testing us. He is asking us to be in relationship with HIM, yes, personally and intimately and truly. He has taken all the “crutches” of Catholicism away; the power, the glory, the world’s respect, trustworthy leaders and models, in short, all the stuff that can be of assistance to the faith, but is unnecessary to the faith, and like wealth and worldly success, can be the source of a weakening of our faith, when we begin to shift our trust to the “culture” of the faith, instead of to the person of our faith: Jesus Christ." (9)

Jesus answered, and said to him: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23). To this abode, this abiding, this being hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3), therefore, we must go.

In the midst of social, cultural and ecclesial collapse, it is a wonderful thing, but I see signs of a common cause between monasticism and the lay faithful who are seeking this interior abiding with Christ. Rod Dreher’s the Benedict Option that appeared a few weeks ago, attests this movement. For not in efficient political programs, but ‘below radar’ so to speak, in the humble life of community ordered in Christ, monastic communities quietly established advance outposts of a new liturgical universe in the rubble of the western Roman empire. In other ways too, the lay faithful, and I have in mind especially the domestic churches of families, sense the worsening crises of these times, and intuit that for them the way of spiritual contest is in the local community, in the small, the hidden, the unimportant in this world’s eyes. They have little or no role in the ecclesiastical world, or perhaps in worldly success either. Such seekers hunger for an alternative liturgy of life and community, prayer and work, and some of them are sensing that deep monasticism has a word for them. A dear friend in the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne, sadly soon to close, Conor Sweeney, likes to use the hobbits in Tolkien’s mythology as an analogy for this hidden alternative Christian lifestyle. For it was the hobbits, an insignificant folk, who had no part in the counsels of the mighty, who against all odds had the decisive role in overturning the powerful forces of the dark Lord threatening to engulf the whole of Middle Earth in a reign of savagery.

I have another friend, Michael Ryan, a married man and father, whose shining light of inspiration among the saints is St Bruno. Imagine it, the witness of the most intentionally contemplative monastic life in the Western Church, the Carthusians, a beacon of hope to the lay faithful? For deep monasticism is all about moné, ‘abode’ or ‘abiding’ in Christ, about waiting and watching with hope-filled faith, as ‘useful’ as the Prophet Habbakuk standing upon his watch and stationing himself on the watchtower, as ‘useful’ as Simeon and Anna haunting the temple and waiting their life long for the dawning light of salvation and knowing him when he came, as ‘useful’ as the women who sat at a distance and watched at our Lord’s tomb on the eve of the first Good Friday, as ‘useful’ as our all-holy Lady, Mary, taking her stand beside the Cross.

Perhaps prayer, prayer of this sort, is the most radically political act of all, and the very core of Christianity? Where O where have we Catholics been?

Our Lord himself used to rise long before dawn and watch in the night hours, even in the days of his busiest ministry. The disciples, awed one day by the mystery of his prayer, felt a deep wistful attraction: Lord, teach us to pray. This is the one emulous desire that we do need: Jesus, the one model to whose imitation we can give ourselves completely, and we will not be betrayed. Can we, is it at all possible to learn something of the sentiments that filled his human mind and heart in those solitary hours of intimacy with his Father? Yes we can, for in his great compassion he shared them with us in a form of words: sacred words, holy words of complete trustworthy power and truth:
Abba! Abbuna de b’ashmayo, yithqaddash shm’okh.

Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name…
Rome, April 22, 2017
(1) Tracey Rowland, Culture and the Thomist Tradition (London: Routledge 2003), 13.
(2) Above all he encouraged his priests not to deny communion to anyone, whether they be married, or cohabiting, or divorced and remarried. With no fuss and without making this decision public, the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires was already doing what the popes at the time prohibited, but he would later permit once he became pope.
—Sandro Magister, ‘The Man who had to be elected Pope’, http://www.onepeterfive.com/man-elected-... accessed Wednesday, April 5, 2017
(3) Relatio Synodi 2014, #52.
(4) https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-n...
(5) See Deacon Jim Russell, ‘Pope Francis ‘Time is greater than Space’: What does it mean?’, ,  ‘http://aleteia.org/2016/05/24/pope-francis-time-is-greater-than-space-what-does-it-mean/
(6) http://www.onepeterfive.com/pope-speakin... Friday, 7 April 2017
(7) Super Matthaeum, Cap.  V, l.  2. The original statement is: ‘Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution.’
(8) From https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/03/27/b...

