The reality of our times

“In many countries, the practice of Christian worship is disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The faithful cannot meet in the churches, they cannot participate sacramentally in the Eucharistic sacrifice. This situation is a source of great suffering. It is also an opportunity that God gives us to better understand the necessity and the value of liturgical worship. As Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, but above all in deep communion in the humble service of God and His Church, I [Robert, Cardinal Sarah] wish to offer this meditation to my brothers in the episcopate and the priesthood and to the people of God, to try and learn some lessons from this situation.

“It has sometimes been said that, because of the epidemic and the confinement ordered by the civil authorities, public worship was suspended. This is not correct. Public worship is the worship rendered to God by the whole Mystical Body, Head and members, as the Second Vatican Council recalls: “Indeed, for the accomplishment of this great work by which God is perfectly glorified and men sanctified, Christ always associates with the Church, his beloved Bride, who invokes her as his Lord and who passes through him to render his worship to the Eternal Father.” The liturgy is therefore rightly regarded as the exercise of the priestly function of Jesus Christ, an exercise in which the sanctification of man is signified by sensitive signs, is carried out in a manner specific to each person . . . Thus, each time a priest celebrates the mass or the liturgy of the hours, even if he is alone, he offers public and official worship of the Church in union with its Head, Christ and on behalf of the whole Body.

“Of course, to find its full and manifest expression, it is fortunate that this worship can be celebrated with the participation of a community of the faithful of the people of God. But it may happen that this is not possible. The physical absence of the community does not prevent the realization of public worship even if it cuts off part of its realization . . . Thus, it would be wrong to pretend that a priest should abstain from the celebration of Mass in the absence of the faithful. On the contrary, in the present circumstances where the people of God are prevented from uniting sacramentally with this worship, the priest is more bound to the daily celebration. Indeed, in the liturgy, the priest acts in persona Ecclesiae, in the name of the whole Church and in persona Christi, in the name of Christ, Head of the Body to worship the Father; he is the ambassador, the delegate of all those who cannot be there.

“It is therefore understandable that no secular authority can suspend the public worship of the Church. This worship is a spiritual reality over which temporal authority has no control. This worship continues wherever a mass is celebrated, even without the assistance of the people gathered. It is up to this civil authority, on the other hand, to ban gatherings that would be dangerous for the common good in view of the health situation. It is also the responsibility of the bishops to collaborate with these civil authorities in the most perfect frankness. Continue reading “The reality of our times”

Churches declared ‘essential’ in America

The visible destruction of the Catholic Faith

From invalid absolutions to clergy that do not believe people go to Hell “because God does not punish,” through the ‘blessing’ of same-sex marriages, to counseling abortion in cases of “danger to the health of the mother,” to pushing syncretism and idol worship in the name of “diversity,” to mocking the confession of mortal sins in kind and number, to more mocking of the necessary valid matter for the consecration of the Precious Blood of Christ, the institutional destruction of the Catholic Faith by a significant proportion of its own clergy – most, of a certain age, with many bent on justifying their personal sins – is well underway.

The Faith, however, will not die. The Catholic Faith and the fullness of its truths will persist in the hearts and minds of those who remain loyal to the Church, even though many of these will suffer not just for their personal sins, but more importantly for the sins of the betrayers. The Faith shall emerge again in all its glory for all to see and embrace, once the purification and tribulation of these times are over.

Invalid absolutions

Some Catholic priests have taken to ‘granting absolution’ for sins via livestream in these times of lockdown, especially during televised Masses. Such absolutions are invalid and do not result in the remission of sins, no matter how much these priests may use fancy language – such as, e.g., “by the special power granted to me by the Church in these times” – to convince people otherwise.

 

 

Christ is risen

easter

It has begun

weeping-angel-aj-schibig

The Mystical Body of Christ is being broken. Like the Bridegroom before her, the Church is now entering into her passion and crucifixion, only to rise even more resplendent than ever before in the coming era of peace and holiness.

