February 6, 2016
vol 27, no. 37
On this feast of St. Titus, who was mentored by the great St. Paul, he took the Apostle of the Gentiles' words to heart, especially the epistle that St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians when he urged all to "Know you not that they run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain" (1 Cor 9: 24). Little would he realize - or care = that nearly 2000 some years later that prize tomorrow is the Lombardi Trophy which will be hoisted by either the winning Panthers or Broncos in Santa Clara, California. How ironic that it was Saint Clare, the model of unworldliness, who hoisted the true Prize - the Blessed Sacrament in the ciborium - to fend off the marauders of Frederic II. The contrast of what will occur on Super Sunday and what true Catholics should reflect on and follow comprises John Gregory's point on what is more important to the soul.
Saint Paul was completely detached from worldly goods as was his companion in Christ, Saint Titus. They would pray to, or learn about, God, rather than watch the tube. They would convert souls rather than slug down a few beers. They would do penance and mortify themselves rather than buff up and walk around shirtless in public in order to be lusted after. Can you imagine Saint Paul giving an hour to God on Sundays and spending the rest of the day watching football? Do you believe our Saint Titus would do that? The Saints living a lifestyle that many traditional Catholics live outside of Mass on Sunday would make a highly rated, and much attended, blasphemous movie "comedy". There goes Our Lady dumping her Son off at daycare so she can break glass ceilings and be all she can be. There is Saint Joseph engaging in another of his belching contests at the local saloon. You are what you do. Are we Catholics or worldlings?
I thought I would start this opinion-editorial with something that struck me as being odd. I was driving down the highway and I saw a bumper sticker that said; "Pope Paul VI high school baseball team".
I got to thinking how much sports rules our lives especially with the over-hype of tomorrow's Super Bowl. That thought quickly turned to what type of team the Paul VI HS baseball team may be. They might be able to hit and pitch but I bet they make a heck of alot of errors!
They say good comedians do not laugh at their own jokes.
I'm not a good comedian.
Give me a minute.
Okay. I'm finished laughing.
I thought further and figured if I wanted to make the parallel between the baseball team and Paul 6 that my initial inclination was not fully accurate. They would not only make a bunch of errors, but they would not get anything right. They would stand at the wrong positions, face the wrong way on the pitcher's mound and use a hockey stick for a baseball bat. You've heard of putting one's foot in their mouth? Well this team might stick the bat in their mouths.
But even this would not make the analogy complete.
They would not only do everything wrong but they would destroy everything that is right. They would dump gallons of water on their home field right before the game started, make sure the bases and home plate were removed and replaced by kicking tees and have the pitcher roll the ball to where home plate used to be like a bowling ball. In fact, the ball they would use to play would probably be a ping-pong ball.
The same would go if this particular high school had a football team to bring it back to the gridiron where the vast majority of the world is focused for tomorrow's mega-event. They might put their helmets on backwards, forget their shoulderpads, line up offsides, whine if they didn't make a tackle, even play with a pig instead of a pigskin. One thing is fairly certain, they'd in no way resemble the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos.
I know this sounds farfetched, but let's face it, Paul 6 and his successors have all been farfetched when it comes to the Catholic faith in almost all aspects. That's why I use this analogy. Think about it. This high school could have picked almost anyone else that ever existed and had a better representative of one who played the game as it should be played - without making any errors or fumbles...unless, of course, it were named Bergoglio High School team. In that case it would be constantly jabbering jibberish.
"Paul VI High School"?!? That would be like naming a team "The Demonic Catholics", "The Heretical Popes" or "The Damned Saints". How paradoxal do you want to get? In retrospect can you think of a better nickname for Paul VI High than the Vipers?
Well that little antidote leads into my article of the end of Christmastide that leads to this short Time of Septuagesima, though I am not sure how that relates to Paul VI baseball team. But give me the benefit of the doubt please.
I'm sure most of the readers are aware that the worldlings, even those who call themselves Christian, miss the Reason for the season and can't see why I rail against all the hoopla of Super Sunday. Permit me to explain.
During this past season of Christmas I thought I would make a few notes on entering the season of Christmastide with the right frame of mind (a season far more important than the NFL or baseball season, though much shorter and no extra innings or playoffs). After all, most take their decorations down right after December 25 with nary a thought to the Twelve Days of Christmas and Epiphany. Though tailored for Christmas, the same observations will have merit when preparing for the season of Lent which is fast approaching.
