July: Dedicated to the Precious Blood

You were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver… but with the Precious Blood of Christ

1 Peter 1:18-19

July is traditionally dedicated to the Precious Blood of Christ. During this month we should especially focus on the passion of Our Lord on the Cross, the Precious Blood poured out for our salvation in His crucifixion. One practice is to dedicate each day of the week to one of the seven times Christ shed His Blood: (1) His circumcision, (2) in the garden of Gethsemani, (3) the scourging at the pillar, (4)the crowning with thorns, (5) the way of the Cross, (6) the Crucifixion, and (7) the piercing of His Heart. It’s a great devotion to follow devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (a very natural flow). We have been redeemed by the Precious Blood of Christ! This devotion should increase our love and devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (the Eucharist). The Eucharist IS the Body and the Blood of Our Lord. And our participation in the Eucharist is a participation in the Blood of Christ, the propitiation for our sins (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, Romans 3:25).

Those who are oppressed by the memory of their sins, diffident about the efficacy of their prayers or doubtful about their salvation, should experience an awakening of confidence through devotion to the Precious Blood.

Fr. Max Walz, C.PP.S

Good Reads for July:
On Promoting Devotion to the Most Precious Blood by Pope John XXXIII
Glories of the Precious Blood by Fr. Max Walz C.PP.S (Formerly published under the title, “Why Is Thy Apparel Red?”)
The Precious Blood by Fr. Frederick Faber

Father Zuhlsdorf (Fr. Z) has a great PODCAzT about the Precious Blood as well: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/07/podcazt-107-most-precious-blood-and-your-sins-interview-with-fr-finigan/

Year of the Priest

Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put Him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should happen to die [as a result of sin], who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest. … After God, the priest is everything! … Only in heaven will he fully realise what he is” ~ St. John Mary Vianney, quoted in Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter to Clergy for the “Year of the Priest”

Starting Friday (6/19), Pope Benedict XVI will declare a “Year of the Priest” for the Church under the patronage of the Curé of Ars (St. John Vianney).

In addition to praying fervently for our priests, I hope to get in some good reading on the priesthood. Here are my (intended) reads so far:
Theology of the Priesthood by Fr. Jean Galot
The Curé of Ars Today by Fr. George William Rutler
The Curé of Ars by Father Bartholomew O’Brien
The Sermons of the Curé of Ars by St. John Vianney
Ad Catholici Sacerdotii by Pope Pius XI (encyclical letter)
Christ, the Life of the Priest by Blessed Columba Marmion
The Priest is Not His Own by Fulton J Sheen
The Priest in Union With Christ by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

New Project

Sometimes people get a bad reputation for being unwaivering in conviction.

After a bit of studying (of which more is also needed), I am of the opinion that Fr. Leonard Feeney has an unfair reputation. Fr. Feeney was excommunicated, yes, BUT (and that’s a BIG “but”) Fr. Feeney was reconciled to the Church WITHOUT having to recant his position on the doctrine of Extra Eccelesiam Nulla Salus. This discovery has left a large nagging in my conscience that cannot be quieted except but to further study what Fr. Feeney really said (and his followers, in good standing with the Church, still maintain) rather than only listening to his critics.

I am forced to admit thus far that Fr. Feeney is correct about EENS. It makes so much more sense now, and my attachment to the Sacraments of the Church finds good company among Fr. Feeney’s explanations of the doctrine. I have also recognized that Fr. Feeney was a prophet of sorts. I can only imagine what Fr. Feeney would’ve had to say about the scandal at Notre [Sh]ame… Fr. Feeney saw the decline in Catholic identity at Harvard and spoke out relentlessly against the loss of the Faith. Fr. Feeney was not contending in a battle of wits to be “right”. Fr. Feeney was contending in a battle for souls to be saved. His harsh words and unapologetic convictions are evidence of his love for souls, not pride of mind.

