"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Leo XIII: “Taxing the Rich Does Not Help the Poor”

by Anthony Esolen

In Quod Apostolici Muneris (1878), Pope Leo XIII deplores those who “under the motley and all but barbarous terms and titles of Socialists, Communists, and Nihilists, are spread abroad throughout the world,” striving in alliance for “the purpose long resolved upon, of uprooting the foundations of civil society at large.” It may sound odd to our ears, that socialists, whose prescriptions for society are many and comprehensive, should be united with nihilists, who by definition believe in nothing. But Pope Leo, beginning as always from a rich view of human nature grounded in reason and elevated by relevation, sees the alliance we miss—and by implication he includes as well the fellow traveler, secular liberalism, friendlier to the free market but ultimately also an enemy to man.

How so? In this essay I will focus on two of the evils Leo discusses in his letter. The first is the denial of the body; the second, the severance of human law from divine law, effacing in citizens the sense of moral obligation. We obey such human laws because it is to our advantage, narrowly and materially conceived, to do so, not because it is right and just.

Human beings do not have bodies, as a plumber has a wrench or a doctor has a probe. Nor are they bodies, simply, reducible to their constituent parts; even a dog is more than the sum of his parts. Human beings are embodied rational souls, and everything they touch they mark with the fire of their spirit, the gift of God. That is the ground of their right to property. But they are not solitary atoms either, rebounding against one another in a chaotic war of all against all. For the human soul is made for love, and can only attain its end by communion with other souls. Therefore, long before we meet the State, we find human beings fashioning not artificial but real bodies in turn: families and clans and villages.

It is absolutely crucial to understand this. Catholic Social Teaching affirms the reality of the bodies that human beings form; they are not notional, but real and living, and they imply real rights and duties among the members, who are themselves not mere parts, but whole persons. The touchstone is the Church herself, wherein God has “established different grades of orders with diversity of functions, so that all should not be apostles, all not doctors, all not prophets.” The State, “like the Church, should form one body comprising many members, some excelling others in rank and importance, but all alike necessary to one another and solicitous for the common welfare.”

We learn this solicitude not from the State, however, but within the fostering home of the Church and the family, to which the Pope returns again and again. The family circle, he says, is “the starting-point of every city and every state,” resting upon “the indissoluble union of husband and wife.” Leo makes the connections we miss, because we have lost his strong sense of human bodily realities. All living bodies require order; that is the basis of Saint Paul’s warning to the Corinthians. Not all can be teachers or prophets or priests. The hand cannot see, the eye cannot grasp. But the enemies of these bodies cry up an equality which is wholly abstract—mathematical, even mechanical. Says the Pope, they “contend that all men are by nature equal, and hence they contend that neither honor nor respect is owed to public authority, nor any obedience to the laws, saving perhaps to those which have been sanctioned according to their good pleasure.”

Absurd? Doesn’t our Declaration of Independence declare that all men are created equal? The crucial word, though, is “created.” The equality—even in the mind of the deist Jefferson—is an endowment by God. Leo explains what it really means: “From the Gospel records, equality among men consists in this, that one and all, possessing the same nature, are called to the sublime dignity of being sons of God; and, moreover, that one and the same end being set before all, each and every one has to be judged according to the same laws.” We are equal in our nature and, what is to say the same thing in another way, in the goal toward which we naturally tend.

But when people no longer recognize that end, and the genuine equality that subsists among them, they substitute for it an artificial equality in goods, violating the rights, Pope Leo says, of private property, claiming “that all may with impunity seize upon the possessions and usurp the rights of the wealthy.” In other words, they seek equality where it is not to be had, and destroy the inequality—we may say, diversity—which God has ordained: “More wisely and profitably the Church recognizes the existence of inequality among men, who are by nature unlike in mental endowment and strength of body, and even in amount of fortune.” Therefore she enjoins that “the right of property and of its disposal, derived from nature, should in the case of every individual remain intact and inviolate.”

The poor, then, are out of luck? Not so. We must clear from our minds the weeds of wrong thinking. We must cease conceiving of “the rich” and “the poor” as abstractions, or as nameless masses, or as parts of a national machine. A society can only be a society of persons, with the rights and duties that flow from their God-given nature as persons meant to be bound in love. The Church, says Leo, is a loving mother—he is not using a metaphor here—and addresses in her motherly care both those who are rich and those who are poor.

She holds that the poor “represent the person of Christ Himself,” and so she “brings them aid to the utmost of her power, takes thought to have erected in every land in their behoof homes and refuges where they can be received, nurtured, and tended.” He is describing here the care of persons, not numbers; a care that can only be given in love, and that binds in a relationship of loyalty and gratitude both him who gives and him who receives. But love is also our duty, so the Church “lays the rich under strict command to give of their superfluity to the poor, impressing them with fear of the divine judgment which will exact the penalty of eternal punishment unless they succor the wants of the needy.”

May that be done by confiscatory taxes? Not even by modest taxes. The obligation is personal. I am not saying, nor is Leo saying, that taxes may never be levied for the alleviation of need. But such taxation is neither necessary nor sufficient. And here we touch upon the great error of the modern state, which Leo sees quite clearly. It is that “governments have been organized without God and the order established by Him being taken at all into account,” something even the pagans never did. The Church has been forced to withdraw from “the scheme of studies at universities, colleges, and high schools, as well as from all the practical working of public life.” That severs our public life from the life to come, and removes at a stroke the profound and personal obligations, God-given along with our rights, which the rich and poor owe to one another. A Scrooge can thus say that he “gives” to the poor because he is taxed to support poorhouses and orphanages; and our modern statists can say that because they tax others to support a wholly dysfunctional way of life, they therefore have given to the poor.

We are forbidden to steal, says Leo. We are forbidden even to covet. Why is that? Why does the commandment reach down into the depths of the heart? A cog in a machine cannot covet. If an atom in the great impersonal materialist modern state covets, what harm, so long as the state can make him keep his hands to himself? But here we see the strange harmony between one form of worldly covetousness and another – the form that sees the amassing of private fortune as the summum bonum, and the form that believes in a mechanical and mathematical redistribution, without regard to the human person. Catholic Social Teaching sees both materialisms as evil from the root.

When God rained manna upon the Israelites in the desert, they were forbidden to hoard it up; they were forbidden to treat it as quantity, rather than as a gift, from a personal God to persons made in His image. When they tried to do so anyway, the manna rotted and stank. It is high time we ceased thinking of masses and quantity, and remembered duty and love. That should strike all of us, rich and poor alike, with trembling.

The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

Professor Esolen teaches Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College. A senior editor for Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, he writes regularly for Touchstone, First Things, Catholic World Report, Magnificat, This Rock, and Latin Mass. His most recent books are The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ironies of Faith (ISI Press, 2007); and Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Press, 2010). Professor Esolen is the translator of Dante.

Vatican officials say bad Masses lead to weak faith

MASS-FAITH Mar-3-2011 (460 words) xxxi

Cardinal Burke (CNS/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- A weakening of faith in God, a rise in selfishness and a drop in the number of people going to Mass in many parts of the world can be traced to Masses that are not reverent and don't follow church rules, said two Vatican officials and a consultant.

"If we err by thinking we are the center of the liturgy, the Mass will lead to a loss of faith," said U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican's supreme court.

Cardinal Burke and Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, spoke March 2 at a book launch in Rome.

The book, published only in Italian, was written by Father Nicola Bux, who serves as a consultant to the congregations for the doctrine of the faith and for saints' causes and to the office in charge of papal liturgies.

The English translation of Father Bux's book title would be, "How to Go to Mass and Not Lose Your Faith."

Cardinal Burke told those gathered for the book presentation that he agreed with Father Bux that "liturgical abuses lead to serious damage to the faith of Catholics."

Unfortunately, he said, too many priests and bishops treat violations of liturgical norms as something that is unimportant when, in fact, they are "serious abuses."

