Saturday, June 3, 2023

How to Know God's Will: Fr. John Hardon

Q: Since we do not know what God is planning for us for tomorrow, what do you mean by “we should plan for the following day” since we don’t know what God is planning for us?

A: Thanks for the question. That’s one of the main reasons for praying. “Lord, what do you want me to do?” He, needless to say, knows the future. He knows what He wants us to do. Give a problem—my, there are no problems in life. No problems in life! Zero! What we call problems are all acts of Divine Providence.

God wants you to do something. You have a problem. Pray. Ask for light. Then, you find out what God wants. We still have a problem: we don’t want to do it! So we pray again, “Lord, now that I know what You want me to do, I’m scared, give me the grace to do it.” I would never have left my widowed mother alone, in very bad health, and entered the Society of Jesus, unless I had prayed that You help me to. What does God want me to do? I was accepted for medical school. So pray, and pardon me, since we don’t know what God is planning for us, mamma mia! Pray! Ask for light!

Q: How do you know when you have got the light from God? How do you know?

A: The first condition is you must be totally, completely open to God’s will. Ready. Write: “Lord, I don’t know what You want, but I mean it, I want to do Your will.” That’s the precondition. Then ask for light.

The thoughts you get about what you think now is God’s light telling you what to do. If that brings you peace of mind, that is God speaking to you. We are never, never, never thinking alone. Never, never. God is always thinking with us, for us, and enlightening us what He wants us to do. Being open to His will brings us peace--that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Maybe we’ll be scared. So what? If I’m at peace, I’d do it. Now the beauty is, after a while you become so used to getting instructions from the Lord, you just assume. You are ready and willing, holding nothing back, “Whatever you will, Lord.” Then pray, and if the thoughts should come to your mind giving you peace, they are from God. If they disturb you, forget it.

Q: How can you be at peace if you are afraid?

A: Well, there are two kinds of peace. First of all, there is peace of mind, and there is peace of heart. Peace of mind is knowing the truth. Peace of heart is doing God’s will. Now, what we must do is constantly distinguish between our feelings and our mind and our will. Can we be afraid once we know what God wants? Can we be afraid? But, if my mind tells me something is God’s will and I’m afraid, do I not do it because I’m afraid? In other words, to not allow our fears to guide our minds, we must ask ourselves, why, why am I afraid? Am I afraid because I will fail? Am I afraid because I will make a fool of myself? I repeat, once my mind enlightened by faith, I must be open, really open, to doing God’s will. My mind tells me: “This is God’s will.” You can pray and ask God to give you strength to overcome your fear. But don’t you dare avoid doing it just because you are afraid! And as we say in Rome, oh, mamma mia! No. We have to have courage. And courage comes from conviction. My mind is sure that something is God’s will and I do it! I wouldn’t be standing here. I wouldn’t have done so many things I thought God wanted me to do if I were afraid. I could talk for hours! Thanks for the question!

Thursday, June 1, 2023

A New Litany of Humility

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

From all pride and its effects, deliver me, Jesus.
From coveting greatness for its own sake or to excess, etc.
From contempt of You and Your law,
From a puffed-up self-image,
From claiming to be a self-made man,
From ingratitude for Your gifts,
From thinking that I have earned Your gifts by my effort alone,
From boasting of having what I do not have,
From excusing my faults while judging others,
From wishing to be the sole possessor of the skills I have,
From setting myself before others,

From all vainglory,
From craving praise for its own sake,
From looking for flattery,
From withholding glory from You,
From showing off to the harm of my neighbor,
From presumption and false self-confidence,
From boastfulness,
From hypocrisy,
From the excessive need to be fashionable,
From obstinacy and contention,
From disobedience,

From all false humility,
From forfeiting my dignity as a child of God,
From burying the talents that You gave me,
From an unreasonable fear of failure,
From avoiding my true vocation,
From despair at my weakness,

In the ways of humility, teach me, Jesus.
To know my limits and my strengths, etc.
To acknowledge the depravity of my past sins,
To acclaim You as the author of all the good I do,
To put my confidence in You,
To be subject to You and Your Church,
To be subject to others for Your sake,
To revere Your presence in others,
To rejoice in Your gifts in others, even the gifts unseen,

To do great things by Your help and for Your glory, strengthen me, Jesus.
To seek greatness in heavenly things and lasting virtue, etc.
To do my best even when unnoticed,
To put my share of Your gifts at Your service,
To be neither puffed up by honor nor downcast by shame,
To do penance for my sins and those of others,
Above all, to strive to love You with all my being,
And to love my neighbor as myself,

In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Father Joseph Hagan, O.P.


Plinthos Commentary

Father Hagan proposes this litany as an alternative to the popular Litany of Humility attributed to Cardinal Merry del Val. However, the problem might be in translation. The Spanish version of the del Val Litany is slightly but significantly different in the. What is more, the del Val version is apparently based on an earlier French version. It is instructive to look at the French version in popular use today, which is quite different in very important ways.

par le Cardinal Merry del Val

V. Ô Jésus, doux et humble de cœur,
R. Rendez mon cœur semblable au Vôtre.

De ma volonté propre, délivrez-moi Seigneur,
Du désir d’être estimé,
Du désir d’être affectionné,
Du désir d’être recherché,
Du désir d’être honoré,
Du désir d’être loué,
Du désir d’être préféré,
Du désir d’être consulté,
Du désir d’être approuvé,
Du désir d’être compris,
Du désir d’être visité,
De la crainte d’être humilié,
De la crainte d’être méprisé,
De la crainte d’être rebuté,
De la crainte d’être calomnié,
De la crainte d’être oublié,
De la crainte d’être raillé,
De la crainte d’être soupçonné,
De la crainte d’être injurié,
De la crainte d’être abandonné,
De la crainte d’être refusé,

Que d’autres soient plus aimés que moi, accordez-moi, Seigneur, de le désirer,
Que d’autres soient plus estimés que moi,
Que d’autres grandissent dans l’opinion et que je diminue,
Que d’autres soient loués et que je sois oublié,
Que d’autres soient employés et que je sois mis de côté,
Que d’autres soient préférés en tout,
Que d’autres soient plus saints que moi, pourvu que je le soit autant que je puis l’être,

D’être inconnu et pauvre, Seigneur, je veux me réjouir,
D’être dépourvu des perfections naturelles du corps et de l’esprit,
Qu’on ne pense pas à moi,
Qu’on m’occupe aux emplois les plus bas,
Qu’on ne daigne même pas se servir de moi,
Qu’on ne me demande jamais mon avis,
Qu’on me laisse à la dernière place,
Qu’on ne me fasse jamais de compliment,
Qu’on me blâme à temps et à contretemps,

V. Bienheureux ceux qui souffrent persécution pour la justice,
R. Car le Royaume des Cieux est à eux.

Dieu, qui résistez aux orgueilleux et donnez votre grâce aux humbles, accordez-nous la vraie humilité, celle dont Votre Fils unique a donné l’exemple à Ses fidèles, pour que jamais l’orgueil en nous ne provoque Votre colère, mais qu’au contraire notre soumission attire sur nous les dons de Votre grâce. Par le même Jésus-Christ, Votre Fils.

Compare that to the 1867 version (Wikipedia), a translation from the French. It would be important to establish the original French source.

Litany to Obtain Holy Humility (1867)

Lord have mercy, etc,
Jesus meek and humble of Heart, listen to my prayers, etc.
From the desire of being esteemed, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being known, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being praised, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being honoured, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being preferred, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being consulted, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being approved, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being spared, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being humbled, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being despised, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being rebuked, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being calumniated, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being forgotten, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being reviled, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being ill-treated, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being injured, O Jesus, deliver me.
O Mary, Mother of the humble, pray for me.
St. Joseph, patron of the humble, pray for me.
St. Michael, who first crushed pride, pray for me.
St. Francis, imitator of a master meek and humble, pray for me.
All ye holy spirits sanctified by humility, pray for me.


O sweet Jesus! meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine, and give me the grace of final perseverance.
— The Fervent Adorer: Or, Practice Of Perpetual Adoration Of The Sacred Heart Of Jesus, As Recommended by Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Primacy of Marian Dimension of the Church: Personal Holiness

Annual Address to Roman Curia Pope Saint John Paul II December 22, 1987

On Monday, 22 December, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Rossi, conveyed the Christmas greetings of the assembled cardinals and officials of the Roman Curia to the Holy Father, who delivered the following address in reply.

Your Eminences, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood, Dear Laity,

I sincerely thank the Cardinal Dean for his greeting; he has interpreted your personal desires in this traditional and always pleasant gathering before Christmas. His message has focused our common attention on the particular significance which current circumstances contribute to our annual meeting. We meet near the Eve of Christmas in the Marian Year.

