Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Cross of Christ Gives Meaning to this World --St. Newman

“[T]he death of the Eternal Word of God made flesh..., [His Cross], our great lesson how to think and how to speak of this world... It has given a meaning to the various, shifting course, the trials, the temptations, the sufferings, of [man's] earthly state. [The Cross of Christ] has brought together and made consistent all that seemed discordant and aimless. It has taught us how to live, how to use this world, what to expect, what to desire, what to hope. [Christ and His Cross] is the tone into which all the strains of this world's music are ultimately to be resolved.

“Look around, and see what the world presents of high and low. Go to the court of princes. See the treasure and skill of all nations brought together to honour [the children of men]. Observe the prostration of the many before the few. Consider the form and ceremonial, the pomp, the state, the circumstance; and the vain-glory. Do you wish to know the worth of it all? look at the Cross of Christ.

“Go to the political world: see nation jealous of nation, trade rivalling trade, armies and fleets matched against each other. Survey the various ranks of the community, its parties and their contests, the strivings of the ambitious, the intrigues of the crafty. What is the end of all this turmoil? the grave. What is the measure? the Cross.

“Go, again, to the world of intellect and science: consider the wonderful discoveries which the human mind is making, the variety of arts to which its discoveries give rise, the all but miracles by which it shows its power; and next, the pride and confidence of reason, and the absorbing devotion of thought to transitory objects, which is the consequence. Would you form a right judgment of all this? look at the Cross.

“Again: look at misery, look at poverty and destitution, look at oppression and captivity; go where food is scanty, and lodging unhealthy. Consider pain and suffering, diseases long or violent, all that is frightful and revolting. Would you know how to rate all these? gaze upon the Cross.

“Thus in the Cross, and Him who hung upon it, all things meet; all things subserve it, all things need it. It is their centre and their interpretation. For [Christ, this Holy Week, the most Holy Week,] was lifted up upon it, that He might draw all men and all things unto Him.”

"The Cross of Christ, The Measure of the World: Sixth Sunday of Lent" in John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1997, 1240-1241.

Plinthos: The Cross of Christ gives meaning to this world. That is why all men need the Mass and the Catholic sacraments above every thing in the world. The Mass, the administration of the seven sacraments, and public Catholic worship are not “dispensable, non-essential activity.” To say that would be a terrible blasphemy, because the right worship of God is the only essential work!, because the Cross of Christ is the meaning of the world. It is the meaning of every true nobility, of every wealth, of every real power, of all knowledge and technology; it gives meaning to every poverty, to every sickness, to every death and to every life. And the Mass is the trans-historical holy sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, every spiritual gift comes to the world from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. People need the Mass! The world needs the Mass. The Church Herself, all men united to God, in spirit and in truth, comes from the Mass. Ecclesia Ipsa de Eucharistia est!

I delivered this Palm Sunday sermon of mine today at the end of the Missa Cantata which is available online here. Go to minute 1:47:05 for the sermon.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Pastor's Text-Message for Souls During Covid-19 Lockdown

This is a punishment from the Most Holy Trinity. The sins and rebellion worldwide against His Divine Majesty has brought down His justice. It is an act of His mercy and infinite love calling us back to Him.

This plague only serves a purpose for each soul if that person truly repents of his sins. This diabolical independence and self sufficient state of the human will is a fantasy and a lie. “Without me you can do nothing.” Deadly is lukewarmness among so many Catholics. Indifferent to our Lord and God. I sense it in so many at our parish. Their hearts are stone. The Holy Spirit prompts, knocks, invites to repentance and He cannot enter. I suffer in my soul because of this. Souls running into hell and not thirsting for the Beatific Vision.

The economy has been decimated. So many of our parishioners are out of work. The worst is no sacraments, confessions, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, No Eucharist. Etc.

God is like a loving Father forcing His children to think and meditate on the only thing that matters: His truth. That is reality. God is real. Everything outside of that is false.

So many good people here at our parish of deep faith who truly suffer for loss of the sacraments.

We will come to a point soon where we cannot pay our bills. All I can do is say: “Jesus I hope in you and trust in you”

Despite this great cross from God, I am serene and at peace. I am certain that a singular grace will touch the hearts of some of the most unlikely who have not gone to confession or Mass in many years will return to the fold.

Only thru the Immaculate Conception, will the plague end and the Most Holy Trinity will pour out his graces to us thru her Immaculate Heart. God bless you. Pray for me. Give my best to everyone. In the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Father X.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Visiting Church, Valid Reason to Go Out --Italian Prime Minister

Question: "Can we leave home to go to church or to other places of worship?"

Answer: "Access to places of worship is allowed, as long as gatherings are avoided and a distance of no less than three feet between the visitors is ensured. It is permissible to visit the place of worship closest to home, keeping such movement, as far as possible, in the vicinity of one's home.

Places of worship can also be visited on the occasion of movements otherwise permitted, i.e. those determined by essential work needs or necessities, and which are on the way, so that, in an inspection by officials one should make that intention intention know. However, the suspension of all ceremonies, even religious ones, remains firm."

Plinthos: This clarification by the Italian government also implies that priests may randomly say Mass on the churches' altars and hear confessions in the confessionals, keeping the required distance and not forming a crowd. A priest with a few people might also make a procession in the neighborhood to pray for an end to the plague, en route to the nearby church.


Domanda: “Ci si può spostare per andare in chiesa o negli altri luoghi di culto?”

Risposta: “L’accesso ai luoghi di culto è consentito, purché si evitino assembramenti e si assicuri tra i frequentatori la distanza non inferiore a un metro. È possibile raggiungere il luogo di culto più vicino a casa, intendendo tale spostamento per quanto possibile nelle prossimità della propria abitazione.

Possono essere altresì raggiunti i luoghi di culto in occasione degli spostamenti comunque consentiti, cioè quelli determinati da comprovate esigenze lavorative o da necessità, e che si trovino lungo il percorso già previsto, in modo che, in caso di controllo da parte delle forze dell’ordine, si possa esibire o rendere la prevista autodichiarazione. Resta ferma tuttavia la sospensione di tutte le cerimonie, anche religiose”.

Presidents and the Stock Market

C. Coolridge (+237%),
B. Clinton (+222%),
F.D. Roosevelt (+162%),
Ronald Reagan (+154%) and
D. Eisenhower (+116%) were the best presidents for the "Dow," ([Charles] Dow [Edward T.] Jones Industrial Average).

H. Hoover (-79%), R. Nixon (-16%), J. Carter (-16%), W. Harding (+14%) and G.W. Bush (+19%) were the worst.

D. Trump's record, between +20% (today) and +66% (at his highest), is average.

1933 to 1968 the Dow increased 1,444%. 1980 to 2000 saw an 1,227% increase.

Plinthos decided to do this comparison because the fake news stations talk so much about the stock market but never give critical analysis of it. It is helpful to put things in perspective.
Below is a list of each president of the past century and the value of the Dow at the beginning and at the end of his term, with the percentage differences.

