Saint Jerome, pray for us!

Etching of St. Jerome via Wellcome Images / Wikimedia Commons 

St. Jerome (Priest and Doctor of the Church) was one of the greatest scholars in the Church’s history. Thoroughly learned in languages and Scripture, he learned Hebrew in Antioch, from a Jewish rabbi. He then went to Constantinople, where he studied under St. Gregory of Nazianzus. Ordained a priest, from 382-385 he served as secretary to Pope St. Damasus in Rome.

The pope directed him to produce a Latin version of the Bible. Latin was the language of the common people. Jerome labored a long time on this project, translating the Old Testament from Hebrew and the New Testament from Greek. The finished version was known as the Vulgate — from the Latin vulgus, meaning common, or for common people — and it remained the Church’s official translation for well over a thousand years. He relished the Scriptures and believed that “Ignorance of Scripture was ignorance of Christ.”

While in Rome, Jerome became the leader of a group of people attracted to a penitential life, but his harsh and demanding nature made him many enemies as well as friends, and after Pope Damasus’ death, Jerome returned to the East, followed by St. Paula, St. Eustochium, and some of his other his disciples.

They established a religious community in Bethlehem, with a hospice for travelers and a school for children, in which Jerome himself taught Greek and Latin, even as he continued his scholarship. Jerome was uncompromising against heresy, and was known for his fierce temper. His writings were sometimes sarcastic or vitriolic, but at the same time he was gentle with the poor and downtrodden, and his awareness of his weaknesses prompted him to perform great acts of penance — such as living in a cave until his death. His contemporary St. Augustine said of him, “What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known.”

(source: Catholic Exchange)

A Prayer by Saint Jerome for Christ’s Mercy

O Lord, show Your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid. I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with Your will. Let me dwell in Your house all the days of my life and praise You for ever and ever with those who are there. Amen.

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Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!

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27 September 2020, published by Marco Tosatti:

Dear friends and enemies of Stilum Curiae, yesterday I met with Cardinal Joseph Zen, who came to Rome on purpose from Hong Kong – for a visit limited to only 120 hours, just four days – in order to see the reigning Pontiff and speak to him about the Church in Hong Kong.

The cardinal, who is 88, left Rome this morning without having an audience with the reigning Pontiff. If the human quality of a person is seen in small details, I don’t know how someone should be judged – who is a boss – who cannot find half an hour in four days to meet with an elderly priest, who despite various health problems decided because of his love for the Church to undertake a journey from the other side of the world. I understand that there may be people who are judged to be embarrassing, annoying, and so forth. But I seem to vaguely recall that among the works of mercy there is the one that calls us to put up with annoying people. Or even with those who are only subjectively considered to be so. But apparently during these days the reigning Pontiff was too preoccupied with beheading his collaborators to receive one of his most faithful and elderly advisers. 

We have gathered here some of the things the Cardinal said during a meeting he had with some friends and colleagues in Rome. On the situation in China and Hong Kong, he is not very optimistic: “We are now at the bottom,” he said, and he fears there will be some dramatic development in the near future.

“I came for the sake of one thing for Hong Kong. To plead the case for [the appointment of] our future bishop.

– For more than a year and a half we have been without a bishop in Hong Kong. At the beginning, there was the good idea of making an auxiliary bishop who would remain when the bishop died; a nice Franciscan who is also courageous: Msgr. Joseph Ha Chi-shing… He has criticized the government courteously, without shouting.

– This auxiliary bishop was spoken of as a successor. But now it is said that someone is needed who has the blessing of Beijing, and so a priest is being put forward, Peter Choi. Many of us do not see him as a good choice. The community has been divided.

– At a certain point they understood that he [Choi] was not a convenient choice and they said: let’s look for a third person. In these days I see, I suspect, that the other group is trying to again put the second name back into play, that is, Peter Choi.