(9) ‘RTHEVR’ from the comments to “Archbishop of Malta Claims Fidelity to Pope on Exhortation Guidelines”, Steve Skojec, February 20, 2017, http://www.onepeterfive.com/archbishop-o... accessed Wednesday, February 22, 2017.

Monday, 24 April 2017


On April 22, 2017 at the Hotel Columbus in Rome and in the vicinity of St. Peter's Square a conference took place called "Seeing Clarity: One year after Amoris Laetitia." It featured six eminent Catholic laymen who called on Pope Francis to answer the dubia of the four cardinals on the matter of certain passages in Amoris Laetitia, passages that undermine the Church's magisterial teaching on adultery, mortal sin and the Holy Eucharist.

This is the first of six, which will be posted on subsequent days.


by Claudio Pierantoni
Professor of Medieval Philosophy
University of Chile

In this presentation we will first briefly examine the incidents of two popes of antiquity, Liberius and Honorius, who for different reasons were accused of deviating from the Tradition of the Church, during the long Trinitarian and Christological controversy that occupied the Church from the 4th to the 7th century.

In the light of the reactions of the ecclesial body in the face of these doctrinal deviations, we will then examine the current debate that has developed around the proposals of Pope Francis in the apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” and the five “dubia” raised by the four cardinals.

1. The case of Honorius

Honorius I was the only pope to have been formally condemned for heresy. We are in the early decades of the 7th century, in the context of the controversy over the two wills of Christ. Honorius upheld the doctrine of the one will in Christ, or “monothelitism”, which was however later declared to be in contrast with the dogma of the two natures, divine and human, a doctrine solidly founded on biblical revelation and solemnly decreed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

Here is the text with which, in 681, after his death, the third ecumenical Council of Constantinople, the sixth ecumenical council, condemned him together with Patriarch Sergius:

“Having examined the dogmatic letters written by Sergius, in his time the patriarch of this imperial city. . . and the letter with which Honorius responded to Sergius, and having seen that they are not in keeping with the apostolic teachings and with the definitions of the holy councils and of all the illustrious holy Fathers, and that on the contrary they follow the false doctrines of the heretics, we reject them and execrate them as corruptive.”

2. The case of Liberius

Liberius was instead pope at one of the most delicate moments of the Arian controversy, halfway through the 4th century. His predecessor, Julius I, had tenaciously defended the faith established by the Council of Nicaea in 325, which declared the Son to be consubstantial with the Father. But Constantius, the emperor of the East, supported the majority position of the eastern bishops, contrary to Nicaea, which according to them did not leave room for the personal difference between the Father and the Son. He had the pope abducted, deposed, and sent into exile in Thrace, where after about a year he gave in.

Lberius thus renounced the faith of Nicaea and excommunicated Athanasius, who was its most significant defender. Now docile to the emperor, Liberius obtained permission to come back to Rome, where he was reinstalled as bishop. In the months that followed, all the pro-Arian prelates who had established their careers through the favor of Constantius consolidated their power in the main episcopal sees. This is the moment at which, according to the famous expression of Saint Jerome, “the world lamented that it had become Arian.” Of the more than one thousand bishops that Christendom numbered, only three stalwarts held firm in exile: Athanasius of Alexandria, Hilary of Poitiers, and Lucifer of Cagliari.

But Constantius died suddenly, in 361, and the emperor Julian, later called “the Apostate,” rose to the throne. He imposed the return of the Roman state to paganism, eliminated the whole ecclesiastical policy of Constantius at a stroke, and allowed the exiled bishops to go back to their jurisdictions. Free from threats, Pope Liberius sent an encyclical that declared invalid the formula he had previously approved, and required the bishops of Italy to accept the creed of Nicaea. In 366, in a synod celebrated in Rome shortly before he died, he even had the joy of obtaining the signature of the creed of Nicaea by a delegation of eastern bishops. As soon as he died he was venerated as a confessor of the faith, but devotion to him was soon interrupted because of the memory of his concession.

In spite of their differences, the two cases of Liberius and Honorius have in common an attenuating circumstance, and that is the fact that their respective doctrinal deviations took place when the respective doctrines were still being determined, that of the Trinity in the case of Liberius and the Christological one in the case of Honorius.

3. The case of Francis

However, the doctrinal deviation that is taking place during the current pontificate instead has an aggravating circumstance, because it is not countering doctrines that are still unclear, or still being determined, but doctrines that, in addition to being solidly anchored in Tradition, have also been exhaustively debated in recent decades and clarified in detail by the recent magisterium.

