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MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD (Jn18:36)

MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD (Jn18:36)

Jesus answered: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. (John 18:36)

“Offering the homage of her veneration, the Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth [in the world, not of this world] destined to extend to all parts and to embrace all men, salutes in the yearly cycle of the holy liturgy her Author and Founder as King, Lord and King of Kings.” (Pius XI, December 11th, 1925)

(See also: “The Church of Christ, the Kingdom of God on Earth, Has Been Hated and Persecuted Always”; please click here)

With His reply, Christ laid bare the vain thoughts of men. Reigning worldly rulers are apt to be jealous of those whom they consider likely to rule in their stead. 

Jesus answered: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my followers would have fought that I might not be delivered to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” This is what the good Master wished us to know. First we had to learn how vain was the notion of this kingdom which had been current among all men, both Jews and Gentiles, and which Pilate had heard from them. As if he deserved to be condemned to death because he had aspired to an unlawful kingdom; or because reigning monarchs are apt to be jealous of those who are likely to rule in their stead, or as if, for example, there was need to beware lest his kingdom should be hostile either to the Romans or the Jews.

When the Roman governor asked Jesus, “Are you king of the Jews,” the Lord could have answered: “My kingdom is not of this world.” But Christ asked in his turn, “Do you say this of yourself, or have others told you of me?” because he wished to show from Pilate’s answer that he, Jesus, had been charged with this as a crime before Pilate by the Jews. Thus he laid bare to us the thoughts of men which he knew and which were vain. After the reply of Pilate, Jesus replied to them, to both Jews and Gentiles, more fittingly and more opportunely, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

– St Augustine, Bishop, Treatise 115 on John 18-36, from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

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Posted by on November 20, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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IT IS THE DEATH OF THE WORD MADE FLESH WHICH IS OUR GREAT LESSON OF THIS WORLD

“It is the death of the Eternal Word of God made flesh, which is our great lesson how to think and how to speak of this world.

His Cross has put its due value upon everything which we see, upon all fortunes, all advantages, all ranks, all dignities, all pleasures; upon the list of the flesh, and the list of the eyes, and the pride of life… Go to the political world… to the world of intellect and science… look at misery, look at poverty and destitution, look at oppression and captivity; go where food is scanty and lodging unhealthy… Would you know how to rate all these? Gaze upon the Cross.”

– Bl. John Henry Newman, We now learn the true values, P.S. VI, 84-86

 

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“THOU ART PETER, AND UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH” – THE POPE, THE VICAR OF CHRIST

“‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also on heaven’ (Matthew 16:18-19).

JESUS MADE SIMON PETER THE FOUNDATION STONE OF HIS KINGDOM

Jesus made Simon Peter the rock or foundation stone of His kingdom. In the mind of Jesus all power in His kingdom, the power to teach the divine message, the power to rule men unto salvation, the power to sanctify men for salvation, all these powers were to be centralised in Simon Peter and his successors to the leadership of the apostolic college.

THE COUNCIL OF JERUSALEM

That the early Christian community recognised this is a historical fact. It was at Peter’s suggestion that the other Apostles elected Matthias to take the place left vacant in the apostolic college by the defection of Judas. It was Peter who first preached the establishment of the kingdom on Pentecost Sunday. It was Peter who worked the first miracle to testify to the power of Jesus Christ. It was Peter who punished Ananias and Sapphira for attempting to deceive the first Christian community at Jerusalem. It was Peter who admitted the first Gentiles into the new kingdom. At the Council of Jerusalem it was Peter who decided to what extent Gentile converts to the kingdom were bound by the old Mosaic Law. It was to Peter that St Paul went seeking confirmation of his own call to preach the Gospel. So great was his authority among the earliest members of the kingdom that even St Paul boasts of having induced Peter to accept his own position on a matter of discipline.

THE SUCCESSION

Peter died as Bishop of Rome, and the Bishops of Rome succeeded to his leadership of the whole Church. Thus it is that we see the Popes, the Bishops of Rome, exercising in the Kingdom of God through the centuries the authority which Jesus had entrusted to Peter.

ST CLEMENT’S LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS

So it was that Clement of Rome, at the end of the first century, sent a letter to the Christians at Corinth asking them to restore to office the priests whom they had illegitimately deposed. His wishes were fulfilled by the Corinthians. In fact, they held his letter in such esteem that it was read during liturgical celebrations just as the letters of the original Apostles. This recognition of the authority of the Bishop of Rome is all the more remarkable since St John, one of the original Apostles, was still alive at Ephesus, much nearer to Corinth than Rome.

‘MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH RECEIVE THE FULL TEACHING OF JESUS FROM THE BISHOPS OF ROME’

At the end of the second century Pope Victor threatened to excommunicate the Asian bishops who refused to celebrate Easter on the date used by the rest of the Church. On the urging of Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, Victor did not carry out the threat. But the very fact that Victor threatened to do so, and the fact that Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna, and therefore a man acquainted with the traditions of the Church both in the East and in the West, felt it necessary in the interests of concord to urge him not to do so, testify to the recognition of his power to rule the whole Church. It should be mentioned also that Irenaeus gives testimony to the fact that members of the Church receive the full teaching of Jesus from the Bishop of Rome.

