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Thursday, May 24, 2018
Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians
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In the Missal today under "Mass in Some Places" is the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians.  The Roman Catholic Daily Missal published by Angelus Press says of today's feast: "The Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians is a feast of thanksgiving, instituted by Pope Pius VII in 1815, when the exile of the Sovereign Pontiffs, consequent upon the troubles caused by the French Revolution, came to an end."

Pope Saint Pius V gave Mary the title: "Help of Christians," after the victory of the Christian fleet over the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571, and he added this invocation to her litany. When Pius VII returned to Rome on May 24, 1814, after spending five years of exile and captivity, he established the Feast of Our Lady, Helper of the Papal States.

The invocation of Mary as Help of Christians is part of the oldest prayer addressed directly to Mary, the "Sub tuum praesidium," which was found on a papyrus dating, at the latest, from the end of the third century. This prayer was composed at a time of great danger for Christians and for the Church. "Praesidium" is translated as "an assistance given in time of war by fresh troops in a strong manner."

Yet, Mary help of all Christians is not only helpful to those engaged in new wars, as the Gospel shows quite clearly. She is the bearer of joy, readying all Christians of good will to receive God's grace and the many gifts of life. Yes, ultimately, it is the caring woman of Cana who makes victory over dragon and serpent possible -- in letting Christ act on his own terms and at his own hour.

Collect:

O Almighty and merciful God, who didst wondrously appoint the most Blessed Virgin perpetual help for Christians in need of protection, grant in Thy mercy that after battling in life under such a protectress, we may be able to conquer our enemy at death. Through our Lord . . .
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Mass of St. John Baptist de Rossi
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Today in Some Places of the world, the Mass of St. John Baptist de Rossi is said.  While not on the Universal Calendar, we can learn much from his life.

The following is taken from Butler's Lives of the Saints:
St. John Baptist de Rossi is the first instance in modern times of the canonization as Confessor of a priest belonging to no religions Order or Congregation. He was born at Voltaggio, a little town about fifteen miles north of Genoa, February 22, 1698. From the first he was distinguished for his piety and purity. The parish church was his favorite resort, and thither he would hasten after the early morning class to serve as many Masses as he could. The gravity and modesty he showed in holy places struck all who saw him, and many declared he was like a little angel just come down from heaven and still full of the vision of God. When our Saint was ten years old, a wealthy couple of Genoa visited Voltaggio; attracted by the unaffected piety and winning ways of the boy, they obtained from his parents permission to adopt him, and took him to their palace, where he was treated as their son. 
After a residence of three years in Genoa, he removed, with his mother's consent,—his father having died in the mean while,—to Rome, where his cousin, Laurence de Rossi, was the Canon of S. Maria in Cosmedin. There he began at once to attend the lower classes of the Roman College, and there was no more industrious or saintly student to be found. At the age of eighteen he received the tonsure, and the following year minor orders. He was then selected for a lengthened course of scholastic theology; but in striving to purify his soul he overtaxed his strength, and one day, while devoutly hearing Mass, he fell on the floor of the church in a swoon. From that time out he was subject to epileptic fits, which rendered his projected studies impracticable. This being the case, our Saint looked elsewhere.  
A course of lectures on the text of St. Thomas, then being delivered, was attracting no little attention, and a large number of students attended. As the labor of following the course was comparatively light, John Baptist joined the class. In spite of his feeble health he applied himself most indus602 triously, and still practised such mortifications as were prudent. Walking along the streets, his eyes were never raised from the ground, and in the coldest weather he wore no gloves. ; When he was twenty-three years old he was ordained a priest. The first shape his charity assumed was an active interest in the young students who flock to Rome from every part of the Catholic world. He organized special services for them, preached sermons specially suited to them, and gathered them about him in his visits to the hospitals, to assist him in soothing and relieving the sick and dying. This charitable work over, they would enter a church and recite the Rosary aloud, after which they would enjoy themselves at some innocent game. 
Another charity which attracted our Saint was the spiritual care of the drovers and cattlemen who frequented the market-places. The most of these were ignorant and depraved, caring for no one and with no one to care for them. By visiting their haunts at early dawn, before their work began, John Baptist won them by his kind words, and at last led many to the confessional who had not been there in years, and some who had never been. Hitherto he had not heard confessions himself, but now, at the instance of his bishop, he applied for and received faculties for the administration of the Sacrament of Penance. 
In February, 1735, John Baptist, much against his own inclination, was appointed assistant to his cousin, Laurence de Rossi, who was growing feeble ; and when, two years after, that good man died, his property and canonry were left to our Saint. Within a fortnight the new Canon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin had got rid of a great part of the property. He entered upon the duties of his new office at once, and soon gathered round him crowds of devout worshippers. His confessional was besieged by eager penitents, but always the poorest and most ignorant. The rich and noble he managed to put off, saying they could find confessors in plenty. He would never permit the confessional to be a medium for almsgiving. He himself would not bestow an alms from that tribunal on a penitent, no matter how poor, nor would he there accept a present from the rich, as he feared it might deter him from speaking plainly and freely. His devotion to the poor and ignorant was remarkable. He sought out the most abject and abandoned people, and pursued this work of Christian charity with such zeal as to merit the title of " Venator Animarum," the hunter of souls. In 1740, when Pope Benedict XIV. determined to institute catechism classes for the instruction of criminals serving short sentences, he found an able assistant in our Saint. He had no difficulty in winning the hearts of the convicts from the start, and there was a perceptible reformation wrought in a short time. 
The endless labor and the severe penances which the Saint imposed on himself finally told on his delicate frame, and on May 23, 1764, a stroke of apoplexy ended his mortal life, and brought him the endless bliss of the presence of God, for which his soul had so long yearned. 
After the death of the holy man many miracles bore witness to his sanctity. Among others was the case of Sister Mary Theresa Leonori, of the Convent of St. Cecilia at Rome, who in 1859 suffered from a throat disease which the best medical authorities pronounced incurable. Wasted and enfeebled by her sickness, entirely deprived of speech, suffering great pain, and unable to partake of any nourishment, her death was momentarily looked for. Human aid failing her, the pious Sister besought the help of St. John Baptist, and Our Lord, to show His love for His faithful servant, deigned to work a miracle at the Saint's intercession. Sister Mary Theresa was instantly cured and rose from her bed of suffering a well woman.
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Saturday, May 19, 2018
Book Review: Saint Catherine of Siena by Alice Curtayne
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This past week I picked up the book "Saint Catherine of Siena" by Alice Curtayne.  Ms. Curtayne wrote this book back in 1929. While not a writer by trade, she became so immersed in the life and works of St. Catherine of Siena that she wrote this fantastic book after years of researching and compiling notes on St. Catherine.  Interestingly, this book was her first notable book.  After the success of this one, she went on to write A Recall to Dante, The Catholic Literary Revival, St. Brigid of Ireland, and The Irish Story.