Of course, the doctrinal deviation in question was already present in recent decades and with it therefore was also the underground schism that this signified. But when one passes from an abuse at the practical level to its justification at the doctrinal level through a text of the pontifical magisterium like “Amoris Laetitia” and through positive statements and actions of the pontiff himself, the situation changes radically.

Let us see, in four points, the progress of this destruction of the deposit of the faith.


If marriage is indissoluble, and yet in some cases communion can be given to the divorced and remarried, it seems evident that this indissolubility is no longer considered absolute, but only a general rule that can admit exceptions.

Now this, as Cardinal Carlo Caffarra has explained well, contradicts the nature of the sacrament of marriage, which is not a simple promise, as solemn as it may be, made before God, but an action of grace that works at the genuinely ontological level. Therefore, when it is said that marriage is indissoluble, what is stated is not simply a general rule, but what is said is that ontologically marriage cannot be dissolved, because in it is contained the sign and the reality of the indissoluble marriage between God and his People, between Christ and his Church. And this mystical marriage is precisely the end of the whole divine plan of creation and redemption.


The author of “Amoris Laetitia” has instead chosen to insist, in his argumentation, on the subjective side of moral action. The subject, he says, may not be in mortal sin because, for various reasons, he is not fully aware that his situation constitutes adultery.

Now this, which in general terms can certtainly happen, in the utilization that “Amoris Laetitia” makes of it instead involves an evident contradiction. In fact, it is clear that the much-recommended discernment and accompaniment of individual situations directly contrast with the supposition that the subject remains, for an indefinite time, unaware of his situation.

But the author of “Amoris Laetitia,” far from perceiving this contradiction, pushes it to the further absurdity of affirming that an in-depth discernment can lead the subject to have the certainty that his situation, objectively contrary to the divine law, is precisely what God wants from him.


Recourse to the previous argument, in turn, betrays a dangerous confusion that in addition to the doctrine of the sacraments goes so far as to undermine the very notion of divine law, understood as the source of the natural law, reflected in the Ten Commandments: a law given to man because it is suited to regulating his fundamental behaviors, not limited to particular historical circumstances, but founded on his very nature, the author of which is none other than God.

Therefore, to suppose that the natural law may admit exceptions is a real and proper contradiction, it is a supposition that does not understand its true essence and therefore confuses it with positive law. The presence of this grave confusion is confirmed by the repeated attack, present in “Amoris Laetitia,” against the quibblers, the presumed “pharisees” who are hypocrites and hard of heart. This attack, in fact, betrays a complete misunderstanding of the position of Jesus toward the divine law, because his criticism of pharisaic behavior is based precisely on a clear distinction between positive law - the “precepts of men” - to which the pharisees are so attached, and the fundamental Commandments, which are instead the first requirement, indispensable, that he himself asks of the aspiring disciple. On the basis of this misunderstanding one understands the real reason why, after having so greatly insulted the pharisees, the pope ends up in de facto alignment with their own position in favor of divorce, against that of Jesus.

But, even more deeply, it is important to observe that this confusion profoundly distorts the very essence of the Gospel and its necessary grounding in the person of Christ.


Christ in fact, according to the Gospel, is not simply a good man who came into the world to preach a message of peace and justice. He is, first of all, the Logos, the Word who was in the beginning and who, in the fullness of time, becomes incarnate. It is significant that Benedict XVI, right from his homily “Pro eligendo romano pontifice,” made precisely the Logos the linchpin of his teaching, not by coincidence fought to the death by the subjectivism of the modern theories.

Now, in the realm of this subjectivist philosophy there is the justification of one of the postulates most dear to Pope Francis, according to which “realities are more important than ideas.” A maxim like this, in fact, makes sense only in a vision in which there cannot exist true ideas that not only faithfully reflect reality but can even judge and direct it. The Gospel, taken as a whole, presupposes this metaphysical and epistemological structure, where truth is in the first place the conforming of things to the intellect, and the intellect is in the first place that which is divine: indeed, the divine Word.

In this atmosphere it can be understood how it is possible that the editor of “La Civiltà Cattolica” could state that it is pastoral practice that must guide doctrine, and not the other way around, and that in theology “two plus two can equal five.” It explains why a Lutheran lady can receive communion together with her Catholic husband: the practice, in fact, the action, is that of the Lord’s Supper, which they have in common, while that in which they differ is only “the interpretations, the explanations,” mere concepts after all. But it also explains how, according to the superior general of the Society of Jesus, the incarnate Word is not capable of coming into contact with his creatures through the means that he himself chose, the apostolic Tradition: in fact, it would be necessary to know what Jesus truly said, but we cannot, he says, “since there was no recorder.”