Every year on this occasion we are moved by the expectation of him who is born in Bethlehem of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, and it is our mutual desire to experience as deeply as possible this central event of history by extending a welcome to the Incarnate Word. In this Marian Year our meeting has a special significance and brings a new emphasis to our Christmas reflection. The Marian Year, in fact, prepares us to approach Christ in this Advent of the third millennium in order to relieve the mystery of his Incarnation, following Mary who precedes us in this journey of faith. She was the first “minister” of the Word.

As members of the Roman Curia we are conscious of serving the Mystery of the Incarnation from which the Church as a “Body” originated. In Mary, as St. Augustine noted: “the only-begotten Son of God was pleased to unite to himself human nature, so that to the immaculate head he associated the immaculate Church, (Serm 191.3; PL 38, 1010). From Mary is born Christ the Head who is indissolubly united to the Church, his Body. The “whole Christ” is born. As servants and ministers of this Mystical Body, daily nourished with the Eucharistic Body of Christ, we manifest this year the particular presence of the Mother of God in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church in which we are aware of participating in a particular manner.

2. We well understand that Vatican II effected a great synthesis between Mariology and ecclesiology. The Marian Year adheres to such a synthesis and conciliar inspiration so that the Church may be everywhere renewed through the presence of the Mother of God who, as the Fathers taught, is a model of the Church.

The Council offers an enlightening interpretation of the presence of the Virgin in the divine plan of salvation. Because she is the instrument and privileged channel of the Incarnation of the Word in human nature and of his presence among us, Mary is “intimately united with the Church: the Mother of God is a figure of the Church, as Saint Ambrose had earlier taught, in the order of faith, of charity and of the perfect union with Christ” (Lumen Gentium, 63). Developing this teaching, I wrote in the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater: “ the reality of the Incarnation finds a sort of extension in the mystery of the Church – The Body of Christ. And one cannot think of the reality of the Incarnation without referring to Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word” (no. 5).

Mary united to Christ, Mary united to the Church. And the Church united to Mary finds in her the most refined and perfect image of its own specific mission which is simultaneously virginal and maternal. The Fathers and the Teachers of the early Church have underlined this double aspect: for example, St. Augustine brilliantly comments, Hic est speciosus forma prae filiis hominum, sanctae filius Mariae, sanctiae sponsus Ecclesiae, quam suae genitriit similem redditit: nam et nobis eam matrem fecit, et virginem sibi custodit” (Serm 195.2; PL 38:1018). The Virgin Mary is the archetype of the Church because of the divine maternity; just like Mary, the Church must be, and wishes to be, mother and virgin. The Church lives in this authentic “Marian profile”, this “Marian dimension”; thus the Council, gathering together the patristic and theological voices, both eastern and western has noted this phenomenom: “The Church, moreover, contemplating Mary’s mysterious sanctity, imitating her charity, and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, becomes herself a mother by accepting God’s word in faith. For by her preaching and by baptism she brings forth to a new and immortal life, children who are conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God. The Church herself is a virgin, who keeps whole and pure the fidelity she has pledged to her Spouse. Imitating the Mother of her Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, she preserves with virginal purity and integral faith , a firm hope and sincere charity” (Lumen Gentium, 64).

Sphere of divine grace

3. This Marian profile is also- even perhaps more so- fundamental and characteristic for the Church as is the apostolic and Petrine profile to which it is profoundly united. In this vision of the Church Mary precedes the People of God who are still pilgrims.

Mary is she who, predestined to be the Mother of the Word, lived continuously and totally in the sphere of divine grace subject to its vivifying influence; she is the mirror and transparency of the life of God himself. Immaculate, “full of grace”, she was prepared by God for the Incarnation of the Word and was always under the Continuous action of the Holy Spirit: hers was the “yes” and the fiat par excellence to him who had chosen her “before the beginning of the world” (Eph 1:4). Such response was evident in the docility, the humility, the conformity to the least movement of grace which rendered her, we can say, mother in a twofold sense through conformity to God’s will: “who does the will of God is my mother” (cf. Mk 3:35). The divine maternity, that unique and sublime privilege of the ever-Virgin, must be seen in this perspective as the supreme glory of the fidelity of Mary in corresponding with grace.

The Marian dimension of the Church is evident from the similarity of tasks in relation to the whole Christ. To this dimension, in fact, can be applied the word of Jesus: “whoever does the will of my Father is my brother, sister, and mother”, (Mk, ibid.). The Church, like Mary, lives by grace in submission to the Holy Spirit; according to his light the signs and necessities of the times are interpreted, and progress is accomplished in complete docility to the voice of the Spirit.

In this sense the Marian dimension of the Church is antecedent to that of the Petrine, without being in any way divided from it or being less complementary. The Immaculate Mary precedes all others, including obviously Peter himself and the Apostles. This is so, not only because Peter and the Apostles, being born of the human race under the burden of sin, form part of the Church which is “holy with sinners:, but also because their triple function has no other purpose except to from the Church in line with the ideal of sanctity already programmed and prefigured in Mary. A contemporary theologian has well commented: “Mary is ‘Queen of the Apostles’ without any pretensions to apostolic powers: she has other and greater powers” (von Balthasar, Nette Klarstellungen, Ital. transl., Milan 1980, p. 181). In this context it is especially significant to note the presence of Mary in the Upper Room, where she assists Peter and the other Apostles, praying for and with them as all await the coming of the Spirit.

This link between the two profiles of the Church, the Marian and the Petrine, is profound and complementary. This is so even though the Marian profile is anterior not only in design of God but also in time, as well being supreme and pre-eminent, richer in personal and communitarian implications for individual ecclesial vocations.

In this light the Roman Curia lives and ought to live – all of us ought so to live. It is certain that the Curia is directly united to the Petrine office to whose service it is dedicated by office, constitution and mission. The Curia serves the Church as a Body; situated, one may say, at the apex, it offers its collaboration to the Successor of Peter in his service to the local Churches. In this activity, it is more necessary and indispensable to preserve and strengthen the Marian dimension in the service to Peter. Mary precedes those of us who are in the Curia where we serve the Mystery of the Word Incarnate, just as she precedes the whole Church for which we live. May she assist us to discover ever more fully and to live more authentically this richness, which for us, I would say, is vital and decisive. May Mary help us to participate more consciously in the symbiosis of the Marian and Petrine apostolic dimensions from which the Church daily draws orientation and sustenance. May attention to Mary and to her example bring us to a greater love, tenderness and docility to the voice of the Spirit, so that each one is more enriched interiorly with that dedication to the ministry of Peter.

4. In the light of the Marian Year as the central theme of our meeting, which continues the teaching Vatican II in presenting Mary as the guide of the People of God in their pilgrimage of faith, I would now like to underline some of the salient events of the year that is about to conclude: the Synod of bishops, the numerous beatifications and canonizations, and the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Dimitrios I of Constantinople.

In the first place the sessions of the Synod: two months have passed since the conclusion of its discussions and it is more and more evident that the interventions and labours of the Synodal Fathers have resulted in a global image of the Church – how she lives, works, prays, suffers, struggles, and adheres to Christ. The Synod has effectively offered the image of this People on pilgrimage on earth, and especially of that portion of the People of God, the laity, according to their specific characteristics. In their pilgrimage it is still the Mother who precedes her children as they seek “the kingdom of God in dealing with temporal affairs as they organize them according to God’s will in the ‘spirit of the Beatitudes’” (Lumen Gentium, 31). This Marian presence in the mission of the laity, in their journey of faith, is the line which clearly defines that great event.

As time passes since the Synod of last October, the positive results become more evident, not alone in the reaffirmation of the teaching of the magnificent documents of Vatican Ii but more so because of the emphasis on the ecclesiology of communion as a necessary contest for situating the role of the laity in the Church for the salvation of the world. The laity themselves have co-operated in formulating this conclusion, in so far as the Synod Fathers represented the voice of the laity; furthermore, the laity themselves of both sexes entered actively by their conspicuous and qualified presence at the Synod where they spoke in the plenary sessions and collaborated effectively in the circuli minores. The result has been a truly universal overall view of the diverse realities that constitute the true image of the Church today. As with the preceding Synods, it shall be my duty to follow those unforgettable days.

Meanwhile I am happy to underline in our present meeting how this richness and plurality of results is the evidence that the Church is truly open to the voice of the Spirit in her pilgrimage of faith and love, and is always conscious of her responsibility to God and before the world. Mary is present in this journey of the laity, to guide them a she guides us all towards the coming of Christ.

