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Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Lack of Posts
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I apologize for the lack of posts this week. I have been very sick, so I have not been able to post very frequently. I have slept most of the day and just logged into blogger to post on the stational churches.

I hope to resume frequent postings either this weekend or next week.
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Prayer Request from Darren
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Darren from My Catholic Reflections has asked for prayers for a very serious health problem. Please visit his blog and join in a novena.
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Words of Inspiration: February 28
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"I would rather die than miss Communion once, unless obedience says otherwise" (St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi).
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Stational Church: Wednesday in the First Week of Lent
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Today's Stational Church is at the Basilica of St. Mary Major (formerly called the Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows).

The Importance:
St. Mary Major is important to Christendom for three reasons:

(a) It stands as a venerable monument to the Council of Ephesus (431), at which the dogma of Mary's divine Motherhood was solemnly defined; the definition of the Council occasioned a most notable increase in the veneration paid to Mary.

(b) The basilica is Rome's "church of the crib," a kind of Bethlehem within the Eternal City; it also is a celebrated station church, serving, for instance, as the center for Rome's liturgy for the first Mass on Christmas. In some measure every picture of Mary with the divine Child is traceable to this church.

(c) St. Mary Major is Christendom's first Marian shrine for pilgrims. It set the precedent for the countless shrines where pilgrims gather to honor our Blessed Mother throughout the world. Here was introduced an authentic expression of popular piety that has been the source of untold blessings and graces for Christianity in the past as in the present.
 

Information is from the Canon Regulars of St. John Cantius:
On the Esquiline Hill, not far from St. Peter in Chains, towers the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

If Grandiose, both in its exterior and in it interior, the Basilica was erected by Pope Sixtus III (432-440), one year after the proclamation by the Council of Ephesus of the dogma of Theotokos—Mary, Mother of God. Before being called "St. Mary Major," the ancient Romans had called it the Basilica Liberii (back to Pope Liberius (352-366). In August 352, Pope Liberius experience a vision of Our Lady and it was She, who traced out the dimensions of this church. Pope Liberius then saw with his own eyes the area of land covered in snow on which the church was to be built.
This Basilica also contains the revered image of the Madonna of St. Luke, called Salus Populi Romani.

How have I kept the first eight days of Lent? Surely, as "the glory of the Lord dwelt upon Sinai" and upon Moses, so the "right hand of His Majesty" was extended over us during the past week.

Let us pray: Graciously look down, O Lord, we beseech Thee, upon the devotion of Thy people, that they, who are mortified in body by abstinence, may be refreshed in mind through the fruit of good works. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
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Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Stational Church: Tuesday in the First Week of Lent
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Today's Stational Church is at the Church of St. Anastasia.  Information is from the Canon Regulars of St. John Cantius:

Linked to this church is the tradition of the "first-light" Mass—Mass at dawn—which is celebrated in the first hours of the Christmas morning.

We keep this day in company with the widow-martyr, whose heavenly birthday the Church observes on the very birthday of the Light of the world. In the Christmas Mass "at dawn" St. Anastasia, whose name means "dawn"—the new light—is commemorated. In that "aurora Mass" and again today, the words fulgebit, fulgeat—"shine, radiate—occur.

A holy "radiating" is the fruit of a holy Lent. Everyone is called to be an "Anastasia", a new light, replenished by the light of Christ—Lumen Christi.

Let us pray: Look down upon Thy household, Lord, and grant that our souls, chastened by the mortification of the flesh, may radiate in Thy sight with the desire for Thee. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
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Monday, February 26, 2007
Stational Church: Monday in the First Week of Lent
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Today's Stational Church is at the Church of St. Peter in Chains. For information on this devotion, see Catholic Culture. I will post on each Stational Church for Lent.

Information is from the Canon Regulars of St. John Cantius:

From the heart of the Roman Forum, the penitential procession climbed up the road winding up towards the Esquiline Hill and came to the church of St. Peter in Chains, also called the "Eudossian Basilica" (as it had been built in the place of another church by Eurdossia, wife of the emperor Valentinian III, to preserve in it the chains of St. Peter).

The Station of this day is at St. Peter in Chains and the Church takes us today to the divinely appointed watchman of "the lambs and sheep of Christ"—St. Peter.
The Chains, which held the shepherd of the lambs and sheep consist of forty-four links. Forty-four days separate us from Holy Thursday, the beginning of the Paschal solemnities when our "Lenten" work must be an accomplished fact.

How many links has that chain from which Christ, our good Shepherd, desires to free us in this acceptable time? We are fully aware that during this season of salvation this chain must be broken and the links thrown out—the big ones in particular. Which are your principal faults? Are you working against them?

Let us pray: Convert us, O God our salvation, that the Lenten fast may be of profit to us. Instruct our minds with heavenly discipline. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007
The Council of Trent: Part 2
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Continuing my series on "The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent", I would like to start by linking to my previous article on the Fifth Session.

The Sixth Session is the Decree Concerning Justification. Chapter I through XVI (Pages 29-42 in my book) are a wonderful presentation of the Catholic theology in a very scholarly manner. I know many Protestants, and I wish that they would read the Catholic Church's official, theological statements on justification since they are a source of great hope.

Here is a list of the Canons of the Council in the Sixth Session. We must still hold and belief what is taught through the Council of Trent. Many of these are very theological, so I would encourage reading them slowly and in pieces to comprehend all of the parts.

Canons:

CANON I - If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON II - If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

CANON III - If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

CANON IV - If any one saith, that man's free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

CANON V - If any one saith, that, since Adam's sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, yea a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema.

CANON VI - If any one saith, that it is not in man's power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissively only, but properly, and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul; let him be anathema.

CANON VII - If any one saith, that all works done before Justification, in whatsoever way they be done, are truly sins, or merit the hatred of God; or that the more earnestly one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins: let him be anathema.

CANON VIII - If any one saith, that the fear of hell,-whereby, by grieving for our sins, we flee unto the mercy of God, or refrain from sinning,-is a sin, or makes sinners worse; let him be anathema.

CANON IX - If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

CANON X - If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema.

CANON XI - If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

CANON XII - If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.

CANON XIII - If any one saith, that it is necessary for every one, for the obtaining the remission of sins, that he believe for certain, and without any wavering arising from his own infirmity and disposition, that his sins are forgiven him; let him be anathema.

CANON XIV - If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.

CANON XV - If any one saith, that a man, who is born again and justified, is bound of faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; let him be anathema.

CANON XVI - If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema.

CANON XVII - If any one saith, that the grace of Justification is only attained to by those who are predestined unto life; but that all others who are called, are called indeed, but receive not grace, as being, by the divine power, predestined unto evil; let him be anathema.

CANON XVIII - If any one saith, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.

CANON XIX - If any one saith, that nothing besides faith is commanded in the Gospel; that other things are indifferent, neither commanded nor prohibited, but free; or, that the ten commandments nowise appertain to Christians; let him be anathema.

CANON XX - If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema.

CANON XXI - If any one saith, that Christ Jesus was given of God to men, as a redeemer in whom to trust, and not also as a legislator whom to obey; let him be anathema.

CANON XXII - If any one saith, that the justified, either is able to persevere, without the special help of God, in the justice received; or that, with that help, he is not able; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIII - lf any one saith, that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial,-except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIV - If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

CANON XXV - If any one saith, that, in every good work, the just sins venially at least, or-which is more intolerable still-mortally, and consequently deserves eternal punishments; and that for this cause only he is not damned, that God does not impute those works unto damnation; let him be anathema.

