CS Lewis: Holiness isn’t Dull, it’s Irresistible

If Christianity feels like a chore to you, dig deeper. Once it clicks, it’s like the Wizard of Oz; life goes from black & white to color. Every person, art, and (upright) activity you love…you love more deeply. Beauty is found in places you never expected. As Saint John Paul II stated: “life with Christ is a wonderful adventure”.

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If you don’t believe seeking holiness is joyful, exciting, and irresistible, keep digging, keep reading, keep praying, and seek out beautiful liturgies to surround your reception of the Eucharist.

Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls’ but they are the walls of a playground.

-GK Chesterton

The Growth of the Latin Mass

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On Oct. 16, 2016, Mass is held for the first time at St. Joseph Oratory in Detroit as a parish dedicated exclusively to the extraordinary form

That which embraces beauty and is rooted in God will stand the test of time and will not be suppressed. Like classical art, music, and literature, the classical [extraordinary] form of the Roman Rite has stood the test of time. And, despite the attempts by some to (feverishly) suppress it for a liturgy and aesthetic that better “reflect the times” (read: cryogenically frozen in the 1970’s), the traditional Missae which was beloved by virtually all the saints is making a powerful comeback!

The graph below is from the best numbers available (or that I could find) to see how the TLM has grown in America since 1988 when St. John Paul II declared the form was indeed available to those whose bishops approved it. 2009 marks the year Pope Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificum, saying that any priest, regardless of approval from their bishop, may say the traditional form of the Mass.

tlmgraph

The numbers I used are gathered from a few sites which carry statistics. Ecclesia Dei was especially helpful in compiling the numbers for 2016. Keep in mind that these numbers cannot be considered “official” but are simply to serve as a metric to show growth. Wow!

Make sure to SUPPORT your local TLM…dioceses notice where the money is being raised! ☩

Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.
Summorum Pontificum

Bernie Twists Pope Leo XIII’s Words in Vatican Speech

While we’re still not exactly sure how he got invited, ‘democratic socialist’ Bernie Sanders just released his speech for a Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences event he is attending. Indeed a convenient platform for a stump speech while running for president.

The text of the speech is on Bernie’s website and is titled The Urgency of a Moral Economy: Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of Centesimus Annus. Centesimus Annus of course being Saint Pope John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical meaning “The Hundredth Year” of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor). This is hilarious for anyone familiar with Rerum (click here for full TSP Cliffs Notes) because it literally calls out how socialism, intrinsically, is contrary to both the nature of mankind and natural law.

Bernie started, “Pope John Paul II gave a clarion call for human freedom in its truest sense: freedom that defends the dignity of every person and that is always oriented towards the common good.”

I’m sure he really reflects the same “clarion call” of defending the dignity of every human the same way JPII considers it. Shall we start talking about Bernie’s love of abortion on-demand?

Bernie spends nearly the entire speech cherry picking quotes from the two beloved pontiffs as if the Church calls for a powerful State that attempts to do everything for everyone. This is far from the truth. Let’s take a few choice lines from Pope Leo XIII on Bernie’s beloved ideology, socialism…

On redistribution of money and private property:

To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies…But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community. (RN 4)

Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life. (RN 5)

On the State interfering with parental rights and the good of a family, something Bernie and his peers continually chip away with with more and more anti-family, anti-parental authority laws:

The socialists, therefore, in setting aside the parent and setting up a State supervision, act against natural justice, and destroy the structure of the home. (RN 14)

On socialism  going against human nature and being detrimental to mankind:

for it is impossible to reduce civil society to one dead level. Socialists may in that intent do their utmost, but all striving against nature is in vain. There naturally exist among mankind manifold differences of the most important kind; people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition. Such unequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community. Social and public life can only be maintained by means of various kinds of capacity for business and the playing of many parts; and each man, as a rule, chooses the part which suits his own peculiar domestic condition. (RN 17)

And in addition to injustice, it is only too evident what an upset and disturbance there would be in all classes, and to how intolerable and hateful a slavery citizens would be subjected. The door would be thrown open to envy, to mutual invective, and to discord; the sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry; and that ideal equality about which they entertain pleasant dreams would be in reality the leveling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation. Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal. (RN 15)

Isn’t it weird that Senator Sanders didn’t use any of the above quotes in his speech at the Vatican today? I think so too.

Saint JPII, pray for our world, our marketplace, and our presidential election!

Contrast: Francis in Cuba and John Paul II in Poland

Update: since this post, the pope has spoken to this topic on his flight on the way to America

Pope Francis has just visited Cuba. Much can be said about Cuba and Catholicism, more than I want to discuss in this post, but it should be noted that Cuba was once extremely Catholic…that is, before the Castro brothers took it over and turned it into a Communist nightmare. Now only less than 5% of the country is Catholic– the Castros destroyed scores of churches and placed many obstacles in the way of living a life of faith. Even with the destruction of the Church during the reign of the Castros, tens of thousands managed to show up at the papal Masses held in Revolution Square…where the Word of God was juxtaposed alongside a giant image of the violent Marxist revolutionary and atheist Che Guevara.

