October 2017: Olive Tree
Volume II / Issue 18 / October 2017
From the Editorial Desk:
God has a timetable when He deals with humanity. Solomon tells us that there is "a time to be born" (Ecclesiastes 3:2). That's true not only for all of God's creation but also for the work He wants to do in each generation.
God Has a Blueprint for Your Journey!
Today, people around the globe are shaken by the economy and politics. They live in fear of the future and with uncertainty about their private lives. Fear also seems to be the reason why so many of God's people hesitate to embark on their own journey of faith, especially when He asks them to trust Him for each step they take. They would gladly be willing to invest their lives in others for Christ, if only they could see, before they start, how this journey unfolds and ends. In other words, God's promise, "I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5), looks far too vague of a guarantee to risk all and follow Him by faith.
Let me encourage you from Abraham's life.
The Lord told Abraham to leave his home and fulfill a specific purpose. God did not spell out the details of his journey or show him a blueprint of the future. Yet Abraham had the God of the future as His friend and guide.
God has a blueprint for your journey! Even if He doesn't show it to you ahead of time, you can trust Him completely. Jesus, who purchased us with His own blood and made us His sons and daughters, will also take care of us, for we are His own.
The Journey Continues
Looking at the Great Commission, there is still so much left to be done. Until Jesus returns, these are our desires that we at Vatican in Exile offer up to God. First, we want to see clergy trained and sent out to all areas that need a Parish that preaches the truth and not just Catholic tradition with the little "t". Parishes that love the unlovely, that desire to show the sinner a better way. Away that speaks out in true love against sin, who are willing to fast and pray for the souls of others, and who in their own life want to forsake all and follow Jesus! Especially in light of the turmoil that is going on amongst Catholics today. God has given us an extremely significant opportunity.
And secondly, we need lay people who will not just sit on their derriere satisfied with their 1950 catholicism. Lay people who are willing to take up their cross and work side by side with their Priest, striving to make a real difference in the world.
It is worth it to continue this journey of faith and give our all to reach those who are lost, for whom Jesus died.
Come with us. Let us continue with Him who gave His life for us. Don't stop. Let nothing hinder you from running the race and completing your journey of faith.
This battle will not be very long. He will wait for us at the finish line. We will see Him, and He will embrace us, and then we will be with Him forever.
The Rosary is an excellent tool in our spiritual tool box. However, if we do not use it properly it is worthless to us. Just as you can't cut a board with a hammer, the Rosary used improperly does nothing for us or for the world.
A century ago the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima. She later appeared to Lucia dos Santos to ask for the devotion of the First Saturdays. We need to study this well, because it will give us an insight into how to recite the Rosary with proper devotion.
- There are several things we must do:
- The first is to say a third part of the Rosary.
- The second is to go to Holy Communion on the First Saturday
- The third is to make a good Confession within a week either way of the First Saturday
- And the fourth is to spend fifteen minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary.
This last request is most important. While we are reciting the Rosary, we should be meditating on these mysteries of our salvation. The devotion of the First Saturdays will bring us to refresh our minds and our hearts on the mysteries by meditating on one or more of these mysteries for fifteen minutes in addition to reflecting on them, during our daily Rosary.
Many recite the Rosary much as the three children did before Mary appeared to them. The children merely said Our Father, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, etc. Oh yes we may recite the whole prayers, but are we doing so devoutly and with proper attention to what we are doing or is our mind wandering to some other place?
Saint Louis de Montfort wrote True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as part of his Love of Eternal Wisdom. Let us consider the five characteristics of true devotion:
- First it must be interior, that is coming from the depths of our heart, not superficial.
- Secondly it must be tender like a child's confidence in a loving mother.
- Thirdly it must be holy, which lead us to avoid sin and to imitate the virtues of our Blessed Mother, especially her humility. We must come to Mary, asking her to ask from her divine Son all of the graces we need to become saints.
- Fourthly true devotion is constant. We should never abandon our spiritual exercises. If we have slacked off, let us come back to Mary and ask her to help us return to our devotion.
- Finally, true devotion is disinterested.
We are not praying, asking what is in it for me. Other than asking for our spiritual needs, we should also ask for the needs of others. And let us never forget that there are four ends of prayer, adoration, thanksgiving, atonement and finally petition.
Saint Louis de Montfort numbers seven kinds of false devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us consider several of these. There are external devotees, who limit their devotion to outward practices and take nothing to heart. Yes, they are faithful to their daily Rosary, but it is of no use to them. “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
And Saint Louis writes: “Presumptuous devotees are sinners abandoned to their passions, or lovers of the world, who, under the fair name of Christians and clients of our Blessed Lady, conceal pride, avarice, impurity, drunkenness, anger, swearing, detraction, injustice, or some other sin. They sleep in peace in the midst of their bad habits, without doing any violence to themselves to correct their faults, under the pretext that they are devout to the Blessed Virgin. They promise themselves that God will pardon them; that they will not be allowed to die without confession; and that they will not be lost eternally, because they say the Rosary, because they fast on Saturdays, because they belong to the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, or wear the scapular, or are enrolled in other congregations, or wear the little habit or little chain of our Lady.”
He also writes: “We have still to mention the false devotees to our Blessed Lady, who are the hypocritical devotees; who cloak their sins and sinful habits under her mantle, in order to pass in the eyes of men for what they are not.”
True devotion will lead us to renounce the world and all of its false maxims. The Rosary is not for those who want to be mediocre Catholics, but mediocre Catholics who want to become fervent Catholics, living the Catholic way of life.
Let us consider some ways we may increase our devotion. First of all is taking time on the first Saturday to meditate on one or more of the mysteries of the Rosary for a quarter of an hour. Another is taking the meditations and resolutions from the 54 Day Rosary Novena and consider these well. Let us consider one of these:
Sweet Mother Mary, meditating on the Mystery of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to thee with the tidings that thou wert to become the Mother of God; greeting thee with that sublime salutation, “Hail, full of grace! the Lord is with thee!” and thou didst humbly submit thyself to the will of the Father, responding: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.”
