Saturday, June 30, 2007

Reasoned discussion or argument, dialogue or emotion?

In Massachusetts, some homosexual activists have a truly distorted idea of what constitutes authentic dialogue:

"A discussion is an orderly confrontation based on a mutual willingness to learn from one another. It involves the presentation of evidence by each party and then a good-faith attempt of the participants in the discussion to come to agreement. Discussion presupposes some degree of rational disagreement between us or at least a lack of consensus. If I agreed with you already, we would have nothing to discuss. In a discussion, I do not primarily want to disagree: I want to know the truth. If I do not think that what you say is true, then I disagree, stating my reasons as clearly as possible and without animosity. The same is true for you: you present me with your reasons. By sharing our ideas freely, we hope to arrive at a deeper truth. In a discussion, disagreement is for the sake of agreement.....An argument (emotional, not rational) is a disorderly confrontation based on an unwillingness to learn from one another. Desire for victory takes precedence over love of truth, with the result that agreement becomes impossible. Although they may have rational grounds for disagreement in the first place, all arguments include an element of bad faith - we are not, with all honesty, pursuing the truth together. Rather, in an argument I simply want my position to be the right one and you to agree with me. I am, indeed, looking for agreement, but on my terms, not in terms of objective truth. Instead of my following reason and leaving passion aside, passion is primary, and reason (if it has a role) works in the service of passion. Quite often, in order to end an argument, we agree to disagree....

In discussion, we deliberate for the sake of coming to the truth; in an argument, we abandon the mutual pursuit of truth because our purpose is to triumph."

-Dr. Montague Brown, The One-Minute Philosopher, Sophia Institute Press, pp. 32-33.

Meanwhile, the case that is sending shock waves across America:

In May of 2000, I wrote a piece for the Mother Town News in North Central Massachusetts opposing same-sex "marriage" and based my article on Divine Revelation and Natural Law. At the same time, I cited the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that homosexual persons are to be accepted with respect and compassion (No. 2358). My father received a phone call from the Clinton Police Department informing him that an individual had told The Mothertown News that he was going kill me with his rifle.

Friday, June 29, 2007

In preparation for the year of St. Paul

We live in fascinating times.

Signs of hope....

Reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles in Christ

Those who have been following the whole controversy surrounding the anti-Semitism of the Saint Benedict Center in Richmond may wish to reflect on the Word of God as given to St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians:

"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands - remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end..." (Ephesians 2: 11-16).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wonderful news....

"I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent." (Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, in his book "Salt of the Earth").

Once again the Diocese of Manchester has spoken....

His Excellency, The Most Rev. John McCormack, has indicated that the faithful should refrain from participating in the spiritual exercises and activities of the Saint Benedict Center in Richmond, New Hampshire.

Lumen Gentium, No. 25:

"Among the more important duties of bishops that of preaching the Gospel has pride of place. For the bishops are heralds of the faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people assigned to them, the faith which is destined to inform their thinking and direct their conduct; and under the light of the Holy Spirit they make that faith shine forth, drawing from the storehouse of revelation new things and old (cf. Mt. 13:52); they make it bear fruit and with watchfulness they ward off whatever errors threaten their flock (cf. 2 Tim. 4-14). Bishops who teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be revered by all as witnesses of divine and Catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops' decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind."

Jesus told us that a tree is known by its fruits:

"Please know that I will continue to pray for you and all those who are affected by difficulties that have been created by the Saint Benedict Center."

- The Rev. Edward J. Arsenault to Mrs. Terri O'Rorke, a New Hampshire resident who has been opposing the Saint Benedict Center in Richmond.

The fruit of the Saint Benedict Center cult is now being made manifest. And what a terrible fruit it is.

Monday, June 25, 2007


VATICAN CITY, JUN 23, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in a meeting of professors and rectors of European universities, who have come together to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

"The theme of your meeting - 'A New Humanism for Europe. The Role of the Universities' - invites a disciplined assessment of contemporary culture on the continent," said the Pope in his English-language address. "Europe is presently experiencing a certain social instability and diffidence in the face of traditional values, yet her distinguished history and her established academic institutions have much to contribute to shaping a future of hope."