Cardinal Canizares said that while the book's title is provocative, it demonstrates a belief he shares: "Participating in the Eucharist can make us weaken or lose our faith if we do not enter into it properly" and if the liturgy is not celebrated according to the church's norms.

"This is true whether one is speaking of the ordinary or extraordinary form of the one Roman rite," the cardinal said, referring to Masses in the form established after the Second Vatican Council as well as the Mass often referred to as the Tridentine rite.

Cardinal Canizares said that at a time when so many people are living as if God did not exist, they need a true eucharistic celebration to remind them that only God is to be adored and that true meaning in human life comes only from the fact that Jesus gave his life to save the world.

Father Bux said that too many modern Catholics think the Mass is something that the priest and the congregation do together when, in fact, it is something that Jesus does.

"If you go to a Mass in one place and then go to Mass in another, you will not find the same Mass. This means that it is not the Mass of the Catholic Church, which people have a right to, but it is just the Mass of this parish or that priest," he said.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Hidden Treasure of the Holy Mass

by St. Leonard-Port Maurice

Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1890

In the world you will have affliction. But take courage,
I have overcome the world.

------- JOHN 16:33

St. Leonard of Port Maurice:

The Hidden Treasure of the Holy Mass:



Chapter 1:

Chapter 2:

Chapter 3:

Chapter 4: Easy Method of Attending

Chapter 5: Devout Exercises of Preparation and Thanksgiving
for Confession and Holy Communion

Chapter 6:



"Where there is no Mass," writes one of the Fathers of the English Oratory, "there is also no Christianity." The reason is plain: Christ's life was one of sacrifice-----not merely of the figurative sacrifice of praise and prayer, but one of outward act, of suffering and of death. His religion must be like Himself: it must be the continuation of the Divine-human life that He led upon earth, representing and perpetuating, by some sacred rite, the sacrifice that began in the womb of Mary and ended upon the Cross of Calvary. That rite is the Holy Mass. Do we always realize it as such? Does the conviction sink deep into us, when offering, or assisting, at the adorable sacrifice, that Jesus is re-enacting, in our presence, the mysteries of His life and death?

The altar of the Mass is the holy house of Nazareth, the crib of Bethlehem, the Egyptian place of exile, the hill of Calvary, the garden-tomb in which Our Saviour's corpse reposed, and the Mount of Olives from which He ascended. The Passion, it is true, is that which is primarily represented and continued in the Holy Mass; yet the prayers and rites of the sacrifice refer, at times, to other mysteries. Thus the dropping of a part of the Sacred Host into the chalice, before the Agnus Dei, represents the reunion of Christ's soul with His Body and Blood on the morning of the Resurrection. For a description of the many and beautiful analogies between the Eucharistic life of Our Lord and His sacred Infancy, we refer the reader to Father Faber's Treatise on the Blessed Sacrament [TAN Books]. See also BLESSED SACRAMENT excerpts HERE.

The Mass is truly a "hidden treasure," and, alas, our cold, dead faith allows it to remain so. If we valued it as we ought, we would hurry every morning to the church, careless of the snows of winter and the heats of summer, in order to get a share of the riches of this treasure.

The Saints knew the value of one Mass: that was a dark day in their calendar on which they were deprived of the happy privilige of saying or hearing Mass. Although St. Francis de Sales was overburdened with apostolic work on the Mission of the Chablais, he made it a point never to miss his daily Mass. In order to keep his holy resolution, he had frequently to cross the river Drance, to the village of Marin, in which there was a Catholic church. It happened, in the winter of 1596, that a great freshet carried away a portion of the bridge over the stream, and the passengers were, in consequence, compelled to cross on a plank laid over those arches of the broken structure that had withstood the waters. Heavy falls of snow, followed by severe frosts, made this board very slippery, so that it became dangerous to attempt passing on it; but St. Francis was not to be deterred, for, despite the remonstrances of his friends, he made the perilous journey every morning, creeping over the icy plank on his hands and feet, thus daily risking his life rather than lose Mass.

Dear Christian reader! beg this glorious Saint to obtain for you and me some portion of his burning love for the most holy and adorable sacrifice of the altar.


Mr. Nelson, the publisher, refers to St. Francis de Sales; your Web Master urges you to make a novena to the Saint-Author, for any intentions you may have regarding the Blessed Sacrament or any other request. He will surely answer them if be God's Will. You ought also to address your needs to the author of this work: I told him how much I would like an image of him, but could not locate one. St. Leonard was our featured Saint of the Week in November and we had no picture to post. We had located what we thought was one, it looked exactly as he did look [AS WE LATER DISCOVERED] but it was painted over a hundred years before he lived and died. The painter, Correggio, could not possible have known of his future existence in strictly human terms. Yet the painting is notated such that the Saint on the right in that picture is St. Leonard. Either Correggio was given an inspiration by God to include the future Saint, or another artist painted him in later, as sometimes occurs in art. However, there is no knowledge that the painting was ever reworked, and I have no validation other than the description in the book. So we posted St. Leonard without a picture, the first at Catholic Tradition. I pestered St. Leonard a little and a few days later, lo and behold, I found one and it is exquisite, an old holy card in mint condition. I do not believe in coincidence where the things of God are concerned, absolutely never! The face on the holy card matches precisely Correggio's Saint! This is but one little testimony. Just think about the shower of graces St. Leonard might provide if we prayed to him about the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, his treasure, and ours . . . We recommend the Practice of the Three Hail Marys because it comes from St. Leonard, thanking Our Lord and Our Lady for this great Saint who so loved them and They in turn, adding your petition to the one desiring the avoidance of mortal sin.


Some time ago, a religious superior, whose works have been specially blessed by our dear Lord, asked for a translation of the following book. The version now presented to the public was undertaken at my request by a Catholic layman; and as the coadjutor Bishop of the Western District of Scotland has kindly revised it, I am glad to be allowed to cooperate with this venerable Prelate in recommending it to the perusal of Catholics.

If St. Philip Neri was satisfied with a book when the name of its author began with S, it will be surely unnecessary to recommend this treatise, which bears the name of the heroic missionary, Saint Leonard of Port Maurice. To those who have read his Life it must appear strange how he found time, in the course of his apostolic wanderings, to compose his various works. Reviewing his efforts to gain souls, his retreats, his sermons, his journeys, they will conclude that his support under such labors must have been in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; and they will not wonder that he has spoken with so much unction of its efficacy and graces. Where could he, after hours spent in the confessional, hours short for his zeal, but long for his bodily strength, find vigor, save in the refreshing waters for which, as he said in his daily preparation, he thirsted as the stag thirsts after the fountains of water? To him Our Lord was truly the strong and the living God, and from Him he received each day power to begin anew the fight which ended only when he went to receive his crown. While the holy missionary was collecting the faithful to the Stations of the Cross in the Coliseum, he may, perhaps, have looked to the building on the neighboring hill where his earthly remains were to await the resurrection, and felt in ardent faith that the Sacrifice which those Stations commemorated was really and truly offered on the altars of that humble church. And then his heart would bum with the desire to make all Christians love the Lamb Whom his faith beheld "standing as if slain," stantem tanquam occisum (Apoc. v. 6), and he would wish to make men understand how certainly this blessed Victim offers for our sake, day after day, the Sacrifice of Mount Calvary.

We think that if we had lived with Mary and the Apostles, we should have loved Him really. If so, when the Fathers tell us that in the Blessed Sacrament He perpetuates and continues the Incarnation for us, we ought to show this love; and where is it? When we have to bear the reproach of our many sins, we persuade ourselves that we should not have committed them if we had knelt with John under the Cross; and yet in the Mass the very same Sacrifice is before our eyes, while we too often remain as hardened as ever. But Saint Leonard saw that it would be at least difficult for men to remain in their sins if they were drawn often to this Sacrifice, by the offering whereof, as the Council of Trent teaches, "the Lord being appeased, sends grace and the gift of repentance, and forgives crimes and even grievous sins." Therefore, he sought to draw them to the altar, and bade them pray for the grace that cannot fail. More than once it has happened that those who were not Catholics have been converted by being present during Mass: and can we wonder at it when He, Whose look converted Peter, looks upon them from the altar? Some there are, favored souls and fervent in prayer, who cannot hear Mass without tears. No one ever saw the holy Pontiff Gregory XVI in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament without witnessing the tenderness to which he was moved.

