Sunday, December 2, 2018

St Anne Charlotte, NC: Light of Renovation in a Sea of Darkness

Yesterday I made what is probably my last trip to Charlotte, NC. I had to wrap up some personal business there and while I was in town I decided to see the renovation of Saint Ann in the South Park area of town. When I lived in Charlotte, now over 13 years ago, this was one of the most liberal parishes, and one of the worst looking in the city. Those memories haunted me so I was motivated to check out the renovation hoping to leave Charlotte behind with a pleasant  memory, and I was not disappointed.

Below in the video you can see the transformation of the Church when it was first finished. Since the video was made however they have added to the Church, and I must say its impressive. The life size statues are reminiscent of those you see in the old churches up north. The niches on both sides of the upper windows have 12 life-sized saint statues carved by Studio DeMetz in Ortisei, Italy. The stained glass windows were also nice made in a traditional artistic manner. The mural behind the altar is stunning. There are also Biblical passages wrapped around the Church calling to mind how we must win the race against sin. I took a few pictures when I was there, and its things like this that help me keep my sanity. The church also comes complete with an altar rail where everyone kneels to receive Our lord on the tongue!

St. Anne's is a stick in the eye to the modernist menaces trying to destroy the Church. May this church be an example to bishops and priests across our country. St. Ann proves that Catholic churches in our age can be renovated in a fashion that gives glory to God, and we need this now more than ever in our time of liturgical and theological madness. They also happily have two regular Latin Masses each week. If you are in Charlotte on a Sunday, this is the parish I would recommend visiting. God bless Father Reid and those who made this happen.

(From their website)
St. Ann is one of the few parishes in the Diocese of Charlotte to offer the Mass in the Extraordinary Form (the Latin Mass) on a regular basis. The Mass schedule is as follows:

Sundays, 12:30 p.m.
Wednesdays, 6:00 p.m. (Low Mass)


Monday, November 12, 2018

What Really Happened at the Youth Synod?

This is a great talk given at the Remnant's Catholic Identity Conference, by LifeSite's Diane Montagna who gives you the inside scoop on the Youth Synod. You can subscribe and see all of the  talks on their website.

Vatican shuts down USCCB Vote on abuse crisis!

Just announced, the Vatican has told the USCCB that they cannot vote as planned on Wednesday on the abuse crisis. Cardinal DiNardo this morning read a last minute announcement which he learned of at 9PM last evening, that the bishops were asked not to vote on "Standards of Episcopal Conduct" scheduled for Wednesday. The Vatican has said that the USCCB must wait for the January meeting in Rome to address these issues. What I found interesting was that Cardinal Cupich just seconds later stood up, went to the microphone before the conference even began and proposed that the discussion on the crisis continue without a vote so that their petitions could be taken to Rome in January.

Image result for USCCB

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Bishop Athanasius Schneider Banned by Vatican From Travel?

Say it ain't so. One of the few outspoken orthodox bishops, Athanasius Schneider, is now being banned from travel by the Vatican? If this is the case, we are now seeing another move on the chess board to put Catholicism into checkmate by the hierarchy in the Vatican. Pray for this man, he is one of the few who helps keep our sanity under this Francis regime, which protects the predators and punishes the faithful. God help us! Update!

New update 11-7-18, Schnieder says he was asked to follow canon law by Vatican.

“I was asked on behalf of the Holy See to reduce the frequency of my travels outside my diocese, so that their duration will not exceed the limits indicated by Canon Law (i.e. 30 days). Therefore there is no travel ban.”

Canon 410, which regulates an auxiliary bishop’s travel, states the following:

Like the diocesan bishop, a coadjutator bishop and an auxiliary bishop are obliged to reside in the diocese.

Except for a brief time, they are not to be absent from it other than to fulfill some duty outside the diocese or for vacation, which is not to exceed one month.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Francis' Deal With Devil Results in More Destruction

Just weeks after Pope Francis made a foolish deal with the Chinese government devils, lifting excommunications of illicitly ordained bishops, the Chinese destroyed two Marian pilgrimage sites in China. I guess this is some of the suffering the true Catholic faithful will have to endure which Francis spoke of when he made the deal. “It’s true, they will suffer. There is always suffering in an agreement,” This is par for the course of this pontificate. Faithful Catholics are continuously thrown under the bus while the wicked are given free passes to destroy the Church. Another milestone in this ramshackle pontificate. The truth is, there is always suffering when you make an agreement with the devil. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Brace Yourselves: Youth Synod Over, Now What?

The Youth Synod in Rome has thankfully come to a close today with a Mass this morning. I have been following the event fairly closely and have been able to watch the event unfold over the past month. As expected the event has been fraught with fear of what the final document may contain, which at first glance seems to be a bit toned down to what was expected. However, there is a caveat, it seems that the pre-synodal document is to be taken alongside the final document. This means that the LGBT language remains attached to the synod regardless of what the final document says.

My impression of the event after watching hours of coverage is that first, there is much talk about nothing. There was much talk about technology, economics, and the various situations the youth find themselves. This would have been relevant is they had actually proposed tangible solutions, such as living the gospel in light of the unchangeable teaching of Christ and His Church. I have not read the full document, so it remains to be seen what actual tangible solutions are offered in light of Christ and His Church. There were also legitimate testimonies from the youth on how the gospel has changed their lives. I consider this to be the one positive aspects of the event. However, there was much useless talk about strategizing on how to evangelize the youth, as if the Church has no idea on how to preach the gospel to people of all ages. Its as if they are trying to reinvent the wheel. There were also some embarrassing moments such as the after synod dance where men in their 60s and 70s were trying to make themselves relevant to teenagers.

There were reports that certain language was toned down concerning human sexuality due to the presence of the African bishops and a few others. It seems that there were enough Francis supporters to pass all of the proposed paragraphs. All of the paragraphs passed by a 2/3 majority, although paragraph 150, it is reported that there were 65 votes against it, which was the one on human sexuality. All this being said, there appears, based on reliable reports, that there are problematic statements concerning sexuality and synodality in the final document. The language appears to propose that the Church does not have all the answers concerning human sexuality, and thus it must be investigated more closely. We can only imagine what that means. The issue of synodality is also an issue being that these synods can possibly be looked at as mini-Vatican II councils, that the Pope sets up, stacks to his favor, then under the appearances of the synod being the will of the Church, the Pope ratifies.