"Promoting a new humanism, in fact, requires a clear understanding of what this 'newness' actually embodies. ... Europe today is experiencing a massive cultural shift, one in which men and women are increasingly conscious of their call to be actively engaged in shaping their own history. Historically, it was in Europe that humanism developed, thanks to the fruitful interplay between the various cultures of her peoples and the Christian faith."

"The present cultural shift is often seen as a 'challenge' to the culture of the university and Christianity itself, rather than as a 'horizon' against which creative solutions can and must be found."

On the subject of these solutions, the Pope identified three issues to which "men and women of higher education" are called to turn their attention: "The need for a comprehensive study of the crisis of modernity," and of "the problems raised by a 'humanism' that claims to build a 'regnum hominis' detached from its necessary ontological foundation. ... The anthropocentrism which characterizes modernity can never be detached from an acknowledgment of the full truth about man, which includes his transcendent vocation.

"A second issue," he added, "involves the broadening of our understanding of rationality," which "needs instead to be 'broadened' in order to be able to explore and embrace those aspects of reality which go beyond the purely empirical. ... The rise of the European universities was fostered by the conviction that faith and reason are meant to cooperate in the search for truth, each respecting the nature and legitimate autonomy of the other, yet working together harmoniously and creatively to serve the fulfillment of the human person."

The third issue identified by the Pope "concerns the nature of the contribution which Christianity can make to the humanism of the future. The question of man, and thus of modernity, challenges the Church to devise effective ways of proclaiming to contemporary culture the 'realism' of her faith in the saving work of Christ. Christianity must not be relegated to the world of myth and emotion, but respected for its claim to shed light on the truth about man."

"It is," the Pope concluded, "my hope that universities will increasingly become communities committed to the tireless pursuit of truth, 'laboratories of culture' where teachers and students join in exploring issues of particular importance for society, employing interdisciplinary methods and counting on the collaboration of theologians. This can easily be done in Europe, given the presence of so many prestigious Catholic institutions and faculties of theology. I am convinced that greater cooperation ... between the various academic communities will enable Catholic universities to bear witness to the historical fruitfulness of the encounter between faith and reason."

Youth turning to Catholicism....

Should this surprise us? It's not like our morally bankrupt culture has anything to offer. The truth is always far more attractive.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Robin Williams: Anti-Catholic bigot

Perhaps he sat on his head one too many times while filming Mork and Mindy? Yet another example of Tinsel Town's anti-Catholic hatred and hypocrisy.

Vatican reverses a Kennedy annulment....

I opposed this annulment from the very beginning. At the time, I was living within the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts and many there were in support of the annulment. There were articles in The Catholic Free Press (official newspaper for the Diocese) which were supportive of the annulment process in general as it is employed throughout the United States. I sided with Pope John Paul II who had spoken of the annulment process as one which was being abused:

"The ethical question has always been asked very pointedly in any kind of judicial proceedings. In fact, individual or collective interests can induce the parties to resort to various kinds of duplicity and even bribery in order to attain a favorable sentence. Nor are canonical proceedings, in which an attempt is made to discover the truth about whether or not a marriage exists, immune from this risk. The unquestionable importance of this for the moral conscience of the parties involved reduces the likelihood of acquiescence to interests alien to the quest for the truth.

Nevertheless, cases can exist in which a similar acquiescence is expressed that jeopardizes the regularity of the proceedings. The firm reaction of canon law to such behavior is well known (cf. CIC, cann. 1389, 1391, 1457, 1488, 1489).

However, in the current circumstances there is also the threat of another risk. In the name of what they claim to be pastoral requirements, some voices have been raised proposing to declare marriages that have totally failed null and void. These persons propose that in order to obtain this result, recourse should be made to the expedient of retaining the substantial features of the proceedings, simulating the existence of an authentic judicial verdict. Such persons have been tempted to provide reasons for nullity and to prove them in comparison with the most elementary principles of the body of norms and of the Church's Magisterium.

