Saturday, November 8, 2008
The residence of the Popes which was named the Lateran Palace was built by Lateranus Palutius, whom Nero put to death to seize his goods. It was given in the year 313 by Constantine the Great to Saint Miltiades, Pope, and was inhabited by his successors until 1308, when they moved to Avignon. The Lateran Basilica built by Constantine near the palace of the same name, is the first Basilica of the West. Twelve councils, four of which were ecumenical, have assembled there, the first in 649, the last in 1512.
If for several centuries the Popes have no longer dwelt in the Palace, the primacy of the Basilica is not thereby altered; it remains the head of all churches. Saint Peter Damian wrote that “just as the Saviour is the Head of the elect, the church which bears His name is the head of all the churches. Those of Saints Peter and Paul, to its left and its right, are the two arms by which this sovereign and universal Church embraces the entire earth, saving all who desire salvation, warming them, protecting them in its maternal womb.”
The Divine Office narrates the dedication of the Church by the Pope of Peace, Saint Sylvester:
“It was the Blessed Pope Sylvester who established the rites observed by the Roman Church for the consecration of churches and altars. From the time of the Apostles there had been certain places dedicated to God, which some called oratories, and others, churches. There, on the first day of the week, the assembly was held, and there the Christian people were accustomed to pray, to hear the Word of God, and to receive the Eucharist. But never had these places been consecrated so solemnly; nor had a fixed altar been placed there which, anointed with sacred chrism, was the symbol of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who for us is altar, victim and Pontiff. But when the Emperor Constantine through the sacrament of Baptism had obtained health of body and salvation of soul, a law was issued by him which for the first time permitted that everywhere in the world Christians might build churches. Not satisfied to establish this edict, the prince wanted to give an example and inaugurate the holy labors. Thus in his own Lateran palace, he dedicated a church to the Saviour, and founded the attached baptistry under the name of Saint John the Baptist, in the place where he himself, baptized by Saint Sylvester, had been cured of leprosy. It is this church which the Pontiff consecrated in the fifth of the ides of November; and we celebrate the commemoration on that day, when for the first time in Rome a church was thus publicly consecrated, and where a painting of the Saviour was visible on the wall before the eyes of the Roman people.”
When the Lateran Church was partially ruined by fires, enemy invasions, and earthquakes, it was always rebuilt with great zeal by the Sovereign Pontiffs. In 1726, after one such restoration, Pope Benedict XIII consecrated it anew and assigned the commemoration of that event to the present day. The church was afterwards enlarged and beautified by Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII.
Pope Innocent X commissioned the present structure in 1646. One of Rome’s most imposing churches, the Lateran’s towering facade is crowned with 15 colossal statues of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and 12 doctors of the Church. Beneath its high altar rest the remains of the small wooden table on which tradition holds St. Peter himself celebrated Mass.
Unlike the commemorations of other Roman churches (St. Mary Major, Sts. Peter and Paul), this anniversary is a feast. The dedication of a church is a feast for all its parishioners. St. John Lateran is, in a sense, the parish church of all Catholics, for it is the pope's parish, the cathedral church of the Bishop of Rome. This church is the spiritual home of the people who are the Church.
"What was done here, as these walls were rising, is reproduced when we bring together those who believe in Christ. For, by believing they are hewn out, as it were, from mountains and forests, like stones and timber; but by catechizing, baptism and instruction they are, as it were, shaped, squared and planed by the hands of the workers and artisans. Nevertheless, they do not make a house for the Lord until they are fitted together through love" (St. Augustine, Sermon 36>).
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
"The tractor-trailer was travelling southbound on Highway 427 and the trailer portion dislodged from the truck," said OPP Sgt. Dave Woodford. "The trailer with its load went over onto the Queen Elizabeth Way. When the trailer went over it landed on four vehicles. Those are the people who have been transported to hospital."
He said two people were airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries. Two others suffered minor injuries.
I take the QEW to work we left 5 minutes late today...My Guardian angle must have been doing a lot of interceeding with God.
