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Friday, February 28, 2014

Priest saves 700 Muslims in Central Africa

Priest saved lives of 700 Muslims in Central African Republic

CWN - February 28, 2014

A newly ordained priest saved the lives of 700 Muslims in Boali, a town of 9,000 in the Central African Republic, according to a report in The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's leading newspapers.

"When the Muslims were attacked" by anti-balaka militias, "the people didn't help them," said Father Xavier-Arnauld Fagba, who was ordained in October. "That's when I decided to look for them and bring them here. I did it in the name of my faith."

Father Fagba went door to door to warn the Muslims of the impending danger and invited them to seek refuge in the church, where they have lived for six weeks. On February 4, the church sustained damage from machine-gun fire.

The anti-balaka militias were originally self-defense organizations that arose in opposition to the Islamist Séléka militias that attacked Christian institutions and held sway in the nation from March 2013 until January 2014. In recent months, anti-balaka forces have engaged in revenge attacks upon Muslims. Church leaders have denounced violence on both sides.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

twitter@pontifex POPE FRANCIS


All of us who are baptized are missionary disciples. We are called to become a living Gospel in the world.

Monday, February 24, 2014

'The Hermits and Anchorites of England' - Rotha Mary Clay, 1914

Clay, Rotha Mary., The Hermits and Anchorites of England. Methuen & Co., London. 1914.


What sawest thou before thee when didst vow thyself to this manner of life?
—Rule of St. Aelred.

Do you now ask what rule ye anchoresses should observe? Ye should by all
means, with all your might and all your strength, keep well the inward rule, and
for its sake the outward. . . . The outward rule may be changed and varied
according to every one’s state and circumstances . . . it is only a slave to help
the lady to rule the heart.—Ancren Riwle.

The eremitical life, it has been truly said, “was once a career, and not the abdication of all careers”. Recluses were therefore set apart for their vocation, whether they were regular or secular clergy, nuns, or men and women who had as yet taken no vows. A monk might become a hermit by permission of his abbot, but he could only be admitted to the order of an anchorite by the joint consent of his superior and of the bishop. A lay person required the sanction of the bishop before taking either step.


The place of the hermit in the ecclesiastical system is hard to define. There were many kinds of solitaries—all, perhaps, of a less conventional and canonical type than other churchmen,—but all, in theory at least, recognized by the Church. Some were in close touch with a monastery. The monk Bartholomew and the lay-brother Godric were both under the ægis of the Benedictine house of Durham, the prior of which exercised the right to “create” hermits. The secular clerk naturally turned to the bishop for licence, institution, or ordination. He might be admitted to minor orders, or even to full orders if the cell were sufficiently endowed for it to be accounted a benefice. Robert of Lilbourne, for example, after being made successively acolyte, sub-deacon, and deacon, was ordained priest on the “title” of five marks a year from his patron, Robert de Hawkwell. Unlettered hermits were also licensed, for episcopal recog-


nition was required even by civil law. The vagrancy statute of 1388 exempts “approved hermits having letters testimonial of their ordinaries.”1 Such approval is frequently entered in episcopal records, e.g. the Bishop of Sarum gave J. Spensar letters testimonial that he had received the habit [the clothing, and therefore state, of a Hermit].

The ceremony of receiving the habit was a feature in the Office of Benediction (Appendix B). The candidate appeared before the bishop, bare-headed and barefoot, carrying on his left arm the scapular and other garments suitable to the profession of a hermit. During the service the old garments were put off, and the new ones, after being blessed, were put on with appropriate prayers. The hermit signed a deed of profession, made a vow, and received a charge as to his future manner of living.

Some English hermits belonged to a branch of Augustinians2 called “the Order of St. Paul the first Hermit”. In 1431 Richard Spechysley took the following vow at Hartlebury :—

y[I] Rychard Spechysley sengleman not wedded promytte and solempne a wowe make to god, to hys blessed moder Marie, and all the seyntes of heuene yn presence of your reverent Fadyr yn cryst Thomas by the grace of god busshopp of Worcestr fulle and hole purpose of chastity perpetually to be kept by me after the Rule of seynt poule yn name of the fadyr and sone and holy gost amen et faciat heremita cruce super cedulam.

Similar instances occur elsewhere, but chiefly within the last fifty years of hermit-life in England ; e.g. Robert Michyll and John Smith were professed before the Bishop of Ely in 1494 ; John Ferys took the vow at Norwich(1504) ; John Colebrant received the habit from the Bishop of Rochester (1509). Geoffrey Middleton, Richard Fury, and Nicholas Heage, all of Sarum diocese, likewise joined this Order. The Lydence Pontifical (1521) contains the special service for admission into the Order of St. Paul3 (see Appendix B). The habit worn by its members is shown in Fig. 6.