"Saint Catherine of Siena" is an easy and inspiring read.  As a Dominican Tertiary, I am well acquainted with the life of St. Dominic.  But St. Catherine, who was a Dominican tertiary herself, is the patroness of the Third Order today.  Yet, I did not truly know her life's story.

What Ms. Curtayne has done is summarize the wonderful effect of her life.  Despite all of her struggles, she had a way of bringing many souls back to Christ.  The book describes the band of followers who assisted her in her mission of writing letters and defending the Church in the midst of the Avignon Papacy.  I had previously heard of St. Catherine's role in bringing the Pope back from Avignon to Rome but I had no idea the drama and tumult that centered around the Avignon Papacy.  I also had no idea of the depth of her involvement and the amount of time, effort, suffering, and prayers it took for to help the Holy Father return to Rome.

The book also describes her life's work of promoting the interests of the Church in the calling for a Crusade (which she never saw happen), her role in bringing peace to Tuscany and Italy after a Revolution of sorts against the Church, her relationship with the Popes of the time, and finally her efforts to defend Urban VI after the Western Schism occurred and the anti-Pope Clement VII was elected.  I had no idea of the magnitude of these events and how it seemed that all hope had been lost for Christendom.  Yet, the Church prevailed and she did not sink from the attacks from without and within her ranks.  It was inspiring to read this book during this trying time with modernism reigning throughout the Eternal City.  It's also inspiring to think that despite many seemingly earthly failures, she nevertheless did so much for souls.

Ms. Curtayne really brings the personality and devotion of St. Catherine to Christ Crucified to life.  St. Catherine was a prolific writer (who dictated her correspondence but who nevertheless determined what was said), and Ms. Curtayne's book quotes these letters extensively.  The book is a wonderful tapestry of the letters of St. Catherine supplemented and explained with stories of her follower's lives and commentary on the Church at the time.

I'm happy to recommend this book to anyone looking for a book on the life and the writings of St. Catherine

Truly, if she could have done so much in only 33 years of life, we need to ask ourselves if we are truly doing enough each day and doing that which the Holy Ghost wishes us to do for the honor of God and the good of souls. 

St. Catherine, pray for us!

The Body of St. Catherine under the main altar at Santa Maria Minerva in Rome.  The photo was taken during my April 2016 visit to the Eternal City.
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Commemoration of St. Pudentiana
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Commemoration (1954 Calendar): May 19

Today Holy Church commemorates St. Pudentiana, the sister of St. Praxedes.

St. Pudentiana was a daughter of a Roman senator, who consecrated herself wholly to Christ and gave away her goods to the poor. All of this was done at a remarkably young age.  She died in the year 160, when she was only 16 years of age.  Young but full of holiness.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch:
According to an ancient tradition, St. Peter was the guest of the senator Pudens during his stay in Rome. Pudens had two daughters, Pudentiana and Praxedes, virgins who dedicated themselves wholly to acts of charity. After the death of their parents, Pudentiana and her sister Praxedes distributed their patrimony to the poor. The fact that Puden's entire household of some 96 persons were baptized by Pope Pius I (d. 154) is ascribed to their zealous activities. When Christian services were forbidden by the Emperor Antoninus Pius, Pius I celebrated Mass in their home. The saints were buried next to their father in the catacomb of St. Priscilla. One of Rome's most ancient stational churches is dedicated to St. Pudentiana.
Collect:

Hear our prayer, O God our Saviour, and let us learn the spirit of true devotion from Your blessed virgin Pudentiana, as we joyfully celebrate her feast. Through Our Lord . . .
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Tuesday, May 15, 2018
St. Isidore the Farmer (Mass in Some Places)
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While not on the Universal Calendar, today is the Feast of St. Isidore the Farmer in Some Places. 

This account of his life comes from the Roman Breviary:
Isidore the Farmer was a native of Madrid, Spain. He was hired as a plowman to labor in a place just outside the Spanish capital. While engaged in this occupation it was not long before he reaped a plentiful harvest of virtues.
His imitation of Christ and the Saints was indeed admirable. He would never go to work in the morning without first seeking the kingdom of God and visiting the churches dedicated to God or to his blessed Mother. As a result of these visits he was often late for work in the fields, thereby bringing upon himself the displeasure of his employer. One day his employer, who had observed the farmer from a vantage-point and was waiting for him in order to upbraid him, was surprised to see two Angels dressed in white, each plowing with a team of oxen, and Isidore in the midst of them. The news of this miracle spread far and wide and thereafter his employer and others held Isidore in high esteem.
His charity towards the poor was so ardent that he used to distribute to the needy the earnings of his labors. Indeed it is related how on one occasion he brought along a crowd of beggars to a confraternity dinner; the others had already eaten and nothing remained but the portion reserved for Isidore. Accordingly the man of God with extraordinary faith began to distribute the remaining portion which by a wonderful multiplication was enough to feed and satisfy all those poor people. Among the other wonderful things told about this Saint, the following is noteworthy. While out on the fields, one hot summer day his employer suffering from a very great thirst longed dor a drink of water. There was however no spring or other source of water there. Thereupon Isidore struck the ground with the goad-stick he used to carry and immediately there gushed forth a spring which to the present day has never ceased supplying water in great abundance. 
At length in extreme old age, renowned for holiness, he fell asleep in the Lord and was buried in the cemetery of St. Andrew. Here his body remained until the citizens of that place were admonished by God to provide a more honorable resting place for it by bringing it to the church. At that time it was found intact and uncorrupted; it also exhaled a most fragrant odor which is noticeable even in our time. His body was transferred to the church and enshrined in a conspicuous place where God has honored it with striking miracles. More than once the city of Madrid and other places in Spain felt the benefit of these miracles throgh Isidore's intercession. Finally, after almost four hundred years, Isidore now famous for holiness and miracles was enrolled among the number of the Saints by Pope Gregory X. 
Collect:

O Merciful God, shield us from the pride that comes from learning, through the intercession of Your holy farm worker Isidore. May his merits and example help us to please You by our humble service. Through Our Lord . . .
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Monday, May 14, 2018
St. Boniface of Tarsus
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Simple (1955 Calendar): May 14

Born a pagan in the 3rd century, Boniface Boniface was one of Aglaida's slaves. Both were pagans and lived in debauchery together and some legends say they were lovers.

