Friday, August 22, 2014

August 22 -- QUEENSHIP OF MARY: The Feminine Shattering of the Glass Ceiling

by David Pence



Keeping sacred time with the Church means that the central events are always prepared for by a season -- Lent for Easter and Advent for Christmas.  It also means that solemn feast days are never allowed to come and go with one rising and setting of the Sun. The great solemnities are celebrated as Octaves. Eight days has an ancient meaning as a unit of time signifying a new creation. So eight days after we celebrated the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven... we are still contemplating her place in her new home as we celebrate her Queenship.  A man who desires to love God our Father as a son and build brotherhood in the priesthood, city, and nation can never spend too much time contemplating the perfection of the feminine in Our Lady. These sacral sexual roles depend on each other and are clarified by contrast, complement, and communal context.

Our Lady lived the Trinitarian roles of the woman. She is the daughter of the Father, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and the Mother of Jesus. She humbly obeyed her Father. For all His life, she kept hold of her Son wrapped in swaddling at Bethlehem and draped in burial clothes at Gethsemane.  Her perfect virginity established a perpetual barrier to the evil of sin while making her permeable to her Spouse: the Holy Spirit. She was “guarded by the angels, prefigured by the patriarchs, and promised by the prophets.”

Feminism is the reigning atheist ideology of our day set against the person of Our Lady as surely as the Dragon was set against her in Revelation. Wherever the confusing mist of feminism infiltrates the mind, statues of our Lady are put in the closet. Wherever feminist language is spoken, her songs are left unsung.  Wherever she is photo-shopped into a picture of the Last Supper, the picture of her suffering heart is pulled from the wall as too gruesome. The "feminist implant" of atheist thinking has replaced the armed atheism of Marxism. This is a more devastating lie. Seven demons have filled the house that was swept clear of one. Wherever feminism reigns, Our Lady is dethroned.
 
It is hard for gentlemen to oppose even counterfeit femininity. But we must reject this anti-Marian heresy for the sake of women around the world.  The white feminists of the West squandered the moral capital of the Christian interracial movement by twisting the just claims to be colorblind with the less virtuous desire to be sexually confused. The face-to-face sisterhood of Mary visiting Elizabeth was always too small a love for them. So they conjure the delusion that the coalition of selfish white female careerists in university, church, and government jobs is a worldwide sisterhood rivaling the masculine protective fraternity of priesthood and nations. Those who kill patriarchy multiply the widows and orphans, and at some point the dark skin of those victims will scream for justice against this racist trickery. Mary did not seek to be an apostle. She is a Queen. As Pope Francis said about women cardinals: “I don’t know where this idea sprang from. Women in the Church must be valued, not ‘clericalised.’ Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism.”

It is an ancient tradition that after Christ’s death, the apostles hid Mary. The Roman soldiers and Jewish high priests could never lay a hand on her. Had they tried, the sword of Peter would not have stayed sheathed.  Twenty centuries later the Church with her feast days, prayers, and contemplations tells the whole world who our Lady is and where she is. She is safe now, so the Apostolic Church can publicly proclaim what John and the apostles once held in secret and the Catholic faithful affirmed in the glorious mysteries of the rosary. The Dragon and the violent world held too much ground for the apostles to speak too loudly and too clearly of her too soon. For it is always an imprudent risk to reveal a feminine beauty in an evil world if one cannot protect her from attack. But, now, let us rejoice and be glad.

Look up on this feast day and see the blue sky with white clouds in the daytime Sun. Those are reflections of the Queen’s garments in Heaven. The Virgin Mother is safe up there in the midst of the Trinity, so the Church can now illuminate the world by explaining the nature of her rule. She is queen of the interior life. She rules in the vast expanse of the inner chambers opened by prayer and contemplation. She is queen because she humbled herself before the Father. The whole world is at her feet because she opened a virgin’s heart to the wind of the Holy Spirit. In conforming herself to the will of the Father she exercised the interior freedom of a soul in love. When men follow our mother in such acts of interior surrender we shall regain our stature as lords of creation. Only then will we fulfill the original mission of our species: to rule the Earth in his Name.
                                       

