“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

November 29, 2008

The Prophecies and Dreams of St. John Bosco

The great Italian priest, St. John Bosco (founder of the great Salesian order of priests an brothers), experienced many prophetic dreams and visions, some relating to his own era, others involving future events.

I recommend reading two in particular: his chilling dream of souls entering hell and his famous dream about the two pillars, the persecution of the Church, and the apparent assasination of a future pope. The former dream is perennially beneficial, I think, and the latter dream is a glimpse of dramatic future events.

Sometimes, I am inclined to wonder if are entering into or . . . gulp . . . already are in the dire times he foresaw. 

For All Your Papal Encyclical Needs

Just when you thought you couldn't get enough of your favorite papal encyclicals . . . uh . . . this nifty site has catalogued them all, for easy access online.

N.B.: My American friends who read this blog might want to read Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, regarding the dangers of Americanism, which he addressed to Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore in 1899. Some very interesting and pertinent stuff there, I'll tell you.

Listen to What the Man Said

Some years ago, I mentioned the following item in the pages of Envoy Magazine. I ran across it again and thought I'd post it here, as it's an interesting slant on the discussions about the role of the Holy Father that have been swirling around among Catholics, Anglicans, and others:

And for some related encouraging news from Great Britain. Under the headline “Churches agree Pope has overall authority,” Oliver Poole wrote in the London Telegraph a few years ago:

"The Pope was recognized as the overall authority in the Christian world by an Anglican and Roman Catholic commission yesterday which described him as a ‘gift to be received by all the Churches.’

"Disagreement about the extent of the Pope’s authority was one of the main causes of the English Reformation in the 16th century, and has been a constant stumbling block to the two Churches reuniting. However, yesterday’s statement, released at Lambeth Palace — which is not binding — accepted that if a new united Church was created it would be the Bishop of Rome who would exercise a universal primacy. Dr. George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury . . . said: ‘In a world torn apart by violence and division, Christians need urgently to be able to speak with a common voice, confident of the authority of the gospel of peace.’

“The 43-page document, The Gift of Authority, has been produced by the 18-member Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, after five years of debate. The commission concluded that the Bishop of Rome had a ‘specific ministry concerning the discernment of truth’ and accepted that only the Pope had the moral authority to unite the various Christian denominations. However, it did not go as far as to confirm the Pope’s infallibility. Instead, it said: ‘This form of authoritative teaching has no stronger guarantee from the Holy Spirit than have the solemn definition of ecumenical councils.’ The document does not specifically address the issues that divide the two Churches, such as the place of the Virgin Mary and women’s ministry . . .

"The proposals are expected to shock many Anglicans, particularly on the evangelical wing of the Church, which remains wary of an extension of the bishop of Rome’s authority. Mark Birchall, a member of the Church of England Evangelical council, said: ‘It speaks as if the Bishop of Rome has always been on the side of the angels while it is well known that for several centuries past the Bishop of Rome was certainly not.’ . . . The Rt. Rev. Mark Santer, the bishop of Birmingham and co-chairman of the body, said: ‘This is a serious piece of theological work and to understand our conclusions you have to follow how we got there. One faith was given by Christ and his apostles and what we are trying to do is rediscover that one common faith.’ The Rt. Rev. Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and the other co-chairman, added: ‘The primacy of the Pope is a gift to be shared.’”

Well, although some individual popes definitely were not on the side of the angels, as I explain in my book Pope Fiction, those bad popes notwithstanding, the good angels have always been on the side of the papacy and the Catholic Church. And now, even Anglican clergymen are saying it publicly.

The wonder of it all, baby.

Frank Sheed: A Giant Among Catholic Apologists

Here's is an article I wrote a few years ago for Crisis Magazine (which has since morphed into the excellent website: InsideCatholic) about the renowned Catholic author, publisher, andmajor 20th-century Catholic apologist Frank Sheed. He is truly a luminary in the company of modern defenders of the Faith.

