Thursday, 6 November 2014

El Dialogo de Carmelitas - a Spanish version of this heroic witness...

For those who can follow the Spanish, here is an excellent version of the story - El Dialogo de Carmelitas (originally in French).

It stars, as the Mother Prioress, the famous Italian actress, Alida Valli, born  Alida Maria Laura, Reichsfreiin (Baroness-imperial) von Altenburger von Marckenstein und Frauenberg of the Holy Roman Empire, who is famous in the English-speaking world for her role as Anna, the amour of the outlaw, Harry Lime, in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Third Man, itself set in the ruins of old, Catholic and imperial Vienna.

There is no escaping it: Europe owes its true origin and greatness to the Catholic religion and its decline to its retreat from Christ.

This version of the Compiegne story of the holy Carmelite martyrs is a particularly expressive one and again emphasizes the heroism of these saintly and remarkable women.

Oh, how we lack, in our times, convents as faithful and zealous as this - and how much we are in sore need of them! It is for lack of such that our times have become so perilous, godless and faithless. We lack these role models of sanctity, humility and simplicity - and, of course, heroism.

It is a salutary reminder to us that we must strive and pray with fervour to be even remotely worthy to share heaven with heroines such as these holy princesses who have deserved to reign forever in glory with their sacred Spouse, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Holy sisters of Compiegne, pray for us!


Veni Creator Spiritus - let us again remember those heroic, holy and royal Carmelites of Compiegne

On 17 July 1794, sixteen Carmelite nuns of Compiegne were guillotined in Paris, convicted of crimes against the state by the tribunal of the French Revolution.

Mother Henriette de Jesus, renowned for her great beauty and strong personality, stood up to represent the other Carmelite sisters before the revolutionary tribunal.

Since the prosecutor accused the Carmelites of being fanatics and counter-revolutionaries, she asked him to explain the meaning of those words. The irritated judge vomited a torrent of offenses against her, and then said: "It is your attachment to your Religion and the King".

Hearing these words, she replied, "I thank you for the explanation".

Then, addressing her companion Carmelites, she said: "My dear Mother and my Sisters, we must rejoice and give thanks to God for we die for our Religion, our Faith, and for being members of the Holy Roman Catholic Church".

In particular, the Revolution hated the fact that they promoted the counter-revolutionary and royalist devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Infant Jesus of Prague, a long-standing Carmelite devotion associated with royalty and nobility and the Order of Malta in Prague. In truth, however, they were devotions much beloved by the ordinary people - not least, of course, in Ireland where the Carmelites became very popular (I cannot suppress a chuckle whenever I see Irish republicans warmly attached to such royalist devotions!).

She was the last one before the Prioress to mount the scaffold to die. To the end, she encouraged her Sisters to persevere. When a charitable person offered a glass of water to one of the Sisters, Mother Henriette told her: "In Heaven, my Sister, in Heaven we will soon have water aplenty to drink."

The late Brazilian Catholic scholar, politician and activist, Professor Plinio Correa de Oliveira comments upon this remarkable story:

"These Sisters knew that they were being put to death for their fidelity to the Catholic Church and the King, but they wanted the prosecutor to admit it out loud, because this would be a public witness of their martyrdom and an encouragement for them in face of the dangers of apostasy. This is why Mother Henriette was charged with asking that question.

When the answer came, she was happy and transmitted it to her Mother and Sisters in religion. All of them shared that joy and went forward to die. Mother Henriette, who was very resolute, offered assistance to each of them until the end. Only the Prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine, died after her, because she was the superior, and the Captain must always be the last one to leave the sinking ship...

You can contrast Mother Henriette de Jesus with an imaginary personage in a popular novel, The Dialogue of the Carmelites by George Bernanos. The character was called Blanche de la Force and was presented as a weak and timid Carmelite Sister. She is an imaginary personage, but it is worthwhile considering her, because she represents a common character type. In his novel, Bernanos presented her as a Sister who had panicked when the other Sisters were taken by the revolutionary soldiers and sentenced, and for this reason had apostatized from the Order. She was no longer living inside the Carmelite community, but she went to see the execution of her former companions who would suffer martyrdom that day. The Sisters were chanting the Veni Creator in chorus and, one by one, they walked up the steps to the scaffold to be guillotined. When she saw this, she was moved by a grace, stepped out of the mob and, singing, joined the cortege to be executed along with them.

