Monday, August 15, 2016

The Holy Spirit at Mass


It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that at Mass, the Holy Spirit descends from heaven and comes down upon the altar to bless and hallow the Divine Sacrifice.  What follows is an inspiring story confirming this teaching, which recounts a supernatural event that occurred at the end of the first millennium, probably during the pontificate of Pope Agapetus II, pope from 946 to 955.

From The Incredible Catholic Mass, by Fr. Martin von Cochem, pp. 265-67, TAN Books.  


"At Formello, near Rome, there was in early times a bishop who acquitted himself most conscientiously of all the duties appertaining to his office and was most reverent in his manner of saying Mass.  Notwithstanding this, he was accused by some evil-minded persons to Pope Agapetus of having given scandal to his flock by using one of the sacred vessels at table. The pope, believing the accusation, caused the bishop to be brought to Rome and put into prison.

"On the morning of the third day of his unjust incarceration, a Sunday, an angel appeared to the pope in a dream and said to him, "On this Sunday neither shalt thou nor any other prelate say Mass, but only the bishop whom thou hast placed in confinement."  The Pontiff awoke, and thinking over this dream, said to himself, "Shall I allow a prelate to say Mass under so grave an accusation of sacrilege? Before answering his own question he fell asleep again, and again heard the same voice saying, "I told thee, no one but the imprisoned bishop is to say Mass."  While the pope still hesitated whether he should comply with this injunction, the voice spoke for the third time, "Beware that thou not permit any other than the bishop who is in prison to celebrate in thy presence today."

"Thereupon, the pope in some alarm sent for the bishop and inquired of him what was his manner of life and bade him give an account of his actions.  The prelate answered with only these words, "I am a sinner."  Then the pope asked, "Is it true that you ate and drank out of the vessels consecrated to the service of the altar?" The bishop replied as before: "I am a sinner."  As no other answer could be elicited from him, the Pontiff proceeded, "You will celebrate Mass in our presence today."  And when the bishop in his humility begged to be excused, he only repeated the command: "You will officiate at a Solemn High Mass today before ourselves and all the cardinals."

"Upon receiving this express order the good bishop expostulated no longer, but prepared to obey. Attended by many acolytes, he went to the altar and commenced the Mass.  When he got to the prayer which is said at the time of making the first Sign of the Cross over the host and chalice, "Come O Sanctifier, Almighty, Eternal God, and bless this sacrifice prepared to Thy holy name," he repeated it four times, and then stopped.  The people grew impatient; at length the pope said: "Why do you delay and repeat this prayer so often?"



 "The bishop answered, "Pardon me Holy Father, I repeated the prayer because I have not yet seen the Holy Ghost descend upon the altar.  May I request your holiness to bid the deacon leave my side? I cannot venture to do so myself."  The pope then told the deacon to move a little distance; no sooner had he done so than both the pope and the bishop beheld the Holy Ghost come down from heaven, while the celebrant, with the deacon and acolytes, was enveloped in a luminous cloud.

"This miracle convinced pope Agapetus of the innocence and sanctity of the bishop, and he much regretted having put him in prison.  He resolved for the future not to act so precipitously and to investigate a charge carefully before giving credence to it." 

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Padre Pio's Prayer for the Church


". . . pray that He Himself will take on the defense of Jesus in the Sacrament, either by bringing about an end to the world or to stop so much iniquity." 


Padre Pio composed a powerful, beautiful, and still-timely prayer for the Church as part of a letter he wrote just over 100 years ago to one of his spiritual daughters, Annita Rodote.  Addressing our Heavenly Father, he wrote:

"May the apostasy of many souls belonging to the sheepfold of Jesus Christ come to an end once and for all.  May God's reign come soon; may this most holy Father sanctify His Church; may He abundantly shower His mercy on those souls who have not known Him up to now.  May He destroy the reign of Satan and reveal, to the confusion of this infernal beast, all his evil snares; may He reveal to all slaves of this awful wretch what a liar he is.