If we had but faith, we should see the heavenly host gathered around the altar during Mass, "since," as the Council of Oxford says, "it is undoubted that the whole heavenly court is then present." (Anno 1222.) When the prophet prayed, the eyes of his servant were opened, and he saw the hill covered with fiery chariots (4 Kings vi. 17); and if the holy author of this book would pray that we might see the altar as he saw it, our eyes, opened to the light which is there shining (in lumine tuo videbimus lumen), would behold the chariots of fire on which the heavenly host are borne when their King comes from His throne to earth. If some pious person possessing worldly means were to see the picture designed in explanation of Mass by M. Olier, the devout leader of the Sulpicians, we think he would be disposed to fulfill the intention which death prevented that holy man from carrying out, by having the picture engraved, and scattered among the faithful. The picture is in itself a meditation, and a sermon upon the mysterious presence of the Saints and Angels with their glorious Queen during the Holy Sacrifice, upon the graces which flow from the altar over the whole Church, and upon its ineffable comfort to our suffering brethren in Purgatory. We venture to extract from the Life of M. Olier a description of this picture; and while we are reading it, let us remember that such is the Mass every time it is offered, rendering glory to Heaven, pouring grace upon the earth, and shedding consolation over Purgatory.

"When the priest celebrates," says the author of the Imitation, "he honors God, he rejoices the Angels, he edifies the Church, he helps the living, he obtains repose for the dead." (iv, v., 3.) This is the subject which M. Olier wished to represent in this picture. At the moment of the Elevation, the Church Triumphant, borne on the clouds, descends, and unites herself to the Church on earth, to be an offering to God, as one sole victim with Jesus Christ.

"In the upper part we see God the Father, to Whom the Sacrifice is offered. He contemplates the holy Victim Who immolates Himself to His glory, and He seems to accept the oblation with infinite complacency and satisfaction. The most holy Virgin is placed a little lower; she kneels, as do all the Saints and Angels, to show their dependence in respect of the Creator; nevertheless, she addresses God with the confidence of a Spouse, and seems to exercise that suppliant almightiness which the holy doctors recognize in the august Queen of Heaven.

"The celestial spirits, ranged around the God Whom they adore by Jesus Christ, are divided into three hierarchies, of which each is made to contain three orders, forming altogether the nine choirs of Angels; at their head we see St. Michael, then the angel Gabriel, who bends toward Mary. The holy Precursor is alone, on account of his greatness, among the children of men. "Next we see, on one side, Adam and Eve, and the just of the law of nature; and, on the other, Moses with the Saints of the Mosaic Law, who, in transports of gratitude, confess that they have obtained salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ alone, the sole virtue of all the ancient sacrifices. These are headed by the prophet David, placed thus near to Mary and St. Joseph, as being their ancestor. "The next portion of the picture is the Christian Church, in three orders, or circles. The holy Apostles appear in the first-----they who, triumphing over idolatry, shed over the world the knowledge of God. St. Peter, their chief, returns thanks to the Eternal Father for having inspired him to make the immortal confession which was the origin of his prerogatives; St. Paul blesses Him for having called him to the apostolate (Gal. i. 1); and St. James the Great, for having given him a place in His kingdom (St. Matt. xx. 23). Close to St. Peter we get a glimpse of St. John, placed nearer to God, Whose highest mysteries he seemed to penetrate, and next to the most holy Virgin, to whom he was given as a son and a guardian. St. Andrew, St. Thomas, and St. Bartholomew come next, each designated by the instruments of his Martyrdom; and then the other Apostles, the disciples, and the preachers of the Faith. Opposite are the holy Martyrs, triumphant over their persecutors: they return thanks to God by Jesus Christ, their invisible strength, and renew their offering in union with His. Their leader, St. Stephen, seems still continuing his sacrifice: we recognize several of the most illustrious Martyrs following him-----St. Domitella, St. Laurence, St. Cecilia, St. Vincent, St. Barbara, St. Agnes. "In the second rank we see, on one side, the holy doctors; at their head, St. Leo, St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine; they all give thanks to God for the victories they have gained over heresies, through Jesus Christ, the sole source of their enlightenment. On the other side are all the holy monks and nuns, represented by their founders, each in the habit of his order; they glorify God for having enabled them to overcome the love of the goods of this world, by true poverty, and for having chosen them to represent to the Church, according to their respective institutes, some virtue, or some hidden perfection, of Jesus Christ. They are placed in the following order: St. Benedict, considered as patriarch of the Western Monks; an old religious of the Carmelite Order; next, St. Teresa, in the habit of her reform; St. Scholastica, as mother of the Benedictines; St. Bernard, restorer of the Cistercian Order; a Cistercian nun; a monk of Cluny, arrayed in black; St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Friars Minor; St. Claire, foundress of the Poor Clares; then St. Bruno, patriarch of the Carthusians; St. Dominic, founder of the Friars Preachers; St. Francis of Paula, founder of the Minorities; St. Ignatius Loyola; and various societies of regular clerks.
"Finally, the laity of the different states of Christendom are represented by some one of their princes ranked among the Saints; among others, the Germans by St. Henry, the English by St. Edward, the French by St. Louis, the Spaniards by St. Ferdinand, and those of the Eastern provinces by St. Helen: they give thanks to God that they have happily triumphed, by Jesus Christ, over the love of the honors and pomps of the world. Opposite are placed the penitents and anchorets who overcame its pleasures; we mark at their head St. Mary Magdalene, St. Antony, patriarch of the Cenobites, St. Jerome, St. Mary of Egypt, St. William of Maleval, founder of the Wilhelmites: and thus ends the picture of the Church in Heaven.

"That upon earth is also represented by some one personage of each of the different ecclesiastical orders, religious or political, of which she is formed: after the Sovereign Pontiff we see cardinals, prelates, priests, monks, and nuns of all the orders; and, in the second rank, the Emperor of Germany; Louis XIV, in his youth; his mother, Anne of Austria; and a multitude of persons of all conditions and countries, on whose countenances the most lively and touching expressions of piety are visible.

"Lastly, the members of the suffering Church implore the Eternal Father to shorten their torments, for the sake of the Victim Who offers Himself for them; and at the foot of the picture is this inscription, in which the whole is condensed: The most august sacrifice of the Mass, offered to God for all His intentions and for all the intentions of the Church in Heaven, on earth, and in Purgatory."

So far the account of this wonderful design; and we hope that some will be moved by it to look at the picture itself, or at the engraving in his book. It will help them to pray more fervently that they may never lose an opportunity of assisting at Mass; it will make them envy the rich, whose privilege it is to build churches and educate priests, in order that the holy sacrifice may be offered on many altars for the living and the dead. If they are priests, they will desire to preach unceasingly upon the Mass. If they are poor, they will learn to imitate so many of whom we have seen, renouncing situations because they could not hear Mass, or coming fasting till four in the afternoon, that they might receive the holy Communion.

A few years ago, the Confraternity of St. Patrick was founded at the Oratory in London for the purpose of encouraging the faithful to hear Mass; and Pius IX, ever anxious to spread devotion among his children, granted to the members an indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines, so often as they shall induce anyone to hear Mass, and a plenary indulgence if, complying with the usual conditions of Confession and Communion, they pray according to the intention of the Holy Father on the feasts of Our Lord and of His Blessed Mother, of St. Joseph and of his patronage; of SS. Peter and Paul, St. John the Baptist, St. Patrick, St. Philip Neri, and of Blessed Sebastian Valfre. These indulgences are applicable to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. May this little book bring to many hearts a feeling of gratitude to our dear Lord for the love which He has displayed in allowing us to hear Mass, and may it move us to claim every day the grace of being present at this adorable Sacrifice.