Final destiny

5. Vatican II has demonstrated that in her who is the Mother of God the Church has reached her final destiny: “In the bodily and spiritual glory which she possesses in heaven, the Mother of Jesus continues in this present world as the image and first flowering of the Church as she is to be perfected in the life to come” (Lumen Gentium, 68). This affirmation reiterates what the dogmatic Constitution the Church had already expounded in chapter7: “the eschatological character of the pilgrim Church and its union with the heavenly church”, and chapter 5: “the universal vocation to holiness in the Church”. In the fullness of time Mary, in virtue of her immaculate conception, reunited in herself the salvific design of God that had been destroyed by sin. Assumed into heaven with her most holy body, which is the Ark of the new Covenant, she already reigns with Christ in the psycho-physical unity of her person.

She is, therefore, after Christ, “the first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5; Col 1:18). She is the one who precedes the Church in the journey towards the fulfillment of sanctity and awaits the completion that shall be total. However, with her there are also those who, awaiting the final resurrection, are already in heaven according to the judgement of the church. They have verified in themselves the plan of God and have reached that desired success of every human existence: “the complete, intimate union with Christ” (cf. Lumen Gentium, 49).

Recalling the Queen of all Saints in this Marian Year I now wish to mention the two canonizations and eleven beatifications of this year. These numerous liturgical events of 1987 have demonstrated, perhaps more forcibly than usual, how real, true and actual is the Church’s universal call to holiness, and have given testimony to the ethnic-vocational plurality of such a call.

The new saints and beati, in fact, belong to diverse vocations among the people of God. Among such we discover: Cardinals, as Marcello Spinola y Maestre (29 March) and Andrea Carlo Ferrari (10 May): bishops, as Michal Kozal (14 June) and Jurgis Matulaitis (28 June); priests and brothers, as Manuel Domingo y Sol (29 March), Rupert Mayer (3 May) and Jules Arnould Reche (1 Nov.); women religious, as Teresa de los Andes (3April), Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinelli (10 May), Ulrika Nisch and BlandinaMerten (1 Nov.); laity of both sexes, as Lorenzo Ruiz (18 Oct.), Giuseppe Moscati (25 Oct. ), and many others all professions and occupations, even the most humble. It is a witness given in the most diverse circumstances, i.e. as pastors and ministers of the Church, as medical doctors, as educators and evangelizers.

Often such witness was rendered in the most arduous circumstances, such as by martyrdom antonomastically so called as in the case of three Carmelite Sisters of Guadalajara (29 March), Edith Stein (1 May) and Karolina Kozka (10 June), Marcel Callo, Pierina Morosini and Antonia Mesina (4 Oct.), the 16 martyrs of Japan (18 Oct.), and the eighty-five English martyrs (22 Nov.).

Again, many of the new saints and beati lived in our century: they are contemporaries. In reality, the saints are in our midst and they demonstrate that even today the Church is called to sanctity and responds generously under the inspiration and guidance of Mary.

Furthermore, the saints and beati belong to diverse nations of different continents: thus the canonizations and beatifications attest to the universal significance even when viewed geographically.

From this point of view I regard it as a special grace of the Lord to have been able to propose for the veneration of the church, as desired by repeated requests of the local bishops, come champions of the faith in the locality where they lived. I did this during some of the apostolic journeys of this year: Sister Teresa de los Andes at Santiago, Chile (3 April); Sister Benedicta of the Cross, at Cologne (1 May); Father Mayer at Munich (3 May); Karolina Kozka, at Tarnow (10 June); and Mons. Kozal at Warsaw (14 June).

The ever-increasing possibility of publicly proclaiming the heroic sanctity of the sons and daughters of the Church in the course of my visits to various countries of the world confirms me in the belief that such journeys constitute a particular service to the People of God on its pilgrimage, precisely that pilgrimage towards the definitive Kingdom of God, in which Mary “precedes” the Church in various places on earth. Since the journeys are, with God’s help, the contemporary application of the mandate of Christ – “go therefore into the whole world” (Mk 16:15) – and also and explicit consequence of the Petrine ministry, “confirm your brothers” (Lk 22:32), they afford a greater spiritual and intellectual irradiation of the office that is so sublime and solemn, by proposing for the imitation of the Church the authentic exemplars of sanctity proper to it. Such saintly individuals are proof before the world that holiness is possible for all people, in every civilization and in all climates.

6. Following the path of the Council, the encyclical Redemptoris Mater underlined the “pilgrimage” aspect of the Church, in which the Mother of God “precedes”, and as such has ecumenical overtones.

or separated brethren of the Churches and ecclesial communities of the West, that document emphasizes the manner in which they can, even desire to, advance together in the journey of faith of which Mary is the exemplar. The encyclical sees as a glad omen the fact that those Churches are united “with us in fundamental points of the Christian faith, even in what concerns the Virgin Mary”. (Redemptoris Mater, 31). Furthermore, the encyclical stresses the identity of the historical, theological, liturgical and artistic witness that the Orthodox Church as well as the ancient Oriental churches offer concerning their theologically profound and humanly tender veneration of the Mother of God (ibid., 31-33).

In the light of all this the visit to Rome of His Holiness, Dimitrios I, the Ecumenical Patriarch, 3-7 December, is vested with a particular significance. I had the great joy of receiving him in the Vatican with the fraternal charity and honour due to him. It was a visit of ecclesial communion in exchange for that which I had made to the ecumenical Patriarch for the feast St. Andrew in 1979 – a visit that was intentionally undertaken as contribution to the re-establishment of full communion between Catholics and Orthodox.

Maturation of interests

The event took full account of the maturation of interests that had developed between Catholics and Orthodox from the time of the Council, and also of the results of the positive theological dialogue current at the time. We were thus able to pray together during the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica. In the spirit of the Marian Year we also prayed together in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. In his Mariological homily Patriarch Dimitrios I wished to emphasize, “how our two sister Churches and maintained through the centuries the unquenchable flame of devotion to the All-Holy mother of God”.

This fact constitutes a firm link uniting us in a common tradition. And if, in the course of time, distinctions have appeared which are certainly being discussed and understood in dialogue, “the common dogmatic and theological patrimony that has developed concerning the venerable person of the All-Holy Mother of God constitutes a bond of unity and reunion of separated parties”. In confirmation of the positive importance of this perspective, Patriarch Dimitrios wished to propose that “the theme of Mariology should occupy a central position in the theological dialogue between our Churches, and should be examined not only from a theological standpoint but also from that of anthropology and in particular in an ecclesiological context, in the effort towards finding the complete re-establishment of our ecclesial communion for which we pray and labour, and towards which we look forward with great expectation”.

This statement reflects directly the orientation of the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater. Profoundly grateful, I am convinced that from this point of view the visit of the Patriarch has made positive contribution in depth to the relations between Catholics and Orthodox.

The interest, rather the enthusiasm, which this visit had aroused makes me repeat the desire that the Church “begin again to breathe fully with her two lungs: the East and the West…This is more than ever necessary today… It would also be the way for the pilgrim church tossing and live more perfectly her Magnificat” (Redemptoris Mater, 34).

7. As we conclude our meeting I take the opportunity of announcing officially the proximate publication of an encyclical letter in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of “Populorun Progressio” of Paul VI. That document marked a fundamental phase in the contemporary life of the Church. At the same time it occasioned profound reactions in public opinion, giving thereby testimony and new proof of the living presence of the Church herself in the dramatic situations of the development and peace of the world. In recalling the continuing relevance of that excellent document, the forthcoming encyclical intends to highlight that current themes and to respond to the problems which, concerning the same themes, confront the conscience of modern man: in a word, the encyclical desires to remain on the same track as Populorum Progressio, as its ideal continuation and development.

The projected work underlines how much the Church desires to accompany the people of our time. For that reason I dedicate this encyclical here and now to the Holy Virgin. I have it very much at heart as I wish to find answers for society and to urge renewal as well proposing concrete suggestions for international co-operation in the context of fraternal understanding among nations, and promoting authentic development according to the plan of God.

8. In this perspective, which we must keep alive in our hearts, I want to renew today my gratitude and my wishes for a happy Christmas. I offer them to all of you who, in every rank and grade, contribute your important and appreciated collaboration to the Holy See in the roman Curia, to the Diocese of Rome in the Vicariate and to Vatican City. I offer these greetings to the Pontifical Representatives and the diplomatic personnel who help them in their mission: I extend them to your dear ones, especially to those families where physical or spiritual suffering exists. May Jesus bring his grace and peace to all.

The child Jesus, whom we find as the Shepherds and the Magi found him in the arms of Mary his Mother, is the light of the world, and he is the light of our lives: “He is a light to our minds”, as St. Augustine wrote (Quaest, Evangeliorum 1:1; PL 35, 1323). May his light guide the service which we bring to the Mystery of the Incarnation, where she who is his Mother and ours is particularly to be found, she who is the Mother of the Church. It is she who will take us by the hand and help us to be faithful in our ecclesial service, in which she will always be our “predecessor”.

