Sunday, August 9, 2020

Two saints who raised animals from the dead!

The mystery of what happens to animals when they die, and whether we will see our pets in heaven, are questions that constantly arise and will continue to do so. Catholic teaching is that only human souls are immortal and thus survive bodily death. St. Thomas, in his Summa Theologica teaches that animals do have souls but that they are merely mortal: “Wherefore we conclude that as the souls of brute animals have no per se operations they are not subsistent.”

The newspaper “The Irish Catholic” featured a recent article that sums the Catholic viewpoint:

Catholics believe that all living things have souls, and this includes not only humans, but also plants and animals. When a living thing dies, the soul separates from its body or organic makeup. In the case of animals, the soul goes out of existence. However, the souls of human beings are radically different from the souls of other living things. Whereas the souls of animals are contingent upon their material makeup, human souls remain in existence after death because it is immaterial. “

Catholic Answers states bluntly:

Animal and vegetable souls are dependent entirely on matter for their operation and being. They cease to exist at death. (There’s no “doggie heaven.”)”

But on the other hand, Pope Francis has famously indicated his belief in animal immortality:

Pope Francis sent ripples around the world Wednesday when he suggested that pets and other animals have a place in heaven, which is in stark contradiction to conservative Catholic teaching that animals don't have souls. Seeking to console a young boy who recently lost his dog, Pope Francis assured him during his weekly address that he would be united with his pet in heaven.

"One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God's creatures," the Pope said, according to Italian news sources. Theologians, however, argued that Pope Francis' words should not be taken as a doctrinal statement, as he had spoken casually.

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large of America, the Catholic magazine,told the New York Times he believed that Pope Francis was at least saying, "God loves and Christ redeems all of creation," despite conservative Catholic teachings to the contrary. "He said paradise is open to all creatures," Father Martin told the Times. "That sounds pretty clear to me."

The issue of whether or not animals have souls has been a controversial issue in the Catholic Church for a long time, and Pope Francis' comment appears to have opened up that debate once again”

Now, if the souls of animals dissipate upon their death, how does one account for the stories in the lives of Catholic saints which assert that they raised to life dead animals? As portrayed in two Renaissance paintings, St. Nicholas Tolentino (1246 - 1305) is said to have refused to eat cooked partridges when he was bedridden, and brought them back to life so that they could fly away.

Even more spectacularly, St. Francis of Paola (1416 - 1507) was said to have resurrected both a pet fish and his pet lamb. He is also known to have abstained from all meat, fish and animal products, such as eggs and milk. He called the animals by their names even after their lives had ended. He apparently believed they continued to exist after their deaths.

The Blog “A Catholic Life” goes into some detail:

St. Francis had a love for animals and took a vow to never eat any animals, even fish.  According to his biographers, it is said: "Francis had a favorite trout that he called ‘Antonella.’ One day, one of the priests, who provided religious services, saw the trout swimming about in his pool. To him it was just a delicious dish, so he caught it and took it home, tossing it into the frying pan. Francis missed ‘Antonella’ and realized what had happened. He asked one of his followers to go to the priest to get it back. The priest, annoyed by this great concern for a mere fish, threw the cooked trout on the ground, shattering it into several pieces. The hermit sent by Francis gathered up the broken pieces in his hands and brought them back to Francis. Francis placed the pieces back in the pool and, looking up to Heaven and praying, said: ‘Antonella, in the name of Charity, return to life.’ The trout immediately became whole and swam joyously around his pool as if nothing had happened. The friars and the workers who witnessed this miracle were deeply impressed by the miracle."

St. Francis also raised his pet lamb from the dead after it had been killed and eaten by workmen. "Being in need of food, the workmen caught and slaughtered Francis’ pet lamb, Martinello, roasting it in their lime kiln. They were eating when the Saint approached them, looking for the lamb. They told him they had eaten it, having no other food. He asked what they had done with the fleece and the bones. They told him they had thrown them into the furnace. Francis walked over to the furnace, looked into the fire and called ‘Martinello, come out!’ The lamb jumped out, completely untouched, bleating happily on seeing his master."

School of Pietro Perugino, circa 1530. St. Nicholas of Tolentino Restoring Two Partridges to Life. Tempera on wood panel. 


Benvenuto Garafalo, circa 1550; St. Nicholas of Tolentino Reviving the Birds.


