Father Willie Doyle

Today is the anniversary of the death of Father Willie Doyle. He was serving as a chaplain in the First World War.

I wonder is there a happier man in France than I am. Just now Jesus is giving me great joy in tribulation, though conditions of living are about as uncomfortable as even St. Teresa could wish — perpetual rain, oceans of mud, damp, cold and a plague of rats. Yet I feel that all this is a preparation for the future and that God is labouring in my soul for ends I do not clearly see as yet. Sometimes I kneel down with outstretched arms and pray God, if it is a part of His divine plan, to rain down fresh privations and sufferings. But I stopped when the mud wall of my little hut fell in upon me — that was too much of a good joke!

For more, read here, or here, or visit Pat Kenny’s blog dedicated to Father Doyle (where I sourced the above quote).

Penance

J.M.J.

The third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fatima, on 13 July 1917.

After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’…

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Image from Pixabay

This year, 2017, is the 100th anniversary year of the apparitions at Fátima, Portugal.  As I mentioned in an earlier post it is also the anniversary year of other events of importance to the Catholic Church and thus to the world.  On the 21st August there will be an eclipse over North America on the same day as the feast of Our Lady of Knock.  The apparition at Knock was unusual because it was silent.  Our Lady usually has specific messages that she wishes to convey to the witnesses.  The silence of the Knock apparition and its subject matter point to the beginning of Revelation (a.k.a. The Apocalypse Of Saint John) Chapter 8:

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven, as it were for half an hour.  And I saw seven angels standing in the presence of God; and there were given to them seven trumpets.

The altar in the Knock apparition and in this part of Revelation can be related to the open-air Altar of Burnt Offerings of Moses’ tabernacle and the two Temples of Jerusalem. This altar was used for the sacrifices of Yom Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement.  The difference here is that in the Knock apparition and in Revelation the sacrificed lamb was slain but yet lives (a reference to the resurrected Christ) – “a Lamb standing as it were slain”.  This year, Yom Kippur falls on the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel (and also Sts. Gabriel and Raphael in the Novus Ordo calendar).  There is a forty day period preceding this feast called St. Michael’s Lent and, as with Lent itself, it is a period of preparation marked by fasting, increased prayer, and so on.  St. Michael’s Lent traditionally starts on the Feast of the Assumption (tomorrow) but this gives more than forty days.  When does the fortieth day before the Feast of St. Michael actually fall?  On the day of the American eclipse and the anniversary of the Knock apparition.  By the way, the opening of the sixth seal in Revelation is accompanied by an eclipse:

And I saw, when he had opened the sixth seal, and behold there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair: and the whole moon became as blood: And the stars from heaven fell upon the earth, as the fig tree casteth its green figs when it is shaken by a great wind: And the heaven departed as a book folded up: and every mountain, and the islands were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and tribunes, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of mountains:

And they say to the mountains and the rocks: Fall upon us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of their wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?

What does all this add up to?  It looks like we, especially those in the U.S., are being called to make a special effort to atone for our sins.  Maybe we are being given a last chance before the flaming sword is brought down on us.

After these things, I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that they should not blow upon the earth, nor upon the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying: Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads.

This may only be a foreshadowing of the events prophesied in Revelation but does that matter?  We are always called to repentance for our sins.  Shouldn’t we wake up and make a special effort when the signs are looking ominous like this?

(All bible quotes are from Revelation, Douay-Rheims version.)

Two More Image Resources

Image taken from page 685 of 'A magyar nemzet tortenete. Szerkeszti Szilágyi S. [With maps and illustrations.]'
My brother has just alerted me to two more digitised image collections.  The first is provided by the British Library – see this article for an introduction.  The image above is from this collection.  I have no idea what it says, I just liked the illumination.  The second collection is part of the Polonsky Foundation Digitisation Project which aims to digitise the collections of the Oxford Bodleian Library and the Vatican’s Biblioteca Apostolica.  The latter seems to be related to the Digital Vatican Library which I already have in my resource list (see menu above).  See this article for information on the Polonsky collection.  I will add the appropriate links to the “Other Resources” page on my menu above.