With that wish, which the imminent feast makes more intimate and profound, I bless you all.


Plinthos appendix.

It seems to me that this explanation of JPII is simply an application of the theology on the divisions of grace. Grace is divided into gratia gratum faciens and gratia gratis data. The first takes precedence over the second because the second is at the service of the first.

Question 111: On the divisions of grace
  • 111,1-5: Gratia gratum faciens heals and sanctifies the person who receives it, whereas gratia gratis data is given to one person not for his own sanctification but for the sake of the community.
  • Gratia gratum faciens includes habitual grace and actual grace, each of which can be thought of as either operating grace or cooperating grace, according to whether we are thinking just of God's action (operating grace) or of our action as well (cooperating grace): (i) habitual operating grace is gratia gratum faciens insofar as it is a habit by which God alone heals or justifies the soul and makes it gratum; (ii) habitual cooperating grace is gratia gratum faciens insofar as it is a habit serving as a principle of the meritorious works that proceed from creaturely free choice as well as from God; (iii) actual operating grace is gratia gratum faciens insofar as it involves our will being moved interiorly by God to the good; (iv) actual cooperating grace is gratia gratum faciens insofar as it involves our will freely commanding the appropriate exterior act as aided by God.
  • Gratia gratum faciens is also divided into prevenient grace and subsequent grace relative to the five effects of grace (see question 113 below):
  • (1) the healing of the soul
  • (2) the soul's willing the good
  • (3) the soul's efficaciously doing the good that it wills
  • (4) the soul's persevering in the good
  • (5) the soul's attaining glory (supernatural beatitude)
    So, e.g., grace insofar as it is a cause of  (2) is prevenient to grace insofar as it is a cause of  (3) and subsequent to grace insofar as it is caused by (1), etc.
  • Gratia gratis data is divided, ala 1 Cor 12, into nine different categories, three having to do with understanding the faith (faithwisdom, and knowledge), four with confirming the faith (miracles of healingmiracles of powerprophecydiscernment of spirits) and two with proclaiming the faith (gift of tonguesinterpretation of tongues). Note that this sort of grace is not as fundamental as gratia gratum faciens, since it is ordered toward the latter and does not of itself sanctify the one who has it.  Rather, it is given to one person for the sake of facilitating the sanctification of others.

This principle was brought out clearly by Pope Saint Paul VI in his 21 November, 1964 speech at the close of the third session of Vatican II which published Lumen Gentium in which he said that the Church is not made up only by her hierarchical order, the sacred liturgy, the sacraments or her juridical structures.
For the Church itself is not only constituted by its hierarchical order, the sacred liturgy, the sacraments, the framework of its institutes; but its inner strength and property, the chief source of the efficacy by which it sanctifies men, are placed in its mystical union with Christ; indeed, we cannot consider this union as abstract from her, who is the Mother of the Incarnate Word, and whom Christ himself intimately associated with himself in order to secure our salvation.
Therefore, looking at the Church itself, we must contemplate with a loving heart the wonderful things which God has wrought in His Holy Mother. And the knowledge of the true Catholic teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary will always be an effective aid to correctly understand the mystery of Christ and the Church.

Considering the close ties by which Mary and the Church are united to each other, and which are so clearly set forth in this Constitution of the Council, they suggest to us that this is the most solemn and most opportune moment of time to fulfill the vow which We expressed at the end of the last Session and joined by many Council Fathers, urgently asking that the maternal office which the Blessed Virgin Mary carries out among the Christian people should be announced in express words during this Council. For this reason it seems expedient to Us to properly introduce in this very public assembly a title by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is honored, which has been requested from various parts of the Catholic world, and is acceptable and pleasing to Us in a special way; indeed, with a kind of wonderful brevity, it expresses the exceptional place which this Council has acknowledged as belonging to the Mother of God (Deiparae) in the Church. 
To the glory of the Blessed Virgin and for our consolation, We declare Mary Most Holy to be Mother of the Church, that is, of the whole Christian people, faithful and Pastors alike, who invoke her as their most loving Mother; and We establish that by this sweetest of names the whole Christian people should henceforth give still greater honor to the Mother of God and offer her their supplications.
Venerable Brothers, this concerns a title by no means new to Christian piety; indeed the Christian faithful and the universal Church choose to invoke Mary principally by the name of Mother. In truth, this name belongs to the genuine nature of devotion to Mary, since it rests firmly on that very dignity with which Mary is endowed as the Mother of the Incarnate Word of God.

Just as the Divine Motherhood is the basis both for Mary's unique relationship with Christ and for her presence in the work of human salvation accomplished by Christ Jesus, so likewise, it is principally from the Divine Motherhood that the relationships which exist between Mary and the Church flow. Mary is indeed the Mother of Christ who, at the moment he assumed human nature in her virginal womb, joined to himself, as Head, his Mystical Body, which is the Church. Mary, therefore, as Mother of Christ, must also be regarded as Mother of all the faithful and Pastors alike, that is to say, of the Church.

Herein lies the reason why we, though unworthy and weak, yet in a spirit of trust and with ardent filial love, raise our eyes to her. She who once gave us Jesus, the fount of heavenly grace, cannot fail to offer her maternal help to the Church, especially at this time in which the Spouse of Christ strives with greater zeal to fulfil her salvific mission

These closest of bonds between our heavenly Mother and the human race urge Us, moreover, to foster and further strengthen this confidence. Even though she has been enriched with superabundant and wondrous gifts from God so as to be made worthy to be Mother of the Incarnate Word, nevertheless, Mary is very near to us. Like us, she is a child of Adam and so too our sister on account of our common human nature; she was preserved from the stain of original sin by reason of the future merits of Christ, but she added to these gifts received from on high the example of her own perfect faith and so merited the proclamation in the Gospel: "Blessed are you who have believed."

In this mortal life she embodied the perfect form of a disciple of Christ, she was the mirror of all virtues, and in her manner of life exemplified fully those beatitudes proclaimed by Christ Jesus. Consequently, the universal Church, while she lives out the many facets of her life and in her active zeal, draws from the Virgin Mother of God the peerless example of how to imitate Christ perfectly. 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Quae Sursum Sunt Sapite!

"Taste the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth." Thus, as I see it, the translation of the Vulgate Colossians 3:2.

Igitur, si consurrexistis cum Christo: quæ sursum sunt quærite, ubi Christus est in dextera Dei sedens: quæ sursum sunt sapite, non quæ super terram.

The Imitation of Christ has a chapter in which the word sapio is used numerous times to get at the connection between wisdom and high tastes. Here is the Plinthos translation, then the Latin text.




BEHOLD, my God and my all! What more do I wish for; what greater happiness can I desire? O delicious and sweet word! But delicious and sweet only to him who loves God, and not the world or the things that are in the world.

My God and my all! These words are enough for him who understands, and for him who loves God it is a delight to repeat them often. For when You, my God, are present, all things are delightful; when You are absent, all things become loathsome. It is You Who give tranquility to the heart, great peace and festive joy. It is You Who make us think well of all things, and praise You in all things. Without You nothing can give pleasure for very long; for if anything is to be pleasing and tasty, Your grace and the seasoning of Your wisdom must be in it. To the one to whom you are delicious, what can be tasted not rightly? And, to the one who does not have a taste for You, what can please him?

But, the wise men of the world, the men who lust for the flesh, are wanting in Your wisdom, because in the world is found the utmost vanity, and in the flesh is death. But they who follow You by disdaining worldly things and mortifying the flesh are known to be truly wise, for they are transported from vanity to truth, from flesh to spirit. God is relished by such as these, and they turn whatever good is found in creatures to the praise of the Creator. But great -- yes, very great, indeed -- is the difference between the taste of the Creator and of the creature, of eternity and of time, of uncreated Light and of light that is reflected.

O Light eternal, surpassing all created brightness, flash forth the lightning from above and enlighten the inmost recesses of my heart. Cleanse, cheer, enlighten, and vivify my spirit with all its powers, that it may cleave to You in ecstasies of joy. Oh, when will that happy and wished-for hour come, that You may fill me with Your presence and become all in all to me? So long as this is not given me, my joy will not be complete.

The old man, alas, yet lives within me. He has not yet been entirely crucified; he is not yet entirely dead. He still lusts strongly against the spirit, and he will not leave the kingdom of my soul in peace. But You, Who can command the power of the sea and calm the tumult of its waves, arise and help me. Scatter the nations that delight in war; crush them in Your sight. Show forth I beg of You, Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified, because for me there is no other hope or refuge except in You, O Lord, my God.


