Saturday, January 30, 2016
Saturday's pro-family demonstration set a record in numbers
So, Christina the Astonishing is sort of a saint.
She lived in the late 12th century and early 13th century, right around the time the Church was forming the modern canonization process, and she’s never been been formally canonized. Nonetheless, she was popularly considered a saint for centuries after her death. Her relics have been preserved, she was included in a version of Butler’s Lives of Saints, and was even honored on local liturgical calendars at various points. And apparently there remains a strong devotion to her in Belgium.
But what about that title? What made her so “astonishing”?
Just about everything. If anyone deserved such a title, it was Christina.
Born in 1150 in a small town in present day Belgium, Christina was orphaned as a teenager and worked as a shepherdess. Then, sometime in her early 20s, she suffered from a massive seizure. When the episode passed, she was lying on the ground completely limp. Unable to see breathing or hear a heartbeat, those with her pronounced dead. Soon after, a funeral was held at her local parish.
This is when things started to turn crazy.
In the middle of the funeral service, she suddenly woke up. Full of energy, she stood right up like nothing had happened. When she realized she was surrounded by a large group of people, she started levitating, and flew up to the roof!
This wouldn’t be the only time she levitated. She levitated often, she said, because she couldn’t bear the spiritually stinky smell of sinful people.
When she finally stopped levitating at the funeral, she explained she had in fact died. After her soul separated from her body, she was given a glimpse of the horrors of purgatory. God then gave her a choice: either remain dead and go to heaven, or return to earth and do penance for those in purgatory. Moved to zeal at the sight of those suffering in Purgatory, she chose the latter. The next moment, she came back to life.
And, my, did she take seriously her charge to do penance.
She voluntarily lived in extreme poverty, wearing only rags and living without a home. She avoided human contact as much as possible. But deprivation wasn’t enough: she also sought out suffering to increase her penance.
People watched her intentionally throw herself into fires and remain there for extended periods of time. She would appear to be suffering greatly, with terrible shrieking, but then would exit the fire completely unscathed.
She allowed herself to be attacked by dogs and would intentionally run her body through thickets of thorn bushes.
And in winter, she would immerse herself in a nearby river and remain in the nearly freezing water for hours or even days on end. As if this wasn’t extreme enough, she would apparently even allow herself to be sucked into water wheels of nearby mills, getting spun around.
Again, as painful and harmful as these things seemed to be for her, she would always emerge seemingly unharmed.
Public opinion was divided about her: Was she just insane? Was she a holy woman sent to warn people of the fires of purgatory? Or she was perhaps demon possessed? The latter possibility was taken seriously enough by some government officials she was jailed twice, though both times only briefly.
After being released the second time, she joined a Dominican monastery. Her prioress said that, despite her extreme behavior, she was always obedient. Her reputation spread across the region, and both rulers and other holy people sought her out for advice and spiritual aid.
Amazingly, despite all of her physical abuse, she died at the ripe old age of 74 of natural causes.
If this is all just too unbelievable for you, here are a few things to note: First, in addition to the many peasants who witnessed her behavior, the historian and Cardinal Jacques de Vitry claimed to have been a personal witness of her incredible behavior, such as going into fires and emerging unharmed. Second, as mentioned, some contemporary saints held her in high regard and sought her advice. Third, Thomas of Cantimpré – writer, theologian, and student of St. Albert the Great – researched her life within a few years after her death and wrote a report, with memories of her life still fresh in people’s minds.
Lastly, here’s what St. Robert Bellarmine, a Cardinal and Doctor of the Church, had tosay about her:
We have reason for believing [Thomas of Cantimpré’s] testimony, since he has for guarantee another grave author, James de Vitry, Bishop and Cardinal, and because he relates what happened in his own time, and even in the province where he lived.
Besides, the sufferings of this admirable virgin were not hidden. Every one could see that she was in the midst of the flames without being consumed, and covered with wounds, every trace of which disappeared a few moments afterwards. But more than this was the marvellous life she led for forty-two years after she was raised from the dead, God clearly showing that the wonders wrought in her by virtue from on high. The striking conversions which she effected, and the evident miracles which occurred after her death, manifestly proved the finger of God, and the truth of that which, after her resurrection, she had revealed concerning the other life.
But why would God have someone do these extreme things? Here’s what Bellarmine thought:
God willed to silence those libertines who make open profession of believing in nothing, and who have the audacity to ask in scorn, Who has returned from the other world? Who has ever seen the torments of Hell or Purgatory? Behold two witnesses. They assure us that they have seen them, and that they are dreadful. What follows, then, if not that the incredulous are inexcusable, and that those who believe and nevertheless neglect to do penance are still more to be condemned?
Let Christina the Astonishing serve as a warning: the fires of purgatory are real and terrible.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2016
This is monumentally bad. Heaven weeps.
According to many reliable reports (National Catholic Register, LifeSiteNews, Christian Today) visiting Lutheran dignitaries were purposely given the Most Holy Eucharist at a Vatican Mass following ecumenical talks. The Lutherans approached with their arm crossed — even THEY knew that they were not properly disposed to receive (see my piece: The Body of Christ).
Sacrilege is in general the violation or injurious treatment of a sacred object. (The Catholic Encyclopedia calls this real sacrilege “the worst of all sacrileges”). IF priests knowingly gave the Eucharist to non-Catholics who could not possibly have been in a proper disposition to receive the Blessed Sacrament – then they profaned the Body of Christ, possibly incurred a latae sententiae excommunication and would be subject to possible dismissal:
A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.Canon 1367
This is more serious than attempting to “marry” gays or attempting to ordain a woman. This is hugely scandalous to the faithful, a threat to unity and worse of all – a direct crime against God Almighty. We must not sugar-coat this.
