Wednesday 31 March 2010

Ninth and Tenth Stations: Meditations and Prayers

NINTH STATION: Jesus Falls the Third Time
(Philippians 2:5-7, Luke 14:11)

Consider the third fall of Jesus Christ. His weakness was extreme, and the cruelty of His executioners excessive, who tried to hasten His steps when He had scarcely strength to move.

Ah, my outraged Jesus, by the merits of the weakness Thou didst suffer in going to Calvary, give me strength sufficient to conquer all human respect and all my wicked passions, which have led me to despise Thy friendship.

I love Thee, Jesus, my love, with my whole heart; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.

TENTH STATION: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
(John 19:23-25, Luke 14:33)

Consider the violence with which the executioners stripped Jesus. His inner garments adhered to His torn flesh and they dragged them off so roughly that the skin came with them. Compassionate your Saviour thus cruelly treated, and say to Him:

My innocent Jesus, by the merits of the torment which Thou hast felt, help me to strip myself of all unworthy attachments to things of earth, in order that I may place all my love in Thee, Who art so worthy of my love.

I love Thee, O Jesus, with my whole heart: I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.

Seventh and Eighth Stations: Meditations and Prayers

SEVENTH STATION: Jesus Falls a Second Time
(Hebrews 4:15)

Consider the second fall of Jesus under the cross—a fall which renews the pain of all the wounds of the head and members of our afflicted Lord.

My most gentle Jesus, how many times Thou hast pardoned me, and how many times have I fallen again, and begun again to offend Thee! Oh, by the merits of this new fall, give me the necessary helps to persevere in Thy grace until death. Grant that in all temptations which assail me I may always commend myself to Thee.

I love Thee, Jesus, my love, with my whole heart; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.

EIGHTH STATION: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
(Luke 23:27-31, John 15:6)

Consider that those women wept with compassion at seeing Jesus in so pitiable a state, streaming with blood, as He walked along. But Jesus said to them, "Weep not for Me, but for your children."

My Jesus, laden with sorrows, I weep for the offences that I have committed against Thee, because of the pains which they have deserved, and still more because of the displeasure which they have caused Thee, Who hast loved me so much. It is Thy love, more than the fear of hell, which causes me to weep for my sins.

My Jesus, I love Thee more than myself; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.

Monday 29 March 2010

Fifth and Sixth Stations: Meditations and Prayers

FIFTH STATION: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
(Matthew 27:30-32, Matthew 25:40, Galatians 6:2)

Consider that the Jewish leaders, seeing that at each step Jesus, from weakness, was on the point of expiring, and fearing that He would die on the way when they wished Him to die the ignominious death of the cross, constrained Simon the Cyrenian to carry the cross behind Our Lord.

My most sweet Jesus, I will not refuse the cross as the Cyrenian did; I accept it, I embrace it. I accept in particular the death that Thou hast destined for me with all the pains which may accompany it; I unite it to Thy death, I offer it to Thee. Thou has died for love of me, I will die for love of Thee, and to please Thee. Help me by Thy grace.

I love Thee, Jesus, my love; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always, and then do with me what Thou wilt.

SIXTH STATION: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
(Isaiah 52:14, John 14:9)

Consider the legend of the holy woman named Veronica, who, seeing Jesus so afflicted, and His face bathed in sweat and blood, presented Him with a towel with which He wiped His adorable face, leaving on it the impression of His holy countenance.

My most beloved Jesus, Thy face was beautiful before, but in this journey it has lost all its beauty, and wounds and blood have disfigured it. Alas! my soul also was once beautiful, when it received Thy grace in Baptism; but I have disfigured it since by my sins. Thou alone, my Redeemer, canst restore it to its former beauty. Do this by Thy Passion, O Jesus.

I love Thee, Jesus, my love; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always, and then do with me what Thou wilt.

