Sunday, January 29, 2017

Traditional Feast of St. Francis de Sales

[Saint Francis de Sales]

Today is traditionally the feast of the great Doctor of the Church, St. Francis de Sales.  He was the Count of Sales, Bishop of Geneva, and, with St. Jane Frances de Chantal, founder of the Order of the Visitation.  He died in 1622AD.  He was canonized in 1665 by Pope Alexander VII, and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Blessed Pius IX in 1877.  His feast in the revised calendar fell on 24 January.

Indeed, here is the Apostolic Letter, Dives in misericodia Deus, of Pius IX, making him a Doctor of the Church: Blessed Pius IX, Dives in misericodia Deus, Full Text

Here is the good Bishop's entry on the Catholic Hierarchy site:
Catholic Hierarchy: Bishop St. Francois de Sales

St. Francis de Sales is rightly noted as patron saint of Catholic writers, for his works are filled with such sound spiritual advice that is both gentle and challenging.  Indeed, one could hardly recommend a better Catholic writer for those seeking to grow in virtue and love of God!

For more, note:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Francis de Sales

Catholic Saints Info: St. Francis de Sales

Here is another biography of the Saint: Lives of Saints (at EWTN): St. Francis de Sales

His master work, arguably, is the Introduction to the Devout Life.  You can find the text here:
Introduction to the Devout Life Full Text

This blogger has the privilege of being a parishioner, and of receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony, at a parish under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales, that of Mableton, Georgia, served by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) in the Archdiocese of Atlanta: St. Francis de Sales Parish Official Site

Live well!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

St. Thomas Aquinas, OP: Angelic Doctor

File:Thomas Aquinas by Fra Bartolommeo.jpg
St. Thomas Aquinas by Fra Bartolomeo (+1517AD)

On this day in 1369AD, the relics of St. Thomas Aquinas, Dominican and Doctor of the Church, were solemnly transferred, or translated, to Toulouse, by order of Pope Blessed Urban V.  The Angelic Doctor, as he is known, is the patron saint of Catholic Schools and Scholars.

St. Thomas Aquinas was born at Rocca secca, a town in Italy located between Rome and Naples, son of the Count of Aquino.  He was educated early on by the Benedictine Monks of Monte Cassino, from 1230-1239.  He would be a student at the University of Naples from 1239-1244, there coming into contact with members of the new Order of Preachers.  He would join the order in 1244, much to the dismay of his family, who wished a more exalted position in the Church for their son.  Indeed, he was detained and confined by his own family for a year, finally released in 1245AD when it became clear that his determination to be a Dominican could not be swayed.

From 1245-1248, St. Thomas would be a student of fellow Dominican St. Albert the Great at the University of Paris, and acts as both student and assistant from 1248-1252 at the University of Cologne.  St. Thomas Aquinas was ordained a priest around 1250-1251, and received his Master of Theology in 1256.

He would be a regent Master at Paris from 1256-1259, and then resident in Italy from 1259-1268.  It was during that time, in 1264, that he composed the liturgy for the new Feast of Corpus Christi.  He would return to Paris for a short time, 1268-1272, ending his career in Naples.  St. Thomas Aquinas would die on his way to the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyon, summoned by Pope Blessed Gregory X in 1274.  He died on 7 March 1274AD.

He was canonized in 1323 by Pope John XXII, and named a Doctor of the Church in 1567AD by Pope St. Pius V.

In 1923, Pope Pius XI wrote an entire encyclical letter on the subject of St. Thomas Aquinas, Studiorum Ducem, which you can find here: Pius XI: Studiorum Ducem

For more details, you might note these sites:
Thomas Aquinas: A Doctor for the Ages by Romanus Cessario, OP

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Thomas Aquinas

Catholic Saints Info: St. Thomas Aquinas

Butler's Lives of the Saints: St. Thomas Aquinas

Here is a site with information on the Church where he is buried in Toulouse: Toulouse: Church of Les Jacobins

On this day, members of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, which is under the patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas, can gain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditionsAW Confraternity Official Site

Have you read some St. Thomas Aquinas lately? The Successors of St. Peter have been rather direct in their recommendation of the Angelic Doctor. You can find the full text of his splendid Summa Theologiae here: Summa Theologiae: Full Text

Also worthy of note, especially in a world of Gentiles, is the Summa Contra Gentiles of St. Thomas, which is concerned with presenting arguments that would be comprehensible for those not Christian: Summa Contra Gentiles: Full Text

File:Saint Thomas Aquinas Diego Velázquez.jpg
St. Thomas Aquinas by Diego Velazquez (+1660)

