St. Bridget: Popes and Priestly Marriage

St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) was a medieval mystic and founder of the Bridgettines. Besides being the most celebrated Swedish saint, St. Bridget's writings had a profound effect on late medieval piety, so much so that she is considered one of the patron saints of Europe. St. Bridget's most famous work is her Revelations, a series of visions of Christ, Mary and the angels received by St. Bridget and transcribed into Latin by one Mathias, canon of Linköping, and her confessor, Peter Olafsson. In this article, we provide the entirety of Chapters 10 of Book VII, in which the Blessed Virgin Mary narrates to St. Bridget God's opinion of a married, sexually active priesthood. Mary's words are especially poignant in light of current discussions about admitting married men to priesthood. The Virgin Mary specifically tells her that any pope who tried to reform the discipline to admit married, sexually active men would be subject to a most severe curse.

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St. Bridget: The Punishment of Lustful, Immoral Priests

St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) was a medieval mystic and founder of the Bridgettines. Besides being the most celebrated saint to come out of Sweden, St. Bridget's writings had a profound effect on late medieval piety, so much so that she is considered one of the patron saints of Europe. St. Bridget's most famous work is her Celestial Revelations, a series of visions of Christ, Mary and the angels received by St. Bridget and transcribed into Latin by one Mathias, canon of Linköping, and her confessor, Peter Olafsson. In this article, we provide the entirety of Chapters 47-49 of Book I, in which Christ narrates to St. Bridget the offense caused by lustful, prideful priests and details their punishments. Christ's words are especially poignant in light of the current wave of scandals unfolding in the American hierarchy.

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Problems with the Bayside Apparitions

What you are about to read represents probably the biggest waste of time in my life, though that does not mean it will be a waste for time for you. This is my magnum opus against the false and stupid Bayside apparitions. For the past three years I have spent my spare time reading through every single message of Bayside, going all the way back to the late 1960s. Thousands of them. The monotony. The stupidity. The banality. It was horrendous, mind-numbing work, and many times friends of mine urged me to just drop it and move on to something more rewarding. It is waste for two reasons - one, just wasting my years reading all these banal, stupid messages; and two, the fact that, for those caught up in Bayside, nothing will convince them otherwise.  So yes, I fear this effort was a waste. But, who knows. God may bring something fruitful from it.

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The Experience of Prophetic Revelation

Saints are humble people. They know that whatever gifts and graces they have come by the goodness of God, not by any merit of their own. They are extraordinarily fearful of their own pride, and consequently do not like to talk about their own mystical or miraculous experiences. Those who do - like St. Therese of Lisieux - often do so only under obedience. It is thus very mysterious, from a layman's perspective, what it is really like experientially to receive these special charisms from God - what it is like "behind the veil" for those who truly receive prophetic revelations and visions. In this article, we examine two saints - Columba of Iona (d. 597) and Hildegard of Bingen (d. 1179) who, in confidence to their friends, explained in luminous detail what it is like receiving prophetic messages from God.

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Christian Contemplation vs. Pagan Meditation

We live in a world which increasingly rejects Catholic tradition while simultaneously professing great interest in spiritualities influenced by the New Age. Christians have been traditionally reluctant to embrace such practices, as they contain elements that are fundamentally opposed to the most basic tenets of Christianity. Some, however, have merged various elements of eastern mysticism and New Age neo-paganism with traditional Catholic spirituality, thrown in some Christian vocabulary and are now peddling these practices as compatible with Catholicism. The method of "Centering Prayer" promoted by the late Cistercian monk Basil Pennington is the most famous example, but there are others. These practices are promoted as Christian forms of "contemplation", and Catholics are encouraged to participate. In this article we will look at how to discern whether a spiritual practice is authentically Catholic or just New Age esoteric mysticism in a Christian veneer.

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Defense of the Divine Mercy Devotion (part 3)

While I figured this would be my shortest article on the Divine Mercy, it's going to be my longest as I came across a widely read article attacking the devotion. Again, by a priest, and again, the attacks hold no merit. Whether Father was being dishonest or was simply misinformed, that is between him and God. The first part will deal with what took place at the BBQ mentioned in Part 1. The second will deal with a miscellaneous objection I was told of that took place in an internet forum, and the last will deal with the article written by Msgr. Patrick Perez, published by Tradition in Action.

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Our Greatest Lie

If you are a Catholic striving after sanctity, you make a sincere effort to avoid all mortal sin and even venial sin. You certainly value truthfulness as a basic requirement for living a vibrant spiritual life and never intentionally tell lies or deceive others. Yet even so, there is one lie I have learned that Catholics, even very pious, faithful Catholics, are guilty of telling. And they tell it time and time again, sometimes every day. We go on deceiving others with this lie, and then tell the same lie again, sometimes to the same people. Most likely it is not intentional; we do not set out to be untruthful - but we become untruthful nonetheless. And this untruthfulness is not harmless; it is an untruth that can do grave harm to our own spiritual life and deprives those we lie to of very necessary graces. If not rectified, this habitual lie can lead to a devastating habit of spiritual neglect. And yet, even then, even knowing this, we continue to do it.