Third and Fourth Stations: Meditations and Prayers

THIRD STATION: Jesus Falls for the First Time
(Isaiah 53:6)

Consider this first fall of Jesus under His cross. His flesh was torn by the scourges, His head crowned with thorns, and He had lost a great quantity of blood. He was so weakened that He could scarcely walk, and yet He had to carry this great load upon His shoulders. The soldiers struck Him rudely, and thus He fell several times in His journey.

My beloved Jesus, it is not the weight of the cross, but of my sins, which has made Thee suffer so much pain. Ah, by the merits of this first fall, deliver me from the misfortune of falling into mortal sin.

I love Thee, O my Jesus, with my whole heart; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.

FOURTH STATION: Jesus Meets His Mother
(John 19:25-27, John 16:22)

Consider the meeting of the Son and the Mother, which took place on this journey. Jesus and Mary looked at each other, and their looks became as so many arrows to wound those hearts which loved each other so tenderly.

My most loving Jesus, by the sorrow Thou didst experience in this meeting, grant me the grace of a truly devoted love for Thy most holy Mother. And thou, my Queen, who wast overwhelmed with sorrow, obtain for me by thy intercession a continual and tender remembrance of the Passion of thy Son.

I love Thee, Jesus, my love; I repent of ever having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always, and then do with me what Thou wilt.

Sunday 28 March 2010

First and Second Stations: Meditations and Prayers

Now that it is Holy Week, I thought I would like to post the prayers from the Stations of the Cross by St Alphonsus Liguori. Not the whole thing, just the short meditation and prayer for each Station. I found the Stations on a site whose name I can’t remember now, it’s so long ago; I apologise for not being able to acknowledge it as my source. The aim is to publish two each day.

When I started following the Stations, I found one or two of the expressions to be rather offputting. Since this was to be for my personal prayer, I changed these few things very slightly, as a help to meditation. In one instance, I changed what I felt was a jarringly archaic turn of phrase to a more modern one. I don’t think I diluted or changed any meanings. And they are, after all, a translation.

FIRST STATION: Jesus is Condemned to Death
(John 3:16, Isaiah 53:7, John 18:33-John 19:1-16)

Consider that Jesus, after having been scourged and crowned with thorns, was unjustly condemned by Pilate to die on the cross.

My adorable Jesus, it was not Pilate, no, it was my sins, that condemned Thee to die. I beseech Thee, by the merits of this sorrowful journey, to assist my soul in its journey toward eternity.

I love Thee, my beloved Jesus; I love Thee more than myself; I repent with my whole heart of having offended Thee. Never permit me to separate myself from Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.

SECOND STATION: Jesus is Made to Bear His Cross
(Isaiah 53:4-6, Matthew 27:31, Luke 9:23)

Consider that Jesus, in making this journey with the cross on His shoulders, thought of us, and offered for us, to His Father, the death that He was about to undergo.

My most beloved Jesus, I embrace all the tribulations that Thou hast destined for me until death. I beseech Thee, by the merits of the pain Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross, to give me the necessary help to carry mine with perfect patience and resignation.

I love Thee, Jesus, my love, I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to separate myself from Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always, and then do with me what Thou wilt.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Reflections at this Difficult Time

Holman Hunt’s The Scapegoat, which I remember seeing on a visit to the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, on the Wirral, when I lived in the North-West. It drifts into my mind off and on, these days … The thing is, of course, that the goat was an innocent creature, whereas a human scapegoat, being a child of Adam, may bring his own "baggage", whether great or small, to add to the burden.

Conscious of feeling vaguely anxious, even slightly ill, as can be the way at times when someone dear to us is suffering or in trouble and we do not know all the details, or what lies ahead.

It is very good to have the companionship of others in the Catholic blogosphere; to know that we are not alone at this time. Thank you to all who have written so informatively and so comfortingly on the great matters that beset us at present.
There is much pain and distress just now. We think of all those victims; and of those in the Church who made so many errors in their handling of the cases. I put it no more strongly than that; there are some things we may never know about the history of all these things. But I hope enough information comes to light - and soon - to clear the air as well as possible.