D. Trump (2017-Present)   
April  2020 21.41K (-27%)       (+20% since April 2016)
Feb.   2020 29.42K (+40%)      [+66% since April 2016]
April 2017 20.94K (+12%)

B. Obama (2009-2017)       
April 2016 17.77K  (+15%)      (+38% since April 2008)
  May 2013 15.35K  (+86%)
  May 2009   8.27K  (-36%)

G.W. Bush (2001-2009)
April 2008 12.89K   (+27%)     (+19% since April 2000)
 May 2005  10.14K  ( -.063%)
 May 2001  10.82K  ( -.018%)

B. Clinton (1993-2001)
April 2000  10.84K  (+51%)    (+222% since April 1992)
 May 1997   7.17K   (+108%)
 May 1993   3.44K   (+2.1%)

G.H.W. Bush (1989-1993)
April 1992   3.37K  (+42%)     (+68% since April 1988)
  May 1989  2.38K  (+18%)

R. Reagan (1981-1989)
April 1988   2.01K (+61%)      (+154% since April 1980)
 May 1895   1.25K (+25%)
 May 1981   1.00K (+27%)

J. Carter (1977-1981)
April 1980    817 (+9%)           (-16% since May 1976)
 May 1977    899 (-7.8%)

G. Ford (1974-1977)
 May 1976     975 (+17%)        (+22% since May 1974)
 May 1975     832 (3.7%)

R. Nixon (1969-1974)
May 1974     802 (-14%)          (-16% since Oct. 1968)
May 1969     938 (-1.5%)

L.B. Johnson (1963-1969)
Oct. 1968      952 (+17%)         (+26% since Oct. 1963)
March 1964  813 (+7.7%)

J.K. Kennedy (1961-1963)
Oct. 1963     755 (+8.3%)         (+30% since Oct. 1960)
May 1961     697 (+20%)

D.D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
Oct. 1960     580 (+113%)        (+116% since Oct. 1952)
May 1953    272 (+1.1%)

H. Truman (1945-1953)
Oct. 1952     269 (+65%)          (+68% since Jan. 1945)
July 1945     163 (+1.9%)

F.D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
Jan. 1945     160 (+63%)           (+162% since Jan. 1933)
June 1933      98 (+61%)

H. Hoover (1929-1933)
Jan. 1933       61 (-81%)          (-79% since Nov. 1928)
April 1929   319 (+8.9%)

C. Coolridge (1923-1929)
Nov. 1928     293(+205%)       (+237% since May 1923)
Dec. 1923      96 (+10%)

W. Harding (1921-1923)
May 1923      87 (+23%)          (+14% since Nov. 1920)
June 1921      68 (-11%)

W. Wilson (1913-1921)
Nov. 1920     76 (38%)
Feb. 1915     55

Episcopal/Pastoral Overreach: No Palms!

A bishop is saying there will be no palms on Palm Sunday. Surely he has not thought the matter out. There is a simple solution. Let all households have their palm Sunday processions. Use branches and handkerchiefs (to represent the cloaks laid before Christ).

I recommend to all practicing Catholics households throughout the world, and all men of good will who promote true religion, to dress in their Sunday best and go out on Palm Sunday (this Sunday), randomly, reading and singing the ritual of the Palm Sunday Procession, led by the father of the family, the oldest able male (or in the absence of a male, the oldest able woman) and everyone waving handkerchiefs and/or picking twigs from the nearest trees/bushes and praying and singing and processing around the block then inside.

Use any convenient branches for now. We traditionally use branches from palm trees. In Rome they use olive branches. The branches of your yard can serve as an emergency substitute for those till you can get something more legit, later in the year. If you have holy water you can even sprinkle the kerchiefs and the branches and the people with holy water.

No bishop in the world has authority to forbid all of the Catholic faithful from Mass, the sacraments or the church if they can reasonably come. And, of course, he cannot forbid households of faithful from taking up branches and handkerchiefs to walk with Christ in triumphal entry to Jerusalem.

While we are at it, I think that perhaps just as good as watching Mass and the Triduum on television is for Catholics to do those rituals at home as dignified as possible, giving people proper roles. You are allowed to read and do everything except of course the consecration and consummation of the Eucharist and no blessing with the hands the way the priest does it. Imagine the father of the family kneeling to do the ritual washing of the feet of the entire household! Instead of the priest's blessing the head of the household should bless the children with the thumb on the forehead of each making the sign of the cross.

Fathers of families need to take the lead in this time of ecclesial crisis. The world is pretending we don't need priests or the Catholic ritual, suspend the sacraments and close the churches. Catholics need to do Catholic rituals physically, because man is composed as body and soul! We need to worship God with our bodies.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Fasting as the "Study of Medicinal Parsimony"

That is the way today's Extaordinary Form Roman liturgy terms the Lenten self-denial, Thursday of the 1st week of Passiontide. Parsimony. Simplicity. Take small in order to give big.

"Grant, we pray, omnipotent God, that the dignity of our human condition, wounded by immoderation, my be reformed by the study of medicinal parsimony." Plinthos translation.

Study here means the enthusiastic and relentless pursuit in taking little, as medicine for the soul, which tends to harm itself by taking too much.

As dieting is to the body, fasting is to the soul. It may heal many ills.

Fast for love of God, not for the flesh! "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing." John 6:63

Cf. Lukken, Original Sin in the Roman Liturgy, Leiden: Brill, 1973, 70.

In light of that, consider this world of fools in which we are allowed to go to Burger King to get a sandwich but forbidden to go to church for The Bread of Life.

Cf. The Traditional Lenten Fast

Plinthos Atop Mount Si, Seattle

May 2017

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Things-To-Do in Quaratine

1. Journal. Write a paragraph daily.
2. Organize/discard your data/files, e.g. pictures, 1/2 hour per day till you get it right.
3. Learn to write poetry; do some every day.
4. Pray using the Bible, 5 min. - 1/2 hr. per day.
5. Pray the daily rosary with your household.
6. Write snail mail letters or post cards, one a week.
7. Take a daily neighborhood stroll, especially with someone in the home, following health norms.
8. Exercise three times per week, 15 minutes each time, e.g. Monday, Wed., Friday.
9. Read an edifying book, especially a classic, even aloud with others.
10. Call someone on the phone just to talk, and listen.
11. Sing some Gregorian chant, one chant a day, e.g. the Ave Regina Coelorum.
12. Pray the Breviary; ibreviary or divinumofficium.
13. Say some other prayers every day; ipieta is a great prayer app.
14. Meditate between 15 min. - 1 hour per day, using a spiritual classic, e.g. the Bible, The Imitation of Christ, to talk and listen to God with your heart directed towards the closest tabernacle, Christ incarnate.
15. Stay away from television and social media.
16. Develop personal relationships at home, in the family, and with neighbors.
17. Pray, by name, for those who hate you.
18. Do acts of random kindness at home. Ask how you can help.
19. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
20. Do good, avoid evil.
21. Examine your conscience and repent every day, especially before bedtime.
22. Make a schedule and stick to it, especially bedtime and time to rise.
23. Dedicate your day to God, on your knees, as soon as you get up.
24. Do a five-day silent retreat; now is the perfect liturgical season for that.
25. Study a foreign language daily.
26. Draw, sketch, paint; knit, crochet, cross-stitch, make lace, etc.
27. Play an instrument daily. Play one piece well each day.
28. Play chess/practice your skills with a real person in your household.
29. Brainstorm other edifying daily activities, to enhance home life.
30. Do not squander this precious time.

New York Covid-19 Doctor on Transmission

The most common way of transmission is by touching an infected person or something touched by an infected person then touching your face (nose/mouth).

Covid-19 is not commonly transmitted through the air. It is not an airborne virus. That can only occur in closed and close quarters with an infected person for over 20 minutes.

Therefore, here are the proper precautions against this disease. All further measures should be deliberate propaganda designed to get people to start paying attention!
  • keep ample social distance with others (3 feet)
  • entire household stay at home as much as possible and minimize social circle
  • refrain from touching people outside your home, and there, only as necessary
  • minimize touching things touched by others, outside your household
  • wash or sterilize hands, especially after touching something touched by others outside of your household, and keep your hands from your nose & mouth until you have done that
  • wear a mask/hankerchief to go out if you will touch things touched by others
  • even wear hankerchief on face to go out, just to increase awareness
  • those who are sick with symptoms of Covid-19 should isolate, not go out in public, and have minimal and only necessary contact with those in the home, sterilizing everything they touch
  • those with shortness of breath, and only they, should go to hospital

Conscious of and keeping these norms, the churches should remain open with full access to the sacraments, but forbidding close congregating.

Following these protocols, the number of people in church is irrelevant! There is no reason large churches cannot accommodate up to 50-100 people, especially if the doors are left open (no one having to touch the common door) and/or hand sanitizer is available at the door.

Private masses with a few of the faithful should not be forbidden!

Confessions in a traditional confessional should not be forbidden; you have the screen and can also keep extra distance.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Pandemics: AIDS/HIV Kills Approximately One-Million per Year

USA decriminalized sodomy in the middle of the AIDS/HIV pandemic, which is still spreading, especially through sexual perversion.