"May the most tender Father enlighten the intelligence and touch the hearts of all men, so that the fervent may not become cooler or slow down in the ways of salvation, that the lukewarm may become more fervent, and those who have moved far from Him may return.  May He also dissipate and confuse all the wise of this world so that they do not wage war and inhibit the propagation of His reign.

"Finally, may this most holy Father banish from His Church all the dissension that exists, and impede the birth of more, so that there will be only one sheepfold and only one Shepherd.   May He multiply a hundredfold the number of chosen souls, send us many saints and learned ministers and sanctify those we already possess.  May He, through them, make fervor return to all Christian souls.

"May the number of Catholic missionaries increase, as we once again have reason to complain to the divine Master: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few."

"Annita, don't ever forget to pray for these needs which I have set out.  Thus, without your either being an apostle, a priest or a missionary, you will gain that crown which the heavenly Father has prepared ab aeterno for them.
 Padre Pio's then-isolated Friary in San Giovanni Rotondo around the time he received the stigmata in 1918.

"But there is another prayer which you must never neglect:  See how much scorn and sacrilege is committed by the sons of men towards the Most Holy humanity of His Son in the sacrament of love?  It is up to us, Annita, as we have been chosen beforehand by the Lord's goodness, to be members of His Church, or as St. Peter says: of a "royal priesthood." It is up to us, I repeat, to defend the honor of this meek Lamb who is always concerned when the case of souls is in question, but always silent where His own case is concerned.

"Let our entire lives, our every action and all our aspirations be completely directed towards making reparation for the offenses which our ungrateful brothers continually do to Him.

"But our thoughts must be raised higher still.  There is a Father up there who alone can and must give everything to glorify this most holy Son of His.  We must knock at this divine Father's heart, with holy and filial confidence, and pray that He Himself will take on the defense of Jesus in the Sacrament, either by bringing about an end to the world or to stop so much iniquity."

----

Used with permission.  From Padre Pio's letter to Annita Rodote, March 8, 1915; Letters, Volume III, pp. 63-67, translated by Geraldine Nolan.  Also appearing in the May-June 2016 issue of the Voice of Padre Pio magazine, published by Padre Pio's Friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.  Subscription information available at This Link.

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Star of David is also Christian


Why is the Star of David Christian?  The answer is very simple: Jesus was of the House of David.

Romans 1:1-3:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which he had promised before, by his prophets, in the holy scriptures,  concerning his Son, who was made to him of the seed of David, according to the flesh,


2 Timothy 2:8:
Be mindful that the Lord Jesus Christ is risen again from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel.

Regardless of the difficulties presented by the two genealogies in the Gospels, the above two quotes make it clear, and scripture cannot lie (cf. John 10:35), that Jesus is of the seed of David according to the flesh.



      Star of David symbols on balustrade of the Franciscan Monastery, Washington D. C.


Since his flesh was of the Blessed Virgin, she must have been of that House.

"Tradition tells us that Mary too was a descendant of David. According to Numbers 36:6-12, an only daughter had to marry within her own family so as to secure the right of inheritance. After St. Justin (Adv. Tryph. 100) and St. Ignatius (Letter to the Ephesians 18), the Fathers generally agree in maintaining Mary's Davidic descent, whether they knew this from an oral tradition or inferred it from Scripture, e.g. Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8."
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06410a.htm

That the six-pointed star should not be considered strictly a Jewish symbol has been underscored by a recent controversy involving (who else?) Donald Trump.


Certain people, with questionable motives, have accused Mr. Trump, who has three Jewish grandchildren, of using anti-Semitic imagery in the above Tweet, since the six-pointed star has been appropriated in popular culture as being exclusively a Jewish symbol, which should not be the case.  Trump simply wanted to highlight "most corrupt candidate ever" within a star, any star, and this one just happened to have six points.


