Category Archives: Spirituality

What is a religious vocation?

“Unless you do penance, you shall all perish likewise.”
(St. Luke 13:5)

“So likewise, every one of you who does not renounce all that he has, cannot be My disciple.”
(St. Luke 14:33)

“Because he who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (St. Luke 14:11)

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

On one occasion Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Faustina Kowalska and showed her the night sky, filled with the moon and stars. And He pointed to the full moon and said to the Saint, “You see how bright the moon is tonight, compared to the stars? Know that the glory of one soul in Heaven who was a faithful religious is like that in comparison to the glory of one soul who was a faithful layman.”

The greatness, beauty, honor, and glory of the religious vocation is a thing unheard of, unknown, and unappreciated in the world. Not only today; but in the past and until the end of time. It is unheard of in the world because the world does not speak of the religious life, except to ridicule it. It is unknown of in the world, because the world knows only pride of life, pride of the eyes and vanity of spirit. It is unappreciated in the world, because the world’s love leads to death; while a religious vocation leads straight to eternal life.

When a vocation begins to think of a religious vocation, he invariably considers that it is a difficult and narrow path. It contradicts what our nature loves, wants and is comfortable with. It contradicts what our parents, relatives, friends and worldly idols encourage us toward. It contradicts the freedom of life, the self determination of a career and the control our society encourages us to have over our life, lived here and now for the there and now. In short a religious vocation is the exact opposite of the creed of the world, the flesh and the devil.

To understand and appreciate and begin to desire a religious vocation, let us consider the four aspects of the essence of a religious vocation: its greatness, beauty, honor and glory.

The Greatness of a Religious Vocation

The greatness of the religious vocation is founded upon its essence. A religious vocation is a calling from the Triune God to devote one’s entire being and life, soul and body, heart and mind, prayer and works, to the knowledge, love and service of Him in this life, and to a special life and blessedness with Him in the world to come.

“Why did God make you?” This is the first question in the traditional Catechism, taught to children. And the answer is: “To know, love and serve God in this life, and to be blessed with Him forever in the life to come.” At Lourdes, St. Bernadette Soubirous, who was a cordbearer of St. Francis of Assisi, asked a favor of Our Lady. Our Blessed Mother replied: “I never promised to make you happy in this world, but only in the world to come.”

The idolization of technology during the last century has led to a complete here-and-now mentality in modern society. How many of our contemporaries are concerned solely and wholly with making money, getting a promotion, buying a house, raising a family, finding and enjoying new entertainments or be tourists here and there. But God did not make us for this world. God did not fashion us to be entertained in this life. God did not intend us to be satisfied here. If we are content with this life, entertained in this life, satisfied with this life, oh how sad, miserable, ignorant and wretched we truly are.

You shall die. God fixed the day before the foundation of the world. It will be for the punishment of your sins, for the punishment of the sin of Adam, if you die the friend of God; for the punishment of your own sins, if you die His enemy.

To be a religious is to consecrate oneself to the most important work in life: being the friend of God. If we become and remain His friend, His faithful servant, when we die He will grant us eternal life. This is the meaning of life; this is the mystery of life. It is that simple.

The greatness of a religious vocation is founded upon the essence of a religious vocation. A religious vocation is a calling from God to dedicate oneself entirely and purely to Himself. Since God is infinite goodness and eternal life, such a relationship is a arrow drawn and shot up into the infinity and eternity of God. As such a religious vocation is a calling to the maximum greatness a man can ever hope for and achieve: the eternal divine sonship, by the adoption of grace.

The Beauty of a Religious Vocation

The beauty of a religious vocation consists in the beauty of God. The religious vocation is an invitation and path to become immersed in the life and beauty of God. This is accomplished by our cooperation with the life of grace. Grace as you know is the participation in the life of the Most Blessed Trinity. Now God is perfect, infinite and eternal Beauty. And beauty is the harmony of order in goodness. So a religious vocation is a calling to become absorbed in God, immersed via grace into the beauty of mind, the beauty of heart and the beauty of spirit.

The beauty of mind to which a religious is called, is the immersion of our intellect in revealed truth in this life by faith and the virtues of wisdom and understanding and knowledge. The beauty of heart to which a religious is called, is the immersion of our will in the pure love of God via the virtues of charity, hope, prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice. The beauty of spirit to which a religious is called, is the exaltation of our mind and heart and body in the contemplation of God for his own sake and the dedication of our life to the works of mercy towards all.

The beauty of a religious vocation is seen so clearly in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose beauty of mind is so remarkably seen in the Magnificat, whose beauty of heart is so remarkable seen in her silent witness at the foot of the cross, and whose beauty of spirit is the sight which so many saints and holy souls have longed for and sought ought with so much prayer and fasting and good works. Indeed Our Blessed Mother is so beautiful that she has single handedly inspired the greatest of artists to the work of beauty.

The beauty of a religious vocation is seen also very clearly in the life of the Saints. How the saints inspire us to virtue, console us with their words, enlighten us with their teachings, encourage us in sorrows and urge us on to the perfection of charity. The saints are our best friends. How great an honor, if God should grant us the desire to follow in their footsteps. Thought not all Saints where religious; nearly all saints were religious, or if they were not, they lived more like religious than even some religious.

The Honor of a Religious Vocation

The honor of a religious vocation is derived from the One whom a religious serves. There is nothing greater than the service of the Most High and Blessed God, Three and One, the Eternal Lord, the Everlasting Creator, He who is all good, wholly good, without whom nothing is good.

Without God there is not honor, with God there is all honor; to serve God a little is a already a great honor, to serve Him faithfully a greater honor; but to serve Him faithfully and perfectly, that is entirely and wholly and perseveringly: this is the greatest honor, a sublime destiny and the work meriting a stupendous and amazing reward.

The honor of a religious vocation is the honor of serving a Great King, a most noble Redeemer, and a most powerful Master.

A religious is called to serve a Great King. Consider how High God is and you will being to understand the honor of a religious vocation. God is in His being beyond all angels and creatures: He is so good that all creatures by nature must desire either Himself or His works. He is so beautify that death would be the immediate result of seeing Him, so much would our soul flee the service of the body so as to grasp Him. He is so true, that to know Him as He is, is the root of immortality.

A religious is called to serve a most noble Redeemer. God the Son became a lowly man, a poor man, a crucified a rejected Messiah, so that by His poverty all of us might be rich in grace. God gave, God gives, and God will give of Himself and His riches to poor wretches sinners like ourselves. He is most generous, most giving, and most forgiving. What greater captain, general or lord is there to follow?

A religious is called to serve a most powerful Master. His faithful servants healed the sick, raised the dead, cursed to death the enemies of the Church, exorcised demons, and worked all manners of miracles. These were gifts which God gave them to manifest the even greater and truly safe spiritual gift which He gave them: the life of grace. God by His grace is Lord of heaven and earth. To serve him as a religious is to be taken up into a supernatural life, conversing with angels and saints and Our Lady, by faith.

How great then the honor of a religious vocation It is an honor to serve in the armed forces of one’s nation, to protect the safety of us all from temporal dangers. How much greater an honor to serve in the army of the God, the army of the Church Militant, to protect the Church from spiritual dangers? He who serves God faithfully in this life, will merit unimaginable riches in the life to come.

The Glory of a Religious Vocation

The glory of a religious vocation is the immense reward that lies in wait for the faithful religious. This reward is so great that if it were clearly known all the faithful would rush upon monasteries and convents in such numbers that the police would have to be called in just to control the crowds.

The glory of a religious vocation is the tremendous riches of heaven which are for all who serve God faithfully and over and above this very special graces and gifts which shall only be given to religious. Such are not even given to those saints who were not religious.

Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it even entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love him. To love God is to keep His commandments out of love for Him. But to love God perfectly is to love Him with one’s whole mind, heart, soul and strength, and this is perfectly fulfilled in the whole and entire and perfect and pure dedication of a religious soul. So then how great is the glory of the religious in the world to come? It is beyond imagining, so I would be a liar if I described it in words. I imagine it to be so truly, greatly, beautifully, wonderfully, stupendously good, that it would be stunning and truly beatifying. But I am certain that it is greater than all this. For God loves a generous giver. And the blessedness of Heaven consists essentially in God’s giving of Himself, as He is, to the soul by an ontologic contact of mind to mind, will to will, spirit to spirit. Such an embrace is truly to be wondered at. But how much more the embrace of One who has be all the more loved. Such is the blessedness of the religious in Heaven.

The Duties of a Religious Vocation

A religious has the duty to know, love and serve God. To know Him by prayer, meditation and the study of Catholic teaching and scripture in this light. To love Him by keeping the commandments and following His precepts and by works of charity for our neighbor. To serve Him by being faithful and persevering in what he has promised until death.

A religious vows poverty, obedience and chastity. Poverty, in that he forsakes personal property and shares everything with his community. Obedience, in that he forsakes his own will, and does what his superior’s legitimately ask him to do for the community or the Church. Chastity, in that he forsakes all carnal pleasure, of body or mind, and lives with the innocence of a child who is concerned with pure things, holy things, heavenly things, and not those of the earth.

Such duties encompass the entire day and year and life of a religious. A religious should consider vacations and remuneration shameful. What he does and is, is for God alone; and no recompense in the life is comparable. Indeed it is so unequal to the beauty, honor, greatness, and glory of a religious vocation that it is a lie and a deceit to compare it to a career or job. The Church will only be restored with religious who are what they are and do what they do for His sake.

The Need for Religious

There is a very great and urgent need for religious today. With the dissolution of religious life there is obviously a need for new religious and new communities. With the loss of so many priests and brothers and sisters in decades following the Second Vatican Council there is obviously a need for others to take their place. But there is also a need for good and faithful, holy and generous religious. If there has been failure in recent years and a dissolution and leaving of many of the faithful, it is only because the prayers and example and works of religious were lacking. Religious are like Moses on the mountain above the plains of battle; when they let down their arms the Church suffers loss.

“Who shall go for My sake?” says the Lord. It is the religious who says: “Here I am Lord, send me!”

Conclusion

The religious vocation is a call to be a disciple, a soldier, a knight, a servant, and a son. What calling is greater? What destiny more worthwhile?

May God grant you each such a desire; and if you do not desire this, beg Him for it, or at least beg Him to grant this desire to others.

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Satan uses lies to weaponize creatures

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

As a social phenomenon, the Corona Panic is following the same lines as the Coup d’etat of February 2013. And we can see, in each event and its consequences, how Satan used a big lie to weaponize Catholics against the Church. I think we can also look at the Second Vatican Council under the same light.

First comes the big lie, or deception. It consists in an error contrary to fact. Thus, it is not something which the theological virtue of Faith, Hope or Charity can immediately detect. It’s detection requires a strong habit of prudence, an established practice of being informed, and an acute sense of discernment, qualities which are rare by themselves and even more rare in combination.

The 3 Big Lies

The first big lie was that if the Church needs to alter Her way of doing (ministerium) to accommodate modern times, this will make more effective the execution of Her office (munus) of sanctification.

The second big lie was that a renunciation of doing (ministerium) is equivalent to a renunciation of office (munus).

The third big lie is that the Coronvirus is 34 times more lethal than the common winter flu.

Initial Reactions to the Big Lies

These three big lies took the world by storm. No one was prepared to rebut them. All assumed they were correct simply because of the unanimity in the world or Church that they were correct.

For this reason, these lies were accepted. And by being accepted as first principles of every thought which would regard those events, they because the false history, the fake news, the false premise which formed the mind of those who accepted them.

Most people can never see that they are deceived until they become totally convinced that the lie they accepted is harmful to themselves. And thus years can pass, decades even, until one day they reconsider what happened to them and reflect on the change in narrative they unwittingly accepted.

Weaponizing the deceived

Just as those who accepted Satan’s claim to be like unto God, were led into servitude to that lie and became demons of deception, so those who accept big lies are constrained by the logic of accepting them as truth, to become servants of the lie.

When you doubt the big lie, then, watch out!

Because those who accept it at truth, will now use all the zeal they had to defend truth, against you, because by accepting the lie as truth they just your questioning of the lie as an attack on truth.

In each of these three events, we can see what happened.

Catholics who said, “No, the way the Church has saved souls for 1960 years was inspired by God, it was  not an accident of history, therefore it cannot be changed without endangering souls and destroying the work of the Church to save them”, were labeled as integralists, traditionalists, dinosaurs, old-fashioned, backwards, schismatic, disobedience, stubborn, thick headed, even heretical. Not in union with the pope!

Catholics who said, “No, according to the norm of law of the Code of Canon Law of 1983, to renounce the papal office you need to renounce the munus (canon 332 §2), therefore Pope Benedict XV is still the pope”, where immediately attacked as nuts, loonies, addicted to their own judgement, stubborn, false apostles, self deceived, ugly, crazy, psychiatric, bigots, schismatics, and even heretics. Not in union with the pope!

Catholics who said, “No the statistical evidence being gathered everywhere shows that this virus is not even as lethal as the common winter flu and that therefore there is no scientific justification for the shutting down of Churches and the denial of the Sacraments to the faithful”, are now being called selfish, corona deniers, dangerous, unscientific, murderous, uncharitable, loony, mad.  Not in union with the pope!

The End game of Satan’s Big Lies is mass possession

However, when lies fail, Satan weaponizes emotions to attack his enemies. We see that in recent days with the unrelenting emotional but absurdly irrational attacks of Trad Inc. against all who doubt the Corona Hype.

Even in the last seven years, if you have yes, you can see how so many Catholics have fallen from the truth faith or from right morals because they follow Bergoglio as the pope. The effect of the downfall of the communion of saints is causing a massive deprivation of grace because the prayers of so many now are fruitless being founded upon lies.

The end game of Satan is mass possession of all the souls alive on Earth. He desires this so as to achieve in his eyes, as it were, the greatest possible mockery of God. He literally does not dive a damn about you, he only wants to weaponize you in his war against God. Saint Maximilian Kolbe warned us of this. That is why he urged everyone to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Virgin and pray the Rosary daily, but above all strive to be pure and sinless as She was, through mortification, charity and worthy confession and communion.

The deprivation of the Sacraments, then, all fits into the end game of Satan. Mass possession will soon result if the public celebration of the Sacraments is not quickly restored.

Jesus wants us to be faithful to the truth

Jesus Christ, being God Himself, Who is Truth Himself, wants and cannot not want that we be faithful to every truth. Truth is the adequation of the mind to the reality in which we live, not to conform our minds to the reality by denying other truths, but by recognizing the reality for what it is.

These three big lies have to be recognized as lies, before we can extricate ourselves and the Church and the world from all the errors and injustice which flowed, flows or will flow from them.

