Catholic Family News

This Month’s Edition

This month’s edition of Catholic Family News contains the articles listed below. Only a few of these are reprinted on this website. To read all of the articles contained in this month’s edition, choose one of our subscription options, each of which comes with access to the E-Edition of the paper so you can start reading these articles now.

June 2024 Contents

Dignitas Infinita, Vatican II, and Pope Francis (Anthony P. Stine, Ph.D.)

On April 8, 2024, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the leadership of Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez and at the direction of Pope Francis, released a declaration entitled Dignitas Infinita. To their credit, it categorically rejects the diabolical movements corrupting and degrading society, including “gender theory” and “sex-change intervention” (see nn. 55-60). While laudatory for taking an unpopular stance on such issues, the text sadly repeats the tired errors of Francis on the death penalty, declaring capital punishment to be “inadmissible” as a violation of inalienable human dignity (see n. 34).

It is upon the concept of inalienable human dignity that the document rests, with one noted Jesuit theologian describing it as the hermeneutic of Francis’ papacy. The purpose of the document is best understood in light of the clear mission of Pope Francis: completing the implementation of the Second Vatican Council.

Vatican II on Human Dignity

Dignitatis Humanae, the document from the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty, claims that human dignity is the basis for man possessing the right to religious liberty, in a clear break with the teachings of the Church. Fernandez’s document is best understood as an explanation of the development of human dignity. It attempts to do this by linking Francis’ theological novelties to Sacred Scripture, Vatican II, and Francis’ predecessors, including John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The following passages from Dignitatis Humanae is instructive here:

“A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man, and the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgment, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty. …

“The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.” (nn. 1, 2)

The Council argued that over the centuries, but especially in the decades after World War II, human beings had a greater recognition of the concept of human dignity. That notion falls apart upon examination, in light of the dehumanizing sexual revolution that was launched at the same time as Vatican II, which unleashed abortion, pornography, hook-up culture, and the “culture of death” lamented by Pope John Paul II. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

EXCLUSIVE: China Expert Discusses Latest Book, Personal Experience in Communist China (Matt Gaspers)

In July of 1917 during Her third apparition, Our Lady told the three shepherd children at Fatima, “If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.” Sadly, Our Lady’s requests were not heeded and Russia did indeed spread her errors — Communism, in particular — throughout the world, including into neighboring China.

Steven Mosher, the longtime president of the Population Research Institute, has devoted his life to studying China, both ancient and modern, focusing especially on the effects of Communism in China and the immense threat that a dominant Communist China poses to the world. He covers all of this and much more in his latest book, The Devil and Communist China (TAN Books, 2024), and he graciously agreed to answer some questions about his new book and related issues.

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Catholic Family News (CFN): Before we get into the contents of your latest book, perhaps you could share a little about your personal and professional background. You are known as being the first American social scientist to visit mainland China at the invitation of the Chinese government. Under what circumstances was that invitation extended and what was the purpose of your visit?

Steven Mosher (SM): In January 1979, for the first time in 30 years, it became possible to do research in Communist China. Washington and Beijing had just signed a “Scholarly Exchange Agreement”, under the terms of which 50 American scholars were going to be allowed into the country for up to a year. Although I was a very junior scholar — I was just completing my doctorate at Stanford University — I was one of those chosen. The National Science Foundation had selected me, I later learned, because I could read, write, and speak Chinese, both Mandarin and Cantonese.

