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A Beautiful Story on the Persecuted Catholics of Elizabethan England October 4, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, catachesis, Christendom, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, history, manhood, persecution, reading, religious, Restoration, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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I just finished reading a book on the English revolt against the Church, entitled the Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism.  It’s a long book and a bit strange, containing contributions from several authors across different periods and consisting of almost as much commentary as it does the original upon which it was based – Fr. Nicolas Sander’s critique of the Tudor persecution of Catholics.  Still it’s a very worthwhile read, and an eminently timely one given the recent trend in some circles of the Church to celebrate the greatest single revolt against Church authority in history, the revolt of the myriad, multiplying, always disagreeing protestant heretics.

It is impossible to read any Catholic – or even unbiased, non-protestant – history of the so-called Reformation and not come away with the impression that the men who led and foisted this panoply of divergent sects upon the people were, to a man, the furthest possible exemplars from the original Apostles.  This is particularly true in England, where “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” is an almost laughable compendium compared to the torrents of Catholic blood spilt not over a few years, but over centuries.  Even more laughably, many promoters of modern sexular paganism and the notion of libertine democracy point to the English Reformation as the first blooming of the supposedly new ideals of liberty and freedom, when, in fact, the Tudor state under Henry VIII and Elizabeth the Sterile (and not for want of trying) was probably the first example of a modern authoritarian totalitarian state.  There were spies everywhere, liberties for “recusants” (faithful Catholics) were non-existent, new laws were made up on the fly and retroactively applied, and parliament was just a stacked body of unthinking yes men who did whatever the King or Queen demanded of them –  on pain of a wretched death if they refused to go along.  Both Henry and his illegitimate daughter Elizabeth (born from Anne Boleyn, who Sanders argues was actually Henry’s own daughter – yuck) led amazingly immoral lives, and used their hatred and fear of the Church as a vehicle to acquire absolute power for themselves.  The degree to which the state expanded and intruded into the deepest corners of conscience and privacy was unprecedented for the time, and yet, it was sold as being this great harbinger of “freedom from the tyranny of Rome,” when Rome had never dared, nor desired, to ever make such unyielding demands of the people.

The article excerpted below gives just a few examples of both how the totalitarian Tudor state persecuted Catholics, and how the Catholics of England  and abroad, under unbelievably difficult circumstances, managed to keep their faith through nearly three centuries of unprecedented, unrelenting persecution (seriously – the English persecution of Catholics made those of the Roman Empire seem modest by comparison).  You should read the whole thing, it’s not long and tells some history that is far too little known, even among Catholics:

A strange sight greeted those assembled at Tyburn one January morning in 1601. The executions of two Catholic priests – Mark Barkworth and the Jesuit, Roger Filcock – and one Catholic lay woman, Anne Line, were set to provide the day’s spectacle………..[Such executions, sometimes of single individuals, sometimes of entire groups, occurred almost monthly, and sometimes weekly, at Tyburn]

……….However, the gathered throng must have been momentarily taken aback, for Barkworth had somehow procured a Benedictine habit and was tonsured. Such an attire had not been worn in England since before Elizabeth I had ascended the throne more than 40 years earlier but there, before the mob, stood a Benedictine monk.

Any hesitation caused by such a spectacle was not enough to save Barkworth – in fact, some cruel wretch even shouldered the monk’s body weight during his hanging to ensure that he was fully conscious for the subsequent drawing and quartering. Yet Barkworth’s death marked the start of an English Benedictine presence that remains to this day.

Barkworth himself had been trained as a priest at the English College, Valladolid, but, on his way to England as a missionary, he had been received as a novice at the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria in Irache, and was told he would die a martyr, in the Benedictine habit. Many of the first wave of Englishmen to become Benedictines after the Reformation similarly entered the religious life in Spain………

……The significance of what they represented was not lost on them: as several monks testified at their martyrdoms, they were from the same order as the first missionary to England, St Augustine of Canterbury, “from whom,” as George Gervase, executed in 1608, put it, “England acknowledged that she had received the Christian faith”. [A sick sad note: toward the end of his reign, Henry VIII figured out that devotion to St. Thomas Beckett represented a threat to his false rule over the schismatical and heretical “church” of England.  After all, Beckett was martyred over his refusal to permit the self-serving Henry II to dictate policy and belief to the Church.  So, Henry had Beckett’s shrine at Canterbury trashed – and it was a major one, it’s the shrine described in The Canterbury Tales – with his bones removed from the church and burned. He had all the precious artifacts, works of art, and gifts taken from the shrine and delivered to his treasury. And he had the income from this shrine, along with many other dioceses and abbeys, diverted to his treasury.  Thus, the great leader and founder of the English church.]

Like the other missionary clergy who had been secretly entering England since the 1570s, these missionary monks brought with them the Catholic Reformation. Imbued with the zeal of a movement then sweeping Catholic Europe and, increasingly, far-flung parts of the globe from Asia to America, they were agents for the transfer of religious and intellectual ideas gaining ground in mainland Europe.

But nor were they solely about the new: they also tracked down the last surviving monk of Westminster Abbey. By the start of the 17th century, the infirm Sigebert Buckley lived under a form of house arrest. In 1607, he aggregated two of the new monks to him, thereby ensuring the continuity of the English Benedictines from the medieval period. [Heck, from the end of antiquity] As the new monastic movement grew and the monks re-founded the English Benedictine Congregation in 1619, this symbolic act took on greater significance.

It meant that the English Benedictines of the 17th century could lay claim to the old monastic properties which the Order had once enjoyed. As such, the English Benedictines throughout the period elected priors of, for example, Durham, Canterbury and Ely cathedrals, ready for the moment when England – as they believed, inevitably – returned to the Catholic faith.

This did not stop the monks forming new houses in exile, three of which remain to this day. St Gregory’s, founded at Douai in northern France in 1606, is now better known as Downside Abbey; St Laurence’s, founded in the town of Dieulouard in Lorraine in 1608, is now Ampleforth Abbey; St Edmund’s, Paris, founded in 1616, is now settled at Woolhampton, Berkshire, as Douai Abbey.