– I came with a letter for the Holy Father, to tell him that if this happens it will be a disaster for the Church of Hong Kong, a disaster for decades. I told him that I am here for 3-4 days, if he wants to call me…but I was not called. I delivered the letter that I had written to the Pope to his personal secretary, Gonzalo Aemilius.
I understand that he must be very busy…

I waited four days to be called, but I have not been called. And so today I am going back to Hong Kong.

It will be horrible if they make Peter Choi the Bishop.

It is ridiculous that he would be preferred only because he would be agreeable to Beijing. Beijing is a tyrant.

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Cardinal Pell to return to Rome this week

Cardinal George Pell. Alan Holdren/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Sep 27, 2020 / 09:10 am MT (CNA):

Cardinal George Pell is set to return to Rome on Tuesday, his first time back in the Vatican since 2017, when he took a leave of absence from his role as prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy to travel to Australia. 

The cardinal is set to fly on Sept. 29, sources close to Pell confirmed to CNA on Sunday, following an initial report by Australian journalist Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun newspaper.

Pell has been living in his former Archdiocese of Sydney since his acquittal by Australia’s High Court in April on charges of sexual abuse. 

In 2014, the cardinal was appointed by Pope Francis to take charge of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy and to lead efforts at reforming Vatican financial affairs. After charges of sexual abuse were brought by Victoria police, Pell took temporary leave of his role in 2017 in order to return to Australia and prove his innocence. 

Pell faced allegations from a single accuser related to his time as Bishop of Melbourne. He spent 13 months in solitary confinement after he was initially convicted and given a six-year prison sentence, before being vindicated on appeal to the High Court.

Pell’s term of office as head of the Vatican’s financial secretariat expired during his time in prison, with Pope Francis naming Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, SJ, to succeed him in 2019.

The news of Pell’s return to Rome comes just days after the dramatic resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom Pope Francis asked to resign as prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints and from the rights extended to members of the College of Cardinals on Sept. 24 after he was linked to an ongoing investigation of financial misconduct at the Vatican.

Becciu had worked previously as the number two-ranking official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, where, CNA has previously reported, he repeatedly clashed with Pell over the reform of Vatican finances.

Pell, who had not spoken publicly about his former Vatican role since his exoneration, responded to the news of Becciu’s resignation with gratitude.

“The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances. He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments,” Pell wrote in a statement sent to CNA Sept. 25.

“I hope the cleaning of the stables continues in both the Vatican and Victoria,” Pell said.

CNA has reported that in 2015 Becciu seemed to have made an attempt to disguise the loans on Vatican balance sheets by canceling them out against the value of the property purchased in the London neighborhood of Chelsea, an accounting maneuver prohibited by new financial policies approved by Pope Francis in 2014.

The alleged attempt to hide the loans off-books was detected by the Prefecture for the Economy, then led by Pell. Senior officials at the Prefecture for the Economy told CNA that when Pell began to demand details of the loans, especially those involving the Swiss bank BSI, then-Archbishop Becciu called the cardinal in to the Secretariat of State for a “reprimand.”

In 2016, Becciu was instrumental in bringing to a halt reforms initiated by Pell. Although Pope Francis had given the newly created Prefecture for the Economy autonomous oversight authority over Vatican finances, Becciu interfered when Pell’s financial secretariat planned an external audit of all Vatican departments, to be conducted by the firm PriceWaterhouseCooper.

Unilaterally, and without permission of Pope Francis, Becciu canceled the audit and announced in a letter to all Vatican departments that it would not take place.

When Pell challenged internally the audit’s cancellation, Becciu persuaded Pope Francis to give his decision ex post facto approval, sources inside the prefecture told CNA. The audit never took place.

Becciu held a press conference in Rome Sept. 25 at which he protested his innocence of financial wrongdoing.

More on this story from the National Catholic Register

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By Her Enemies You Can Know Her: Planned Parenthood Condemns Amy Coney Barrett Nomination

Amy Barrett and her family (husband and 7 children) head to the Rose Garden for Trump’s announcement of her official SCOTUS nomination.