I humbly pray: Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, Glory be to the Father.
I bind these snow white buds with a petition for the virtue of Humility and humbly lay this bouquet at thy feet.
Another way is the Scriptural Rosary where there is a short thought from Scripture for each of the Hail Marys. Some prayer books have short meditations for each mystery, which may be read before the decade. In any case, keep your mind on the Mother of God and these holy mysteries. When we do this, then the Rosary will become a powerful weapon for good in our life and in the lives of others.
Saint Louis also wrote The Secret of the Rosary, which will also be a useful book to read and meditate on.
The Rosary was given first to Saint Dominic as a weapon against the heresies of his time. Indeed, we live in a time when people “endure not sound doctrine.” (II Timothy 4:3) Several major battles were won by the proper use of the Rosary. The Battle of Lepanto saved Europe from being over run by the Moslems and was won through the Rosary said devoutly by all of Christendom.
Saint Dominic said: “One day, Brother Angelus, to your Order of Carmel the Most Blessed Virgin Mary will give a devotion to be known as the Brown Scapular, and to my Order of Preachers she will give a devotion to be known as the Rosary. And one day, through the rosary and the scapular, she will save the world.” The Rosary is part of the Carmelite way of life, which is symbolized by the Brown Scapular that we wear. The scapular like the cassock of a cleric or the habit of a religious can do nothing if it covers an unrepentant sinner.
Let us close with a thought from Saint Louis de Montfort: “I confess that, in order to be truly devout to our Blessed Lady, it is not absolutely necessary to be so holy as to avoid every sin, though this were to be wished; but so much at least is necessary, and I beg you to lay it well to heart: §1. To have a sincere resolution to avoid, at least, all mortal sin, which outrages the Mother as well as the Son. §2. I would add also that to do violence to ourselves to avoid sin, to enroll ourselves in confraternities, to say the Rosary or other prayers, to fast on Saturdays, and the like.
“These good works are wonderfully useful to the conversion of a sinner, however hardened; and if my reader is such a one, even if he has his foot in the abyss, I would counsel these things to him. Nevertheless it must be on the condition that he will only practise these good works with the intention of obtaining from God, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the grace of contrition and the pardon of his sins, to conquer his evil habits, and not to remain quietly in the state of sin, in spite of the remorse of his conscience, the example of Jesus Christ and the Saints, and the maxims of the holy Gospel.”
The Funny Pharmacy
A joyful mind maketh age flourishing: a sorrowful spirit drieth up the bones.
Without getting into the formal versus material heresy, would it have made a difference if John the XXIII were not a heretic before his election?
If he had not been a heretic prior to his election, then he would have become Pope. However, notorious public heresy after election removes one from Office. (Canon 188, paragraph 4) Canonists, though, are not in agreement in how to deal with such a problem.
To continue the line of reasoning above since the college which elected John the XXIII knew he was a heretic then they also become heretics which automatically deposed them (electors) of their authority both collectively and individually in the Church?
Some would have known of Roncalli's heresy, but some might not have known. John XXIII appointed so many to the Cardinalate, that the 1963 election could not have been valid, which is why we focused on John XXIII.
The Electors all lost their office because they participated in the election of John the XXIII?
Yes, by electing an unqualified man, they tendered their resignations by schism in accepting him as Pope. (Canon 188, paragraph 4)
All Saints Day
“All Saints Day” is a feast traditionally celebrated on November 1st of every year in our Western Church. Keep in mind that the development of the actual universal Solemnity of All Saints may be somewhat confusing and hard to trace. Why do we suggest this? Because, keep in mind that various local churches celebrated their own “local” versions of All Saints Day from the earliest centuries. One of the earliest origins of what has come to be known as All Saints Day dates all the way back to around the year 609 when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Mother and all the Martyrs of the Church. This feast of All Saints was celebrated on May 13th, though. But even prior to this, we can see Church Fathers such as St. John Chystostom, for example, who assigned a date to commemorate a day in honor of All Saints. His date was not set as November 1st as we know it, though. It was celebrated on the First Sunday after Pentecost, where it is still celebrated in Eastern Churches to this day. It was about the time of Pope Gregory III where the celebration of All Saints was commemorated on November 1st. Prior to this, as mentioned earlier, various churches in various countries around the world celebrated their own All Saints day at various dates throughout the year. The point that we need to focus on in pointing out this brief history of sorts for All Saints Day is that Christians throughout the world were interested in celebrating and commemorating those Christians who had gone before them. Again, this is not a new feast, in other words. It is an ancient practice dating back to the earliest centuries of the church. Many need to bear in mind that not only Roman Catholics and Orthodox but also Anglicans as well as even Lutherans and Methodists also celebrate All Saints Day. Which now leads us into the importance and the underlying meaning of the Feast of All Saints to the Church in general and us as individuals.
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." (Ephesians 2:19)
I have a wonderful group of friends. Well, I think that I do. And you probably do as well. I know that if I am ever in trouble, I can go to them. If I ever need a shoulder to cry on, they are there always waiting to listen. If I have a prayer intention, no matter how large or small, they are ready and willing to pray and take my intentions to God. If I ever need inspiration, I can just look to them and be inspired by their stories of devotion and heroism for God. I have many wonderful friends . . . . St. Gemma . . . . and St. Jude . . . . and St. Philomena . . . . St. John Neumann . . . . St. Margaret of Scotland . . . . These friends which I have just mentioned and so many more that have inspired me over the years . . . . these friends that I am referring to are the saints in Heaven and we make a special remembrance of them on November 1st . . . . All Saints Day.
It stands to reason that if we have a problem, we will more than likely turn to a friend.