The two attitudes of both religious, Mother Henriette and Sister Blanche, express well the different paths of Divine Providence for different souls - the different marvels God works with His chosen ones. For some He chooses the glory of repentance; this is one of the glories attributed to the Apostles who fled during His Passion. For others He gives the strength that he gave to Mother Henriette of Jesus, that is, to view death from a distance and face it bravely, walking toward it joyfully. This was what He did with Mother Henriette, who helped all the others face their martyrdoms. These are two different paths God chooses to lead and direct souls. Seeing these two contrasting paths, you can admire the infinite beauty of God in the unity and variety of His ways. This is why the Saints are different from one another and why there are different schools of spirituality in the Catholic Church. It serves to show the beauty and richness of Holy Mother Church, a reflection of the beauty of the Heavenly Jerusalem".

The Veni Creator Spiritus is the hymn sung at Pentecost and after, calling upon the Holy Spirit to descend upon us and is often sung at the Ordination of a priest or the Reception of a sister into the convent. It, together with the Whitsun Sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus, are two of the most ancient and beautiful chants sung by the Roman Church to the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps the best story told of these most holy Carmelites is that told by Gertrude von Le Fort, a German-French convert from Protestantism, who writes superbly well the Bernanos story of Blanche de la Force, the little marchioness who enters the convent and becomes one of the sisters but is afraid of her own shadow and flees the convent at the first sign of trouble but returns to watch the other sisters die at the scaffold. There courage suddenly comes to her, almost miraculously. The author tells the story as an observer of these momentous events:

"I stood in the midst of the howling rabble. Never have I felt the hopelessness of our position so desperately as then. You know that I am not tall. Chaos surged above me. I was immersed in it. I could not see what happened, I could only hear. All my powers of perception centred in the sense of hearing and sharpened it incredibly.

The Carmelites were coming to Revolution Square, singing, just as Sister Marie had expected. Their psalms could be heard from afar and penetrated the screams of the populace with strange clarity. Or did the tumult subside as the victims came in sight? I could scarcely distinguish the last words of the Salve Regina - sung, you know, at the deathbed of a nun - and soon after the first line of the Veni Creator. There was something light and lovely in their singing, something tender and yet strong and serene. Never would I have thought that such song could flow from the lips of those condemned to death. I had been deeply agitated, but when I heard this singing I grew calm. Creator Spiritus, Creator Spiritus - I seemed to hear these two words again and again. They cast anchor within me.

The song flowed on full and clear. To judge by the sound, the cart must have been moving very slowly. Probably the crowd blocked the way. I had the feeling that the nuns were still far from the square. For this singing transcended all sense of time; it transcended space, even bloody Revolution Square. Creator Spiritus, Creator Spiritus! It effaced the Guillotine. It effaced even chaos. All at once I had the feeling of standing among human beings again...

I was startled - Revolution Square was deathly still. Even at the execution of the King there had not been such utter silence. The song seemed fainter too. Probably the cart had gone on; perhaps it had already reached its goal. My heart began to pound. I was suddenly aware that a very high voice was lacking in the chorus - a moment later, another...I thought that the execution had not even begun and in reality it was almost over!

Now only two voices sustained the song. For a moment they hovered like a shining rainbow over Revolution Square. Then one side extinguished. Only the other continued to glow...shimmering...fading - but quickly the song was taken up by another voice, thin, frail, and childlike. I had the impression that it was not coming from the height of the scaffold but from the thick of the crowd, just as if the people were making a response. Wondrous illusion!

At the same moment the dense lines heaved and broke. A gap opened right in front of me, just as on that September night. And I saw - exactly as on that night - Blanche de la Force in the seething mass of those dreadful women. Her small pinched face broke forth from its surroundings and cast them aside like a wrap. I recognised her every feature, and yet I did not recognise her face - it was absolutely fearless. She was singing. In her small, weak, childlike voice she sang without a tremor, exulting like a bird! All alone across the great terrible square she sang the Veni Creator of her Carmelite sisters to the very end:

Deo Patri sit gloria
Et Filio, qui a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito
In saeculorum saecula.

Distinctly I heard the profession of faith in the Holy Trinity. The Amen I did not hear - the furious women struck her down on the spot.