A Couple of Lancashire Churches

As I said in my previous post, I didn’t take enough photos on my recent trip to the UK.  One reason is that it felt like a bit of a pilgrimage.  I was looking forward to attending my first Masses in the UK, the land of my forefathers.  Now, Wales is a real backwater as far as the Catholic Church goes so I was unsurprised to find my local church in a rather shabby, but not unloved, state.  Lancashire, however, is known to be a strongly Catholic county of England and it was surprisingly hard to find the church I was looking for in Preston because everywhere we turned there seemed to be a steeple.  My mother and I thought we had found the right one but it was eerily quiet.  When we were wandering around it we asked a couple of guys where St. Walburge’s was and they seemed quite amused at our inability to find what is reputedly the third tallest steeple in the UK.  When we followed their directions and saw the steeple in the distance my mum claimed that it looked smaller than the one we had just been wandering around.  I was reminded of this sketch from Father Ted.  Sorry mum. 🙂  I also visited a church in Blackburn dedicated to St. Alban.  The interiors of both these churches were lovely, and the Masses (one Novus Ordo, one traditional Latin) were beautiful.  Here are some of the few photos I took:

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There were many more photos I could have taken.  I didn’t get a good shot of the rose window at St. Walburge’s for example.  However, I think these kinds of places are best seen in person so that one can absorb the atmosphere and let a little of the sanctity seep into one’s soul.

Here are a few titbits of information that I picked up on my first visit to St. Walburge’s.  The hammer beams of the roof creak like the timbers of a ship in high winds.  The steeple rests on bales of cotton so that it can move with the wind without cracking.  The church was originally going to be dedicated to a different saint but somebody associated with the project was healed by the oil streaming from St. Walburge’s tomb.  The choir loft was originally situated so far from the organ loft that it made it very difficult for the choir to sing in time with the organ.  The windows behind the main altar were originally set into a flat wall.  This wall was subsequently turned into the curved apse you can see in the photos.  The windows were put back in the wrong order so that the inscription relating to the donors no longer makes any sense.

I hope I’ve tempted you to take a closer look at the beautiful churches of Lancashire (I’m looking at you Simon! 😉 ).

See here for tours and Mass times at St. Walburge’s.

Dad’s Dahlias

I just went back to the UK for a week to see my folks.  First I visited my dad and his wife in North Wales where I grew up.  Then I visited my mum in Lancashire, where she grew up.  I didn’t take enough photos but I just had to get my camera out for my dad’s amazing dahlias.  There were only a few but one of them was absolutely huge.  Dad says they all end up like that.  The rest of the flowers in his lovely little gardens had gone over, and the next flush was yet to appear so I timed the visit a little badly from that point of view.  So here without further ado are a few photos of my dad’s dahlias:

African Flower Owl

Here’s another of the crocheted creatures I made, plus a triangle that was going to be a mantilla until I ran out of yarn (motif pattern here)…

It’s Never Too Late

Coppo di Marcovaldo, HellIt is common practice for Catholics to pray for the souls in Purgatory but what about if you’re not sure whether a particular soul made it there at all?  We have no way of knowing for certain the destination of any soul but especially the souls of our non-Catholic friends and relatives.  Once someone has passed on, maybe years or decades or centuries ago, isn’t it too late to help save them from the possibility of going to hell?  Absolutely not: God exists outside time and so our prayers can transcend the barriers of time also.  We can’t pray for the souls in hell but we can pray for last-minute conversions and for graces to be granted retrospectively before souls reach hell.  And now I have realised, thanks to this article (thank you so much Melissa), that we can even pray for our own little suffering selves in the past to ease the current consequences of our childhood traumas.

APOD

From APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day), a website well worth adding to your daily news-feed.

Bishop Schneider on the Current Crisis in the Catholic Church

Coat of arms of Athanasius Schneider
By Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Special to Rorate Caeli

July 21, 2017

The interpretation of Vatican II and its connection with the current crisis of the Church

The current situation of the unprecedented crisis of the Church is comparable with the general crisis in the 4th century, when the Arianism had contaminated the overwhelming majority of the episcopacy, taking a dominant position in the life of the Church. We must seek to address this current situation on the one hand with realism and, on the other hand, with a supernatural spirit – with a profound love for the Church, our mother, who is suffering the Passion of Christ because of this tremendous and general doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral confusion.

We must renew our faith in believing that the Church is in the safe hands of Christ, and that He will always intervene to renew the Church in the moments in which the boat of the Church seems to capsize, as is the obvious case in our days.

As to the attitude towards the Second Vatican Council, we must avoid two extremes: a complete rejection (as do the sedevacantists and a part of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) or a “infallibilization” of everything the council spoke.