‘IT IS ST PETER WHO SPEAKS THROUGH THE POPE’

In the third century two bishops of Spain who had been accused of loss of faith appealed to Pope Stephen I. Similarly Pope Dionysius asked Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, who was suspected of adhering to the Sabellian heresy, to make a profession of true faith.

THE COUNCIL OF NICEA

Even though the Council of Nicea – in 325 the first general or ecumenical council of the Church – was summoned at the order of the Emperor Constantine, it was the two legates of the Bishop of Rome who presided. Toward the end of the same fourth century Pope Siricius reminded the bishops of Spain that it is St Peter who speaks through the Pope.

THE COUNCIL OF CHALCEDON

In the fifth century the General Council of Chalcedon accepted the famous dogmatic letter of Leo as a statement of the true faith against the Monophysite heresy and proclaimed, ‘Peter has spoken through Leo.’ And, as we have previously seen, it was Pope Gelasius who during this century pointed out to the emperors that the Church held its power to rule from God and, thus, independently of the civil authority.

POPE GREGORY THE GREAT

In the sixth century Pope Gregory the Great reorganised the Church in Italy and sought to promote the reform of the Church in Gaul. It was Gregory who sent Augustine of Canterbury to convert England to the true faith.

THE THIRD COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE

In the seventh century the third council of Constantinople accepted the teaching of Pope Agatho against the Momothelite heresy. In the eighth century Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the West. Nicholas I excommunicated the bishops of Trier and Cologne for sanctioning the second marriage of King Lothair. He also intervened in the Photian schism at Constantinople and restored Ignatius to the bishopric of Constantinople.

THE PAPACY WAS INVOLVED IN A LONG STRUGGLE WITH SECULAR RULERS FOR THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE CHURCH FROM CIVIL AUTHORITY

From the ninth century on, the Papacy was involved in a long and serious struggle with secular rulers for the independence of the Church from civil authority. This struggle reached a climax in the reforming efforts of Pope Gregory VII, who succeeded in freeing the Church from the ’emperor’ King Henry IV of Germany.

THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE BEGINNING NATIONALISM IN THE SECULAR SPHERE

From this time on, the power of the Popes was supreme in matters of religion and Western Christendom generally recognised the supremacy of the Church over the State. But the situation changed after the conflict between Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) and Philip the Fair of France. Philip, in an effort to strengthen the French monarchy, sought a great measure of control over the Church in France. Boniface resisted his efforts, but without success. In the fourteenth century the Popes made the mistake of taking up residence at Avignon, within the borders of France. This gave the Papacy the appearance of being too favourable with the French. When finally the Popes returned to residence at Rome after the death of Pope Urban V, the French King Charles V disputed the election of Pope Urban VI and induced some French cardinals to elect Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII. This was the start of the Great Western Schism. Until the election of Martin V in 1417 Christendom was troubled and confused at the sight of rival claimants to the See of Peter. In 1417 there were three claimants to the Papacy. This unfortunate situation gave rise to the ‘Conciliar theory,’ the idea that a general council is superior to the Pope. Though Jesus Himself had made Peter and his successors (the Bishops of Rome) the supreme heads of His Church, the schism, coupled with the beginning of nationalism and the consequent desire of some nations (at least on the part of their sovereigns) to achieve independence of the divinely constituted authority of the Popes, gave impetus to the theory that a general council was superior even to the Pope. As a consequence the Popes had to fight against this attempt to destroy the foundations of authority in the Kingdom of God on earth. Pope Eugene IV found it necessary to dissolve the Council of Basel, which pretended to have authority over the Pope himself.

SECULAR RULERS WITH THEIR NATIONALISTIC AMBITIONS SUCCEEDED IN CONTROLLING CHURCH AFFAIRS IN SOME AREAS VIA LUTHER AND ZWINGLI

In the sixteenth century the Popes faced the most dangerous threat to their authority up to that time. In 1517 Martin Luther, a German monk, revolted against the authority of Rome. This sparked a movement which has become known as the Protestant Reformation. Luther, and other reformers such as Zwingli, were aided by kings and princes who sought control of church affairs. Pope Leo X did not act with sufficient force. As a consequence roughly half the Christians of Europe – chiefly those in northern Europe – left the true Church and joined heretical sects. The Council of Trent, which was summoned toward the middle of the century by Pope Paul III, by its reforming measures in the area of Church discipline and by its authoritative statement of Catholic teaching helped to stem the tide. But too much damage had already been done. And so from then until now the world is faced with the spectacle of millions of men, claiming to be followers of Jesus Christ, who will not submit in matters of discipline, doctrine or worship to the vicar of Christ, the Pope of Rome.