As I said, go read the rest.  Very interesting.  What a scandal protestantism represents.  It is unbelievable how men in leadership positions in the Church at all levels have chosen to forget or ignore this.  There but for the grace of God……

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Ligouri on the Necessity of Humility and Suffering Humiliation As Means of Attaining Sanctity September 28, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, mortification, religious, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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Some additional excerpts from The True Spouse of Jesus Christ by the great Moral Doctor St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori on the vital role humility, especially in the form of patiently and joyfully bearing humiliations, plays in the process of sanctification/growth in the interior life.

I cut and paste various exerpts from pp. 335-341 below:

Some, says St. Francis of Assisi, imagine that sanctity consists in the recital of many prayers or in the performance of works of penance: but, not understanding the great merit of patience under insult, they cannot bear an injurious word.  You will acquire more merit by meekly receiving an affront than by fasting ten days on bread and water.  It will sometimes happen that a privilege that is refused to you will be conceded to others; that what you say will be treated with contempt, while the words of others are heard with respectful attention; that while the actions of others are the theme of general praise, and they are heaped with honors, you are passed by unnoticed and your whole conduct is made a subject of derision.  If you accept in peace all these humiliations, and if, with a sincere affection, you recommend to God those from whom you receive the least respect, then indeed, as St. Dorotheus says, it will be manifest that you are truly humble. To them you are particularly indebted, since by their reproaches they cure your pride – the most malignant of all diseases that lead to spiritual death.  Because they deem themselves worthy of all honors, the proud convert their humiliations into an occasion of pride.  But because the humble consider themselves deserving only of opprobrium, their humiliations serve to increase their humility.  “That man,” says St. Bernard, ” is truly humble who converts humiliation into humility.”

Voluntary humiliations, such as to serve the sick, to kiss the feet of those who imagine, even unjustly, that we have offended them, and similar acts of humility, are very profitable; but, to embrace with cheerfulness, for the love of Jesus Christ, the humiliations that come from others, such as reproofs, accusations, insults, and derisions, is still more meritorious……..As gold is tried in the fire, so a man’s perfection is proved by humiliation.  St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say that “untried virtue is not virtue.” He who does not suffer contempt with a tranquil mind shall never attain the spirit of perfection…….[Working out our salvation is not easy.  Contrary to American protestant claims of “one and done” conversions, which are so typical of the modern American drive-through convenience mentality, God desires of us a total conversion from our fallen human nature, our endless pride and selfishness, to a being dead to self and living only for God and through His Grace.  This is terribly hard, but God has given us great guides in the Saints to show that it is possible, and, even more, how to do it.  It’s simply a matter of dying to ourselves and living for God through good works done to others. Suffering humiliations tranquilly is a powerful means of dying to self.]

………St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say that crosses and ignominies are the greatest favors that God is accustomed to bestow on his beloved spouses[Once again, contrary to protestant, especially modern American protestantism, which preaches that God just wants to shower ease and wealth and comfort on His chosen ones…….is that what He did to His son?  Is His Son and Our Lady the exemplars par excellence God has given us on both how to live our lives, and what to expect from the world when we live in accord with His Will?  I know even some Catholics who equate being pious with being blessed with happiness, comfort, ease, freedom from illness or financial difficulty, but this is very, very wrong.]

……….The Saints have not been made Saints by applause and honor, but by injuries and insults.  St. Ignatius Martyr, a bishop, and an object of universal esteem and veneration, was sent to Rome as a criminal, and on his way experienced from the soldiers who conducted him nothing but the most barbarous insolence.  In the midst of his suffering and humiliations he joyfully exclaimed: “I now begin to be a disciple of Christ.” I now begin to be a true disciple of my Jesus, who endured so m any ignominies for my sake……

.Let us then be persuaded that to be persecuted in this life confers the highest excellence on the Saints. “And,” says the Apostle, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim iii:12). The Redeemer says, “If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (Jn xv:20).

————-End Quote————-

We live in an especially difficult time to acquire the virtue of humility.  More than in any past period, today we have paraded before our eyes constantly, especially if we have not yet destroyed our TVs, powerful images extolling pride and denigrating almost all virtue, but especially humility.  True humility is an almost unknown quantity in our mass media culture, and tranquil acceptance of humiliations is utterly baffling, especially for Americans, who have been taught for decades that having everything the way they want it this instant is a practical constitutional right. Vast numbers of the younger generations coming of age literally have zero conception of what life is like for the vast majority of humanity today, and, even more, the sufferings and privations involved in existence even a few short decades ago in anyplace but America.  Heck, my dad grew up without running water and electricity, and I was born in the 70s!  That just one tiny example.  Wealth, ease, and comfort are in many ways inimical to growth in virtue: and, of course, our task is made even harder still by the crisis in the Church.  It’s a terrible triple whammy.

But God is infinitely greater in his rewards, than what He asks of us in sacrifice.  Those who are able to cooperate with Grace in these increasingly dark times, what great Saints they will be, and what inspirations to future generations!

I pray such Saints may be found from among the readership of this blog.  As for the author, it is best to do as I say, not as I do…….

A Happy Change of Pace from FrancisDoom: Various Quotes from St. Catherine of Siena September 20, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, fightback, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, mortification, religious, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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Thinking about Francis and the Rome Plow he is taking through the Church can quickly get depressing.  Plus, it’s always good to be encouraged.  I find few Saints more encouraging than St. Catherine of Siena.  The following quotes are rather random, but they all contain great spiritual direction and solid catechesis.  I pray you enjoy!

Quote 1:

O Charity, you are the sweet, holy bond uniting the soul to its Creator; you unite God to man and man to God.  you kept the Son of God nailed to the wood of the Holy Cross.  You unite those whom discord keeps apart. You enrich  with virtue those who are poor, because you give life to all the virtues.  You bring peace and suppress hatred and war.  You give patience, strength, and perseverance in return for every good and holy work.  You are never weary, you never turn aside from the love of God and neighbor, either because of weariness, pain, contempt, or insult.

O Christ, sweet Jesus, give me this holy charity, that I may persevere in doing good and never give it up; for he who possesses charity is founded on You, the living rock, and by following Your example, he learns from  You how to love his neighbor.  In You, O Christ, I read the rule and doctrine which are right for me, for You are the way, the truth, and the life.  If I read You, I shall follow the right path and shall occupy myself solely with the honor of God and the salvation of souls.

Quote 2:

I give You thanks, O eternal Father, because You have not despised Your creature, nor turned away Your face from me, nor ignored my desires. You, who are light, did not despise my darkness; You, who are life, did not go far away from me who am death; nor did You, the physician, fail to heal my wounds.……Your wisdom, mercy, and infinite goodness have not looked with scorn at all these and the infinite number of other evils and faults that are in me. What forced You to love me and to grant me so many graces? It was not my virtues but only Your charity. May I always keep Your favors in mind, and may my will burn with the fire of Your charity.

O inestimable Love, how admirable are the things You have done in Your creature! O my wretched, blind soul, where is your cry of gratitude, where are the tears you should shed in the sight of your God who is unceasingly calling to you?  Where are all my yearning desires in the sight of divine mercy? They are not in me because I have not yet lost myself, for if I were lost and had sought only You, my God, only the glory and the praise of Your Name, my heart would have thrilled in a hymn of gratitude.

Thanks be to You, o eternal, most high Trinity!  I am she who is not and You are He who is. Glorify Yourself by enabling me to praise You.  Pardon me, O Father, pardon me who am miserable, and ungrateful to You for the immense benefits I have received. I confess that Your goodness has preserved me, Your spouse, although because of my many defects I have often been unfaithful to You.

Quote 3:

O God, You have seen the weakness of our human nature; You know how weak, frail, and miserable it is; therefore, You, the sovereign Provider, Who in all things have provided for all the needs of Your creatures, You, the perfect repairer, who have given a remedy for all our ills, You gave us the rock and fortitude of will to strengthen the weakness of our flesh.  This will is so strong that no demon or creature can conquer it if we do not will it, that is, if our free will, which is in our own hands, does not consent.

O infinite Goodness, where does such great strength in Your creature’s will come from?  From You, sovereign, eternal Strength, because it shares in the strength of Your will.  Hence, we can see that our will is strong to the degree in which it follows Yours, and weak to the degree in which it deviates from Yours because You created our will to the likeness of Your Will, and therefore being in Yours, it is strong.

In our will, O eternal Father, You show the fortitude of Your Will; if You have given so much fortitude to a little member, what should we think Yours to be, O Creator and Ruler of all things?

It seems to me that this free will which You have given us is fortified by the light of faith, for in this light it knows Your will, which wishes nothing but our sanctification.  Then our will, fortified and nourished by our holy Faith, gives life to our actions, which explains why neither good will nor lively faith can exist without works.  Faith nourishes and maintains the fire of charity, because it reveals to our soul Your love and charity to us, and thus makes it strong in loving You.

Quote 4, especially important in light of Francis and all the travails afflicting the Church and pious souls:

O eternal God, grant me the virtue of perseverance; without it, no one can please You nor be acceptable to You.  This virtue brings to the soul an abundance of charity and the fruit of every effort.  Oh! how happy I should be, Lord, if You would give me this virtue, because even here on earth it will make me enjoy a pledge of eternal life. But Your light reveals to me that I cannot attain it unless I suffer much, because this life cannot be lived without suffering.  he who would escape suffering woulf deprive himself of holy perseverance. 

Finally, a bonus from St. Bernard:

No one is so presumptuous that he thinks his justice or holiness is enough to assure his salvation [Unless he is a protestant, or Francis but I repeat].  For this reason I hasten to You, O Jesus: Your Passion is my supreme refuge and sole remedy!  It comes to help us when our wisdom fails, when our justice is weak, and the merits of our holiness are useless.  When my strength grows weak, I shall not be discouraged.  I know what I must do: “I shall take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” Open by eyes, O God, that I may always know what is pleasing to You and then I shall be wise. Pardon the faults of my youth and ignorance, and I shall be just.  Lead me, O God, on Your path, and I shall be holy.  But if Your Blood does not intercede for me, I shall not be saved.

———-End Quote———

That’s it!

Saint Alphonsus on Maintaining Virtue Amidst Sin September 19, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, religious, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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Given the moral sewer in which we are condemned to swim in this culture, sin is something we are constantly confronted with.  It’s very easy to fall into a sharply condemnatory attitude towards those visibly lost in sin, especially when they attempt to subvert the very Truth of Jesus Christ in the furtherance of their sin.  When they do so, this hurts us, and we see the destruction the success they have in their attempt causes.  Of course, all sin must be repudiated and opposed. Of course error must be plainly pointed out and decried. But how to deal with the sinner himself has always been a more complex issue.  Another even greater danger than just writing off the sinner is exalting ourselves above those we see lost in sins that are maybe more visible or “worse” than our own.  This, according to Saint Alphonsus, is a most pernicious form of pride and one we should be wary of.  But all have sinned, and none can merit salvation outside the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.

There is much in the excerpt below some will find challenging.  Of course, this writing must be understood in context.  I am certainly not presenting this as a condemnation of anyone here.  In fact, I post it as an accusation against myself, as I am very guilty of preferring myself to others, and in holding myself in high esteem in not being the publican in the corner pounding my breast, when I should be.  Take it for what it is: some worthy catechesis from an eminent source for your consideration.

