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Friday 12 December 2014

It is a good thing that...

we have a teaching on infallibility which limits it.

Here are the limits.

  1. When the Pope is actually teaching and not making comments to the press.
  2. When the subject is on faith and morals, not dogs.
  3. When he is addressing the entire Church, not individuals including children.

My New Flatmates

Two of these little creatures joined me in my flat. I stepped on one in the middle of the night. Eieieieuuu. One was crawling up the wall between the bathroom and the kitchen. These are the slugs of Malta, a special kind not found outside the countries around the Mediterranean.

Now, stepping on a mollusk in the middle of the night is not something I would wish on anyone. I put salt down by the two doors and a window. Of course, I keep the windows closed at night, but there are cracks underneath both doors.

I guess I should be glad these fellows are not brown recluse spiders or the HUGE cockroaches of Malta.

They must be cold, but if they understood English, I would tell them it is actually colder inside the flat than outside.

Photos both from wiki...

On Baptism, Again

Dear Readers,

Do you remember when I wrote that I could spend the rest of my life teaching on the sacrament of baptism?

Well, today I met a very holy and erudite priest who is head of the theology department at the university here. At the end of a wonderful conversation, I ask him if he could tell me what he thought the pressing need for scholarship and teaching in the Church was at this time.

Without hesitation, the priest answered, "baptism".

That Catholics simply do not understand how baptism changes us and makes us different than everyone else is clear.

That Catholics think it is a formality rather than a change in who the baptized person is, seems to be the commonly held opinion.

We are different than those who are not baptized.

Follow the tags. I shall write about this again. And, pray for me, as many things have been coming up in my life. Some people want me to write some children's books, which sounds like great fun as well as hard work, and some friends want me to do a doctorate, something I have tried to do in the past but was blocked four times for good reasons, outside my control.

At this stage, I do not do anything for vainglory and only pray that God's Will be done in my life.

For Seminarians to Read Today

The spirituality of priestly
Divo Barsotti

Christian perfection is perfection of charity. Just as faith is sure and peaceful adhesion to the truth and does not involve doubts, so charity is the fruit of the Spirit and in each of even its lowest degrees involves an absolute adhesion to God. There is no charity where God is not loved as supreme good: if you think you can share love for him with love for others, you do not love. The order of charity is that God is to be loved with a total love: with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. And as faith excluding all doubt is a gift from God, so too is that charity a gift from God that excludes all division.

But how is a spiritual journey possible, if right from the start of the journey we are within God? On the other hand, were we not in God, how could we be saved, not having reached perfection of charity? But clearly no spiritual life is possible that does not entail the overcoming of human conditions. How otherwise could we transcend ourselves and all created things, so as to reach God and cling to him in faith and love? Faith is a gift from God, and charity is a gift from God. So we must find which route to take to lead us to spiritual perfection. The Spirit does not operate in our nature as an external force, beyond our powers, but in our own gifts. He moves our powers in such wise that our whole nature becomes God’s instrument. If we are in grace, we are already in God, but God requires us to cooperate in his activity, and the way we must cooperate in God’s activity is by consenting and being docile to the activity of the Spirit.

God transfers us into himself, but in God we can complete ‘our’ journey, which can be without end in a God without end. What happens in the spiritual life is rather like what happens in ordinary life. At birth we are already human beings, but what a long way we have to go before we can live like human beings! The progress we make in the spiritual life depends on how docile we are to God’s activity. Practising the moral virtues then is only the actual expression of a spiritual life, since the practice of these virtues, which depends on the activity of the Spirit, is as it were transparent, is as it were leavened by love. For the virtues of a Christian are enlivened by charity; if not enlivened by charity, they cannot be called Christian. So it may be said, the virtues are, as it were, a kind of embodiment of love and, as there is no Christian virtue without love, so there is no charity in a Christian without the virtues in which charity lives.

There is a journey in the virtues which bespeaks the soul’s progress in docility to the Spirit. In this docility, all human behaviour becomes transformed. So, the spiritual life involves all the virtues.. In the moral life of human beings you might find one virtue without another, but in the spiritual life of Christians you cannot have one virtue without all the rest.

In the spiritual life of the priest, there is one virtue which postulates all the others but nonetheless seems particularly significant of his state and mission. To speak of the spirituality of the priesthood is particularly to consider this virtue. It is ecclesiastical celibacy. In the practice of this virtue are we then to recognize the priest’s particular route towards his own perfection of charity? It might seem that celibacy was not an expression of love; of itself it seems only to speak of renunciation, and besides celibacy is not essentially linked to priesthood.

