Thought for the day:

"Give me grace to amend my life, and to have an eye to mine end, without grudge of death, which to them that die in thee,
good Lord, is the gate of a wealthy life."
St. Thomas More


"Three things are necessary for the salvation of man; to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do."
St. Thomas Aquinas


All souls owe their eternity to Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, many have turned their back to him.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

3rd Sunday after Pentecost

This Sunday is the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost. We should be hearing about turning into a soldier of Christ, and how to give all we have to promote the Truth. The world's bishops are doing their best to stifle the old Rite, so I'm not really sure what we will get what in regards to what we should! Or, more likely, they don't care; except to push their agenda, which will entail at least getting all the Masses on the same calendar. This will be the start of them trying to end the Mass of all ages! They don't seem to mess with all of the other Rites within the fold, just the Traditional one. Shame on them! They will answer some day for their actions, however. Just sayin'.

(This next thing is from two years ago, but I think it's pertinent still today, and especially now that the weather is warming up):

 I just this week contacted our local Bishop, concerning the 'dress' of those attending the 'new' Mass. You know, the shorts, the sun dresses, halter tops, etc. I mentioned to him that the respect due to our Lord in the tabernacle and in the Eucharist was sorely lacking, as well as being an occasion of sin to those of us who are weak. He pretty much said that he would rather have the people going to Mass instead of correcting them and maybe losing them because they got corrected. He said that the priests are in charge of this correction, even though he is the head priest in the diocese. I answered him back that as a successor of the Apostles that it was his duty to get the ball moving and instruct us as children of God and his 'spiritual children', as it were. I told him that I could NOT imagine St. Peter, if seeing someone doing something unbecoming of a Christian, fail to correct him/her. His response pretty much said that he didn't like being chastised. All I can say further is: "Good luck with that opinion when you go to the Eternal Judge at your demise." I believe that it is better to be chastised in this life instead of waiting for the Supreme Judge to decide. Anyway, moving on:

This Sunday should be about when our first Holy Father, Peter, warns us in his Epistle to be on our toes. He tells us how the devil is to be going around the world seeking souls he can destroy. Up until now, we have learned about Christ, His Heart; His being in the Holy Eucharist; how He is the Bread that has come down from heaven to nourish us. The Holy Ghost has now come to teach us what we need to know. But first, we need to be clean of heart and seek the Eternal Truth, which we need to reach our end goal, heaven. Now, with this knowledge, we are to become soldiers for Christ. From this moment, NOTHING will come easy!

As St. Jerome says:

"You are deceived if you think that a Christian can live without persecution. He suffers the greatest who lives under none. Nothing is more to be feared than too long a peace. A storm puts a man upon his guard, and obliges him to exert his utmost efforts to escape shipwreck."

"A good soldier of Jesus Christ." 2 Timothy 2:3

This is quite additional to the preceding titles. A servant, a disciple, a friend, may become a soldier. But it is a new relationship. It requires peculiar qualities. It imposes peculiar duties. To be a soldier, implies exposure, contest, difficulty. To be a good soldier, implies also courage, fidelity, and success. Let me consider some of the attributes of a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He is one of the great army of the living God. He is engaged in a most important warfare. He has set up his standard toward Zion. He must press on through all opposition, to his glorious end. He will be made a conqueror through the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gives him the victory. Am I such a soldier of Christ?

1. A good soldier has made a final CHOICE of the service in which he is engaged. He has enlisted for a warfare. It is his own choice. He is not ashamed of his uniform, of his duty, of his officers, or of his cause. He glories in the stand which he has taken. He participates in every triumph. He rejoices over all its success. Thus have I enlisted for Christ. He is the great Captain of my salvation. He has a warfare on the earth, which he is carrying on to final victory. I have united with him in it. I bear his name. I am enrolled among his followers. I would not be ashamed of his cause, or of my service and duty for him. My enlistment is for actual duty. It is cheerfully made by the action of my own heart, under the guidance of his Spirit. It is recorded in his own book of remembrance. I am engaged to build up his kingdom, to gather his chosen, to bring in the vessels dedicated to his service, to maintain his authority, and to exalt the glory of his name. This is my final, faithful choice. Let me never shrink from it, or turn back in weariness from the duties which it imposes.

2. A good soldier must have true COURAGE. Ah, how important is this for me! I have many enemies to meet. My enemies are the enemies of Christ. I must continually contend if I would conquer at last. These enemies are temptations around, that would lead me away, or drive me back from my Savior. Evil propensities and habits of thought within, that would entangle and harass me. Evil men who surround me, and oppress me with their hostility to my Lord. The more faithful I am, the more my enemies will multiply, and the more earnestly they will oppose. If I am indolent and careless in my life, they will not trouble me. If they can make me a traitor, or induce me to desert my Master's cause, they will have accomplished their end. But if I strive to do my Master's will, and to follow him truly and fully, then my enemies seem more hostile, and more bitter, and more multiplied. When I would do good, evil is present with me. But what then? Why, I ought to be the more bold and the more decided as a soldier. I must fight on. There is no other path. I see my great Leader before me, and I must follow after him. Soon the contest will be over, and then the victory will be mine. I am resolved rather to displease and to forsake all others, than to forsake or deny my glorious Lord.

3. A good soldier must ENDURE HARDNESS. It is a hard life. The soldier has much to bear--sometimes very much. He must endure suffering without murmuring. His power of endurance is often the very means of his victory. The warfare in which I am engaged, may require me to bear much. It may be long and very trying. But my mind must be fixed and strengthened to bear even to the end. My great Leader, the Captain of my salvation, goes before me. He has endured the cross and despised the shame. Let me follow him to the end. I would make no terms with him for my obedience. I would go with him through all. Patiently abide his will. Resist even unto blood, striving against sin. And allow nothing to separate me from the service or love of my glorious Master and Lord. Other soldiers have freely laid down their lives upon the field. I desire to be willing to do so, if my Lord requires and appoints. Come what will come, by his strength, I am resolved to abide by him.

4. A good soldier has a confident HOPE OF TRIUMPH. He never is despondent. He fights not as uncertainly. He is saved and strengthened by hope. In all human contests there is great uncertainty. But in our warfare there is none. Our Captain has already triumphed. We follow him to the fruits of his own victory. We are sure of success by his power. This hope is an anchor to the soul. The warfare may now be very dark and discouraging. Circumstances and probabilities may be all against me. But God gives me the victory. The crown is certain. The kingdom is sure. And he appoints the darkest as well as the brightest periods of the battle. We cannot be overcome, if we stand our ground. Oh let me never flee, nor be discouraged. I would be found faithful, earnest, engaged, devoted. I have one voice to hear, and one Master to follow. I may lose all beside. It is of little consequence. Whatever can live with Christ, I shall get again in that great day. Oh let me never lose my interest in Christ himself.