And now, my friend, the rainbow over Revolution Square had died away. And yet I had the feeling that the Revolution was over. As a matter of fact, the Reign of Terror collapsed ten days later."

Indeed, it did!

For ten days later the leading figure of the Terror, Maximilien Robespierre, was himself arrested and taken to the Guillotine with his brutal lieutenant, Louis-Antoine de St Just, and thereafter the period known as "The Terror" was over, although the destruction wrought by the Revolution was far from over. St Just was he who had coined the devilish phrase "the Revolution consists in the destruction of all that opposes it" thus proving that its main purpose was but destruction.

However, the awful murder of the holy Sisters of Carmel had turned even the brutal, cynical Paris mob and they had, at last, become sickened. They now demanded the head of the chief terrorist himself.

From Heaven, the holy sisters, now re-joined by the little Marquise de la Force, Sister Blanche once more, interceded most powerfully for the devastated vineyard that was France and the 13 month Reign of Terror at long last came to an end.

Here is a dramatic representation of that awful scene as it must really have been on that fateful day when these saintly souls mounted the scaffold on their way to the heights of heaven to live forever with the Holy Martyrs of our noble Faith:

The great French composer, Francois Poulenc (7 January 1899-30 January 1963), wrote, in 1957, a remarkable opera about these holy women called Les Dialogues des Carmelites - The Dialogue of the Carmelites - which tells the story of the convent during the Revolution and ends with this awesome scene before the Guillotine.

Here is that final scene:

Holy Carmelites of Compiegne, pray for us!


International Una Voce Federation says threatened SSPX ex-communications may be illegal





International Una Voce Federation: threatened SSPX ex-communications may be illegal


LONDON 4 November 2014 – The International Una Voce Federation which seeks to promote the traditions, particularly the liturgical traditions, of the Roman Catholic Church, within the official structures of the Church, today questioned the legality of a “notification” dated 14 October 2014 of the Roman See of Albano, Italy, claiming to ex-communicate those who receive the sacraments from, or attend religious services of, the Society of St Pius X (SSPX).


The Federation questions the legality of a notification in similar terms of Bishop Óscar Sarlinga of Zárate-Campana in Argentina, issued on 3 November 2014.


The Federation, which is a lay movement independent of any priestly or religious community, believes that preservation of doctrine, law and justice, as well as good pastoral practice, within the Church, is important.


The Federation believes that these “notifications” tend to imply that anyone who has ever attended services of the SSPX is not welcome in parish churches in these dioceses.


This view is clearly in direct contrast with the emphasis of the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, upon mercy and forgiveness, as well as the “openness of heart” requested by Pope Benedict XVI as a prelude to a healing of divisions “in the heart of the Church”.


The Bishop of Albano is the Rt Rev Marcello Semeraro, media spokesman of the Italian Bishops’ conference and secretary of the Papal inner Council of 9 advisers.


The Federation is asking the Holy See to advise that these notifications are defective and to require them to be modified so as to comply with the law of the Church and the decisions of the Holy See.




On 14 October 2014, the Chancery of the Diocese of Albano issued a notification to parish priests claiming that anyone who attends SSPX services, even, apparently, children, thereby “break communion with the Catholic Church” and can only be re-admitted to the Church after “an adequate personal path of reconciliation”. The notification reads:


“The Catholic faithful cannot participate at Mass, neither request and/or receive sacraments from or in the Society. Acting otherwise would mean to break communion with the Catholic Church.


Therefore, any Catholic faithful who requests and receives sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X, will place himself de facto in the condition of no longer being in communion with the Catholic Church. A readmission to the Catholic Church must be preceded by an adequate personal path of reconciliation, according to the ecclesiastical discipline established by the Bishop.”


Bishop Óscar Sarlinga of Zárate-Campana in Argentina, in a letter to his diocese dated 3 November 2014, states:


“It is not licit for the Catholic faithful to take part in the celebration of Mass in these conditions, neither to request nor to receive sacraments from the priests of the aforementioned "Society of Saint Pius X", including in private places turned into places of worship, without excluding, in case of obstinacy, also the ferendae sententiae penalties that may apply, according to the ecclesial spirit and that of protection of the faithful.


In the case of the rupture of ecclesiastical communion by the above-mentioned founded motives, in order to be later readmitted to the Catholic Church, a personal path of reconciliation (and eventually of removal of the canonical censure) will be required, according to the discipline advised by the Holy See and the [diocese's] own, established by the diocesan bishop.”