Even more thoroughly in this atmosphere, finally, it is explained how the pope cannot answer “yes” or “no” to the “dubia.” If in fact “realities are more important than ideas,” then man does not even need to think with the principle of non-contradiction, he has no need of principles that say “this yes and this no” and must not even obey a transcendent natural law, which is not identified with reality itself. In short, man does not need a doctrine, because the historical reality suffices for itself. It is the “Weltgeist,” the Spirit of the World.

4. Conclusion

What leaps to the attention in the current situation is precisely the underlying doctrinal deformation that, as skillful as it may be in evading directly heterodox formulations, still maneuvers in a coherent way to carry forward an attack not only against particular dogmas like the indissolubility of marriage and the objectivity of the moral law, but even against the very concept of right doctrine, and with it, of the very person of Christ as Logos. The first victim of this doctrinal deformation is precisely the pope, who I hazard to conjecture is hardly aware of this, victim of a generalized epochal alienation from Tradition, in large segments of theological teaching.

In this situation, the “dubia,” these five questions presented by the four cardinals, have put the pope into a situation of stalemate. If he were to respond by denying Tradition and the magisterium of his predecessors, he would also be heretic formally, so he cannot do it. But if he were to respond in harmony with the previous magisterium, he would contradict many of the doctrinally significant actions carried out during his pontificate, so it would be a very difficult choice. He has therefore chosen silence because, humanly, the situation can seem to have no way out. But meanwhile, the confusion and the “de facto” schism are spreading in the Church.

In the light of all this, it therefore becomes more necessary than ever to make a further act of courage, truth, and charity, on the part of the cardinals but also of the bishops and then of all the qualified laity who would like to adhere to it. In such a serious situation of danger for the faith and of generalized scandal, it is not only licit but even obligatory to frankly address a fraternal correction to Peter, for his good and that of the whole Church.

A fraternal correction is neither an act of hostility, nor a lack of respect, nor an act of disobedience. It is nothing other than a declaration of truth: “caritas in veritate.” The pope, even before being pope, is our brother. 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Yes, Catholics celebrate "Passover!"

Related image

It is not often comment on my commentators, but I am going to make an exception.

Yesterday, I wrote a short post that included the prayer from First Vespers of today, Sunday in Albis. It is also the same prayer from this morning Matins and Lauds.

Grant, we beseech, O Almighty God, that we for whom the Feast of the Passover hath now drawn to an end, may in our life and manner ever keep new the healthful influence of the same. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.

A reader left the following absurd comment:

I didn't know you celebrated Passover. I celebrated Easter--the institution of the holy Eucharist, the Priesthood, and the passion, death & resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I will be celebrating for 40 days more culminating in the Ascension of Our Lord and Pentecost. Then Trinity Sunday.

In the Fourth Reading from this morning’s Matins, according to the Divino Affaltu of St. Pius X, which has existed from antiquity in the Divine Office. We read from the Fourth Reading from the Sermon of St. Augustine of Hippo:

1st Sermon for the Octave of the Passover, being the 157th for the Seasons.
The Feast of this day is the end of the Paschal solemnity, and therefore it is today that the Newly-Baptized put off their white garments : but, though they lay aside the outward mark of washing in their raiment, the mark of that washing in their souls remaineth to eternity. Now are the days of the Pass-over, that is, of God's Passing-over our iniquity by His pardon and remission; and therefore our first duty is so to sanctify the mirth of these holy days, that our bodily recreation may be taken without defilement to our spiritual cleanness. Let us strive that our relaxation may be sober and our freedom holy, holding ourselves carefully aloof from anything like excess, drunkenness or lechery. Let us try so to keep in our souls their Lenten cleansing, that if our Fasting hath left us aught yet unwon, we may still be able to seek it.

Moreover, for the Holy Mass for Sabbato in Albis or the “Sabbath” or Saturday Mass of preceding Domenica in Albis, according to the Roman Missal of 1570/1962, we read in the Collect:

Let us pray.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who have kept worshipfully the Passover holidays, may at last worthily pass from keeping Feasts unto thee here to the everlasting jubilation hereafter. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

The Catholic Encyclopedia under the word, Paschal tell us:

That the Paschal Lamb prefigured symbolically Christ, "the Lamb of God", who redeemed the world by the shedding of His blood, and particularly the Eucharistic banquet, or new Passover, has always remained the constant belief of Christian tradition.

