Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Paratrooper Padre

Fr. Francis L. Sampson
In the book, "Look Out Below! A Story of the Airborne by a Paratrooper Padre" Fr. Francis L. Sampson writes about his experiences serving as a U.S. Army Chaplain during both WW2 and the Korean War and even visited troops in Vietnam after his military retirement. Fr. Sampson was a member of the 101st Airborne Division during WW2 and parachuted into Normandy on D-Day with the Allied invasion force and later spent 6 months in a German Prisoner of War Camp.

He recalls that his first action on D-Day, after parachuting through heavy machine gun fire courtesy of German soldiers below, was to recover his lost Mass Kit. He was forced to cut away from his equipment after landing in a stream that was over his head. He was then dragged approximately 100 yards by his parachute before being able to free himself. Fr. Sampson then braved incoming bullets and mortars and carefully crawled back to the edge of the stream where he originally landed and started diving to find his Mass Kit. He was somehow able to find it on the sixth dive despite being in total darkness. His actions after he landed were also highlighted in the popular book by Cornelius Ryan, "The Longest Day" and the classic film of the same title based on the book.

Later in the day, Fr. Sampson found himself in a small French farmhouse caring for the wounded where he was confronted by two German soldiers. They forced him down the road at gun point and were apparently about to execute him when a German noncom arrived to put a stop to it. The noncom saluted Fr. Sampson and then revealed to him a religious medal pinned to the inside of his uniform. Fr. Sampson explains that he "was so glad of the universality of the Church." This would not be his only brush with death. Each time he was in imminent danger on D-Day he would say a quick act of contrition. Although he later realized that instead of saying an act of contrition in the surreal moments when his life was threatened, he had been saying the grace before meals prayer.

Days later, Fr. Sampson's regiment was camped outside a hospital attached to a convent and school a few miles from Cherbourg. Almost all of the buildings had been completely destroyed by bombers, but there were still over 50 nuns that remained and assisted the wounded. Fr. Sampson decided to say mass in their chapel which had only two walls standing and the roof was caved-in. The only part of the chapel left undamaged was the life-sized crucifix that hung on the wall and the large statues of Saints Peter and Paul. Fr. Sampson and the nuns were convinced this was a miracle. There was no other explanation for it.

It was in that bombed-out chapel, after days of grueling combat, Fr. Sampson delivered the following homily to a large group of battle-weary men:

"The image of the naked Galilean hanging from the cross has always inspired great love and fierce hate. Nero sought to make the cross a hateful image by putting Christians to death upon it, pouring pitch upon them, and lighting Rome with these flaming human crosses. Julian the Apostate said that he would make the world forget the Man on the cross, but in his final agony he had to acknowledge, 'Thou has conquered, Galilean.' Communists forbid its presence because they fear its power against their evil designs. Hitler has tried to replace the image of our Blessed Lord on the cross with a stupid swastika. Invectives, false philosophies, violence, and every diabolical scheme have been used to tear the Christ from the cross and the crucifix from the church. Nevertheless, like the bombs that were dropped on this chapel, they have only succeeded in making the cross stand out more and more in bold relief. The image we love grows greater in our understanding because of the vehemence of the hate it occasions in wicked men. Each of us has that sacred image stamped upon his soul. Like the chapel, we are Temples of God. And no matter how we are torn by the bombs of tragedy and trial and assault from without, the image of the crucified remains if we want it to. Now at the foot of this cross let us renew our baptismal vows. Let us promise to shield forever His image in our hearts." (p. 77)

Fr. Sampson said that he would never forget that mass. After reading his book, I will never forget him.

Francis L. Sampson, Look Out Below: A Story of the Airborne by a Paratrooper Padre, Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1958.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fr. Barron's Weekly Homily: "But For Wales...?"

Sermon 555 : "But For Wales...?" : 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

All must be aware of the possibility of losing one's soul in pursuit of gaining the world. One will inevitably face opposition from the world. Will you give in? Christ's demand of love is difficult and many do not want to follow it because it entails suffering. But in order to follow Christ you must consciously and purposely walk the path of suffering love.