Various Rules of Life are extant, including the following :—


(a) Regula Heremitarum (Cambridge MS.), sometimes ascribed to Richard Rolle.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.—Hermit of the Order of St. Paul.]
[Download a 1,211KB JPG of this image.]

(b) De pauperate, statu, et vita Heremitarum (Bodleian MS., fourteenth century).
(c) Rule, called “of Pope Celestine,” a manuscript which


belonged to the House of St. Mark, Bristol. It begins : ‘‘Thyes are the notable rewles of the lyfe heremiticalle . . . made by Pope Celestine”. The preface and much of the matter are similar to (b).

(d) Rule, called “of Pope Linus” (Lambeth MS., fifteenth century, bound as fly-leaf into a Carmelite work). It begins : “Lyne owre holy fadyr [Pope][sic] of Rome he ordeyned thys rowle to all solytary men that takys the degre of an heremyte” ; and ends : “ Thys is ye charge of an hermygtis lyffe”.

(e) Episcopal Charge, or form of living [paid employment] (Pontifical, sixteenth century, see Appendix B).

These documents contain directions about times of labour, eating, sleep, silence, and worship. Obedience in the monastic sense was not required. “The hermit should make obedience to God alone, because he himself is abbot, prior, and prefect in the cloister of his heart.” To Almighty God he may, if he so desire, vow poverty and chastity before the bishop, but not by any man’s commandment. Minute instructions are given as to the repetition of the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, and Angelic Salutation, at the set hours. He was to hear Mass daily, if possible, and to be houselled [administered the Eucharist] once a week. Regulations concerning food, dress, etc., are referred to in the chapters which follow.

Although celibacy was doubtless customary among those professed as hermits, it was not obligatory. It is recorded that “John Shenton, Armett, and hys wyffe” took charge of the ornaments of the chapel at Derbybridge (1488). Nor is this a mere instance of laxity of discipline. When it was notified to Archbishop Arundel that Adam Cressevill, after taking a hermit’s vow, had married a certain Margaret, the archbishop adjudged that the reception of such a habit did not de jure bring upon any one a tacit or express profession of religion, nor include in itself holy orders, so as to preclude a subsequent contract of “marriage which was instituted in Paradise”. The Adam of 1405 was, therefore, declared to be effectually bound and held to the observance of the marriage.4

In theory, the solitary was canonically appointed and


placed under definite rule, but every age has its free-lances. The difficulties connected with due order and discipline were as old as sixth-century monachism. The Benedictine Rule declares that there were not only hermits trained in the monastery, but also self-appointed ones, some of whom roamed from cell to cell. Self-constituted or wandering solitaries were bound to interfere with parochial, monastic, or episcopal rights. When Archbishop Thurstan was granting a charter to the priory of Holy Trinity, York, he inserted this clause : “Let no hermit or anyone else presume to construct a chapel or oratory of any kind within the territory of that parish church, without the permission and free consent of the prior and chapter”.5

The Church prohibited hermits of irregular life or belief. About the year 1231 the Bishop of Lincoln excommunicated Elias, a monk notorious for excesses, and a chaplain was admitted in his place to Mirabel hermitage in Stockerston. In 1334, heresy and schism are recorded both in north and south. The Archbishop of York issued a mandate forbidding anyone to listen to the teaching of Henry de Staunton, hermit.6 The Bishop of Exeter took proceedings against a peculiar person named William, who had set himself up as a hermit at St. David’s chapel in Ashprington.7 Two years later Ranulf, an apostate friar, being “a heretic in the habit of a hermit,” was examined by theologians, and convicted of holding false doctrines ; but the prisoner was released by death.8

Sometimes, indeed, the habit was assumed by mere beggars :—

“William Blakeney, shetilmaker . . . was brought into the Guildhall . . . for that, whereas he was able to work for his food and raiment, he . . . went about there, barefooted and with long hair, under the guise of sanctity, and pretended to be a hermit, saying that he was such, and that he had made pilgrimage . . . and under colour of falsehood he had received many good things from divers people.”


The impostor, who had lived by fraud for six years, was condemned to the pillory (1412).9

The desire to be independent of authority led some persons to seek the solitary life. William Stapleton, clerk, left St. Benet’s, Holme (where, as he confesses, he had often been punished for laziness), went to London, and purchased from Cardinal Wolsey a dispensation to be a hermit. The truth was, that his whole mind was set on necromancy. He used enchantments in digging for hidden treasure, and practiced spirit-raising. When he returned to Norfolk and showed his licence, his friends motioned him to go about his “science” again, saying they would help him to his habit. This runaway monk was intimate with Wolsey (to whom, in 1528, his long letter is addressed), Cromwell, More, and the Duke of Norfolk. Whether he became solitary or sorcerer does not appear.10

Even authorized hermits were apt to upset the parochial system, if persons resorted to their chapels to the neglect of their parish church. A long-standing grievance at Hinxton was met by an agreement between the vicar, wardens, and parishioners, and William Popeley, hermit of Whytford Bridge. Tithes and dues were commuted for fixed oblations at the principal feasts, when the bridge-chaplain must, like all other parishioners, make his oblations. The vicar was to say mass yearly at St. Anne’s chapel, and in return for his labour, should receive 4d. and a good dinner from the hermit.

