Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Next Rosary Crusade


Today begins the next Rosary Crusade for the Church and for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary sponsored by the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). The Crusade runs through Pentecost of 2012.

Read the Super General's letter explaining the Crusade here.

Download the Rosary Crusade booklet here.

Jesus Christ and He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; nobody comes to the Father but by Him!

Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Relic Chapel

Good Friday

Here's a photo of the relic chapel at my parish church.

St. Michael's Relic Chapel

Joe, our sacristan, has rescued hundreds of relics over the years and donated them to the chapel. In the mad rush to modernize, a number of churches dumped relics en masse on flea markets and pawn shops (when they weren't just tossed in the trash). In response, the more pious faithful began looking for the abandoned and orphaned relics and giving them good homes.

In the middle of our relic chapel altar is a tabernacle, and on top of the tabernacle is a cross-shaped reliquary whose foundation is a box with glass sides. This particular reliquary houses relics from our Lord's Passion, including a splinter of the True Cross. Here's a close-up of it.

Close Up of the Relic Chapel

During my pilgrimage last year to Europe, the tour guide at Fatima said that she had seen enough relics of the True Cross in her time to create a forest of crosses. She was repeating the standard canard that pseudo-intellectuals have been laughingly espousing at least since the time of Erasmus (for the record, our chaplain on the pilgrimage politely corrected the tour guide).

How can I be so sure that our relic of the True Cross is genuine, the modern mind accustomed to habitual, unthinking skepticism regarding anything sympathetic to or in support of the Christian faith might ask?

Because a French architect and archeologist by the name of Charles Rohault de Fleury (1801-1875) actually took the trouble to track down and measure every surviving relic of the True Cross.

De Fleury calculated that the Cross on which Christ was crucified weighed about 220 pounds. He then calculated the volume of the wood in the Cross at 10,900 cubic inches. Interestingly, de Fleury was able to find and measure a mere 240 cubic inches in all known relics of the True Cross. To allow for splinters and fragments held in private hands, lost, or destroyed in war and acts of vandalism (e.g. the Protestant Reformation), he increased his original number by a factor of 10 to arrive at a new total: 2,400 cubic inches. This was still less than 20% of the estimated size of the Cross. De Fleury concluded that if all the surviving relics of the True Cross were to be reassembled, there would not be nearly enough wood to crucify a man. De Fleury published his findings in 1870 in his book, Memoire sur les Instruments de la Passion.

How the Cross was buried, rediscovered, carried to Rome, turned into numerous relics that traveled the world, and how one of those relics ended up at my little chapel, is the stuff of another entry on this blog. For now, it is enough to observe that efforts to dismiss the relics of the True Cross as pious fakes is itself the urban myth that needs to be corrected.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to Pray the Rosary

Maundy Thursday

"So that our prayers may be even more efficacious and each one may derive a greater benefit from them, we wish to conclude by recalling that when one recites the Rosary, the most important thing is not the number of Hail Mary’s, but rather the way in which one prays them. The risk of monotony or distraction can be fought effectively by praying the Rosary according to the instructions of Mary herself: while counting off the Rosary beads, it is a matter of meditating on the scenes from the life of Our Lord and of His Holy Mother and the mysteries that they present. The most important thing is this contact with the life of our Savior, which is established when one thinks lovingly about the events announced with each decade, the 'mysteries' of the Rosary. The decades of Hail Mary’s become like background music accompanying and sustaining this powerful, gentle contact with God, with Our Lord and Our Lady."

- H.E. Bishop Bernard Fellay, SSPX, in his letter #78 of Passion Sunday, April, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Need for Speed?

Half of all people have below-average IQ scores.

Hopefully one doesn't have to have been placed in an Abecedarian program to see that this is not only normal, it is a metaphysical necessity.

Yesterday a colleague said, "Only smart people think quickly."

The speed with which one solves mental problems is, in fact, a useful and generally reliable gauge for assessing intelligence. Smart people are, as a rule, gifted with a mental dexterity that enables them to see solutions more quickly than less-gifted minds.

There is a risk in focusing too narrowly on quick thinking: one can neglect other factors that are necessary ingredients for arriving at sound conclusions or making correct decisions. For example, a solid understanding of human nature can make a fellow intelligent beyond his years -- a point on which many moderns fall short with their neglect of traditional morals and their ignorance of what it means to live a good (i.e. upright) life. "I'll do what I want so long as no one else gets hurt" is a sure recipe for neglecting the One Thing Necessary.