But I title this a “new project” because it involves further, deeper study into the matter in a very academic manner. I have Conciliar texts to read (Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II), St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, and other Magisterial texts, etc. and I am very grateful for having already come across Robert Sungenis’ How Can I Get to Heaven? because it gives one of the best (and most concise) overviews of the Church’s teaching on Salvation (and justification) from a solidly biblical perspective, which is the necessary prerequisite for understanding Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.

I am open to suggestions/comments/questions on this sensitive, but very necessary topic.

Lenten Disciplines

During those especially holy penitential seasons of the Church’s liturgical year (namely, Advent and Lent) I try and limit my reading to spiritual works. Though I like the classics, there is something about the Lenten season which demands one’s whole person be engaged– this, I think, is really the meaning behind the Lenten tradition of “giving up” something for Lent. The deprivation will force us to seek something to fill its place and the goal is to find an activity that builds virtue and focuses our attention on the great gift of Redemption in Christ.

This Lenten season my goal is to posses a better understanding of grace. Though I graduated with a degree in Theology, grace is one of those subjects that one could spend a lifetime cultivating and deepening in knowledge. I admit that I have a very basic and elementary understanding of grace that extends only so far; however, I think grace needs more attention in theological studies. How else are we to cling to the authentic teachings of the Magisterium? (not to mention enter into dialogue with those who seek to undermine the Catholic Church by pretending that grace is not an all-important element of Catholicism.) Now that I am free (i.e., graduated and still jobless), I plan to devote much of my reading this Lenten season to grace.

Because I have some form of attention deficit disorder when it comes to reading– I pick up one book, read several chapters or perhaps a vast majority of it and then the next day pick up a completely different book and do the same thing, etc. and so on, so that by the time I come back to finish the first book, I have to re-read and skim parts of it to recall those intimate details I need to enter back into the mindset of the author– I chose two books for my study on grace: Fr. John Hardon’s (SJ) History and Theology of Grace: The Catholic Teaching of Divine Grace and Robert Sungenis’ How Can I Get to Heaven? The Bible’s Teaching on Salvation Made Easy to Understand. Both seem to be worthy works up to the task. (Note that I will also make recourse to the Sacred Scriptures, the Catechism, and any other reference which either book might make reference to that would help round out my understanding… probably another aspect that adds to my Reading-ADD of sorts).

Other Lenten reads I recommend:

The Gospel According to Mark- Yes, the Scriptures themselves are a great Lenten read, and I think Mark lends itself well because of its focus on the passion of Christ. Everything points towards the Cross (and the confession of the centurion).

The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ (St. Alphonsus Liguori)- This is what Lent is all about. (and St. Alphonsus Liguori rocks!)

Frequent Confession: It’s Place in the Spiritual Life (Fr. Benedict Baur)- A good read to remember even after the season of Lent is over… You’ll look at Confession in a whole new light.

Heliotropium (Fr. Jeremias Drexelius)- Talks about conformity of the will to God (like the flower (gentle Christian) that turns itself towards the Sun (Son)). I think it’s a good Lenten read because when we examine where we need to conform our will to the Lord’s Will, it demands some serious sacrifice. It’ll give you good ideas to harp on for Lent the next year!

Christ: the Life of the Soul (Bl. Columba Marmion)- a great work on the spiritual life that’s been praised by all sorts of Popes and theologians… very rooted in the Bible, the Liturgy, and the writings of the Saints. Very Christocentric throughout (I think even non-Catholic Christians would love it).

The Soul Sanctified (Anonymous)- Lots (i.e., 90 to be exact) of small meditations– just a few pages in length– on a variety of topics pertaining to Christan faith and life. Each meditation is unto itself, so you can pick and choose which topic interests you  in whichever order you choose. It’s handy to just carry around and use whenever you have a few moments to turn your thoughts to God.

There are numerous other good reads for Lent, but there is my two cents for this Lent. Happy reading and may you have a most dolorous Lent!