First, each year as Christmas approaches we should put all our efforts and focus on obtaining a gift for all the people we know; the gift of Eternal Life. This focus starts with us as individuals. We must become holy before we can help others. I have heard it said that we should make room for the crib of Christ in the inn of our hearts.
I would like to think of this in a different way. I think of the heart as having different chambers, some of which are for what is most important in our lives; from a worldly perspective this could be a room for beer, football, prestige, nice shoes or shiny diamonds, and other rooms for things we know we have to do but don't feel like doing; waking up at a certain time, going to work, washing dishes, folding clothes, going to Confession, ironing, mowing the lawn, eating vegetables, driving in traffic. This later would coincide with a room that has the ambiance of straw and animal dung. To invite a guest to stay in such a room is saying, "You're welcome here, but just barely."
Other rooms, are where our primary focus is, are more luxurious or fitting for a King. These rooms are where those not detached from worldly goods put their false idols. The rooms need to be cleared of the false idols and the sins that go with them, and have the inner walls knocked down, making them into one large castle fitting for the King of Kings to stay.
Name some present-day idols. We should not think only of idols like false gods or a golden calf, they can be the first things we think of when we go to bed at night and wake up in the morning. Some guy or girl we are attracted to. Our favorite TV show. The way we look. The weekly visits to the beauty salon. A habit we are addicted to. The ever so "slightly" immodest fashions we immerse ourselves in. Impure and vulgar entertainment where the Lord's most holy Name is used in vain. Other forms of entertainment where there might be some impurity, bad language or mindless violence. The periods of the day where we have the greatest opportunity to gossip. Long personal blabbering on the phone during work hours. Putting off our duties to feed our internet addiction or to listen to the gossip shows. Any and all of those things not beneficial to our salvation, "we just could not do without" if left on a deserted island.
Saint Paul was completely detached from worldly goods as was his companion in Christ, Saint Titus. They would pray to or learn about God, rather than watch the tube. They would convert souls rather than slug down a few beers. They would do penance and mortify themselves rather than buff up and walk around shirtless in public in order to be lusted after. Can you imagine Saint Paul giving an hour to God on Sundays and spending the rest of the day watching football? Do you believe our Saint Titus would do that? The Saints living a lifestyle that many traditional Catholics live outside of Mass on Sunday would make a highly rated, and much attended, blasphemous movie "comedy". There goes Our Lady dumping her Son off at daycare so she can break glass ceilings and be all she can be. There is Saint Joseph engaging in another of his belching contests at the local saloon. You are what you do. Are we Catholics or worldlings?
Sunday should begin with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but for the vast majority of the population - the very ones Jesus asked His disciples to go out into all corners of the earth and convert - will instead be planning the day for a pagan prize: the Super Bowl. Oh, how far we have fallen in worshiping false idols and Super Bowl Sunday is the king of idols. While millions wait in angst for who will win and raise the trophy, I am reminded of another who showed great wisdom and grace when faced with disaster. That would be St. Clare of Assisi who held high the Blessed Sacrament in a time of epikeia at her monastery - allowing her to touch the sacred vessel - and by so doing drive away the hordes who were attacking. Will we drive away the hordes of temptations that surround us? Only if we temper our attention to these distractions and realize what the real Prize awaits us in Heaven.
To further tweak your conscience, let me include here an excerpt from Butler's Lives of the Saints
on the holy Bishop Saint Titus, whose feast we celebrate today.
ST. TITUS was born a Gentile, and seems to have been converted by St. Paul, who calls him his son in Christ. His extraordinary virtue and merit gained him the particular esteem and affection of this apostle; for we find him employed as his secretary and interpreter; and he styles him his brother, and co-partner in his labours; commends exceedingly his solicitude and zeal for the salvation of his brethren, and in the tenderest manner expresses the comfort and support he found in him, in so much, that, on a certain occasion, he declared that he found no rest in his spirit, because at Troas he had not met Titus. In the year 51, he accompanied him to the council that was held at Jerusalem, on the subject of the Mosaic rites. Though the apostle had consented to the circumcision of Timothy, in order to render his ministry acceptable among the Jews, he would not allow the same in Titus, apprehensive of giving thereby a sanction to the error of certain false brethren, who contended, that the ceremonial institutes of the Mosaic law were not abolished by the law of grace. Towards the close of the year 56, St. Paul sent Titus from Ephesus to Corinth, with full commission to remedy the several subjects of scandal, as also to allay the dissensions in that church. He was there received with great testimonies of respect and was perfectly satisfied with regard to the penance and submission of the offenders; but could not be prevailed upon to accept from them any present, not even so much as his own maintenance. His love for that church was very considerable, and at their request he interceded with St. Paul for the pardon of the incestuous man. He was sent the same year by the apostle a second time to Corinth, to prepare the alms that church designed for the poor Christians at Jerusalem. All these particulars we learn from St. Paul's two epistles to the Corinthians.