If we need someone to pray for us, we will sent out a prayer request and invite friend and stranger alike to pray for us and our intention. If we need emotional support, we will again turn to those who care for us: our friends, our loved ones, those who care about us. We can turn to them because we can trust them. There are those people in our life which care for us and expect nothing in return. These dear souls only want the best for us. Whether they be parents, . . . or grandparents, . . . aunts . . . uncles . . . . teachers . . . . . These individuals show love and support to us and expect nothing in return because they only want the best for us. That is their reward. This is called "Unconditional love." So, too, the Saints in Heaven have our best intentions at heart because they want to see the best for us; namely, they want us to have a better relationship with Our Heavenly Father.
"Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worth to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." (St. Luke 21:36)
Our Lord's advice to the early apostles is the same advice which He prescribes for all of us: Pray! Prayer is the greatest weapon that any of us can ever hope to possess. When I was a young priest . . . . well, actually even before when I was still a deacon . . . . and then further on after I had been ordained as a priest, I had the great fortune of knowing a wonderful bishop. Bishop James Mote was his name. Well, I learned a great deal being in the presence of Bishop Mote. One of the sayings which I would hear him speak frequently was: "Play dirty and pray!" Many people did not have a clue as to what exactly was meant when he said this. But those who knew Bishop Mote knew exactly what he meant. When we pray, we have a direct line to the Almighty. When we pray, we are in communication with Our Heavenly Father. When we pray, we have faith that things will happen. Things will indeed happen when we pray. Sometimes even we will change. Bishop Mote knew all things are possible when we pray. He knew that miraculous things happen when we pray. And he knew that change will take place . . . . even if it is us that changes.
"Pray without ceasing." (I Thessalonians 5:17)
The saints in Heaven provide for us something to aspire to.
When I say that, of course I mean that we can look at their example: their faithfulness to God and constant prayers. The saints inspire us to greatness, quite frankly, when we read their various stories. Great men and women throughout history. Whether they be Kings and Queens or whether they be common, ordinary people like you or I. All the saints in Heaven have one thing in common: their love for God ultimately was their greatest desire. And isn't this what all of us are called to? Our love for Our Heavenly Father should motivate us in everything that we do in life. Our love for God should influence how we interact with others around us . . . how we treat people . . . . how we view people. So often in life, we are simply motivated solely by selfish desires: for food . . . for wealth . . . for possessions . . . for riches. The saints are motivated by their love for God and the desire to do His will.
November 1st, All Saints Day, provides the Church with ample opportunity to honor those who have inspired us by their lives. The saints have provided each one of us an example of those that have gone before us and what motivated them: namely, their love for God. The saints in Heaven, whether they were great kings or queens . . . whether they were powerful leaders or soldiers . . . . whether they were humble, ordinary people just like you and I . . . . each one of these friends in Heaven provide us with an example of drawing closer to God. Each one of us is invited by God to have a relationship with Him. The saints accepted this invitation. The saints made their lives a witness of faithfulness to God. So, too, we should follow their example and lead a faithful life devoted to God and being God's witnesses here in this world.
The Pope Speaks
The Three Saint Teresas
There are three Carmelite Saints named Teresa. Most are familiar with Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Therese (Teresa) of Lisieux. There is a third Saint Teresa, Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart. There is much we can learn from these three saints.
Let us begin with Saint Therese of Lisieux, who is famous for her little way. At her First Communion Saint Therese resolved: “I will never allow myself to become discouraged.” Discouragement can destroy the spiritual life as it leads to depression and despair. Let us consider, that God has everything under control and He knows what He is doing. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isaias 55:8) Yes, God does not do things the way they think they should be done, but let us not be discouraged. If He does not open a door, we don't really want what is behind that door.
Saint Therese looked for an elevator to ride up to heaven, because she did not believe herself big enough to climb the rough road some saints have climbed. She searched the Scriptures for this elevator, which she found.
Before we can use her elevator, we must arrive at the place where she was, when she began this search. “At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who thinkest thou is the greater in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them, And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-4) Saint Therese was already a little child before Jesus. We must convert and become as trusting as she was before we can find the elevator.
Conversion means a complete change of customs and habits from the worldly customs and habits we follow now.
Saint Therese had not adopted them much in the first place, although she too had her conversion. Saint Therese writes of this: “In an instant Our Lord, satisfied with my good will, accomplished the work I had not been able to do during all these years. Like the Apostle I could say: “Master, we have labored all night, and have taken nothing.” (Luke 5:5).” Notice that this conversion was worked by Jesus in her heart. Let us ask Him to also come with the Holy Ghost into our own hearts.
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that cleaveth to me, saith the Lord of hosts: strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn my hand to the little ones.” (Zacharias 13:7) Children are little ones and we must become little ourselves in order to become saints. We must realize that of ourselves we are nothing, that all of the good in us comes as a gift of God to be used in His service. In fact, legally children own nothing. As little children, we must realize that we don't truly own anything, but are simply a steward of the things God has placed before us to use in fulfilling His holy will.
Now we are ready to look for the elevator. Saint Therese writes: “Instead of being discouraged, I concluded that God would not inspire desires which could not be realized, and that I may aspire to sanctity in spite of my littleness. For me to become great is impossible, I must bear with myself and my many imperfections; but I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new. We live in an age of inventions; nowadays the rich need not trouble to climb the stairs, they have elevators instead. Well, I mean to try and find a elevator by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection. I have sought to find in Holy Scripture some suggestion as to what elevator elevator might be, which I so much desired, and I read these words uttered by the Eternal Wisdom Itself: “Whosoever is a little one, let him come to Me.” (Proverbs 9:4). Then I drew near to God, feeling sure that I had discovered what I sought; but wishing to know further what He would do to the little one, I continued my search and this is what I found: “You shall be carried at the breasts and upon the knees; as one whom the mother caresses, so will I comfort you.” (cf. Isaiah 66:12-13).”