Yet by the grace of God, the tired of their sinful way of life and both discovered Christianity as a meaningful way. Aglaida decided to send him on an errand to collect holy relics. Finding upon arrival at Tarsus that the authorities were torturing Christians, he openly declared himself to be a Christian. For this he was executed with savage cruelty in 307 AD.  Providentially, his own body constituted the relics that were brought back to Aglaida, who in turn became a Christian.

Prayer:

O Almighty God, may the prayers of Your blessed martyr Boniface aid us as we celebrate his feast today. Through Our Lord . . .

Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
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Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Indulgence for the Angelic Crown in Honor of St. Michael
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In honor of the first of two feastdays of St. Michael the Archangel, I wish to remind everyone of the following entry in the Raccolta:


It is a pious tradition, that the Archangel Michael revealed to a holy person that he would he well pleased by his bringing into use the following prayers in his honour and in honour of all the angelic host; and that he would repay those who practised this devotion with signal favours, particularly in such times as the Catholic Church should experience some special trial. 

In this belief, a holy Carmelite nun, of the convent of Vetralla, in the diocese of Viterbo, who died with the reputation of sanctity in the year 1751, made it her delight to practise this method of prayer, commonly called the "Angelic Chaplet;" and it was at the instigation of the nuns of her convent that his Holiness Pins IX., by a decree of the S. Congr. of Rites, dated August 8, 1851, granted the following Indulgences -

i. An indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines every time the Chaplet is said.

ii. An indulgence of 100 days daily to any one who carries this Chaplet about him, or kisses the medal with the representation of the holy angels appended to the said Chaplet.

iii. A plenary indulgence once a month to every one who says daily this Chaplet, on any one day when, after Confession and Communion, he shall pray for the exaltation of our holy Mother the Church and the safety of the Sovereign Pontiff.

iv. A plenary indulgence, with the conditions above named, on -

1. The Feast of the Apparition of St. Michael. May 8.
2. The Dedication of St. Michael. September 29.
3. St. Gabriel the Archangel. March 18.
4. St. Raphael the Archangel. October 24.
5. Holy Angel Guardians. October 2.

To gain these Indulgences, a Chaplet must be used consisting of nine Pater noster’s, and three Ave Maria's after each Pater noster, with four Pater noster’s at the end; the following corresponding salutations being said at the same time in their proper order, with the antiphon and prayer at the end us given below. These Chaplets must be blessed by the actual father confessor of the convent of Vetralla, or some other priest who has obtained faculties for this purpose.

METHOD OF PRACTISING THIS DEVOTION.

Let every one, according to his ability, begin with an act of sincere contrition, kneeling before a representation of the holy Archangel; then let him say with devotion the following salutations:

V. Deus in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Dontine ad adjuvandum me festina.

Gloria Patri, &c.

FIRST SALUTATION.

One Pater noster and three Ave Maria’s, to the First Angelic Choir.

At the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly choir of the Seraphim, may it please God to make us worthy to receive into our hearts the fire of His perfect charity. Amen.

SECOND SALUTATION.

One Pater noster and three Ave Maria’s, to the Second Angelic Choir.

At the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly choir of the Cherubim, may God grant us grace to abandon the ways of sin, and run the race of Christian perfection. Amen.

THIRD SALUTATION.

One Pater noster and three Ave Maria’s, to the Third Angelic Choir.

At the intercession of St. Michael and the sacred choir of the Thrones, may it please God to infuse into our hearts a true and earnest spirit of humility. Amen.

FOURTH SALUTATION.

One Pater noster and three Ave Maria’s, to the Fourth Angelic Choir.

At the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly choir of the Dominations, may it please God to grant us grace to have dominion over our senses, and to correct our depraved passions. Amen.

FIFTH SALUTATION.

One Pater noster and three Ave Maria’s, to the Fifth Angelic Choir.

At the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly choir of the Powers, may God vouchsafe to keep our souls from the wiles and temptations of the devil. Amen.

SIXTH SALUTATION.

One Pater noster and three Ave Maria’s, to the Sixth Angelic Choir.

At the intercession of St. Michael and the choir of the admirable celestial Virtues, may our Lord keep us from falling into temptation, and deliver us from evil. Amen.

SEVENTH SALUTATION.

One Pater noster and three Ave Maria’s, to the Seventh Angelic Choir.

At the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly choir of the Principalities, may it please God to fill our souls with the spirit of true and hearty obedience. Amen.

EIGHTH SALUTATION.

One Pater noster and three Ave Maria’s, to the Eighth Angelic Choir.

At the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly choir of Archangels, may it please God to grant its the gift of perseverance in the faith and in all good works, that we may thereby be enabled to attain unto the glory of Paradise. Amen.

NINTH SALUTATION.

One Pater noster and three Ave Maria’s, to the Ninth Angelic Choir.

At the intercession of St. Michael and the Heavenly choir of Angels, may God vouchsafe to grant us the safe-conduct of the holy Angels through life, and after death a happy entrance into the everlasting glory of heaven. Amen.

Then say four Pater noster's in conclusion; the first to St. Michael, the second to St. Gabriel, the third to St. Raphael, the  fourth to your Angel Guardian.

This exercise then ends with the following Antiphon.

ANTIPHON.

Michael, glorious Prince, chief and champion of the heavenly host, guardian of the souls of men, conqueror of the rebel angels, minister in the house of God, our worthy captain under Jesus Christ, endowed with superhuman excellence and virtue; vouchsafe to free us all from every evil, who with full confidence have recourse to thee; and by thy powerful protection enable us to make progress every day in the faithful service of our God.

V. Pray for us, most blessed Michael, prince of the Church of Jesus Christ.
R. That we may be made worthy of His promises.

PRAYER.