THE POPE, HOWEVER, DID NOT SWAP CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OR MORAL PRINCIPLE FOR POLITICAL INFLUENCE

One of the results of the so-called Reformation, with the establishment of powerful Protestant states, was that by the seventeenth century the Papacy had been reduced to a state of political unimportance. But it is to the credit of the Papacy that even though the Popes were anxious to restore Christian unity to the world they did not compromise Christian doctrine or moral principle in the effort to do so.

But the decline of papal political influence was less unfortunate than the decline of spiritual and moral influence of the Papacy which accompanied it. Basically the political power of the Papacy was only a reflection of its enormous spiritual influence. Ultimately kings and princes, such as Pepin and Charlemagne, gave grants of land and political power to the Popes because the Popes wielded great spiritual influence over the Christian people of Europe and were a stabilising factor in a war-torn world. But in time this political influence, though only in appearance, came to overshadow the spiritual force which it reflected and bolstered.

But the ‘Reformation’ struck directly at the spiritual authority of the Papacy. Up to the ‘Reformation’ the Church itself, the Church centralised in the authority of the Popes, was the first and the ultimate source of all doctrinal and disciplinary decision. But the ‘reformers’ asserted that the faith and the religious practice of every Christian was based on the right of every Christian to interpret the Bible for himself. For the divinely instituted authority of Peter the ‘reformers’ substituted the authority of the individual mind of the individual man. Naturally those who embraced this individualistic rule of faith no longer looked to Peter, in the person of the Pope, for the teaching of the message of Jesus and its application to the ever-changing conditions of history.

IT BECAME EVIDENT THAT SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES AND STATE POWER DON’T MIX

The weakness, even the falsity, of this new principle became evident very quickly in the multiplication of Protestant sects, each differing from the others in one or more points of faith or religious discipline. Moreover many of these sects, in their efforts to survive, accepted the principle that the local prince or king was the head of the Church.

CONCESSIONS TO NATIONALISM BY PROTESTANTS

This was a concession to the growing principle of nationalism. But it was also a rejection of the real supranational character of the Christian kingdom, and it represented a betrayal of the principle enunciated by Jesus Himself: ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’ It was in this spirit that the Lutherans in Germany recognised the right of the German princes to determine the religious views of their subjects and that Henry the Eighth made himself the supreme head of the Anglican Church. And so, at least for some time, what began as an emancipation of men from the authority of the Pope in the name of individual liberty became in fact an enslavement of religion to civil authority.

‘AN ENSLAVEMENT OF FAITH TO CIVIL AUTHORITY’

The loss of millions of members of the kingdom to the new heretical sects was in itself a great blow to the Church. But it had an even more insidious result. The princes of Catholic Europe were not slow to see the political advantages gained by the control which the Protestant sovereigns exercised over the Protestant churches in their domains. Anxious to make their own kingdoms as strong as possible in the face of growing nationalistic rivalries, Catholic princes also sought to control the Catholic Church within their own territories. Thus it was that in 1682 thirty-six French prelates, under the urging of Cardinal Richelieu, adopted the famous ‘Gallican Articles’ and sent them to the bishops in France. The ‘Articles’ held that the Pope is subject to a general council, the king is not subject to the Pope and that the Pope is not infallible. It is true that Pope Innocent XII succeeded in persuading Louis XIV of France to annul the ‘Articles.’ But the fact that they were disseminated at all shows that the spirit of anti-papism was to be found in Catholic France. The same tendency to reduce papal influence and enlarge the civil control of religion was shown also in the Febronianism and Josephinism which arose in Catholic Germany. All in all, these movements in Catholic countries coupled with state control of religion in Protestant countries were a concrete manifestation of the growing political theory of the absolute state, the state supreme in all the affairs of human life, even in the affairs of religion.

THE LOGICAL ‘NEXT STEP’ FOLLOWING THE PROTESTANT ‘REFORMATION’

To these religious and political counter-currents seeking to undermine the Church there was added in the eighteenth century the far more formidable adversary of rationalism in religion. The Kingdom of God is always a kingdom founded on faith, in fact on faith in mysteries which cannot be fully understood by the limited powers of the human mind. This faith is sustained in the world by the teaching authority of the Church, an authority sustained by and centralised in the Papacy. When Protestantism divorced the minds of men from this authority it was not long before these same minds were divorced from the divine revelation itself. Under the influence of Locke, Hume and Kant the message of Jesus was reduced to a purely natural religion, founded no longer on a divine revelation to man but now on the limited resources of the human mind. Since the philosophy of the time reduced the powers of the mind to the simple consideration and ordering, not of reality of real things but only of the ‘appearances’ of things, it became fashionable to hold that men could not prove the existence of God or the immortality of the human soul. In such an intellectual atmosphere men tended to become either atheists and irreligious or to found religious values purely on man’s emotions and the pragmatic necessity of supplying ease and satisfaction to these irrational emotions.