I think that the final document however is not going to be the main document to worry about, although it will be problematic. In my estimation Pope Francis will write an exhortation on the synod which will cause more of a problem. The ground work has also been laid for the next synod which will address the Amazon, in which topics concerning married priests and the role of women are supposed to be topics of importance.

Finally, Francis opened and closed with Masses using an abominable crosier made by some of the youth, which represents something out of the pagan cults. God only knows why he thinks that is an appropriate image of Christ. Stay tuned for more info as I get it. You can also follow me on Twitter for quicker updates.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Rigid Truths II: Marriage and Teaching Children-An Answer to the Youth Synod

 In order, however, that amongst men of every nation and every age the desired fruits may be obtained from this renewal of matrimony, it is necessary, first of all, that men's minds be illuminated with the true doctrine of Christ regarding it; and secondly, that Christian spouses, the weakness of their wills strengthened by the internal grace of God, shape all their ways of thinking and of acting in conformity with that pure law of Christ so as to obtain true peace and happiness for themselves and for their families. (Casti Connubi)

Its time for another dose of rigid truths! There is nothing new under the sun. For the past 2000 years the Church has been at work in the world bringing the grace of Jesus Christ to all cultures in all times. Human nature has not changed one iota since Christ and His apostles walked the earth. We still have the same fallen nature, the same propensity to sin and the same remedy for it, grace. Virtue is still virtue and vice is still vice and we all need to seek virtue and avoid vice. Our intellect can still know truth and we still have the freewill to choose what we love. We can do things God's way as perennially taught by Christ and His Church or we can do it the world's way, taught by Satan.

All of this hand-wringing and equivocation at the Youth Synod in Rome has worn thin on the hearts and minds of those trying to live the authentic Catholic faith. We do not need a group of so called experts to sit down and listen to the youth, what we need is for the shepherds to be actual shepherds and lead the sheep with the clear teaching of the Church. That means preaching the gospel as it has always been preached regardless of what generation you are preaching to, or where it happens to be on the globe. Yes we have new technology, but technology does not change human nature. Sure we have new means to communicate the truth, but communicate it we must. Like anything, technology can be used to improve things for the promotion of virtue, or be used to promote vice.

There is a very simple solution for evangelizing the youth and that is fostering a strong family unit in which the youth are taught the faith. Every child has a right to a loving mother and father who will bring them up in the Catholic faith. The indissoluble sacrament of marriage is of the utmost importance for the upbringing of the youth in the Church. All of this pandering to the world giving the impression that divorce is not such a bad thing has been a disaster. This new idea that Catholics who are divorced and "remarried" need to be able to receive the Eucharist is simply diabolical. This mentality does not foster grace in these individuals nor does it foster grace in their children. Divorce always divides the family and that is what the enemy wants. He wants to downplay the seriousness of the sacraments of marriage, confession and the Eucharist in order to foster a lukewarm faith, which is of course what Our Lord hates the most. He is doing a good job of it.

With marriage comes the obligation to be open to new life. This means that when a large portion of Catholics are illicitly using contraception, this brings with it a demonic presence that prohibits grace from working in the family. If the Youth Synod is serious about fostering the true faith in the Youth in order produce true holiness, it should be focusing on the bonds of marriage and clear traditional catechesis. The faith that is well understood and lived by the parents will usually also be strong in the children. When the mother and father are living the spiritual life in a state of grace, the children will also generally follow. We now have a modernist infused theology being taught in a large portion of the Church across the world today. We are taking our lessons from the world rather than teaching the world a lesson in grace. Families are being broken apart because of lukewarm faith, and this leads to the issue we have with the youth not seeing the Church as being relevant.

This has nothing to do with too few youth programs, as nice as more of these might be if they were well oriented, it has to do with actually living the Catholic faith in the home. If our bishops and priests teach the faith clearly, in season and out of season, and foster holiness in the spiritual life in the home, we can begin to pull the youth back into the Church. As long as the parents live a lukewarm faith, then so will the children. Remember, just because the parents are going to Mass does not mean they have a vibrant faith, and children can see right through hypocrisy in the home. A strong family unit that puts God at the forefront is the only solution to this crisis. This is a rigid truth that is unchangeable and relevant to every culture and every age. All of the pandering to the world will not change this truth and it will certainly not make the Church more relevant to the Youth, only truth and grace can do that. Will Francis ever take a queue from his one of his predecessors Pius XI?

Yet not only do We, looking with paternal eye on the universal world from this Apostolic See as from a watch-tower, but you, also, Venerable Brethren, see, and seeing deeply grieve with Us that a great number of men, forgetful of that divine work of redemption, either entirely ignore or shamelessly deny the great sanctity of Christian wedlock, or relying on the false principles of a new and utterly perverse morality, too often trample it under foot. And since these most pernicious errors and depraved morals have begun to spread even amongst the faithful and are gradually gaining ground, in Our office as Christ's Vicar upon earth and Supreme Shepherd and Teacher We consider it Our duty to raise Our voice to keep the flock committed to Our care from poisoned pastures and, as far as in Us lies, to preserve it from harm.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Rigid Truths I: Sin, Grace and the Necessity of Deification

This is the first in a series of articles titled, 'Rigid Truths.' It is a response to the noxious nonsense being peddled in Catholic circles today that we not be rigid in our thinking about divine truths. On the contrary, we preach and teach Christ crucified, in light of God's unchangeable Revelation. The truths revealed by God are not fluid and changeable according to the whims of man. The first article focuses on the rigid reality of the necessity of God's grace and divine sonship in the true 'Imago Dei.'  

Sin, Grace and the Necessity of Deification
Matthew J. Bellisario 2018

And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26)

The Imago Dei

The book of Genesis reveals that man was made in the image and likeness of God, the Imago Dei.  From the earliest times the Church has viewed this image not primarily as something physical, but something contained in the substance of the soul, the intellect and the will. The ability of man to grasp principles, understand reality, deliberate on what he has learned and put them into free action is unique among all creatures. This is the basic essence of the Imago Dei.

