The 30 Statements of the Joint Declaration Between Pope Francis and Russian Patriarch Kirill

By meeting far from the longstanding disputes of the “Old World”, we experience with a particular sense of urgency the need for the shared labour of Catholics and Orthodox, who are called, with gentleness and respect, to give an explanation to the world of the hope in us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

Listers, on February 12, 2016 His Holiness Pope Francis met with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba. The two leaders signed a joint declaration on several issues, which included overcoming historic antagonisms between the two Churches, the plight of Christians in the Middle East, the decline of the West, and a focus on the family and marriage. The following is the official English translation of the Joint Declaration.1




Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia


“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13).

1. By God the Father’s will, from which all gifts come, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit Consolator, we, Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, have met today in Havana. We give thanks to God, glorified in the Trinity, for this meeting, the first in history.

It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another “to speak face to face” (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilization.

2. Our fraternal meeting has taken place in Cuba, at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. It is from this island, the symbol of the hopes of the “New World” and the dramatic events of the history of the twentieth century, that we address our words to all the peoples of Latin America and of the other continents.

It is a source of joy that the Christian faith is growing here in a dynamic way. The powerful religious potential of Latin America, its centuries–old Christian tradition, grounded in the personal experience of millions of people, are the pledge of a great future for this region.

3. By meeting far from the longstanding disputes of the “Old World”, we experience with a particular sense of urgency the need for the shared labour of Catholics and Orthodox, who are called, with gentleness and respect, to give an explanation to the world of the hope in us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

4. We thank God for the gifts received from the coming into the world of His only Son. We share the same spiritual Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity. The witnesses of this Tradition are the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints we venerate. Among them are innumerable martyrs who have given witness to their faithfulness to Christ and have become the “seed of Christians”.

5. Notwithstanding this shared Tradition of the first ten centuries, for nearly one thousand years Catholics and Orthodox have been deprived of communion in the Eucharist. We have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors, in the understanding and expression of our faith in God, one in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are pained by the loss of unity, the outcome of human weakness and of sin, which has occurred despite the priestly prayer of Christ the Saviour: “So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you … so that they may be one, as we are one” (Jn 17:21).

6. Mindful of the permanence of many obstacles, it is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re–establishment of this unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed. May our meeting inspire Christians throughout the world to pray to the Lord with renewed fervour for the full unity of all His disciples. In a world which yearns not only for our words but also for tangible gestures, may this meeting be a sign of hope for all people of goodwill!

7. In our determination to undertake all that is necessary to overcome the historical divergences we have inherited, we wish to combine our efforts to give witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the shared heritage of the Church of the first millennium, responding together to the challenges of the contemporary world. Orthodox and Catholics must learn to give unanimously witness in those spheres in which this is possible and necessary. Human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response.

8. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.

9. We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.

10. Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large–scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands.

We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.

11. We lift our prayers to Christ, the Saviour of the world, asking for the return of peace in the Middle East, “the fruit of justice” (Is 32:17), so that fraternal co–existence among the various populations, Churches and religions may be strengthened, enabling refugees to return to their homes, wounds to be healed, and the souls of the slain innocent to rest in peace.

We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

12. We bow before the martyrdom of those who, at the cost of their own lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring death to the denial of Christ. We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians. It is to you who suffer for Christ’s sake that the word of the Apostle is directed: “Beloved … rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pet 4:12–13).

13. Interreligious dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times. Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony. In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions. Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are altogether unacceptable. No crime may be committed in God’s name, “since God is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33).

14. In affirming the foremost value of religious freedom, we give thanks to God for the current unprecedented renewal of the Christian faith in Russia, as well as in many other countries of Eastern Europe, formerly dominated for decades by atheist regimes. Today, the chains of militant atheism have been broken and in many places Christians can now freely confess their faith. Thousands of new churches have been built over the last quarter of a century, as well as hundreds of monasteries and theological institutions. Christian communities undertake notable works in the fields of charitable aid and social development, providing diversified forms of assistance to the needy. Orthodox and Catholics often work side by side. Giving witness to the values of the Gospel they attest to the existence of the shared spiritual foundations of human co–existence.

15. At the same time, we are concerned about the situation in many countries in which Christians are increasingly confronted by restrictions to religious freedom, to the right to witness to one’s convictions and to live in conformity with them. In particular, we observe that the transformation of some countries into secularized societies, estranged from all reference to God and to His truth, constitutes a grave threat to religious freedom. It is a source of concern for us that there is a current curtailment of the rights of Christians, if not their outright discrimination, when certain political forces, guided by an often very aggressive secularist ideology, seek to relegate them to the margins of public life.

16. The process of European integration, which began after centuries of blood–soaked conflicts, was welcomed by many with hope, as a guarantee of peace and security. Nonetheless, we invite vigilance against an integration that is devoid of respect for religious identities. While remaining open to the contribution of other religions to our civilization, it is our conviction that Europe must remain faithful to its Christian roots. We call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel, so that Europe may preserve its soul, shaped by two thousand years of Christian tradition.

17. Our gaze is also directed to those facing serious difficulties, who live in extreme need and poverty while the material wealth of humanity increases. We cannot remain indifferent to the destinies of millions of migrants and refugees knocking on the doors of wealthy nations. The unrelenting consumerism of some more developed countries is gradually depleting the resources of our planet. The growing inequality in the distribution of material goods increases the feeling of the injustice of the international order that has emerged.

18. The Christian churches are called to defend the demands of justice, the respect for peoples’ traditions, and an authentic solidarity towards all those who suffer. We Christians cannot forget that “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, that no human being might boast before God” (1 Cor 1:27–29).

19. The family is the natural centre of human life and society. We are concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries. Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family, and are called to witness that it is a path of holiness, testifying to the faithfulness of the spouses in their mutual interaction, to their openness to the procreation and rearing of their children, to solidarity between the generations and to respect for the weakest.

20. The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman. It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift. Marriage is a school of love and faithfulness. We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.

21. We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf. Gen 4:10).

The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general.

We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator’s plan.

22. Today, in a particular way, we address young Christians. You, young people, have the task of not hiding your talent in the ground (cf. Mt 25:25), but of using all the abilities God has given you to confirm Christ’s truth in the world, incarnating in your own lives the evangelical commandments of the love of God and of one’s neighbour. Do not be afraid of going against the current, defending God’s truth, to which contemporary secular norms are often far from conforming.

23. God loves each of you and expects you to be His disciples and apostles. Be the light of the world so that those around you may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:14, 16). Raise your children in the Christian faith, transmitting to them the pearl of great price that is the faith (cf. Mt 13:46) you have received from your parents and forbears. Remember that “you have been purchased at a great price” (1 Cor 6:20), at the cost of the death on the cross of the Man–God Jesus Christ.

24. Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today. This mission entails mutual respect for members of the Christian communities and excludes any form of proselytism.

We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to learn to live together in peace and love, and to be “in harmony with one another” (Rm 15:5). Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another, denying them their religious freedom and their traditions. We are called upon to put into practice the precept of the apostle Paul: “Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation” (Rm 15:20).

25. It is our hope that our meeting may also contribute to reconciliation wherever tensions exist between Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It is today clear that the past method of “uniatism”, understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re–establish unity. Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours. Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co–existence.

26. We deplore the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. We invite all the parts involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity and to action aimed at constructing peace. We invite our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.

27. It is our hope that the schism between the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine may be overcome through existing canonical norms, that all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident.

28. In the contemporary world, which is both multiform yet united by a shared destiny, Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together fraternally in proclaiming the Good News of salvation, to testify together to the moral dignity and authentic freedom of the person, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). This world, in which the spiritual pillars of human existence are progressively disappearing, awaits from us a compelling Christian witness in all spheres of personal and social life. Much of the future of humanity will depend on our capacity to give shared witness to the Spirit of truth in these difficult times.

29. May our bold witness to God’s truth and to the Good News of salvation be sustained by the Man–God Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who strengthens us with the unfailing promise: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32)!

Christ is the well–spring of joy and hope. Faith in Him transfigures human life, fills it with meaning. This is the conviction borne of the experience of all those to whom Peter refers in his words: “Once you were ‘no people’ but now you are God’s people; you ‘had not received mercy’ but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet 2:10).

30. With grace–filled gratitude for the gift of mutual understanding manifested during our meeting, let us with hope turn to the Most Holy Mother of God, invoking her with the words of this ancient prayer: “We seek refuge under the protection of your mercy, Holy Mother of God”. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession, inspire fraternity in all those who venerate her, so that they may be reunited, in God’s own time, in the peace and harmony of the one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and indivisible Trinity!

Bishop of Rome
Pope of the Catholic Church

Patriarch of Moscow
and all Russia

  1. Patriarch Kirill characterized the private meeting as an open discussion “with full awareness of the responsibility of our Churches, for the future of Christianity, and for the future of human civilization.” He said the conversation “gave us the opportunity to understand and hear the positions of the other.” “The results of this allow me to assure you that the two Churches will continue to work closely together with Christians in all the world, and with full responsibility to work together against war, so that human life can develop in the entire world.” Their conversation also aimed to strengthen “the bases of personal and family morality” through “the participation of the Church in the life of modern human society, that glorifies the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Pope told Patriarch Kirill before their private meeting “we’re brothers. It’s clear that this is the will of God.” Catholic News Agency. []

7 Illustrations of How People in the Old Testament Viewed the Universe

Listers, the concept of ancient Hebrew cosmology is fascinating. In general, the world was a flat disc covered by a firm dome. Beneath the disc was Sheol – the place of the dead – and the deep waters. Above the dome, there was more water and finally the high heavens where God dwells. “The notion that the sky was a vast solid dome seems to have been common among the ancient peoples… According to the notion prevalent among the Greeks and Romans, the sky was a great vault of crystal to which the fixed stars were attached, though by some it was held to be of iron or brass. That the Hebrews entertained similar ideas appears from numerous biblical passages.” For example, Job 37:18 reads, “And was it with help of thine God fashioned the heavens, firm as cast bronze?.”1 The firmament acted as the separation between the higher waters of the heavens and the lower waters of the deep.2 The dome of the earth sat upon pillars and upon the foundations of the world.3 In the dome there are windows or doors from which the rain falls – the most famous example being Noah’s flood in Genesis.4 Finally, deep within the earth was Sheol. Sheol “is generally supposed to come from the Hebrew root meaning, ‘to be sunk in, to be hollow:’ accordingly it denotes a cave or a place under the earth. In the Old Testament (Septuagint hades; Vulgate infernus) sheol is used quite in general to designate the kingdom of the dead, of the good (Genesis 37:35) as well as of the bad (Numbers 16:30); it means hell in the strict sense of the term, as well as the limbo of the Fathers. But, as the limbo of the Fathers ended at the time of Christ’s Ascension, hades (Vulgate infernus) in the New Testament always designates the hell of the damned. Since Christ’s Ascension the just no longer go down to the lower world, but they dwell in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1).”5 As with most concepts, there are debates on how literal to take certain passages.


Ancient Hebrew Cosmology



Hebrew Cosmology 1

Hebrew Cosmology 2

Ancient Hebrew Cosmology

Hebrew Cosmology 4

Hebrew Cosmology 5

Hebrew Cosmology 6

Hebrew Cosmology 7

  1. Quote from Catholic Encyclopedia, Firmament. []
  2. See Job 26:11; 37:18; the dome is blue due to separation of the waters, Gen. 1:7; the earth is surrounded by water, Gen. 1:6,7; cf. Psalms 24:2; 148:4, Deut. 5:8. []
  3. Job 26:11; II Sam. 22:8. []
  4. Gen. 7:11-12; 8:2; for verses on the lumenaries of heaven, see Gen. 1:14-19; Ps. 19:4,6; for verses on the dome and birds, see Gen. 1:20; Deut. 4:17. []
  5. Catholic Encyclopedia, Hell. []

The Ultimate Guide to St. Genevieve: 13 Things about Her and Her Feast Day

Life & Works

1. General Background

St. Genevieve was born around Anno Domini 419 or 422 in Nanterre, France, “a small village four miles from Paris, near the famous modern stations, or Calvary, adorned with excellent sculptures, representing our Lord’s Passion, on Mount Valerien.”1 She died in Paris in 512. Holy Mother Church celebrates her feast day on the third of January. “She was the daughter of Severus and Gerontia; popular tradition represents her parents as poor peasants, though it seems more likely that they were wealthy and respectable townspeople.”2


2. The Prophecy Over Young Genevieve

St Genevieve Card“Pope St. Boniface had sent St. Germain to Great Britain to combat the Pelagian heresy around the year 430. He was accompanied by St. Lupus, Bishop of Troyes. On their way through France, they stopped at the village of Nanterre. Upon their arrival, the two Prelates went to the Church to pray for the success of their trip. The people surrounded them with pious curiosity and to ask their blessing. Illuminated by a divine inspiration, Germain espied in the crowd a young girl of seven years of age, and he was interiorly advised that Our Lord had chosen her for a singular mission. He asked the name of the child and that she be brought before him. The people told him that her name was Genevieve. Her father and her mother brought her forward.”

“Is this child yours?” Germain asked.

They answered, “Yes.”

And the holy man said: “Blessed are you that God hath given you this child. Know you for certain that on the day of her birth the Angels sang and a great feast was made in Heaven. This girl shall be of great merit before the Lord. And from her good life and words many shall take example, that they shall leave the yoke of sin and convert to God.”

Then, he turned toward the child, and she said to him: “Blessed Father, your servant is listening.”

The Bishop asked: “Tell me, and be not embarrassed, if you will consecrate yourself to Christ in purity without stain as His spouse?”

The maid answered: “Blessed be you, my Father. What you ask of me is the most cherished desire of my heart. I ask only that by your prayers, Our Lord will accomplish my desire.”

“Have confidence, my daughter,” said Germain. “Be firm in your resolution. Prove by your works the good things that you believe in your heart and say with your mouth, and Our Lord shall give you strength as well as virtue.”3

It is also reported the saint told young Genevieve, “Be of good heart, my child, act with earnestness, and struggle to prove by thy works that which thou believest in thy heart, and professest with thy lips; the Lord will sustain thee, and will give thee the strength that is required to carry out thy holy resolution.”4 Most sources conclude the event between the young girl and the saint as follows: “Genèvieve then expressed her wish that Saint Germain would bless her. Granting the child’s wish, Saint Germain took her to a local church where he performed the consecration. The next day, before he continued on his journey, Saint Germain gave Genèvieve a brass medal engraved with a cross. He instructed her to always wear it around her neck, in remembrance of her consecration to God and devotion to Christ. Further, he told her to be content with only the medal, and to wear it instead of more showy ornaments such as gold and silver bracelets, and necklaces. She kept the medal all her life, never giving it up even when she badly needed money. She lived a life of fervent devotion and penance. As there were no convents near her village, Genèvieve practiced her religious virtue and prayer at home.”5


3. Similarities Between St. Genevieve  & St. Joan of Arc

“Many of her neighbours, filled with jealousy and envy, accused Genevieve of being an impostor and a hypocrite. Like Blessed Joan of Arc, in later times, she had frequent communion with the other world, but her visions and prophecies were treated as frauds and deceits. Her enemies conspired to drown her; but, through the intervention of Germain of Auxerre, their animosity was finally overcome. The bishop of the city appointed her to look after the welfare of the virgins dedicated to God, and by her instruction and example she led them to a high degree of sanctity.”6


4. Stopping Attila the Hun, AD 451

"This statue of Sainte-Geneviève, patron saint and protector of the city of Paris, was created in 1928 for the Pont de la Tournelle."
“This statue of Sainte-Geneviève, patron saint and protector of the city of Paris, was created in 1928 for the Pont de la Tournelle.” She stands high above the river, facing East, watching over the city.

“Another significant and often-reported event in Genèvieve’s life occurred around 451, when the barbarian Attila and his army of Huns marched across the continent, intending to take control of Gaul away from the ruling Visigoths. After Attila crossed the Rhine and neared Paris, the Parisian citizens were ready to flee the city in terror. Genèvieve, however, advised them against evacuation. She told them that if they kept their faith in God, fasted, prayed and performed penance, the city would be protected by heaven and their lives would be spared. The citizens were doubtful, however, as they all knew that Attila was a vicious and merciless warlord who left devastation in his wake. His soldiers were an equally cruel band of marauders who raped, looted, killed and destroyed. Still, many of the citizens passed days and nights in prayer with Genèvieve in the baptistery. But when the crisis neared its peak, and Attila seemed to be right outside the city walls, the people became panic-stricken, and they turned against Genèvieve. They accused her of being a false prophet who would bring about their deaths as well as the destruction of their beloved city, and they threatened to stone her.”

“Again, Saint Germain’s intervention helped her. News of the situation reached him as he lay near death in Ravenna, Italy. In response, he sent his archdeacon, Sedulius, to help calm the citizens. Sedulius counseled them to listen to Genèvieve, saying she was not a prophetess of doom but the means of their salvation. Still, some inhabitants abandoned Paris. Genèvieve then supposedly gathered the women who had remained behind and led them outside the walls of the city. As the sun rose, and with enemy weapons before them, Genèvieve and the women prayed for deliverance. Later that night, Attila turned away from Paris, leaving the city unharmed, and headed south, to Orleans. Genèvieve was proclaimed a savior and heroine.”7


5. King Childeric & the Siege of Paris, AD 486

“Genèvieve demonstrated her bravery and helped the people of Paris a second time, almost similarly, more than 30 years later. In 486, Childeric, the king of the Salian Franks, a Germanic tribe, blockaded the city. The prolonged siege created a serious food shortage that brought the citizens to the starvation point. One night, Genèvieve led 11 boats out onto the river, rowing past the enemy’s siege lines. Once safely across, she went from village to village, begging for food. Later that night, she returned to Paris, again slipping safely past the blockade, with boatfuls of precious grain.”