5. I am a soldier of Christ. And thus I have enlisted myself for life. And with courage, endurance, and hope, I will press forward. I may not have to fight long. But I will fight faithfully. Let me rest upon his power. Let me give myself up to his care. Let me prize him even as chief among ten thousand. In his favor is life, and his loving-kindness is better than life. He will be my strength and my salvation.

We're soldiers fighting for our God,
Let trembling cowards fly–
We'll stand unshaken, firm, and fixed,
With Christ to live and die.

Let devils rage, and hell assail,
We'll fight our passage through;
Let foes unite, and friends desert,
We'll seize the crown in view.

As our beloved Abbot Gueranger states:

The miseries of this present life are the test to which God puts His soldiers; He passes judgment upon them, and classifies them, according to the degree of courage they have shown. Therefore is it, that we all have our share of suffering. The combat has commenced. God is looking on, watching how each of us comports himself. The day is not far off, when the Judge will pass sentence on the merits of each combatant, and award to each one the recompense he has won. Combat now; peace and rest and a crown, then. Happy they who, during these days of probation, have recognized the mighty hand of God in all the trials they have had, and have humbled themselves under its pressure, lovingly and confidingly! Against such Christians, who have been strong in faith, the roaring lion has not been able to prevail. They were sober, they were watchful, during this their pilgrimage. They were fully convinced of this, that every one has to suffer in the present life; they therefore never sighed and moaned, as though they were the only sufferers; they did not assume the attitude of victims, and call it resignation; but they took each trial as it came, and, without talking to every one about it, they quietly and joyously united it with the sufferings of Christ. O true Christians! you will be joyous for all eternity, when there will be made the manifestation of that eternal glory in Christ Jesus, which He will pass on to you, that you may share it with Him forever!

May God, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have mercy on us and strengthen us until our appointed hour. Amen

(On a side note: I'm trying to live up to my name, Miles. It just happens to mean 'soldier' in Latin! Go figure. And, my initials spelled out in Latin mean 'NOW'. I better get busier, I guess.)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

This day is the feast day set aside for the nativity of St. John the Baptist. He is considered the greatest of all the prophets of the old Testament, since he actually got to see the Redeemer in Person. All the others foretold the coming of the 'Christ' and his precursor, but John saw Him and proclaimed in common words: "There He is; the one Who takes away the sins of the world." Before he said this, the Jews pretty much listened to him and accepted him. But, since he did NOT say that the Jews were to be saved only, but the whole world, they now have turned against him. Behold, Jesus now comes and makes 'all things new'.

Let's back up a few years now; back to the annunciation of St. John's conception. The angel Gabriel appears to Zachary while he is in the tabernacle (being a priest), offering incense and celebrating according to the rules of the day. When he probably snickers to the announcing of the conception of a son (since both he and his wife are old). He is struck dumb. He should know that nothing is impossible with God, and still Zachary balks. People wonder what has happened to him. In a few months time, even Mary held back her Magnificat until the infant John leapt in his mother's womb at Mary's greeting when she visited to help Elizabeth. This was an acknowledgement and announcement even then the coming of God in the persona of Jesus. Back again to St. John's birth. Nine months later, Zachary presents his new born son to the temple as was custom. In those days, sons were to be named after their dad. However, when Elizabeth is told that her son is to be Zachary, she says: "His name is to be John." They then look to Zachary, hand him something to write on since he had struck dumb, and he writes: "His name is John." Now, the vocal chords are working again, and he goes into the following canticle:

The Canticle of Zachary

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel:
because He hath visited and wrought the redemption of His people.
And hath raised up a horn of salvation to us, in the house of David His servant.
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who are from the beginning.
Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform mercy to our fathers, and to remember His holy testament.
The oath which He swore to Abraham, our father; that He would grant to us.
That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve Him without fear.
In holiness and justice before Him, all our days.
And thou child, Precursor of the Emmanuel,
shalt be called the prophet of the Most High:
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare His ways.
To give unto His people the knowledge of salvation, unto the remission of their sins.
Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us.
To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death;
to direct our feet in the way of peace.

Following is the Sequence attributed to Adam of St. Victor for this date; set aside for this great Saint:

In thine honour, O Christ, the Church doth celebrate the natal day of thy Precursor and Baptist.

The King's own praise is heralded when his herald is extolled, whom richly he hath endowed with gifts of virtue, and, sublime in office, hath exalted!

Lo! Gabriel unto the hoary sire a son doth promise. He, hesitating, anon doth forfeit power of speech.

The child is born; of the new Law, of the new King, herald, trumpet, standard-bearer he! The voice before the Word, the paranymph (ceremonial assistant) before the Spouse, the morning star before the rising sun, doth go!

The mother by word, the father by writing, the child's name doth declare; forthwith is loosed from bond the mute tongue of the father.

By heavenly oracle is John foretold; and by himself yet hidden in the womb is he fore-shown.

That in an age too far advanced, an heir should be given, that one so long sterile should become a mother, oh! mystery profound! Yea, contrary indeed to the law of flesh is this conception of John; such birth as this is produced by grace, not by nature.

The virgin in her womb holds God enclosed; the enclosed to the Enclosed doth clap applause, that narrow womb within. The voice crying in the wilderness, the heralding voice of the Word, doth point our the Lamb to open view.

Burning in faith, luminous in word, and unto the true Light leading, he teacheth many thousands. He was not the Light, but yet was indeed the lamp; for Christ is Light eternal, Light enlightening all.

Clad in garment of haircloth, girt with cincture of leather, he was fed on a banquet of locusts and wild honey.

List to Christ attesting of him: None hath arisen greater than this man, of all that are born of woman. Take good heed, however, Christ here excepts himself who of flesh did Flesh accept, yet without flesh's operation.

To capital punishment, in prison, is the just man condemned; whose head the king abhorred not to present as a gift at a banquet table.

Martyr of God! guilty though we be, nor apt unto thy praise, yet, of thy clemency, deign graciously to hear us confiding in thee and praising thee.

On this thy natal day, grant to us the promised joy; nor yet may thy triumphant martyrdom delight us less.

Oh! how many mysteries do we venerate and admire in thee! By thee may Christ grant unto us to enjoy his presence. Amen.

Homily on St. John the Baptist by St. Ambrose

Divine Scripture teaches us that we should praise the lives not only of those who are publicly honored, but also the lives of their parents; in order that, as it were, the transmitted heritage of spotless purity may stand out in those whom we wish to praise. For what other intention had the holy Evangelist in this place but to glorify St. John the Baptist in his parents, as in his miracles, his manner of life, his gifts, and his sufferings? So also Anna is praised, the mother of holy Samuel; so did Isaac receive from his parents that nobility of goodness, which he bequeathed to his descendants. Therefore the priest Zachary was not only a priest, but even of the course of Abia, that is, of a house distinguished among the noble families.