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Resisting Temptation

As long as we are in the flesh, we shall never wholly be free of temptation. The greatest saints were all sorely tempted, and our Lord Himself was tempted numerous times by the evil one as He began His public ministry. The Book of Job tells us that "The life of man upon earth is a temptation" (Job 7:1). Yet though temptations may lead us to sin if we yield to them, they can also be of great profit when we successfully resist them. When we first swing a hammer or do a great labor on the first day of a new job, the strain of the work often wears us down. But if we persevere and continue, choosing to master the task rather than letting it master us, the work which wore us down at the beginning becomes easier and actually is an occasion for growing stronger. Similarly, the temptation which weakens us when we surrender to it becomes a source of strength and spiritual fitness when it is successfully resisted. But how to resist temptation?

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Why do we bless our meals?

In most devout Catholic families, the prayer of blessing before meals is ubiquitous. "Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen." In some particularly pious households, the blessing after meals is also said regularly. "We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, for these and all Thy benefits, who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen." We say these blessings, of course, in order to acknowledge that all our blessings, even the barest material necessities, come to us from God's goodness. Because of this provision, thanksgiving is the appropriate disposition of a creature to his loving Creator. The aspect of thanksgiving is well understood. But there is another reason, no less important but much less understood.

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Sacred Heart: No Baroque Sentimentality

In the distressed years surrounding the Second Vatican Council, a great debate raged among the theologians of the day on how a Conciliar vision of Catholic spirituality ought to look. We are familiar with the debates over Marian devotion between the so-called "Minimalists" and "Maximalists", the former who effectively sought to suppress Marian piety as hyper-sentimentalism and dangerous to ecumenical progress. A similar though less intense dispute arose over the propriety of the Sacred Heart devotions. The progressives essentially argued that this devotion was too bound up with Baroque era piety, meaning it suffered from a kind of sappy sentimentalism that was not fitting for the modern Church. Furthermore, it was argued that it was not fitting for such a devotion to have such a central place in the Church's life, since it sprung from a mere private revelation and was not integral to the Gospel message. In this article, we will endeavor to show that the Sacred Heart devotion is no mere Baroque sentimentalism, and that far from originating in some private revelation, it is a devotion whose origins are found in the deepest Traditions of the Faith.

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The Distraction of That One Sin

We all have that one sin. That one sin that we feel drags us down, oppresses us, and particularly embarrasses us. It is the one sin that we find ourselves confessing time and time again, much to our shame. Often times we may believe that this sin and this sin alone stands between us and holiness. "If I could just get past this one sin, then I would truly be saintly," we tell ourselves. What the sin is exactly does not matter; it differs from person to person. For some it may be masturbation; for others, screaming at the children or talking down to the wife. Maybe it is using bad language at work or some similar accommodation with the mores of the world. Whatever the sin is, we have all had the experience. That one sin.

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Revisiting the Cloud of Unknowing

 This week I have been revisiting a classic work of Catholic spirituality, the Cloud of Unknowing, written in the early 14th century by an anonymous English monk. The work was unknown for many years and is not even mentioned in the 1917 "Catholic Encyclopedia", the first modern translation of it in English having only appeared in 1912. It was scorned for the first half of the 20th century as a piece of foolish medieval enthusiasm and only became an object of intense scholarly study in the late 1970's. Nevertheless, in its time it inspired St. John of the Cross and many of its ideas are found in Thomas a' Kempis, though it is uncertain whether the Imitation predated the Cloud, or vice versa.

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The Art of Fasting

No ascetic discipline is so universally recommended by Scripture and Tradition as the practice of fasting; and, paradoxically, no practice is so universally neglected in modern Catholicism. From the tales of Abraham to the fasting of the Ninevites, who averted the wrath of God by their penance, to the tale of Sarah who fasted before her wedding to Tobias, to the words of our Lord that certain demons could only be overcome by fasting, Scripture is replete with examples of the importance of fasting and its efficacy in purifying the soul and obtaining God's favor; the lives of the saints afford us with thousands more examples. But how necessary is fasting to the advancement of the spiritual life, and what fruits do we derive from the practice? Let us examine these questions in light of Tradition, Scripture and the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine.

