Will he one day go to the altar?
Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father on June 19, 2010.
With the announcement of this Year for Priests, the Pope has declared St. John Vianney the Universal Patron of Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé d’Ars.
Please pray for our priests that they might always be faithful to their sacred calling.
What does it mean to be a priest? Read this...
What Does it Mean to Be a Priest? (An Answer of an 83 Year-Old Priest)
I was ordained a Catholic priest on May lst, 1948 by a tall, gray haired, distinguished, stately Bishop who instructed me and my classmates about the "state" we had just entered. But what was that "state" of Priest? What did it mean? What had happened to me?
That very day, a young Paulist priest, about six years into the priesthood and whom I viewed as an "older" chap, casually remarked to me that I would spend the rest of my life trying to figure out what DID happen to me! Now, with my typical late reaction tendency after 56 years of "priesting", I begin to plumb even further what he implied. And with some apprehension. I have a sense of the unsettling priest-insight of " Take back Thy Power." And it slightly frightens me. But what Power? Let me muse on Power in the priesthood.
In 1946, a Russian woman, Baroness Catherine de Hueck or Mrs. Eddie Doherty, addressed over 400 seminarians, all of us preparing for the Catholic priesthood at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She was a woman of remarkable charisma who emanated the very essence of a mysterious "power." She vibed out some kind of energy which permeated the huge hall. She spoke with remarkable vigor of her work in establishing centers for the hurting poor, the dirty poor, unwanted and rejected by "clean" citizens. She had gotten "in there" and had hurled herself into the sad and grim world of poverty. We were almost dumbstruck with her emotionality.
Yet, as impressive as her observations were to us about our duty to engage in the social needs of our age, she utterly bowled us over with her view of "priest." She urged, pleaded, cajoled us to remember that, once we were ordained priests, to "walk among the people - - - and you will strew blessings along your way…." She didn't urge that we should be great scholars or preachers or fund raisers or policy makers. She said: " Just walk among the people. Walk among the people." What was her meaning?
That was so, so long ago and it has rung in my heart down through all these years. I can still hear her proclaiming that admonition - - -It has been an integral part of my own spirituality and identity. In that statement is contained, I think, the core of what priest is. In there is the profound reality of what really did happen to me that joyful day as I knelt before Bishop Stephen Donahue.
When I was a little kid in St. Paul the Apostle grammar school in New York, the Holy Cross Sisters taught us something about a "seal" or " character" of Baptism. It was as if God had stamped the soul with some kind of Mark whereby the lucky one was "adopted" by the Lord in a very special way. Once one was "sealed", it was forever. We intuited by some kind of pre-articulation that there was no way one could be UN-baptized. No matter what kind of child of God I became, good or bad or ugly or nice, I would always have that Divine Father for eternity. I would carry that "seal" or Mark with me where ever I would go; wherever I should "walk". Whatever I would do, consciously or not, I would make my way "Marked" for God. Were I to rant later in my life and "resign" from that Childhood, my membership would remain intact in spite of any personal rebellion or sin. My resignation would be inoperative. I would simply be an inactive, non-practicing child of my Heavenly Father.
There was some kind of "power" in this marking. (or as Sister called it "Character") My prayers, my actions, my thoughts, my feelings were all suffused with this foundational level of "being." We were also taught that there was an advanced state of such "being" in a sacrament named "Confirmation" where we would be more deeply marked by the Holy Spirit and gifted with Fortitude whereby we would be prepared to endure and suffer and even fight for the Ancient Faith. All this by some kind of Power from elsewhere which we believed to be from the Lord. Now it was to be no longer I but the Lord working through me in my day to day Christian life. I carried these "markings" with me everywhere I went. Conscious awareness was not necessarily called for - - it just was!!!
Living in such a framework made it easy for me to move into the towering world of the Priesthood. We were taught (and I deeply believe it) that through the Sacrament of Holy Orders we were profoundly Marked a third and final time (and THIS is the point) as ALTER CHRISTUS, or Other Christ! From henceforth, we would be empowered to act in the very Person of Jesus, Himself.
This would mean that I, a dirty necked kid from Manhattan's tenements, would through the PRIESTHOOD of Jesus, take bread and wine and "transform" such into the Body and Blood of The Lord!!!!! This profound Marking would be with me and in me, as a very part of my essence, for eternity! Whether I became another Iscariot or another Xavier, I would be priest forever. And, further,I would be a priest whether I was conscious of it or not. We were constantly reminded of the Scriptural point: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, not according to Luther or Bing Crosby or Joe DiMaggio.
Graham Greene portrayed the insight marvelously well in his engrossing novel, THE POWER AND THE GLORY in which he describes a bad priest, a drunkard, a lecher, an exploiter of the poor but who, through the power of the priesthood can and does celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass for the Catholic faithful. They personally know his faults but they also know his "ghostly" powers. In effect, it is again not I but "HIM Who strengthens me….." This is why even a proud priest has to be humble at the Consecration of the Mass when the Transubstantiation occurs!! He knows that it is not he who does this miracle every day……he acts only " in persona Christi…"
With an insight that the Catholic laity has owned for centuries, the priest is treated with incredible respect even with all the scandals of recent years. It is certainly not because of the human side of these men, but because of the Alter Christus understanding.
The Knight of Columbus of the 3rd degree have a special commitment to protect and enhance the Catholic priesthood. Many Catholics still respectfully open doors for priests, give them seats of honor, call them "Father" and seek counsel and guidance from them - - - - in spite of the smearing and cheapening of the Office by some unworthy clerics. And why? Because of the "Mark" - - the quasi-metaphysical Branding of this priest soul!!! The Christ is present in this vessel of clay in a way nowhere else to be found. This is all about the Presence of Jesus.
This is also a huge unreachable feeling about Christ. It was almost humorous that during the filming of Mel Gibson's masterpiece THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, some of the workers on the set, moved by the sight of the actor, James Carvezial ( 33 years old with initials, J.C.), made up as the Redeemer, would kneel as he passed by. They were so deeply into the Passion of Jesus that they were impelled to reverence the Master - - even though it was ONLY a very good man taking the role.
This clearly surfaces the erroneous notion that the priest should be " one of the boys." Perhaps, painfully, the priest realizes that he is set apart and that he one of God's "special ones." He can never be like one of the "guys" and be true to his calling. He might use Marine language. He might hang out in Bars. He might engage in whoring. He might get seduced by money. No matter what - he is "set apart." Such a realization has become such a burden for some priests that they have "left" the priesthood in an attempt to get out from under the guilt of being "Another Christ."
To be a priest with this understanding that I am another Christ and that I cannot have the consolations of other men and that I am set apart, means a huge loneliness in my life. It means that I, like Jesus also must have my personal Gethsemane.
So, to set a man into the priesthood without his understanding the Mark of the Lord on him and the terrible price that he must pay for his privilege of being Christ in the world would be cruelty personified. I recall a young priest who "left" and returned to his former life, telling me that in the Seminary he was in GRADUATE SCHOOL and not in formation to be a priest. It was as if he were preparing for dentistry or journalism or public relations. Another young priest who likewise returned to his secular life mocked the notion of "seal" and testified that he never heard the "Poof" of the Holy Spirit marking him as priest. Without an identity of alter Christus, the priest is severely hampered in his personal growth and happiness.
The poor judgment of seminary personnel and/or their theological shallowness has allowed such young men to think of priesthood as a job or profession or social engineer. The harm done these students is incalculable. Obviously, we are beginning to reap the unhappy effects of the poor leadership and training of recent decades. Clearly, the priest's power stems from his being set aside by the marking of Ordination. Obviously, again, the greatest expression of this power is the Mass where he offers God back to God in the most Perfect Worship possible to man. As correct as is the notion of "Meal" at the Mass, - - Sacrifice is more theologically central to our Meaning. Emphasizing the "eating" as paramount can feed into a more humanistic or even narcissistic notion of Worship.
The great Fr. James Gillis CSP, reminded me as a young priest that a Priest who does not offer "sacrifice" is a misnomer. Priest instantly implies offering a Sacrifice. I am enthused when I hear the beautiful Gospel hymn WERE YOU THERE WHEN THEY CRUCIFIED MY LORD? because I can almost shout: Yes Yes Yes I am there every day when they crucify Him because I offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which re-presents Calvary for me.
I am appalled and saddened when I learn that some modern priests will not say Mass UNLESS THEY HAVE TO. Does such a priest not know who he is? That when he says Mass, Jesus moves in him as in no one else? Does he know that when he gives Absolution HE forgives the sins of man In the person of Christ? That AT THAT MOMENT in one sense he IS Christ? I doubt this unenthusiastic priest knows who he is. I doubt that he sees his own identity as a priest.
I tried to make the point with a woman Eucharistic minister in a Nursing Home who told me of the many confidences she received from the residents.
If I could only hear confessions, she said, I could be of such help! I suggested that she could hear as many confessions as she liked. There is, however, an essential point to be noted. She couldn't absolve from sin. Only Christ can do that and Christ does it through His priests. Only THEY are so marked and empowered!
So when a priest is overcome with what he is and he cries out in a spiritual terror: Take back Thy power, one can appreciate this man's feeling inadequate even if so honored! And always in his deepest self, he knows that others of his culture were more worthy and smarter and more sensible and braver and better looking and endlessly better suited than he. But always he knows that it is not a question of chosing but of being chosen.
Finally, the Russian was right. Let the priest simply walk among the people. Let the Christ blessings be strewn along the way. When the priest walks, Christ walks in a special way in him because of the Marking. This is Christ's man and if one looks deeply enough with Faith and some theological sophistication, this is Christ.
Thanks to and a tip of the beret to Fr James Lloyd, at Catholicism, Scholarship, & Fun!
How good is the Good God! The angels sin, and are cast into hell. Man sins, and God promises him a Deliverer. What have we done to deserve this favor? - St. Jean Vianney
During her ultrasound they found out she will be a daughter.
They have decided to call her, Audrey Suzanne. Suzanne has been a traditional middle name in my wifes family since before the 1870's. Tradition carries on.
Thank you God.
St Maria Goretti
It was a hot, humid day in early July. After the meal everyone but Maria went back to their threshing. Maria sat sewing. She was only eleven years old but her father, Luigi Goretti, had died and her mother and brothers had to work in the fields, so the little girl was in charge of the household duties. They lived near Anzio, Italy, in a house they shared with Giovanni Serenelli, a widower, and his son, Alessandro, nineteen. This day Giovanni sat down to rest, saying he was sick, at the bottom of the stairs leading up to where they lived. On the landing at the top of the stairs Maria’s little sister, Teresa, and a neighbor’s baby girl were asleep on a blanket.
Alessandro was taken with Maria’s beauty and had for some time tried to seduce her. He spoke obscenely to her, made lewd suggestions and threatened to kill Maria and her mother if she told anyone.
Now Alessandro, in an ox-cart in the field going among the stacks of beans, suddenly gave the reins to another and said he had to go back to the house to get something.
Alessandro jumped down from the cart. He spoke to his father dozing at the foot of the stairs and went up into the house. He said nothing to Maria and went to his room. He came out and called to her but she did not answer, going on with her sewing. This infuriated the hot-passioned youth and he grabbed the girl and dragged her into the kitchen and kicked the door shut. She fought him when he told her his intention. She cried, “No. It’s a sin. God does not want it. You’ll go to hell!”
Alessandro grew even more angry at her resistance, raised a knife and threatened her. She said, “No, no!” In a craze he struck her again and again with the knife. She shouted for help but the closed door was heavy and the noise of the threshing was loud. No one heard her. She fell to the floor, then dragged herself to the door. She opened it as Alessandro ran for his room. She screamed and this made him turn back. In a frenzy, he stabbed the girl six more times. Dropping the knife he rushed to his room and locked the door.
Alessandro’s father, asleep, did not hear Maria’s shriek, but he woke up to the loud crying of the babies. He jumped up, found Maria in a pool of blood, and yelled wildly to the threshers.
Maria’s body was horribly mangled. It was a miracle that she was still alive. She could hardly breathe. Her mother fainted. They asked who did this terrible thing; she whispered, “It was Alessandro. He tried to make me do something that was a sin. But he couldn’t make me do it. He couldn’t. I wouldn't let him.” She was taken to the hospital in a nearby town.
The police came to get the defiant Alessandro. A crowd of angry farmers surrounded the house. The police sent for more guards to take him away. The mob wanted to lynch him on the spot.
The doctors were astonished that the girl was still alive. Her pain-racked body was covered with blood. They said it was hopeless. They called for the priest. Someone said, “She is an angel.”
Maria was burning with fever and suffering but she said, “I’m all right.” Her mother, in tears, gave her the crucifix to kiss and that comforted her. The chaplain enrolled her in the Children of Mary and the blessed medal was hung around her neck on a green ribbon. She kissed the medal often. She forgave Alessandro, as she fervently received Holy communion for the last time. She said, “It is Jesus, whom I shall soon seen in heaven.” more...
What Faith! God make us all fervent our our Faith, and grant us the willingness to forvive those who sin against us.
Obama and pope meet for first time
Associated Press Writer Victor L. Simpson, Associated Press Writer – 13 mins ago
VATICAN CITY – President Barack Obama sat down with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Friday for frank but constructive talks between two men who agree on helping the poor but disagree on abortion and stem cell research.
"It's a great honor," Obama said as he greeted the pope, thanking him for this first meeting, which lasted 30 minutes. They sat down at the pontiff's desk and exchanged pleasantries before reporters and photographers were ushered out of the ornate room.
The pope was heard asking about the Group of Eight summit, the meeting of developed nations that concluded before Obama's arrival at Vatican City. Obama said it "was very productive."
After the meeting, the Vatican said the two leaders discussed immigration, the Middle East peace process and aid to developing nations. But the Vatican's statement also underscored the pair's deep disagreements on abortion.
"In the course of their cordial exchanges, the conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interest of all and which constitute a great challenge ... such as the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one's conscience," the statement said.
Even in his gift to the U.S. leader, the pope sought to communicate his beliefs. Benedict gave Obama with a copy of a Vatican document on bioethics that hardened(1) the church's opposition to using embryos for stem cell research, cloning and in-vitro fertilization.
"Yes, this is what we had talked about," Obama said, telling the pope he would read it on the flight to Ghana.
Earlier, the pope's secretary, the Rev. Georg Ganswein, had told reporters the document would "help the president better understand the position of the Catholic church."
Upon leaving, Obama again thanked the pope. "We look forward to a very strong relationship between our two countries," he said.
With some Catholic activists and American bishops outspoken in their criticism of Obama, even as polls have shown he received a majority of Catholic votes, the audience was much awaited.
Obama is very popular in Italy and several hundred people lining the broad avenue leading to St. Peter's Square cheered his limousine as it went by. Obama waved. Awaiting him at the Vatican was an honor guard of Swiss Guards in their colorful, striped uniforms.
Obama's election presented a challenge for the Vatican after eight years of common ground with President George W. Bush in opposing abortion, an issue that drew them together despite Vatican opposition to the war in Iraq.
But the Vatican has been openly interested in Obama's views and scheduled an unusual afternoon meeting to accommodate him at the end of his Italian stay for a G-8 summit meeting in the earthquake-stricken city of L'Aquila and just before he leaves for Ghana.
In the tradition-conscious Vatican, most such meetings are held at midday. The Vatican also arranged live television coverage of the open session of the meeting after their private talks.
Benedict broke Vatican protocol the day after Obama was elected by sending a personal note of congratulations rather than waiting and sending the usual brief telegram on Inauguration Day.
"I've had a wonderful conversation with the pope over the phone right after the election," Obama told a group of Catholic journalists in Washington before he left for Europe. "And in some ways we see this as a meeting with any other government — the government of the Holy See. There are going to be some areas where we've got deep agreements; there are going to be some areas where we've(2) got some disagreements."
But he acknowledged the pope is more than a government head, saying the church "has such profound influence worldwide and in our country."
L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's daily newspaper, gave Obama a positive review after his first 100 days in office. In a front-page editorial, it said that even on ethical questions Obama hadn't confirmed the "radical" direction he discussed during the campaign.
Tensions grew when Obama was invited to receive an honorary degree at the leading U.S. Catholic university, Notre Dame. Dozens of U.S. bishops denounced the university and the local bishop boycotted the ceremony.
Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, who now heads a Vatican tribunal, accused Obama of pursuing anti-life and antifamily agendas. He called it a "scandal" that Notre Dame had invited him to speak.
Yet L'Osservatore concluded that Obama was looking for some common ground with his speech, noting he asked Americans to work together to reduce the number of abortions.(3)
Some conservative American Catholics criticized the Vatican newspaper for its accommodating stance.
This week, Cardinal Justin Rigali, who heads the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, complained that the final guidelines of the National Institutes of Health for human embryonic stem cell research are broader than the draft guidelines.
As a child in Indonesia, Obama's Muslim father enrolled him in Catholic school for a few years. Obama is a Protestant.(4)
White House national security aide Denis McDonough, speaking to reporters Thursday on the influence of Catholic social teaching on Obama, said the president "expresses many things that many Catholics recognize as fundamental to our teaching."
In the interview with Catholic journalists, Obama said he would tell the pope of his concern that the world financial crisis is not "borne disproportionally by the most poor and vulnerable countries."
Just this week, Benedict issued a major document calling for a new world financial order guided by ethics and the search for the common good, denouncing the profit-at-all-cost mentality blamed for bringing about the global financial meltdown.
As Obama has pledged to step-up efforts for Middle East peace through a two-state solution, Benedict made a similar appeal during a trip in May to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. He issued the Vatican's strongest call yet for a Palestinian state.
Obama met first with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, before meeting Benedict in the pope's study.
Obama's wife, Michelle, joined him at the end of the meeting, and gifts were exchanged. Daughters Malia and Sasha, who accompanied their parents on the weeklong trip, also met Benedict. They were ushered out of the room before the media were allowed back in.
Several senior White House staff members also met the pope, with some either shaking his hand or kissing his ring.
God Save Us,
(1) Confirmed, restated, not hardened.
(2) "We've" is a bit of Humbris.
(3) Obama could care less about the number of abortions. His words "reducing abortion" is a code word for profilactic use to prevent "mistakes" (his words).
(4) I doubt he has any religion, since he has his god attitude.
Here I translate a portion from the web site, Le génocide vendéen. If you have a queasy stomach do not read further. If you have a desire for truth...
An incident from the barbarities implemented by the Infernal columns, the tanning of human skins.
Piece no. 262 of the Extracts of the Deliberations and Depositions of Angers relating to the testimony of Claude John Humeau to the court of Angers August 26 1795: "That Pecquel surgeon to the 4th battalion of the Ardennes Regiment skinned 32 corpses, to carry to Lemonnier, tanner to the Ponts-Libres (now calledthe Ponts-de-Cé), to tan them, that the masters there refused, that he knows that the skins were deposited at the house Prud'homme, manchonnier (leather coupler?) of Angers" Godard Faultrier relates a conversation that he had with a shepherd named Robin that was 13to 14 years old and was witness of the committed horrors. Page 13, one reads in part: ...one cut the skin to the under belt, then alongside each of the thighs to the ankle of the feet in the such a manner that after the removal, the pants that are left are formed. It only remained to tan it and to sew it...”.
There are still some who refuse to believe this happened, even after being presented with the evidence. In 1986 Reynald Secher wrote a book (which is advertised on the left) called the The French Genocide, The Vendee, he was immediately ridiculed by the elitists who justified the infernal columns as a necessary, the count of those murdered as being exaggerated and some saying Secher was having a fantasy. Some even proclaim that the genocide as quasi-mythical...
One thing is for sure, the Vendeans can not be accused of sending columns into France to murder the populace...
The best description of the genocide in the vendee has been written (in blood) by one of it's criminals, General François Joseph Westermann, "There is no more Vendée, Republican citizens. It died beneath our free sword, with its women and its children. I have just buried it in the swamps and the woods of Savenay. Following the orders that you gave to me, I crushed the children beneath the horses' hooves, massacred the women who, those at least, will bear no more brigands. I do not have a single prisoner to reproach myself with. I have exterminated them all..."
Vive le Roy!
(1) Secher, Reynald. A French Genocide: The Vendee. University of Notre Dame Press, (2003). p. 110 ISBN 0268028656
The Full Gospel Churches down the road do not teach anything which is not in accordance with their view. Usually this involves the Book of Daniel, and Revelations. Which like the liberals in the Congress allow them a lot of leeway to read into scripture what view fits their view.
For example, we have a friend who is a Baptist woman. She sits on her Church committee for choosing a pastor. Since her Baptist church voted to have women pastors, if a prospective pastor, fresh from the theological seminary does not agree he will not get the job. They voted on what they believe.
Much of what the Reformation has done (and I am afraid, Vatican II has been misinterpreted on this point) has come about because the faithful have decided what their faith will and does say. These are Cafeteria Catholics. Unfortunatly some are lead by their Priests. Which leads into the next article, from the April 9 edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer...
Catholic church will continue to shrink if faith is not followed
Posted by Martin Dybicz April 05, 2009 05:00AM
After reading the opinions expressed in The Plain Dealer these last few weeks, I am wondering what the reaction will be when consolidation takes place again in another 25 years, making this one look like small potatoes.
If present trends continue, consolidation will take place then for the same reason it is taking place now: Those who are leading Catholic institutions are not proclaiming, nearly enough, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is only fully articulated in the "Catechism of the Catholic Church."
The dirty little secret is that many of these "leaders" do not believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is fully articulated in the Catechism. As a result, too many Catholic institutions are led by "cafeteria Catholics" (who pick and choose what they want from the faith) for, what is too often the case, other "cafeteria Catholics" (who like the morphing of the Catholic Church into the Unitarian Church). more...
Dybicz is a theology teacher at St. Ignatius High School.
(1) I include Basptists (of all the diverse sects), Presbyterians, Evangelicals, COG, and all Other Than Catholic religions under this title.
I have heard a similar sentiment echoed by my wife about her patio.
Thanks and a tip of the beret to Lauren at Marie-Antoinette's Gossip Guide
Vive le Roy!
Here we see her in a hunting dress, no Royalty of France was ever far from a horse or on horseback during the reign of Louis XIV! Bourbon's lived for the hunt, no doubt that is why Versailles started off as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII. (Some hunting lodge!)
Elena-Marie directs us to Enchanted by Josephine and this article about Marie Adelaide of Savoy.
Anyone who reads my blog will note that I have only briefly mentioned the Ogre or Josephine Beauharnais, but if Elena-Marie recommends a story I trust her judgement.
Vive le Roy!
Puisque Edith Piaf est mort il n'y a pas eu de voix femelle comme cet étaient, qui a capturé le ton des Français plus que Mireille Mathieu. Cette chanson, traduite, est le mot au mot un commentaire suffisant sur ce qu'il signifie pour avoir que certain l'image de ce qu'il signifie pour être français. Si vous comprenez cette chanson, il amènera des larmes à vos yeux.
Since Edith Piaf died there has been no female voice as it were, which captured the tone of the French people more than Mireille Mathieu. This song, translated word for word, is a fitting commentary on what it means to have that certain Frenchness. If you can understand the song it will bring tears to you eyes.
St. Vitus's Cathedral is the largest and the most important church in Prague. Apart from divine services the coronations of Czech kings and queens also took place in it. The remains of provincial patron saints, sovereigns, noblemen and archbishops are interred here.
The cathedral is the third church consecrated to the same saint on the identical site. About the year 925 Prince Vaclav I founded a Romanesque rotunda here which after 1060 was converted into a triple-naved basilica with two steeples. The importance of the cathedral grew especially after the establishment of the Prague bishopric in 973 and the founding of the body of canons - the St. Vitus chapter, which later became an important cultural and administrative institution.
In 1344 Charles IV began the construction of a Gothic cathedral. Its first builders, Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler, built the choir with a ring of chapels, St. Wenceslas's Chapel, the Golden Portal and the lower part of the main steeple. In spite of the endeavours of some sovereigns to secure the continuation of the construction work the cathedral remained uncompleted for whole centuries. The main steeple was crowned with a Renaissance helmet and the music choir was built. The facade of the cathedral was provisionally closed.
It was not until the latter half of the 19th century that the Union for the Completion of the Building of St. Vitus's Cathedral began the repair of the original part and the completion of the building of the cathedral in Neo-Gothic style. The cathedral was solemnly consecrated in 1929. Its interior was subjected to adaptations even in later years.
Visitors enter the cathedral through the portal in the western facade, opposite the passage-way between the Second and Third Courtyards of Prague Castle. Its bronze door is decorated with reliefs with scenes from the history of the cathedral and from the legends about St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert.
The Neo-Gothic part of the cathedral consists of the main nave and the narrow side aisles, lined with chapels, and the northern wing of the transverse nave. The chapels have stained glass windows.
The construction of the large southern steeple was started by Peter Parler, but he did not complete it. It gained its originally planned height after being provided with a Renaissance helmet in the 16th century. St. Wenceslas's Chapel partly reaches on to the area of the transverse nave. The different conception of its architecture and its magnificent decoration emphasize its importance as the central point of the cathedral as a whole. The solemn entrance to the cathedral, the Golden Portal, affords access to the chapel from the Third Courtyard.
Situated in the choir of the cathedral, in front of the high alter, is the royal mausoleum below which, in the crypt, there is the royal tomb. The choir is surrounded by a ring of Gothic chapels. Czech sovereigns and patron saints are interred in some of them.
St. Wenceslas's Chapel is the cult centre of St. Vitus's Cathedral. Its magnificent decoration and the different conception of its architecture emphasize its singularity as the central point of the cathedral with the tomb of the most important provincial patron saint.
The facing of the walls, consisting of precious stones, and the wall paintings of the Passion cycle are parts of the original 14th-century decoration of the chapel.
The scenes from the life of St. Wenceslas forming another decorative band are attributed to the workshop of the Master of the Litomerice Altar (the cycle is dated in 1509). The door in the south-western corner of the chapel leads to the Crown Chamber in which the Bohemian coronation jewels are kept.
The photos are from both Nicholas and from the St Vitus web site found here...
Nicholas and Helen are interpreters and have a web site here... they are both interested in the Napoleonic wars especially the invasion of 1812. They have amassed a great deal of information, and a gallery of art which is exceptional. They reside in Belgorad, Russia.
The Queen Martyr is often viewed as being aloof and apart from her people of France, I suppose this is in some way an effort to demonize her and therefore justify the evil done to her. Elena-Marie once again gives us a better view of St. Marie-Antoinette...
Marie-Antoinette is frequently associated with shopping, but how did she shop? It is often forgotten that Versailles, being open to the public, was a place of commerce; vendors set up their stalls in the courtyards and galleries of the palace. As for the Queen, she would usually receive tradesmen in the morning while her hair was being dressed. However, she always sought ways to celebrate the life of the ordinary French people, particularly the peasants whose industry fed the nation. In September, 1777 Marie-Antoinette had a farmers' market in the park at Trianon to inaugurate the opening of her new gardens. The Queen wore peasant attire and served at an outdoor "tavern." Pierre de Nolhac describes the market thus:
A market-place was set up on the lawn...where the baker, the confectioner, and the purveyor of charcuterie(1) dispensed their wares...and even the cook's shop was busy in the open air. All these stalls were connected by a garland of roses....
There were shows of all sorts....Actors...gave several performances on an improvised stage....The avenues leading to Trianon were lined with the booths of Paris shopkeepers who had been engaged to come, their expenses being paid. (Pierre de Nolhac's Marie-Antoinette, 1905, pp.226-227) more...
Even today I much prefer going to various specialty food stores or an open air market to shop. It is an adventure. This time of year, in this area farmers are beginning to sell the fruit of their labour, cantaloupes, squash, grapes, zucchini. We can find sausages in the fall and winter, and hams from Smithfield. It's better than Walmart any day...
Once again thanks to Elena-Marie.
(1)A delicatessen specializing in sausages, ham, pâtés, and other cooked or processed meats.
About Nine he was brought out of the Tower; his Beard was long, his face pale and thin, and carrying a Red Cross in his Hand, he often lift up his Eyes to Heaven; a Woman meeting him with a cup of Wine, he refused it saying, Christ at his Passion drank no wine, but Gall and Vinegar. Another Woman came crying and demanded some Papers she said she had left in his Hands, when he was Lord Chancellor, to whom he said, Good woman, have Patience but for an Hour and the King will rid me of the Care I have for those Papers, and every thing else. Another Woman followed him, crying, He had done her much Wrong when he was Lord Chancellor, to whom he said, I very well remember the Cause, and is I were to decide it now, I should make the same Decree.
Always the humorist, it is recorded that upon stepping onto the scaffold he stubbled a bit, and remarked to the executioner who had caught him, "Help me up, but on the way down I'll shift for myself".
An earlier article by me may be found here...and his meditation here...
In speaking to you, my brethren, of the lukewarm soul, I do not wish, either, to speak of those who make neither their Easter duty nor their annual Confession. They know very well that in spite of all their prayers and their other good works they will be lost. Let us leave them in their blindness, since they want to remain that way....
Nor do I understand, brethren, by the lukewarm soul, that soul who would like to be worldly without ceasing to be a child of God. You will see such a one at one moment prostrate before God, his Saviour and his Master, and the next moment similarly prostrate before the world, his idol.
Poor blind creature, who gives one hand to God and the other to the world, so that he can call both to his aid, and promise his heart to each in turn! He loves God, or rather, he would like to love Him, but he would also like to please the world. Then, weary of wanting to give his allegiance to both, he ends by giving it to the world alone. This is an extraordinary life and one which offers so strange a spectacle that it is hard to persuade oneself that it could be the life of one and the same person. I am going to show you this so clearly that perhaps many among you will be hurt by it. But that will matter little to me, for I am always going to tell you what I ought to tell you, and then you will do what you wish about it....
I would say further, my brethren, that whoever wants to please both the world and God leads one of the most unhappy of lives. You shall see how. Here is someone who gives himself up to the pleasures of the world or develops some evil habit.
How great is his fear when he comes to fulfil his religious duties; that is, when he says his prayers, when he goes to Confession, or wants to go to Holy Communion! He does not want to be seen by those with whom he has been dancing and passing nights at the cabarets, where he has been giving himself over to many kinds of licentiousness. Has he come to the stage when he is going to deceive his confessor by hiding the worst of his actions and thus obtain permission to go to Holy Communion, or rather, to commit a sacrilege? He would prefer to go to Holy Communion before or after Mass, that is to say, when there is no one present. Yet he is quite happy to be seen by the good people who know nothing about his evil life and among whom he would like to arouse good opinions about himself. In front of devout people he talks about religion. When he is with those who have no religion, he will talk only about the pleasures of the world. He would blush to fulfil his religious practices in front of his companions or those boys and girls who share his evil ways....
This is so true that one day someone asked me to allow him to go to Holy Communion in the sacristy so that no one would see him. Is it possible, my brethren, that one could think upon such horrible behaviour without shuddering?
But we shall proceed further and you will see the embarrassment of these poor people who want to follow the world without -- outwardly at any rate -- leaving God. Here is Easter approaching. They must go to Confession. It is not, of course, that they want to go or that they feel any urge or need to receive the Sacrament of Penance. They would be only too pleased if Easter came around about once every thirty years. But their parents still retain the exterior practice of religion. They will be happy if their children go to the altar, and they keep urging them, then, to go to Confession. In this, of course, they make a mistake. If only they would just pray for them and not torment them into committing sacrileges. So to rid themselves of the importunity of their parents, to keep up appearances, these people will get together to find out who is the best confessor to try for absolution for the first or second time
"Look," says one, "my parents keep nagging at me because I haven't been to Confession. Where shall we go?" "It is of no use going to our parish priest; he is too scrupulous. He would not allow us to make our Easter duty. We will have to try to find So-and-So. He let this one and that one go through, and they are worse than we are. We have done no more harm than they have."
Another will say: "I assure you that if it were not for my parents I would not make my Easter duty at all. Our catechism says that to make a good Confession we must give up sin and the occasions of sin, and we are doing neither the one nor the other. I tell you sincerely that I am really embarrassed every time Easter comes around. I will be glad when the time comes for me to settle down and to cease gallivanting. I will make a confession then of my whole life, to put right the ones I am making now. Without that I would not die happy."
"Well," another will say to him, "when that time comes you ought to go to the priest who has been hearing your confessions up to the present. He will know you best." "Indeed no! I will go to the one who would not give me absolution, because he would not want to see me damned either."
"My word, aren't you good! That means nothing at all. They all have the same power."
"That is a good thing to remember when we are doing what we ought to do. But when we are in sin, we think otherwise.
One day I went to see a girl who was pretty careless. She told me that she was not going back to Confession to the priests who were so easy and who, in making it seem as if they wanted to save you, pushed you into Hell."
That is how many of these poor blind people behave. I "Father," they will say to the priest, "I am going to Confession to you because our parish priest is too exacting. He wants to make us promise things which we cannot hold to. He would have us all saints, and that is not possible in the world. He would want us never to go to dances, nor to frequent cabarets or amusements. If someone has a bad habit, he will not give Absolution until the habit has been given up completely. If we had to do all that we should never make our Easter duty at all. My parents, who are very religious, are always after me to make my Easter duty. I will do all I can. But no one can say that he will never return to these amusements, since he never knows when he is going to encounter them."
"Ah!" says the confessor, quite deceived by this sincere sounding talk, "I think your parish priest is perhaps a little exacting. Make your act of contrition, and I will give you Absolution. Try to be good now."
That is to say: Bow your head; you are going to trample in the adorable Blood of Jesus Christ; you are going to sell your God like Judas sold Him to His executioners, and tomorrow you will go to Holy Communion, where you will proceed to crucify Him. What horror! What abomination! Go on, vile Judas, go to the holy table, go and give death to your God and your Saviour! Let your conscience cry out, only try to stifle its remorse as much as you can.... But I am going too far, my brethren. Let us leave these poor blind creatures in their gloom.
I think, brethren, that you would like to know what is the state of the lukewarm soul. Well, this is it. A lukewarm soul is not yet quite dead in the eyes of God because the faith, the hope, and the charity which are its spiritual life are not altogether extinct. But it is a faith without zeal, a hope without resolution, a charity without ardour....
Nothing touches this soul: it hears the word of God, yes, that is true; but often it just bores it. Its possessor hears it with difficulty, more or less by habit, like someone who thinks that he knows enough about it and does enough of what he should.
Any prayers which are a bit long are distasteful to him. This soul is so full of whatever it has just been doing or what it is going to do next, its boredom is so great, that this poor unfortunate thing is almost in agony. It is still alive, but it is not capable of doing anything to gain Heaven....
For the last twenty years this soul has been filled with good intentions without doing anything at all to correct its habits.
It is like someone who is envious of anyone who is on top of the world but who would not deign to lift a foot to try to get there himself. It would not, however, wish to renounce eternal blessings for those of the world. Yet it does not wish either to leave the world or to go to Heaven, and if it can just manage to pass its time without crosses or difficulties, it would never ask to leave this world at all. If you hear someone with such a soul say that life is long and pretty miserable, that is only when everything is not going in accordance with his desires. If God, in order to force such a soul to detach itself from temporal things, sends it any cross or suffering, it is fretful and grieving and abandons itself to grumbles and complaints and often even to a kind of despair. It seems as if it does not want to see that God has sent it these trials for its good, to detach it from this world and to draw it towards Himself. What has it done to deserve these trials? In this state a person thinks in his own mind that there are many others more blameworthy than himself who have not to submit to such trials.
In prosperous times the lukewarm soul does not go so far as to forget God, but neither does it forget itself. It knows very well how to boast about all the means it has employed to achieve its prosperity. It is quite convinced that many others would not have achieved the same success. It loves to repeat that and to hear it repeated, and every time it hears it, it is with fresh pleasure. The individual with the lukewarm soul assumes a gracious air when associating with those who flatter him. But towards those who have not paid him the respect which he believes he has deserved or who have not been grateful for his kindnesses, he maintains an air of frigid indifference and seems to indicate to them that they are ungrateful creatures who do not deserve to receive the good which he has done them....
If I wanted to paint you an exact picture, my brethren, of the state of a soul which lives in tepidity, I should tell you that it is like a tortoise or a snail. It moves only by dragging itself along the ground, and one can see it getting from place to place with great difficulty. The love of God, which it feels deep down in itself, is like a tiny spark of fire hidden under a heap of ashes.
The lukewarm soul comes to the point of being completely indifferent to its own loss. It has nothing left but a love without tenderness, without action, and without energy which sustains it with difficulty in all that is essential for salvation. But for all other means of Grace, it looks upon them as nothing or almost nothing. Alas, my brethren, this poor soul in its tepidity is like someone between two bouts of sleep. It would like to act, but its will has become so softened that it lacks either the force or the courage to accomplish its wishes.
It is true that a Christian who lives in tepidity still regularly -- in appearance at least -- fulfils his duties. He will indeed get down on his knees every morning to say his prayers. He will go to the Sacraments every year at Easter and even several times during the course of the twelve months. But in all of this there will be such a distaste, so much slackness and so much indifference, so little preparation, so little change in his way of life, that it is easy to see that he is only fulfilling his duties from habit and routine .... because this is a feast and he is in the habit of carrying them out at such a time. His Confessions and his Communions are not sacrilegious, if you like, but they are Confessions and Communions which bear no fruit -- which, far from making him more perfect and more pleasing to God, only make him more unworthy. As for his prayers, God alone knows what -- without, of course, any preparation -- he makes of these.
In the morning it is not God who occupies his thoughts, nor the salvation of his poor soul; he is quite taken up with thoughts of work. His mind is so wrapped up in the things of earth that the thought of God has no place in it. He is thinking about what he is going to be doing during the day, where he will be sending his children and his various employees, in what way he will expedite his own work. To say his prayers, he gets down on his knees, undoubtedly, but he does not know what he wants to ask God, nor what he needs, nor even before whom he is kneeling. His careless demeanour shows this very clearly. It is a poor man indeed who, however miserable he is, wants nothing at all and loves his poverty. It is surely a desperately sick person who scorns doctors and remedies and clings to his infirmities.
You can see that this lukewarm soul has no difficulty, on the slightest pretext, in talking during the course of his prayers.
For no reason at all he will abandon them, partly at least, thinking that he will finish them in another moment. Does he want to offer his day to God, to say his Grace? He does all that, but often without thinking of the one who is addressed. He will not even stop working. If the possessor of the lukewarm soul is a man, he will turn his cap or his hat around in his hands as if to see whether it is good or bad, as though he had some idea of selling it. If it is a woman, she will say her prayers while slicing bread into her soup, or putting wood on the fire, or calling out to her children or maid. If you like, such distractions during prayer are not exactly deliberate. People would rather not have them, but because it is necessary to go to so much trouble and expend so much energy to get rid of them, they let them alone and allow them to come as they will.
The lukewarm Christian may not perhaps work on Sunday at tasks which seem to be forbidden to anyone who has even the slightest shred of religion, but doing some sewing, arranging something in the house, driving sheep to the fields during the times for Masses, on the pretext that there is not enough food to give them -- all these things will be done without the slightest scruple, and such people will prefer to allow their souls and the souls of their employees to perish rather than endanger their animals. A man will busy himself getting out his tools and his carts and harrows and so on, for the next day; he will fill in a hole or fence a gap; he will cut various lengths of cords and ropes; he will carry out the churns and set them in order. What do you think about all this, my brethren? Is it not, alas, the simple truth? ....
A lukewarm soul will go to Confession regularly, and even quite frequently. But what kind of Confessions are they? No preparation, no desire to correct faults, or, at the least, a desire so feeble and so small that the slightest difficulty will put a stop to it altogether. The Confessions of such a person are merely repetitions of old ones, which would be a happy state of affairs indeed if there were nothing to add to them. Twenty years ago he was accusing himself of the same things he confesses today, and if he goes to Confession for the next twenty years, he will say the same things. A lukewarm soul will not, if you like, commit the big sins. But some slander or back-biting, a lie, a feeling of hatred, of dislike, of jealousy, a slight touch of deceit or double-dealing -- these count for nothing with it. If it is a woman and you do not pay her all the respect which she considers her due, she will, under the guise of pretending that God has been offended, make sure that you realise it; she could say more than that, of course, since it is she herself who has been offended. It is true that such a woman would not stop going to the Sacraments, but her dispositions are worthy of compassion.
On the day when she wants to receive her God, she spends part of the morning thinking of temporal matters. If it is a man, he will be thinking about his deals and his sales. If it is a married woman, she will be thinking about her household and her children. If it is a young girl, her thoughts will be on her clothes.
If it is a boy, he will be dreaming about passing pleasures and so on. The lukewarm soul shuts God up in an obscure and ugly kind of prison. Its possessor does not crucify Him, but God can find little joy or consolation in his heart. All his dispositions proclaim that his poor soul is struggling for the breath of life.
After having received Holy Communion, this person will hardly give another thought to God in all the days to follow. His manner of life tells us that he did not know the greatness of the happiness which had been his.
A lukewarm Christian thinks very little upon the state of his poor soul and almost never lets his mind run over the past. If the thought of making any effort to be better crosses his mind at all, he believes that once he has confessed his sins, he ought to be perfectly happy and at peace. He assists at Holy Mass very much as he would at any ordinary activity. He does not think at all seriously of what he is doing and finds no trouble in chatting about all sorts of things while on the way there. Possibly he will not give a single thought to the fact that he is about to participate in the greatest of all the gifts that God, all-powerful as He is, could give us. He does give some thought to the needs of his own soul, yes, but a very small and feeble amount of thought indeed. Frequently he will even present himself before the presence of God without having any idea of what he is going to ask of Him. He has few scruples in cutting out, on the least pretext, the Asperges and the prayers before Mass. During the course of the service, he does not want to go to sleep, of course, and he is even afraid that someone might see him, but he does not do himself any violence all the same. He does not want, of course, to have distractions during prayer or during the Holy Mass, yet when he should put up some little fight against them, he suffers them very patiently, considering the fact that he does not like them. Fast days are reduced to practically nothing, either by advancing the time of the main meal or, under the pretext that Heaven was never taken by famine, by making the collation so abundant that it amounts to a full meal. When he performs good or beneficial actions, his intentions are often very mixed -- sometimes it is to please someone, sometimes it is out of compassion, and sometimes it is just to please the world. With such people everything that is not a really serious sin is good enough. They like doing good, being faithful, but they wish that it did not cost them anything or, at least, that it cost very little. They would like to visit the sick, indeed, but it would be more convenient if the sick would come to them. They have something to give away in alms, they know quite well that a certain person has need of help, but they wait until she comes to ask them instead of anticipating her, which would make the kindness so very much more meritorious. We will even say, my brethren, that the person who leads a lukewarm life does not fail to do plenty of good works, to frequent the Sacraments, to assist regularly at all church services, but in all of this one sees only a weak, languishing faith, hope which the slightest trial will upset, a love of God and of neighbour which is without warmth or pleasure. Everything that such a person does is not entirely lost, but it is very nearly so.
See, before God, my brethren, on what side you are. On the side of the sinners, who have abandoned everything and plunge themselves into sin without remorse? On the side of the just souls, who seek but God alone? Or are you of the number of these slack, tepid, and indifferent souls such as we have just been depicting for you? Down which road are you travelling?
Who can dare assure himself that he is neither a great sinner nor a tepid soul but that he is one of the elect? Alas, my brethren, how many seem to be good Christians in the eyes of the world who are really tepid souls in the eyes of God, Who knows our inmost hearts....
Let us ask God with all our hearts, if we are in this state, to give us the grace to get out of it, so that we may take the route that all the saints have taken and arrive at the happiness that they are enjoying. That is what I desire for you...."From the sermons of Jean Vianney