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Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Holy Oil and Wine

This is a poem I composed when I was able to see in perspective the summer of 1967 (THE Summer of '67), which I spent as a true drop-out in the East Village.   As a former Yale graduate school student in Psychology, that summer I got to know, meet, and/or rub shoulders with Harvard drop-out Timothy Leary, artist Peter Max, Alan Ginsberg, Ed Sanders and Tuli of the Fugs, Abbie Hoffman, Nico of the Velvet Underground, Louis Abalofia - artist and "King of the Hippies," Paul Krassner, Lenny Horowitz - N.Y. Times art critic, Diahnne Abbot (before she married De Niro), poetess Anne Waldman, and many of the early and original spiritually-oriented hippies and anonymous drop-outs and Village denizens,  some of whom I met at the old Paradox Restaurant on E. 7th street - a popular macrobiotic eatery and gathering place.

That summer the "flower child" movement had a distinctive Franciscan flavor, until it succumbed to the forces of hedonism and sunk into the abyss of Woodstock two years later. Ironically, it was a book called The Little Flowers of St. Francis that restored my Catholic faith, as the decade of the 70's began.

This poem was inspired by my love for P. M.


 The front entrance of the Paradox Restaurant on E. 7th St. NYC

I.

Deep deep deep within
Where music glides from clouds around
Where the beat is deep
Down down
Within the mind
Into into
Riding upwards into the mind
Where to descend is to rise
Where the way downward, in, in
Seems like the way upward and out
Where getting high is to sink into your mind.

And coming down
Is really coming up - out of your mind
Into the world around you
Outside of you.

Where to feel high is to go down into your  mind
And come down is to rise up out of the mind.

So high is low
And low is high
And down is up,
Up is down
In is out, and out is in.

This way and that way
That way and this.

So here, so there, so everywhere
See, see, how it is.

II.

Rat tat tat
Rat -a- tat tat
One two
One two
Begin, let us begin.

Now, we see all about us
Empty lands
And tingling glasses
And echoes from the sun
And the beauty of a garbage dump
The excitement of an empty, brick strewn lot
The joy of an ambulance siren
The way the living gather around the dead
The holy oil and wine.

Rat tat tat
Rat -a- tat tat

Loneliness, emptiness - how joyful that was
If I only knew then
That when I was suffering,
I was in love.

Which is better?
To love, and not possess -
Or possess, and no longer love?

Rat tat tat
Rat -a- tat tat.

III.

Twist and twirl around
The ocean shall flow
Whether or not it is aware of itself,
To grow and to possess
Is our nature.

To grasp and draw within
To desire anew
When all hope of desire is gone.

To hate suffering
Then to wish for it again
And to give up hope
Of ever being allowed to suffer again
Then to suffer again.

This way and that way,
That way and this.

High tide and low tide
Shall come and go
Whether the sea
Is aware of itself or no.

And we shall grow
Whether we want to or no.

And she shall come
And she shall go
And she shall come again.

Sometimes here, sometimes there.

For how can the ocean
Stop its own flowing?
Now I know
That when I was suffering
I was in love.

IV.

Yet I shall suffer again
And say: This is not love.
And I shall seek an end
to suffering once more
by possessing the one I love and desire.
And I shall suffer no more
Neither shall I desire and love,
For that which I loved
Shall become part of me
And I shall have grown.
Again.

Rat -a- tat
Rat tat tat
Rat -a- tat tat.

This way and that way,
That way and this,
Joy and growth and happiness.

V.

To grow takes courage
The courage to commit oneself
Confidence and belief in oneself
To fight
For what belongs to us
When others would try to take it away.

To grow, needs
The courage to die for that which you love
And yet one loves many things -
Which one to die for?
Which one to give one's soul for?
Why her of course.

And they will tell you
That you do not love her.
The decision is all your own.

Your own and only your own
No one else's
But only your own.

Look inside, look outside
There is the tree
That is your own.
Know it is yours
And you have grown,
But oh the emptiness
And loneliness that follows.