Thinking a good deal about my favourite saint, St Peter, that wonderful lion-heart whose courage sometimes failed; and yet Christ knew His man, and chose him to be the Rock in whose shelter His flock would gather against the storm.

Remembering also the noble Good Thief, who acknowledged his guilt, and from his own agony defended the innocent Lord in His agony.

There is a passage in St Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, where he draws an analogy between the flesh of the sacrificed animals, taken outside the camp to be burnt, and the sacrificial death of Christ outside the gate of the city. I am a little inclined to think that St Paul’s analogies are not always a very good fit; but sometimes a phrase can leap out, and give us insight and strength in various situations, which are also not necessarily an exact fit. But I think that’s all right, isn’t it? And in this passage (Chapter 13, verse 14) there is one such, par excellence, and I think very apt at present:

“Let us go to Him, then, outside the camp, and share His degradation. For there is no eternal city for us in this life; but we look for one in the life to come.”

I have come to appreciate more and more the fifth Glorious Mystery of the Rosary: The Coronation of Our Lady in Heaven, and the Glory of all the Saints. We have our friends in Heaven, and we can have unshakeable confidence in Our Lady.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Feast of the Annunciation: Anniversary of Archbishop Lefebvre's Death

Anti Dinoscopus has this very moving account of the last illness and death of Archbishop Lefebvre, who died on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1991.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

Please God the doctrinal talks will bear good fruit for us all, and that the full restoration of the SSPX will come about with the least possible delay.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Schism, the Mute Key and Antipopes

Here are some extracts from an interesting article in Messainlatino. It was pasted from the Amici del Papa Ratzinger blog but was originally published in L'Occidentale on 21 March 2010.

The schism tearing the Catholic world apart

… it now seems that there exist, as it were, two Churches, that there is a schism in action …

…Many Catholics do not accuse the Pontiff openly, but they press the mute key on his teachings, they do not read the documents setting out his teaching, if they read them they do not take account of them or they write and speak in support of the exact opposite of what he says …

… Benedict XVI has given teachings about Vatican II which very many Catholics openly dispute, promoting forms of systematic parallel teaching guided by many “antipopes” who live inside the Church. He has given teachings on the “non-negotiable values” which very many Catholics minimize or reinterpret … He has given teachings on the primacy of the apostolic faith in the wise interpretation of events, and many continue to speak of the primacy of the situation, or of praxis, or of the evidence provided by human sciences. He has given teachings on conscience and on the dictatorship of relativism, but very many prefer democracy …

… Teachers … journalists … priests … who are in charge of liturgical centres in the various dioceses: the church which actually works against the Pope is very widespread and has now also split the clergy. I have occasion to travel a good deal in the dioceses for meetings and conferences. … I often have in front of me an audience that is divided in two. Even when the audience is composed of priests. From one side the primacy of faith, the idea that the world has need of salvation, that ecumenical and interreligious dialogue does not involve the renunciation of the uniqueness of salvation in Christ, that Tradition is one, that Christianity is the true religion, that conscience without truth is caprice; from the other side the primacy of the situation which inspires the Gospel, the idea that the world saves the Church … that dialogue does not involve any Catholic identity, that Vatican II is the start of a new phase in the life of the Church, that Christianity has nothing to do with truth which is always ideology, that personal conscience is the ultimate tribunal …

… Many bishops no longer succeed in drawing a clear line, in theological studies many strange doctrines are taught, the faithful are often confused, in the deaneries and parishes there is no life in the pastoral letters that are issued because the priests themselves are divided into two groups, the synods are often places of harsh confrontation between the two ways of thinking, the heated themes of life, the family, relations with other religions, are imposed in very diverse ways from parish to parish and from diocese to diocese.

… In reality and in daily practice there seem to be two churches here, it is a schism in process of happening or perhaps already in place, merely that the accentuated pluralism of today is not formalized.

Saturday 20 March 2010

We can email the Holy Father, thanks to Auntie Joanna!