As little children we come to Jesus and ask His blessing. “Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such. And when he had imposed hands upon them, he departed from thence.” (Matthew 19:13-15) And Jesus will take us unto Himself and comfort us.
Saint Therese also resolved: “Not a word, not a look, if not to give pleasure to the good God.” Consider what a wonderful life this is.
Let us now go to Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart. She was born in 1747 and died on March 7, 1770. Three words from the little chapter at the Office of Terce on Sundays after Epiphany and Pentecost struck her one day: “God is love.” (“Deus caritas est.”) Indeed God is love and we should also be love to Him and to our neighbor.
After she read the biography of Saint Margaret Mary she took resolved: “Suffer and be silent for Jesus, return Him love for Love.” There is much wisdom in these words.
We will suffer no matter what. How we react to suffering determines its value to us for eternity.
Saint Teresa Margaret said: “She who is silent everywhere finds peace.” Silence is so important to the spiritual life. We need to find a place of silence to retire to for prayer and time with God.
Let us consider one last thing from Saint Teresa Margaret: “She who does not know how to conform her will to that of others will never be perfect. Our model is Jesus, Whose meat was to do the will of His Father, Who was submissive to death, even the death of the cross. And I have resolved to resemble Him in all things.” Our meat also is to do the will of the Father.
And lastly let us come to Saint Teresa of Avila, who the above two saints were named after as their patron. Saint Teresa of Avila said: “St. Teresa said: It would be silliness to imagine that God admits to His friendship persons who seek their own ease and convenience. Souls that truly love God cannot ask for comforts.” And yet we often ask for comforts instead of taking up our cross.
Many of us don't really know Saint Teresa as we ought. She had many extraordinary spiritual graces, which are not a necessary part of spiritual advancement and are not to be desired. So let us get past these and look at a few points in her life and sayings that apply to us all.
Jesus came to Saint Teresa in a locution, which is a voice that is heard internally, and asked her to leave off her visit at the grate and come to pray. She ignored His request for years. It should be noted that in meditation during this time she had to use a book to support her thoughts. She did not really advance until she heeded the request of Jesus. True, she was faithful to the practice of virtues and observance to the rule, but failed in this one request from Jesus for quite a while. In fact, she was shown the place reserved for her in hell, if she fell. And let us learn from this that none of us are secure.
There is no place you can reach and be safe. We must always allow God to work more and more in our hearts.
Saint Teresa said: “Whenever our Lord commanded me anything in prayer, and my Confessor ordered the contrary, Jesus returned to tell me that I was to obey my Director. But His Divine Majesty afterwards changed the heart of my Confessor, so that he came at length to prescribe to me that which the Lord required.” God works through the authorities He has placed over us and will not go against their commands. It is this obedience that He requires of us. Saint Gregory the Great says: “Obedience is rightly placed before all other sacrifices, for in offering a victim as sacrifice, one offers a life that is not one's own; but when one obeys one is immolating one's own will.”
Let us conclude by considering some of Saint Teresa of Avila's maxims:
“Do not reflect on other people's faults, but on their virtues and your own defects."
“Be most careful to keep your morning meditation before your mind through the day, for it is most helpful."
“Detach your heart from all things; seek God, and you will find Him."
“Do nothing that the whole world might not see."
“Do not evince curiosity by talking or asking questions about matters which do not concern you."
“Accustom yourself to make frequent acts of love, which inflame and melt the soul."
“Be indulgent to others, rigorous to yourself."
“Be very careful about your nightly examination of conscience."
“When sad or troubled do not omit your accustomed prayers or penances, which the devil is then striving to make you leave off. Pray and mortify yourself more than usual and you will find that God will soon come to your aid.”
Let us conclude by considering the Carmelites, since by wearing the brown scapular we should have their spirit.
The first thing is to accustom our self to mortify our will in all things, however trifling, and to yield willingly our own rights in order to convenience others, pleasantly agreeing with their opinions treating all with a genuine kindness, thus making a continual and entire sacrifice of self to God. It is time we stopped thinking about our rights, but about doing good.
Saint Therese of Lisieux, the Patroness of the Missions said: “A Carmelite who was not an apostle would be unworthy to call her a daughter of the seraphic St. Teresa (of Avila), who would have given a thousand lives to save a single soul.” Yes, we must be on fire with the love of God and desire what He desires: “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 4:2)
The Carmelite Rule says: “Each one shall have a separate cell … (and) shall remain in his cell or near it, meditating day and night on the law of the Lord, and watching in prayer, unless otherwise justly employed.” Yes, we should be away from the distractions of the world in our own homes, unless called to duty elsewhere.
As Carmelites in the brown scapular let us also live a life of prayer as Scripture advises: “Pray without ceasing.” (I Thessalonians 5:17)
And so let us learn from the three Saint Teresas to live the Carmelite way of life.
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Living Catholic: How To Make Wise Decisions
On day a group of students from a "Christian" school was given the following situation:
A certain fellow met a girl whom he loved very much. they decided to get married and set the wedding date. As the time approached, he began to have various doubts about this being God's will.
Those students quickly named six of the following eight means which God uses to reveal His will to us. Not one guessed the last two.
Their response was a significant indication why so many youth today are drifting without clear direction and are continually making wrong decisions.
A person may be able to read the Bible, but miss or not understand the principle that apply directly to his or her situation.
A person may fulfill the regulations of age and citizenship which government requires and still have doubts about the marriage.
A priest may give you some advice based on church teaching, but it will not necessarily mean that you are ready for marriage or that the one you want to marry is ready.
A person in trying to reassure himself, may try to translate circumstance as God's approval.
A person's friends may give encouragement because they think that will make you happy, and they wouldn't want him to miss out on marriage.
A person's prayers must be based on discerning what God intends to do - not on "twisting God's arm" to do what the person wants to do.