St Marina, Vanquisher of Demons!

St Marina, Great Martyr and Vanquisher of Demons!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Turkey

Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Turkey
(Atlas Obscura) - Standing alone on the small island of Aght'amar in Turkey's Lake Van, the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the only remnant of a former ruler's island getaway, but the former religious center is under fire for its conversion to a secular museum.

Originally built in the early 900's, the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross was part of a large religious complex that accompanied then king Gagik I Artsruni's home which once sat on the island. The church was built in a blocky architectural style that makes the building seem rather uninteresting from afar, but up close the church is almost completely covered in ornate bas-relief carvings. While there are a number of decorative flourishes, the majority of the carvings actually illustrate stories from the Bible such as David and Goliath. Some scholars have argued that the scenes depict more directly Turkish vignettes but most agree that the influence is mainly Biblical. 

After King Artsruni's reign ended, the church became the home of Armenia's Catholic leader until the late 1800's. Once the Armenian Catholicosate no longer lived in the building, it was simply abandoned despite its historical significance. The church was almost demolished in 1951, but an Armenian writer was able to save the site which had fallen victim to years of vandalism and violence.

The church was finally restored in 2005, however since it was now under the jurisdiction of the Armenian government it was reopened as a museum and not a place of worship. This secularization did not sit well with many Armenians who felt that a piece of their religious past was being lost. However despite protests and outrage the museum was opened anyway.

Visitors can now take a ferry to the church and take in this excellent piece of Turkey's religious history, just leave the religion at the door.

No to divisions between Christians: Pope to Cardinals

Pope Francis: No to divisions between Christians

2014-02-23 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Following the celebration of Mass on Sunday morning with the 19 new Cardinals, Pope Francis greeted the crowds in St. Peter's Square gathered for the Angelus prayer.
In his address to them he urged them to work for Christian unity avoiding all divisions, because he said: "a community does not belong to the preacher, but to Christ".
Commenting on the second Reading of the Day, the Pope said that since the times described by St. Paul, Christians were divided according to whoever was leading their community.
But St Paul – Pope Francis said – explains that this way of thinking is wrong:"everything belongs to you Christ! Not to Paul, Apollos or Cephas; the world, life, death, the present and the future, everything is yours! For you belong to Christ, and Christ to God!"
And the Pope said all Christian communities are born from this belonging: dioceses, parishes, associations, movements. And even although there may be differences – he added – through Baptism we all have the same dignity, we are children of God. Our dignity – the Pope said – is in Jesus Christ. And those who have received the ministry to guide, to preach, to administer the Sacraments, must not feel that they own special powers, that they are masters. "They must put themselves in the service of the community, helping it in its journey of holiness with joy".

The Church - said Pope Francis –" entrusts the witness of this pastoral lifestyle to the new Cardinals":
"Yesterday's Consistory and today's Eucharistic Celebration have offered us a precious occasion to experience the Catholicity, the Universality of the Church which is well represented by the variegated origins of the members of the College of Cardinals, who are gathered in tight communion around the Successor of Peter".
And the Pope prayed that the Lord may grant these men the grace to work towards the unity of the Church, and to build this unity because – he said – unity is more important than conflict. "The unity of the Church is in Christ".
The Pope concluded his address with an appeal for prayers for the bishops, the cardinals and the Pope so that they may serve the People of God, because – he said – the vocation of a bishop, a cardinal, the Pope is to be a servant in the name of Christ.
"Pray for us so that we may be good servants: good servants not good masters!"

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Signs of Growing in Grace

Signs You're Maturing in Faith & Growing in Grace
Tim Brister Feb 23, 2011

There are a handful of folks on Twitter whose updates I happen to "favorite" all the time, and one of them is Scotty Smith. About a month ago, he did a little series on "signs you're growing in grace." I've compiled them here for your benefit. I love how practical and earthy they are. The gospel goes everywhere.

