Posted by: frroberts | March 1, 2017

An Italian Camino, The Via Francigena

From my friend Lyn Mettler at the National Catholic Register.

La Via Francigena, which literally means “road from France” or “road from the Land of the Franks,” is a lesser-known pilgrimage route compared to El Camino, which sees hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year.

“It’s an undiscovered jewel; once people do experience it, they love it — and they tell their friends, and they refer people to the route,” said Leo Locke, vice president and COO of Donna Franca Tours, which helps pilgrims coordinate journeys along the ancient road.

The route, which dates back to the seventh century, originally spanned 994 miles from Canterbury to Rome. Since about the year 1000, Christian pilgrims traversed this route on their way to Rome, some continuing on toward coastal Puglia to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Over time, the road became an important trade and communications route, and Archbishop Sigeric “the Serious” of Canterbury, increased its notoriety when he documented his journey in 990, noting 80 places that he stayed on the road.


Scenic Trek

Pilgrims on the La Via Francigena will discover the many diverse landscapes of Italy as they cross from north to south. The path winds through the Italian countryside past olive groves, golden wheat fields, rolling hills, dense forests, hot springs and rows of cypress trees, crossing into the regions of Tuscany, Piedmont, Lazio and Liguria.

There are many beautiful and historic towns and hamlets along the way, many with their original fortified walls, including Viterbo (often called the “City of the Popes” and one of the best-preserved medieval towns), Siena, Montefiascone, Capranica and Sutri. These cities and some of the ancient structures that remain have played host to not just pilgrims, but soldiers and citizens on their way to Rome.

Posted by: frroberts | February 27, 2017

Fatima Movie

Posted by: frroberts | February 25, 2017

The Song of Bernadette

Posted by: frroberts | February 25, 2017

Head of Society of Jesus gets Jesus dead wrong

Original Source:

The discussion centres on the words of Jesus: “What God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Fr Sosa comments: “There would have to be a lot of reflection on what Jesus really said. At that time, no one had a recorder to take down his words. What is known is that the words of Jesus must be contextualized, they are expressed in a language, in a specific setting, they are addressed to someone in particular.”

Fr Sosa goes on: “The word is relative, the Gospel is written by human beings, it is accepted by the Church which is made up of human persons … So it is true that no one can change the word of Jesus, but one must know what it was!”

The language is vague, but the implication seems to be that we cannot read Jesus’ words as simply a prohibition on divorce.

It is worth examining the whole passage, because the last sentence seems to apply directly to Fr Sosa:

Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” [His] disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted.”

Fr Sosa is of course right to suggest that we need to reflect on every verse of Scripture. No one disputes this. For that very reason, the verses have been interpreted by the tradition of the Church, expressed in the Magisterium, in a way that is completely coherent, for many centuries. The teaching is well expressed, for example, in Pope St John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio.

Fr Sosa invites “reflection” on “Not the word of Jesus, but the word of Jesus as we have interpreted it. Discernment does not select among different hypotheses, but listens to the Holy Spirit.”

Well, we have been discerning, and we have been doing so for centuries. One is left wondering whether Fr Sosa’s call for continuing discernment is, in fact, a call to keep at it until we come up with a different answer?

Fr Sosa says that there were no tape recorders in those days. This is presumably an attempt at humour. But if the implication is that we cannot be sure that these words were actually said by Jesus, that implication is utterly false. The consensus of the Church has long been that this passage represents the ipsissima verba of Our Lord. There are several reasons for this, and it might be worthwhile, even in an article as short as this, to spell them out.

First of all, in this passage Jesus says something very unusual. He says something that breaks with Jewish tradition, and implicitly rebukes Moses, who, of course, made provision for divorce. It is not what you would expect a Jew of the first century to say, and it goes against the grain of many of the things that Jesus says elsewhere, where it is made clear that He esteems Moses and the Law greatly. This means that the passage is not invented by Jesus’ followers. It is a hard saying (as the passage itself makes clear) and thus one that no one would ever make up. It represents a shocking departure from tradition; ergo, it is only in the Gospel because it must have been from the lips of the Lord. No one would have dared to make this up; nor would it occur to anyone to imagine it.

Secondly, this passage has parallels in Mark and Luke, and thus represents what we call “triple tradition”. That we have three witnesses to the words of Jesus surely increases the likelihood that they are his words, not words put into his mouth.

Thirdly, the writings of Saint Paul, which predate the Gospels, and the “Catholic epistles”, which may well predate the Gospels too, in no way contradict Jesus’ words. On the contrary – as you will find if you look up all uses of the word “marriage” in the New Testament – they form a seamless continuity. The Letter to the Hebrews was probably written in the mid-sixties of the first century. At that time, the Gospels had probably not been written, and the words of Jesus existed in oral form only. But Hebrews, in perfect keeping with Jesus’ recorded words, says:

“Let marriage be honoured among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.”

And what about the decree of the Council of Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15: “to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right”?

If there is any doubt over what “unlawful marriage” means, look at the first Letter to the Corinthians (written, again, before the Gospels). St Paul talks of the various bad practices that the Christians have now put away, and in the same chapter quotes the tag about the “two becoming one flesh”. I think this is a sign that Paul was familiar with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew.

Moreover, there is nowhere in the New Testament any sign of a counter-tradition, that is, any hint that there was another way of interpreting Jesus’ words.

Posted by: frroberts | February 25, 2017

Bad news from Rome

Original source:

Pope Francis has quietly reduced sanctions against a handful of pedophile priests, applying his vision of a merciful church even to its worst offenders in ways that survivors of abuse and the pope’s own advisers question.

One case has come back to haunt him: An Italian priest who received the pope’s clemency was later convicted by an Italian criminal court for his sex crimes against children as young as 12. The Rev. Mauro Inzoli is now facing a second church trial after new evidence emerged against him, The Associated Press has learned.

The Inzoli case is one of several in which Francis overruled the advice of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and reduced a sentence that called for the priest to be defrocked, two canon lawyers and a church official told AP. Instead, the priests were sentenced to penalties including a lifetime of penance and prayer and removal from public ministry.

In some cases, the priests or their high-ranking friends appealed to Francis for clemency by citing the pope’s own words about mercy in their petitions, the church official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the proceedings are confidential.

“With all this emphasis on mercy … he is creating the environment for such initiatives,” the church official said, adding that clemency petitions were rarely granted by Pope Benedict XVI, who launched a tough crackdown during his 2005-2013 papacy and defrocked some 800 priests who raped and molested children.

Victim advocates have long questioned Francis’ commitment to continuing Benedict’s tough line, given he had no experience dealing with abusive priests or their victims in his native Argentina. While Francis counts Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley as his top adviser on abuse, he has also surrounded himself with cardinal advisers who botched handling abuse cases in their archdioceses.

“They are not having zero tolerance,” said Rocio Figueroa, a former Vatican official and ex-member of the Peru-based Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a conservative Catholic lay society rocked by sex scandals. The Vatican recently handed down sanctions against the group’s founder after determining that he sexually, psychologically and physically abused his recruits. His victims, however, are enraged that it took the Vatican six years to decide that the founder should be isolated, but not expelled, from the community.

The church official stressed that to his knowledge, none of Francis’ reduced sentences had put children at risk.

Many canon lawyers and church authorities argue that defrocking pedophiles can put society at greater risk because the church no longer exerts any control over them. They argue that keeping the men in restricted ministry, away from children, at least enables superiors to exert some degree of supervision.

But Collins said the church must also take into account the message that reduced canonical sentences sends to both survivors and abusers.

“While mercy is important, justice for all parties is equally important,” Collins said in an email. “If there is seen to be any weakness about proper penalties, then it might well send the wrong message to those who would abuse.”

It can also come back to embarrass the church. Take for example the case of Inzoli, a well-connected Italian priest who was found guilty by the Vatican in 2012 of abusing young boys and ordered defrocked.

Inzoli appealed and in 2014 Francis reduced the penalty to a lifetime of prayer, prohibiting him from celebrating Mass in public or being near children, barring him from his diocese and ordering five years of psychotherapy.

In a statement announcing Francis’ decision to reduce the sentence, Crema Bishop Oscar Cantoni said “no misery is so profound, no sin so terrible that mercy cannot be applied.”

In November, an Italian criminal judge showed little mercy in convicting Inzoli of abusing five children, aged 12-16, and sentencing him to four years, nine months in prison. The judge said Inzoli had a number of other victims but their cases fell outside the statute of limitations.

Posted by: frroberts | February 24, 2017

A classic trailer

Posted by: frroberts | February 23, 2017

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue

Posted by: frroberts | February 19, 2017

Who was Jesus?

Posted by: frroberts | February 11, 2017

Sermoncast: Heavenly Wisdom

Posted by: frroberts | February 10, 2017

Without the Mass we cannot live

In year of Our Lord 304, in Abitina, a provincial town in Roman North Africa, 49 Christians gathered together to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. These brave Christians did this despite the fact that the celebration of the Mass had been banned by Roman law for almost a year.

The priest and these Christians were discovered by the Roman authorities and found guilty. They were told that they could be set free. All they needed to do was burn some incense in honor of the Emperor and agree not celebrate the Eucharist ever again. The Roman magistrate informed them that they could have whatever personal beliefs about Jesus that they liked, but had to agree not come together for Mass on Sundays. To this warning one of the Christians responded, “without fear of any kind we have celebrated the Lord’s Supper, because it cannot be missed; that is our law.”

Still the magistrate continued, trying to use torture to extract a recantation from one of the Christians. He raged as the band of believers stood firm. The magistrate grew impatient. He had broken far more proud men through torture, but these Christians, who boasted only of their weakness, would not bend. The magistrate reminded them that he held their lives in his hands, that he had the power to kill them or let them live. To this boast, the group responded in chorus, “without the Lord’s supper, we cannot live.” These Christians preferred death to missing Mass.

And die they did. The Roman Empire executed these Christians for attending Mass. Mother Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Martyrs of Abitina on February 12.

Catholics complain with frequency that they don’t go to Mass because they don’t get anything out of it. I wonder what response these Martyrs would have to this excuse.

Posted by: frroberts | February 9, 2017

Now for something a little different

Posted by: frroberts | February 8, 2017

A Catholic Perspective on Mindfulness

Posted by: frroberts | February 7, 2017

The Problem with the Masons

Entire article

he Lodge’s initial appeal was as a place for men of different faiths to socialize and speculate in peace, for discussing religion and politics was forbidden. Hayden, Mozart, and many other luminaries joined. But avoiding sectarian disputes inevitably pushed Freemasonry towards mere Deism. Its seldom-mentioned God was the Great Architect of the Universe, reachable by reason alone. Belief in a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul was all that was required of eighteenth century regular Freemasons.

English and Northern European Freemasonry retained these vague beliefs and functioned as a lowest-common-denominator religion “in which all men agree.” They even displayed the Bible during their rituals as the “Volume of the Sacred Law.” They were staunch supporters of the prevailing social establishment. Until recently, they dominated politics, the professions, the military, finance, and even the police.

merican Masons came to hold disproportionate power at all levels of government, including the Presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court. They led the fight against parochial schools and demanded absolute separation of Church and State. Networks of influence among Masons stifled competition from outsiders in business and the professions. Lodge membership became a badge of middle-class Protestant respectability at the peak of Freemasonry’s popularity, 1920-1960.

Freemasonry and anti-Catholicism

Meanwhile, the Grand Orient Lodges of France, Iberia, and Latin America were building a far grimmer anti-Catholic edifice. They attracted men hostile to both Church and State who found Masonic structures and secrecy useful for political subversion. Masons were prominent in the French Revolution and the Irish rising of 1798. They the South American revolts against Spain as well as the unification of Italy. Discarding even the pretense of Deism, Grand Orient Lodges ceased to revere the Bible or any Volume of Sacred Law. They dominated the bitterly anti-clerical French Third Republic (1870-1940) that confiscated all Church property in France. They persecuted and slaughtered Catholics after the Mexican Revolution and during the Spanish Civil War. Even in today’s European Union, Masons favor radical secularization.

Furthermore, the higher degrees of Masonry’s Appendant Bodies are frankly blasphemous. The Royal Arch Degree of the York Rite reveals that the true name of God is JAH-BUL-ON, a fusion of the Hebrew Jaweh (Yaweh) with the names of pagan gods Baal and Osiris. The Scottish Rite’s eighteenth degree (Rose Croix) reinterprets the Cross and its I.N.R.I inscription as pagan symbols. A candidate for the thirtieth degree (Knight Kadosh) must trample the papal tiara crying: “Down with Imposture!” He vows to propagate light and overthrow “superstition, fanaticism, imposture, and intolerance,” qualities implicitly identified with Christianity, especially Catholic Christianity.  The best Catholic apologetics work against the Lodge is Christianity and American Freemasonry (Ignatius Press) by William J. Whalen.

Posted by: frroberts | February 6, 2017

Bishop Barron on the Pelvic Issues

Posted by: frroberts | February 6, 2017

New Sermon Series: Becoming Wise in God’s Eyes

February 11-12:  Heaven and Heroism

February 18-19: Temples and Forgiveness

February 25-26: Money and Mysteries

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