And how disappointed we all shall bee
When we come to know that
I am you -
And you are me.
What desires are left to be?

VI.

Does the universe
Go on and on?
Or does it stop and start again?

Does God keep growing and growing?
Poor fellow -
How hard it must be
To be where no one else has been before.

So many things we don't know
Such as
How far do we have to go?
Is there any end?
Do we decide to start all over again?

Ting -a- ling. Ding, ding
God falls in love with non-god
and non-god falls in love with God
And the one becomes the other
And the other becomes the one
So on and so on
Forever and ever.

Oh oh forever and ever
Ever and ever, ever and ever
On and in and up and out
High is low and low is high
God loves death and death loves God
Rat -a- tat
Rat -a- tat
Rat -a- tat -a- tat.


Copyright 1969 Frank M. Rega
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Monday, May 9, 2016

How to Pray the "Secret Rosary"

My tenth book is now available, and it is titled How to Pray the Secret RosaryEssentially it teaches you how to pray the Rosary in situations where it is not convenient to hold the beads, and without the need to count out the ten Hail Marys for each Rosary Mystery.

The book also contains chapters on the history of the Rosary, Fatima and the Rosary, St. Padre Pio and the Rosary.  It shows the connection between the four mini-gospels and seven pillars of wisdom with the praying of the Rosary.  And, for those new to the Rosary, the book describes the traditional Rosary prayers and mysteries.  Complete with bibliography.
~~~
Praying the Rosary without the beads and without having to count the Hail Marys is not only possible, but some day might be necessary if we are forced to pray the Rosary in secret. 

See all books Here.

http://www.amazon.com/Pray-Secret-Rosary-Frank-Rega/dp/1530074290/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462666134&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+pray+the+secret+rosary
                                                        

 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Russians, Muslims, and Stolen Europe

After reading an article about the plight of Europe, "Saker rant about a stolen Europe", I sent the link to my friend Bob, who is a retired high-ranking U.S. government official (stationed in Europe for many years), and a Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at a major university. We exchanged two emails about this article, and with his permission most of that exchange is presented below:

Frank,
   Thanks for sending along the “rant.” I’m not sure where to begin on my comments. I guess first of all I would say that certainly many of his observations are correct. For example, today’s Europe is not the one of yesteryear. On the other hand, today’s US isn’t either. The south increasingly looks like the north and vice versa. Blacks can now ride anywhere in the bus they would like and drink from the same water fountains. Much of the differences that once characterized the north and south are gone. Is that all bad? I think not.
   On the other hand, the author is correct. There have always been at least two Europes – the one of the north and the one of the south. On my first visit to Europe in 1960, among the things that struck me was how much the northern Europeans felt superior to those in the south, yet to say as the author does that the Germans and the the Italians have “nothing” in common is a bit of a stretch. Northern Italians are in many ways very much like many Germans. The Germans have the 4th largest economy in the world. Italy has the 8th (most of that economy is from production in the north). The northern Italians are very productive, industrious, and creative. I might add that the northern Germans see themselves as superior to the Bavarians. As a good north German friend of mind once remarked to me, they don’t even speak the same language, which if you’ve lived in south Germany you will recognize as true when the Bavarian dialect is spoken.

   Now on the subject of immigrants changing European society. Well this is of course true. Just as successive waves of immigrants changed the colonial society of America. Think about the “Micks, Dagos, Wops, Krauts, Jerrys, Huns, Wetbacks, Negroes, etc." They definitely changed America. I would say it enriched our society and continues to do so. So much is in one’s perspective and sometimes it is an issue of timing. Surely Europe is being overwhelmed today with a huge influx of immigrants. They are not easily digested in a few years, perhaps not in decades. But the Germans, Irish, Italians who came to the this country and huddled together in unmixed communities, now have largely integrated into our society. For me this has been a positive.