And this mission to oppose these 3 Big Lies is the vocation of every Catholic today who wants to get to Heaven and has the grace of God to see them for what they are. We must be apostles of truth to a dark and darkening world.

We have to love our neighbors so much, that we risk losing some of them as friends, so as to save some of them in the truth.  We have to be prepared to walk the Stations of the Cross with few or no friends and be crucified in the end, if necessary, to give witness to the truth.

But we also need to remember what Our Lord said, about not throwing pearls of truth to the swine who hate the truth.

And at the same time, we must keep in mind, that Satan is not done with his work of deception. We can expect more Big Lies, and more frequently until they become like waves, reducing the number of those saved, ultimately to such a very few, that Our Lord returns in might and power to destroy this world of liars and lovers of lies.

In the meantime, let us pray to and imitate Saint Michael the Archangel, whose own name, Michael — which means Who is like unto God? — shows us how completely he dedicated his entire being and identity to opposing the first ever Big Lie. Armed by devotion to him (see my PDF on this), let us be confident that either in this world or in the next, we shall have victory.

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How to pray — Part II

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

In the first article in this series I spoke about the material preparations for prayer. In this article, I will speak on the correct manner to say vocal prayers.

Vocal prayer, what is it?

Vocal prayer is prayer which is made through the instrumentality of words. This is the most common prayer. Indeed, most everyone thinks this is the only kind. I will explain why that is not so, in subsequent articles, but for now, let us speak about prayers which are expressed in words.

Vocal prayer can be in any language, whether you understand the language or not. If you do not understand the language, but you use those words to pray, the efficacy of your prayer depends upon your intentions and dispositions alone. Not on whether you pronounce that foreign language correctly or know what it means. It suffices to know its an approved prayer.

What makes a vocal prayer efficacious?

This was the first lesson in prayer which I had as a boy. My mom taught me how to say the Rosary, and suggested I say it every night. I said it for a whole month I think, and then one night my Mom had time to say it with me again. I found that I was saying it all wrong, and being very stupid I gave up saying the Rosary, because I thought my prayers were worthless if I did not do it perfectly and, since I realized I could not understand how to do that, I did not see the point in praying.

Years later, when speaking with my Confessor, he explained to me how wrong that reaction was. He was an old priest of the Missionary Order of the Holy Ghost Fathers, from whence came Archbishop Lebfevre. He explained that God rewards the intention. If we persevere and are humble, it does not matter even if we make mistakes out of ignorance. Because God looks first to the hearts and He rewards humility and zeal.

What does it mean, then, for a prayer to be efficacious?

Hence, it is important to understand that a prayer is efficacious in the sense that the praying of the prayer, not the prayer itself. A prayer written on paper or on your computer screen or cellphone display is simply words. But prayed it becomes a voice raised to God or the Saints.

Praying is efficacious when we pay attention to it. Just like your father it not apt to grant you any special request when you make it while engaged in watching your favorite TV program while he is trying to work at his desk, so your prayers to God require that you put yourself in the proper dispositions and present yourself to God in a manner pleasing to Himself.

I explained this in Part I, as regards Confession and being in the state of grace. But more than that is required for your prayers to be heard by God and for you to obtain the infusion of sanctifying grace and virtue, the grant of actual graces and favors, and the light to know, discern, recognize what you are and are not to do in serving God and fulfilling your duties or caring for those around you.

Pay Attention if you want God to pay attention to you

The most important requirement when you actually begin to pray is that you pay attention. This is overlooked in so many manuals of prayer, that it is astounding. God loves the humble, and humility requires that you pray in such a way as to show that you really mean what you say and you say really what you mean. And this requires attention.

It is very wrong to let vocal or oral prayer, as it is also called, become something which you chant over and over, but do not pay attention to the words, allowing your heart and mind to wander to your vain cares or worries or vain hopes.

Rather, the words you say aloud or silently must be willed by you with your whole heart and mind and spirit. You must not let their recitation be something in the background of your mind, nor something flying overhead like music, listened to, but they must be like the horse you ride and direct pulling the reins this way and that to arrive where you want.

Let me give an example, with the Our Father.

Praying the Our Father with attention, or efficaciously

Begin with the sign of the Cross, if you have not already done so.

Our Father, who art in Heaven….

The Saints urge us when we say these words, to look up to the Heavens. That is why it is so much more inspiring to do this outdoors or in a Church where Heaven is depicted high above, where our yes can focus.

But we should say the words, Our Father, with love and affection and confidence, recognizing that God as Our Father and Creator and Redeemer has truly a great desire that we speak with Him and talk to Him and ask Him for needs.

Hallowed be Thy Name.

Here, when saying these words our hearts should expand and our wills should surge in consent, that God’s Name be always held Holy and that His Dignity and Majesty be revered and respected by all.

Thy Kingdom come!

In this prayer we express our will to be loyal subjects of God’s Kingdom in Heaven and on Earth, and to see that Kingdom defended, grow and spread. We should say this prayer with much more enthusiasm than soccer fans or football fans shout out those words they usually shout urging their team to victory. It is really silly that modern man has more zeal at sporting events for their local team, that Christians have when they say these words.

Thy Will be done!

In this prayer, we submit our wills to God. We should say these words with profound humility and a spirit of sorrow for having failed to do the will of God perfectly, but with a profound penitence that we are now resolved to do that Will. And also with the desire to obtain the grace of God to do it, recognizing that without that grace we are not capable of doing it.

On earth as it is in Heaven.

With these words we should look to the Angels and Saints in Heaven and aspired to serve God as they serve Him. Nothing less. By this prayer we are to reject the imitation of any limited human examples of serving God and aspired to imitate the greatest examples which are the Saints in Heaven. We expressly reject the idolatry of earthly gurus, here.

Give us this day, our Daily Bread.

With these words, we begin the Petitions of the Our Father, that is, the requests. First we ask for all that is necessary for body and soul. Here the words daily bread refer to both, the first under the common metanym for food, bread. The second under the signification of the Most Holy Eucharist. This petition therefore is a Spiritual Communion, and while saying it we should understand that we are asking Lord Jesus Christ to enter our hearts and nourish them.

And forgive us our trespasses.

With these words we make a spiritual confession. And we should say them with a most profound humility and sorrow for our own personal sins, recognizing that they are not simply failings, mistakes, errors or deficiencies, but that they are sins, which we need to confess to God and in confession, when they are mortal.

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

Here, we should forgive all our enemies from our hearts, recognizing that if we want great mercies from God, we need to grant mercy to those around us. Catholics have fallen into the worst habit of never admitting they were wrong or asking forgiveness. This prayer should be a confession that we will now undertake such a life.

And lead us not into temptation.

Here the Greek original and the Latin mean, and put us not to the test. This is because temptatio in Latin means a test. And the good monks of Britain loved Latin so much, they kept the word in English, though not all us are well schooled enough to know its meaning. I do not fault the monks, I fault our modern Church catechetical programs for not teaching us English.

But the prayer when prayed should be a supplication, a humble request, that God avert from us His anger and that we return to His paths, because of our selves we will fail the test, since the proud man is without the grace to stand, but the humble man walks always at the Lord’s side.

But deliver us from evil.

Here the Greek and the Latin say, from the Evil one. That is from the Father of Lies, Satan. But the English expands this, because the prayer not only should be said with the intention of not falling into the power of the Devil through sin, but suffering from the punishments for sin, which are the only true evils in this world. We also pray here to be delivered from the grasp and will of wicked men. And this petition, which is last, is the one most necessary in the present times.

Amen!

This Hebrew word means, Let is be so! It is the assent to all which has been said. And we should never omit it, but say it with firm resolve.

Praying with Attention requires discipline

Praying with attention requires just as much discipline of the mind and heart as standing at attention required of a soldier when he is on parade or subject to review by his Commanding General. We should pray the Our Father with infinitely more care, without obsessing with our failures, but returning to saying the prayer. That is why Saint Francis has us his friars say this prayer 72 times daily. Because he knew that we simple minded men need to practice to get it right and to train ourselves in doing it correctly, but also because the ones we say rightly make up for the ones we say badly.

For these reasons, I included 72 Our Fathers in the Perpetual Supplica because so many of us do not know how to pray, and we need to practice doing it rightly on a daily basis.

But above all, keep in mind the great things you can obtain by prayer

It is important, obviously, to be motivated to pray. Here is a short excerpt from Saint Peter of Alcantara, a great Franciscan Saint, and spiritual director to Saint Teresa of Avila, to motivate you in praying. He is quoting the Franciscan Doctor of the Church, Saint Bonaventure:

“If you would suffer patiently the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer.  If you would gain power and strength to overcome the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer.  If you would mortify your will with all its affections and lusts, be a man of prayer.  If you would understand the cunning devices of Satan, and defend yourself against his deceits, be a man of payer.  If you would live joyfully, and with sweetness walk in the path of penitence and sorrow, be a man of prayer.  If you would drive out the troublesome gnats of vain thoughts and cares from your soul, be a man of prayer.  If you would sustain your soul with the richness of devotion, and kept it ever full of good thoughts and desires, be a man of prayer.  If you would strengthen and confirm your heart in the pilgrimage with God, be a man of prayer.  Lastly, if you would root out from your soul every vice and in their place plant the virtues, be a man of prayer, for in this is obtained the unction and grace of the Holy Spirit who teaches all things.

“And besides all this, if you would climb to the height of contemplation, and delight in the sweet embraces of the Bridegroom, exercise yourself in prayer, for this is the way by which the soul mounts up to contemplation and to the taste of heavenly things.

“You see, then, of how great virtue and power is prayer, and for proof of all that has been said (to say nothing of Holy Scripture) let this now be sufficient assurance that we have seen and heard, and see, day by day, many simple persons who have attained to all these things above mentioned and to others greater, through the exercise of prayer.”

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A Commentary on the prophecies of Bl. Emmerich – Part III

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

This series will have four installments, one for each paragraph of the prophecies given to Bl. Emmerich in 1820 regarding the crisis of the two popes

Though I have previously commented on Bl. Emmerich’s prophecies here in 2014 and here in 2015, this series regards the prophecies she received in 1820 in regard to the two popes, as cited here.

In this third and fourth installment, I will comment on the prophecies Bl. Emmerich received on the Feast of Saint Louis IX, King of France, Leader of the 7th and 8th Crusades, member of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Third Installment

August 25, 1820: “I do not know in what manner I was taken to Rome last night, but I found myself near the Church of St. Mary Major, and I saw many poor people who were greatly distressed and worried because the Pope was to be seen nowhere, and also on account of the restlessness and the alarming rumors in the city. These people did not seem to expect the church doors to open; they only wanted to pray outside. An inner urging had led them there individually. But I was in the Church and I opened the doors. They came in, surprised and frightened because the doors had opened. It seems to me that I was behind the door, and they could not see me. There was no office on in the Church, but the Sanctuary lamps were lit. The people prayed quite peacefully.“ „Then I saw an apparition of the Mother of God, and she said that the tribulation would be very great. She added that these people must pray fervently with outstretched arms, be it only long enough to say three Our Fathers. This was the way her Son prayed for them on the Cross. They must rise at twelve at night and pray in this manner; and they must keep coming to the Church. They must pray above all for the Church of Darkness to leave Rome.“

Commentary

“I do not know in what manner I was taken to Rome last night, but I found myself near the Church of St. Mary Major, –  Bl. Emmerich in her mystical experiences was transported in spirit to distant places. But what is significant here, is that she was transported at night and not into the Church, but nearby it.  In fact, after 8 PM, the Basilica is closed until 8 AM the next morning. So even the Catholics who pray every night there, must stand near the Basilica, like Bl. Emmerich

… and I saw many poor people who were greatly distressed and worried because the Pope was to be seen nowhere, and also on account of the restlessness and the alarming rumors in the city. — Pope Benedict XVI has been hidden away for 7 years. Through the writings of Antonio Socci and others, Italians already recognize by large percentages (60%) that Benedict is the true pope. But this is becoming more evident recently with the admissions by Edward Pentin and Marco Tosatti that a great number of scholars also recognize these things.  There are NOW alarming rumors in the city of Rome: CORONA VIRUS.  In fact, Catholics can no longer attend any masses or receive the Sacraments — though perhaps in private Confession and Baptism are still being offered.

These people did not seem to expect the church doors to open; they only wanted to pray outside. An inner urging had led them there individually. — This is presently the objective of all the Catholic who are coming to the Basilica. We are praying outside without any expectation of the Church opening. And none of us know one another, the others came on the 18th and 19th day of the 40 Day Novena which recently concluded. One, because he was inspired to do a search on YouTube about Saint Maria Maggiore, the Church, and found my video casts for the 40 day novena.

But I was in the Church and I opened the doors. They came in, surprised and frightened because the doors had opened. —  Here Bl. Emmerich’s position has changed. She is now in the Church, in her vision. But her words here are very comforting. In fact, every night we end our prayers, by saying:  Bl. Ann Catherine Emmerich, pray for us and pray WITH us!  The doors of the Basilica have not opened, but grace is stirring inside, because on many nights there is seen in the windows or on the Loggia some individual walking about or taking our photos. If the doors open, it will be a big surprise, as she adds: They came in, surprised and frightened because the doors had opened.

It seems to me that I was behind the door, and they could not see me. There was no office on in the Church, but the Sanctuary lamps were lit. The people prayed quite peacefully. — By office, she means that the Divine Office of the Liturgy of the Hours was not being recited by the Canons of the Basilica, as was done in ancient times: which would be the only reason to open Church doors at midnight, in 1820, as it had been for more than a thousand years.  Finally, her vision that we will be allowed to pray peacefully in the Church is a great consolation.

Fourth Installment

“She (the Holy Mother) said a great many other things that it pains me to relate: she said that if only one priest could offer the bloodless sacrifice as worthily and with the same dispositions as the Apostles, he could avert all the disasters (that are to come). To my knowledge the people in the church did not see the apparition, but they must have been stirred by something supernatural, because as soon as the Holy Virgin had said that they must pray to God with outstretched arms, they all raised their arms. These were all good and devout people, and they did not know where help and guidance should be sought. There were no traitors and no enemies among them, yet they were afraid of one another. One can judge thereby what the situation was like.“

She (the Holy Mother) said a great many other things that it pains me to relate: she said that if only one priest could offer the bloodless sacrifice as worthily and with the same dispositions as the Apostles, he could avert all the disasters (that are to come). — Here Bl. Emmerich utters very sobering words. The shock which has descended upon all Catholics in Italy, from the decision of the Bishops to suspend all public services yesterday afternoon, until April 3 (and it is feared that it will not end then) has made everyone realize that we are indeed in apocalyptic times. That worse things might happen would be no surprise. Without the Mass, the forces of darkness will prevail for their hour of darkness.  What she says about the one honest priest, I totally believe. But from my contacts among the clergy, I can affirm that they do not believe that one such priest exists among the Roman Clergy. However, the Blessed did not say he would be a diocesan priest. So let us pray that this priest comes forward.