Friday, August 15, 2014

August 15 -- THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION: Purity on Earth and the Feminine in Heaven

by David Pence


"By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly declaration of glory.” (Pope Pius XII, November 1, 1950)

     
When Christ asked Peter who the apostles thought he was, Peter made the first infallible papal statement. He said, “Thou art the Son of the living God.” Christ made it clear it was not personal insight which allowed this Petrine testimony without error. “Not flesh and Blood but my Father in heaven” had allowed Peter to proclaim this central truth of our Faith for the brethren. And so again, 2000 years later, Pius XII did not wake up one November morning in 1950 and introduce to the flock a novel teaching he and some cardinals had been concocting about Our Lady. He stated what the praying Church had known devotionally for centuries. The pope, though, with a singular voice spoke the Truth from Rome as Peter had spoken for all the apostles at Caesarea Philippi.

The Pope in a few terse words described the perfection of matter -- the most perfect blossom of the tree of Jesse.  She was Immaculate -- conceived without sin. She is the Mother of God -- the locus of the Incarnation where God came into flesh to draw human flesh into his Body. She is ever Virgin -- an intact virgin not entered by man nor torn asunder by birth. And yet in the unity and holiness which the intactness of virginity represents there is a permeability to the Spirit which brings forth the Son. This moment in history of uncorrupted feminine flesh reminds all men of our original nature in Eden and of our present capacity for perfection. This Marian perfection of matter was never allowed to be corrupted by death, though she suffered it. In this modern era when the corrupted mist of the world seems omnipresent, the Church reminds us that purity is possible. The person separated from Evil can bear Christ on earth and will be drawn into Him where he sits at the right hand of the Father. Purity on earth is possible and the spiritual ordering of the flesh leads to Eternal life. Humans are not evolving to some higher form; perfection comes from imitating a form who was already here in a specific time and place. Let us sing of Mary.

                                         

Of heaven there is less to say. How will she reign where her son is the King and the King has a Father? She might be drawn to some inner chamber where the feminine holds the three masculine persons of the Trinity in One.  C.S. Lewis described heaven as going higher and higher and deeper and deeper. Mary is not a Queen on a throne; she is the Queen of those depths. There is some inner chamber of the hidden God which we never name with a pronoun… but if we did it would be feminine. For the feminine is interiority.

There is an intact interior that separates God from all creation. This radical separation is the meaning of HOLY. Mary and the consecrated virgins of the Church seek not crowns for their heads, but an interior milieu where their hearts can come to final rest and ponder anew. Come let us sing of Mary who on this day turns our eyes to Heaven where she abides with her Son. Let us admire from a distance the beauty of the Church’s consecrated virgins who keep us vigilant for our returning King by waiting for Him as their Bridegroom.


"Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb."


Friday, August 8, 2014

August 8 - MEMORIAL OF SAINT DOMINIC: Teacher and Priest

                         
                             

Dominic -- pictured meeting with Francis of Assisi early in the 13th century -- gathered a fraternity of preachers and teachers. He recognized that heresies could only be countered by knowledge of the Real Truth and delivery of this Truth by holy preachers. Thus the Dominican motto: VERITAS.

What was particularly lacking in Saint Dominic's day was articulate and intelligent doctrinal preaching. The whole reason of being for the Dominicans was spreading the Good News of our Lord.


I came across a sermon by a Polish preacher in which he described Dominic as "God's athlete" for his implacable struggle against the Dragon who tries to deceive us and deliver us to eternal darkness. He mentioned three ways that the Spanish saint did this:

  • as is shown by the painting (below) by Blessed Fra Angelico – St. Dominic eagerly adored the cross as the venue where Christ defeated death;
  • through the preaching of the Word of truth and life for the conversion of others, St. Dominic tied up the demon by the Word of God, giving to the seekers the light of the true Gospel;
  • as one of the Dominican legends says, when Satan visited one of the first convents, he got scared of the 'capitular' – the place where brothers confess their faults; the life rooted in humility, the awareness of the fact of how much a person needs the Savior, this is the moment when Satan loses.