Tidings of discomfort and liturgical abuse

by Dan Burke

Friday, December 28, 2012 12:02 AM 

This Christmas, I was delighted to have the opportunity to travel across at least three states to celebrate the joy of this season with my family. This was the good news. The bad news? I was pelted to a spiritual pulp by liturgical abuse after abuse. Because the Mass in my home parish is faithful, I have not had to endure this level of concentrated torture for some time — and, frankly, the shock was a bit much to take.

So I share with you here a list of the dastardly deeds of the ignorant, sloppy, slothful, unfaithful and the well intended. Each of these listed below is prohibited by the liturgical norms or other instructions from the Holy See or is an omission contrary to expressed guidance provided by the Church:

• Changing of the prayers by the priest (absolutely forbidden).

• Standing when the rubrics instruct us to kneel (diocese-wide disobedience to the Holy See).

• Tropes repeated at the singing of the “Lamb of God” (recently clarified by the Holy See as inappropriate and forbidden).

• Priests, deacons and laypeople scrambling around the altar before Mass with no indication — other than a few rapid half bird-pecks toward the tabernacle — that they believe that Christ is actually present in the tabernacle.

• The use of an extraordinary minister of Communion when there were less then 10 people in a daily Mass that was presided over by an able deacon and an able priest.

• Priests and people running around the sanctuary to offer the sign of peace.

• No observation of silence before Mass, except at a midnight Mass at a faithful monastery.

• Applause and praise to individuals at Mass during the Mass (directed at my own family, which was even more embarrassing). Here’s a quote from Pope Benedict on this practice (with my emphasis): “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly — it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation.” I was chastised by a parishioner for bristling at this and was told that the applause was to God. However, we were the only ones asked to stand and if the applause was directed to God, me and my family should be added to the ranks of the Blessed Trinity. I really do appreciate the sentiment — it was honoring and sincere — but if it is necessary or appropriate, please, please, please do this after Mass or some other time. The Mass is to bring us to worship Christ, not us.)

• Hand-holding during the Our Father — with one extraordinarily silly, though I am sure well-intentioned, contortionist even reaching backward while facing forward in order to connect the two rows of pews. (This is forbidden on the basis that we are not allowed to add or change the Mass.)

• Only one Mass of many offered “primacy of place” to sacred polyphony or chant. This Mass was at a monastery and was beautiful and liturgically faithful and Christ centered end to end. It was the highpoint and salvation of my vacation time.

• A Sunday Mass that did not include a single Advent hymn (not an abuse, but the band leaders should be retired to a local piano lounge).

• A priest who declared that Zachariah (the father of John the Baptist) was struck blind, not dumb. (No, this is not liturgical abuse, but the priest should be ashamed. It was clear that he had much to say but little concern for the central message of Advent and had not prepared for his homily.)

In the end, I have decided to begin using a particular phrase in response to questions about my expressed dismay at this madness: “Because I am not a protestant.” The implication is clear. Here’s how it looks in a real dialogue: “Why don’t you hold hands at the Our Father?” “Because I am not a protestant.”

I became Catholic because I recognized that the Church has properly claimed that it is the Church of Christ. The Church teaches, admonishes and instructs by the authority of Christ and 2,000 years of wisdom and guidance by the Holy Spirit. I obey the Church because I obey Christ. I am not a protestant who is free to make up whatever I feel is best without any concern for Tradition. I am a Catholic. I am unashamedly submitted to Christ and his Church. If you are not, you are not Catholic. Let’s stop pretending.

Care to fuel the fire of my outrage — or, hopefully, calm my nerves? What did you experience?

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/dan-burke/tidings-of-discomfort-and-liturgical-abuse#ixzz2GMhUnwhk

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Can You Be Good Without God?

Mass attendance is down. Maybe that's because we don't realize the radical claims of Catholicism.

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker,

April 24, 2012

Church Interior Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com 

Time and again the middle-aged Catholic mother will ask me, "I can't get my kids to go to Mass. Why don't they go to Mass anymore?"

My answer shocks them: "Your kids don't go to Mass because they don't believe the Catholic faith."

I go on to ask, "They probably think they can be good without going to Mass, right?" Nine times out of ten, they nod knowingly.

Believing you can be good without going to Mass isn't Catholic. That's what atheists think. Of course the "good Catholic" kids don't think of themselves as atheists. They think they're okay and still self-identify as Catholics.

So where did they get the idea that they could be good without going to church? They got it from church. They picked it up from the priest, the parish sister, and the religious education teacher. They were not taught it explicitly. Instead, there was a shift in the Catholic Church. The faithful were taught that Catholicism was all about doing good.

Mass became a fellowship time where all the good Catholics got together and sang self-affirming songs and heard sermons about how they should be out in the world doing good. Mass became a blend of group therapy and a pep rally for a team of do-gooders who wanted to make the world a better place: "We can make a difference, yes we can!"

The heart of the problem is that the Catholic faith is not really about gathering together as the people of God to reach out and encourage one another to change the world.

Catholicism is far more radical than that. The heart of the Catholic faith is about the supernatural forgiveness of human sin through the stupendous power of God unleashed in the world by the death and resurrection of Christ the Lord. Going to Mass is about participation in a sacrificial transaction as old and as young as mankind itself. It is about integrating oneself into the everlasting love of God—the force which, as Dante famously put it, "moves the sun and the other stars."

A few decades ago, this ancient, supernatural religion seemed rather too irrelevant for modern America, so it was quietly downgraded into a religion of doing good and being nice. It doesn't take long for the kids to think things through and realize that they could do good deeds and be nice people without the trouble of getting up early on a Sunday morning for Father's pep talk.

So the Catholics have drifted away to their volunteer hours at the soup kitchen, their involvement in their tax-exempt charities, their happy good works and sincere political activism—never having really understood what the Catholic faith was about in the first place. They think of themselves as Catholics and rarely even trouble themselves to call themselves "lapsed Catholics."

This is where it gets interesting because these well-meaning Catholics (and of course this applies to a multitude of well-meaning Protestant Christians as well) who think they can "be good without going to church" are really in the same position as the polite atheists who also say they can "be good without God."

By this, they mean they can start a charity, raise money for helpless people, run a soup kitchen and special Olympics, campaign for poor workers and ecological causes without starting their meetings with a prayer. True enough. All those things are possible.

They may go further in their definition of what it means to be good and suggest that this also means "reaching one's full human potential" or "being self actualized" or "being fully mature and caring and loving." This too is possible with a certain amount of determination, hard work, good manners, working out at the gym and reading the right self-help books.

Unfortunately, both the lapsed Catholics and the atheists misunderstand what the Catholic church means by "being good." We declare that it is not only possible for human beings to do good, but also to be good.

Catholicism is about a supernatural transaction between an individual and God. God's power, which we call "grace," works on the person's whole being to effect a transformation from the inside out. We call this "divinization." The ancient church of the East calls it "theosis." This transformation allows a human being to live in a new dimension of power and glory unimagined by most of us. The second century theologian Saint Irenaeus wrote, "The glory of God is man fully alive" or as Jesus Christ himself said, "I have come to give you life—life more abundant!"

This "abundant life" means something greater than just doing good. It means being good. It means every cell and muscle, every sinew and particle of soul, every part of us being transformed with the radiant power and glory of God. It means the individual lives in a new, more dynamic dimension of reality. He or she begins to display even in this life a "god-like" quality.

The critic will reply, "If this is true, please explain the Catholic priests who rape little boys, the bishops who cover up their deeds—and not only the monsters, but the mediocre—please explain the bland, hypocritical and miserable Catholics I meet day to day who, I must say, don't seem to be transformed into beings of light by the stupendous power of the Creator."

