Most High God, may Thine alabaster cities gleam again, undimmed by human tears

It’s being reported that Steve Bannon thinks the election will come down to Pennsylvania, specifically Northeastern PA, where Sleepy Joe was born. Let us implore the intercession of Saint Katherine Drexel and Saint John Neumann to deliver their adopted state today. Deus Vult.

Saint Katherine Drexel, pray for us. Saint John Neumann, pray for us.

Most Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

“Death is swallowed up in victory! O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?”

Be assured of my prayers for all your faithful departed family and friends. The souls in Purgatory have finished the race in victory, they await their Heavenly reward, and we can help them get there. Blessed All Souls Day.

The black vestments and orange candles (pure unbleached beeswax) are where we get the colors for All Hallowstide (31 Oct – 2 Nov).

Epistle from the First Mass of All Souls: 1 Cor 15:51-57 Brethren: Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall all indeed rise again: but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall rise again incorruptible. And we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory! O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

“If I am not becoming a saint, I am doing nothing.”

Following is a sermon delivered today in the USA. Sightly edited to protect anonymity and printed with permission.

Homily for the Solemnity of All Saints

November 1, 2020

We can see the hand of divine providence in the fact that the great Solemnity of All Saints this year falls on a Sunday.  This year of 2020 has reminded us all that “here we have no lasting city,” that the circumstances of our lives in this world are fragile and passing, that only “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today, and forever.” So on this Sunday, this All Saints Day, let’s think through, together, a few basic truths about our life and our faith.

First: what does it mean to be a saint?  What does it mean to be holy

It was a very good musician, but a very bad theologian who said: “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.  The sinners are much more fun.”  

As much as we may chuckle about that, that is actually what a lot of people think, so they dismiss striving for holiness – they dismiss the possibility of actually becoming a saint, without giving it much thought.  And that is truly tragic, because it is the very reason we were created.  If we miss that, we’ve missed the whole point of our entire life.  As St. Theresa of the Child Jesus used to say, “If I am not becoming a saint, I am doing nothing.”

Holiness does not mean looking like a statue or a painting.  Nor does holiness consist in being sad, or in being odd, or in being sanctimonious.  

Rather, holiness is wholeness; St. Irenaeus said that “the glory of God is the human person fully alive.”  Holiness is being fully alive in God, being close friends with the living person of  Jesus Christ, allowing him to mold us, and use us for his purposes so that we can become the kind of people who are capable of spending eternity with Him in the love that never, never ends.  St. Catherine of Siena said that “if you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.”   

Let’s switch gears for a moment.  In 1938, The Saturday Evening Post published a poem by Robert D. Abrahams called The Night They Burned Shanghai.  It speaks about events in Asia in the lead-up to World War II, but really it’s about apathy: not caring about the most important, the decisive things in life.  The last stanza is especially striking, and haunting.  It says this:

For some men die by shrapnel / and some go down in flames,

But most men perish inch by inch / at play in little games.  

St. Therese of Lisieux said the same thing a little differently. She said: “We have only the short moments of this life to work for God’s glory.  The devil knows this, and that is why he tries to make us waste time in useless things.  Let us not waste our time!  Let us save souls!” 

C.S. Lewis wrote something similar.  In The Screwtape Letters, Lewis has Screwtape instructing Wormwood thus: “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts…”

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus Christ speaks in these words: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”  The answer you and I give to that “if” determines everything.  

St. John Vianney said, “The saints did not all begin well.  But they did all finish well.”  

Take the example of St. Paul.  He began as one of the most ferocious persecutors of the early Church.  But when he was converted, when the grace of God made its way into his heart and mind, and transformed him, he became the greatest evangelizer in the history of the Church.  

Everything hangs on the answer to that “if.” St. Augustine, for instance, was so off-the-charts brilliant that if he wanted to he could have created a seductive and convincing false religion.  St. Louis IX, King of France, could have used his rank and his power to ruin his kingdom.  St. Ignatius of Loyola, who was an organizational genius, could have used those skills to destroy the Faith in foreign lands.  

At the same time, the worst scoundrels in history could have become great saints had they opened the door of their heart and mind to Christ, and used their energy, and their enormous talents, and their power to spread the Gospel.  Back at the time of Incarnation itself: Herod the Great could have become a Christmas hero, and taken his place beside the Magi in the Nativity scene.  People today might be lighting candles at the tomb of Lenin or Mao as great evangelizers and saints… if their answer to that “if” had been different and had they employed their wills and intellects to the Gospel instead of to evil.   