Listen via streaming HERE
Download homily HERE

EWTN.com - St. Monica, Mother Of St. Augustine, Commemorated August 27

EWTN.com - St. Monica, Mother Of St. Augustine, Commemorated August 27

St. Monica, Mother Of St. Augustine, Commemorated August 27

On August 27, one day before the feast of her son St. Augustine, the Catholic Church honors St. Monica, whose holy example and fervent intercession led to one of the most dramatic conversions in Church history.

Monica was born into a Catholic family in 332, in the North African city of Tagaste located in present-day Algeria. She was raised by a maidservant who taught her the virtues of obedience and temperance. While still relatively young, she married Patricius, a Roman civil servant with a bad temper and a disdain for his wife's religion.

Patricius' wife dealt patiently with his distressing behavior, which included infidelity to their marriage vows. But she experienced a greater grief when he would not allow their three children - Augustine, Nagivius, and Perpetua - to receive Baptism. When Augustine, the oldest, became sick and was in danger of death, Patricius gave consent for his Baptism, but withdrew it when he recovered.

Monica's long-suffering patience and prayers eventually helped Patricius to see the error of his ways, and he was baptized into the Church one year before his death in 371. Her oldest son, however, soon embraced a way of life that brought her further grief, as he fathered a child out of wedlock in 372. One year later, he began to practice the occult religion of Manichaeism.

In her distress and grief, Monica initially shunned her oldest son. However, she experienced a mysterious dream that strengthened her hope for Augustine's soul, in which a messenger assured her: "Your son is with you." After this experience, which took place around 377, she allowed him back into her home, and continued to beg God for his conversion.

But this would not take place for another nine years. In the meantime, Monica sought the advice of local clergy, wondering what they might do to persuade her son away from the Manichean heresy. One bishop, who had once belonged to that sect himself, assured Monica that it was "impossible that the son of such tears should perish."

These tears and prayers intensified when Augustine, at age 29, abandoned Monica without warning as she passed the night praying in a chapel. Without saying goodbye to his mother, Augustine boarded a ship bound for Rome. Yet even this painful event would serve God's greater purpose, as Augustine left to become a teacher in the place where he was destined to become a Catholic.

Under the influence of the bishop St. Ambrose of Milan, Augustine renounced the teaching of the Manichees around 384. Monica followed her son to Milan, and drew encouragement from her son's growing interest in the saintly bishop's preaching. After three years of struggle against his own desires and perplexities, Augustine succumbed to God's grace and was baptized in 387.

Shortly before her death, Monica shared a profound mystical experience of God with Augustine, who chronicled the event in his "Confessions." Finally, she told him: "Son, for myself I have no longer any pleasure in anything in this life. Now that my hopes in this world are satisfied, I do not know what more I want here or why I am here."

"The only thing I ask of you both," she told Augustine and his brother Nagivius, "is that you make remembrance of me at the altar of the Lord wherever you are."

St. Monica died at age 56, in the year 387. In modern times, she has become the inspiration for the St. Monica Sodality, which encourages prayer and penance among Catholics whose children have left the faith.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=3719#ixzz1W9KAp3AK

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spanish cardinal recommends that Catholics receive Communion on the tongue :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Spanish cardinal recommends that Catholics receive Communion on the tongue :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Lima, Peru, Jul 28, 2011 / 01:56 pm (CNA).- Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera recently recommended that Catholics receive Communion on the tongue, while kneeling.

“It is to simply know that we are before God himself and that He came to us and that we are undeserving,” the prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said in an interview with CNA during his visit to Lima, Peru.

The cardinal’s remarks came in response to a question on whether Catholics should receive Communion in the hand or on the tongue.
He recommended that Catholics “receive Communion on the tongue and while kneeling.”

Receiving Communion in this way, the cardinal continued, “is the sign of adoration that needs to be recovered. I think the entire Church needs to receive Communion while kneeling.”

“In fact,” he added, “if one receives while standing, a genuflection or profound bow should be made, and this is not happening.”