Here are a few notable quotations on St. Thomas from recent Popes:

POPE LEO XIII – Aeterni Patris (1879)
17…With his spirit at once humble and swift, his memory ready and tenacious, his life spotless throughout, a lover of truth for its own sake, richly endowed with human and divine science, like the sun he heated the world with the warmth of his virtues and filled it with the splendor of his teaching. Philosophy has no part which he did not touch finely at once and thoroughly; on the laws of reasoning, on God and incorporeal substances, on man and other sensible things, on human actions and their principles, he reasoned in such a manner that in him there is wanting neither a full array of questions, nor an apt disposal of the various parts, nor the best method of proceeding, nor soundness of principles or strength of argument, nor clearness and elegance of style, nor a facility for explaining what is abstruse.

18.…Again, clearly distinguishing, as is fitting, reason from faith, while happily associating the one with the other, he both preserved the rights and had regard for the dignity of each; so much so, indeed, that reason, borne on the wings of Thomas to its human height, can scarcely rise higher, while faith could scarcely expect more or stronger aids from reason than those which she has already obtained through Thomas.

21.…while to these judgments of great Pontiffs on Thomas Aquinas comes the crowning testimony of Innocent VI: "His teaching above that of others, the canonical writings alone excepted, enjoys such a precision of language, an order of matters, a truth of conclusions, that those who hold to it are never found swerving from the path of truth, and he who dare assail it will always be suspected of error."

22.…But the chief and special glory of Thomas, one which he has shared with none of the Catholic Doctors, is that the Fathers of Trent made it part of the order of conclave to lay upon the altar, together with sacred Scripture and the decrees of the supreme Pontiffs, the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, whence to seek counsel, reason, and inspiration.

POPE PIUS XI – Studiorum Ducem (1923)
27. Again, if we are to avoid the errors which are the source and fountain-head of all the miseries of our time, the teaching of Aquinas must be adhered to more religiously than ever. For Thomas refutes the theories propounded by Modernists in every sphere, in philosophy, by protecting, as We have reminded you, the force and power of the human mind and by demonstrating the existence of God by the most cogent arguments

28. Accordingly, just as it was said to the Egyptians of old in time of famine: "Go to Joseph," so that they should receive a supply of corn from him to nourish their bodies, so We now say to all such as are desirous of the truth: "Go to Thomas," and ask him to give you from his ample store the food of substantial doctrine wherewith to nourish your souls unto eternal life.

POPE JOHN PAUL II – Fides et Ratio (1998)
43. A quite special place in this long development belongs to Saint Thomas, not only because of what he taught but also because of the dialogue which he undertook with the Arab and Jewish thought of his time. In an age when Christian thinkers were rediscovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, Thomas had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them.

Live well!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

The Conversion of Saint Paul-Caravaggio (c. 1600-1).jpg
The Conversion of St. Paul by Caravaggio

Today is the feast day on which we celebrate the conversion of the great persecutor of the Church, Saul, on the road to Damascus.  This, the very same Saul that witnessed, and approved, the martyrdom, of St. Stephen.

The dramatic conversion is described in the Acts of the Apostles, in the 9th chapter:
"9:1 Saul, with every breath he drew, still threatened the disciples of the Lord with massacre; and now he went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters of commendation to the synagogues at Damascus, so that he could arrest all those he found there, men and women, who belonged to the way, and bring them back to Jerusalem.[1]3 Then, on his journey, when he was nearly at Damascus, a light from heaven shone suddenly about him. 4 He fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me? 5 Who art thou, Lord? he asked. And he said, I am Jesus, whom Saul persecutes. This is a thankless task of thine, kicking against the goad. 6 And he, dazed and trembling, asked, Lord, what wilt thou have me do? 7 Then the Lord said to him, Rise up, and go into the city, and there thou shalt be told what thy work is. His companions stood in bewilderment, hearing the voice speak, but not seeing anyone.[2] 8 When he rose from the ground he could see nothing, although his eyes were open, and they had to lead him by the hand, to take him into Damascus.9 Here for three days he remained without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 There was, in Damascus, a disciple named Ananias; to him the Lord called in a vision, Ananias. Here I am, Lord, he answered. 11 And the Lord said to him, Rise up and go to the road called Straight Street; and enquire at the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus, named Saul. Even now he is at his prayers: 12 and he has had a vision of a man called Ananias coming in and laying hands on him, to cure him of blindness. 13 At this, Ananias answered, Lord, many have told me about this man, and all the hurt he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; 14 and he has come here with authority from the chief priests to imprison all those who call upon thy name. 15 But the Lord said to him, Go on thy errand; this is a man I have chosen to be the instrument for bringing my name before the heathen and their rulers, and before the people of Israel too. 16 I have yet to tell him, how much suffering he will have to undergo for my name’s sake. 17 So Ananias set out; and as soon as he came into the house he laid his hands upon him, and said, Brother Saul, I have been sent by that Lord Jesus who appeared to thee on thy way as thou camest here; thou art to recover thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 18 And with that, a kind of film fell away from his eyes, and his sight was recovered. He rose up, and was baptized; 19 and now, when he had taken food, his strength returned to him. For some days he lived with the disciples at Damascus, 20 and from the first, in the synagogues, he preached that Jesus was the Son of God. 21 All those who heard it were amazed; Why, they said, is not this the man who brought ruin on all those who invoked this name, when he was in Jerusalem; the man who came here for the very purpose of arresting such people and presenting them to the chief priests?22 But Saul was inspired with ever greater strength, and silenced the Jews who lived at Damascus by shewing them clearly that this was the Christ."
[Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 9]