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”  

At the same time – and this is an important point – if our understanding of what is meant by “Heaven” is only superficial, then we can’t clearly see why striving for it means everything in our life.  When Heaven is understood as little more than “playing golf on the clouds” and as a place where everyone definitely goes, no matter how they lived or what they believed, it is no wonder people dismiss it from their minds.  But that’s not what the Church teaches.  Rather, the Church teaches about Heaven in these words: 

Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.  … [ and yet ] this mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father’s house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: [St. Paul writes,] “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

The fulfillment of all desire.  St. Augustine famously said, “You have created us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

So this Solemnity of All Saints celebrates all the men and women and children – known and unknown – through all the centuries – who opened their doors to Jesus Christ – and it invites us to do the same, because if we do not spend eternity with God we have wasted our life, pure and simple.  St. Therese reminds us, “The world’s thy ship, and not thy home.”  The veil between this world and the next is thin, and fleeting is our opportunity for conversion before the moment of judgment.  

You and I, each in our own way and in our own state of life, are called to become holy, to become friends of Jesus Christ, to become saints.  St Francis de Sales insisted that holiness is accessible to every Christian, precisely in his or her own state in life.  He said, “the religious as a religious; the priest as a priest; the married [person] as a married [person]; the man of business as a man of business; the soldier as a soldier; and so of every other state of life.” 

The plain fact of the matter is that no one and nothing (except unforgiven sin) can prevent you from becoming a saint: not who wins the elections on Tuesday, not who the leaders of the Church are, not who your family members are, not who your neighbors are. Please God all of those people would be models of virtue and encouragement in their own different ways.  But even if they’re not, they can’t prevent you from becoming a saint.  Even the concentrations camps could not and did not prevent St. Maximilian Kolbe or St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross from becoming saints there.  And if you can become a saint in a concentration camp, you can become a saint anywhere.  

St Francis of Assisi often said to his brothers: “Let us finally begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up to now we have done little or nothing.”

Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” says Jesus Christ to me and to you, right now. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”  

We are spurred on by a great cloud of witnesses, including the saints whose relics are within or on our altar, and who, from their place in Heaven, certainly pray for us today.  

With the prayers of the saints, let us open the doors of our minds and our hearts wider than ever before to Christ.  Because we can all say, with St. Therese: 

“If I am not becoming a saint, I am doing nothing.”

Feast of All Saints: Striving to be counted amongst them

GRADUAL Ps. 33:10, 11 Fear the Lord all you His saints, for nothing is wanting to those who fear Him. V. Those who seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good. Alleluia, alleluia! Matt. 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Alleluia!

Do the work, and make it count. Do not listen to anyone who tells you God sucks, Heaven sounds boring, we don’t know enough about it to live our lives according to His word, there are too many fun sins to give up… Yes, folks, this kind of advice is currently being doled out by partisans of Trad, Inc. Get yourself far, far away from these people. Striving for sainthood is our duty and our blessing, and the reward is indeed infinitely beyond our wildest expectations. It’s that good.

“But, as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Cor 2:9

Happy Feast!

“Secure your own mask first, before helping others.”

Originally posted on NOVEMBER 25, 2017

I fly around 120K miles a year for my day job, so I hear that phrase a lot. Maybe that’s why when I heard it referenced by Ann Barnhardt in a podcast earlier this week, it just sort of went right past me.  The analogy was referring to the need to make sure your own faith, soul, prayer life, etc is well taken care of as prerequisite to anything else.

That same day, I went off to Confession, as I had already planned to do. The penance was totally focused on the need to pray for my own needs, and really making it a priority. The priest asked me if I had prayed my daily Rosary yet, and I told him I had not (I love that at the FSSP parish, it’s just assumed you’re praying a daily Rosary).  He instructed me to go offer my Rosary, entrusting to our Blessed Mother the channeling of all necessary graces for my spiritual benefit.