And his wife, says he, was of the daughters of Aaron. Therefore the nobility of St. John was inherited not only from his parents, but also from ancestors not distinguished by worldly power, but by a venerable religious succession. For it was fitting that the forerunner of Christ should have such ancestors; that it might be evident that the preaching of faith in the coming of the Lord was not a gift suddenly received, but one inherited from his ancestors, and implanted in him by the very law of nature. And they were, says he, both just before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. What do they make of this who, to show some excuse for their own sins, think that man cannot live without sinning often; and make use of the verse, which is written in Job; No man is pure from sin even though his life on earth be but for one day?

We must answer such persons, first by asking what they mean by a man without sin: whether he is a man who has never sinned, or one who has stopped sinning. For if, by a man without sin, they mean one who has never sinned, I agree with them. For all have sinned, and are without the glory of God. But if they deny that he who has amended his old fault, and has changed his way of life, in order to refrain from sin, cannot keep from sins, I cannot concur in their opinion, since we read that: The Lord so loved the Church, that he might present it to himself a glorious one, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish.

St. John the Baptist, pray for us, that we may know Christ when He comes.

Hi Kris. I have a question for you. When Herod demanded that babies under the age to be killed, and the holy Family left for Egypt, I'm wondering if the family of St. John had to leave also, or were they in another part of the territory. Just wondering, Jon

Interesting question. We have only tradition to tell us that Elizabeth fled with baby John the Baptist (and some say Zacharias too) further up into the hills a short distance from Ayn Karim, the village where they lived. She called out to God for help, and an opening appeared in a rock cliff, and she was able to get through it with John and hide there until Herod's soldiers were done.

The place is called the pietra del nascondimento, the "stone in which John was concealed, and it's a minor tourist site today because there's a nice church built over this spot, over the "cleft" in a rock. It's the Church of the Visitation.

No reason not to believe this is the place where John the Baptist was hid as a baby.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Blessing of the bonfires

 Posted on June 22, 2016 by Angelus Press

St. John bonfire

Three births are celebrated particularly in the Catholic Church: that of Our Lord, Our Lady, and St. John the Baptist. St. John, as pious belief holds, was cleansed of Original Sin upon the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin to St. Elizabeth (Luke 1:57), making him, along with Jesus and Mary, free from sin at birth. And so it is fitting that all three are commemorated with a vigil, each with distinct ceremonies, liturgies, and traditions.

The Vigil of St. John the Baptist (June 23) takes place shortly after the longest day in the northern hemisphere. Appropriately, it captures a sense of light supplanting darkness throughout its liturgy and traditions. In fact, the earliest of references of the Baptist in Scriptures brings this to bear with the Canticle of Zachary: “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt … enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death…” (Luke 1:76-79).

St. John’s humility notwithstanding, his preaching announced that hope, light, and redemption was at hand, like a beacon of light shining into the murkiness of the Old Testament world. For this reason, our Catholic ancestors (who already had a tradition of summer solstice bonfires from pagan days) lit fires on the Vigil of the Baptist’s birth.

During this night, it was a common tradition to light bonfires in honor of St. John, keeping watch through the short night and – purely practically – use the fires to dispose of the waste from winter and spring projects. Over time, liturgical rites and prayers were added, including the blessing below, performed by a priest.

In keeping with this ancient tradition, we encourage our readers to light a fire* in honor of the Forerunner of Our Lord in order to reflect on the good fortune that our own births occurred after the Redemption that St. John prepared the people for, and to enjoy a moment with family centered around Catholic tradition. It is perhaps also a night to reflect on the beauty of our liturgy, which places the birth of St. John the Baptist in the season when the days begin to shorten: ”[H]e must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

While there may not be a priest available to bless each bonfire that Catholics wish to burn on the evening of the 23rd, the head of the household could certainly recite the hymn Ut queant laxis, bringing a reminder of the reason for the fire . . . and preferably before your little ones drop their fourth molten marshmallow into the flames.


P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.

P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.
Lord God, almighty Father, the light that never fails and the source of all light, sanctify + this new fire, and grant that after the darkness of this life we may come unsullied to you who are light eternal; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

The fire is sprinkled with holy water; after which the clergy and the people sing the following Hymn: Ut queant laxis

1. Ut queant laxis resonáre fibris
Mira gestórum fámuli tuórum,
Solve pollúti lábii reátum, Sancte Joánnes.

2. Núntius celso véniens Olýmpo
Te patri magnum fore nascitúrum,
Nomen, et vitae sériem geréndae
Ordinae promit.

3. Ille promíssi dúbius supérni,
Pérdidit promptae módulos loquélae:
Sed reformásti genitus perémptae
Organa vocis.

4. Ventris obstrúso récubans cubíli
Sénseras Regem thálamo manéntem:
Hinc parens nati méritis utérque Abdita pandit.

5. Sit decus Patri, genitaéque Proli
et tibi, compare utriúsque virtus,
Spíritus semper, Deus unus, omni
Témporis aevo.
1. O for your spirit, holy John, to chasten
Lips sin-polluted, fettered tongues to loosen;
So by your children might your deeds of wonder
Meetly be chanted.

2. Lo! a swift herald, from the skies descending,
Bears to your father promise of your greatness;
How he shall name you, what your future story,
Duly revealing.

3. Scarcely believing message so transcendent,
Him for a season power of speech forsaketh,
Till, at your wondrous birth, again returneth,
Voice to the voiceless.

4. You, in your mother’s womb all darkly cradled,
Knew your great Monarch, biding in His chamber,
Whence the two parents, through their offspring’s merits,
Mysteries uttered.

5. Praise to the Father, to the Son begotten,
And to the Spirit, equal power possessing,
One God whose glory, through the lapse of ages,
Ever resounding.

P: There was a man sent from God.
All: Whose name was John.

P: Let us pray. God, who by reason of the birth of blessed John have made this day praiseworthy, give your people the grace of spiritual joy, and keep the hearts of your faithful fixed on the way that leads to everlasting salvation; through Christ our Lord.


"This is the Heart which has loved men so much and in turn is so little loved by them."  Our Lord Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the year 1675

Today we honor the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, our Redeemer. This is the Heart that has loved much, and, at the same time, is being misused and abused all over the globe by ungrateful souls who don't know what they doing or what they are giving up. This is why we pray for those who do not know what they are doing. In recent weeks, we have experienced the Death and Resurrection of Jesus; worshiped the Divine Trinity; the feast of Corpus Christi; and now, we acknowledge the Heart where all of our forgiveness comes from. His side was opened up after He died on the Cross, so that we may now start loving the Heart, and thus, maybe start to understand more about Jesus and His Church with its teachings.  (When His Heart was opened with the lance by Longinus, it showed us what we need to be saved.  His Blood, and the water representing Baptism)  Remember, first we believe, then things will be made clear to us if we ask. As our beloved Abbot Gueranger says concerning this day:

Though the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is of great antiquity in the Church, yet it was reserved to the holy Margaret Mary Alacoque, of the Order of the Visitation, to make this devotion public. During the Octave of Corpus Christi, in the year of 1690, our Blessed Lord appeared to His devoted handmaid, and disclosing to her His Heart, said: "Behold this Heart, which, notwithstanding the burning love for man with which It is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from the generality of Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference, and ingratitude." (See, the respect He deserves and doesn't receive has been going on for quite a while. See the Angel's prayer at the right>>>>, which says pretty much the same thing in 1916 to the children at Fatima, Portugal. He definitely deserves better than He gets! We should do a better at thanking Him for all He has given us. Do it at least for those who don't want to be bothered.)'There is a mysterious connection between these three feasts; of the blessed Trinity, Corpus Christi, and the Sacred Heart. The aim of the Holy Ghost, in all three, is to initiate us more and more into that knowledge of God by faith, which is to fit us for the face-to-face vision in heaven. We have already seen how God, being made known to us, by the first, in Himself, manifests Himself to us, by the second, in His outward works; for the Holy Eucharist is the memorial, here below, in which He has brought together, and with all possible perfection, all those His wondrous works. But by what law can we pass so rapidly, so almost abruptly, from one feast, which is all directly regarding God, to another, which celebrates the works done by Him to and for us? Then again: how came the divine thought, the eternal Wisdom, from the infinite repose of the eternally blessed Trinity, to the external activity of a love for us poor creatures, which has produced what we call the mysteries of our redemption? The Heart of the God-Man is the solution of these difficulties; it answers all such questions, and explains to us the whole divine plan.'

St. Gertrude, who got the whole thing started concerning the Sacred Heart in the 13th century, states that 'It is the one only organum; the one only instrument which finds acceptance with the Most High. Through It must pass all the inflamed praises of the burning Seraphim, just as must the humble homage paid to its God by inanimate creation. By It alone are to come upon this world the favours of heaven. It is the mystic ladder between man and God, the channel of all graces, the way whereby man ascends to God, and God descends to man.'

St. Augustine says that the Evangelist (St. John) made use of a word which has a special import, when he said: 'the soldier opened Jesus' side with a spear. He did not say struck the Side, or wounded the Side, or anything else like that; but he said he opened Jesus' Side. He opened it; for that Side was like the door of life; and when it was opened, the Sacraments (the Mysteries) of the Church came through it...This was predicted by that door which Noe was commanded to make in the side of the Ark, through which were to go those living creatures which were not to be destroyed by the deluge; and all these things were a figure of the Church.'

Blessed Margaret-Mary
continued to carry the torch of having this Heart richly honored a couple of centuries later, and, after approx. 15 years, finally getting this Feast instituted by the Church, died shortly after. I guess her work was done here on earth.

Let us honor this Sacred Heart of Jesus, both today on the Feast, and forevermore. Maybe some day we can get called to eternal peace. Amen.

-A partial indulgence is granted to those who recite the following prayer
-- A plenary indulgence is granted if it is publicly recited on the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
--This prayer was prescribed to be recited on this feast by Pope Pius XI.

Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart / Actus reparationis Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before Thee, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which Thy loving Heart is everywhere subject.

Mindful, alas! that we ourselves have had a share in such great indignities, which we now deplore from the depths of our hearts, we humbly ask Thy pardon and declare our readiness to atone by voluntary expiation, not only for our own personal offenses, but also for the sins of those, who, straying far from the path of salvation, refuse in their obstinate infidelity to follow Thee, their Shepherd and Leader, or, renouncing the promises of their baptism, have cast off the sweet yoke of Thy law.

We are now resolved to expiate each and every deplorable outrage committed against Thee; we are now determined to make amends for the manifold offenses against Christian modesty in unbecoming dress and behavior, for all the foul seductions laid to ensnare the feet of the innocent, for the frequent violations of Sundays and holy days, and the shocking blasphemies uttered against Thee and Thy Saints. We wish also to make amends for the insults to which Thy Vicar on earth and Thy priests are subjected, for the profanation, by conscious neglect or terrible acts of sacrilege, of the very Sacrament of Thy Divine Love; and lastly for the public crimes of nations who resist the rights and teaching authority of the Church which Thou hast founded.

Would that we were able to wash away such abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of Thy divine honor, the satisfaction Thou once made to Thy Eternal Father on the Cross and which Thou continuest to renew daily on our Altars; we offer it in union with the acts of atonement of Thy Virgin Mother and all the Saints and of the pious faithful on earth; and we sincerely promise to make recompense, as far as we can with the help of Thy grace, for all neglect of Thy great love and for the sins we and others have committed in the past. Henceforth, we will live a life of unswerving faith, of purity of conduct, of perfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel and especially that of charity. We promise to the best of our power to prevent others from offending Thee and to bring as many as possible to follow Thee.

O loving Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother, our model in reparation, deign to receive the voluntary offering we make of this act of expiation; and by the crowning gift of perseverance keep us faithful unto death in our duty and the allegiance we owe to Thee, so that we may all one day come to that happy home, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit Thou livest and reignest, God, forever and ever. Amen.

"Come to Me, and I will refresh you." There's also a plenary indulgence if attending Mass on this day.

Below is a selection from 'Caritate Christi Compulsi', Pope Pius XI's encyclical from 1932 wherein he exhorted the bishops to provide expositions of the Blessed Sacrament for devotion to the Sacred Heart:

"Let the faithful hasten in large numbers to the eucharistic board, hasten to the foot of the altar to adore the Redeemer of the world, under the veils of the Sacrament, [and] let them pour out to that Merciful Heart that has known all the griefs of the human heart, the fullness of their sorrow, the steadfastness of their faith, the trust of their hope, the ardor of their charity." - Caritate Christi Compulsi
The feast and month of the Sacred Heart is not just a time for “simple” prayer. Rather, it has always been tied to the spirit of sacrifice, with reparation made for the offenses against Our Lord. As faithful, therefore, we should prepare to participate in this month fully, with our external actions, penances, and holy hours playing a vital role. But as with all the practices of Holy Mother Church, this is not just a one-dimensional feast of penance and reparation. There is plenty of space within this month to approach the Sacred Heart of Our Lord with sentiments of love and gratitude. Gratitude especially that He has opened His heart: literally almost two millennia ago, and figuratively every day that a faithful soul asks Him to.