Almighty and eternal God, who in thine own marvellous goodness and pity didst, for the common salvation of man, choose the glorious Archangel Michael to be the prince of Thy Church; make us worthy, we pray Thee, to be delivered by his beneficent protection from all our enemies, that at the hour of our death no one of them may approach to harm us, and that by the same Archangel Michael we may be introduced into the presence of Thy high and heavenly Majesty. Through the merits of the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Monday, May 7, 2018
The Tomb of St. Francis Regis Clet
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This past March I was privileged to venerate the body of St. Francis Regis Clet, whose body is housed in the Shrine of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris, France.


Who is this St. Francis Regis Clet?  The Vincentian Encyclopedia summarizes his life:
Francis Regis Clet, the tenth of 15 children, was born into a farm family in Grenoble in the southwest corner of Francis in 1748 and was named for the recently canonized fellow-Grenoblian, Jesuit Jean Francois Regis. After completing studies at the Royal College (founded by the Jesuits), he followed his elder brother and sister into vowed religious life. In Lyons in 1769, he entered the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians). After ordination, Francis served as professor of moral theology at the Vincentian seminary in Annecy where he was affectionately called "the walking library" because of his encyclopedic knowledge and academic discipline. In 1786, he became Rector of Annecy and two years later, Director of Novices in Paris.
Francis Regis petitioned to go to China as a missionary several times, but his superiors did not accede to his request until 1791. At the age of 43, he replaced another priest who had to withdraw from the assignment at the last minute. A confrere, in writing about Clet's assignment to China, noted: "He has everything you could ask for: holiness, learning, health and charm." 
After a six month sea journey from France and some transition time in Macao, which included assuming the dress and customs of the Chinese people, the new missioner arrived in Kiang-si in October of 1792 as the only European in the area. Clet's acculturation was hampered by his life-long difficulty with the language. In 1793 Clet joined two Chinese confreres in Hou-Kouang in the Hopei Province where both of his companions died within his first year, one in prison and one from exhaustion. In that year, Clet became superior of an international group of Vincentian missioners scattered over a very large territory, and he himself pastored an area of 270 thousand square miles. In that leadership capacity, he developed standards so that there would be a uniform approach to ministry (sacramental and catechetical) among the missioners. 
In 1811, the anti-Christian persecutions in China intensified with the Christians being accused of inciting rebellion against the ruling dynasty. For several years, Clet endured abuse and attacks, which frequently forced him to find refuge in the mountains. In 1819, with a generous reward on their heads, Clet and a Chinese confrere became fugitives. Like Jesus, he was finally betrayed by one of his own, a Catholic schoolmaster whom Clet had challenged for his scandalous behavior. Like the missionary St. Paul, Clet endured ignominy and forced marches in chains over hundreds of miles. 
On January 1, 1820, Clet was found guilty of deceiving the Chinese people by preaching Christianity and was sentenced to strangulation on a cross. On February 18, after approval of his sentence by the Emperor, Francis Regis Clet was executed. As in the case of Jesus, Christians took his body and buried it on a hillside where it rested until it was returned to the Vincentian motherhouse in Paris several decades later and is now honored at St. Lazare.

All photos are taken by me.  See Flickr for more photos from the trip.
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Sunday, May 6, 2018
Can you make Confirmation before Communion?
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In the Catholic Church the common practice is for children to make their First Holy Communion around 2nd grade - this is around the "age of reason," where a child is able to understand that what they are receiving is not bread but the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.  They are also aware of sin and thus able to commit actual sins - as a result, they need the Sacrament of Confession to receive absolution from their actual sins.

Confirmation is typically administered around 8th grade or in some places 10th grade.  But, there is a growing trend to more Conformation closer to Communion.  In fact, in the Byzantine Catholic Tradition Baptism and Confirmation are received together and it is later on the child is able to receive First Holy Communion.

The following dioceses have begun to administer Confirmation in the 2nd grade level around the time of First Communion and the list continues to grow:

1.    Saginaw (1995)
2.    Great Falls-Billings (1996)
3.    Portland, Maine (1997)
4.    Spokane (1998)
5.    Fargo (2002)
6.    Gaylord (2003)
7.    Tyler (2005)
8.    Phoenix (2005)
9.    Honolulu (2015)
10.   Denver (2015)
11.   Manchester (2017)

The difficulty though for these students in our modern world is to live out the Catholic Faith.  While many students falsely treat an 8th grade Confirmation as a graduation from religion and the need to end classes [which it is not!], these students in 2nd grade need a strong religious conviction in their family to be sure they are continuing to learn the Faith and make progress in the spiritual life.

So, is it possible to receive Confirmation before Communion?  Yes it is, but it depends on what Diocese you are in.  Seek out information from your local priest. 

And for those looking for an online religious education program to help you learn the Faith and prepare for your Sacraments (whether Confirmation, Confession, or Communion) please look to CatechismClass.com, the leader in the field.
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Vatican II Engendered Today’s “Religious Liberty”
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Guest Post By David Martin

There has been much published this past year in refutation of Pope Francis’ repeated use of distorted or ambiguous wording to advance licentious behavior in the name of “conscience.”

These publications are warranted. For instance, Amoris Laetitia says that those living in adultery may at times continue thus in good conscience: "Conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal." (Amoris Laetitia 303)

So according to Amoris Laetitia, conscience can recognize that "the most generous response" we can give to God is to break his commandments. How can this be when Christ said, "If you love me keep my commandments?" (John 14:15) Sin crucifies the Savior, so how can it be a "generous response” to him?

In an adulterous situation with a fornicator, the only thing that conscience recognizes is that he is offending God. The finger of conscience is pointing at him and telling him he must leave his shameful vice if he wishes to be saved, but pride comes along and closes his heart to the voice of conscience. Like a Pharisee, he resists the Holy Spirit and seeks continued escape in his sin, yet Amoris Laetitia says this "is what God himself is asking" of him.

This false understanding of conscience is becoming problematic in a way never before seen in Church history. More and more we see Catholics entertaining a false religious liberty that advocates the selfish rights of man, as if modern man is now a little god who can think for himself without the guidance of a divine chaperone.   