“When he heard about her deed, Childeric was impressed with Genèvieve, even though he was a pagan and she was a Christian. After the siege had ended, he sent for her and, out of admiration, he asked what he could do for her. She said to him, “Release your prisoners. Their only fault was that they so dearly loved their city.” He granted her wish, and later performed other merciful acts at her request.”8


6. The Church of Sts. Peter & Paul

“When Childeric died, King Clovis succeeded him and consolidated control of the land from the Rhine to the Loire. He married Childeric’s elder daughter, Clothilde, who was a Christian. Clovis, like Childeric, was a pagan, and his wife often tried to convert him, but without success. Still, Clovis chose Genèvieve to be one of his counselors, and she earned his trust. As Childeric once did, Clovis freed many prisoners at Genèvieve’s request. Once, as Clovis prepared to enter what he knew would be fierce battle, he promised his wife that he would be baptized in the Christian rite if he came back alive. True to his word, when his army won, he became a Christian in 496, guided in his conversion by Genèvieve. His people and servants soon became Christians as well. Genèvieve is credited with developing the plans for a church to honor Saints Peter and Paul, to be built in the middle of Paris. King Clovis started the church, managing only to lay the foundation before he died in 511. The church was completed by Queen Clothilde.”9


 7. Named the “Patron Saint of Paris”

“Genèvieve died January 3, 512, only five weeks after King Clovis’s death. She was in her eighth decade of life; at least one account said she was 89 years old. She was buried in a long, flowing gown with a mantle covering her shoulders, similar to the type of garments worn by the Virgin Mary. Genèvieve’s burial site within the church would become a place of pilgrimage, as people had heard many stories of miracles and cures attributed to Genèvieve. Even after her death, miracles were credited to Genèvieve. Perhaps the most famous account involved the great epidemic of ergot poisoning that afflicted France in the twelfth century. After all efforts to find a cure were unsuccessful, in 1129, Bishop Stephen of Paris instructed that Genèvieve’s casket be carried through the city streets in procession to the cathedral. According to reports from the time, thousands of sick people were cured when they saw or touched the casket. The following year, Pope Innocent II visited Paris and ordered an annual feast to commemorate the miracle. Parisian churches still celebrate the feast.”

“St. Genèvieve also became known as the Patron Saint of Young Girls. Also, in 1962, Pope John XXIII named her the patron saint of French security forces, a gesture that honored her many efforts to secure Paris. Her feast day is January 3, but it is not part of the general Roman Catholic calendar.”10


Inside the Pantheon by Jean-Pierre Lavoie, wiki.
Inside the Pantheon by Jean-Pierre Lavoie, wiki.

The Church of St. Genevieve & Her Relics

8. Paris Turns Against Her Patron

In 512, St. Genevieve died and her body was interred in the Sts. Peter & Paul Church she helped design. “This fact, and the numerous miracles wrought at her tomb, caused the name of Sainte-Geneviève to be given to it. Kings, princes, and people enriched it with their gifts. In 847 it was plundered by the Normans and was partially rebuilt, but was completed only in 1177. This church having fallen into decay once more, Louis XV began the construction of a new church in 1764.”11 Unfortunately, the French Revolution broke out before the new church dedicated to St. Genevieve was finished. In 1791, the Constituent Assembly secularized the church and renamed it “The Pantheon” – a building dedicated as a mausoleum for notable Frenchmen. The fight for the building continued as it was rededicated as a church in 1821, then secularized in 1831, rededicated in 1852, and then finally secularized as the Pantheon in 1885.12 Today, the Pantheon remains a secularized burial place for Frenchmen, which occasional permits religious events.13


9. The Burning of St. Genevieve’s Relics

“St. Genevieve’s relics were preserved in her church, with great devotion, for centuries, and Paris received striking proof of the efficacy of her intercession. She saved the city from complete inundation in 834. In 1129 a violent plague, known as the mal des ardents, carried off over 14,000 victims, but it ceased suddenly during a procession in her honour. Innocent II, who had come to Paris to implore the king’s help against the Antipope Anacletus in 1130, examined personally into the miracle and was so convinced of its authenticity that he ordered a feast to be kept annually in honour of the event on 26 November. A small church, called Sainte-Geneviève des Ardents, commemorated the miracle till 1747, when it was pulled down to make room for the Foundling Hospital. The saint’s relics were carried in procession yearly to the cathedral, and Mme de Sévigné gives a description of the pageant in one of her letters. The revolutionaries of 1793 destroyed most of the relics preserved in St. Genevieve’s church, and the rest were cast to the winds by the mob in 1871. Fortunately, however, a large relic had been kept at Verneuil, Oise, in the eighteenth century, and is still extant.”14



10. Prayer to Saint Genevieve

Saint Genevieve, you who by the days before, penance and prayer, ensured the protection of Paris, intercede near God for us, for our country, for the devoted Christian hearts. You who cured the sick and fed the hungry, obtain the light of God and make us stronger to reject temptation. You who had the concern of the poor, protect the sick, the abandoned, and the unemployed. You who resisted the armies and encouraged the besieged, give us the direction for truth and justice. You who through the centuries never ceased taking care of your people, help us to keep the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. May your example be for us, an encouragement to always seek God and serve him through our brothers and sisters. Amen.15


11. Litany to Saint Genevieve

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

St. Genevieve, who since childhood was filled with GodÂ’s grace, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, consecrated to Christ by St. Germane, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, obedient to the Holy Spirit, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, zealous defender of the faith, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, heroically devoted to the Church, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, whose life is an example how we should live for God, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, intercessor of the clergy, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who suffered for your vocation, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who knew about hostility and abandonment, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who spent hours in prayer, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, whose fasts and prayers saved the city, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who had a demanding friendship with the king, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, whose wisdom enlightened the pagans, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, whose prudence guided the leaders, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, with purity you overcame slander, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, whose strength stood up against the evil doers, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who miraculously nourished the hungry, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who reconciled sinners with God, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who brought back to the Church the lost ones, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who read the conscience through the gift of the Holy Spirit, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who cured the sick, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who controlled the floods, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who restored peace between enemies, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who softened the fate of the prisoners, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, who drove out demons, pray for us.
St. Genevieve, protector of your devoted people, pray for us.

Give us, Lord, the spirit of intelligence and love of which you filled your daughter, Genevieve, so that attentive to your service and seeking to do your will, we can please you by our faith and our deeds. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Sprit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Let us open our hearts in thanks to God for the favors showered upon us. Saint Paul teaches us to give thanks to God the Father always through Christ, in whom He has given us everything. For when we became GodÂ’s children in Christ, God gave us the riches of his grace, rescuing us from the powers of darkness and bringing us into the kingdom of his beloved Son. Whenever we acknowledge GodÂ’s gifts, we prepare ourselves to take part more fully in the Eucharist, which is the sum of all blessings and the crown and source of all thanksgiving. Amen.16


Celebrating the Feast Day

12. Celebratory Alcoholic Drinks

Cheers! SPL is certainly no stranger to celebrating the traditions of the Catholic faith with alcohol. A week before St. Genevieve’s feast, the Church celebrates the feast of St. John the Apostle, which has a long tradition of blessing wine.17 With SPL posting lists on prayers to bless beer and introductions to Trappist Ale, it is no surprise that alcohol would be included in celebrating the great St. Genevieve. The first recipe come recommended by the author of Drinking with the Saints, Michael P. Foley. He also recommends looking into Sainte Genevieve Winery for those more inclined to wine. He proposed toast is “to St. Genevieve: May she protect us from today’s barbarians.” As the Patroness of Paris, the “Paris Cocktail” is a fitting drink to celebrate this wonderful saint.

Paris Cocktail

3/4 oz. gin
3/4 oz. Grand Marnier
1/2 oz. cherry liqueur
1/2 oz. lemon juice

Pour ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Another option, suggested by SPL, would be a French Coffee:

Caffe Francais

1/2 cup whipping cream, chilled (heavy cream)

1/8 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups coffee, hot

Beat the cream until it’s rich and fluffy, with soft peaks (or use already whipped cream from a can). Mix in the powdered sugar, and continue to beat until you have stiff peaks. Split whipped cream between 2 mugs. Add vanilla to the hot coffee, then pour over cream. Serve right away, Don’t stir!18

Enjoy the cocktail, the wine, or the caffe – but be sure to toast St. Genevieve. St. Genevieve: May she protect us from today’s barbarians!


13. Celebratory Foods

While there does not appear to be a traditional food associated with the feast of St. Genevieve, there are two fun options for breakfast. The first would be to serve french toast and the second would be to serve the so-called Apostle’s Fingers, which is a traditional French dish served during the winter carnival. The Apostle’s Fingers are lemon and riccota filled crepes.19


St. Genevieve, pray for us!

  2. Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Genevieve, paraphrased and quotes. []
  3. St. Genevieve, Tradition in Action, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. []
  4. St. Genevieve, Encyclopedia. []
  5. Id. []
  6. Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Genevieve. []
  7. St. Genevieve, Encyclopedia. []
  8. St. Genevieve, Encyclopedia. []
  9. St. Genevieve, Encyclopedia. []
  10. St. Genevieve, Enncyclopedia. []
  11. St. Genevieve, Catholic Encyclopedia. []
  12. St. Genevieve, Catholic Encyclopedia, directly paraphrased. []
  13. St. Genevieve, Wikipedia. []
  14. St. Genevieve, Catholic Encyclopedia. []
  15. St. Genevieve Catholic Church, Arizona. []
  16. Id. []
  17. SPL: Toasting St. John with Blessed Wine. []
  18. French Coffee Recipe – []
  19. Apostle Fingers, Food52. []

20 Quote Graphics from the 2015 World of Meeting of Families in Philadelphia

Listers, the World Meeting of Families exists to strength and support family. According to the official site of the 2015 gathers: “Held every three years and sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family, the World Meeting of Families is the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families. Each World Meeting of Families has a theme that energizes and enlivens the event while adding great depth of meaning to our understanding of families. The theme of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 is “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” emphasizing the impact of the love and life of families on our society.”1 The host of the meeting, Archbishop Chaput, wrote:

Saint John Paul II, hailed as the Pope of the Family, created the World Meeting of Families in 1994 in Rome to explore the critical role the family plays in society and to give families opportunities to talk about the challenges and blessings that all families have.

Our theme, “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive” was inspired by the early Church Father, St. Irenaeus, who wrote “the Glory of God is man fully alive.” The glory of men and women is their capacity to love as God loves – and no better means exists to teach the meaning of love than the family. His Holiness, Pope Francis also inspired the theme. He embodies the message of mercy, joy and love at the heart of the Gospel.2

After his visit to Washington D.C. and New York City, His Holiness Pope Francis gave several addresses – including a speech on religious liberty at Independence Hall, a spontaneous address at the Festival of Families, and a homily at the concluding Holy Mass. The following are quote graphics from various sources that were either inspired by the meeting or were taken from one of the Roman Pontiff’s speeches during the meeting.




  • 8:40  a.m.  Departure from John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • 9:30  a.m.  Arrival at Atlantic Aviation, Philadelphia
  • 10:30 a.m. Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia
  • 4:45  p.m.  Visit to Independence Mall [sic]
  • 7:30  p.m.  Visit to the Festival of Families Benjamin Franklin Parkway


  • 9:15   a.m.  Meeting with bishops at St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
  • 11:00  a.m. Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility
  • 4:00  p.m.   Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families, Benjamin Franklin Parkway
  • 7:00   p.m.  Visit with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, Atlantic Aviation
  • 8:00   p.m.  Departure for Rome





WMF 11




WMF 10

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WMF 20


WMF 15

WMF 19

WMF 13

WMF 17

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WMF 14

WMF 22

WMF 23

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WMF 21

WMF 25

  1. World Meeting of Families 2015, Official Website. []
  2. Archbishop Chaput, Welcome Letter. []

26 Quotes from Pope Francis’ Visit to Washington D.C. and New York City

Listers, Pope Francis’ visit to the United States is one marked with historic firsts. His Holiness Pope Francis was the first Roman Pontiff to address a full joint session of the U.S. Congress. Second, Pope Francis was the first Vicar of Christ to address the United Nations at the opening of a General Assembly. As expected, Pope Francis’ remarks were difficult to predict and the reactions to his words ranged from unrestrained praise to unadulterated criticism. The following graphics display how different sources highlighted different aspects of the pontiff’s speeches.




9:15 a.m. Welcome ceremony and meeting with President Obama at the White House
11:00 a.m. Papal Parade along the Ellipse and the National Mall (time approximate)
11:30 a.m. Midday Prayer with the bishops of the United States, St. Matthew’s Cathedral
4:15 p.m. Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception


US Francis 1

US Francis 2

US Francis 3


9:20 a.m. Address to Joint Meeting of the United States Congress
11:15 a.m. Visit to St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
4:00 p.m. Depart from Joint Base Andrews
5:00 p.m. Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport
6:45 p.m. Evening Prayer (Vespers) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral


US Francis 4

US Francis 5

US Francis 6

US Francis 7

US Francis 9

US Francis 10

US Francis 12

US Francis 13

US Francis 14

US Francis 15

US Francis 8

US Francis 11


8:30 a.m. Visit to the United Nations and Address to the United Nations General Assembly
11:30 a.m. Multi-religious service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Center
4:00 p.m. Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School, East Harlem
5:00 p.m. Procession through Central Park (time approximate)
6:00 p.m. Mass at Madison Square Garden


US Francis 16

US Francis 17

US Francis 18

US Francis 19

US Francis 20

US Francis 21

US Francis 22

US Francis 26

US Francis 24

US Francis 22

US Francis 25

When the World’s Statesmen Called for a Patron: 24 Quotes on Thomas More’s Sainthood

Listers, St. Thomas More is known as the “Man for All Seasons” – but he is also a man claimed by all ages. Exactly why Sir Thomas More became a saint is a question that seems to draw out competing philosophies. In the petition to have More declared a saint, the petitioners wrote, “He was a martyr of freedom in the most modern sense of the word, for he opposed the attempt of power to command the conscience.” The modern St. Thomas More is often praised for his unconquerable conscience. This coloring of St. Thomas More is not a surprise given the aim of modernity. The grand project of modernity is to emancipate the human will from God, nature, history, and even reason. All that remains is the unbridled human will. The modern praise of More seems to have a modern hue. Consequently, he becomes a saint of autonomy – a man who had a “adamantine sense of self” that refused to break.

The unconquerable conscience of More is predicated not on his autonomy but on his fidelity to Holy Mother Church.

It is not that the modern notion is necessarily wrong in what is asserts, but rather its assertion is incomplete. What is missing from these considerations is the ancient notion of a well-formed conscience. The modern sentiments deemphasize whether or not More’s conscience was actually correct and focus primarily on him standing up for what he believes. The traditional praises of More focus on his well-formed conscience. In the modern notion it does not matter if More was Catholic or not. He could be a saint for any individual who stands up for what they believe. In modernity’s project of autonomy, staying true to one’s conscience is admirable, but the contents of one’s conscience are far less important. In contrast, the traditional More – and arguably the authentically Catholic one – begs students of his life to examine his conscience. Unpacking More’s well-formed conscience brings up topics of natural law, the virtues, political engagement, the Church’s role in civil life, and the Catholic Church as Christ’s only Church. Under the traditional view, the unconquerable conscience of More is predicated not on his autonomy but on his fidelity to Holy Mother Church. He had formed his conscience according to the Church, and when the world asked him to betray her, he knew exactly who he was in Christ Jesus. There is little doubt the authentically Catholic Thomas More makes the modern world uncomfortable; thus, there is a push – both inside and outside the Church – to refashion More as a modern hero of autonomy.


William Frederick Yeames, The meeting of Sir Thomas More with his daughter after his sentence of death, 1872. Wikipedia.
William Frederick Yeames, The meeting of Sir Thomas More with his daughter after his sentence of death, 1872. Wikipedia.




1. Christian Steadfastness
The Christian steadfastness which Thomas More demonstrated in martyrdom has made his name famous down through the centuries. In his own lifetime, he was already known throughout Europe for his scholarship and his innovative views, which led him, for example, to give his daughters the same education his son received – a revolutionary development in those times.1


2. Utopia – The Intellectual Puzzle
His work as a writer — especially his translations of the Greek satirist Lucian, his collection of original poems, and his great classic Utopia — lent his name incomparable prestige. Utopia continues to be Thomas More’s best-known work. Modeled on Plato’s Republic, this intellectual puzzle is one of the finest case studies ever devised for the political philosopher and the student of human nature. Like the Republic, Utopia is filled with internal contradictions that invite the attentive reader to think deeply about the perennial ethical values which give meaning to personal and social life.


3. Famous Last Words
His last words, “I die the King’s good servant and God’s first,” remain an inspiration for all those who dedicate their lives to the service of the common good.


4. Holiness as the Fullness of Humanity
It reflects, moreover, an admiration which transcends the specific contributions that Saint Thomas More made in the various fields in which he worked — as humanist, apologist, judge, legislator, diplomat and statesman — and focuses on the man himself: the idea that holiness is the fulness of humanity appears, in this case, quite tangibly true.