Vatican II was a legitimate assembly presided by the Popes and we must maintain towards this council a respectful attitude. Nevertheless, this does not mean that we are forbidden to express well-founded doubts or respectful improvement suggestions regarding some specific items, while doing so based on the entire tradition of the Church and on the constant Magisterium.

Traditional and constant doctrinal statements of the Magisterium during a centuries-old period have precedence and constitute a criterion of verification regarding the exactness of posterior magisterial statements. New statements of the Magisterium must, in principle, be more exact and clearer, but should never be ambiguous and apparently contrast with previous magisterial statements.

Those statements of Vatican II which are ambiguous must be read and interpreted according to the statements of the entire Tradition and of the constant Magisterium of the Church.

In case of doubt the statements of the constant Magisterium (the previous councils and the documents of the Popes, whose content demonstrates being a sure and repeated tradition during centuries in the same sense) prevail over those objectively ambiguous or new statements of the Vatican II, which difficultly concord with specific statements of the constant and previous Magisterium (e.g. the duty of the state to venerate publicly Christ, the King of all human societies, the true sense of the episcopal collegiality in relation to the Petrine primacy and the universal government of the Church, the noxiousness of all non-Catholic religions and their dangerousness for the eternal salvation of the souls).

Vatican II must be seen and received as it is and as it was really: a primarily pastoral council. This council had not the intention to propose new doctrines or to propose them in a definitive form. In its statements the council confirmed largely the traditional and constant doctrine of the Church.

Some of the new statements of Vatican II (e.g. collegiality, religious liberty, ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, the attitude towards the world) have not a definitive character, and being apparently or truly non-concordant with the traditional and constant statements of the Magisterium, they must be complemented by more exact explications and by more precise supplements of a doctrinal character. A blind application of the principle of the “hermeneutics of continuity” does not help either, since thereby are created forced interpretations, which are not convincing and which are not helpful to arrive at a clearer understanding of the immutable truths of the Catholic faith and of its concrete application.

There have been cases in the history, where non-definitive statements of certain ecumenical councils were later – thanks to a serene theological debate – refined or tacitly corrected (e.g. the statements of the Council of Florence regarding the matter of the sacrament of Orders, i.e. that the matter were the handing-over of the instruments, whereas the more sure and constant tradition said that the imposition of the hands of the bishop were sufficient, a truth, which was ultimately confirmed by Pius XII in 1947). If after the Council of Florence the theologians would have blindly applied the principle of the “hermeneutics of the continuity” to this concrete statement of the Council of Florence (an objectively erroneous statement), defending the thesis that the handing-over of the instruments as the matter of the sacrament of Orders would concord with the constant Magisterium, probably there would not have been achieved the general consensus of the theologians regarding the truth which says that only the imposition of the hands of the bishop is the real matter of the sacrament of Orders.

There must be created in the Church a serene climate of a doctrinal discussion regarding those statements of Vatican II which are ambiguous or which have caused erroneous interpretations. In such a doctrinal discussion there is nothing scandalous, but on the contrary, it will be a contribution in order to maintain and explain in a more sure and integral manner the deposit of the immutable faith of the Church.

One must not highlight so much  a certain council, absolutizing it or equating it in fact with the oral (Sacred Tradition) or written (Sacred Scripture) Word of God. Vatican II itself said rightly (cf. Verbum Dei, 10), that the Magisterium (Pope, Councils, ordinary and universal Magisterium) is not above the Word of God, but beneath it, subject to it, and being only the servant of it (of the oral Word of God = Sacred Tradition and of the written Word of God = Sacred Scripture).

From an objective point of view, the statements of the Magisterium (Popes and councils) of definitive character, have more value and more weight compared with the statements of pastoral character, which have naturally a changeable and temporary quality depending on historical circumstances or responding to pastoral situations of a certain period of time, as it is the case with the major part of the statements of Vatican II.

The original and valuable contribution of the Vatican II consists in the universal call to holiness of all members of the Church (chap. 5 of Lumen gentium), in the doctrine about the central role of Our Lady in the life of the Church (chap. 8 of Lumen gentium), in the importance of the lay faithful in maintaining, defending and promoting the Catholic faith and in their duty to evangelize and sanctify the temporal realities according to the perennial sense of the Church (chap. 4 of Lumen gentium), in the primacy of the adoration of God in the life of the Church and in the celebration of the liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, nn. 2; 5-10). The rest one can consider to a certain extent secondary, temporary and, in the future, probably forgettable, as it was the case with some non-definitive, pastoral and disciplinary statements of various ecumenical councils in the past.