Another risk is that individuals infatuated with quick responses will adopt artificial strategies that expedite decision-making but that provide no opportunity for deep understanding. When you see someone extolling the benefits of crowd-sourcing, crowd-wisdom, collective decision-making, social media, and the like, you're probably dealing with someone who is inclined to substitute conformity with group attitudes and norms for developing a deep and meaningful ability to think. Marry to that the modern infatuation with egalitarian social structures and a hostility for authority and tradition, and you will get anything from the banal graffiti that accounts for 95% of all Twitter and FaceBook postings to an unqualified socialist idealogue for president.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Photos from the St. Mary's Passion Play


The sibling duo of Nathanael and Danielle (i.e. two of the youngsters from the family where the eight kids adopted me as Uncle Sean) are in several pictures, in the roles of our Lord and our Lady.

Click the images to see larger versions of the photos -- e.g.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Missionary Initiative in Kenya

Since the Society of St. Pius X arrived in Africa, many ladies showed interest in the religious life, although many could not realize their vocation. The main reason for this was the lack of an appropriate institute in Africa, able to form young women for the consecrated life. The missionary priests of the Society, however, following the steps of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, considered the great help that a female missionary congregation would provide to their works. Many were praying and waiting for the will of God (aside: when Fr. Obih was in Atlanta a few years back, I served Mass for him). Read more about the new missionary initiative at

Friday, April 8, 2011

South African Diamond

This lovely rendition of the Ave Maria by young soprano Nokrismesi ("Kimi") Skota was broadcast by the Dutch TROS as part of the André Rieu Roadsoap in South Africa (Zuid-Afrika). Rieu pours the syrup on thick, but Kimi's performance shines. See

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Advocate with the Advocate

A Catholic fellow I know said a friend of his wife's chided him for praying to Mary. "We are only to pray to Jesus, no one else," she told him.

Which is correct. And when we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for something, we're asking her to pray to Jesus on our behalf. All her efficacy comes through her Son -- who, being the Perfect Son, always listens to His mother and does as she asks Him.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Viva Christo Rey!

The picture below shows the martyrdom in early April of 1927 of Fr. Francisco Vera, parish Priest of Sangre y Cuerpo de Cristo in the city of Jalostotitlan, Jalisco.

Martyrdom of Fr. Francisco Vera

Padre was celebrating Mass in secret for his people when he was discovered by Freemasons and, with the support of a socialist and vehemently anti-Catholic government and media, executed on the spot. He was not allowed to remove his vestments, and this photograph was sent to President Calles by the leader of the squad to prove how zealous he was being against the Catholic Church. Father Vera's body was taken to a garbage dump outside the city, where it was further desecrated.

This scene was just one of numerous anti-religious atrocities committed by the Mexican government during the Cristero War, a period of Catholic resistance to state persecution comparable in sentiment if not in scale to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Battle Hymn of the Cristeros
La Virgen María es nuestra protectora y nuestra defensora cuando hay que temer,
Vencerá a los demonios gritando "¡Viva Cristo Rey!"
Vencerá a los demonios gritando "¡Viva Cristo Rey!"
Soldados de Cristo: ¡Sigamos la bandera que la Cruz enseña el ejército de Dios!
Sigamos la bandera gritando, "¡Viva Cristo Rey!"

For an upcoming film on the matter, see

Friday, April 1, 2011

He Should Have Been a Surgeon

My father made it through his surgery this morning; he’s home resting and recuperating now. He’s in a bit of pain, so he’s on some strong pain killers. He’s bed-bound after years of dealing with Multiple Sclerosis, and he’s frequently in and out of the hospital. I try to get down to see him and to help my mother and brother when I can. In this case the surgery was non-emergency, but serious enough (especially given his frailty) that they had to knock him out. With the additional logistical problems caused by yesterday’s storms, it turned out to be good that I was present.

Mom’s a champ, and dad’s heroic about it; I try to provide relief when I can, even just to lighten the mood. Case in point: with the power outage, mom couldn’t find the power of attorney paperwork she needed to sign for dad for his surgery, so the nurse had him sign his own forms. With his MS dad can barely hold a pen, let alone sign anything, so his John Hancock was just a faint scribble on the signature line.

"Dad, with a signature like that, you should have been a doctor," I told him.

"A surgeon," he said.

You see where I get it from.