St. Peter the Apostle

St. Peter, searing with love for the Lord, pray for us!

NOVENA FOR THE ELECTION OF A POPE from March 1st to 9, 2013

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come. From thy bright heavenly throne! Come, take possession of our souls. And make them all Thine Own!

Thou who art called the Paraclete, Best gift of God above, The Living Spring, The Living Fire, Sweet Unction, and True Love!

Thou who are sevenfold in Thy grace, Finger of God’s right hand, His Promise, teaching little ones To speak and understand!

O guide our minds with thy blest light, With love our hearts inflame, And with thy strength, which ne’er decays, Confirm our mortal frame.

Far from us drive our hellish foe, True peace unto us bring, And through all perils guide us safe Beneath thy sacred wing.

Through Thee may we the Father know, Through Thee the Eternal Son, And Thee the Spirit of them both Thrice blessed Three in One.

Now to the Father, and the Son Who rose from death, be glory given, With Thee, O holy Comforter, Henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

V/ Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created: R/ An Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

The collect of the Missal for the election of a Pope

O Lord, with suppliant humility, we entreat Thee, that in Thy boundless mercy Thou wouldst grant the most holy Roman Church a pontiff, who by his zeal for us, may be pleasing to Thee, and by his good government may ever be honoured by Thy people for the glory of Thy name. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

V/ Most Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, R/ pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

V/ Saint Pie V. R/ pray for us.

V/ Saint Pie X. R/ pray for us.

Here’s a PDF version, which also includes the novena in Latin.

God Bless.

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St. Michael defeating Satan

I went to Confession this weekend, so that I could prepare myself for Christmas this Tuesday. It got me thinking about evil, and those that strive to push its agenda, hence this post about the greatest enemy of the Church himself.

As a primer, the Devil is only really found in Christianity, though he is alluded to in Judaism. Other religions may have malevolent spirits (Islam has a strange depiction of the Devil as a jinn, which is not too dissimilar from Protestant heresies), but it is the degree of revelation that is key here.

The Devil’s sole purpose in life is to not cause suffering, though it’s a symptom of his fall. Rather, his once sole purpose was to praise God, and traditionally it’s said his praise to God was of the highest order (thus the name once attributed to him, Lucifer, or “light bearer”).

As a powerful angel, his first disobedience would also be his last. The souls of angels and humans are very different: humans have the ability to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and ultimately love, due to the nature of our material universe. Angels, however, do not grow in knowledge, wisdom, or love, because they are pure spirit. From the moment they are created, they know everything their brilliant souls allow them to know, and love to the fullest of their extent, because they are not constricted by matter like we are, nor darkened in conscience. Thus, they always know true right from true wrong, and the repercussions of all their actions from there. Despite all this, Lucifer still disobeyed God. He knew he would condemn himself to eternal torment. He knew that he would curse all his angelic brethren in communion with God, and the human race, the ultimate cause for his ire; and that he would curse himself, and of course the God that once loved him. That is the price of his disobedience.

Contrary to popular belief (moving slightly to eschatology here), while Satan and the fallen are condemned to Hell, they’re not bound to it just yet. They roam the earth – a place still in the presence of God – but after the last day, they will finally be sealed in the only place without God’s presence, along with the humans who also rejected Him.

Which begs the question, what really caused Lucifer to fall? When God told him he would create a less brilliant species who the angels would serve and God would adore even more, Lucifer said no. War ensued. He lost, and was thrown out. And in his spite, he will do everything in his terrifying power to make sure as many human souls as possible do not assume a place in heaven higher than the highest of all the angels once had. He wants them to suffer a rejection of God as much as he will for all eternity.

So here’s the famous prayer to St. Michael, the one who, upon Lucifer’s rejection, came from the lowliest of angelic ranks to defend our God’s honour:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

Oh, and if you ever feel uncomfortable about the thought of a once powerful Seraph trying to tempt you away from heaven, let it be known that his greatest rival is not even St. Michael. It’s the most lowly, most humble, most inconspicuous, but most charitable woman to ever walk the earth; the closest creature to God’s own heart. We’re commemorating her Son’s birthday this Christmas.

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: he shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for his heel. (Gen 3:15)

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pray for us!

In the wake of the violent tragedy, this is how I exactly feel.

Coming Home

brokenwindow

Causes and Remedies.

That’s what we want. A nation addicted to fast food and fast answers, where the police solve the crime in one hour on TV (less if we factor in the commercials). The difficulty with real life is that the answers are often elusive. That’s frustrating when calamities on the scale of Sandy Hook are visited on us, because humans cannot bear the chaos of random evil. We need to understand the internal logic of the evil so we can seek to remedy such evil.

