Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Cardinal Sarah's Sermon at the Conclusion of the Traditional Paris-Chartres Pentecost Pilgrimage

At the conclusion of the 36th Pilgrimage of Notre-Dame de Chrétienté, a three day walking pilgrimage from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Chartres, commencing on the the Vigil of Pentecost, and concluding on Whit Monday, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah celebrated a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. His beautiful homily on the Gospel of Pentecost Monday John 3:16-21, focusing on Christ as the "light that came into the world", and covering the topics of Pilgrimage, Secularization of the West, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in both Forms of the Roman Rite, Islam and married priests.

Video of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Sarah

Below is video of Cardinal Sarah's Homily from Chartres Cathedral [Original French Audio with English Subtitles]:

Below is the Full English Text of Cardinal Sarah's Homily from Chartres Cathedral:
(Original French available here)


Allow me first of all to warmly thank His Excellency Bishop Philippe Christory, Bishop of Chartres, for his fraternal welcome to this wonderful Cathedral.

Dear Chartres pilgrims,

“The light has come into the world,” Jesus tells us today in the Gospel (John 3, 16-21), “and men have preferred darkness.”

And you, dear pilgrims, have you welcomed the only light that does not deceive: that of God? You walked for three days, prayed, sang, suffered under the sun and in the rain: did you welcome the light in your hearts? Have you really given up darkness? Have you chosen to pursue the Way by following Jesus, who is the Light of the world? Dear friends, allow me to ask you this radical question, because if God is not our light, all the rest becomes useless. Without God all is darkness!

God came to us, he became man. He has revealed to us the only truth that saves, he died to redeem us from sin, and at Pentecost he gave us the Holy Spirit, he gave us the light of faith ... but we prefer darkness!

Let’s look around us! Western society has chosen to establish itself without God. Witness how it is now delivered to the flashy and deceptive lights of a consumer society: to profit at all costs, and frenzied individualism.

A world without God is a world of darkness, of lies and of selfishness!

Without the light of God, Western society has become like a drunken boat in the night! She does not have enough love to take in children, to protect them beginning from their mother’s womb, to protect them from the aggression of pornography.

Deprived of the light of God, Western society no longer knows how to respect its elderly, accompany unto death its sick, make room for the poorest and the weakest.

Society is abandoned to the darkness of fear, sadness and isolation. She has nothing to offer but emptiness and nothingness. It allows the proliferation of the maddest ideologies.

A Western society without God can become the cradle of an ethical and moral terrorism more virulent and more destructive than Islamist terrorism. Remember that Jesus told us, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10, 28).

Dear friends, forgive me this portrayal. But one must be clear and realistic.

If I speak to you in this way, it is because, in my priestly, pastoral heart, I feel compassion for so many wayward souls, lost, sad, worried and lonely! Who will lead them to the light? Who will show them the way to the truth, the only true path of freedom which is that of the Cross? Are we going to leave them to be delivered to error, to hopeless nihilism, or to aggressive Islamism?

We must proclaim to the world that our hope has a name: Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world and of humanity! We can no longer be silent!
Dear Pilgrims of France, look upon this cathedral! Your ancestors built it to proclaim their faith! Everything, in its architecture, its sculpture, its windows, proclaims the joy of being saved and loved by God. Your ancestors were not perfect, they were not without sins. But they wanted to let the light of faith illuminate their darkness!

Today, you too, People of France, wake up! Choose the light! Renounce the darkness!

How can this be done? The Gospel tells us: “He who acts according to the truth comes to the light.” Let the light of the Holy Spirit illuminate our lives concretely, simply, and even in the most intimate parts of our deepest being. To act according to the truth is first to put God at the center of our lives, as the Cross is the center of this cathedral.

My brothers, choose to turn to Him every day! At this moment, make the commitment to keep a few minutes of silence every day in order to turn to God, to tell him “Lord reign in me! I give you all my life!”

Dear pilgrims, without silence, there is no light. Darkness feeds on the incessant noise of this world, which prevents us from turning to God.

Take the example of the liturgy of the Mass today. It brings us to adoration, filial fear and love in the presence of God’s greatness. It culminates in the Consecration where together, facing the altar, our gaze directed to the host, to the cross, we commune in silence in recollection and in adoration.

Dear friends, let us love these liturgies that enable us to taste the silent and transcendent presence of God, and turn us towards the Lord.