“If we trivialize Communion, we trivialize everything, and we cannot lose a moment as important as that of receiving Communion, of recognizing the real presence of Christ there, of the God who is the love above all loves, as we sing in a hymn in Spanish.”

In response to a question about the liturgical abuses that often occur, Cardinal Canizares said they must be “corrected, especially through proper formation: formation for seminarians, for priests, for catechists, for all the Christian faithful.”

Such a formation should ensure that liturgical celebrations take place “in accord with the demands and dignity of the celebration, in accord with the norms of the Church, which is the only way we can authentically celebrate the Eucharist,” he added.

“Bishops have a unique responsibility” in the task of liturgical formation and the correction of abuses, the cardinal said, “and we must not fail to fulfill it, because everything we do to ensure that the Eucharist is celebrated properly will ensure proper participation in the Eucharist.”

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy."

Saint Jean Vianney

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fr. Barron's Weekly Homily: Elijah and Peter

Sermon 552 : Elijah and Peter : 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Elijah is a contemplative who has the eyes to see and the ears to listen. God does not appear in the glory of the world. Rather, he appears in a silent way. Weed out of your heart all of those fears and desires that prevent you from discerning the silent presence of God.

Listen via streaming HERE
Download homily HERE

'Os iusti meditabitur sapientiam' -Gregorian Chant

Hat tip to Michael Liccione

Os iusti meditabitur sapientiam et lingua eius loquetur iudicium
Lex Dei eius in corde ipsius et non subplantabuntur gressus eius/

The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom: and his tongue shall speak judgment./
The law of his God is in his heart, and his steps shall not be supplanted./

Thursday, August 4, 2011

In Paradisum - Catholic Requiem Mass Hymns

"In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

May angels lead you into paradise; upon your arrival, may the martyrs receive you and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem.
May the ranks of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, the poor man, may you have eternal rest."

Pope recommends books for summer reading

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Presence of Christ in The Lord of the Rings

 Peter J. Kreeft

Link to article from Ignatius Insight

• This essay is an excerpt from Peter J. Kreeft's book, The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings.

Can any one man incarnate every truth and virtue? 

Throughout the New Testament we find a shocking simplicity: Christ does not merely teach the truth, He is the truth; He does not merely show us the way, He is the way; He does not merely give us eternal life, He is that life. He does not merely teach or purchase our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption, but "God made [Him] our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Cor 1:30). How can all these universal values and truths be really and completely present in one concrete individual person? Only if that Person is divine (thus universal) as well as human (thus particular); only by the Incarnation; only by what C. S. Lewis calls "myth become fact".

J. R. R. Tolkien, like most Catholics, saw pagan myths not as wholly mistaken (as most Protestants do), but as confused precursors of Christianity. Man's soul has three powers, and God left him prophets for all three: Jewish moralists for his will, Greek philosophers for his mind, and pagan mythmakers for his heart and imagination and feelings. Of course, the latter two are not infallible. C. S. Lewis calls pagan myths "gleams of celestial strength and beauty falling on a jungle of filth and imbecility" (Perelandra, p. 201). One of the key steps in Lewis's conversion, as recounted in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, was his reading the chapter in Chesterton's The Everlasting Man that showed him the relationship between Christianity and pagan myths of salvation, death, and resurrection. Christianity was "myth become fact".

Tolkien's Catholic tradition tends to have a high opinion of pagans who know and follow the "natural law", for it interprets these pagans not apart from Christ, but as imperfectly knowing Him. For Christ is not just a thirty-three-year-old, six-foot-tall Jewish carpenter, but the eternal Logos, the Mind of God, "the true light that enlightens every man" (Jn 1:9). So Christ can be present even when not adequately known in paganism. This is exactly what St. Paul told the Athenians (in Acts 17:23): "What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you." Christ's presence is not limited to the presence of the explicit knowledge of Christ, or the revelation of Christ. As the Reformed tradition puts it, there is also "general revelation" as well as "special revelation".