The Imago Dei however goes to a deeper level in humanity than this basic explanation, because the reality of the intellect and freewill presuppose a teleology in man. By the mere fact that man can learn, and act freely tells us that man can act towards an ultimate end. The proper ultimate end of course being God: to whom all men are created to return. This reality must also mean that there is a way that man can realize this end. This is by divine filiation, made possible by the incarnation of Christ. This image of God in man also allows man to love and interact in friendship, the highest of these being the friendship of God. This friendship results in sonship.

Although all men are created in the Imago Dei, not all men are truly sons of God, for they must possess divine friendship to be so. Thus, St Thomas Aquinas viewed this imago in three distinct categories.[1] The first being man as he was created with an intellect and will, the second, those who are infused with supernatural grace and are thus sons of God, and finally those who are blessed in heaven reaching their end in the Beatific Vision. By grace and divine filial friendship then the imago is perfected and reaches its proper end in the Beatific Vision.

The Origin and Consequences of Sin

Knowing that man must possess this grace and divine filiation, we must consider the obstacles to obtaining this end. The primary obstacle that must be overcome is what the Church calls ‘Original Sin.’ Adam and Eve, our first parents in the order of creation, (actual historical figures,) passed on to us the consequences of their choice to disobey God: “…the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own" (Humani Generis 37).[2] Thus, we must understand that consequently as we are all sons of Adam, we are all subject to a fallen nature. The great Saint Ambrose of Milan wrote, “Before we are born we are stained by contagion, and before seeing the light we receive the injury of our very origin, we are conceived in iniquity.”[3] What are the consequences of this ‘Original Sin’?

Through the sin of Adam every person inherits the consequences of his sin, making every man after him sons of Satan rather than sons of God. Saint Irenaeus rightly wrote, “the first Adam became a vessel in his (Satan's) possession.”[4] Traditionally there are two major consequences that are passed onto everyone concerning their relationship with God. The first being a loss of ‘Original Justice’ and the second the inheritance of the propensity to sin, or concupiscence. The loss of Original Justice means that man is no longer a friend of God, no longer possesses a filial relationship with God and is thus in Satan’s possession like his father Adam. This is often referred to as a “state of death.”[5]  

Included in man’s fallen nature is the loss of grace which orders man’s love towards God, and thus we have a propensity to act for our own interests rather than God’s. We tend to put our will above the will of God. An additional consequence is that our intellect has been darkened and this contributes to our inclination to sin.

Although man is fallen, he is still free to act and although his intellect is weakened, it still possesses reason, common sense and conscience which allows him to choose good over evil. True Christianity does not teach the total depravity of man’s intellect and will as do many of the pretended “reformers” of the sixteenth century. Man can indeed act in natural virtue, is able to deduce basic truths about his existence and can deduce from reason the existence of God.[6] Although man can naturally come to these conclusions using his natural reason, there is no natural way for man to return to this filial relationship with God. Being that man has an intellect and can act to obtain an ultimate end, how is possible for this breach to be repaired with God?

 Sin, Grace and Deification in the Early Church

The idea of man’s separation from God by sin being repaired by the infusion of grace along with man’s cooperation with grace is a commonality among all the spiritual masters of the early Church. This reparation however, was not to be done in isolation, but by one’s participation in the Church established by Christ through the apostles. It is important to recognize the importance of Christ’s incarnation and the establishment of His Catholic Church as the foundation for man’s possible reconciliation with God. The only known way for man to become a son of God is through the Sacrament of Baptism. This Sacrament is the entry way to the Church by a special grace which cleanses the soul of ‘Original Sin’ and the loss of ‘Original Justice’. It also cleanses the soul of one’s personal sins and the consequences due to sin. Baptism can be received when a person is first born or later in life when grace disposes a person to receive it. In addition to these graces one also receives the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Along with this man’s cooperation is needed to foster more grace. This is done by engaging the intellect in prayer and catechesis. As one grasps certain truths about God they begin to love Him more and begin to develop a habit of prayer. This habitual intellectual effort guided by the will and grace, combined with the reception of Most Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confirmation, one continues to grow in grace and the love of God. Thus, the intellect, will and grace work together for an end, holiness and union with God.

Once man is in the state of grace however, due to his concupiscence which remains after Baptism, he may still use his own will to sin against God. Adults may have developed habitual vice before coming into the Church which makes them weak against sins of habit. Certain sins known as mortal sins can separate one from the sonship of God after Baptism. If this happens a man can freely recognize his fault, repent and resolve not to commit the sin again and receive grace through the Sacrament of Confession. This Sacrament is known as a “second baptism” which reconciles one in the sonship of God. Knowing that we are still prone to sin, all the spiritual masters advise that we undergo voluntary asceticism to help subdue our impulse towards sin.

Man cooperating with God’s grace then begins to choke out sinful habits by practicing good habits, known as virtue. Man receives certain gifts of the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. The Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice and Temperance along with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord all operate in man while he is in a state of grace. The effectiveness of which they operate in each person depends on how each person is disposed towards God. A high level of holiness through grace usually comes by a gradual process of God transforming the person through personal experience in prayer, meditation, reading Sacred Scripture, the reception of the Sacraments and ascetical practices ranging from the basic practice of the virtues to acts of penance. Saint Gregory the Great wrote that our growth in the spiritual life, “…depends on our disposition: to the degree that you develop your struggles for piety, to the same degree also the grandeur of your soul develops through these struggles…”[7] This inevitable struggle then is focused on our pursuit for the love of God.