"Here is the Heart that so loved man."

Eve of the Nativity of John the Baptist

As we get ready for the feast day reserved for the nativity of St. John the Baptist (it is tomorrow), which led to the Redeemer coming to us, here are some prayers for this day. The first is the Capitula taken from the Mozarabic Breviary, and prepares us for this great feast, which I'm sure the current Church doesn't even bother with.


Lo! the first beginnings of Christian joy, O Lord, whereby erstwhile the sanctified Voice preceded the Word about to be born of the flesh, and the herald of light signally announced the rising of the Day star he himself had witnessed: by him both Faith's mysteries and salvation's fountains have produced marvels: he is approved whose conception is miracle, whose birth is joy; therefore do we beseech thee, that we who with glad ovations hail the birthday of thy Precursor, may with purified hearts draw nigh likewise unto thine own Nativity: so that the Voice which preached thee in the desert may cleanse us in the world; and he who, preparing the way for the coming Lord, washed in his baptism the bodies of living men, may now by his prayers purify our hearts from vices and errors: so that, following in the footprints of the Voice, we may deserve to come to the promise of the Word.

The next prayers we have are from the Sacramentary of St. Gelasius:

May the prayer of blessed John Baptist, O Lord, plead for us, that we may both understand and merit the mystery of thy Christ.

O Almighty and eternal God, Who, in the days of blessed John Baptist, didst fulfill the institutions of the Law and the declarations of the holy Prophets, grant, we beseech Thee, that figures and signs being ended, Truth Himself, by His own manifestation, may speak: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

The angelical youth, Aloysius, was the son of a Margrave, and was born at Castiglione, in Italy, March 9, 1568. As his mother, Martha, was in great danger of losing her life in childbirth, he was baptized before he was entirely born and thus fitted for heaven before earth had possessed him. After his mother, however, had made a vow to devote herself with her child at Loretto to the Blessed Virgin, she brought Aloysius happily into the world. No sooner had he begun to speak and walk, than his noble mother instilled into him those religious sentiments with which her whole heart was filled. He had hardly reached the age of five years, when he was frequently found kneeling in a corner and devoutly praying. It was at this tender age that he went to Casale, where, by the wish of his father, Ferdinand, he was present at a large mustering of soldiers. He there stealthily took some powder out of the pocket of a soldier, and fired off a cannon, which very nearly cost him his life, as he might easily have been crushed by the recoiling wheels. At that time, he learned also, from associating with the soldiers, certain profane expressions which he repeated without comprehending their meaning. When his tutor heard these words and forbade him ever to use them again, they never more passed his lips. These two faults were the greatest he ever committed, and in the innocence of his heart, he never ceased to weep over them. At seven years of age, he turned his heart entirely from the world and gave it to God. He called this year the period of his conversion, and said afterwards that he then began to love God above everything, as every human creature ought to do after having attained the use of reason.

When eight years old, his father sent him with his younger brother, accompanied by a tutor, to the Court of the Duke of Tuscany. The pure life he had led in his father's house and which he continued to lead at Florence, procured him the name of an innocent Angel. In this city he made his first confession with such deep compunction that he swooned away on entering the confessional. From Florence he went to Mantua and thence returned to Castiglione. The celebrated St. Charles Borromeo travelling through this latter place and becoming acquainted with St. Aloysius, admired the special gifts with which God had graced him and prepared him for his first holy Communion, after which he administered the same to him. How carefully the Saint prepared himself and with how many tears of fervent piety he received the divine food, words have no power to express. From that moment the Saint evinced an angelic devotion and reverence towards the most holy Sacrament.

He always prepared himself during three days for its reception, and after it, spent as many in humble thanksgiving. After a few years he was sent to the Spanish Court at Madrid, as page to the Prince James. One day, as the Prince was standing by an open window and the wind blew roughly in his face, he exclaimed: "Wind, I command thee to cease incommoding me thus!" Aloysius, who was near him, very wisely remarked: "Your royal highness may command men and they must obey; but God, to whom the greatest monarchs of the earth are subject, has kept the power over the elements to Himself." This wise and Christian speech caused the youth to be highly loved and esteemed by the king. When Aloysius had attained his 15th year, he earnestly took counsel with God and his conscience as to his future vocation. During his sojourn at Florence he had already resolved to retire from the world, but was as yet undecided in what manner he would serve God. After long and fervent prayer, he conceived great inclination towards the Society of Jesus, not only because this order was new and in its first fervor, but also because of its offering such opportunities to work for the salvation of souls, and even to sacrifice life itself among the heathens in the service of God.

On the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, he received from heaven the assurance that this inclination came from God; for, after having devoutly received holy Communion, he thought he heard these emphatic words from the Divine Mother: "Join the society of my Son, and make known your resolution to your confessor." Aloysius, full of joy, informed his confessor, then his mother, and lastly his father, of the will of heaven as to his vocation. His mother cheerfully consented, but his father refused him and, for three years, left nothing undone to change his son's determination. But the latter remained firm in his resolution to obey the voice of God. Remarkable is the answer he gave to those who endeavored, by description of temporal honors, pleasures and wealth, to persuade him not to enter the priesthood. "What does all this contribute to gain eternal life?" he would ask after such representations, in order to show that in choosing and entering on a course of life, we must, above all things, be mindful of the end and aim of our being, which is to serve God and gain heaven. Two circumstances at length induced his father to give his consent: one was the sight of his son scourging himself until the blood ran, whilst he implored the Almighty to change his father's heart; the other was the firmness with which the innocent youth, one day, addressed to him the following words: "God calls me, I must obey Him. You, my dear father, oppose the Most High Himself when you oppose my following my vocation."
Hence, his father consented, although with tearful eyes; and Aloysius, returning thanks to God, resigned the marquisate to his brother, went to Rome and requested the Father General, Claudius Aquaviva, to receive him into the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). He was immediately accepted, as there had already been sufficient proofs of his vocation, and thus he entered the novitiate in the 18th year of his age. How happy he was, and how zealous from the first day to the last, words fail to describe. The lessons of his office in the Roman Breviary testify that, even during his novitiate, he was looked upon as a model of virtue. He never transgressed a single rule, and there was no virtue of a perfect religious which he did not practice. Every one particularly admired the humility with which he performed the most menial work, his perfect obedience and poverty, his heroic self-abnegation, his seraphic love of God, and his tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. Wonderful examples of these virtues are to be found in his circumstantial biography. We will only add a few words upon his happy death.