Giovanni Gasparro, contemporary, 2015; The Miracles of St. Francis of Paola. In Gasparro’s painting we see the same fish many times over flopping around in a dish. Francis has an extra set of hands, which is a common motif in Gasparro’s work.⁠ 

 

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Spiritual Communion

Since the option of receiving the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion at Mass is severely limited in these trying times, it will be very profitable for the devout Catholic to make spiritual Communions as often as possible. St. Alphonsus de Liguori offers a valuable teaching in this regard, as follows:

A spiritual Communion, according to St. Thomas, consists in an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament, and in lovingly embracing him as if we had actually received him. This devotion is far more profitable than some suppose, and at the same time nothing can be easier to practice. Hence the saints have been in the habit of making frequent spiritual Communions.

In this manner you can make as many spiritual Communions as you please: “My Jesus, I believe that Thou art truly and really present in the holy sacrament. I love Thee with my whole heart, and because I love Thee, I am sorry for having offended Thee. I embrace Thee, O my love, and I give myself entirely to Thee; do not permit me to be ever separated from Thee.”

The holy Council of Trent extols the advantages of spiritual Communion, and exhorts the faithful to practice it. And God himself has several times given devout souls to understand how pleasing it is to him that they receive him spiritually. Jesus Christ appeared one day to sister Paula Maresca, foundress of the convent of St. Catherine of Siena, in Naples, as we read in her life, and showed her two precious vessels, one of gold and another of silver, and said to her, that in the former he preserved her sacramental Communions, and in the latter her spiritual Communions. On another occasion he said to the Venerable Jane of the Cross, that as often as she communicated spiritually, she received a grace similar to that which she derived from her sacramental Communions.

Father John Nider, of the Order of St. Dominic, relates, that in a certain city a poor man of great virtue desired to communicate often; but because the practice of frequent Communion did not exist in the place, he, in order to avoid singularity, contented himself with spiritual Communions. Hence, he would first go to confession, and make his meditation; he would then hear Mass, and prepare for Communion, and would open his mouth as if he were receiving Jesus Christ. The author relates, that in opening his mouth the poor man used to feel the particle laid on his tongue, and his soul filled with sweetness. One morning he put his finger into his mouth to find out whether the consecrated particle were really placed on his tongue; the sacred host adhered to his finger; he placed it again in his mouth, and received it. Thus the Lord rewarded the desire of this good servant.

Blessed Angela of the Cross, a Dominican nun, went so far as to say: “If my confessor had not taught me this method of communicating, I could scarcely live.” Hence she used to make a hundred spiritual Communions every day, and a hundred more every night. But how, you will ask, could she make so many? St. Augustine answers: “Give me a lover, and he understands what I say.” Give me a soul that loves nothing but Jesus Christ, and it will not wonder at it. Father Peter Faber, the first companion of St. Ignatius, used to say that it was of the highest utility to make spiritual Communions, in order to receive the sacramental Communion well. All those who desire to advance in the love of Jesus Christ are exhorted to make a spiritual Communion at least once in every visit that they pay to the Most Blessed Sacrament, and at every Mass that they hear; and it would even be better on these occasions to repeat the Communions three times, that is to say, at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.

It is most easy to make several spiritual Communions in the day; it is not necessary to be fasting, to have a priest, or to spend, a long time. Hence we may make a spiritual Communion as often as we please in the day. The Venerable Jane of the Cross used therefore to say: “O my Lord, how excellent a mode of communicating! without being seen or remarked: without giving trouble to my spiritual Father, or depending on any one but Thee, who in solitude dost nourish my soul, and speak to my heart.” We can make it at any time we please: an act of love does all. Be careful, then, to make frequent spiritual Communions in your meditations, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and be particularly careful, as often as you hear Mass, to make a spiritual Communion, during the Communion of the priest. Make an act of faith, believing firmly that Jesus Christ is present in the holy sacrament; an act of love, uniting to it an act of sorrow for your sins; and then an act of desire, inviting Jesus Christ to come into your soul, in order to make it entirely his own; and in the end thank him as if you had received him. The Church grants an Indulgence of 300 days for every act of spiritual Communion, and a plenary Indulgence once a month, under the usual conditions.

An act of spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things, and I desire to possess Thee within my soul. Since I am unable now to receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace Thee as being already there, and unite myself wholly to Thee; never permit me to be separated from Thee.

A shorter act

I believe that Thou, O Jesus, art in the Most Holy Sacrament! I love Thee and desire Thee! Come into my heart. I embrace Thee; oh, never leave me!

  

”Sources, by St. Alphonsus: The Holy Eucharist, pp. 121-124; The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, pp. 586-588.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Pater Noster

St. Alphonsus on the Lord's Prayer.