To my knowledge the people in the church did not see the apparition, but they must have been stirred by something supernatural, because as soon as the Holy Virgin had said that they must pray to God with outstretched arms, they all raised their arms. — Every midnight, I ask those present to raise their arms and hold them raised for the space of the 77 our fathers, or about 32 minutes. It is a great consolation knowing that Our Lady has asked us here to do that.

These were all good and devout people, and they did not know where help and guidance should be sought. There were no traitors and no enemies among them, yet they were afraid of one another. One can judge thereby what the situation was like.“ — I pray to God that we are as good as the Blessed saw, but I get the impression she is referring to a crowd, here, and not just 3 to 5, as is the case every night.

Where are the crowds? That part of the prophecy is yet to  be fulfilled. See below here.

The situation in which we are living would be considered fantastic and surreal fiction only 8 years ago. No wonder the prophecies of Bl. Emmerich were ignored for 200 years. But what we can gather from this brief passage, is that the Blessed has a special role of mediation in our times, and that we should pay attention to that, pray to her and ask God for special graces to help resolve this crisis. Let us be humble as Bl. Anna Caterina was, so that we might receive them, because God resists the proud, but to the humble He gives graces!

Emmerich Appeal: Let the crowds know!

Finally, for the sake of Bl. Emmerich, I would like to invite all of Rome to the Midnight Prayers at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. But I cannot do it without running an add in a local paper, which will cost $2750 USD. If there are any of you who are true disciples of and devoted to Bl. Ann Catherine Emmerich, please consider that this is the hour in which you need to act.

One reader from the UK has just offered $280 USD, and asks me to publicly challenge 9 others to donate the other 9 tenths of this cost.

Many thanks to one Donor in Florida, another in New York, another in Northern California, another in Alabama, another in Pennsylvania, another in Nevada, another in Florida and another in Pennsylvania, and another in Germany, who have followed through with pledging each 1/10th of the expenses.

We have met the goal in just 48 hours. Thank you!

These prayers were begun on the initiative of Veri Catholici, the international association pledged to fight the St. Gallen Mafia (twitter account is @VeriCatholici), 40 days ago. In the meantime, though this Novena ends tonight, the Roman Catholics who join me every night have decided to keep thes prayers going as a Perpetual Prayer Crusade against the Church of Darkness. There are only 3 of us who presently come. I was alone for 18 days and our Lady granted 2 others to join me constantly and a third on occasion. I need your help to increase their numbers, because as Our Lady will say in the next section of the prophecy, which I will comment on, on Monday, She wants all the Catholics of Rome to come and pray.

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A Commentary on the prophecies of Bl. Emmerich – Part II

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

This series will have four installments, one for each paragraph of the prophecies given to Bl. Emmerich in 1820 regarding the crisis of the two popes

Though I have previously commented on Bl. Emmerich’s prophecies here in 2014 and here in 2015, this series regards the prophecies she received in 1820 in regard to the two popes, as cited here.

In this second installment, I will comment on the prophecies Bl. Emmerich received on the Feast of Saint Clare of Assisi, 200 years ago:

August 10, 1820: “I see the Holy Father in great anguish. He lives in a palace other than before and he admits only a limited number of friends near him. I fear that the Holy Father will suffer many more trials before he dies. I see that the false Church of Darkness is making progress, and I see the dreadful influence that it has on people. The Holy Father and the Church are verily in so great a distress that one must implore God day and night.“

“Last night I was taken to Rome where the Holy Father, immersed in his sorrows, is still hiding to elude dangerous demands (made upon him). He is very weak, and exhausted by sorrows, cares, and prayers. He can now trust but few people. This is mainly why he is hiding. But he still has with him an aged priest who has much simplicity and godliness. He is his friend, and because of his simplicity they did not think it would be worth removing him. But this man receives many graces from God. He sees and notices a great many things which he faithfully reports to the Holy Father. It was required of me to inform him, while he was praying, of the traitors, and evil-doers who were to be found among the high-ranking servants living close to him, so that he might be made aware of it.“

Let’s unpack this prophecy and consider what it may mean. No one can give certain interpretations of such thins however, except by the gift of God.

I see the Holy Father in great anguish. He lives in a palace other than before and he admits only a limited number of friends near him. — This obviously and accurately refers to Pope Benedict at the Monastery of Mater Ecclesiae. The number of persons who ask to meet with him and never get a response is uncountable. This has given rise to intense speculation that he either does not receive his mail, or is being isolated without his realization, or is imprisoned. Only those who talk about things of no importance or book which he was writing get entrance. Cardinals and Bishops are generally refused.

I see that the false Church of Darkness is making progress, and I see the dreadful influence that it has on people. — This is an accurate and succinct prophetic description of the last 7 years. How many Catholics have gone over to the dark side. The number is frightening.

The Holy Father and the Church are verily in so great a distress that one must implore God day and night. — This is indubitable. But only true Catholics are doing it. The rest want the revolution because it serves their dominant vices.

Last night I was taken to Rome where the Holy Father, immersed in his sorrows, is still hiding to elude dangerous demands (made upon him). He is very weak, and exhausted by sorrows, cares, and prayers. He can now trust but few people. This is mainly why he is hiding. — Here Bl. Anna Catherina explains the motives for the Pope acting as he does. I do not think anyone has refuted this.  The recent treachery of Ganswein his personal secretary for more than 30 years is the worst of them all.

But he still has with him an aged priest who has much simplicity and godliness. He is his friend, and because of his simplicity they did not think it would be worth removing him. But this man receives many graces from God. He sees and notices a great many things which he faithfully reports to the Holy Father. — This priest has not been positively identified. Many thought it was Ganswein, but that obviously is now proven to be incorrect. It could be his own brother, but his brother does not live with him. To my knowledge, no priest lives with him.

It was required of me to inform him, while he was praying, of the traitors, and evil-doers who were to be found among the high-ranking servants living close to him, so that he might be made aware of it.“ — Here it seems that Bl. Emmerich is prophetically indicating that she will appear or inspire this priest friend of Pope Benedict. Let us pray that this be and that this priest friend heeds the warnings received!

The situation in which we are living would be considered fantastic and surreal fiction only 8 years ago. No wonder the prophecies of Bl. Emmerich were ignored for 200 years. But what we can gather from this brief passage, is that the Blessed has a special role of mediation in our times, and that we should pay attention to that, pray to her and ask God for special graces to help resolve this crisis. Let us be humble as Bl. Anna Caterina was, so that we might receive them, because God resists the proud, but to the humble He gives graces!

Emmerich Appeal

Finally, for the sake of Bl. Emmerich, I would like to invite all of Rome to the Midnight Prayers at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. But I cannot do it without running an add in a local paper, which will cost $2750 USD. If there are any of you who are true disciples of and devoted to Bl. Ann Catherine Emmerich, please consider that this is the hour in which you need to act.

One reader from the UK has just offered $280 USD, and asks me to publicly challenge 9 others to donate the other 9 tenths of this cost. So here goes:

Emmerich Appeal

Help put an advertisement in a major Roman Newspaper to spread the knowledge of Bl. Emmerich's prophecies and invite Catholics at Rome to come to Our Lady's Basilica and pray for the liberation of the Church of Rome from the Church of Darkness. This appeal is for those who can make sacrificial commitments to join with Bl. Emmerich who as she saw in her own vision, is praying with us at the Basilica. 10 benefactors are sought. -- THIS SPECIAL Support Button is to mark your donation as exclusively for this Advertisement.

$280.00

Many thanks to one Donor in Florida, another in New York, another in Northern California, another in Alabama, another in Pennsylvania, another in Nevada, and another in Germany, who have followed through with pledging each 1/10th of the expenses. We need 2 more such zealous souls!

These prayers were begun on the initiative of Veri Catholici, the international association pledged to fight the St. Gallen Mafia (twitter account is @VeriCatholici), 40 days ago. In the meantime, though this Novena ends tonight, the Roman Catholics who join me every night have decided to keep thes prayers going as a Perpetual Prayer Crusade against the Church of Darkness. There are only 3 of us who presently come. I was alone for 18 days and our Lady granted 2 others to join me constantly and a third on occasion. I need your help to increase their numbers, because as Our Lady will say in the next section of the prophecy, which I will comment on, on Monday, She wants all the Catholics of Rome to come and pray.

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Help us take on the established Catholic Media who are controlled opposition. They are promoting schism from Pope Benedict, and remain silent at the heresies and schisms of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. We cannot let the St. Gallen Mafia win the information war, which they are presently doing through controlled media. — TO FIGHT THIS WAR we need your generous financial support. — Funds go to Ordo Militaris Inc., and are capital gifts for this Apostolate.

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A Commentary on the prophecies of Bl. Emmerich – Part I

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

This series will have four installments, one for each paragraph of the prophecies given to Bl. Emmerich in 1820 regarding the crisis of the two popes

On what would be the future date of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima 97 years later, Our Lady revealed the future of the Church to Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich:

May 13, 1820: “I saw the relationship between the two Popes. I saw how baleful would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city (of Rome). The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness. Then, the vision seemed to extend on every side. Whole Catholic communities were being oppressed, harassed, confined, and deprived of their freedom. I saw many churches close down, great miseries everywhere, wars and bloodshed. A wild and ignorant mob took to violent action. But it did not last long.“ „Once more I saw the Church of Peter was undermined by a plan evolved by the secret sect, while storms were damaging it. But I saw also that help was coming when distress had reached its peak. I saw again the Blessed Virgin ascend on the Church and spread Her mantle [over it]. I saw a Pope who was at once gentle, and very firm . . . I saw a great renewal, and the Church rose high in the sky.“

Let’s unpack this prophecy and consider what it may mean. No one can give certain interpretations of such thins however, except by the gift of God.

Two popes …. this false church. The implication is clearly that the false church is headed by one of these two popes.

I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city (of Rome).This is the constant parade of globalists and heretics which Bergoglio is inviting to the Vatican and installing in positions of power in the Roman Curia and in the Diocese of Rome.

The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness. — The clergy of Rome have indeed become indifferent to the crisis of a patently heretical heretic loving pope. The truth of the Gospel is now being actively suppresses. This great darkness is surely all these things but especially the alteration of the Our Father, in Italian, which Bergoglio intends to impose upon the Diocese this April.

Then, the vision seemed to extend on every side. Whole Catholic communities were being oppressed, harassed, confined, and deprived of their freedom. I saw many churches close down, — She is now shown in vision what will happen to the whole Church, both in the East and in the West.  The Bergoglio’s pact with China has opened a massive persecution there, Churches closed and destroyed, Catholics arrested and put under house arrest if not thrown into prison. Also many religious communities in the west suppressed by the Vatican. Finally, the Corona Virus response has been to close the Churches in many dioceses and stop all sacramental celebrations.

great miseries everywhere, wars and bloodshed. — We should expect terrible upheavals in the world soon: wars and rebellions and plagues. The Corona Virus itself can become much more leathal in just 48 hours, if God permits this to punish humanity.

A wild and ignorant mob took to violent action. But it did not last long. — Whether this refers to riots and where, is not clear. Here in Italy there is already an Italian verison of Antifa which gathers and performs violent riots to keep the universally hated left wing government in power.

Once more I saw the Church of Peter was undermined by a plan evolved by the secret sect, while storms were damaging it. — Here she calls the true Church, the Church of Peter, to signify that one of these two popes is the true successor of Saint Peter, the other is an imposter. The secret sect is clearly the St. Gallen Mafia, but one cannot exclude the Masonic Lodge or the Lavender Mafia.

But I saw also that help was coming when distress had reached its peak. I saw again the Blessed Virgin ascend on the Church and spread Her mantle [over it] — I cannot fail to note that on the facade of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Our Lady’s statue is placed at its peak.  In that Basilica is found the ancient Icon of Our Lady Salus Populi, which is said to be painted by Saint Luke, and whose title means: Salvation of the people.  Romans fly to this basilica in times of strife, war and plague to ask Her help.

I saw a Pope who was at once gentle, and very firm . . . I saw a great renewal, and the Church rose high in the sky.“ — Whether this refers to Pope Benedict, or his successor is not clear. But from it we can gather that Bergoglio is certainly not it. The image of the Church rising high in the sky, refers to the return of the splendor of the Church in holiness and conformity to God’s Will, seeking the salvation of souls and practicing chastity and celibacy which detach Her from the base desires of the earth.

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Help us take on the established Catholic Media who are controlled opposition. They are promoting schism from Pope Benedict, and remain silent at the heresies and schisms of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. We cannot let the St. Gallen Mafia win the information war, which they are presently doing through controlled media. — TO FIGHT THIS WAR we need your generous financial support. — Funds go to Ordo Militaris Inc., and are capital gifts for this Apostolate.

$10.00

 

 

 

Jesus: Lo, I am with you always!

A Meditation for Lent

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

The confidence to ask the Lord for the things which are necessary for our salvation and the salvation of others, is one of the foundations of Christian living.

This confidence is a wonderful gift, and to fan it into flames, we need to follow it with a consideration on the gentle but pressing Presence, the Lord Jesus surrounds His faithful with, who call upon His Name!

If one reads through the Old Testament, one can discover many wonderful and awe-inspiring examples of just how good God can be to those who are faithful, and just how terrible He can be to those who are unfaithful.

In regard to how wonderful and good He can be to those who are faithful, Our Lord proclaims in the New Testament and most consoling truth:

Lo! I am with you always, even unto the consummation of the age!

Which some Bibles in English render as, Behold! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world!

The thought that Our Lord is nearby and at hand, and present, is a most consoling thought and consideration.  But to understand and appreciate this great grace, we need to first put it into proper context, and understand aright, what Our Lord is referring to.

First, let us consider what Our Lord  IS NOT referring to.  We live in an age of faithlessness, of apostasy, of infidelity, of heresy, and of out right paganism and the revival of the same.

One horrible error and perverse practice which has arisen in recent decades is called the “New Age Movement”.  And one error of this movement says that anyone can spiritually connect into some greater spiritual power or presence, at will.

On account of this pagan superstition, promoted by such films as Star Wars, or by the promotion of the sale of crystals or by those who advocate going to spiritual places to be “energized” or “to get into contact” with spiritual power; there are not a few of the faithful who believe, that Christian life is not about sanctification, but about being “empowered” spiritually, and about being “spiritual”.

Worse of all, this error holds, that being “spiritual” has nothing to do with being morally upright, with the observance of the 10 commandments.