Dear brother priests, I want to address you specifically. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the place where you will find the light for your ministry. The world we live in is constantly petitioning us. We are constantly in motion, without taking care to stop and take the time to go to a deserted place to rest a little, in solitude and silence, in the company of the Lord. There is the danger that we regard ourselves as “social workers”. Then, we would not bring the Light of God to the world, but our own light, which is not that which men expect from us. What the world expects of the priest is God and the Light of his Word proclaimed without ambiguity or falsification.

Let us know how to turn to God in a liturgical celebration, full of respect, silence and sacredness. Do not invent anything in the liturgy. Let us receive everything from God and from the Church. Do not look for show or success. The liturgy teaches us: To be a priest is not above all to do many things. It is to be with the Lord, on the Cross! The liturgy is the place where man meets God face to face. The liturgy is the most sublime moment when God teaches us to “ to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom. 8, 29). Liturgy is not and should not be an occasion for grief, struggle or strife. In the ordinary form, just as in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, the essential thing is to turn to the Cross, to Christ, our East, our Everything and our only Horizon! Whether in the ordinary form or the extraordinary form, let us always celebrate, as on this day, according to what the Second Vatican Council teaches: with a noble simplicity, without useless additions, without factitious and theatrical aesthetic, but with the sense of the sacred, with the primary concern for the Glory of God, and with a true spirit of a son of the Church of today and of always!

Dear fellow priests, always keep this certainty: to be with Christ on the Cross is what priestly celibacy proclaims to the world! The plan, again advanced by some, to detach celibacy from the priesthood by conferring the sacrament of the Order on married men (“viri probati”) for, they say, “pastoral reasons or necessities”, would have serious consequences, in fact, to definitively break with the Apostolic Tradition. We would to manufacture a priesthood according to our human dimension, but without perpetuating, without extending the priesthood of Christ, obedient, poor and chaste. Indeed, the priest is not only an “alter Christus”, but he is truly “ipse Christus”, he is Christ himself! And that is why, following Christ and the Church, the priest will always be a sign of contradiction!

To you, dear Christians, lay people engaged in the life of the City, I want to say with force: “do not be afraid! Do not be afraid to bring the light of Christ to this world!

Your first witness must be your own example: act according to the Truth! In your family, in your profession, in your social, economic, political relations, may Christ be your Light! Do not be afraid to testify that your joy comes from Christ!

Please, do not hide the source of your hope! On the contrary, proclaim it! Testify to it! Evangelize! The Church needs you! Remind all that only “the crucified Christ reveals the true meaning of freedom! “ (Veritatis Splendor 85) with Christ, set free liberty that is today chained by false human rights, all oriented towards the self-destruction of man.

To you, dear parents, I want to send a special message. Being a father and mother in today’s world is an adventure full of suffering, obstacles and worries. The Church says to you: “Thank you”! Yes, thank you for the generous gift of yourselves! Have the courage to raise your children in the light of Christ. You will sometimes have to fight against the prevailing wind and endure the mockery and contempt of the world. But we are not here to please the world! “We proclaim a crucified Christ, scandal for the Jews and folly for the Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1, 23-24) Do not be afraid! Do not give up! The Church, through the voice of the Popes - especially since the encyclical Humanae Vitae - entrusts to you a prophetic mission: to testify before all of our joyful trust in God, who has made us intelligent guardians of the natural order. You announce what Jesus has revealed to us through his very life: “Freedom is accomplished in love, that is to say, the gift of oneself.” (Veritatis Splendor 87)

Dear Fathers and Mothers, the Church loves you! Love the Church! She is your Mother. Do not join those who laugh at her, because they only see the wrinkles of her face aged by centuries of suffering and hardship. Even today, she is beautiful and radiates holiness.

Finally, I want to address you, you the younger people who are numerous here!

However, I beg you first to listen to an “elder” who has more authority than me. This is the Evangelist St. John. Beyond the example of his life, St. John also left a written message to young people. In his First Letter, we read these moving words of an elder to the young people of the churches he had founded. Listen to his voice full of vigor, wisdom and warmth: “ I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world”(1 John 2, 14-15).

The world we must not love, as Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa commented in his homily on Good Friday 2018, to which we do not have to comply, is not, as we all know, the world created and loved by God, it is not the people of the world to whom, on the contrary, we must always go to, especially the poor and the poor of the poor, to love them and serve them humbly ... No! The world not to love is another world; it is the world as it became under the rule of Satan and sin. The world of ideologies that deny human nature and destroy the family ... structures from the UN, which impose a new global ethic, play a decisive role and have today become an overwhelming power, spreading through the airwaves through the unlimited possibilities of technology. In many Western countries, it is a crime today to refuse to submit to these horrible ideologies. This is what we call adaptation to the spirit of the times, conformism. A great British believer and poet of the last century, T.S. Eliot wrote a few verses that say more than whole books: “In a world of fugitives, the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away”.