Essential Means Of Finding God's Will
"My son, keep the commandments of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother. When thou walkest, let them go with thee: when thou sleepest, let them keep thee; and when thou awakest, talk with them." (Proverbs 6:20,22)
Catechism Catch Up!: On the Church Part I
Introduction: Jesus was the first to mention the Catholic Church (Catholic meaning Universal):
Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. (Matthew 16:16–19)
Peter Our First Pope is the Foundation of the Church
Some have tried to argue that Jesus did not mean that his Church would be built on Peter but on something else.
Some argue that in this passage there is a minor difference between the Greek term for Peter (Petros) and the term for rock (petra), yet they ignore the obvious explanation: petra, a feminine noun, has simply been modified to have a masculine ending, since one would not refer to a man (Peter) as feminine. The change in the gender is purely for stylistic reasons.
These critics also neglect the fact that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and, as John 1:42 tells us, in everyday life he actually referred to Peter as Kepha or Cephas (depending on how it is transliterated). It is that term which is then translated into Greek as petros. Thus, what Jesus actually said to Peter in Aramaic was: "You are Kepha and on this very kepha I will build my Church."
The Church Fathers, those Christians closest to the apostles in time, culture, and theological background, clearly understood that Jesus promised to build the Church on Peter, as the following passages show.
Tatian the Syrian
"Simon Cephas answered and said, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah: flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee also, that you are Cephas, and on this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it" (The Diatesseron 23 [A.D. 170]).
"Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called ‘the rock on which the Church would be built’ [Matt. 16:18] with the power of ‘loosing and binding in heaven and on earth’ [Matt. 16:19]?" (Demurrer Against the Heretics 22 [A.D. 200]).
"[T]he Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. . . . What kind of man are you, subverting and changing what was the manifest intent of the Lord when he conferred this personally upon Peter? Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys" (Modesty 21:9–10 [A.D. 220]).
The Letter of Clement to James
"Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter" (Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D. 221]).
The Clementine Homilies
"[Simon Peter said to Simon Magus in Rome:] ‘For you now stand in direct opposition to me, who am a firm rock, the foundation of the Church’ [Matt. 16:18]" (Clementine Homilies 17:19 [A.D. 221]).
"Look at [Peter], the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built the Church [Matt. 16:18]. And what does our Lord say to him? ‘Oh you of little faith,’ he says, ‘why do you doubt?’ [Matt. 14:31]" (Homilies on Exodus 5:4 [A.D. 248]).
Cyprian of Carthage
"The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. . . . If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).
"There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering" (Letters 43:5 [A.D. 253]).
"There John 6:68–69 speaks Peter, upon whom the Church would be built, teaching in the name of the Church and showing that even if a stubborn and proud multitude withdraws because it does not wish to obey, yet the Church does not withdraw from Christ. The people joined to the priest and the flock clinging to their shepherd are the Church. You ought to know, then, that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop, and if someone is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church. They vainly flatter themselves who creep up, not having peace with the priests of God, believing that they are
secretly [i.e., invisibly] in communion with certain individuals. For the Church, which is one and Catholic, is not split nor divided, but it is indeed united and joined by the cement of priests who adhere one to another" (ibid., 66:8).
"But what is his error . . . who does not remain on the foundation of the one Church which was founded upon the rock by Christ [Matt. 16:18], can be learned from this, which Christ said to Peter alone: ‘Whatever things you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:19]" (collected in Cyprian’s Letters74:16 [A.D. 253]).
"[Pope] Stephen . . . boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid [Matt. 16:18]. . . . [Pope] Stephen . . . announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter" (ibid., 74:17).
Ephraim the Syrian
"[Jesus said:] ‘Simon, my follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on earth a Church for me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which my teaching flows; you are the chief of my disciples’" (Homilies 4:1 [A.D. 351]).
"You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all" (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).
Ambrose of Milan
"[Christ] made answer: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church. . . . ’ Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]?" (The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]).
"It is to Peter that he says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt. 16:18]. Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church is, no death is there, but life eternal" (Commentary on Twelve Psalms of David 40:30 [A.D. 389]).
Pope Damasus I
"Likewise it is decreed . . . that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has not been placed at the forefront [of the churches] by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it" (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).
"‘But,’ you [Jovinian] will say, ‘it was on Peter that the Church was founded’ [Matt. 16:18]. Well . . . one among the twelve is chosen to be their head in order to remove any occasion for division" (Against Jovinian 1:26 [A.D. 393]).
"I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails" (Letters 15:2 [A.D. 396]).
"If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them [the bishops of Rome] from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.’ Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement. ... In this order of succession a Donatist bishop is not to be found" (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).
Council of Ephesus
"Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See [Rome], said: ‘There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors’" (Acts of the Council, session 3 [A.D. 431]).
Sechnall of Ireland
"Steadfast in the fear of God, and in faith immovable, upon [Patrick] as upon Peter the [Irish] church is built; and he has been allotted his apostleship by God; against him the gates of hell prevail not" (Hymn in Praise of St. Patrick 3 [A.D. 444]).
Pope Leo I
"Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the apostles. . . . He wished him who had been received into partnership in his undivided unity to be named what he himself was, when he said: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt. 16:18], that the building of the eternal temple might rest on Peter’s solid rock, strengthening his Church so surely that neither could human rashness assail it nor the gates of hell prevail against it" (Letters 10:1 [A.D. 445]).
Council of Chalcedon
"Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod, together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, has stripped him [Dioscorus] of the episcopate" (Acts of the Council, session 3 [A.D. 451]). (1)
The Church does not belong to the Pope it belongs to Jesus Christ.
"upon this rock (Peter)I will build my Church" (Matthew 16:18)
What does Jesus mean when he says He will build His Church?
"I will build my Church" (Matthew 16:18)
Men can build buildings and men can build organizations but only Jesus Christ can build the church. The Lord says, "I will build My church," the only one approved by God and supernaturally constructed Is the Catholic Church not Denominations. Each person who has been baptized into Christ has been baptized into the Church. Each one is a building block, a building material that is a part of the whole.
