"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch


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Saturday, 20 December 2014

from the Monastery of the Incarnation,
Pachacamac, Lima, Peru.
This site will be added to over the following days.   You ain't seen nothing yet!!
SATURDAY, December 20th:

Our Lord and God, who so arranged things that the immaculate virgin Mary should give flesh to your Son in her womb, you who have transformed her by the action of the Holy Spirit into a temple of your divinity, grant us that, following your example, the grace to accept your  designs with a humble heart.  Through Christ, our Lord.


Today's Mass teaches us a truth of enormous importance, something that is true, not only for the Blessed Virgin, but for us as well.  The story of Our Lady's annunciation that we have in today's Gospel, tells us of the very essence of a Christian vocation, of whatever shape and size, whether we are called to be pope, a bishop, a priest, a monk, or a married lay person.   The prayer for today's liturgy tells us what we have in common with the Virgin Mary and with every other Christian. We, like her, have a vocation which cannot be fulfilled without the harmony between the action of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to fufill our vocation as Christians, and our own humble obedience, enabling the Holy Spirit to work in us.

Our vocation is not to do what we do, whether we are monks in a monastery, sisters working in a parish, or married layfolk.   Our vocation consists  in allowing Christ to work in us in what we do.   It is Christ's presence in what we do that gives value to what we do.  If Christ is absent from what we do, then our activity is not authentically Christian, however brilliant it may be from a merely human point of view.  Our glitter may shine like the sun, but it won't be the shine of genuine gold.

Hence, our connection with Christ in prayer is not an optional extra, something to do when we have time: it is the only way to ensure that our apostolic activity is genuine, the real thing.   Without prayer, without our humble submission to Christ who is our Lord, our autosufficiency takes over, and people hear our voice, but not the voice of God.

Martin Luther put a wedge between faith and works, simply because he could not see that it is Christ who works through our works, giving them value for our own salvation and for the salvation of the world.   It was our error as Catholics that we did not have sufficient understanding of what it means to be member of the body of Christ to be able to point this out to him.  He was right in that works without Christ are dead; but he was wrong when he believed that the activity of Christians is without Christ, "I do not live, but Christ lives in me."  If we are saved by faith alone, as Luther taught, being saved involves Christ coming to live and work in us and through us, so that our own interior struggles and our witness to others acquire value as extensions of Christ's own action in the world.  The Eucharist makes the Church the body of Christ, and our reception of the Eucharist makes each of us the embodiment of Christ in whatever context Divine Providence places us.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is our model.  In her Christian vocation, she became Mother of God when she said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word."   At that moment, she became Mother of God, and God and his creation became one in the person of Jesus Christ.   By Christ's death and resurrection and his ascension into heaven, we have the same choice as she had.  A messenger of the Lord says to us, "The body of Christ," and we say, "Amen" as she did; and, like her, we receive our blessed Lord.   We have chosen the way of humble obedience, and he lives in us and we in him; and we participate in Christ's activity for the salvation of the whole world.

Let us pray to God that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may be humble enough and obedient enough to partipate in the wonderful plan of God to unite the whole of creation to himself.
Gospel LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”

Then the angel departed from her.

Thursday, 18 December 2014


Liturgy, by definition, is traditional. One essential characteristic of any Catholic liturgy is that it is  the principle transmission of Tradition in the Catholic Church, a Tradition that began with Christ and the Apostles and has continued without interruption until the present day and is now expressed, revealed, manifested in the post-Vatican II liturgy, having been accepted with joy as such by the Latin bishops and having been celebrated by the Latin Church from that time on.   That is all that is needed for the liturgy to be traditional, just as traditional, from a theological point of view, as what we now call the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite.