Dear young Christians, if it is permissible for an “elder,” as St. John, to speak directly to you, I also exhort you, and I say to you, you have overcome the Evil One! Fight any law against nature that would be imposed upon on you, oppose any law against life, against the family. Be of those who take the opposite direction! Dare to go against the grain! For us, Christians, the opposite direction is not a place, it is a Person, it is Jesus Christ, our Friend and our Redeemer. A task is especially entrusted to you: to save human love from the tragic drift into which it has fallen: love, which is no longer the gift of oneself, but only the possession of the other - a possession often violently tyrannical. On the Cross, God revealed himself as “agape”, that is to say as a love that is given to death. To really love is to die for the other. Like the young gendarme, Colonel Arnaud Beltrame!

Dear young people, you often, without doubt, suffer in your soul the struggle of darkness and light. You are sometimes seduced by the easy pleasures of the world. With all my heart of a priest, I say to you: do not hesitate! Jesus will give you everything! By following him to be Saints, you will not lose anything! You will win the only joy that never disappoints!

Dear young people, if today Christ calls you to follow him as a priest, as a religious, do not hesitate! Say to him: “fiat”, an enthusiastic and unconditional yes!

God wants you to have need of you, what grace! What a joy! The West has been evangelized by the Saints and the Martyrs. You, young people of today, will be the saints and the martyrs that the nations are waiting for in a New Evangelization! Your homelands are thirsty for Christ! Do not disappoint them! The Church trusts you!

I pray that many of you will answer today, during this Mass, the call of God to follow him, to leave everything for him, for his light. Dear young people, do not be afraid. God is the only friend who will never disappoint you! When God calls, he is radical. It means He goes all the way to the root. Dear friends, we are not called to be mediocre Christians! No, God calls us all to the total gift, to the martyrdom of the body or the heart!

Dear people of France, it is the monasteries that made the civilization of your country! It is men and women who have accepted to follow Jesus to the end, radically, who have built Christian Europe. Because they have sought God alone, they have built a beautiful and peaceful civilization, like this cathedral.

People of France, peoples of the West, you will find peace and joy only by seeking God alone! Return to the Source! Return to the monasteries! Yes, all of you, dare to spend a few days in a monastery! In this world of tumult, ugliness and sadness, monasteries are oases of beauty and joy. You will experience that it is possible to put concretely God in the center of his whole life. You will experience the only joy that will not pass.

Dear pilgrims, let us give up the darkness. Let’s choose the light! Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to know how to say “fiat”, that is, yes, fully, like her, to know how to welcome the light of the Holy Spirit like she did. On this day when, thanks to the solicitude of the Holy Father Pope Francis, we celebrate Mary, Mother of the Church, let us ask this Most Holy Mother to have a heart like hers, a heart that refuses nothing to God, a heart burning with love for the glory of God, a heart ardent to announce to men the Good News, a generous heart, a heart as profuse as the heart of Mary, as abundant as that of the Church, and as rich as that of the Heart of Jesus ! So be it!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Bishop Pickel of Saratov, Russia at Fatima for Vigil of July Apparition: Fatima is not a message of the past

The celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of the July Apparition of Fátima, had the theme of 'The Virgin Mary, Mother of Consolation', and underlined the link with Fátima and Russia. In the July Apparition, Our Lady famously revealed the secrets to the Shepherd Children, showed them a vision of Hell, spoke of the imminent chastisement, the errors of Russia, and consecration to her Immaculate Heart. It was also during this apparition that Our Lady famously said, 'In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved'.

Vigil of 100th Anniversary of July Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima (source: fatima.pt) 

It is then fitting that this International Pilgrimage was led by Bishops from the countries which once comprised the former Soviet Union. The Principle celebrant and Homilist at the Mass of the July 13th, was Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, F.S.C.B., Metropolitan Archbishop of Madre di Dio a Mosca (Moscow). Bishop Athanasius Schneider, O.R.C., Titular Bishop of Celerina, Auxiliary Bishop of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan, was the Principle Celebrant for the Vigil Mass, with the homily delivered by Bishop Clemens Pickel, Bishop of San Clemente a Saratov, Russian Federation.