There are many sects of Lutherans (they call synods) who, like many other Protestant denominations, believe different things from each other. This was a Finnish synod with which I am not familiar. In the United States, most Lutherans are in the largest synod here which is the ELCA. Among other things, they:
- do NOT have apostolic succession and thus no valid holy orders
- their worship service, while superficially similar those times when communion is offered, is not sacrificial as is our Mass
- their understanding of the real presence is very different than ours
- regardless of their belief, lacking valid holy orders, their hosts are unchanged
- there is no tabernacle or reservation of consecrated hosts
- all baptized may receive (Lutheran or non-Lutheran; state of grace only loosely)
- they do not recognize sacraments as Catholics or Orthodox do
- they have many women pastors and “bishops”
- they embrace open homosexuality even among their clergy (who are free to marry)
- divorce and “re-marriage” is completely accepted
- they use the abridged Protestant Bible
- they believe in sola scriptura (rejecting both Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium)
- their clergy health care plans include full abortion coverage
- becoming a Lutheran (like most Protestant denominations) is a snap
- many other differences from Catholicism
I in no way hope to demean Lutherans. My family and many relatives are Lutherans, as was I for almost 60 years. They sincerely hold their beliefs and dearly love the Lord. I pray that they may one day be fully reunited with Christ’s Church. The point is that Lutheran beliefs have become significantly separated from Catholicism. There is no valid analogy between the Orthodox and Lutherans. The Orthodox are very close to Catholicism while Lutherans are far. In fact, Lutherans move further and further away from Catholicism every year (see my piece: Protestantism trainwreck).
So, in what ways were they not properly disposed to receive?
- they are not Catholic or even claim to be
That should completely suffice, but to expand on the obvious:
- they are not in communion with the Church and do not profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God (not even close)
- in this incident, they acknowledged improper disposition by crossing their arm
- they do not believe the communion species have transformed (only taken on, possibly temporarily, a dual nature)
- not having confession (sacramental or otherwise), they easily may not be in a state of grace
Some have already suggested that this represents a first step in officially recognizing Lutherans as “close enough” for inter-communion. That thought leaves me (and probably all other Lutheran converts) dumbfounded and alarmed. It would herald a very dark time of many serious consequences including to our unity. As a thought experiment, imagine we were to officially welcome Lutherans to communion. Consider, besides the grave, on-going sacrilege:
- there would be little incentive for converts to bother with the RCIA process if their goal is to join us fully at Mass – becoming Lutheran is quick and easy, then come and celebrate the Most Holy Eucharist with us
- “married” gay Lutherans, no problem
- Lutherans on their third or fourth spouse, no problem
- Lutheran and an abortion provider? no problem
- don’t like Sunday obligation? become Lutheran and come when you like
- opposed to Catholic moral theology in other ways? keep your favorite sins and come as a Lutheran (what Lutherans consider sins and what Catholics consider sins are not the same)
- presumably Sacraments of Penance and Anointing the Sick would also be opened too
- such a new “tier 2” Catholicism might appeal to cafeteria Catholics and others with objections to Church teaching
- would Catholics currently unable to receive communion be able to simply become Lutheran?
- if Lutherans, why not Episcopalians and all other Anglicans who are at least as “close”?
Our fervent hopes and prayers are that Lutherans become truly reunited with us at the Eucharistic table of our Lord. That happens when they become Catholic. This is what converts do, what I did, what Anglicans do en masse via the ordinariate. The purpose of true ecumenical dialog is to lead others to the fullness of the Christian faith. Affirming them where they are, with no need to change accomplishes exactly the opposite and fulfills Satan’s desires not God’s.
Professor at St.John Lateran University Rome critical of 'fanatical texts' in Pakistani school and university books
Mobeen Shahid a professor of philosophy at the Pontificial John Lateran University, Rome is critical of 'fanatical texts' in Pakistani school books.He supports the Pakistani bishops who have asked for changes in text books in schools and universities.
He said that the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pakistani bishops has analyzed a 100 school books, from primary school to university, in Pakistan.These books encourage fanaticism and religious hatred.The President and Prime Minister of Pakistan were asked to make changes in textbooks so that society, through education, could grow in a culture of peace and peaceful coexistence between religions. Now there is a parliamentary committee charged with reviewing these books, he mentioned.
In a report on SIR, Mobeen Shahid said there are many bilateral economic agreements between countries for investment in education. These economic accords also seek to change the contents of some education texts which are radical.This education literature create a culture of Islamic fanaticism,explains Mobeen.
The Catholic Church, which has many schools in Pakistan he said has to take security measures. In sensitive areas there are walls, video surveillance and security personnel. It is an economic burden because the government does not help. He says the Church knows that only through education the country's future can be built.
It may be mentioned that it is common for the daily newspapers in Pakistan to criticize non-Muslims.Clerics also use loudspeakers at mosques during the prayers services to criticize Christians and Jews.Religious organisations like the Jamaat e Islami officially say there is no equality in religion and that non Muslims do not have equal rights as Muslims.They object to the presence of Christians and other non Muslims, working in certain professions. In Pakistan a non Muslim cannot be the head of the army or president.Permission is not given to build new churches.There are still large churches and cathedrals in Pakistan which have been there before 1949, when Pakistan was separated from India and a new state was created.-Lionel Andrades