5. Model of Moral Integrity
Your Holiness’s predecessor in the Chair of Peter, Pope Pius XI, in the Bull of Canonization, presented Saint Thomas More as a model of proven moral integrity for all Christians and defined him as laicorum hominum decus et ornamentum.


6. Faith & Culture
In Saint Thomas More, there was no sign of that split between faith and culture, between timeless principles and daily life, which the Second Vatican Council laments as “among of the gravest errors of our time” (Gaudium et spes, n. 43).


7. Founder of Common Law
As a lawyer and judge, he established the interpretation and formulation of laws (he is rightly considered one of the founders of the study of the English common law) which safeguard true social justice and build peace between individuals and nations.


8. The Patron of the Poor
More eager to eliminate the causes of injustice than to repress it, he did not separate his passionate but prudent advocacy of the common good from the constant practice of charity: his fellow citizens called him the “patron of the poor.” An unconditional and benevolent dedication to justice with regard to the human person and liberty was the guiding rule of his conduct as a magistrate. While serving all men, Saint Thomas More knew well how to serve his king, that is the state, but wanted above all to serve God.


9. World’s Public Servants Call for a Patron
The timeliness of this convergence of political commitment and moral conviction, this harmony between the supernatural and the human, and this seamless unity of life have caused many public servants from various countries to join the Committee for the Proclamation of Sir Thomas More, Saint and Martyr, as Patron of Politicians.


10. Politics – A Difficult Form of Service
Politics was not, for him, a matter of personal advantage, but rather an often difficult form of service, for which he had prepared himself not only through the study of the history, laws and culture of his own country, but also and especially through the examination of human nature, its grandeur and weaknesses, and of the ever-imperfect conditions of social life.


11. A Modern Martyr of Freedom
He was a martyr of freedom in the most modern sense of the word, for he opposed the attempt of power to command the conscience: a perennial temptation — one to which the history of the 20th century bears tragic witness — of political regimes that do not recognize anything superior to themselves.


12. Martyr for Primacy of Conscience
A martyr for freedom, then, precisely because he was a martyr for the primacy of conscience which, firmly grounded in the search for the truth, renders us responsible for our decisions, that is to say, masters of ourselves and thus free from all bonds except that bond — proper to a creature — which binds us to God.


13. We Ask Sir Thomas More to Become a Saint
Therefore, certain that we act for the good of future society and trusting that our petition will find a benevolent welcome with Your Holiness, we ask that Sir Thomas More, Saint and Martyr, faithful servant of the King, but God’s first, be proclaimed “Patron of Statesmen.”


Site of scaffold at Tower Hill where More was executed by decapitation - Mariordo (Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz), Wikipedia.
Site of scaffold at Tower Hill where More was executed by decapitation – Mariordo (Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz), Wikipedia.





14. Imperishable Example of Moral Integrity
Precisely because of the witness which he bore, even at the price of his life, to the primacy of truth over power, Saint Thomas More is venerated as an imperishable example of moral integrity.2


15. Well Ordered House & Life
Throughout his life he was an affectionate and faithful husband and father, deeply involved in his children’s religious, moral and intellectual education. His house offered a welcome to his children’s spouses and his grandchildren, and was always open to his many young friends in search of the truth or of their own calling in life. Family life also gave him ample opportunity for prayer in common and lectio divina, as well as for happy and wholesome relaxation. Thomas attended daily Mass in the parish church, but the austere penances which he practised were known only to his immediate family.


16. Appointed as Lord Chancellor
Highly esteemed by everyone for his unfailing moral integrity, sharpness of mind, his open and humorous character, and his extraordinary learning, in 1529 at a time of political and economic crisis in the country he was appointed by the King to the post of Lord Chancellor. The first layman to occupy this position, Thomas faced an extremely difficult period, as he sought to serve King and country.


17. Resigned & Reduced to Poverty
In 1532, not wishing to support Henry VIII’s intention to take control of the Church in England, he resigned. He withdrew from public life, resigning himself to suffering poverty with his family and being deserted by many people who, in the moment of trial, proved to be false friends.


18. The Trial
At his trial, he made an impassioned defence of his own convictions on the indissolubility of marriage, the respect due to the juridical patrimony of Christian civilization, and the freedom of the Church in her relations with the State. Condemned by the Court, he was beheaded.


19. Beatified in 1886
In 1850 the English Catholic Hierarchy was re-established. This made it possible to initiate the causes of many martyrs. Thomas More, together with 53 other martyrs, including Bishop John Fisher, was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886. And with John Fisher, he was canonized by Pius XI in 1935, on the fourth centenary of his martyrdom.


20. Government as an Exercise in Virtue
His life teaches us that government is above all an exercise of virtue. Unwavering in this rigorous moral stance, this English statesman placed his own public activity at the service of the person, especially if that person was weak or poor; he dealt with social controversies with a superb sense of fairness; he was vigorously committed to favouring and defending the family; he supported the all-round education of the young.


21. Politics & Morality
What enlightened his conscience was the sense that man cannot be sundered from God, nor politics from morality.


22. Rights of Conscience
And it was precisely in defence of the rights of conscience that the example of Thomas More shone brightly. It can be said that he demonstrated in a singular way the value of a moral conscience which is “the witness of God himself, whose voice and judgment penetrate the depths of man’s soul” (Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, 58), even if, in his actions against heretics, he reflected the limits of the culture of his time.


23. Freedom from the State
The defence of the Church’s freedom from unwarranted interference by the State is at the same time a defence, in the name of the primacy of conscience, of the individual’s freedom vis-à-vis political power. Here we find the basic principle of every civil order consonant with human nature.


24. St. Thomas More
Therefore, after due consideration and willingly acceding to the petitions addressed to me, I establish and declare Saint Thomas More the heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians, and I decree that he be ascribed all the liturgical honours and privileges which, according to law, belong to the Patrons of categories of people.

  1. Petition Sent to St. JPII for the Proclamation of Saint Thomas More as Patron of Statesmen. []
  2. Motu Proprio Proclaiming Saint Thomas More Patron of Statesmen & Politicians. []

The Crusades: 3 Books Worth Reading

Listers, the following works have been chosen as excellent introductory texts to the Crusades. All three works come heavily recommended by Catholic professors and priests as superior primers on what is arguably one of the most misunderstood events in human history. All three title are available online – click the title or cover photo for link – and the blurbs and author biographies are taken verbatim from the publisher’s information.


1. The Glory of the Crusades

The Glory of the CrusadesHow can the Crusades be called glorious? Our modern mindset says they were ugly wars of greed and religious intolerance a big reason why Christians and Muslims today can’t coexist peacefully. Historian Steve Weidenkopf challenges this received narrative with The Glory of the Crusades. Drawing on the latest and most authentic medieval scholarship, he presents a compelling case for understanding the Crusades as they were when they happened: armed pilgrimages driven by a holy zeal to recover conquered Christian lands. Without whitewashing their failures and even crimes, he debunks the numerous myths about the Crusades that our secular culture uses as clubs to attack the Church. In place of these myths he offers men and women of faith and valor who pledged their lives for the honor of Christ s holy places. With a storyteller s gift, Weidenkopf relates the Crusades many dramas their heroes and villains, battles and sieges, intrigues and coincidences offering a vivid and engrossing account of events that, though centuries old, have profoundly affected the course of our world to the present day.

About the Author
Steve Weidenkopf is a Lecturer of Church History at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College in Alexandria, Virginia. He has given numerous presentations and seminars on Church History, marriage and family life, human sexuality, and theology throughout the country.He served as the Director of the Office of Marriage & Family Life for the Archdiocese of Denver (2001 – 2004) and as an advisor to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. and was an instructor at the Our Lady of the New Advent Catechetical Institute. Steve is a member of the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East – an international academic group dedicated to the field of crusading history and is also a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Prof. Weidenkopf has also written a series of articles for Catholic Answers. The articles address the most common misconceptions about the Crusades and how to refute them.1


2. The New Concise History of the Crusades

The New Concise History of the CrusadesHow have the crusades contributed to Islamist rage and terrorism today? Were the crusades the Christian equivalent of modern jihad? In this sweeping yet crisp history, Thomas F. Madden offers a brilliant and compelling narrative of the crusades and their contemporary relevance. With a cry of “God wills it!” medieval knights ushered in a new era in European history. Across Europe a wave of pious enthusiasm led many thousands to leave their homes, family, and friends to march to distant lands in a great struggle for Christ. Yet the crusades were more than simply a holy war. They represent a synthesis of attitudes and values that were uniquely medieval—so medieval, in fact, that the crusading movement is rarely understood today. Placing all the major crusades within the medieval social, economic, religious, and intellectual environments that gave birth to the movement and nurtured it for centuries, Madden brings the distant medieval world vividly to life. From Palestine and Europe’s farthest reaches, each crusade is recounted in a clear, concise narrative. The author gives special attention as well to the crusades’ effects on the Islamic world and the Christian Byzantine East.

About the Author
Thomas F. Madden is professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. A widely recognized expert on the Crusades and Christian-Muslim conflict, he has written and spoken widely on the topic in such venues as the New York Times, National Public Radio, and PBS. He is the author of A Concise History of the Crusades, which was a Washington Post Book World Rave selection, Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice and The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople, a History Book Club selection. He is the editor of Crusades: The Illustrated History and The Crusades: The Essential Readings. He resides in St. Louis, Missouri.


3. The Crusades: The World’s Debate

The Crusades BellocBelloc shows that the Crusades were a titanic struggle between Christian civilization and “the Turk,” savage Mongols who had embraced Islam. He explains the practical reasons why the Crusaders initially succeeded and why they ultimately failed then he predicts the re-emergence of Islam, since Christendom failed to destroy it in the 12th century. Makes history come alive and gives a rare, true appreciation of Christendom and of our Catholic forefathers!

About the Author
Hilaire Belloc was born at St. Cloud, France, in 1870. He and his family moved to England upon his father s death, where he took first-class honors in history at Balliol College in Oxford, graduating in 1895. It has been stated that his desire was to rewrite the Catholic history of both France and England. He wrote hundreds of books on the subjects of history, economics, and military science, as well as novels and poetry. His works include The Great Heresies, Europe and the Faith, Survivals and New Arrivals, The Path to Rome, Characters of the Reformation, and How the Reformation Happened.


Other Recommended Reading Lists:

  1. Catholic Answer articles on the Crusades. []

Boko Haram: 15 Political Cartoons on the Militant Islamists of Nigeria

Listers, the radical Islamists of Boko Haram have terrorized, murdered, and burned their way through Nigeria. The name Boko Haram translates as Western Education is Forbidden. The Islamist militants have “killed more than 5,000 civilians between July 2009 and June 2014, including at least 2,000 in the first half of 2014, in attacks occurring mainly in northeast, north-central and central Nigeria.”1 The group gained global infamy in April 2014 by kidnapping 276 girls from Chibok, Borno.2 In early 2015 – shortly after the 12-person Charlie Hebdo massacre in France – Boko Haram burned down an entire town and slaughtered its estimated 2000 citizens.3 Shortly after what became known as the Baga Massacre, SPL released a graphic asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Africa:

SPL Our Lady of Africa

While the Baga Massacre occurred through January 3rd to the 7th in 2015, the Charlie Hebdo Shooting took place on January 7th. According to reports, the French Islamists “fired up to 50 shots while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Arabic for ‘God is [the] greatest’) and killed 11 people there and then a police officer in the street. They killed a French National Police officer shortly after, and 11 others were injured during the attacks. Five others died and another 11 were wounded in related shootings that followed in the Île-de-France region.”4 Unfortunately, the execution of the twelve French cartoonist overshadowed the Baga Massacre and received the lion’s share of the global media attention. In an attempt to gain awareness, the Vatican, African bishops, and other Catholic groups published articles and graphics focused on the Nigerian victims (along with mourning the Charlie Hebdo victims). One notable graphic was published by Catholic Memes, which uses the style of the Je Suis Charlie graphic to raise awareness for the Nigerian victims:

Je Suis Nigerian

The Charlie Hebdo Shooting and the Bega Massacre started 2015 in a gruesome manner. With countless Catholics and others murdered, homes razed, and parishes destroyed, the people of Nigeria and the surrounding states continue to suffer under Boko Haram. To exemplify the dire situation, in Feburary 2014 a governor of a Nigerian state opined: “Boko Haram are better armed and are better motivated than our own troops. Given the present state of affairs, it is absolutely impossible for us to defeat Boko Haram.”5 Our Lady of Africa, pray for us and the Muslims.

Political Cartoons on Boko Haram


Nigerian Cartoon 2

Nigeria Cartoon 1

Nigerian Cartoon 3

Nigerian Cartoon 10

Nigerian Cartoon 5

Nigerian Cartoon 11

Nigerian Cartoon 8

Nigerian Cartoon 12

Nigerian Cartoon 14

Nigerian Cartoon 13

Nigerian Cartoon 15

Nigerian Cartoon 9

Nigerian Cartoon 6

Nigerian Cartoon 4

Nigerian Cartoon 7

  1. Source – See Boko Haram. []
  2. Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping. []
  3. 2015 Baga Massacre. []
  4. Charlie Hebdo Attack. []
  5. Governor’s Statement. []

Demons, Beer, & Breastfeeding – The Top 14 Catholic Lists of 2014

Listers, thank you for another incredible year. The popular lists of 2014 are certainly diverse. Prayers for your workday, types of demonic activity, and sacred images of breastfeeding are all among this year’s finalists. The following is the third annual “top” list in the history of St. Peter’s List (“SPL”). To compare the popular trends of 2014 to past years, see Catholic Countdown: The Top 20 Lists of 2012 and Top 10 Most Popular Catholic Lists of 2013.


Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer - Amorth L'esorcista,
Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer – Amorth L’esorcista,

14. Fr. Amorth on the 4 Types of Curses

Father Gabriele Amorth claims to have performed over 70,000 exorcisms from 1986 to 2010. The good priest serves as an exorcist for the Diocese of Rome and is the founder and honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists. He has written two books: An Exorcist Tells His Story & An Exorcist: More Stories. And yes, his favorite movie is The Exorcist. In An Exorcist Tells His Story, the good father lays out the four types of curses:

1. Black Magic – Witchcraft – Satanic Rites
2. Curses, Simply
3. The Evil Eye
4. The Spell (aka Malefice or Hex)

The exorcist explains, “Curse is a generic word. It is commonly defined as ‘harming others through demonic intervention’… In my opinion, spells and witchcraft are two different types of curses. I do not claim to give a comprehensive explanation, and I rely solely on my own experience when I defend the following forms of curses.”


Ordinary Form, Ad Orientem. - Southern Orders,
Ordinary Form, Ad Orientem. – Southern Orders,

13. Facing God: 10 Advantages of Ad Orientem

SPL was delighted that a liturgical list made the top 14 lists of 2014, especially this one exploring the benefits of Ad Orientem. The list explains the basics of ad orientem, lists the benefits of the ancient practice as articulated by a wonderful priest, and gives several “bonus” ad orientem memes. The list explains, “Ad Orientem is Latin for to the east and refers to the direction the priest faces during the mass. Catholic churches are traditionally built facing the East, because, as Cardinal Ratzinger taught, this direction reflects the ‘cosmic sign of the rising sun which symbolizes the universality of God.’ The priest facing the altar is also referred to as Ad Deum, which is Latin for to God… While the ancient liturgies did speak of the priest turning and “facing the people” during certain parts of the mass, the concept of celebrating the entire mass versus populum is arguably an invention of the 1970’s, an invention that stands in direct contradistinction to the Church’s ancient traditions.”


Musical Notation Old Book

12. Glory of Rome: 5 Latin Hymns Every Catholic Should Know

Though published in August of 2012, this list of hymns in Latin gained immense popularity in 2014. In contrast, its counterpart article covering the five English hymns every Catholic should know – which was the nineteenth most popular list in 2012 and the ninth in 2013 – failed to make the 2014 list. Moreover, the third installment of SPL’s study of hymns, a collection covering Byzantine hymns, has yet to break into any annual top list. As with the ad orientem list, SPL is delighted to see lists with a liturgical focus rise in popularity, especially one revolving around the importance of Latin.


Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Chile.  Figura de la Virgen del Carmen de Chile, en el Templo Votivo de Maipú. La imagen fue donada por la Sra. Rosalía Mujíca de Gutiérrez el 16 de diciembre de 1956.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Chile. Figura de la Virgen del Carmen de Chile, en el Templo Votivo de Maipú. La imagen fue donada por la Sra. Rosalía Mujíca de Gutiérrez el 16 de diciembre de 1956.

11. The 6 Things You Should Know about the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

“Modern heretics make a mockery of wearing the Scapular, they decry it as so much trifling nonsense,” says St. Alphonsus. Published during January of 2013, SPL’s list on the Brown Scapular explains the devotion, the marian history behind the practice, and the inseparable relationship between the Brown Scapular and the Holy Rosary. One of the more unique aspects of the Brown Scapular is the promise behind it. The list explains, “On July 16th 1251 the Blessed Mary made this promise to Saint Simon Stock: ‘Take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.’ She continues, ‘Wear the Scapular devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life.'” Though incredibly common among most Latin Mass communities, the devotion has plummeted after the Second Vatican Council and is almost non-existent among the Novus Ordo parishes. Since the list is written as a primer to the Brown Scapular, it makes an excellent way to introduce your fellow parishioners or your entire parish to this wonderful devotion.