From enemy of Christ and His Church, to Apostle to the Gentiles; it is hard to imagine a more dramatic account of conversion and grace!  Imagine, too, the grace, mercy, and charity required of the Christian community to accept, and even follow, one that had so lately been guilty of the blood of a martyr!

The Statue of St. Paul in the front of the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le mura, Roma, Italia.

For more on St. Paul, you might note:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Paul

Catholic Saints Info: St. Paul

May we, like St. Paul, be open to the grace of conversion!  May we also have the mercy and courage to pray for the conversion of our persecutors, and to accept them if they, like St. Paul, repent!

Live well!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ghastly Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

"Potential life" according to Justice Blackmun.  This image is from the University of Maryland Medical Center.  This "potential life" looks rather similar after being legally dismembered in the name of "choice."

On this day in 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled, 7-2, in the case Roe v. Wade, that the medical procedure of elective direct abortion was protected by the United States Constitution as part of a "Right of Privacy."  Of course, such a right, itself, is not mentioned in the Constitution or its amendments, but the Court, in the words of Justice Blackmun, was confident that it fell under the "...privacy said to be protected by the Bill of Rights or its penumbras."  This, along with the argument that "There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live' birth," gave them the confidence to determine abortion was a Constitutional right.

Here is the text of the opinion of the Court, written by Justice Blackmun: Roe v. Wade, majority opinion

Here is the text of the dissent by Justice Rehnquist, who, along with Justice White, were the two who voted against the ruling: Roe v. Wade, dissenting opinion

In essence, then, this decision, along with that of Doe v. Bolton, meant that the host of state laws protecting human life prior to birth were struck down.  As a result, some 1+ million human lives are, on average, ended each year in the United States, and without legal penalty.

Here are some CDC statistics: CDC Abortion Surveillance

In essence, however, every abortion procedure is a radical act, and results in horrific carnage.  The following site gives a summary of what procedures are done at what stages [please be advised that there are some graphic photos here of dismembered "potential life"]: Life News: Abortion Methods

Legal abortion is a peculiarity that seems to turn its back on both a reasonable understanding of biology and of morality.

Biologically, there can be little doubt at this point that, pace Justice Blackmun, human life does not begin at birth, but there is very clearly a genetically distinct and individual human life prior to that point.  Why does a "right to privacy" protect the violently stopping a human heartbeat without due process of law?

Morally speaking, an unwillingness to consider when life begins, or a callous disregard for whether or not a life has ended, is the triumph of a utilitarian, ends-justify-the-means moral code.  Regardless of the circumstances, how can we condone the intentional and direct destruction of human life, without crime, offense, or due process of law?  What reason can justify the intentional destruction of human life?

The Code of Canon Law, 1983, provides that: "Can. 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication."  [cf., Code of Canon Law, 1398 et cetera]

Saint Pope John Paul II wrote an encyclical letter in 1995AD, Evangelium Vitae, on the subject of human life which is worth reading, in full: St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae

John Paul notes, in paragraph 20, "To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin' (Jn 8:34)."

Violence against innocents in the name of choice is perhaps the greatest injustice that we witness in our nation today.  What are we doing to protect life?

In response, the Catholic Bishops of the United States of America have declared a day of penance, "In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion." [cf., USCCB Prayer and Worship Resource page]

A past March for Life in Washington, DC.  Somehow a demonstration of such size (this photo hardly does it justice) never merits much coverage in the press!