In addition to these Prelates, others from former Soviet countries included Bishop Joseph Werth, S.J., Bishop of Trasfigurazione a Novosibirsk, Russian Federation; Bishop Cyryl Klimowicz, Bishop of San Giuseppe a Irkutsk, Russian Federation; Archbishop Tomash Peta, Metropolitan Archbishop of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan; and Fr. Andrzej Madej, Superior of Missio Sui Iuris in Turkmenistan. The Sanctuary of Fátima also hosted about 5000 pilgrims, spread over 110 groups, coming from 24 countries. The most numerous were the Italians and the Spaniards.

Below is my translation of Bishop Pickel's homily: (Original Portuguese here)

Dear Pilgrims, Brothers and Sisters!

It is with great inner joy that we, Pilgrims from Russia, are here with you today. We are well aware that in this very place, exactly 100 years ago, the Virgin Mary appeared to the Shepherd children. We are also recognise that even now, without manifesting herself in an apparition, the Virgin Mary is equally close to us, as she was 100 years ago. Benedicta es tu, Maria!

The meeting with the "Lady", on July 13th of 1917, had a special meaning. Mary communicated a 'secret', and spoke of Russia.

Today it is said that Russia has converted. It was Sister Lúcia herself, who confirmed that the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, made by St. John Paul II corresponded completely to what the Mother of God had requested.

Does this mean that everything is now done? Is Fátima just a 100 year Chapter in the history of the Church and of humanity, which we now solemnly close with this Jubilee?

That would be a catastrophe for the hotel industry and commerce of this town, but that's not what this is about!

Today, a 100 years ago, in this place, the Mother of God taught the Shepherd children a prayer, that today has the same meaning as it did then. The Fátima Prayer: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen. It is known the world over. It is a prayer addressed to Jesus, and is usually said during the recitation of the Holy Rosary. When we pray it, we ask for the forgiveness of our sins, to be saved from the fires of Hell, that all may go to heaven, and mercy on poor sinners. Is this less relevant today, than it was 100 years ago?

It is a prayer of reparation. We can translate into various languages; but we can also translate into our lives. This is exactly what many of those pilgrims do, kneeling, as they approach the Chapel of the Apparitions. Many return home here and change their lives, a blessing to the whole world.

Dear Brother, Dear Sister! If Our Lady, who is here today, asked you a favour, yes, asked you one thing, what would it be?

"Have I not told you already?"


Clemens Pickel
Bishop of San Clemente a Saratov, Russian Federation
Watch video of the Vigil of the 100th Anniversary of the July Apparitions here:

Monday, 24 July 2017

Cardinal Bagnasco at Fatima for 100th Anniversary of the June Apparition: The West needs to "Wake Up"

Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco says "it's time to wake up" and for Christians to proclaim their faith; challenging us to fight for the recovery of West. This was how he started his Homily at the Mass that commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Second Apparition of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal.

Cardinal Bagnasco in Fatima for 100th Anniversary of June Apparitions (photo fatima.pt)

For the Cardinal, the world today is in a situation similar to that of a hundred years ago, and people "begin to wonder about the future of the world, about the destiny of their lives." On the place and the events of Fatima, Cardinal Bagnasco affirmed that in the messages left by Our Lady, Christians find the answers for their salvation and for the salvation of the world.

"At Fatima the sun continues to shine, the light that springs from the womb of the Holy Virgin: Jesus Christ," concluded the archbishop of Genoa. The evening before at the Prayer Vigil and the Candlelight Procession, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, said that Catholics must reject the danger of disfiguring the faith. The homily he delivered at the Vigil can be found here.

Below is my translation of Cardinal Bagnasco's homily. Original Portuguese is here:

"In Fátima the Faith breathes"

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

It is with great joy that I am here in Fátima with this International Pilgrimage in the Centenary of the Apparitions. The presence of Pope Francis is still felt, his words still echo in our hearts. I greet with affection all the Bishops present, and I thank the Shepherd of this Diocese of Leiria-Fátima, his Excellency António Marto, for the fraternal invitation to preside over these celebrations.

1. Faith

In Fátima the Faith breathes. Where the Mother is, there is the Son, the encounter is more intense, charity grows, and the Faith is more clear and clean: clearer because it is more essential. The Gospel of the Annunciation brings us to the heart of faith: Mary entrusts to God because she trusts in God. This is the faith of Mary, this is the faith of the Church. We are here as pilgrims, with all our tribulations and hopes; but we are also here as the people of God representing the Church scattered throughout the whole world; but still more, at the feet of the Virgin, we bring our anguishes and the prayers of the entire human race, lost and suffering, in need of light and love.

