The Apparition of May 13, 1917

For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24: 27).

February 15, 2017

I will recount here the first apparition of Our Lady of the Rosary to the three young children as recounted by the Servant of God Venerable Sister Lúcia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart in her fourth memoir composed in 1941 using the English version published in 1998.

Just one word in advance.  The primary witnesses of the Apparitions were the children Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta Marto.  During the Apparitions Francisco only saw the Blessed Virgin, but did not hear what she said while both Jacinta and Lucia heard the words of Our Lady.  Lucia however was the only one who ever spoke to the Virgin.  Now on to the account of the Apparition of May 13, 1917:

High up on the slope in the Cova da Iria, I was playing with Jacinta and Francisco at building a little stone wall around a clump of furze.  Suddenly we saw what seemed to be a flash of lightning.

“We’d better go home,” I said to my cousins, “that’s lightning; we may have a thunderstorm.”

“Yes, indeed!” they answered.

We began to go down the slope, hurrying the sheep along toward the road.  We were more or less half-way down the slope and almost level with a large holmoak tree that stood there, when we saw another flash of lightning.  We had only gone a few steps further when, there before us on a small holmoak, we beheld a Lady all dressed in white.  She was more brilliant than the sun, and radiated a light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water, when the rays of the burning sun shine through it.

We stopped, astounded, before the Apparition.  We were so close, just a few feet from her, that we were bathed in the light which surrounded her, that we were bathed in the light which surrounded her, or rather, which radiated from her.  Then Our Lady spoke to us:

“Do not be afraid.  I will do you no harm.”

“Where are you from?”

“I am from heaven.”

“What do you want of me?”

“I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th day, at this same hour.  Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want.  Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time.”

“Shall I go to heaven too?”

“Yes, you will.”

“And Jacinta?”

“She will go also.”

“And Francisco?”

“He will go there too, but he must say many Rosaries.”

Then I remembered to ask about two girls who had died recently.  They were friends of mine and used to come to my home to learn weaving with my eldest sister.

“Is Maria das Neves in heaven?”

“Yes, she is.”  (I think she was about 16 years old).

“And Amelia?”

“She will be in purgatory until the end of the world.”  (It seems to me that she was between 18 and 20 years of age).  “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?”

“Yes, we are willing.”

“Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

As she pronounced these last words “…the grace of God will be your comfort”, Our Lady opened her hands for the first time, communicating to us a light so intense that, as it streamed from her hands, its rays penetrated our hearts and the innermost depths of our souls, making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors.  Then, moved by an interior impulse that was also communicated to us, we fell on our knees, repeating in our hearts:

“O most Holy Trinity, I adore You!  My God, My God, I love you in the most Blessed Sacrament!”

After a few moments, Our Lady spoke again:

“Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.”

Then she began to rise serenely, going up towards the east, until she disappeared in the immensity of space.  The light that surrounded her seemed to open up a path before her in the firmament, and for this reason we sometimes said that we saw heaven opening.

There are a lot of things I want to say about this apparition, but I will let them be for a moment.

Pray the Rosary every day.  Pray for the five lost Sees.  Pray for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  Pray for the Holy Father.  Pray for Pope Francis.  He is our only pope and he is surrounded by men who are not his friends, and they are not your friends either.

The Apparitions of the Angel

February 9, 2017

I will recount here the beginning of the story: the apparitions of the Angel that were to prepare the children for the later apparitions of the Θεοτόκος, the Mother of God.  The Angel appeared first to Lucia in a series of brief manifestation in 1915 and then three times to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco together in 1916 that contained messages from Heaven.  The text I am using here is from Sister Lucia’s fourth memoir completed under the orders of the Bishop of Leira on December 8, 1941.  The English translation is from the volume published under the title Fatima in Lucia’s own words the 10th edition published on November 13, 1998 under the Imprimatur of the Bishop of Leira-Fatima.  Here is Sister Lucia’s account of the apparitions of the Angel:

Although I cannot give the exact date, it seems to me that it was in 1915 that the first Apparition took place.  As far as I can judge, it was the Angel, although at that time he did not venture to make himself fully known.  From what I can recall of the weather, I think that this must have happened between the months of April and October in the year 1915.