St. Paul, after his first imprisonment, returning from Rome into the east, made some stay in the island of Crete, to preach there the faith of Jesus Christ; but the necessities of other churches requiring his presence elsewhere, he ordained his beloved disciple Titus bishop of that island, and left him to finish the work he had successfully begun. "We may form a judgment," says St. Chrysostom, "from the importance of the charge, how great the esteem of St. Paul was for his disciple." But finding the loss of such a companion too material, at his return into Europe the year after, the apostle ordered him to meet him at Nicopolis in Epirus, where he intended to pass the winter, and to set out for that place as soon as either Tychichus, or Arthemas, whom he had sent to supply his place during his absence, should arrive in Crete. St. Paul sent these instructions to Titus, in the canonical epistle addressed to him, when on his journey to Nicopolis, in autumn, in the year 64. He ordered him to establish priests, that is, bishops, as St. Jerom, St. Chrysostom, and Theodoret expound it, in all the cities of the island. He sums up the principal qualities necessary for a bishop, and gives him particular advice touching his own conduct to his flock, exhorting him to hold to strictness of discipline, but seasoned with lenity. This epistle contains the rule of episcopal life, and as such, we may regard it as faithfully copied in the life of this disciple. In the year 65, we find him sent by St. Paul to preach in Dalmatia. He again returned to Crete, and settled the faith in that, and the adjacent little island. All that can be affirmed further of him is, that he finished a laborious and holy life by a happy death in Crete, in a very advanced old age, some affirm in the ninety-fourth year of his age. The body of St. Titus was kept with great veneration in the cathedral of Gortyna, the ruins of which city, the ancient metropolis of the island, situated six miles from Mount Ida, are still very remarkable. This city being destroyed by the Saracens in 823, these relics could never since be discovered: only the head of our saint was conveyed safe to Venice, and is venerated in the Ducal basilic of St. Mark. St. Titus has been looked upon in Crete as the first archbishop of Gortyna, which metropolitical see is fixed at Candia, since this new metropolis was built by the Saracens. The cathedral of the city of Candia, which now gives its name to the whole island, bears his name. The Turks leave this church in the hands of the Christians. The city of Candia was built in the ninth century, seventeen miles from the ancient Gortyn or Gortyna. Under the metropolitan of Candia, there are at present in this island eleven suffragan bishops of the Greek communion.
What follows is advice all true Bishops heed before ordaining Priests and sending them out to teach the fold, and fits nicely with what I mentioned above about the need to get ourselves straight before our chances to more effectively help others is increased:
When St. Paul assumed Titus to the ministry, this disciple was already a saint, and the apostle found in him all the conditions which he charged him so severely to require in those whom he should honour with the pastoral charge. It is an illusion of false zeal, and a temptation of the enemy, for young novices to begin to teach before they have learned themselves how to practise. Young birds, which leave their nests before they are able to fly, are sure to perish. Trees which push forth their buds before the season, yield no fruit, the flowers being either nipped by the frost, or destroyed by the sun. So those who give themselves up to the exterior employments of the ministry, before they are thoroughly grounded in the spirit of the gospel, drain their tender interior virtue, and produce only unclean or tainted fruit. All who undertake the pastoral charge, besides a thorough acquaintance with the divine law, and the maxims and spirit of the gospel, and experience, discretion, and a knowledge of the heart of man, or his passions, must have seriously endeavoured to die to themselves by the habitual practice of self-denial, and a rooted humility; and must have been so well exercised in holy contemplation as to retain that habitual disposition of soul amidst exterior employments, and in them to be able still to say, I sleep, and my heart watches; that is, I sleep to all earthly things, and am awake only to my heavenly friend and spouse, being absorbed in the thoughts and desires of the most ardent love.