We close our churches to stop one tiny virus yet continue to promote the spread of AIDS by promoting homosexuality and every manner of sexual perversion. Going to Mass, Confession and Holy Communion are forbidden, but sodomy is applauded. "Blind guides, [you] strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel!" Matthew 23:24

The Church is the Intercourse of the Saints with God in Christ

"Think for a moment, how many hours in the day every man is left wholly to himself and his God, or rather how few minutes he is in intercourse with others--consider this, and you will perceive how it is that the life of the Church is hid with God, and how it is that the outward conduct of the Church must necessarily look like the world, even far more that it really is like it, and how vain, in consequence, the attempt is (which some make) of separating the world distinctly from the Church."

"The World our Enemy" sermon in (Saint) John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1997, 1441-1442.

The Church is in the world.
The Church is within you, if you are in Her.

The communion of the saints is the only holy communion.

Not to detract from the need for the Seven Sacraments. But Jesus Christ Himself is the most Blessed Sacrament. Consider Saint Joseph who was presumably never baptized, never confirmed, never received the Holy Eucharist or attended Mass, never knew any pope, bishop or priest of the Christian dispensation, but was sanctified by Christ Himself in the home with him, the living God. He had Jesus and Mary in his home, and with them he united himself to God.

The time that you are left wholly to yourself, if you pray, God is with you, He is in you. Change your default position Turn your habitual monologue into a constant dialogue with God, then you will find peace.

"All of the evils of the world come from the inability of man to stay alone at peace in his room." --Pascal

During this time of universal quarantine, my mind goes to George Cardinal Pell who is still wrongly jailed and banned from saying Mass. Release Cardinal Pell!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Hierarchical Betrayals Continued

The leaders of the Church continue to betray the faithful.

For decades they have distorted our Catholic doctrine, banalized our divine worship, violated our boys and now they proceed to close our churches and ban the sacraments, contradicting themselves and all the truths of our religion, and they bind all our holy priests to do the same, until Caesar tells them when.

These shepherds, when they see the wolf coming, they lock the doors and hide inside; and they forbid any sheep to enter and any shepherds to go out.

Psalm 12 (13) How long, O Lord, wilt thou forget me unto the end? how long dost thou turn away thy face from me? How long shall I take counsels in my soul, sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider, and hear me, O Lord my God. Enlighten my eyes that I never sleep in death: Lest at any time my enemy say: I have prevailed against him. They that trouble me will rejoice when I am moved: But I have trusted in thy mercy. My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation: I will sing to the Lord, who giveth me good things: yea I will sing to the name of the Lord the most high.

P.S. I wrote the above in reaction to the terrible scandal of giving the impression that the sacraments and the activity of the Church is non-essential. Surely our shepherds should be finding creative ways to give testimony to the faith while fully cooperating with the State.

Cf. What Every Able Parish Priest Should do During Covid-19

The Coronavirus Indulgence

Sunday, March 29, 2020

As long as supermarkets are open and accessible and as long as people have access to public transportation, one cannot see a plausible reason for banning people from assisting at holy Mass in a church.

--Bishop Schneider
Friday, March 27, 2020

Diane Montagna: Your Excellency, what is your general impression of the way the Church is handling the coronavirus epidemic?

Bishop Schneider: My general impression is that the prevailing majority of bishops reacted precipitously and out of panic in prohibiting all public Masses and — what is even more incomprehensible — in closing churches. Such bishops reacted more like civil bureaucrats than shepherds. In focusing too exclusively on all the hygienic protective measures, they have lost a supernatural vision and have abandoned the primacy of the eternal good of souls.

Diane Montagna: The diocese of Rome swiftly suspended all public Masses to comply with government directives. Bishops around the world have taken similar action. The Polish Bishops, on the other hand, have called for more Masses to be celebrated so that the congregation is smaller. What is your view on the decision to suspend public Masses to prevent the spread of the coronavirus?

Bishop Schneider: As long as supermarkets are open and accessible and as long as people have access to public transportation, one cannot see a plausible reason for banning people from assisting at Holy Mass in a church. One could guarantee in churches the same and even better hygienic protective measures. For example, before each Mass one could disinfect the pews and doors, and everyone who enters the church could disinfect their hands. Other similar measures could also be taken. One could limit the number of participants and increase the frequency of Mass celebration. We have an inspiring example of a supernatural vision in times of epidemic in Tanzania’s President John Magufuli. President Magufuli, who is a practicing Catholic, said on Sunday, March 22, 2020 (Laetare Sunday), at the Cathedral of St. Paul, in the Tanzanian capital of Dodoma: “I insist to you, my fellow Christians and even Muslims: do not be afraid, do not stop gathering together to glorify God and praise Him. That is why, as a government, we didn’t close down churches or mosques. Instead, they should be always open for the people to seek refuge to God. Churches are places where people can seek true healing, because there the True God resides. Do not to be afraid of praising and seeking God’s face in church.”

Referring to the Eucharist, President Magufuli also spoke these encouraging words: “The coronavirus cannot survive in the Eucharistic body of Christ; it will soon be burnt away. That is exactly why I did not panic while receiving Holy Communion, because I knew that with Jesus in the Eucharist, I am safe. This is the time for building our faith in God.” (President Magufuli’s address can be viewed in Swahili here.)

Diane Montagna: Do you think it is responsible for a priest to celebrate a private Mass with a few lay faithful present, while taking necessary health precautions?

Bishop Schneider: It is responsible, and also meritorious and would be an authentic pastoral act, provided of course that the priest takes the necessary health precautions.

Diane Montagna: Priests are in a difficult position in this situation. Some good priests are being criticized for obeying the directives of their bishop to suspend public Masses (while they continue to celebrate a private Mass). Others are looking for creative ways to hear confessions while seeking to safeguard people’s health. What advice would you give to priests on living out their vocation in these times?

Bishop Schneider: Priests must recall that they are first and foremost shepherds of immortal souls. They are to imitate Christ, who said: “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own, and my own know me.” (John 10:11-14) If a priest observes in a reasonable manner all the necessary health precautions and uses discretion, he has not to obey the directives of his bishop or the government to suspend Mass for the faithful. Such directives are a pure human law; however, the supreme law in the Church is the salvation of souls. Priests in such a situation have to be extremely creative in order to provide for the faithful, even for a small group, the celebration of Holy Mass and the reception of the sacraments. Such was the pastoral behavior of all confessor and martyr priests in the time of persecution.

Diane Montagna: Is defiance of authority, particularly ecclesial authority, by priests ever legitimate (e.g. if a priest is told not to go and visit the sick and dying)?

Bishop Schneider: If a priest is prohibited by an ecclesial authority from going to visit the sick and dying, he cannot obey. Such a prohibition is an abuse of power. Christ did not give a bishop the power to forbid visiting the sick and dying. A true priest will do everything he can to visit a dying person. Many priests have done so even when it meant putting their lives in danger, either in the case of a persecution or in the case of an epidemic. We have plenty of examples of such priests in the history of the Church. St. Charles Borromeo, for instance, gave Holy Communion with his own hands on the tongue of dying persons, who were infected with the plague. In our own day, we have the moving and edifying example of priests, especially from the region of Bergamo in northern Italy, who were infected and died because they cared for dying coronavirus patients. A 72-year-old priest with coronavirus died a few days ago in Italy, after giving up the ventilator, which he needed to survive, and allowed it to be given to a younger patient. Not to go and visit the sick and dying is the behavior more of a hireling than a good shepherd.

Diane Montagna: Your early years were spent in the Soviet underground church. What insight or perspective would you like to share with the lay faithful who are not able to attend Mass, and in some cases, cannot even spend time before the blessed Sacrament because all the churches in their diocese have been closed?

Bishop Schneider: I would encourage the faithful to make frequent acts of spiritual communion. They could read and contemplate the daily Mass readings and the entire order of Mass. They could send their holy Guardian Angel to adore Jesus Christ in the tabernacle on their behalf. They could unite themselves spiritually with all Christians who are in prison for the sake of their faith, with all Christians who are ill and bedridden, with all dying Christians who are deprived of the sacraments. God will fill this time of a temporal deprivation of the Holy Mass and the Blessed Sacrament with many graces.

Diane Montagna: The Vatican recently announced Easter liturgies will be celebrated without the faithful present. It later specified that it is studying “ways of implementation and participation that respect security measures put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.” What is your view on this decision?