But then a problem arose. My research proposal called for me to do a broad study of how Communism had changed life in China. It turned out that the Chinese Communist Party did not want an American social scientist talking to ordinary people in China about the Party and its leaders. My proposal was the only one out of 50 that was turned down. It was only after President Jimmy Carter personally intervened with China’s leader Deng Xiaoping that I got the go-ahead.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was right to be worried about what I would find. Many of the people I met in China privately told me that life had been better before the Communists came in 1949.  Their lives had been turned upside down by the revolution, farms confiscated, businesses destroyed. The “New China” that leftist Stanford professors had taught me about turned out to be a lie. Click here to continue reading

*The Popes Speak* Excerpts from Leo XIII’s Encyclical Aeterni Patris on the Restoration of Christian Philosophy, Part IV

Aquinas’ Teachings are Incomparable

22. The ecumenical councils, also, where blossoms the flower of all earthly wisdom, have always been careful to hold Thomas Aquinas in singular honor. In the Councils of Lyons, Vienna, Florence, and the Vatican one might almost say that Thomas took part and presided over the deliberations and decrees of the Fathers, contending against the errors of the Greeks, of heretics and rationalists, with invincible force and with the happiest results. But the chief and special glory of Thomas, one which he has shared with none of the Catholic Doctors, is that the Fathers of Trent made it part of the order of conclave to lay upon the altar, together with sacred Scripture and the decrees of the supreme Pontiffs, the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, whence to seek counsel, reason, and inspiration.

23. A last triumph was reserved for this incomparable man — namely, to compel the homage, praise, and admiration of even the very enemies of the Catholic name. For it has come to light that there were not lacking among the leaders of heretical sects some who openly declared that, if the teaching of Thomas Aquinas were only taken away, they could easily battle with all Catholic teachers, gain the victory, and abolish the Church. A vain hope, indeed, but no vain testimony.

24. Therefore, Venerable Brethren, as often as We contemplate the good, the force, and the singular advantages to be derived from his philosophic discipline which Our Fathers so dearly loved. We think it hazardous that its special honor should not always and everywhere remain, especially when it is established that daily experience, and the judgment of the greatest men, and, to crown all, the voice of the Church, have favored the Scholastic philosophy. Moreover, to the old teaching a novel system of philosophy has succeeded here and there, in which We fail to perceive those desirable and wholesome fruits which the Church and civil society itself would prefer. For it pleased the struggling innovators of the sixteenth century to philosophize without any respect for faith, the power of inventing in accordance with his own pleasure and bent being asked and given in turn by each one. Hence, it was natural that systems of philosophy multiplied beyond measure, and conclusions differing and clashing one with another arose about those matters even which are the most important in human knowledge. From a mass of conclusions men often come to wavering and doubt; and who knows not how easily the mind slips from doubt to error? Click here to continue reading

Treatise on the Authority of the Sovereign Pontiff: A Summary — Part II (Fr. Albert Kallio, O.P.)

John of St. Thomas describes the position of Cajetan (which he adopts as his own — his treatise is simply a defense of it), which Cajetan opposes to three other possible positions. Two of these are extreme: one says that the heretical pope is deposed ipso facto without any human judge at all (the position of sedevacantists), while the other says he has a power which can judge him. Between these two there is one intermediate position which holds that the pope does not have any power above him, except for the case of heresy. Finally, Cajetan’s own position is described as follows:

“Neither absolutely, nor for the case of heresy does [the pope] have a superior power over him on earth, but only a ministerial power, just as the Church has a ministerial power to elect [the pope] in so far as it designates the person [who is the pope], not however in such a way that it gives him his authority, because this comes immediately from Christ, as we said in the first article of this question. Similarly also in the deposition, or the destruction of this conjunction by which the papacy is joined to this particular person the Church has a ministerial power of deposing him ministerially; Christ, however, can deprive him [of his power] authoritatively.” (§ XX)

Here is where the dispute takes place, on the fine point of how exactly the Church plays a role in the deposition of a heretical pope. Bellarmine (1542-1621) accuses Cajetan of saying that the Church is deposing the pope who is a manifest heretic authoritatively, rather than him being so ipso facto by his heresy and Suarez (1548-1617) claims that Cajetan says the Church has authority over the pope as a private person, even if not as he is the pope. John of St. Thomas responds:

“Cajetan, however, does not say this, but that the Church is not over the pope absolutely, even in the case of heresy, but that she is over the conjunction of the papacy with this person by dissolving it, in the way that she formed it by the election, which power of the Church is ministerial, for Christ the Lord alone is superior to the pope simpliciter. And thus Bellarmine and Suarez think that the pope, by the very fact that he is a manifest heretic and declared incorrigible, is immediately deposed by Christ the Lord, not by any authority of the Church.” (§ XX)

Then, in the crucial part of his disputation, John of St. Thomas summarizes the position of Cajetan in three statements and defends them one by one, especially against Bellarmine and Suarez: “(1) The first (statement, he writes) is that a heretical pope precisely by the very fact of heresy is not deprived of the papacy, nor is he deposed” (§ XXI).