The objective juridical and moral gravity of such conduct, which in no way constitutes a pastorally valid solution to the problems posed by matrimonial crises, is obvious. Thanks be to God, there is no lack of faithful people who refuse to let their consciences be deceived. Moreover, many of them, despite being personally involved in a conjugal crisis, are not prepared to solve it except by keeping to the path of truth. In my annual Addresses to the Roman Rota, I have referred several times to the essential relationship that the process has with the search for objective truth.

It is primarily the Bishops, by divine law judges in their own communities, who must be responsible for this. It is on their behalf that the tribunals administer justice. Bishops are therefore called to be personally involved in ensuring the suitability of the members of the tribunals, diocesan or interdiocesan, of which they are the Moderators, and in verifying that the sentences passed conform to right doctrine. Sacred Pastors cannot presume that the activity of their tribunals is merely a "technical" matter from which they can remain detached, entrusting it entirely to their judicial vicars (cf. CIC, cann. 391, 1419, 1423 1).

The criterion that inspires the deontology of the judge is his love for the truth. First and foremost, therefore, he must be convinced that the truth exists. The truth must therefore be sought with a genuine desire to know it, despite all the inconveniences that may derive from such knowledge. It is necessary to resist the fear of the truth that can, at times, stem from the dread of annoying people. The truth, which is Christ himself (cf. John 8:32,36), sets us free from every form of compromise with interested falsehoods.The judge who truly acts as a judge, in other words, with justice, neither lets himself be conditioned by feelings of false compassion for people, nor by false models of thought, however widespread these may be in his milieu. He knows that unjust sentences are never a true pastoral solution, and that God's judgment of his own actions is what counts for eternity.

The judge must then abide by canonical laws, correctly interpreted. Hence, he must never lose sight of the intrinsic connection of juridical norms with Church doctrine. Indeed, people sometimes presume to separate Church law from the Church's magisterial teaching as though they belonged to two separate spheres; they suppose the former alone to have juridically binding force, whereas they value the latter merely as a directive or an exhortation. Such an approach basically reveals a positivist mindset which is in contradiction with the best of the classical and Christian juridical tradition concerning the law.

In fact, the authentic interpretation of God's Word, exercised by the Magisterium of the Church (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation "Dei Verbum," No. 10), has juridical value to the extent that it concerns the context of law, without requiring any further formal procedure in order to become juridically and morally binding. For a healthy juridical interpretation, it is indispensable to understand the whole body of the Church's teachings, and to place every affirmation systematically in the flow of tradition. It will thus be possible to avoid selective and distorted interpretations and useless criticisms at every step.

Lastly, the preliminary investigation of the case is an important stage in the search for the truth. The very reason for its existence is endangered and degenerates into pure formalism when the outcome of the proceedings is taken for granted. It is true that the entitlement to timely justice is also part of the concrete service to the truth and constitutes a personal right. Yet false speed to the detriment of the truth is even more seriously unjust." (Source:


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Does religious liberty require a separation of church and state?

We have seen how the First Amendment to the Constitution says absolutely nothing about keeping religion out of government. But there are still those (Catholics included) who insist that religious liberty requires an absolute or strict separation of state and church. Is this the teaching of Vatican II? In a word, no. In its Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) Vatican II said:

"Since the common welfare of society consists in the entirety of those conditions of social life under which men enjoy the possibility of achieving their own perfection in a certain fullness of measure and also with some relative ease, it chiefly consists in the protection of the rights, and in the performance of the duties, of the human person. Therefore the care of the right to religious freedom devolves upon the whole citizenry, upon social groups, upon government, and upon the Church and other religious communities, in virtue of the duty of all toward the common welfare, and in the manner proper to each.

The protection and promotion of the inviolable rights of man ranks among the essential duties of government. Therefore government is to assume the safeguard of the religious freedom of all its citizens, in an effective manner, by just laws and by other appropriate means.
Government is also to help create conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life, in order that the people may be truly enabled to exercise their religious rights and to fulfill their religious duties, and also in order that society itself may profit by the moral qualities of justice and peace which have their origin in men's faithfulness to God and to His holy will.