The insidiousness of these errors of the New Age Movement, requires that we consider very carefully and exactly, what our Holy Catholic Faith teaches, and distinguish the truths of Our Faith, from these detestable errors.

Yes, it is true, that being spiritual, does not require that you be moral or upright.  The proof of this is that Satan, the most evil and devious spirit, is by nature a pure spirit, and thus has a pure spirituality.  He is very a very spiritual angelic person, but he is very evil and immoral.

So, as far as we Catholics are concerned, it is evident that if the Devil is very spiritual, that being spiritual is not the measure by which a Catholic can measure his fidelity to the Lord, or his progress in God’s grace, nor his sanctification by virtue.

As human beings, we can only be so spiritual, and we cannot be perfectly spiritual, since for us humans, such a spirituality would be unnatural and thus sinful.

This is because, as humans, we are composed of 1 soul and 1 body.  We are in truth, both our soul and our body.  But both together.  That is why when our soul separates from the body, in death, we can truly say, not only that our bodies “die”, but that “we” die.

If were were perfectly spiritual, we would not be living with a body; and since having a body is part of human nature, such a perfect spirituality is not proper for men.

Now, do not misunderstand me; I am not saying that we ought not be holy, or that we ought not be spiritual in the proper sense of the term.

And to understand what I mean to say, let me first explain, another term:  “carnal”.  What is of the flesh, is carnal; but in the terminology of St. Paul the Apostle, “carnal” has the meaning of “disordered by concupiscence”, that is by that spiritual disease which entered into man by Adam’s sin.  After Adam’s sin, man’s flesh became carnal in a sense it was not before.  Before, his flesh was carnal in the sense that “carnal” means nothing more than “of flesh”.  But after his flesh became “carnal” in the sense that his flesh became subject to the disorder of concupiscence, which is called the fomes of sin.  “Fomes” in Latin, means “tinderbox”, and St. Augustine uses this term to indicate that concupiscence in our flesh, is the tinder upon which sinful movements arise in our hearts and bodies.

So we should be spiritual, in the sense that we should mortify ourselves, body and soul, against concupiscence, that is against having a carnal mind, or living according to the sinful impulses of the flesh.

But it is better to call this “the work of our sanctification” or “the pursuit of perfection,” than “spirituality,” because while it is true that Dominicans have a particular spirituality, and Franciscans, and Carmelites and Benedictines, etc., too; it is also true to say that Satan has his own spirituality; but that is not anything we want to know or imitate!

Back to the words of Our Lord:

Thus, when Our Lord makes us the wonderful promise or proclamation, that He will be with us, unto the end of time, we must first understand that this promise is not true in all times and places.  This seems a contradiction, so let me explain.

Yes, it is true, that this promise is true in all times and places; but it is also false to say that it is true in all times and places.  This is because, we, in all times and places, do not deserve to benefit from this promise; and so in all times and places we cannot PRESUME that Our Lord is with us.  For that reason, to avoid presumption, we ought not ASSUME that Our Lord is with us; we must rather work and strive to be worthy of His Presence!

When we do work and do strive to be worthy of His continual Presence, then these words of Our Lord become true.  Not because our power makes them true, or our effort, or that we merit that they be true; no! Rather, because when we are worthy of His Presence, He makes His Presence felt, as it were. And when we do not merit it, He makes Himself absent, as it were, that is, He does not intervene in our lives with graces and mercies, lights an protections, and leaves us to ourselves — which is a most horrible fate.

For this reason we must be on the alert for 2 kinds of spiritual paralysis, which makes us insensible to the Presence of Christ:  blindness and indifference.  The Catholic who is blinded by mortal sin or by habitual venial sin, knows still by faith that Our Lord is present, for example, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, but it means nothing to him personally.  Likewise, a Catholic who by habitual sin or neglect lives as if this truth means nothing, even while confessing it on his lips, suffers from a hardening of the heart, which is called “indifference.”

A wonderful example to illustrate this, is the simple and beautiful faith of Catholics of the Eritrean Rite. The Eritrean Catholics, unlike us Romans, when waiting for the church to open, do not stand with their backs to the door of the church; no, they stand with their faces to the door.  If you ask them why, they say that it is because Our Lord is present in the Church, and they are waiting for Him to open the doors of His House to them!

Likewise, if you have a living faith and ardent love for Our Lord, it is second nature for you, when passing a Catholic Church were the Sacrament is reposed, to want, as it were, to go and embrace that church, give it a hug, as it were, since it is where Our Lord is dwelling.  We do not hug the doors or corners of our Churches, but perhaps that is because we are just not fervent enough!

Second, to understand the words of Our Lord, upon which we are meditating this month, we need to understand what the word “present” means.

“Present” in English comes from “praesens” in Latin; in Latin the word means “being before” that is “in front of”, or in other words, “before the face of”.  What is present, therefore, is right in front of you, you need only open your eyes to see it.

Obviously, when we speak of the Presence of God, we are using a metaphor, because God, as God, is not present physically, that is corporally, anywhere; simply because God is a pure Spirit, and has no body which is bound by spatial dimensions or locations.

We we say God is present, we mean that He is attentive by His Power, Knowledge and Love.  Though God is in no place, He is present to every place, because He created every place, and sustains every place in being.  All places, as it were, are in the palm of His Hand, and so wherever we are, we are not far from Him, ontologically speaking, even if we are far from him, spiritually speaking, because we are in sin or blinded by sin or made indifferent in our hearts by sin.

With these distinctions made and these errors avoided, we are now prepared to consider what Our Lord DOES mean by this holy words:  Lo! I am with you always, even unto the consummation of the age!

Our Lord is not present to us, without any purpose.  It is for our salvation! not for our sense of sentimental peace or well being.  God does nothing without purpose, and if He is actively attentive by His Power, Knowledge and Love, that is by His Grace and Mercy, it is to save us, and to help us towards salvation, or to aide us to help others towards their own.

God makes His presence known to us, in a variety of ways.  Often it is by a grace which enlivens our soul, so that we make and act of love, faith, or hope, which move us toward observing His Commandments or evangelical Counsels, or the precepts of the Church, or to fulfilling some particular duty.  Nearly every time, Our Lord works this actual grace through the mediation of our guardian Angel; sometimes through the mediation of a special Angel, associated with such a work, virtue, place, or person; often through the intercession of some Saint, and always through the Mediation of Jesus and Mary, who always have at heart and on their mind, our salvation.

God is present, also, in two ways:  actively and passively.  Actively by the manifestation of His Power or grace.  “Passively” when we are in the state of grace, in the sense, that we need not do anything to have Him present, since sanctifying grace makes Him present to us, and we to Him.  “Passively”, Christ is also present in the Most Blessed Sacrament,  in the sense that He need not do anything, nor we, that He be present there, since He has already made Himself present there Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity; the Divinity by means of the Humanity.  But God is so infinitely Active, that even when He is passively present, He is active, that is working grace and mercy in us or for us.

But the secret of sanctification lies in a wonderful truth, which is taught throughout the Old Testament and which is valid and applicable to our days, now that Our Lord has Ascended to His Father on High.  This truth is not emphasized in the New Testament, because in the New Testament the Apostles and Evangelists were emphasizing the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord, and the New Covenant wrought in His Blood.

The secret of which I speak refers to a the power and efficacy of a “spiritual covenant” with the Lord.  Each and every man woman or child, who has supernatural faith, can make a covenant with the Lord, and thereby make himself present to God and God to him, not by grace, but by a certain sort of spiritual contract, whereby one commits oneself to doing good works, and thereby to meriting those actual graces which lead to God’s greater blessings.

Now the motivation to make such a covenant comes from God, because in the work of our sanctification, man does nothing first.  So what I say here, presumes those cases where the Holy Spirit is giving the grace.  And we know by God’s working in the Old Testament and New Testament, that He wants men to make these kinds of spiritual covenants.

In the Old Testament these covenants were the bread and butter, as it were, of the Jewish religion; but in the New Testament Age in which we live, they are secondary and very inferior to the Covenant wrought in Christ’s Blood; nay, they are only effective in that Blood, that is, when employed to arrive at doing Christ’s will on earth.

Each one of us can make a covenant with the Lord, which regards any good work, great or small.  The vows of religious are a type of covenant; marriage vows are another; a private vow to go on pilgrimage, to give up drinking or smoking, or some particularly grave vice, such as gossiping, each of these are spiritual covenants, when we promise God to fulfill them or do them.

According to an exaggerated fear, common to the age of Jansenism, when to save souls from the extremity of scrupulosity in which they thought everything was a sin, confessors were apt to counsel nothing under the obligation of a promise — an exaggeration which went so far as to lead some new religious communities not to take vows! — many a manual or book on the spiritual life counseled against making promises to the Lord.  This is quite unimaginable, and quite unbelievable, that anyone would counsel something so diametrically opposed to all that God has revealed! simply out of fear that some scrupulous person, out there somewhere, might fall into trouble by such a promise!

Oh, what scruples to avoid scruples!

Nay, rather, God wants us to enter into such a covenant with Him; and to show us that He is very pleased by it, we have only read of the wonderful blessings God bestowed upon the Jews of the Kingdom of Judah in the Books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Judges, to see the efficacy of this spiritual practice.

When we promise the Lord to do a good work, habitually, or give up a habitual morally bad habit, we show God respect, trust, love, honor, and give Him glory, as the God of all Justice and Holiness!  And this is, indeed, a thing very pleasing to God, the Holy Ghost, who is infinitely zealous for our progress in all holiness and virtue, for by such a progress we are conformed to Him.

In making any such covenant, we merit immediately the remission of some of the temporal punishment for sins, esp. for the sins we have promised to avoid.

Indeed, the spiritual life of sanctification, cannot go forward without such promises or covenants.  Spiritual stability for us feeble, unstable men is founded upon a chain of such promises, well made and well thought out, and faithfully kept, even if at the beginning, it is difficult or we fail.

These covenants are the stages of the life of perfection, the training in the art of spiritual warfare that the Lord wants to train us in.

For those who want a suggested formula for a general covenant of life with the Lord Jesus, here is a suggested formula:

A Covenant Prayer with the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O Sacred Heart of Jesus! Thou art the Great and Wonderful Lord, the Mighty God!  Who has descended from Heaven, to sweat and suffer and die, rejected, so that I might live and have life eternal!  Who ascended into Heaven to prepare a place for me in Thy Eternal Kingdom! Who dost stand before the Throne of Mercy of Thy Eternal Father, ever interceding for us! Hear, I beg Thee, the prayer of a most unworthy creature!

Mindful of all that Thou has done for me, and of how much I, a wretched sinner, need Thee:  I resolve this day to make this covenant with Thee:  I take Thee to be My God, and I surrender myself to be Thy servant and subject!

I will do what Thou has commanded!  I will head what Thou has counseled!  I will obey Thy Voice speaking to me through the true Pope, Benedict XVI, and the priests in communion with him, who are my sacred pastors.  I will mind the precepts of the Church, and confess my sins, especially resolving to uproot the vice of _________.  I am confident that with Thee all good things are possible, and that Thy grace is sufficient for me!  For to have Thee, is to have all, in time and eternity!

Help me, Save me, O most Merciful Heart of Jesus!  Make me be all Thine, and be always at my side, to help, protect, enlighten and guide me, this day, and to bring me safely to Thy Eternal Kingdom, in Heaven. Amen.

O Blessed Virgin, intercede for me, and obtain for me the grace to keep this covenant with your Divine Son! To be faithful to it, all my days. Amen.

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CREDITS: The Featured Image is a detail from Gebhard Fugel’s, The Ascension of Christ, which is in the public domain, the original of which is in the Catholic Parish Church of St. Johannes Baptist, Obereschach, Stadt Ravensburg, Germany.

Make this Lent the event that will change your life forever…

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

The season of Lent is something so regular in its advent that it is easy to lose the proper sense of what we should be doing differently, and why this season is so important for our lives as Catholics.

Indeed, so scheduled and habitual are the events of modern life, that it is easy to let the season of Lent go by without ever making those changes necessary in our daily schedule, without which it is impossible to gather and taste the spiritual fruits of the season.

Lent is a Season for Good Works

First, let’s enumerates many good works that can be done during Lent, which though salutary each in a different manner, do not comprise the essential act that we should be engaged in, frequently, during this season.

Thus, first, there is the lenten resolution, which, even when I was a child, was still quite commonly practiced among Catholics — a sort of Catholic version of the New Years resolution, but us much more Christian.

While, yes, it is a good thing to resolve at the start of lent, to undertake some work of charity or devotion, to sanctify this holy season.  That is not the essence of Lent.

Thus, it is a good and holy thing to resolve to go to Daily Mass, receive the Sacraments more frequently, give alms to the poor in the third world, purchase a book about spiritual things, and read some of it, or attend devotional exercises such as the Stations of the Cross, while not neglecting to keep Friday’s meatless, these things while they should never be omitted, are not precisely what Lent is about.

Preparation for Holy Week and Easter is only the Secondary purpose of Lent

Now frequently we hear that the purpose of Lent is to prepare us to celebrate worthily the Sacred Feasts of Holy Week and Easter.  This too, while true, is only a secondary purpose behind Lent.

True, Lent is a liturgical season, which originated to prepare converts to the Faith, for Baptism on Easter, in the early centuries of the Church.

But Lent, as a liturgical season, is not directed principally to preparing the individual or the local Catholic Community to celebrate liturgical ceremonies worthily.  Rather, it has a higher purpose, just as the ceremonies do not exists for themselves, but for a higher purpose.

There is a certain sort of error, which has quietly creeped into the Catholic world in the last century, which conceives Catholic life to consist essentially in liturgical celebrations.  So widespread is this error, that you find Catholic laity reading out loud the entire rite of the Mass in Latin or in the vernacular, when the priest is absent, going so far as to say the priest’s parts; while thinking that on Sundays when there is no Mass in their area, that it would be a sin or fault or imperfection to omit the similitude of the liturgical celebration, so essential they believe that is to Catholic life.

Without a doubt the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is essential to the life of every Catholic and to the entire church.  But the liturgical ritual’s enactment is not the center of life.  Its what that ceremony represents, which is the center of our life:  the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, through which, and without which, we cannot be saved and receive grace.

And hence the scope or role of the liturgical functions is not to be an end in themselves, but to be instruments and occasions for us to do those acts which are essential to Christian life:  the practice of the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity; the contemplation of God and of Heavenly things, and the consideration of the present state of our souls in the light of God.

The Primary Purpose of Lent

Lent, essentially, is for this:  to be an occasion in which we consider profoundly and anew, the state of our souls in the light of God, and in considering this, weighing the immense travesty of our sins against the dire and extreme eternal punishment, which we most certainly merited for them.

This most sober of considerations is what Lent is about.  Without that consideration and that done frequently in this holy Season, we miss the whole importance of Lent.

Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell:  these are the 4 Last Things, and these should be the objects of our frequent consideration, in Church, and out of Church.

The Saints made the consideration of the state of their soul in the light of God their habitual, daily reflection and habit of mind.  It was for this reason that the Saints did so many things which startle the mind and stir the soul of whomsoever hears or reads of them.

Essential Practices for Lent

We will soon enter into the season of Lent.  It will therefore, be very useful for us, now to consider its essential practice, ordering all the other customary practices of Lent towards this one essential thing:  our own repentance.

The mere consideration that we have sinned, is necessary, but this is not the only step we need to take.

We need to examine the causes of our sinfulness:  in which things or places are have we most sinned:  with whom, about what things, during which activities.

A wise Catholic who actually wants to save his soul, does not take likely the consideration of such things.  This is so, because he is a prudent Christian who realizes that unless he corrects a minor spiritual problem, it can easily grow into a greater one.

A humble Catholic too, realizes that, in the reconsideration of ones past sins, one can often find that one’s past confessions were much too superficial, and that in failing to remove one’s self from the occasions of those sins, that the vice which bore their deadly fruit has grown deeper still in one’s soul.

Let’s consider, therefore, the motives we should have in examining our conscience during Lent.  I do not mean “examining one’s conscience” in the perfunctory and quick manner in which we are accustomed, rightly, to do prior to receiving the Sacrament of Penance.

I mean this in the sense of the habit of meditation we should have to do this, whenever we do this, but especially throughout every day of the season of Lent.

Just as one’s house will soon be filthy as a pig-sty, if one does not regularly clean every corner of it; so the soul gathers moral filth through very tiny and unnoticed daily sins.

These grow the vices in our soul; and when these vices are strong enough they give birth to the evil fruit of mortal sin.  And since one mortal sin, unrepented of, is sufficient to lose eternal life, and merit the everlasting and unimaginably excruciating fires of Hell, the prudent Catholic will not take lightly the importance of cleaning the house of his soul.

The first difficulty in this work that we find is that venial sins, each of them, reduce quite unnoticeably the ability of our souls to recognize sin and its effects.

Thus, unless we have a strong habit of examining our soul, when it comes time to think of our sinfulness, we cannot find anything to convict ourselves of!

If this is the case, with yourself; then you have found the first thing to confess and the first thing you must investigate with prayer and meditation:  the fact that you do not recognize yourself to have sinned.

As the Psalms say, even the holiest of men sins seven times a day.  If you are not a Saint, you surely sin more than 7 times a day; if you are a Saint you will already be convinced that you sin much more than this.

However, to counter super-scrupulosity, which is the spiritual disease of those who are convinced that certain things are sins, and that they have committed these quite frequently, even though their real sins are much greater, and by this too anxious of self-accusations they omit the consideration of their vices of pride or despair in the power of God’s grace to forgive them in the Sacrament of Penance; nevertheless for the majority of us, we have not this fault, we just don’t see our sins; we do not suffer from a preoccupation of believing we have sinned when we have not; we suffer from the opposite spiritual fault, of considering we have not sinned, when we have!

One rule of thumb is, that if you do not consider you have committed any sins in the last year, you probably have the habit of committing many mortal sins:  its just that since the effect of sin is the darkening of the mind, you have been so blinded by your sins that you can’t see it.

Lent is a prosperous spiritual time to seek the cure of such a blindness.  And one must seek it, to escape from the dire punishment of Hell which would surely engulf such a blinded soul!

Practical Remedies to Cure one’s own Impenitence

There are some practical remedies to obtain this cure, which need to be mentioned, because they are never preached.

The first is that for most of us, a direct attack upon this blindness does not convince of anything.  Even a very moving sermon, has little or no effect beyond recognizing that it was such.

The actual change of heart, which is the goal of repentance evades the sinner.

A direct attack upon this spiritual insensitivity to sin does not work, because one can only recognize sin, inasmuch as one opens one’s mind to the ability to see it and fear it.

Spiritual blindness is accompanied by a lack of fear of sin; a certain habit of easily excusing major sins, as if they were light faults; and venial sins and imperfections.  There is a certain distortion of judgment in the soul, which has resulted by ignoring the immortality of sin for so long.  And it is, admittedly, a very evil consequence of sin, to free one’s self from.

And to be absolutely frank, its is very rare that a single confession will be sufficient.  Just as those with cancer are not cured by taking just one pill, but often have to endure very painful procedures and months and years of treatment; so this kind of insensitivity to sin requires a long and protracted treatment.

The key to progressing against this awful spiritual disability, is to take tiny steps towards weakening and conquering this disability.

Regaining one’s ability to see one’s own sins, is not some mysterious spiritual practice.  It begins with the recognition of one sin which our conscience still can see is a sin.  Perhaps, however, we only think it is an imperfection or venial sin; but if we consider its causes or nature or occasion, it certain, in a soul which does not consider itself to be a great sinner, that he has overlooked something which conceals the fact that he is in reality a great sinner.

I won’t speak about the fact that it is already a mortal sin of pride to consider that you are not a sinner: because such a declaration for such a soul is usually too much to understand.  Pride is a very spiritual sin, and one who has lost the sense of morality, has lost the sense of what is spiritual.

However, at the start it is always useful to consider and recognize intellectually that this is true; even if affectively and effectively we do not understand how this can be the case, because of our blindness.

How to dispose one’s self to the great Grace of Repentance

So, uprooting spiritual blindness begins with considering the one thing we can still see as a sin or imperfection.  This is the first step, because the very nature of spiritual progress is an re-capacitation of the power of the mind to consider spiritual things.  And like dominoes which when aligned properly, cause the next one to fall, when they themselves are toppled, so sins, when recognized and repented of, are the occasion to open our minds to the recognition of other sins.

In each step of the process, the recognition of one sin is the work of the conscience in its present state.  But this recognition cannot enable us to make the second step, which is repenting of the sin, because this second step is the work of prayer, devout and persistent to obtain the grace to repent of it.  And this can only be obtained by humble supplication.

All kinds of fasts, prayers, liturgies, meditations, pilgrimages, spiritual readings, alms, etc., are not going to assist your soul, if you do not use them as accompaniments to the work of earnestly begging for the grace of repentance, and disposing yourself to it by acts of self humiliation before God, in private, in the recesses of your heart and mind, wherein you declare, decide and resolve, that God is God, and that you are just a poor sinner, who in no manner deserves anything but judgment and damnation!

Humility is the key here:  how often a sinner might struggle to overcome one vice all his life, but fail to do so, simply because he never got down on his knees in private, and admitted to God and to himself that he was incapable of virtue by himself, and that he could only be virtuous and good, by the gift of God, earnestly begging Him for it on such an occasion!

This humble prayer and devout, secret supplication for grace, is the key step and the essential prerequisite for repentance, though, it can in fact be done in the secret of one’s heart, even in public places, while driving, or traveling, or even during other occupations, when the soul is properly disposed and God in His Mercy bestows the actual grace for it to occur.

During this essential step of humble recognition, a sorrow is engendered in the soul, along with a fear and realization of the danger of damnation, that the heart and mind turns vivaciously towards God and stirs it to ardently appeal for grace.

During such times it sometimes happens that this movement is responsive to grace sufficiently to receive the gift of tears, and during such a gracious movement, the dispositions of the soul can be cleansed and purged from years and years of distorted affections; leaving the heart with a new and healthy sense of sin and its gravity, and a new and healthy vivacity for things spiritual and heavenly.

The Proper Place and Role of Self-mortification

Essential to preparing the soul for such a humble recognition is the practice of mortification.

Mortification consists corporally with fasting from beverages and food, abstaining from meat and rich foods; use of cold showers, and the endurance of sensations which are painful or sacrificial.

Mortification of the body does not work, when such activities are undertaken by a spirit of self-sufficiency, a kind of presumption that without God one can work his own repentance, or that in doing such things, one proves that he is not a sinner or is some sort of spiritual giant or athlete.

Such a spirit makes such corporal mortifications sinful!

Rather such practices should be undertaken only with the motivation to humble oneself, detach oneself from such a spirit of self sufficiency, and open the door of the spiritual world to the virtue of humility.

This desire to seek spiritual enlightenment, to leave aside one’s pride, to change one’s life at its root, to gain a sense of spiritual things and to loose one’s carnal view of things, should be the motivation of spiritual mortifications, which are very helpful to dispose our souls to the grace of repentance:  such as all those customary acts of Lent, which were mentioned at the beginning of this essay, a snot being the principal purpose of Lent.

Repentance is the principal purpose of Lent, and all other things must be ordered to that.  But repentance has as its goal the reuniting of the soul with God and the resumption of the path toward perfection in the pursuit of eternal salvation. Lent thus finds it glory, not in preparing us for liturgical celebrations in time, but in being an occasion to return to the quest for eternal salvation in eternity.

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CREDITS: The Featured Image is Giovanni Bellini’s, Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, which correctly depicts the fortitude of Christ in spiritual warfare, unlike so many more recent paintings which show Him collapsing under the sight of the sufferings He as about to endure. The image is used here in accord with a GNU Free license, though the work of art is in the public domain.

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The true ‘spirit’ of Vatican II, at last, exposed

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

The average Catholic never imagined the depth of depravity and mendacity which could exist in the hearts of so many priests, Bishops and Cardinals. But at last the masquerade has ended and the perps are removing their masks.

There is much to be lamented in the Church since Feb. 28, 2013. But at last we know who has been behind the Aggiornamento, the Liturgical Renewal, and everything which is Vatican II.

As someone trained in Anthropology and who has done some translating from Latin to English, I always kept a part of my mind on neutral, presuming that there was some sort of good intention behind Vatican II: such as helping everyone understand easier the things of God. I readily recognize the problems the average person has in understanding Latin and in not being able to hear the teaching of the Church in the Liturgy in their own language on a daily basis. I wrote off the bad translations as ignorance, for the entirety of my adult life conceding only here or there, that bad will must have played a role.

But the universal acceptance and praise for Bergoglio’s advent by the Hierarchy and Clergy have finally convinced me that I was naive and overly trusting.

Bergoglio is the quintessence of everything wrong in the Church and of everything which needs to be excised from the Mystical Body of Christ. The Church has no need of fakers. There are plenty of opportunities in the secular world for men like that.

It is with Bergoglio that I finally understand why so many priests have hated me, throughout my life for simply believing the Catholic Faith. I remember my days in Minor Seminary, when I was accused of being rigid for only receiving on the tongue. I remember my days in the Monastery, when I was scoffed at for keeping the Rule. And I cannot forget the student from Steubenville University, at a ProLife March, who told me that the desire to be a saint was a sign of serious egomania.

I believe the Catholic Faith, everything in it. I have the utmost respect and reverence for the Catholic Priesthood and for the Episcopal dignity. But I do not have this by my experience. It is God’s gift, because, I can honestly say, I have never known personally a priest who inspired me to be holy, to follow Jesus, or to keep the Faith. I learned all these things from Scripture and the lives of the Saints, and the example of my parents’ simple unquestioning faith.

But with Bergoglio, its obvious to everyone, that the real reform in the Church which was necessary and which is necessary, is the Catholic priesthood. As Ann Barnhardt suggested the other day, the vineyard is so overgrown with rot, that the Church needs to start clean.

The true spirit of Vatican II is at last exposed: it is one of disbelief, hypocrisy, double-dealing, deceit, trickery, subterfuge, manipulation, pedophilia, sodomy, sacrilege, hatred of God, hatred of Our Lady, hatred of law and all honesty. It is the spirit of the clerical careerist who never had faith, of the Freemason, of the satanist and idolater.

The way to respond to Bergoglio, then, is jettisoning totally the propaganda of Vatican II. We need a Council of Trent reboot!

I say, “Council of Trent” and not “Pius XII” or “Saint Pius X”, because we need to return to the high ground of Catholicism, where the proposals come entirely from the bosom of the Faith and have nothing of the errors of modernity, modernism and marxism, and are founded on the most sober and sane doctrine of the Scholastics.  We have to get out of the idea that the Liturgy needs to be reformed or that progress is the natural course of history. And get into the idea that the clergy need to be reformed according to the image of Trent. And those who do not want to return to that Catholic norm: I think the salvation of souls requires that they be booted out of every institution in the Church, if they will not repent.

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They are not really men

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Perhaps I am old fashioned. I was raised to address everyone by their surname, and am old enough to know that it is improper to call the local priest by his first name. When I grew up men wore pants, which did not fall down as you walked along. Men grew side burns and did not use body spray or lotion.

And men were men of their word. If they made a promise they kept it.

Somewhere, however, some men became like 16 year-old conceited girls who rage at everyone else because of envy or jealousy or just egomania. I suppose that social media brings out the worst kinds of people, because if you acted the way some persons act on Social Media, but did it in the real world, you would return home with a bloody nose on a daily basis.

A real man, intellectually, is one who acts similarly. He knows the most unmanly thing to do is insult one’s opponent. You defeat yourself by insulting others. Your win the argument only by reasons which are better formulated and arranged than your opponent, and which are in conformity with reality.

But men who are not men begin with the insults. They more impotent they are the deeper their insults go. About the worst thing you could do in this regard would be by beginning to say of your opponent that he is not really married to his wife, he is only shacked up with her. The ring on his finger is just pretense.

I really do not know, therefore, how anyone can even consider such an insult as worth repeating. As a consecrated person, respect for the things of God is a grave duty. There would be no much point in praying daily if you do not respect God. To say of a consecrated person that he is a faker is about as low as you can go on the scale of insults. Its right up there will calling Jesus Christ a worker of prodigies with the help of devils.

I pity such men, for they are not really men.

I am a consecrated person of private vows who keeps the Regula Bullata of Saint Francis. I did a canonical novitiate as a religious brother in the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, and after separating from them in 1996, I have kept my vows with the tacit or explicit permission of the local Ordinary (Bishop). My current Bishop is Pope Benedict XVI, since I reside at Rome. I wrote him in 2012 and asked his permission. He granted it tacitly and thanked me for the copies of my books which I sent him.

“Brother” is the term Saint Francis uses for all who keep his Rule. It is also the common term for a consecrated person who is male, in the Franciscan tradition. You can call me anything you like and use every insult in the book, but sadly that does not prove anything I say is not the truth. It would be more manly of you to simply disagree and say, “I will try to think of a counter argument. Good day”.

I suppose it irks some men who do not give a Bleep about Jesus Christ, that I wear a tunic and sandals as He did, because the Rule of Saint Francis obliges me to do so. But what can I say of them? Religion is not in appearances. Appearances do not make you holy. So it is the most unreasonable thing to envy another person for them. Someone who wears the religious habit or the priestly habit to look holy, has serious problems. True men only wear these things because of the obligation of their state in life.