2. Why Fátima?

Why do people come to Fátima? Because the human heart is in need of the words of eternal life; because we all want a mother who gives us encouragement and accompanies us; because man seeks redemption from his own weaknesses; because mankind is fascinated with the light that shines in the darkness; because we are drawn by the prayer that reveals what we are, small before the majesty of God and taken under the care of the sacrifice of Christ. Redemption and sin, light and darkness, prayer and conversion, love, sacrifice, eternal salvation .., is this not the substance of faith? Is this not the message of Fátima, the way of Christian life? The light of the lives of the Shepherd children, aren't the fruits of these words the peace of the heart and the joy of the soul, whatever the circumstances?

3. Time to awake

Dear friends, the times in which we live have many dark clouds; but the time has come to wake up. The West seems that it is losing it's own humanity, looking for illusions that make many promises, but only degrades them. The World proclaims life, but sows death; declares solidarity, but close itself; preaches love, but is more individualistic. People, however, begin to wonder about the future of the world, about the their destiny. As on October 13th of 1917, flashes of light began to appear, so in the hearts of man begin to emerge the truly important questions, the need for truth, the thirst for love and good. This is the awakening that has already begun and that will not stop.

4. The Light of Christ

At Fátima the Sun continues to shine, the light that springs forth from the womb of the Holy Virgin: Jesus Christ. He is the Son of the living God, the revealer of the invisible, the foundation of all things, He is the Master of mankind, the Redeemer, the secret of history, the King of the new world. He is the one knows and loves us, who is the companion on the road and the friend of our lives, the One who is to come, and who one day must be our Judge, and, we hope, be the fullness of our joy ... He is the Bread that comes from Heaven, the fountain of living water, that satisfies our hunger and our thirst. We must never tire of speaking of Jesus.

5. The Immaculate Heart

Let us now look on the most gentle face of Our Lady; in her Immaculate Heart we will find the Heart of Christ, a face that unites all our faces. Embraced by name by Mary, just as she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes at Bethlehem, resound in this sanctuary the holy name of Jesus: from His name each of us will pronounce our own name, our lives will be illuminated, our faith regenerated, and our hope strengthened.

Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco
Metropolitan Archbishop of Genoa
President of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe.

Watch video of the entire celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of June Apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima here:

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Cardinal Bagnasco at Fatima for Vigil of June Apparition : The Message of Fatima 'illuminates the Faith'

I have looking for an English translation of the Homilies delivered by Cardinal Bagnasco in Fátima; he presided over the ceremonies in Fátima for the 100th Anniversary of the June Apparitions. Having found none, I decided to do my own translations of these wonderful sermons. I have already translated the Homily during the Mass of the 13th of June and it will be published here on Monday. Below find my commentary of his Homily of the Vigil, followed by a full translation.


Vigil of 100th Anniversary of June Apparitions (photo fatima.pt)

As is customary in Fátima on the 12th and 13th of each month from May to October, there are ceremonies to commemorate the Anniversary of the Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Pastorinhos. Pope Francis led the ceremonies in May, the 100th Anniversary of the First Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, which also saw the canonisation of the two youngest seers, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, cause of much joy to the Church in Portugal, and Fátima devotees worldwide. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Metropolitan Archbishop of Genoa, was invited to preside over the 100th Anniversary of the Second Apparition. The June International Pilgrimage had the theme of "Glory to You, Queen of Peace"

For his homily of the Vigil Mass, held at night, Cardinal Bagnasco chose to focus on light. The message left by Our Lady at Fatima a 100 years ago always points to salvation because in Fátima "everything happens in the light," said Cardinal Bagnasco. This point made all the more poignant as the Vigil Mass was preceded by the customary candlelight Rosary in the Chapel of the Apparitions and the Candlelight Procession of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima, accompanied by the famous Ave of Fátima.

Cardinal Bagnasco underlined that the message of Fátima can be condensed into two words "Prayer and Penance". He also praised the Shrine which "holds Mary who keeps the faith intact". According to the Shrine of Fatima website, 164 pilgrimage groups, with a total of 8242 pilgrims, coming from all corners in the world, participated in the ceremonies for the June Apparition Anniversary. Poland provided the most groups with 27, followed by Italy with 23. Of the United States, 11 groups came with a total of 480 pilgrims. There were also pilgrims from the Philippines, South Korea, Pakistan, Swaziland, Singapore, Slovakia, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mexico, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and of course Portugal.