He proves this by the fact that before the two admonitions of which St. Paul speaks, the pope is not deposed, for if he repents because of these admonitions he cannot be avoided nor, consequently, deposed. The simple fact of being a heretic, then, does not make him deposed. He writes: “Therefore it is false to say that ipso facto by the fact of being a public heretic the pope is deposed: for he may be a public heretic, but not yet admonished by the Church nor declared to be incorrigible” (§ XXII). To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Islamic Terrorism and Unbridled Immigration Spell Disaster for the West (Angeline Tan)

On April 15, an Islamic militant stabbed Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, a well-known Bishop of the Assyrian Orthodox Church, during a live-streamed Mass at Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, southwest Sydney, Australia.

The assailant was not content with stabbing the prelate once, but attacked him several times while repeating the phrase, “Allah Akbar!” Later, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb proclaimed the stabbing incident as a “terrorist act.”

Strikingly, Australia has recently introduced a Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024 mandating non-citizens who “have exhausted all avenues to remain in Australia to cooperate with steps taken for the purpose of arranging their lawful removal from Australia,” a move that naysayers on the Left have denounced for raising “the specter of a former US President Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ policy….” The outcome of this bill remains to be seen, although lessons can be taken from Australia’s European counterparts below.

Incidents in Europe

Last December 2, Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab, a radicalized French citizen of Iranian origin who had long been under French counter-terrorist surveillance, killed a German tourist and injured two others with a knife and hammer near the Eiffel Tower in Paris while hollering, “Allah Akbar!” Subsequent investigation revealed that Rajabpour-Miyandoab has been deemed a threat to French national security and was previously incarcerated for plotting an attack in a Parisian business district.

His murderous acts sparked public criticism on how France keeps track of terrorists after their release from imprisonment. After his release from prison in 2020, Rajabpour-Miyandoab was in contact on social media with the future killer who notoriously beheaded French teacher Samuel Paty for remarking on cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Before Paty was brutally murdered under the banner of Islamic terrorism, threats directed against the French teacher were duly conveyed to staff in the French Education Ministry hierarchy, but they fell on deaf ears. It was only after Paty’s murder that the French Senate posthumously disclosed the results of a parliamentary inquiry regarding the situation in French public schools, findings which divulged the deteriorating safety of French schools as the latter increasingly become targets for radicalized Islamic terrorists.

Unfortunately, another similar murder of in October 2023 by a Chechen terrorist reinforced the stark reality that Paty’s murder was not a one-off crime. However, mainstream media coverage and government narratives at that point in time failed to grasp the root of the Islamic threat to France (and to countries with a predominantly Christian background, for that matter). To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Priestly Fatherhood in Relation to Fathers of Domestic Churches — Part I (Brian Mershon)

The husband and father is the spiritual head of his family and is charged with leading and collaborating with his wife in all aspects of his domestic church. “The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason, the family home is rightly called ‘the domestic church,’ a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1666).

Pope John Paul II also expounded on the family as the basic unit of society and of the particular and universal Church in his 1981 Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (hereafter FC):

“The Christian family is also called to experience a new and original communion which confirms and perfects natural and human communion. In fact the grace of Jesus Christ, ‘the first-born among many brethren’ [Rom. 8:29], is by its nature and interior dynamism ‘a grace of brotherhood,’ as St. Thomas Aquinas calls it. The Holy Spirit, Who is poured forth in the celebration of the sacraments, is the living source and inexhaustible sustenance of the supernatural communion that gathers believers and links them with Christ and with each other in the unity of the Church of God. The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason too it can and should be called ‘the domestic Church.’” (FC, 21)

The family is called to be a living witness of faith to each of its members, friends, acquaintances, and society at large: “Thus the little domestic Church, like the greater Church, needs to be constantly and intensely evangelized: hence its duty regarding permanent education in the faith” (FC, 51).

