Saturday, April 30, 2005

Twenty-five days...
until St. Philip's Day !
The Feast of Pope St. Pius V, O.P.
is today. There is information on him here.

I am far from denying that St. Pius was stern and severe, as far as a heart burning within, and melting with the fulness of divine love, could be so; and this was the reason that the Conclave was so slow in electing him. Yet such energy and vigour as his was necessary for his times. He was emphatically a soldier of Christ, in a time of insurrection and rebellion, when, in a spiritual sense, martial law was proclaimed. St. Philip, a private priest, might follow his bent in casting his net for souls, as he expressed himself, and enticing them to the truth; but the Vicar of Christ had to right and to steer the vessel when it was in rough waters, and among breakers. A Protestant historian on this point does justice to him. "When Pope," he says, "he lived in all the austerity of his monastic life, fasted with the utmost rigour and punctuality, would wear no finer garments than before, … arose at an extremely early hour in the morning, and took no siesta. If we doubted the depth of his religious earnestness, we may find a proof of it in his declaration, that the Papacy was unfavourable to his advance in piety; that it did not contribute to his salvation, and to his attainment of Paradise; and that, but for prayer, the burden had been too heavy for him. The happiness of a fervent devotion, which often moved him to tears, was granted him to the end of his life. The people were excited to enthusiasm when they saw him walking in procession, barefooted and bareheaded, with the expression of unaffected piety in his countenance, and with his long snow-white beard falling on his breast. They thought there had never been so pious a Pope. They told each other how his very look had converted heretics. Pius was kind, too, and affable; his intercourse with his old servants was of the most confidential kind. At a former period, before he was Pope, the Count della Trinità had threatened to have him thrown into a well, and he had replied, that it must be as God pleased. How beautiful was his greeting to this same Count, who was now sent as ambassador to his court! 'See,' said he, when he recognized him, 'how God preserves the innocent.' This was the only way in which he made him feel that he recollected his enmity. He had ever been most charitable and bounteous; he kept a list of the poor of Rome, whom he regularly assisted according to their station and their wants." The writer, after proceeding to condemn what he considers his severity, ends thus: "It is certain that his deportment and mode of thinking exercised an incalculable influence on his contemporaries, and on the general development of the Church of which he was the head. After so many circumstances had concurred to excite and foster a religious spirit, after so many resolutions and measures had been taken to exalt it to universal dominion, a Pope like this was needed, not only to proclaim it to the world, but also to reduce it to practice. His zeal and his example combined produced the most powerful effect."

Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., Historical Sketches, Volume I

It is also the feast of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, Priest and Founder, Blessed Marie Guyart of the Incarnation, S.U., Widow, and Blessed William Southerne, Priest and Martyr.

Friday, April 29, 2005

On April 29,1875...
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., wrote to a friend, who was being questioned by someone about the then-recent definition of papal infallibility:

As to your first question, I should say that the word "infallibility" has never been ascribed to the Church in any authoritative document till the Vatican Council—and it has been not unfrequently urged as an objection (and I think by myself in print in former days) that the Church's "infallibility" was not de fide. Yet the Church acted as infallible and was accepted as infallible from the first. What was the case with the Church was the case with the Pope. The most real expression of the doctrine is, not that he is infallible but that his decisions are "irreformabilia" and true. So that the question did not arise in the mind of Christians in any formal shape "is he infallible, and in what and how far?" for all they felt was that what he said was "the voice of the Church," "for he spoke for the Church," "the Church spoke in him," and what the Church spoke was true. And accordingly his word was (to use a common phrase) "taken for gospel," and he meant it "for gospel," he "laid down the law," and he meant to "lay down the law"—he was sure he was right, no one had any doubt he was right—he was "the proper person to speak and to settle the matter." This (with whatever accidental exceptions) was his and the Christian world's feeling in the matter—as any ordinary man now, (bigoted Protestant, if you will, acting from prejudice) says "I know I am right," so the Pope would say "I know it is so, and it is my duty to tell the flock of Christ so," without analyzing whether it was a moral certainty, or an inspiration or a formal limited infallibility, or whatever other means which was the ground of his unquestioning and his absolute peremptoriness. Honorius then or any other Pope of those times, when he chose, acted as infallible and was obeyed as infallible, without having a clear perception that his ipse dixit arose from a gift of infallibility.

But again, at least the Church acted as infallible from the first, e.g. in Councils, &c.—Now the Pope ever acted in company with the Church, sometimes before the hierarchy, sometimes after, sometimes simultaneously with, the hierarchy. He always spoke as the voice of the Church. The Vatican Council has decided that he is not only the instrumental and ministerial head or organ of the Church, not only has a power of veto, not only is a co-operating agent in de fide decisions, but that in him lies the root of the matter, that his decision, viewed separate even from the Bishops, is gospel.