National Catholic Register
Credit: National Catholic Register

It is important he went to Cuba. The people there need to know they are not forgotten and that hope exists for them because there is a loving King that that reigns above their oppressive human rulers. However, I cannot help but wonder why Francis doesn’t seem to have more powerful words for the leadership there considering that he seems to position himself as the pope of modern social justice and human rights.

It shouldn’t be ignored that the pope made some veiled statements about the state of their affairs, he mentioned going against “ideology” and called people to imitate Mary’s revolution of tenderness”. But overall the pontiff seemed to remain fairly passive.

Credit: National Catholic Register
“St. Peter and the Devil” – Credit: National Catholic Register

Francis attempted a powerful gesture by personally inviting 24 political dissidents to one of his Cuban Masses. But only 22 of them were able to make it because they “were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.” Quoting more from the Telegraph article:

Two well-known dissidents, Marta Beatriz Roque and Miriam Leiva, had been invited by the Vatican to attend a vespers service led by the Pope’s in Havana’s historic baroque cathedral.

But they said they were detained by security agents and barred from attending the event.

“They told me that I didn’t have a credential and that I couldn’t go to the Pope’s event that was taking place there in the plaza of the Cathedral,” Ms Roque said.

She said that she and Ms Leiva had also been invited by the Vatican to meet Pope Francis at the residence of the Holy See’s ambassador to Cuba shortly after the pontiff’s arrival on Saturday, but that they were detained on that occasion as well.

So did Francis speak out about this insult not only to him but to the dignity of these women? No, at least not in any way big enough to be reported anywhere. The Roman Catholic Church is supposed to be the moral authority in the world and the pope is supposed to be the leader of that message in civilization. Let’s contrast this complete lack of moral stance to when Pope John Paul II visited his homeland of Communist Poland for the first time since being elected pope in June 1979.

JPII held Mass in Victory Square in Warsaw. The Communist party didn’t want to spark an uprising by not allowing the wildly popular first Polish pope to speak in his own country, but they also tried to set rules for the pontiff and wanted him to keep the rhetoric down so there was no disruption with their power over the people there. The Communist elite wanted the people to see that “it did it did not alter their capacity to govern, oppress, and distribute the goods of society.” But from the moment the pope stepped off his plane in Warsaw and kissed the ground, “he began the process by which Communism in Poland—and ultimately elsewhere in Europe—would come to an end” according to Cold War historian John Gaddis.

The pope, while not being overtly confrontational to the government and “without firing a shot”, transcended politics and shook this oppressed group of people to their core. From Wikipedia:

He told them to be good, not to compromise themselves, to stick by one another, to be fearless, and that God is the only source of goodness, the only standard of conduct. ‘Be not afraid,’ he said.

Millions shouted in response, ‘We want God! We want God! We want God!’

The regime cowered. Had the Pope chosen to turn his soft power into the hard variety, the regime might have been drowned in blood. Instead, the Pope simply led the Polish people to desert their rulers by affirming solidarity with one another.

What contrast in a situation that has many parallels!

I love Pope Francis. I think he’s a true man of Christ. But something is askew when a murderous Communist country feels like they get a pass from earth’s moral authority (the Church) while countries with far more liberating economic policies are to feel like they are inherently flawed and selfish (to be clear: I am just referring to economic policy, not other issues plaguing Western society).

Francis could have had his own JPII moment but he let it pass. I fully understand there may have been many circumstances that I am not aware of, he certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt, especially from a flawed man like myself. But you know what? I am growing tired of always having to give him the benefit of the doubt.

His message in his American trip this week is going to be a big deal. Although very different from Cuba, we have our own huge issues that need to be addressed by the Roman Catholic Church. Will he speak to these issues…or will I be giving him the benefit of the doubt again?

Pope John Paul II waves to people in people gathered to see him in Poland, 1983 (CNS file photo by Arturo Mari)
Pope John Paul II waves to people in people gathered to see him in Poland, 1983 (CNS photo Arturo Mari)

Praying With Your Spouse

How many of you enjoy being with your spouse? I know I cherish the moments I can do anything from the extravagant to the mundane with my wife. There’s something that can be said for just being in the same physical proximity to your spouse when you’re doing a task. Maybe we want a partner at the grocery store for no reason. Maybe we want someone to talk to when we’re cooking in the kitchen. Maybe it’s that our connected souls, joined through marriage, enjoy it when our bodies are close too.

What about when the two souls want more than just physical closeness (as described above) or intimacy (you know what I’m talking about **winks**)? What about spiritual closeness? We all know it’s good to pray for your spouse. But how many of you pray with your spouse?

“Family prayer has its own characteristic qualities. It is prayer offered in common, husband and wife together, parents and children together. Communion in prayer is both a consequence of and a requirement for the communion bestowed by the sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony.”

-Pope Saint John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio

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