Although he died in 1981, I never met him in person (how I wish I had!). But I've learned an immense amount from him through his many books and even some audio tapes of his lectures I managed to get hold of. I did once have one long phone conversation with his son, Wilfred Sheed, which was very illuminating and helped me gain some insights into what Frank was like, up close and personal. Oh, if you're interested in Frank Sheed, be sure to read Wilfrid's book Frank and Maisie: A Memoir With Parents (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985).

Frank was an excellent example of a intellectually formidable, well-trained, emotionally balanced, charitable, and effective Catholic apologist. I pray that God will send us more men like him. We surely do need them.

(If you're not yet familiar with Sheed's work, a good place to start would be Theology for Beginners.)

A Modest Proposal for Rebuilding People's Lost Faith in The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

Prayer Before Holy Communion

(From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom)

“O Lord, I believe and profess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of Your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal Your mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to You: Remember me, O Lord when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me O Master, when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me O Holy One, when you shall come into Your kingdom. May the partaking of Your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body. O Lord, I believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly Your most precious Body and Your life- giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen. O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. O Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned without number.”

This beautiful expression of love for Christ in the Holy Eucharist contains a wealth of important theological truths. If more Catholics were taught to pray this prayer and others like it before receiving Holy Communion, I believe the widespread tepidity and ignorance about the truth of Christ's Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist would gradually diminish. Of course, an increase in praying prayers like this wouldn't in itself fix the problem, but it would go far in that direction.

My proposal here is that priests who read this post would consider printing out this prayer (or another like it) and having the congregation recite it just before receiving Holy Communion. I'd also suggest that laypeople reading this might begin privately praying this prayer and even, if the circumstances in their parishes would permit it, approach their pastor with the request that he include this prayer as part of the congregation's preparation for receiving the Eucharist.

As the Latin maxim
“lex orandi, lex credendi” (the law of prayer [affects] the law of belief) implies: how we pray directly affects what we believe.

So many Catholics these days have lost any real belief in (much less ferver for) the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If people started praying prayers like this one, it could only serve to help rebuild that lost faith. Don't you think?

Where in the World Are You?

Over the past three weeks or so that I have had this blog up and running, about 6,000 visits have been logged. It's amazing to me how far flung some of you are, and I am grateful to all of you who make a point of stopping by to visit, especially those of you who have signed up to “follow” this blog (which you can easily do using the widget over at the lower right).

Here's a small random sampling of some of the locations where you have been visiting from in the last 24 hours or so:

Carefree, AZ
Ballwin, MO
Winnipeg, Canada
Newark, OH
Richmond, VA
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Bridgetown, Barbados
Newark, OH
Etobicoke, Canada
Melbourne, Australia
Chahar Mahall va Bakhtiari, Iran
Sacramento, CA
Mount Prospect, IL
Kennesaw, GA
Scottsdale, AZ
Madrid, Spain
Phoenix, AZ
Eugene, OR
Milton, WI
Merrimack, NH
Aliqippa, PA
Seville, Spain
Glasgow, Scotland
Glendale, AZ
London, England
Edmonton, Canada
Kansas City, MO
Stuttgart, Germany
Beaverton, OR
Moscow, Russia
Hayward, CA
Toronto, CA
Paris, France
Wasilla, AK
Sydney, Austraila
Salvador, Brazil
Washington, DC
Indianaoplis, IA
Tampa, FL
Palm Springs, CA
Cardiff, Wales
Frankfurt, Germany
Boca Raton, FL
Adelaide, Australia
Kandivli, India
Harlingen, TX
Allouez, MI
Brisbane, Australia
Rancagua, Chile
Porto Alegre, Brazil
New Delhi, India
Rome, Italy
Viterbo, Italy
Quingdao, China
Algiers, Algeria

The list goes on, but that should give you a little taste of how cosmopolitan we are here!