Bishop Schneider: Given the strict prohibition of mass gatherings by the Italian governmental authorities, one can understand that the Pope cannot celebrate the liturgies of Holy Week with the attendance of a large number of faithful. I think that the Holy Week liturgies could be celebrated by the Pope with all dignity and without abridgements, for instance in the Sistine Chapel (as was the custom of popes before the Second Vatican Council), with the participation of the clergy (cardinals, priests) and a selected group of faithful, to whom hygienic protective measures are previously applied. One cannot see the logic in prohibiting the lighting of the fire, the blessing of the water and of baptizing at the Easter Vigil, as if these actions would spread a virus. A quasi-pathological fear has overcome common reason and a supernatural vision.

Diane Montagna: Your Excellency, what is the Church’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic revealing about the state of the Church and particularly of the hierarchy?

Bishop Schneider: It is revealing the loss of supernatural vision. In recent decades, many members of the Church’s hierarchy have been immersed predominantly in secular, inner-worldly and temporal affairs and have thus become blind to supernatural and eternal realities. Their eyes have been filled with the dust of earthly occupations, as St. Gregory the Great once said (see Regula pastoralis II, 7). Their reaction in handling the coronavirus epidemic has revealed that they give more importance to the mortal body than to the immortal soul of men, forgetting the words of our Lord: “For what shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?” (Mark 8:36). The same bishops who now try to protect (sometimes with disproportionate measures) the bodies of their faithful from contamination with a material virus, tranquilly allowed the poison virus of heretical teachings and practices to spread among their flock.

Diane Montagna: Cardinal Vincent Nichols recently said that we will have a new hunger for the Eucharist after the coronavirus epidemic is passed? Do you agree?

Bishop Schneider: I hope that these words will prove to be true among many Catholics. It is a common human experience that the prolonged deprivation of an important reality inflames the hearts of people with a longing for it. This applies, of course, to those who really believe and love the Eucharist. Such an experience also helps one to reflect more deeply upon the meaning and value of the Holy Eucharist. Perhaps those Catholics who were so accustomed to the Holy of Holies that they came to consider it as something ordinary and common will experience a spiritual conversion and understand and treat the Holy Eucharist henceforth as extraordinary and sublime.

Diane Montagna: On Sunday, March 15, Pope Francis went to pray before the image of the Salus Populo Romani at Santa Maria Maggiore and before the Miraculous Crucifix housed in the church of San Marcelo al Corso. Do you think it is important that bishops and cardinals carry out similar acts of public prayer for an end to the coronavirus?

Bishop Schneider: The example of Pope Francis may encourage many bishops to similar acts of public witness of faith and prayer, and to concrete signs of penance that implore God to end the epidemic. One could recommend that bishops and priests regularly traverse their cities, towns and villages with the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, accompanied by a small number of clerics or faithful (one, two or three), depending on the government regulations. Such processions with the Eucharistic Lord will convey to the faithful and to citizens the consolation and joy that they are not alone in time of tribulation, that the Lord is truly with them, that the Church is a mother who has neither forgotten nor abandoned her children. A worldwide chain of monstrances carrying the Eucharistic Lord through the streets of this world could be launched. Such mini-Eucharistic processions, even if carried out only by a bishop or a priest alone, will implore graces of physical and spiritual healing and conversion.

Diane Montagna: The coronavirus broke out in China not long after the Amazon Synod. Some in the media strongly believe this is divine retribution for the Pachamama events in the Vatican? Others believe it is a divine chastisement for the Vatican-China accord? Do you think either of these positions are valid?

Bishop Schneider: The coronavirus epidemic, in my view, is without doubt a divine intervention to chastise and purify the sinful world and also the Church. We ought not to forget that Our Lord Jesus Christ considered physical catastrophes as divine chastisements. We read, for example: “There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them: ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

The cultic veneration of the pagan idol of Pachamama inside the Vatican, with the approval of the Pope, was to be sure a great sin of infidelity to the First Commandment of the Decalogue, it was an abomination. Every attempt of minimize this act of veneration cannot withstand the barrage of obvious evidence and reason. I think that such acts of idolatry were the culmination of a series of other acts of infidelity to the safeguarding of the divine deposit of Faith by many high-ranking members of the Church’s hierarchy in past decades. I do not have absolute certainty that the outbreak of the coronavirus is a divine retribution for the Pachamama events in the Vatican, but considering such a possibility would not be far-fetched. Already in the beginning of the Church, Christ rebuked the bishops (“angels”) of the churches of Pergamum and Thyatira because of their connivance with idolatry and adultery. The figure of “Jezebel,” who seduced the church into idolatry and adultery (see Rev 2:20), might also be understood as a symbol of the world in our day — with whom many charged with responsibility in the Church today are flirting.

The following words of Christ remain valid for our time as well: “Those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.” (Rev 2:22-23) Christ threatened chastisement and called the churches to penance: “I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching… that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth” (Rev 2:14-16). I am convinced that Christ would repeat the same words to Pope Francis and to the other bishops who allowed the idolatrous veneration of the Pachamama and who implicitly approved sexual relationships outside a valid marriage, by allowing the so-called “divorced and remarried” who are sexually active to receive Holy Communion.

Diane Montagna: You have pointed to the Gospels and to the Book of Revelation. Does the way God dealt with His Chosen People in the Old Testament give us any insight into the present situation?

Bishop Schneider: The coronavirus epidemic has caused a situation within the Church that, to my knowledge, is unique, i.e. a quasi-worldwide ban of all public Masses. This is partially analogous to the ban of Christian worship in almost the entire Roman Empire in the first three centuries. The current situation is unprecedented, however, because in our case the ban of public worship was issued by Catholic bishops, and even before the relevant governmental mandates.

In some way, the present situation can be also compared to the cessation of the sacrificial worship of the Temple of Jerusalem during the Babylonian Captivity of the Chosen People of God. In the Bible, divine chastisement was considered as a grace, e.g. “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; refuse not therefore the chastising of the Lord: For he wounds, and cures: he strikes, and his hands shall heal.” (Job 5:17-18) and “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Rev 3:19). The only adequate reaction to tribulation, catastrophes and epidemics and similar situations — which are all instruments in the hand of Divine Providence to awaken people from the sleep of sin and indifference towards God’s commandments and eternal life — is penance and sincere conversion to God. In the following prayer, the prophet Daniel gives to the faithful of all time an example of the true mindset they should have and how they should behave and pray in time of tribulation: “All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. … O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name” (Dan 9:11,18-19).

Diane Montagna: St. Robert Bellarmine wrote: “[S]ure signs concerning the coming of Antichrist ... the greatest and last persecution, and also the public sacrifice (of the Mass) shall completely cease” (The Prophecy of Daniel, Pages 37-38). Do you think what he refers to here is what we are now witnessing? Is it the beginning of the great chastisement prophesied in the book of Revelation?

Bishop Schneider: The current situation provides sufficient reasonable grounds to think that we are at the beginning of an apocalyptic time, which includes divine chastisements. Our Lord referred to the prophecy of Daniel: “When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place, let the reader understand” (Mt 24:15). The Book of Revelation says that the Church will have for a while to flee into the wilderness (see Rev 12:14). The almost general cessation of the public Sacrifice of the Mass could be interpreted as a flight in a spiritual wilderness. What is regrettable in our situation is the fact that many members of the Church’s hierarchy do not see the current situation as a tribulation, as a divine chastisement, that is to say, as a “divine visitation” in the biblical sense. These words of the Lord are applicable also to many of the clergy in the midst of the current physical and spiritual epidemic: “You have not known the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44). The current situation of this “fiery ordeal” (see 1 Peter 4:12) must be taken seriously by the Pope and bishops in order to lead to a deep conversion of the entire Church. If this does not occur, then the message of the following story of Soren Kierkegaard will be applicable to our current situation as well: “A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.”

Diane Montagna: Your Excellency, what is the deeper meaning behind all of this?