From The Remnant:

On Oct. 31, 2017 PlannedParenthoodAction.Org posted an article arguing that “the idea that Amy Coney Barrett would be a fair and impartial judge on issues of reproductive health is ludicrous.”

After the Senate had advanced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to the floor of the U.S. Senate. Planned Parenthood Federation of America submitted a formal letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing Barrett’s nomination.

On what grounds?

Statement from Dana Singiser, then-Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:  

The idea that Amy Coney Barrett would be a fair and impartial judge on issues of reproductive health is ludicrous. We call on every United States senator to uphold a fundamental standard: If you oppose Roe v. Wade and would empower employers to deny women access to birth control, you should not sit on the bench. ​Planned Parenthood urges senators to reject the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Seventh Circuit.

“Individual rights and freedoms are at the heart of who we are as a country, including the long-established right to access safe and legal abortion. A judicial nominee who does not believe in that freedom is dangerous to the health care of people across this country. As a leading healthcare provider, we’ve see firsthand what it means for people who are forced to cross state lines, travel hundreds of miles, or wait for weeks to get an abortion — if they can at all — due to medically unnecessary restrictions intended to block access to health care. People in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana deserve a judge who will consider their individual rights and freedoms ​and follow precedent.

Coney Barrett has a very active and vocal opposition to reproductive rights.

Amy Coney Barrett was a member of the Notre Dame’s Faculty for Life Group from 2010 to 2016.   This is a group describes itself as “organized to promote research, dialogue, and publication by faculty, administration, and staff who respect the sacred value of human life from its inception to natural death in the spirit embodied in Evangelium Vitae and Caritas in Veritate and are committed to the legal and societal recognition of the value of all human life.”

Even worse, Barrett has held critical views of the Roe v. Wade decision due to her opposition to abortion and  stating that judges should not follow the law or the Constitution if it conflicts with their personal religious beliefs. It is also been reported that she believes Roe “creat(ed) through judicial fiat a framework of abortion on demand” that “ignited a national controversy.”

Barrett has criticized the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee that employers provide contraceptive coverage as part of their health insurance plans. She signed a letter authored by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty that objected to the Obama administration’s accommodation for religiously affiliated employers. The letter argued that the Obama administration was “morally obtuse” for failing to go far enough to accommodate religious liberty.


Remnant Editor’s Comment: Sounds good to me. 

If this is how Planned Parenthood condemned Judge Barrett in 2017 over a mere US Court of Appeals nomination, one can only imagine how their heads must be spinning all the way around and the projectile vomit flying against the wall after her SCOTUS nomination. 

If the possessed hags at PP hate President Trump’s nominee, I’m all in. 

Thanks to Donald Trump for nominating an articulate defender of life, a faithful Catholic and a mother of 7 children. 

Trump/Pence 2020

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Archbp. Marcel Lefebvre remains translated and VIDEO of Pontifical Mass

First posted on 26 September 2020 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf on his blog:

On 24 September 2020 the mortal remains of Archbp. Marcel Lefebvre were translated from the SSPX seminary at Écône to the church of Cœur Immaculé de Marie. It was the 50th anniversary of the founding of the seminary.

There is a rather stunning video of the Pontifical Mass at the Throne celebrated on this occasion. Under the video, on the YouTube page there is a helpful breakdown of the moments of the Mass with links.

I learned of Lefebvre’s death in an interesting way.  That morning I was opening up our office (the quondam Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“) because I was the first to arrive.  As I was switching on lights and machines, the doorbell rang.   Thinking it was our secretary, who might not have the key handy, I opened the door to find… then-Card. Ratzinger.  He gave me the news that Lefebvre had died. He had just received a phone call about his death and stopped at our office on his way in to the Congregation.  I got on the phone to our own Cardinal right away.