Please pray for the victims and their families. Im still a bit shaken up.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Today the US goes to elections, today more importantly is the feast of St Charles Borromeo. Let us read the commentary of Dr. Plinio. Today when the USA is about to vote for a president which will determin its future, let us pray to this great saint so that he can obtain for us the grace to fight against the evil that has crept up upon us.
St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), Bishop and Confessor, was called by God to execute a true reform in the Church. The happy conclusion of the Council of Trent is in great part due to his prudence. Cardinal at age 23, he was given the archbishopric of Milan. He presided over synods and councils, established colleges and congregations, and renewed the spirit of his clergy and the religious Orders. He was the founder of the diocesan seminaries.
St. Charles Borromeo put into practice the decisions taken at the Council of Trent. He had both the natural and supernatural gifts necessary to be a holy Bishop. His sole aim was to realize the model of the perfect Bishop. All his life was ordained to this ideal. In him, the man disappeared and only the Prelate appeared, manifesting splendorous sanctity.
Comments of Prof. Plinio:
Something that can be noticed in History is that when a people reach an apogee, great men start to appear. And many of these great men are so closely bound to the post that they occupy that the person almost seems to disappear and only the position shines. Let us consider some examples.
There is one man who until today is the Emperor of Emperors, the perfect and definitive pattern for all Emperors. This is so true that when one thinks about an Emperor, one thinks foremost of him. He is Charlemagne. After Charlemagne died, the invasions that he had stopped, began again; the Empire that he had built, broke up; the Europe that he wanted to unite, fragmented into many kingdoms and smaller political units; the dynasty he founded, was extinguished. Everything would lead to the conclusion that his memory would disappear. But Charlemagne remained forever in the memory of all men as the prototype of the Catholic Emperor, and, therefore, the Emperor par excellence. The memory of Charlemagne endured with all the imperial dignity, plenitude of personality, and elevation of spirit proper to an Emperor sent by God to do His work on earth.
Louis XIV is the French King par excellence, the Sun King; Philip II of Spain was par excellence the King who defended the Faith. In the same way, you can find other personages who personified all the facets of the roles they exercised.
The same rule applies inside the Holy Church of God. St. Gregory VII was the Pope par excellence, St. John Baptist Vianney was the model for all parish priests, and St. Charles Borromeo was the prototype of a Bishop.
As a true Pastor who watches over his flock, he was alert to the way error was being presented at his time and took a strong position against it. Like many other preeminent figures of the Counter-Reformation, he helped Catholic doctrine progress by developing the doctrine that Protestantism denied. In his written works, he deduced new developments from truths already known. His position was always militant, as a Bishop should be. He was not an ecumenical Prelate who accepts little parts of truth that the error might have in order to appease the heretic. He would analyze the ensemble of the heresy he was dealing with and discern its ultimate bad intentions. Then he would refute the error in these malicious points and develop the opposite doctrine of the Church.
St. Charles Borromeo was not only a great Bishop of the Counter-Reformation, but in a certain sense he was the Bishop of the Counter-Reformation. This title is his not just because he was a very learned man, but rather because he became the very archetype of a Bishop. He was not satisfied with writing books against the errors of the time, which he did. But he did even more, he personified the truths he defended in his books. He became the very symbol of what he wrote.
I could describe various facets of St. Borromeo that made him a model Bishop if I had more time. But this would make me late for the meeting that follows this one. So let me summarize his life in an example I find very significant.
A Cardinal, as you know, is supposed to dress with pomp, grandeur, and solemnity to glorify Our Lord Jesus Christ before men. In addition to being a Prince of the Church, St. Charles Borromeo was a temporal Lord in Milan, born into a great and noble Italian family. In his 20s, he was entrusted with the responsible post of Papal Secretary of State. Therefore, he used to dress and appear in great style.
Once his carriage was on its way to one of his appointments when a simple friar, who was walking on the road, approached it. St. Charles Borromeo ordered the driver to stop the vehicle. The friar greeted him and said:
“Your Eminence, how nice it must be to live the life of a Cardinal, to wear such splendid clothes and travel in a magnificent carriage! Surely it is much more agreeable than to be a simple friar like me, and walk by foot.”