A sign you're growing in grace is less bombast about not being a legalist & more humility because you "get" the gospel.
A sign you're growing in grace is less theological arrogance & greater appreciation for diversity in the Body of Christ.
A sign you're growing in grace is you work much harder at remembering names and forgetting slights.
A sign you're growing in grace is that everybody notices it but you.
A sign you're growing in grace is movement from destructive cynicism towards redemptive engagement. Anybody can spew.
A sign you're growing in grace is that you're less like a drive-by-shooting with criticisms & more of a healing presence.
A sign you're growing in grace is evident when you receive feedback non-defensively and give it clearly & lovingly.
A sign you're growing in grace is evident when people don't feel like they have to walk on egg shells around you as much.
A sign you're growing in grace is when you say, "I'll be prayin' for ya", and you follow through on at least 50%.
A sign you're growing in grace is committing fewer homicides in your heart of slow drivers.
A sign you're growing in grace is praying for our government rather than simply being cynical about our government.
A sign you are growing in grace is that you are more disgusted with your critical spirit than offended by others' sins.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pentecostal gathering: Pope sends video message

Pope sends 7-minute video message to Pentecostal gathering

CWN - February 21, 2014

Pope Francis has sent a seven-minute video message to a Pentecostal gathering sponsored by Kenneth Copeland Ministries.

During the message, the Pope emphasized that Christians are brothers and compared separated Christians to Jacob's sons who journeyed to Egypt, where they were reconciled to their b

rother Joseph.

Pope Francis also expressed confidence that God would bring to completion the "miracle of unity" that He has already begun to work.

Catholic News Service reported that the Pope's extemporaneous remarks were recorded on the iPhone of Tony Palmer, a Pentecostal leader and friend of the Pope, during a January meeting at the Vatican.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Martyrs of Compiegne ~ 'Dialogues of the Carmelites' Opera - POULENC [VID]