The attitude of the Holy See has always been that lay faithful who receive the sacraments from priests of the SSPX are not excommunicated. Examples are as follows.


a.      In 1991 Bishop Joseph Ferrario of Honolulu declared six lay Catholics excommunicated on grounds of schism for having procured the services of an SSPX bishop to administer confirmation. These appealed to the Holy See which, through Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declared the decree invalid because their action, though considered blameworthy, did not constitute schism.


b.      On 5 September 2005, the Holy See, through the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, affirmed that “the faithful who attend the masses of the aforesaid Fraternity are not excommunicate, and the priests who celebrate them are not, either—the latter are, in fact, suspended.” (Protocol n.55/2005, signed by the then Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Mgr Camille Perl).


c.       On 27 September 2002, quoted and reaffirmed on 18 January 2003, the Holy See, through the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, stated that “In the strict sense you may fulfil your Sunday obligation by attending a mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X.” (Letters signed by Mgr Camille Perl).


“To break communion with the Catholic Church”, i.e. excommunication, can only be incurred where there is both an “external violation of a law or precept” and it is “gravely imputable by reason of malice or culpability” (canon 1321) and only if the proper penalty is excommunication.


Excommunication is not the proper penalty for “participating at mass” or “requesting or receiving the Sacraments” from SSPX priests or in SSPX-administered places of worship.


a.      It is accordingly not correct that ex-communication is thereby incurred.


b.      In any event, those under the age of sixteen cannot incur a penalty (canon 1323.1); this would apply to those under this age who received baptism or confirmation.


Even when basing a canonical argument on the assumption that the SSPX has no canonical status in the Church and that its priests are suspended, following ordination without dimissorial letters, it does not follow that to seek the sacraments at their hands is an illegal act on the part of the lay faithful.


To say otherwise also conflicts with the provision in canon law (canon 1335) for the suspension of any prohibition of the celebration of the Sacraments or sacramental, or the exercise of a power of governance, when one of the faithful requests it for “any just reason”.


Furthermore, the notifications appear to challenge the Decree of the Congregation of Bishops dated 21 January 2009 lifting the excommunications of the SSPX bishops and instead seem to wish to re-impose those ex-communications, within each diocese, contrary to this decree of a Congregation of the Holy See.


Moreover, it would be incongruous for the legislator to lift the excommunication of the bishops while imposing or maintaining it on the lay faithful to whom they minister.




The Federation is thus obliged to question the notifications since they appear to undermine papal legislation and canon law.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Feast of All Saints and All Souls or Hallowtide...

Hallowe'en, All Hallows, Hallowmas and Hallowtide...

All Saints’ Day, All Hallows, or Hallowmas begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October – which, of course, is known as the Eve of All Hallows, Halloweven or Hallowe’en, and ends at sundown on 1 November. This is the feast commemorating the saints, all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven.

The following day, unless it is a Sunday, is called All Souls’ Day. The Feast of All Souls is a day of prayer for all the Faithful departed who have not yet been purified in the fires of Purgatory and reached Heaven, remembering that there is a union of prayer between those in Heaven (the "Church triumphant"),those in Purgatory (the "Church suffering") and the living (the "Church militant"). 
The Church Suffering are taken from Purgatory into Heaven to join the Church Triumphant

Some scholars believe that the Feast of All Saints may have been a christianisation of the ancient Roman observation of 13 May, the Feast of the Lemures, in which malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. 

Churches in Britain were already celebrating All Saints on 1 November at the beginning of the 8th century to coincide or replace the Celtic festival of the Dead (Samhain). Others suggest that date was a Germanic idea, rather Celtic. Interestingly, according to Óengus of Tallaght (d. ca. 824), the 7th/8th century church in Ireland celebrated All Saints on 20 April. 

The Eastern Orthodox Church of the Byzantine Tradition commemorate all saints collectively on the first Sunday after Pentecost, All Saints’ Sunday (Greek: Αγίων Πάντων, Agiōn Pantōn). 

The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the ninteenth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor, Emperor Leo VI "the Wise" (886–911). 

After the death of his devout wife, Empress Theophano in 893, her husband built and wanted to dedicate a church to her but, when not ecclesiastically permitted, he dedicated it to all the saints so that she would in effect be celebrated thereby.
The Emperor Leo IV the Wise and Empress Theophano
In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each and the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed one day for all.  