Anónimo Inferno (ca. 1520)
Anónimo Inferno (ca. 1520)

10. The 6 Types of Extraordinary Demonic Activity

The wisdom of Father Amorth finds another place amongst the top lists of 2014. Published in 2011, the list categorizing different types of extraordinary demonic activity was among the first lists to be published on SPL. The good exorcist first distinguishes among ordinary and extraordinary demonic activity. The former is simply temptation, while the latter can fall into any of the six different categories listed below:

1. External Physical Pain Caused by Satan
2. Demonic Possession
3. Diabolical Oppression
4. Diabolic Obsession
5. Diabolic Infestation
6. Diabolical Subjugation, or Dependence

Fr. Amorth’s work strives to remind everyone – especially priests and bishops – that demonic activity is real, and those suffering under its effects should be able to find help within Holy Mother Church. He calls upon the Church to restore the Office of the Exorcist to every diocese, and he reminds the faithful that the best defense against the demonic is the sacramental life.


Mary bw banner

9. The 8 Prayers Every Catholic Should Know in Latin

Standing as the twelfth most popular list in 2012 and the seventh in 2013, the collection of fundamental Latin prayers remains a mainstay on SPL. The introduction of the list gives a brief insight into the importance of Latin in the Roman Catholic Church – In 1978 Pope St. John Paul II said, “We exhort you all to lift up high the torch of Latin which is even today a bond of unity among peoples of all nations.” Even Vatican II and Pope John XXIII lauded Latin and asked that it remain the universal language of the Church; however, today the Roman Church has turned its back on Latin and blamed it on the ever-shifting spectre or “spirit” of Vatican II. In support of Latin as the sacred language of the Latin rite, SPL collected 14 quotes on the importance of Latin in the Church, which includes many quotes from Vatican II documents and from post-Vatican II popes. Continuing in this proper understanding of Sacred Tradition, it is only fitting that the listers have a list to help them develop their use of Latin. The collected prayers are all the prayers one would need to pray the Holy Rosary in Latin.


Nichols Punch Meme 2

8. When Santa Punched a Heretic in the Face: 13 Memes on St. Nicholas

Published in 2013 and skyrocketing to the most popular list of that year, the SPL list on Santa Claus recounts the story of St. Nicholas slapping the heretic Arius at the Council of Nicea, AD 325. The universal draw of this story is evident in the fact this list is virtually only shared throughout Christmastime, but remains one of the most popular articles on SPL. Along with humorous memes, the list articulates the historic account of “Santa Claus.” According to the introduction, “St. Nicholas was born in AD 270 and became the Bishop of Myra in Lycia (modern day Turkey). He died on December 6, 343 leaving a legacy that would grow into a strong and multifaceted cult. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of ‘Saint Nikolaos.’ Although he is usually referred to as Sinterklaas, he is also known as De Goedheiligman (The Good Holy Man), Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas) or simply as De Sint (The Saint). His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints. The actual feast day of St. Nicholas is December 6th.” Though wrapped in a lighthearted package, the list helps educate the Faithful on the actual narrative of St. Nicholas in order to better participate in the full tradition of Christmastime.


St. Josemaria Escriva.
St. Josemaria Escriva.

7. St. Josemaria’s 17 Signs of a Lack of Humility

Published in early of 2013, this list focused on humility rose to the third most popular list of that year. As the introduction implies, the ascension of Pope Francis to the Throne of St. Peter was the main impetus for the article and for the interest surrounding the list. His Holiness Pope Francis has made the Church contemplate the virtue of humility and the qualities of true humility. St. Josemaria’s list is not an easy read. In fact, the list could operate as an examination of conscience in the area of pride. As the list states, humility is a virtue which we all ought to develop to bring ourselves in greater conformity with Christ as we seek “to temper and restrain the mind, lest it tend to high things immoderately.”


Credit: La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group, edited.
Credit: La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group, edited.

6. Our Lady of Milk: 20 Images of Mother Mary Nursing

Finishing as the second most popular list of 2013, the collection of images of Mother Mary nursing remains one of the most controversial lists on SPL. Despite the firestorm of opinions – whether over breastfeeding in general or nudity in Sacred Art – SPL’s original rationale for researching Our Lady of Milk remains strong – to support the beauty and importance of breastfeeding. As the 2013 introduction to the list explains: One factor was certainly the growing societal criticism of mothers who breastfed their children in public. The criticism of mothers breastfeeding had grown so loud within Western culture that even Pope Francis felt the need to publicly support mothers breastfeeding in public. The Holy Pontiff stated:

“There are so many children that cry because they are hungry. At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few months old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it. I said to her: “Madam, I think the child’s hungry.” “Yes, it’s probably time…,” she replied. “Please give it something to eat!” I said. She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.”

Another factor is certainly North America’s Puritan culture being absolutely inexperienced with images of Mary’s breast. Though common in Latino/Hispanic cultures both in South America and in Europe, the images are quite foreign to many inside the United States.


Cardinal Burke visits the Sisters Adorers in Switzerland.
Cardinal Burke visits the Sisters Adorers in Switzerland.

5. Cardinal Burke: 15 Photos of this Wondrous Prince of the Church

As 2014 draws to a close, no other list has generated a more hate-filled, argumentative, and polarizing comment section than our simple photo gallery of His Eminence Cardinal Burke. Originally published in 2012, the list caught on fire toward the latter half of 2014 as rumors fueled expectations that Cardinal Burke would be demoted from Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. In November of 2014, Pope Francis did in fact remove Cardinal Burke from his position and appoint him as the Cardinal Patronus of the Military Order of Malta. The traditionalist communities saw this move as nothing less than the most humiliating thing done to a Cardinal by a Pope in modern times, while the so-called progressive camps openly cheered the move as a clear papal rebuke of Cardinal Burke’s tone and style. As far as SPL goes, His Eminence Cardinal Burke is still held in utmost respect, and we agree with Pope Benedict XVI that good Cardinal is one of the best amongst the College. Hopefully, his new relationship with the Order of Malta will provide him with more time and resources to write and travel.


Angelus by Jean-François Millet.
Angelus by Jean-François Millet.

4. The 8 Prayers to Help You through the Workday

Another wonderful list of prayers makes it into the top lists of 2014. Published in 2012 and flying under the radar until 2014, the article submits practical prayers that could be said throughout the workday. SPL author Catherine explains, “Ora et Labora (“Pray and Work” to the layman), the motto of the Benedictine order shouldn’t just be used for those called to the consecrated life, but it needs to be ascribed for all Catholics in every walk of life, especially those in the workforce. I recently entered into the realm of the working mother, and I can honestly say that I have never been so busy in all my life. Being a working mother I have discovered that balancing the various duties I have between work and home can drive a woman to the point of screaming at the top of her lungs “SERENITY NOW!!!!” (If you are a Seinfeld fan you know what I am talking about).” Memorize these prayers or bookmark this list on your work computer, and may the peace of Christ be with you always and everywhere.


Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer - Amorth L'esorcista,
Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer – Amorth L’esorcista,

3. The 5 Prayers Recommended by an Exorcist to Combat Evil

Without question, 2014 was a good year for the wisdom of Father Amorth. The third and final list drawn from his experience is a list of prayers that can help a person defend themselves from evil. The prayers are as follows:

1. Prayer Against Malefice from the Greek Ritual
2. Anima Christi
3. Prayer Against Every Evil
4. Prayer for Inner Healing
5. Prayer for Deliverance

In his book An Exorcist Tells His Story, Fr. Amorth stresses that the number one protection from evil is the Sacrament of Confession and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Often times people want esoteric rituals to deliver them from evil, when in reality what they need is to become right with God. Along with regular Confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist, these prayers should be coupled with Our Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.


The Trappist Beers via Robin Vanspauwen/Bram Weyens
The Trappist Beers via Robin Vanspauwen/Bram Weyens

2. The 10 Authentic Trappist Ales

It is hard not to love beer made by monks. Originally posted in 2011 among the first wave of lists to hit SPL, the list climbed to the tenth most popular list of 2012. In 2013, the list included three new Trappist ales, and the expanded list landed at sixth in 2013. Continuing its growth in popularity, the list comes in as the second most popular list of 2014. The list explains what a Trappist ale is and the three conditions an ale must meet to be accepted into the official Trappist Association:

1. The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by or under control of Trappist monks.
2. The brewery, the choices of brewing, and the commercial orientations must obviously depend on the monastic community.
3. The economic purpose of the brewery must be directed toward assistance and not toward financial profit.

The list then goes on to summarize each individual brewery that has been accepted into the official association and makes Trappist ale.


A selection of the front of the St. Benedict's Medal.
A selection of the front of the St. Benedict’s Medal.

1. The 7 Things You Must Know about St. Benedict’s Medal

In 2012, the top list was a collection of original SPL graphics that were designed to fight against the HHS mandate and other government overreaches into the life of the Church. In 2013, the top list was the story of how St. Nicholas punched the heretic Arius right in the face. In 2014, the top list is a primer on the incredible history and power of the St. Benedict’s Medal. Published in 2012, the list started slow but has steadily risen as one of the primary online articles explaining the medal. In 2013, it was the fourth most popular list, and in 2014, it well outpaced the other contenders to become the most popular list on SPL in 2014.


It is difficult to grasp the significance of the medal until one has an understanding of all the lettering. Both the front and back of the medal are rich in symbolism. Regarding the front, the list explains: One side of the medal bears an image of St. Benedict, holding a cross in the right hand and the Holy Rule in the left. On the one side of the image is a cup, on the other a raven, and above the cup and the raven are inscribed the words: Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti (Cross of the Holy Father Benedict). Round the margin of the medal stands the legend Ejus in obitu nostro praesentia muniamus (May we at our death be fortified by his presence). The list further articulates the history of the medal, the entirety of its symbolism, and what evils the medal is used to ward against. St. Benedict, patron against poison and witchcraft, pray for us.


Thank you listers for an incredible year. God bless.

4 Step Guide for Celebrating St. Stephen’s Day

And they stoned Stephen, invoking, and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.

Listers, Holy Mother Church provides us with the beautiful gift of the liturgical calendar, which draws us out of the world of time and into the realm of the sacred. By reminding us of the witness of the saints, the calendar gives us insight into the Christian life and points to the paradoxes of our earthly pilgrimage.

After celebrating the great birth of our Savior, the King of Peace, the liturgical calendar turns our attention to the gruesome martyrdom of St. Stephen. The positioning of the feast is paradoxical. It was only yesterday that we celebrated the birth of an innocent child who promised his followers peace, yet today we are reminded of the brutal killing of a man who followed this same child.

Who is St. Stephen and why does the Church celebrate his feast? St. Peter’s List has complied a 4 step guide to understanding and celebrating St. Stephen’s day.


1. Scripture

What we know of St. Stephen is taken entirely from scripture. St. Stephen was among the first deacons to be ordained to the diaconate and is known as the “first martyr.” His martyrdom is recorded in the following passage:

You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do you also. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them who foretold of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. Now hearing these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

And they crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and with one accord ran violently upon him. And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, invoking, and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord. And Saul was consenting to his death.1

Sts. Paul & Stephen, pray for us.


2. Cultural Customs

An Irish custom on St. Stephen’s Day concerns the ancient Irish folk tale of a wren betraying St. Stephen by chattering and revealing his location as the Saint hid in a bush. Many songs were written about this tale and one version of the Wren Song is found below:

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds
St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the firs
Although he was little, his honor was great
Jump up me lads and give us a treat.

We followed the wren three miles or more
Three miles of more, three miles or more
Through hedges and ditches and heaps of snow
At six o’clock in the morning.

Rolley, Rolley, where is your nest?
It’s in the bush that I love best
It’s in the bush, the holly tree
Where all the boys do follow me.

As I went out to hunt and all
I met a wren upon the wall
Up with me wattle and gave him a fall
And brought him here to show you all.

I have a little box under me arm
A tuppence or penny will do it no harm
For we are the boys who came your way
To bring in the wren on St. Stephen’s Day.2

St. Stephen’s day is still alive and well today. In Italy, for example, it is a national holiday. Barry Lillie writes that, “every Italian town has its own way of celebrating; some will have processions dedicated to Saint Stephen, whereas others may be a low key affair where people visit local hospitals or churches to make a donation.”3


3. The Charity of St. Stephen

As a deacon, St. Stephen was tasked with caring for the poor and vulnerable. His charity is the reason for songs and customs which have become the traditional manner of celebrating his feast. The old English carol Good King Wenceslaus tells the children how King Wenceslaus went out on St. Stephen’s day to bring charity to the poor:

Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel.

“Hither, page, and stand by me, if you know it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me food and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither,
You and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together,
Through the cold wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.

“Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger,
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page, tread now in them boldly,
You shall find the winter’s rage freeze your blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
You who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.

“The good king knew that whatever he did to the least of his subjects he did for Christ in honor of the first holy martyr.” – Fr. Edward J. Sutfin.

Fr. Sutfin tells us that in Yorkshire, England, “large goose pies were made and distributed to the poor. Indeed, the feast was known as Boxing Day, since the earthen banks or boxes of the apprentices were filled with money gifts by their masters. This was the direct forerunner of the piggy bank. Would it not be appropriate if the children’s piggy banks were painted red, or had a streak of red on them in memory of the charity of the martyr, Stephen? Mothers and fathers often buy banks for children to teach them saving. This is an excellent practice. Would it not be wise as well to teach them to be frugal with themselves in order to share their charity with their neighbor?”4


4. The Armament of Love by St. Fulgentius of Ruspe

Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe was bishop of the city of Ruspe, North Africa, in the 5th and 6th century. The good saint’s sermon on St. Stephen entitled “The Armament of Love” is the second reading under the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours.5 Reading the ancient sermon provides an excellent way to celebrate St. Stephen.

Yesterday we celebrated the birth in time of our eternal King. Today we celebrate the triumphant suffering of his soldier.Yesterday our king, clothed in his robe of flesh, left his place in the virgin’s womb and graciously visited the world. Today his soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.

Our king, despite his exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet he did not come empty-handed. He brought his soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love, which was to bring men to share in his divinity. He gave of his bounty, yet without any loss to himself. In a marvelous way he changed into wealth the poverty of his faithful followers while remaining in full possession of his own inexhaustible riches.

And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier. Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his name. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbour made him pray for those who were stoning him. Love inspired him to reprove those who erred, to make them amend; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition.

Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exalts, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen’s love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul’s love that covered the multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven.

Love, indeed, is the source of all good things; it is an impregnable defence,- and the way that leads to heaven. He who walks in love can neither go astray nor be afraid: love guides him, protects him, and brings him to his journey’s end. My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it, and by your progress in it, make your ascent together.

Sts. Fulgentius & Stephen. pray for us.



"The central panel of the reredos of San Esteban in Salamanca shows the deacon St Stephen being stoned to death." Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.
“The central panel of the reredos of San Esteban in Salamanca shows the deacon St Stephen being stoned to death.” Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.

Listers, the Christian life is challenging and the cost of discipleship is high. The King of Peace does not reign on this earth. We have rejected Him from the very outset of His birth, as we had no room for Him in the inn. If the Son of Man was rejected, than we disciples should not be surprised when the world rejects us as well. But we should not fear. As Tertullian reminds us, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” The cost of discipleship is worth it. Christ is the light shining through the darkness. Let us follow the witness of St. Stephen and never tire of pointing others to the light of Christ.

We too should keep St. Stephen’s Day alive and well. Let us pray for St. Stephen’s intercession to be witnesses to Christ each and every day.

About the Author: Louis Cona is an undergraduate at Georgetown University studying Government and Philosophy. He serves and coordinates the Traditional Latin Mass on campus and is an active member of the Georgetown Knights of Columbus. He is also the author of the SPL list 4 Ways to Save your Soul on a College Campus & A Catholic Student’s 4 Ways to Evangelize a College Campus.

  1. Acts 7:51-59, DV, cf. First Reading in the Office of Readings for St. Stephen, Acts 6:8-7, 2a, 44-59, The Martyrdom of St. Stephen, The Liturgy of the Hours. []
  2. Fisheaters: The Wren Song. []
  3. St. Stephen’s Day in Italy. []
  4. True Christmas Spirit by Rev. Edward J. Sutfin, Grail Publications, St. Meinrad, Indiana, 1955. []
  5. Second Reading: From a sermon by Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe, bishop. (Sermo 3, 1-3. 5-6: CCL 91A, 905-909). For an online reading, see The Divine Office and Universalis. See also St. Fulgentius of Ruspe on Catholic Encyclopedia. []

Hermeneutic of Continuity: Pope Benedict XVI’s 10 Step Guide to Vatican II

On one side is the hermeneutic of continuity that seeks to implement Vatican II in fidelity to Sacred Tradition, while on the other side there is the hermeneutic of discontinuity that proclaims a “new Catholicism” has risen divorced from any adherence to the “pre-Vatican II Church.”

Listers, in 2005 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI gave a Christmas address to the Roman Curia that sparked a “Holy Revolution.” The good pontiff’s comments were received as “epoch-making” by many of those faithful to Sacred Tradition.1 At the heart of his address is the juxtaposition of the post-Vatican II Church. On one side is the hermeneutic of continuity that seeks to implement Vatican II in fidelity to Sacred Tradition, while on the other side there is the hermeneutic of discontinuity that proclaims a “new Catholicism” has risen divorced from any adherence to the “pre-Vatican II Church.”

