A Penitent’s Reflection on Halloween

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Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy faithful people may ever rejoice in honoring all Thy Saints, and may be defended by their unceasing prayers (post-communion prayer, Solemnity of All Saints).

After Holy Communion has been received during the Mass for the Solemnity of All Saints, the priest asks Almighty God that the prayers of the saints be a defense to all the faithful.  All the saints are our elder brothers and sisters who have been victorious over sin and death through Christ’s death and resurrection.  These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (cf. Ap 7:14).  They have passed through the fire and have come out the other side unscathed (cf. Dn 3:26).  Now they are present to us in the Holy Spirit as our defenders and protectors.

But we must want to be protected.  He who loves danger will perish in it (Eccl. 3:27).  And danger is everywhere.  We have a real enemy who is bent upon our destruction and all of sacred history is a chronicle of this endless war. Our enemy is our constant foe and our better in the art of war.  For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places (Eph 6:12).  We are not strong enough to resist this enemy, unless we want to be protected by one who is stronger.

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A Response to Christopher West

In his long-awaited reply to his critics, West honestly admits that he did not want to say anything until he had received the all clear from the bishops, a boon given in abundance by Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Rhoades.  While the bishops’ endorsement is significant, it does not mean that West’s teaching is magisterial or that it is on the level of those who themselves hold the teaching office of the Church. Even a theologian who has gained the endorsement of a pope, such as Hans Urs von Balthasar or Cardinal Walter Kasper, is not considered above respectful criticism when he articulates views that may legitimately be shown to be difficult to reconcile with the Church Fathers and Doctors.

West is gracious for thanking his supporters, but his reference to the “profound consolation” proffered by the faithful is a bit off-putting.  He has chosen the path of controversy of his own volition, and for him that it is a matter of truth.  Speaking the truth has its consequences, as does making mistakes as a teacher.   It must be difficult to the focus of so much criticism, so I do pray for him. Nevertheless, he is considered, the authority on Theology of the Body, even more so now that he has been so strenuously defended.  Constructive criticism is in order.

The Pivotal Obfuscation

In my opinion, his concentration on the question of concupiscence is, for the most part, a straw man.  It seems evident that since Cardinal Rigali has blessed his entire work without qualification, West considers it is sufficient to reply to what he considers the central issue of contention.  Thus, he conspicuously omits any discussion his crusade against prudery or of any of the practical matters that have been dealt with at length by the critics (e.g. the phallic symbolism of the paschal candle, his treatment of interlocutors, his interpretation of his writings of the saints).  I will even grant that the question of concupiscence is central to the discussion.  However, West mischaracterizes the objections of his critics. Continue reading

Standing Fast Widget

Ave Maria!

You will notice in the side bar a new widget which will allow you to watch Standing Fast without my turning the videos into individual posts here on MaryVictrix. You see, my commitment to vlogging belongs to AirMaria, so all my videos get posted there and then uploaded to various share sights. I am grabbing the videos from our YouTube account so that they can be played in the side bar.

I am sorry the formatting of the widget is not the greatest.  I will work on it when I have a chance.

The most recent video is “Guarding the Heart,” and expands on what I wrote in my latest post.

The Armor of God and Guarding the Heart

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I have been reflecting lately on the notion of Dom Chautard concerning that aspect of the interior life that is Englished in his book “custody of the heart.”  Perhaps a more militant way of translating this notion in modern English would be “guarding the heart.”

It is the duty of a knight to guard and protect, and we often associate this role with his perennial preoccupation with the Damsel in Distress.  Elsewhere I have noted that the Blessed Virgin is the personification of the Damsel in Distress–not so much because She is helpless, which She is not, nor is that an essential quality of any such damsel, but because She personifies everything true, good and beautiful.  She does this precisely at the foot of the cross as the personification of the Bride of Christ and as Mother and exemplar of the Church.  Ultimately the Christian Knight must be at Her service.

But the curious fact is that the knight, while an image of Christ, the Bridegroom and Savior, is first of all a sinner and one who must identify with the needy Bride as much as any woman should.  This is not to say that the knight must become a woman spiritually, but that his masculinity need not be threatened by whole-hearted honesty about his dependence on God.

In fact, nothing could be more important.  In order to stand fast in the breach that has been blasted in the wall of the City of God, Our Lady’s knight must first repair the breach in his own heart.  How can a knight defend the City of God, how can he fight for the honor of the Immaculate Heart and guard it from the dishonor of the heathens, if he has not first mastered the art of guarding his own heart?  In fact, there is nothing more urgent than the attention we pay to our own vulnerabilities.

To this end, I would like to associate the notion of Dom Chautard with that of St. Paul concerning the Armor of God.

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Happy Feast of Mary Victrix

Lepanto New

The Feast of the Holy Rosary is a feast of prayer and recourse to the Blessed Mother. It is also a feast of the action of brave men who were men of prayer. That is why it is also the Feast of Our Lady of Victory.  On this day we pray for the Spirit of Lepanto.