My three companions from the Casa Velha, by name Teresa Matias and her sister Maria Rosa, and Maria Justino, were with me on the southern slope of the Cabeço.  We were just about to start praying the Rosary when I saw, poised in the air above the trees that stretched down to the valley which lay at our feet, what appeared to be a cloud in human form, whiter than snow and almost transparent.  My companions asked me what it was.  I replied that I did not know.  This happened on two further occasions, but on different days.

This Apparition made a certain impression upon me, which I do not know how to explain.  Little by little, this impression faded away, and were it not for the events that followed, I think I would have forgotten it completely.

The dates I cannot set down with certainty, because, at that time, I did not know how to reckon the years, the months, or even the days of the week.  But I think it must have been in the spring of 1916 that the Angel appeared to us for the first time in our Loca do Cabeço.

As I have written in my account of Jacinta, we climbed th hillside in search of shelter.  After having taken our lunch and said our prayers, we began to see, some distance off, above the trees that stretched away towards the east, a light, whiter than snow, in the form of a young man, transparent, and brighter than crystal pierced by the rays of the sun.  As he drew nearer, we could distinguish his features more and more clearly.  We were surprised, absorbed, and struck dumb with amazement.

On reaching us he said:

“Do not be afraid.  I am the Angel of Peace.  Pray with me.”

Kneeling on the ground, he bowed down until his forehead touched the earth.  Led by a supernatural impulse, we did the same, and repeated the words which we heard him say:

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You!  I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You!”

Having repeated these words three times, he rose and said:

“Pray thus.  The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”  Then he disappeared.

The supernatural atmosphere which enveloped us was so intense, that we were for a long time scarcely aware of our own existence, remaining in the same posture in which he had left us, and continually repeating the same prayer.  The presence of God made itself felt so intimately and so intensely that we did not even venture to speak to one another.  Next day, we were still immersed in this spiritual atmosphere, which only gradually began to disappear…

The second Apparition must have been at the height of summer, when the heat of the day was so intense that we had to take the sheep home before noon and only let them out again in the early evening.

We went to spend the siesta hours in the shade of the trees which surrounded the well that I have already mentioned several times.  Suddenly, we saw the same Angel right beside us.

“What are you doing?” he asked.  “Pray! Pray very much!”  The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you.  Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.”

How are we to make sacrifices?” I asked.

“Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners.  You will thus draw down peace upon your country.  I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal.  Above all, accept and bear with submission, the sufferings which the Lord will send you.”

These words were indelibly impressed upon our minds.  They were like a light which made us understand who God is, how He loves us and desires to be loved, the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to Him and how, on account of it, He grants the grace of conversion to sinners.  It was for this reason that we began, from then on, to offer to the Lord all that mortified us, without, however, seeking out other forms of mortification and penance, except that we remained for hours on end with our foreheads touching the ground, repeating the prayer the Angel had taught us.

It seems to me that the third Apparition must have been in October, or towards the end of September, as we were no longer returning home for siesta.

As I have already written in my account of Jacinta, we went one day from Pregueira (a small grove belonging to my parents) to the Lapa, making our way along the slope of the hill on the side facing Aljustrel and Casa Velha.  We said our Rosary there and the prayer the Angel had taught us at the first Apparition.

While we were there, the Angel appeared to us for the third time, holding a chalice in his hands, with a host above it from which some drops of blood were falling into the sacred vessel.  Leaving the chalice and the host suspended in the air, the Angel prostrated on the ground and repeated this prayer three times:

“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of his most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.”

Then, rising, he once more took the chalice and the host in his hands.  He gave the host to me, and to Jacinta and  Francisco he gave the contents of the chalice to drink saying as he did so: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men.  Repair their crimes and console your God.”  Once again, he prostrated on the ground and repeated with us three times more, the same prayer “Most Holy Trinity…”, and then disappeared.