CANON XXVI - If any one saith, that the just ought not, for their good works done in God, to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from God, through His mercy and the merit of Jesus Christ, if so be that they persevere to the end in well [Page 48] doing and in keeping the divine commandments; let him be anathema.

CANON XXVII - If any one saith, that there is no mortal sin but that of infidelity; or, that grace once received is not lost by any other sin, however grievous and enormous, save by that of infidelity ; let him be anathema.

CANON XXVIII - If any one saith, that, grace being lost through sin, faith also is always lost with it; or, that the faith which remains, though it be not a lively faith, is not a true faith; or, that he, who has faith without charity, is not a Chris taught; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIX - If any one saith, that he, who has fallen after baptism, is not able by the grace of God to rise again; or, that he is able indeed to recover the justice which he has lost, but by faith alone without the sacrament of Penance, contrary to what the holy Roman and universal Church-instructed by Christ and his Apostles-has hitherto professed, observed, and taugh; let him be anathema.

CANON XXX - If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.

CANON XXXI - If any one saith, that the justified sins when he performs good works with a view to an eternal recompense; let him be anathema.

CANON XXXII - If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose [Page 49] living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

CANON XXXIII - If any one saith,that,by the Catholic doctrine touching Justification, by this holy Synod inset forth in this present decree, the glory of God, or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ are in any way derogated from, and not rather that the truth of our faith, and the glory in fine of God and of Jesus Christ are rendered (more) illustrious; let him be anathema.
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Living Lent: The First Sunday by Cardinal Rigali
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Vatican Official Acknowledges Liturgical Crisis
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Feb. 23, 2007 (CWNews.com) - In an unusually candid conversation with the monthly Inside the Vatican, the secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship concedes that liturgical reform after Vatican II “has not been able to achieve the expected goals,” and indicates that Pope Benedict XVI is determined to address the crisis in Catholic liturgy.

In a lengthy interview, Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don told the Inside the Vatican that a revival of the Catholic liturgy is essential to counteract the decline in practice among the faithful, particularly in the Western world.
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Stational Church: First Sunday of Lent
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Today's Stational Church is at the Lateran Basilica of the Most Holy Savior, commonly called St. John Lateran. For information on this devotion, see Catholic Culture. I will post on each Stational Church for Lent.

Information is from the Canon Regulars of St. John Cantius:

The Cathedral Basilica of Rome—caput et mater omnium ecclesiarum Urbis et Orbis—triumphantly celebrates the first solemn day of Lent.

Today, the faithful pilgrim in spirit to the Lateran Basilica of the Most Holy Savior, "head and mother of all the churches of the City and the World," the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. In this basilica Lent officially begins, in this church also, it is concluded.

The acceptable time is at hand. "We exhort that you receive not the grace of God in vain." "It is true," says St. Leo, "there is no season, which is not rich with God' gifts. His grace does ever give us an entry to His mercy, yet at this time the minds of all should be urged with greater earnestness towards spiritual progress, and should be animated by a trust in God stronger than ever, for now the anniversary of that day on which we were redeemed is drawing near. Therefore, let us be moved to perform every work of godliness, to the end that we may be able to celebrate, with clean minds and bodies, that mystery, which excels all others—the mystery of the Lord's passion." (Matins, Second Nocturne)

This holy fast (Quadragesima) will open unto us the gates of Paradise. We must embrace it with prayer and supplication, so that we may rejoice with the Lord on the day of Resurrection.

Let us pray: O God, who does purify Thy Church by the yearly observance of forty days; grant to Thy household that what we strive to obtain from Thee by self-denial, we may secure by good works. Through Christ, Our Lord.
Amen.


Additional photos may be found at Argent by the Tiber.
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Saturday, February 24, 2007
"The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ"
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I have just finished the initial parts of "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ", which is the book containing the private revelations of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. While it is not necessary for Catholics to believe private revelation after the time of the apostles, I strongly believe in her visions. The account I just finished reading of the Last Supper was so poignant and incredibly detailed. I did not know that the Supper Room of Jesus at one time housed the Ark of the New Covenant! Plus, the home was set up so that in the most inner part, Jesus and the 12 disciples ate the Last Supper, while being separated from the other areas by a veil. It is symbolic of the Temple veil! And, the Holy Grail was originally owned by Abraham and even used by Melchizedek!

I strongly am suggesting this book should be read during Lent. If you don't or can't get a physical copy, you can read "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ" online.

Private Revelation

Like all private revelation since the time of the Bible, these visions and promises do not have to be believed by anyone. The Church, in her authority, declares them worthy of belief, but a Catholic does not have to believe them in order to remain a Catholic.

Pope Benedict XV said: "The approbation of such revelations implies nothing more than, after mature examination, it is permissible to publish them for the unit of the faithful. Though they don't merit the same credence as the truths of religion, one can, however, believe them out of human faith, conforming to the rules of prudence by which they are probable, and supported by sufficient motives that one might believe in them piously."
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Lenten Meme
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I was tagged by Catholic Fire.

What is your favorite Sorrowful Mystery?

Mine is definitely the Second Sorrowful Mystery - Jesus is Scourged at the pillar. I find it so poignant when I think of the whips and flesh ripped open in reparation for my sins that took place at the Pillar of Flagellation. The love and dedicated of Jesus, who willingly and silently accepted the pain for my fault and that of others, is one of my greatest sources of inspiration.

What is your favorite Station of the Cross?

I enjoy all of the Stations since each one placed an role in His Sacrifice, but my favorite is when Jesus dies on the cross and destroyed sin, satan, and death. Without the Cross, there would be no hope.

Do you fast during Lent?

Yes, I fast during Lent as well as abstain from meat on days in addition to the requirements.

What is your Lenten Resolution(s)?

To read "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ" and read the account of Christ's life from the Last Supper to the Resurrection from the vision of Blessed Catherine Emmerich. I also want to post on this blog frequently in order to draw others into greater holiness during this time of repentance.

Do you use Holy Water during Lent?

Yes, I use it all year round.

How many times do you go to Mass during Lent?

With my classes, I can only attend on Sunday unfortunately. I will be attending for the Sacred Triduum, though.
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Stational Church: Saturday after Ash Wednesday
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Today's Stational Church is at St. Augustine. Information is from the Canon Regulars of St. John Cantius:
Pope Pasquale II (1099-1118) laid the relics of St. Tryphon to rest under the present church of St. Augustine.

Health of body and, above all, health of soul are precious gifts from God—gifts for which we must be grateful. The Church is particularly concerned about the health of our soul, the well being in us of the life of Christ. She knows our spiritual shortsightedness, she knows, the unsteadiness of our will, she knows the power of our passions, all of them—infirmities caused by Original Sin, as well as by our personal sins. She sees her children make resolutions and break them. She knows how often the fuller unfolding of the sacramental life is impeded because her sons and daughters are lacking in purity of intention and proper appreciation of God's gifts.

For that very reason she instituted this holy season as a time of great healing. Lent is God's hospital. Serious operations are to be performed during this time. And blessed are they who gladly submit to them. Vitia comprimis, mentem elevas—vices are to be curbed, spiritual cancers to be removed, the mind is to be renewed, elevated, so that, after our stay in His hospital, the same mind may be in us, which is also in Christ Jesus. We humbly implore our dual Saints to guide us to the Divine Physician, the Healer of our soul and body.