The domestic church is where the husband, together with his wife, leads his family in prayer. Praying together as a family — not only vocal prayer, but together in silent meditation, and if possible, parts of the Divine office, such as Compline — is a powerful weapon of God’s grace to fend off Satan and to build God’s Kingdom in this world “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

“Family prayer has for its very own object family life itself, which in all its varying circumstances is seen as a call from God and lived as a filial response to His call. Joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments, births and birthday celebrations, wedding anniversaries of the parents, departures, separations and homecomings, important and far-reaching decisions, the death of those who are dear, etc. — all of these mark God’s loving intervention in the family’s history. They should be seen as suitable moments for thanksgiving, for petition, for trusting abandonment of the family into the hands of their common Father in heaven. The dignity and responsibility of the Christian family as the domestic Church can be achieved only with God’s unceasing aid, which will surely be granted if it is humbly and trustingly petitioned in prayer.” (FC, 59) To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Pope Francis and the Revolutionaries: Review of The Synodal Pope (Julia Meloni)

What is the backstory behind Pope Francis’s subversive pontificate? There are a number of biographies on the market about Francis, but many of them — such as Austen Ivereigh’s The Great Reformer — are overly adulatory or incomplete.  Where, then, can readers look for a more critical, thorough account of how Jorge Mario Bergoglio came to be a truly revolutionary pope?

There is an excellent new text out from TAN Books called The Synodal Pope: The True Story of the Theology and Politics of Pope Francis. It’s by Jean-Pierre Moreau, a writer whose specialty is tracking liberation theology. Moreau believes that “the only reliable” biography to date on the pope is The Political Pope by George Neumayr. At the same time, Moreau believes that there are gaps in The Political Pope — gaps that Moreau himself tries to fill in with The Synodal Pope.

The result is a thorough, illuminating account of the politics and theology of the pope — with generous reference to the events, mentors, and associates behind Francis’s thought. 

Modernism and Vatican II

Moreau begins his account with the event of the Second Vatican Council, where the forces of Modernism were unleashed. Modernism was a heretical movement that aimed to change the Catholic Church. Centered on the notion that dogma must evolve, Modernism tried to “update” the Church to suit the historical moment.

At the Council, many subversive forces, including Modernist ones, stepped out into the light. Pope John XXIII rehabilitated a number of figures whose works were under suspicion of heterodoxy, and key revolutionaries ensured that various original schemata of the Council were overturned. Books were distributed and meetings were held to strategize how to transform the Council and the Church. It was toward the end of the Council that a group of bishops, on the sidelines, signed the “Pact of the Catacombs.” Moreau says that this act “gave birth to the Revolutionary Church of Latin America and coined the slogan ‘The Church of the poor.’” Revolutionaries would now invoke the poor to subvert the supposedly oppressive Catholic Church.

Principles not Priests (Brian M. McCall)

On April 18, CFN covered in our Weekly News Roundup the sad story of Fr. Arnaud Rostand, who was the subject of a criminal trial in France involving allegations of sexual behavior involving children. Although other instances of such scandal have been revealed in past years, this story hit very close to home for our American and Canadian viewers and readers since Fr. Rostand served as district superior of the Society of St. Pius X for several years in both countries. In this article, I would like to focus on how we should absorb and react to this sad scandal. We will attempt to assess this revelation and what it should mean for traditional Catholics. First, we will lay out some principles that should guide our reaction to priestly scandals. Secondly, we will look at what we know about the facts of the case, and then finally attempt to reach a reasoned judgement of an appropriate reaction to such scandal for a traditional Catholic.