Sadly, the groundwork for this arrogance was laid at the Second Vatican Council fifty-three years ago. Consider the opening paragraph of Dignitatis Humanae, which is the Vatican II document on Religious Liberty:

“A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man, and the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgment.” [1] 

Again, we read:

“God has regard for the dignity of the human person whom He Himself created and man is to be guided by his own judgment and he is to enjoy freedom.” [11]

Here we see the Council honoring man’s prerogative to be his own guide, which is contrary to the Creator. “For God will not except any man’s person, neither will He stand in awe of any man’s greatness: for He made the little and the great, and he has equally care for all.”   (Wisdom 6:8)

Man’s true dignity consists in his being made to the image of God, but this dignity is preserved by keeping one’s innocence and yielding his judgment up to God, so that he makes God’s judgment his own in matters of faith and morals. What God requires of us is a childlike submission to doctrine and Tradition as taught by the Savior Himself: “Unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

According to Vatican II, the Church may not infringe upon one’s personal rights by laying down the law as to what they must do to be saved. It affirms the natural rights of man in matters of religion (Masonic freedoms), which is contrary to the previous papal teachings which deny any such rights. Pope Pius IX in his Encyclical “Quanta Cura”, Leo XIII in his Encyclicals “Libertas Praestantissimum” and “Immortale Dei” and Pius XII in his allocution “Ci Riesce” all affirm that there is no logical or scriptural basis for this humanist notion of human dignity, yet Vatican II seems to assert it as dogma.

However, we have to make a clear distinction between moral conscience and temptation. Conscience will always compel one to fear God and keep his Commandments which are already engraved “in the fleshy tablets of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:3), whereas temptation will always lead one to depart the Commandments and follow his own will or sense of liberty where he doesn’t allow the Divine Monarch to hold the reins in his life. Such liberty offends God and chains us to the shackles of guilt, which is no liberty. (John 8:34) There is no such thing as “my moral conscience told me to sin and be a rebel,” for such is the manifestation of a guilty conscience, not a moral conscience.

It is true that man is given a free will to choose between good and evil, which God does not interfere with, since our eternal friendship with God must be a free will offering which is grounded in charity, and not coercion. However, the abuse of our free will to choose evil is not honored by God nor is it permitted in the Church, nor is it a form of religious liberty.

With every liberal proposal in the Vatican II document(s) there is an apparent conservatism (ambiguous double meaning) to cover its tracks so that, under the pretext of honoring the rights of every human to freely adore his Creator, the document advocates that man has the liberty to follow his own licentious will:

“In all his activity a man is bound to follow his Conscience… It follows that he is not to be forced to act in manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious. The reason is that the exercise of religion, of its very nature, consists before all else in those internal, voluntary and free acts whereby man sets the course of his life directly to God.” [3]

Here conscience is used interchangeably with self-will so that on the surface it looks very honorable and says the truth that no man or religious authority may infringe on the God-given rights of men to direct themselves to God. But what the document is really saying is that the Church must honor the judgment of man to choose and decide for himself what course he is going to take, even if it means denying Christ. We might almost see the document as a pro-choice document, since what is honored is not the right choice but the “right” or “freedom” to choose, so that whatever choice is made is automatically honored by the Council.

What is absurd is how Vatican II cites our “human dignity” as the justification for this religious liberty. “The declaration of this Vatican Council on the right of man to religious freedom has its foundation in the dignity of the person, whose exigencies have come to be fully known to human reason through centuries of experience.” [9] Since when is man’s ‘dignity’ flaunted before the throne of God?

True religious liberty is that special endowment we all have to freely serve God without the interference of tyrannies or world councils that coerce us into adopting anything contrary to Church tradition. Such was the way of the saints who freely abandoned themselves to God with complete immunity to all things so that they were answerable only to God without respect to persons. (Ephesians 6:6)

The same liberty applies to Christian governments. It is not only the right but duty of government to enforce Christian morality as the law of the land, and to openly advocate it for the good of all, but according to Vatican II our U.S. government does not have that right.

“It follows that a wrong is done when government imposes upon its people, by force or fear or other means, the profession or repudiation of any religion.” [6]

Government indeed cannot force its people to profess a certain denomination, but it most certainly can profess Christianity to be the law of the land where the people at least are required to profess it in action through their compliance. But according to the Council, the U.S. Supreme Court did wrong in 1892 by declaring the United States to be “A Christian nation” in which “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind.” The U.S. traditionally imposes the rule of Christianity as the law of the land to be obeyed by its citizens, namely, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not rape, fornicate or abuse little children, etc., yet the Council seems to regard this mandatory compliance as ‘coercion.’ Does government not have a right and duty to enforce law and order?

According to the document, religious zealots and terrorists should be free from such government coercion. “The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is also to be recognized as their right.” [4] Since when do people have a right to offend? If a person’s religion dictates that he can murder Christians for Allah and crash his jet into the local skyscraper, shall he now be immune from government censure or coercion? God forbid!

The fact that someone has a religious conviction doesn’t make it right. With great liberty and conviction, the Jews condemned Jesus to death, even in the name of “God their father,” but Jesus told them who their father was, the devil, just as the devil is the father of those who suggest we may break the laws of God in view of religious liberty.

Perhaps the most passionate opponent of the Religious Liberty document was Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who warned of its detrimental consequences for the future, citing that it advocated “the right to cause scandal.” He warned that with this document “a civil society endowed with Catholic legislation shall no longer exist” and said it would bring about “the disappearance in the Church of the missionary spirit for the conversion of souls.” (Bernard Tissiers, The Biography of Marcel Lefebvre)

On June 29, 1976, the Archbishop also had this to say: “This right to religious freedom is blasphemous, for it attributes to God purposes that destroy His Majesty, His Glory, His Kingship. This right implies freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, and all the Masonic freedoms.”

According to Lefebvre, the most incriminating evidence against the Religious Liberty of Vatican II was the enthusiastic support it received from the synagogue of satan. Consider the following from the Archbishop:

“This very year [1965], Yves Marsaudon, the Freemason, has published the book L’ oecumenisme vu par un franc-macon de tradition (Ecumenism as Seen by a Traditional Freemason). In it the author expresses the hope of Freemasons that our Council will solemnly proclaim religious liberty… What further evidence do we need?”

If Pope Francis is so impassioned about honoring the rights of man, he should honor our right to resist him, otherwise he discriminates. If adulterers have a right to continue in adultery, then we certainly have a right to censure their adultery, because “men should act on their own judgment” [1] and “man is to be guided by his own judgment.” [11]

With God as our guide we will do just that!
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Saturday, May 5, 2018
Indulged Hymn for the Feast of St. Pius V
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The following is taken from the Raccolta:


Pope Pius VII., by his Rescript of August 14,1801, granted -

i. A plenary indulgence to all the faithful who, on the Feast of St. Pius V., May 5, being truly penitent, shall, after Confession and Communion, say on this day with devotion the following hymn before an altar or greater relic of this Saint, or else in some church dedicated to his honour, praying according to the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

ii. An indulgence of forty days, once a day, on saying this hymn with devotion.