Let us pray: Be mindful, O Lord, of our supplications, and grant that we may keep with devout service this solemn fast, which thou has wholesomely ordained for the healing of our souls and bodies. Through Christ, Our Lord.
Amen.
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Friday, February 23, 2007
Coming Canonizations in 2007
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An Ordinary Public Consistory was held by Pope Benedict XVI to announce the canonization on June 3, 2007 for the following Blesseds. The Brazilian priest will be canonized on May 11 when Pope Benedict XVI visits Brazil:

George Preca, priest and founder of the Societas Doctrinae Christianae

Szymon of Lipnica, priest of the Order of Friars Minor

Charles of St. Andrew, priest of the Congregation of the Passion

Antonio de Santa Ana, priest of the Order of Discalced Friars Minor and founder of the Convent of the Conceptionist Sisters "Recolhimento da luz."

Marie Eugenie de Jesus, founder of the Institute of the Sisters of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Image Source: REUTERS/Osservatore Romano/Pool (VATICAN)

Sources:

United Press International
Argent by the Tiber
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Traditional Latin Mass at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
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Update: Watch Video

Update: View the photos

As a supporter and defender of the Tridentine Latin Mass, I am extremely pleased to hear that a Tridentine Mass will be celebrated in the Cathedral Basilica.



On Wednesday, March 7, 2007 at 7 p.m., the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas according to the traditional calendar, the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest will offer Solemn High Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

This is a truly exciting event-- it will will be the first traditional Latin Mass publicly celebrated in the Archdiocesan Cathedral for at least 35 years. Deo gratias! All are welcome to attend.

Keep Reading...
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Thou, Art Dust...
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At Ash Wednesday Mass I didn't hear the traditional "Remember, man dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return" when I received my ashes. Instead I heard the new, modern option: "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." I personally prefer the old, traditional method since Lent is an appropriate time to remind me of my coming death and a need to be prepared to die in grace. Today I found this excerpt and felt it would be appropriate to share:

A few years ago a deacon pal and I were discussing ashes. He was helping to distribute them for the first time in his parish and was trying to decide if he would use the old smudge-formula, “Remember you are dust and into dust you shall return,” or if he would forego that for the “new, improved, feel-good” formula, “Turn away from sin and believe the Gospel.”

I could only tell him that I didn’t need to be treated like a delicate flower with some benign advice about believing the Gospel. “If we’re Christians and we’re there receiving ashes, isn’t it pretty much a given that we’re already believing the Gospel? No, please, say it the old way - it’s a pithy reminder that we should ask ourselves - if we die tomorrow - have we been living our lives to right purpose? We hear nothing but happy platitudes about our specialness from the rest of the world (and too many lecterns) every single day. For this one day, let us face some cold, hard truth.”

He wrote me the other day that he remembered that conversation and that this year he will be reminding people that they are dust…I’m glad.

We need to hear it from time to time, that no matter what we do we’re going to die.

Ash Wednesday is a good time to take a look at how we’re living our lives, which are over quickly. Are we fully living the lives for which God loved us into being, or just treading water waiting for the next wave?

How are we managing our time and talents? Are we fully utilizing the gifts with which we (every one of us) were born? Are we sharing them, being generous with them?

What about the rest of our time - the few weeks or decades we have left? Maybe you haven’t murdered anyone this week, but have you been indulging in some so-called “innocent gossip” at work today? Is that what you were born for?

Have you been sitting at your computer for four hours tapping out one vile word after another in an unstoppable seizure of hate for anyone with whom you disagree? Is that the purpose for which you were begotten - loved into being?

Have you been slacking off at home, taking people for granted? Is that what you do with the love that has been given to you?

Seen in the light of eternity our lives are mere momentary blips, little flashes here and gone, noted only by the Eternal, who waits for our return, who says, “come back to me, with all your heart…” (Hosea 14:2-10).

Today, we acknowledge that we are finite, that we will not last, and that all of our fusses and furies won’t matter much, really, in the end. But our love - how much we have loved, or how little - that will define us, both in this life and the next.

In a world and an era where humility is for losers, we take a little time to let ourselves be humbled. And in that humility, we find some commonality, and perhaps inspiration to do better - to work on ourselves a bit - and to seek reconciliation where we can.
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Agnus Dei
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"It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all" (Isaiah 53:4-6).
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Telus will not sell pornography!
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The second-largest phone company in Canada has reversed its earlier decision to begin selling pornography thought its mobile phone service after numerous customers, including the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, threatened to cancel their contracts.

"It was the type of feedback and the sincerity of it that caused us to reflect on the service and ultimately to withdraw it," Telus spokesman Jim Johannsson told Reuters in an interview.

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Stational Church: Friday after Ash Wednesday
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Today's Stational Church is at Sts. John and Paul. For information on this devotion, see Catholic Culture. I will post on each Stational Church for Lent.

Information is from the Canon Regulars of St. John Cantius:

The third Lenten Station takes us up to a high hill of ancient Rome—the Celian Hill, which stands in front of the Palatine and which dominates the valley of the Circus Maximus. The church was built upon the house where Saints John and Paul were martyred and buried. Martyred in the year 361, by Julian the Apostate, they were two imperial officers in Constantine's court.

We celebrate the divine mysteries today in the light of the "two candelabras shining before the Lord," as the Church calls the two brothers John and Paul. There can be no fruitful lent without practical charity. Practical charity means that we must come to our brother's rescue sincerely, unselfishly and supernaturally.

As children of the God of charity, let us so approach today's Eucharist that it may enkindle in us the spirit of true Christian charity, and thus to "be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect."

Let us pray: Regard with Thy loving care, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the fast which we have begun; that the abstinence, which we keep with our body may be exercised with sincerity of mind. We ask this Through Christ, Our Lord.
Amen.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007
It is Lent!
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No Lent is worthy of the name without a personal effort of self-reformation, of leading a life more in accordance with God's commands and an attempt by some kind of voluntary self-denial to make reparation for past negligence. But the Church, together with the personal effort which she requires of all of us, her children, sets up in the sight of God the cross of Christ, the Lamb of God who took upon Himself the sins of man and who is the price of our redemption. As Holy Week approaches the thought of the passion becomes increasingly predominant until it occupies our whole attention, but from the very beginning of Lent it is present, for it is in union with the sufferings of Christ that the whole army of Christians begins on the holy "forty days", setting out for Easter with the glad certitude of sharing in His resurrection.

"Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation." The Church puts Lent before us in the very same terms that formerly she put it before the catechumens and public penitents who were preparing for the Easter graces of baptism and sacramental reconciliation. For us, as it was for them, Lent should be a long retreat, one in which under the guidance of the Church we are led to the practice of a more perfect Christian life. She shows us the example of Christ and by fasting and penance associates us with his sufferings that we may have a share in His redemption.

We should remember that Lent is not an isolated personal affair of our own. The Church avails herself of the whole of the mystery of redemption. We belong to an immense concourse, a great body in which we are united to the whole of humanity which has been redeemed by Christ. The liturgy of this season does not fail to remind us of it.