I would also give encouragement to those who are able to safely attend the annual March for Life in Washington, DC, which, although normally ignored by the press, is a show of support for the sanctity of human life that brings out tens of thousands.  March for Life official site

Finally, we must, daily, pray, sacrifice, and do what we can in our community to not only protect those yet born, but work, in charity, to help those either expecting, or raising little ones.

Live well and work that others might live!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Feast of St. Agnes, virgin-martyr

St. Agnes by Domenichino, ca. 1620.

Today is the feast of St. Agnes of Rome, a young martyr, who not only has two significant Churches dedicated to her in Rome, but whose name is in the Roman Canon.  Indeed, 28 January is also known as her "second Feast."  As the Old Catholic Encyclopedia notes: "On her feast two lambs are solemnly blessed, and from their wool are made the palliums sent by the Pope to archbishops."

St. Agnes was a young, about 13 year-old, Christian, who refused to renounce her Faith, or surrender her purity, in the face of a Roman persecution (some sources argue it was the Decian persecution, but the consensus seems to be that of Diocletian).  She was condemned to be taken to a brothel at the Circus of Domitian (now Piazza Navona) in the Campo Marzio, only to be miraculously preserved from rape.  That site was marked and became the basilica of Sant'Agnese in Agone in 1123 (this currently houses the relic of her skull).  That basilica would be magnificently renovated in the 17th century by Baroque artists including Francesco Borromini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  Despite the preservation of her purity, she would be executed by her persecutors.  Another basilica was constructed over her grave outside the walls of Rome during the time of the Emperor Constantine, this being Sant'Agnese fuori le mura.

It is worth noting that St. Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century Dominican and Doctor of the Church, had a great devotion to St. Agnes.

Here are a couple links with more about this great martyr for purity:

Golden Legend: On St. Agnes

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Agnes of Rome

Catholic Saints Info: St. Agnes of Rome

Customs associated with St. Agnes (Fisheaters)

Basilica of Sant'Agnese in Agone on Piazza Navona.

Here are links to the websites of the two Churches in Rome bear her name: Sant'Agnese in Agone on Piazza Navona, the site of her agony at the brothel, and current location of the relic of her skull: Sant'Agnese in Agone official site

The interior of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura.
["Sant'Agnese fuori le mura - interno - dal matroneo" by Parrocchia di Santa Agnese fuori le Mura - Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commonsg]

Sant'Agnese fuori le mura, where she is buried: Basilica of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura official site

Father Zuhlsdorf had a splendid post from a couple years ago on the blessing of the lambs by the Holy Father on the Feast of St Agnes: Fr. Z's Blog: Francis and the Lambs

Live well, and be pure!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Feast of St. Sebastian & Pope St. Fabian, Martyrs

Both of the great saints commemorated today turn our mind to Rome, to martyrdom, and to the Christian underground cemeteries of the catacombs!

File:Sodoma 003.jpg
Martyrdom of St. Sebastian by Il Sodoma (+1549AD)

Today is the feast of the Roman Martyr, St. Sebastian, patron saint of athletes and archers.  Tradition has it that he was a member of the Praetorian Guard under the Emperor Diocletian who was condemned to death for his Faith.  While surviving the ordeal of the archers' field, he would be clubbed to death, and this in the 280s AD.

 For more, you should note:
Catholic Saints Info: St. Sebastian

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Sebastian

Golden Legend (13th century): St. Sebastian

San Sebastiano fuori le mura, Roma, Lazio, Italia.

The burial place of St. Sebastian lies on the old Appian Way to the south of the old city of Rome.  It lies in a part of the countryside rich with catacombs, and, indeed, the Basilica of San Sebastiano fuori le mura lies above its own set of catacombs.  It was restored in the early 17th century at the behest of Scipio Cardinal Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V.  The basilica was one of the Seven Major Basilicas of Rome (the four patriarchal basilicas, along with Santa Croce, San Lorenzo, and San Sebastiano) and long a focus of pilgrimage.  It also happens to house a splendid bust of Jesus Christ by Gianlorenzo Bernini.

You can visit their site here: Catacombs of San Sebastiano Official Site

Saint Fabian1.jpg
Pope St. Fabian, Giovanni di Paolo, c. 1450.

Today, 20 January, we also commemorate Pope St. Fabian (+250AD), a victim of the Decian persecution, who also rests in the same Basilica of San Sebastiano, after having originally been buried in the Crypt of the Popes in the Catacombs of San Callisto (Catacombs of San Callisto Official Site).

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope St. Fabian

May we respond to the great witness of these Roman martyrs!

Live well!