It has begun.

Fear is never from God

Father_Damien,_photograph_by_William_Brigham

Fear not them that kill the body and are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? Not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Mt 10:28-30).

A spirit of service or a spirit of fear?

Remember the basic fact that fear is never from God whenever you hear others exponentially increase the fear-mongering in these days of near-chaos, no matter who they may be and what role/status they might hold in either society or the Church, or both.

Prudence is wise; employ it. That is why God gave you reason. But catastrophizing beyond any basis for it is not.

Whenever doubts start to assail you, go back in time and remember one man who not only was unafraid of the other, especially “the diseased other,” but unafraid also of what might happen to him: Saint Damien of Molokai.

Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men. For they will deliver you up in councils and they will scourge you in their synagogues. And you shall be brought before governors and before kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles: But when they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what to speak, for it shall be given you in that hour what to speak. For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaks in you (Mt 10:16-20).

 

Relics of the Passion – 9 – The Stone of the Anointing and the Holy Sepulcher

sepulcher
From the Stone of the Anointing and the Holy Sepulcher

The Stone of the Anointing

The Stone of the Anointing can be found inside the main entrance to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher,[1] Jerusalem. It was placed there after the reconstruction of the church had been finished in 1810 (Murphy-O’Connor, 1998).

According to tradition, the slab of reddish Stone is located in commemoration on the spot where Saint Joseph of Arimathea had prepared the Body of Jesus Christ for burial (See the Holy Land, 2017). It belongs conjointly to the Armenian Orthodox,[2] the Roman Catholics[3] and the Greek Orthodox[4] that are at the Sepulcher, all of whom were indicated as primary custodians of the church in the firman[5] of the Ottoman Sultan, Osman III, in 1863[6] (ibid.; Morio, 2014). Above is a photograph of a relic from the Stone of the Anointing in a sealed hand-carved, gilt-bronze reliquary that comes from the Custodian Franciscans serving the Holy Land.

The Holy Sepulcher

The Holy Sepulcher is the tomb where Christ was buried for three days before His Resurrection. It is located 295 feet (90 meters) northwest of Golgotha.[7] The tomb had been provided for the burial of Christ by Saint Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin who had quietly disagreed with their condemnation of the Savior.

The tomb, which has a bed of limestone (Romey, 2016; Pells, 2016) upon which the Body of Christ had been placed, is enclosed inside the Kouvouklion, a small chapel that is located in the Aedicule of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. The bed had been covered for centuries by a marble slab with a cross on it, which had been reportedly engraved by the Crusaders. Above is a photograph of a small stone from the Holy Sepulcher in the same sealed bronze reliquary that comes from the Custodian Franciscans in Jerusalem.

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[1] Also known as the Church of the Resurrection.

[2] The Armenian (Saint James Brotherhood; 2011).

[3] The Franciscans of the Order of Friars Minor (Custodia Terrae Sanctae, 2019). Known locally as ‘Latins.’

[4] The Jerusalem Patriarchate (Brotherhood of the All-Holy Sepulcher; 2012).

[5] A firman was a royal decree issued during the time of the Ottoman empire. The 1863 firman confirmed that which had been decreed in the firman of 1749.

[6] The Status Quo (United Nations Conciliation Commission, 1949).

[7] The place of the skull.

Relics of the Passion – 8 – The Shroud

shroud
From the Burial Shroud

The Burial Shroud is a linen cloth of 14 feet 5 inches long by 3 feet 7 inches wide (4.4 x 1.1 meters). Imprinted on it is the negative image of the Body of Jesus Christ (Adler, 2002), which had resulted after the Savior was wrapped in it for His entombment after the Crucifixion.