This, then, is the meaning of Lent for us: a season of deepening spirituality in union with the whole Church which thus prepares to celebrate the Paschal mystery. Each year, following Christ its Head, the whole Christian people takes up with renewed effort its struggle against evil, against Satan and the sinful man that each one of us bears within himself, in order at Easter to draw new life from the very springs of divine life and to continue its progress towards heaven.

Source: St. Andrew Daily Missal
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The Primacy of St. Peter
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~by Pope St. Leo the Great

Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.

The Lord now asks the apostles as a whole what men think of him. As long as they are recounting the uncertainty born of human ignorance, their reply is always the same.

But when he presses the disciples to say what they think themselves, the first to confess his faith in the Lord is the one who is first in rank among the apostles.

Peter says: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Jesus replies: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven”. You are blessed, he means, because my Father has taught you. You have not been deceived by earthly opinion, but have been enlightened by inspiration from heaven. It was not flesh and blood that pointed me out to you, but the one whose only-begotten Son I am.

He continues: And I say to you. In other words, as my Father has revealed to you my godhead, so I in my turn make known to you your pre-eminence. You are Peter: though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one, the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by my strength, so that which is my very own because of my power is common between us through your participation.

And upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. On this strong foundation, he says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith; the chains of death shall not bind it. Its words are the words of life. As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they send down to hell those who contradict them.

Blessed Peter is therefore told: To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth is also bound in heaven. Whatever you lose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.

The authority vested in this power passed also to the other apostles, and the institution established by this decree has been continued in all the leaders of the Church. But it is not without good reason that what is bestowed on all is entrusted to one. For Peter received it separately in trust because he is the prototype set before all the rulers of the Church.

Image: Pope St. Leo the Great confronts Atilla the Hun
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Tu es Petrus
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Here is the St. Peter's Choir of Nottingham singing Tu es Petrus by Palestrina. I thought that this was appropriate for the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter.
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Feast of the Chair of St. Peter
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Greater Double (1955 Calendar): January 18
Feast (1969 Calendar): February 22

Today the universal Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, which recalls the primacy of the apostle Peter. Indeed, in the Gospel, Jesus Christ gave the keys of Heaven and Hell to St. Peter, the first pope. He is the Vicar of Jesus Christ. However, this post is not for debate on the Primacy of St. Peter.

Prayer:

O God, Who by delivering to Thy blessed Apostle Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, didst confer upon him the pontifical power of binding and of loosing, grant that, by the help of his intercession, we may be freed from the bonds of sin: Who livest and reignest.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

Here is part of Pope Benedict XVI's message from 2006:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Latin liturgy celebrates today the feast of the Chair of Peter. It is a very ancient tradition, witnessed in Rome since the end of the fourth century, which renders thanksgiving to God for the mission entrusted to the Apostle Peter and his successors.

"Cathedra" literally means the established seat of the bishop, located in the mother church of a diocese, which for this reason is called "cathedral," and it is the symbol of the authority of the bishop and, in particular, of his "magisterium," that is, of the evangelical teaching that he, insofar as a successor of the apostles, is called to guard and transmit to the Christian community.

When the bishop takes possession of the local Church that is entrusted to him, he, bearing the miter and the shepherd's crosier, sits on the cathedra. From that seat he will guide, as teacher and shepherd, the journey of the faithful in faith, hope and charity.

Which was, then, the "cathedra" of St. Peter? He, chosen by Christ as "rock" on which to build the Church (cf. Matthew 16:18), began his ministry in Jerusalem, after the ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. The first "seat" of the Church was the Cenacle, and in all probability in that room, where Mary, the Mother of Jesus, also prayed with the disciples, a special place was reserved for Simon Peter.

Subsequently, the see of Peter was Antioch, a city situated on the Oronte River in Syria, today Turkey, which at the time was the third metropolis of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria in Egypt. Of that city, evangelized by Barnabas and Paul, where "for the first time the disciples were called Christians" (Acts 11:26), Peter was the first Bishop.

In fact, the Roman Martyrology, before the reform of the calendar, established also a specific celebration of the Chair of Peter at Antioch. From there, Providence led Peter to Rome, where he concluded with martyrdom his course of service to the Gospel. For this reason, the See of Rome, which had received the greatest honor, received also the task entrusted by Christ to Peter of being at the service of all the local Churches for the building and unity of the whole People of God.

In this way the See of Rome came to be known as that of the Successor of Peter, and the "cathedra" of its Bishop represented that of the apostle charged by Christ to feed all his flock. It is attested by the most ancient Fathers of the Church, as for example St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, who in his treatise "Against Heresies" describes the Church of Rome as "greatest and most ancient, known by all; … founded and constituted at Rome by the two glorious Apostles Peter and Paul"; and he adds: "With this Church, because of her outstanding superiority, the universal Church must be in agreement, that is, the faithful everywhere" (III, 3, 2-3).

Tertullian, for his part, affirms: "How blessed this Church of Rome is! The Apostles themselves shed on her, with their blood, the whole of the doctrine" ("La Prescrizione degli Eretici," 36). The Chair of the Bishop of Rome represents, therefore, not only his service to the Roman community, but also his mission of guide of the whole People of God.

To celebrate the "Chair" of Peter, as we do today, means, therefore, to attribute to it a strong spiritual significance and to recognize in it a privileged sign of the love of God, good and eternal Shepherd, who wants to gather the whole of his Church and guide her along the way of salvation.

Among so many testimonies of the Fathers, I would like to refer to that of St. Jerome, taken from a letter of his to the Bishop of Rome, particularly interesting because he makes explicit reference in fact to the "chair" of Peter, presenting it as the safe harbor of truth and peace. Jerome writes thus: "I decided to consult the chair of Peter, where that faith is found exalted by the lips of an Apostle; I now come to ask for nourishment for my soul there, where once you received the garment of Christ. I follow no leader save Christ, so I enter into communion with your beatitude, that is, with the chair of Peter for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built! ("Le Lettere," I, 15,1-2).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the apse of St. Peter's Basilica, as you know, is found the monument to the Chair of the Apostle, a mature work of Bernini, made in the shape of a great bronze throne, supported by the statues of four Doctors of the Church, two from the West, St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, and two from the East, St. John Chrysostom and St. Athanasius.

I invite you to pause before that evocative work, which today it is possible to admire decorated with so many candles, and pray in a particular way for the ministry that God has entrusted to me. Raising one's gaze to the alabaster glass window that opens precisely above the chair, invoke the Holy Spirit, so that he will always sustain with his light and strength my daily service to the whole Church. For this, as for your devoted attention, I thank you from my heart.

Primacy of St. Peter by Pope St. Leo the Great:

Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.

The Lord now asks the apostles as a whole what men think of him. As long as they are recounting the uncertainty born of human ignorance, their reply is always the same.

But when he presses the disciples to say what they think themselves, the first to confess his faith in the Lord is the one who is first in rank among the apostles.

Peter says: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Jesus replies: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven”. You are blessed, he means, because my Father has taught you. You have not been deceived by earthly opinion, but have been enlightened by inspiration from heaven. It was not flesh and blood that pointed me out to you, but the one whose only-begotten Son I am.

He continues: And I say to you. In other words, as my Father has revealed to you my godhead, so I in my turn make known to you your pre-eminence. You are Peter: though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one, the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by my strength, so that which is my very own because of my power is common between us through your participation.

And upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. On this strong foundation, he says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith; the chains of death shall not bind it. Its words are the words of life. As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they send down to hell those who contradict them.

Blessed Peter is therefore told: To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth is also bound in heaven. Whatever you lose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.

The authority vested in this power passed also to the other apostles, and the institution established by this decree has been continued in all the leaders of the Church. But it is not without good reason that what is bestowed on all is entrusted to one. For Peter received it separately in trust because he is the prototype set before all the rulers of the Church.
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Stational Church: Thursday after Ash Wednesday
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Today's Stational Church is at St. George in Velabro.

Information is from the Canon Regulars of St. John Cantius:
Just a short distance from St. Sabina stands our second stational church, St. George in Velabro. The church dates back to the year 500, but was reconstructed under Leo II (682-683). This church is one of the original 25 diaconal seats of the Roman church. The head of this warrior Saint is preserved under the high altar.

The purpose of Holy Lent is to bring about a spiritual renovation. This work of renovation is accomplished by both God and man; by God, principally through the holy Eucharist; by man, mainly by fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. May our stational patron, St. George, helps us to overcome the dragon of inertia in our prayer life and to cast again with new fervor our cares upon the Lord.

Let us pray: O God, who by sin art offended and by penance appeased, mercifully regard the prayers of Thy suppliant people, and turn away the scourges of Thy wrath, which we deserve for our sins. Through Christ, Our Lord.
Amen.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Stational Church: Ash Wednesday
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Today's Stational Church is at St. Sabina at the Aventine in Rome. For information on this devotion, see Catholic Culture. I will post on each Stational Church for Lent.

Information is from the Canon Regulars of St. John Cantius:

Remember man that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return.

If there is any place in Rome where Lent, with its atmosphere of penitential solitude mixes with the reawakening of spring, then it must be along this path which climbs up from the Circus Maximus towards the Aventine, on the top of which stands the Church of St. Sabina.

In God's name then let us go up to the holy mount. Is it not significant that the first Lenten mystery is celebrated on a mount, the Aventine? Already in pre-Christian days this hill was an asylum for refugees, a post of security. To St. Sabina—a martyr, converted to the faith by the prayers, fasts and example of her Christian servant—we entrust ourselves today. To her we have recourse in our sinfulness. She will present her martyrdom and her prayers to God on our behalf and obtain His blessing upon our Christian warfare, so that "we may be converted to God with our whole heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning, and rend our hearts and not our garments, and turn to the Lord, our God."

Let us pray: Grant, O Lord, to Thy faithful people that they may begin the venerable solemnities of fasting with becoming piety, and may persevere to the end with steadfast devotion. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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The Dignity of Choice
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I suggest all pro-lifers check out an interesting post at Aggie Catholic called "The Dignity of Choice.
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Today is Ash Wednesday
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This is a day of mandatory abstinence and fasting (Can. 1251). All Catholics aged 14 or old must abstain from meat on this day (Can. 1252). Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.

However, for those between 18 and 59 years of age (Can. 1252), they are bound to fast on Ash Wednesday. On this day one normal-sized meal and two smaller meals that do not equal the normal meal are allowed. Eating between meals, however, is prohibited although fruit juices and milk are allowed.

These rules are much more lenient than centuries past. If you can, truly make your fasting a sacrifice.
Mass is not required today, but I hope that many of you will go to receive your ashes. For information on the origin of ashs and Ash Wednesday, see this link.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Fat Tuesday Prayer
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Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for it is from your goodness that we have this day to celebrate on the threshold of the Season of Lent.

Tomorrow we will begin our fast of 40 long days. Today we feast. We thank you for the abundance of gifts you shower upon us. We thank you especially for one another. As we give you thanks, we are mindful of those who have so much less than we do. As we share these wonderful gifts together, we commit ourselves to greater generosity toward those who need our support.

Prepare us for tomorrow. Tasting the fullness of what we have today, let us experience some hunger tomorrow. May our fasting make us more alert and may it heighten our consciousness so that we might be ready to hear your Word and respond to your call.

As our feasting fills us with gratitude so may our fasting and abstinence hollow out in us a place for deeper desires and an attentiveness to hear the cry of the poor. May our self-denial turn our hearts to you and give us a new freedom for generous service to others. We ask you these graces with our hearts full of delight and stirring with readiness for the journey ahead. We ask them with confidence in the name of Jesus the Lord.

(Source)
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Episcopal Archbishop Becomes Catholic
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Below is an excerpt from Catholic Online that I found on Argent by the Tiber. I am always joyful when reading about protestant leaders that become Catholic:

Randolph W. Sly, former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church and one of the early founders of the CEC in 1992, was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, along with his wife, Sandra, on November 12, 2006 at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia.

Sly indicated this decision came from an extended time of discernment for the two of them. “We were at a point last summer personally and ecclesiastically in the CEC where I felt a change was coming. Sandy and I had found ourselves moving deeper into catholic Christianity during our tenure in the CEC. More recently, the draw toward full communion in the Roman Catholic Church had grown greater and became a very strong call in the six months prior to our conversion. We are delighted to continue our service to Jesus Christ and His Church as Catholics.”

Fr. James Kauffmann, Pastor of St. Benedict Catholic Church issued the following statement: “It was my great joy to receive Randy and Sandy Sly into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church at the Divine Liturgy at Saint Benedict Catholic Parish on November 12, 2006. What a glorious day it was! It was also a wonderful gift to, along with Deacon Keith Fournier, work with the Sly's during their period of catechesis leading up to their reception. Their love for the Lord and the ancient yet ever fresh Catholic Faith is an inspiration. Their prior years of service to the Lord have only prepared them for what lies ahead as they respond to God's continuing invitation to serve Him in the New Evangelization called for by the late Servant of God John Paul II. We welcome them home and eagerly anticipate all that lies ahead for them in the fullness of Catholic faith.”

More
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Monday, February 19, 2007
Benedict XVI Extols Sacrament of Penance
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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org) - The baptized need to rediscover the sacrament of reconciliation so that they can experience "the boundless renewing power of divine love," says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today when receiving in audience Cardinal James Stafford, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, with the prelates and officials of that tribunal, as well as the penitentiary fathers of the patriarchal basilicas of Rome.

"In the gesture of absolution, uttered in the name and on account of the Church, the confessor becomes the conscious means of a wonderful event of grace," the Holy Father said in his address.

"On adhering with docility to the magisterium of the Church, he becomes minister of the consoling mercy of God, makes the reality of sin manifest and at the same time the boundless renewing power of divine love, a love that gives life again," the Pontiff added.

Thus confession becomes "a spiritual rebirth, which transforms the penitent into a new creature," he stated.

Only God

Benedict XVI continued: "Only God can realize this miracle of grace, and he does so through the words and gestures of the priest. On experiencing the Lord's tenderness and forgiveness, the penitent more easily acknowledges the gravity of sin and reinforces his decision to avoid it and to remain and grow in his renewed friendship with him.

"In virtue of presbyterial ordination, the confessor carries out a particular service 'in persona Christi.'"

The Holy Father invited priests to also experience God's forgiveness: "Given such a lofty responsibility, human strength is undoubtedly inadequate."

The Pope continued: "We cannot preach forgiveness and reconciliation to others, if we are not personally penetrated by it.

"Christ has chosen us, dear priests, to be the only ones who can forgive sins in his name: Therefore, it is a specific ecclesial service to which we must give priority."