The answer is that we are all a work in progress. This transformation is the work of a lifetime. The seed of this divine goodness is planted in our lives, but there is a real risk that it will wither and die for lack of care. It is up to us whether we live the abundant life we have been given. And while the power of God is given to enable this transformation, it is still required that we cooperate with that power. This work is at once the simplest and most difficult task of all.

We admit that many Catholics have failed or have not yet reached the mark, but we also insist that many others have succeeded beyond the realm of human imagination. If anyone doubts that such a transformation is possible, let them read the lives of the saints, for in the saints we do not find what we expected to find.

We thought the saint's story would be one of exclusive piety, sweet suffering and a sort of rose-scented limp through life. Instead, we find what the church calls "heroic sanctity"—amazing stories of ordinary individuals who achieve extraordinary things because they have become extraordinary people.

The life of the Polish priest Maximillian Kolbe is just one example: a physically sickly man living on one lung because of tuberculosis, in the 1930s he led thousands of young Polish men in a renewed Franciscan order. He started a printing press, a national newspaper with circulation in the millions, and pioneered radio broadcasting to spread the faith. Then he went to Japan as a missionary, learned the language and lived in extreme poverty, enduring persecution and misunderstanding. He built a monastery and started a seminary, wrote and printed a Japanese language paper, established a printing operation and radio station, before being summoned back to his country because of the outbreak of war.

Because of his passive resistance to the Nazi regime, he ended up in Auschwitz where, witnesses say, his wasted body was physically radiant with light. Giving up his own meager rations, he finally also gave up his life—stepping up to take the place of a man with a wife and children who had been sentenced to death. Even in the death cell he radiated a love and goodness beyond imagining—lasting far longer in his slow starvation than anyone thought possible until he was finally dispatched with a lethal injection.

Maximillian Kolbe is just one. Should anyone doubt that this power has been released into the lives of ordinary people, let him read the real stories of more saints, for each one (in a vast variety of people around the world and down through the ages) exhibits this same unimaginable heroism—this same supernatural transformation.

So can a person be good without God? One can certainly do good deeds without God, but why settle for so little when it is possible to be utterly transformed by the ultimate power and glory into a being of unimaginable and eternal splendor?

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. His latest book is Catholicism Pure and Simple. Visit his blog and sign up for Faith Works! his free, weekly newsletter on the practical practice of the Catholic faith here.

The Logic of Hell

April 1, 2009 By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

A friend commented the other day, “I was doubting the reality of hell. I wondered how it could be that an all loving God would be able to allow for hell. Then, at Mass, I gazed at the crucifix and it all clicked. I had an ‘aha’ moment. If there were no hell there would be no need of the cross. Why the cross if we did not need salvation, and what were we to be saved from if not hell?”

Indeed. The next day, having dinner with some friends a fellow priest commented, “The most deadly heresy of our day, a heresy that is destroying our church and our culture is the heresy of universalism. This sentimental belief that God will not condemn anyone to hell and that everyone is going to heaven undermines everything. It is a lie direct from the Father of lies.”

I’ve often thought that the people who think that God will not send anyone to hell really believe that God will not send someone like them to hell. It’s all couched in suitably sentimental concern for other people. They’re really just worried about their own skin.

Finally, it has always seemed incongruous to me that atheists blame believers for being on Fantasy Island and that we are duped into wishful thinking–that God is our big Sugar Daddy in the sky who will take us to glory one day. That may be the God of the eternal security born again crowd, but the Catholic God is the Almighty Judge before whom all will tremble one day. Before him none shall stand and every knee shall bow, and he might send us to hell.

This doesn’t sound very much like wishful thinking to me. Instead, the person who imagines that there is no life after death, no heaven to win and no hell to pay and that they can just quietly ride off into the sunset without paying their debts.

Now that really sounds like wishful thinking. to me.

The Logic of Hell – 2
April 2, 2009 By Fr. Dwight Longenecker


After the last post on hell someone asked, “So did God create Hell just so there could be the cross?” No, the logical connection between the cross and hell assumes that hell already existed and that is why the cross was necessary.

So did God create Hell? Not really. The Bible does say that hell was ‘prepared’ for the Devil and his angels, but I don’t think Hell is created in the same active way that God created the world. instead Hell is a sort of a by product of God’s creation. The logic works like this: God is Love. Love is not only what He is but what He does. Love is not only what He does, but what He is. One of the most important attributes of Love is that it is fruitful. Therefore God is a creator. He creates man and woman in his image. Part of being in God’s image is that we are given a little smidgen of his omnipotence. This is called free will. Within the boundaries of our human condition we can do what we like.

We can therefore reject God. If we reject God then we cannot be in his presence. Indeed if God were to make us go to heaven it would not be heaven for us because in rejecting God we also (ultimately) reject all things good and beautiful and pleasurable and true. If we reject all those things we will end up with all things miserable and ugly and painful and false.

If we are created in God’s image, then we not only have a smidgen of his omnipotence, we also have a smidgen of his eternal life. That means we will live forever somewhere. If we reject God and all that is good, where will we spend eternity? We must spend it in a place where God is not, where good is not, where beauty is not and where love is not. This is the place we call Hell.

Christ died on the cross to save us from this place.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Obama Culture Arrives

By L. Brent Bozell III

December 28, 2012

The year 2012 was a depressing time for people who are already pessimistic about the state of our common culture. Conversely, the re-election of Barack Obama, in large measure made possible by the heavy financial support of Hollywood, projects the optimism of the cultural Left. They anticipate increased blue-state voting patterns in favor of gay "marriage," legalized pot, gun regulations, and what next? Legalized prostitution? Euthanasia subsidized by Obamacare?

So let's just line up the cultural winners of Obama's America, where the only impediments to progress are those who believe in religion, manners and "family values."

Winner: Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the sick "Family Guy" cartoon and other Fox animated smutcoms on Sunday nights. He'll mock anything to shock the viewer, from portraying Jesus as a lying drunk, to joking Ronald Reagan was gay, even to making fun of domestic violence. Tinseltown loves this man. He guest-hosted "Saturday Night Live" in their season debut, was named host of the 2013 Academy Awards telecast and ABC's Barbara Walters named him one of the year's 10 "Most Fascinating People."

"Seth is the vision and the sensibility behind America's most popular and profitable cartoon series," Walters cooed. "Seth is a hands-on mastermind." She proclaimed, "The 'Family Guy' franchise is said to be worth nearly 2 billion dollars." She concluded by promoting his Oscar hosting gig: "In two months, hundreds of millions will be watching this writer, producer, actor, cartoonist, singer, multi-millionaire and all-around genius, and we'll all find out just how far Seth MacFarlane can go."

MacFarlane's filthy semi-animated movie, "Ted," grossed (literally grossed) $218 million at the box office. This was the movie described efficiently as "a boy's teddy bear comes to life and becomes a profane slacker who practically lives inside a bong and hires hookers in groups." The most unnecessary scene of the year was this teddy bear coming on to a sleazy fellow employee by not only doing pelvic thrusts, but also by spraying himself in the face with hand lotion — a porny orgasm shot on a child's toy.

That's "sensibility," says the Obama culture.

Winner: MacFarlane's older sidekick, Bill Maher, the toxic atheist HBO star and the epitome of self-indulgent Hollywood liberalism, a man who shamelessly denounces the rest of America as a nation of idiots.

Maher wrote a million-dollar check to Obama's Super PAC Priorities U.S.A.
The liberal media labored mightily to connect Mitt Romney to Donald Trump, but have said almost nothing to connect Maher to Obama.

Maher had another year of vicious commentary. Late in the campaign, he joked, "If you're thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, I would like to make this one plea: black people know who you are, and they will come after you." After Obama's victory, Maher joked about Karl Rove, "It was a little Hitler's bunker, wasn't it? I wanted to rush in with a cyanide capsule there."