In 2013, His Holiness Pope Francis appeared to lend support to the hermeneutic of continuity. In a letter, the pope stated, “The best hermeneutics of the Second Vatican Council” have been done by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto. The archbishop is viewed as a disciple of Pope Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of continuity, as His Eminence Cardinal Koch has stated, Archbishop Marchetto has “taken up and deepened the hermeneutic of reform supported by Pope Benedict XVI.” Archbishop Marchetto is the author of The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A Counterpoint for the History of the Council – a seminal work on Vatican II that critiques those schools of thought that attempted (and still attempt) to erect a “new Catholicism.”2


Pope Benedict XVI sits during the traditional exchange of Christmas greetings to the Curia at the Vatican
As the prophetic nature of Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy unfolds, it clear we owe him many apologies.


The following is the entirety of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on the Second Vatican Council organized into “steps” by St. Peter’s List.3


1. The Difficulty of Vatican II

The last event of this year on which I wish to reflect here is the celebration of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago. This memory prompts the question: What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? No one can deny that in vast areas of the Church the implementation of the Council has been somewhat difficult, even without wishing to apply to what occurred in these years the description that St Basil, the great Doctor of the Church, made of the Church’s situation after the Council of Nicea: he compares her situation to a naval battle in the darkness of the storm, saying among other things: “The raucous shouting of those who through disagreement rise up against one another, the incomprehensible chatter, the confused din of uninterrupted clamouring, has now filled almost the whole of the Church, falsifying through excess or failure the right doctrine of the faith…” (De Spiritu Sancto, XXX, 77; PG 32, 213 A; SCh 17 ff., p. 524).

We do not want to apply precisely this dramatic description to the situation of the post-conciliar period, yet something from all that occurred is nevertheless reflected in it. The question arises: Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?


2. The Two Contrary Hermeneutics

Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.

On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.


3. Hermeneutic of Discontinuity (Rupture)

The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.

These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council’s deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.

The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself.

Through the Sacrament they have received, Bishops are stewards of the Lord’s gift. They are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (I Cor 4: 1); as such, they must be found to be “faithful” and “wise” (cf. Lk 12: 41-48). This requires them to administer the Lord’s gift in the right way, so that it is not left concealed in some hiding place but bears fruit, and the Lord may end by saying to the administrator: “Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs” (cf. Mt 25: 14-30; Lk 19: 11-27).

These Gospel parables express the dynamic of fidelity required in the Lord’s service; and through them it becomes clear that, as in a Council, the dynamic and fidelity must converge.


4. Hermeneutic of Continuity (Reform)

The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council’s conclusion on 7 December 1965.

Here I shall cite only John XXIII’s well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes “to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion”. And he continues: “Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us…”. It is necessary that “adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness…” be presented in “faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another…”, retaining the same meaning and message (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).

It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.

However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened. Forty years after the Council, we can show that the positive is far greater and livelier than it appeared to be in the turbulent years around 1968. Today, we see that although the good seed developed slowly, it is nonetheless growing; and our deep gratitude for the work done by the Council is likewise growing.


5. The Church & the Modern Era

In his Discourse closing the Council, Paul VI pointed out a further specific reason why a hermeneutic of discontinuity can seem convincing.

In the great dispute about man which marks the modern epoch, the Council had to focus in particular on the theme of anthropology. It had to question the relationship between the Church and her faith on the one hand, and man and the contemporary world on the other (cf. ibid.). The question becomes even clearer if, instead of the generic term “contemporary world”, we opt for another that is more precise: the Council had to determine in a new way the relationship between the Church and the modern era.

This relationship had a somewhat stormy beginning with the Galileo case. It was then totally interrupted when Kant described “religion within pure reason” and when, in the radical phase of the French Revolution, an image of the State and the human being that practically no longer wanted to allow the Church any room was disseminated.

In the 19th century under Pius IX, the clash between the Church’s faith and a radical liberalism and the natural sciences, which also claimed to embrace with their knowledge the whole of reality to its limit, stubbornly proposing to make the “hypothesis of God” superfluous, had elicited from the Church a bitter and radical condemnation of this spirit of the modern age. Thus, it seemed that there was no longer any milieu open to a positive and fruitful understanding, and the rejection by those who felt they were the representatives of the modern era was also drastic.

In the meantime, however, the modern age had also experienced developments. People came to realize that the American Revolution was offering a model of a modern State that differed from the theoretical model with radical tendencies that had emerged during the second phase of the French Revolution.

The natural sciences were beginning to reflect more and more clearly their own limitations imposed by their own method, which, despite achieving great things, was nevertheless unable to grasp the global nature of reality.

So it was that both parties were gradually beginning to open up to each other. In the period between the two World Wars and especially after the Second World War, Catholic statesmen demonstrated that a modern secular State could exist that was not neutral regarding values but alive, drawing from the great ethical sources opened by Christianity.

Catholic social doctrine, as it gradually developed, became an important model between radical liberalism and the Marxist theory of the State. The natural sciences, which without reservation professed a method of their own to which God was barred access, realized ever more clearly that this method did not include the whole of reality. Hence, they once again opened their doors to God, knowing that reality is greater than the naturalistic method and all that it can encompass.


6. Three Great Themes of Vatican II

It might be said that three circles of questions had formed which then, at the time of the Second Vatican Council, were expecting an answer. First of all, the relationship between faith and modern science had to be redefined. Furthermore, this did not only concern the natural sciences but also historical science for, in a certain school, the historical-critical method claimed to have the last word on the interpretation of the Bible and, demanding total exclusivity for its interpretation of Sacred Scripture, was opposed to important points in the interpretation elaborated by the faith of the Church.

Secondly, it was necessary to give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State that would make room impartially for citizens of various religions and ideologies, merely assuming responsibility for an orderly and tolerant coexistence among them and for the freedom to practise their own religion.

Thirdly, linked more generally to this was the problem of religious tolerance – a question that required a new definition of the relationship between the Christian faith and the world religions. In particular, before the recent crimes of the Nazi regime and, in general, with a retrospective look at a long and difficult history, it was necessary to evaluate and define in a new way the relationship between the Church and the faith of Israel.

These are all subjects of great importance – they were the great themes of the second part of the Council – on which it is impossible to reflect more broadly in this context. It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance.


7. An Example of True Reform

It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within. On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.

Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change. Thus, for example, if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning. Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge.

It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction.

The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time. The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State.

The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one’s own faith – a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God’s grace in freedom of conscience. A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all.

At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for – a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples.

The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.4


8. Underestimating the Modern Era

The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time; she continues “her pilgrimage amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God”, proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 8).

Those who expected that with this fundamental “yes” to the modern era all tensions would be dispelled and that the “openness towards the world” accordingly achieved would transform everything into pure harmony, had underestimated the inner tensions as well as the contradictions inherent in the modern epoch.

They had underestimated the perilous frailty of human nature which has been a threat to human progress in all the periods of history and in every historical constellation. These dangers, with the new possibilities and new power of man over matter and over himself, did not disappear but instead acquired new dimensions: a look at the history of the present day shows this clearly.

In our time too, the Church remains a “sign that will be opposed” (Lk 2: 34) – not without reason did Pope John Paul II, then still a Cardinal, give this title to the theme for the Spiritual Exercises he preached in 1976 to Pope Paul VI and the Roman Curia. The Council could not have intended to abolish the Gospel’s opposition to human dangers and errors.

On the contrary, it was certainly the Council’s intention to overcome erroneous or superfluous contradictions in order to present to our world the requirement of the Gospel in its full greatness and purity.


9. Engagement with Modern Reason

The steps the Council took towards the modern era which had rather vaguely been presented as “openness to the world”, belong in short to the perennial problem of the relationship between faith and reason that is re-emerging in ever new forms. The situation that the Council had to face can certainly be compared to events of previous epochs.

In his First Letter, St Peter urged Christians always to be ready to give an answer (apo-logia) to anyone who asked them for the logos, the reason for their faith (cf. 3: 15).

This meant that biblical faith had to be discussed and come into contact with Greek culture and learn to recognize through interpretation the separating line but also the convergence and the affinity between them in the one reason, given by God.

When, in the 13th century through the Jewish and Arab philosophers, Aristotelian thought came into contact with Medieval Christianity formed in the Platonic tradition and faith and reason risked entering an irreconcilable contradiction, it was above all St Thomas Aquinas who mediated the new encounter between faith and Aristotelian philosophy, thereby setting faith in a positive relationship with the form of reason prevalent in his time. There is no doubt that the wearing dispute between modern reason and the Christian faith, which had begun negatively with the Galileo case, went through many phases, but with the Second Vatican Council the time came when broad new thinking was required.

Its content was certainly only roughly traced in the conciliar texts, but this determined its essential direction, so that the dialogue between reason and faith, particularly important today, found its bearings on the basis of the Second Vatican Council.


10. Powerful Renewal of the Church

This dialogue must now be developed with great openmindedness but also with that clear discernment that the world rightly expects of us in this very moment. Thus, today we can look with gratitude at the Second Vatican Council: if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.5

  1. Terminology: The phrase “epoch-making” is borrowed from Rorate Caeli, read their comments from January 2006 – The Epoch-Making Speech: A Summary of Contents. The phrase “Holy Revolution” was part of a broader consideration of changes Pope Benedict XVI made to the Roman Curia. []
  2. Pope Francis & Vatican II: Father Z wrote a blog explaining the key Vatican players in both camps – the camp stressing continuity and the other stressing discontinuity – entitled, STOP THE PRESSES: Bad news for liberals who have hijacked Pope Francis! The traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli also noted Pope Francis’ statement and called to remembrance Pope Benedict XVI’s “epoch-making” 2005 speech regarding the proper interpretation of Vatican II. The British paper the Catholic Herald held Pope Francis had fervently declared his support for Benedict XVI’s vision of the Church, and has issued a clear rejection of the so-called ‘Spirit of Vatican II’. Related to this discussion, Pope Francis also made interesting comments on progressivism, stating, “spirit of adolescent progressivism” according to which “any move forward and any choice is better than remaining within the routine of fidelity.” Some are reading this as a slam of the progressive movement within the Church. []
  3. Full Document: Those interested in reading the entire document may find it here: 2005 Christmas Address to the Roman Curia. []
  4. Commentary on Religious Liberty: “In the case of religious freedom, there was simply a change of POLICY towards the modern State, which was wrongly interpreted by most as a change of metaphysical Truth by the Church, something which no Council could ever do.” – Rorate Caeli, Day Two Commentary, 12/23/2005. []
  5. Rorate Caeli Articles: In revisiting Pope Benedict XVI’s address, SPL found the following Rorate Caeli articles especially helpful for both theological commentary and historic context. The articles stretch from immediately after the address was delivered in 2005 to early 2006, unless otherwise noted: (1) Vatican II at 40 – An Explosive Speech (2) Day Two – Religious Liberty (3) The Audience (4) Vatican II: Jewish People (5) Further Commentary on Religious Liberty (6) Liberal & Conservative Reactions (7) Summary of Articles (8) Pope Francis’ Comments, 11/14/2013. []

4 Steps to Understand the Crisis of Modernity

Though each modern philosopher worked toward his own end, they all contributed to the grand project of modernity – the emancipation of the human will from all externalities. It is not God, nature, or history that grants this life value. It is the human will.

Listers, modernity developed as a rejection. Though each modern philosopher worked toward his own end, they all contributed to the grand project of modernity – the emancipation of the human will from all externalities. It is not God, nature, or history that grants this life value. It is the human will. The following list views modernity through the lens of political philosophy and maps a step by step development of how modern man slowly lost faith in reason. The primary source for this list is an essay entitled “The Three Waves of Modernity” by Leo Strauss. Strauss was a political philosopher who almost single handedly returned these questions of modernity to academia. Though not a Catholic, Strauss’ critique of modernity has resonated with the faithful and serves as an excellent starting point to discuss the problems of modernity.1 One note of caution. Modernity and modernism are distinct concepts. Modernity is a historical term indicating the post-medieval world. Modernism is a Catholic term indicating an amalgamation of principles that are in error. For example, all men born in modernity would be moderns, but only those who follow modernism would be modernists. This list is a primer on how modernity developed and why it is now in crisis.


1. The First Wave of Modernity

Machiavelli Statue at the Uffizi, Italy.
Machiavelli Statue at the Uffizi, Italy.

The project to emancipate the human will from all externalities begins with an exiled Italian politician named Niccolo Machiavelli (d. 1527). Machiavelli advocated an abandonment of the old “imagined republics” of the pre-moderns. The imagined republics were, inter alia, Aristotle’s polis governed by nature and nature’s virtues – prudence, justice, temperance, & fortitude – and the Kingdom of God as articulated in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. In the West, particularly after St. Thomas Aquinas, nature and divine revelation were seen as compatible and formed one ordered cosmological whole. The state or polis existed so that all men may live well and live virtuously. Under Machiavelli, however, two radical concepts were constructed. First, he jettisoned any cosmological ordered whole in favor of treating different sciences as isolated bodies. For example, for Aristotle or Aquinas their writings on politics are unintelligible without their writings on ethics. In contradistinction, Machiavelli held “political life proper is not subject to morality.”2 Second, Machiavelli reinterpreted virtue. No longer was virtue a good habit, but rather it was the cunning ability to gain and maintain power within the political sphere.3

What Machiavelli did for the prince, Thomas Hobbes (d. 1679) did for all citizens. Continuing the emancipation of the human will from all externalities, Hobbes held that nature imported no morality to man. The pre-modern world under Aquinas held that nature granted humanity three innate inclinations: (1) self-preservation (2) procreation and the education of offspring and (3) an inclination to seek the good. In contrast, Hobbes held that nature gave to man only the inclination of self-preservation; thus, where the pre-moderns saw nature as a moral standard, Hobbes saw nature as a chaotic clash between the right of self-preservation of individuals. In short, the man’s natural state is a state of war. In this context, Hobbes developed two key concepts for modernity. First, Western political speech began to favor speaking of individual rights rather than the external standard of natural law; and second, Hobbes laid the foundation for the West’s obsession with equality. Note, however, that Hobbes’ focus on equality is set within his belief that nature is a state of war. In this context, Hobbes believed all men are equal because all men have the ability to murder one another. Murder was the great equalizer and served as the foundation of modern notions of equality. On a final note, it is critical to understand that in this Hobbesian nature of war and chaos, humanity’s salvation lies in granting its power of self-preservation to the state, the Leviathan. It is the state that will be man’s salvation.4


2. The Second Wave of Modernity

A 1766 portrait of Rousseau wearing an Armenian costume by Allan Ramsay.
A 1766 portrait of Rousseau wearing an Armenian costume by Allan Ramsay.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (d. 1778) ushered in a “radicalization of the Hobbesian concept of the state of nature.”5 The pre-moderns taught that man was by nature a rational and political animal. Under Hobbes, man became a pre-political animal only seeking society to escape a nature of war and chaos. Under Rousseau, man is not even a rational animal by nature. According to Rousseau, man’s “state of nature is subhuman or prehuman,” because rationality was actually an acquired trait.”6 For Rousseau, man’s natural state is twofold. First, he is interested in self-preservation. Second, he holds a natural repugnance to “seeing any sentient being, especially our fellow man, perish or suffer.”7 Rousseau’s concept of repugnance is not charity or compassion, but simply the belief “that could be me.” Rousseau went as far to claim that neither marriage nor familial ties are natural to man. Any notion of charity is simply a sustained pity toward a particular person. For example, a mother does not nurse her baby out of love but simply to relieve the pain in her swollen breasts.

Any reinterpretation of nature demands a reinterpretation of virtue. For Rousseau, human nature is by and large a malleable concept; thus, what is and is not virtuous is also malleable. In this context, Rousseau continued modernity’s aim to emancipate the human will from all externalities by submitting his concept of the “General Will.” In short, Rousseau attempted to establish virtue by a consensus of the general public.8 The General Will produces a rational society under the belief that all things generally willed by the public must be rational.9 Virtue and reason become subject to democratic rule. Another furtherance of modernity is found in Rousseau’s treatment of history. Oddly, while Rousseau advocated his narrative of man’s natural state, he also stated that his version of human nature “perhaps never existed.”10 Under Rousseau, Western man begins to treat human history as a narrative free from an external control – nature or God. Most notably, history is seen as a malleable tale of the human will than the narrative of God’s people.11


3. The Third Wave of Modernity

Drawing by Hans Olde from the photographic series, The Ill Nietzsche, mid-1899.
Drawing by Hans Olde from the photographic series, The Ill Nietzsche, mid-1899.

Friedrich Nietzsche (d. 1900) heralded the third and final wave of modernity. The suspicions the second wave voiced concerning history are confirmed as Nietzsche declares history is meaningless.The only purpose of history is to show that history is purposeless. There is no transcendent truth – nature or God – that connects the historical eras of humanity; thus, each historical period and their inhabitants are severed from one another. For example, modern man studying the Scriptures or ancient Greece is meaningless. All apparent ideals and truths are simply “human creations or projects” encapsulated within that specific time period. If God, nature, and history are all meaningless, what is left for modern man? The will.