When, in 1591, Rome was ravaged by a terrible pestilence, Aloysius requested permission to nurse the sick, and having obtained it, he was indefatigable in his kind solicitude for them. He begged bread and other necessaries for them, made their beds, administered their medicine and food, and carried many, who, seized by the epidemic, were lying in the street, into the hospital. In a word, he left nothing undone that Christian charity could require in such circumstances. At last, the disease laid its hold on him and confined him to his bed. On the eighth day, his sickness changed into a fever, from which he suffered for three months. All this time he spent in meditations on the passion of Christ, in devout discourses and aspirations, and in reading pious books. An impatient word never passed his lips. The most nauseous medicines which they gave him he swallowed slowly, so as to mortify his taste. They requested him to make a vow in order that the Almighty might grant the prolongation of his life; but he answered: "It is better to be dissolved." When they informed him of his approaching end, which had already been revealed to him by God, he exulted with joy, and requested them to intone the Te Deum, and exclaimed, in the words of the Psalmist: "I have rejoiced in what has been told to me; we shall enter into the house of the Lord."

To more than one who came to see him, he exclaimed: "We go, we go exulting." When they asked him, "Whither? "he answered: "To heaven, to heaven!" During the last three days he almost constantly kept the crucifix pressed to his heart, and the rosary in his hand. Sometimes, gazing upon his Saviour, he shed tears of love and devotion. One day he desired to be laid on the other side, but when they reminded him of the hard cross of Christ, he looked at the Crucifix and remained quiet. Shortly before his end, he bared his head, saying: "Christ died not with his head covered." At length, on the Octave of Corpus Christi, he gave his innocent soul, adorned with so many virtues, into the hands of his Creator, holding the crucifix, the rosary and a blessed candle in his hands. The last words he uttered were the holy names of Jesus and Mary. His happy death took place in the year 1591, in the 24th year of his age, and in the sixth year after his entering the Society of Jesus.

Benedict XIII., who, in 1726, canonized Aloysius, calls him a model of innocence and purity. The great St. Robert Bellarmine, who was his confessor, testified that God had graced this holy youth with especial and almost unprecedented gifts. These were: first, that though he lived at so many courts, and having such frequent opportunities, among people devoted only to pleasure, yet he never stained the robe of his baptismal innocence, not only by a mortal sin, but even by the smallest venial sin: secondly, that he remained always free from all impure thoughts or desires: thirdly, that distractions during prayers were almost unknown to him, for he said himself, that all his distractions, for many months, would not equal the time it would take to say an Ave Maria. Truly, these were great and extraordinary graces of God!

Not less eminent were his virtues. Besides those above related, the following shone in his life like so many brilliant stars: his love to God and man, his angelical innocence and purity, and austerity towards himself, quite unusual for one of his years. No sooner had he commenced to know God, which was at the age of seven, than he immediately began to love Him from the bottom of his heart. His love constantly increased. At the mere mention of the Almighty, his whole face was overspread with fire, and his heart began to beat as if it would burst. He was frequently found in ecstasies during his prayer. He was constantly united with God, and as it was feared that his fervent devotion would weaken his health, his Superiors ordered him sometimes forcibly to detach his thoughts from God. But this cost him more pain than it costs us to turn ours heavenwards. Eager to obey, he sometimes cried, "O Lord, leave me!" but it was useless--he remained united to God and God remained in him.

A consequence of his love for the Almighty was his love towards men. This he evinced particularly in nursing those stricken down with the pestilence, as is above related. He often desired to preach the Gospel to the heathen, not only to gain souls for life eternal, but also to give his life for Christ and men. While only a boy, he already instructed his younger brothers and the servants in the doctrines of the Christian faith, and by his pious discourses and admonitions, persuaded many to lead a better life. Wherever he found an opportunity, he endeavored to assist his neighbor in temporal or spiritual matters.

But how shall I describe his innocence, his angelical purity? He hated and avoided even the least shadow of sin; shunned, as much as possible, all dangerous occasions, and carefully guarded himself in order to remain pure and innocent. At a game of forfeits, he was once requested to kiss at least the shadow of a young lady; but he was not to be persuaded, and never again took part in similar games. Just so he acted when he was desired to dance, and was never present at nightly entertainments or theatrical performances. Even while he was at court, he avoided as much as possible all such vain amusements, and, hiding himself in his room, he occupied the time in prayer and devout reading. These edifying employments constituted his greatest enjoyment from his tenderest youth. With what reverence and piety he worshipped the Most High, especially when at Church, is made known by the fact, that all those who saw him pray, attest that he looked more like an angel than a human being. His senses; particularly his eyes, he kept under such strict control, that he never turned them upon strangers. For nearly two years and six months he was page to the Crown-prince at the Spanish Court, and had to appear daily before the queen; and yet he knew her not by sight. He avoided all intercourse with the other sex, even of his relatives and friends. He was therefore called a human being without flesh, or an angel in the flesh. It is most certain that, in this manner, he kept his innocence unimpaired.

His constant mortification, and the austere penances which he practiced contributed greatly to this. His whole life shows that it was his constant care to control himself and mortify his delicate and innocent body. He fasted three days of every week on water and bread, and at other times, he partook of so little that it might justly be said that his whole life was a continual fast. As at first he possessed no hair-shirt or chain to wear around his loins, he used instead of them his spurs. When his mother requested him to sleep no longer upon the bare floor as he was wont to do, but to use the soft bed prepared for him, he placed pieces of wood under the bed-clothes and so took a short rest. He scourged himself daily, not only once but several times. When one day they showed his mother the linen which he had used to wipe off the blood, and she begged him, with tears in her eyes, not to be so cruel to himself, he said: "O let me atone for my sins by such slight penances. "And, what sins? He meant those two faults which he committed before he was seven years old, when he, as will be recollected, took some powder from a soldier, and repeated a few profane words without understanding their meaning. This was only the shadow of a sin and yet he repented of it daily through his whole life. During his last sickness, he recited every day the Seven Penitential Psalms, or had them read aloud to him. He was unwearied in the practice of penances after he had entered upon a religious life, and even requested in his last illness the permission to scourge himself, or because he was too weak to do it himself, to be scourged by another.

Whoever considers all this and much more that is related of this Saint, will readily understand the exclamation uttered by Saint Magdalen of Pazzi, at Florence, when in an ecstasy she saw the glory of the Saint in heaven: "Oh! what great glory Aloysius, the son of Ignatius, enjoys! I could never have believed it, had not my Jesus shown it to me. There seems hardly to be in heaven a greater glory than his. Hence I say, Aloysius is a great Saint. I wish that I could wander through the whole world and cry that Aloysius, the son of Ignatius, is a great Saint. He was a hidden martyr . . . . Oh! how overwhelmingly did he love God here on earth; therefore he now enjoys the full love of the Almighty in heaven!" The Almighty Himself, to this hour, gives most certain proofs of the holiness and glory of the Saint, by many and great miracles. In 1756, a book was printed at Augsburg, in which a hundred miracles were related which had taken place, during 30 years, in Italy and Germany--; all of which had been examined and approved by the ecclesiastical authorities. Many books could be filled with the miracles that have been wrought throughout Christendom by the intercession of this holy youth. Hence they act very wisely, who, in mental or physical suffering, fly for refuge to St. Aloysius.