IN THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD…

Thus, in modern times the Papacy, seeking to preserve in the world the true Kingdom of God, has had to attempt to undo the ravages of the ‘Reformation,’ to preserve the independence of the Church [from secular power, also under the guise of Protestantism] and to assert the divine authority of the Christian revelation in the face of the attacks of rationalism. Through the General Council of Trent the Popes replied to the ‘Reformation.’ Through missionary efforts, especially under the central control of the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith (established in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV), the Papacy has carried on its divinely commissioned task to bring the Gospel to all the world. And so, in the providence of God, the losses occasioned by the ‘Reformation’ have been partly offset by the tightening of discipline within the Church and by the recruitment of members of the Kingdom in Africa, the Far East and the Americas.

THE CONTINUED INDEPENDENCE OF THE PAPACY OF ALL CIVIL STATES

In the face of attempts on the part of states to control the Church the Papacy has fought a long battle which is not yet, perhaps, over. The political power and prestige of the Papacy itself declined until in 1870 with the annexation of the Papal States by the newly founded kingdom of Italy it was eclipsed. Under Pius XI, in 1929, the ‘Roman Question’ was settled by the Lateran Treaty with the government of Mussolini. The tiny Vatican State was established and its rights recognised by Italy. In this way the independence of the Papacy of all civil states was formally recognised.

THE RIGHT OF THE CHURCH TO SPEAK IN THE WORLD FOR GOD IS STILL AN UNEASY ONE TO EXERCISE

But the right of the Church to speak in the world for God is still an uneasy one to exercise. This is shown by the fact that the Popes of the last few centuries have found it necessary to make concordats or agreements with modern states guaranteeing to the Church the right to function under certain limitations.

THE POPES CONDEMNED MANY INTELLECTUAL ERRORS OF MODERN TIMES

In the struggle with rationalism the Popes have found it necessary to condemn many of the intellectual errors of modern times. In this regard the Vatican Council convened by Pius IX stands out. The council affirmed clearly the ability of the human mind to discover the existence of God, and to recognise God’s message to men by the divine signs (especially miracles and prophecies) which accompany it in its journey through time. In addition it announced firmly to the world the supreme power of the Pope, the successor of St Peter, to teach, rule and sanctify men. In the face of scepticism it affirmed also the power of the Pope to teach infallible matters of faith and Christian morality.

THE HISTORY OF THE PAPACY SHOWS THAT THE WORDS OF JESUS ARE BEING FULFILLED

The history of the Papacy, then, shows that the words of Jesus are being fulfilled. The Papacy is the rock on which the kingdom is founded, founded so firmly that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Down through the centuries the Papacy has been the indefatigable defender of the independence of the Kingdom of God. Down through the centuries the Papacy has been the faithful guardian of Christian truth, protecting the kingdom against the loss of even the least element of the divine message entrusted to it by Jesus.

THE GATES OF HELL WILL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT (Mt 16:18b)

At the present moment the position of the Papacy as the Vicar of Christ is clear. In the face of political totalitarianism it stands out as the champion of the independence of the spiritual Kingdom of God. In the face of religious indifferentism, of intellectual scepticism and nihilism, the Papacy is the divinely appointed voice of supernatural religion, the champion of both reason and faith. Confronted with irreligious and misguided rationalism, the Church speaks to the world under the guidance of the Popes, the words of God, the divine revelation whose divine dimensions cannot be reduced to the narrow confines of unaided human reason, but whose mysterious depths of truth lie open to the humble eyes of faith.

NO ‘PRISONER’ HAS EVER, IN THE WORLD OF SPIRIT, BEEN MORE INFLUENTIAL IN THE WORLD AT LARGE

It is a remarkable fact that in our contemporary era, at a time when the political power of the Papacy is practically extinguished, the character of the Papacy as the rock on which Christ founded His Church can be seen with outstanding clarity. From Pius IX to Pius XI the Pope was popularly known as the ‘prisoner of the Vatican.’ Yet no ‘prisoner’ has ever, in the world of the spirit, been more influential in the world at large.

THE POPES HAVE STOOD HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE THE REST OF MEN IN THEIR STRUGGLE TO FOSTER WHAT IS BEST IN MAN

From Leo XIII to Pius XII the Popes have stood head and shoulders above the rest of men in their struggle to foster what is best in man, to safeguard and raise the spirit of man. In the midst of the political turmoil of the nineteenth century it was Leo XIII who freed the Church from allegiance to any particular form of government. It was Leo who, in the face of the Industrial Revolution and its creation of a landless, poverty-stricken proletariat, proclaimed the rights of the working man and the obligations of capital to provide decent working conditions and an adequate wage for workers. It was he also who revived the sane philosophy and theology of St Thomas Aquinas as an antidote to the intellectual errors of scepticism, naturalism and materialism.