I should, however, note that the writer is Swiss, not American. In fact Europeans take ethnicity very seriously. Often, though not always, If a person is from France, even though living in and a citizen of Italy, he or she will often consider themselves French, not Italian. Ask a Mexican who is a citizen of the US and he will tell you he is an American. This clinging to ethnicity for identity is perhaps changing a bit with the younger generations, But it will take decades not years.


   Now for Muslims. There has been a very strong anti-Muslim feeling that predominates in Europe. It is not new. It predates current immigration problems. Perhaps it goes back to the Crusades. However, one of my first encounters with this was in the mid-1980s when Turkey was being considered for membership in the EU. Sitting with an ambassador, friend and colleague of mine at a banquet marking the 40th anniversary of the formation of Allied (NATO) Forces Southern Command, the conversation turned to Turkey’s possible inclusion in the EU. After a long list of why, for economic reasons, Turkey should not be admitted to the EU, his bottom line was captured when he said to me “Bob, they just aren’t like us. We are a Christian people, they are Moslems.”
   Well, There is perhaps not enough time for me to deal with all of the issues our “ranter” raises. Let me touch on a few.
"Just remember that Daesh is CIA-controlled.” Rubbish
"The EU is essentially a US project via the Bilderbergers and the Zionist lobby in Europe.” Me thinks he forgets the Robert Schumans, the Paul Reuters, the Jean Monnets, etc.
I find his rants against the so-called AngloZionists outrageous and unsupported by fact. On the other hand, I do agree that Russians, while admiring the industriousness of northern Europe, find themselves more comfortable with the the southerners. Having traveled widely all over Russia, we find many of the Russians to be more like southern than northern European.
"Muslims are here to stay. You can hate it or love it, but that is a fact. Fact 2: Islam, real Islam as opposed to Wahabi Islam, is categorically opposed to AngloZionism.” Probably much on target, though I personally would separate the “Anglo” from the “Zionism."
"Call me crazy, but I am coming the conclusion that Turkey, at least in its present form, is inherently a dangerous and non-reformable entity which must be beat back to a size and quality commensurate with the notion of “normal country”. Erdogan is potentially a problem. But the Turks aren’t stupid. They have already shown their concern over Erdogan’s grab for more power.

   After receiving this email, I sent the following note to my friend:
Bob,
   Thanks for your observations - I was surprised to receive such a thorough analysis! Agreed about how good immigration has been especially for the USA. Only problem is that a certain element of the Muslim community does not want to integrate in our society, but actually wants to destroy. That is why we do need some kind of filtering, profiling or whatever you want to call it, over the immigrants coming in.
   What interested me greatly was your comment that Russians are more comfortable with southern Europeans. I wonder if this is because the southerners are more religious. From what I have read, the Russians have a deep religious spirit (except for those who became communist). I think they even refer to Russia as "Holy Mother Russia."

   Bob then replied with these additional observations:
Frank,
   On the Russians, most of those I’ve met that are not senior officials in the government (who often feel they have to be serious since they represent their government), seem to have a fun loving, easy, Latin spirit to them. They love to sing songs and get together. Even when they get pretty smashed on vodka, they can be a lot of fun. This perhaps stands in contrast to some, perhaps many, northern Europeans, particularly north Germans, who to me seem to be much more serious.
My experiences don’t link this fun loving attitude on the part of Russians to religion. Though as you suggest, Russians, indeed almost anyone on earth may be more religious than most northern Europeans, except the Poles and a few others. When we lived in England I think the figure was 15% of the English were church goers. And that might have been a number on the high side. On the other hand, don’t jump too quickly to the conclusion that southern Europeans are serious about their religion. When we lived in Italy, many Italians went to church. However, that might have meant ducking in for a few minutes, maybe to hear the Gospel, maybe not. Now if you want to live where people seemingly are serious about religion, come to the Bible Belt. On the other hand, I often feel that many here in the South don’t really have a clue about what Christianity is really about.