The Church militant regards herself as entirely composed of sinners; she thinks herself unworthy to call God her Father, and to address to him the seven petitions, which in the name of the faithful she is going to address to him during Holy Mass by reciting the Pater noster, (“Our Father”):

Oremus. Prœceptis salutaribus moniti, et divina institutione formati, audemus dicere - (“Instructed by Thy saving precepts and schooled in divine teaching, we make bold to say - ” ).

Hence she protests that she only dares to address to God this prayer because God himself has commanded her to do so. She then teaches us that we may venture to present to God the seven petitions which contain the whole economy of our salvation, because it is pleasing to him and he himself gives us the command. We are so miserable, and our mind is so limited, that we do not even know what graces we should ask of God in behalf of our own salvation. Regarding our poverty and our insufficiency, Jesus Christ himself deigned to compose our prayer or to indicate the subjects on which we should address Almighty God. He instructs us to say:

Pater noster, qui es in cœlis (“Our Father, who art in heaven, etc.). The Apostle St. John says: Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. [1 John 3:1.] It is assuredly only by the effect of extreme love that we worms of the earth have been enabled to become the children of God, not by nature, but by adoption; and such is the immense grace that the Son of God has obtained for us by becoming man; for St. Paul says: You have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry, Abba (Father). [Rom. 8:15.] Can a subject wish for greater happiness than to be adopted by his king? Or a creature to be adopted by its Creator? This is what God has done for us; and he wishes that we should address to him with filial confidence the following prayer:

1. Sanctificetur nomem tuum (“Hallowed be Thy name”). God cannot possess a greater sanctity than that which he possesses from all eternity, because he is infinite; hence what we ask in this prayer is merely that God may make known in every place his holy name, and that he may make himself loved by all men: by unbelievers, who know him not; by heretics, who do not know him in the right manner; and by sinners, who know him but do not love him.

2. Adveniat regnum tuum (“Thy kingdom come”). Two kinds of dominion God exercises over our souls—the dominion of grace and the dominion of glory. By these words we ask for both, namely, that the grace of God may reign among us in this life, that it may direct and govern us, so that one day we may be judged worthy of glory, and may have the happiness to possess God and be possessed by him for all eternity.

3. Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cœlo, et in terra (“Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”). The whole perfection of a soul consists in the perfect accomplishment of the will of God, as is done by the blessed in heaven. Hence Jesus Christ wishes us to ask the grace to accomplish the will of God upon earth, as the angels and saints accomplish it in heaven.

4. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie (“Give us this day our daily bread”). Such is the text as we find it in St. Luke, [Luke 11:3]. By this prayer we ask God for the temporal goods of which we stand in need to sustain our present life. The words “Our daily bread” teach us that we should ask for this kind of goods with moderation, after the example of Solomon, who asked only what was necessary: Give me only the necessaries of life. [Prov. 30:8.] It is to be remarked that in the Gospel of St. Matthew, instead of the daily bread, we read, Give us this day our supersubstantial bread [Matt. 6:11]. By this supersubstantial bread we must understand, according to the explanation given by the Roman catechism, Jesus Christ himself in the Sacrament of the Altar, that is, in Holy Communion. We ask this heavenly bread every day, Give us this day, because every good Christian should communicate every day, if not really at least spiritually, as we are exhorted by the Council of Trent.

5. Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris (“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us”). To eat worthily of this heavenly bread, we must be free from mortal sin, or at least be washed of it by the blood of the Lamb in the sacrament of penance. We say, free from mortal sin; but it must be observed that if anyone should communicate with an actual affection for some venial sin, he could not be said to communicate without offering some indignity to our Lord—at least if he communicates often.

6. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem (“And lead us not into temptation”). How are these words to be understood? Does God sometimes tempt us—does he lead us into temptation? No; for St. James says: God is not a tempter of evils, and He tempteth no man. [Ja. 1:13.] This text we must understand as we do that of Isaias: Blind the heart of this people . . . lest they see. [Isa. 6:10]. God never blinds any sinner, but he often refuses to grant to some, in punishment for their ingratitude, the light that he would have given them had they remained faithful and grateful. Hence when it is said that God makes any one blind, it is meant that he withholds the light of his grace. This, therefore is the sense of the prayer, and lead us not into temptation; we ask God not to permit us to have the misfortune of being in those occasions of sin in which we might fall. Hence we should always watch and pray as the Lord exhorts us to do, in order not to fall into, temptation: Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. [Matt. 26:41]. To enter into temptation means the same as to find one’s self in the danger of falling into sin; we should therefore often say to God, Lord, lead us not into temptation.