Louis Bouyer is one of the architects of the "new liturgy".   He was a strong advocate of change before the Council, with arguments that remain valid today.  He, together with Dom B. Botte OSB, contributed the Eucharistic Prayer II.  However, he became disillusioned with the way things turned out.   He resigned from the commission charged with the post-Vatican II reforms, not because he came to the opinion that reform of the liturgy is wrong, but because, like all the ressourcement school, his fundamentally basic theological insight, the one that shaped his whole approach to theology, was the importance of Tradition (formed by the synergy of the work of the Holy Spirit and the Church's humble obedience.) While the texts of the new eucharistic prayers were written within the Tradition, much of the subsequent work was based on the desire to stress human solidality over sacredness and led to practices, like "Mass facing the people" which he held strongly to be against Tradition.   Therefore, against the implications of many "conservative" bloggers, he was in no way against liturgical reform.   On the contrary, he advocated it and considered it necessary, as did others of his pursuasion like Henri de Lubac and Pope Benedict etc. In fact, Pope Benedict does not see eye to eye with the likes of Fr Z in this; but he does strongly hold that Fr Z should feel at home in the Church.  The main complaint against the new liturgy was the loss of a sense of sacredness.    In fact, this was not just a complaint about taste or a criticism of a theological position (which it was and is), but comes from the conviction that modern man is losing the faith because he has no opportunity to experience the sacred. To change the liturgy from a meeting with the Other in Christ into an experience of human togetherness (in Christ, of course) meant that the Church lost a great opportunity to reclaim the mass of the people for Christ and it is a main cause of modern infidelity.   True Christian togetherness is the fruit of a communal experience of the "Other" in Christ, not something sought for its own sake. (We shall touch on "Mass facing the people" in my closing comments.)

   You will notice Bouyer's constant appeal to Tradition in his analysis of the new Eucharistic prayers.   They were composed in the name of Tradition and have every claim to be recognised as traditional in content, even though they are new.

Vatican "conservatives" before and after the Council looked on Tradition as a progressive elaboration and clarification of the Truth, so that texts from the past were interpreted in the light of our present understanding, protected as it is by infallibility.   On the contrary,the ressourcement theologians said that the Holy Spirit has had the same relationship to the Church from the time of the apostles to the present day, and the understanding of the present age has to be judged in the light of what the Church has done, said and understood in obedience to the Holy Spirit all down the ages.   Hence, if you have a problem, like the Papacy with the Orthodox, you don't just keep thumping the Vatican I drum: you go back in time to when the two churches were united and see how Vatican I can be interpreted by a Church that breathed with two lungs.   If you have a need to compose new eucharistic prayers, you don't just invent them: you compose them with material taken from Tradition.   The Orthodox-Catholic dialogue illustrates the ressourcement principles at work on the Papacy, while the new eucharistic prayers illustrate the ressourcement principles in liturgy. 

We are now in position to give you these quotations from Louis Bouyer's book  "Eucharist".   They shall be printed in yellow, while my comments shall continue to be written in white.


Beyond this immediate pastoral necessity, more far-reaching considerations militated in favour of such an initiative.   What we continue to call the "Roman liturgy" has in effect become since the time of Gregory VII the liturgy of almost the whole Latin Church.  In modern times, the missionary spread of Catholicism has implanted it throughout the known world.   Surely, as we have said, this did not come about without its having in turn absorbed all sorts of elements from the ancient Gallican liturgies.   But the canon, with the exception of a few prefaces, has remained one of the rare elements that are exclusively Roman.   It was highly desirable then, first of all, to reintroduce into it the best of the traditional treasure of the Celtic, Hispanic and Gallican eucharists.   And it was equally as desirable that this liturgy, which in fact had become universalised in its use, open wide its doors both to what we still have of the forms of the eucharist of the first centuries and to the most fruitful developments of Eastern tradition.   Yet it seemed necessary, so as not to confuse the faithful, to retain in these renewed eucharists certain of the most salient elements of the Roman Canon's structure, particularly the distinction (which, as we saw, was original) between a properly consecratory epiclesis, corresponding to the Abodah prayer of the synagogue, retained before the institution narrative and the communion epiclesis at the conclusion of the anamnesis.   In addition to this reservation, it was thought more pedagogical in these new prayers to group all the intercessions and commemorations in the last part of the prayer as the Eastern tradition does.

These arguments correspond very accurately to what I was told at the time when, as a young student of theology, I searched for reasons among the great and the good.   During the first years, I visited the monastery of Chevetogne in Belgium.   Towards the end of the Council I spent a week at the Institut Saint-Serge for its justifiably famous "Semaine Liturgique", travelling each day on the Paris underground with Dom B. Botte who would later help compose Eucharistic Prayer II.  Later, in 1977, I spent six months at Sant' Anselmo where I got to know Dom Cyprian Vagaggini who wrote Eucharistic Prayer III together with Pope Paul VI.   From all these encounters, I came to realise the general preoccupation among liturgists of the way the Roman rite had ceased to be the rite of a regional church and had obliterated some other equally important more localised rites.   Not only that, it had spread beyond its natural borders to become a universal rite at the expense of others.   This led to an impoverishment of Catholic Tradition.   Most of all, as the Melkite bishops pointed out at the Council, there were all kinds of arguments in favour of introducing an epiclesis  into the Roman Rite, not least for the undeveloped state of our understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in comparison with the Church of the Fathers.   Thus, for reasons of liturgical ecology, trying to undo the harm that was done to the richness if Catholic Tradition by an over-assertive Rome, and in an effort to restore to Catholic consciousness an appreciation of the work of the Holy Spirit and of our participation in the life of the Holy Trinity, several new eucharistic prayers were adopted.  