There are three basic stages of this process called by various names by the spiritual fathers. They are sometimes broken up into smaller stages, but in general we have the beginner, the advanced and the perfected. They are also commonly called purification, illumination, and perfection. The beginning stage known as the purgative is where one begins to follow Christ, mostly out of servile fear and begins to purify themselves of vice. The second stage called the illumitive stage is where they have purged away mortal sin but still struggle with venial sin and thus enjoy the ways of God in an imperfect manner. The final stage known as the unitive way is where a man is perfected and lives only to please God and usually involves a high level of prayer known as contemplation. The process described is known as deification, divinization or theosis. All the spiritual fathers teach this transformation of the individual although using different terms to explain it. Clement of Alexandria illustrates this idea “...the Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God.”[8] This mandatory process is how one partakes of the divine nature of God[9], which is the only possible means one can obtain the Beatific Vision. Although a man may do good things, even go to Mass, if they are not being deified through grace, they are not children of God. St. Augustine rightly says, “All who do not love God are strangers and antichrists. They might come to the churches, but they cannot be numbered among the children of God.[10]

Moral Theology and Deification in the Thomistic Tradition

In addition to the order of deification, it is important to study man’s moral action in relation to God as man’s ultimate end in Aquinas’ thought. This will shed further light on the previous quote of St. Augustine, whom Thomas quotes more than any other Father in his Summa Theologica. Although moral theology is sometimes presented as a type of ethics, this is a superficial presentation. Moral theology entails how man acts in relation to his proper ultimate end, God. The proper ordering of one’s actions is of the utmost importance when it comes to the salvation of man through deification. “St. Thomas teaches that everyone must order all of his actions to a single ultimate end.”[11] Man is either doing one of two things, directing all his actions with grace towards God or without grace to some lesser worldly end. Moral theology helps explain how man maintains his actions ordered towards God which makes deification possible.

Concerning sin, the Church teaches what actions are morally licit and which are not. Since acts of the intellect are directed to discovering truth[12], it is an obligation for man to inform his intellect as to what these consist. Those who do not seek out the truth of proper moral action are culpable for being negligent. Man’s habitual action aligns himself closely with what he perceives and wills to be his ultimate end. Those who orient themselves towards God will act for the good of that end, even if only virtually. The same for those whose ultimate end consists of something other than God.
Mortal sin, a sin involving grave matter, full knowledge and consent is a sin that objectively separates man from God. When this happens man’s ultimate end is no longer God, but something other than God. This constitutes in a loss of divine filiation. A person who commits adultery for example severs his or her relationship with God. Until, with the help of God’s grace, that person reconciles themselves through the Sacrament of Confession they will not inherit the Beatific Vision. They will instead spend the rest of eternity rejecting God in hell. Venial sin on the other hand, although spiritually damaging depending on its severity, does not sever man from the filial love of God. This means that man’s ultimate end remains oriented towards God, again even if their actions are only virtually directed towards this end, even regarding the act of venial sin.

Virtual acts are those that are not specifically directed at the end, but which make up a consistent order, or do not prohibit one from obtaining the ultimate end. For example, although a person may have as his end for the day as going to a guitar show, not all his actions are directly oriented towards this end. He may stop to eat on the way, and this does not prohibit him in obtaining this end. Other actions like driving a car to the event are directly related to the end, (again not obstructing) but assisting in completing that end. This explains why bad people can do “good” things. While a man may have as his ultimate end worldly pleasure, he may do an apparent good like giving money to the poor or helping a cripple across the street. This act however is not a true act of supernatural charity, only one of natural virtue, his orientation remains aimed at worldly pleasure. His act of feeding the poor is a virtual act aimed at his ultimate end of worldly pleasure. His direction can only be changed by an act which redirects his life towards God as the ultimate end. Much like repenting and going to confession reorients a person towards God, mortal sin does the opposite. In Thomas’ mind deification relies on the intellect and will of man directing his life towards God as his ultimate end and remaining directed to this end.

The Necessity of Deification in the Imago Dei

“…with fear and trembling work out your salvation. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.” (Philippians 2:12-13) In closing we need to emphasize the necessity of deification in the salvation of the soul and man’s proper return to Imago Dei through divine sonship. Many Catholics today put their focus and struggle on the world. Little thought is given to putting effort and struggle into a relationship with God. If we were to ask most Catholics today if most people they knew who have died have inherited divine sonship in heaven most would reply in the affirmative. It is apparent, however, from our brief study that the Church teaches that salvation and the restoration of the true image and likeness of God in divine sonship is directly linked to the process of deification, which few today seem to put into practice. “There are lots of those who speak but few who do.”[13]

“[The Father’s Son], His offspring, the First-begotten Word, should descend to the creature, that is, to what had been moulded, and that it should be contained by Him; and, on the other hand, the creature should contain the Word, and ascend to Him, passing beyond the angels, and be made after the image and likeness of God.”[14]


Ambrose of Milan, Defense of the Prophet David
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon on 1 John
Aumann, Jordan, Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press 1985
Cessario, Romanus, The Image of God and the Sacraments of the Church: The Practice of Divine Friendship. The Dominican Torch: Spring 2007
Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation 1
Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies
Jenson, Steven J., Sin A Thomistic Psychology. Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2018
Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Love
Pius XII, Humanis Generis. St. Peter’s, August 12, 1950
Vatican I Council, Canon 2:1 On Revelation. April 24th, 1870

[1] Romanus Cessario, The Image of God and the Sacraments of the Church: The Practice of Divine Friendship (The Dominican Torch, Spring 2007)
[2] Pope Pius XII, Humanis Generis (St. Peter’s, August 12, 1950)
[5] Rev. A Nampon S.J. Catholic Doctrine as Defined by the Council of Trent (Philadelphis, Peter F. Cunningham & Son), 204
[7] Jordan Aumann, Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition (San Francisco, Ignatius Press1985),  49
[8] Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation 1 (ANF 2:174)
[9] 2 Peter 1:4
[10] Saint Augustine, Sermon on 1 John 4:4-12
[11] Steven J. Jenson, Sin A Thomistic Psychology (Washington D.C., The Catholic University of America Press, 2018), 17
[12] Ibid P82
[13] Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on love 4:85
[14] Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies Book V Chapter 3

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The 7.5 Necessities for Perseverance in the Spiritual Life

The 7.5 Necessities for Perseverance in the Spiritual Life

Remember that simply beginning, putting one’s hand to the plow is nothing. Holy thoughts begin the plowing, and perseverance in virtue finishes it.” (St. Catherine of Siena)