“Never Again!” is the mantra.

But it happens again, and again. Each time we ask why, but are left unsatisfied.

Last night the President, speaking in Newtown, asked, “What else can we do?” and then stated that in the coming weeks he would use all the powers of his office in dealing with law enforcement around the nation to address the problem. The…

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Any where, any time, for all time, until the end of the world.

Click for bigger image.

 

Hail, Eucharistic Face shrouded in silence,
and with us always, even unto the consummation of the world!

 

So I’m a bit of a fan of the long dead Archbishop Cranmer’s blog. He’s a sound voice, and has sharp perception. He’s also resolutely Anglican.

His recent commentary surrounding the Church of England’s decision to forbid women from becoming bishops focussed on the alleged validity of the Anglican Communion. That is something I have issue with. My original reply to his post after this incroyable image of Reims Cathedral.

Click to embiggen

This is what you get when you align yourself with Truth.

That is some commendable mental gymnastics, Your Grace. The effort was at least admirable.

However, it seriously does no service to your immortal soul to pretend as if everything is okay, that the movements in Anglicanism are simply ‘innovation, change, and progression’, and that continuing on such a path is the way to enlightenment, and ultimately, to God. Quite frankly, it is not.

The state of your church(es) is evidence enough. Where the much publicized crises of the Catholic Church in the last few decades has only helped strengthen the actions of the true faithful (both laity and clergy alike), the relative indifference towards and invisibility of the Anglican Communion hasn’t stopped it from fracturing and falling away not only from its original intentions, but the intentions of Christ.

It is the worst pain to see Anglicans continue to use the idea of both ‘Catholic and Reformed’. It’s tragic to see their faithful convincing themselves that their church is fine, that their doctrine is fine, and that their souls are fine. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that there are non-Roman Catholic Churches that have valid apostolic succession and valid sacraments. The Anglican Communion is not one of them.

This is not a comment meant to incite anger, rebuke, nor more reason for disunity. If it unfortunately leads to brother against sister, then like Christ, so be it. We are, however, ultimately dealing with Heaven and Hell here, and in order one-up that camel through the needle, we need unshakeable fidelity to the Truth.

May the Blessed Lord be our Light out of the darkness. All Christians need His help about now.

Yes, even corporations are legally treated as persons in the West.

It’s nothing new, but I was still very sad to hear the story of the woman that died in pregnancy with her child in Ireland told over and over again (there has now even been a grotesque vigil over the case for legal abortions. No need to look for satanic cults to get your distorted ritual fix). Not only is the primary reaction to the event uneven, unreasonable,and unjust, but the report from the New Zealand Herald only amplifies this view even further.

“Her death, made public by her husband this week, has highlighted Ireland’s long struggle to come to grips with abortion.”

I’m sorry, New Zealand Herald, but what struggle? Wouldn’t “Ireland’s long stand against abortion” sound a little more impartial, or is even that too extreme to publish? Throughout this entire article – and many articles concerning abortion throughout the world – the humanity of the child is severely suppressed in order for pro-choice actions to sound legitimate.

And don’t give me that crap “it’s not actually a human being”. This is not the 1970s. What else is the fetus going to grow into? A goat? It is the most nonsensical argument to ever grace our 21st century. We know far more about childbirth than we have ever known, so much so that the leading pro-choice physicians do not even argue the humanity of the unborn child. In fact, they rather you not, because these abortionists would like to perform those fantastically expensive partial and afterbirth abortions of helpless little humans. It’s good money, you know.

Notice in my title the word in the parentheses: true. Forget the rights of little children, and forget the rights of the organization that champions them, the Catholic Church. Instead, let’s call contraception a woman’s right, and let’s call disordered sexual practices (cohabitation, divorce, homosexual relationships etc) the new rights of the new citizens. Anyone intruding on these (fraudulent) rights, let him be anathema. Marginalize. Persecute. Kill.

Catholics, we have a serious duty, and that duty is to lead civilization out of the muck once again. In order for that to happen, however, we need to wipe the muck off of ourselves first. I can’t remember who said it, but there’s a saying that goes “If you want to know the state of the Church, look at the state of the world”. Let us work to clean up our spiritual lives. Protests outside abortion clinics may seem like a fine idea, but an even better one is all 15 decades of the Rosary, everyday. In front of the Blessed Eucharist or tabernacle if you can.  And of course, praying the Holy Mass as often as you can will sow the greatest seeds of change. Make sure to go to Confession too.

There’s nothing that gets me more indignant than the trampled rights of the few, especially poor, helpless children. As emotionally complex as this particular case in Ireland is (may both souls find repose in God), it’s still sickening to see unborn life framed as an inconvenience. Maybe we need to remind ourselves that the most crushing acts of genocide in history include trivializing the humanity of others, or even outright dehumanizing them.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

Today has been really trying for me.