THE PAPACY AFFIRMS THE LIBERTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL IN THE FACE OF THE ALL-POWERFUL STATE

Under his successor, Pius X, we see the Church strengthening itself within itself. He inaugurated a liturgical revival, urging the faithful to a greater personal understanding of and participation in the Church’s worship of God through the Mass and the Sacraments. The internal discipline of the Church was strengthened by the clarification and codification of Canon Law, the law which regulates Church discipline.

Pius XI, confronted with the attack on individual freedom by totalitarian philosophies of fascism, nazism and communism, affirmed the liberty of the individual in the face of the all-powerful state. Against the racial bias of these political philosophies, against the theories of racial superiority by blood, he affirmed the equality of all men in the sight of God. Conscious of the need of the Church to bring the message of the Gospel to all men, he encouraged the works of Catholic Action. He urged the Catholic laity to assist the bishops in the work of the apostolate, in the task of leavening an unbelieving world with the elevating yeast of Catholic doctrine and practice. Outside the Church the growth of the practices of divorce and birth control were destroying the moral fibre of society. Pius XI denounced the immorality of [artificial] birth control and asserted the sanctity and the indissolubility of marriage.

THE CHAMPIONS AGAINST THE PREVAILING MATERIALISM OF OUR AGE

During this period two great world wars showed how far the bonds of social and political action between the nations of the world had deteriorated. Benedict XV, Pius XI and Pius XII spoke clearly for peace and the cultivation of virtues which maintain peace. Though the nations did not listen, the Popes carried on a worldwide work of bringing succour to those made homeless by the destruction of war.

But the one thing that has become increasingly evident in modern times is that the Church, under the leadership of the Papacy, is the great champion of the spiritual element in human life against the prevailing materialism of the age. This is evident both in the Papal defence of what we might call specific human spiritual values and in the Papal insistence on the validity of the divine mysteries which have been revealed to the Church and which constitute the only true basis of human hope for salvation.

‘MEN AREN’T SIMPLY THE TOOLS OF A MATERIALISTIC STATE’

Thus, under Pius IX, the Vatican Council insisted on man’s ability, as a creature composed of body and spiritual soul, to discover the great fundamental truths of the existence of God and of his divinely founded Church. Leo XIII defended the dignity of all men in an age which was seeking to make men simply the tools of a materialistic state. Pius XI and Pius XII defended man’s freedom as a spiritual being in the face of the encroachment of totalitarian materialism on the sphere of man’s free spirit.

IN A WORLD HAS RETURNED TO THE OLD ERROR OF ADAM, THE ERROR OF SEEKING SALVATION BY ITS OWN UNAIDED EFFORTS…

But, best of all, in a world which has returned to the old error of Adam, the error of seeking salvation by its own unaided efforts, the Popes have, with ever increasing vigour and courage, insisted on the great revealed mysteries which the Church possesses. The worldly prophets of the time preach a universal brotherhood of men founded on the tyranny of an absolute state. Pius XII held out to the world the only possibility of achieving a true human brotherhood of men, the super-union of all men in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. In the Mystical Body of Christ men may achieve that fraternal union with one another which grace and charity make possible. In a secularist world where false prophets seek to institute a world government totally divorced from religious principles Pius XI insisted that all nations must recognise the kingship of Christ. World unity is possible only if men and nations are motivated by truly religious principles. In a world deep in despair because it has been taught that man is only matter doomed to eternal extinction by death, Pius XII fearlessly proclaimed the dignity, the spirituality and the immortality of all men in the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary, the Mother of God, body and soul into heaven. To the world’s despair he proclaimed the hope of salvation, the hope of resurrection and immortality.

THE ROCK OF PETER STANDS UNMOVED AS A BEACON OF LIGHT, SET IN ITS PLACE BY THE REAL WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE

In this present age the Papacy stands out once again as the Rock of Peter, the Rock on which God founded His kingdom among men. The furious tides of political opinion and international disputes have stripped the Rock of political power. But this stripping has only served to reveal its essential character. In the midst of the rushing waters of materialism and barbarism, staunch against the breaking waves of war and despair, the Rock of Peter stands unmoved as the first and last champion of man and of God.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959 (headings in capital letters added afterwards)

 

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“A CYCLE OF DEMOCRATIC SELF-HARM” – MP QUITS POLITICS AFTER ATTENDING CATHOLIC RETREAT

“A catholic MP has disclosed that a month-long retreat helped her make her decision to quit politics.

Sarah Teather MP told the ‘Guardian’ that she decided to attend a Jesuit retreat while she struggled with her decision whether to continue as a Liberal Democrat MP.

Miss Teather said: ‘Sometimes you just have to shut up. This politician just needed to shut up and stop talking in order to make a decision.’

Miss Teather attended a retreat at Loyola Hall, a Jesuit Centre just outside Liverpool. While she was there she decided she would leave politics, partly because she did not agree with her party’s stance on immigration.