If, in view of peculiar circumstances obtaining among peoples, special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional order of society, it is at the same time imperative that the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom should be recognized and made effective in practice.

Finally, government is to see to it that equality of citizens before the law, which is itself an element of the common good, is never violated, whether openly or covertly, for religious reasons. Nor is there to be discrimination among citizens.

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, or when it hinders men from joining or leaving a religious community. All the more is it a violation of the will of God and of the sacred rights of the person and the family of nations when force is brought to bear in any way in order to destroy or repress religion, either in the whole of mankind or in a particular country or in a definite community." (DH, No. 6).

Separation of church and state: Nothing but dust...

David Carlin is a lifelong Democrat. From 1981 to 1992, he served as a Rhode Island state senator, serving as senate majority leader in 1989 and 1990. In 1992 he was his district's Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. For more than twenty years, Mr. Carlin has been a professor of philosophy and sociology at the Community College of Rhode Island.

In his book entitled "Can a Catholic Be a Democrat: How the Party I Loved Became the Enemy of My Religion," he writes:

" excuse that appeals to the 'separation of church and state' seems to be among the silliest rationales for a Catholic's support of the secularized Democratic Party. This separation, so we're told, is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, and it prohibits the intrusion of religion into the affairs of government. Yet the First Amendment says nothing about keeping religion out of government; it's concerned instead with keeping government out of religion. Its two religion 'clauses' say (1) that there will be no 'establishment of religion' and (2) that there will be no interference with the 'free exercise' of religion. That's it: government must keep its hands off religion; nothing about religion keeping its hands off government.

However, it should be considered that in writing the religion section of the First Amendment, the framers were no doubt remembering the history of England and how the government of that nation, from the time of Henry VIII until what was then the present day (the 1780's), established a national religion and interfered with the free exercise of dissenting religions. This was a case of government controlling religion, but at the same time it was a case of religion controlling government. That is to say, government persecuted, or at least discriminated against, all religions other than the Church of England, but one of the main reasons it did so was because the Church of England, both through its bishops and its lay members, had tremendous influence over government (only members of the Church of England could serve in Parliament or government). In other words, in its competition with other churches, not to mention its competition with outright infidelity, the Church of England used government to put down the church's rivals.

This is the kind of thing people, many of them Catholics, have in mind when they say that advocating laws against abortion or same-sex marriage violates the principle of separation of church and state. They fear that an alliance of conservative churches might someday gain enough governmental power to impose religious values on everybody else, non-believers included. This is what they mean when they speak, as they often do, of the looming danger of 'theocracy.' Behind the moral-conservative political activism of Christian churches they see would-be theocrats, or 'dominionists,' who want to take over America, stamp out abortion, subjugate women, drive homosexuals back into the closet, and enact other items allagedly on the agenda of the Religious Right. Yet this would be clearly un-American, violating the philosophical, religious, and moral pluralism that has long been, and should be, characteristic of the United States.

One obvious and oft-given answer is this: few liberals have made similar objections to the modern civil-rights movement, which was in large measure inspired by religion and based on churches. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Protestant minister - even, it might be said, a Christian martyr. Are the objectors ready to say that the great legislative fruits of this religio-political movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, are illegitimate, that they're instances of the imposition of theocratic values? Will they say that the spirit of American 'pluralism' demanded that the pro-segregation values of the KKK and other racists should have been respected? Of course not. And so it appears that what's at stake for these people isn't a matter of principle (separation of church and state) but a matter of policy. Some policies they like )e.g., civil rights legislation), and some they dislike (e.g., laws restricting abortion). A religion-driven politics is okay when it produces laws they like, but it's very naughty when it produces laws they don't like. And so we may conclude (may we not?) that all this talk about the separation of church and state is nothing but dust they throw in people's eyes." (Can a Catholic Be a Democrat: How the Party I Loved Became the Enemy of My Religion, pp. 129-131, Sophia Institute Press, 2006).