7. Sed libera nos a malo (“But deliver us from evil”). There are three kinds of evils from which we should ask the Lord to deliver us—the temporal evils of the body, the spiritual evils of the soul, and the eternal evils of the next life. As for the temporal evils of this life, we ought always to be disposed to receive with resignation those that God sends us for the good of our souls, such as poverty, sickness, and desolation; and when we ask God to deliver us from temporal evils we should always do so on condition that they are not necessary nor useful for our salvation. But the true evils from which we should absolutely pray to be delivered are spiritual evils, sins, which are the cause of eternal evils. Moreover, let us be convinced of this infallible truth, that in the present state of corrupt nature we cannot be saved unless we pass through the many tribulations with which this life is filled: Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. [Acts 14:21].

The priest finishes the Lord’s prayer with the word Amen, which he pronounces in a low voice, because he represents the person of Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of all the divine promises. This word is a summary of all the petitions that have been made—petitions the repetition of which pleases the Lord, for the more we pray to God the more he will hear our prayers. The great people of this world are not pleased when they are importuned by petitions; but this importunity is pleasing to God, says St. Jerome. Cornelius à Lapide even assures us that God wishes that we should persevere in this importunity in our prayers.

From The Holy Eucharist, pp. 48-52, by St. Alphonsus de Liguori.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Enter into the Joy of Your Lord


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Sunday, July 19, 2020

Why I love Viganò's concept of a parallel church.

In his controversial essay of June 9, 2020, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò wrote:

“. . . it is undeniable that from Vatican II onwards a parallel church was built, superimposed over and diametrically opposed to the true Church of Christ. This parallel church progressively obscured the divine institution founded by Our Lord in order to replace it with a spurious entity, corresponding to the desired universal religion that was first theorized by Masonry.”

Curiously in his essay [here] he only actually mentions the words “parallel church” twice in his entire statement, yet these two words have set off a firestorm of debate.

The first reason I love this concept is because of its simple logic. If there is a parallel church, then it must be parallel to something, and that something is the real church, or as Viganò states, “the true Church of Jesus Christ.” Therefore the indefectibility of the Roman Catholic Church is not denied. It continues to exist regardless of anything said or done by Vatican II. By peeling off the characteristics of the parallelism such as false ecumenism, ambiguous documents, neglect of the sacred, and an exaggerated humanism, then the true Church founded by Jesus shines forth minus the crust, rust and mold.

The second reason I like the concept is because it is such a convenient way to pigeonhole those who openly and publicly defy the teaching of the Catholic Church, such as Joeseph R. Biden, Nancy P. Pelosi, and Andrew M. Cuomo.

If there is a parallel church are there parallel Catholics? Certainly, and among the most visible are the boastful pro-abortion politicians who call themselves Catholic, but who can actually be described as prominent members of the parallel church. What an appropriate way to categorize these glorified pro-choicers, who have not been officially excommunicated in order to keep open the door to “dialog.” No matter how they label themselves, the are not of the true Church of Christ – their brand of Catholicism only exists in the parallel church.

Now for a third reason why I love his concept: In a follow-up interview [here] which expanded on his essay, the way forward for Viganò seems to be to act as if Vatican II and the parallel church do not exist, even if the Council never changed anything of the Faith. “If the Council truly did not change anything of our Faith, then let us pick up the Catechism of Saint Pius X, return to the Missal of Saint Pius V, remain before the Tabernacle, not desert the Confessional, and practice penance and mortification with a spirit of reparation. This is whence the eternal youthfulness of the Spirit springs. And above all: let us do so in such a way that our works give solid and coherent witness to what we preach.”

Here we have a rejection of the Novus Ordo vernacular mass, and even a rejection of the new Catechism birthed by the Council. He is essentially advocating a return to personal piety, spiritual mortification and penance, and that spiritual recollection nourished by the Traditional Mass. These were intentionally de-emphasized by the Conciliar church because they were too Catholic and thereby an obstacle to ecumenism – the dialog with false religions and Protestantism.

Viganò holds out the possibility that the Vatican II Council might be consigned to the dustbin of false councils: “. . . we can ask ourselves whether it may be right to expunge the last assembly from the catalog of canonical Councils. The sentence will be issued by history and by the sensus fidei of the Christian people even before it is given by an official document. The tree is judged by its fruits, and it is not enough to speak of a conciliar springtime to hide the harsh winter that grips the Church . . .”