Miss Teather said: ‘I don’t hate politics and I didn’t make a decision in despair. I made a careful, thought-through choice and I couldn’t get that across. I felt very sad in case I’d in any way added to the disillusion that people felt about politics. I was really troubled by that.’

The MP, who voted against the same-sex marriage Bill, said that politicians ‘invent’ problems. She said: ‘We get ourselves into our own little spiral. We end up inventing problems to pretend we’re relevant, and then try to fix the problems we’ve just invented. The EU migration stuff is a classic example.’

She added: ‘The public know it’s guff, so their trust in politicians goes down. And then our anxiety about being relevant goes up, so we kind of get into a cycle of democratic self-harm, so we get progressively more frenzied about chasing wilder and wilder straw men and the public get more and more cynical. I’m not convinced that’s the best way of demonstrating we’re in touch.'”
– This article by Madeleine Teahan was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue January 10 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 
 

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NINE DAILY PRAYERS AND REFLECTIONS FOR A NOVENA TO THE ROSA MYSTICA

Maria Rosa Mystica, Mystical Rose, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, you came down on earth to call upon us children of this earth to love each other, to unite; and live in peace. You request from us to be involved in charity, prayer, and penance. We thank God from the bottom of our hearts that He has given you to us as Our Mother and Mediatrix in all our needs. Mary, full of grace, please help me, I beseech you, and grant me my special intention (mention your request). You promised us your motherly protection, full of graces: “I want always to be very close to you for your motherly love.” Rosa Mystica, Immaculata, Mater Dolorosa, please show me that you are my Mother, Bride of the Holy Ghost, and Queen of Heaven and earth. Amen. (Hail, holy Queen…)

FIRST DAY:

Consider the extreme opposite to the Rosa Mystica: the worst and most gruesome thing going on in the world; the ugliness, the desecration of God by man in modern art, by the mass media, the press, on radio and television; the destruction of all values and order before and in marriage, in education and at school, shameless fashion taken to extreme excesses; all this being carried right into our churches and to the holiest places.
PRAYER: Maria, Rosa Mystica, please protect us from shamelessness and degeneration, preserve in us the sense of good and evil; prepare us to do battle in defence for all that is pure. Maria, Rosa Mystica, graciously hear us and pray for us. (3 Hail Marys)

SECOND DAY:

It is not enough to observe how desolate the general situation is. One must oneself be prepared not only to refuse to go with shameless fashions, but as a penance, to put up with something that is not really required of you, and to go without something enjoyable to you even if it is not sin. You ought to consider that you could also be guilty of a sin committed by others, by setting a bad example to them or by not speaking up against it.
PRAYER: Maria, Rosa Mystica, grant that you will give us the true spirit of atonement, to fight the current evil, to accept more often and voluntarily all the unpleasant things in life to atone for others that fail you. Maria, Rosa Mystica, graciously hear us and pray for us. (3 Hail Marys)

ST PAUL: “I make up in my own body what is still missing in the sufferings of Christ!”

THIRD DAY:

Pious people in particular should note: “The reason prayers often do not bring the expected answer is because too little penance is done with the prayer.” People complain about little daily inconveniences. What would Mary say to this?
PRAYER: Maria, Rosa Mystica, grant that we do not forget true penance and reparation with all our prayers, at home and on journeys! Please grant us the right spirit when we come to you. Maria, Rosa Mystica, graciously hear us and pray for us. (3 Hail Marys)

FOURTH DAY:

How to achieve all the things that are needed of you:
Make an effort to take time off to think and pray, move away from too much television, celebrations, leisure; learn to do without things, exercise moderation in food, drink, and sleep. Meditate on the Sacraments on the Holy Rosary, the Holy Scriptures and the life of Saints. In addition, a truly religious and pious father confessor is needed as a spiritual director. This would be a way of one’s own effort, of “active cleansing”. God Himself will help us through His Grace and His Guidance even in sorrow when we are humiliated, disappointed and suffer setbacks. Become totally free for God; break away from all attachment to the world and be free for the incomprehensible Glory of God.
PRAYER: Maria, Rosa Mystica, grant that you may help us and lead us in our efforts. Maria, Rosa Mystica, graciously hear us and pray for us. (3 Hail Marys)

FIFTH DAY:

When God takes everything away from man which blocks the path to God; when He helps you to leave everything; when He takes one’s close attachment to people and things, even one’s consolations; when He leads you into the very darkest “night of the spirit” without any consolation; when there is nothing but darkness and sorrow, and when one can still say like little St Therese or Padre Pio: “I believe”, then all natural things and created things are removed, and God is able to let flow the abundance of His Graces, knowledge and charism into one’s body and soul without hindrance…
PRAYER: Let us dare to say this prayer with its full weight and accept its possible consequences as Brother St Klaus, the patron saint of Switzerland, once prayed: “My Lord and My God, take everything from me, everything that may prevent me from coming to you. Give me everything that brings me close to you. Take me and do with me as you please!” (3 Hail Marys)