Bishop Schneider: The situation of the public cessation of Holy Mass and sacramental Holy Communion is so unique and serious that one can discover behind all of this a deeper meaning. This event has come almost fifty years after the introduction of Communion in the hand (in 1969) and a radical reform of the rite of Mass (in 1969/1970) with its protestantizing elements (Offertory prayers) and its horizontal and instructional style of celebration (freestyle moments, celebration in a closed circle and towards the people). The praxis of Communion in the hand over the fast fifty years has led to an unintentional and intentional desecration the Eucharistic Body of Christ on an unprecedented scale. For over fifty years, the Body of Christ had been (mostly unintentionally) trampled by the feet of clergy and laity in Catholic churches around the world. The stealing of sacred Hosts has also been increasing at an alarming rate. The praxis of taking Holy Communion directly with one’s own hands and fingers resembles ever more the gesture of taking common food. In not a few Catholics, the practice of receiving Communion in the hand has weakened faith in the Real Presence, in trans-substantiation and in the divine and sublime character of the sacred Host. The Eucharistic presence of Christ has, over time, unconsciously become for these faithful a kind of holy bread or symbol. Now the Lord has intervened and deprived almost all the faithful of assisting at Holy Mass and sacramentally receiving Holy Communion.

The innocent and the guilty are enduring this tribulation together, since in the mystery of the Church all are mutually united as members: “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26). The current cessation of public Holy Mass and Holy Communion could be understood by the Pope and bishops as a divine rebuke for the past fifty years of Eucharistic desecrations and trivializations and, at the same time, as a merciful appeal for an authentic Eucharistic conversion of the entire Church. May the Holy Spirit touch the heart of the Pope and bishops and move them to issue concrete liturgical norms in order that the Eucharistic worship of the entire Church might be purified and oriented again towards the Lord.

One could suggest that the Pope, together with cardinals and bishops, carry out a public act of reparation in Rome for the sins against the Holy Eucharist, and for the sin of the acts of religious veneration to the Pachamama statues. Once the current tribulation has ended, the Pope should issue concrete liturgical norms, in which he invites the entire Church to turn again towards the Lord in the manner of celebration, i.e. celebrant and faithful turned in the same direction during the Eucharistic prayer. The Pope should also forbid the practice of Communion in the hand, for the Church cannot continue unpunished to treat the Holy of Holies in the little sacred Host in such a minimalistic and unsafe manner.

The following prayer of Azariah in the fiery furnace, which every priest says during the Offertory rite of the Mass, might inspire the Pope and bishops to concrete actions of reparation and restoration of the glory of the Eucharistic sacrifice and the Eucharistic Body of the Lord: “With contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; let our sacrifice be in your presence today and find favour before you; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we seek your face. Do not put us to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us in accord with your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord” (Dan 3:39-43, Septuagint).

Saturday, March 28, 2020

What Every Able Parish Priest Should do During Covid-19

Every priest in the Covid-19 world should walk every day, at least once a day, within his parish bounds, with his cassock and his priest hat on, and, if possible, more solemnly with surplice, violet stole, even cope, with a crucifer, a thurifer and at least one cantor to chant the procession litanies against epidemics, keeping social distance. Otherwise he should just quietly walk it alone, praying the breviary, the rosary, the chaplet, etc. and return home. Priests should not hide during this time of grace. It is Lent. Passiontide. Holy Week is a week away. Everyone is thinking obsessed with sickness and death. The priest is the minster of LIFE. Jesus Christ lives. Jesus Christ is health, there is no other. If you die to sin you will live. Repent and believe in the Gospel.

Bishops have a grave duty to give clear and specific directives similar to these to their priests on how they must evangelize and accompany the people during this time. Parish priests must be seen during this time, serving the people, and the world for whom they were ordained by God. They must do that with public prayer, penance and with their public presence, for their own salvation. Bishops need to shepherd the shepherds so that the shepherds do not abandon the sheep when they are needed the most! When the wolf comes the shepherd cannot run away! We cannot just lock the churches (which belong to the faithful) and hide. We too belong to them! Our only salvation is in service, priestly service, which is the most important service in the world; more important than the doctors, governors and presidents is the minister of Jesus Christ, the priest. People need to see that!

People Are Still Allowed to Go to Church --Italian Government

Yesterday, the Italian Ministry of the Interior sent a clarification, as requested, to the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church in Italy (CEI), on how people can still go to church during the present Covid-19 emergency restrictions. Here is a brief summary of that document.

1. Holy Masses with the participation of the faithful are prohibited; but you can go to church to pray, as long as the necessary precautions are respected, especially with regard to distancing and, in particular, congregations are avoided.

2. You cannot go out with the specific purpose of going to church. Therefore it is not possible to claim that one's movement is due to religious, spiritual or similar reasons.

3. You can go to church if and when you are already out for other legitimate reasons: therefore, as an example, if you are going shopping, if you are going to the pharmacy, if you are going to work (for work activities that are not suspended), if - within the allowed limits - legitimate motor activity is being done, etc.

4. Those who provide liturgical services for private celebrations (that is, without the participation of the people) can legitimately go to church, obviously provided that it is a limited number of people, prudential norms are respected, and congregations are always and in any case avoided. In these cases, but only in these cases, you can move with the specific purpose of going to church; the claim must specify that it is done for "essential work."

5. Religious marriages can be celebrated, but restricted to the presence of the celebrant, the married couple and the witnesses. Surely acolytes may also be present, as specified in point 4 above.
The Ministry of Interior Document

As I (Plinthos) have already said, it is wrong for bishops and priests to prohibit people from going to church and to prohibit the priest from saying Mass in church. Priests can and must administer the sacraments to those who rightly ask for them, taking the necessary precautions. No power on earth can forbid that. It is God's law, given to us by Christ. Even the government recognizes that. This is a point that should be clarified by the Church Herself. Shame on us!

Basic Catholic Catechism Moral Principles

Friday, March 27, 2020

Beware a Government of Fear

What good are constitutional rights if they are violated when Americans get sick?

By Andrew P. Napolitano - - Wednesday, March 25, 2020  Washington Times

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
— Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

One of my Fox colleagues recently sent me an email attachment of a painting of the framers signing the Constitution of the United States. Except in this version, George Washington — who presided at the Constitutional Convention — looks at James Madison — who was the scrivener at the Convention — and says, “None of this counts if people get sick, right?”

In these days of state governors issuing daily decrees purporting to criminalize the exercise of our personal freedoms, the words put into Washington’s mouth are only mildly amusing. Had Washington actually asked such a question, Madison, of all people, would likely have responded: “No. This document protects our natural rights at all times and under all circumstances.”

It is easy, 233 years later, to offer that hypothetical response, particularly since the Supreme Court has done so already when, as readers of this column will recall, Abraham Lincoln suspended the constitutionally guaranteed writ of habeas corpus — the right to be brought before a judge upon arrest — only to be rebuked by the Supreme Court.

The famous line above by Benjamin Franklin, though uttered in a 1755 dispute between the Pennsylvania legislature and the state’s governor over taxes, nevertheless provokes a truism.

Namely, that since our rights come from our humanity, not from the government, foolish people can only sacrifice their own freedoms, not the freedoms of others.

Thus, freedom can only be taken away when the government proves fault at a jury trial. This protection is called procedural due process, and it, too, is guaranteed in the Constitution.

Of what value is a constitutional guarantee if it can be violated when people get sick? If it can, it is not a guarantee; it is a fraud. Stated differently, a constitutional guarantee is only as valuable and reliable as is the fidelity to the Constitution of those in whose hands we have reposed it for safekeeping.

Because the folks in government, with very few exceptions, suffer from what St. Augustine called libido dominandi — the lust to dominate — when they are confronted with the age-old clash of personal liberty versus government force, they will nearly always come down on the side of force.

How do they get away with this? By scaring the daylights out of us. I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime, though our ancestors saw this in every generation. In America today, we have a government of fear. Machiavelli offered that men obey better when they fear you than when they love you. Sadly, he was right, and the government in America knows this.

But Madison knew this as well when he wrote the Constitution. And he knew it four years later when he wrote the Bill of Rights. He intentionally employed language to warn those who lust to dominate that, however they employ governmental powers, the Constitution is “the Supreme Law of the Land” and all government behavior in America is subject to it.

Even if the legislature of the State of New York ordered, as my friend Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who as the governor, cannot write laws that incur criminal punishment — has ordered, it would be invalid as prohibited by the Constitution.