They Sang All the Way to the Guillotine

On January 26, 1957, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan was the site of a new opera by noted French Catholic composer François Poulenc. Le Dialogue des Carmélites (The Dialogue of the Carmelites) was based in part on a screenplay written by the Catholic writer Georges Bernanos and inspired by Gertrud von le Fort's German novella, Die Letzte am Schafott (" The Last on the Scaffold"). The new work presented a seemingly odd choice for its subject—the execution of sixteen French Carmelite nuns from Compiègne during the darkest days of the French Revolution.
The opera was recognized immediately as one of the greatest of the twentieth century and opened to rave reviews both in Italy and France. At the heart of Poulenc's opera is the harrowing approach of death for the nuns in the Carmelite cloister of Compiègne and the way that each of them makes her own spiritual journey to martyrdom, despite the chances to surrender her faith and so live. The opera ends, like the lives of the nuns, upon the scaffold in Paris, with the nuns singing a hymn. One by one their voices are silenced, but the power of their message sings on into eternity.
Poulenc's effort remains a powerful and frequently performed work of classical opera. Its very success reminds us that the deaths of some French nuns during French Revolution have not been forgotten, and the examples of faith in the face of repression and anti-Catholic persecutions are eternal ones.
Faith under Fire
The facts surrounding the death of these women are straightforward. On July 17, 1794, in the final days of Maximilien Robespierre's fiendish leadership over revolutionary France, fourteen Carmelite nuns and two female servants were guillotined at the Place du Trône Renversé (now called the Place de la Nation), in Paris. Their official condemnation listed assorted crimes against the state, and their remains were placed in a common grave along with the over 1,300 other victims of the guillotine.
In the wake of the French Revolution of 1789 and the establishment of the Revolutionary government centered in the Assemblée nationale (the National Assembly), the Church was placed in an increasingly difficult position. French Catholicism had long enjoyed a position of national prominence and possessed seemingly vast wealth. As such, the Revolutionary leadership sought both to strip the Church of her holdings and to curb the influence of Catholics in the new order.
The first to be targeted were the religious orders—the monks and nuns?who held extensive properties and who were condemned by the Enlightenment philosophers for serving no practical purpose for society. It was incomprehensible that monks and nuns, most so the contemplative orders, were of any benefit to the world as they did nothing but sit in their houses and pray. In his work, Georges Bernanos has the former prioress of the Compiègne Carmelites, Mother Henriette of Jesus, declare to her revolutionary captors: "We are not an enterprise for mortification or the preservation of the virtues, we are a house of prayer; those who do not believe in prayer cannot but assume we are impostors or parasites."
On October 28, 1789, the Assembly prohibited the taking of vows in France's monasteries; on February 13, 1790, religious orders with solemn vows were suppressed. The religious men were then compelled to enter monasteries without regard to their former orders or were given paltry pensions. The women religious, meanwhile, were allowed at first to remain in their houses under severe conditions, including the requirement that they adopt secular dress.
The devastation of the monasteries?like the dissolution of the monasteries in England under King Henry VIII?was merely the start of even greater oppression, in the form of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, passed by the Assembly on July 12, 1790. This measure placed the Church in France entirely in the thrall of the state. Faithful Catholics opposed the harsh measures, especially the oath of loyalty to the state imposed on all clergy in November 1790. In the end, the Assembly and its increasingly radical leaders suppressed all religious orders, banished the priests who would not take the oath (the so-called "non-juring priests"), and even punished "juring" priests who ran afoul of local officials.
Far worse were the murders of priests and bishops, such as the 225 slaughtered in the September Massacres of 1792. The social and political chaos took its inevitable course with the rise of the infamous Robespierre as the most influential member of the Committee of Public Safety (the Comité de salut public), set up on April 6, 1793 to oversee the trials and execution of the growing lists of "enemies of the State." Under Robespierre, France sank into the Reign of Terror that lasted from September 1793 to July 28, 1794. The Terror led to the deaths of thousands at the guillotine, as well as fresh anti-Catholic outrages such as the adoption of the Revolutionary Calendar and the grotesque celebration that installed the goddess "Reason" in Notre Dame Cathedral in the form of a half-naked prostitute.
Evicted and Imprisoned
Such was the storm that engulfed the houses of religious women in France, and one of them, in the relatively small city of Compiègne in northern France, was a convent of Discalced Carmelites. The community at Compiègne had been founded in the spirit of zeal that followed the first arrival of the Carmelites in France in 1604. The sisters of the community at the time of the French Revolution came from a variety of backgrounds. Mother Henriette of Jesus (Marie-Françoise Gabrielle de Croissy) was the grand-niece of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, one of the most powerful ministers to King Louis XIV. Most of the nuns, however, were from humble families of cobblers, carpenters, and common laborers. They were thus far from being sympathizers of theancien régime, even if authorities cited as damning evidence of their treason the presence in the convent of an old painting of the executed King Louis XVI.
In fact, as was the common practice for all houses of religious in France, the nuns took care to obey the letter of the laws being imposed upon the Church. At the same time, though, they found their own ways to practice resistance. When, for example, authorities arrived after the suppression of vows to encourage each sister to leave the community, they found the members uncommunicative and disinclined to accept their offer. In a foreshadowing of what was to come, the officials returned with soldiers to threaten the determined religious should they refuse to abandon their habits.
The darker events in the country continued apace, and soon the houses of religious were dispersed. The nuns at Compiègne were evicted from the convent on September 14, 1792, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The nuns had anticipated this next development and had, at the prayerful suggestion of Sister Teresa of St. Augustine, made a collective act of consecration by which they offered their lives as a holocaust on behalf of the Church in an age of suffering.