CAPUT XXXIV. Quod amanti sapit Deus super omnia et in omnibus

1. Ecce, Deus meus et omnia. Quid volo amplius, et quid felicius desiderare possum? O sapidum et dulce verbum! sed amanti Verbum, non mundum, nec ea, quae in mundo sunt. Deus meus et omnia. Intellegenti satis dictum est, et saepe repetere iucundum est amanti. Te siquidem praesente iucunda sunt omnia; te autem absente fastidiunt cuncta. Tu facis cor tranquillum et pacem magnam laetitiamque festivam. Tu facis bene sentire de omnibus et in omnibus te laudare, nec potest aliquid sine te diu placere; sed si debet gratum esse et bene sapere, oportet gratiam tuam adesse et condimento tuae sapientiae condiri.

2. Cui tu sapis, quid ei recte non sapiet? Et cui tu non sapis, quid ei ad iucunditatem esse poterit? Sed deficiunt in sapientia tua mundi sapientes, et qui carnem sapiunt: quia ibi plurima vanitas, et hic mors invenitur. Qui autem te per contemptum mundanorum et carnis mortificationem sequuntur, vere sapientes esse cognoscuntur: quia de vanitate ad veritatem, de carne ad spiritum transferuntur. Istis sapit Deus: et quidquid boni invenitur in creaturis, totum ad laudem referunt sui conditoris. Dissimilis tamen, et multum dissimilis sapor Creatoris et creaturae, aeternitatis et temporis, lucis increatae et lucis illuminatae.

3. O lux perpetua, cuncta creata transcendens lumina, fulgura coruscationem de sublimi penetrantem omnia cordis mei intima. Purifica, laetifica, clarifica et vivifica spiritum meum, cum suis potentiis ad inhaerendum tibi iubilosis excessibus. O quando veniet haec beata et desiderabilis hora, ut tua me saties praesentia et sis mihi omnia in omnibus? Quamdiu hoc datum non fuerit, nec plenum gaudium erit. Adhuc, pro dolor, vivit in me vetus homo, non est totus crucifixus, non est perfecte mortuus. Adhuc concupiscit fortiter contra spiritum, bella movet intestina, nec regnum animae patitur esse quietum.

4. Sed tu, qui dominaris potestati maris et motum fluctuum eius mitigas, exurge, adiuva me. Dissipa gentes, quae bella volunt; contere eas in virtute tua. Ostende, quaeso, magnalia tua, et glorificetur dextera tua: quia non est spes alia nec refugium mihi, nisi in te, Domine Deus meus.

This text is reminiscent of Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 Homily to the Swiss Bishops on the need to help the people of our time acquire a taste for God. Here is the relevant text.
...From the whole of this history of God, starting with Adam, we can conclude: God never fails.

Today too, he will find new ways to call men, and he wants to have us with him as his messengers and servants.

Precisely in our time we know very well how those who were invited first say "no". Indeed, Western Christianity, the new "first guests", now largely excuse themselves, they do not have time to come to the Lord. We know the churches that are ever more empty, seminaries continue to be empty, religious houses that are increasingly empty; we are familiar with all the forms in which this "no, I have other important things to do" is presented. And it distresses and upsets us to be witnesses of these excuses and refusals of the first guests, who in reality should know the importance of the invitation and should feel drawn in that direction.

What should we do?

First of all, we should ask ourselves: why is this happening?

In his Parable the Lord mentions two reasons: possessions and human relations, which involve people to the extent that they no longer feel the need for anything else to fill their time and therefore their interior existence.

St Gregory the Great in his explanation of this text sought to delve into it further and wondered: how can a man say "no" to the greatest thing that exists; that he has no time for what is most important; that he can lock himself into his own existence?

And he answers: in reality, they have never had an experience of God; they have never acquired a "taste" for God; they have never experienced how delightful it is to be "touched" by God! They lack this "contact" - and with it, the "taste for God". And only if we, so to speak, taste him, only then can we come to the banquet.

St Gregory cites the Psalm from which today's Communion Antiphon is taken: Taste, try it and see; taste and then you will see and be enlightened! Our task is to help people so they can taste the flavour for God anew.

In another homily, St Gregory the Great deepened further the same question and asked himself: how can it be that man does not even want to "taste" God?

And he responds: when man is entirely caught up in his own world, with material things, with what he can do, with all that is feasible and brings him success, with all that he can produce or understand by himself, then his capacity to perceive God weakens, the organ sensitive to God deteriorates, it becomes unable to perceive and sense, it no longer perceives the Divine, because the corresponding inner organ has withered, it has stopped developing.

When he overuses all the other organs, the empirical ones, it can happen that it is precisely the sense of God that suffers, that this organ dies, and man, as St Gregory says, no longer perceives God's gaze, to be looked at by him, the fact that his precious gaze touches me!

I maintain that St Gregory the Great has described exactly the situation of our time - in fact, his was an age very similar to ours. And the question still arises: what should we do?

I hold that the first thing to do is what the Lord tells us today in the First Reading, and which St Paul cries to us in God's Name: "Your attitude must be Christ's - Touto phroneite en hymin ho kai en Christo Iesou".

Learn to think as Christ thought, learn to think with him! And this thinking is not only the thinking of the mind, but also a thinking of the heart.

We learn Jesus Christ's sentiments when we learn to think with him and thus, when we learn to think also of his failure, of his passage through failure and of the growth of his love in failure.

If we enter into these sentiments of his, if we begin to practise thinking like him and with him, then joy for God is awakened within us, confident that he is the strongest; yes, we can say that love for him is reawakened within us. We feel how beautiful it is that he is there and that we can know him - that we know him in the face of Jesus Christ who suffered for us.

I think this is the first thing: that we ourselves enter into vital contact with God - with the Lord Jesus, the living God; that in us the organ directed to God be strengthened; that we bear within us a perception of his "exquisiteness".

This also gives life to our work, but we also run a risk: one can do much, many things in the ecclesiastical field, all for God..., and yet remain totally taken up with oneself, without encountering God. Work replaces faith, but then one becomes empty within.

I therefore believe that we must make an effort above all to listen to the Lord in prayer, in deep interior participation in the sacraments, in learning the sentiments of God in the faces and the suffering of others, in order to be infected by his joy, his zeal and his love, and to look at the world with him and starting from him.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Vatican II is Dead

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

What to make of Vatican II?

What to make of Vatican II? Pope Paul VI, in his General Audience of Jan. 12, 1966, stated: “There are those who ask what authority, what theological qualification, the Council intended to give to its teachings, knowing that it avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions backed by the Church’s infallible teaching authority. The answer is known by those who remember the conciliar declaration of March 6, 1964, repeated on November 16, 1964. In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary matter any dogmata carrying the mark of infallibility.”

This does not mean, of course, that conciliar documents do not contain references to Catholic doctrine previously defined as dogma and therefore infallibly authoritative, such as the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, and so forth. Nor does it mean that conciliar documents do not contain anything new, such as its statements about ecumenism, religious freedom, etc. What it does mean is that nothing new in these documents is defined as infallible dogma.

The “new springtime” in the Church heralded by the post-conciliar popes and others who hoped that the simplified and more-accessible vernacular liturgy would promote the “new evangelization” seems not to have yielded quite the hoped-for results. It was not as if the police had to be summoned to Catholic churches each Sunday “to hold back the hordes of lapsed Catholics whose faith had been rekindled at the prospect of saying the Confiteor in English,” as Michael Davies quipped in his book, Pope Paul’s New Mass.

Can Ecumenical Councils of the Church fail in their objectives? Fr. John Zuhlsdorf writes: “Regarding General or Ecumenical Councils (all 21 of them), it is possible to be a valid council but a failed one. Consider Lateran V. Utter failure. Its legislation on ecclesiastical pawn shops went nowhere, which is a darn shame. I’d really appreciate well-regulated ecclesiastical pawn shops. And – hey! – what ever happened to the “spirit of Lateran V”? Moreover, Lateran I and Lateran II weren’t even classified as General or Ecumenical Councils until after the Council of Trent (500 years later).”

In the same vein, Saint Gregory Nazianzus writes: “If I must speak the truth, I feel disposed to shun every conference of Bishops; because I never saw a Synod brought to a happy issue, not remedying but rather increasing, existing evils. For ever is there rivalry and ambition, and these have the mastery of reason; -- do not think me extravagant for saying so; -- and a mediator is more likely to be attacked himself, than to succeed in his pacification. Accordingly, I have fallen back upon myself and consider quiet the only security of life.”

Again, Joseph Ratzinger, writing in Principles of Catholic Theology, 378, writes: “Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis, many of them have been a waste of time. Despite all the good to be found in the texts produced, the last word about the historical value of Vatican II has yet to be spoken.”