Very well done to Joanna Bogle for publishing the Holy Father's email address on her blog. It's wondereful that we can now write to him so easily, to assure him of our support and prayers at what must be a time of great difficulty and suffering.

For convenience, here it is:

I have sent mine. Over to you!

Friday 19 March 2010

Munich: Some Thoughts on the Sequence of Events

At the heart of this horrible Munich business lie two glaring facts: the suffering of the victims, and the long career of the man who inflicted those outrages on the innocents. I do not intend the slightest minimisation of the centrality of these appalling things.

Having stressed this, I must say that I have been troubled by all the confusing and contradictory assertions regarding the part played – or not played – by the Holy Father in the matter.

I have interwoven the dates – as best they seem to be known at present - of all the reported events relating to the Hullermann case, and the dates of tenure of the successive Archbishops of Munich-Freising from 1977 to the present. Here is the list. Please don't hesitate to point out any mistakes I may have made.

1977 March 24th: Joseph Ratzinger appointed Archbishop of the ecclesiastical province and archdiocese of Munich-Freising. Installed 28th May. Made a Cardinal 27th June.

1980: Fr Hullermann, of the diocese of Essen in the ecclesiastical province of Cologne, is said by some reports to have been allowed by Cardinal Ratzinger into the archdiocese of Munich-Freising, in order to undergo therapy.

At first reading this gives the impression that the arrangement was a temporary measure. But Hullermann appears in fact to have been accepted for formal (and I assume permanent) transfer into the archdiocese. This would explain why he worked from then on, and up to his recent dismissal, in parishes of the Munich archdiocese.

It is not clear whether the decision to accept the transfer of Fr Hullermann from Essen was taken by Cardinal Ratzinger or by a delegated subordinate.

We do not know whether the then-known facts about Hullermann were available to the Cardinal or his delegate at the time of the decision to accept him.

The first reports imply that the arrangements for therapy were made by Essen. If so, they appear to have been confirmed by Munich. Whether or not this is so, shortly after his inward transfer the case notes were studied at Munich, and decisions were made:

- to order Hullermann to undergo therapy; and
- to require him to live at a particular parish house.

It is further reported that H was forbidden to engage in any parochial work. It is said that this order was imposed by Cardinal Ratzinger.

I suppose it is reasonable to assume that this proscription was to be adhered to until the therapy was completed and the report and recommendations were received from the psychiatrist involved in the case; at which time a further decision would be made about H’s future.

1980 (Assumed): The psychiatrist who treated Hullermann is reported as follows:

“I said, 'For God's sake, he desperately has to be kept away from working with children,"' the psychiatrist, Dr. Werner Huth, said in a telephone interview from Munich. "I was very unhappy about the entire story."

Huth said he was concerned enough that he set three conditions for treating the priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann: that he stay away from young people and alcohol and be supervised by another priest at all times.

[A separate media report says that he sent his warnings to the archdiocese at a very early stage in Hullermann's course of therapy.]
Huth said he issued the explicit warnings --both written and oral -- before the future pope, then Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich and Freising, left Germany for a position in the Vatican in 1982.

[ ...... ]

Despite the psychiatrist's warnings, Hullermann was allowed to return to parish work almost immediately after his therapy began, interacting with children as well as adults. Less than five years later, he was accused of molesting other boys, and in 1986 he was convicted of sexual abuse in Bavaria.

Benedict's deputy at the time, then-Vicar-General Gerhard Gruber, said he was to blame for that personnel decision, referring to what he called "serious mistakes."

The psychiatrist said in an interview that he did not have any direct communications with Ratzinger and did not know whether or not the archbishop knew about his warnings. [My emphasis] Though he said he had spoken with several senior church officials, Huth's main contact at the time was a bishop, Heinrich Graf von Soden-Fraunhofen, who died in 2000.

1981 November 25th: Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and President of the International Theological Commission.