This is not a novel or an arcane argument. This is fundamental American law. Yet, it is being violated right before our eyes by the very human beings we have elected to uphold it. And each of them — every governor interfering with the freedom to make one’s own choices — has taken an express oath to comply with the Constitution.

You want to bring the family to visit grandma? You want to engage in a mutually beneficial, totally voluntary commercial transaction? You want to go to work? You want to celebrate Mass? These are all now prohibited in one-third of the United States.

I tried and failed to find Mass last Sunday. When did the Catholic Church become an agent of the state? How about an outdoor Mass?

What is the nature of freedom? It is an unassailable natural claim against all others, including the government. Stated differently, it is your unconditional right to think as you wish, to say what you think, to publish what you say, to associate with whomever wishes to be with you no matter their number, to worship or not, to defend yourself, to own and use property as you see fit, to travel where you wish, to purchase from a willing seller, to be left alone. And to do all this without a government permission slip.

What is the nature of government? It is the negation of freedom. It is a monopoly of force in a designated geographic area. When elected officials fear that their base is slipping, they will feel the need to do something — anything — that will let them claim to be enhancing safety. Trampling liberty works for that odious purpose. Hence a decree commanding obedience, promising safety and threatening punishment.

These decrees — issued by those who have no legal authority to issue them, enforced by cops who hate what they are being made to do, destructive of the freedoms that our forbearers shed oceans of blood to preserve and crushing economic prosperity by violating the laws of supply and demand — should all be rejected by an outraged populace, and challenged in court.

These challenges are best filed in federal courts, where those who have trampled our liberties will get no special quarter. I can tell you from my prior life as a judge that most state governors fear nothing more than an intellectually honest, personally courageous, constitutionally faithful federal judge.

Fight fear with fear.

• Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is a regular contributor to The Washington Times. He is the author of nine books on the U.S. Constitution.

Living the Faith When Public Worship is Prohibited --Bishop Schneider

“We glory in tribulations” (Rom 5:3)

Millions of Catholics in the so-called free Western world will, in the coming weeks or even months, and especially during Holy Week and Easter, the culmination of the entire liturgical year, be deprived of any public acts of worship due to both civic and ecclesiastical reaction to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The most painful and distressing of these is the deprivation of Holy Mass and sacramental Holy Communion.

We experience currently the atmosphere of an almost planetary panic. The drastic and disproportionate security measures with the denial of fundamental human rights of freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and freedom of opinion appear almost globally orchestrated along a precise plan.

An important side-effect of this new “sanitary dictatorship” that is spreading throughout the world is the growing and uncompromising ban on all forms of public worship. The current situation of the prohibition of public worship in Rome brings the Church back to the time of an analogous prohibition of Christian worship issued by the pagan Roman emperors in the first centuries.

Clerics who dare to celebrate Holy Mass in the presence of the faithful in such circumstances could be punished or put in prison. Such a “sanitary dictatorship” has created a situation which breathes the air of the catacombs, of a persecuted Church, of an underground Church, especially in Rome. Pope Francis, who on March 15, with lonely and halting steps, walked through the deserted streets of Rome on his pilgrimage from the image of the “Salus populi Romani” in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore to the Miraculous Cross in the church of San Marcello, conveyed an apocalyptic image. It was reminiscent of the following description of the third part of the secret of Fatima (revealed on 13 July 1917): “The Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow.”

How should Catholics react and behave in such a situation? We have to accept this situation from the hands of Divine Providence as a trial, which will bring us a greater spiritual benefit than if we had not experienced such a situation. One can understand this situation as a divine intervention in the current unprecedented crisis of the Church. God uses now this situation to purify the Church, to awaken the responsible in the Church, and in first place the pope and the episcopate, from the illusion of a nice modern world, from the temptation to flirt with the world, from the immersion in temporal and earthly things. The powers of this world have now forcibly separated the faithful from their shepherds. The clergy is ordered by governments to celebrate liturgy without the people.

This current purifying divine intervention has the power to show all of us what is truly essential in the Church: the Eucharistic sacrifice of Christ with His Body and Blood and the eternal salvation of immortal souls. May those in the Church who are unexpectedly and suddenly deprived of what is central start to see and appreciate its value more deeply.

In spite of the painful situation of being deprived of Holy Mass and Holy Communion, Catholics should not yield to frustration or melancholy. They should accept this trial as an occasion of abundant graces, which Divine Providence has prepared for them. Many Catholics have now in some way the chance to experience the situation of the catacombs, of the underground Church. One can hope that such a situation will produce the new spiritual fruits of confessors of faith and of holiness

This situation forces Catholic families to experience literally the meaning of a domestic church. In the absence of the possibility to assist at Holy Mass even on Sundays, Catholic parents should gather their families in their homes. They could assist in their homes at a Holy Mass broadcast on television or the internet, or if this is not possible, they should dedicate a holy hour of prayers to sanctify the Day of the Lord and to unite themselves spiritually with the Holy Masses celebrated by priests behind closed doors even in their towns or in their vicinity. Such a Sunday holy hour of a domestic church could be done for instance in a following way:

Prayer of the rosary, reading of the Sunday Gospel, Act of Contrition, act of Spiritual Communion, Litany, prayer for all who suffer and die, for all who are persecuted, prayer for the pope and the priests, prayer for the end of the current physical and spiritual epidemic. The Catholic family should also pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays of Lent. Furthermore, on Sundays, parents could gather their children in the afternoon or in the evening to read to them from the Lives of the Saints, especially those stories drawn from times of persecution of the Church.

Catholics who are now deprived of assisting at Holy Mass and receiving sacramentally Holy Communion, perhaps only for a short time of some weeks or months, may think about these times of persecution, where faithful for years couldn’t assist at Holy Mass and receive other sacraments, as was the case, for instance, during the communist persecution in many places of the Soviet Empire.

Let the following words of God strengthen all Catholics who are currently suffering from being deprived of the Holy Mass and Holy Communion:

“Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4: 12–13) “The Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3–4) “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6–7).

In the time of a cruel persecution of the Church, St. Cyprian of Carthage (+258) gave the following edifying teaching on the value of patience: “It is patience which firmly fortifies the foundations of our faith. It is this which lifts up on high the increase of our hope. It is this which directs our doing, that we may hold fast the way of Christ while we walk by His patience. How great is the Lord Jesus, and how great is His patience, that He who is adored in heaven is not yet avenged on earth! Let us, beloved brethren, consider His patience in our persecutions and sufferings; let us give an obedience full of expectation to His advent” (De patientia, 20; 24)

We want to pray with all our trust to the Mother of the Church, invoking the intercessory power of Her Immaculate Heart, that the current situation of being deprived of Holy Mass may bring abundant spiritual fruits for the true renewal of the Church after decades of the night of the persecution of true Catholics, clergy, and faithful that has happened inside the Church. Let us hear the following inspiring words of St. Cyprian:

“If the cause of disaster is recognized, there is at once found a remedy for the wound. The Lord has desired His family to be proved; and because a long peace had corrupted the discipline that had been divinely delivered to us, the heavenly rebuke has aroused our faith, which was giving way, and I had almost said slumbering; and although we deserved more for our sins, yet the most merciful Lord has so moderated all things, that all which has happened has rather seemed a trial than a persecution.” (De lapsis, 5)

God grant that this short trial of the deprivation of public worship and Holy Mass instill in the heart of the pope and the bishops a new apostolic zeal for the perennial spiritual treasures, which were divinely entrusted to them — i.e., the zeal for the glory and honor of God, for the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and His redeeming sacrifice, for the centrality of the Eucharist and its sacred and sublime manner of celebration, for the greatest glory of the Eucharistic Body of Christ, the zeal for the salvation of the immortal souls, for a chaste and apostolic-minded clergy. May we listen to the following encouraging words of St. Cyprian:

“Praises must be given to God, and His benefits and gifts must be celebrated with giving of thanks, although even in the time of persecution our voice has not ceased to give thanks. For not even an enemy has so much power as to prevent us, who love the Lord with our whole heart, and life, and strength, from declaring His blessings and praises always and everywhere with glory. The day earnestly desired, by the prayers of all has come; and after the dreadful and loathsome darkness of a long night, the world has shone forth irradiated by the light of the Lord.” (De lapsis, 1)

March 19, 2020

+ Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
Source: OnePeter5

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Basic Catholic Catechism Moral Principles

The fifth commandment, "thou shalt not kill," commands us to do what is reasonable to look after our spiritual as well as material well-being, and that of our neighbor. We are not obliged to do what is unreasonable.