Further, St. Paul states in  1 Corinthians 5:7: "... For Christ our pasch is sacrificed."

Image result for passover lamb

Pasch is a derivative of the Hebrew, Pesach which is translated in English as “Passover.”

Friend, the next time you wish to lambaste and deride me, at least get your facts right first.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The party's over

Lent, our Holy Triduum and the Octave of Easter, is now passed. While we are still in Eastertide, the prayer at Vespers this evening recalls the end of our Feast of Passover.

Grant, we beseech, O Almighty God, that we for whom the Feast of the Passover hath now drawn to an end, may in our life and manner ever keep new the healthful influence of the same. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.

How ancient is that prayer? How beautiful a reminder that Our Lord Jesus Christ was the true Pesach, the true Passover Lamb. 

Now, we turn our thoughts and attention back to the continuing crisis in Holy Mother Church. a crisis that is not lessening but becoming more and more embedded. As we have just passed the recollection of the sufferings of Our Lord culminating in his passion and death, now also that the Church must follow the same path. We are now in the Garden of Gethsemane and soon, very soon, we will take up our cross and walk our own roads of sorrow leading to our crucifixion. Yes, it is coming. But know also, that those who have lead the Church to this point will be confounded; and, just as with the traitor Judas, it would have been better for these not to have been born.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Father Liam Gavigan, Requiescat in Pace

Father Liam Gavigan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto, died on Easter Sunday afternoon. His Solemn Requiem Mass, in the proper Rite of the Catholic Church, is today in Toronto at St. Lawrence the Martyr Catholic Church.  He died on Easter Sunday, there must be a message in that.

When the history of the restoration of the traditional Mass in Canada is written, Father Gavigan's name will be there with the greats who persevered and suffered. He is a hero and one of a "trinity" of priests, the late Father Mole in Ottawa who began the community that is now the FSSP parish and Father Normandin in Montreal, again where the FSSP now reside and serve. The same, for a short-time, was the case in Toronto. There was at time when these were the only priests in Canada offering the traditional Mass. They even pre-dated the Society of St. Pius X. 

Father Gavigan began offering the traditional rite in possession of a celebret from Rome which outranked the Ordinary's indult authority. He began on Friday nights at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Toronto and eventually on Sundays at St. Edward's parish. Later, the Mass moved to St. Theresa Shrine where the FSSP's short-lived Toronto apostolate took over the Sunday Mass. Father Gavigan, who also started the community at St. Patrick's in Schomberg continued there and then a new one, now sadly purged by its Provincial, at the Carmel of the Infant Jesus in Zephyr. After the Fraternity left Toronto, Father Gavigan at the age of 77 offered three Masses on Sunday between 9AM and 1PM beginning in Schomberg, 40 miles to Zephyr and another 30 to St. Theresa in Scarborough. A true missionary. A crazy driver!

Whilst the norm was the Irish Low Mass, we coaxed out of him (as I was Schola Master at the FSSP) the Sung Mass. What an amazing voice he had, so hidden for so many years. The last Mass that I had the pleasure of assisting at with him, was a Requiem for Father Kenneth Walker, the murdered FSSP priest in Arizona. He sung a beautiful Requiem and we worked before Mass to find the right Latin for Kenneth for Collect and prayers.

When we organised the Pontifical Mass for the occasion of the late Msgr. Vincent Foy's 75th anniversary of priestly ordination with the Cardinal present, I said, "Father, did you ever think you would see this?" and he responded, "No, David, not in a million years." I then thanked him for "keeping the candle burning," to which he replied, "No David, I kept the pot boiling." It was as if one had entered the set of Going My Way to hear Barry Fitzgerald's Irish lilt, all that was missing was Too-Ra-Loo. 

Father Gavigan was a great confessor, He spoke often of Hell and it even got a few complaints directed to the Chancery. 

The only time I ever went to him, he said to me, "Do you know you can go to Hell for that?" to which I replied, "Yes Father, that is why I'm here," to which he retorted, "I want a decat of the rosary, now, and one every morning on your knees when your feet hit the floor until your next confession!" Well, that was the last time I went to him, but his penance seemed to be efficacious. 

Father Liam Gavigan had one purpose in life. To offer the Holy Sacrifice in the "better way" as he called it and to save his soul and everyones with whom he came into contact.