Impelled by the power of the supernatural that enveloped us, we imitated all that the Angel had done, prostrating ourselves on the ground as he did and repeating the prayers that he said.  The force of the presence of God was so intense that it absorbed us and almost completely annihilated us.  It seemed to deprive us even of the use of our bodily senses for a considerable length of time.  During those days, we performed all our exterior actions as though guided by that same supernatural being who was impelling us thereto.  The peace and happiness which we felt were great, but wholly interior, for our souls were completely immersed in God.  The physical exhaustion that came over us was also great.

Thus ends sister Lucia’s account of the Apparitions of the Angel of Portugal.  Just the act of copying this account and typing these words have strangely lightened my soul.  I want to say a few things about this apparition but I will leave that be until the next post.  For the moment I would just suggest reading and meditating on this wonderful passage.

Pray the Rosary daily.  Go to Confession.  Make reparation for the crimes committed against your outraged Lord and Savior by ungrateful men.  Pray and keep watch.

The minefield of Fatima

February 8, 2017                                                                                                                            The Memorial of Saint Jerome Emiliani

A few words before I begin at the beginning.  When I studied the accounts of Sister Lucia the message of Fatima seemed to me to be extremely clear and the requests of Our Lady seemed to me to be incredibly specific and precise.  Genuine penance and reparation were and are what Heaven demands, and if we follow this course we cannot fail.

I will detail the requests that Our Lady made of all of us and of the Holy Father and of his bishops, God willing, as I recount the individual apparitions but I do want to make one point very clear at the outset.  The message of Fatima has been incredibly muddied over during the last century.  Heaven made very clear and specific and easy to understand requests but the designs of men have confused things as we are always wont to do.  Fatima has been turned into a minefield.  How so?

Some misguided men have sought to distract people from the message or to subtly discredit it.  Others have sought to use it for their own personal gain and have therefore chosen to emphasize one portion of the message to the detriment of the other parts.  And this spreading of ignorance has confused almost everyone within the Church.

Fatima contains a clear and simple message that is crucially important for the human race that the Church herself has declared worthy of belief yet it is rarely spoken of, or if it is the prophetic import of the message is relegated to being a “part of the past” as one notable in the Church stated not so long ago.  But it is not part of the past.

Fatima is more important in 2017 than it was in 1917, much more important, and a simple run through the message, the message itself not what people say about  the message, will show that.  I will be expressing my opinions and those of others throughout this series of posts but I will always be clear that it is an opinion and not a fact.  Too many times in my research of this topic I have discovered that opinions are stated as if they were facts and unsourced claims are treated as if they were the Gospel truth.  So there we have it.  My little preamble is done.  In the next post, God willing, I will start with the apparitions of the Angel to three young shepherd children.

Please continue to pray the Rosary every day and join the Rosary Confraternity.

The Story of Fatima

February 4, 2017

I have noticed that during the two years since I stopped posting regularly on this blog it has continued to receive frequent visitors, at least one or two a day, mostly to the pages outlining the prayers of the Rosary.  I am immensely grateful if this small effort can be used by Heaven and by the Immaculate Heart of Mary to expand the practice of this unfathomably deep and rich devotion: the greatest form of meditation known to the human race.

During the last two years events in the Middle East have gone in a radically new direction for both the region and for the planet as a whole with the Russian military intervention in Syria.  The world has changed and is hurtling towards something (we know not what) very fast.  These events we are living through continually bring my mind back to the events of a century ago when the Lady of the Rosary appeared to three small children (Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco) in the Cova da Iria at Fatima, Portugal and entrusted to them a message with grave implications for the future of the human race.