Ostensibly in obedience to the law, the nuns lived outside of the house in four groups and dressed like simple French women. They met in common prayer and never wavered in their private fidelity to the rules of the Carmel, even if they had to live as exiles from the convent. Known and hated by the fervent anti-Catholics in the region, the nuns were watched. It was only a matter of time before their prayer life, their devotion to the Sacred Heart, and their acts of charity led to their arrest by the local Committee of Public Safety. On July 12, they were transferred to Paris, and the city beheld the spectacle of sixteen defenseless women being led to jail by a force of gendarmes and nine hard-bitten dragoons.
The procession reached its destination: the dreaded Conciergerie, the somber prison for those poor souls who had fallen into the hands of Robespierre's Committee. The charges against the Carmelites were conspiracy and treason against the nation by supposedly corresponding with counter-revolutionary conservative elements, being royalists, and keeping in their possession the writings of the liberticides of the ancien régime. Ironically, the only member of the convent with royal blood, Sister Marie of the Incarnation, was away at the time of the arrests. She would later chronicle the events that followed.
Song and Silence
The trial was a pre-ordained condemnation, as the tribunal met without granting the nuns any lawyers or even witnesses. After a brief discussion, the judges found the nuns guilty, but to the list of "crimes" for which they stood condemned to death, Mother Henriette of Jesus demanded and succeeded in adding the charge of "attachment to your Religion and the King." She then turned to her sisters and declared proudly, "We must rejoice and give thanks to God for we die for our religion, our faith, and for being members of the Holy Roman Catholic Church."
On July 17, 1794, the sixteen Carmelites were led through the streets of Paris in a tumbrel, the traditional open cart that left condemned prisoners subject to the mockery, abuse, and jeers of the crowds lining the avenues leading to the guillotine. With utter serenity, the nuns made their way to the Place du Trône Renversé and were removed from the cart. Sister Charlotte of the Resurrection, who was seventy-eight and could barely walk, was tossed to the ground by one of her guards, but in response told him that she forgave him and assured him of her prayers.
The mob that had gathered for its customary fun, however, was soon reduced to stunned silence by the actions of the Carmelites. The women religious did not cower in fear before the blade of the guillotine. Rather, they sang as each one mounted the steps to her death. Some accounts declare that they sang the Veni Creator, others that it was the Salve Regina. In his recent work To Quell the Terror: The Mystery of the Vocation of the Sixteen Carmelites of Compiègne Guillotined July 17, 1794, William Bush argues that they sang Psalm 117: "O praise the Lord all ye nations! / Praise him all ye people! / For His mercy is confirmed upon us / And the truth of the Lord remaineth forever! / Praise the Lord!"
The first to sing as she ascended was the youngest of the Carmelites, Sister Constance. Called by the executioners, she knelt before her Mother Superior, asked her blessing and permission to die, and then placed herself beneath the guillotine without any need of assistance or force. Each of the remaining nuns followed in exactly the same manner. The next-to-last was thirty-four-year-old Sister Henriette. As infirmarian, she assisted her sisters up the steps. Finally, the venerable Mother placed her head in the device and waited for the blade to drop.
During the executions, no sounds could be heard save the singing of the sisters, their chorus reduced one by one, and the remorseless slicing of the guillotine. The customary drum roll did not take place, and no one in the crowd cheered, laughed, or mocked the victims. When it was done, the crowd dispersed in further silence, and a pervasive sense of unease settled over the city. The remains of the sisters were taken away from Paris and interred in a deep sand-pit in a cemetery at Picpus, where they joined the other victims of the guillotine.
The murder of the Carmelites was the climactic moment of the Reign of Terror and its apparently greatest victory over superstition and the Church. And yet, within ten days, Robespierre fell from power and died himself beneath the guillotine. The Reign of Terror was brought to a sudden and unexpected end.
A Lasting Witness
Sixteen victims of the thousands murdered by the French Revolution, the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne were from the time of their executions remembered with an intense fervor and revered for their holiness and courage. Indeed, credit for the shocking close to the Terror was given to the Carmelites of Compiègne by those in the Conciergerie who had come to know them well. As religious orders were still forbidden in England, English Benedictine nuns founded a home at Cambrai, France. Like the Carmelites, they had been imprisoned in Paris in October 1793 and had met the nuns from Compiègne in the Conciergerie's dungeon. They loved and venerated the martyred Carmelites and preserved with devotion the secular clothes the women left behind. When the Reign of Terror halted so abruptly, the English Benedictines gave thanks for the holiness and the act of offering made by their beloved sisters. The Benedictines also took the few second-class relics of the Carmelites with them when they were permitted to go back to England in 1795. Because the Carmelites were buried in the common grave at Picpus, no first-class relics have ever been recovered.
Over the next century, the Carmelites were honored by the Carmelites of France, by the Benedictine nuns of England, and by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower and Doctor of the Church. The movement for their cause for canonization gained swift ground in France, and in 1902, Pope Leo XIII declared them venerable. A mere four years later, after the confirmation of several miracles, they were beatified by Pope St. Pius X on May 27, 1906, the first martyrs of the French Revolution to be so honored. Their cause for canonization continues.
For apologists today, the Carmelite martyrs—as with all martyrs for the faith—remind us that their example is not confined to a bygone age of suffering and war in a Europe gone mad with the Enlightenment. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) wrote with veneration of the Compiègne Carmelites. Like the Benedictine nuns before her, the future martyr g.asped the significance of their act of spiritual consecration and their willingness to be martyrs for the faith that evil was trying to expunge. Rather than being forgotten, the nuns inspired Catholics and artists over the next two centuries as Christians died at the hand of the Nazis, Communists in Spain and the Soviet Empire, and extremists the world over. As François Poulenc's opera brings to riveting operatic life, the Carmelites of Compiègne demonstrate to all Christians that even as we should be willing to follow Christ in every way that we live, it is just as important to follow Christ in how we die.