Because of the recuperation of various aspects of Tradition that had been allowed to sink into oblivion, the adoption of the "new liturgy" after Vatican II made the Catholic west more traditional, not less, especially after Pope Benedict sanctioned the use of the extraordinary use of the Roman rite. 

  When Tradition is triumphant, then diversity in unity becomes the rule.  The Holy Spirit os in charge.   When unity supresses diversity, in Catholicism or Orthodoxy, then the Church begins to take on itself the characteristics of a sect, defending itself at the expense of charity.   When diversity rules at the expense of unity, then the Church loses its contact with Tradition and begins to look like liberal Protestantism, ineffective and bland.   Vatican II took the more difficult path, the only way open to it, the way of the Holy Spirit.

On this schema, three formularies have been established.   The first [Eucharistic Prayer II] uses word for word the greatest part of the eucharist of the Apostolic Tradition.   The second [Eucharistic Prayer III] adopts the development and certain of the most felicitous formulas of the Mozarabic and Gallican tradition.   The third [Eucharistic Prayer IV] is directly inspired  from the great Eastern formularies, particularly  the Apostolic Constitutions, St James,  and St Basil.

The video by Fr John Behr on "The Shocking Truth about Christian Orthodoxy" is as true about the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.  Well worth watching if you haven't seen it already.   We leave adherence to the Truth as seen from only one point of view to heretics and schismatics.   Listen to this lecture and tell me what you think.

Sunday, 14 December 2014


Patricia Datchuck Sánchez  |  Dec. 13

When all the graced visionaries have prophesied, when the healers have soothed every pain, when all the fettered are set free, when the naked and the shamed are clothed with justice and dignity (Isaiah), one will come among us -- one in whom hope and healing, freedom and salvation will find their most eloquent expression (John). He is the one for whom we wait with joy (1 Thessalonians). On this, the third Sunday of Advent, Isaiah, Paul and the two Johns (the evangelist and the Baptizer) call the assembly to cultivate that joy and allow it to sustain us. Ours is good news.

Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Pope Francis knows all the evils that plague our planet. Nevertheless, he encourages believers to live and to preach the joy of the Gospel. In his exhortation of that name, Francis has admitted, "The great danger in today's world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures and a blunted conscience" ("The Joy of the Gospel," Nov. 24, 2013). Those who follow Jesus need to evangelize in the face of this with a fierce and unrelenting joy; "an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!"

Isaiah's year of favor has already been announced. It devolves upon believers to bring the blessings of God's favor to bear on all who still suffer physical, economic and spiritual need.

Paul, in his first-ever correspondence, reminds the Thessalonians and all of us to sustain and support the joy of the Gospel with prayer. For it is in prayer that discernment comes, and in prayer that we are more sensitive to the presence of the Spirit in our midst. Ever attuned to the Spirit, John the Baptizer took it upon himself to prepare his contemporaries to recognize and welcome Jesus as one sent by God to be the light of the world. In a similar way, our current pope has taken it upon himself to help the church realize that it still shares the Baptizer's role of pointing out the truth and necessity of Jesus, our light, in a world darkened by sin.

To that end, Francis has set forth a series of decisions that are ours to accept or ignore. First, he says, we are to say no to an economy of exclusion. "To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal" makes us indifferent. "We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor ... They fail to move us."

Similarly, the pope urges us to say no to the new idolatry of money. "Money must serve, not rule. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings."

Believers in Jesus are also called to say no to the inequality that spawns violence. "When a society ... is content to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility."

As he continues to challenge the church and the world, Francis urges all to say no to selfishness and spiritual sloth. Let us not allow the reality of our faith to wear down and degenerate into small-mindedness. Let us not embrace "a tomb psychology that develops and slowly transforms Christians into mummies in a museum."