Before the Vatican Council, even Gallicans allowed that the Pope was infallible, supposing the Bishops accepted his decision—and at least that Honorius would feel, supposing him led to make any ex cathedra decision, so that I deny your correspondent's words, "he could not in the 7th Century actually intend to exert that infallible authority, which has been dogmatically defined in the 19th." Yes, he could, and though he might not be clear as to the conditions of infallibility, though he might take for granted, or implicitly expect, and be sure of, the concurrence of the Bishops of the world with him as a condition of the act being infallible.

The account I have given of the Council of Ephesus in "Theodoret" in Historical Sketches is a further illustration of what I have tried to bring out here.

I might have taken a higher ground, for long before the Vatican Council, though not perhaps in the time of Honorius, Popes have realized to themselves their own infallibility, and from the first, as we see in the history of St. Victor, St. Stephen, St. Dionysius in the Ante-nicene times—they have acted as if their word was law, without making nice distinctions.

When your correspondent says "Previous to the Vatican Council no doctrines defined only by the Pope are absolutely to be received," I remark on the contrary there was such an agreement in fact between Pope and Bishops that, when he taught and was followed by the world, (as took place) it was impossible to discuss whether the Bishops concurred by an act of independent judgment or by an act of submission to him. Practically the Pope has taught dogmatically from the first, e.g. it is not at all clear that Leo's famous Tome against Eutyches is an act of infallibility; but what is clear is that it had the effect of turning a great mass of Bishops right round, as if he were infallible, and making them with him in the Council of Chalcedon use the words definitive of the two natures in One Person, which he had in his Tome forced upon them. He has been from the first (where history is minute enough for the purpose) the beginning and the end, he has had the first and last word, of every definition. You understand me, I am bringing out my view, without stopping to notice objections or opposite statements.

Well, and now I am not sure whether I have expressed myself clearly, and should like you to tell me, whether it enables you to answer your correspondent.

But any how I am tired just now, and shall reserve your second question for another letter.

When you write, tell me honestly that you are well, for till you are quite, I think you must honestly watch over your doings.
Twenty-six days...
until St. Philip's Day !
The Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, O.P., Virgin and Doctor of the Church
is today. There is information on her here.
It is also the feast of St. Hugh of Cluny, O.S.B, Abbot and St. Peter of Verona, O.P., Priest and Martyr. To all the Dominicans and Benedictines out there, blessed feast day!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

From Parochial and Plain Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman

A vine has many branches, and they are all nourished by the sap which circulates throughout. There may be dead branches, still they are upon one and the selfsame tree. Were they as numerous as the sound ones, were they a hundred times as many, they would not form a tree by themselves. Were all the branches dead, were the stock dead, then it would be a dead tree. But any how, we could never say there were two trees. Such is the Scripture account of the Church, a living body with branches, some dead, some living; as in the text by another figure: "In a great house there are vessels; some to honour, and some to dishonour." Can any account be plainer than this is? Why divide into two, when the only reason for so dividing, viz., the improbability that good and bad should be found together, is superseded, as irrelevant, by our Lord and His Apostles themselves? Very various things are said of the Church; sometimes it is spoken of as glorious and holy, sometimes as abounding in offences and sins. It is natural, perhaps, at first sight, to invent, in consequence, the hypothesis of two Churches, as the Jews have dreamed of two Messiahs; but, I say, our Saviour has implied that it is unnecessary, that these opposite descriptions of it are not really incompatible; and if so, what reason remains for doing violence to the sacred text?
Twenty-eight days...
until St. Philip's Day !
The Catholic Carnival...
is up.
Ten years ago today...
the the Donnelly Chapel of St. Philip Neri, which is the house chapel of the Pittsburgh Oratory, was dedicated.
The Feast of St. Zita, Virgin
is today. There is information on her here.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Thirty days...
until St. Philip's Day!
The Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist and Martyr
is today. There is information on him here.

The chief points of St. Mark's history are these:—first, that he was sister's-son to Barnabas, and taken with him and St. Paul on their first apostolical journey; next, that after a short time he deserted them and returned to Jerusalem; then, that after an interval, he was St. Peter's assistant at Rome, and composed his Gospel there principally from the accounts which he received from that Apostle; lastly, that he was sent by him to Alexandria, in Egypt, where he founded one of the strictest and most powerful churches of the primitive times.