"How many people in difficulties seek the support and consolation of Christ!" Benedict XVI added. "How many penitents find the peace and joy in confession that they have been pursuing for a long time! How can we not acknowledge that also in our time, marked by so many religious and social challenges, this sacrament must be rediscovered and proposed again."

Image Source: REUTERS/Tony Gentile (VATICAN), Photo from the Angelus Address on February 11, 2007
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Looking for Charities
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March Update: I have found two charities. Thank you!

Original Post: I've been planning to post about this for a long time now, but I have never got around to it. I have a few minutes to spare, so I wanted to know if my blog readers could help me.

For the past few years I've been saving pop cans. I take them to a recycling center near me and in addition to helping the environment, I get a little bit of money in return. Well, I also have been saving the pop can tabs from the cans. I probably have several hundred if not over a thousand pop tabs now since I started this a couple of years ago.

I was hoping someone knows of a charity that could benefit from these pop can tabs. I know the Ronald McDonald society uses them, but I really wanted to contribute to a Catholic charity. Does anyone know of any charities that will accept pop can tabs?

Also, does anyone know of an traditional Catholic school that accepts Box Tops for Education if I mailed them?
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What should I give up for Lent?
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If you are asking yourself that question, check out Tan Book's Pious Practices Document (defunct now). It offers a great number of suggestions on what to give up and what practices to develop all as part of Lenten penance. I'm going to print the 3 page document out and do various items on the list as Lent progresses.

The Document starts out with words from Holy Scripture including Jesus's words in Luke 13:3 "Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish." Whether it is giving up the Internet or attending more Masses and praying the Rosary, all of us can do some penance this Lent.

New Link at Catholic Apologetics
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St. Leo the Great on Lent
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Use Lent to vanquish the enemy, and be thus preparing for Eastertide. Accordingly, dearly-beloved, that we may be able to overcome all our enemies, let us seek Divine aid by the observance of the heavenly bidding, knowing that we cannot otherwise prevail against our adversaries, unless we prevail against our own selves. For we have many encounters with our own selves: the flesh desires one thing against the spirit, and the spirit another thing against the flesh. And in this disagreement, if the desires of the body be stronger, the mind will disgracefully lose its proper dignity, and it will be most disastrous for that to serve which ought to have ruled. But if the mind, being subject to its Ruler, and delighting in gifts from above, shall have trampled under foot the allurements of earthly pleasure, and shall not have allowed sin to reign in its mortal body, reason will maintain a well-ordered supremacy, and its strongholds no strategy of spiritual wickednesses will cast down: because man has then only true peace and true freedom when the flesh is ruled by the judgment of the mind, and the mind is directed by the will of God. And although this state of preparedness, dearly-beloved, should always be maintained that our ever-watchful foes may be overcome by unceasing diligence, yet now it must be the more anxiously sought for and the more zealously cultivated when the designs of our subtle foes themselves are conducted with keener craft than ever. For knowing that the most hollowed days of Lent are now at hand, in the keeping of which all past slothfulnesses are chastised, all negligences alerted for, they direct all the force of their spite on this one thing, that they who intend to celebrate the Lord's holy Passover may be found unclean in some matter, and that cause of offence may arise where propitiation ought to have been obtained.

Fights are necessary to prove our faith. As we approach then, dearly-beloved, the beginning of Lent, which is a time for the more careful serving of the Lord, because we are, as it were, entering on a kind of contest in good works, let us prepare our souls for fighting with temptations, and understand that the more zealous we are for our salvation, the more determined must be the assaults of our opponents. But "stronger is He that is in us than He that is against us," and through Him are we powerful in whose strength we rely: because it was for this that the LORD allowed Himself to be tempted by the tempter, that we might be taught by His example as well as fortified by His aid. For He conquered the adversary, as ye have heard, by quotations from the law, not by actual strength, that by this very thing He might do greater honour to man, and inflict a greater punishment on the adversary by conquering the enemy of the human race not now as God but as Man. He fought then, therefore, that we too might fight thereafter: He conquered that we too might likewise conquer. For there are no works of power, dearly-beloved, without the trials of temptations, there is no faith without proof, no contest without a foe, no victory without conflict. This life of ours is in the midst of snares, in the midst of battles; if we do not wish to be deceived, we must watch: if we want to overcome, we must fight. And therefore the most wise Solomon says, "My son in approaching the service of God prepare thy soul for temptation." For He being a man full of the wisdom of God, and knowing that the pursuit of religion involves laborious struggles, foreseeing too the danger of the fight, forewarned the intending combatant; lest haply, if the tempter came upon him in his ignorance, he might find him unready and wound him unawares.

- Excerpted from Sermon 39, St. Leo the Great
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Sunday, February 18, 2007
Anglican Church may reunite with Rome
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March 12 Update: No plans to reunite according to Archbishop of Canterbury

Feb 20 Update: Unity is unlikely per CathNews

Original Post: I found this online:

Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt.

The proposals have been agreed by senior bishops of both churches.

In a 42-page statement prepared by an international commission of both churches, Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope.

The statement, leaked to The Times, is being considered by the Vatican, where Catholic bishops are preparing a formal response.



I am extremely excited and hopeful that we truly will move closer to Our Lord's wish for their to be "one flock and one shepherd." As long as we do not compromise our beliefs, this truly will be a remarkable event if it leads to reuinfication.

An example of an Anglican-use parish is Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church.

Photo: Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church
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30 Days of Prayer to St. Joseph
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Today begins the Thirty Days Prayer to Saint Joseph, in preparation for St. Joseph's feastday on March 19. I strongly suggest a person starts this devotion. It would also be a good spiritual practice during Lent.

Via Tea at Trianon
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Words of Inspiration: February 18
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St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi:

"All our strength, ability and work come from the Blood of Jesus Christ, who transforms the old Adam into the new man."

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's Calvary and the Mass:

"Our Lord finished His work, but we have not finished ours. He pointed the way we must follow. He laid down the Cross at the finish, but we must take it up. He finished Redemption in His physical Body, but we have not finished it in His Mystical Body. He has finished salvation, we have not yet applied it to our souls. He has finished the Temple, but we must live in it. He has finished the model Cross, we must fashion ours to its pattern. He has finished sowing the seed, we must reap the harvest. He has finished filling the chalice, but we have not finished drinking its refreshing draughts. He has planted the wheat field; we must gather it into our barns. He has finished the sacrifice of Calvary; we must finish the Mass. The Crucifixion was not meant to be an inspirational drama, but a pattern act on which to model our lives. We are not meant to sit and watch the Cross as something done and ended . . . What was done on Calvary avails for us only in the degree that we repeat it in our own lives."

Blessed Mother Teresa:

"Be not afraid of the life of sacrifice."
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Gospel: February 18, 2007
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Today we hear Our Lord's words in the Gospel: "Love your enemies." With this coming Wednesday being the official start of Lent, it is an appropriate time to begin much additional penance as well as learning to forgive our enemies. Here is the Gospel reading:

Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.

And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.

But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

Luke 6:27-38


Upon hearing this Gospel proclaimed, we should realize that Our Lord makes numerous demands of His servents and followers. Catholicism is not easy just as the road to Heaven is narrow and laden with rocks and thorns. It is hard, and consequently, we must constantly do Our Lord's will and fight against the ploys of Satan.

