Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

That statement is a bunch of nonsense when it comes to art and especially when it comes to sacred art. below the video are two pictures that demonstrate the imbalance caused by modern art in a church built in the late 16th century.

Here is a great video by Robert Florczak from Prager University that gets to the heart of the matter.

The Gesu in Rome was opened in 1580. It has a beautiful altar built in the mid 19th century. The first picture demonstrates this beautiful altar and sanctuary marked off with the green marble altar rail. Outside of the altar rail and in complete contrast to the church’s architecture is a tasteless free standing altar that looks as if it were some space junk that fell through the ceiling.

High Altar - Church of the Gesu

High Altar – Church of the Gesu

 

Modern altar in the church of the Gesu

Modern altar in the church of the Gesu

Privileged Altar

As you enter Ss. Stomata di San Francesco (Church of the Holy Stigmata of St. Francis) in Rome, there is a plaque on the left of the door as you enter.

IMG_0154“Every Mass celebrated at the altar dedicated to the Sacred Stigmata of our Seraphic Father St. Francis, frees a soul from purgatory. Pope Leo XIII, 21 September 1894″

 

 

This is a very beautiful privilege granted to the high altar of this simple but beautiful Baroque/ Rococo style church. It is located on Largo delle Stimmate on the right as you head towards the Pantheon.  Quite often, the church is locked, but I just happened to enter as a very nice young woman was cleaning the church.

Every time I think of this church, I recall that the High Altar dedicated to the Stigmata of St. Francis is privileged, and not the free standing altar that sits in the front of it. How sad that this beautiful, altar is not used, and one that looks like a picnic table, cluttering the sanctuary is used on a daily basis or more. The poor souls that could be assisted with the Holy Mass celebrated at that altar once again.

Don’t forget to pray for the Poor Souls!

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What the Church should do Immediately regarding annulments!

Synod on the FamilyAll of us have friends and family members who have been married, divorced and married again outside the Church. Some are in these painful situations due to no fault of their own and others may be guilty of causing the destruction of their first marriage. Many of them want to find a way to a full, active participation in the life of the Church. That is what is what they all want, and what we all desire for them. However, both parties in the former marriage must be considered and protected from a faulty annulment process, lest the Church Herself through false compassion blesses marriages that can’t take place due to a previous valid marriage.

Some years ago, a good friend of mine who is not Catholic started talking about his own situation. He went on to explain how although he grew up in the Salvation Army and is a practicing Mason, he wanted his wife to have the ability to be married in the Catholic Church. I will call him John to protect his identity. John went to the local Catholic parish and met with the priest. He told the priest that his was was Catholic and he was not. John had been married previously and was willing to go through what is necessary to give his wife a Catholic marriage. Father went on to tell John that he needed to go through an annulment process, and that it would cost him $500.00. John thanked the priest, stood up and walked out. John and his non-practicing Catholic wife were married outside the Church.

There is no guarantee that if John went through the annulment process that he would have received the outcome that he desired, but he was willing to do it anyway. Due to the Church’s fees for an annulment, John and Mary (not here real name) were married outside the Church and the hope that John might have even considered becoming a Catholic was lost forever. To John, we became the Church that is only worried about money. And at time, I can’t blame him for his thinking.

I suggest that the Holy Father ban charging for annulments immediately. And, if bishops refuse, place an immediate canonical punishment on them. Most dioceses in the United States charge their parishes an annual assessment (a church tax), and in some nations like Germany, there is a national tax support the Church. We have become a Church obsessed by money. There are so many second collections in the US that you could choke an elephant with the envelopes.

If we were to offer an annulment process with no cost everybody wins. Right off, you put an end to the attitude that you have to “buy” an annulment. Of course this does not guarantee people will get their desired outcome, but they will see a Church of mercy that desires to help Her children without a cost. In the end, those people who have gone through the annulment process could be invited to give a donation and they will become better Catholics because our Church has sought to aid the sinner and not attack their pocketbook.

My encounter with saints

In just a few days, 1 November, we celebrate the Solemnity of all Saints. On this great feast day, we celebrate those men, women and children who are in heaven, but not on the Roman Calendar. Reality is that we don’t have to be canonized by the Church to go to heaven. Canonization is a formal process that declares that a person lived heroic virtue and is worthy of the “cult of saints.” Not “cult” in the sense of a false religion. For Catholics, the word cult means a form of worship or honor. There are two kinds of cultus in the Catholic Church. One is called dulia and the other latria. Latria is worship and adoration given to God alone. “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3) But, there is also something we call dulia. Dulia is a theological term signifying the honor we pay to the saints and the prayerful intercession we ask of them. Hyperdulia is the veneration we offer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

So, dulia and hyperdulia in a worldly sense is like the pictures of our loved ones sitting on the bookshelf in our homes. We look upon the picture of our deceased grandmother with great love and veneration. We know that she is not God, we still love her with all our hearts. God comes first in our lives and our loved ones follow behind. But we still have that connection with our saints that has been given to us by our loving Father. They are our family in heaven, praying for us, rooting for us, giving us their examples of total self giving to the Lord and doing all the God allows them to do to help us get to heaven.

Sometimes we look at the world around us and see all that is bad, all the is evil. And, there sure is a lot of that today. But, we often fail to see what is good, true and holy. I have been blest by the Lord to know at least a few saints. And I’m sure you have known at least one.

The first picture is a week or so after my ordination to the priesthood. I made a pilgrimage to Rome to visit our family friend Cardinal Ciappi in the next picture. I had the awesome blessing of concelebrating with Saint John Paul, II in his private chapel in the Papal Apartments. The second picture is during that visit to Rome when I concelebrated with Luigi Cardinal Ciappi, O.P., Theologian of the Papal Household. One is canonized and the other is not, at least yet. Cardinal Ciappi was indeed a very holy and saintly man. I believe he is in heaven. If you would have know the good Cardinal, I think you would believe the same. So as we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, let us give thanks to the Lord for the good example of all those unnamed saints, who lived their lives quietly in their little corner of the world and made a difference, even if no one else saw it.

Meeting Saint John Paul, II after concelebrating Mass in his private chapel

Meeting Saint John Paul, II after concelebrating Mass in his private chapel

Concelebrating with Cardinal Ciappi

A picture after concelebrating with my friend Cardinal Ciappi, and my friend and his secretary Fra Mario

Like a virgin

The famous Sister Cristina has a new video out. It’s Madonna’s “Like a virgin.” I don’t know about you, but I think this crosses the line. Isn’t there enough beautiful and sacred music without using a song that is “touched” by the insinuations from Madonna’s video and concerts.

I’ll stick with the Dominican Sisters of Mary and the Benedictines of Mary. They both sing music that lifts the heart and soul to God, there is a danger that Sr. Christina’s secular music “Like a virgin” will encourage a spirit of lust in the spirit that the song was written. Don’t get me wrong, Sr. Cristina has a very beautiful voice and a gift from God, but like we were told in Sunday’s Gospel: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

What do you think? Leave your opinion in the comment box below.