The term indeed is not a happy one: ‘celibacy’ as it stands says something negative, that is to say renunciation of marriage, and could even mean a state of life that excludes love and shuts a man in on himself. Quite the reverse: the celibacy of the priest is not intended to mean something negative: by celibacy, the Church desires the perfect chastity of the priest. Priestly spirituality has its truest expression precisely in perfect chastity, since chastity, in the priest, is the actual expression of his charity.

We have said, one virtue postulates all the others, but in any given state of life there is one particular virtue which seems to express and reveal charity best. Were chastity not enlivened by charity, it would be rejection of love. But by celibacy, contrariwise, the Church manifests the desire for its priests to be holy. Chastity in the priesthood, contrary to being a defence against love, is the charism of perfect love, of a love which, like God’s, is prevenient, gratuitous, universal.

For the priest’s devotion to his mission is not his response to being loved by the brethren: the priest too, like the Lord, has to love first. If he can name any reason for his love, it is because he is particularly drawn by the wretchedness of those he has to save. True, the unique Saviour of all is Jesus the Son of God, but the salvation he has won for all in point of fact reaches each individual through the priestly service of those whom Christ associates with himself in his mission. The gives his life for the brethren; priestly ordination consecrates him to a service from which henceforth he may never be freed: a service demanding the total gift of self. And to no one per se can he refuse his love.

How could the priest live this love, were Jesus not living within him? Priesthood demands and at the same time postulates the most intimate union, indeed a certain unity, with Christ: Christ himself must live within him, and Christ’s life is love to the point of sacrifice, love till death. This unity with Christ, for whom there is only one life and only one love, cannot be lived without perfect chastity. Priestly chastity is therefore, as it were, the sacramental sign of the priest’s union with Christ.

It has often been said and we say it again: the priest is ‘another Christ’. In the exercise of the priesthood, every priest acts in the person of Christ, but that which comes about by the power conferred on him in ordination, though per se assuring the efficacity of his sacramental acts, nonetheless demands that the priest’s life — lest it be a lie —be one with Christ’s.

So, contrary to living the rejection of love, in chastity the priest realizes that nuptial union which, according to the greatest spiritual masters, is indeed the very perfection of spiritual life. Were it not so, chastity could not become a condition of loving, and would instead become a condition of self-centredness, closing the priest’s soul and heart, making his life empty and sterile. For marriage was raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament because the love of men and women prefigured the union of Christ with the Church. The perfect chastity of the priest is not only a figure of that union, but its more or less perfect fulfilment. Only thus, by becoming one sole Spirit with Christ will the priest live a true participation in Christ’s prevenient and gratuitous love and be Christ personified, in him to live his same passion of love, his mission of universal salvation.

Exclusive love for Christ, for whose sake the priest freely renounces having a family of his own, so dilates his heart as to make him capable of a love that knows no bounds. His family is the universe. True, human conditioning persists. Even Jesus was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but this did not prevent him from being in fact the Saviour of the world. If on the visible and social plane a limit is set to a man’s activity, charity knows no limit other than its own imperfection. This is why the priest too receives a canonical mission limited in time and space, but the charity that inspires him, of itself, knows no bounds, is eternal and cannot exclude anyone.

One and indivisible is the mission of Christ, and each of us Christians lives it in the state of life in which the Lord has placed us and in those conditions of time and place which Providence has assigned for us to live in. But more than the ordinary Christian, the priest, in the chastity uniting him to Christ in an indivisible charity, is committed to
living Christ’s own mission. Indeed, it is perfect chastity which opens him to universal charity: nothing and no one ties him down and divides him from others. He is one with Christ, to become one with all.

This union is only accomplished in Christ and involves all humanity, all creation, in a manner being assumed by the Word and becoming one sole Christ in him. Thus the Person of the Word, by whom all things were made, becomes the principle of unity for the whole human race and for the whole creation too; but none of this happens without the priesthood. The priesthood is God’s instrument for accomplishing this marvellous design. True, this is mainly by means of the sacraments that we priests administer, but more important still by the witness of our whole lives.

We are taught that Holy Order sets a seal on the nature of the priest. Character does not radically transform human nature but makes it so that each activity of this nature cannot be other than a priestly activity. With all his life, the priest is at the service of the Word, to lead human beings and the world back to Him. For this to be done, the physical world must be subjected to the spirit and the spirit to God. Chastity is the force that brings our emotional life back to obeying the spirit; and therefore in chastity lie the first means for freeing us from the slavery of the senses and for ordering us to the spiritual life. The priest should set an example of this liberation in himself, and be our guide. For, as regards chastity, we are all summoned to begin our journey of healing for a human nature fragmented by sin. Hence the importance of chastity in the life of every Christian, but hence the exceptional importance this virtue ought to have in the life of the priest, who is more directly called to live Christ’s mission, so that all physical nature too may be ordered to God.