From The True Spouse of Jesus Christ pp. 314-6:

Should you ever see another commit some grievous sin, take dare not to indulge in pride, nor to be surprised at their fall; but pity their misfortune, and trembling for yourself, say with holy David: “Unless the Lord had been my helper, my soul had almost dwelt in hell” (Ps xciii:17).  If the Almighty had not been my protector, I should at this moment be buried in hell.  Beware of even taking vain complacency in the exemption from faults that you perceive in your companions [or those in the world around us?]; otherwise, in chastisement of your pride the Lord will permit you to fall into the sins which they have committed.  Cassian relates that a certain young monk, being for a long time molested by a violent temptation to impurity, sought advice and consolation from an aged father.  Instead of receiving encouragement and comfort he was loaded with reproaches.  “What!” said the old man, “is it possible that a monk should be subject to so abominable thoughts?!?” In punishment of his pride the Almighty permitted the Father to be assailed by the spirit of impurity to such a degree that he ran like a madman through the monastery.  Hearing of this miserable condition, the Abbot Appollo told him that God had permitted this temptation to punish his conduct towards the young monk, and also to teach him compassion for others in similar circumstances.  The Apostle tells us that in correcting sinners we should not treat them with contempt, lest God should permit us to be assailed by the temptation to which they yielded, and perhaps to all into the very sin which we were surprised to see them commit.  We should, before we reprove others, consider that we are as miserable and as liable to sin as our fallen brethren. [That is, fallen brethren.  This book was written specifically for religious.  Obviously in such an environment everyone should be considered of the best faith and motives.  In the world, it’s a bit different.  That does not mean we should exalt ourselves above those we believe sin.  But it does mean that the degree of confrontation and the meekness with which it is carried out can be different from the cloistered environment.] Brethren, if any man be overtaken in a fault….instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted (Gal vi:1).  The same Cassian relates that a certain abbot called Machete confessed that he himself had miserably fallen into three faults, of which he had rashly judged his brethren.

Consider yourself the greatest sinner on earth.  They who are truly humble, because they are most perfectly enlightened by God, possess the most perfect knowledge not only of the Divine perfections, but also of their own miseries and sins.  Hence, notwithstanding their extraordinary sanctity, the Saints, not in the language of exaggeration, but in the sincerity of their souls, called themselves the greatest sinners in the world.  St. Francis of Assisi called himself the worst of sinners; St. Thomas of Villanova was kept in a state of continual fear and trembling by the thought of the account he was one day to render to God of his life; which, though full of virtue, appeared to him very wicked.  St. Gertrude considered it a miracle that the earth did not open under her feet and swallow her up alive, in punishment of her sins.  St. Paul, the first hermit, was in the habit of exclaiming: “Woe to me, a sinner, who am unworthy to bear the name of a  monk!” In the writings of Fr. M Avila we read of a person of great sanctity who besought the Lord to make known to her the state of her soul.  Her prayer was heard, and so deformed and abominable was the appearance of her soul, though stained only with the guilt of venial sins, that struck with horror, she cried out: “For mercy’s sake, O Lord, take away from before my eyes the representation of this monster!”

Beware, then, of every preferring yourself to any one.  To esteem yourself better than others, is abundantly sufficient to make you worse than all.  “Others,” says Tritemius, “you have despised: you have therefore become worse than others.” Again to entertain a high opinion of your own desserts, is enough to deprive you of all merit.  Humility consists principally in a sincere conviction that we deserve only reproach and chastisement.  If, by preferring yourself to others, you have abused the gifts and graces which God has conferred upon you, they will only serve for your greater condemnation at the hour of judgment.  But it is not enough to abstain from preferring yourself to any one: it is, moreover, necessary that you consider yourself the last and worst of all……First, because in yourself you see with certainty so many sins; but the sins of others you know not, and their secret virtues, which are hidden from  your eyes, may render them very dear in the sight of God.  You ought to consider also, that by the aid of the lights and graces which you have received from God you should at this moment be a Saint.  If they had been given to an infidel, he would perhaps have become a seraph, and you are still so miserable and full of defects………as St. Thomas teaches, the malice of sin increases in proportion to the ingratitude of the sinner.

———–End Excerpt———–

It is true that many Saints considered themselves the worst of sinners.  They did this not only for the reasons given above, but also because of the extraordinary sensitivity of their consciences.  We who are more dead to ourselves are also more dead to the reality of the sins we commit.  Not exactly a pleasant thought to consider, but a necessary one, and one I pray I may dwell on more and more – and that this may lead to a growth in my own sanctity, which is the point of it all, anyway!

This does not mean we should not point out sin and error when we see it, especially when sin and error are presented as virtue and truth, and even more so, when evil is presented as good within the Church herself.  But we must be careful not to exalt ourselves as above these things, nor to condemn those we see as lost in sin as somehow beneath us.  That’s a very easy trap to fall into, and one satan has probably fooled me with more than a few times.  Meekness and humility are key to the practice of virtue, correspondence with Grace, growth in the interior life, and thus, our salvation. It is precisely absence of these cornerstone virtues that paved the way – in my estimation – for the crisis that has afflicted the Church these past several decades.  It was pride and self-exaltation that caused lowly men to judge that God, and their saintly predecessors, had it all wrong for centuries, or that the Truth that made Saints of innumerable sinners over generations, somehow no longer applied to “modern man.”

What the Church needs a great heaping dose of right now, is, humility and meekness, with regard to the saving Truth of Jesus Christ.  That starts with me (but I’ll probably blow it tomorrow – God have mercy!).

Multi-Part Tour through the Spanish Missions of San Antone, Part III September 13, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Art and Architecture, awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Christendom, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, history, religious, Society, Tradition.
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Sorry this tour got sidelined for far longer than I hoped or planned.  In late June one of my children set my work laptop down in a puddle of water (water they had been told to wipe up already!) and the fan sucked water up into the computer.  End result was a completely fried hard drive.  I had transferred all my mission pictures to the lap top some time before.

Fortunately I still had the originals on my phone, it just took me a long time to get them transferred.  I finally got around to that today, and so here is part 3 in the four part series, covering the largest of the four missions, Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo.