Matthew E. Bunson is a former contributing editor to This Rock and the author of more than 30 books. He is a consultant for USA Today on Catholic matters, a moderator of EWTN's online Church history forum, and the editor of The Catholic Answer.

Richard Rolle of Hampole, hermit :)

Richard Rolle de Hampole

'Rycharde Rolle hermyte of Hampull, in his 'Contemplacyons of the drede and loue of God' 
[1506] (STC 21259).

By permission of the British Library. Image published with permission of ProQuest. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Richard Rolle, Hermit of Hampole
Solitary and writer, b. at Thornton, Yorkshire, about 1300; d. at Hampole, 29 Sept., 1349. The date 1290, sometimes assigned for his birth-year, is too early, as in a work written after 1326 he alludes to himself as "juvenculus" and "puer", words applicable to a man of under thirty, but not to one over that age. He showed such promise as a school-boy, while living with his father William Rolle, that Thomas de Neville, Archdeacon of Durham, undertook to defray the cost of his education at Oxford. At the age of nineteen he left the university to devote himself to a life of perfection, not desiring to enter any religious order, but with the intention of becoming a hermit. At first he dwelt in a wood near his home, butfearing his family would put him under restraint, he fled from Thornton and wandered about till he was recognized by John de Dalton, who had been his fellow student at Oxford, and who now provided him with a cell and the necessaries for ahermit's life. At Dalton he made great progress in the spiritual life as described by himself in his treatise "De incendio amoris". He spent from three to four years in the purgative and illuminative way and then attained contemplation, passing through three phases which he describes as calor, canor, dulcor. They appeared successively, but once attained they remained with him continually, though he did not feel them all alike or all at the same time. Sometimes the calor prevailed; sometimes the canor, but the dulcor accompanied both. The condition was such, he says, "that I did not think anything like it or anything so holy could be received in this life". After this he wandered from place to place, at one time visiting theanchoress, Dame Margaret Kyrkby, at Anderby, and obtaining from God her cure. Finally he settled at Hampole near the Cistercian nunnery, and there he spent the rest of his life. After his death his tomb was celebrated for miracles, and preparations for his canonization, including the composition of a mass and office in his honour, were made; but the cause was never prosecuted. His writings were extremely popular throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and very many manuscripts copies of his works are still extant in English libraries. His writings show he was much influenced by the teaching of St. Edmund of Canterbury in the "Speculum Ecclesiae". The Lollards, realizing the power of his influence, tampered with his writings, interpolating passages favouring theirerrors. To defeat this trickery, the nuns at Hampole kept genuine copies of his works at their house. His chief works are "De emendatione vitae" and "De incendio amoris", both written in Latin, of which English versions by Ricahrd Misyn (1434- 5) have been published by the Early English Text Society, 1896; "Contemplacyons of the drede and love of God" and "Remedy against Temptacyons", both printed byWynkyn de Worde in 1506; and "The Pricke of Conscience", a poem printed for thePhilological Society in 1863. This was his most popular work and manuscripts of it are very common. They have been collated by Andreae (Berlin, 1888) and Bulbring (Transactions of Philological Society, 1889-1890). Ten prose treatises found in theThornton manuscript in Lincoln Cathedral Library were published by the Early English Text Society, 1866. "The Form of Perfect Living", "Meditations on the Passion", and many shorter pieces were edited by Horstman (London, 1896). Rolletranslated many parts of Scripture into English but only his version of the Psalms has been printed.               His English paraphrase of the Psalms and canticles was published in 1884 (Clarendon Press, Oxford). This work of translation is noteworthy in face of [a] persistent though [disproven] tradition ascribing all the credit of translating the Scriptures into English to Wyclif
       Latin versions of Rolle's works are very numerous. They were collected into one edition (Paris, 1618) and again reprinted in the "Bibliotheca Patrum Maxima" (Lyons, 1677). Modernized English versions of the Meditations on the Passion have been published by Mgr. Benson in "A Book of the Love of Jesus" (London, 1905) and by the present writer (C. T. S. London, 1906).


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Prayer of Dedication - Spurgeon (contemporary English version)

Prayer of Dedication*

By Charles H. Spurgeon

What the apostle says is, , "To him be glory both now and forever." Today will you make this prayer your own? "Lord help me to make you better known and loved; I am poor, help me to show the world who you are by my contentment; I am sick, help me to honour you by patience; I have talents, help me to praise your greatness by using them for you; I have time, Lord, help me to use it in serving you; I have a heart to feel, Lord, let this heart feel no love but yours, and glow with no flame but affection for you; I have a head to think, Lord, help me to think of you and with you; You have put me in this world for something, Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose; I cannot do much, but as the widow gave her last pennies, which were all she had to live on, so, Lord, I freely offer my time and eternity too to your treasury; I am all Yours; take me, and make me able to make you better known and loved now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have."

*A contemporary English version

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mater Amabilis

Vatican relations with Baptists

Vatican official examines developments in relations with World Council of Churches, Baptists

CWN - February 18, 2014

In an article that appeared in the most recent English-language edition of L'Osservatore Romano, Father Gregory Fairbanks, an official of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, discussed recent highlights in ecumenical dialogue with the World Council of Churches and the Baptist World Alliance.

In March 2013, the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, published "The Church: Towards a Common Vision," which Father Fairbanks described as "a major ecumenical statement on the nature and purpose of the church, the broadest ecumenical statement on ecclesiology ever produced in a multi-lateral framework."

Dialogue with the World Baptist Alliance, he added, led to the July publication of "The Word of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition and Koinonia."

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

St. John Climacus :)

File:John Climacus.jpg
St. John Climacus (lt. 13 cent.- Russia)

scan from "Muzeum Rosyjskie w Leningradzie", Arkady, Warszawa 1986, ISBN 83-213-3348-6

Take 7 Minutes; it's worth it :) [VIDEO]

Worth the 7 minutes :)  Saving a life in Thailand


What is the communion of persons?

What is the communion of persons, of bodies, of one flesh union that is the consummation of marriage - the marital embrace?