Any man who decided to give his life to God through the Priesthood has to, wait for it, give his life to God. Giving his life to God does not include watching HBO or SHOWTIME. It should not include watching TV at all. Even the decent shows that might come on have impure commercials. Can anyone say Viagra? This is something that even the laity should not pooh pooh away as something unavoidable, but a Priest? Can you imagine Pope St. Pius X plopping himself down in front of the tube all day or taking time to watch the Super Bowl or World Cup? This, without even considering what he would do if he saw any of even the tamest programming of our day. He would smash the thing to smithereens. Priests have the Blessed Sacrament available to them all day for Heaven's sake! Can they really claim, with a straight face, that they have nothing better to do than watch TV! How about studying the faith in front of the Blessed Sacrament? Ignorant Priests do great harm to the laity when they speak about things they are not qualified to speak on. And let's face it. Many traditional Priests are lacking in their theological training. And I'm speaking of traditional ones, not Novus Ordo 'priests' who, for the most part, bring the world to the pulpit and sanctuary (what's left of it) every Sunday.
So many people refuse to fully embrace, or preach the truth without compromise. We cannot do things exactly the way God tells us to do them. Adam and Eve could not obey His one simple command. The same happened with the Israelites throughout the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant we had Priests and Bishops abusing their authority which gave Martin Luther his false excuse to start the Protestant Revolt. In recent times
Popes Benedict XV, Pius XI and Pius XII would not consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with all the Bishops despite having clear instructions to do so. And now, many of our Priests cannot hold their flock to the Catholic standard, whole and entire. Some might make the Church real cold, to force people to cover-up, putting the infants and elderly at risk, rather than preach more than once a year on modesty. Others act is if the topic is not important at all, unless the people really cross the line. All could learn many lessons from the magnificent sermons of the holy Cure of Ars St. Jean Marie Vianney.
A true traditional Priest is, wait for it, traditional, in every way. This does not mean that he does without cell phones or the computer. It does mean he encourages women to wear modest dresses and skirts that do not distract males with their figure or flesh. He encourages them to wear sleeves preferably to the wrist but at least covering the upper arms. He encourages men to wear tie and jacket to every Mass (legitimate reasons for not doing so, i.e. going to blue collar job immediately after, excepted). How does a good traditional Priest who has truly given his life to God, by, say it with me, being a good traditional Priest, who has truly given his life to God, encourage his people to do this? By refusing Communion to those who continue to ignore his teaching after the first warning. Of course if they are really bad he should refuse it without warning, giving them the reason why at the time. The dress criterion should be listed in each bulletin and should be mentioned at the pulpit, each week if necessary.
This, of course, is done with prudence in charity. You do not want to bruise the wounded reed. If they are new you do not want to offend them at the expense of their souls. When a new person inquires about the parish you should have information at the ready to give them which will tactfully explain the reasons for modest dress. If they just happen to walk in you might want to speak with them as they exit the Church. Yes, a traditional Priest can take the time to greet his parishioners as they leave the Church. There is a book by Colleen Hammond, Dressing with Dignity, which would be good to have on sale and even offered for free if possible.
They also need to know that they need to be equally modest outside of Church. They do not have to wear their best clothes but they do need to be just as modest as they are in Church. Unless you think people outside of Church are not tempted to lust. The laity must do their part by being charitable to their fellow pew-mates by removing their scowls and maybe moving to the center of the pew (handicapped and elderly excepted of course). Have you ever entered a Church, and only a few people were there but each of them were at the end of a different pew, leaving but one or two pews you could enter without disturbing anyone and encountering that inevitable scowl?
This may seem minute when you realize those dishing out between $10,000 to $25,000 per seat through scalpers at this year's Super Bowl in Levi's Stadium probably won't even attend church on Sunday and doubtful they'd tithe 10% of that amount, which would replenish and fortify any traditional parish. But we'll let God settle that for each of us has to account at our Particular Judgment. Thus,
I will leave with a quote from Father Markus Ramolla:
And at the end of our road, what joy will fill our hearts when we hear those words of judgment: "Well done, good and faithful servant"? But what must it be like to hear those other fatal words, "Depart from Me," words which will ring in our ears forever as we contemplate every second wasted in our lives, every opportunity and grace from God that we scorned, turned away from, and otherwise ignored in our bounden duty to make the crooked straight and the rough places plain? Let not our Last Judgment be like Christmas when it creeps upon us, with that nagging feeling we did not prepare well enough.
If we really want to observe Super Sunday, we'll spend it with Christ, truly present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. Anything less is the pits that could eventually consign us to the eternal pit of hell. St. Titus gave his life for Christ and the Faith. St. Clare fended off the enemy in the face of destruction. Will we do the same or cave to the world?
"Catholics who remain faithful to Tradition, even if they are reduced to but a handful, they are THE TRUE CHURCH" Saint Athanasius, "Apostle of Tradition" AD 373
John Gregory's FAITHFUL TO TRADITION Saturday, February 6, 2016,
Volume 27, no. 37