In the current postcommunion oration for the Mass we find the closest thing in the current formulary to reference to Our Lady of Victory:

May we be helped we beseech Thee, O Lord, by the prayers of Thy most holy Mother, whose Rosary we celebrate; that we may draw strength from the Mysteries which we commemorate, and likewise obtain the fruit of the Sacraments which we have received: Who livest and reignest with the God Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.  Amen.

We are to draw strength from the paschal mystery, the mystery of the sacrificial love of Christ for all men.  The mysteries of which the oration speaks are the death and resurrection of the Lord.  But the feast integrates into these mysteries the mystery of Our Lady’s victorious mediation, and the “strength” which we draw from our participation in the Mysteries of Christ through Her mediation.

On this occasion I have returned to vlogging my series Standing Fast which you will be able find each week in the side bar on the right.  (It should be up momentarily.) Well I guess the widget won’t fly yet, so here is the video:

Here is the link to The Soul of the Apostolate that I mention in the video. And a Google Books version here.

You will also be able to find it on AirMaria as a regular post in a larger format.  I have delayed my post today due to the learning curve with some new video software.  My apologies for not posting sooner on Our Lady’s feast day.

The above painting was created by Tony Stafki and is available in various kinds of prints.  Tony sent my some information about the painting:

  • The battle formation of the ships just before the main clash.
  • The Catholic ships form a cross and the Muslim ships form a cresent.
  • The standard of the Holy Cross which was blessed by Pope Pius V can be seen on Don Juan of Austria’s ship which is leading the charge
  • Papal ships (St. Peter’s keys)
  • The miracle of the wind: just before the armies met the wind completely switched in favor of the Catholic ships.
  • Devils can be seen amongst the Muslim ships (they were summoned from hell by the Muslim leader).  The devils have peacock feathers as swords, a manifestation of their pride.
  • Our Lady of Victory with a sword in one hand ready to crush the devils and the other hand outstretched to the Muslim souls.
  • St. Michael leading the Angels
  • There are small white lights by the oars on the Muslim ships representing the souls of the Catholic prisoners.

The image of Our Lady with the sword reminds me of this:

The King looked up, and what he saw
Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

One instant in a still light
He saw Our Lady then,
Her dress was soft as western sky,
And she was a queen most womanly—
But she was a queen of men.

Over the iron forest
He saw Our Lady stand,
Her eyes were sad withouten art,
And seven swords were in her heart—
But one was in her hand.

I have always been a little put off that the image of Our Lady of Victory does not have a sword:

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Nor images of our Lady at Lepanto, such as this:

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Hats off to Tony.

St Patrick and the Chieftains

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On the great vigil of Easter in 433, which was also March 25th, Feast of the Annunciation, St. Patrick determined to meet the Celtic chieftains and High King Leoghaire  on their own ground at Tara by and challenge their superstitious and idolatrous druidism.  The pagans were prepared for the messenger of Christ, as their demoniac prophets had divined his presence.au

St. Patrick made his presence known opposite Tara on the summit of the hill of Slane where he kindled the Easter fire.  The druid priests responded by appealing to Leoghaire:  “O King, live for ever. This fire, which has been lighted in defiance of the royal edict, will blaze for ever in this land unless it be this very night extinguished.”  By order of the king the druids were sent to the hill of Slane to put out Patrick’s fire and slay him, but by miraculous intervention, both the fire and the saint were protected from all harm, much to the consternation of the pagans.

In the morning the saint accompanied by his Christian band formed the Easter procession and proceeded from the fire on the hill of Slane to the Tara.  St. Patrick was arrayed in full episcopal attire.  As he approached the stronghold of Satan, the druid priests made use of their black incantations to cover all the land in darkness, but at his prayers this wile was undone and the sun shown gloriously in the Easter Day.  In the light the druid high priest was then raised off the ground into the heights only to be brought down again by divine power and dashed on the rocks below.

In this way St. Patrick defeated paganism in Ireland and proved to all the cheiftans the truth of the Catholic religion.  Through his great faith and his willingness to risk his life before the minions of Satan, the Saint one the admiration of the King and obtained from him permission to spread the true faith throughout the realm.

Life is always a struggle between light and darkness. It is the story of mankind.  It is the story of Ireland and it is the news of the week:

God bless Dana Rosemary Scallon, a modern day Joan of Arc, who in the past was not afraid of being attacked by the Irish bishops in defense of the right to life.  Read her largely unheeded exhortation to the Irish people:

This is no longer about the politics of right and left, it is about right and wrong. I can no longer stay silent about the wilful betrayal of Ireland’s Constitution.

BTW, the preamble of that constitution reads thus:

In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,

We, the people of Éire,

Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,

Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,

And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,

Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.

In effect, the Lisbon Treaty offers no protection to the unborn and largely eliminates Ireland’s judicial sovereignty.

What about “acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ”?

Pray for Ireland.  Ask St. Patrick to bring light into the darkness and exorcise the Great Snake from the Emerald Isle.