This story is intimately linked with the purpose of this website for a number of reasons.  Firstly because it involves the Lady of the Rosary and the central concern of this blog is the spread of devotion to the Holy Rosary.  And the second is the intention for which I urge people to pray: the salvation and the liberation of the five ancient Sees of the Middle East and North Africa and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  How so?  The name of the town where she appeared is called Fatima.  That name is a leftover from the era when the Muslims ruled Portugal which ended seven centuries prior to the apparitions.  Nothing that Heaven does is a coincidence, and this is especially the case with names.  Names in Sacred Scripture mean things and Fatima (the daughter of Muhammad) is a great name among the Muslims.  Though the Venerable Servant of God Sister Lucia never told us that the Lady said anything concerning Islam I would propose that the name of the place itself is a revelation for those who are willing to hear it.

For this reason among others I feel motivated to tell the story of Fatima.  Another reason is the public nature of these events.  These apparitions along with the attached revelations are more similar to some of the miraculous events recorded in the Old Testament than what we usually class as ‘private revelations.’  How so?  Well take for example the Divine Mercy revelations to Saint Faustina during the 1930s which have been validated by the Church as well.  The experiences of Saint Faustina were purely personal, that is she was the only one who experienced them.  She sometimes saw visions but they were strictly for her.  No one else sees them.  If one reads her wonderful diary what Our Lord tells her is recorded as an interior experience that takes place within her soul.  Now don’t mistake me: I am not questioning the veracity of the Divine Mercy revelation.  This is simply how Our Lord chose to present this revelation, and it can properly be called ‘private revelation.’

Fatima is another case altogether.  First the primary witnesses to the Lady’s appearance were three, not one.  All three of the children saw the same Lady.  Two of them (Lucia and Jacinta) heard the Lady’s words.  And one (Lucia) actually spoke to her.  Moreover these apparitions after the first were public events.  When one reads the older books on Fatima published during the 1940s and ’50s, when very many of the townspeople and other witnesses were still alive, one gets the sense that these really were public events, more akin to the revelations made to Moses on Mount Sinai than a vision beheld by a monk or a nun alone in their cell in the middle of the night.  Other witnesses to the events of Fatima actually did see and hear things i.e. they knew something was going on out of the ordinary but they did not see the Lady or hear what she said.  Kind of like the Israelites seeing many great signs at Mount Sinai though they never saw God as Moses did nor did they hear his voice.  Not to mention the great Miracle of the Sun on October 13, 1917, witnessed by 70,000 people, that ranks up there with the Crossing of the Red Sea and the Sun and the Moon standing still for Joshua but has strangely enough been almost completely forgotten in our own day.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  In the next post, God willing, I will begin at the beginning.

Pray the Rosary daily, for the above intention if the Holy Spirit directs you there.  Go to Confession.  Adore the wounded Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

 

Requiescat in pace Francis Cardinal George

April 18, 2015

Francis Cardinal George, the recently retired Archbishop of Chicago died yesterday, April 17, 2015.

Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago (1937-2015).

Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago (1937-2015)

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.  Requiescat in pace Francis Cardinal George.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

The Islamic State threatens to conquer Rome

February 16, 2015

The Islamic State today released a video that purports to show the beheading of twenty one Egyptian Coptic Christians who had been kidnapped during December and January around the Libyan city of Sirte which is around 250 miles east southeast of Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast.  An armed group who has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State, in a strange echo of what took place in Mosul last June, seized control of government buildings in Sirte on Saturday. The executioners of the hostages vowed that the Islamic State will “conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission, the promise of our Prophet.”    The Egyptian government launched retaliatory airstrikes on the eastern Libyan city of Derna, a stronghold of Islamic State militants, on the Mediterranean coast about halfway between the Egyptian border and Benghazi.

So will the Islamic State launch an attack on Rome from its new base on the south shore of the Mediterranean?

I doubt that we will see armies flying the black flag marching up the Via della Conciliazione anytime soon.  The groups loyal to IS are one of a hodgepodge of armed militias fighting in the internecine warfare that makes up life in post Qaddafi Libya.  And they are far from the center of the Islamic State’s base of operations in the landlocked area surrounding the Syria Iraq border.  If these armed Libyan IS affiliates ever do manage to carve out some territory on the Libyan coast, hold it, and somehow maintain regular communication with IS central in Raqaa and Mosul they may use it to transport terrorist operatives to Italy and southern Europe or follow that tried and true ancient Muslim practice of launching assaults on Mediterranean shipping, but we are a long ways from that at the present moment.