Below is my translation of Cardinal Bagnasco's Homily at the Vigil Mass for the 100th Anniversary of the June Apparitions in Fátima. Original Portuguese here:

"My Heart shall triumph"

It is a great joy for me to be in Fátima for the Centenary of the Apparitions! To be here with you, pilgrims from Portugal and other countries. The canonisation of the Shepherd children, with Pope Francis, still resonates here in this Shrine, which became as large as the world. This place - like a large Upper Room - guarded by Mary, who keeps the Faith intact. To disfigure the Faith, means disfiguring the face of Jesus, it means removing the spine of grace from the Gospel, of the supernatural life; and reducing it to a manual of human wisdom. The apparitions of Our Lady calls us to a heart of faith, without which our lives would be subsumed by the logic of the world.

On May 13th of 2017, in the Cova de Iria, the Holy Virgin appeared to the simple, the Shepherd children, who live the beatitudes without presumption: God resists the proud, and offers himself to the humble. In Fátima everything happens in the light; the lightning, the light above the tree, the Miracle of the Sun, ... everything here is illuminated. Even the hardest words, and the most demanding messages illuminate the Faith, the life of the Church, and the history of the world.

Dear friends, the message of Fátima focuses on two words: Prayer and Penance! The way certain News is presented today, makes us believe that all is gloomy and there is no hope. But the reality is different: if we look at things more closely, we discover God in action. In the appeals of Our Lady, we have an elevated vision of life, of man, of history; we see that faith embraces all the horizons of existence. Nothing is left out of this light, and we are called to live in this light, and not to turn away from the authority of Christ, knowing that serving God is nothing more than letting ourselves be saved by God.

The prayer and penance that Our Lady recommends, are not a sad and sombre vision of the world and of life, but, to the contrary, they express the seriousness of the love that God has for us, who are the work of His hands. Superficiality, and the desire for possessions, and the seeking of pleasure, and the desire to do what we want with no reference to God, prevents us from seeing the beauty and seriousness of Divine Love. To love and to be loved, is as necessary to us as bread, but this is not a game: the Son of God loved us even to Calvary! The gift of life is the ultimate measure of love: giving a life is not poetry or something sentimental, but something incredibly serious, tragic. This is the Mystery of the Cross: what more could a God that loves do? The contemplation of the Crucified One, expels from us the indolence and lethargy, and awakens within us the ardour of Faith.

Without the mystery of the Cross, without the seriousness of this love, even sin loses its seriousness, and is reduced to a norm that that be turned around; the immortality of the souls ceases to attract us, eternal life becomes an abstract idea, the here and now dominates. The virtue of patience, or that is, the effort required to deal with the little things of daily life that irritate us, where conversion no longer has a religious face; where praying for the sinners, which we all are, appears to be something in the distance, almost an insolence. Thus we enter into the way of thinking of the world.

But the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the persistent patience of a Mother, always returns to preserve our faith and brings us back to the light of Jesus: "My Immaculate Heart will triumph", repeats Mary to the Shepherd children. But when? Certainly by the end of the world, when God will be all in all: it will be a glorious and visible triumph. But the Heart already triumphs, secretly in many hearts: it is the triumph of Bethlehem, of Nazareth, of Calvary ... it is a secret triumph, but no less glorious, no less fascinating, and no less effective.

Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco
Metropolitan Archbishop of Genoa
President of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe.


Watch video of the entire Prayer Vigil of the 100th Anniversary of June Apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima here:

Monday, 17 July 2017

It's about time someone spoke up against Cristiano Ronaldo's use of surrogacy

The Portuguese phrase for surrogacy is 'barriga de aluguer', which translates literally into English as 'belly for hire'. This accurately describes the despicable and becoming all too mainstream phenomena of surrogacy. The most famous soccer player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, has used surrogates in the United States to have his eldest son, and recently twins. At the time surrogacy was almost unheard of in Portugal, and illegal (subsequently came into law in 2016). Yet no one in Portugal has ever had to courage to publicly question the immoral use of surrogates by the country's most famous son. That is until esteemed Portuguese Paediatric Plastic Surgeon, Prof. Dr. Antonio Gentil Martins.

In an interview with Expresso Magazine, published over weekend, Dr. Gentil Martins lambastes the dictatorship of Political Correctness, the normalisation of homosexuality, and the use of surrogacy. The interview has proved highly controversial even leading to the Ordem dos Médicos, the body which regulates Medical licencing in Portugal, to launch an investigation.