Here is a shot of Lefebvre’s memorial card, which I have kept these years.  I keep it on a shelf with other cards among some reliquaries over my private altar, to remind me to pray for him.  He was an amazing missionary and churchman in his day and he died before his  excommunication could be lifted, as surely it would have been.

In your charity, you might pray for him too.

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Reflection for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Scripture Readings: Book of the Prophet Ezekiel 18:25-28; Letter to the Philippians 2:1-11; Gospel According to Saint Matthew 21:28-32

Here at the Monastery it is definitely “harvest time.” Such is the case as well in many other parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Our vegetable garden has produced abundantly and we are enjoying fresh produce nearly every day, including zucchini, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, kale, squash, and many other eatables. The leaves of the many deciduous trees in our canyon are rapidly turning yellow and leaves are falling. The weather is still pleasant at night and warm during the day. It is really a beautiful time of year! Smoke from the tragic fires in the West is not affecting our air quality, so the sky is clear and crisp.

While we ponder the end of the summer and the growing season, we are offered this Sunday important lessons about the “spiritual harvest” that must also take place in our lives. A life lived in and for Christ, we believe, will yield a bountiful harvest, directing us to the fulfillment to be found in eternity, hence doing all we can now to gain the prize of life on high in God’s kingdom.

Addressing the religious leaders of the time, Jesus offers a short parable about a father and his two sons. The first of the two says yes to his father’s wishes, but then does not do what was asked of him. The second son initially says no, but ends up doing as he was told. In telling the story, Jesus asks “What do you think about the case?” The audience is invited to decide about “which of the two sons did what the father wanted?” They correctly reply, “The second son,” but in doing so they show their own failure to embrace the teaching and person of Jesus Christ. In their case, they need to do more than simply render lip service, which lacks sincerity and thereby runs the risk of exclusion from God’s kingdom. As the Prophet Isaiah preached: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Isaiah 29:13, and quoted by Mark 7:6).

In a follow up to the parable, Jesus gives the example of reputed or notorious sinners, specifically tax collectors and prostitutes, who seem to be disobeying God’s law, yet repent and so enter the kingdom. They end up doing the will of God, and are like the second son of the parable today, initially saying no then having a change of heart.

In another place in the Gospels, Jesus warns: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father” (Matthew 7:21). While Jesus addresses these words especially to the religious leaders of those times, they are words directed to us as well.

We are always given free will and God does not force us to act one way or another. God always lovingly invites us to walk in the ways of love, justice, patience and all that builds up the kingdom of God. God never takes delight in punishment, but the Gospels teach us that there are consequences, good or bad, for human free action.

Jesus refers to all those who “do the will of the Father” as his “brother and sister and mother” (see Matthew 12:50). Jesus is the model for this type of commitment and invites us all to be so also. We all fail in doing it perfectly, but we are never to give up along the journey of life.

In the mind of Jesus those stigmatized as sinners are not automatically “lost,” and often demonstrate more willingness to change than those who are not recognized as wrongdoers. What matters for all and us as well is a change of heart and dedication to God.

A short commentary from the splendid “Didache Bible” (Ignatius Press) says this: “The seasons connected with life and time are strictly established by God, and it is up to us to discern the proper season” (commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verses 1-15).

As autumn dawns and summer ends, the time is right to ask again if we are preparing for the final harvest, reflecting on where our priorities lie: either in and for the things of God or somewhere else. Most of us may reply: “somewhere in the middle.” We all need to stretch our “spiritual muscles,” so to speak, for a closer relationship with God and selfless service to one another, thereby fulfilling the two great commandments: love of God and love of neighbor. May the Lord always help us in this important work!



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Mary in the Life of St Padre Pio

Please watch this fascinating video (via the link below) from the Friars of the Immaculate on their Radio Immaculata channel today. It describes many little known stories of Padre Pio, and explains the importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of St Pio. We too should make Her an important part of our lives.