This salvation which is meant to heal the rupture between human beings and God, between human beings among themselves, between human beings and the creation and, lastly, within human beings themselves, which has been brought about by sin, requires that before all else the unity of the human personality be restored. How can the priest be the messenger of and witness to salvation, if he does not by his own life show that he has himself been saved? Once the flesh has been subjected to the spirit, we can then order ourselves Godwards and be safe in God.

But salvation cannot isolate, cannot divide us from our fellow-beings and, for the priestly mission, even less can it divide the priest from all the people to whom he has been sent. Chastity, which heals human nature fragmented by sin, is, in the priest, also a commitment to healing the division sin has caused between human beings, and between human beings and the creation. Perfect chastity is that divine force not only raising human nature up to God but raising the whole creation, by ordering it to him. Important for his sanctification, chastity is supremely important for the priest’s ministry. In his freedom from all family ties, he is entirely available for his ministry: nothing can or should divert him from that self-giving to which he was consecrated by priestly ordination. He can no longer lead a life of his own, have a profession of his own, have even a name of his own: he belongs to Christ alone. And in him, Christ lives a mission which the priest can say he has accomplished if Christ asks him for the gift of his whole life. The celibacy the Church wants of him would be a mutilation, were it not, on the contrary, the condition through which the mystery of Christ becomes present in him: the mystery of Christ’s life and death for the salvation of the world. To deny there is a sacrifice on the natural plane is to deny the obvious, but the celibacy of the priest is not loneliness if it is union with Christ, nor sterility if it is loving service.

Although it is union with Christ, faithfulness to the pledge of celibacy needs prayer to nourish love, a lively prayer in the priest’s personal relationship with Christ. If it is to be loving service, the priest must not shut himself up in himself but feel more and more intensely that he lives for others, that others are his life.

Thus we may sum up the spirituality of the priest: he ought to live in intimate union with Christ, with him to be one act of praise to the Father and to be together too in serving others. He will live his union with Christ in self-giving to the brethren. Holiness and mission will thus be inseparable and their union will be the fruit of a chaste love. Celibacy, which might seem to isolate him, becomes the sign of a love which, by uniting him to Christ, also makes him a man for all.

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Patroness of the Americas and Patroness of Life.

Litany of Our Lady of Guadalupe for your private use only

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God our Heavenly Father, Creator through whom we live,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, the One who owns what is near and beyond,
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy of us.
Holy Mary of Guadalupe,
pray for us.*
Holy Mary, Mother of America,
Holy Mary, Star of the New Evangelization,
Holy Mary, Perfect and Ever Virgin,
Holy Mary, Mother of the True God,
Holy Mary, Mother worthy of honor and veneration,
Holy Mary, Mother most merciful,
Holy Mary, Mother of those who love you and have confidence in you,
Holy Mary, Mother of those who cry to you and search for you,
Holy Mary, Mother who cures all our pains, miseries, and sorrows,
Holy Mary, Mother who remedies and alleviates our sufferings,
Holy Mary, Mother who keeps us within her compassionate and merciful gaze,
Holy Mary, Mother who shows us her help, love and compassion,
Holy Mary, Mother who chooses those who are humble and simple,
Holy Mary, Mother who graciously repays all who serve her,
Holy Mary, Mother who has us under her shadow and protection,
Holy Mary, Mother who carries us in her embrace,
Holy Mary, Fountain of our joy,
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let Us Pray
Almighty and Eternal God, your message of mercy, entrusted to Our Lady of Guadalupe, invites all your children to place all their trust in you. Through the intercession of the mother of your Son, may your message of Merciful Love inflame our hearts that we may be faithful heralds and instruments of this Divine Mercy to the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Ecclesiastical Approval for Private Use Only by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

Army Chaplain Punished for Sharing Faith

Persecution in America-Loss of Rights of Conscience

Persecution of Christians in India Grows

Spanish Law Stops Google News

bad sign of the the entire article, but here is a bit of it...

"This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not," Gingras wrote in a blog. "As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable."
Google News has long irked newspaper publishers and other content providers, who contend the service tramples on copyrights by creating a digital kiosk of headlines and story snippets gathered from other websites. Most criticism has likened Google to a freeloader, but there have been attempts to force the company to change its ways through the courts.
Google maintains it obeys all copyright laws while sending more people to websites highlighted in its News services. The company also allows publishers to prevent material from being displayed in Google News, an option few websites choose because the service is an important traffic source to sell ads.
Alejandro Tourino, a Madrid-based lawyer who specializes in media issues and has worked for The Associated Press on several legal cases, said Spanish news publishers may "have shot themselves out of the market. Time will tell."
After Germany revised its copyright laws last year to allow — but not force — Google News to make royalty payments, Google required publishers there to give their consent for summarizing content. Most did.
Google last year agreed to help French news organizations increase their online advertising revenue and fund digital publishing innovations to settle a dispute over whether the company should pay for news content in its search results.
Google also had to respond to a ruling this year from Europe's highest court, which decided that Europeans have a right to scrub unflattering or outdated information from Google's search engine that pops up in a search of their names. That case started in Spain.