                                               
                                         
"A man who governs his passions is master of his world. We must either command them or be enslaved by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil."                  (St. Dominic)

Fra Angelico (d. 1455) was simply one of the countless souls whose spiritual gaze became more luminous through their association with the Dominicans. Pope John Paul II beatified the Florentine painter, naming him the patron of Catholic artists. Here is his free rendition of the Transfiguration of the Lord, with the inclusion of the Virgin Mary and Saint Dominic on either side:

                                 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

AUGUST 6 -- Feast of the Transfiguration: "We were eyewitnesses of His majesty on the sacred mountain"


"Send forth your light and your truth...
  let them lead me up your holy mountain,
  up to your sanctuary.
 I shall go in to the altar of God,
  to the God of my gladness and joy."
              (Psalm 43)
                               


Our Lord climbed Mount Tabor with Peter, James, and John -- and revealed his glory as he spoke with Moses and Elijah. As someone has said: we can be transfigured by the love of God or we can be disfigured by the love of sin!


"... and it is indeed appropriate that the greatest God-seers of the Old Testament should be present at the glorification of the Lord in His New Testament, seeing for the first time His humanity, even as the disciples were seeing for the first time His Divinity."



This article explains more of the meaning of the Greek icon above.


["Although the event celebrated in the Feast occurred in the month of February, forty days before the Crucifixion, the Feast was early transferred to August because its full glory and joy could not be fittingly celebrated amid the sorrow and repentance of Great Lent. The sixth day of August was chosen as being forty days before the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14th, old style), when Christ’s Passion is again remembered."]


Saint Helena (the emperor Constantine's mother, pictured) erected a church on Mount Tabor in honor of the Transfiguration, 'the excellence of His hidden dignity.'

                           


"On the mountain wast Thou transfigured, O Christ God, and Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they could see it; so that when they would behold Thee crucified, they would understand that Thy suffering was voluntary, and would proclaim to the world that Thou art truly the Radiance of the Father."
 

"In the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. The city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it."    (Apocalypse 21)

Monday, August 4, 2014

AUGUST 4 MEMORIAL OF ST. JOHN VIANNEY: Priest, Parish, and Practicing Catholics

by David Pence


John Vianney (1786-1859) is the patron saint of parish priests.  He worked in a French town of less than 500 souls called Ars, and is often called the Cure of Ars. 'Cure' in French means priest. The Webster word history is instructive. The old Latin word 'cura' meant “the care given to someone, often medical.” Christians expropriated the word to mean “the care of souls.” The Latin root passed into French, and then English, with this spiritual meaning as cure in French meaning priest and curate in English meaning “one who takes care of souls, a member of the clergy.” This word history reminds us that cultures can sacralize language as well as debase it.  What a culture does to the words it receives depends on what kind of life the people are living in that culture.

Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney was no star in his seminary studies. Thank God his superiors recognized his great soul garbed with a modest mind. He received his earliest sacraments in the underground French Church, avoided Napoleon’s draft to fight the disastrous war against Spain, and was ordained in 1815.  His piety, prayer, and penance made his parish a gravitational center for Catholic renewal in post-revolutionary France. He knew the basics. God had become man in Christ; the priest had become sacred in ordination; and the souls of his parishioners would be sanctified only through prayer and penance.

The humble priest provides for us an antidote to living public life “as if God doesn’t exist.” The French priest had a cure for practical atheism. He built his life on prayer. He centralized the tabernacle’s sacred space in gesture and building to proclaim Jesus present. He saw men as souls. In his celebration of the Mass, he directed all present to the reality of the Triune God. In the confessional he did not turn his head from the hold of Satan on unresolved penitents. He chastised those who repeatedly failed to “amend my life.”
                     

The local parish is still today the physical and communal form of Christ’s Presence shining through the sulfurous mist of practical atheism. The priest is a watchman for the city of God whenever he mounts the walls of the confessional to beat back Satan assaulting the people. The Catholic life is a daily, weekly, and annual set of practices organizing a community of prayer around a sacred space and Personage. The priest prays the daily office of Church in communion with the worldwide apostolic priesthood and puts on the mind of Christ for his local flock by this practice. Keeping Catholic time draws the local face-to-face body into the Universal Church, and the day-to-day calendar into the timeline of the Divine Drama.  The antidotes to the foggy atmosphere of practical atheism are the tabernacle lights of countless parochial sacred hills where men worship the Father. As Jesus promised the woman at the well, there shall come a time when worship is no longer restricted to the mountains of Jerusalem and Samaria. That time has been achieved through the coming of the Spirit in the sacramental Church. Let us rejoice and be glad.