   As for the Muslims, surely you are correct in asserting that some Muslims are here to destroy our society. I don’t find that particularly surprising. Just like the non-Muslims who have sought to destroy our society and what it represents (think Black Panthers, the Oklahoma bombing of Federal building, the bombing of Synagogues, etc.), these people need to be sorted out, rooted out if already entrenched, and removed. However, one must be careful in the process to not stigmatize and in turn alienate the entire community of Muslims, the great majority of whom are decent, law abiding, and just plan good American citizens. To do so would be very un-American.
   I have traveled widely in Muslim countries – e.g. Egypt, Libya, Morocco , Turkey, Azerbaijan, all of central Asia. I have Muslim friends from Pakistan and elsewhere around the globe. I have found Muslims to be a very friendly, open, and hospitable people.

Best Regards,
Bob

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How many sacriligeous Communions will now occur?

With the release of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, battle lines are being drawn between liberal vs. conservative, traditional vs. progressive Catholics.  Conservatives are bending over backwards in their hope that responsible priests and bishops will follow a rigorous discernment process regarding eligibility to receive the Holy Eucharist. On the other hand, the liberal hierarchy seems all too ready to grant Communion to whomever seems to sincerely wish it, regardless of their objective situation.

Let's face reality.  I fear that the net result of this document will be a dramatic increase in sacrilegious Communions thanks to the progressivists, regardless of the noble efforts of traditional priests to guide their flocks according to perennial Catholic doctrine. How many liberal priests intend to warn the recipients that their eternal salvation may be at stake by an unworthy Communion?

In light of this coming flood of injuries and sorrows to Our Lord in the Eucharist, the following  lament by Jesus to pray and repair for the many abuses and sacrileges of the Sacrament is extremely appropriate for our times, although this sublime Communion meditation was transcribed by the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta in 1923. 

"After I received Communion, my sweet Jesus made Himself seen, and as soon as I saw Him, I threw myself at His feet, to kiss them and to cling to Him with all of myself. And Jesus, extending His hand to me, told me: “My daughter, come into my arms, and deep into my Heart. I have covered Myself with the Eucharistic veils so as not to strike fear. I have descended into the deepest abyss of humiliations in this Sacrament in order to raise the creature up to Me, identifying her with Me so much as to form one single thing with Me, and, by letting my Sacramental Blood flow inside her veins, constitute Myself life of her heartbeat, of her thought, and of her whole being. My Love devoured Me and wanted to devour the creature in my flames, to make her be reborn as another Me. This is why I wanted to hide Myself under these Eucharistic veils and, so hidden, enter into her to form this transformation of the creature into Myself. But in order for this transformation to take place, the dispositions were needed on the part of creatures; and my Love, giving in to excess, as It instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, so It issued from within my Divinity more graces, gifts, favors and light for the good of man, to render him worthy to receive Me. I could say that It put out so much good as to surpass the gifts of Creation. First I wanted to give him the graces in order for him to receive Me, and then Myself, to give him the true fruit of my Sacramental Life.
"However, in order to anticipate souls with these gifts, it takes a little emptying of themselves, hate of sin, desire to receive Me. These gifts do not descend into rot, into mud. So, without my gifts they do not have the true dispositions to receive Me, and in descending into them, I do not find the void in order to communicate my Life; I am as though dead for them, and they are dead for Me; I burn, and they do not feel my flames; I am light, and they remain more blinded. Alas! how many sorrows in my Sacramental Life. Many, for lack of dispositions, feeling nothing good in receiving Me, reach the point of nauseating Me; and if they continue to receive Me, it is to form my continuous Calvary and their eternal condemnation. If it is not love that pushes them to receive Me, it is one more affront that they give Me - one more sin that they add upon their souls. Therefore, pray and repair for the many abuses and sacrileges that are committed in receiving Me in the Sacrament.”  
[March 27, 1923, Volume 15.] 

May is Mary's month, and in order to foster the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart, I strongly recommend the daily readings for May from Piccarreta's The Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will, which is available online Here.

P.s. Stay tuned for my tenth book, How to Pray the Secret Rosary.