The project of modernity to emancipate the will from all externalities – God, nature, and history – comes to a zenith in the Nietzschean concept of the Uber-man. With God, nature, and history all cast aside as meaningless, the third wave is marked by a type of nihilism. Nietzschean nihilism, however, sees the canvas of life wiped clean and primed for creativity. Nietzsche believed “a living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength – life itself is [a] will to power.”12 Nietzschean nihilism is not a relaxed relativism. In a world where all value is simply a human project, there will arise individuals who take advantage of reality. The individuals are called Uber-men. First, the Uber-man will shed the effect the concepts of God, nature, or history attempt to place on him. Second, the Uber-man will realize the world is a blank canvas upon which he can impose his creative will. At the end of the third wave, human will stands liberated from not only God, nature, and history but from reason itself. The creativity of the human will is the source of all value.


4. Modernity in Crisis

The crisis of modernity is exemplified in the fact that “modern western man no longer knows what he wants” and has lost all “faith in reason’s ability to validate its highest aims.”13 For modern man, reason can no longer discern any meaning from God, nature, or history. Value in the modern world is a human project. Overall, modernity came into existence as a rejection. It posits nothing new, just an ever growing privation of humanity’s belief that reason can perceive the world around it. Even when a modern philosopher thought he was solving the problems of modernity, he was actually contributing to the slow atrophy of reason.

As the three waves demonstrate, it is not difficult to imagine that Catholicism stands as the complete antithesis to modernity’s project to emancipate the human will. Though this list approaches modernity from the science of political philosophy, there are a few observations worth sharing on the relationship between the modern philosophers and Catholicism. First, every modern thinker had to set aside Catholicism in order to submit their own belief system. Catholicism – especially Scholasticism under St. Thomas Aquinas – stood as a bastion of support that God, nature, and history were all harmonious and rational. Under the waves of modernity, Catholicism was ridiculed and mocked, but it was never philosophically engaged. For example, Hobbes jeers transubstantiation and Scholasticism as difficult to understand but never attempts to prove them wrong. The second observation is that the rejection of Catholicism leads to the rise of modern myths. Rousseau is a classic example of this methodology. Rousseau jettisons Catholicism in favor of his noble savage concept and then predicates his views of reason and nature upon it. He then, however, turns around and claims that his noble savage narrative need not even be true. The three waves demonstrate that modernity is in crisis, because modernity developed as a rejection and now no one knows what – or even how – to believe in anything.

  1. A Further Comment on Strauss: Faithful institutions such as the University of Dallas and Ave Maria University rely heavily on Strauss’ critique of modernity, but not necessarily on his solutions. Strauss is not a Catholic and consequently did not see faith and reason as harmonious. If anything, he found Athens and Jerusalem to be at odds, while Catholicism sees faith and reason as one in Rome. In short, Strauss offers excellent critiques of modernity, of which Catholicism has the solutions. []
  2. Strauss, 86. []
  3. Machiavelli & Modern Science: The Spirit of Machiavelli is seen in two other first wave philosophers – Rene Descartes (d. 1650) and Francis Bacon (d. 1626). Broadly speaking, both thinkers agreed with Machiavelli that nature was not a moral standard; rather, nature was something to be conquered, vexed, and unlocked. In short, modern science began to view an individual’s health as their highest good. Man becomes the master of nature and his conquest will aid in his self-preservation. []
  4. Quotes & Citations for Thomas Hobbes: SPL has written an extensive Catholic guide to Thomas Hobbes, which is littered with quotes and citations. []
  5. Strauss, 90 []
  6. Strauss, 90 []
  7. Jean-Jacques Rousseau. First & Second Discourse (Indianapolis: Hackett), 35. []
  8. Strauss, 91. []
  9. Strauss, 91. []
  10. Historicism: Under the second wave the concept of “historicism” begins to take root. Human history sheds the external controls of God and nature. There is no natural law inherent in men and there is no divine story coming to an end. It is just human history. This first brand of historicism is referred to as theoretical historicism. []
  11. Kant: Another second wave philosopher is Immanuel Kant (d. 1804). In short, Kant attempts to handle modernity’s problem of jettisoning nature but needing morality; thus, Kant radicalizes the human will into a universal compass for morality. In Kant’s famous categorical imperative, he states, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” Consequently, Kant establishes “universal legislation” predicated upon man’s rationality. The “moral laws” of man are “no longer understood a natural laws,” but rather “reason replaces nature” as humanity is now “radically liberated from the tutelage of nature.” Strauss, 92. []
  12. Friedrich Nietzsche. Trans. Walter Kaufman. Beyond Good and Evil. (New York: Vintage Books, 1966), 21. []
  13. Strauss, 81-82. []

4 Facts about the Catholic Saint who Fought the Loch Ness Monster

Then the blessed man observing this, raised his holy hand, while all the rest, brethren as well as strangers, were stupefied with terror, and, invoking the name of God, formed the saving sign of the cross in the air, and commanded the ferocious monster, saying, “Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed.”

1. Saint Columba

Saint Columba (7 December 521 – 9 June 597) was an Irish abbot and missionary credited with spreading Christianity in present-day Scotland. He founded the important abbey on Iona, which became a dominant religious and political institution in the region for centuries. He is the Patron Saint of Derry. He was highly regarded by both the Gaels of Dál Riata and the Picts, and is remembered today as a Catholic saint and one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.

In early Ireland the druidic tradition collapsed due to the spread of the new Catholic faith. The study of Latin learning and Christian theology in monasteries flourished. Columba became a pupil at the monastic school at Clonard Abbey, situated on the River Boyne in modern County Meath. During the sixth century, some of the most significant names in the history of Irish Christianity studied at the Clonard monastery. It is said that the average number of scholars under instruction at Clonard was 3,000.[4] Twelve students who studied under St. Finnian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland; Columba was one of them. He became a monk and eventually was ordained a priest.1


2. The Battle of Cul Dreimhne

St. Columba become involved in what is considered one of the world’s oldest recorded copyright disputes. The argument centered on the right to copy a psalm – a dispute that led to a full out battle entitled the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne (c. 555 AD to 561 AD). Several men died during the skirmish. The battled coupled with another incident (that led to the death of a prince) brought St. Columba under heavy criticism.2

A synod of clerics and scholars threatened to excommunicate him for these deaths, but St. Brendan of Birr spoke on his behalf. The result was that St. Columba was allowed to go into exile instead. St. Columba’s own conscience was uneasy, and on the advice of an aged hermit, Molaise, he resolved to expiate his offense by going into exile and win for Christ as many souls as had perished in the terrible battle of Cuil Dremne. He left Ireland, to return only once, many years later. Columba’s copy of the psalter has been traditionally associated with the Cathach of St. Columba.


3. Missionary Work in Scotland

St. Columba, Apostle to the Picts.
St. Columba, Apostle to the Picts.

In 563, he travelled to Scotland with twelve companions, in a wicker coracle covered with leather, and according to legend he first landed on the Kintyre Peninsula, near Southend. However, being still in sight of his native land, he moved further north up the west coast of Scotland. The island of Iona was made over to him by his kinsman Conall, king of the British Dalriada, who perhaps had invited him to come to Scotland in the first place. However, there is a sense in which he was not leaving his native people, as the Irish Gaels had been colonizing the west coast of Scotland for the previous couple of centuries. Aside from the services he provided guiding the only centre of literacy in the region, his reputation as a holy man led to his role as a diplomat among the tribes; there are also many stories of miracles which he performed during his work to convert the Picts.

He was also very energetic in his work as a missionary, and, in addition to founding several churches in the Hebrides, he worked to turn his monastery at Iona into a school for missionaries. He was a renowned man of letters, having written several hymns and being credited with having transcribed 300 books.


4. The Loch Ness Monster

Widely considered the first recorded story of the Loch Ness Monster, The Life of Saint Columba written by St. Adamnan – Abbot of Iona, d. 704 – in the seventh century tells of the meeting between St. Columba and a strange “aquatic monster” in A.D. 565. The following is an excerpt from chapter twenty-eight entitled “How an Aquatic Monster was Driven off by Virtue of the Blessed Man’s Prayer.”3

On another occasion also, when the blessed man was living for some days in the province of the Picts, he was obliged to cross the river Nesa; and when he reached the bank of the river, he saw some of the inhabitants burying an unfortunate man, who, according to the account of those who were burying him, was a short time before seized, as he was swimming, and bitten most severely by a monster that lived in the water; his wretched body was, though too late, taken out with a hook, by those who came to his assistance in a boat.

The blessed man, on hearing this, was so far from being dismayed, that he directed one of his companions to swim over and row across the coble that was moored at the farther bank.

And Lugne Mocumin hearing the command of the excellent man, obeyed without the least delay, taking off all his clothes, except his tunic, and leaping into the water.

But the monster, which, so far from being satiated, was only roused for more prey, was lying at the bottom of the stream, and when it felt the water disturbed above by the man swimming, suddenly rushed out, and, giving an awful roar, darted after him, with its mouth wide open, as the man swam in the middle of the stream.

Then the blessed man observing this, raised his holy hand, while all the rest, brethren as well as strangers, were stupefied with terror, and, invoking the name of God, formed the saving sign of the cross in the air, and commanded the ferocious monster, saying, “Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed.” Then at the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes, though it had just got so near to Lugne, as he swam, that there was not more than the length of a spear-staff between the man and the beast.

Then the brethren seeing that the monster had gone back, and that their comrade Lugne returned to them in the boat safe and sound, were struck with admiration, and gave glory to God in the blessed man. And even the barbarous heathens, who were present, were forced by the greatness of this miracle, which they themselves had seen, to magnify the God of the Christians.


St. Columba and the Loch Ness Monster.
St. Columba and the Loch Ness Monster.

Additionally, the Catholic resource website Fisheaters cites the “Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland,” stating:

Once upon a time, when Saint Columba was traveling through the country of the Picts, he had to cross the River Ness. When he reached the shore there was a group of people, Picts and Brethren both, burying an unfortunate guy who had been bit by a water-monster. Columba ordered one of his people to swim across the river and get the boat on the other side so that he might cross. On hearing this, Lugneus Mocumin stripped down to his tunic and plunged in to the water.

But the monster saw him swimming and charged to the surface to devour poor Lugneus and everyone who was watching was horrified and hid their eyes in terror. Everyone except Columba who raised his holy hand and inscribed the Cross in the empty air. Calling upon the name of God, he commanded the savage beast, saying: “Go no further! Do not touch the man! Go back at once!”

The monster drew back as though pulled by ropes and retreated quickly to the depths of the Loch. Lugneus brought the boat back, unharmed and everyone was astonished. And the heathen savages who were present were overcome by the greatness of the miracle which they themselves had seen, and magnified the God of the Christians.

St. Columba is unfortunately not considered the patron saint of the Loch Ness Monster. He is, however, the patron of Derry, Ireland, floods, bookbinders (the occupation), poets, Ireland, Scotland, and Ulster (a province of Ireland). Holy Mother Church celebrates St. Columba’s feast day on June 9th.

  1. Resources: Biography is copied with edits from the Wikipedia article St. Columba, which draws heavily from St. Columba: Catholic Encyclopedia and EWTN: St. Columba. []
  2. The Prince: A second grievance that led him to induce the clan Neill to rise and engage in battle against King Diarmait at Cooldrevny in 561 was the king’s violation of the right of sanctuary belonging to Columba’s person as a monk on the occasion of the murder of Prince Curnan, the saint’s kinsman.[10] Prince Curnan of Connaught, who had fatally injured a rival in a hurling match and had taken refuge with Columba, was dragged from his protector’s arms and slain by Diarmaid’s men, in defiance of the rights of sanctuary. []
  3. The Life of Saint Columba: The seventh-century except may be found on Fisheaters. []

5 Hagiographical Pearls from the Life of St. John Damascene

John, hearing of the terrible sacrileges which were being committed in Constantinople and in the Byzantine Empire on account of the emperor’s policies, wrote assiduously in defense of the holy images, and those who showed respect and devotion to them.

Listers, in addition to remembering the great bishop and wonder-worker St. Nicholas of Myra, the Church commemorates in the same week the great ascetic, theologian, and hymnographer St. John Damascene, on the 4th of December.

Born in the year 680 in Saracen-held Damascus of Syria, John was born to pious Christian parents, and educated in both the philosophical and theological disciplines. After the death of his father, the caliph of Damascus granted him a place on his court, eventually appointing him as the governor of the capital.

It was during this time that the most impious and ruthless emperor Leo the Isaurian came to power in Byzantium. The third of his name, Leo harbored a burning hatred for religious imagery, and instituted a policy of strict iconoclasm, by which icons, frescoes, and relics were to be desecrated and consigned to the flames. Anyone who did not accept iconoclasm was to be imprisoned, tortured, exiled, or killed for their disobedience to the emperor’s will.

John, hearing of the terrible sacrilege which was being committed in Constantinople and in the Byzantine Empire on account of the emperor’s policies, wrote assiduously in defense of the holy images, and those who showed respect and devotion to them.

In honor of his memory, we have for your edification five hagiographical pearls from the life of St. John Damascene.1


Selection from John of Damascus, icon from Damascus (Syria), 19th c., attributed to Iconographer Ne'meh Naser Homsi. - Wikipedia
Selection from John of Damascus, icon from Damascus (Syria), 19th c., attributed to Iconographer Ne’meh Naser Homsi. – Wikipedia

1) St. John’s Endures the Emperor’s Wrath

The wise and God-inspired writings of St. John enraged the emperor. But since the Damascene was not a Byzantine subject, the emperor was unable to lock him up in prison, or to execute him. The emperor then resorted to slander. A forged letter to the emperor was produced, supposedly from John, in which the Damascus official was supposed to have offered his help to Leo in conquering the Syrian capital.

This letter and another hypocritically flattering note were sent to the Saracen caliph by Leo the Isaurian. The caliph immediately ordered that St. John be removed from his post, that his right hand be cut off, and that he be led through the city in chains.

That same evening, they returned the severed hand to St John. The saint pressed it to his wrist and prayed to the Most Holy Theotokos to heal him so that he could defend the orthodox faith and write once again in praise of the most pure Virgin and her Son. After a time, he fell asleep before the icon of the Mother of God. He heard her voice telling him that he had been healed, and commanding him to toil unceasingly with his restored hand. Upon awakening, he found that his hand had been attached to his arm once more. Only a small red mark around his wrist remained as a sign of the miracle.


2) St. John’s Act of Devotion to the Holy Mother of God

Later, in thanksgiving for being healed, St. John had a silver model of his hand attached to the icon, which became known as the icon “of the three hands.”

When he learned of the miracle, which demonstrated John’s innocence, the caliph asked his forgiveness and wanted to restore him to his former office, but the saint refused. He gave away his riches to the poor, and went to Jerusalem with his stepbrother and fellow-student, Cosmas. There he entered the monastery of St. Sabbas the Sanctified as a simple novice.


3) The Beginning of St. John’s Monastic Life

Greek styled icon of St. John Damascene.
Greek styled icon of St. John Damascene.

It was not easy for St. John to find a spiritual guide, because all the monks were daunted by his great learning and by his former rank. Only one very experienced Elder, who had the skill to foster the spirit of obedience and humility in a student, would consent to do this. The Elder forbade John to do anything at all according to his own will. He also instructed him to offer to God all his labors and supplications as a perfect sacrifice, and to shed tears which would wash away the sins of his former life.

Once, the Elder sent St. John to the city to sell baskets made at the monastery, and commanded him to sell them at a certain inflated price, far above their actual value. He undertook the long journey under the searing sun, dressed in rags. No one in the city recognized the former official of Damascus, for his appearance had been changed by prolonged fasting and ascetic labors. However, the Damascene was recognized by his former steward, who bought all the baskets at the asking price, showing compassion on him for his apparent poverty.


4) The Humility of St. John

One of the monks happened to die, and his brother begged St. John to compose something consoling for the burial service. The Damascene refused for a long time, but out of pity he yielded to the petition of the grief-stricken monk, and wrote his renowned funeral troparia. For St. John’s disobedience to his commands, the Elder banished him from his cell. John fell at his feet and asked to be forgiven, but the Elder remained unyielding. All the monks began to plead for him to allow John to return, but he refused. Then one of the monks asked the Elder to impose a penance on John, and to forgive him if he fulfilled it. The Elder said, ‘If John wishes to be forgiven, let him wash out all the chamber pots in the lavra, and clean the monastery latrines with his bare hands.’

John rejoiced and eagerly ran to accomplish his shameful task. After a certain while, the Elder was commanded in a vision by the All-Pure and Most Holy Theotokos to allow St John to write again.


5) The End of St. John’s Life

When the Patriarch of Jerusalem heard of St John, he ordained him priest and made him a preacher at his cathedral. But the Damascene soon returned to the monastery of St. Sabbas, where he spent the rest of his life writing spiritual books and church hymns. He left the monastery only to denounce the iconoclasts at the Constantinople Council of 754. They subjected him to imprisonment and torture, but he endured everything, and through the mercy of God he remained alive.

St. John Damascene reposed in peace in about the year 780, more than 100 years old.


Through the prayers of this most holy father, ascetic, and theologian, may the Lord Jesus grant wisdom to our minds, and salvation to our souls.

  1. The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints: The above list is paraphrased from comments from The Life of Our Holy Monastic Father John of Damascus, From The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, Volume 4: December, compiled by St. Demetrius of Rostov. Please visit the online version of this classic to read a more detailed account of this great saint. []

The 10 Authentic Trappist Monk Beers

In 1997, eight Trappist abbeys founded the International Trappist Association (ITA) to prevent non-Trappist commercial companies from abusing the Trappist name. Today there are only 10 authentic Trappist ales in the world.