This reminds me of the problem some men have with reality and perfection. To them, there is no reality but what their superiors concede them, and there is no perfection but in doing what superiors ask of them. Visible superiors that is. I was invited once to a meeting of Liberation and Communion, here in Italy, and one man asked what I did. I said was I translating Saint Bonaventure’s Commentarium in Quatuor Libros Sententiarum from the critical edition into English. And he retorted, “Who asked you to do that?” I said, “No one.” And he said, something like, “But how can you presume to do that, if no one has commissioned you to do it?” And what I said to him, I cannot remember. But, I could have just as well said, “Since when do you need permission to read a book!” He thought that was utter presumption.

This approach riles the proponents of the Aggiornamento. To them you need their permission to believe in Jesus Christ and their permission to follow Jesus Christ and their permission to pray in any given way to Jesus Christ. The thought that somewhere someone might be practicing the Catholic faith in a way that they cannot control makes them sleepless at night. They actually think that the entire obedience of every Catholic belongs to themselves. That is why they cannot stand, even on social media, that anyone have an opinion which they do not sanction.

I find such a mentality aberrant among priests. But it is inexplicable among laymen.

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CREDITS: The Featured Image is a detail of a photo taken by Br. Bugnolo of the Statue of Don Juan of Austria, Captain of the Catholic Armada at the Battle of Lepanto, in the Piazza of Don Juan, at Messina, Sicily, the ancestral town of Br. Bugnolo’s maternal ancestors.

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How to make a valid Confession

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I could have entitled this article, How to make a good confession, but that title is so commonly used as to mean almost nothing. So in this article I want to talk about making a valid confession, on account of what that adjective means.

VALID

Valid comes from the Latin adjective, validus, which means having the strength to prevail to accomplish what was intended to be done. The word remains in some forms of speech, such as, He was a valid candidate for special forces training.

Valid therefore implies effectiveness and strength as well as real, in the sense of valuable and worth it.

A Valid Confession

In manuals of moral theology and of sacramental theology, the term, valid confession, is used to signify the reception of the Sacrament of Penance which is efficacious to obtain the forgiveness of sins. And this is generally held to occur under certain circumstances which are easily obtained: (1) confession of the sins, according to kind and number, (2) sorrow for having offended God, (3) fear of eternal damnation,  (4) resolution to sin no more and do the penance prescribed.

But Saint Alphonsus de Liguori counsels confessors that they should not so lightly judge a penitent well disposed, they should put him to the test.

And if the priest knew well the sources and causes of every vice, then he would be well prepared to put penitents to the test.

But not all priests are so familiar with all sins, because, sad to say, there is much about sins which only is known by the one committing them, even if the one committing them knows least of all the reasons not to commit them!

For that reason it is more important today, that you, the one confessing properly prepare yourself, because it will be most likely that the priest won’t know how to help you. It may even be that he does not want to help you prepare.

Sad to say, but true, the modern practice of the Sacrament of Penance is badly distorted from its Catholic foundations. Why it is not even called “Penance” any more. It is called, reconciliation, as term which implies that you have some comparable dignity to God to entreat with Him. Also the Sacrament is presented as a self-help dump-your-guilt-and-get-on-with-life ritual, which is as appealing to the normal human being as seeing a shrink: a vain form of self exhibitionism. If that is what you are seeking, do not read this Article. What I write here is for those who want to get to Heaven. Those who want to dump their guilt and get on with life in this world are in the chains of the devil and it is much better than they never receive the Sacrament in that spirit than abuse it with such a vicious mindset.

A Confession is more serious than a visit to the Hospital

But everyone should take the occasion of going to Confession as something much more serious than going to the Hospital or seeing your doctor. And you should approach the Sacrament with as much necessity and urgency as if you had a very painful toothache which drove you to see a Dentist. This is because not only of what it can do for your soul and body — save it from eternal damnation — but how powerful it can be for your eternal destiny. For some Saints one single confession set them on the path to holiness and transformed their life for ever. And this is the goal of this Sacrament, which in its own way, can be more efficacious personally to you than any other Sacrament after Baptism and Chrism (Confirmation).

Thus, all of us should go to Confession as soon as possible and with the right preparation. If we consider that if we do not get it right, our confession will merit us another mortal sin and another worse punishment in this world and in Hell, then we should prepare carefully. We should be more careful the more the priest who is hearing confessions is less experienced or foolish as to give everyone absolution. A thing which Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori says is a gross abuse, but a thing  for which Modernists bishops will severely punish any priest to attempts to deny anyone the Sacrament even when badly or not properly disposed.

The Causes of a valid Confession are the starting point

The causes of a valid confession are the starting point for a good examination of conscience, without which a good confession cannot be made. I say it is the starting point, because knowledge is not sufficient for a valid confession. You also have to be seriously  and honestly repentant.

The examination of conscience in modern times consists in giving the penitent a list of the 10 commandments written at the level of perhaps a 6th grader and asking yourself if you did anything on the list. This is atrocious malpractice.

Examining one’s conscience should rather look at the entire cause of the act, the decision to do the act and the reasons or motives which led to the act.

THE ACT

I mean by, the act, the sinful act. Many fixate on how many times they did it, but not on the gravity of consent in doing it. Was it premeditated or spontaneous, was it done with light or intense passion or emotion. Did the act harm others, was the act done in a circumstance wherein it disedified others. Usually one act is much more grave than it appears on account of whom it harms, when it was done, and the levity or gravity it was one with.

THE DECISION

Did you make it aware or unaware. Did you act under the influence outside you, or of emotions within, on the basis of faulty knowledge, mistaken judgements. It is not often, especially in modern times, that sins are made without thinking, due to the habit many have of practicing never to think of the morality of things, never to make judgements upon whether an act is evil or good. This is a grave vice, and is a sign that you are failing in faith or have lost the grace of God entirely. To live as an atheist, is to be an unbeliever. But to recognize evil as evil and good as good, is to recognize that God alone is Good and worthy of all love and obedience.

THE REASONS OR MOTIVES

If you with levity committed a mortal sin, that makes it very serious, because it shows that your entire conscience is darkened by a disdain or lack of valuation placed on things eternal, such as your own salvation, and on things divine, such as God’s Majesty and your duty to him. A mortal sin done with levity indicates, therefore, that the sinner is probably gravely failing in his duties as a Catholic.

If you committed mortal sin with great and intense passion, that makes it very serious in another way, because it indicates that your will is utterly depraved and lacks the charity for God, neighbor and yourself, to restrain violent movements. This is a strong indication that you were in mortal sin before committing the act, by reason of other sins or the same sin previously done but never repented of.

If you fell into the same sin, it indicates that you have not yet discovered the causes of your sinning in previous occasions, and most likely never resolved firmly to repent of them. Remember, it is not possible to resolve not to do something, if you as of yet do not understand why you did it. An examination of conscience has to be very graphically honest. Many fail here because they put the blame on some thing or some person or some occasion, when in truth a man sins only because his judgement is corrupted by attachments to creatures, in such wise, as he is open to the possibility of committing acts of idolatrous sacrifice — in this case of his own eternal salvation — to worship at their altars.

CONFESSION OF SINS

So a good examination of conscience must include the following:

  • Identify the kind and number of sins
  • Identify the evil loves or attachments on account of which you decided to sin
  • Identify the truths which you ignore or are ignorant of, which would have given your conscience light to say what you were about to do was evil

It is more important that you confess the kind of sin than the number, because you can always tell the confessor that the exact number of times is unknown or vaguely known. But you cannot conceal the kind of sin, though this does not mean you have to be graphic in your description.

SORROW FOR SIN

But more important than this first step, is the second: being truly sorry for your sin. This can only be achieved by a humble comparison of what you did and what you merit  for it. And in this step, do not even consider the Mercy of God, because your sin merits no mercy. And if you do not become truly sorry, you will never get the Mercy promised in the Sacrament.

  • Contemplate the eternal damnation which you merited for each mortal sin, or which you risk by each venial sin
  • Grieve in your heart and soul until you produce strong and stinging remorse for your sins, whether you cry or not. This can only be had by recognizing that sin offends a God of Infinite Majesty, and as high is His Majesty so, so profound is the punishment for rebellion against Him.

It is not nothing that the term for the proper kind of sorrow is called, contrition, from the Latin verb to crush to dust. You should strive in your Examination of conscience to crush your pride, topple your interior idols, and wring out your soul in tremendous sorrow for having done such evil, so easily, so carelessly, so quickly, so glibly. For this one needs to recognize profoundly that in truth we can do nothing meritorious, that the only thing which is really of our own making, in the moral order, is sin. That we are indeed in comparison to the Holy Angels a pile of crap, without God’s grace to transform us into holy sons of God. That of ourselves we can not repent or practice virtue without the help and grace of God.

Contrition, thus, implies the prayer of petition, humbly made, as by a beggar on death’s door, before the throne of an Infinite God of Justice who will take no excuse. Unlike the false images of mercy bandied about, you cannot obtain mercy unless you first exact justice upon yourself, in a just judgement of what you have done, and what you are worthy of.

FEAR OF DAMNATION

For this reason, contrition cannot exist or rise up in the soul without FEAR of eternal damnation. Fear of ETERNAL damnation and fear of eternal DAMNATION. All three are necessary. It has to be the sentiment and emotion of fear, the mere intellectual recognition will never produce contrition. It has to regard damnation, not just a slap on the wrist. And that means you have to already fear Hell. If you do not fear Hell, then you are probably in the state of mortal sin already, and this should be an alarm bell to your soul. And it has to regard the eternity of Hell, because the gravity of offending an infinite God is not perceived unless one recognizes the eternity of punishment for it as proportionate and just. And this means you should meditate on Hell before every Confession.

FIRM PROPOSAL TO CHANGE ONE’S LIFE

The final cause of a valid confession is that when you approach to confess you have already resolved never to sin again. If you do not have that intention DO NOT go to confession, because you will commit a mortal sin of deceit. This kind of mortal sin of deceit is very common, because so many confess to be relieved of the sense of guilt, not of the vice which produced the sin or the sin itself.

This proposal must include never to commit the sin again, to make reparation for the sin, to repair the injustice suffered by others on account of your sin or your bad example. Failing in any of these, and you probably are not really sorry for your sin, you just want to use the Sacrament to pretend you are not guilty for your sins any more.

And do not fool yourself. If you do not know why you sinned, if you do not recognize the errors which you embraced which allowed yourself to excuse yourself so as to commit the sin, if you do not know the moral law well enough to know the sins which led you to your sin, then you cannot possibly have a firm proposal.

This is the PRINCIPAL reason why one should find a holy priest to be one’s confessor, and a learned priest. The combination is very rare, but better a holy priest who is ignorant than a learned priest who is not holy. Because the latter will give you excuses, while the former will give you harder penances. It is when you are in the confessional with the priest, that you should ask for advice how to firmly propose not to sin again,  and beg him to convince you of that, otherwise do not accept Absolution, but rather tell him you are not prepared.

When we approach the Sacrament of Penance properly we obtain a miracle of grace, the forgiveness of our sins and the restoration of our souls to eternal life. If we ask Christ, in our hearts, at the time of absolution for the virtues to never sin again, especially those contrary to our sins, we can obtain these virtues back too, in proportion to our sorrow for sin and our sorrow for having offended Him who is infinite Love Itself.

The Sacrament of Penance properly received, therefore, is the greatest enemy of Satan.

Use it frequently, use it well.

A CORRECT ACT OF CONTRITION

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
And I detest all my sins, not only because by them
I have merited everlasting damnation in Hell,

But most of all because I have offended Thee,
Who are infinitely Good and worthy of all my love.

Therefore, trusting in Thy Grace, I firmly resolve to sin no more,
to avoid the near occasion of these sins
and to do penance for them. Amen.

_________

CREDITS: The Featured Image is a photo taken by Br. Bugnolo of a wooden confessional at the Basilica of the Most Holy Savior, St John Lateran, here at Rome. The inscription reads: For those confessing in Italian.

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How to Pray: Part I, preparation

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

One of the most necessary things which most Catholics do poorly or omit frequently is prayer. And if you have had the grace and occasion to read the life of a true Saint, the first thing see in them is that they were devoted to God in prayer.

Without a doubt all Catholics pray and thus know how to pray to a certain degree. But why is it that so few become great Saints? — It is because nearly all of us for nearly all our lives never learn to pray correctly or well.

Yet prayer is the essence of faith, because, if faith leads us to assent to what God has revealed, then what is faith if it is not put into action by prayer. It is not only dead, it is frozen. Yes, faith is a virtue in the intellect and which governs the will, but a faith which does not pray is like a human being who has lobotomized himself. It is simply unnatural.

A definition of prayer

Saint John Bosco, whose feast was celebrated yesterday, held that the best way to educate students is to start with the best definitions.

Prayer is defined best of all as conversation or communication with God or one of His Saints in Heaven: by Saints, I mean the Holy Angels, Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and all the holy souls who have merited to be glorified with God in Heaven.

Motives for prayer

As we can see from our mundane human life, it is hard to live without talking to someone some of the time. Even the most reclusive hermit must speak with some human beings for those necessities which he cannot procure with the work of his own hands.

And this observation helps us understand that there are fundamental reasons for prayer. We pray for what we need, or for what we see others need. Our prayer can be motivated by trials or tribulations, which shock us into realizing we are in need. Or it can be motivated by our hope for better things in the future, or by our compassion for those who are in need, especially for those in darkness, doubt, despair, want, or confusion.

A lot of motives can bring us to pray, just as a lot of motives can bring us to talk to another person.

As Our Lord explained in the Book of Job, the motivation is not so important, as the praying. Even if you motives are not perfect or even wrong, you pay God respect by speaking with Him, even more respect than theologians who speak about Him but not to Him, as Jobs friends did.

How to dispose yourself to prayer

But it behooves, us, just as when speaking to other human beings, that when we pray to God or a Saint, we are properly disposed.  Being properly disposed regards things interior and exterior and things spiritual and material. It also regards things supernatural and natural. So let’s examine these.

INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR DISPOSITIONS

Obviously you cannot pray if you are thinking of something else. This is the first interior disposition. And obviously, unless you are quite adept of mind, you cannot pray intensely if you are doing something else. This is the first exterior disposition.

Now, in the modern world, when everyone is trying to do as much as possible, it seems strange to say this. But this necessity of not doing or thinking of something else is just as necessary when talking to others. Yes, if you are watching TV you can still respond to your wife’s question about who is going to take out the garbage. But when you go to a job interview you better not watch TV on your cellphone, during the interview!

Get my point?