The present state of frenzy and total shutting down of society in the face of a pandemic is against the fifth commandment as stated above; the fourth commandment, which regulates the respective rights and duties of the State and its citizens; and especially the first commandment, "I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no strange God's before me." The first commandment forbids putting "safety," "health," or anything else, before God.

The third commandment is also brazenly violated by the present political decisions, to the scandal of all men: "Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day," by forbidding the people from discretely going to Mass, not only on Sunday, but on any day of the week. The Mass and divine worship are systematically proscribed as an "unnecessary" social activity. Men and women are allowed to go out to fornicate, sodomize, pick up contraception, have abortions, and pick up food from the store, but forbidden to go to Confession and to receive Holy Communion! Everyone is allowed to handle and exchange dirty money and credit cards but not allowed to sanitarily receive the Sacred Host from the consecrated, washed and sanitized hands of the priest.

It seems to me (Plinthos) that the social, economic and religious costs and upheaval caused by the present state of "Medical Martial Law" is far beyond a reasonable response to the coronavirus. Our response to any enemy has limits, and those limits are the inviolable rights of God and of men. It would be much more reasonable and economical to quarantine and regulate those members of society most vulnerable to die from the disease than to forcibly quarantine the populations of entire nations or even of the entire world.

The Catholic moral principle of double-effect allows us to unwillingly suffer an evil effect (in this case the probable dying of some of the weakest members of our society) for a proportionate good, namely the defense and promotion of the ongoing freedom and well-being of the vast majority of citizens and of the whole society. Based on the principle of double effect we should not fear this virus but humbly accept it and face it with all of our technological resources, within reason, for the good of all. God does not require us to cause the upheaval of the whole world to possibly save a few of our members. He may actually forbid that, the direct causing of social upheaval, including the violation of all citizens, perpetrated by the vainglory of Godless men who substitute a faulty and uncertain technology for the one true God, Jesus Christ, who never fails.

We need to use our intelligence to promote and defend the rights and well-being of all men and of the whole of society, giving the greatest glory to God in Christ. Only by glorifying God will we see rightly how to best serve men, under God.

FSSP LiveMass

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Catholics Need the Sacraments, Especially in This Time of Crisis --Cardinal Burke

Message on the Combat against the Coronavirus, COVID-19

ON MAR 21, 2020

Dear Friends,

For some time now, we have been in combat against the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. From all that we can tell – and one of the difficulties of the combat is that so much about the pestilence remains unclear – , the battle will yet continue for some time. The virus involved is particularly insidious, for it has a relatively long incubation period – some say 14 days and some say 20 days – and is highly contagious, much more highly contagious than other viruses we have experienced.

One of the principal natural means to defend ourselves against the coronavirus is to avoid any close contact with others. It is important, in fact, to keep always a distance – some say a yard (meter) and some say six-feet – away from each other, and, of course, to avoid group gatherings, that is gatherings in which a number of people are in close proximity of each other. In addition, since the virus is transmitted by small droplets emitted when one sneezes or blows his or her nose, it is critical to wash our hands frequently with disinfectant soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, and to use disinfectant handwash and handwipes. It is equally important to disinfect tables, chairs, countertops, etc., on which these droplets may have landed and from which they are capable of transmitting the contagion for some time. If we sneeze or blow our nose, we are counseled to use a paper facial tissue, to discard it immediately, and then to wash our hands. Of course, those who are diagnosed with the coronavirus must be quarantined, and those who are not feeling well, even if it has not been determined that they suffer from the coronavirus, should, out of charity toward others, remain at home, until they are feeling better.

Living in Italy, in which the spread of the coronavirus has been particularly deadly, especially for the elderly and for those who are already in a state of delicate health, I am edified by the great care which the Italians are taking to protect themselves and others from the contagion. As you may have already read, the healthcare system in Italy is severely tested in trying to provide necessary hospitalization and intensive-care treatment for the most vulnerable. Please pray for the Italian people and especially for both those for whom the coronavirus can be fatal and those entrusted with their care. Being a citizen of the United States, I have been following the situation of the spread of the coronavirus in my homeland and know that those living in the United States are becoming more and more concerned to stop its spread, lest a situation like that in Italy be repeated at home.

The whole situation certainly disposes us to a profound sadness and also to fear. No one wants to contract the illness connected with the virus or to have anyone else contract it. We especially do not want our beloved elderly or others who are suffering in health to be put in danger of death through the spread of the virus. To fight the spread of the virus, we are all on a kind of forced spiritual retreat, confined to quarters and unable to show usual signs of affection to family and to friends. For those in quarantine, the isolation is clearly even more severe, not being able to have contact with anyone, not even at a distance.

If the illness itself associated with the virus were not enough to worry us, we cannot ignore the economic devastation which the spread of the virus has caused, with its grievous effects on individuals and families, and those who serve us in so many ways in our daily life. Of course, our thoughts cannot help but include the possibility of an even greater devastation of the population of our homelands and, indeed, of the world.

Certainly, we are right to learn about and employ all of the natural means to defend ourselves against the contagion. It is a fundamental act of charity to use every prudent means to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus. The natural means of preventing the spread of the virus must, however, respect what we need to live, for example, access to food, water and medicine. The State, for instance, in its imposition of ever greater restrictions on the movement of individuals, provides that individuals can visit the supermarket and the pharmacy, with the observance of the precautions of social distancing and of use of disinfectants on the part of all involved.

In considering what is needed to live, we must not forget that our first consideration is our relationship with God. We recall the words of Our Lord in the Gospel according to John: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we come to him and make our home with him” (14, 23). Christ is the Lord of nature and of history. He is not distant and disinterested in us and the world. He has promised us: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28, 20). In combatting the evil of the coronavirus, our most effective weapon is, therefore, our relationship with Christ through prayer and penance, and devotions and sacred worship. We turn to Christ to deliver us from pestilence and from all harm, and He never fails to respond with pure and selfless love. That is why it is essential for us, at all times and above all in times of crisis, to have access to our churches and chapels, to the Sacraments, and to public devotions and prayers.

Just as we are able to purchase food and medicine, while taking care not to spread the coronavirus in the process, so also we must be able to pray in our churches and chapels, receive the Sacraments, and engage in acts of public prayer and devotion, so that we know God’s closeness to us and remain close to Him, fittingly calling upon His help. Without the help of God, we are indeed lost. Historically, in times of pestilence, the faithful gathered in fervent prayer and took part in processions. In fact, in the Roman Missal, promulgated by Pope Saint John XXIII in 1962, there are special texts for the Holy Mass to be offered in times of pestilence, the Votive Mass for the Deliverance from Death in Time of Pestilence (Missae Votivae ad Diversa, n. 23). Likewise, in the traditional Litany of the Saints, we pray: “From plague, famine, and war, O Lord, deliver us.”

Oftentimes, when we find ourselves in great suffering and even facing death, we ask: “Where is God?” But the real question is: “Where are we?” In other words, God is assuredly with us to help us and save us, especially at the time of severe trial or death, but we are too often far from Him because of our failure to acknowledge our total dependence upon Him and, therefore, to pray daily to Him and to offer Him our worship.

In these days, I have heard from so many devout Catholics who are deeply saddened and discouraged not to be able to pray and worship in their churches and chapels. They understand the need to observe social distance and to follow the other precautions, and they will follow these prudent practices, which they can easily enough do in their places of worship. But, often enough, they have to accept the profound suffering of having their churches and chapels closed, and of not having access to Confession and the Most Holy Eucharist.

In the same light, a person of faith cannot consider the present calamity in which we find ourselves without considering also how distant our popular culture is from God. It is not only indifferent to His presence in our midst but openly rebellious toward Him and the good order with which He has created us and sustains us in being. We need only think of the commonplace violent attacks on human life, male and female, which God has made in His own image and likeness (Gn 1, 27), attacks on the innocent and defenseless unborn, and on those who have the first title to our care, those who are heavily burdened with serious illness, advanced years, or special needs. We are daily witnesses to the spread of violence in a culture which fails to respect human life.