It is a total communion - and union - of the personhood of the life and lives of man and woman that not only images the fullness of the image of man but brings forth life - man from man.

What is the desire for that communion of life - of persons - of being - of essence?  What is this desire for total union; communion?  

'Adam and Eve' - drawing by Albrecht Durer

Benedict XVI's resignation: "revolutionary and courageous”

Benedict XVI's personal secretary: former Pope's resignation "revolutionary and courageous

2014-02-11 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) In an interview with the Vatican Television Center (CTV) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's personal secretary recalls the day on which Pope Francis' predecessor announced his decision to resign. "The 11th of February last year was a very special day," said Archbishop Georg Gänswein, a day he says was marked by feelings of "sadness and gratitude."
"Clearly, taking one's leave is always a sad thing, a thing that hurts, that is painful" says Gänswein who is also head of the papal household. "On the other hand, there was also the feeling of gratitude for these years that I was able to live near a great Pope. I knew about (the announcement) a little before, and certainly, when the Pope told me, he told me with orders not to tell anyone, and I did not say anything. I knew about it, however, at the moment he said it, I was shocked. For me, the last day of his pontificate was a day of great sorrow."
One year on from that historic day, Gänswein reiterates his belief that Benedict's resignation was an "act of great courage, even a revolutionary act, which opened up possibilities that no one at that moment could see."
"The Pope said it himself, when he read out the text of his announcement, that he was no longer able to guide the barque of Peter, the Church of the Lord." Gänswein describes the resignation as "an act of love for the Lord, for the Church and for the faithful, to step aside to open up the possibility to a person who has more strength who can continue his work."
Gänswein says he "strongly" believes that Benedict's gesture had a great impact on the faithful's emotional reaction to Francis, saying that it "is an aspect that should not be underestimated."

"We are all seeing the impact of Pope Francis on the world, not only on the faithful in the Church, but on the world; it is a huge impact, and this impact was also facilitated by Pope Benedict in his resignation. He opened up a possibility that until then was not there, and we see that Pope Francis has taken up this situation and we are pleased that today it is so. "
To celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, CTV has created a box set of five DVDs entitled "From Benedict to Francis," showcasing recordings of the most important events marking the changeover of pontificates. The DVDs offer an archive of the period from February 11 to March 27, 2013 following the resignation of Benedict to Pope Francis's first audience.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Petition re. UN Attack on Catholic Church

Please read this and consider signing the petition to defend the Christian voice for human dignity at the United Nations represented by the Vatican.

On Thursday, 6 February 2014, 7:39, Austin Ruse <> wrote:
To view a web version, click here.
Friday Fax
â€"February 5, 2014 | Volume 17 Number 6

Dear Colleague,
This is perhaps the most outrageous thing I have seen in all my 17 years at the UN. A UN Committee has told the Catholic Church to let kids have sex, contraception and abortions. This simply boggles the imagination. We have launched a petition drive to defend the Church at the UN. Please go to and sign, and then send to your entire address book. Stefano Gennarini reports.
Rebecca Oas reports on an outrageous new report from UNESCO that says education of children should include acceptance of homosexuality and abortion. This is the world we live in, folks.
Spread the word, most especially about the petition in support of the Church at the UN. We intend to deliver all the signatures to the UN and also to the Church in New York, Geneva (seats of the UN) and Rome. or
Do it now.
Yours sincerely,
Austin Ruse
Vatican Blasts UN Committee That Asks Church To Change Teaching on Abortion and Homosexuality
By Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
NEW YORK, February 5 (C-FAM) The Vatican accused a UN committee of interfering with Church doctrine and violating religious freedom after it was asked to change its teaching on abortion and homosexuality. The Church should change its teaching on abortion, according to a UN committee that monitors the rights of children.
The Church should no longer automatically excommunicate those who perform or assist in the performance of an abortion, UN experts said in observations published Wednesday following a year-long review of the Vatican's child protection practices. Read More

UNESCO Report Promotes Abortion and Same-Sex Narrative
By Rebecca Oas, Ph.D.
NEW YORK, February 5 (C-FAM) The UN's educational and cultural agency says that the purpose of educating children is not only to foster their literacy and social advancement, but also to teach them where and how to have an abortion and to increase their tolerance for same-sex behavior.
In its report, "Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All" released last week, UNESCO said that educated women reduce their risk of dying from pregnancy complications by adopting better hygiene practices, having skilled birth attendants, recognizing symptoms of bleeding or high blood pressure, and "by assessing how and where to have an abortion." Read more

Editor in Chief â€" Austin Ruse
Managing Editor â€" Wendy Wright
Assistant Managing Editor â€" Lisa Correnti Correspondents â€" Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D., Stefano Gennarini, J.D., Rebecca Oas

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