I was recently in a state of anxiety. I have a film shoot to attend over the next few days. I need to finish writing a song by tomorrow night. My car is at the garage to be repaired, and the other family car is still hazardous, even after paying a hefty sum of money to get it fixed recently. I also need to go to the gym, and I haven’t been eating well this week. And with ADHD-perfectionist mind exacerbating all these issues, I had spent the last hour just pacing up and down, drowning in my woes.

Then some sweet inspiration hit me.

I walked over to my San Damiano Cross near the door to my room, and said the Our Father. I followed it with a Hail Mary. And just because she seems to be a saint totally in love with helping me, I prayed to St. Philomena for her intercession. I didn’t pray any of these prayers to help me untangle my problems, but instead I simply used them as a template for brief but sincere adoration.

God won’t necessarily intervene on your behalf to set things right. More often than not, honest prayer will simply realign you to what is truly important: loving your Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength.

I’m now feeling much, much better.

When in doubt, pray, pray, pray!

Pope Benedict XVI at the foot of St. Damian's Crucifix

Pope Benedict XVI kneels in front of the San Damiano Crucifix at the Basilica of St Clare in Assisi, Italy

Pride.

It was the first sin committed against God by Lucifer himself. It is most common stumbling block amongst the elite and powerful. Each and every one of us has been struck by pride in their lifetime, and for many, it’s the constant source of their woes.

It’s personally my biggest failing for as long as I can remember. I have been blessed to have been given not only a superior intellect, but an unerring passion for knowledge and wisdom. Naturally, if people were to argue about things they have less knowledge, desire, and perception about, I sometimes brush them off and let them know it. Like the rich men in the Letter of James, through my superior power I can throw my weight around. For the briefest moment, it’s sinfully gratifying. But it’s also absolutely soul crushing. I feel haunted by tyranny for a long time afterwards.

Furthermore, I’ve caught myself doing the exact same things that we heard the Apostles did in the Gospel of Mark. John the Theologian said,

‘Master, we saw someone who is not one of us driving out devils in your name, and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.’

Jesus then tells him and the other Apostles to leave them alone… before lecturing them. Some might construe this as evidence against a visible hierarchy such as the Catholic Church, where mere faith in Jesus makes you a legitimate follower, though such views fall into the trap of cherry-picking Bible quotes (the reality, I think, was that those casting devils out were the other disciples of Jesus, just not one of the Twelve. In fact, it seems to confirm a hierarchy even while Christ was alive). The gospel makes clear that we, as faithful Christians, should never prevent others from worshipping God. That’s not to say we should tolerate incorrect worship – Christ did not tolerate the Pharisees, for example – but if we come between Christ and his faithful, we are liable to sin. The remedy to obstruction, then, is humility and meekness.

“And from pride preserve your servant, never let it be my master. So shall I be above reproach, free from grave sin.”

Our Blessed Lord always taught us to be humble and meek, yet it seems contrary to human nature. And surely, to aspire to share in the divinity of the Holy Trinity is to aspire to share in glory and greatness? However, no one can deny that living in humility and meekness keeps our minds clear, hearts settled, and souls satisfied.

It’s one of the many ironies of life, and thus of the Christian faith, and perhaps a mystery in which we must reflect and pray for understanding.

Num 11:25-29, Ps 19:8,10,12-13,14, Jas 5:1-6, Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Today’s society promises you that true happiness is found only within you. It’s found in acting upon your own wants, wishes, lusts, and fetishes. The problem, however, is that human desires are whimsical. They’re here one day, and gone the next.

I remember when my desire to become a filmmaker solidified. About six years ago, I really wanted to go to UCLA Film School. For an international student, it was estimated to cost about $60,000 a year, so I prayed hard, and dreamed harder (yeah, prayer wasn’t the biggest thing for me back then). I even remember getting into an emotional argument with my parents about what I wanted to do after school, but I felt then that there was no better option than for me to go study in America and make it big in Hollywood, and never set foot in New Zealand again.

My prayers were never answered.

I’m quite lucky then, because right now, any career option that includes America is right at the bottom of my wish list. In fact, I’m very happy to be doing everything here in New Zealand, and don’t plan on doing business elsewhere any time soon.

Even though I’m happy, God’s Will comes above all. I’m not sure whether He desires me to work in New Zealand for the next ten months or the next ten years, but I hope He gives me the grace to happily accept whatever He asks of me.

“The wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it is also peaceable, kindly and considerate.”

Icon of James the Just, author of the Epistle of James.