If that occurs, then it is not Viganò who is in schism, as some of his critics suggest. It is the parallel church. In the meantime, I am doing my best to remain in the bosom of the true Church. That is why I am currently following in a safe path – engrossed in the writings and spirituality of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church and founder of the Redemptorist Order. He authored over 100 books, including The Glories of Mary. I highly recommend his works for those who are looking for, or are trying to regain and retain, the spirit of traditional Catholicism, or are simply looking to save their souls and become saints.

As Viganò states, concern about Vatican II should be secondary. “I would like us first and foremost to seek to proclaim salvific Truth to all men, because their and our eternal salvation depends on it; and that we only secondarily concern ourselves with the canonical and juridical implications raised by Vatican II.”


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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Intra in gaudium Domini tui.

Intra in gaudium Domini tui. “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” [Matt. 25: 21].

“In a word, it will be the paradise of the blessed, to rejoice in the joy of God. And thus, he who in this life rejoices in the blessedness that God enjoys, and will enjoy through eternity, can say that even in this life he enters into the joy of God, and begins to enjoy Paradise.”

“What will be the joy of the blessed,” by St. Alphonsus:

When the soul enters the kingdom of the blessed, and the barrier which hinders its sight is taken away, it will see openly and without a veil the infinite beauty of God; and this will be the joy of the blessed. Every object that the soul then will see in God himself will overwhelm it with delight; it will see the rectitude of his judgments, the harmony of his regulations for every soul, all ordained to his divine glory, and its own good. The soul will especially perceive, in respect to itself, the boundless love which God has entertained towards it in becoming man, and sacrificing his life upon the cross through love of it.

Then will it know what an excess of goodness is comprehended in the mystery of the cross, in the sight of a God become a servant, and dying condemned upon an infamous tree; and in the mystery of the Eucharist, in the sight of a God beneath the species of bread, and made the food of his creatures. In particular the soul will perceive all the graces and favors shown to it, which, until then, had been hidden. It will see all the mercies he has bestowed on it, in waiting for it, and pardoning its ingratitude. It will see the many calls, and lights, and aids that have been granted to it in abundance. It will see that these tribulations, these infirmities, these losses of property or of kindred, which it counted punishments, were not really punishments, but loving arrangements of God for drawing it to the perfect love for him.

In a word, all these things will make the soul know the infinite goodness of its God, and the boundless love which he deserves; whence, so soon as it has reached heaven, it will have no other desire but to behold him in his blessedness and content; and, at the same time, comprehending that the happiness of God is supreme, infinite, and eternal, it will experience a joy that is only not infinite because a creature is not capable of anything that is infinite. It will enjoy, nevertheless, a pleasure that is extreme and full, which fills it with delight, and with that kind of delight that belongs to God himself; and thus will be fulfilled in it the words, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” [Matt. 25:21].

The blessed are not so much blessed through the delight which they experience in themselves as in the joy with which God rejoices; for the blessed love God so infinitely more than themselves that the blessedness of God delights them infinitely more than their own blessedness, through the love which they bear to him; which love makes them forget themselves, and all their delight is to please their Beloved. And this is that holy and loving inebriation which causes the blessed to lose the memory of themselves, to give themselves wholly to praise and love the dear object of all their love, which is God. “They shall be inebriated with the fullness of Thy house” [Ps. 35:9]. Happy from their first entrance into heaven, they continue, as it were, lost, and, so to say, swallowed up in love, in that boundless ocean of the goodness of God.

Wherefore every blessed soul will lose all its desires, and will have no other desire but to love God, and to beloved by him; and knowing that it is sure of ever loving him, and of being ever loved by him, this very thing will be its blessedness, which will fill it with joy, and will make it throughout eternity so satisfied with delight that it will desire nothing more. In a word, it will be the paradise of the blessed, to rejoice in the joy of God. And thus, he who in this life rejoices in the blessedness that God enjoys, and will enjoy through eternity, can say that even in this life he enters into the joy of God, and begins to enjoy Paradise. 

Yet, O my sweet Saviour, and the love of my soul! in this vale of tears I still see myself surrounded by enemies, who would separate me from Thee. O my beloved Lord! suffer me not to perish; make me ever love Thee in this life and in the next life, and then do with me what Thou wilt. O Queen of Paradise! if thou prayest for me, assuredly I shall be with thee eternally, to be in thy company, and to praise thee in Paradise.

“What will be the joy of the blessed,” The Way of Salvation and of Perfection, Part 2, Chapter 28, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church, Founder of the Redemptorists. 

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