On 13 May 609 or 610, Pope St Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs and the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since.
Pope St Boniface IV
Pope St Gregory III (731–741) founded an oratory in St Peter’s Basilica for the relics of all the apostles and saints and moved the feast day from 13 May to 1 November. 
Pope St Gregory III

A November festival of all the saints was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Emperor Louis the Pious, at the behest of Pope Gregory IV and all the bishops, with an octave added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484).

The Bishop of Albano is the newest episcopal Pharisee...

The Bishop of Albano disgraces himself and the Church... 


The following is the recent “notification” to parish priests issued by Rt Rev Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of the Roman Suburbicarian Diocese of Albano.
It claims to ex-communicate anyone in his diocese who merely attends a traditional mass celebrated by the Society of St Pius X ("SSPX") or Sacraments administered by any minister from the SSPX. 

It is an illegal and outright attack on the Pope, the Papacy and the decree of Pope Benedict XVI lifting the ex-communications against the Society of St Pius X. 
This blog carries no brief for the Society of St Pius X but is concerned to draw attention to a bishop who arrogates to himself the right to undermine papal legislation whilst hypocritically complaining and protesting against the SSPX for, as he sees it, doing just the same.
If the Bishop seeks to re-ex-communicate the SSPX then he should start with ex-communicating himself for defying – blatantly and openly and by pretended legal means – the Pope and papal legislation.
However, it is also worth noting:
(1)   Marcello Semeraro, although not a cardinal, is the only non-cardinal on the council of 9 Cardinals in charge of reforming the Curia and the Church and he is secretary to that body. He is thus no ordinary bishop. And yet he is willing to break the canon law of the Church.
(2)   He is also the media spokesman of the Italian Conference of Bishops with particular oversight of the Italian daily Avvenire, in which his note was also published.
(3)   The SSPX was a duly and properly established institute of the Roman Catholic Church, established lawfully in 1970, legally approved by the Holy See and canonically approved in 1971 by John, Cardinal Wright, then Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. The Society was first legally erected in the Diocese of Geneva-Lausanne & Fribourg by his Lordship, Bishop François Charrière on All Saints Day, 1 November 1970. It was approved for 6 years ad experimentum. However: "A congregation founded by a Bishop is and remains a diocesan congregation... until such time as it receives pontifical approbation, or, at least, the decree of praise (can. 492(2))". This is precisely what happened. On 18 February 1971 a "decree of praise" from his Eminence John, Cardinal Wright gave the SSPX formal approval of the Holy See thus removing the SSPX from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Geneva-Lausanne & Fribourg. Further proof of Roman approbation is the fact that in 1972, the Vatican allowed 3 members of religious orders, having pronounced their perpetual vows, to be transferred from their orders into the SSPX. Thus de facto the Holy See recognised and approved the existence of the SSPX. A Dominican religious who, even after the suspensio a divinis of 1976, asked and obtained from Rome permission to leave the Dominican Order to join the SSPX. If the SSPX was really suppressed why would the Holy See allow a Dominican religious to leave the Dominicans to join a suppressed Society? It is said that the approval given to the Society was retracted by Mgr Mamie, successor of Mgr Charrière, by a decree of May 1975. That may be so but once a religious order has been approved by a bishop it can only be suppressed by the Holy See (can. 493 in the 1917 code applicable at the time but also reproduced by can. 584 in the code of 1983). There was thus no legal suppression of the Society and the latest “Note” of Bishop Semeraro is factually wrong. Additionally, it is well known that the Holy Roman Rota receives and accept petitions for nullity from those who have been married in chapels of the SSPX, accepting them as valid until the petition of nullity is proved, not claiming that the marriage is null by virtue of taking place in an SSPX chapel. thus the Holy See does recognise the administration of Sacraments by the SSPX ministers.
(4)   The HQ of SSPX in Italy is located in this Diocese, near Castel Gandolfo. Bishop Semerero is clearly challenged by that fact.
The bishop is a disgraceful hypocrite in a Church which already has far too many hypocritical bishops who ignore, or even defy, the law and who think the law is no more than what they, themselves, say – the mark of every lawless tyrant and oppressor that ever was.