Yet, as my priest pointed out in his homily this morning, the hardest command of Jesus is not "love your enemies". Rather, the hardest command in today's reading is simply, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Notice the capitalized word of "Father". It is referring to Our Heavenly Father - God the Father. And this truly is the most difficult command by Jesus when He instructs us to be merciful just as the Father is merciful. How merciful is God the Father? His mercy is without end! Not only did He create us in His own image, but He sent His Son, truly God Himself, to earth to die on the Cross. And what does Jesus say on the Cross? As Jesus mounts the tree for our salvation, He says, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". Jesus not only dies for us, but He makes excuses for our sins, and how many times have we continued to sin against His Commandments!

We are to imitate that love and forgiveness displayed on the Cross.

My priest concluded with the story of St. Thomas More, a honorable man executed under the order of King Henry VIII because St. Thomas More refused to publically accept Henry VIII's divorce and creation of the Anglican (Church of England) Religion. For his refusal, he was imprisoned for 15 months, where he wrote and frequently prayed and performed penance. When he was sent to death, he gave to his executioner the last amount of money he had as a tip. And St. Thomas More, who was once the Chancellor of England, was executed. Before his execution, though, he spoke once more to the executioner and said to him along these words: "Do not hesistate to do your job. You send me to God."

That is an example of how to love your enemies.
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Suggestions for a Holy Lent
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Here is a list of suggestions from the Real Presence Association:
1) Meditation on the Gospel narratives of Christ's Passion.
2) Spiritual reading of books like Goodier's Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Abbot Marmion's The Way of the Cross, Edward Leen's Why the Cross?, Fulton Sheen's Seven Words on the Cross.
3) Recitation of prayers like Soul of Christ Sanctify Me.
4) Besides making the daily Way of the Cross, encouraging others to make the Stations at least on Fridays during Lent.
5) Having some symbol of Christ's Passion, like the crucifix or picture of the crucifix within easy eye vision to remind us of the Passion at odd moments of the day.
6) Having some short aspiration which is recited (at least mentally) a few times during the day, like, "My Jesus Crucified," or "Heart of Jesus, obedient unto death, have mercy on us."
7) Occasionally reciting the Litany of the Precious Blood.
8) Spending some extra time before the Blessed Sacrament, asking Our Lord to grow in the understanding of His continued Passion now in the Church, which is His Mystical Body on earth!
9) Making an occasional entry into one's spiritual journal about, "How much the Passion of Christ means to me."

I also must suggest a reading program I found that is set up so that participants, after the 40 days of Lent, will have read 10 Church Father's writings. See their site for more information (pdf).
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Saturday, February 17, 2007
Should holy water be removed during Lent?
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Q: Should holy water be removed from the holy water fonts during Lent?

A: No.

Previously, the choice would rest up each bishop as to whether or not holy water would be removed from holy water fonts. However, the Vatican has recently issued a decree on this matter. Specifically, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has recently addressed this question and issued a negative response:

"1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being praeter legem [beyond the law] is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.

"2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the [sic] of her sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday)."

Source: Catholics United for the Faith
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What is the Origin of Lent?
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Essentially, Lent is a biblical concept. Lent is a period of 40 days of penance in preparation for the solemn celebration of the Lord's Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Jesus, before beginning His earthly public ministry, fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights (Mt. 4:1-11). As the Gospel continually reaffirms, penance is an important part of repentance (Mk. 1:15 cf. Mt. 6:16-18). And, Jesus provided us with the example of fasting for 40 days and nights.

The concept of 40 days existing as a preparation was seen by Elijah, who fasted and journeyed to Horeb for 40 days (1 Kings 19:8). There are dozens of other references to the number 40 in the Old Testament.

The Catholic Fact Book, copyright 1986 by John Deedy, published by Thomas More Press, page 360:

Lent is the 40-day period (Sundays excluded) prior to Easter, which the church observes as a penitential season. It begins on Ash Wednesday (which can occur any time between February 4 and March 11, depending upon the date of Easter), and it concludes with the Passiontide, the two-week period during which the church's liturgy follows Christ's activity closely through the final stages of his life on earth. These two weeks are called Passion Week and Holy Week. It was once claimed that the Lenten practice was of apostolic origin, but historians fix its establishment at a later date, probably the 5th century. Catholics are required to fast and are urged to adopt other penitential modes during the season.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church:

540 ... "For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning" [Heb 4:15]. By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.
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Seven Founders of the Servite Order
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Today is their feastday, and I suggest readers look to my post from last year for information on them.
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Roman Catholics to become largest denomination in UK
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From Catholic World News:

London, Feb. 16, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Roman Catholics will soon become the largest religious group in Great Britain, outnumbering Anglicans for the first time since the Reformation, the London Times reports.

Weekly Mass attendance at Catholic parishes now stands at about 1 million, roughly equal to the number attending Anglican services. But the Catholic population of Britain is steadily expanding, mostly because of immigration, while the Anglican community is in decline, the Times observes.


I'd be interested in hearing opinions from any of my readers from Great Britain.
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Words of Inspiration: February 17
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Remember, Ash Wednesday, which falls on this coming Wednesday, is a mandatory day of fasting and abstinence. For more information on this and other Lenten issues, please see my page: Everything Lent.

"The soul must have two inner eyes, one to know the enormity of one’s defects and the other to see always the good things it receives from God, the little advantage it draws from these whereas others draw greater advantage from them" (St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi)

"In pure love, there is room for everything: the highest praise and the deepest adoration, yet the soul is immersed in Him in deepest peace through love; and the words of people, speaking from the exterior, have no effect upon that soul. What they tell the soul about God is but a pale shadow in comparison to its own experience of Him; and it is often surprised how other people can be struck with admiration at what someone else says about God when, for this soul, it is nothing special, as it knows that what can be put into words is not yet that great. So this soul listens to everything with respect, but has its own special life in God" (947, St Faustina).

"Jesus loved and still loves the unwanted and the unloved. He loves them deeply. He died for them" (Blessed Mother Teresa)
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Friday, February 16, 2007
Lent is Approaching
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News reports indicate that Pope Benedict XVI will preside at Mass on Ash Wednesday in the basilica of Santa Sabina. The Holy Father will begin with an period of prayer in the church of St. Anselm, and then he will join the cardinals and bishops of Rome as well as the Benedictine Monks of St. Anselm in a penitential procession to Santa Sabina.

Remember, Ash Wednesday, which falls on this coming Wednesday, is a mandatory day of fasting and abstinence. For more information on this and other Lenten issues, please see my page: Everything Lent.

Photo: Last year's procession via Argent by the Tiber
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Thursday, February 15, 2007
Adding More Blogs to My Sidebar
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Over the nearly two years that I have been blogging, I have added a wide array of blogs over in my sidebar. All of them still at least post on Catholicism and are faithful to the Catholic Faith as taught by the magesterium.

I would like to invite my readers to submit their blogs. If I have not added you to my list of blogs, please post below. I hope to post more blogs in my sidebar. I've come into contact with so many great bloggers that it is very hard to remember to add blogs to my sidebar, so I sometimes forget about them. So, please post below; however, the blog must deal with Catholicism in some way.