However we should all note that the world is changing.  The current geopolitical chessboard that puts several obstacles in the path of the Islamic State is growing shakier by the day and the seemingly calm period that we have all lived through since the collapse of the USSR in 1991 is now likely over.  The divisions between Russia and NATO over Ukraine and Russia’s proper place in the world are daily hardening and growing deeper.  While the cease fire agreed to in Minsk may hold for a time it is already looking shaky and will certainly not bring a long term solution to this problem.  Catholics should prepare themselves for the fact that conditions are being created for something this generation has deemed unthinkable, a general war in Europe, to take place.  We shall see.

If that does come to pass, and even if the continent were to avoid the nuclear annihilation that would always be a looming prospect in such a conflict, Europe (and North America) will be changed forever.  Maybe the NATO alliance will fracture and since this seems to be Vladimir Putin’s ultimate goal (add to that the abysmal qualities of the current leadership in NATO countries) we should not dismiss the possibility.  If this happened then southern Europe would be more open to Muslim harassment and attack than it has for several centuries.  And if the whole of Europe were weakened by some conflict with Russia then it would be exceedingly vulnerable to such threats.  Again we shall see.

The Muslims have always had the dream of conquering Rome.  They conquered the ancient Catholic Sees of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Carthage in the first great wave of Islamic conquest in the seventh century.  They took Constantinople during the great explosion of Turkish power in the fifteenth and immediately after tried to move into Italy at Otranto but Rome was saved by the death of Sultan Mehmet II.  They have always wanted Rome but have never been able to lay a finger on it save for one raid in the dark ninth century where Arab marauders actually managed to accost the city and break into old Saint Peter’s basilica (then outside the city walls) before being driven off and never (yet) returning.

So now at least some Muslims are remembering who they are and what their religion is about.  What should Catholics do?  WE SHOULD REMEMBER THAT WE ARE CATHOLIC AND WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CATHOLIC.  We should learn the teachings of the Church and live them.  Participate in the Sacramental life of the Church.  Go to Confession.  Live your life in a state of grace.  If one is able he should learn Latin and pray the Divine Office in Latin.  Pope Benedict XVI reinstituted the Breviarium Romanum as an optional form for the prayer of the Church when he brought back the Tridentine Mass in his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.  Use it. Those Latin words of the Psalter were translated by Saint Jerome before the end of the Roman Empire, when the Mediterranean was still a unified Catholic sea.  Learn them.  Pray them.  Those words are older than Islam.

And pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as a pillar of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

A prayer for our time

February 9, 2015

The longer form of the St. Michael prayer, written by Pope Leo XIII:

O glorious prince of the heavenly host, Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and in the fearful warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits.  Come thou to the assistance of men, whom Almighty God created immortal, making them in His own image and likeness and redeeming them at a great price from the tyranny of Satan.  Fight this day the battle of the Lord with the legions of holy Angels, even as of old thou didst fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud spirits and all his rebel angels, who were powerless to stand against thee, neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And that apostate angel, transformed into an angel of darkness who still creeps about the earth to encompass our ruin, was cast headlong into the abyss together with his followers.  But behold, that first enemy of mankind, and a murderer from the beginning, has regained his confidence.  Changing himself into an angel of light, he goes about with the whole multitude of the wicked spirits to invade the earth and blot out the Name of God and of his Christ, to plunder, to slay and to consign to eternal damnation the souls that have been destined for a crown of everlasting life.  This wicked serpent, like an unclean torrent, pours into men of depraved minds and corrupt hearts the poison of his malice, the spirit of lying, impiety and blasphemy, and the deadly breath of impurity and every form of vice and iniquity.  These crafty enemies of mankind have filled to overflowing with gall and wormwood the Church, which is the Bride of the Lamb without spot; they have laid hands upon her most sacred treasures.  Make haste, therefore, O invincible Prince, to help the people of God against the inroads of the lost spirits and grant us the victory.