God rest you Father, and may the LORD have already said to you:
"Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." 
Requiescat in pace

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

No more "Anonymous of the Cross"

Less than one hour ago, from 8:08 EDT, Anonimidellacroce put up a post stating, "our adventure ends here."

Oh, and the letter, the infamous letter about Benedict XVI "forced" renouncement of the papacy. Right. An anonymous letter to an anonymous blog.

A joke from the beginning, or if these two Fraters are real, cowards.

And I guess Rogue Swiss Guard was murdered, too.

What a bunch of nothing.


Updated April 18, 2017: 6:03 A.M.

A short time after the visit of Mayor John Tory to St. John the Evangelist Church, Marc Porlier, the suspect in the case caught on video (allegedly) committing the arson attack against the Church, was arrested. The parish, one of the oldest in the Archdiocese of Toronto dating back to the 1850's, is where this writer was Cantor for nine years.

Yesterday, a faithful reader, and a priest to boot, sent me a note with a link to a video on Vimeo. 

It was a professionally produced video made six years ago called, "The Gospel According to Marc," wherein Porlier vents  his disdain for the Roman Catholic faith in which he was "brainwashed," and mocks God, even to the point of dressing up as an old man in white to equate himself with him. Porlier also dresses as the Devil in his long diatribe on the evils of organised religion,  Roman Catholicism in particular. His search for the truth lead him to eastern philosophy, mysticism and Deepak Chopra.

Poirlier reveals himself as a pathetic figure, poorly catechized and ignorant of the real faith and the real Truth, he seems to be looking for. He speaks of peace, yet, allegedly, burns churches. Poirlier was a child at the parish, though he does not reveal this in the "documentary," but that he was "brainwashed" up to the age of 15. Two weeks ago, he showed up at Mass for the first time. He introduced himself to the Pastor after Mass and was not seen again. Did Poirlier come to the Church to plot his alleged crime?

Prayers are needed for Marc and his family. Poor soul, may he now find the peace and truth he so desperately seems to be seeking; and may St. John the Evangelist and the Holy Souls buried under the cement floor of the basement and the once parking lot of the church intercede for him.

Toronto Church Fire-Bombed on Easter Sunday morning
St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, in Toronto's old Weston community was fire bombed early Easter Sunday morning. The parish is one of the oldest in Toronto, established over 160 years ago.

In the dawn hours, an incendiary device was used through a broken window causing a fire. All Masses for Easter Sunday were cancelled. There were no injuries. Police and Fire are investigating. The suspect has not yet been identified. 

This is the parish where this writer volunteered for nine years as Cantor. 

Police have released the photo of the "suspect" from the Church's newly installed, sophisticated video security system.

UPDATED at 8:29 P.M.

Police are searching for 43-year-old Marc Porlier, of no fixed address, known to frequent both the Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue, and Weston Road and Jane Street areas. Porlier has a history with police, Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu told CBC Toronto. If seen, members of the public are asked not to approach him.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

He is Risen!

Image result for resurrection art

V. Grant, Lord, a blessing.
Benediction. May the Gospel's holy lection be our safety and protection. Amen.

Reading 1
Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Mark
Mark 16:1-7
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus. And what follows. 

Homily of St. Gregory, Pope
Homilia 21. in Evangelia.
Dearly beloved brethren, ye have heard the deed of the holy women which had followed the Lord; how that they brought sweet spices to His sepulchre, and, now that He was dead, having loved Him while He was yet alive, they followed Him with careful tenderness still. But the deed of these holy women doth point to somewhat which must needs be done in the holy Church. And it behoveth us well to give ear to what they did, that we may afterward consider with ourselves what we must do likewise after their example. We also, who believe in Him That was dead, do come to His sepulchre bearing sweet spices, when we seek the Lord with the savour of good living, and the fragrant report of good works. Those women, when they brought their spices, saw a vision of Angels, and, in sooth, those souls whose godly desires do move them to seek the Lord with the savour of good lives, do see the countrymen of our Fatherland which is above.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. The Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it, and said unto the women:
* Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Him That was crucified: He is risen already. Come, see the place where the Lord was laid, alleluia.
V. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment, and they were affrighted; and he saith unto them:
R. Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Him That was crucified: He is risen already; come, see the place where the Lord was laid, alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone and sat upon it, and said unto the women: Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Him That was crucified: He is risen already: Come, see the place where the Lord was laid, alleluia.