He summed up the election this way: "It is your choice, America, because for me it is a win-win. If it's Obama, America wins, and if it's Romney, comedy wins." Maher has set the tone: Comedy is strictly deployed against the people who don't like Obama. If that feels like a Third World backwater to you, welcome to the Obama culture.

Winner: Roseanne Barr. She just won't go away. She was honored as comedic trailblazer for women with a Comedy Central roast. Katey Sagal, who played a foolish bimbo mom on "Married with Children," used the occasion to whack at Ann Romney: "Roseanne, I feel honored that you and I broke new ground as TV moms who didn't cook, didn't clean and didn't make any money. In the '90s, that made you a bad mom. But today it makes you Mitt Romney's wife."

Roseanne also exemplified the Obama culture's reaction to Chick-fil-A, in several Christian-bashing Twitter rants in July, including: "Anyone who eats S—t Fil-A deserves to get the cancer that is sure to come from eating antibiotic filled tortured chickens 4Christ". Then came the geopolitics: "Off to grab a s—it fil-A sandwich on my way to worshiping Christ, supporting AIPAC and war in Iran."

Winner: Howard Stern. NBC parted with $20 million to bring in the old shock-jock as a sharp-tongued judge on their summer show "America's Got Talent." The ratings dropped, but in the Obama culture, that's not really the point. NBC just announced Stern signed a new contract for 2013 to repeat his "towering presence and opinions," because his "dedication comes across in a genuine way to our viewers who share his passion."

The slogan for Team Obama in 2012 was "Forward." There's nothing forward about the Obama culture, however. It is down, down, straight down, into the abyss.

The Holy Innocents: Yesterday & Today

Aborted Child Born Alive, Left to Die; Obama Was Okay With That

by AWR Hawkins | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 5/24/12 10:17 AM

In Vietnam, a family is distraught because their child was born alive, covered in blankets by the hospital, and left to die.

In a twisted scenario where one bad decision led to even worse results, the parents had been convinced to abort their child after seeing ultra-sounds that showed troubling birth defects. After the abortion, the child was placed in a bed under blankets until the family could return to recover the body. But upon returning and removing the blankets, family members saw the child and realized the ultrasounds had been wrong—the child had been born healthy. Moreover, the child was still alive.

However, the child had been bleeding profusely, and although the hospital immediately began working to save the child’s fleeting life, in the end nothing could be done to save it.

Had this terrible situation arisen in Illinois when Barack Obama was a state senator, it would have been illegal for doctors or nurses to try to save the child once it was discovered alive. For as an Illinois state senator, Obama “voted four times against legislation to protect and care for infants accidentally born alive during late-term abortions.” As Erik Erickson has said: “Obama did not think that a child who was alive and outside the mother’s womb should be considered a child for the purposes of giving the child equal protection rights if it was the mother and doctor’s intention that the child be killed.”

In other words, where death was intended no life could be salvaged.

Thus, it came as no surprise that a House Judiciary Report from 2000 said physicians at one prominent hospital in Chicago had been aborting “healthy infants and infants with non-fatal deformities [and although] many of these babies…lived for hours after birth, no efforts [were] made to determine if any of them could have survived with appropriate medical assistance.”

In one specific example from an Illinois hospital, an aborted baby “left to die on the counter of the soiled utility room wrapped in a disposable towel, was accidentally thrown in the garbage.” Later, when hospital staff realize what had happened and begin looking for the child, they “were going through the trash [and] the baby fell out of the towel and on to the floor.”

I’m a bit confused here: Is this part of Obama’s promise of “hope and change” or simply a precursor of his pledge to “fundamentally change America”?

Think again about the child in Vietnam. There, the discovery of a live baby was a traumatizing experience to which everyone responded by trying to save the child’s life: the room was frantic with people fighting for life. But in Chicago, Illinois—which was Obama’s Illinois—it would have been illegal to try to save the child’s life, just as it was illegal to try to save the life of any child who’d survived abortion.

Here’s the bottom line: In Vietnam an aborted child was born alive, but left to die—just like Obama would have wanted it.

LifeNews Note: AWR Hawkins is weekly contributor to Andrew Breitbart’s “BIG” sites, a columnist for Pajamas Media, and a contributor to RedCounty.com. He holds a PhD in US military history from Texas Tech University. This column originally appeared at TownHall.


The Massacre of the Innocents in 10 Works of Artby SPL STAFF on Dec 28, 2012 • 4:00 amNo Comments

Listers, each year on December 28th the Roman Catholic Church celebrates those who died instead of the infant Christ. The “Holy Innocents” are recorded in St. Matthew’s Gospel 2:16-18:

Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Catholic Encyclopedia explains, “The Church venerates these children as martyrs (flores martyrum); they are the first buds of the Church killed by the frost of persecution; they died not only for Christ, but in his stead (St. Aug., “Sermo 10us de sanctis”). In connection with them the Apostle recalls the words of the Prophet Jeremias (xxxi, 15) speaking of the lamentation of Rachel.”1

“The Holy Innocents” by Giotto, c. 1304-6.

“Massacre of the Innocents” a 10th century illuminated manuscript.

“The Massacre of the Innocents at Bethlehem” by Matteo di Giovanni, 1488.

Cornelis van Haarlem, “Massacre of the Innocents,” 1590.

Peter Paul Rubens, “Massacre of the Innocents” c. 1610-12.

François-Joseph Navez, “Massacre of the Innocents,” 1824.

Haarlem, Cornelis “Massacre of the Innocents,” 1591.

Tintoretto, “Massacre of the Innocents,” 1587.

Bruegel the Elder, “Massacre of the Innocents,” 1565-7.

“The Massacre of the Innocents” by Brueghel the Younger, 1638.

Sources: The introduction is taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia article Holy Innocents, the bulk of the artwork is taken from the Massacre of the Innocents wikipedia article, and the rest of the pieces are from various other sources. []
Tags: Christmas, Herod, Holy Innocents, Jesus Christ, Massacre of the Innocents

Thursday, December 27, 2012

11 Reasons the Authority of Christianity Is Centered on St. Peter and Rome

St. Peter's List Logo

by SPL STAFF on Dec 19, 2012 • 4:00 am

A section of the "Martyrdom of St. Peter" by Leonello Spada (1576–1622)

Listers, Bl. John Henry Newman said it best: “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” History paints an overwhelming picture of St. Peter’s apostolic ministry in Rome and this is confirmed by a multitude of different sources within the Early Church. Catholic Encyclopedia states, “In opposition to this distinct and unanimous testimony of early Christendom, some few Protestant historians have attempted in recent times to set aside the residence and death of Peter at Rome as legendary. These attempts have resulted in complete failure.” Protestantism as a whole seeks to divorce Christianity from history by rending Gospel message out of its historical context as captured by our Early Church Fathers. One such target of these heresies is to devalue St. Peter and to twist the authority of Rome into a historical mishap within Christianity. To wit, the belief has as its end the ultimate end of all Catholic and Protestant dialogue – who has authority in Christianity?

Why is it important to defend the tradition of St. Peter and Rome?
The importance of establishing St. Peter’s ministry in Rome may be boiled down to authority and more specifically the historic existence and continuance of the Office of Vicar held by St. Peter. To understand why St. Peter was important and what authority was given to him by Christ SPL has composed two lists – 10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy and 13 Reasons St. Peter Was the Prince of the Apostles.

The rest of the list is cited from the Catholic Encyclopedia on St. Peter and represents only a small fraction of the evidence set therein.

The Apostolic Primacy of St. Peter and Rome

It is an indisputably established historical fact that St. Peter laboured in Rome during the last portion of his life, and there ended his earthly course by martyrdom. As to the duration of his Apostolic activity in the Roman capital, the continuity or otherwise of his residence there, the details and success of his labours, and the chronology of his arrival and death, all these questions are uncertain, and can be solved only on hypotheses more or less well-founded. The essential fact is that Peter died at Rome: this constitutes the historical foundation of the claim of the Bishops of Rome to the Apostolic Primacy of Peter.