Yes, there are times and there should be times that we praise God and express our affection for Him and His Saints when we are doing other things. This is true and right and very good. But such expressions are the matter of praise, and are obligations of faith and charity and hope. They help us sanctify the day in all we do. But they are low grade prayer, because they do not give God the attention He deserves, which is infinitely beyond the attention we should give someone who is considering to hire us for a job. — I say low grade, not according to their essence, because to praise God is the highest and perhaps the most meritorious of all prayers, but they are low grade in the way they are offered, while doing something else.

SPIRITUAL AND MATERIAL DISPOSITIONS

Spiritually, then, we should put aside all other thoughts or imaginations, and clear the clutter of our minds. This can only be done by an act of will. But not all understand that their will has this power, because they have never done it. This ability is like the ability to clean up your own room. If you never have done it, you do not know how to start and get it done. If you do it regularly, there is not much to do and you finish quickly.

For this reason, mortification, self denial and abstinence and fasting are corporal practices which help us clear the mind, because the distractions of the mind are all tied to things which are external or imaginations of things which are external. When we break with things which we love too much, we will clear our minds of the thoughts of them. This is why spiritual and material disposition go hand in hand. In fact, the first year students in Scholastic Theology at Paris in the 13th century were confronted by the shocking truth, told by Master Peter Lombard, that it is wrong to rejoice in anything, but God. Meditate on that for a while, and it will help you clear your mind by enabling to see how all the clutter in it opposes true joy and is a warning sign of idolatry of some kind or another.

There is also the material disposition of putting yourself in a place suitable for prayer and removing things from your presence which are distracting. This rule for prayer is why the Catholic Church has built so many Churches and Chapels and Convents and Shrines.

SUPERNATURAL AND NATURAL DISPOSITIONS

Naturally, we should dispose ourselves for prayer by proper preparation, that is, by doing things which raise our mind to God and prepare us to enter into prayer, such as being silent and still, turning our eyes to Sacred Images, or even reading some Scripture or part of a life of a Saint who inspires us.

Supernaturally we dispose ourselves to prayer by the practice of Key Virtues.

FAITH in God, that He is who He has revealed Himself to be.

HOPE in God, that He will be faithful to His promises to reward those who seek Him and who call upon Him.

LOVE for God, by which we exalt God above all our other desires and make ready to sacrifice not only the time of prayer but all other things which keep us from Him.

HUMILITY before God, by recognizing we do not deserve anything but punishment for our sins.

DISDAIN AND REVULSION for sin and vice, by which we detach our soul from things which drag us down to Hell.

The Crown of all, though, is being in the State of Grace

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. This is the teaching of Saint Paul. And this means if you believe the whole and true Catholic Faith, you can have the right motivation to beg God for grace even if you are in the state of Mortal sin, where you cannot merit to obtain anything from God, even if you do pray.

We cannot merit in the state of mortal sin or outside the state of grace, because we are  not in communion with God. Our souls, in such a state, reek with sin and darkness and are revolting to God. But we can even in such a state, by faith, beg for grace and beg the Saints to pray for us. And our having true Faith will merit us to be heard if we are humble, penitent and truly wish to be saved at all costs, and persevere until we obtain the grace of repentence, even if we must seek it for years on end.

But the State of Grace is the absolute necessity for efficacious prayer for all other graces, because just as the TV will not work without electricity, so the soul which is not plugged into the Holy Spirit, as it were, by being in the state of sanctifying grace, cannot function properly in prayer.

And Thus Confession is the door to efficacious Prayer

The Saints in life obtained great things by their prayers. And yet we might ask ourselves why this is not the case with us. This is because a lot more of us are in the state of mortal sin than we realize. Even those of us who have confessed our sins: not because the Sacrament of Confession does not work, but because we never went with a truly contrite heart and with a firm resolution. And in most cases this is because the priest never explained to us the evil of our sin and how to avoid it, and the roots of our sin and how to uproot them.

For example, some weeks go, I wrote an article on purity. See here. I can tell you that in my more than 45 years of going to confession regularly, I have never met a priest who knows how to explain in what consists the sin of impurity. Nearly all are confused into thinking it consists in looking or thinking or admiration. Few of them know how to describe consent to the movement of lust, which is what the sin consists in. That means that all those who go to confession to them are most likely never freed from their vice and thus remain objectively in mortal sin.

As Saint Alphonsus says, we should never presume before a sin, that God will give us true repentance. This is especially true of the sins of impurity. They are a deeply addictive scourge from which few escape even after lives of fidelity to God in all other things. These folks may not be judged by God as guilty of remaining in the vice, because they are so ignorant and have no one to shepherd them, but God nevertheless must justly judge them as liable for the sins and vice and must, therefore, withhold His graces in prayer.

This is why Confession and confessing well, scrubbing the soul down to our deepest desires and affections and hating and detesting with all the force of our minds and hearts the movements of our soul and body which led us to sin, is absolutely essential preparation for prayer. And this is why Saint Theresa of Avila says the first part of the spiritual life is learning to break from sin and mortify our evil passions. Only once we do that, are we, as it were plugged into God and can benefit by prayer in something more than the grace to repent. Until that time, we should beg God for the grace to be truly sorry for our sins and examine our consciences with no self respect until, in tears and groanings, we lament our wickedness and realize not only that without God we are nothing and merit the everlasting damnation of Hell fire, but that the very evil movements of our soul, which we have long permitted, are our eternal enemies and the works which we must entirely and forever reject.

In this regard, alas, most priests have been poorly trained. If you start to cry in confession or express doubt that you are truly sorry, they attempt to convince you that you are overdoing it or taking religion too seriously or are unstable or upset or scrupulous. The pitiable penances given after Vatican II show that the clergy have not received the proper formation to save souls. They think they are there to assuage consciences.

There is so much evil in the world today, that I do not think there is anyone actually scrupulous too much about how sorry he should be for his sins. Most saints wept their entire life for the few sins of their youth, and yet we, after a confession prance out of the Confessional as if we were sinless. That is totally wrong.

The Church in ancient times had a practice which was saner, in my opinion. The priests first imposed a penance, which lasted months or years, and only after faithfully completing it, did you receive absolution and were readmitted to communion. Many a Saint is a saint, because having realized the enormity of his sins, he became a monk or religious so as to do a life time of penance for the horrors he committed in his youth.

The obsession of so many clergy today to have married men ordained or ordained men allowed to marry, is a clear sign that many even in the clergy, have never made a good confession. For a contrite man fears the occasions of sin. And if God Incarnate Who could not sin and Whose human Flesh had no inclination to sin, never married, how much more ought we sinful men avoid the occasions of impurity, especially if we are called to the sublime service of God! — And do not quote the practice of the Eastern Rites. Married clergy was allowed in Council to keep priests from fornicating, not to make them holier priests!

So if you want to pray well, prepare well for prayer. Prayer is the only thing the Saints do in Heaven, it is literally our eternal destiny. Dedication to humble prayer is a sign of predestination. Preparation for praying well is preparation for Heaven.

Therefore, be humble, prepare and pray!

_________

CREDITS: The Featured Image is a faithful reproduction of Duccio di Buoninsegna’s, Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and is in the public domain. Our Lord’s prayer in the Garden is a model for the prayers of sinners who need to break with sin, choosing repentance at the cost of all sacrifice rather than eternal death, as well as the proper dispositions we should have when we seek God’s favors for ourselves or for others in prayer.

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Our Lady requested prayers at Midnight, Rome time

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Bl. Catherine Emmerich was given to know much about the future of the Catholic Church, nearly 200 years ago. She was given to see the time of two popes, and how one would lead the Church into apostasy, the other would be isolated and paralyzed by inaction.

As a remedy, Our Lady revealed to her that Catholics should join together to pray a special prayer at Midnight, Rome Time.  It is presently midnight here at Rome, so please read these prophecies of Bl. Emmerich, approved by the Church, and say the prayers Our Lady asked for. (Sources: here and here)

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May 13, 1820: “I saw the relationship between the two Popes. I saw how baleful would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city (of Rome). The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness. Then, the vision seemed to extend on every side. Whole Catholic communities were being oppressed, harassed, confined, and deprived of their freedom. I saw many churches close down, great miseries everywhere, wars and bloodshed. A wild and ignorant mob took to violent action. But it did not last long.“ „Once more I saw the Church of Peter was undermined by a plan evolved by the secret sect, while storms were damaging it. But I saw also that help was coming when distress had reached its peak. I saw again the Blessed Virgin ascend on the Church and spread Her mantle [over it]. I saw a Pope who was at once gentle, and very firm . . . I saw a great renewal, and the Church rose high in the sky.“

August 10, 1822: “I see the Holy Father in great anguish. He lives in a palace other than before and he admits only a limited number of friends near him. I fear that the Holy Father will suffer many more trials before he dies. I see that the false Church of Darkness is making progress, and I see the dreadful influence that it has on people. The Holy Father and the Church are verily in so great a distress that one must implore God day and night.“ „Last night I was taken to Rome where the Holy Father, immersed in his sorrows, is still hiding to elude dangerous demands (made upon him). He is very weak, and exhausted by sorrows, cares, and prayers. He can now trust but few people. This is mainly why he is hiding. But he still has with him an aged priest who has much simplicity and godliness. He is his friend, and because of his simplicity they did not think it would be worth removing him. But this man receives many graces from God. He sees and notices a great many things which he faithfully reports to the Holy Father. It was required of me to inform him, while he was praying, of the traitors, and evil-doers who were to be found among the high-ranking servants living close to him, so that he might be made aware of it.“

August 25, 1822:I do not know in what manner I was taken to Rome last night, but I found myself near the Church of St. Mary Major, and I saw many poor people who were greatly distressed and worried because the Pope was to be seen nowhere, and also on account of the restlessness and the alarming rumors in the city. These people did not seem to expect the church doors to open; they only wanted to pray outside. An inner urging had led them there individually. But I was in the Church and I opened the doors. They came in, surprised and frightened because the doors had opened. It seems to me that I was behind the door, and they could not see me. There was no office on in the Church, but the Sanctuary lamps were lit. The people prayed quite peacefully.“ „Then I saw an apparition of the Mother of God, and she said that the tribulation would be very great. She added that these people must pray fervently with outstretched arms, be it only long enough to say three Our Fathers. This was the way her Son prayed for them on the Cross. They must rise at twelve at night and pray in this manner; and they must keep coming to the Church. They must pray above all for the Church of Darkness to leave Rome.“

“She (the Holy Mother) said a great many other things that it pains me to relate: she said that if only one priest could offer the bloodless sacrifice as worthily and with the same dispositions as the Apostles, he could avert all the disasters (that are to come). To my knowledge the people in the church did not see the apparition, but they must have been stirred by something supernatural, because as soon as the Holy Virgin had said that they must pray to God with outstretched arms, they all raised their arms. These were all good and devout people, and they did not know where help and guidance should be sought. There were no traitors and no enemies among them, yet they were afraid of one another. One can judge thereby what the situation was like.“

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CREDITS: The featured image is of the Statue of Our Lady of Peace, in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. The source of the English translation of the writings of Bl. Emmerich is not known.

 

Marks of the Beast: Solidarity in Dissent

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I have previously written an extensive description of how the horrible sin of pride is the hallmark of wicked men in the Church since the time of Vatican II, in my article on The Downfall of Luciferian Pride.

Today, I want to focus on one of the outstanding characteristics of the unfaithful who are members of the Church of the Antichrist, though they may not realize it or admit it. I want to do this because it is very easy to fall into the camp of Lucifer without realizing it, because, as I said in the previous article, the vice and sins of pride, being the most evil, are the hardest to discern and recognize, because they are full of the deprivation of the being that should be in an act of virtue. And that makes them spiritually invisible, except to the very humble who desire to glory solely in the Divine Majesty of God.

Ann Barnhardt’s Righteous Indignation

I am continually impressed by the righteous indignation of many devout Catholics on social media. Righteous indignation is the sense of disgust and anger which rises in the heart of someone who loves God and puts God first, and this kind of indignation is expressed solely because the rights of God are being transgressed.

As you may know, in recent years, months and weeks certain clergy, religious and laymen, who insist Bergoglio is the pope, because they refuse to doubt for a moment that Cardinals and Bishops are infallible, have begun to fault Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His promises to Peter, the teaching of Vatican I on Papal Authority and Infallibility, and the credulity of the Saints in regard to the Roman Pontiff’s authority and magisterium.

A recent example is the declaration of the Hermits of Westray, Scotland. Who know well what the arguments for Benedict still being the pope are, but refuse to harken to them, because they prefer to deny the indefectibility of the Catholic Church or the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff which they cannot reconcile with their more cherished “belief” that Bergoglio is the Pope.

One of the more shocking and sustained attacks came recently from Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, in his blog post entitled, How Francis may be vindicating the “inopportunists” of the First Vatican Council, published by Lifesite News, run by the Campaign for Life Coalition, a political organization out of Toronto, Canada, whose editor is a Mr. John-Henry Westen, co-founder of Lifesite and of the Voice of the Family Coalition, one of the leading “Bergoglio is certainly the pope” politicians-journalists.

Ann Barnhardt rightly unloaded a cartload of righteous indignation on Dr. Kwasniewski’s attempt to undermine the infallible teaching of Vatican I, in her recent post, entitled, Hey! Here’s a wacky idea. Instead of assuming that God is incompetent and Vatican I and the declaration of the infallible dogma of Papal Infallibility was all a big mistake…

I will quote the key passage, which I want to focus on, as a preamble to a discussion of the Marks of the Beast.  Ann Barnhardt, addressing the problem many Catholics are having, from Cardinal Burke down to the last man in the pew, to understand how a man like Bergoglio could be the pope, says decisively:

Maybe if people would attack this controversy from the base assumption that GOD ALMIGHTY is THE PERFECT ONE as manifested in His Spotless and Indefectible Bride the Church, in His Angels, and in His Saints, and that THEY THEMSELVES are deeply fallible and so very capable of error, INSTEAD OF THE EXACT OPPOSITE,  there might be a bit more clarity of thought round about.

(Bold Face in the original)

What Ann Barnhardt is addressing is PRIDE. And a particularly diabolic kind of pride, which holds that the unholy fallible trinity of “I, me, and myself,” knows better than the Holy Infallible Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

No use talking about modern errors, if you embrace them without so much as a wink of the eye

What is so ironic about her observation is that it is valid against a good number of popular writers and speakers and YouTube personalities, who either ascribe to or have been leading members of the so-called “Traditional Movement” in the Catholic Church since the time of the Second Vatican Council. A group which has made it a point and raison d’entre to fault the errors of modernity.

These errors consist in Modernism, Neo-Modernism, Relativism, Individualism, Secularism, Humanism, Marxism, Socialism, Communism, Liberalism, Progressivism, Hedonism…  Have I left any out? Probably.