1982 February 15th: The end of Cardinal Ratzinger’s tenure at Munich-Freising.

There followed an interregnum of 8 months.

1982 September (during the interregnum): Hullermann started work as assistant priest at Grafing (Munich-Freising archdiocese).

The then Vicar-General, Fr Gerhard Gruber, claims that he deviated from Cardinal Ratzinger’s residency order, and lifted all restrictions, on his own authority, and without informing the Cardinal.

1982 October 28th: After an interregnum of 8 months, Friedrich Wetter, the Bishop of Speyer, was appointed as the new Archbishop of Munich-Freising. He remained in this post for 24 years, until his retirement in February 2007.

1985 January 29th: Hullermann was relieved of duties at Grafing following a police investigation into suspicions of sexual misconduct.

1986 June: Hullermann was convicted at Ebersberg (near Grafing) of sexual abuse of minors; sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, the sentence being suspended for 5 years.

2007 February 2nd: Archbishop Wetter retired.

There followed an interregnum of nearly 10 months.

2007 November 30th: Reinhard Marx, the Bishop of Trier, became the present Archbishop of Munich-Freising.

2008: It is reported that at some time during this year Hullerman was forbidden to work with children. He appears to have disobeyed the order.

2010 March 15th: After 30 years in the archdiocese, and having worked in a number of parishes, Hullermann was suspended.

It is said that the appalling nature and extent of the child abuse in the Church at large was only borne in on Cardinal Ratzinger some years after his time at Munich, in the light of the things he discovered in the files he read when he was Prefect of the CDF. As regards the specific case of Hullermann, I find it impossible to believe that a person of Pope Benedict's character and temperament and patent goodness would have countenanced any compromise or risk to the young if he had known the situation in 1980 at the time of the transfer.

We do not know how many people were involved in what was no doubt a series of decisions in the progress of this sorry saga. But each of them knows in his heart the part he played; and no doubt there has been much sorrow and repentance, of which we may never know the extent.

Above all, the sinner is responsible for his own evil deeds. All we can say now, perhaps, is that God sees all and knows all.

At the end of all this, the victims remain. They are the ones who matter most.

Monday 8 March 2010

A Different Kind of Perishing

Yesterday we heard in the Gospel one of those cryptic sayings of our Lord. You will of course have heard it too: it was in the passage referring to two recent calamities: the lethal collapse of the tower, and the victims of the Romans, whose blood was mingled with that of their sacrifices. Two horror stories. In our day they would attract the response: How could a good God allow such things to happen? But at the time of Christ the standard response was to wonder: Was this a punishment for their sins? Jesus denies this; but adds: “Unless you repent, you will all perish as they perished”. This seems at first sight to contradict His denial.

A great opportunity to explain this confusing passage to the congregation. But we had a Holy Ghost father visiting the parish: a lovely man, who gave an interesting talk about the Spiritans’ work, and appealed for donations and prayer. His address replaced the homily.

Fortunately, there is a very good article on the subject in the Catholic Herald, written by Mgr William Shomali, the chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem: The Lord is there in our suffering.

I used to puzzle over this text, until it occurred to me that it might be one of those examples of a slippage or blending of things, such as one finds in, for example, the Eschatological Discourse, where it is hard to unravel references to the impending destruction of Jerusalem from those dealing with the Second Coming.

I am very happy to be corrected on this, but I think Christ is talking about two different kinds of death: the temporal and the eternal. The sudden fate of falling into the hands of the Living God may come upon any of us. They perished from the earth; but those who do not repent of their sins will perish eternally. A very sobering thought.

Friday 5 March 2010

Delay in Pope John Paul II's Beatification Process

The process has slipped a bit. According to Messainlatino, the Vatican’s Medical Commission has disallowed the first reported cure. This was the case of the French sister who had apparently been cured of Parkinson’s disease. It is understood that the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease was not definite, and also that people can recover from some forms of the disease.

In view of this, the Postulators have been asked to put forward another miracle from among a further 271 documented cases which they have received.