A magnificent oration!  Rich in Sacred Scripture and clear in meaning.  A prayer for our days if there ever was one.

And for those of you troubled by the reference to the enemy of mankind ‘changing himself into an angel of light,’ don’t be troubled.  This is the phenomenon present in every age, but particularly present in our own age, of the ‘shining darkness.’  Think how many ideas or impressions you have had in your own life that if you would only follow them then you would find peace and contentment.  But there is always that other voice in your head telling you to hold back and wait a while.  Consider the possibilities before you take the leap.  And after further reflection (God forbid don’t follow these false lights) and experience you see that these following these supposedly good things will lead to nothing but disaster.  The men out there know of what I speak.  That woman over there sure is beautiful.  And really she does look fine, so why not just let your mind wander and wonder a bit, it is only natural after all.  But we all know to what perils that leads now, do we not?

Now magnify this to the level of human history and the myth of human ‘progress.’  How many horrible ideas that have killed millions of people and possibly destroyed millions more souls at first seemed alright.  In fact they were good and precious and why not?  Why shouldn’t we all be prosperous and rich and if my neighbor won’t let me be rich and prosperous and ‘happy,’ then I will just take all of his stuff and his very life if that stands in the way.  You see how this works.  We have so many examples of it on a mass level since the Masonic coup d’etat in France of 14 July 1789, and humanity just won’t learn.  The only answer to this continuing downward spiral of humanity is the Catholic Church, her Sacraments and her Teaching.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity.

The Congregation for Divine Worship’s contact info

December 5, 2014

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments’ mailing address can be difficult to find on the English language internet. This is the body in the Roman Curia to which all liturgical abuses that occur within the context of the Roman Rite, after due notification to the local Ordinary, should be reported,   Pope Francis just appointed a new prefect of this body, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, from Guinea who is a fluent English speaker.  If you have reported a significant liturgical abuse to your local Bishop and received no response then contact the Congregation at the following address:

His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah

Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Palazzo delle Congregazioni

Piazza Pio XII, 10

00120 CITTA DEL VATICANO

VATICAN CITY

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage, for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

The two great saints of Antioch

The Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist

The 17th and 18th of October combine to celebrate the greatness of the gifts that the See of Antioch, Saint Ignatius and Saint Luke, gave to the Church.  Antakya is now a dusty and forgotten town in the region of Hatay near the Turkish Syrian border, but in the first century of the Incarnation it was a crossroads of the world and the third city of the Roman Empire after Rome herself and Alexandria.  She was the first great city outside of Palestine to receive the Gospel and she returned much fruit: the Evangelist who gave us the most well written of the Gospels and one of the great early martyrs, who himself knew the Apostles and left us a series of letters written on his way to martyrdom in Rome that give us a vivid portrait of the life Church’s life in the generation that followed the death of that first generation who had seen the deeds and heard the words of Christ themselves.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch was martyred in Rome under the Emperor Trajan likely in the first decade of the second century of the Incarnation.  He is thought to have been born around the middle of the first century and ancient tradition tells us that he was brought from Antioch to Rome on the orders of the Emperor Trajan himself to be martyred in the Colosseum sometime in the first years of the second century.  His seven letters written to the churches of Ephesus, of Magnesia, of Tralles, of Rome, of Philadelphia, of Smyrna, and to his friend Polycarp give a great understanding of the life of the Church during those years immediately following the end of the apostolic age.

In his letter to the Church of Smyrna chapter 8 Ignatius gives us the first written record of the phrase “Catholic Church,” saying “wherever the Catholic Church is there is Jesus Christ.”  He echoes here both the words of Jesus Christ in Mt. 18:20 that he undoubtedly heard from the apostles and St. Paul’s theology of the Church as Mystical Body of Christ.  And the familiarity with which he uses the words “Catholic Church” indicates that his audience already at the beginning of the second century was quite familiar with the concept.  In this chapter he also gives voice for the first time in the written record of the idea of a Catholic living in a particular diocese being loyal to the bishop of that diocese thus providing concrete early support for a concept that has governed the life of the Church ever since.

