Sunday, January 24, 2016

The intrepid Fr. Perrone on Catholic ecumenism; and some bracing suggestions for Lent

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, January 24, 2016):
We are in the midst of the Church Unity Octave, a thing given scant attention to here, not for want of the desire that all Christians profess the one, true Catholic faith. Putting the matter thus already slants the issue in the decidedly Catholic way the Church has always understood and intended the unity of Christians. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? It is not a matter of vain hubris but of revealed (and thus unalterable) truth that Christ founded but one Church (a fact which all Christians assert in the Creed) and that this one Church cannot be other than the Catholic Church, that is, the one built upon the Rock, Saint Peter and his successors. The reason for slighting these eight days of unity is that church unity has become, by and large, a dead issue with most non-Catholics. Moreover, the intentions for each of its days as the Popes originally published them read today [seem] rather embarrassing to a people whose mind has been formed by the modernist heresy of indifferentism (that obvious falsehood that holds all religions to be equally valid, or equally good). Just for the record, I quote for you here the very unpolitic (“incorrect”), designated  prayer intentions for each day of the Church unity Octave, as the Holy See had originally designed them: 1. The return of all the ‘other sheep’ to the one fold of St. Peter, the one shepherd. 2. The return of all Oriental Separatists (i.e. the Orthodox) to communion with the Apostolic See. 3. The submission of Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ (viz., the Pope). 4. That Christians in America may become one in communion with the Chair of St. Peter. 5. The return to the Sacraments of lapsed Catholics. 6. The conversion of the Jews (i.e. to Christianity). 7. The missionary conquest of the world for Christ. (Day 8 is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. It would be understood here that he was converted from Judaism to the only Church identically subsisting in the Catholic Church.) So, there you have it, real  ecumenism – the embrace of all believers in the one, holy, Catholic Church. We’ve come a long way away from having the mind of the Church on this matter, due to the aforementioned modernist indoctrination by which many Catholics have no grasp of the exigency of truth to exclude error. Asserting what is logical necessity which no rational mind can deny (namely that there can be only one truth), we who hold fast to it are made to seem bigoted and uncharitable. To the contrary, nothing could be more conciliating or more loving towards others that to proclaim truth in all its disarming honesty, even in the face of some glaringly compromised statements to the contrary issuing from our ecclesiastical leaders. It makes one want to cry out in desperation with words from the psalter, “Heu mihi, quia incolatus meus prolongatus est!” (Pardon my French. But the Vulgate is so expressive: “Woe is me, for my sojourning is extended” – meaning that I have to live yet longer in this valley of tears.)

In the ancient tradition, this Sunday begins the pre-Lenten season of Septuagesima. I have before lamented the passing of this preparatory season which eases us into Lent rather than lets us be rudely hit on Ash Wednesday. A thoughtful parishioner wisely suggested that we begin now to plan what we should do for this holy season to come upon us lest it catch us unawares. I heartily endorse this proposal and invite parishioners to exercise their creativity and share some ideas they may have on how to spend well the Forty Days. Here are some of the proffered ideas, slightly modified.

Prayers and Religious Practices: Daily Mass. Daily holy hour. Daily rosary. Daily
Divine Mercy chaplet. Daily Stations of the Cross. Weekly confession. Daily prayers for the Dead. Daily Litany of Our Lady of Loretto. Daily reading of the Catechism. Daily Bible reading. Daily reading Fulton Sheen’s The Life of Christ or The Imitation of Christ, or the Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, or St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Preparation for Death.

Penances: One main meal only per day.  Cold versus warmed foods. No desserts. No meat. No stimulants (sugars, tobacco, coffee). Dialing down the heat in home and car. Getting up a half hour earlier for a daily meditation. Cleaning and ordering the home or workplace in a penitential spirit. Good works: Visiting the sick or those in nursing homes. Spending more time with family (sic!). Cooking meals for the elderly or sick who have difficulty cooking for themselves. Shoveling a neighbor’s drive or walkway. Increasing support to the parish (a pastor’s favorite!). Going out of one’s way to do helpful things to people in one’s life, especially family members.  No doubt there is something here for everyone. I’d be glad to share with fellow parishioners other ideas you may have if you get them to me in good time. But whatever you decide to do, do it for the Lord and not for some lesser, natural motives which would diminish or even nullify their merit.

Fr. Perrone