Of all the four missions, aside perhaps from Mission Espada, Mission San Jose was in the worst shape when San Antonio and local historical societies got serious about restoring them in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Indeed, the entire ceiling and the east wall collapsed during a Mass held there around the turn of the 20th century.  The Mission looked like this before meaningful restoration began:

Today the Mission is quite restored, which is both bad and good – it’s great that we have something to look at, and that the church is whole enough to offer Sacraments, but the down side is that we never know whether what we are looking at is authentic or not.  Fortunately, the west walls and the facade of the church remained standing, and these contained some of the most artistically significant elements.

Today, approaching the Mission from the parking lot, this is the view one finds:

The former refectory and cells for the religious who worked this mission are gone, but the outline of the structures remains:

Mission San Jose has by far the finest stonework, hand-carved, sometimes by natives, sometimes by artisans brought from Nuevo España (Mexico) into local limestone, of all the San Antonio missions:

An arrow slit to defend the church against hostile indians.  I kid, it’s a light for a very narrow circular stairway that leads up to the bell tower.

Moving around to the front of the church, we see what is probably the most elaborately carved stone facade on any mission in North America.  That is a historical treasure, even though many of the statues and individual flourishes had to be recreated to replace damage caused by vandalism over the years.  Horribly, incredibly, almost unanimously protestant soldiers in the Texas Revolution and, even more, the Mexican-American War of 1848 (American forces used the missions as storage facilities for grain and other logistics materials), used these irreplaceable pieces of art for target practice.  There is more evidence of damage inside the church proper.

The more detail one captures, the more amazing the artistry is:

Now moving inside the church proper, this is the overall view down the nave:

Let me tell you, that reredo is a massive improvement over what existed in Mission San Jose for decades, especially after the council. Then, there were simply bare stucco walls with a moderately sized – and none too artistically significant – table altar.  This new reredo was added a few years ago, I think under the impetus of then Archbishop Jose Gomez, and really transformed the church into something far more aesthetically pleasing.

The view back towards the choir loft:

This choir loft is still accessible and used during Mass.

I don’t know when these pews were fabricated, I don’t think they are anywhere close to original to the Spanish Mission period, but as a woodworker I was impressed with their craftsmanship nonetheless.  I would hazard they are in the vicinity of 90-100 years old.

I mentioned further damage inside the church itself.  The carved sconces at the juncture where the vertical beams meet the arched ones for the ceiling had extensive damage.  Several popes and saints had their heads shot off, as seen below:

This one was relatively intact:

Some closeups of the reredo.  Very nicely done.  Not real high on the color but the design with alcoves for Saints is very Spanish.  I love this as something for local traditionally-inclined parishes to adopt if they ever have the opportunity to do a remodel along orthodox/traditional lines (sorry for the blurriness in some images.  It was super-humid that day and going from the outside to the inside caused the camera lens to keep fogging up. I tried to wipe it clean but was not always successful):

They were getting ready for Pentecost, thus, the decorations.

Nice crucifix. The crucifix and statues are definitely Spanish colonial era polychrome, but I do not know if they are original or not.  Most original art not permanently affixed (and even some that was) was lost from the four missions during their century or so of near abandonment and neglect.

To gauge how much the reredo improved things, compare with this shot from the mid-2000s:

Night and day, no?  Plus, much additional artwork was returned from this stark, iconoclastic post-conciliar wreckovation.

That artwork includes some period paintings:

I love them both, one is such a great example of Spanish Colonial Catholic art, the other, I believe, is of much more recent vintage.

OK just a few more things.  A nice statue of Our Lady, unfortunately image is a little blurry:

And then finally, in what amounts to something akin to a side chapel, though it’s really used more today like a room for exhibits of certain kinds, is what I believe is a remnant of an old high altar that was probably chopped up in the post-conciliar period:

I had to stretch through a narrow space between some kneelers and a wall to get this shot.  Otherwise it was almost entirely blocked.

Or perhaps I am wrong, and this is a post-conciliar altar that used to be in the main church and got moved into this side chapel?  My gut says, though, that with this degree of detail, this is a more ancient altar, probably not original to the 1700s, but perhaps early- or mid-19th century?  The altar stone was obviously missing, but altars of primarily wood construction were not at all unheard of, especially in colonial environs.

I could find no one to give me the history of this altar. Most people either didn’t know what it was or knew nothing of its history.

I thought I had some more pics, especially of the re-created mission palisade and living quarters for natives, but I am not finding them now.

Fr. Albert on Admonishing the Sinner August 7, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Latin Mass, priests, religious, Restoration, sanctity, Society, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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Some interesting thoughts below.  Fr. Albert, a traditional Dominican in Belgium working with The Fatima Center declares admonishing the sinner is a moral duty and failing to do so can be sinful on our part, but then states that the situations wherein we have a positive duty to act are quite rare.  I haven’t a great deal of time to flesh this out today, but this is one of those matters that is very dear to many Catholic hearts and one that does cause quite a bit of division.  See what you make of it:

Do you feel Father Albert “wimps out” towards the end in stating that these admonishments may cause more harm than good and thus the situations where they are required are quite rare?  Or is this necessary prudence.

This matter comes up with some regularity at the local Fraternity parish, where we have had instances of people evidencing great hurt at being corrected by other lay people, and the priests have basically cautioned against such admonishments, asking matters like fraternal correction over immodest dress or how to raise and educate children be left to the priests (with some room for action if the matter is dire or pressing).  Some people very much agree with this stance, while others feel that doing so could lead to rapidly falling standards since priests won’t often have time to make such one-on-one corrections.