However, when it comes to the controversy of how a man like Bergoglio can be thought to be the Vicar of Christ and act more heretical than any lay leader of one of the main line Protestant “churches”, then their opposition to certain modern errors is cast to the wind and instead some of these errors are readily embraced.

First of which is Modernism, which holds that that which validates religious belief is interior religious sentiments, not objective revelation. For the Modernist, Papal Infallibility is not a gift from God, but the habit of mind of believers to take whatever a Pope says or does and regard it as a religious doctrine. For that reason, there is nothing wrong in criticizing Catholics throughout history who had this sentiment.

Second of which is Neo-Modernism, which holds that there is no unchanging eternal truth revealed by God, but that religious truth consists in conformity of the mind to modern life. Neo-Modernists think that the Church is dead unless She is in the process of continual aggiornamento, that clergy are not properly formed unless they are undertaking continuous formation, etc. etc. For them no event can be condemned by religious doctrine because events themselves are the goal posts of truth and the sacred. They worship history, but not as something that once was, but which is always changing. Hence, papal infallibility must also now be reconsidered and redefined in light of Bergoglio’s way of acting.

The Third of which is Relativism, which holds that there are no absolute moral truths implicit in human nature or in an eternal unchanging law. Truth is found in the right relation of things and actions in the here and now. And right, here, means what is suitable to me. Relativism in turn gives birth or opens the door to Hedonism and Individualism, the definitions of which are well known. Hence, what papal infallibility should mean today is not limited to what it meant before. And what I think it should mean is more important than what any Saint, Doctor of the Church, or previous Pope said it meant, because what is most important is that I have a pleasant experience of Catholicism.

Bergoglio is certainly the Pope, because …

Many Catholics unwittingly have adopted the errors which I just mentioned in a very imprudent attempt to rationally explain why they hold the position that Bergoglio is certainly the pope.

None actually confront the historical facts, which are as follows:

  1. Pope Benedict, as the man who is the pope, renounced the ministerium in his declaration of Feb. 11, 2013.
  2. Canon 332 §2 says a Roman Pontiff renounces when he renounces the munus.
  3. Canon 17 says that Canon 332 § must be read in accord with the Code of Canon Law’s usage of terms, canonical tradition, and the mind of its legislator, Pope John Paul II.
  4. Benedict behavior after Feb. 28, 2013, shows that he retains the papal dignity in all respects.
  5. The idea that Benedict’s renunciation of ministerium means a renunciation of the papacy comes from a tweet by Giovanna Chirri, an ANSA reporter, minutes following the Consistory of Feb. 11, 2013.
  6. No meeting of canonists was called to examine the act of the Renunciation to determine if it was valid or not.
  7. The Vatican has never officially claimed that the renunciation was valid.
  8. The Cardinals have never claimed that they did anything to verify that the See was Vacant before meeting in the Conclave of 2013 to elect Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
  9. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a public manifest and pertinacious heretic, idolater and fomenter of schisms, who by divine right cannot be a member of the Catholic Church, let alone hold any office in Her.
  10. The Church has NEVER taught that the Cardinals or Bishops or even all the clergy are infallible in matters of canonical interpretations or knowledge of historical facts.

Instead, these “Bergoglio is certainly the pope” Catholics take another route.  They hold that the solidarity of opinion of the vast majority, who say Bergoglio is the pope, is more authoritative than:

  1. God who is infallible by nature.
  2. Christ Jesus who created the office of Saint Peter and promised it infallibility.
  3. Christ Jesus’ Prayer for the person of the Pope that his faith may NEVER fail.
  4. The First Vatican Council in its decree, Pastor Aeternus.
  5. The Code of Canon Law of 1983 promulgated by the Vicar of Jesus Christ, Pope John Paul II.
  6. The words of Pope Benedict himself during and after the Renunciation of Feb. 11, 2013.

Solidarity in Dissent, is a Mark of the Diabolic

The essence of pride, the vice, is dissent. This is because pride as the worst of all vices is directed more principally against the truth and against knowing the truth, than all other vices.  Pride is a spiritual vice and since the intellect is the most spiritual of all the powers of the soul, pride takes root first of all in it.

We can see this in Scripture, where, from the name of Saint Michael, who according to Saint John the Apostle, in his Book of the Apocalypse, was the first Holy Angel to act out of holy indignation and take up arms to fight against Lucifer and his angels, that the sin of Lucifer was pride.  For Saint Michael’s name means, Who is like unto God? A name, which, according to the Fathers of the Church, he merited for repelling the evil suggestions of Lucifer who suborned and seduced a third of the Angels of God with a sin of pride.  Lucifer then was probably saying something like, Worship me, because I am like unto God!

But this is also the sin of all prideful men.  When you by any act of mind or will or body or soul do something which presupposes any affirmation that you have the merit, right, worthiness, power, protection, etc.. that only God has by Nature, then you are committing a sin of pride. This is so, because you are acting as if you were like unto God in such a way as to fail to distinguish that you are much more unlike God than like Him, and that you fail in being like Him in 3 principle characteristics:  You are not omniscent, You are not omnipotent, You are not infallible.

Omniscent means all knowing. Omnipotent means able to do all things by your own power or ability. Infallible means able not to err.  I could add impeccable, which means unable to sin, but since a proud man is already entirely oblivious to his ability to sin, I will omit that here.

It follows, then, that since Lucifer seduced the Angels of God by pride, and that those who fell with him and were cast out of Heaven by the Divine Power and Saint Michael and his Angels, that one of the marks of the diabolic community is their solidarity in pride. And that means solidarity in the misuse of their intellects in dissenting from the truth.

Dissent, which merely means disagreement, can be good or evil. But when it disagrees with objective reality or revealed truth or even a truth which we know is true on account of other truths, natural or revealed, then it is evil, a mortal sin. This is the dissent of which I speak in this article.

Our Lord points this out for our observation, when He calls Lucifer a liar and a murderer from the beginningBecause a liar attacks a truth because he disagrees with it. And a murders kills a living thing, because he disagrees that it should be allowed to live.

Solidarity in Dissent is, therefore, the Mark of the Beast

Solidarity in dissent, therefore, must be the chief mark of the Beast, that is, the chief distinguishing characteristic of all the members of the Church of the Anti-Christ, the Mystical Body of Satan.

Saint John the Apostle indicates this symbolically in his Apocalypse, when he says that in the days of the Antichrist no one will be able to buy or sell anything without having the mark of the beast inscribed upon their right hand.  According to the Fathers of the Church this is a symbolic expression, chiefly, for the conspiracy of the wicked in acting on principle out of falsehood. The biblical number, often translated as 666 is actually in the Greek text written very similar to sss, three Snake like symbols which were used in Asia Minor, in the time of Saint John, as the symbol for the number 6, which in the bible indicates the fullness of imperfection.  And since pride is the fullness of all vice, and vice is the moral habitual failing which leads to imperfection and wickedness, 666 is a pre-eminent symbol for pride and dissent.

Whether the number 666 means more than this, is another consideration. I am here giving a mystagogic reading of the text, that is, a reading which applies to the moral or spiritual life and how we should or should not be living our lives today.

But the “Bergoglio is certainly the Pope” people are doing just this. They are acting out of a spirit of solidarity in dissent from the 10 truths which I listed above.  They ignore all arguments, refuse all reflections and reasons, even conversations, which would lead them to confront the fact of what they are doing. They have willfully blinded themselves to the truth and they show absolutely no worry whatsoever of what might or will befall them for denying and dissenting from truth. They do this because they do not want to separate themselves from the massa (damnata)* who define themselves as dissenters from these truths. They do not want to disagree with the Cardinals and Bishops who reject these truths or close their eyes to them. They are literally willing to risk their eternal salvation on the basis of this solidarity in dissent.

And it is true dissent, because they do not even attempt to give reasons for what they are doing. They only lash out with insults or vicious punishments, calumnies etc..

These catholics are profoundly confused. The unanimous or near unanimous opinion of men might be truth in the political order, but it is not the criterion of truth in matters of canon law. That many of these Catholics are very political people might indeed explain why they cannot understand that in the Church democracy or politics means nothing. Truth means everything.

Indeed, it is the teaching of Christ, Scripture, the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church, the Doctors of the Church, the Saints and the Magisterium throughout the ages, that to deny even one truth is a mortal sin meriting eternal damnation. But a godless politician will never accept or understand this.

This is why solidarity in dissent is the preeminent spiritual mark of the beast. If you have this mark, then you are a member of the Church of the Anti-Christ, no matter what religion you practice, what mass you attend, what Cardinal you follow, or what you otherwise might think of yourself, as holy or impious.

Solidarity in dissent can last a long time. It is what destroyed and is destroying the Protestant Churches, who agreed in the Reformation to deny certain Catholic truths, and in that tradition, from which they refuse to break, they ran into the necessity of denying other truths. — This follows the spiritual law of moral degradation, namely, that if you deny one moral truth with unbending firmness and fidelity, then you will be forced to sacrifice your adhesion to other moral truths, until you become utterly depraved and ultimately are driven insane. This is why among men, insanity is a hallmark of the diabolic. — And this is why Protestant Churches, or any group which practices solidarity in dissent, such as those who deny the 10 truths above, cannot be saved: they are doomed by that solidarity to fall into continually worse and more diverse errors and vices.

So I warn all: solidarity in dissent is a mark of the Beast and so long as you are marked with that mark, you belong to that Beast.

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* “Massa damanata” is a Latin phrase used by Saint Augustine of Hippo to name the collectivity of all the damned souls. Massa in Latin means mass, damnata, means damned.

 

What gift are your bringing the Babe of Bethlehem?

The Three Kings present their gifts to the Child Jesus, in the 17th Century Life Sized Christmas Creche, at Acireale, Sicily.

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I do not know from whence arose the secular custom of making a New Year’s Resolution, but Catholics have a much better motive for changing their lives at the beginning of a New Year: Epiphany.

Epiphany is the ancient Christian Christmas. That is, the day on which Christians gave presents was not Christmas but Epiphany, the Feast of Manifestation. On this Day, Christians celebrated the miracle of the changing of water into wine, which Our Lord performed at Cana, in Galilee, to reveal Himself to Israel and begin His public ministry. On this day too, Christians celebrated the visit of the Magi to the Child Jesus, at Bethlehem, since it was on that day, that the first Gentiles came to adore the God-King of Israel.

The Three Kings gives us all an example of Christian life. That our life should be a pilgrimage, which is guided by the Light of Heaven, and which leads us to sacrifice and leave behind everything, so that we might lay down the treasure of our life in an act of adoration of the one True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and in doing so, be found worthy to enter the House of the Holy Family, in the Kingdom of Heaven.

So what the Three Kings did on Epiphany, is an archetype of what we should be doing every day our our lives, and each year.

Let this be the motivation of your new years resolution. What gift are you going to give the Child of Bethlehem this year?

Let your gift be a gift of myrrh

Myrrh was a rare substance, the dried sap of a tree which only grew in the hottest and driest parts of Arabia. It was burnt at funerals as a sign of morning and to cover the stench of the decaying body.

Myrrh in Christian traditions has thus always been a sign of mortification and of the spiritual gifts we give God by mortifying our passions.

And the best gift of Myrrh you can give is purity.  Because lust, howsoever little it be indulged in, is a mortal sin. And many live in this vice their whole lives, deceiving themselves into thinking, that what Our Lord speaks of, when He says, “If a man so much as look as a woman desiring her, he commits adultery with her in his heart”, he is speaking of the desire for a particular woman, the use of the imagination, or a consummated act imagined or wanted.*

No, the truth is, as the Saints teach us, that Our Lord is speaking of the simple desire to rejoice sexually at sight of her.

A whole generation of Catholics were ruined by an anecdote which was told about Pope John Paul II, that, namely, he had the habit of looking at women as the passed by. And that he excused himself saying it was only a sin if you looked twice.

This is simply not true. It’s a mortal sin. And it is not just mortal for a man who is not free to marry, such as a priest or religious or a man who is already married. It is mortal for all men and all women, whether they get a rush from it or not.

This sin consists in desire, not in acting, not in imagining, but in allowing oneself the desire. It is wrong to feel another person in this way, just as it is wrong to feel the sight of any human being, yourself, or another, in this way. This is why the use of pornography is always, in every circumstance, a mortal sin in itself. For since the consent to experience pleasure is a perfect moral act, as no one does this who does not know of the pleasure, who does not will to accept it, and who does not will to rejoice in it.

Purity on the other hand consists in repelling or rejecting with disdain and disgust impure desire, and in taking every step to avoid its occurrence, through modest dress, turning aside the eyes, and avoiding bad company and the use of social media when one is being tempted.

Let your gift be a gift of Frankincense

Frankincense was the sweetest smelling of all incenses. Frank- in the English word, means the common kind of.  All scents of incense, which are made of dried resins, use Frankincense as the base, since it has the ability to carry every scent into the air in its smoke when burnt.

Frankincense, thus, is a symbol of spiritual gifts which continually rise from the heart.  And these are best categorized under the name of prayer.  As Christians, we are called to everlasting continual communion with God. And since God is a Spirit, we can only do this through prayer, continual prayer, which is founded upon acts of Adoration, Praise, Love, Faith, Hope, Petition.  This is the true desire which should fill the heart of a Christian and blot out all lust for this world.

Let your gift be a gift of Gold

Gold was and is the treasure of kings. As a gift in the hands of the Magi, it symbolizes the greatest gift we can give, of our own selves and of our very lives, purely to God out of love for Him. Let us resolve to do all the good and non-evil things that we do, for the love of God. And let us resolve never to do anything which is sinful, not even venially.

He guards the gold of his own soul, who best protects it. For what do you have more precious that your immortal soul, which by its nature exists FOREVER. And which cannot know eternal blessedness except in GOD and WITH HIM forever.

The promise of eternal salvation in Christ, then, should be in the forefront of our minds NOT ONLY as the greatest reward and treasure we can possibly have, but as the only reward and treasure which we can have FOREVER.

And, thus, the best protection of this gold of our soul is to make every decision in view of our eternal salvation and that of others. We should use this criterion always: What way can I do this in a way which does not endanger my soul? If there is no way, then do not do it even if it appears licit. If it is evil, then flee from it, regardless of how many of those around you fling themselves into it.

What gifts are you bringing the Child of Bethlehem this Epiphany?

Today is Saturday: go to the store of Confession and buy by your tears and firm proposal of amendment one or more of these gifts, to present to the Child Jesus at Mass on Epiphany, this Monday!

(I will leave it to those more adept than I, to guess which King is which: leave your guesses in the Comments section, if you like).

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* For those not familiar with Catholic teaching on morals, please note that this case deals with a woman who is not your wife.