St. Peter’s residence and death in Rome are established beyond contention as historical facts by a series of distinct testimonies extending from the end of the first to the end of the second centuries, and issuing from several lands.

1. The Gospel of St. John

That the manner, and therefore the place of his death, must have been known in widely extended Christian circles at the end of the first century is clear from the remark introduced into the Gospel of St. John concerning Christ’s prophecy that Peter was bound to Him and would be led whither he would not — “And this he said, signifying by what death he should glorify God”(John 21:18-19, see above). Such a remark presupposes in the readers of the Fourth Gospel a knowledge of the death of Peter.

2. Salutations, from Babylon

St. Peter’s First Epistle was written almost undoubtedly from Rome, since the salutation at the end reads: “The church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you: and so doth my son Mark” (5:13). Babylon must here be identified with the Roman capital; since Babylon on the Euphrates, which lay in ruins, or New Babylon (Seleucia) on the Tigris, or the Egyptian Babylon near Memphis, or Jerusalem cannot be meant, the reference must be to Rome, the only city which is called Babylon elsewhere in ancient Christian literature (Revelation 17:5; 18:10; “Oracula Sibyl.”, V, verses 143 and 159, ed. Geffcken, Leipzig, 1902, 111).

3. Gospel of St. Mark

From Bishop Papias of Hierapolis and Clement of Alexandria, who both appeal to the testimony of the old presbyters (i.e., the disciples of the Apostles), we learn that Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome at the request of the Roman Christians, who desired a written memorial of the doctrine preached to them by St. Peter and his disciples (Eusebius, Church History II.15, 3.40, 6.14); this is confirmed by Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3.1). In connection with this information concerning the Gospel of St. Mark, Eusebius, relying perhaps on an earlier source, says that Peter described Rome figuratively as Babylon in his First Epistle.

4. Testimony of Pope St. Clement I

Another testimony concerning the martyrdom of Peter and Paul is supplied by Clement of Rome in his Epistle to the Corinthians (written about A.D. 95-97), wherein he says (chapter 5):

“Through zeal and cunning the greatest and most righteous supports [of the Church] have suffered persecution and been warred to death. Let us place before our eyes the good Apostles — St. Peter, who in consequence of unjust zeal, suffered not one or two, but numerous miseries, and, having thus given testimony (martyresas), has entered the merited place of glory”.

He then mentions Paul and a number of elect, who were assembled with the others and suffered martyrdom “among us” (en hemin, i.e., among the Romans, the meaning that the expression also bears in chapter 4). He is speaking undoubtedly, as the whole passage proves, of the Neronian persecution, and thus refers the martyrdom of Peter and Paul to that epoch.

5. Testimony of St. Ignatius of Antioch

In his letter written at the beginning of the second century (before 117), while being brought to Rome for martyrdom, the venerable Bishop Ignatius of Antioch endeavours by every means to restrain the Roman Christians from striving for his pardon, remarking: “I issue you no commands, like Peter and Paul: they were Apostles, while I am but a captive” (Epistle to the Romans 4). The meaning of this remark must be that the two Apostles laboured personally in Rome, and with Apostolic authority preached the Gospel there.

6. Taught in the Same Place in Italy

Bishop Dionysius of Corinth, in his letter to the Roman Church in the time of Pope Soter (165-74), says:

“You have therefore by your urgent exhortation bound close together the sowing of Peter and Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both planted the seed of the Gospel also in Corinth, and together instructed us, just as they likewise taught in the same place in Italy and at the same time suffered martyrdom” (in Eusebius, Church History II.25).

7. Rome: Founded by Sts. Peter and Paul

Irenaeus of Lyons, a native of Asia Minor and a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna (a disciple of St. John), passed a considerable time in Rome shortly after the middle of the second century, and then proceeded to Lyons, where he became bishop in 177; he described the Roman Church as the most prominent and chief preserver of the Apostolic tradition, as “the greatest and most ancient church, known by all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul” (Against Heresies 3.3; cf. 3.1). He thus makes use of the universally known and recognized fact of the Apostolic activity of Peter and Paul in Rome, to find therein a proof from tradition against the heretics.

8. St. Peter Announced the Word of God in Rome

In his “Hypotyposes” (Eusebius, Church History IV.14), Clement of Alexandria, teacher in the catechetical school of that city from about 190, says on the strength of the tradition of the presbyters: “After Peter had announced the Word of God in Rome and preached the Gospel in the spirit of God, the multitude of hearers requested Mark, who had long accompanied Peter on all his journeys, to write down what the Apostles had preached to them” (see above).

9. Rome: Where Authority is Ever Within Reach

Like Irenaeus, Tertullian appeals, in his writings against heretics, to the proof afforded by the Apostolic labours of Peter and Paul in Rome of the truth of ecclesiastical tradition. In De Præscriptione 36, he says:

“If thou art near Italy, thou hast Rome where authority is ever within reach. How fortunate is this Church for which the Apostles have poured out their whole teaching with their blood, where Peter has emulated the Passion of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John.”

In Scorpiace 15, he also speaks of Peter’s crucifixion. “The budding faith Nero first made bloody in Rome. There Peter was girded by another, since he was bound to the cross”. As an illustration that it was immaterial with what water baptism is administered, he states in his book (On Baptism 5) that there is “no difference between that with which John baptized in the Jordan and that with which Peter baptized in the Tiber”; and against Marcion he appeals to the testimony of the Roman Christians, “to whom Peter and Paul have bequeathed the Gospel sealed with their blood” (Against Marcion 4.5).

10. Come to the Vatican and See for Yourself

The Roman, Caius, who lived in Rome in the time of Pope Zephyrinus (198-217), wrote in his “Dialogue with Proclus” (in Eusebius, Church History II.25) directed against the Montanists: “But I can show the trophies of the Apostles. If you care to go to the Vatican or to the road to Ostia, thou shalt find the trophies of those who have founded this Church”.

By the trophies (tropaia) Eusebius understands the graves of the Apostles, but his view is opposed by modern investigators who believe that the place of execution is meant. For our purpose it is immaterial which opinion is correct, as the testimony retains its full value in either case. At any rate the place of execution and burial of both were close together; St. Peter, who was executed on the Vatican, received also his burial there. Eusebius also refers to “the inscription of the names of Peter and Paul, which have been preserved to the present day on the burial-places there” (i.e. at Rome).

11. Ancient Epigraphic Memorial

There thus existed in Rome an ancient epigraphic memorial commemorating the death of the Apostles. The obscure notice in the Muratorian Fragment (“Lucas optime theofile conprindit quia sub praesentia eius singula gerebantur sicuti et semote passionem petri evidenter declarat”, ed. Preuschen, Tübingen, 1910, p. 29) also presupposes an ancient definite tradition concerning Peter’s death in Rome.

The apocryphal Acts of St. Peter and the Acts of Sts. Peter and Paul likewise belong to the series of testimonies of the death of the two Apostles in Rome.
Tags: Apologetics, Early Church, Early Church Fathers, Jesus Christ, Papacy, Peter

The First 10 Popes of the Catholic Church

by SPL STAFF on Dec 17, 2012 • 4:00 am

Listers, we’ve catalogued the first ten Vicars of Christ for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Save the information on our first pope – St. Peter – all the information presented is taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia and links for further reading are provided.