Also, if you are a person planning to enter the Church at the Easter Vigil this year, please let me know. I write a special post for those people each year, and I want to start planning during this coming Lent.
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To You, My Jesus
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"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)


After doing some Internet searching tonight, I was very saddened by what I found. As I stumbled upon Myspace, I found countless users that claim to be atheists or agnostics. I found pagans and scientologists. I found a few Catholics who obviously didn't follow the faith since they cursed using our Lord's Holy Name in vain on that page. I found not only faithful Catholic - not a single one.

I was reminded of the account of Abraham speaking to the Lord in Genesis 18:20-32. There the Lord promised to spare Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction even if there were as little as ten righteous people left. Yet, as we know, the cities were destroyed because not even ten God-fearing men could be found. Is our world today any better?

I wonder what will happen in our world today. So many people do not believe and live there lives away from God seeking happiness and money - all without God. They will fail in this life and be condemned in the life to come. Then there are people even more horrifying - those that truly hate God and chastity and all things holy. They seek to destroy it. These people are corrupted by the devil. They too shall fail. For hell is not just intense pain, it is more terrible than that. Hell is painful not because God seeks to torture souls. No, not at all. Rather, the souls that go to Hell go there because it is the one place that God is not present. And the deprivation of God's love is the torture suffered by those souls. They rejected the Holy Church and refused to turn aside from sinful ways. These people turned away from God and earned what they had all along - a life without God.

St. Catherine received a vision of the devil once from Our Lord. And she told Him that she would rather walk on burning coals for the rest of eternity than go to hell and look upon the devil's face for one more moment. For in hell, the condemned will look on the face of satan, the father of lies, for all eternity. There truly shall be no end. This is the faith of those that ignore God, hate God, and die in the state of mortal sin.

So now I sit here gazing at the Crucifix contemplating his most precious wounds and the blood loss and pain He endured. Yet He endured that suffering for me as much as for each one of those people hate Him. And even if one of those people had been the only one to ever exist, Jesus would have mounted that cross just for him too. I once saw a picture in store. In the photo a little girl was looking up to Heaven and asked, "How much do you love me, Jesus?" Jesus answered, "I love you this much," and then He opened up His arms and died.

I am re-posting the rest:

I ask you to say this prayer for all that still live in darkness and do not see the great joy of Jesus Christ!

Dear Lord:

On the night before your passion you were taken from us, beaten and mocked and condemned to death. Bound and beaten on your precious head, the very head that lay in a beautiful manager in Bethlehem. Your back was ripped open in the Scourging, and on the road to Calvary so many hated you; you almost died on the way. Your precious face was disfigured - your body beaten and ripped apart. O Lord, your precious hands which worked so many wonders, were pierced. On that day Lord, you liberated me. May your blessings be upon me and transform me on my pilgrimage to Life Everlasting. May the grace and joy of Christmas and Easter enkindle an eternal flame in my heart for love of you and neighbor that shall never abate. And, permit me O Lord, to die in love of Thee for Thou hast died for love of me.

O Lord, so many hate you. So many call you false and a liar. So many pretend as if you ascended to Heaven and left us here - alone. So many pretend the Eucharist is not truly YOU. So many hate the good of your Church and deny your eternal word of scripture; so many utter lies against your faithful. Lord, so many ignore you. They refuse to acknowledge you, and they practice political correctness instead of acknowledging You as the only God to have worked wonders. But, You, O Lord, are the only truth. You are the only light on our journey. If I died today, would I be no more? No! For the miracles you worked are forever recorded in scripture, the miracle of the Eucharist is ever before us. May your light shine upon those that hate you Lord. For, O Lord, your skin was ripped open for them. Your blood poured forth from your heart for them. It was by your Cross alone we are saved. The God of all Creation truly took flesh and mounted a tree to redeem our disfigured race. What love! And what greater love is there than truly giving yourself to me in the Holy Eucharist each and every Mass!

Lord, you need nothing as You alone are perfect. Please, permit me, if you will, to offer up the sacrifices in my life to you in reparation for those that hate you, my best friend, my Love, my All. O Lord, you let your apostles help you in the miracles of the loaves, permit me to offer my small sacrifices in union with Your perfect gift on the Cross. May my sufferings offered for you bring one soul to the truth of your Church. O Lord, grant that my work may produce much fruit and at the end, when I leave this world, you may say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Lord, I love you. Forgive us all, my Crucified Lord. Forgive us, for you are the Savior of the World.

Amen

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The Council of Trent: Part 1
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I have recently purchased a copy of the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent on CD-ROM. In addition, I have obtained a copy of "The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent" translated and introduced by Reverend H.J. Schroeder, O.P. Since no decrees of a Council may ever be contradicted, and since the Council of Trent has profoundly impacted the Church, I feel it is proper to study the anathemas issued by the Council.

First and foremost, "anathema" is defined thusly
"After the time of the apostolic church, the term anathema has come to mean a form of extreme religious sanction beyond excommunication, known as major excommunication. The earliest recorded instance of the form is in the Council of Elvira (c. 306), and thereafter it became the common method of cutting off heretics. Cyril of Alexandria issued twelve anathemas against Nestorius in 431. In the fifth century, a formal distinction between anathema and excommunication evolved, where excommunication entailed cutting off a person or group from the rite of Eucharist and attendance at worship, while anathema meant a complete separation of the subject from the Church."

Background:

The Council of Trent convened three times between December 13, 1545 and December 4, 1563 in the city of Trent, Italy. It opened primarily as a response to the theological errors by the Protestant Reformation and to clearly specify Catholic doctrines on such subjects as salvation, the Seven Sacraments, the Biblical canon, and the standardizing of the Mass.

The following is the first set of anathemas to come out of the Council. These come from the Fifth Session celebrated on June 17, 1546, which dealt with the topic of original sin. Additional posts will follow as this will be a regular series on my blog. It is important that we believe exactly what the Catholic Church teaches, so it is important to study the anathemas issued by the Council.

Fifth Session:

1. If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and that he incurred, through the offence of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse; let him be anathema.

2. If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema:--whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.

3. If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam,--which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own, --is taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, santification, and redemption; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the church; let him be anathema: For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved. Whence that voice; Behold the lamb of God behold him who taketh away the sins of the world; and that other; As many as have been baptized, have put on Christ.

4. If any one denies, that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs, even though they be sprung from baptized parents, are to be baptized; or says that they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which has need of being expiated by the laver of regeneration for the obtaining life everlasting,--whence it follows as a consequence, that in them the form of baptism, for the remission of sins, is understood to be not true, but false, --let him be anathema. For that which the apostle has said, By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned, is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere hath always understood it. For, by reason of this rule of faith, from a tradition of the apostles, even infants, who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this cause truly baptized for the remission of sins, that in them that may be cleansed away by regeneration, which they have contracted by generation. For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

5. If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only rased, or not imputed; let him be anathema. For, in those who are born again, there is nothing that God hates; because, There is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death; who walk not according to the flesh, but, putting off the old man, and putting on the new who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ; so that there is nothing whatever to retard their entrance into heaven. But this holy synod confesses and is sensible, that in the baptized there remains concupiscence, or an incentive (to sin); which, whereas it is left for our exercise, cannot injure those who consent not, but resist manfully by the grace of Jesus Christ; yea, he who shall have striven lawfully shall be crowned. This concupiscence, which the apostle sometimes calls sin, the holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood it to be called sin, as being truly and properly sin in those born again, but because it is of sin, and inclines to sin.
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