Practical Consideration

I. The life of St. Aloysius contains very much that will serve as a lesson and model: and it is my wish that you should yourself select some point in which especially to imitate him. Take, for example, his love of prayer and pious reading: his reverence and recollection during prayer: his devotion to Jesus and Mary: his careful preparation for holy Communion: his constancy in what he felt to be his vocation: his horror of the smallest sin: his deep repentance for trifling faults: his unceasing self-immolation. The special feature of the life of this Saint is the unusual union of innocence with the spirit of austerity and penance. Never did this Saint tarnish his innocence by a mortal sin, nay, not even by a wilful venial sin; and yet his penances were such as the greatest sinner upon earth would not surpass. What have you to say to this? Does it not bring the blush of shame to your cheek, when you consider how often and how grievously you have sinned, without ever thinking of doing penance? Do you not feel impelled to follow the example of this holy penitent? At least to some degree yield to this impulse, and set to work immediately. To this end, beg the intercession of St. Aloysius; for, he himself has said, that if we desire to obtain some virtue from God, we should ask the intercession of those Saints who were distinguished for the practice of that virtue.

II. So much in general of the example of this Saint. I will now offer two distinct points for your especial consideration.

1. St. Aloysius was no friend of games and dances, of theatrical performances, of unnecessary association with the opposite sex, and of all amusements generally. And why? Because he was a friend of purity, and most earnestly desired to gain salvation. Hence he desired to flee from everything which seemed to be in the least dangerous to him. If in our day, any one were to act in this manner, he would be laughed at as scrupulous, or considered a silly person, who was out of place on this earth. But I am very certain that if the world possessed more of these scrupulous and silly persons, heaven would one day be more populous and hell would have fewer unhappy victims. Such scrupulous persons may be out of place here on earth, but they will surely be in their right place in heaven.

Those, however, who, on account of very different conduct, are--according to the judgment of the worldlings--very suitable for this world, will probably be just as suitable for hell, and not at all fit for heaven. If you love purity and earnestly desire to save your soul, avoid even the smallest shadow of sin. Abstain from all those worldly amusements which you have reason to judge may lead you to commit sin. The game of forfeits, which in itself is no sinful game, and which may be played without the least wrong, is, in our days, scarcely ever played without seriously offending God. Knowing this, how can you play it without committing sin? Aloysius knew not at first the danger, but being once aware of it, nothing could induce him to play again. Why do you not make the same resolution? Let others laugh at you on account of it: it will do you as little harm as it did St. Aloysius. But it will contribute much to your salvation if you do not allow it to disturb you.

2. After they had represented to him the honors, pleasures and riches of this world, St. Aloysius said: "How does it all assist us to gain life everlasting?" Remember these words always. Do nothing that may prevent you from obtaining eternal life, but cling eagerly to everything that may assist you to gain it. In all your affairs, all your actions, let it be your first consideration to see whether or not they are leading you to heaven; after this, judge what you may do and what you must avoid. In this manner, you will constantly keep the end and aim of your life before you, which is needful to every one who would go to heaven; for, whoever thinks of it seldom, is in great danger of never arriving there. And what will avail temporal honor, pleasure and enjoyment, if we are eternally unhappy at last? What would it benefit Saint Aloysius now to have had all the enjoyment they represented to him, if he had not earnestly aspired to gain the end and aim of his creation, eternal life? "For what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?"(Matt, xxvi.)

Saint Robert Bellarmine, the Saint's confessor, testified that Saint Aloysius had never mortally offended God. Pray that, supposing you have not maintained his innocence, you may yet imitate his penance.

Quote from this great saint, who is considered as the 'Patron Saint' of youth:

I am but a crooked piece of iron,
and have come into religion to be made straight
by the hammer of mortification and penance

Once again, our beloved Abbot Gueranger, with part of his prayer:

'...Cease not, O dearest saint, to aid us in the midst of so many miseries; lend a kindly hand to each and all.  Christian youth has a special claim upon thy patronage, for it is by the Sovereign Pontiff himself that this precious portion of the flock is gathered around thy throne.  Direct their feeble steps along the right path, so often enticed to turn into dangerous by-roads; may prayer and earnest toil, for God's dear sake, be their stay and safeguard; may they be enlightened in the serious matter before them of choosing a state of life.  We beseech thee, dearest saint, exert strong influence over them during this most critical period of their opening years, so that they may truly experience all the potency of that fair privilege which is ever thine, of preserving in thy devout clients the angelical virtuous!  Yea, furthermore, Aloysius, look compassionately on those who have not imitated thine innocence, and obtain that they may yet follow thee in thy penance; such is the petition of holy Church this day!' 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

St. Silverius

Pope and Martyr

Silverius was son of Pope Hormisdas, who had been married before he entered the ministry. Upon the death of Saint Agapetas, and after a vacancy of forty-seven days, Silverius, then subdeacon, was elected Pope and consecrated on the 8th of June, 536, despite maneuvers on the part of heretics opposed to the Council of Chalcedon.

The heretical empress Theodora, resolved to win Silverius over to her interests, wrote to him, ordering that he should either acknowledge as lawful bishop the Eutychian heretic Anthimus, who had been deposed as patriarch of Constantinople, or come in person to Constantinople and reexamine his cause. Without the least hesitation or delay, Silverius returned her a short answer, by which he gave her to understand that he neither could nor would obey her unjust demands, which would be to countermand his predecessor's decision and betray the cause of the Catholic faith.

The empress, finding that she could expect nothing from him, resolved to have him deposed. Vigilius, archdeacon of the Roman Church, a man of diplomacy, was then at Constantinople. To this ambitious ecclesiastic the empress exposed her wishes, and promised to make him pope and to bestow on him seven hundred pieces of gold, if he would engage himself to condemn the Council of Chalcedon and receive into Communion the three deposed Eutychian patriarchs. Vigilius assented to these conditions, and the empress sent him to Rome, charged with a letter to the Roman general Belisarius, commanding him to drive out Silverius and contrive the election of Vigilius to the pontificate.

Vigilius urged the general to execute this project. In order to implement it, the Pope was accused of corresponding with the enemy, and a forged letter was produced, supposedly written by him to the king of the Goths, inviting him to the city and promising to open the gates to him. These dealings succeeded; Vigilius was made Pope, and Silverius was banished to Patara in Lycia.