The podcast and the Confession should both have been a big wake up call. But the full gravity of the situation didn’t really hit me until about halfway through that Rosary when I realized, slap upside the head, I actually could not remember the last time I prayed the Rosary entirely for myself. The Holy Ghost always knows when you need a slap upside the head. Now you already know how much I love the Rosary, so you can imagine how odd this seemed to me. I mean, obviously I’ve prayed a decade or two as a penance, for an increase in this virtue or that, but a whole Rosary just for me? I can’t remember the last time, and that’s a real problem.

In Spiritual Warfare, the Rosary is a weapon of mass destruction. I’ve written about it many times in these pages. It’s a real weapon, not a metaphorical weapon. So much so, it almost seems selfish to offer it entirely for yourself. But it’s never selfish to pray for yourself, so long as your intention is in accord with God’s will. And we need not worry about petitioning something against His will, because He’s not granting that anyway. Of course in the individual prayers of the Rosary, the Our Fathers and Hail Marys, we are praying for ourselves within those prayers. But what I am talking about here are specific, personal, spiritual intentions beyond what is asked in those prayers.

I would be willing to bet that most Catholics who are somewhat secure in their faith, who are honestly trying to live authentic Christian lives, and who have managed by the grace of God to overcome a whole bunch of entrenched wretchedness, don’t pray for themselves nearly enough. We foolishly think we’ve extracted ourselves permanently from said wretchedness and we’re now “saved”. Not in the proddy sense of “once saved always saved”, but rather in the sense of “thanks to my hard conversion/reversion to the one true faith, even though I still fall sometimes, and even though I’m totally unworthy of the honor, I am now on the side of the angels and God will surely grant me final perseverance.”

Oh man, that is so dangerous. It’s for very good reason that Jesus taught us to pray to the Father to deliver us not into temptation, and that we ask Mary to pray for us at the hour of our death. It’s for very good reason that in the Roman Canon itself, during the Hanc Igitur, the priest and faithful pray to be saved from eternal damnation and be counted among the elect. Damnation is a real possibility if we so choose it, and “once saved always saved” is one of the most pernicious lies ever told. If you are truly living an authentic Christian life, Satan views you as a hard target; he knows he needs to deploy extra resources to bring you down, and deploy he will. He’s already won the soft targets without even trying, so he’s got extra munitions reserved for you. Meditate on the blitzkrieg he has planned for the hour of your death. Be terrified by this, and use the terror to build your counterattack.

With everything that’s going on right now, all of the “confusion” surrounding all aspects of the Bergolian antipapacy, Satan is squealing with delight and has launched a huge offensive. Bergoglio himself is a soft target for Satan, easily manipulated and used to destroy souls on a horrific scale. He is a soft target not only because he is an arch-heretic and profoundly stupid, but because he does not have the supernatural protection afforded to the holder of the Petrine office, due to his invalid election. Now, when this is the unmistakable reality of the Catholic Church today, the one true Church founded by God Incarnate, do you think perhaps the effects of this might be rather… widespread? The past nearly five seven years since the failed partial resignation of Pope Benedict has literally been, pun intended, a huge coming out party for all manner of perversion and reprobation; a spiraling tempest of filth. Do you want a sense of how long ago five seven years was? Five Seven years ago, Hillary Clinton was campaigning AGAINST same-sex “marriage.”  Yeah. The ever quickening pace of events across all sectors of civilization is so breathtaking, you would be delusional to think it’s not all connected. The demonic activity is everywhere and is even palpable at times. PALPABLE. Have you felt it? Every solid priest I speak with confirms they feel it too.

So there is certainly no shortage of things to pray about. And while some of this is about prioritization, it’s also about recognizing your role at the tip of the spear. We need to militantly pursue our own spiritual perfection first and foremost. It might not seem right when it first hits your ear, but if we are too busy praying for everyone else at the expense of praying for ourselves, it does everyone a disservice. This may sound uncharitable or lacking humility, but that’s not the case, because it necessarily means expanding our own prayer life. The mere fact that you are here, reading this tiny, tiny blog right now, means you are probably the tip of the spear. Proper training is essential. By calling down these graces in petition, and cooperating with them, our own increase in holiness in turn makes our prayers for others more efficacious. Everybody wins.

You are part of a very small, elite, specialized unit. This is the greatest battle ever fought, because the results of this battle are eternal. You need to be on your game.

St Michael the Archangel, pray for us

St Joan of Arc, pray for us

St Martin of Tours, pray for us

St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us

Christ, have mercy on us