Scandals Will Come

Our Lord warned us when physically present on this earth that such a sad event would occur. He taught His followers: “Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh” (Matt. 18:7). Just as St. Paul warned us that a time would come when the authorities in the Church would not tolerate sound doctrine (cf. 2 Tim. 4:3), so too Our Lord warns us not to delude ourselves into thinking that the Redemption will mean Christians will not fall into grave scandals. We know His perfect act of Redemption has the potency to save “all” people, but we also know that it will in fact only save “many.” Likewise, we know that His grace is sufficient to overcome all temptation (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9); we also know that some will not make use of that sufficient grace to avoid serious sin. To acknowledge this fact does not excuse or exonerate the sin. Our Lord makes this fact clear when He says: “nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh,” while at the same time acknowledging that scandals will come. Thus, we should not be demoralized or discouraged by scandals, even among the clergy. By avoiding disillusionment, we are not excusing the cause of the scandal but rather being realistic.

I was reminded of a conversation with a traditional priest many, many years ago over dinner with a few other Catholic families. Many of us were just coming into the care of traditional priests. One of the dinner guests remarked how relieved he was to be in a traditional parish since we had been scandalized by the shocking behavior of other priests. The traditional priest gave us a strong warning. He explained that if we were entering into Tradition thinking that all the priests would be saints and free of serious sin, we were setting ourselves up for a serious disappointment. We needed to be on guard against such an expectation because the disappointment resulting from this expectation being shattered could dangerously tempt us to waver in the Faith. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Vatican II Plus Modernism Equals Current Crisis (Raymond B. Marcin)

Not many people alive today will have clear memories of the condition of the Catholic Church in the post-World War II 1950s. Churches were full. Most city and suburban churches offered five crowded Masses every Sunday. Saturday Confession lines were tediously long. Saturday Confession before Sunday Mass was routine for Catholics. Parishes were well staffed with pastors and curates. Parishioners and their children followed the Sunday Mass attentively with their Latin/vernacular missals. Seminaries were full. Catholic grade schools were staffed completely and solely with nuns. Children learned and understood and accepted the timeless truths of the Catholic Faith from their age-appropriate Baltimore Catechisms. All seemed well — better than well. The Church was thriving. It really was.

Then came the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The Catholic Church changed. Then, shortly after the close of the Council, the Catholic Mass changed. The Church and the Mass were “modernized.”

Back in those days, most Catholics greeted the changes as surprisingly new and interesting developments in their age-old and seemingly changeless Catholic Faith. Many Catholics seemed to accept the thought that there had been something out of date or even “wrong” with the Church — something that needed fixing. And they accepted the “New Mass,” happily in the vernacular, and their new participatory role of joyously giving what had been the servers’ responses to the celebrant in the “old Mass” — not fully realizing that the “New” Mass was not simply the old Mass in the vernacular instead of in Latin, but rather was subtly changing the Mass itself from a renewal of the Sacrifice on Calvary to a communal meal.

After a decade or two of credulous enthusiasm, however, a downward trend toward the Church of today began to take hold. Churches were no longer full. Attendance at Sunday Masses began to decrease, slowly. Saturday Confession lines slowly shortened and finally disappeared. As vocations to the post-Vatican II priesthood slowly dried up, parishes slowly became understaffed. Nuns slowly disappeared from Catholic grade schools. And slowly, as the credulousness of the Vatican II enthusiasm waned in the minds of some Catholics, the Church began to seem alien to the Church of their youth. The Church was no longer thriving. It really wasn’t. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Countdown to 2029: The Sacred and Immaculate Hearts (Marianna Bartold)

Just as the Kings of France, to the great detriment of their own family and the people of their country, long ignored the Lord’s commands, let us simultaneously keep in mind that, as of June 13 of 2024, there are only five years remaining until the Church (and the world) witnesses the 100th anniversary of the Our Lady’s still unfulfilled “request” to the Pope for collegial consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart (announced by Our Lady on June 13, 1929).