St. Paul uses the same word picture in I Corinthians 3:9. He says to the those in the Church of Corinth, "you are God's building." He describes himself as an architect, "According to the grace of God that is given to me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation;...." (vs10) that foundation was Jesus Christ (vs11) then he describes what kind of material, that is what kind of people are sometimes used for building on that foundation. "gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble:"
The Church is also called the Bride of Christ.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it:(Ephesians 5:25)
The Apostle John, while on the isle of Patymos was told by an angel to come with him..."Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.”(Apocolypse/Revelation 21:9) and what did The Apostle John see? "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God," (vs. 10). He saw a city of buildings the holy Jerusalem, the bride, the lamb's wife! So we see Jesus is building his Church and the Church are those who are baptized into Jesus Christ.
"The gates of Hell will not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)
The phrase gates of hell is a Jewish expression meaning “realm of the dead.” The same two words appear in the Septuagint version of Job 38:17: “Have the gates of death been opened to thee, and hast thou seen the darksome doors?” They appear again in Isaiah 38:10: “I said: In the midst of my days I shall go to the gates of hell: I sought for the residue of my years..” "Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death, that I may declare all thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion." (Psalms 9:15 Douay Rheims) also see Psalms 106:18. In all these passages, they are a euphemism for death or grave, or place of the dead.
Death can not prevail against the Church any more then it could prevail against Jesus by his death burial and resurrection.
And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15: 54-57)
The Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven
And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)
In David's Kingdom there would have been a "prime minister" who had the absolute authority of the King himself.
(Isaiah 22:20-24) And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliacim the son of Helcias, And I will clothe him with thy robe, and will strengthen him with thy girdle, and will give thy power into his hand: and he shall be as a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Juda. And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a peg in a sure place, and he shall be for a throne of glory to the house of his father. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father' s house, divers kinds of vessels, every little vessel, from the vessels of cups even to every instrument of music.
In that day I will call my servant Eli'akim the son of Hilki'ah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.--Isaiah 22:20-22
The Lord grants authority to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of David.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. --Matthew 16:18-19
The quotes from Isaiah and Matthew that appear at the top of the page demonstrate the position of the Pope in the Kingdom of God. Because Christ is our King, and His kingdom is a perfection of the Kingdom of David, we can expect the same structure of the Davidic Kingdom applies to the Perfected Kingdom. In the Davidic Kingdom, the head was obviously the King, who is now Christ. Second to the King was the Queen Mother. If you remember from 2 Kings, King Solomon would bow to and obey his mother Queen Bathsheba. Mutual honor and obedience was given between the King and the Queen Mother, but ultimately the King was the head of the kingdom. Mary has been given the honor of being Christ's Queen Mother as demonstrated by her heavenly queenship in Revelations 12.
Next on the hierarchy of the Davidic Kingdom was the Prime Minister. To act as the primary managing forces for the King, the Ministers of the Court were delegated the authority of the King. The Bishops as successors of the Apostles are the Ministers of Christ's Court. Of the ministers, the Prime Minister is head.
The quote from Isaiah demonstrates how the Lord recognized the office of Prime Minister in the Kingdom of David. It also shows the language the Lord used in passing that position from Shebna to Eliakim. When Christ speaks of building His Perfected Kingdom in Matthew 16, He intentionally parallels the language used in Isaiah 22. This parallel shows Christ's intention for Peter to take the position of Prime Minister in His Kingdom. As that position was handed down from Shebna to Eliakim, the position of Prime Minister has been handed down through Apostolic Succession from Peter to every Pope since . As faithful subjects, we continue to recognize the authority of the Pope as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of God. In recognizing the authority of that office, we honor and obey Christ's Kingship and His kingdom. 2
Man's Contract With God in Baptism
How often have we been obliged to witness,in the everyday occurrences of human life, scenes which should call forth tears of blood, in beholding the many persons who, after becoming by Baptism the children of God, the members of Jesus Christ and the living temples of the Holy Ghost, yet live as infidels and pagans than as true Christians. In truth, we do not behold men live, as if neither faith nor reason, made any impression upon them, who, wholly occupied with the world and its vanities, seek nothing beyond the gratifications of their own passions, and who, allowing themselves to be entirely carried away by evil, have no more respect for God than pagans ? If these persons perform any act of religion, it is only in compliance with the family routine, or following the habits acquired in early youth, while they are strangers to the spirit of true piety.- From The Book: Man's Contract With God In Baptism by Saint John Eudes
For information on buying this book, please go to https://www.christthekinglibrary.com/CTKL-25.html…
As the day of his first Communion drew near, Dominic wrote down four resolutions, remarkably mature thoughts of a seven year old:
I will go to Confession and Communion as often as my confessor will allow.
I will sanctify Sundays and holy days in a special way.
Jesus and Mary will be my friends.
Death, but not sin.
For information on buying this book go to: https://www.christthekinglibrary.com/store/spiritual_life/CTKL-59.html
The School of Christian Perfection
To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, it is not enough merely to believe all that our holy faith teaches us; we must, moreover, regulate our life in accordance with our belief. Pico of Mirandola says: “It is certainly great folly not to wish to believe the Gospel of Christ; but it would be greater folly still to believe it and to live as if you did not believe it.”
For information on buying this book go to: https://www.christthekinglibrary.com/store/spiritual_life/CTKL-58.html
The Life and Kingdom of Jesus in Christian Souls
"Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, King of angels and of men,is not only your God, your Saviour, and your sovereign Lord, but is also your head and you are "members of his body," as St. Paul says: "of His flesh and of His bones," (Ephesians 5:30). You are consequentially united with Him in the most intimate union possible, that is, the union of members with their head. You are united with Him spiritually by faith and by the grace He gave you in Holy Baptism. You are united with Him corporally in the union of His Most Sacred Body with yours in the Blessed Eucharist. It necessarily follows that just as the members are animated by the spirit of the head, and live the same life, so you must be animated by the spirit of Jesus, live His life, walk in His ways. be clothed with His sentiments and inclinations, and perform all your actions in the disposition and intentions that actuated His. In a word, you must carry on and perpetuate the life, religion and devotion,which He exercised here on earth." -From the Book: The Life and Kingdom of Jesus in Christian Souls by Saint John Eudes
You can find the book at: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Kingdom-Jesus-Ch…/…/ref=sr_1_41…
For other Books...
Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
for 6 servings
- 7 cups cauliflower floret
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup italian breadcrumb
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 425˚F (220˚F).
- In a bowl or ziploc bag, add the cauliflower florets and olive oil and stir until fully combined.
- Add the garlic powder, salt, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan. Stir until fully coated.
- Spread the cauliflower on a greased, foil-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Stir the cauliflower and bake for an additional 10.
The Day of All Souls
Dear soul, it is a joy to write to you this month. Although we find ourselves just entering into the month of October, it is never too soon to begin to make consideration for the Day of All Souls, about which I am going to write briefly to you today.
In the calendars of the Catholic Church, both in the East and in the West, we will find particular days which are set aside for the remembrance of the souls of the faithful departed. In the Byzantine East, you will find several Saturdays during the year which are set aside for the commemoration of the Holy Souls. In the Latin West, we find the well-known commemoration of the Holy Souls every year on the second day of November. In both East and West you will find common remembrances of particular souls at certain intervals after a person's death, as well as on the anniversary of their passing. A salutary practice among monastics in the West is the daily or weekly recitation of the Officium Defunctorum - the Office of the Dead - for the repose of souls.
Though in the Church you will find differing expressions and differing rituals among the various received traditions from East and West, you nevertheless will be struck in this case by the universality and commonality of the fact that all Christians pray for the souls of the departed, and these prayers are both personal and corporate.
"Remember, O Lord, the God of Spirits and of all Flesh, those whom we have remembered and those whom we have not remembered, men of the true faith, from righteous Abel unto today; do thou thyself give them rest there in the land of the living, in thy kingdom, in the delight of Paradise, in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our holy fathers, from whence pain and sorrow and sighing have fled away, where the light of thy countenance visiteth them and always shineth upon them." - Liturgy of Saint James.
Even a cursory study of Ecclesiastical history will show a continual and universal practice of praying for the souls of the faithful departed, and this from the beginning of the Church. It is only within the past few hundred years that there have been those who claim the name Christian and yet reject the faith of the Church founded by Christ in their rejection of prayer for the dead. For it truly is a rejection of an article of the faith: the Communion of Saints, when we refuse to pray for those who have fallen asleep in Christ.
Does not our Lord Himself testify that He is Life Himself? And it is through Him that all who avail themselves of grace are in communion. Our Lord assures Martha, "Jesus said to her; I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live: And every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever." (Gospel according to St. John, 11:25-26.) Our Lord here affirms that though one's body may die, his soul yet truly lives.
Our Lord also demonstrates the life of the soul, even after death, in the parable told of the rich man Dives, and the beggar Lazarus, where there is consciousness and solicitude not only for one's own state, but for the state of those known who are still in the flesh.
"And it came to pass that the beggar died, and he was carried by the Angels into Abraham's bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom: And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy life-time, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is fixed a great chaos: so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither. And he said: Then, Father, I beseech thee that thou wouldst send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren, that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torments. And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. But he said: No, father Abraham; but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance. And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe if one rise again from the dead." (Gospel according to St. Luke 16:22-31)
It is worth it, dear soul, to give that passage a full reading to refresh our minds of several things. Firstly, we see that the human soul most certainly does exist, and that it continues to live even after the death of the body. The soul possesses consciousness of itself and of its state. It is aware of others and of their situations. We see that the soul retains solicitude for the welfare of others. We also see that the soul is unable to do any meritorious work for itself.
It is precisely in this that the prayers of those still living are able to assist those souls who have passed and yet live.
We need none to rise from the dead to assure us of this, for we have the Church, who teaches us. The same prophetic voice of Moses and the prophets continues to speak in the world today, in the voice of the Church. The Church, both East and West declared together: "If truly penitent people die in the love of God before they have made satisfaction for acts and omissions by worthy fruits of repentance, their souls are cleansed after death by cleansing pains; and the suffrage's of the living faithful avail them in giving relief from such pains, that is, sacrifices of masses, prayers, alms-giving and other acts of devotion which have been customarily performed by some of the faithful for others of the faithful in accordance with the church's ordinances." - The Council of Florence.
We also hear the clear voice of the Church as she proclaims:"If any one shall say, that, after the grace of justification received, into every penitent sinner the guilt is so remitted, and the penalty of eternal punishment so blotted out, that there remains not any penalty of temporal punishment, to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be laid open; let him be anathema." - Council of Trent, Session VI, Canon XXX
Here we see the Church declaring not a new belief, nor inventing new dogma from nothing, but rather simply stating that which has always and everywhere been believed by all.
That being said, let us touch on one last point, perhaps the most important point. Let us first hear the Church again: "Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has, from the sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the fathers, taught, in sacred councils, and very recently in this ecumenical synod, that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls there detained are relieved by the suffrage's of the faithful, but chiefly by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar; the holy synod enjoins on bishops that they diligently strive that the sound doctrine touching Purgatory, delivered by the holy fathers and sacred councils, be believed, held, taught, and everywhere proclaimed by the faithful of Christ. But let the more difficult and subtle questions, and those which tend not to edification, and from which for the most part there is no increase of piety, be excluded from popular discourses before the uneducated multitude. In like manner, such things as are uncertain, or which labour under an appearance of error, let them not allow to be made public and treated of. But those things which tend to a certain kind of curiosity or superstition, or which savour of filthy lucre, let them prohibit as scandals and stumbling-blocks of the faithful. And let the bishops take care, that the suffrages of the faithful who are living, to wit, the sacrifices of masses, prayers, alms-givings, and other works of piety, which have been wont to be formed by the faithful for the other faithful departed, be piously and devoutly performed, according to the institutes of the Church; and that what things soever are due on their behalf from the endowments of testators, or in other way, be discharged, not in a negligent manner, but diligently and accurately, by the priests and ministers of the church, and others who are bound to render this service." - Council of Trent, Session XXV, Decree Touching Purgatory.