When asked what he thought of the notion of a single man having children using a surrogate, as has been case of Cristiano Ronaldo, Dr. Gentil Martins pulls no punches:
"I consider it a serious crime. It's degrading, a tragedy. Ronaldo is an excellent athlete, has immense skill, but is a moral deviant*, and can not be a role model for anyone. Every child has the right to have a mother. I think one of the great culprits of this is his mother. That lady did not teach him anything" 
*Original phrase used is 'estupor moral', a Portuguese pejorative for misbehaving individuals derived from the medical term stupor.
Dr. Gentil Martins singles out Ronaldo's mother, Dolores Aveiro, for particular criticism. She is very close to Ronaldo, and looks after his children, and has openly spoken about how she wanted to procure an illegal abortion when she fell pregnant with Cristiano. Though it may seem like an unprovoked attack, Dr. Gentil Martins may be referring to the fact that the Ronaldo's children do not know who their mother is. It was reported in 2015 that Ronaldo's eldest child had asked for his mother. At first the family told the child that his mother was dead, then saw the distress this caused him, said that his mother was alive but had abandoned him. This is cruelty personified, and along with treating women as slaves, surrogacy deprives children of their right to know who their biological parents are.

Dr. Gentil Martins comments on homosexuality in the same interview, has caused even greater controversy, with a number of fellow doctors actually reporting him to the Ordem dos Médicos. When asked if he thought two people of the same sex could love each other, he retorted rather simply:
Listen, it's simple: if that were the case the world is over. For the world to exist there must be men and women. I treat them [people with SSA] like any sick person and I am in pain if they are. I will not treat a person badly because he is a homosexual, but I will not accept it and will not promote it. If they ask me 'is it right?' I think not. It's an anomaly, it's a deviant form of personality. Like sadomasochists or people who mutilate themselves.
Medically, what Dr. Gentil Martins has said is correct, politically it is not, and evidently some at the Ordem dos Médicos what to jump on the LGBTQISJ bandwagon, singing 'Born this way', when this has been scientifically proven to not be the case. 

This interview has been pounced on in Portugal, with secular liberals forming an Inquisition against Dr. Gentil Martins. His track record of opposing abortion and euthanasia, homosexual 'marriage' have all been brought up by a rabid press who want him to recant his views. He shows no willingness to back down. And he won't.

Dr. Gentil Martins, who has 8 children, and 25 grand and great-grandchildren is a remarkable individual; an Olympic shooter, performed the first successful separation of Siamese twins in Portugal, former head of the Ordem dos Médicos, and even at 87 still provides consultations and occasionally performs surgery. I had the honour to meet him at a Conference in Portugal. Força Sr. Professor Doutor, estamos com você

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Benedict XVI's Message at the Funeral of Joachim Cardinal Meisner

The Funeral of Joachim Cardinal Meisner occurred this morning, Saturday July 15, in the magnificent Cologne Cathedral. The Mass was celebrated by Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki, Metropolitan Archbishop of Cologne. Péter Cardinal Erdő, Metropolitan Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, a close friend of the deceased Cardinal preached the sermon. A message from Pope Francis was read out by Archbishop Nikola Eterović, Apostolic Nuncio to Germany. To the surprise of those present, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, and Personal Secretary to Benedict XVI, read out a message by the Pope Emeritus.

Below is my translation of the beautiful message of Benedict XVI at the Funeral of his close friend Cardinal Meisner. Original German here:

At this hour, when the church of Cologne and faithful from further a field gathered to say goodbye to Cardinal Joachim Meisner, my heart and thoughts are with you also, and gladly accepting the invitation of Cardinal Woelki, I wish to address a word of remembrance to you.

When I heard of the death of Cardinal Meisner last Wednesday, I did not want to believe it. The day before we had talked on the phone. His gratitude for the fact that he had been on vacation after he had participated in the beatification of Bishop Teofilius Matulionis in Vilnius on Sunday before (June 25) was clear in his his voice. The love for the Church in the neighboring countries in the East, which had suffered under the Communist persecution, as well as the gratitude for the withstanding the sufferings of that time, shaped his life. And so is it is no coincidence that the last visit to his life was one to a Confessor of the Faith in those countries.

What particularly impressed me in that last talk with the retired Cardinal, was the loosened joy, the inner joy, and the confidence he had found. We know that this passionate shepherd and pastor found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination. However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.

Two things in recent times which pleased him more than anything:
  • On the one hand, he has always told me how deeply he in the Sacrament of Penance, how young people, especially young men, are experiencing the grace of forgiveness - the Gift, they have found the life that only God can give.