As Catholics know, June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, immediately following as it does the month of May, which is dedicated to His Mother, the Holy Virgin Mary. In June of this year of Our Lord 2024, let us initially consider that devotion to the Sacred Heart, while practiced, is not as widespread as it could be and should be. The same can be said of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  For those reasons, I shall explore only some of the astounding links between the two Church-approved apparitions of the Sacred Heart at Paray-le-Monial, France and the Immaculate Heart at Fatima, Portugal.

The Two Hearts in “These Final Centuries”

First: Coincidentally or not, it was during the second apparition for both St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (in the last quarter of the 17th century) and the three Fatima children (in the first quarter of the 20th century) that the Holy Hearts were made visible.

In the second apparition to St. Margaret Mary (which occurred on July 2, 1674, the Feast of the Visitation), Our Lord first showed His Sacred Heart, for which reason the saint wrote the following: “My Divine Master revealed to me that it was His ardent desire to be known, loved and honored by men, and His eager desire to draw them back from the road to perdition, along which Satan is driving them in countless numbers, that induced Him to manifest His Heart to men with all the treasures of love, mercy, grace, sanctification and salvation that It contains.”

“This Heart of God must be honored under the form of His heart of flesh, whose image He wanted exposed and also worn on me and on my heart.

“He promised to pour out into the hearts of all those who honor the image of His Heart all the gifts it contains in fullness, and for all those who would wear this image on their persons He promised to imprint His love on their hearts and to destroy all unruly inclinations.

“Everywhere this holy image was exposed to be honored, He would pour fourth His graces and blessings. This blessing was, as it were, a final effort of His love. He wanted to bestow upon men during these final centuries such loving redemption in order to snatch them from the control of Satan, whom He intended to destroy.” To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

*Holy Mass Series* Fr. Mueller’s Masterpiece on the Mass: The Wonderful Gift of God (Matthew Plese)

The Lord Instituted the Eucharist Among His Closest Friends

St. Peter Julian Eymard famously remarked, “Know, O Christian, that the Mass is the holiest act of religion. You cannot do anything to glorify God more, nor profit your soul more, than by devoutly assisting at it, and assisting as often as possible.” Truly, the Mass is the gift of God par excellence as it is the one and same Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ made present again on the altar in an unbloody manner. The Mass is the most supreme gift of God to man. After having considered the Holy Eucharist as the promise of God, we continue our study of Fr. Michael Mueller’s The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by reflecting on the Mass as the wonderful gift of Almighty God.

Fr. Mueller opens this chapter by bringing to our minds the poignant scene of Our Lord, on the night of His betrayal, instituting the Most Blessed Sacrament, the priesthood, and the Mass:

“The Apostles always remembered the promise which Jesus had made to give them His most holy Flesh and Blood. But the promise was not fulfilled at once.

“In Jerusalem there is a hill called Mount Sion. On this hill near the tomb in which King David was buried was a house which contained a large dining room. If you had entered that room the evening before Jesus died on the Cross you would have seen Him sitting at a table with His twelve Apostles. What a sight! To behold the Creator in the midst of His creatures whom He had made out of the dust of the earth. It was a solemn moment, for He was then about to work the greatest miracle that ever had been or ever will be wrought. He was going to give Himself away, to give His own most sacred Body and Blood to be the food of His creatures. To give us Heaven and earth, His angels, and His Blessed Mother to watch over us was surely a gift enough. It would seem almost too good, what St Augustine has well called the ‘folly of love’ to give us Himself. But the love of Jesus for us was boundless so that nothing seemed to Him too good to do for us.”

He continues:

“Let us consider how it was done. The word of God is life-giving and all-powerful. When God created the heavens and the earth, He merely spoke, and everything was made. He said: ‘Let light be made,’ and light was made.’ For when God speaks, the thing is done, and done directly. Well, let us listen: Jesus is about to speak the word that will change the bread and wine into His Body and His Blood. On that table at which they were sitting, there was bread and wine. First of all, as the Evangelist tells us, ‘Jesus took bread and blessed and brake, and gave unto His disciples,’ and said these solemn words: ‘Take ye and eat: This is My Body.’ Quicker than a flash of lightning that bread was changed into His Body. Then did all the Apostles eat the most sacred flesh of Jesus.