In chapter 7 of that same letter to the Smyrnaeans Ignatius calls the Eucharist the “flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ.”  This is the same theme as that which had only been written down a few years before in Saint John’s Gospel, chapter 6 by our modern rendering.  And it is also unsurprising since both Ignatius and his friend Polycarp were reputed in later generations to have been hearers of the Apostle John.  So yes the idea of the Real Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament also goes back to the beginning.  It really is remarkable to read Saint Ignatius’ collection of letters to see how many of the beliefs that are central to the life of the Church today were equally central in the generation that followed the apostles.  The collection can be found here.


What can we say about Saint Luke?  He is universally regarded by the ancient sources of the third Gospel which bears his name; he is additionally the author of the Acts of the Apostles, the only volume that gives us a history of the early Church from the Ascension of our Lord stretching to the years just before the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome; and he is mentioned in several of Saint Paul’s epistles.

Saint Luke begins his Gospel with the acknowledgement that others had written accounts of the life and doings of our Lord before him, but that he felt the need to go over all of the facts from the beginning and render his own to the mysterious figure Theophilus.  He speaks of hearing the story of Jesus Christ from “eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” who had preceded him.  The first of these must have been Saint Paul.  He acknowledges himself as a frequent companion to Saint Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, including in the famous ‘we’ sections which are the only first person narrative accounts in all of Sacred Scripture including the journey of Paul from Jerusalem to Rome, the place of his eventual martyrdom.  Saint Paul offers vary little biographical information concerning our Lord in his epistles but if you ever wonder what the story he told to his hearers about the life of Christ was it would be wise to consult Saint Luke’s Gospel.

But there were other eyewitnesses too.  Saint Luke was not of Jewish origin, but born a pagan: the ancient sources are virtually unanimous that he was born a pagan in the city of Antioch.  In fact his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles are the only books of Sacred Scripture written by someone who was not a blood descendant of Abraham.  And it also seems that he spoke with the Mother of God herself, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  He is the only Evangelist who gives us an account of the Annunciation, of the birth of John the Baptist, of the shepherds in the field at Bethlehem, and of the old priest Simeon and his prophecy to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God at the presentation of our Lord in the Temple.  He gives us the great hymns of the Magnificat, the Benedictus (the Canticle of Zechariah), and the Nunc Dimmitis the canticle of old Simeon when he laid eyes on our Lord.  All of these hymns are still used in the Divine Office of the Western Church more than nineteen centuries after Saint Luke’s Gospel was written.

And I would like to stress once more Saint Luke’s relationship with Saint Paul.  It has been said by more than a few scholars that all of Christian theology since has merely been a footnote to Saint Paul.  There is much to recommend this point of view.  And if you want to understand the story that was the source for Paul’s dazzling theology it would be wise to meditate on the Gospel that the great saint and Evangelist of the now decrepit See of Antioch once gave us, and to meditate on the relationship between the concepts illustrated in Paul’s epistles and the stories told in the Gospel of Saint Luke.  And pray for the resurrection of Antioch.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

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A good man has passed on from this world

The Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

Maybe it is not my place to judge whether a man has done good or ill in this world, but for my part Father Benedict Groeschel was a good man.  He died last night.  He was a personality on EWTN for a long time until a car accident a decade ago impaired his abilities.  He had an uncanny ability to distill the great depth and profound Truth of the Catholic Faith into simple and understandable statements that could be understood even by a simple layman like myself.  And what’s more he inspired me to take it upon myself to learn more and to grow deeper in the Faith.

Here is my favorite video clip of Father Groeschel: he spends almost thirty minutes going over the subject of contemplative prayer, but really he is talking about life itself and indeed the final goal of the Christian life:

 

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.  Requiescscat in pace domnus Benedictus.