It is also the mark of Antichrist that he will be lawless and yet he will pretend to be a man of religion.
That is why the child abuse scandal in the Church was allowed to happen in the first place – disregard of the law, both civil and canonical.
And now a member of the Council of 9, charged with reforming the Curia and the Church, is himself defying the very law he is charged to uphold.
If the Church is going to avoid the charge, in the public media, of being run by Pharisaical hypocrites, then men like this bishop must be disciplined and removed.
But will it happen?
 The letter of Cardinal Wright formally approving the SSPX on 18 February 1971
Suburbicarian Diocese of Albano
In the past few weeks, requests of clarification have reached the Diocesan Chancery regarding the celebration of Sacraments at the "Society of Saint Pius X" of Albano Laziale.
Regarding this, it is right and proper to point out that the above-mentioned "Society" is not an institution (neither parish, nor association) of the Catholic Church. [THIS IS LEGALLY FALSE]
This applies even after the decree of the Congregation for Bishops of 21 January 2009, by which the Holy Father Benedict XVI, reaching out in good will in response to reiterated requests by the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, revoked the excommunication which the four Prelates had incurred since 30 June 1988. [THIS IS ALSO FALSE]
This was highlighted by Benedict XVI with his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church of 10 March 2009: "the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church” (in AAS CI [2009], n. 4, p. 272). [THIS IS A DISHONESTLY INCOMPLETE QUOTE OF WHAT POPE BENEDICT SAID. HE SAIDuntil the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church” AND THIS IN A PAPAL DOCUMENT THAT IS NOT A LEGAL OR DEFINITIVE DECREE BUT MERELY A LETTER, ADDRESSED IN THE FIRST PERSON, TO BISHOPS. IT WAS NOT INTENDED TO HAVE THE EFFECT OF A LEGAL DECREE. IN TREATING IT OTHERWISE, BISHOP SEMERERO IS BEING, AGAIN, DISHONEST.]
The same Benedict XVI, in the following Letter m. p. Ecclesiae Unitatem, of July 2, 2009, added: "the remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the context of ecclesiastical discipline to free the individuals from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. However, the doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry." (in AAS CI [2009], p. 710-711). [AGAIN, ALTHOUGH THIS LETTER HAS A HIGHER STATUS THAN THAT OF 10 MARCH 2009, IT DOES NOT PRESUME TO MAKE A DECREE ON THE STATUS OF THE SSPX AND CANNOT BE READ AS SUCH. IT MERELY REPEATS THE 10 MARCH LETTER. ITS LEGAL EFFECT IS TO RE-STRUCTURE THE ECCLESIA DEI COMMISSION AND PLACE IT UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE CDF. THAT IS ALL. BISHOP SEMERERO AGAIN DISHONESTLY TREATS IT OTHERWISE.]
As a consequence of the above, it is right and proper to restate what had been formulated in the Pastoral Note on the Society of Saint Pius X of [former bishop of Albano] Dante Bernini, in which it can be read:
‘The Catholic faithful cannot participate at Mass, neither request and/or receive Sacraments from or in the Society. Acting otherwise would mean to break communion with the Catholic Church’.
Therefore, any Catholic faithful who requests and receives Sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X, will place himself de facto in the condition of no longer being in communion with the Catholic Church. A re-admission to the Catholic Church must be preceded by an adequate personal path of reconciliation, according to the ecclesiastical discipline established by the Bishop.
It is sincerely saddening that such options, particularly when in reference to the Christian Initiation of Children and Adolescents, must be undertaken in contrast with the pastoral orientations of the Italian Church and, consequently, with the choices of the Diocese of Albano, where formative paths for the growth and maturation of the life of faith are favoured.
To the Parish Priests, remains the duty of providing adequate information to the faithful.
From the Albano Chancery, 14 October 2014, Prot. 235/14.
+ Marcello Semeraro, Bishop.
The pharisaical hypocrisy of this purported and illegal decree is at least three-fold:
(1)   First, in its naked, impudent, disobedient and schismatic defiance of the 21 January 2009 decree of the Holy See remitting the Ex-communication latae sententiae of the bishops of the SSPX;
(2)   Secondly, in its imposition of a ludicrously un-pastoral, unjust and oppressive penalty upon those who wish to worship as their ancestors did and who, by virtue of the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae of Vatican II, ought not to have their religious freedom thus shamefully, immorally, unnaturally and illegally curtailed and restricted;