“In like manner, He then took the chalice with wine and gave to them saying: ‘Drink ye all of this: For this is My Blood of the New Testament which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins.’ And the wine obeyed the voice of Him whom the winds and the sea obeyed. In that moment, the wine was changed into His sacred Blood. ‘Eat and drink,’ said Jesus then to His Apostles; it is all your own; do not think of what your senses perceive; it is to your faith, not to your senses that I say, ‘This is My Body.’” To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Finding Saint Anthony (Mark Fellows)

Even though Pope Leo XIII declared him “the saint of the whole world,” St. Anthony is usually linked to Padua, Italy. He is known as “St. Anthony of Padua” everywhere but in Portugal (and South America), where he is known as “St. Anthony of Lisbon.”

Portugal’s claim on Anthony rests on these facts: he spent all but the last 10 years of his life there and was quite literally born and raised in the shadow of the Lisbon Cathedral, which provided shade for Anthony’s home and refuge for his family when the Moors sailed up the Iberian coast to raid Portugal. The Moors occupied Lisbon from A.D. 716 until 1145, when an army of Crusaders and Portuguese drove them out.

The Moors remained fond enough of Lisbon to try reclaiming it several times. The very name Lisbon denotes Moorish influence. They named the city Al Aschbuna, a variation of the Phoenician title Alisubbo, or “friendly bay”. Over time the city became known as Lissabona, then Lisboa in Portuguese, and Lisbon in English.

The Moorish threat in Anthony’s time may account for his parents, the de Bulhoes, naming him Ferdinand in honor of Ferdinand the Great — the Portuguese version of El Cid who led the Reconquista that reclaimed Portugal for the Portuguese and Christianity.

Ferdinand de Bulhoes’ parents are depicted either as descendants of warriors and royalty or as poor and humble. The latter is more likely true, as historians note that homes along the west side of the Cathedral, like Ferdinand’s, were humble dwellings.

Because of his later miracles Ferdinand’s childhood has been posthumously colored by legends of miracles, many of which were discovered centuries after his death. Although the gap in time raises suspicion, given his title of “Wonder-Worker,” a presumption of childhood miracles is reasonable.

What we know for certain, however, is that Ferdinand’s early years were hard ones. Besides Moorish incursions there were plagues, epidemics, crop blights, and famines. There were Crusaders who at times overstayed their welcome. And there were weather disasters: earthquakes, floods, even total eclipses of the sun two years in a row.

Life was so chaotic that the country’s capital remained at the fortress of Coimbra. The reversion to Lisbon only happened in 1256, twenty-five years after Anthony died. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

The Graverobber Council, Part II: The Jansenist Heresy (Murray Rundus)

During one of his signature in-flight Papal interviews in 2021, Pope Francis shared an anecdote from a time he celebrated Mass in a rest home. As he prepared to distribute the Eucharist, he invited all present to indicate their desire to receive it by raising their hands. Among the attendees was an elderly woman who, after receiving Communion, revealed to him, “Thank you, Father, thank you: I’m Jewish.” The Pope’s response, laden with an attempt at humor, was, “No, the one that I gave to you is Jewish, too.” He added in the interview that “those who are not in the community cannot receive Communion, like this Jewish woman, but the Lord wanted to reward her without my knowledge.”

This event, astonishingly overlooked even by traditionalist commentators, carries an implicit endorsement of non-Catholics, even non-Christians, partaking in the Eucharist and being ‘rewarded.’ The anecdote, bizarre enough on its own, spiraled into further confusion as the Pontiff used it to symbolize a skewed theology of Communion — one starkly opposed to the sacramental standards upheld by traditionalists, whom he disparages by likening them to the oft-maligned Jansenists. “Communion is not a prize for the perfect, no? Let’s think of Port Royal (des Champs), of the issue with Angélique Arnaud, Jansenism: those who are perfect can receive Communion. Communion is a gift, a present; the presence of Jesus in His Church and in the community. This is the theology.”