SIXTH DAY:

Together with Brother Klaus and the great Carmelites, St John of the Cross, Teresa the Great, and little Therese, we are now on the right path of our true devotion of Mary, the veneration of the Rosa Mystica, the Mystical Rose, and we may speak the words of St Louis de Montfort: “The quickest and easiest way to mysticism is Mary – the Rose of Mysticism”.
At the same time we must, however, prevent ourselves from falling under the widely-spread misunderstanding to believe that so-many. Rosaries together with so-many pilgrimages and devotions give us a secure way to Heaven, let us not deceive ourselves!
St Louis de Montfort knows very well how to differentiate between faked and genuine Marian devotion; not just any way leads to mysticism! A whole list of wrong ways of Marian devotions are mentioned by him: e.g. the anxious way, the impertinent way, the superficial way, the selfish way (how much selfishness there is in spiritual intentions!), etc.
Devotion to Mary must be genuine, needs inner preparation and cooperation; it needs devotion that is not just reciting many prayers and “devotions”, but taking in the real spirit of Mary; to pray “with Mary, in Mary, for Mary”; to ask oneself consciously and with your innermost heart: What does Mary need from me?
What would She do in my place? How can I please Her? What would She disagree with? – What changes would occur in the world, in the life of a person, in families, in societies, and in nations if one were really prepared to be led by Mary!
PRAYER: Maria, Rosa Mystica, help us to get to know you more and more, lead us and guide us that we may be able to find the path to your mysticism. Amen. (3 Hail Marys)

SEVENTH DAY:

There is very little written in the Scriptures about mysticism in Mary’s life on earth, and in Her transformation. Some general remarks only: “Blessed, full of grace”. The conception in Her womb – judging by the text in the Bible She can only be surmised with deepest reverence; in any event something extremely great and mysteriously enchanting happened when the infinite, eternal love was unified with the most loving human heart that ever existed, and will ever exist; united in order to create a tiny yet infinitely great being. However, we do not only possess the Bible; the dogmas, the meditations and writings of the Church, the revelations to mystics, whether male or female – all of them open the seed for us which is already contained in the Holy Scriptures, full of meaning. With what deep amazement do we read Mary of Agreda’s book about the “Mystical City of God”, how fascinating the way in which she tells us about the Divine Powers and the ability of knowing, helping and loving, the ecstasies and raptures; glories that often remain hidden from many worldly “experts”. There are still the many different apparitions of Our Lady in the world, and Her revelations. There would be no end if we wanted to recount all the wonderful results and consequences which happened as a result of them: Her knowledge of the human heart, of a single person, of whole groups, nations and ideologies (e.g. Communism); Her insight into world politics; Her blinding beauty and overwhelming goodness; Her geniality and knowledge of languages…just incredible; high and exalted above all artists and Nobel prize winners… The results of mysticism are powerful.
PRAYER: Maria, Rosa Mystica, grant that mankind may find its way to the most beautiful things, to the glories of the supernatural that surpasses nature itself. Please give us the fervour to seek this wonderful Divinity and to lead others to it so that they may learn to recognise how poor the delights and desires of this world are compared with Mary, the Rosa Mystica. (3 Hail Marys)

EIGHTH DAY:

The effects of the Rosa Mystica in us:
The more we are prepared to walk the path with Mary, the path She walked Herself, with inner devotion, with merciless self-control, in renunciation of all superficial pleasures, the more we work apostolically in Her spirit; the more we imitate what is contained in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary and mentioned in the Church’s prayer for the Feast of the Holy Rosary, the more we shall then “receive what they promise”. This then is our request, our prayer:
PRAYER: O God, whose only begotten Son has prepared for us the treasures of eternal salvation through His Life, His Death and Resurrection, grant, we beseech You that when we meditate on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary of the most blessed Virgin Mary and imitate what they contain, we shall receive what they promise through Christ, Our Lord. Amen. (3 Hail Marys)

NINTH DAY:

The special intention of the Mother of God: vocations to priesthood and religious life. Even if every Christian is called to holiness and mysticism, it is of even greater meaning and importance for the priests and religious. They should venerate and imitate their ideal, Mary, the Rosa Mystica, in a special way; and this is something that is missing quite often. It ought, therefore, to be a special apostolate to spread the purpose and meaning of this devotion in all our seminaries, monasteries and convents, for nowhere more saints and mystics are needed than there. The task of the laity will be to replace what is missing, through their own apostolate and a more zealous imitation of the Rosa Mystica! (3 Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, 3 Glory be – for the sanctification of priests, bishops, and religious; for special guidance and strength for the Holy Father.)