These Indulgences Pope Pius VIII. of blessed memory granted afresh for ever by a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences of Oct. 2, 1830.

HYMNUS

Belli tumultus ingruit,
Cultus Dei contemnitur;
Ultrixque culpam persequens
Jam poena terris imminet.

Quem nos in hoc discrimine
Coelestium de sedibus
Praesentiorem vindicem,
Quam te, Pie, invocabimus?

Nemo, beate Pontifex,
Intensiore robore
Quam tu, superni numinis
Promovit in terris decus.

Quem nos. &c.

Ausisve fortioribus
Avertit a cervicibus,
Quod Christianis gentibus
Jugum parabant barbari.

Quem nos. &c

Tu comparatis classibus,
Votis magis sed fervidis
Ad insulas Echinadas
Fundis tyannum Thraciae.

Quem nos. &c.

Absensque eodem tempore,
Hostis fuit quo perditus,
Vides, et adstantes doces
Pugnae secundos exitus.

Quem nos. &c.

Majora qui coelo potes,
Tu supplices nunc aspice,
Tu civium discordias
Compesce, et iras hostium.

Quem nos. &c.

Precante te, pax aurea
Terris revisat; ut Deo
Tuti queamus reddere
Mox laetiora cantica.

Quem nos. &c.

Tibi, Beata Trinitas
Uni Deo sit gloria,
Laus, et potestas omnia
Per saeculorum saecula. Amen.

V. Ora pro nobis, Beate Pie.
R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Oremus.
Deus, qui ad conterendos ecclesiae tuae hostes, et ad divinum cultum reparandum beatum Pium pontificem maximum eligere dignatus es: fac nos ipsius defendi praesidiis, et ita tuis inhaerere obsequiis, ut omnium hostium superatis insidiis perpetua pace laetemur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, &c.  R. Amen.

THE HYMN.

Wars and tumults fill the earth;
Men the fear of God despise;
Retribution, vengeance, wrath,
Brood upon the angry skies.

Holy Pius! Pope sublime!
Whom, in this most evil time,
Whom, of saints in bliss, can we
Better call to aid than thee?

None more mightily than thou
Hath, by holy deed or word,
Through the spacious earth below
Spread the glory of the Lord.

Holy Pius, &c.

Thine it was, O pontiff brave!
Pontiff of eternal Rome!
From barbaric yoke to save
Terror-stricken Christendom.

Holy Pius, &c.

When Lepanto’s gulf beheld,
Strewn upon its waters fair,
Turkey’s countless navy yield
To the power of thy prayer.

Holy Pius, &c.

Who meanwhile with prophet’s eye
Didst the distant battle see;
And announce to standers-by
That same moment's victory.

Holy Pius, &c.

Mightier now and glorified,
Hear the suppliant cry we pour;
Crush Rebellion’s haughty pride;
Quell the din of rising war.

Holy Pius, &c.

At thy prayer may golden peace
Down to earth descend again:
License, discord, trouble cease;
Justice, truth, and order reign.

Holy Pius, &c.

To the Lord of endless days,
One Almighty Trinity,
Sempiternal glory, praise,
Honour, might, and blessing be.

Holy Pius, &c.

V. Pray for us, blessed Pius.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
God, who to the destruction of the enemies of Thy Church, and to the restoration of Thy holy worship, didst vouchsafe to elect blessed Pius to be Thy high-Priest; grant us so to be defended by his protection, and so to remain steadfast in Thy service, that overcoming the snares of all our enemies, we may enjoy perpetual peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen.
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Friday, May 4, 2018
Devotion to the Sacred Heart Summarized by Pope Pius XII
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Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is more than just the worship of this noble part of our adorable Savior's body.  In the Sacred Heart, we adore the very Person of the Incarnate Word with all His Divine and human attributes.  The Sacred Heart is the symbol of the redeeming love of Our Lord Jesus Christ for men and represents the most ardent affections of the God-Man in His Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

In the expounding on this holy devotion, there is nothing better than the encyclical Haurietis Aquas, in which Pope Pius XII (1939 - 1958) summarized it with unction and solid theological foundation.

Our Lord's Heart, the Pontiff teaches, "the noblest part of human nature, is hypostatically united to the Person of the Divine Word."  For this reason, "there must be paid to it that worship of adoration with which the Church honors the Person of the Incarnate Son of God Himself."

Furthermore, the Sacred Heart, "more than all the other members of His body, is the natural sign and symbol of His boundless love for the human race." This heart symbolizes and expresses "the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love in return."

The mystery of our redemption is, above all, a mystery of love, "that is, of the perfect love of Christ for His heavenly Father to Whom the sacrifice of the Cross, offered in a spirit of love and obedience, presents the most abundant and infinite satisfaction due for the sins of the human race."

For all of these reasons, Pope Pius XII deems it, "a powerful remedy for the healing of those very evils which today also, and beyond question in a wider and more serious way, bring distress and disquiet to individuals and to the whole human race"

Source: by Lius Solimeo in "From the Immaculate Heart of Mary and God's Plan for America."  Quoted in the May / June 2018 issue of Crusade Magazine
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Sunday, April 29, 2018
Go Ahead and Eat with Sinners: 5 Ways to Defend the Catholic Faith
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Go Ahead and Eat With Sinners – A Reflection on the Battle of Today’s Traditional Catholic



St. Mark early in his Gospel recounts how Our Lord ate with sinners.  "And it came to pass, that as he sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat down together with Jesus and his disciples. For they were many, who also followed him. And the scribes and the Pharisees, seeing that he ate with publicans and sinners, said to his disciples: Why doth your master eat and drink with publicans and sinners? Jesus hearing this, saith to them: They that are well have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For I came not to call the just, but sinners" (Mark 2:15-17).

Just this past Easter Sunday I invited over to Easter dinner a few people.  All of whom were not Catholic.  One man, a friend of my mother, grew up Lutheran but has largely fallen away from any religious practice aside from occasional Bible reading while he hunts deer.  The other man was a friend of my sister who grew up in a household that loved carnal desires, rock-n-roll, and what we might just call downright debauchery. And when I related to a friend of mine, let’s call him Jim, of their presence at dinner, he was outwardly scandalized.  “Why would you invite them over to Easter dinner?  Don’t you know they aren’t Catholic?”