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Viganò: Deep State has now teamed up with Deep Church to overthrow Trump, usher in New World Order

Featured Image
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò 

By Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

Corruptio optimi pessima.”: Saint Gregory the Great

September 25, 2020, LifeSiteNews:

Seeking to find any coherence of the recent action of the Society of Jesus with the original intentions of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is an arduous if not impossible task, to the point that in hindsight one considers the reconstitution of the Order in 1814 after its suppression by Clement XIV in 1773 to have been ill-advised. It is not surprising that, in the process of dissolution and self-demolition to which the entire ecclesial body is subjected, the contribution of the Jesuits has been – and still remains – decisive. It is no coincidence that since 2013 even the highest throne has been occupied by a Jesuit, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, even though this is in violation of the Ignatian Rule that forbids members of the Society of Jesus to take up positions in the hierarchy.

In the international geopolitical context, the role of Italy may appear in some ways marginal, but in reality Italy is a testing-ground for the experiments of social engineering that the globalist agenda intends to extend to all governments over the span of the next ten years, both in the economic and political sphere as well as the religious one. It is therefore understandable why La Civiltà Cattolica and its omnipresent director Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., have spent themselves in decomposed endorsements both of the Italian and global Left, including the Democratic Party in America and the Communist Party in China. On the other hand, the ideological closeness of the Society of Jesus to left-wing revolutionary movements dates back to the first symptoms of 1968, which Vatican II laid the ideological foundations for and which found their greatest expression in the theology of liberation, after having removed the condemnation of communism from the preparatory documents of the Council. It is significant that many of the protagonists of that unfortunate season in Latin America, after the indulgence and moderate sanctions imposed by the Holy See in recent decades, have been rehabilitated and promoted by an Argentine Jesuit.

Seeing Prodi and Gentiloni [two former Italian Prime Ministers] together with Father Spadaro for the presentation of the essay “Nell’anima della Cina” [In the Soul of China] [here] should not surprise anyone: they are the expression of that deplorable “adult Catholicism” that ignores the necessary consistency of Catholics in politics desired by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, but that holds together the heterogeneous bestiary of progressivism in the name of Malthusian environmentalism, the indiscriminate welcome of immigrants, gender theory, and the religious indifferentism sanctioned by the Abu Dhabi Declaration. The Assisi Conference – Economy of Francesco – and the coming Encyclical Fratelli Tutti confirm the anthropocentric imprint and the green shift of the Bergoglian church, which instead of the courageous and “politically incorrect” proclamation of the Gospel to all the nations has preferred the easiest environmentalist and immigrationist claims of the globalist agenda, which are dramatically risky for our Western civilization. And President Trump has understood this all too well.

Prodi and Gentiloni in Italy – and we would also add Premier Conte, given his origin and his education – have their counterparts on the American side in so-called Catholic personalities like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Andrew Cuomo: all of them proudly support abortion and gender indoctrination, and all of them are proudly in favor of the Antifa and Black Lives Matter movements that are setting entire American cities on fire. An equitable and honest analysis of the international sponsors of these parties, these “spontaneous” movements and Catholic progressivism reveals a disturbing common thread running through all of these so-called philanthropists who manipulate the political and economic fortunes of the planet with enormous funding. In recent days it has been reported in the news that the Jesuits in America have received grants of nearly two million dollars (over four years) from George Soros, and it seems that the same agreement between the Holy See and the Chinese Communist regime has been financed by large annual donations from Beijing to the Vatican coffers that are in a disastrous state. The fact that the Church fell prostrate before the lockdown, suspending liturgical celebrations and closing churches all over the world, has led to considerable collateral economic damage, for which Chinese donations and the lucrative business of welcoming immigrants represent an obvious compensation. 