FINAL PRAYER:

Lord Jesus Christ, You have sent us Your Mother as a wonderful example of holiness and mysticism and especially as an ideal and patroness for the priests and religious. We ask You, grant us Your help to imitate Your most holy Mother more and more, to become souls of expiation and victim souls for those priests and religious who fail You: You who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

 
 

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WHY I LEFT POLITICS TO WORK FOR THE CATHOLIC CHARITY CAFOD INSTEAD

“Most politicians believe deep down that they have the monopoly on good ideas, rarely learning from but constantly repeating each other’s mistakes…”

GOOD-BYE TO THE MACHO CULTURE OF POLITICS

Many people have asked me, since I joined Cafod last year, how working in the charitable sector compares to my previous career in politics, and whether I miss the old life. There are some things I do miss. In my current role as Cafod’s head of communications, I wish getting coverage for some of our life-changing work around the world was as easy as it used to be to get column inches for a relatively inconsequential speech by Gordon Brown.

But there are elements of political life that, with the benefit of some enforced hindsight, I would never want to go back to: the partisanship, the macho culture, the win-at-all-costs mentality and the delight taken in seeing other human beings brought low, all of which I was guilty of in my own time. More than anything, I don’t miss the atmosphere in the House of Commons – behaviour which would not be tolerated in any other
workplace.

CHANGING THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER

There are some things the political and charitable worlds have in common, notably that the vast majority of people who work in them are decent and principled individuals who came into those careers determined to change the world for the better. There is also a constant debate in both sectors about what tactics are appropriate to inspire support. Do you appeal to negative instincts like guilt and fear, or positive feelings such as faith and hope? Which has more potency: a campaign based around self-interest or a sense of solidarity?

Cafod’s approach to such issues is clear, inspired by Scripture and Catholic social teaching, always appealing to a sense of hope and solidarity among our supporters, and portraying those in the poorest communities with the dignity and respect they deserve, not as helpless, suffering victims. It is heartening to see that same Catholic social teaching currently so in vogue among politicians looking for alternative ways to address Britain’s social and economic problems in an age of austerity. But the difference between working for an agency like Cafod and working in politics remain far greater than the similarities, in four main respects.

THE LIVING EXPRESSION OF FAITH

First, despite the best efforts of some individual MPs, there remains an unbridgeable gap between the leadership of each party and its core members: those who pay their annual dues and go knocking on doors at election time. Every new party leader is encouraged to assert their authority and prove their mainstream appeal by “taking on” their members over issues such as gay marriage and all-female shortlists. That may be sensible politics, but it is hardly a sign of cohesive organisation. By contrast, Cafod sees itself as nothing more than the sum of its supporters. Its core purpose is the living expression of their faith. We were born 50 years ago from the efforts of individual volunteers and, while we have grown in size and stature over the years, our lifeblood
remains the support of Catholic parishes and schools around the country.

LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE PAST

Second, despite the pretence of public consultation and their constant rhetoric about “listening to the experts”, most politicians believe deep down that they have the monopoly on good ideas, rarely learning from but constantly repeating each other’s mistakes, and too often inclined to make announcements for the sake of a new headline, without considering how and whether they will ever be delivered in practice.

An agency like Cafod is different in every respect: actively seeking out ideas and new ways of working from our partners in the poorest countries, and benefiting from a vast institutional memory, where every way of operating in those countries has evolved from lessons learned in the past. The practicalities of delivery are the first consideration in weighing up new commitments, even when responding to emergencies.

LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS

Third, politics is all too often, and almost unapologetically, about winning that day’s argument, getting on that day’s news and establishing short-term advantage over your opponents. It is all too rarely about facing up to the most difficult long-term problems and investing in long-term solutions. Little wonder when the politicians making the decisions have their eye on what will get them advancement at the next reshuffle or secure a majority at the next election, rather than what will benefit the country in 15 or 20 years time. Compare that to the increasingly influential approach Cafod has adopted to tackling humanitarian emergencies, not hopping from one crisis to the next handing out tents, food and medicine, but going into vulnerable communities in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and elsewhere together with the Church on the ground, and working with them on major long-term transformation of their livelihoods and resource management, so that when the next cyclone or drought hits, they can withstand it and carry on.

WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE COMMON GOOD

Finally, what I see constantly in the charitable sector that remains almost unheard of in our modern politics is a willingness to work together for the common good. Appalling as it is, the overriding desire for short-term political advantage makes the idea of agreeing a joint approach seem almost pointless to many politicians. By contrast, agencies like Cafod have an automatic instinct to work in coalition, knowing that we are stronger standing with other like-minded organisations than standing alone, even when it means subsuming our own identity. Those coalitions are not characterised by trading of different party pledges, but by agreement of the most important shared priorities, as we will see next year when Cafod joins all the other major British development agencies to campaign on the issue of hunger.

In all these areas I believe my old friends and foes in politics have much to learn from the way that charities like Cafod work, and the contrast with their own practices…
– The above is an excerpt of the article “Give me Cafod over Westminster any day” by Damian McBride, published in “The Catholic Herald” on December 21, 2012

 
 

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