“Yes, I certainly do,” I replied.  I continued, “In fact, that’s why I invited them to begin with!”  He was confused.  So I took a few moments to explain.

Life is a Battle

We are often quick to condemn the sins of others – and rightfully so!  But while we should admonish sinners, our battle in this world is not to chase away souls.  Our Lord prayed, “Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he hath given me, I should lose nothing” (John 6:39), and we who are called to help preserve and diffuse the Catholic Faith should pray that our actions likewise should lose not a single soul.

As a Third Order Dominican and as a catechist, I often say that we can never study the truths of the Faith enough.  We cannot read the catechism or re-study Christian doctrine too much.  So I reminded Jim that we first and foremost are in a battle.  He certainly agreed.  But, this battle is not one that will be won with an outward assault on our enemies.  It will be won in the deepest reaches of our soul (cf. Matthew 11:12) and through our persistent, subtle actions that target souls held in slavery by the camp of Satan.

Whether we like it or not, we are in a battle, and this battle is one which we did not create.  In fact, this battle has existed far before the errors of Vatican II even seeped into the Church.  Our battle is namely the same that St. Paul referenced when he said, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places” (Ephesians 6:12).  And we fight this battle by virtue of our Confirmation.

In the traditional Confirmation Rite, the bishop lightly slaps the cheek of the one who has been confirmed as an outward expression of the inward reality, namely that those confirmed must be ready to suffer all things, even death, for the sake of Jesus Christ.

And like a good and noble soldier, this war is not our cause.  It has existed long before our time.  In fact, we have been thrown into the very middle of the warfare as a paratrooper would land deep into the heat of the battle.  And just as the noble soldier who undertakes such a perilous mission behind enemy lines knows, his battle ends only at death.  We too, as confirmed Catholics, must continue to remind ourselves that our battle is one that will end with the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, but it is a battle in which we must die.  We must die to ourselves while persisting in the state of sanctifying grace until death. For the battle is fought first within ourselves through penance and prayer (1 Corinthians 9:27) before we can battle against the principalities of this world of darkness.

The Spiritual Weapons for the Battle

So imagine yourself in the heat of battle.  Immorality and carnal lust swirls around us.  Debauchery, idolatry, greed, and envy reign in the highest places.  Darkness is around.  You paratroop in and hit the ground.  Everything goes black.  Suddenly you awaken to the sound of battle.  So what do you do?

What soldier in the midst of battle does not arise and double back in order to pick up a sufficient weapon lest he stand no chance?  The same is true for the spiritual conduct we find ourselves in.  It doesn’t matter if we were baptized and confirmed long ago before the battled raged as it does today.  It doesn’t matter if we are timid by nature or not.  On the contrary, we are in the battle!  Our focus is not to understand why we got here – the immediate focus is on what we can do to fight the good fight and press on.

And our weapons in this battle are plentiful.  In fact, Heaven has showered our battlefield with a myriad of weapons.  My focus as a catechist is on the Doctrine of Christ which is sweet and awe-inspiring to souls.  There are in fact other weapons though – the Rosary, the various Scapulars given by our Lady, the St. Benedict Medal, the Miraculous Medal, the Cord of St. Philomena, and countless others.

My “weapon of choice” though besides these Sacramentals which I wholeheartedly encourage nonetheless, is the sweetness of the Doctrine of Christ.  For those wishing to ground yourself in authentic Catholic teaching, I recommend a few essential books that must be in your library.

Firstly, the Baltimore Catechism and the Roman Catechism are foundational.  Use the Baltimore Catechism with your children and read it yourself too.  Keep these simple but true axioms of the Faith in mind.  Whereas modern churchman are accustomed to lengthy and complicated theological studies, the Catechisms provide in clear and easy to understand language the truths of the Faith that are timeless and unchanging.

Next, pick up a copy of the Douay Rheims Bible and pair with it a copy of Fr. George Leo Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary.  Fr. Haydock's Douay Bible with his extended commentary was originally published in 1811 and became the bestselling English Catholic Bible in the 19th century in the world.  The text is available freely online - and the same is true for the Baltimore Catechism and the Roman Catechism.

And as any good soldier would do as he surveys the battle field and fills his satchel, you need some stronger weapons for the stronger enemies on the battlefield.  In our spiritual conquest, we too will find those enemies.  Whether they be in the form of the unrepentant sinner of 50 years, the Jehovah’s Witness at our door, or the Protestant street preacher, we need to be prepared.

For those tougher battles, find a copy of the Summa Theologia of St. Thomas Aquinas.  The text is one of the best summaries of the Catholic Faith with various arguments and their refutation by chapter.  While the Summa is a truly massive text, fear not.  Two years before he died, St. Thomas Aquinas asked by his assistant, Brother Reginald, to write a simple summary of the Faith for those who lacked the time or the ability to tackle his massive Summa Theologica.  That text is known as the “Shorter Summa” and is available for purchase online.

And last of all, for those hard-lined modernists who assail Catholic Tradition, let us take as our weapon the “Liturgical Year” by the Abbot Dom Prosper Gueranger.  Written in 15 volumes, no work today better expresses the beauty, majesty, and symbolism of the entirety of the Traditional Catholic Liturgical Year.

These are the five items - in addition to the sacramentals - you should equip yourself with.

Persist in Grace and Fight Onward

As “soldiers of Christ,” we often are prone to envision these battles as glorious opportunities to defend Christ.  On the contrary, every battle is a grind.  We will slip in mud.  We will fall and scrap our legs.  We will lose our hearing as the bombs explode and we will lose our sight at times from the glow of the bombs.  We are the in trenches.  We fight.  We get up through the Sacrament of Confession and refresh our souls through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, worthily received.

Our time for rest and glory is only after our fight in the battle ends – not during it.  And our battle ends only at death.

So then I stopped and Jim understood why I invited the lapsed Lutheran over and the agnostic, worldly man.  Far from keeping the day to only celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection with family, I wanted to spend it using persistent but subtle conversations to plant the seed of Faith in other souls.  I may never reap those fruits or see them reaped.  But that’s fine!  May the souls that I plant seeds of the Faith in, one day ripen nonetheless.  And through them, may God be glorified.

So gone on, eat with sinners!  Don’t be afraid to befriend Muslims or Pagans or Protestants.  Go to their homes.  Be friends with their children.  Care about them.  Pray for them.  Carry the Cross and make reparation for them.