The United States is witnessing the highest levels and centers of cultural influence of the American Catholic Church shamelessly siding in favor of the Democratic candidate and more generally in favor of the entire apparatus that has been consolidating in recent decades within the public administration. The Deep State, Trump’s sworn enemy, is joined by a Deep Church that spares no criticisms and accusations against the incumbent President while winking indecorously with Biden and BLM, slavishly following the narration imposed by the mainstream. It matters little that Trump is openly pro-life and defends the non-negotiable principles that the Democrats have renounced – the important thing is to transform the Catholic Church into the spiritual arm of the New World Order, so as to have an imprimatur from the highest moral authority in the world, something that was impossible with Benedict XVI.

Secretary of State Pompeo did well to censure the renewal of the secret agreement signed between Bergoglio and Xi Jinping! His lucid denunciation brings to light the aberrant Vatican attitude, the betrayal of the mission of the Church, the abandonment of the Chinese Catholic community out of sinister political calculation and the way it is in accord with aligned thought. Nor is the piqued reaction of the Jesuits and Catholic progressivism surprising, beginning with Avvenire [the daily newspaper of the Italian Episcopal Conference]. If Bergoglio can affirm with impunity that “Trump is not Christian”, evoking the ghosts of Nazism and populism, why would the U.S. Secretary of State not have the right to express his opinion – with the more than legitimate objective of international security – about the connivance of the Holy See with the communist dictatorship that is more ferocious but also more powerful and influential than ever? Why does the Vatican, which is silent in the face of the Democratic party’s support for abortion and the violation of the most basic human rights in China, consider the Trump Administration to have no right to interfere in an agreement that has obvious repercussions in the international political balance? It causes just as much astonishment to see that the parrhesia in political confrontation that is called for in words is contradicted in fact by those who see their wicked plans brought to light. And it is unclear why an agreement presented as absolutely transparent and devoid of any obscure points has been kept secret and cannot be read even by the well-deserving Chinese Cardinal, Joseph Zen.

On the other hand, if we consider that among the people who dealt with the drafting of the Agreement between the Holy See and the Chinese Communist Party there was then-Cardinal McCarrick, who was sent by Bergoglio on his behalf (see here), we will also understand the reason that the acts of the canonical process that led to the powerful prelate being reduced to the lay state remain shrouded in secrecy: in both cases an operation of transparency and truth is urgent and necessary, because the honor and moral authority of the Catholic Church in the sight of the whole world is at stake. 

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A Prayer for England on the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham

The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham in the Slipper Chapel.

O Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother of God
and our most gentle Queen and Mother
look down with mercy upon England your Dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in you.
By you it was that Jesus
Our Saviour and our hope,
was given to the world:
and he has given you to us
that we may hope still more.
Plead for us your children,
whom you did receive at the foot of the cross, O sorrowful Mother, Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of your Son.
Pray for us all, Dear Mother,
that by faith fruitful in good works
we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with you in our heavenly home. Amen

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
St Catherine, pray for us.
St Lawrence, pray for us.
St Thomas Becket, pray for us.
Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us.

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A Conversation with Jim Caviezel

Raw. Provocative. Honest. Moving. This conversation with Jim Caviezel is one of the most fascinating interviews ever done. You may remember Jim for his iconic portrayal of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ or for his popular lead role in the CBS drama, Person of Interest. This week, his new movie, Infidel, releases.

Inspired by true events, the powerful movie explores the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Don’t miss the last part of the interview. What he shares will blow you away. He specifically asked to share something with all of you that Hollywood would never allow him to do. Jim gives a powerful quote from President Regan that we MUST Stand Up for Christ, Live for Christ and most likely we will Die for Christ. We must set ourselves apart from this evil generation. We must be Saints and not be afraid! It is time to Stand for Christ !!!!

Watch the interview here, then go see Infidel.

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Saint Pio, pray for us!

This was filmed at Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary which is located in the Gargano Mountains at San Giovanni Rotondo. At times there is an atmosphere of playfulness redolent of the Fioretti of St Francis. At the end, they are obviously teasing Padre Pio about the camera and he hits the cameraman with his cincture. We see him in the refectory and in the Church, and there are scenes of his brothers dealing with the massive postbag which he generated. Starting at 4’23” there is some footage of Padre Pio as celebrant at Tridentine Latin Mass.