The bishop of Patara received the illustrious exile with all possible marks of honor and respect, and thinking himself bound to undertake his defense, journeyed to Constantinople and spoke boldly to the emperor Justinian. He terrified him with threats of divine judgments for the expulsion of a bishop of so great a see, telling him, "There are many kings in the world, but there is only one Pope over the Church of the whole world." Justinian appeared startled at the atrocity of the proceedings and gave orders that Silverius be sent back to Rome. The enemies of the Pope contrived to prevent this, however, and he was intercepted on his road toward Rome and transported to the deserted island of Palmeria, where he died of hunger a year later, on the 20th of June, 538 and was buried.

It was perhaps in response to the martyred pope's prayers that after his death the usurper of the pontifical throne, Vigilius, though he had wished to step down, was forced to remain in function and then transformed, like Saul of Tarsus, into another man. He exercised the pastoral duties with as much courage, piety, zeal and faith, as he formerly had used violence, avarice and cruelty during his predecessor's lifetime. The traitor Belisarius was accused of conspiracy against the emperor, stripped of all he had, and his eyes put out; he was obliged to beg for alms in Constantinople. But he too repented and built a church with an inscription over the door which was a public reparation for his fault.
(Eutychianism was an early heresy which maintained that Jesus Christ was of one nature only.
The heresy was named after Eutyches of Constantinople, who tried in the year 433 to make the 12 Anathemas of Cyril of Alexandria the standard of orthodoxy and do away with the "inspired man" Christology of Antioch. Another goal was to make Alexandria, instead of Constantinople, the second most powerful see in Christendom (next to Rome).
The view of Eutyches was that Christ had only one nature - a confused mixture of human and divine. Eutycianism is also known as monophysitism from monos (single) and physis (nature). It assumes that Christ can have only one nature, which is a mixture of divine nature and human natures, such that the human becomes divine and the divine human. This confuses both Christ’s true humanity and his true deity. The view was officially deemed heresy by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE.)

Another take on the saint:

Theodora, the wife of Emperor Justinian, had named to the see of Constantinople Bishop Anthimus, a partisan of the Monophysite heresy. The Empress then asked that her choice be approved by Rome, but Pope Agapitus deposed Bishop Anthimus and condemned his followers.

St. Agapitus died in 536 and Pope Silverius was chosen as his successor. Theodora attempted again to have her candidate approved by Rome, but she received a negative answer a second time. So she ordered General Belisarius to use force against the Pope to obtain what she desired.

In December 536 General Belisarius went to Rome. Seeing that it was surrounded by the Goths, instead of attacking both the city and the barbarians, he began to spread rumors against the Pope. By means of a forged letter, the Pope was accused of a treasonable agreement and behavior with the Gothic king besieging Rome.

General Belisarius
St. Silverius did not shake before this pressure, and still refused to carry out Empress’ wishes. Nonetheless, the Pope was forced to leave his palace and find safer shelter in the Church of St. Sabina.

There he was contacted by representatives of the Greek general, who gave him the guarantee he could return to the papal palace without incident. He trusted the word of these representatives, but they were lying. The Pope was kidnapped and exiled to the Island of Ponza in March 537. He died a little more than two years later on June 20, 539 as a consequence of the bad treatment he had received.

Comments of Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira:

You can see in this selection the difficult fight of the Pontiffs against the heresies. You also can observe the false, cruel and violent behavior the heretics used against the Roman Pontiff.

A mosaic of Empress Theodora

The Empress Theodora was a protector of the heresy
The heretics of Constantinople used every means they could against St. Silverius. However, they did not achieve their goal because St. Silverius remained faithful. From this episode you can see how great the bad faith of those heretics was.

First, the bad faith of Theodora, the Empress, who was a detestable woman constantly trying to impose heretics as archbishops of Constantinople. She ordered brute force be used to oblige the Pope to approve her candidate.

Second, the bad faith of General Belisarius and his officers. They realized they could not use military force against the Pontiff because the Roman people would defend him. So instead, they spread malicious rumors about him in order to change public opinion. Because of these rumors, the Pope had to move to a different place. Then they sent deceitful ambassadors to the Pope giving him the guarantee that nothing would happen if he would return to the papal palace. He did so, and they kidnapped him.

Something we should always consider is how the sin of heresy is a sin with a supreme malice. Heresy is the worst sin since it is a sin against the Faith. Every man who knows the Catholic Church has the sufficient grace to know that she is the True Church of God. If he refuses to see this, it is because he refuses the truth known as such. The primary of these truths is that the Catholic Church is the only true Church. Therefore, the heretics – like these Monophysite heretics of Byzantium – who had known the Catholic Church and denied her, were in bad faith.

That bad faith generated the other iniquities you heard about in this selection – falseness, cruelty, kidnapping the Pope, and finally his death as a consequence of the bad treatment he received.

What is necessary for a heretic to know the Catholic Church? It is enough, for example, to have seen the example of pious Catholics, participated in various ceremonies as they used to be, heard her chant and considered her elevation, her seriousness, her maternal goodness. If a heretic considers this ensemble, he has conditions to realize that she is a full of wisdom and divine.

A depiction of Christ as a warrior in Ravenna

Our Lord is represented as a warrior in a mosaic in Ravenna
The right thing to do is to show these facets of the Church to the heretic. It should be enough to move not only a Protestant, but also a Schismatic, a Jew, a Muslim etc.

Someone could object to me: This is not the ensemble of the doctrine and teachings of the Church that a person should know to convert. I would reply: You can observe the whole sun reflected in a drop of water, can’t you? The same happens with the Catholic Church. The ensemble of her truth and sanctity can be reflected, and actually is reflected, in the facets I pointed out as examples.

The wrong thing to do is to try to attract the heretic with an ecumenical approach, with little smiles and trying to find common points. No one converts because he finds common points. He changes when he sees the points he is missing.

But if the heretic refuses to accept the Catholic Church, he should be fought and publicly defeated, to prevent his evil from contaminating others. This is not to deny the teachings of Our Lord. Against evil and its followers we should use the whip Our Lord used in the Temple; we should apply the zealous words He spelled out against the hypocritical Pharisees; we should use the sword of fire of St. Michael the Archangel. And we should keep these bad people out of the Catholic Church.

This enmity between the heretics and the Catholic Church is the enmity of which St. Louis Grignon of Montfort speaks. It will exist for all times between the sons of the serpent and the sons of the Virgin. He says that this enmity was created by God when He said: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel” (Gen 3:13-15).Therefore, St. Louis Grignon affirms, this enmity was decreed by God Himself, Who only does the most perfect things. It is this mentality of combativeness and vigilance that makes the Church a Militant Church.

These are some considerations suggested by the life of Pope St. Silverius.