Notice here two things, dear soul. Two warnings from our Mother the Church.
While it is true that this decree is addressed directly to the Bishops of the Church, the admonitions therein are certainly applicable to each and every one of us.
The Church admonishes: "...let the more difficult and subtle questions, and those which tend not to edification, and from which for the most part there is no increase in piety, be excluded..."
We would also do well to exclude such things from our own consideration of prayer for the departed souls.
Though I have started this brief writing with but a few citations and a few considerations from the magisterium, in the end, these things avail nothing if they do not encourage the heart toward prayer.
It is a rare thing to enter into a contention and to come out of it with a prayerful heart, dear soul. So, after the next consideration, I am going to drop calling upon citations and take a different path. So, just one more word from the voice of the Church:
"In like manner, such things as are uncertain, or which labour under an appearance of error, let them not allow to be made public and treated of. But those things which tend to a certain kind of curiosity or superstition, or which savour of filthy lucre, let them prohibit as scandals and stumbling-blocks of the faithful."
I need only make a brief mention to you, dear soul, of the astounding proliferation of questionable "revelations," "visions," "promises," and "prayers" which have been published for many years now and which continue to be published which make astounding and fanciful claims to being particularly powerful in either releasing souls from purgatory, or claim to be revelations from purgatory itself. Keep yourself far from these things, dear soul. For they will invariably lead to a spiritual vanity and destruction. Do pray, do pray much for the holy souls! But pray in and with the voice of the Church, most especially in her Liturgy. Give no voice to condemned superstition.
Now, that one unpleasantness having had to be said, I will move on finally to the ultimate consideration of prayer for the souls. This consideration is where we should all head, dear soul. Because when you really just get right down to it, you can quote all the patristics and scripture and councils that you want. All of this will help feed the intellect with information and knowledge, and this is a good thing. But ultimately, the Christian prays for the holy souls because the Christian loves the holy souls.
All of our virtues are bound together and perfected by charity, which is nothing more than supernatural love. The scriptures attest that God Himself is charity. We have it within us by His grace, and it is through the bond of charity that we have the communion of the saints. It is through charity that all members of the Church: the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant are bound one to another. It is the exercise of the virtue of charity that impels the Christian to pray for all of his brothers and sisters. Death has no dominion over charity, death cannot break the bond of supernatural love.
It is precisely here, in the heart, that one finds the surest proof of the necessity of prayer for the holy souls. It is here that prayer must ascend, it is here, in the love of the beautiful, that one intuits the transcendence of communion itself. Here, simple human words fail, so we make the words of the Church, the Immaculate Bride of Christ, our own. This, dear soul, is where I want you to begin to make your contemplation. Here, dear soul, I want you to pray for all of those who live in Christ, whether yet in the flesh, or awaiting the resurrection.
Start now. All Souls day comes soon, as well as the month of the Holy Souls. In the East, the commemoration of holy souls on Demetrius Saturday is coming soon. Make a list of all those for whom you will pray. Make an offering to have your loved ones remembered at Holy Mass during November. Many places have the custom of placing the prayer lists of holy souls to be remembered on the altar for the entire month, to be referred to every time any liturgy is served there. Begin now to put together your list, even if it will only be for yourself in your daily prayers. And most importantly, dear soul: PRAY!
Do not make prayer for the holy souls a mere intellectual exercise. Do not make it a subject of contention. And most assuredly do not make it into a superstitious pseudo-piety. Rather, pray from the heart. Pray in the grace of charity. Pray with the voice of the Church. And pray for your brothers and your sisters who have gone before you. They remain our loving friends in Christ. They remain members of the Church with us, in the communion of the saints. Let us pray to the Lord for them.
Pray for Frater Francis Dominic as he teaches Catechism through the web site. We are still working on our new Website where people can listen or watch Catechism lessons, take tests, and get a certificate of completion. It will take a long time to finish it but you can see the work that we are doing and we will keep you updated on when it is completed. Check out all of the construction going on over there at Traditional Catechism.com
God is calling men to come fully into His service with us here at the Vatican in Exile. It will be a life of self sacrifice. And so we ask all to pray for these men, that they will surrender to this calling and also have the fortitude to undertake this sacred calling.
- Lord willing we will have a internet radio station up and running by the end of the year. Please keep that in your prayers. Also we are looking into possibly having a short wave program for those who are in areas like Africa who have no internet connections.
- Frater Francis has some material needs of his own. He is in need of two Cassocks and a suit. He will be out in the public a lot more visiting hospitals, counseling, Jail visits, doing funerals and weddings etc.
We are looking to buy land for a Church and a House of Prayer. Please pray with us in finding the right place. and if you feel led, to donate money for this project you can donate by Paypal, or make check or money orders out to Vatican in Exile.
We have been looking at Hermitages to put on the property we will eventually buy. The ones we have been looking at are perfect for what we want. Although we are not in the market for them as of yet, we are still wanting to have a plan.
Every month we are very close with our budget. It takes money to be available to people in other areas as well as having supplies like rosaries, bibles, pamphlets, Catechisms etc for sharing with Non Catholics. At this time to stay comfortably out of the red we need 700.00 a month. Please read the message Giving to God's Work and then decide how you can give. Everyone should give something. It does not have to be much.
To Donate online go to:
To Donate by Mail:
Our address is
Vatican in Exile
829 NE Chester
Topeka, Kansas 66616
Make Checks payable to:
Vatican in Exile