But with any battle, do so only with the weapons of catechesis properly in your mind and lived out in your heart.  Fight until the Good Lord calls us to the end of our battle.  And on that day may we hear the blessed words, “Well done, good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23)

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Thursday, April 26, 2018
5 Reasons for the Lord's Resurrection
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1. Exaltation of God
2. For the satisfaction of our sins
3. For our Hope
4. To set our lives in order so we may walk in newness of life
5. For our justification and so we may participate in the Divine nature of God

Take a few minutes today to renew your baptismal promises.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Prison Ministry for Traditional Catholics: “I Was in Prison, and You Came to Me"
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The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy by David Teniers the Younger

As Catholics, we have all heard the words of our Lord, “I was in prison, and you came to me” (Matthew 25:36) throughout our lives. Whether it was in the context of the corporal works of mercy in catechism class or during a sermon, most of us can in all likelihood recall these words of our Lord.

As Catholics today in the midst of a great confusion not only in the modern world but also in the Church, it’s important to re-focus ourselves on the basics of the Faith. Whereas some churchmen have the propensity to add many complicating layers to the Faith, much of the Faith is straightforward. Think of the simplicity and clarity of the Baltimore Catechism. Spend time re-grounding yourself in this treasure of the Faith. And that re-grounding starts now.

The Baltimore Catechism succinctly summarizes the corporal works of mercy: "The chief corporal works of mercy are seven: 1.To feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to ransom the captive, to harbor the harborless, to visit the sick, and to bury the dead" (Baltimore Catechism #3, Q. 819). And for completeness, the spiritual works of mercy are also summarized a few paragraphs earlier: “The chief spiritual works of mercy are seven: To admonish the sinner, to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to comfort the sorrowful, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive all injuries, and to pray for the living and the dead” (Baltimore Catechism #3, Q. 813).

In the modern world, it would be rather unusual for us to be able to, strictly speaking, “ransom captives,” since the modern justice system does not permit ransoming in way in which our ancestors in the Faith did. In times past, our fathers in the Faith joined in both spiritual support and financial support orders like the Mercedarians, or Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, which was founded in 1218 in Spain by St. Peter Nolasco to redeem Christian captives from their Muslim captors.

But what are we to do? Is the Lord’s command to visit those in prison defunct? Far from it! The words of the Lord as recorded in the Holy Gospels remain for all times: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:34-40).

Whereas in times past, it was more commonplace to ransom or physically visit strangers in prison, it is still possible today to observe our Lord’s command through Catholic prison ministry. Prison ministry is an often forgotten manner of observing the works of mercy. Yet, prison ministry offers a truly unique opportunity to intersect both the corporal and the spiritual works of mercy. Through effective prison ministry, we can both provide for the physical needs and human interaction that prisoners need and for the spiritual needs of their souls.

Thankfully, the Society of St. Pius X has an effective – though unfortunately not well publicized – prison ministry initiative. In the October and November 2015 Regina Caeli Report , the Angelus Press interviewed Mr. Michael Banschbach, who has started a prison apostolate with the blessings of the Society's priests. Commenting to Angelus Press on his ministry, Mr. Banschbach stated, “The apostolate brings the Sacrifice of the Mass and personal instruction in the Catholic Faith and the study of Sacred Scripture to two West Texas prisons. The apostolate also mails books (Douay Rheims Bible, The Imitation of Christ, 1962 Missal, Christian Warfare, Rosary Warfare, etc.) to offenders in more than 40 Texas prisons. We have in the past sent a couple of newsletters, written primarily by offenders, which resulted in a huge increase in interest. Fr. Katzaroff, based in El Paso at Jesus and Mary Chapel, is the unofficial chaplain who offers the Mass and writes many response letters.”

Writing of the prisoners, Mr. Banschbach continues, “Most, but not all, are sincere in their desire to learn about the Faith and make up for lost time. They soak up the information.” Indeed, these souls – like the souls of our children – are in need of the Divine Word and the life-giving Sacraments.

Angelus Press echoes these sentiments and the grave need these imprisoned souls need today. How can our hearts not be heavy when we hear their call for help: “Never has the call to visit the sick and imprisoned and to instruct the ignorant been so important. These are the forgotten souls of society and desperately need help. Many of these men and women desire to spend their time reconciling with Christ and His Church, and in helping those souls around them find the truth. They are surrounded by the enemy and have no means to fight, and often not even the tools to defend themselves” (Angelus Press: Our Apostolate).

While we cannot help them from their physical prison, we can free them from the more serious spiritual prison that is forged by their sins. And whereas only a priest may absolve them, baptize them, or administer the Lord’s Body and Blood to them, we can still have a hand in this war against the devil to save these souls.

But how can we help? If our Lord’s words are still true and if the call to help these prisoners is of paramount concern now, we should all be asking ourselves what we can do to help them lest we hear those words, “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels....I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me...Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me" (Matthew 25:41,43,45).

Thankfully, there is a way for those of us who live lives in the world to help. First and foremost, these imprisoned souls need our prayers. Once a month offer a spiritual Communion for the souls in prison. And once a month, offer one of your Rosaries for the souls in the prison system to know the One True Faith and to ultimately preserve in grace until death. And finally, let us add these souls to our daily prayers. As we pray for the souls in purgatory, for our friends and family, and our other concerns in our morning prayers, let us just add an invocation for these souls each day.

Secondly, let us assist these souls in their spiritual formation. Angelus Press has a prison ministry program whereby they donate their books at cost to the prisoners who need them. The work is entirely for the souls of those in prison and the organization does not make any money off of the donations. Please join me in visiting the Angelus Press Website and making a donation for this most noble cause. Also, you may make donations of books, pamphlets, holy cards, or religious pictures directly to Mr. Banschbach at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Prison Apostolate, c/o Michael Banschbach, 1703 W. Storey, Midland, Texas 79701.

And finally, let us do what we can to prevent these crimes from occurring. Many of the souls in prison today are there due to bad choices they made. Yet, many of these souls had a poor family life – many of the young men in today’s prison system did not have a father figure in their lives. Doing what we can to pray for and support the youth in our communities will help reduce the number of souls that make it to the criminal justice system.

Above all, let us place our work in this work of mercy under the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Daniel of Padua, St. Maximillian Kolbe, and St. Peter Nolasco. May they pray for us and for all souls who prison today who need sanctifying grace.
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