The words from the Epistle of James tell us that faith in God is the essence of wisdom, of true knowledge. It’s what all human beings seek, even if we’re unaware of it. For faith in God is the desire for the Infinite, the Merciful, and the Charitable, and nothing else but God – through His Son, Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ – can quench this desire of every human being.

“Arrogant men are attacking me, bullies hounding me to death, no room in their thoughts for God.”

People will mock us for such an answer to truth of longing, but the non-believers themselves can provide no reasonable answer. In the 19th and 20th centuries, intellectual thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Friedrich Niestzsche, and Sigmund Freud, attempted to understand humanity irreverent of, in opposition towards, or even in absence of God. Their intellectual discussions were so far removed from the past, so bold in self-reference and self-assurance, that they were considered the pioneers of the broad Modernist movement. They thought that in removing themselves from the shackles of traditional discussion involving God, they would find liberating truth. Unfortunately for them, it did not take long for Post-Modernism to swoop down and cripple Modernism’s blatant misdirections.

“You want something and you lack it; so you kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. It is because you do not pray that you do not receive.”

Is it so difficult for human beings to find true satisfaction? For Catholics, we know that Our Blessed Lord is the true desire of all men. But how do we allow ourselves to experience His Love for us?

“If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.”

If we want to be closer to God, we must be willing to completely submit ourselves to His Will. Christ even explains to his disciples the perfect submission: his humiliation, torture, and sentencing to death, not out of his own desire, but the desire to do what the Father asks of him. And as Jesus found true fulfillment in his redemptive suffering on the Cross, so too will we find fulfillment when we do what God wants us to do, even if it’s something our feeble hearts don’t desire at the time.

Please pray for me, that I continue to have the grace to do what the Lord asks, and I pray you too can help unleash his designs upon the world.

Wis 2:17-20, Ps 54: 3-4,5,6-8, Jas 3:16–4:3, Mk 9:30-37

It’s hard being Catholic. My fidelity to Christ’s message is severely tested every single day. The worst isn’t when others (implicitly) tell me I’m a crazy, out-of-touch psycho who needs to get a clue; the worst is that I sometimes find myself wondering the very same thing in the privacy of my own room.

Living in New Zealand that proudly wears its liberal views doesn’t help things. Neither does working in the entertainment industry, which throws itself into the arms of fraudulent hedonism. The two combined is like a vicious force multiplier against the call to holiness.

I’m guessing I’m not the only Catholic in the western world that feels that way. Sometimes you just want to give up, cave in, and collapse on the spot you’ve found yourself in. I mean, look: fame, money, fortune, women. It doesn’t sound too bad, so why do I want to suffer for something so strange? Without hard proof? It’s tiring. It’s a lost cause.

Apparently Elijah felt that way too. You see, Elijah was ready to give up on his pilgrimage to Horeb, the Holy Mountain of God.

“I have had enough. Take my life; I am
no better than my ancestors.”

But God had prepared for Elijah food and drink, and asked him to eat it. Elijah ate some and drank some, then went back to sleeping. God asked him a second time to eat and drink, so that he would have energy. Skeptical, Elijah finished it all. He was able to complete his journey. Previous to the Temple of Solomon, Horeb, also known as Mt. Sinai, was probably the holiest Jewish site (burning bush, Tablets of Stone, Ark of the Covenant), and thus the closest the faithful had gotten to God.

In John’s Gospel, Christ reveals the central mystery of the Catholic faith: the Holy Eucharist. The Jews thought Jesus at this point was crazy. He was commanding them to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. He talked about being sent from Heaven, and yet everyone knew he was the carpenter’s boy.

“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.”

It’s an absolutely bizarre concept to conventional wisdom. It’s outrageous to the pigheaded (as the Jews were at this point). But what did Elijah’s tale teach us? We should probably take God’s word in faith. He means to bring us closer to Him.

What’s a university student, construction worker, engineer, or accountant to do if he/she wants to live the Christian faith? Quite simply, to partake in The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (read: Mass), including receiving Holy Communion. It is the cornerstone of our faith, and its most important Sacrament.

If there are still any unsure Elijahs out there, try out this simple trick: beam a wide, bright smile. Do it without being happy. Now give us your worst frown. Do it without being angry. Now smile again. Frown again. Smile. Frown. Notice how your mood changed along with your action, when it’s usually the other way around?

Go to Mass, receive Communion. Have a little faith in the Lord, and let your actions influence your spirit.

As St. Paul says, “follow Christ by loving as he loved you, giving himself up for us as an offering and a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.”

1 Kings 19: 4-8, Ps 34:2-9, Eph 4:30–5:2, Jn 6:41-51

Title taken from Archbishop Gomez’s Homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time.