I covered this topic in a post a few months ago, so I don’t want to retread that ground all over again, but one thought that has occurred to me in the intervening months is that one’s approach to this matter depends very much on how one views their local traditional community as a whole, and how newcomers and those who err publicly fit into it.  Some hold the view that pretty much everyone who is bothering to come to a traditional Catholic parish is already extremely dedicated, generally trying hard to do their best, and should be given a lot of latitude to “come up to standard” with things like dress or homeschooling or using NFP or whatever hot-button topic.  These same people view the community as quite resilient and able to stand some problematic public displays in the interest of being accommodating and helping the community grow.

Then there are souls who are very concerned about standards, who well know the threats to the traditional practice of the Faith both inside and outside the Church, and who feel that those souls who are failing in certain, quite public, ways pose a threat to the integrity of the community.  They may even have direct experience of communities softening standards and inevitably sliding into mediocrity or worse, total collapse to the culture.  Many of these folks have been traumatized, in a sense, by experiences in Novus Ordo world or the culture generally, and place a high premium on protecting the integrity of the community/parish.  These people are also naturally zealous for the Faith and see its defense as a primary duty, recognizing rightly that a reverent, faithful Catholic parish is an incredibly precious thing, maybe even a vulnerable thing, and very much worthy of protection.

The thing is, neither of these outlooks is wrong.  Thus the tension that exists in many traditional parishes over how to handle matters like fraternal correction.  My natural disposition is much more towards the latter, and I will admit to being a bit suspect of the motives of those who have been in traditional communities a long time and  yet seem to take a certain joy in being non-conformist in various regards, without going into specifics.  I am also one who tries to take correction in the best light, instead of getting instantly offended and hurt and storming out of the place – not that I have not at times disagreed with someone’s well-meaning recommendations.

But, I also don’t want to see rigid communal standards emerge that exclude all but the most zealous, the most rigorous.  Those types of situations have a long history and almost universally end in extremes of opinion and action and communities dividing into hostile camps that eventually disintegrate.  There have been several attempts at utopian Catholic enclaves in the past 200 years and they have all ended badly.

I think prudence is the key.  If you see a lady in a short skirt and stilletos, but wearing a veil, and you’ve never seen her before, maybe cut her a break.  Don’t say anything.  But pray for that person.  If they keep coming and you get to know them a bit, perhaps that relationship will be a grounds to make a very charitable comment some weeks or months down the road if the person does not self-correct.  You and I may think homeschooling is practically the only way to raise a child in this moral sewer but you don’t have to unload that opinion on every soul you encounter.  Prying questions into one’s background and purity tests are not a good way to make an acquaintance.  The examples could go on endlessly, but I assume you get the point.

I would close by saying, if you fall more to one side or the other – the welcoming souls willing to look the other way at times, or the militant defenders of the sanctity of the community – also try to have some charity for those who feel differently from yourself.  If someone thinks it’s better to be more accommodating and less rigorous, that doesn’t make them a bad Catholic.  And those with strong personalities who feel standards should be enforced at all times and who do not shy away from correcting others, they are not necessarily the stereotypical bad rad-trad.

Yes this is another “can’t we all get along” post.  But maybe that’s not such a bad thing, for a group that is already surrounded on all sides and hopelessly outnumbered.  I’ve been reading about some of the failed Crusades to stop the spread of islam of late, and it is heart-breaking the degree to which Catholic division and in-fighting aided the spread of the demonic religion of Mohammad.  Different groups of Catholics refused to aid one another in the Fall of Acre in 1289.

Related.  End trad-Cath circular firing squads!

Please Pray for Reader Entering Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles July 11, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, religious, Restoration, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.
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A young lady I have tremendous concern for, and for whom I have prayed for several years, is entering the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Missouri this weekend.  This reader had a previous experience with the Carmelites in Valparaiso, NE that, in God’s good will, did not work out.  This vocation means everything to her, she has felt a firm calling to the religious life for many years.  I know I ask you for so many prayers, but the growth of traditional religious life is just as vital as the growth of the priestly religious orders. In some senses, the growth of traditional religious orders, particularly women’s religious orders, may be even more important.  I know a number of traditional priests who attribute their own vocations to the prayers of these holy, traditional nuns.

Please pray that it be God’s will that this vocation be her true calling and that she find great happiness and holiness among this wonderful group of nuns.  I have prayed and will continue to pray every day for her.  May Our glorious Lady intercede for this young lady.

Thank you and God bless you.

Saint Alphonsus’ 16 Principal Means for Attaining Sanctity June 1, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, mortification, religious, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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The world may seem to be falling down around us, but our duty is to practice virtue and work towards the attainment of the greatest sanctity possible regardless.  From The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Saint Alphonsus’ 16 means to the attainment of sanctity.

This list, as it goes along, becomes quite challenging, but it is held up as an example of how to attain perfection, to whatever degree we are capable in cooperation with Grace:

  1. Strong and ardent desire to become a saint.
  2. Great confidence in Jesus Christ and in His Holy Mother.
  3. To avoid every deliberate sin or defect, and after a fault not to lose courage, but to make an act of contrition for it, and then resume  your ordinary occupations.
  4. To cut off all attachment to creatures, to self-will, and self-esteem.
  5. To resist continually your own inclinations. [4 and 5 are very difficult, and will take many a lifetime even to begin, but we are talking about attainment of practical perfection, to the degree humans aided by Grace are capable of such.  The thing is to do  your best and, most importantly, always be advancing, never retreating]
  6. To observe with exactness the rules governing your state in life.
  7. To perform your ordinary duties with all possible perfection
  8. To communicate often – with the permission of your director/priest; to make long and frequent meditations,  and to perform all the mortifications which he will permit
  9. To prefer, on all occasions, those actions which are most agreeable to God, and most opposed to self-love.
  10. To receive all crosses and contradictions with joy and gladness from the hands of God.
  11. To love and serve those who persecute you. [10 and 11 are also very difficult. They are so contrary to our fallen natures. But again we are talking about working towards perfection]
  12. To spend every moment of your time for God.
  13. To offer to God all your actions in union with the merits of Jesus Christ.
  14. To make a special oblation of yourself to God, that He may dispose of you and of all you possess in whatever way He pleases.
  15. To protest continually before God that His pleasure and love are the only objects of your wishes.
  16. Lastly, and above all, to pray continually, and to recommend yourself, with unbounded confidence, to Jesus Christ and to His Virgin Mother and to entertain a special affection and tenderness towards Mary.