Who Are the Real Jansenists?

The accusation of Jansenism, long wielded against the traditionalist movement, serves as a favored epithet by neo-Catholics, associating traditionalists with rigidity, a Calvinistic disdain for human nature, and a staunch resistance to Rome. Yet, upon closer inspection, this allegation drips with irony. It is not the traditionalists but the reforms of Vatican II that are steeped in Jansenist influences. In the highest echelons of the Church, we witness yet another macabre exhumation: the grave-robber Council of Vatican II, prying open the tombs of long-buried heresies to adorn them with a modern veneer. The intellectual necromancers have dug up the corpses of Jansenism, parading them in the guise of progressive theology. The result is a theological landscape haunted by the specters of error, masquerading as enlightenment and leading the faithful into a labyrinth of doctrinal disarray. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Our Lady Teaches Us the Meaning of the Mass — Part I (Peter A. Kwasniewski, Ph.D.)

Editor’s Note: CFN is pleased to offer readers the following transcript of a speech given by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski on Dec. 8, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. The speech is an adaptation of a chapter in his book Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness, which was published by Angelico Press in 2017. CFN thanks Dr. Kwasniewski for granting permission to reprint his transcript, which will appear in three parts.

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In the record of Sacred Scripture, the Blessed Virgin Mary is a woman of few words and few appearances. But the words she speaks and the role she plays are of such a depth that never in a thousand centuries could their wisdom be exhausted, and for all eternity their echoes will resound in the heavenly places. Mary’s words and actions summarize the Christian life: they present the pattern or archetype of that life. If we had nothing but Our Lady’s sayings and deeds, we would still know from them how to be perfect followers of Christ.

It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that we can also find in them a guide to the spirituality of the liturgy—namely, to the correct internal dispositions and external actions of the formal, public, solemn prayer of the Church by which we most perfectly exercise our baptismal share in Christ’s priesthood and receive the fruits of His redemption. To give some boundaries to my talk today, I will limit myself to Our Lady’s words at the Annunciation; her silent, interior, but supremely active participation at the foot of the Cross; and her poignant words at the wedding feast of Cana.

At the Annunciation

When the archangel St. Gabriel announces to the Blessed Virgin that she is to bear a son, her reaction indicates that she had already consecrated herself to perpetual virginity: “How shall this be done, because I know not man?” (Lk 1:34). Pregnancy is impossible, for Mary has no intention of knowing a man; otherwise, she would have assumed that the angel was speaking about a son to be born from her wedlock with St. Joseph. The angel replies: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Lk 1:35). This offspring will not be the result of a man’s action, the son of a man, but will be formed by a direct action of the Holy Spirit, a fruit of the Creator’s omnipotence, and therefore worthy to be called the offspring of God Himself.

In this exchange, there is a profound liturgical lesson for us. The Catholic Church is often spoken of as “the Mystical Body of Christ,” the extension in space and time of the mystery of the Incarnation. Something similar can be said of the sacred liturgy: it is Christ among us, it is “the brightness of His glory and the figure of His substance” (Heb 1:3), as He is of the Father. Through it, the mysteries of the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord are made present and effective in our midst; the Lord Himself touches us, body and soul, to heal and elevate us. The liturgy is the offspring of God in our midst, formed over long centuries by the brooding of the Holy Spirit upon the surface of human waters (cf. Gen 1:2). It is not a mere construct of human hands, a product of man’s initiative or labor or great ideas, but rather the unmerited gift of God, born from the womb of the Church, our Mother, by the power of the Most High overshadowing her. As we see in both Testaments, liturgy comes about primarily by God’s intervention, impregnating His bride with the seed of the Word. The liturgy is born from the Church’s virginal receptivity; she then nurtures the offspring entrusted to her. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News