1. Live in the Imago Dei and Direct Yourself to Your Ultimate End: We are created to be deified and perfected in the image of God. Man has an intellect, a will, and he can choose whom he loves. God is to be every man’s ultimate end to which he must dedicate his life. He is to be our first love. This needs to be a daily conscience choice. Everything we do whether it is of primary intention or virtual, must be oriented towards this end, no exceptions.  This presumes one is in a state of grace, that he uses his intellect to learn and deliberate, then to act according to his will, to love God.  “...the Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God.” (Clement of Alexandria)

2. Participate in Your Deification: To be perfected or deified you must repent for your sins and exercise some form of ascetic penance. This means that you actively examine your life daily and confess your sins regularly. It requires that you do some form of penance in addition to that given by the priest. This is usually achieved by starting small and gradually working your way to more intense asceticism in loving God more. One then becomes gradually more holy. This means that you must move from servile fear, to loving God. There is no plateau in the spiritual life. “Come! Shovel out the filth from your soul and body!... No more filth! No more impurity! Run Back to your Creator. Open your soul’s eye and see how great is the fire of his charity, that he has put up with you and hasn’t commanded the earth to open and swallow you…” (St. Catherine of Siena)

3. Read Sacred Scripture: Scripture is the most important source for meditation. Every spiritual master in the Church attests to the importance of reading and meditating on Scripture daily. “Let sleep find you holding your Bible, and when your head nods let it be resting on the sacred page.” (St. Jerome)

4. Be Detached: You must detach yourself from worldly things. This goes back to The End of which you orient your life. Your life will be oriented to one of two things, God or something other than God. We fail to practice mastery over our attachments when we use them in excess of our needs; for purposes other than that for which they were intended; as ends rather than as means to a legitimate end. “The soul that is attached to anything however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of divine union.” (St. John of the Cross)

5. Love Christ in The Eucharist: The Eucharist is the center of our faith and spiritual nourishment. There is no other source of grace greater on this side of heaven.  For this grace to be effective we must be well disposed to receive it. This means that if we do not have a daily prayer routine we will most likely not be disposed to receive Our Lord. We must be in a state of grace and disposed by daily prayer, otherwise going to Mass can lack love and be done out of mere obligation. “All who do not love God are strangers and antichrists. They might come to the churches, but they cannot be numbered among the children of God.” (St. Augustine)

6. Live in Grace and Virtue: We must work on exercising virtue and rooting out vice. We must be vigilant not only in fighting our predominant sin, but in practicing virtue while in a state of grace to choke out sin. We need to build spiritual habits. Virtue also leads evangelizing others. “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

7. Act in Daily Prayer and Meditation: We must strive in prayer asking for all the gifts we need to grow in love of God. First vocal prayer, then meditative, and finally contemplative. Our Lady asks us to pray the Rosary every day, its not an option. We must have at least 15 or 20 minutes each day to spend with God in prayer not including the Rosary. Spiritual reading should include at least the Scriptures. One should also have a strong devotion to Our Lady and the Saints. “The door to the castle is prayer and reflection,” (St. Teresa of Avila)

Bonus 7.5 Don’t be a Pansy! To live without Faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for Truth, that is not living, but existing. (Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Marie's Story: Spirituality and Deification in the Movie

I just finished watching what I consider to be one on the most spiritually moving movies I have seen in a long time. This a French movie with English subtitles, but don't let that dissuade you from watching this movie. This is a true story about a deaf and blind girl who is taken into a nun's school for the deaf and blind. Although the sisters were familiar with taking in girls and women who had one of the maladies, Marie was afflicted with both. She cannot see and she cannot hear and she was born this way. Her parents are not able to handle her and cannot educate her so they ask the nuns, who at first were reluctant to take her in.

Sister Marguerite the other main character in the story, eventually convinces mother superior to let her take the girl into the school. She feels it is her mission before dying, being that she is terminally ill. This was an incredible and draining challenge on Sister Marguerite. Nonetheless, she sees that the life of this girl is trapped and in need of the love of God as well as the need for her to be able to communicate and have a fuller life in community. The first part of the movie shows the agonizing challenge of both characters, Marie who has been pulled out of her home, deaf and blind, and Sister who strains to get through to her, to help her. The two eventually form a deep friendship as Marie learns to communicate and eventually learns about God.

There is a huge spiritual takeaway from this movie. We can each put ourselves in the place of Marie as the blind and deaf, and God in the place of Sister Marguerite. As Marie struggled, even at times very violently to Sister Marguerite, we also do the same with God. In a sense, God brings us, the deaf and the blind kicking and screaming out of original sin, to bring us to Him. This manner of God using His grace to get through to us is incomprehensible, since we are so dense and prideful. When watching the conversion of Marie, it is also something that is incomprehensible yet very real. Marie's transformation in the movie can be symbolically taken for any soul that is transformed by God's grace. Although the religious tone of the movie is not as prominent as I would have liked to see, for example, I would liked to have seen the religious practices of the sisters, etc, I still highly recommend the movie. It was well done and it can be watched by the whole family. I hope that more movies are made like this one.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Holiness, Asceticism and Taking Back the Church

Are we taking the spiritual life seriously and are we willing to make the spiritual sacrifices necessary to take back the Church? Let's talk about it. 

Do not forsake prayer, for just as the body becomes weak when it is deprived of food, so also the soul when it is deprived of prayer draws nigh to weakness and noetic death.
(St. Gennadius of Constantinople, The Golden Chain, 44)

Whoever hates his sins will stop sinning; and whoever confesses them will receive remission. A man can not abandon the habit of sin if he does not first gain enmity toward sin, nor can he receive remission of sin without confession of sin. For the confession of sin is the cause of true humility.
(St. Isaac the Syrian, Homilies, 71)

Do not disdain the commandment to love, for through it you become a son of God, and when you break it, you become a son of Gehenna. 
(St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Love, 4:20)

The passions are uprooted and turned to flight by constant occupation of the mind with God. This is a sword that puts them to death... Whoever always thinks about God drives the demons away from himself and pulls up the seeds of their malice. 
(St. Isaac the Syrian, Homilies, 8)

The Church Militant: No Battle No Crown!