The Shroud is known to have been in the possession of the Byzantine emperors until the Sack of Constantinople, which occurred in April 1204[1] (Poulle, 2009). Boniface I[2] and his chief counselor, Othon de la Roche,[3] took the Shroud from the Church of Saint Mary of Blachernae together with other relics and kept them in Athens (Anon., n. d.; Legrand, 1982; Piana, 2014; Rinaldi, 1983; Villehardouin, 2007). But after that no mention of it has been reliably documented for another two centuries.

The knight, Geoffroy I de Charny,[4] and his wife, Jeanne de Vergy,[5] were noted as the new owners of the Shroud in the 14th century, where it was preserved from 1360 to 1389 at Monfort-en-Auxois. Their great-granddaughter, Marguerite de Charny,[6] gave the Shroud to Louis I of the Casa di Savoia[7] in 1453 (Chevalier, 1900; Dubarle, 1993), in exchange for the castle of Varambon and monetary assets. The Savoyards in turn presented it to the Holy See in 1983.

The Shroud is woven in a 3-to-1 herringbone twill pattern made of flax fibrils. The negative image imprinted on it has been described as that of

A front and back view of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and point in opposite directions. The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of the cloth (ibid.).

The burial cloth of Christ can be found enclosed in a bullet-proof glass case at the Cappella della Sacra Sindone in Turin, Italy. This chapel had been built in the 17th century by Carlo Emmanuele II[8] to house the sacred relic.

Above is a photograph of a single thread from the Shroud in a sealed reliquary that comes from the Augustinians. A limited number of relics of the Shroud had been distributed to Catholic bishops around the world after a drop of molten silver from a fire had damaged a small part of it in 1532, while at the Sainte Chapelle in Chambéry,[9] France (Cruz, 1984).

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[1] The culmination of the Fourth Crusade, which is considered a major victory and turning point in medieval history.

[2] Marchese di Monferrato and King of Thessaloniki. Boniface was one of the knight-commanders of the Fourth Crusade.

[3] Baron of Ray-sur-Saõne and the first Frankish Lord of Athens.

[4] Lord of Lirey and Savoisy.

[5] A fifth-generation descendant of Othon de la Roche.

[6] de Charny became Madame de la Roche in 1418 after having married Humbert of Villersexel, Count de la Roche.

[7] The House of Savoy, a royal family that was established in 1003 at the historical region of the northwest Alps northwest of Italy. The Savoyards ruled Italy from 1861 to 1946 (Ginsborg, 2003).

[8] The Duke of Savoy.

[9] Chambéry was the capital of the Savoy region at the time. After the fire, Emmanuele Filiberto, the current Duke of Savoy, ordered that the Shroud be translated to Turin where it has remained since 1578. The coffer in which it traveled can also be seen (Piana, 2014).

Relics of the Passion – 7 – The True Effigy of the Holy Face

Vera Effigies
The True Effigy of the Holy Face

Relics of the true effigy of the Holy Face originate with the 19th century miracle that had occurred with the Veil of Veronica[1] kept at the Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City (Cruz, 2015). The Veil, which the pious woman[2] had given to Jesus Christ at the top of the steep hill located between al-Wad Road and the Souq Khan al-Zeit (Sacred Destinations, 2019), so that He could wipe away the Blood and sweat pouring down His Face while carrying the Cross, had been taken to Rome by Saint Veronica herself during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius.[3]

In 1849, during the revolution that had occurred at the time of Saint Pius IX, the Veil of Veronica was on display for veneration after Vespers on the 5th Sunday in Lent[4] (Cruz, 2015). All of a sudden, it was transfigured in front of everyone present. The Face of Christ appeared as though it was lifelike. It was also surrounded with a halo of soft golden light, while the Veil itself glowed with the divine light in front of everyone present.