Update 29 Referendum Challenge -- Children's Rights

From Kathy Sinnot in Ireland.

Last week, the Supreme Court hearing began  in the appeal to the High Court findings in the Jordan challenge to the so called "Childrens Rights" referendum. (This is an unnecessary and dangerous possible law which would take authority away from parents and give it to the Irish government.)

I was able to attend on Monday 1st December  the first day. it went on until Thursday and as it did not finish, the court has granted a few more hours on December 18 at 11:15 am. All welcome.

Joanna Jordan has kindly sent a summary of the four days of hearing which you will find  below.

All those who attended last week seem to feel that the judges were taking the matter very seriously.  From my day in court and the reports of the others days, I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will uphold our right to fair and free referenda and recognize that the referendum of November 2012 was anything but fair and free.

If so we have to be prepared to engage in a rerun. All to prepare and pray for....

Joanna Jordan's  eyewitness account of the  Supreme Court hearing December 1 to 4, 2014.

"Day 1: The case is being judged by seven Justices, three woman and four men. Looking at the dais from left to right sits Justices Laffroy, Clark, Hardeman, Chief Justice Denham, O’ Donnell, MacMeniman and Dunne. These are the people who hold the fate of all Irish families in their hands. Please pray for them. They are the most important people in the country at the moment.

Our Senior Council is up first, Paul Sreenan. The judges asked for the books of extracts which we promised. We had them prepared but the offices of the Supreme Court refused to accept them. Now we were able to hand them up after lunch.

The Chief Justice asked; “what did we want the court to look at?” Paul outlined the three High Court judgements which went against us. All three of these, were what we wanted looked at by the Supreme Court. The petition, because the judgement was too severe, expecting evidence to be “convincing and definitive”. This is a higher standard than the balance of probabilities requirement. The Plenary because the burden of proof was unfairly placed on our side where it is almost impossible to achieve. We said it should be shifted to the proven wrong doers, the Minister for Children. Also the cost judgement, where no cost were awarded in the plenary and 1/3 in the petition. This makes it very difficult for an average citizen to take a case in the public interest.

In the afternoon Mr. Sreenan went through the history of the Referendum and Electoral Acts.

Day 2 Paul Sreenan S.C. continued. As the law stands, we can only win the Petition, if we can prove that the wrong doing ; “materially affected the result of the referendum as a whole”. If we win in this  the Judges would have to order a rerun and set a date for same. Proving this is really difficult if not impossible. Paul put forward the argument that material affect is only needed at the leave stage that is the point at which the High Court gives us permission to take the petition case because it accepts a serious breach of referendum protocol took place that. (We were grant leave by the High Court) He also brought to the attention of the judges that, in the discovery documents, there was a email from RTE stating that some of the phrases in the preposed government booklet and advertising “ could breach the broadcasting Act”. In other words the Minister for Children had been warned that her so called information campaign was problematic.

After lunch Niamh Hyland S.C. Told the judges about the survey conducted by the Referendum Commission after the vote and the B&A surveys taken in 2012 before the Referendum commissioned by the Dept. of Children. She reviewed some of the evidence and brought out the unfairness of the burden of proof being laid on the citizen as we were not the ones who did wrong.

Day 3: Michael Collins S.C. For the Minister for Children stood up. He reiterated that the Minister  did wrong but not intentionally and maintained that the wrong doing did not affect the outcome of the Referendum as a whole. He went into detail about all the judgements in the unsuccessful Hanafin referendum challenge. Implying that this case was the definitive case and no change was needed after that. There was talk about an Annulment of the Referendum Certificate.This could happen if the Referendum Act could be shown to be unconstitutional. Much talk of the statistics casting doubt over the results.

Day 4:Michael Collins finishing. Continuing to knock the evidence of our experts. Pointing out that the department had not intended to break the McKenna Principles.

Maurice Collins S.C. for Dept. of Children next. Went into great details about judgements prior to and including Hanafin. Read lots of these out in court. Did not finish on time. The Judges have given us another half day on th 18th of December at 11.15 to finish up Mr. Collins and our summation.

All through out the four days the Judges asked very good and probing questions. They are very much engaged with the case and aware of it's importance. Please keep praying for them, that they will come up with the best possible judgement for our country and all the present and future families in it."

To Donate for the Case
By Post.
Referendum Challenge
C/o Kathy Sinnott
St Joseph
Co Cork

more here....