Logo of the International Trappist Association

International Trappist Association & Standards

In 1997, eight Trappist abbeys—six from Belgium (Orval, Chimay, Westvleteren, Rochefort, Westmalle and Achel), one from the Netherlands (Koningshoeven) and one from Germany (Mariawald) – founded the International Trappist Association (ITA) to prevent non-Trappist commercial companies from abusing the Trappist name. This private association created a logo that is assigned to goods (cheese, beer, wine, etc.) that respect precise production criteria. For the beers, these criteria are the following:

  1. The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by or under control of Trappist monks.
  2. The brewery, the choices of brewing, and the commercial orientations must obviously depend on the monastic community.
  3. The economic purpose of the brewery must be directed toward assistance and not toward financial profit.

This association has a legal standing, and its logo gives to the consumer some information and guarantees about the produce.1


The Authentic Trappist Product Ales


Westmalle Logo via Westmalle Brewery

1. Westmalle

The Trappist abbey in Westmalle (officially called Abdij Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van het Heilig Hart van Jezus) was founded 6 June 1794, but the community was not elevated to the rank of Trappist abbey until 22 April 1836. Martinus Dom, the first abbot, decided the abbey would brew its own beer, and the first beer was brewed on 1 August 1836 and first imbibed on 10 December 1836. The pioneer brewers were Father Bonaventura Hermans and Albericus Kemps.

The first beer was described as light in alcohol and rather sweet. By 1856, the monks had added a second beer: the first strong brown beer. This brown beer is today considered the first double (dubbel, in Dutch). The current Dubbel is derived from a recipe first brewed in 1926. Local sales began in 1856 and the oldest registered sale was on 1 January 1861. The brewery was enlarged and rebuilt in 1865 based on the example set by the Trappists of Forges (nearby Chimay). Father Ignatius van Ham joined the brewer team. Further commercialisation and sales to traders commenced in 1921.

In 1933 a complete new brewery was built and in 1934, the brewery brewed a strong pale ale of 9.5% abv giving it the name Tripel – the first modern use of the name. The brewery was remodeled in 1991. It currently has a bottling capacity of 45,000 bottles per hour, and yearly output of 120,000 hL (in 2004). The majority of the workers in the brewery are no longer monks, but secular staff brought in from outside. There are 22 monks and 40 outside staff.2


The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren via The Official Website

2. Westvleteren

Trappist monks from the Catsberg monastery, located in France, founded the St Sixtus monastery in 1831. In 1838, the brewing at Westvleteren commenced. In 1850, some of the monks founded the Notre-Dame de Scourmont monastery, which also brews a Trappist beer. During World Wars I and II, the Westvleteren brewery continued to operate, albeit at a lower capacity. The brewery was the only Trappist one to retain the copper vessels throughout the wars—the other breweries had the copper salvaged by the Germans for their war efforts.

In WWI this was primarily due to the abbey not being occupied by the Germans, but instead was caring for wounded allied troops. In 1931, the abbey began selling beer to the general public, having only served beer to guests and visitors up until that time. In 1946, the St. Bernardus brewery in nearby Watou was granted a licence to brew beer under the St Sixtus name. This agreement ended in 1992; St. Bernardus still brews beers of similar styles, but under their own name. That same year, the abbey opened its new brewery to replace the older equipment.

The brewery currently employs three secular workers for various manual labour tasks, however the primary brewing is done by the monks only. It is the only Trappist brewery where the monks still do all of the brewing. Of the 26 Cistercians who reside at the abbey, five monks run the brewery, with an additional five who assist during bottling.

In June 2005, when Westvleteren 12 was again highlighted as “Best Beer in the World” in a bi-annual competition on, news organizations followed this up and articles appeared in the international press, highlighting the beer ranking and the unusual business policies.3


Achel Trappist Ale via Crossroads Magazine

3. Achel

Achel brewery or Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis is a Belgian Trappist brewery, and the smallest of the seven currently approved Trappist breweries. It is located in the Abbey of Saint Benedict in the Belgian municipality of Achel. It brews five trappist beers.

The history of the brewery goes back to 1648, when Dutch monks built a chapel in Achel. The chapel became an abbey in 1686, but was destroyed during the period of the French Revolution. In 1844, the ruins were rebuilt by monks from Westmalle, and various farming activities began. The first beer to be brewed on the site was the Patersvaatje in 1852, and 19 years later in 1871, the site became a Trappist monastery, with beer brewing a regular activity.

In 1914 during World War I, the monks left the abbey due to German occupation. The Germans dismantled the brewery in 1917 to salvage the approximately 700 kg of copper. In 1998 the monks decided to begin brewing again. Monks from the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle and Rochefort Abbey assisted in the building of the new brewery. In 2001, the brewery released the Achel 8° beers.

Like all other Trappist breweries, the beers are sold in order to support the monastery and charities.4


The Chimay Selection via

4. Chimay

Chimay Brewery (“Bières de Chimay”) is a beer brewery in Chimay, southern Hainaut, Belgium. The brewery is located in the Scourmont Abbey, a Trappist monastery, and is one of the seven breweries worldwide that produce Trappist beer. They make three widely distributed ales: Chimay Rouge, Chimay Bleue, and Chimay Blanche; and they make one patersbier exclusively for the monks. The monastery also makes four varieties of cheese.

The brewery was founded inside Scourmont Abbey, in the Belgian municipality of Chimay in 1862. The brewery produces three widely distributed ales and a patersbier exclusively for the monks; they are known as Trappist beers because they are made in a Trappist monastery. It was the first brewery to use the Trappist Ale designation on its labels.

As with all other Trappist breweries, the beer is sold only for financial support of the monastery and good causes. The brewery business pays rent for use of the property within the abbey, which is used to support the monastic community. The majority of the profit from the sale of the beer is distributed to charities and for community development around the region. As of 2007, sales figures for Chimay products exceeded $50 million per year.

The water for the beers is drawn from a well located inside the monastery walls. The filtered solids from the beer mash are recycled into livestock feed which is given to the same cows that produce the milk for Chimay cheeses. The beer is transported from the monastery to the bottling plant 12 km away, which can fill 40,000 bottles per hour, of which many are returns. The beer is then refermented in the bottle for three weeks before being shipped around the world. Fifty percent of Chimay beer production is sold on the export markets.

The brewing plant was updated in 1988, and as of 2005 produced 12 megalitres annually.5


The Rochefort Beers via Wikipedia

5. Rochefort

The brewery is located inside the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy, near the town of Rochefort, and has been brewing beer since 1595. There are approximately 15 monks resident at the monastery. The monks are very secretive about the brewing process and the brewery is not open to the public, therefore much of the information publicly known about the brewery comes from only a few sources.

Like many strong Belgian beers, those produced at Rochefort age well and can be cellared for at least five years whilst maintaining quality. Each of these beers is brewed to the same recipe, with the only difference being the alcoholic content.The water for the beers is drawn from a well located inside the monastery walls.

As with all other Trappist breweries, the beer is only sold in order to financially support the monastery and some other charitable causes. The monks will not increase production based on demand or profit motives, but only enough to support themselves, resulting in a fairly limited supply of beer. In practice, there is currently no shortage through regular channels.6


Orval via flickr Bernt Rostad

6. Orval

Orval Brewery (French: Brasserie d’Orval) is a Belgian trappist brewery located within the walls of the Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval in the Gaume region of Belgium. The brewery produces two beers, which are marketed as trappist beer, Orval and Petite Orval.

Evidence of brewing goes back to the earliest days of the monastery. A document written by the abbot in 1628 directly refers to the consumption of beer and wine by the monks. The last of the brewers to be a monk was Brother Pierre, up until the 1793 fire. In 1931 the present day brewery was built, employing lay people and intended to provide a source of funds for the monastery reconstruction. It was designed by Henry Vaes, who also designed the distinctive Orval beer glass. The first beer was shipped from the brewery on 7 May 1932, and was sold in barrels rather than the bottles of today. Orval was the first Trappist beer to be sold nationally around Belgium.7


Koningshoeven Beers via Wikipedia: Ludovic Péron

7. Koningshoeven

De Koningshoeven Brewery (Brouwerij de Koningshoeven) is a Dutch Trappist brewery founded in 1884 within the walls of the abbey Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven in Berkel-Enschot (near Tilburg).

The abbey opened a brewery inside the monastery in 1884 in order to finance the monastery and contribute to charitable causes. Despite this goal, the brewery was run as a commercial enterprise. The abbey owned several bars in the area and produced lager under its own “Trappist” brand as well as contract brewing for several private labels. In 1969, the abbey licensed the brewing operations to the Artois Brewery (now InBev). In 1980 the deal with Artois ended, and the monks went back to brewing themselves, this time a top fermented beer which had been made in limited quantities since 1950s only. Over time the brewery introduced more varieties, first with Dubbel and Tripel in 1987, then in 1992 they introduced Blond. Between 1993 and 2000, the brewery also marketed a brand called Enkel. The brewery also produces the world’s only Trappist witbier. The brewery also used to produce the Jopen beer.The brewery started exporting in 1985, and in 1989 the brewery was modernised.

From 1980 until 1999, the brewery was largely run by the monks. Due to the difficulty of the ageing monks continuing to operate the brewery, a limited liability company was set up as a subsidiary of the large commercial brewer, Bavaria. In 1999 the new company began to take over day to day operations, renting the buildings and equipment from the abbey.

As a result of this agreement, a dispute arose with the International Trappist Association, the body that governs the labelling of goods as Trappist. They claimed that this new method of operation was against the regulations that permitted the beer to display the Authentic Trappist Product logo. Whilst the beer continued to be brewed within the abbey walls, the arrangement with Bavaria was felt to be too commercialised. As a result, the brewery withdrew their use of the logo on 1 December 1999. However, the brewery continued to label the beer as Trappistenbier.

After a lengthy study by all parties, and a review of the agreement between the abbey and brewery, the beers were granted the right to display the logo again as of September 9, 2005. As part of this settlement, the monks have taken a more active control of the brewery day to day operations, working several hours each day.8


This post was updated on December 20, 2013 to include three new additions to the official list of Trappist Ales. The list was originally posted August 11, 2011.


Stiftskirche von Engelszell by Gerhard Anzinger, Wels via Wikipedia.
Stiftskirche von Engelszell by Gerhard Anzinger, Wels via Wikipedia.

8. Stift Engelszell

Stift Engelszell Trappist AleIn 2012, the Abbey of Engelszell in Engelhartszell, Austria started a their own brewery and began production of their unique Trappist ales: Gregorius and Benno. The Austrian abbey received permission to use the “Authentic Trappist Product” logo the same year. According to the official website, the first brew was the Gregorius and is a dark triple sitting at 9.7% Alc. Production on the Gregorius began in June 1, 2012 with the second variety following on May, 30, 2013. The second beer, Benno, is a bright Dubbel style beer sitting at 6.9% Alc.

The abbey was founded in 1293 by Bernhard of Prambach, Bishop of Passau, as a Cistercian monastery. In 1786, Engelszell was dissolved by Emperor Joseph II and the buildings were subsequently put to several secular uses, including as a factory and as a residence.

In 1925, Engelszell was occupied and re-founded as a Trappist monastery by refugee German monks expelled after World War I from Oelenberg Abbey in Alsace. These monks had found temporary shelter in Banz Abbey but were looking for a permanent home. Initially established as a priory, in 1931 it was elevated to the rank of an abbey, and the former prior, Gregorius Eisvogel, appointed abbot, in which office he was dedicated by Johannes Maria Gföllner, Bishop of Linz, at a ceremony in Wilhering Abbey. On 2 December 1939, the abbey was confiscated by the Gestapo and the community, numbering 73, evicted. Four monks were sent to Dachau Concentration Camp, while others were imprisoned elsewhere or drafted into the Wehrmacht. At the end of the war in 1945, only about a third of the previous community returned. They were augmented, however, by the refugee German Trappists expelled from Mariastern Abbey, Banja Luka, Bosnia, under their abbot Bonaventura Diamant.

The monastery lives mostly from its agricultural produce. It has become known both for its liqueurs and for its cheese, Engelszeller Trappistenkäse. In May 2012, the International Trappist Association approved Engelszell to be the 8th producer of Trappist beer, and only the second outside of Belgium.9


Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass., is the first American brewery to be manned exclusively by Trappist monks.
Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass., is the first American brewery to be manned exclusively by Trappist monks.

9. St. Joseph’s Abbey

St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts is the first American monastery to produce an official Trappist Ale and the first outside of Europe. The abbey was awarded the right to use the “Authentic Trappist Product” logo in 2013.

“At a meeting yesterday of the International Trappist Association in Brussels, the Spencer Trappist Ale was awarded the ‘Authentic Trappist Product’ designation,” François de Harenne, Commercial Director of the Orval Trappist brewery, told the Belgian Beer Specialist on Dec. 11.“The decision was made after several controls made on the premises during the last weeks…We also were lucky enough to taste the beer.”

According to the official website of the brewery, “Our recipe was inspired by the traditional refectory ales known as patersbier (“fathers’ beer” in Flemish). These sessionable beers are brewed by the monks for their dinner table and are typically only available at the monastery. Spencer is a full-bodied, golden-hued ale with fruity accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness. The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, preserving live yeast that naturally carbonates the beer in the bottle and keg, and contributes to the beer flavor and aroma.” The beer will sit at 6.5% Alc.10


Abdij Maria Toevlucht Trappist Monastery.
Abdij Maria Toevlucht Trappist Monastery.

10. Abdij Maria Toevlucht

The Maria Toevlucht Trappist Abbey received permission in December 2013 to use the “Authentic Trappist Product” logo alongside the Trappist Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts.

The official website does confirms a brewery has been constructed and the monastery has been accepted into the “Trappist market.”11


More List on Beer & Wine from St. Peter’s List:

  1. [Source] [ITA] []
  2. [Source] [Westmalle Website] []
  3. [Source] [Westvletern] []
  4. [Source] [Achel] []
  5. [Source] [Chimay] []
  6. [Source] [Rochefort] []
  7. [Source] [Orval] []
  8. [Source] [Koningshoeven] []
  9. Stift Engelszell: The official website in German is Stift Engelszell. The history of the monastery is quoted from the Wikipedia article. []
  10. Spencer: There are two notable websites for Spencer. First the Official Spencer Brewery Website and the St. Joseph’s Abbey Website. The quote from the Belgian Beer Specialist is taken from the FOX News article US to Open First Trappist monk brewery Outside of Europe. []
  11. Maria Toevlucht: The official website of Maria Toevlucht. []

When Santa Punched a Heretic in the Face: 13 Memes on St. Nicholas

During the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325), Arius was called upon to defend his position on the inferiority of Christ. Saint Nicholas just couldn’t listen to all of Arius’ nonsense and so he stood up and laid in to Arius with his fist.

Listers, St. Nicholas was born in AD 270 and became the Bishop of Myra in Lycia (modern day Turkey). He died on December 6, 343 leaving a legacy that would grow into a strong and multifaceted cult. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of “Saint Nikolaos”. Although he is usually referred to as Sinterklaas, he is also known as De Goedheiligman (The Good Holy Man), Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas) or simply as De Sint (The Saint). His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints. The actual feast day of St. Nicholas is December 6th.1


Russian icon depicting St Nicholas with scenes from his life. Late 1400s or early 1500s. National Museum, Stockholm.
Russian icon depicting St Nicholas with scenes from his life. Late 1400s or early 1500s. National Museum, Stockholm.

On Becoming a Bishop

Nicholas was born a Greek in Asia Minor during the third century in the city of Patara (Lycia et Pamphylia), which was a port on the Mediterranean Sea, and lived in Myra, Lycia (part of modern-day Demre, Turkey), at a time when the region was Greek in its heritage, culture, and outlook and politically part of the Roman diocese of Asia. He was the only son of wealthy Christian parents named Epiphanius (Ἐπιφάνιος) and Johanna (Ἰωάννα) according to some accounts and Theophanes (Θεοφάνης) and Nonna (Νόννα) according to others. He was very religious from an early age and according to legend, Nicholas was said to have rigorously observed the canonical fasts of Wednesdays and Fridays. His wealthy parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young and he was raised by his uncle—also named Nicholas—who was the bishop of Patara. He tonsured the young Nicholas as a reader and later ordained him a presbyter (priest).

The Council of Nicaea

In 325, he was one of many bishops to answer the request of Constantine and appear at the First Council of Nicaea. There, Nicolas was a staunch anti-Arian and defender of the Orthodox Christian position, and one of the bishops who signed the Nicene Creed.2

The following excerpt is taken from Taylor Marshall’s venerable blog, Canterbury Tales.3

During the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325), Arius was called upon to defend his position on the inferiority of Christ. Saint Nicholas just couldn’t listen to all of Arius’ nonsense and so he stood up and laid in to Arius with his fist.

The Emperor Constantine and the bishops present at the Council were alarmed by Nicholas’ act of violence against Arius. They immediately stripped Nicholas of his office as a bishop by confiscating the two items that marked out a man as a Christian bishop: Nicholas’ personal copy of the Gospels and his pallium (the vestment worn by all bishops in the East).

Now if that were the end of the story, we probably wouldn’t know about Saint Nicholas, and our children wouldn’t be asking him for presents. However, after Nicholas was deposed, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary visited Nicholas who was being held in a prison cell for his fist-fight with the heretic.