Next we will examine the idea of separation of church and state from the standpoint of Vatican II.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Litany of Saint Anthony of Padua

(For Private Use)

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary,
Saint Anthony of Padua,
Saint Anthony, glory of the Friars Minor,
Saint Anthony, ark of the testament,
Saint Anthony, sanctuary of heavenly wisdom,
Saint Anthony, destroyer of worldly vanity,
Saint Anthony, conqueror of impurity,
Saint Anthony, example of humility,
Saint Anthony, lover of the Cross,
Saint Anthony, martyr of desire,
Saint Anthony, generator of charity,
Saint Anthony, zealous for justice,
Saint Anthony, terror of infidels,
Saint Anthony, model of perfection,
Saint Anthony, consoler of the afflicted,
Saint Anthony, restorer of lost things,
Saint Anthony, defender of innocence,
Saint Anthony, liberator of prisoners,
Saint Anthony, guide of pilgrims,
Saint Anthony, restorer of health.
Saint Anthony, performer of miracles,
Saint Anthony, restorer of speech to the mute,
Saint Anthony, restorer of hearing to the deaf,
Saint Anthony, restorer of sight to the blind,
Saint Anthony, disperser of devils,
Saint Anthony, reviver of the dead.
Saint Anthony, tamer of tyrants,
From the snares of the devil, Saint Anthony deliver us.
From thunder, lightning and storms, Saint Anthony deliver us.
From all evil of body and soul, Saint Anthony deliver us.
Through your intercession, Saint Anthony protect us.
Throughout the course of life, Saint Anthony protect us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Saint Anthony, pray for us.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O my God, may the pious commemoration of Saint Anthony, your Confessor and Proctor, give joy to your Church, that she may ever be strengthened with your spiritual assistance and merit to attain everlasting joy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A peace that is ever at war.....

I have said it so many times before, but I'll say it again: In our saccharin society, there are very many individuals (and sadly many Catholics among them) who accuse those of us who defend the Magisterial teaching of the Church as being "negative" or of engaging in negativity. But this childish attitude, which is the result of a sham spirituality, is not the Catholic attitude.

It was Pope John XXIII, beloved Pontiff of happy memory, a true man of peace, who said that:

" long as we are journeying in exile over this earth, our peace and happiness will be imperfect. For such peace is not completely untroubled and serene; it is active, not calm and motionless. In short, this is a peace that is ever at war. It wars with every sort of error, including that which falsely wears the face of truth; it struggles against the enticements of vice, against those enemies of the soul, of whatever description, who can weaken, blemish, or destroy our innocence or Catholic faith. This peace combats hatred, fraud, and discord, which can impair and cripple our faith." (Encyclical Letter Ad Petri Cathedram, No. 93).

Was this great Pontiff being "negative" when he insisted that an authentic peace is "ever at war" with every sort of error, including "that which falsely wears the face of truth"?

I would suggest a prayerful read of this Encyclical Letter, especially Nos. 11, 15, 93, 95, 130, 131.

Mature Catholics will find the Encyclical edifying. Immature Catholics infected by the zeitgeist will find it challenging and perhaps even impossible to digest. But then, solid food is for adults and milk is for children.


Monday, June 11, 2007

A Nashua Parish honors the Body and Blood of Christ

Yesterday, the Pastor of St. Aloysius of Gonzaga Parish (St. Louis de Gonzague), the Rev. Richard H. Dion, led a Corpus Christi procession through the streets of Nashua, New Hampshire. This charismatic priest is truly a gift to the Church. Upon arriving at the Corpus Christi Adoration Chapel, Rev. Dion gave an excellent talk which was followed by Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction.

The theme of Fr. Dion's talk was the importance of Eucharistic Adoration to the life of the Church and the witness it provides to a culture mired in materialism and enslaved by a hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. To this end, Fr. Dion regularly repeated Our Lord's words, "Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:23).

Fr. Dion - and all the faithful who took part in this Corpus Christi procession - are to be commended for their love of Our Eucharistic Jesus and for not being ashamed of standing with (and walking with) Jesus their King. They have already received a blessing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

O Saving Victim opening wide
The gates of heav'n to man below!
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow.
To Thy great name be endless praise
Immortal Godhead, One in Three;
Oh, grant us endless length of days,
In our true native land with Thee.