When there is no battle, there is no Christendom. When there is no battle, there is no true Church of God, no true Catholic Church.

I thought this talk given by Bishop Athanasius Schneider was very good and should be watched by all faithful Catholics.  I believe these trying times are being used by God to weed out the lukewarm in the Church. This is a war, you are either on the side of Christ the King or you are on the side of Satan. There is no more sitting on the fence. Pick a side! The text can be found on this link, or the video is below. God bless Bishop Schneider! May God send more like him.

“To refrain from doing battle for Jesus Christ amounts to fighting against Him; He Himself assures us “He will deny before His Father in heaven those who shall have refused to confess Him on earth” (Luke 9:26)” (Leo XIII, Encyclical Sapientiae christianae, 43).

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Letters to Pope Gregory XI: St Catherine of Siena

Read these two letters that St Catherine of Siena wrote to Pope Gregory XI carefully and see how they may apply today in the Church. The Church in her time also had a serious problem with the hierarchy, including the pope. Food for thought.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

To you, most reverend and beloved father in Christ Jesus, your unworthy, poor, miserable daughter Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, writes in His precious Blood; with desire to see you a fruitful tree, full of sweet and mellow fruits, and planted in fruitful earth--for if it were out of the earth the tree would dry up and bear no fruit--that is, in the earth of true knowledge of yourself. For the soul that knows itself humbles itself, because it sees nothing to be proud of; and ripens the sweet fruit of very ardent charity, recognizing in itself the unmeasured goodness of God; and aware that it is not, it attributes all its being to Him who Is. Whence, then, it seems that the soul is constrained to love what God loves and to hate what He hates.

Oh, sweet and true knowledge, which dost carry with thee the knife of hate, and dost stretch out the hand of holy desire, to draw forth and kill with this hate the worm of self-love--a worm that spoils and gnaws the root of our tree so that it cannot bear any fruit of life, but dries up, and its verdure lasts not! For if a man loves himself, perverse pride, head and source of every ill, lives in him, whatever his rank may be, prelate or subject. If he is lover of himself alone--that is, if he loves himself for his own sake and not for God--he cannot do other than ill, and all virtue is dead in him. Such a one is like a woman who brings forth her sons dead. And so it really is; for he has not had the life of charity in himself, and has cared only for praise and self-glory, and not for the name of God. I say, then: if he is a prelate, he does ill, because to avoid falling into disfavour with his fellow-creatures--that is, through self-love--in which he is bound by self-indulgence--holy justice dies in him. For he sees his subjects commit faults and sins, and pretends not to see them and fails to correct them; or if he does correct them, he does it with such coldness and lukewarmness that he does not accomplish anything, but plasters vice over; and he is always afraid of giving displeasure or of getting into a quarrel. All this is because he loves himself. Sometimes men like this want to get along with purely peaceful means. I say that this is the very worst cruelty which can be shown. If a wound when necessary is not cauterized or cut out with steel, but simply covered with ointment, not only does it fail to heal, but it infects everything, and many a time death follows from it.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Church's Members Need To Decide Why They Are Here

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!” St. Catherine of Siena

Why did many of the Jews reject Christ while He walked this earth? They expected a politician that would free them from the Romans. They were focused on worldly affairs and not divine affairs. They did not want a savior, they wanted Jesus to adhere to their political ideology. Fast forward to our time. The Catholic Church as a body is in serious crisis at this moment. There is no need to compare our crisis with any of the past crises in the Church, we have ours now and it is a real one. It is this one that we must bear. The question we must ask ourselves is why we are here as the Body of Christ. As both laity and the hierarchy this is a question that needs answering.

First, we are not here as the Body of Christ to promote political ideologies which are now so popular. We hear ad nauseam about immigration, capital punishment, healthcare, and the environment for example. We are not here to promote a unified world saving ideology that seeks to align all religions as if they are all equal in nature and all leading to the same end, world harmony. The world has become the focus. We are trying to create our own heaven on earth using worldly means! This can only end in disaster. The bishops and the laity have largely been consumed with political and worldly ideologies.

Why are we really here as the Body of Christ?

I can sum this answer up in one paragraph. We are here for the salvation of souls, nothing less. This is the first and primary goal of all the members of the Church. Does this desired end have an effect on the world? Yes, but only in so far as we are holy men and women living the gospel and evangelizing. There is no need to focus on political ideologies when God will move men according to the Holy Spirit when they are in the state of grace. This also means politicians. We don't need worldly politicians, we need converted politicians that are in the state of grace and only then can effect society in a truly positive manner. Each and every person in their state of life is called to evangelize and live a life of virtue in a state of grace. This is made possible in the one true Church, the Catholic Church. It is made possible by the grace provided by God in His Sacraments, fortified by prayer and penance. The world can be no better place than if it is filled with grace filled men and women. There is no other possible answer than the conversion of souls. Everyone in the Church needs to decide if they are here for God or the world. If they truly want the world to a better place that first fosters a grace filled life with God, then they will choose God. If they want the world, then they can have what they have now, disorder, sin and chaos.

Eating and drinking don't make friendships - such friendship even robbers and murderers have. But if we are friends, if we truly care for one another, let us help one another spiritually. . . Let us hinder those things that lead our friends away to hell. - St. John Chrysostom

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Pascendi Gregis: Saint Pius X

This encyclical is extremely important for our time. It is critical now that Catholics be familiar with this document. You can listen by the video below, or click here to read.

Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and clearly flows from their principles. For among the chief points of their teaching is the following, which they deduce from the principle of vital immanence, namely, that religious formulas if they are to be really religious and not merely intellectual speculations, ought to be living and to live the life of the religious sense. This is not to be understood to mean that these formulas, especially if merely imaginative, were to be invented for the religious sense. Their origin matters nothing, any more than their number or quality. What is necessary is that the religious sense — with some modification when needful — should vitally assimilate them. In other words, it is necessary that the primitive formula be accepted and sanctioned by the heart; and similarly the subsequent work from which are brought forth the .secondary formulas must proceed under the guidance of the heart. Hence it comes that these formulas, in order to be living, should be, and should remain, adapted to the faith and to him who believes. Wherefore, if for any reason this adaptation should cease to exist, they lose their first meaning and accordingly need to be changed. In view of the fact that the character and lot of dogmatic formulas are so unstable, it is no wonder that Modernists should regard them so lightly and in such open disrespect, and have no consideration or praise for anything but the religious sense and for the religious life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Francis' and Cupich's Agenda: No! Faithful Catholics Are Not On Board! Go Down that Rabbit Hole!

“Where is the purity of the ministers of God’s Son? Reflect that just as you demand that the chalice you carry to the altar be clean and would reject it if it were dirty, so God, supreme eternal Truth, demands that your soul be pure and clean, without stain of deadly sin, especially the sin of impurity. ... These days we are seeing the exact opposite of the purity God requires! Not only are they not God’s temples carrying the fire of God’s word, but they have become stalls, lodging for pigs and other animals! They carry within the house of their souls the fire of anger, hatred, animosity, and ill will. For they harbor pigs, a filthiness that is incessantly rolling about within them like a pig in the mud. ... How bewildering to see Christ’s anointed ones giving themselves over to such wretchedness and immorality!” (Saint Catherine of Siena)

Today Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago casually dismissed the serious allegations made by Archbishop Vigano by saying, “The Pope has a bigger agenda,”... “He’s got to get on with other things—of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.” Can you believe the nerve of this man?

Rabbit hole he says? We have one of the most heinous scandals the modern Church has ever seen and he says rabbit hole? His agenda along with Francis is immigration and the environment? Think about this for a minute. Notice how nothing Cupich said has anything to do with the salvation of souls. It never is! Its all about the here and now. Its about immigration and the environment! To hell with preaching the Gospel and bringing the light of Christ to the world. To hell with worrying about destroying people's lives by the widespread sexual abuse problem in the Church. To hell with the salvation of souls! The environment is his and Francis' agenda. This mentality is surely one of the end results of buying into modernism.

Let me make this clear as I can to Cardinal Cupich. Catholics who are authentically trying to be true to the Gospel are not on board with this agenda. We do not put the environment above the salvation of human souls. We do not put the environment above the abuse of possibly thousands of souls which now have suffered at the hands of predator clergy in the Church. You should be worried about the environment of your own corrupt Church. Dear Cardinal, you also said, “It’s not just about the Catholic Church. Let’s look at all the agencies and institutions that deal with children on a day-to-day basis.” Let me also put this clearly. You have no business whatsoever talking about other agencies and institutions outside the Church that deal with children when your own Church has failed on the matter! Clean up your own house before you go looking to blame others. Make no mistake, its talk like this that makes me and many Catholics angry. To see you, a Cardinal talking like this in the midst of one of the largest scandals in the history of the modern Church is a scandal in itself. Its like throwing gasoline on the fire! Scandal upon scandal!

Again, no, we are no on board with this agenda. True Catholics are tired of your kind minimizing these heinous acts. We are tired of your worldly trivialities of watering down the Gospel, and neglecting the salvation of souls. Why have you in the past tried to keep faithful priests and seminarians from attending pro-life vigils! Yet you have the nerve to make the environment the focus of your agenda while thousands of innocents are killed each day from the atrocity of abortion? This is a disgrace and Catholics should be fed up by now with this chicanery. You have said, “The Church needs to be that community that is going to accompany people.” Accompany people to where? Hell? Where is your accompaniment of those struggling to conform their lives to Christ in the midst of a world that seeks to warp their souls and minds in the mire of sin? Instead you worry about the environment, which is here today and gone tomorrow when you take your final breath on this earth!

You have also said in the past, “The voice of conscience – the voice of God,”... “could very well affirm the necessity of living at some distance from the Church’s understanding of the ideal.” My question to you, where did Jesus Christ refer to the commandments as ideals? This is a noxious error that tries to justify malformed consciences into living sinful lives, rather than trying to accompany them into the arms of a loving God. Do you not believe in the power of God's grace to transform a sinner into a saint? This is God's agenda! His agenda is to transform sinners into saints. It is apparently an agenda contrary to the worldly agenda you just stated, which makes man god, and tells man that Christ's teachings are merely ideals that can be dispensed with as a "necessity"! Can man ever view living at a distance from Christ and his grace, falsely conflating "conscience" with the voice of God? The voice of God would never encourage a man to live at a distance from Christ's commandments or as you call them, "ideals." Your real job as a bishop and a prince of the Church is to properly inform men of the teachings of Jesus Christ so that their conscience will be in conformity to God's will This includes following His commandments. You know the "Commandments that teach us all that we are to do to please God - all of which is summed up in loving God above all things and our neighbour as ourselves for the love of God" (Catechism of Pius X)

In charity I say again, faithful Catholics are no longer going along with the madcap agendas of those who seek to trivialize the faith and continue to put souls at risk of damnation. We are not going along with a bishop or a pope who continues to malnourish the faithful with their false, trivial ideals and seek to protect those in the clergy who are preying on seminarians and the laity. We are not going along with the old silent treatment, where you hope all of this is just forgotten! I say with Saint Catherine of Siena who said the following regarding the problematic clergy of her time regarding misguided self love. I also call all good Cardinals of the Church not to be silent, and do go down that "rabbit hole" that Cupich desperately wants to cover over with another worldly agenda.

Oh how dangerous this love is, whether in those in authority or in those subject to them! Those in authority who love selfishly do not correct the sins of their subject, because those who love themselves for their own sake fall into slavish fear and so do not reprove. For if the loved themselves for God's sake, they would not fear with this slavish fear. They would with courageous heart reprove sin and not be silent or pretend not to see. I don't want you to have this sort of love! I beg you to act in such a way that First Truth's hard word of reproach will not be said of you: "Cursed are you who were silent!" Oime! No more silence! Shout out with a hundred thousand tongues! I am seeing the world going to ruin because people are not speaking out! I am seeing Christ's bride made pallid, her color drained, because her blood is being sucked from behind her back. (Saint Catherine, From Letter T16)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Francis Scandal: Will the Good Cardinals Speak?