It behoveth us to mark what this meaneth, that they saw the Angel sitting on the right side. For what signifieth the left, but this life which now is? or the right, but life everlasting? Whence also it is written in the Song of Songs ii. 6: His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me. Since, therefore, our Redeemer had passed from the corruption of this life which now is, the Angel which told that His undying life was come, sat, as became him, on the right side. They saw him clothed in a white garment, for he was herald of the joy of this our great solemnity, and the glistering whiteness of his raiment told of the brightness of this holy Festival of ours. Of ours, said I? or of his? But if we will speak the truth, we must acknowledge that it is both his and ours. The Again-rising of our Redeemer is a Festival of gladness for us, for us it biddeth know that we shall not die for ever; and for Angels also it is a festival of gladness, for it biddeth them know that we are called to fulfill their number in heaven.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. When the Sabbath was passed, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices,
* That they might come and anoint Jesus, alleluia, alleluia.
V. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre, at the rising of the sun.
R. That they might come and anoint Jesus, alleluia, alleluia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. That they might come and anoint Jesus, alleluia, alleluia.

See this glad Festival then, which is both his and ours, the Angel appeared in white raiment. For as the Lord, rising again from the dead, leadeth us unto the mansions above, He repaireth the breaches of the heavenly Fatherland. But what meaneth this, that the Angel said unto the women which came to the sepulchre: Fear not? Is it not as though he had said openly: Let them fear which love not the coming of the heavenly countrymen; let them be afraid who are so laden by fleshly lusts, that they have lost all hope ever to be joined to their company. But as for you, why fear ye, who, when ye see us, see but your fellow countrymen? Hence also Matthew, writing of the guise of the Angel, saith xxviii. 3: His countenance was like lightning, and His raiment white as snow. The lightning speaketh of fear and great dread, the snow of the soft brilliancy of rejoicing.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Brought as a lamb to the slaughter

The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1520, detail of hand

Lesson from the book of Lamentations
Lam 3:22-30
22 Heth. The mercies of the Lord that we are not consumed: because his commiserations have not failed.
23 Heth. They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness.
24 Heth. The Lord is my portion, said my soul: therefore will I wait for him.
25 Teth. The Lord is good to them that hope in him, to the soul that seeketh him.
26 Teth. It is good to wait with silence for the salvation of God.
27 Teth. It is good for a man, when he hath borne the yoke from his youth.
28 Jod. He shall sit solitary, and hold his peace: because he hath taken it up upon himself.
29 Jod. He shall put his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope.
30 Jod. He shall give his cheek to him that striketh him, he shall be filled with reproaches.
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy God.

R. He hath been brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and while he was evil entreated he opened not his mouth: he was delivered up to death
* That he might quicken his people.
V. He hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors.
R. That he might quicken his people.

Lam 4:1-8
1 Aleph. How is the gold become dim, the finest colour is changed, the stones of the sanctuary are scattered in the top of every street?
2 Beth. The noble sons of Sion, and they that were clothed with the best gold: how are they esteemed as earthen vessels, the work of the potter's hands?
3 Ghimel. Even the sea monsters have drawn out the breast, they have given suck to their young: the daughter of my people is cruel, like the ostrich in the desert.
4 Daleth. The tongue of the sucking child hath stuck to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the little ones have asked for bread, and there was none to break it unto them.
5 He. They that were fed delicately have died in the streets; they that were brought up in scarlet have embraced the dung.
6 Vau. And the iniquity of the daughter of my people is made greater than the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, and hands took nothing in her.
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy God.

R. Arise, O Jerusalem, and put off thy garments of rejoicing: cover thee with sackcloth and ashes
* For the Saviour of Israel hath been slain in the midst of thee.
V. Let thy tears run down like a river day and night, and let not the apple of thine eye cease.
R. For the Saviour of Israel hath been slain in the midst of thee.

Lam 5:1-11
1 Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us: consider and behold our reproach.
2 Our inheritance is turned to aliens: our houses to strangers.
3 We are become orphans without a father: our mothers are as widows.
4 We have drunk our water for money: we have bought our wood.
5 We were dragged by the necks, we were weary and no rest was given us.
6 We have given our hand to Egypt, and to the Assyrians, that we might be satisfied with bread.
7 Our fathers have sinned, and are not: and we have borne their iniquities.
8 Servants have ruled over us: there was none to redeem us out of their hand.
9 We fetched our bread at the peril of our lives, because of the sword in the desert.
10 Our skin was burnt as an oven, by reason of the violence of the famine.
11 They oppressed the women in Sion, and the virgins in the cities of Juda.
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy God.