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China Is Already Breaking Its Vatican Deal

By Benedict Rogers at Foreign Policy:

At a time when much of the rest of the world is starting to wake up to the repression, mendacity, and dangers of the Chinese Communist Party regime, the Vatican is getting even deeper in bed with it. And at a time when that regime is intensifying repression of religion—including Catholics—in China, Pope Francis is renewing an accord with Beijing that has yielded no benefits yet save for President Xi Jinping and only disunity and suffering for the Catholic Church.

Two years ago, the Vatican signed a provisional agreement with Beijing, valid for two years. It had been a long time coming, and I and others tried to warn of the dangers before the deal was done. When it was announced, I expressed concerns—but also tried to give a pope whom I admire the benefit of the doubt.

China is already breaking the deal. Only last week in Jiangxi province, dissenting Catholic priests have been placed under house arrest, in breach of an agreement to protect clergy from coercion. Priests from Yujiang diocese, under surveillance, have been forbidden from “engaging in any religious activity in the capacity of clergy” after they refused to join the regime’s so-called “patriotic church,” and Bishop Lu Xinping was barred from celebrating Mass.

This was predictable from the start. Everything about the deal was wrong.

Firstly, the timing: in the midst of the worst crackdown on religion since the Cultural Revolution.

The text was, and remains, secret, so no one other than its negotiators and the pope know the details.

And the result was to give an atheist dictatorship a decision-making role in the appointment of bishops.

But two years ago, while I expressed my skepticism, I held out for the possibility that I was wrong and that the pope was right. I am, after all, only a 7-year-old Catholic, having been received into the church on Palm Sunday 2013 in Myanmar by Cardinal Charles Bo, and I didn’t come into the church to take on the Vatican hierarchy, let alone the pope. Indeed, I am not—other than on this issue—a critic of Francis. I love his emphasis on mercy and forgiveness, and I came into the church just 11 days after he was elected to the papacy. I have grown up as a Catholic with him and I want to support him.

Yet in the past two years, nothing has made me think that my skepticism about the deal was misplaced. On the contrary, I remain more convinced today than ever that the deal is very profoundly naïve, wrong, immoral, and dangerous. I don’t doubt the good intentions behind it, but they are deeply misplaced.

For a start, why was the release of Catholic clergy and laity in jail before the deal was signed not made—and secured—as a precondition? As it is, to my knowledge there have been no releases and yet more arrests and detentions, as the Jiangxi case shows.

Even in Hong Kong, the regime appears to have already exerted an influence over the Catholic diocese, directly or indirectly. Cardinal John Tong issued instructions to all priests to “watch your language” in homilies and avoid making politically provocative comments. The diocese has issued new instructions to Catholic schools to discourage students from participating in protests, and published religious textbooks with guidance on how Hong Kong students can “contribute to their nation” with a clear pro-Beijing slant, and it effectively banned an initiative by Catholic activists to mobilize a prayer campaign for Hong Kong. It is unclear whether the pressure for these measures came from Beijing or Rome, or out of fear in the diocese of the wrath of both.

The brazenness of the regime—tightening the screws in Jiangxi just days before the renewal of the agreement—illustrates how one-sided this deal is. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said last week that the agreement was implemented “successfully” and that the two sides “will continue to maintain close communication and consultation and improve bilateral relations.”

From Beijing’s point of view, he is right. The deal has succeeded in furthering the regime’s control of the church in China, repressing dissent, and buying the pope’s silence.

Francis—who most Sundays highlights one or another area of injustice and human rights around the world, and rightly so when he prays the Angelus—has stayed conspicuously silent on the persecution of Christians in China, the atrocities committed against the Uighurs which may well amount to a genocide, or the repression in Hong Kong or Tibet. Until now, not a word of prayer or solidarity for the repressed peoples of China has passed his lips publicly. Such is the tragic price of this worthless deal.