There are some Catholic scholars and clerics who speak or write as if Vatican II is a sort of “Super Dogma.” The litmus test for the fellowship of kindred spirits or its opposite -- something bordering on excommunication or being tarred and feathered – is whether or not one “accepts” Vatican II. But what does this mean, exactly? A good friend of mine, whom I sometimes refer to as “L’Autre Phil,” says that one can never make sense of the Second Vatican Council by trying to get at it strictly in terms of its textual content. Why? Because either it functions as a wax nose that can be made to “say” whatever one wants it to say or, worse, because almost nobody cares about the text. What everyone cares about, however, is the “event” of Vatican II and what it’s made to symbolize.

Cardinal Ratzinger, in his address to Chilean Bishops (July 13, 1988), said this about the last council: “There are many accounts of it which give the impression that, from Vatican II onward, everything has been changed, and that what preceded it has no value or, at best, has value only in the light of Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council define no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of “super-dogma” which takes away the importance of all the rest.

“This idea is made stronger by things that are now happening," the Cardinal continued. "That which previously was considered most holy – the form in which the liturgy was handed down – suddenly appears as the most forbidden of all things, the one thing that can safely be prohibited. It is intolerable to criticize decisions which have been taken since the Council; on the other hand, if men make question of ancient rules, or even of the great truths of the Faith – for instance, the corporal virginity of Mary, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the immortality of the soul, etc. – nobody complains or only does so with the greatest moderation.”

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Three Types of Love

There are three types of love: I. Free Love, II. Natural Love and III. Vicious Love.

I. Love which is free (gratuito) is praiseworthy, because it is a virtue and has as its proper end what is primary, what is good and what is unchangeable. It is divided into A. friendship and B. desire.

A. Regarding friendship, man most purely loves God most high, God the great, God the ultimate good and end, without considering his own advantage, but rather the goodness of The One Whom he loves. Thus a man loves this good more than himself.

B. Regarding desire, man loves for the sake of the compensation which he expects.

II. Natural love is neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy; it has necessity and its own advantage as its end. This too is divided into A. friendship and B. desire.

A. Regarding friendship, with natural love we love ourselves, our perfection and our preservation, and we love most those things which are most necessary to ourselves, such as loving our head more than the other parts of our body. This love is not common to us and to the animals.

B. Regarding desire, we love the supreme good because it supplies our need, since this love does not love for the thing that it loves, but rather for the need that it has of it. Consequently, with this natural delection, a man loves himself more than the supreme good.

III. Vicious love is blameworthy, because it is a sin and has enjoyment as its end. It also is divided into A. friendship and B. desire.

A. Regarding friendship, we love the creature or the pleasure for itself.

B. Regarding desire, we love the creature for ourselves.

Finally, love is also of many other types: natural for itself, pious for parents, happy for one's peers, just for friends, violent for enemies, and holy for God.

Lope de Vega, Pastores de Belén, Rialp: Madrid, 1973, 335-336.

(Plinthos translation)

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Meditation --St. Alphonsus Liguori

How To Do Mental Prayer

Mental prayer contains three parts: the preparation, the meditation, and the conclusion.


Begin by disposing your mind and body to enter into pious recollection.

Leave at the door of the place where you are going to converse with God all extraneous thoughts, saying, with St. Bernard, O my thoughts! wait here: after prayer we shall speak on other matters. Be careful not to allow the mind to wander where it wishes; but should a distracting thought enter, act as we shall tell you below (Distractions and Aridities).

The posture of the body most suitable for prayer is to be kneeling; but if this posture becomes so irksome as to cause distractions, we may, as St. John of the Cross says, make our meditation while modestly sitting down.

The preparation consists of three acts: 1. Act of faith in the presence of God; 2. Act of humility and of contrition; 3. Act of petition for light. We may perform these acts in the following manner:

Act of Faith in the Presence of God, and Act of Adoration

"My God, I believe that Yor are here present, and I adore You with my whole soul".

Be careful to make this act with a lively faith, for a lively remembrance of the Divine presence contributes greatly to remove distractions. Cardinal Carracciolo, Bishop of Aversa, used to say that when a person is distracted in prayer there is reason to think that he has not made a lively act of faith.

Act of Humility and of Contrition

"Lord, I should now be in Hell in punishment of the offenses I have given You. I am sorry for them from the bottom of my heart; have mercy on me."

Act of Petition for Light

"Eternal Father, for the sake of Jesus and Mary, give me light in this meditation, that I may draw fruit from it."

We must then recommend ourselves to the Blessed Virgin by saying a "Hail Mary," to St. Joseph, to our Guardian Angel, and to our holy Patron.

These acts, says St. Francis de Sales, ought to be made with fervor, but should be short that we may pass immediately to the meditation.


When you make meditation privately you may always use some book, at least at the commencement, and stop when you find yourself most touched.

St. Francis de Sales says that in this we would do as the bees that stop on a flower as long as they find any honey on it, and then pass on to another. St. Teresa used a book for seventeen years; she would first read a little, then meditate for a short time on what she had read. It is useful to meditate in this manner, in imitation of the pigeon that first drinks and then raises its eyes to Heaven.

When mental prayer is made in common, one person reads for the rest the subject of meditation and divides it into two parts: the first is read at the beginning, after the preparatory acts; the second, towards the middle of the half hour, or after the Consecration if the meditation is made during the Mass. One should read in a loud tone of voice, and slowly, so as to be well understood.

It should be remembered that the advantage of mental prayer consists not so much in meditating as in making affections, petitions, and resolutions: these are the three principal fruits of meditation. "The progress of a soul," says St. Teresa, "does not consist in thinking much of God, but in loving Him ardently; and this love is acquired by resolving to do a great deal for Him."

Speaking of mental prayer, the spiritual masters say that meditation is, as it were, the needle which, when it has passed, must be succeeded by the golden thread, composed, as has been said, of affections, petitions, and resolutions; and this we are going to explain.


When you have reflected on the point of meditation, and feel any pious sentiment, raise your heart to God and offer Him acts of humility, of confidence, or of thanksgiving; but, above all, repeat in mental prayer acts of contrition and of love. The act of love, as also the act of contrition, is the golden chain that binds the soul to God.

An act of perfect charity is sufficient for the remission of all our sins: "Charity covereth a multitude of sins." [1 Peter 4: 8] The Lord has declared that He cannot hate the soul that loves Him: "I love them that love Me." [Prov. 8: 17] The Venerable Sister Mary Crucified once saw a globe of fire in which some straws that had been thrown into it were instantly consumed. By this vision she was given to understand that a soul, by making a true act of love, obtains the remission of all its faults. Besides, the Angelic Doctor teaches that by every act of love we acquire a new degree of glory. "Every act of charity merits eternal life." [1. 2, q. 114, a. 7]

Acts of love may be made in the following manner:

"My God, I esteem You more than all things."

"I love You with my whole heart. I delight in Your pleasure."

"I would wish to see You loved by all. I want only what You want

"Make known to me what You want from me and I will do it."

"Dispose of me and of all that I possess as you please."

This last act of oblation is particularly dear to God.

In meditation, among the acts of love towards God, there is none more perfect than the taking delight in the infinite joy of God. This is certainly the continual exercise of the blessed in Heaven; so that he who often rejoices in the joy of God begins in this life to do that which he hopes to do in Heaven through all eternity.

It may be useful here to remark, with St. Augustine, that it is not the torture, but the cause, which makes the martyr. Whence St. Thomas [2. 2, q. 124, a. 5] teaches that martyrdom is to suffer death in the exercise of an act of virtue. From which we may infer, that not only he who by the hands of the executioner lays down his life for the faith, but whoever dies to comply with the Divine will, and to please God, is a martyr, since in sacrificing himself to the Divine love he performs an act of the most exalted virtue.

We all have to pay the great debt of nature; let us therefore endeavor, in holy prayer, to obtain resignation to the Divine will -----to receive death and every tribulation in conformity with the dispensations of His Providence. As often as we shall perform this act of resignation with sufficient fervor, we may hope to be made partakers of the merits of the Martyrs. St. Mary Magdalene, in reciting the doxology, always bowed her head in the same spirit as she would have done in receiving the stroke of the executioner.

Remember that we here speak of the ordinary mental prayer; for should anyone feel himself at any time united with God by supernatural or infused recollection, without any particular thought of an eternal truth or of any Divine mystery, he should not then labor to perform any other acts than those to which he feels himself sweetly drawn to God. It is then enough to endeavor, with loving attention, to remain united with God, without impeding the Divine operation, or forcing himself to make reflections and acts.

But this is to be understood when the Lord calls the soul to this supernatural prayer; but until we receive such a call, we should not depart from the ordinary method of mental prayer, but should, as has been said, make use of meditation and affections. However, for persons accustomed to mental prayer, it is better to employ themselves in affections than in consideration.