R. O my people! lament, like a virgin girded with sack-cloth for the husband of her youth, howl, ye shepherds, in sack-cloth and ashes
* For the day of the Lord is at hand, and it is great and very terrible.
V. Gird yourselves, ye Priests, and howl, ye ministers of the altar: cast up ashes upon you.
R. For the day of the Lord is at hand, and it is great and very terrible.
R. O my people! lament, like a virgin, girded with sack-cloth for the husband of her youth, howl, ye shepherds, in sack-cloth and ashes * For the day of the Lord is at hand, and it is great and very terrible.

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Limbs of Our Jesus

Membra Jesu Nostri by St. Bernard of Clairveaux set to music by Dietrich Buxtehude.

To His Feet

Behold, upon the mountains
the feet of one bringing good news
and proclaiming peace.

Hail, salvation of the world,
Hail, hail, dear Jesus!
On Your cross would I hang
Truly, You know why
Give me Your strength.

The nails in Your feet, the hard blows
and so grievous marks
I embrace with love,
Fearful at the sight of You
Mindful of Your wounds.

Sweet Jesus, merciful God
I cry to You, in my guilt
Show me Your grace,
Turn me not unworthy away
From Your sacred feet.

Hail, salvation of the world,
Hail, hail, dear Jesus!
On Your cross would I hang
Truly, You know why
Give me Your strength.

+ + +

To His Knees

You will be brought to nurse
and dandled on the knees

Hail Jesus, King of Saints
Hope of sinners' prayers,
like an offender on the wood of the cross,
a man hanging, true God,
Bending on failing knees!

What answer shall I give You,
Vile as I am in deed, hard in my heart?
How shall I repay Your love,
Who chose to die for me
Lest I die the second death?

That I may seek You with pure heart,
Be my first care,
It is no labour nor shall I be loaded down:
But I shall be cleansed,
When I embrace You.

+ + +

To His Hands

What are those wounds
in the midst of Your hands?

Hail, Jesus, good shepherd,
wearied in agony,
tormented on the cross
nailed to the cross
Your sacred hands stretched out.

Holy hands, I embrace you,
and, lamenting, I delight in you,
I give thanks for the terrible wounds,
the hard nails, the holy drops,
shedding tears with kisses.

Washed in Your blood
I wholly entrust myself to You;
may these holy hands of Yours
defend me, Jesus Christ,
in the final dangers.

+ + + 

To His Sides

Arise, my love,
my beautiful one, and come,
my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hollow of the cliff.

Hail, side of the Saviour,
in which the honey of sweetness is hidden,
in which the power of love is exposed,
from which gushes the spring of blood
that cleans the dirty hearts.

Lo I approach You,
Pardon, Jesus, if I sin,
With reverent countenance
freely I come to You
to behold Your wounds.

In the hour of death, may my soul
Enter, Jesus, Your side
Hence dying may it go into You,
Lest the cruel lion seize it,
But let it dwell with You.

+ + +

To His Breast

Like newborn infants,
long for the guileless milk of reason,
that by it you may grow into salvation,
if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Hail God, my salvation,
sweet Jesus, my beloved,
hail, breast to be revered,
to be touched with trembling,
dwelling of love.

Give me a clean breast,
ardent, pious, moaning,
an abnegated will,
always conforming to You,
with an abundance of virtues.

Hail, true temple of God,
I pray, have mercy on me,
You, the ark of all that is good,
make me be placed with the chosen,
rich vessel, God of all.

+ + +

To His Heart

You have wounded my heart,
my sister, my bride,
You have wounded my heart.

Heart of the highest king, I greet You,
I salute You with a joyous heart,
it delights me to embrace You
and my heart aspires to this:
that You move me to speak to You.

Through the marrow of my heart,
of a sinner and culprit,
may Your love be conveyed
by whom Your heart was seized,
languishing through the wound of love.

I call with the living voice of the heart,
sweet heart, for I love You,
to incline to my heart,
so that it may commit itself to you
in the breast devoted to You.

+ + +

To His Face

Let Your face shine upon Your servant,
save me in Your mercy.

Hail, bloodied head,
all crowned with thorns,
beaten, wounded,
struck with a cane,
the face soiled with spit.

When I must die,
do not then be away from me,
in the anxious hour of death
come, Jesus, without delay,
protect me and set me free!

When You command me to depart,
dear Jesus, then appear,
O lover to be embraced,
then show Yourself
on the cross that brings salvation.