Likewise, we need only to think of the pervasive attack upon the integrity of human sexuality, of our identity as man or woman, with the pretense of defining for ourselves, often employing violent means, a sexual identity other than that given to us by God. With ever greater concern, we witness the devastating effect on individuals and families of the so-called “gender theory.”

We witness, too, even within the Church, a paganism which worships nature and the earth. There are those within the Church who refer to the earth as our mother, as if we came from the earth, and the earth is our salvation. But we come from the hand of God, Creator of Heaven and Earth. In God alone we find salvation. We pray in the divinely-inspired words of the Psalmist: “[God] alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken” (Ps 62 [61], 6). We see how the life of faith itself has become increasingly secularized and thus has compromised the Lordship of Christ, God the Son Incarnate, King of Heaven and Earth. We witness so many other evils which derive from idolatry, from the worship of ourselves and our world, instead of worshiping God, the source of all being. We sadly see in ourselves the truth of Saint Paul’s inspired words regarding the “ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth”: “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever!” (Rom 1, 18. 25).

Many with whom I am in communication, reflecting upon the present worldwide health crisis with all of its attendant effects, have expressed to me the hope that it will lead us – as individuals and families, and as a society – to reform our lives, to turn to God Who is surely near to us and Who is immeasurable and unceasing in His mercy and love towards us. There is no question that great evils like pestilence are an effect of original sin and of our actual sins. God, in His justice, must repair the disorder which sin introduces into our lives and into our world. In fact, He fulfills the demands of justice by His superabundant mercy.

God has not left us in the chaos and death, which sin introduces into the world, but has sent His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer, die, rise from the dead and ascend in glory to His right hand, in order to remain with us always, purifying us of sin and inflaming us with His love. In His justice, God recognizes our sins and the need of their reparation, while, in His mercy He showers upon us the grace to repent and make reparation. The Prophet Jeremiah prayed: “We recognize, O LORD, our wickedness, the guilt of our fathers; that we have sinned against you,” but he immediately continued his prayer: “For your name’s sake spurn us not, disgrace not the throne of your glory; remember your covenant with us, and break it not” (Jer 14, 20-21).

God never turns His back on us; He will never break His covenant of faithful and enduring love with us, even though we are so frequently indifferent, cold and unfaithful. As the present suffering uncovers for us so much indifference, coldness and infidelity on our part, we are called to turn to God and to beg for His mercy. We are confident that He will hear us and bless us with His gifts of mercy, forgiveness and peace. We join our sufferings to the Passion and Death of Christ and thus, as Saint Paul says, “complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Col 1, 24). Living in Christ, we know the truth of our Biblical prayer: “The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their refuge in the time of trouble” (Ps 37 [36], 39). In Christ, God has fully revealed to us the truth expressed in the prayer of the Psalmist: “Mercy and truth have met together; justice and peace have kissed” (Ps 85 [84], 10).

In our totally secularized culture, there is a tendency to view prayer, devotions and worship like any other activity, for example, going to the cinema or to a football game, which is not essential and therefore can be cancelled for the sake of taking every precaution to curb the spread of a deadly contagion. But prayer, devotions and worship, above all, Confession and the Holy Mass, are essential for us to remain healthy and strong spiritually, and for us to seek God’s help in a time of great danger for all. Therefore, we cannot simply accept the determinations of secular governments, which would treat the worship of God in the same manner as going to a restaurant or to an athletic contest. Otherwise, the people who already suffer so much from the results of the pestilence are deprived of those objective encounters with God Who is in our midst to restore health and peace.

We bishops and priests need to explain publicly the necessity of Catholics to pray and worship in their churches and chapels, and to go in procession through the streets and ways, asking God’s blessing upon His people who suffer so intensely. We need to insist that the regulations of the State, also for the good of the State, recognize the distinct importance of places of worship, especially in time of national and international crisis. In the past, in fact, governments have understood, above all, the importance of the faith, prayer and worship of the people to overcome a pestilence.

Even as we have found a way to provide for food and medicine and other necessities of life during a time of contagion, without irresponsibly risking the spread of the contagion, so, in a similar way, we can find a way to provide for the necessities of our spiritual life. We can provide more opportunities for the Holy Mass and devotions at which a number of faithful can participate without violating necessary precautions against the spread of contagion. Many of our churches and chapels are very large. They permit a group of the faithful to gather for prayer and worship without violating the requirements of “social distance.” The confessional with the traditional screen is usually equipped with or, if not, can be easily equipped with a thin veil which can be treated with disinfectant , so that access to the Sacrament of Confession is possible without great difficulty and without danger of transmitting the virus. If a church or chapel does not have a sufficiently large staff to be able to disinfect regularly the pews and other surfaces, I have no doubt that the faithful, in gratitude for the gifts of the Holy Eucharist, Confession, and of public devotion, will gladly assist.

Even if, for whatever reason, we are unable to have access to our churches and chapels, we must remember that our homes are an extension of our parish, a little Church into which we bring Christ from our encounter with Him in the bigger Church. Let our homes, during this time of crisis, reflect the truth that Christ is the guest of every Christian home. Let us turn to him through prayer, especially the Rosary, and other devotions. If the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, together with the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is not already enthroned in our home, now would be the time to do so. The place of the image of the Sacred Heart is for us a little altar at home, at which we gather, conscious of Christ’s dwelling with us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts, and place our often poor and sinful hearts into His glorious pierced Heart – always open to receive us, to heal us of our sins, and to fill us with divine love. If you desire to enthrone the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I commend to you the handbook, The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, available through the Marian Catechist Apostolate. It is also available in Polish and Slovak translations.

For those who cannot have access to the Holy Mass and Holy Communion, I commend the devout practice of Spiritual Communion. When we are rightly disposed to receive Holy Communion, that is, when we are in the state of grace, not conscious of any mortal sin which we have committed and for which we have not yet been forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance, and desire to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion but are unable to do so, we unite ourselves spiritually with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, praying to Our Eucharistic Lord in the words of Saint Alphonsus Liguori: “Since I am unable now to receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.” Spiritual Communion is a beautiful expression of love for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It will not fail to bring to us abundant grace.

At the same time, when we are conscious of having committed a mortal sin and are unable to have access to the Sacrament of Penance or Confession, the Church invites us to make an act of perfect contrition, that is, of sorrow for sin, which “arises from a love by which God is loved above all else.”. An act of perfect contrition “obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1452). An act of perfect contrition disposes our soul for Spiritual Communion.

In the end, faith and reason, as they always do, work together to provide for the just and right solution to a difficult challenge. We must use reason, inspired by faith, to find the correct manner in which to deal with a deadly pandemic. That manner must give priority to prayer, devotion and worship, to the invocation of God’s mercy upon His people who suffer so much and are in danger of death. Made in God’s own image and likeness, we enjoy the gifts of intellect and free will. Using these God-given gifts, united to the also God-given gifts of Faith, Hope and Love, we will find our way in the present time of worldwide trial which is the cause of so much sadness and fear.

We can count upon the help and intercession of the great host of our heavenly friends, to whom we are intimately united in the Communion of Saints. The Virgin Mother of God, the holy Archangels and Guardian Angels, Saint Joseph, True Spouse of the Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church, Saint Roch whom we invoke in times of epidemic, and the other saints and blessed to whom we regularly turn in prayer are at our side. They guide us and constantly assure us that God will never fail to hear our prayer; He will respond with His immeasurable and unceasing mercy and love.

Dear friends, I offer these few reflections to you, deeply conscious of how much you are suffering because of the pandemic coronavirus. It is my hope that the reflections may be of help to you. Above all, I hope that they will inspire you to turn to God in prayer and worship, each according to his or her possibilities, and thus experience His healing and peace. With the reflections comes the assurance of my daily remembrance of your intentions in my prayer and penance, especially in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I ask you please to remember me in your daily prayers.

I remain yours in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in the Purest Heart of Saint Joseph,

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
21 March 2020
Feast of Saint Benedict, Abbot
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