Moreover, in mental prayer it is very profitable, and perhaps more useful than any other act, to repeat petitions to God, asking, with humility and confidence, His graces; that is, His light, resignation, perseverance, and the like; but, above all, the gift of His holy love. St. Francis de Sales used to say that by obtaining the Divine love we obtain all graces; for a soul that truly loves God with its whole heart will, of itself, without being admonished by others, abstain from giving Him the smallest displeasure, and will labor to please Him to the best of its ability.

When you find yourself in aridity and darkness, so that you feel, as it were, incapable of making good acts, it is sufficient to say:

"My Jesus, mercy. Lord, for the sake of Your mercy, assist me."

And the meditation made in this manner will be for you perhaps the most useful and fruitful.

The Venerable Paul Segneri used to say that until he studied theology, he employed himself during the time of mental prayer in making reflections and affections; but "God" [these are his own words] "afterwards opened my eyes, and thenceforward I endeavored to employ myself in petitions; and if there is any good in me, I ascribe it to this exercise of recommending myself to God."

Do you likewise do the same; ask of God His graces, in the name of Jesus Christ, and you will obtain whatsoever you desire. This is our Saviour has promised, and His promise cannot fail: "Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you."

In a word, all mental prayer should consist in acts and petitions. Hence, the Venerable Sister Mary Crucified, while in an ecstasy, declared that mental prayer is the respiration of the soul; for, as by respiration, the air is first attracted, and afterwards given back, so, by petitions, the soul first receives grace from God, and then, by good acts of oblation and love, it gives itself to Him.


In ending the meditation it is necessary to make a particular resolution; as, for example, to avoid some particular defect into which you have more frequently fallen, or to practice some virtue, such as to suffer the annoyance which you receive from another person, to obey more exactly a certain Superior, to perform some particular act of mortification.

We must repeat the same resolution several times, until we find that we have got rid of the defect or acquired the virtue. Afterwards reduce to practice the resolutions you have made, as soon as an occasion is presented. You would also do well, before the conclusion of your prayer, to renew the vows or any particular engagement by vow or otherwise that you have made with God.

This renewal is most pleasing to God if we multiply the merit of the good work, and draw down upon us a new help in order to persevere and to grow in grace.


The conclusion of meditation consists of three acts:

1. In thanking God for the lights received.

2. In making a purpose to fulfill the resolutions made.

3. In asking of the Eternal Father, for the sake of Jesus and Mary, grace to be faithful to Them.

Be careful never to omit, at the end of meditation, to recommend to God the Souls in Purgatory and poor sinners. St. John Chrysostom says that nothing more clearly shows our love for Jesus Christ than our zeal in recommending our brethren to Him.

St. Francis de Sales remarks that in leaving mental prayer we should take with us a nosegay of flowers, in order to smell them during the day; that is, we should remember one or two points in which we have felt particular devotion, in order to excite our fervor during the day.

The ejaculations which are dearest to God are those of love, of resignation, of oblation of ourselves. Let us endeavor not to perform any action without first offering it to God, and not to allow at the most a quarter of an hour to pass, in whatever occupations we may find ourselves, without raising the heart to the Lord by some good act.

Moreover, in our leisure time, such as when we are waiting for a person, or when we walk in the garden, or are confined to bed by sickness, let us endeavor, to the best of our ability, to unite ourselves to God. It is also necessary by observing silence, by seeking solitude as much as possible, and by remembering the presence of God, to preserve the pious sentiments conceived in meditation.

Distractions and Aridities


If, after having well prepared ourselves for mental prayer, as had been explained in a preceding paragraph, a distracting thought should enter, we must not be disturbed, nor seek to banish it with a violent effort; but let us remove it calmly and return to God.

Let us remember that the devil labors hard to disturb us in the time of meditation, in order to make us abandon it. Let him, then, who omits mental prayer on account of distractions, be persuaded that he gives delight to the devil. It is impossible, says Cassian, that our minds should be free from all distractions during prayer.

Let us, then, never give up meditation, however great our distractions may be. St. Francis de Sales says that if, in mental prayer, we should do nothing else than continually banish distractions and temptations, the meditation would be well made. Before him St. Thomas taught that involuntary distractions do not take away the fruit of mental prayer. [2, 2. q. 83, a. 13]

Finally, when we perceive that we are deliberately distracted, let us desist from the voluntary defect and banish the distraction, but let us be careful not to discontinue our meditation.


The greatest pain of souls in meditation is to find themselves sometimes without a feeling of devotion, weary of it, and without any sensible desire of loving God; and with this is joined the fear of being in the wrath of God through their sins, on account of which the Lord has abandoned them; and being in this gloomy darkness, they know not how to escape from it, it seeming to them that every way is closed against them.

When a soul gives itself up to the spiritual life, the Lord is accustomed to heap consolations upon it, in order to wean it from the pleasures of the world, but afterwards, when He sees it more settled in spiritual ways, He draws back His hand, in order to make proof of its love, and to see whether it serves and loves God unrecompensed, while in this world, with spiritual joys.

Some foolish persons, seeing themselves in a state of aridity, think that God may have abandoned them; or, again, that the spiritual life was not made for them; and so they leave off prayer, and lose all that they have gained.

In order to be a soul of prayer, man must resist with fortitude all temptations to discontinue mental prayer in the time of aridity. St. Teresa has left us very excellent instructions on this point. In one place she says, "The devil knows that he has lost the soul that perseveringly practices mental prayer." In another place she says, "I hold for certain that the Lord will conduct to the haven of salvation the soul that perseveres in mental prayer, in spite of all the sins that the devil may oppose."

Again, she says, "He who does not stop in the way of mental prayer reaches the end of his journey, though he should delay a little." Finally she concludes, saying, "By aridity and temptations the Lord proves His lovers, Though aridity should last for life, let not the soul give up prayer: the time will come when all shall be well rewarded."

The Angelic Doctor says that the devotion consists not in feeling, but in the desire and resolution to embrace promptly all that God wills. Such was the prayer that Jesus Christ made in the Garden of Olives; it was full of aridity and tediousness, but it was the most devout and meritorious prayer that had ever been offered in this world. It consisted in these words: My Father, not what I will, but what Thou wilt.

Hence, never give up mental prayer in the time of aridity. Should the tediousness which assails you be very great, divide your meditation into several parts, and employ yourself, for the most part, in petitions to God, even though you should seem to pray without confidence and without fruit. It will be sufficient to say and to repeat: "My Jesus, mercy. Lord, have mercy on us." Pray, and doubt not that God will hear you and grant your petition.

In going to meditation, never propose to yourself your own pleasure and satisfaction, but only to please God, and to learn what He wishes you to do. And, for this purpose, pray always that God may make known to you His will, and that He may give you strength to fulfill it. All that we ought to seek in mental prayer is, light to know, and strength to accomplish, the will of God in our regard.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Why God Punishes Us

Here is a citation of five ways that God sends us punishments, according to Saint Gregory, as cited by Saint Thomas in his commentary on John 9, the man born blind (Ch. IX, Lect. 1, 3 [1302]) It seems to me that this would answer in the negative the question about whether there is technically natural "evil." All natural evil is a punishment from God, and, therefore, good.

Regarding evil, there are two aspects, guilt and punishment. God has none of the former but he does impose all of the latter, and that for the reasons given below.

First, my brief summary, then my translation, of the text.

God sends scourges to (punishes) men in five ways:
  1. As the beginning of damnation (a novitiate for Hell).
  2. As correction for past wrongs.
  3. As prevention for future wrongs.
  4. To promote virtue (a more ardent love, out of gratitude for God's forbearance in withholding, or saving one, from the aforesaid merited corrective or preventative punishments).
  5. To manifest the glory of God (e.g. by Christ's miracles).
Plinthos translation:

...[A]s Gregory says in 1 Moral., God sends scourges to men in five ways.
  1. As damnation initiation: Sometimes the punishment is the beginning of damnation, according to Jer. 7, 18: "to crush them with a double crushing." And with this scourge the sinner is struck in this life in such a way that he is punished in the other life without retraction or end, as Herod, who killed James, was punished in this life, and likewise in Hell: cf. Acts. 12, 23.
  2. As a corrective measure: Sometimes it is for correction, to correct past wrongs: and of this it is said in Ps. 17, 36: "Your discipline itself will teach me."
  3. As a preventative measure: Sometimes a person is scourged, not for the correction of the past, but for the preservation of the future: as we read in Paul, 2 Cor. 12:7: "lest the greatness of the revelations should lift me up, there was given to me a stimulus of my flesh, an angel of Satan, who would crush me."
  4. As a school of charity: Sometimes divine punishment is for the promotion of virtue: namely, when in someone neither a past fault is corrected nor a future one prevented. When unexpected salvation follows persecution, and the virtue of the savior is known, he is more ardently loved; 2 Cor. 12:9: "virtue is perfected in weakness;" James. 1:4: "The probation of your faith worketh patience."
  5. As a manifestation of divine glory: Sometimes God scourges to the manifestation of His glory: whence it is said here "that the works of God are manifested in him." John 9:3.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

What Does the Bible Really Say!