Cardinal Borromeo kindly invited the friar to accompany him. The friar seated himself next to the Cardinal and the journey re-commenced. Shortly the friar began to cry out in pain, because the beautiful cushions of the benches were placed over a board of sharp iron nails of penance that the Cardinal normally used to mortify himself. The pain became more acute with every movement of the vehicle. The friar could not support such mortification, and begged that the carriage stop for him to get out. Relieved, he returned to his "walk by foot."
That is to say, the silks and crystals of the luxurious carriage were meant to be seen by the people to glorify God and the dignity of his post. Underneath the splendid appearance of a Cardinal, the Saint continued to practice penance for his sins and those of his flock.
We can ask St. Charles Borromeo to intercede with Our Lord and Our Lady for several things on his feast day:
• for the reform of today’s Bishops who so often are very different from the model he represented,
• for the restoration of the seminaries, so immersed in bad morals and false doctrine,
• and finally, for the restoration of the entire Holy Catholic Church today as he helped to restore her in his times.
For ourselves personally, we might ask him to give us his vigilance against heresy and his heroic sense of sacrifice.
Monday, November 3, 2008
"Father unknown" is the cold legal phrase sometimes used on baptismal records. "Half-breed" or "war souvenir" is the cruel name inflicted by those of "pure" blood. Like many others, Martin might have grown to be a bitter man, but he did not. It was said that even as a child he gave his heart and his goods to the poor and despised.
He was the illegitimate son of a freed woman of Panama, probably black but also possibly of Native American stock, and a Spanish grandee of Lima, Peru. He inherited the features and dark complexion of his mother. That irked his father, who finally acknowledged his son after eight years. After the birth of a sister, the father abandoned the family. Martin was reared in poverty, locked into a low level of Lima’s society.
At 12 his mother apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon. He learned how to cut hair and also how to draw blood (a standard medical treatment then), care for wounds and prepare and administer medicines.
He asked for admission to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima and was received first as a tertiary. When he was 24, he was given the habit of a Coadjutor Brother and assigned to the infirmary of that convent, where he would remain in service until his death at the age of sixty. His superiors saw in him the virtues necessary to exercise unfailing patience in this difficult role, and he never disappointed them. On the contrary, it was not long before miracles began to happen, and Saint Martin was working also with the sick outside his convent, often bringing them healing with only a simple glass of water. He begged for alms to procure for them necessities the Convent could not provide, and Providence always supplied what he sought.
One day an aged beggar, covered with ulcers and almost naked, stretched out his hand, and Saint Martin, seeing the Divine Mendicant in him, took him to his own bed, paying no heed to the fact that he was not perfectly neat and clean. One of his brethren, considering he had gone too far in his charity, reproved him. Saint Martin replied: “Compassion, my dear Brother, is preferable to cleanliness. Reflect that with a little soap I can easily clean my bed covers, but even with a torrent of tears I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create.”
When an epidemic struck Lima, there were in this single convent of the Rosary sixty religious who were sick, many of them novices in a distant and locked section of the convent, separated from the professed. Saint Martin is known to have passed through the locked doors to care for them, a phenomenon which was observed in the residence more than once. The professed, too, saw him suddenly beside them without the doors having been opened; and these facts were duly verified by the surprised Superiors. Martin continued to transport the sick to the convent until the provincial Superior, alarmed by the contagion threatening the religious, forbid him to continue to do so. His sister, who lived in the country, offered her house to lodge those whom the residence of the religious could not hold. One day he found on the street a poor Indian, bleeding to death from a dagger wound, and took him to his own room until he could transport him to his sister’s hospice. The Superior, when he heard of this, reprimanded his subject for disobedience. He was extremely edified by his reply: “Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.” In effect, there are situations where charity must prevail; and instruction is very necessary. The Superior gave him liberty thereafter to follow his inspirations in the exercise of mercy.