Rather, let us say yes to Christ, yes to God, yes to the Spirit and to all the new relationships brought out by Christ. Let us embrace "the challenges of finding and sharing a mystique of living together, of mingling and encounter, of embracing and supporting one another, of stepping into this flood tide which, while chaotic, can become a genuine experience of fraternity, a caravan of solidarity, a sacred pilgrimage. Greater possibilities for communication thus turn into greater possibilities for encounter and solidarity for everyone. ... Sometimes, we are tempted to ... keep the Lord's wounds at arm's length. Yet, Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others."

Jesus warns us against the security of isolation from human misfortune; "we are, instead, to enter into the reality of other people's lives and know the power of tenderness. Whenever we do so, our lives become wonderfully complicated and we experience intensely what it means to be a people, to be part of a people."

All the while, let us be ambassadors of that authentic joy God alone can give and that God has given without measure in Jesus.

[Patricia Sánchez holds a master's degree in literature and religion of the Bible from a joint degree program at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York.]

What John the Baptist Teaches us
about Humility and Joy 

by: Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio 

 On the third Sunday of Advent, the penitential purple of the season changes to rose and we celebrate “Gaudete” or “Rejoice!” Sunday.  “Shout for joy, daughter of Sion” says Zephaniah.  “Draw water joyfully from the font of salvation,” says Isaiah.  “Rejoice in the Lord always,” says St. Paul.  “Do penance for the judge is coming,” says John the Baptist.

Wait a minute.  What’s that stark, strident saint of the desert doing here, on “Rejoice Sunday”?  His stern call to repentance does not seem to fit.

Believe it or not, John the Baptist is the patron saint of spiritual joy.  After all, he leapt for joy in his mother’s womb at the presence of Jesus and Mary (Luke 1:44).  And it says that he rejoices to hear the bridegrooms voice (John 3:29-30).

Now this is very interesting.  Crowds were coming to hear John from all over Israel before anyone even heard a peep out of the carpenter from Nazareth.  In fact, John even baptized his cousin.  This launched the Lord’s public ministry, heralding the demise of John’s career.

Most of us would not appreciate the competition.  The Pharisees and Sadducees certainly didn’t. They felt threatened by Jesus’ popularity.  But John actually encouraged his disciples to leave him for Jesus, the Lamb of God.  When people came, ready to honor John as the messiah, he set them straight.  He insisted that he was not the star of the show, only the best supporting actor.  John may have been center-stage for a while, but now that the star had shown up, he knew it was time for him to slip quietly off to the dressing room.

Or to use John’s own example, he was like the best man at a wedding.  It certainly is an honor to be chosen as “best man.”  But the best man does not get the bride.  According to Jewish custom, the best man’s role was to bring the bride to the bridegroom, and then make a tactful exit.  And John found joy in this.  “My joy is now full.  He must increase and I must decrease.”

The Baptist was joyful because he was humble.  In fact, he shows us the true nature of this virtue.  Humility is not beating up on yourself, denying that you have any gifts, talents, or importance.  John knew he had an important role which he played aggressively, with authority and confidence.  The humble man does not sheepishly look down on himself.  Actually, he does not look at himself at all.  He looks away from himself to the Lord.

Most human beings, at one time or another, battle a nagging sense inadequacy.  Pride is sin’s approach to dealing with this.  Proud people are preoccupied with self, seeing all others as competitors.  The proud have to perpetually exalt themselves over others in hope that this will provide a sense of worth and inner peace.  Of course, it doesn’t.  Human history has proven that point time and time again.  Even the pagan Greek storytellers knew that hubris or pride was the root of tragedy.  Pride always comes before the fall, as it did in the Garden of Eden.

Humility brings freedom from this frantic bondage.  Trying at every turn to affirm, exalt, and protect oneself is an exhausting enterprise. Receiving one’s dignity and self-worth as a gift from God relieves us from this stressful burden.  Freed from the blinding compulsion to dominate, we can recognize the presence of God and feel a sense of satisfaction when others recognize that God is God and honor him as such.  We can even be free to recognize godliness in someone else and rejoice when others notice and honor this person.

But what about John’s stark call to repentance?  How this be Good News?  Because repentance is all about humility and humility is all about freedom.  And freedom leads to inner peace and joy, joy in the presence of the Bridegroom.

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