As the entire Catholic world is now aware, Pope Francis himself has now been named as an accomplice in the sex scandals of the Church. As soon as the 11 page letter of Vigano came out I read through it a total of three times. Most of the names mentioned should come as no surprise to those of us who have been following church news for the past decade. The same old charlatans who have committed the same heretical shenanigans over the years are all named in Archbishop Vigano's 11 page letter. The first thing I did was call a good friend of mine who was in the Vatican for many years. I asked him if this Vigano was a credible man. He answered unhesitatingly "yes." He also told me that this could be a huge grace providing the good Cardinals grow a backbone and speak out.

Despite now several people claiming that Vigano was an honorable man, the same liberal "Catholics" are circling their wagons to defend Francis and those surrounding him. For example, I found John Allen Jr's statement today to be nothing less than buffoonery. He wrote, "The letter contains charges of some form of wrongdoing or questionable behavior against no fewer than 32 senior churchmen, and in most cases Viagnò himself acknowledges that his comments are based on no more than supposition and/or connecting the dots. When anyone hurls around accusations quite so lightly, it’s difficult to know how seriously any one ought to be taken." In reading the letter, if Allen was reading the same one that I read, one could hardly say that these accusations were "hurled" lightly. We all know that this same ring of bishops have been a problem for decades. We also know that Vigano took this letter very seriously based on his introduction. Also, is Allen not smart enough to realize that the nuncio dealt with all of these men for many years? Allen also goes right after the man's character rather than dealing with what he said. This is typical of the left as they never, ever address the argument, they attack the man. I think we need real men with brains and honor in journalism, not hacks like Allen who put their agenda above truth. You will see more liberals circling their wagons as the week presses on.

Going back to the letter. That these bishops were named was not in my eyes so surprising. What was surprising was the boldness of Vignano to actually implicate Francis directly in the scandal of Cardinal McCarrick. It is no secret that Francis dislikes the more conservative bishops such as Archbishop Chaput. It is also very clear who Francis loves to surround himself with, such as the heretic Cardinal Kasper, the rebel Cardinal Marx, and the scandal ridden Cardinal Maradiaga to name a few. It is sadly no exaggeration to call Francis and his trusted circle which includes the likes of Forte, Baldisseri, Maradiaga, McCarrick the Legion of Doom. At the very least these men have caused massive confusion on Church teaching concerning grave moral acts such as Communion for the divorced and remarried, the death penalty and homosexuality to name a few. At its worst we have heresy. His bishop appointments have been horrific with with the likes of Bishop Cupich, who absolutely loathes anything that presents itself as being anything akin to Catholic tradition. Looking closely at who Francis surrounds himself with as his closest, most trusted men has always been a huge concern for me. I have written about several times before. To be clear, I am not judging Francis' motives here, but judging his actions objectively. His past actions clearly fit into the narrative that Vigano paints in his letter.

What I also did not know was that Pope Benedict XVI sanctioned Cardinal McCarrick, and that Francis seems to have abrogated this sanction allowing McCarrick to roam free. This was news to me and to everyone I spoke to about it. This entire circle of corruption demands more answers. If indeed Pope Benedict XVI was trying to root out the homosexual predators, which it seems he was to some extent, this makes his resignation once again come into question. We also should remember the 300 page document that he had put together before he resigned which supposedly pointed out a huge homosexual problem in the Church. What happened to it? Why was nothing mentioned of it once Francis took office? Also, if Benedict was working to try and reign in this horrific problem, why did he resign? Did he really resign out of his own freewill? Perhaps, but let us consider this resignation further.

I will use an example to make my point. If I am working at a company and my boss makes my life so miserable that I cannot stand to work there anymore because the abuse is so bad, and I leave for another job, not because I did not like my job, but because of the abuse, is my choice to leave fully free of coercion? In other words, someone can ask me, "did you leave your job freely or did they blackmail you?" I would respond that they I was not blackmailed and left on my own accord. They may even ask me if I was "forced" to leave. I would probably answer, "no." Upon closer inspection however if I were pressed, I would have to admit that I left not because of the job, but because of the abuse of my boss. If it wasn't for this abuse I would not have left. So, I am simply asking the same question about Pope Benedict's resignation. Was there any significant coercion at all by those surrounding him in the Vatican that was the main reason he resigned? Would this coercion constitute an illicit resignation? I don't have the answer, but I would like to know more.

Moving on, we are hearing again about possible collusion in the election of Francis. I am no canon law expert so I will not elaborate much here. However, using the guidelines set by Pope John Paul II, did the collaboration of these Cardinals before the election, which seems to have happened to at least some extent, make Francis' election invalid? Would this along with a coerced resignation by Pope Benedict XVI make Francis an anti-pope and Benedict still holding the true office? I am clearly in no position to make such judgments, but all of these events together have created a very unique time in the history of the Church. Stranger things have happened in the Church regarding the papacy.

Cdls Danneels & Ex-Cdl McCarrick campaigned for Bergoglio to be Pope, as did ++Maradiaga on eve of Conclave, phoning up various cardinals from the Honduran embassy in Rome. Despite their pasts, all 3 prelates have since been special advisors of Francis or rehabilitated by him

Finally, what are we to make of the Francis' refusal to answer a simple question on the airplane ride back from Ireland regarding the accusation of Vigano? If it were me and someone made a false accusation of this gravity I surely would not have answered like he did. Does this make anyone else scratch their heads?

What do I hope to see in the coming days?

I pray that we will see Cardinals coming forward on this scandal. We have already seen Cardinal Burke support Vigano, as well as Bishop Joseph Strickland, Bishop Athanasius Schneider and to some extent, Bishop Thomas Olmstead. This is a good start, but what we need are more Cardinals with a backbone to make public statements and start investigations on Francis and the sex scandals, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Francis. Without the Cardinals this dies out and goes nowhere fast! Pray that by the end of this week we see movement from the Cardinals.