On the need to always be advancing in sanctity, and never retreating, a further excerpt:

“Not to advance,” says St. Augustine, “is to go back.” St. Gregory beautifully explains this maxim of spiritual life by comparing a Christian who seeks to remain stationary in the path of virtue to a man who is in a boat on a rapid river, and striving to keep the boat always in the same position………Since the fall of Adam man is naturally inclined to evil from birth……..Because, in the way of God, a Christian must either go forward and advance in virtue or backward and rush headlong into vice.

In seeking eternal salvation, we must, according to St. Paul, never rest, but must run continually in the way of perfection, that we may win the prize and secure an incorruptible crown.  So that you may obtain (I Cor ix:24). If we fail, the fault will be ours; for God wills that all be holy and perfect.  This is the will of God – your sanctification (I Thess iv:3). He even commands us to be perfect and holy.  Be you therefore perfect, also your Heavenly Father is perfect (Matt v:48). Be holy because I am holy. [Lest we think God demands more of us than is possible……..] He promises and gives, as the holy Council of Trent teaches, abundant strength, for the observance of all His commands, to those who ask it from Him.  “God does not command impossibilities; but by His precepts He admonishes you to do what you can, and to ask what you cannot do; and He assists you, that you may be able to do it.”

———-End Quote———–

Earlier in the week we had the four practices that principally sanctified Saint Aloysius Gonzaga.  St. Alphonsus breaks those down into more detailed steps with a bit different emphasis.  There are many mansions in the Father’s house. There are many paths to sanctity.  But all revolve around constant prayer, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady, self-denial, practice of virtue, and eschewing all sin.  Not difficult to understand, but extremely difficult to practice.

Especially in this fallen age.  But it has always been such, I suppose.

Novus Ordo Anointing of the Sick Not a Sacrament – Not “Equivalent” to Extreme Unction? May 31, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, catachesis, different religion, disaster, error, Four Last Things, General Catholic, horror, priests, religious, scandals, secularism, sickness, Society, Spiritual Warfare, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Virtue.
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A very interesting little bit of catechesis below from The Fatima Center.  The traditional Dominican priest who answers these questions (since Fr. Gruner’s demise, RIP), Father Albert, claims that not only is the modern, post-conciliar sacrament “Anointing of the Sick” deficient compared to the Sacrament of Extreme Unction in its practical application, the way “anointing of the sick” is done in most parishes is so bastardized in its minimalist reductio ad absurdam that it no longer even constitutes a Sacrament:

“There is an essential difference between “anointing of the sick” and the traditional Extreme Unction.” “Often, the anointing of the sick that is given in the Novus Ordo is not a sacrament at all.”

I was always gravely disturbed by the monthly “anointing of the sick” ceremonies that occurred in some local NO parishes.  Literally everyone lined up to receive an entirely perfunctory blessing, irrespective of their general health.  I mean 25 year old marathon runners were getting blessed.  There was no examination of conscience, no contrition expressed, only the most minimal of anointings, and, I long ago concluded, little grace conferred.  I have long wondered if such a truncated service could indeed be considered a Sacrament.  According to Father Albert, most of the time, it is not.

So, Extreme Unction, properly received, removes temporal debt due to sin.  It is a Sacrament ordered almost entirely towards aiding those in serious threat of death or with serious health problems in attaining Heaven at their particular judgment.  It is not a “sacrament of healing” as “anointing of the sick” is generally called now in the Novus Ordo world.  It was never a Sacrament intended to be received over and over again on a monthly basis in a totally perfunctory way.  And what is even more sad, is that I have seen the mentality of this bowdlerized group blessing translate into the hospital and sick bed, where only the most dilatory of blessings are conveyed on those who truly are gravely ill instead of the thorough preparation for death and blessing for the passage of the soul from the body which has traditionally been given in the Church.

As with so much in the Novus Ordo, and as Father Albert notes, the accidental aspect of the Sacrament has assumed the primacy, whereas its primary role has been reduced to distinctly secondary place.  In this case, the accidental healing qualities of Extreme Unction have become the focus in the “sacrament of healing”  – and note once again the humanistic nature of the change, with most all the focus on bodily healing in this life rather than the preparation of the soul for its real life, that is the next life, which shall be eternal.

I had long felt there were grave deficiencies with the anointing of the sick as it is practiced in most all Novus Ordo parishes but had never managed to put the concerns so precisely and succinctly.  Thanks to The Fatima Center for these helpful  catechetical videos.

 

The Four Sacred Devotions that Drove Saint Aloysius Gonzaga to Great Sanctity May 30, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, Eucharist, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, manhood, mortification, religious, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, thanksgiving, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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From the Life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Patron of Christian Youth by Maurice Meschler, SJ, the four pious practices the Saint felt were most efficacious in achieving great sanctity and practice of devotion to our Blessed Lord.  None of  these particular devotions will be strange or unfamiliar to readers, but the passion and fervor with which they were practiced were spectacular.  Our Catholic Faith is not difficult to comprehend – many wholly uneducated people have  become hidden saints – but it is very difficult to put into practice.  That is why the Lord has blessed His Church with many canonized Saints, to provide us with direct examples of how to conduct lives pleasing to Him:

The practice of the various Catholic devotions is an important point, and an excellent means of promoting the spiritual life.  Aloysius had four special devotions.  The first of these was the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.  In his father’s house and in the midst of his life in the world, it had been a joy to him to serve Mass; and now in the novitiate he could do this to his heart’s content.  Very often during the day he visited the Blessed Sacrament in the church, or in an adjoining chapel.  In order to prepare well for Holy Communion, he divided the week into two parts, the first of which he devoted to thanksgiving for his last Communion, and the second to preparation for the next. [Back then, even such obvious Saints as Aloysius Gonzaga could only receive weekly, if they were fortunate.  Today we can the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar daily, but do we really adequately prepare ourselves, or render due thanksgiving, for this unspeakable Gift? Do we sometimes, or perhaps often, take it for granted, or allow the concerns of the world and the flesh to crowd our souls and cause us to receive the Sacrament in a blasé fashion? While we may not have the time or the gift of such immense sanctity to make such preparations or thanksgivings as Gonzaga did, perhaps we could do a bit more?]    On the eve of his Communion day he would speak with touching piety of the happiness in store for him the next morning.  Many of his companions, and even those who were already priests, who wished to prepare well for Holy Mass, sought to be with him on such days, in order to be moved to greater fervor by his piety and the ardent love which his words displayed.  On the morning of the day itself, his first thought was of the Savior he was about to receive, and he passed the whole hour appointed for meditation in pious reflections upon the Blessed Sacrament.  He sought out a quiet corner of the church to make his immediate preparation and thanksgiving, and his heart overflowed with the sweetest consolation. Many other worshippers who saw him, but did not know him, concluded merely from the sight of his fervor that he must have a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and even that he must be a Saint.  He spent the whole morning after his Communion in silence and recollection, praying and reading passages from St. Augustine or St. Bernard. [If Saint Aloysius devoted days and hours to preparation and thanksgiving, perhaps we could arrive to Mass a 10 or 15 minutes early (or more) to properly prepare ourselves, and not move to depart the church the instant Mass ends?] Thus the precious seed, planted by Saint Charles Borremeo in the child’s heart at his First Communion, had grown into a beautiful tree that enriched his whole life and character with its blossoms and fruits.  [For it was from this Saint that Aloysius Gonzaga received his First Communion]….And the Church herself has raised an imperishable memorial to this beautiful trait of his piety, in the Collects of the Mass for his feast, in which she commemorates his excellent method of preparation and thanksgiving for Communion, and begs God to grant us the grace to ever appear at this heavenly banquet adorned with the wedding garment of Grace, whose beauty Aloysius enhanced as with pearls of inestimable value by his pious preparation and copious tears.

A second favorite devotion of the Saint was that to the Passion of Our Lord.  The life of suffering and mortification he led naturally urged him to seek in the mysteries of the Passion a model of strength and comfort.  Everyday at noon he recited an antiphon in honor of the Passion, and placed himself in spirit before the Cross of Our Savior……

…….His third devotion was his ardent love of Our Lady. Since his sojourn in Florence she had been the Queen of his heart and the guiding star of his life, and he never tired of thinking of her, honoring her, praising and loving her, especially now that he could appreciate the inestimable benefit he owed to her in his vocation.  In his letters to his mother he frequently recommends her to have a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, holds up to her in her trials the example of the Mother of God and encourages her to be faithful in the service of the Queen of Heaven……

..Lastly, Aloysius had a special devotion to the holy Angels.  Virginal souls have a certain affinity to the Angels, and always feel attracted to them.  His veneration for these blessed spirits was so well-known to his companions that when Fr. Vincent Bruno was about to publish a book of meditations, he asked Aloysius to write the meditation on the Holy Angels, and the Saint joyfully complied.  Thus originated the little “Treatise upon the Angels, especially the Holy Guardian Angels.” After having cited the principal passages of Scripture in which the Angels are mentioned, he speaks in the first part of Angels in general, showing the necessity of devotion to them, first, from the example of the Church, secondly, from their nature and dignity, third, from their number, and lastly from their ninefold order. It is remarkable and very characteristic of Aloysius, that he unites devotion to the HOly Angels with his favorite virtue of humility in this first part of the meditation: “Consider how fitting it is, that on the feast of the invincible Arcangel the Gospel of the virtue of humility is read; for while proud Lucifer, on the one hand, was precipitated from his lofty throne in Heaven down into the depths of hell, because he presumed to arrogate divine honor to himself, the humble Archangel Michael and the whole host of the good Angels were highly honored and raised to the  highest rank, because they submitted to their Creator and full of zeal for his honor, opposed the proud serpent.”

……A colloquy with God after the meditation teaches us “to beg Him, Who bestowed such abundant graces upon the Angels, to grant unto us also through their intercession the grace to imitate their humility, clarity, and purity.”…..

…….A slip of paper has been preserved, upon which Aloysius had noted down for his own use a few “pious practices in honor of the Holy Angels”: “Imagine yourself standing in the midst of the nine choirs of Angels, as they pray to God and sing that hymn of praise: ‘Sanctus Deus, Sanctus Fortis, Sanctus Immortalis.’ Repeat this prayer nine times in union with them – Recommend yourself three times daily to the special care of your Guardian Angel.  Every morning and evening, and during the day, when you visit the church and pray at the altar, recite the prayer ‘Angele Dei.’ [Angel of God…..] Remember that you must follow the guidance of your Angel, like a blind man who does not know the way, and trusts entirely to the care of the person who leads him.”……….

……..One of the effects of his frequent and fervent prayers was an uninterrupted union with God.  It cost Aloysius more effort to put the thought of God away from his mind than it does others to turn their thoughts away from creatures to God.

———–End Quote———-

I was unfamiliar with Saint Aloysius before reading this biography, but what a great Saint he was.  And is.  A patron for Christian youth, indeed, his purity was unequaled.  He often did not even know what women he had been met numerous times before looked like, so skilled was he in practicing custody of the eyes.  His practice of prayer and penance was so immense his superiors in the Jesuit novitiate actually had to restrict his activities to some degree in these regards, so as not to so surpass his confreres as to disrupt the unity of the group nor cause discouragement in others.

I would strongly encourage parents to learn about Saint Aloysius Gonzaga and have their children do the same.  He is a great example and powerful protector in this time of gross immodesty, unchecked lusts, and a million lurking dangers for children.