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Viators seeking Perfection

For two millennia the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, first practiced as a discipline of life by the desert fathers, have continued to draw faithful men and women into spiritual solitude and contemplation for the end of the perfection of the soul. Endless treatises from the Life of Antony to letters of Augustine to the Dialogues of Gregory the Great and the Ecclesiastical History of St. Bede have extolled the glories of the religious life and been instrumental in leading Catholics to seek perfection through the evangelical counsels. This continues today; the Catechism speaks about the perpetual fruit borne by observance of the evangelical counsels:
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Defense of the Divine Mercy Devotion (part 2)

Last time in this series, we examined some objections to the Divine Mercy Devotion of St. Faustina presented by Fr. Peter Scott, SSPX, and found them wanting. In this article will be dealing with the objections made by Mr. (more commonly known as “Brother”) Peter Dimond, Sedevacantist. He seems to deliberately twist the facts of the Divine mercy so he can continue to add to the reasons that he hates Bl. John Paul II. That is quite a claim, but it is a claim that I intend to back up. Some of his objections are similar if not the same as those of Fr. Scott, and to those objections I will provide a link to my previous article.

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Defense of the Divine Mercy Devotion

While for many Traditionalists dismissing St. Faustina's Devotion to the Divine Mercy seems in vogue, this article by Kasey Moerbeek examines the arguments against the Divine Mercy devotion and comes to the conclusion that the devotion is not only praiseworthy and orthodox, but that it is in keeping with traditional Catholic piety and that attacks against it are based more on guilt by association, hearsay and double-standards than on an actual critical analysis of the text of the Diary itself. While mercy is emphasized by St. Faustina, it is by no means at the expense of justice, and in that vein the Divine Mercy is in keeping with the messages of Fatima and other revelations that call for penance and prayer as a condition of mercy. This article reminds us that attaining heaven is a matter of holiness and working with God's grace, not necessarily of being against anything "new."

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Seven Reasons Why the Charismatic Renewal Does Not Foster Deep Spirituality

There have been many responses to the modern crisis of faith in the Catholic Church. While Traditionalist Catholics have typically sought refuge in the traditional doctrines and liturgical practices of the Church's pre-Vatican II history, other Catholics have looked to the Charismatic Renewal as a means of restoring devotion, prayer and enthusiasm to parishes. Many bishops in particular, wary of the traditionalist movement, have adopted the Charismatic Renewal (CR) in their dioceses. I once had a chat with the former Director of Seminarians for my diocese. He told me that our bishop had a "strategy" of geographically spreading priests formed in the CR all around the diocese so that as much of the flock as possible would be exposed to charismatic Catholicism. The Director of Seminarians lauded this decision as a means to promoting genuine Catholic spirituality in the diocese...


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Mass Marketing Mysticism

A while back I came across a very excellent Op-Ed piece in the New York Times by Ross Douthat entitled "Mass Market Epiphany" on the way in which Americans have taken mysticism, which is the most interior and personal element of religious experience, and turned it into a mass market phenomenon. With clarity that is unusual in the mainstream media, this columnist states quite plainly that what currently passes for mysticism in America is no substitute for true, radical mysticism.

Perhaps I am giving this columnist too much credit for his insightfullness; after all, he is basically repeating what Luke Timothy Johnson said in "Commonweal" in a February 2010 article called "Dry Bones" on the struggle between the exoteric and esoteric religious traditions in Christianity, Islam and Judaism (here). At any rate, it was refreshing to see somebody outside of the Catholic circle make this observation.
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"Spiritual but not Religious"

No one can deny that we are in a dark time in the history of the world, and that this stems mainly and fundamentally from a loss of faith and an eclipse of the sense of God among mankind. Churches of all denominations are emptying, skepticism and atheism are rampant and for most God is something that has very little relevance to the living out of their day to day lives. Religion, at least Christianity in the West, is experiencing a massive apostasy.

Yet, paradoxically, we are living in an age that is also hyper-spiritual. New Age philosophies are more popular now than ever, and Wicca is one of America’s fastest growing “religions.” Spiritual books are consistently on the New York Times best-seller list and everywhere you go Eastern religion is gaining in prominence in society. So, while we are losing faith daily, we are as a culture adopting a more “spiritual” outlook. How do we resolve this paradox?

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On Gluttony and Lust

 The widespread dominion of the vice of lust, with all its attendant sins, is one the most serious crises facing the Catholic Church in the modern world. The extent to which the scourge of pornography has penetrated the Christian world is well documented. Whereas once upon time men needed to make a special trip to an adult bookstore in order to purchase pornographic materials, the advent of the Web has made an unlimited abyss of pornography available anywhere there is an Internet connection. In 2008, the evangelical publication Christianity Today featured the results of a study that suggested as many said 50 percent of Christian men have looked at porn recently. One Protestant pastor, skeptical of the statistic, polled his own congregation and found the result was 60% within the past year and 30% within the past 30 days.[1]

Even if we can thankfully say that we are part of the 50% who have not viewed pornography either ever or in the recent past, how much more prevalent is the sin of masturbation? Though the statistics are harder to come by here, the evidence seems to suggest that regular masturbation among Christian males across denominational lines is somewhere around 87%; some estimates place this as high as 95%.

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