  • The other thing that has always touched him and gave him joy, was the quiet growth of Eucharistic Adoration. At the World Youth Day in Cologne yhis was a central point for him - that there was Adoration, a silence in which only the Lord spoke to the heart. Some Pastoral and Liturgal experts felt that such silence in looking at the Lord can not be achieved with such a huge number of people. Some were also of the opinion that Eucharistic Adoration was overtaken as such, by the Mass, since the Lord would be received in Eucharistic bread and not be looked at. But that this Bread can not be eaten like any food, and that the Eucharistic sacrament "welcomes" all dimensions of our existence - that reception must be worship, has now become very clear. Thus, the time of Eucharistic Adoration at the Cologne World Youth Day has become an interior event, which remained unforgettable to the Cardinal.

When, on his last morning, Cardinal Meisner did not appear at Mass, he was found dead in his room. His Breviary had slipped out of his hands: he was praying as he died, looking at the Lord, talking to the Lord. The death that was given to him, shows once again how he lived: looking at the Lord and talking to him. So we can confidently recommend his soul to the goodness of God. Lord, we thank thee for the testimony of thy servant Joachim. Let him be an intercessor for the Church of Cologne, and on the whole world! Requiescat in pace!

You can watch the Requiem Mass for the Funeral of Cardinal Meisner below:

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Liturgy as a source of division

This last July 7th saw the 10th Anniversary of the publication of Benedict XVI's motu proprio 'Summorum Pontificum', which liberalised the use of the Liturgical Books used in the Roman Rite before the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council. The anniversary saw many a piece on the liberal side of the Catholic media, attacking Summorum Pontificum as the major cause of division in the Church today. Reality shows that this simply isn't the case.

If one were to ask the regular Sunday Mass going Catholic if they thought Summorum Pontificum was a source of division, they would probably look at you rather quizzically for a moment, then say they hadn't read the Lord of the Rings. It's difficult for something to cause division in a Parish, if hardly no one has ever heard of it.

When I was growing up in South Africa, our Parish on Sunday had 3 Sunday Masses. One in English, another in Afrikaans, and the third in Portuguese. The Parish here is divided. It is divided along language lines. It is as if there are parallel Parishes in the same Church, and guess what, this has nothing to do with Summorum Pontificum. The sweet irony is that when the Mass was said in Latin, these divisions did not exist.

The same was the case when I lived for a time in the United States of America. The Parish I attended had Mass in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Again the Parish was divided on language lines. Those who attended Mass in English never interacted with those who attended Mass in Portuguese. It is as if the curse of Babel had been unleashed on the Universal Church.

The sin of Babel incurred the wrath of God, who as punishment, due to their sins, created a variety of languages. I guess the Reformers, and contemporary liberal Catholics, seem to forget that the there was once a time when the entire human race spoke but a single language. The hubris of the city of Babel, probably matched only by Bugnini and the liturgical reformers.

When I immigrated to England, again I noticed how the endless 'flavours' of the reformed Mass sowed division within a Parish. The first Parish I attended had a Folk Mass, a Children's Mass, and a Youth Mass. Each with a unique demographic; baby boomer generation, young families, and the latter, a handful of rather bemused (bored) young adults. Again the division here has nothing to do with Summorum Pontificum.

I have seen a number of critics of Summorum Pontificum raise the objection that in Parishes where it has been implemented it sows a theological division. What would amount to sacrilege in the Traditional Latin Mass; Communion in the Hand, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, utraquism et cetera, is norm in the average celebration of the Ordinary Form. The division here stems from the fact that in one Form of the Mass the catechesis flows from the Mass, in the other Form the catechesis has been removed from the Mass. The division stems from this lack of catechesis, and not the usage of the Extraordinary Form.

Catechesis, or the lack thereof, has led many to believe that Mass is primarily 'performed' for their benefit, for their tastes and whims. Many have long forgotten that the primary purpose of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is the worship of Almighty God. This should never be forgotten.

I do prefer the Extraordinary Form, but I can't exactly pinpoint why. It's probably the silence. That's probably the same reason I enjoy attending Mass at the Polish Mission in my town, when I cannot attend the Traditional Latin Mass. I don't understand a word of Polish, but prior to Mass the Church is absolutely silent, Communion is received on the tongue and kneeling, and only under a single species.

On the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, I attended a Traditional Latin Mass, Portuguese Missal in hand. I knelt in the pew behind a Korean family, the gentleman next to me used a Polish Missal. The majority of people in attendance were English. The Mass united young and old, large families and single people, rich and poor. All united in the worship of Almighty God, in the same language St. Peter offered the same Holy Sacrifice in Rome. The curse of Babel had been lifted.