(3)   Thirdly, by the sheer and brazen hypocrisy entailed in showing such oppressive intolerance whilst, at the same time, talking about tolerance, equality, non-discrimination, liberty and freedom, extending the hand of friendship to any other group but denying it to those who wish harmlessly to worship as their ancestors did; and
(4)   Apparently claiming even to punish with ex-communication of children who attend mass in an SSPC church and requiring them to under go a “special penitential path” which is not applied even to those who blatantly and openly defy the Pope or Catholic doctrine.
It is only fair, I believe, to post the following statement in reply of the local district of the Society:
ALBANO, ITALY – 10-31-2013
In a notification dated October 14 of this year, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, Ordinary of the Diocese of Albano Laziale (Italy), made particularly odious statements about the Society of St Pius X, for the purpose of keeping the faithful away from masses celebrated by our Society and from the religious instruction given to young people, declaring that the Society was not “an institution of the Catholic Church”.
Bishop Semeraro cannot be unaware of the fact that the Society of St Pius X was erected with the approval of the Bishop of Fribourg (Switzerland) on 1 November 1970, and that this establishment was ratified by Rome with a decree issued by Cardinal Wright, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy on 18 February 1971.
The house itself of the Society in Albano, with its semi-public oratory for the administration of the sacraments, was canonically erected by the decree of Bishop Semeraro’s predecessor, Bishop Raffaele Macario on 22 February 1974 (Protocol n. 140/74).
Despite the problems with the ecclesiastical authorities that developed following the deviations in the Faith and the liturgy brought about by the Second Vatican Council, and notwithstanding the illegitimate attempts to suppress our Society because of its fidelity to the Tradition of the Church, the Holy See itself, through the Roman Ecclesia Dei Commission, affirmed that one can perform one’s Sunday duty “by attending a mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St Pius X” (18 January 2003) and, as everyone knows, it no longer considers the bishops of that same Society to be out of communion with the Catholic Church.
It is very odd that Bishop Semeraro should intervene in this way when he has made himself the champion of ecumenism in his diocese. In 2009 he granted the Church of San Francesco in Genzano, which was built with the labours and sacrifices of our ancestors for Catholic worship, to schismatics and heretics. On 28 January of this year he organized an ecumenical vigil in the cathedral to pray with persons who are certainly not “in communion with the Catholic Church”, such as an Evangelical Lutheran pastor and an Orthodox bishop.
In the month of November alone, three [ecumenical] meetings are scheduled in the diocese, and the bishop will preside at one of them, thus supporting religions that deny truths of the Faith that have been defined by the Church and spreading the false doctrine of indifferentism, which says that every religion is sufficient for salvation. He does not seem to care that this openly contradicts the teaching of the perennial Magisterium of the Church, in particular of Pope Pius XI in his encyclical, Mortalium Animos.
Moreover from 26 to 28 March of this year the house of the Somaschi Fathers in Albano hosted the First Forum of Christian Homosexuals, at which the practice of sodomy was defended in principle as an act of true love!
All this is possible in the diocese... but not attending the masses or classes of those who hand down the Church’s Tradition in doctrine and the liturgy!
This blatant inconsistency is an obvious symptom of the terrible crisis that is affecting the whole Church and that was manifested again recently in the last Synod, in which, under the pretext of mercy, there was discussion of the possibility of changing the Sixth Commandment of God and of abandoning the indissolubility of Christian marriage!
The Society of St Pius X, following the example of its founder, will continue to transmit in its entirety the deposit of the Catholic Faith and morals, openly taking sides against all the errors that try to distort it, without fear of threats or of unjust canonical sanctions, because neither Bishop Semeraro nor any other member of the ecclesiastical hierarchy will ever be able to change this deposit. As St. Peter said, “It is better to obey God rather than men”.
All who wish to receive the sacraments as the Church has always administered them, or to receive authentic catechetical instruction for their children, adult formation, spiritual direction and comfort for the sick will always be welcome in our chapels.
Society of St Pius X, District of Italy