Ideally, I would advocate for this deal to be abandoned. And I do in principle, absolutely. But there are two reasons I don’t in practice, just yet. First, I know it will fall on deaf ears. The diplomats in the Vatican are determined, and it will be renewed. Second, we still do not know in detail what is in the agreement. It is difficult to categorically reject a text we have not yet fully seen.

So instead I say this to Rome: If it’s such a great deal—despite all the evidence to the contrary—tell us what’s in it. Come on, pleasantly surprise us! As a Catholic, I believe in miracles and I am prepared to be persuaded. But secrecy and silence are not the way.

So reveal, review, and then—if it’s as bad as the current evidence suggests—repeal the deal.

Supporters of the deal will say that the Vatican is playing a long game. But if so, it’s too long for the millions of Uighurs in prison camps, slavery, or under Orwellian surveillance; too long for the churches which are bulldozed, closed, under surveillance, or whose crosses are torn down and priests jailed; too long for prisoners of conscience whose organs are harvested; too long for Hong Kong, whose freedoms are being rapidly dismantled. Compromise for short-term gain may be defensible; total sell-out for no gain at all and an undermining of the church’s moral authority is not.

The Chinese Communist Party knows how to make use of what Lenin described as “useful idiots.” Mao was adept at using “fellow travellers.” When you have Vatican officials extolling the virtues of Chinese communism, as the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, did when he described it as the best example of Catholic Social Teaching, it is evident that the Vatican has provided Beijing with both useful idiots and fellow travellers.

I will always genuflect at an altar in a Catholic Church. What I won’t do—and I don’t think any Catholic should do—is kowtow to a brutal, repressive, tyrannical regime. I don’t think the pope should be made to do so either.

Benedict Rogers is the co-founder and chair of Hong Kong Watch.

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Interview with Sister Lucia of Fatima

In this interview from 1957, Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the visionaries of Fatima, talks about the message of Fatima (1917). She speaks of Our Lady’s sadness that so little attention is given to a message of such great importance for the whole of humanity.

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The Calling of Saint Matthew

Little is known about St. Matthew, except that he was the son of Alpheus, and he was likely born in Galilee. He worked as a tax collector, which was a hated profession during the time of Christ.

According to the Gospel, Matthew was working at a collection booth in Capernaum when Christ came to him and asked, “Follow me.” With this simple call, Matthew became a disciple of Christ.

From Matthew we know of the many deeds of Christ and the message Christ spread of salvation for all people who come to God through Him. The Gospel account of Matthew tells the same story as that found in the other three Gospels, so scholars are certain of its authenticity. His book is the first of the four Gospels in the New Testament.

Many years following the death of Christ, around 41 and 50 AD, Matthew wrote his gospel account. He wrote the book in Aramaic in the hope that his account would convince his fellow people that Jesus was the Messiah and that His kingdom had been fulfilled in a spiritual way. It was an important message at a time when almost everyone was expecting the return of a militant messiah brandishing a sword.

It is thought he departed for other lands to escape persecution sometime after 42 AD. According to various legends he fled to Parthia and Persia, or Ethiopia. Nothing is recorded of Matthew’s passing. We do not know how he died, if his death was natural or if he was martyred.

Saint Matthew is often depicted with one of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7, which reads, “The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third living creature had a human face, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.”

Matthew was a tax collector and is therefore the patron saint of bankers. The Church established St. Matthew’s feast day as September 21.

St. Matthew Prayer

O Glorious St. Matthew, in your Gospel you portray Jesus as the longed-for Messiah who fulfilled the Prophets of the Old Covenant and as the new Lawgiver who founded a Church of the New Covenant.
Obtain for us the grace to see Jesus living in his Church and to follow his teachings in our lives on earth so that we may live forever with him in heaven. Amen.

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