In normal times Saint Martin succeeded with his alms to feed 160 poor persons every day, and distributed a remarkable sum of money every week to the indigent — the latter phenomenon hard to explain by ordinary calculations. To Saint Martin the city of Lima owed a famous residence founded for orphans and abandoned children, where they were formed in piety for a creative Christian life. This lay Brother had always wanted to be a missionary, but never left his native city; yet even during his lifetime he was seen elsewhere, in regions as far distant as Africa, China, Algeria, Japan. An African slave who had been in irons said he had known Martin when he came to relieve and console many like himself, telling them of heaven. When later the same slave saw him in Peru, he was very happy to meet him again and asked him if he had had a good voyage; only later did he learn that Saint Martin had never left Lima. A merchant from Lima was in Mexico and fell ill; he said aloud: “Oh, Brother Martin, if only you were here to care for me..!” and immediately saw him enter his room. And again, this man did not know until later that he had never been in Mexico.
Racism is a sin almost nobody confesses. Like pollution, it is a "sin of the world" that is everybody's responsibility but apparently nobody's fault. One could hardly imagine a more fitting patron of Christian forgiveness (on the part of those discriminated against) and Christian justice (on the part of reformed racists) than Martin de Porres.
Pope John XXIII remarked at the canonization of Martin (May 6, 1962), "He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: 'Martin of Charity.'"
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Dr. Plinio Comments:
What is the object of the All Saints Day? It is the veneration of all souls that are in Heaven, even if they are not officially canonized or beatified. Anyone who is in Heaven is a holy person. He or she is in the presence of God, sees God face-to-face, and is entirely pleasing to God.
Since it is impossible to know all these persons, whose number is uncountable, the Catholic Church cannot properly honor each one of these Saints by offering them a formal homage as she does with the canonized Saints. So, she instituted the feast of All Saints, a day on which she venerates them all.
It is good to pray to all these souls and ask their protection. There are, however, some of them – whose names we do not know – who have a special relation to our counter-revolutionary fight. Who are these souls? I will give you a sample list that you can add to as you will.
How many crusaders died unknown fighting for the liberation of the Holy Land from the Muslim domination and went to Heaven? How many Catholics died fighting in Spain and Portugal during the war of the Reconquista? How many crusaders died fighting to conquer the pagan peoples of Northern Europe? All these were souls who understood in a special way the splendor of placing their force of arms at the service of the Faith, of sacrificing everything, including their own lives, for the victory of the Catholic Church.
There were souls like these who died in the Vendée in France and in the Carlista uprising in Spain. Also the SanCredistas who fought against the Revolution in South Naples; the Pontifical Zouaves who heroically fought and died to keep the Papal States from falling into the hands of the partisans of Garibaldi; the Cristeros in Mexico, and so on. They are our brother souls who are in Heaven praying for those who continue their fight against the Revolution on earth.
Then there were those glorious ecclesiastics who fought against Freemasonry. I remember with special admiration Dom Vital Maria Gonçalves de Oliveira, Archbishop of Olinda and Recife in Northeast Brazil, who forcefully combated Masonry, one of the most diabolic and dynamic agents of the Revolution. Also Msgr. Henri Delassus who wrote his famous La conjuration anti-chrétienne against Judaism and Masonry. They and many others spent their lives fighting against Masonry, and were persecuted, oppressed, and some of them even murdered. They also are our brother souls.
We cannot forget the cherished members of our families who preceded us in signum Fidei, in the sign of the Faith, and gained their eternal salvation. They are our special intercessors who love us and want to bring us ever closer to God to save our souls and be with them in Heaven. St. Therese of Lisieux had a beautiful veneration for her brothers who had died before the use of reason. She used to say that they were the saints of their family. Her family soon would produce a much greater saint, St. Therese herself.
We should pray specially to all these Saints on this feast day of theirs, since they are particularly open to hear us. We should ask them to help us accomplish on earth the vocation God gave us, and after that, to be with Him, Our Lady, and them in eternal glory.