Sunday, 26 October 2014

On the Feast of Christ the King!

Ave Christus Rex!

The Feast of Christ the King

Munkácsy Mihály. Ecce Homo. 1896.

Ecce Homo!

"Then therefore, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon his head; and they put on him a purple garment. And they came to him, and said:

Hail, King of the Jews

and they gave him blows. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith to them: Behold, I bring him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in him. (Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment.) And he saith to them:

"Behold the Man!"

[John 19:1-5]

Diego Velazquez. The Crucifixion or Christ of San Placido. 1630.

Regnavit a ligno Deus

"God hath ruled us from a tree"

[Vexilla Regis, Venantius Fortunatus]

Christos Pantokratoros (Christ, King of all), ancient Byzantine ikon.

Rex regum et Dominus dominantium
"King of kings and Lord of lords"

[Revelation 19:16]

Dignus est Agnus qui occisus est, accipere virtutem, et divinitatem, et sapientem, et fortiudinem, et honorem. Ipsi gloria et imperium in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing...Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
[Revelation 5:12,13, Introit for the Mass of Christ the King]

Dixit itaque ei Pilatus: ergo Rex es tu? Respondit Jesus: tu dicis quia Rex sum ego. Ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati: omnis qui est ex veritate, audit vocem meam.

"Pilate therefore said to Him: art Thou a king then? Jesus answered: thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice".
[John 18, Gospel for the Mass of Christ the King]
 Jusepe de Ribera. Christ in the Crown of Thorns.

"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."

[Revelation 19:6]

"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever."

[Revelation 11:15]

"And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS."

[Revelation 19:16]

"For unto Us a Child is born, unto Us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace".
[Isaiah 9:6]

"Unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon His shoulders...
The London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Colin Davis, sings G F Handel's great tribute to the King of Kings in the Oratorio called after the Hebrew name for the Anointed Lord of Lords:

The Kingship of Christ is not like the kingship of pagans, heathens, unbelievers and gentiles. The Kingship of Christ is the kingship of a God-King-Priest Who suffers for the sake of Hs subjects whom He considers to be His very own children.

His crown is the Crown of Thorns, His sceptre is the Reed of humility, His royal cloak is the Purple Robe of suffering, for a royal girdle He is bound with the Bonds of servitude, His white Seamless Garment of purity and integrity is stripped from Him in public, His subjects mock Him, His servants desert Him, His people for whom He suffers and dies reject Him, His path is a Way of the Cross and His greatest work is Crucifixion as a common criminal.

Behold the King Who is a servant to the meanest of His people!

In so suffering, this great King gives us a model for all Christian leadership - paternal, royal, priestly, loving, unselfish, all-suffering, all-giving and all-sacrificing.

This is how all Christian kings and fathers must conduct themselves. For kings are fathers and fathers are kings, their subjects are children and their children are subjects - to be loved, not oppressed; to be formed, not neglected; to be nourished, not abused.

For these little ones, a king and a father sacrifices all he has and, above all, himself.

That is the meaning of Christian kingship, fatherhood and leadership.

"He saith to them: My chalice indeed you shall drink; but to sit on my right or left hand, is not mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by my Father. And the ten hearing it, were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them to him, and said: You know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that are the greater, exercise power upon them. It shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister:

And he that will be first among you, shall be your servant.

Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as a redemption for many."
[Matt 20:23-28]

But how few among us - even among us Christians - understands this meaning of Christian leadership? So few. They still think - like pagans - either that leadership and earthly power are useful means to enrich oneself and lord it over others or else, equally falsely, they think they are merely evil, which is to say the same thing.

It is false.

Others foolishly think that it is degrading to be a servant and better to be rich, powerful, and influential, not so as to be a servant, but so as to serve oneself and oppress and humiliate others.

In fact, kingship or leadership is given by God to men to serve others and to sacrifice oneself for the good of others, as Christ the King did for us. The role of Christian leader is one of suffering and self-sacrifice - not selfishness and self-aggrandisement. It is a most noble and holy calling and we must re-learn to regard it as such.

Woe betide those who use power and rule for themselves and not for others!

The Face of JESUS CHRIST on the Shroud of Turin - the face of the King of love.

And so we must return to the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ...

"19. When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.

Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and servants respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men.

'You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men'.

If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent.

Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ, God and Man.

Peace and harmony, too, will result; for, with the spread and the universal extent of the Kingdom of Christ, men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.

28. We further ordain that the dedication of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Our predecessor of saintly memory, Pope Pius X, commanded to be renewed yearly, be made annually on that day."

[Pope Pius IX, Quas Primas, 1925, Encyclical letter establishing the Feast of Christ the King]

Christos Pantokratoros

Hail Christ the King!