Painting of Saint Peter by Peter Paul Rubens depicting the saint as Pope (1611-1612) – Wikipedia

1. Pope St. Peter (32-67)

St. Peter held a primacy amongst the twelve disciples that earned him the title “Prince of the Apostles.” This primacy of St. Peter was solidified when he was appointed by Jesus to the Office of the Vicar – demonstrated by Christ giving St. Peter the Keys to the Kingdom. To understand St. Peter, one must first understand Christ and the Church Christ came to establish. Jesus is the “Son of David” and his life and ministry fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the New Davidic Kingdom and New Jerusalem; hence, we look to the historic kingdom of King David as a guide to the New Davidic Kingdom. King David had a vicar that ruled his kingdom when David was absent and the sign of authority for this vicar was the keys of the kingdom. In the New Davidic Kingdom, Christ the Son of David gave the keys to his Vicar to guide the Kingdom until the return of Christ – we now refer to this vicar as “the pope.” SPL has written extensively on these issue in 10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy and 13 Reasons St. Peter Was the Prince of the Apostles.

2. Pope St. Linus (67-76)

All the ancient records of the Roman bishops which have been handed down to us by St. Irenaeus, Julius Africanus, St. Hippolytus, Eusebius, also the Liberian catalogue of 354, place the name of Linus directly after that of the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter. These records are traced back to a list of the Roman bishops which existed in the time of Pope Eleutherus (about 174-189), when Irenaeus wrote his book “Adversus haereses”. As opposed to this testimony, we cannot accept as more reliable Tertullian’s assertion, which unquestionably places St. Clement (De praescriptione, xxii) after the Apostle Peter, as was also done later by other Latin scholars (Jerome, Illustrious Men 15). The Roman list in Irenaeus has undoubtedly greater claims to historical authority. This author claims that Pope Linus is the Linus mentioned by St. Paul in his 2 Timothy 4:21. The passage by Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3) reads:

After the Holy Apostles (Peter and Paul) had founded and set the Church in order (in Rome) they gave over the exercise of the episcopal office to Linus. The same Linus is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy. His successor was Anacletus.

We cannot be positive whether this identification of the pope as being the Linus mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21 goes back to an ancient and reliable source, or originated later on account of the similarity of the name. [Read More]

3. Pope St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)

The second successor of St. Peter. Whether he was the same as Cletus, who is also called Anencletus as well as Anacletus, has been the subject of endless discussion. Irenaeus, Eusebius, Augustine, Optatus, use both names indifferently as of one person. Tertullian omits him altogether. To add to the confusion, the order is different. Thus Irenaeus has Linus, Anacletus, Clement; whereas Augustine and Optatus put Clement before Anacletus. On the other hand, the “Catalogus Liberianus”, the “Carmen contra Marcionem” and the “Liber Pontificalis”, all most respectable for their antiquity, make Cletus and Anacletus distinct from each other; while the “Catalogus Felicianus” even sets the latter down as a Greek, the former as a Roman. [Read More]

4. Pope St. Clement I (88-97)

Pope Clement I (called CLEMENS ROMANUS to distinguish him from the Alexandrian), is the first of the successors of St. Peter of whom anything definite is known, and he is the first of the “Apostolic Fathers”. His feast is celebrated 23 November. He has left one genuine writing, a letter to the Church of Corinth, and many others have been attributed to him.

According to Tertullian, writing c. 199, the Roman Church claimed that Clement was ordained by St. Peter (De Praescript., xxxii), and St. Jerome tells us that in his time “most of the Latins” held that Clement was the immediate successor of the Apostle (Illustrious Men 15). St. Jerome himself in several other places follows this opinion, but here he correctly states that Clement was the fourth pope. [Read More]

In defense of the historical fact that the “Early Church” was also the Catholic Church, SPL composed a list entitled The Apostles Appointed Bishops: 9 Teachings from St. Clement AD 97. The list shows a very early snapshot of the Early Church and its Catholicity.

5. Pope St. Evaristus (97-105)

Date of birth unknown; died about 107. In the Liberian Catalogue his name is given as Aristus. In papal catalogues of the second century used by Irenaeus and Hippolytus, he appears as the fourth successor of St. Peter, immediately after St Clement. The same lists allow him eight years of reign, covering the end of the first and the beginning of the second century (from about 98 or 99 to about 106 or 107). The earliest historical sources offer no authentic data about him. In his “Ecclesiastical History” Eusebius says merely that he succeeded Clement in the episcopate of the Roman Church which fact was already known from St. Irenæus. This order of succession is undoubtedly correct. [Read More]

6. Pope St. Alexander I (105-115)

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, writing in the latter quarter of the second century, reckons him as the fifth pope in succession from the Apostles, though he says nothing of his martyrdom.

His pontificate is variously dated by critics, e.g. 106-115 (Duchesne) or 109-116 (Lightfoot). In Christian antiquity he was credited with a pontificate of about ten years (Eusebius, Church History IV.1) and there is no reason to doubt that he was on the “catalogue of bishops” drawn up at Rome by Hegesippus (Eusebius, IV, xxii, 3) before the death of Pope Eleutherius (c. 189). According to a tradition extant in the Roman Church at the end of the fifth century, and recorded in the Liber Pontificalis he suffered a martyr’s death by decapitation on the Via Nomentana in Rome, 3 May. [Read More]

Detail of Saint Sixtus from Sistine Madonna, painting by Raphael c.1513.

7. Pope St. Sixtus I (115-125)

Pope St. Sixtus I (in the oldest documents, Xystus is the spelling used for the first three popes of that name), succeeded St. Alexander and was followed by St. Telesphorus. According to the “Liberian Catalogue” of popes, he ruled the Church during the reign of Adrian “a conulatu Nigri et Aproniani usque Vero III et Ambibulo”, that is, from 117 to 126. Eusebius, who in his “Chronicon” made use of a catalogue of popes different from the one he used in his “Historia ecclesiastica”, states in his “Chronicon” that Sixtus I was pope from 114 to 124, while in his “History” he makes him rule from 114 to 128. All authorities agree that he reigned about ten years. He was a Roman by birth, and his father’s name was Pastor. [Read More]

8. Pope St. Telesphorus (125-136)

St. Telesphorus was the seventh Roman bishop in succession from the Apostles, and, according to the testimony of St. Irenæus (Against Heresies III.3.3), suffered a glorious martyrdom. Eusebius (Church History IV.7, IV.14) places the beginning of his pontificate in the twelfth of Hadrian’s reign (128-129), his death in the first year of the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-139). [Read More]

9. Pope St. Hyginus (136-140)

Reigned about 138-142; succeeded Pope Telesphorus, who, according to Eusebius (Church History IV.15), died during the first year of the reign of the Emperor Antonius Pius — in 138 or 139, therefore. But the chronology of these bishops of Rome cannot be determined with any degree of exactitude by the help of the authorities at our disposal today. According to the “Liber Pontificalis”, Hyginus was a Greek by birth. The further statement that he was previously a philosopher is probably founded on the similarity of his name with that of two Latin authors. [Read More]

10. Pope St. Pius I (140-155)

Date of birth unknown; pope from about 140 to about 154. According to the earliest list of the popes, given by Irenaeus (Against Heresies II.31; cf. Eusebius, Church History V.6), Pius was the ninth successor of St. Peter. The dates given in the Liberian Catalogue for his pontificate (146-61) rest on a false calculation of earlier chroniclers, and cannot be accepted. The only chronological datum we possess is supplied by the year of St. Polycarp of Smyrna’s death, which may be referred with great certainty to 155-6.

During the pontificate of Pius the Roman Church was visited by various heretics, who sought to propagate their false doctrine among the faithful of the capital. The Gnostic Valentinus, who had made his appearance under Pope Hyginus, continued to sow his heresy, apparently not without success. The Gnostic Cerdon was also active in Rome at this period, during which Marcion arrived in the capital (see MARCIONITES). Excluded from communion by Pius, the latter founded his heretical body (Irenaeus, Against Heresies III.3). But Catholic teachers also visited the Roman Church, the most important being St. Justin, who expounded the Christian teachings during the pontificate of Pius and that of his successor. A great activity thus marks the Christian community in Rome, which stands clearly conspicuous as the centre of the Church. [Read More]
Tags: Apologetics, Early Church Fathers, Papacy