The following issues – Our Lady, sanctification of the personal life of the faithful with the sanctification of the world according to the perennial sense of the Church and the primacy of the adoration of God – are the most urgent aspects which have to be lived in our days. Therein Vatican II has a prophetical role which, unfortunately, is not yet realized in a satisfactory manner.

Instead of living these four aspects, a considerable part of the theological and administrative “nomenclature” in the life of the Church promoted for the past 50 years and still promotes ambiguous doctrinal, pastoral and liturgical issues, distorting thereby the original intention of the Council or abusing its less clear or ambiguous doctrinal statements in order to create another church – a church of a relativistic or Protestant type.

In our days, we are experiencing the culmination of this development.

The problem of the current crisis of the Church consists partly in the fact that some statements of Vatican II – which are objectively ambiguous or those few statements, which are difficultly concordant with the constant magisterial tradition of the Church – have been infallibilisized. In this way, a healthy debate with a necessarily implicit or tacit correction was blocked.

At the same time there was given the incentive in creating theological affirmations in contrast with the perennial tradition (e.g. regarding the new theory of an ordinary double supreme subject of the government of the Church, i.e. the Pope alone and the entire episcopal college together with the Pope, the doctrine of the neutrality of the state towards the public worship, which it must pay to the true God, who is Jesus Christ, the King also of each human and political society, the relativizing of the truth that the Catholic Church is the unique way of salvation, wanted and commanded by God).

We must free ourselves from the chains of the absolutization and of the total infallibilization of Vatican II. We must ask for a climate of a serene and respectful debate out of a sincere love for the Church and for the immutable faith of the Church.

We can see a positive indication in the fact that on August 2, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a preface to the volume regarding Vatican II in the edition of his Opera omnia. In this preface, Benedict XVI expresses his reservations regarding specific content in the documents Gaudium et spes and Nostra aetate. From the tenor of these words of Benedict XVI one can see that concrete defects in certain sections of the documents are not improvable by the “hermeneutics of the continuity.”

An SSPX, canonically and fully integrated in the life of the Church, could also give a valuable contribution in this debate – as Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre desired. The fully canonical presence of the SSPX in the life of the Church of our days could also help to create a general climate of  constructive debate, in order that that, which was believed always, everywhere and by all Catholics for 2,000 years, would be believed in a more clear and in a more sure manner in our days as well, realizing thereby the true pastoral intention of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.

The authentic pastoral intention aims towards the eternal salvation of the souls — a salvation which will be achieved only through the proclamation of the entire will of God (cf. Act 20: 7). The ambiguity in the doctrine of the faith and in its concrete application (in the liturgy and in the pastoral life) would menace the eternal salvation of the souls and would be consequently anti-pastoral, since the proclamation of the clarity and of the integrity of the Catholic faith and of its faithful concrete application is the explicit will of God.

Only the perfect obedience to the will of God — Who revealed us through Christ the Incarnate Word and through the Apostles the true faith, the faith interpreted and practiced constantly in the same sense by the Magisterium of the Church – will bring the salvation of souls.

+ Athanasius Schneider,

Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan

More Interesting Coincidences

I’ve written before about interesting coincidences, ones that mark 2016 and 2017 as rather portentous years (see here), and ones that point to St. Michael the Archangel’s influence in human history (see here).  Here are some more coincidences…

There are various significant anniversaries occurring in 2017:

  • 1917 – the warnings of Our Lady at Fátima, and the Russian Revolutions,
  • 1717 – the crowning of Our Lady of Czestochowa (pronounced like Chesta-hoe-va), and the founding (in London) of the first Grand Lodge of the Freemasons
  • 1517 – Martin Luther’s protest which led to the Reformation

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Most of you have probably heard that there is going to be a total solar eclipse over North America on the 21st August 2017.  This is the date of the Feast of Our Lady of Knock, and it also marks the start of a forty day preparation for the Jewish feast of Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement.  This year Yom Kippur also happens to land on the Catholic feast of St Michael the Archangel.  Some Catholics undertake a period of fasting starting on the Solemnity of the Assumption (15th August), called St. Michael’s Lent, in order to prepare for this feast.  St. Francis of Assisi is known to have undertaken this fast because he was devoted to St. Michael.  It seems to me that 2017 would be a great year to undertake St. Michael’s Lent, and to prepare to do some atoning.