The priest is not a community organizer urging his parishioners to do public service projects or postcard-campaigns to lobby the civil authorities. He mans an ark and pulls us into a sacred space where we are set apart from the corrupting flood-waters of the world. Once in the ark, man can finally see reality with his head above the waters. He has been saved and is enlightened. He understands his purpose because, finally, he stands and kneels where he is fully oriented in space and time to the Divine Person. The parish priest directs hearts to God and cleanses souls of sin. He leads us in prayer, integrates us in the sacramental order of the Church, and teaches us the pillars of the faith -- which explain Nature, History, and Person in the light of Christ. The practicing Catholic becomes a new personality. These new Christian personalities shaped by communal liturgy and prayer will feed the hungry, heal the sick, enlighten the ignorant, protect the widows and orphans, and shelter the immigrant. The men will build cities and nations while the women will build homes, schools, and hospitals. The men will be apostolic in their communal public character, and the women will be virginal in their interior lives and maternal in their care of others. Catholic practice shapes Catholic personalities and that practice is as tactile as it is local.

Seek first the things above and all else will follow. Holy priests make holy men and holy women. There is only one kind of village that explains the Cosmos -- the parish at prayer. The local parish has never been the end game of the careerist. But it remains the locus of prayer and penance where practicing Catholics muster in the formations which proclaim the Sacramental Presence of Christ in those golden tabernacles and herald the Final Coming of our Lord and King just over the Horizon.

From the Catechetical Instructions by St. John Mary Vianney: 
This is the glorious duty of man: to pray and to love. If you pray and love, that is where a man’s happiness lies. 
Prayer is nothing else but union with God. When one has a heart that is pure and united with God, he is given a kind of serenity and sweetness that makes him ecstatic, a light that surrounds him with marvelous brightness. In this intimate union, God and the soul are fused together like two bits of wax that no one can ever pull apart. This union of God with a tiny creature is a lovely thing. It is happiness beyond understanding. 
Some men immerse themselves as deeply in prayer as fish in water, because they give themselves totally to God. How unlike them we are! There are some who seem to speak to the good God like this: “I will only say a couple of things to you, and then I will be rid of you.”

May Saint John Vianney guide many parishes and their local priests into a prayerful weekly rhythm of the Catholic sacramental order: Baptism, Confession, and the Eucharist.

                                       
                     
                                                           "I will show you the way to heaven!"
                                                             [From Rorate Caeli website]

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola -- 'Militia est vita hominis in terra' (Man's life on earth is a warfare)


"Everything that Jesus did, from His crying as a Babe in the cradle to His getting tired and falling asleep, to His agony in the Garden, all of that is a pattern for us to imitate."

Father John Hardon, the Jesuit who died in 2000, explains that the Person of Christ is the first attribute of the spirituality of Saint Ignatius: "Man's virtues are God's attributes."

                    


The founder of the Jesuits -- unlike his Protestant contemporaries -- understood the true dignity of human freedom. Take a look at Father Hardon's fine essay.
                                 
"Take Lord and receive all my liberty... To Thee, Oh Lord, I return it. All is Thine... Give me Thy Love and Thy Grace for this is sufficient for me."     (Saint Ignatius of Loyola)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

When God created matter: the Big Bang

As a science teacher, Dr. Pence has contended that the easiest way to teach the philosophical notion that REALITY is a bigger category than the material universe is by locating the Big Bang on the "Catholic timeline" as a real event; one that gave way to physical matter, but not as the first act of creation. The first creation, of course, was the making of the angels: spiritual and immaterial beings like God, but created beings like us.

Here is his argument published in the secular press.

             
                               

Here are links to video talks, given at Pence's parish, relating the masculine priesthood and Marian femininity within the cast of characters enacting the Divine drama:

Dr. Pence's Marian Femininity Video Series

Dr. Pence's All-Male Priesthood Video Series