The miracle lasted for three hours and one the Canons of Saint Peter was ordered by the Pope to draw the Holy Face as it had appeared transfigured in order to preserve it for posterity (For All the Saints, 2009). Saint Pius IX also ordered that the Canon’s drawing of the Holy Face be engraved as an effigy onto linen cloths that would be touched to the original Veil of Veronica, a relic of the True Cross and the tip of the spear of Longinus,[5] making them precious relics in themselves, not just devotional images (Archconfraternity of the Holy Face, 1887). These effigies were to bear the official wax seal of a Cardinal of the Catholic Church and imprinted with the textual description:

VERA EFFIGIES SACRI VULTUS DOMINI NOSTRI JESU CHRISTI[6]

The true effigies of the Holy Face are known to have been distributed for a period of about 75 years. Above is a photograph of the effigy of the Holy Face that comes from Rome.

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[1] One of the few images of the Holy Face not made by human hands (Cannuli, 2014).

[2] Originally named Seraphia (Doyle, 2000) and commonly known as the pious woman, she became identified as Veronica in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (Reid, 1913), because of the imprint of His Face that Christ had left on her Veil in gratitude for her merciful gesture.

[3] Tiberius was the Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD.

[4] Previously known as Passion Sunday.

[5] Longinus had pierced Christ’s side with the spear after His death. This relic is also housed at the Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City.

[6] True Image of the Holy Face of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Relics of the Passion – 6 – The Crown of Thorns

crown of thorns
From the Crown of Thorns

UPDATE: The Crown of Thorns that was held at Notre Dame, together with other precious relics, is presently being held at the Louvre after the conflagration that occurred on April 16, 2019 at the Cathedral.

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The ring of canes that makes up the base of the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus Christ during the Passion can now be found at the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris (2010). Its diameter is 8.5 inches (21cm). The Crown was carried to France from Venice by two Dominican friars in August 1239 and eventually placed in the Sainte-Chapelle,[1] after Saint Louis IX had redeemed it for 13,134 gold ducats from Baldwin II, the Emperor of Constantinople.

Baldwin had pawned the Crown of Thorns as security with a Venetian bank for the money he needed to borrow, to support his crumbling empire. The Crown had been housed in the Basilica of Hagia Zion in Jerusalem since 409, until it was translated to Constantinople during the Crusades. The Crown had been braided from the rushes of the Juncus balticus,[2] while the thorns attached to it by the Roman soldiers were from the Ziziphus spina-christi.[3]

Numerous thorns have been splintered off from the Crown throughout the centuries and distributed widely around the world. More notable are those held at Saint Michael’s Church, in Ghent, Belgium; the Cathedral of Saint Vitus in Prague, Czech Republic; the Cathedral of Trier, Germany; the Basilica della Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome, Italy; the Cathedral of Oviedo, Spain; the British Museum, England; and Saint Anthony’s Chapel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America (Gazetteer of Relics and Miraculous Images, 2009). Above is a photograph of a relic from the Crown of Thorns in a sealed reliquary that comes from the Augustinians.

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[1] The Sainte-Chapelle was built specifically by Saint Louis IX to house the Crown of Thorns and 28 other relics he had received from Baldwin II.

[2] Baltic rush taken from the Jucaceae perennial flowering plant native to Northern Britain, the Baltic and Scandinavia.

[3] Christ’s thorn jujube, an evergreen plant native to Africa, the Middle East, Southern and Western Asia.

Relics of the Passion – 5 – The Purple Robe

purple-tunic
From the Purple Robe

Before crowning Him with thorns after the Scourging at the Pillar, at the order of Herod Antipas, the Roman soldiers at the court forced Jesus Christ to wear a purple[1] robe in mockery of His kingship of the Jews (Lk 23:6-12). The soldiers then stripped Christ of this robe after Pontius Pilate had presented Him to the mob (Jn 19:5) and made Him put back on His seamless garment[2] to carry the Cross. Above is a photograph of a very rare relic of the Purple Robe in a sealed reliquary that comes from the Augustinians.

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[1] Purple was at the time considered to be the color worn by kings.

[2] The seamless garment had been woven for Christ by the Virgin Mary.