The points of contrast in his history are as follows:—that first he abandoned the cause of the Gospel as soon as danger appeared; afterwards, he proved himself, not merely an ordinary Christian, but a most resolute and exact servant of God, founding and ruling that strictest Church of Alexandria.

And the instrument of this change was, as it appears the influence of St. Peter, a fit restorer of a timid and backsliding disciple.

The encouragement which we derive from these circumstances in St. Mark's history, is, that the feeblest among us may through God's grace become strong. And the warning to be drawn from it is, to distrust ourselves; and again, not to despise weak brethren, or to despair of them, but to bear their burdens and help them forward, if so be we may restore them.

Venerable John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons

It is also the feast of Blessed Robert Anderton, Priest and Martyr , and Blessed William Marsden, Priest and Martyr .

Sunday, April 24, 2005

From Meditations and Devotions
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

God All-Sufficient
Ostende nobis Patrem et sufficit nobis …
Philippe, qui videt Me, videt et Patrem.

Show us the Father, and it is enough for us …
Philip, he that seeth Me, seeth the Father also.

1. The Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son. O adorable mystery which has been from eternity! I adore Thee, O my incomprehensible Creator, before whom I am an atom, a being of yesterday or an hour ago! Go back a few years and I simply did not exist; I was not in being, and things went on without me: but Thou art from eternity; and nothing whatever for one moment could go on without Thee. And from eternity too Thou hast possessed Thy Nature; Thou hast been—this awful glorious mystery—the Son in the Father and the Father in the Son. Whether we be in existence, or whether we be not, Thou art one and the same always, the Son sufficient for the Father, the Father for the Son—and all other things, in themselves, but vanity. All things once were not, all things might not be, but it would be enough for the Father that He had begotten His co-equal consubstantial Son, and for the Son that He was embraced in the Bosom of the Eternal Father. O adorable mystery! Human reason has not conducted me to it, but I believe. I believe, because Thou hast spoken, O Lord. I joyfully accept Thy word about Thyself. Thou must know what Thou art—and who else? Not I surely, dust and ashes, except so far as Thou tellest me. I take then Thy own witness, O my Creator! and I believe firmly, I repeat after Thee, what I do not understand, because I wish to live a life of faith; and I prefer faith in Thee to trust in myself.

2. O my great God, from eternity Thou wast sufficient for Thyself! The Father was sufficient for the Son, and the Son for the Father; art Thou not then sufficient for me, a poor creature, Thou so great, I so little! I have a double all-sufficiency in the Father and the Son. I will take then St. Philip's word and say, Show us the Father, and it suffices us. It suffices us, for then are we full to overflowing, when we have Thee. O mighty God, strengthen me with Thy strength, console me with Thy everlasting peace, soothe me with the beauty of Thy countenance; enlighten me with Thy uncreated brightness; purify me with the fragrance of Thy ineffable holiness. Bathe me in Thyself, and give me to drink, as far as mortal man may ask, of the rivers of grace which flow from the Father and the Son, the grace of Thy consubstantial, co-eternal Love.

3. O my God, let me never forget this truth—that not only art Thou my Life, but my only Life! Thou art the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Thou art my Life, and the Life of all who live. All men, all I know, all I meet, all I see and hear of, live not unless they live by Thee. They live in Thee, or else they live not at all. No one can be saved out of Thee. Let me never forget this in the business of the day. O give me a true love of souls, of those souls for whom Thou didst die. Teach me to pray for their conversion, to do my part towards effecting it. However able they are, however amiable, however high and distinguished, they cannot be saved unless they have Thee. O my all-sufficient Lord, Thou only sufficest! Thy blood is sufficient for the whole world. As Thou art sufficient for me, so Thou art sufficient for the entire race of Adam. O my Lord Jesus, let Thy Cross be more than sufficient for them, let it be effectual! Let it be effectual for me more than all, lest I "have all and abound," yet bring no fruit to perfection.
If it were not Sunday...
today would be the feast of St.Fidelis of Sigmaringen, O.F.M.,Priest and Martyr , and St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier,R.G.S., Virgin and Foundress . To any Franciscans or Good Shepherd Sisters out there, blessed feast day !
Thirty-one days...
before St. Philip's Day !
Music at Noon Mass
Prelude: "Cantate Domino"- Hans Leo Hassler (1584-1612)
Processional Hymn: "Long Live the Pope !"
Offertory: "Sicut Cervus"- Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1524-1594)
Communion: "Adoro Te Devote"- Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
"Ave Verum Corpus" - William Byrd (1540-1623)
Recessional Hymn: "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus"