Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pray the Rosary!

St. Padre Pio (that guy who looks a lot like Obiwan Kenobi, according to my students) constantly referred to his Rosary beads as his weapon: "The Rosary is my weapon" he once said. As Catholics we have access to an arsenal of weapons (e.g. the sacraments) to fend off attacks projected by ol' "pointy tail", the devil. This arsenal reminds me of that scene in the movie The Matrix, where the Trinity and Neo characters are "jacked-up" and uploaded into a virtual room. Neo says that he wants guns and walla! Racks upon racks of guns and weaponry appear:

All that firepower from those guns at Neo and Trinity's disposal cannot even begin to compare to the potency the Rosary has a spiritual weapon. Just have a look at what others have said about the power of the Rosary:

"The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you'll be amazed at the results." - St. Josemaria Escriva

"A powerful means of renewing our courage will undoubtedly be found in the Holy Rosary." - Pope Leo XIII

"This prayer is perfect because of the praise it offers, because of the lessons it imparts, because of the graces it obtains and because of the triumphs it achieves." - Pope Benedict XV

"We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that we put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times." - Pope Pius XII

"The Rosary ... represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery" - Pope John Paul II

"In the current world ... this prayer helps to put Christ at the center, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said." - Pope Benedict XVI

"The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary." - St. Francis de Sales

"If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I assure you that in spite of the gravity of your sins, you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory. Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in Hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul, if and mark well what I say -- if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon of your sins." - St. Louis de Montfort

"If there were one million families praying the Rosary every day, the entire world would be saved." - Pope St. Pius X

"There is no surer means of calling down God's blessing upon the family than the daily recitation of the Rosary." - Pope Pius XII

"The Rosary is a school for learning true Christian perfection." - Pope John XXIII

"No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary. Either he will give up the sin or he will give up the Rosary" - Bishop Patrick Boyle

"If our age in its pride laughs at and rejects Our Lady's Rosary, a countless legion of the most saintly men of every age and of every condition have not only held it most dear and have most piously recited it but have also used it at all times as a most powerful weapon to overcome the devil, to preserve the purity of their lives, to acquire virtue more zealously, in a word, to promote peace among men." - Pope Pius XI
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I remember many years ago as an adolescent praying the Rosary with my mother and two brothers every night shortly after my parents separated and divorced. I'll be honest: while I had an appreciation for the prayer back then, due to the immaturity associated with my age and my mother's insistence on praying it every night, I didn't like praying the Rosary. In fact, I'd even go as far to say that I didn't really "pray" the Rosary back then, no. Back then I was only saying it just to get through it. As an adolescent I just wanted to get the prayer over with so I could watch television or whatever.
As one gets older you learn to appreciate more those things that your parents did for you growing up. My mother sitting us down every night and getting us to pray the Rosary was one of the best things she could ever have done for us. Why am I saying this now? I recognise now the blessings I had and have in my life and how I've always felt that I've been "looked after" through even the darkest hours of my life, where I've not quite lived-up to Christ-like standards. By the grace of God and through constant intercession, I've overcome those darker days.
I can confidently say that I am the man I am today because of the power of the Rosary. I believe life would have taken a very different turn and I would not be where I am today or have the faith that I have today had it not been, for the most part, due to constant prayer and my mother's fervency. This is what has inspired me to pray the Rosary today: for my wife, my children, my family, my work, and the people I meet.
The Rosary truly is a powerful weapon, not only as a tool to overcome sin and vices, but to help us meditate on the scriptures and the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Every Catholic should be praying the Rosary. You will see what a difference the prayer makes in your life.
How to pray the Rosary
"The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description." - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Friday, May 14, 2010

When in Rome...

An objection was posed to a friend of mine recently: "Peter, your first "pope", was never in Rome!"

Aside from the fact that Peter was finally arrested and executed in Rome, you can respond to this one with common sense: Christians were being being persecuted and being hunted down, arrested and executed. Why on earth would you write about your Christian brothers being in the same town as you? Wouldn't that be leading the enemy right to your friends/loved ones? If Paul wrote, "Oh by the way, I'm in prison here in Rome but Peter's is staying at a brother's place a few blocks away from the forum..." and his letters fell into the hands of the persecutors, they'd learn of Peter's location and hunt him down! But Peter had a way of telling those he wrote letters to he WAS in Rome without actually saying he was in Rome: they used code words.

"Babylon" was such a code word for Rome, because in first century Israel, the Roman Empire drew parallels to the Babylonian Empire that had oppressed and enslaved the Jews centuries before. This is known as the "Babylonian captivity". So when Jews and the early Christians spoke of Babylon in the first century, they were referring to Rome since the actual city of Babylon had been destroyed (circa 689BC) and no longer existed. All that remains of the city is a mound.

What's the Biblical evidence for this? Peter WROTE from Rome!

"The church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you: and so doth my son Mark." - 1 Peter 3:15

A church was already there, but it would not have been the church that you and I know today. As mentioned earlier: Christians were still being persecuted and all their worship was done "underground" and behind closed doors. This was in fact the case up until the year 313AD where Emperor Constantine executed the Edict of Milan which saw the prohibition on Christianity dropped.

Fundamentalists may reject the notion that "Babylon" was code for Rome, but then we'd have to ask them this: "Why would Peter say he was writing from a city that no longer existed?" and then refer them to the circumstances Christians were living in at the time and ask: "So why didn't Peter use the name of the city of Rome openly?"

Further reading:

Saturday, May 08, 2010

What ever happened to "the same yesterday, today and forever"?

I consider myself a very orthodox Catholic. What does that mean? Well, for starters, I'm not willing to compromise my faith and beliefs for the sake of a "progressive" society.

As a teacher of Religious Education in a Catholics school, quite often I encounter and learn of people teaching the Catholic faith to young an impressionable minds, but coming out with some whoppers. What kind of whoppers? The whoppers that completely disregard the gospel teachings of Christ and doctrines of the Church. Be it about sex before marriage, contraceptives, homosexuality, abortion, etc., the one of few frustrations I have today as a Religious Education teacher is with those teaching the subject who either know very little about their faith or deliberately teach contrarily to the Church. It's easy to spot this; a teacher may say, "The Church teaches this, but I believe...".

Now don't get me wrong: it's all well and good to be sensitive of the thoughts and feelings of your students in the classroom - I know my own students very well and cater for their individual needs - but if a students asks me a question, I'm not going to give them a wishy-washy answer. If a students asks me a question about the Church's stance on the issue of sex before marriage, I will tell them exactly where the Church stands on the issue and where the Church stands on the issue is exactly where I stand on the issue.

All human beings crave truth, not half truths or sugar-coated rhetoric. Christ himself told everyone what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear. Christ challenged his followers; he didn't say to them "Look, just try your best and see where it gets you" or "Follow me whenever you feel comfortable". No! Our Lord spoke strongly and directly but with great love and compassion - the love he has for all - and as Christians today we need to emulate this.

It's a great shame that Religious Education teachers who are very orthodox in their beliefs and teaching are persecuted and ridiculed by "progressive" "Catholics". Jesus Christ was the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), so why should we who are trying to be like him be any different? It's like John the Baptist said about Christ:

"He must increase, but I must decrease." - John 3:30

When we teach about our faith, our students of all things need to see Christ in us instead of the "us" in us. How can any student take what we are teaching seriously when they're receiving conflicting messages from teachers of the same subject area? It's no wonder the youth of today approach morality with relativistic eyes, i.e. "you have your truth, and I have my truth".

"That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." - John 17:21

Consistency with the gospel, consistency with the Church, and most importantly consistency with Christ is the key.


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Found in translation...

As a Catholic that has a deeper growing appreciation for pure and Christ centred liturgy, I'm quite excited by the upcoming changes to the Roman Missal (i.e. the order of the Latin rite Mass). While I'm not going to go into the history behind this and the reasons for it, let's just say that these changes are very, very welcomed.

So why the changes? Well, let's begin by saying that these changes are not to "correct the errors" made by Vatican II and the transition from the traditional Latin (tridentine) Mass to the Novus Ordo Missae. The Novus Ordo Mass is completely valid, but granted initial translations of the Mass from Latin to English and mother tongues of countries around the world were arguably rushed and some things were lost in translation. I'm not going to pin point what these things are because by their nature they are still valid, but allow me to describe it this way: when the Novus Ordo Mass was brought to countries in Africa, for example, the Mass went from Latin to English, but then authorities on the diocesan level translated the Mass from English to their mother tongue. So what you had was this: a translation from Latin to English to mother tongue, rather than from Latin to mother tongue.

Why was this transitional translation problematic? While the languages of the world have progressed with the times and keep up with translations of the most common languages spoken in the world, there may not be words that "exist" to describe something described in another language, so a substitute word is used in its stead. An example I've often found humourous when the French attempted to translate the title of the remake of the movie The Planet of the Apes. In French, the equivalent to the word "ape" is "la singe" (pronounced "sahnge"), but when translated to English it means "monkey". So the title of the movie The Planet of the Apes in English then becomes La Plan├Ęte des Singes, and when that is translated back into English it reads "The Planet of the Monkeys". It's not quite the same movie! The sub-titling in the movie makes for a good chuckle too when one of the leading ape characters attempts to explain to the Mark Wahlberg character that they, the apes, are not monkeys as the Wahlberg character insists on calling him. What you got in French was this (I'm not fluent in French so forgive my attempt at it, but fear not: I will translate):

"Nous ne sommes pas des singes; nous sommes des singes!"
("We are not monkeys, we are monkeys!")

What our simian friend actually said in the movie was this:

"We are not monkeys; we are apes!"

But of course the French translated it using words familiar to them or with an equivalent/similar meaning.

But I digress...

So what do these revisions (changes) to the Roman Missal do (and there have been a few of them over the years)? These revisions bring the words of the liturgy closer to the order used in the Latin (tridentine) Mass and shake off the ambiguity of certain terms and words and clarify meaning and understanding for those taking part in the Mass, be they the priest or the assembly. So what may have been lost in translation is either found again or fully defined in the use of the word or phrase.

To get an idea of what I'm talking about, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have published a first look at the revisions to the assembly responses of the Mass. You can find that here (revisions are bolded):

Go here for a pdf version.

Thanks for reading and may God bless you.