Reading my Breviary (1962) I came across this magnificent turn of phrase at the beginning of Psalm 22 (Vulgate): "Dominus regit me" and wondered at the common English romantic rendering: "The Lord is my Shepherd."

Then I looked it up on the Septuagint and found that the form was the active verb form of the Latin and not the abstract poetic form of the normal English translation. My Modern Greek Bible also goes poetic. Then I went to the 1964 English translation of the 1962 breviary and it already goes to the romantic poetry, deviating from the Septuagint. I presume that these deviations from the Septuagint come from the Hebrew texts, which, as I understand it, are much later editions of the Scripture than the earliest extant Septuagint editions.

It seems the "The Lord is my Shepherd" is originally from the anti-Hellenist Protestants, the King James Version has it that way, and, it is Psalm 23! the same as our Post Vatican II Bibles! The New Vulgate (1979) says Dominus pascit me, the Lord shepherds me, which maintains the active verb form.

Finally, I went to the Douay Rheims (1899 version), which says, directly translating from the Vulgate: "The Lord ruleth me." Then, going to my copy of the original Doway (1609) it says "Our Lord ruleth me." Then, with immense pleasure, I continued looking at the rich text of that original Doway, including all the notes and glosses, which are many! Here is what I make it out to say, in contemporary English words, as literal as I can render it. It is a veritable complete little Catechism is one psalm!

Psalme XXII

[Thanksgeuing for Gods protection]
A forme of thankesgiuing for al spiritual benefites (described vnder the metaphor of temporal prosperitie) euen from a sinners first conuersion, to final perseuerance, and eternal beatutude.

1 + The Psalme of Dauid
[Isa. 40. Jere.23. Ezech.34. Ioan.10. I.Pet.2.&5.]

2 Our a Lord ruleth me, and nothing shal be wanting to me: + in place b of pasture there he hath placed me.
[a Christ the good pastor, gouerneth, protecteth, and feedeth his faithful flocke.]

3 Vpon c the water of refection he hath brought me vp: + he hath d conuerted my soule.
[c Baptisme of regeneration, d which is the first iustification.]

4 He hath conducted me vpon e the pathes of iustice, f for his name.
[e Gods precepts which the baptised must obserue. Mat.28. v.20. f Saluation is in the name and powre of Christ, not in mans owne merites.]

Thy rod and thy k staffe: they haue comforted me.
[i Gods direction and law is streight, k and strong.]

5 + Thou hast prepared in my sight l a table, m against them; that truble me.
[l Christ hath prepared for our spiritual foode the B. Sacrament of the Eucharist. S. Cyprian. Epist. 63. Eutim. in hunc Psal. against al spiritual enemies, the world, the flesh, and the diuel.]

Thou n hast fatted my head with oyle: and my o chalice inebriating how goodlie is it!
[n Christian soules are also streingthned by the Sacraments of Confirmation, Penance, holie Orders, Matrimonie, and Extreme Vnction. The B. Sacrament and Sacrifice of Christs bodie and bloud.]

6 + And thy mercie shal folow me p al the dayes of my life:
[p continual and final perseuerance is by Gods special grace.]

And that I may dwel in the house of our Lord, q in longitude of dayes.
[q in eternal life.]

Photostatic reprint by Forgotten Books, English College of Doway, The Second Tome of the Holie Bible Faithfully Translated into English, Out of the Authentical Latin, Diligently Conferred With the Hebrew, Greeke, and Other Editions in Divers Languages, London, 2018. ISBN: 9780365484530

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Summa Sermon Notes: Advent Through Pentecost

Summa Sermon Notes 1 Advent 1-3
Summa Sermon Notes 2 Advent 4, Christmas Day, St. Stephen
Summa Sermon Notes 3 In Oct. Christ., Circumcision, Epiph., In Oct. Epiph.
Summa Sermon Notes 4 2-6 Post Epiphany
Summa Sermon Notes 5 Sept., Sext., Quinq.
Summa Sermon Notes 8 4 Lent, Passion
Summa Sermon Notes 11 2, 3 Post Easter
Summa Sermon Notes 12 4,5 Post Easter
Summa Sermon Notes 13 Ascension, Post Ascension
Summa Sermon Notes 14 Pentecost, Trinity

The Definitive Failure of Vatican II

In 1966 Father Joseph Ratzinger gave the four goals of the Council as expressed by Pope Saint John XXIII's opening address of Session II of the Council on September 29th 1963.

1. A widening of the horizon of the Church to include the communion of saints in heaven.

2. The renewal of the Church.

3. The reestablishment of unity among Christians.

4. The Church's dialogue with contemporary man.

Cf. Ratzinger, Theological Highlights of Vatican II, New York: Paulist Press, 1966, 42.

In light of the Papacy of Pope Francis we can now say that on those four objectives the Council was a complete failure.

1. The Church is in no way more focused on the Church triumphant than she was before the 1960's. Her supernatural focus, in fact, is ever decreasing.

2. Regarding renewal of the Church the parochial transmission of the faith is almost completely bankrupt, except where tradition is preserved and promoted. The morale and moral life of the clergy seems abysmal, and the missionary outreach of the Church is progressively worse.

3. Unity among Christians has not been achieved, except in a very limited way with the establishment of the Anglican Ordinariate. The reconciliation and zeal for the faith achieved by Summorum Pontificum is presently denied and opposed, despite the great success among young Catholics for traditional doctrine and worship throughout the world.

4. The Church's attempt to dialogue with contemporary man has resulted in a deaf ear on the part of contemporary man to the Catholic faith of the ages and a distortion of that faith which is evident in the persistent confusion of the Pope Francis papacy.

Pope Francis is a direct fruit of Vatican II: a rupture from the past and unending confusion in a false appeal to the world.

The Church now needs a Pope who will declare the failure of the modern Pastoral Council, admitting the plain and obvious fact that the pastoral moment to which the Council attempted to appeal has come and gone without any palpable success. It is time to move on with the faith of the ages, with supernatural boldness.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

"Our Lord Ruleth Me," A Doway Psalm with Glosses

Here is the literal text of the original 1609 Douay Old Testament Psalm 22, typically known today as "The Lord is My Shepherd." The text in brackets is the marginal notes (the glosses).

Psalme XXII

[Thanksgeuing for Gods protection]
A forme of thankesgiuing for al spiritual benefites (described vnder the metaphor of temporal prosperitie) euen from a sinners first conuersion, to final perseuerance, and eternal beatutude.

1 + The Psalme of Dauid
[Isa. 40. Jere.23. Ezech.34. Ioan.10. I.Pet.2.&5.]

2 Our a Lord ruleth me, and nothing shal be wanting to me: + in place b of pasture there he hath placed me.
[a Christ the good pastor, gouerneth, protecteth, b and feedeth his faithful flocke.]

3 Vpon c the water of refection he hath brought me vp: + he hath d conuerted my soule.
[c Baptisme of regeneration, d which is the first iustification.]

4 He hath conducted me vpon e the pathes of iustice, f for his name.
[e Gods precepts which the baptised must obserue. Mat.28. v.20. f Saluation is in the name and powre of Christ, not in mans owne merites.]

Thy i rod and thy k staffe: they haue comforted me.
[i Gods direction and law is streight, k and strong.]

5 + Thou hast prepared in my sight l a table, m against them; that truble me.
[l Christ hath prepared for our spiritual foode the B. Sacrament of the Eucharist. S. Cyprian. Epist. 63. Eutim. in hunc Psal. m against al spiritual enemies, the world, the flesh, and the diuel.]

Thou n hast fatted my head with oyle: and my o chalice inebriating how goodlie is it!
[n Christian soules are also streingthned by the Sacraments of Confirmation, Penance, holie Orders, Matrimonie, and Extreme Vnction. o The B. Sacrament and Sacrifice of Christs bodie and bloud.]

6 + And thy mercie shal folow me p al the dayes of my life:
[p continual and final perseuerance is by Gods special grace.]

And that I may dwel in the house of our Lord, q in longitude of dayes.
[q in eternal life.]

Photostatic reprint by Forgotten Books, English College of Doway, The Second Tome of the Holie Bible Faithfully Translated into English, Out of the Authentical Latin, Diligently Conferred With the Hebrew, Greeke, and Other Editions in Divers Languages, London, 2018. ISBN: 9780365484530
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...