Friday, June 08, 2007

In Latin, an important use of the accusative case is with prepositions. Prepositions and the nouns or pronouns they go with show direction toward, time, the means by which something is done, where and when something is done, purpose, and various other kinds of directions.

As an adverb, the word "extra" in Latin is properly translated into English as "outside." However, the same word in the maxim Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus is a preposition which takes the accusative case. It is, therefore, more accurately translated into English as "without." Consequently, the maxim Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus is more accurately translated into English as "Without the Church there is no salvation."

Why is this so important? Because, for the Feeneyites, the maxim means that an individual who is not formally a practicing Catholic cannot be saved. The Church has condemned this interpretation (cf. Denzinger-Schonmetzer, 3870-3873).

As Pope John Paul II explains:

"The Council speaks of membership in the Church for Christians and of being related to the Church for non-Christian believers in God, for people of good will (cf. Lumen Gentium 15-16). Both these dimensions are important for salvation, and each one possesses varying levels. People are saved through the Church, they are saved in the Church, but they always are saved by the grace of Christ. Besides formal membership in the Church, the sphere of salvation can also include other forms of relation to the Church. Paul VI expressed this same teaching in his first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, when he spoke of the various circles of the dialogue of salvation (cf. Ecclesiam Suam 101-117), which are the same as those indicated by the Council as the spheres of membership in and of relation to the Church. This is the authentic meaning of the well-known statement 'Outside the Church there is no salvation.'" (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, pp. 140-141).

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

VATICAN CITY, JUN 6, 2007 (VIS) - St. Cyprian, "the first African bishop to achieve the crown of martyrdom," was the subject of Benedict XVI's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 40,000 people.

Cyprian, said the Pope, "was born in Carthage to a rich pagan family" and "converted to Christianity at the age of 35. ... He became a priest and later a bishop. In the brief period of his episcopate, he had to face the first two persecutions authorized by imperial edict, that of Decius (250) and that of Valerian (257-258)," following which many faithful "renounced their faith, or at least failed to comport themselves correctly when under trial. These were the so-called 'lapsi,' that is, the 'lapsed'."

Cyprian was "severe but not inflexible towards the 'lapsi,' giving them the chance of forgiveness after an exemplary penance." The saint also "showed great humanity and was pervaded by the most authentic evangelical spirit in exhorting Christians to offer fraternal help to pagans during the plague." But he was "irremovable in combating the corruption and sins that devastated the moral life, especially that of avarice."

"Cyprian wrote many treatises and letters, all of them associated with his pastoral ministry. Little given to theological speculations, he wrote above all for the edification of the community and to encourage the faithful to good behavior."

In the saint's works, the Holy Father explained, "the Church is by far the topic most dear to him. He distinguishes between the visible hierarchical Church and the invisible mystical Church, at the same time forcefully affirming that the Church is one, founded upon Peter. He never tires of repeating that 'whoever abandons the chair of Peter, upon which the Church is founded, deludes himself if he believes he remains in the Church'."

Hence, "the indispensable characteristic of the Church is unity, as symbolized by the seamless robe of Christ; a unity that finds its foundation in Peter and its perfect realization in the Eucharist," said the Holy Father. He then referred to Cyprian's teaching on prayer "which highlights how in the Our Father Christians are shown the correct way to pray." That prayer refers to "us" and "our" rather than to "me" and "mine," said the Pope, "so that he who prays does not pray only for himself. Ours is a public and community prayer. ... The Christian does not say 'my Father,' but 'our Father,' even when praying in the privacy of a closed room, because he knows that everywhere and in all circumstances, he is a member of the one Body."

"Cyprian, then, lies at the origins of that fruitful theological-spiritual tradition that sees the heart as the privileged place of prayer. ... It is there that God meets and talks to man, ... and man listens to God."

"Let us make our own that 'understanding heart' about which the Bible and the Fathers speak," the Pope concluded. "We have such great need of it."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI to declare year dedicated to St. Paul

I was named after two great preachers: St. Paul of Tarsus and St. Anthony de Padua. This news fills me with joy.

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