Our Lord Jesus Christ asked Saint Nicholas, “Why are you here?” Nicholas responded, “Because I love you, my Lord and my God.”

Christ then presented Nicholas with his copy of the Gospels. Next, the Blessed Virgin vested Nicholas with his episcopal pallium, thus restoring him to his rank as a bishop.

The story of Our Lord and Our Lady visiting St. Nichols is depicted in his iconography. Notice the images of Christ and Mary bringing to St. Nicholas a copy of the Holy Gospels and his episcopal pallium.

St Nicholas Icon 2Taylor Marshall explains the iconography: “Christ (left) holding out the book of the Gospels, and Mary (right) holding out the episcopal pallium, Nicholas (center) holding the Gospels and wearing the pallium.”

He further explains, “When the Emperor Constantine heard of this miracle, he immediately ordered that Nicholas be reinstated as a bishop in good standing for the Council of Nicaea. Today we recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday so we know how the controversy played out. The bishops at Nicea sided with Saint Nicholas and Saint Athanasius and they condemned Arius as a heretic. To this very day, we still recite in the Creed that Christ is ‘God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.’”



Punching Arius in the Face


Nichols Punch Meme 2

Brace Yourself Santa Nichols Meme

Nicholas Awkward Meme

Nicholas Icon Meme 2

Nicholas Icon Meme

Nichols Punch Meme

Santa List Meme

Santa Matrix Meme

Santa Nichols Meme Police

Santa Slap Batman meme

Tough Man Santa Meme

Nicholas Meme Icon Council

Santa Punch Meme Matrix

  1. Sources: Copied from Saint Nicholas and Sinterklass, cross references with Catholic Encyclopedia’s St. Nicholas – though much scholarship has taken place in the century since the CE article was written []
  2. Source: Taken directly from St. Nicholas. []
  3. Source: Canterbury Tales article Saint Nicholas Allegedly Punched This Heretic in the Face… Who was He? – cf. Taylor Marshall’s video on St. Nicholas []

A History of Catholicism & Evolution in 30 Quotes

“Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science.”

Listers, what does the Catholic Church actually teach about the Theory of Evolution? The following quotes are a sampling of how the Church has discussed and ruled on the divisive theory. They are presented in chronological order and most include a link to their primary source. If there are any notable quotes you think should be added, please feel free to submit them in the comment box.



1. Evolution is Accidental to Us, not to God

“As to the Divine Design, is it not an instance of incomprehensibly and infinitely marvelous Wisdom and Design to have given certain laws to matter millions of ages ago, which have surely and precisely worked out, in the long course of those ages, those effects which He from the first proposed. Mr. Darwin’s theory need not then to be atheistical, be it true or not; it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of Divine Prescience and Skill. Perhaps your friend has got a surer clue to guide him than I have, who have never studied the question, and I do not [see] that ‘the accidental evolution of organic beings’ is inconsistent with divine design—It is accidental to us, not to God.”

– John Henry Newman, Letter to J. Walker of Scarborough, May 22, 1868The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973


2. Cannot Defend that which is Against the Faith

“Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.”

Vatican I, Session 3, Chapter 4, #9 – 24 April 1870


3. Faith & Reason: Mutually Supportive

“Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other, for on the one hand right reason established the foundations of the faith and, illuminated by its light, develops the science of divine things; on the other hand, faith delivers reason from errors and protects it and furnishes it with knowledge of many kinds.”

Vatican I, Session 3, Chapter 4, #10 – 24 April 1870


4. God may be Known Through Natural Reason

“The same Holy mother Church holds and teaches that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason : ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.”

Vatican I, Session 3, Chapter 2, #10 – 24 April 1870


5. Vatican I on Creation, Faith, & Reason

1. If anyone denies the one true God, creator and lord of things visible and invisible: let him be anathema.

2. If anyone is so bold as to assert that there exists nothing besides matter: let him be anathema.

3. If anyone says that the substance or essence of God and that of all things are one and the same: let him be anathema.

4. If anyone says that finite things, both corporal and spiritual, or at any rate, spiritual, emanated from the divine substance; or that the divine essence, by the manifestation and evolution of itself becomes all things or, finally, that God is a universal or indefinite being which by self determination establishes the totality of things distinct in genera, species and individuals: let him be anathema.

5. If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, were produced, according to their whole substance, out of nothing by God; or holds that God did not create by his will free from all necessity, but as necessarily as he necessarily loves himself; or denies that the world was created for the glory of God: let him be anathema.

 – Vatican I, On God the Creator of All Things, Canons, 1869-70


6. Cannot be Doubted by Any

“We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep.”

Arcanum, Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Christian Marriage – February 10, 1880


7. Materialism supported by Evolution

“Some imprudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution, which has not been fully proved even in the domain of natural sciences, explains the origin of all things, and audaciously support the monistic and pantheistic opinion that the world is in continual evolution. Communists gladly subscribe to this opinion so that, when the souls of men have been deprived of every idea of a personal God, they may the more efficaciously defend and propagate their dialectical materialism.”

– Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis – 12 August 1950


8. Can “new truth” be opposed to truth known?

“Whatever new truth the sincere human mind is able to find, certainly cannot be opposed to truth already acquired, since God, the highest Truth, has created and guides the human intellect, not that it may daily oppose new truths to rightly established ones, but rather that, having eliminated errors which may have crept in, it may build truth upon truth in the same order and structure that exist in reality, the source of truth.”

– Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis – 12 August 1950


9. Souls are Immediately Created by God

“For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.”

– Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis – 12 August 1950


Big Bang Theory Meme


10. Against Polygenism

“When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.”

– Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis – 12 August 1950


11. Scripture is Not a Myth

“Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things, which are more the product of an extravagant imagination than of that striving for truth and simplicity which in the Sacred Books, also of the Old Testament, is so apparent that our ancient sacred writers must be admitted to be clearly superior to the ancient profane writers.”

– Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis – 12 August 1950


12. How Many Differs from the Natural World

“You know that some scientists affirm man’s dependence on the evolution of nature and place him in the changeable becoming of the various species. These affirmations, to the extent to which they are really proved, are very important, because they tell us that we must respect the natural world of which we are part. But if we go down into the depths of man, we see that he is more different from nature than he resembles it. Man possesses a spirit, intelligence, freedom, conscience therefore he resembles God more than the created world.”

– Bl. John Paul II, Address to Youth in the Vatican – December 6, 1978


13. Catechism of the Catholic Church

159. Faith and science: “… methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (Vatican II GS 36:1)

283. The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers….

284. The great interest accorded to these studies is strongly stimulated by a question of another order, which goes beyond the proper domain of the natural sciences. It is not only a question of knowing when and how the universe arose physically, or when man appeared, but rather of discovering the meaning of such an origin….

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, Revised 1997.


14. Scripture Focused on Who Man is, not How Man Came to Be

“We cannot say: creation or evolution, inasmuch as these two things respond to two different realities. The story of the dust of the earth and the breath of God, which we just heard, does not in fact explain how human persons come to be but rather what they are. It explains their inmost origin and casts light on the project that they are. And, vice versa, the theory of evolution seeks to understand and describe biological developments. But in so doing it cannot explain where the ‘project’ of human persons comes from, nor their inner origin, nor their particular nature. To that extent we are faced here with two complementary—rather than mutually exclusive—realities.”

— Cardinal Ratzinger, In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall (Eerdmans, 1995), p. 50.


15. No Conflict

“In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points.”

– Pope John Paul II, Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution – 22 October 1996


Reuter's News Image
Reuter’s News Image


16. More than a Hypothesis

“Pius XII added two methodological conditions for this study: one could not adopt this opinion as if it were a certain and demonstrable doctrine, and one could not totally set aside the teaching Revelation on the relevant questions… Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis.”

– Pope John Paul II, Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution – 22 October 1996


17. Why the Church Rules on Evolution

“The magisterium of the Church takes a direct interest in the question of evolution, because it touches on the conception of man, whom Revelation tells us is created in the image and likeness of God… The Council recalled that ‘man is the only creature on earth that God wanted for its own sake.’ In other words, the human person cannot be subordinated as a means to an end, or as an instrument of either the species or the society; he has a value of his own.”

– Pope John Paul II, Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution – 22 October 1996


18. Animas Enim a Deo Immediate Creari

“Pius XII underlined the essential point: if the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the spiritual soul is created directly by God (“animas enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides non retimere iubet”). (Humani Generis)”

– Pope John Paul II, Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution – 22 October 1996


19. Unable to Serve as the Basis

“As a result, the theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. They are therefore unable to serve as the basis for the dignity of the human person.”

– Pope John Paul II, Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution – 22 October 1996


20. All Living Organisms are Related

“According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the ‘Big Bang’ and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5-4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution.”

– International Theological Commission, Communion & Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God – July 20041


21. Homo Sapiens

“While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage. However it is to be explained, the decisive factor in human origins was a continually increasing brain size, culminating in that of homo sapiens. With the development of the human brain, the nature and rate of evolution were permanently altered: with the introduction of the uniquely human factors of consciousness, intentionality, freedom and creativity, biological evolution was recast as social and cultural evolution.”

– International Theological Commission, Communion & Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God – July 2004


22. The Uncaused Cause

“With respect to the evolution of conditions favorable to the emergence of life, Catholic tradition affirms that, as universal transcendent cause, God is the cause not only of existence but also the cause of causes. God’s action does not displace or supplant the activity of creaturely causes, but enables them to act according to their natures and, nonetheless, to bring about the ends he intends. In freely willing to create and conserve the universe, God wills to activate and to sustain in act all those secondary causes whose activity contributes to the unfolding of the natural order which he intends to produce. Through the activity of natural causes, God causes to arise those conditions required for the emergence and support of living organisms, and, furthermore, for their reproduction and differentiation. Although there is scientific debate about the degree of purposiveness or design operative and empirically observable in these developments, they have de facto favored the emergence and flourishing of life. Catholic theologians can see in such reasoning support for the affirmation entailed by faith in divine creation and divine providence. In the providential design of creation, the triune God intended not only to make a place for human beings in the universe but also, and ultimately, to make room for them in his own trinitarian life. Furthermore, operating as real, though secondary causes, human beings contribute to the reshaping and transformation of the universe.”

– International Theological Commission, Communion & Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God – July 2004


23. Intelligent Design is Not a Science

“Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science.”

– Fr. George Coyne, Vatican’s chief astronomer – 18 November 2005


24. Not a Mere Cog in Evolution

“But the big problem is that were God not to exist and were he not also the Creator of my life, life would actually be a mere cog in evolution, nothing more; it would have no meaning in itself. Instead, I must seek to give meaning to this component of being. Currently, I see in Germany, but also in the United States, a somewhat fierce debate raging between so-called “creationism” and evolutionism, presented as though they were mutually exclusive alternatives: those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God. This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favour of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such. But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, especially the great philosophical question: where does everything come from? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man? I believe this is of the utmost importance.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting Of The Holy Father Benedict XVI With The Clergy Of The Dioceses Of Belluno-Feltre And Treviso – July 24, 2007


25. The Personal & Governing God

“It is not the elemental spirits of the universe, the laws of matter, which ultimately govern the world and mankind, but a personal God governs the stars, that is, the universe; it is not the laws of matter and of evolution that have the final say, but reason, will, love—a Person.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Spes Salvi – 30 November, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, in the year 2007


TIME Magazine Image.
TIME Magazine Image.


26. The Rubicon of Anthropogenesis

“The clay became man at the moment in which a being for the first time was capable of forming, however dimly, the thought of ‘God’. The first Thou that—however stammeringly—was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which the spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed. For it is not the use of weapons or fire, not new methods of cruelty or of useful activity, that constitute man, but rather his ability to be immediately in relation to God. This holds fast to the doctrine of the special creation of man … herein … lies the reason why the moment of anthropogenesis cannot possibly be determined by paleontology: anthropogenesis is the rise of the spirit, which cannot be excavated with a shovel. The theory of evolution does not invalidate the faith, nor does it corroborate it. But it does challenge the faith to understand itself more profoundly and thus to help man to understand himself and to become increasingly what he is: the being who is supposed to say Thou to God in eternity.

— Pope Benedict XVI, Creation and Evolution: A Conference With Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo, S.D.S. Stephan Horn (ed), pp. 15–16, 2008.


27. Aquinas on Creation

“Thomas Aquinas taught that the notion of creation must transcend the horizontal origin of the unfolding of events, which is history, and consequently all our purely naturalistic ways of thinking and speaking about the evolution of the world. Thomas observed that creation is neither a movement nor a mutation. It is instead the foundational and continuing relationship that links the creature to the Creator, for he is the cause of every being and all becoming (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q.45, a. 3).”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences – Friday, 31 October 2008


28. To Unroll the Scroll of Creation

“To ‘evolve’ literally means ‘to unroll a scroll,’ that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists. Galileo saw nature as a book whose author is God in the same way that Scripture has God as its author. It is a book whose history, whose evolution, whose ‘writing’ and meaning, we ‘read’ according to the different approaches of the sciences, while all the time presupposing the foundational presence of the author who has wished to reveal himself therein. This image also helps us to understand that the world, far from originating out of chaos, resembles an ordered book; it is a cosmos.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences – Friday, 31 October 2008


29. The Intellectual Soul

“The distinction between a simple living being and a spiritual being that is capax Dei, points to the existence of the intellective soul of a free transcendent subject. Thus the Magisterium of the Church has constantly affirmed that “every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not ‘produced’ by the parents – and also that it is immortal” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 366). This points to the distinctiveness of anthropology, and invites exploration of it by modern thought.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences – Friday, 31 October 2008


30. Does Original Sin Exist?

“Many think that in light of the history of evolution, there is no longer room for the doctrine of a first sin that then would have permeated the whole of human history. And, as a result, the matter of Redemption and of the Redeemer would also lose its foundation. Therefore, does original sin exist or not? In order to respond, we must distinguish between two aspects of the doctrine on original sin. There exists an empirical aspect, that is, a reality that is concrete, visible, I would say tangible to all. And an aspect of mystery concerning the ontological foundation of this event. The empirical fact is that a contradiction exists in our being. On the one hand every person knows that he must do good and intimately wants to do it. Yet at the same time he also feels the other impulse to do the contrary, to follow the path of selfishness and violence, to do only what pleases him, while also knowing that in this way he is acting against the good, against God and against his neighbour. In his Letter to the Romans St Paul expressed this contradiction in our being in this way: “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want” (7: 18-19). This inner contradiction of our being is not a theory. Each one of us experiences it every day. And above all we always see around us the prevalence of this second will. It is enough to think of the daily news of injustice, violence, falsehood and lust. We see it every day. It is a fact.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, December 3, 2008.


Thinking of a quote we should have included? Submit it in the comment box and we’ll review it. 

  1. Theological Commission: “As the text developed, it was discussed at numerous meetings of the subcommission and several plenary sessions of the International Theological Commission held at Rome during the period 2000-2002. The present text was approved in forma specifica, by the written ballots of the International Theological Commission. It was then submitted to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the President of the Commission, who has give his permission for its publication.” []

8 Odes in Honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God

At your Assumption, O Mother of God, the hosts of Angels in fear and joy covered your body with hallowed wings, that had been spacious enough to receive God.

Listers, while the West celebrates the Feast of Our Lady, the Assumption, our brethren in the East celebrate with us under a different name. Known in the Byzantine theological and liturgical tradition as the Dormition (in Greek, the kimesis, or “falling asleep”), this feast commemorates the death of the Mother of God, as well as her subsequent Assumption into heaven after three days. The feast itself, which originated in the East, likewise entered into the Latin West as the Dormitio B. Mariae Virginis, where after several centuries it assumed its own unique character as a celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

The feast of the Dormition, being one of the more solemn Marian feasts in the Byzantine liturgical calendar on account of its antiquity, is preceded by a period of fasting and spiritual preparation known as the “Dormition Fast.” Of the four annual fasts in the Byzantine tradition, it is the strictest, except of course the Great Fast during Lent. Lasting for fourteen days, it begins with the feast of the Procession of the Cross on the 1st of August, and ends at sundown on the 14th, when the feast of the Dormition officially commences.

The Synaxarion, the martyrology of the Byzantine churches, relates that the dormition and the assumption of Our Lady were announced by an Angel to the Blessed Mother. According to tradition in the East, this final stage of Our Lady’s earthly life took place in Jerusalem, witnessed by all but one of the Apostles, who had been gathered together by Divine power. At the moment decreed beforehand by God, the all-holy Virgin, surrounded by her children committed her spirit into the hands of her Divine Son. A funeral procession followed to Gethsemane, where a tomb had been prepared for her, and with hymns and chants she was solemnly interred in her place of repose.

The Apostle Thomas, however, was making his way from India at the time of her burial. Being greatly saddened at his late arrival, he began to be distressed. The rest of the Apostles decided to open the tomb of the Virgin, in order that he might be able to honor her all-blameless body. But upon opening the tomb, they discovered that she had been taken into heaven, leaving the burial shroud remaining. Throughout the whole tomb, a garden of beautiful and fragrant flowers had bloomed, as a celebration of the miracle of Our Lady’s Assumption. To this day, the tomb of the Virgin remains in the garden of Gethsemane, enclosed in the shrine dedicated to her Dormition.

In honor of this solemn feast, this list will include eight odes in honor of Our Lady’s Dormition, from the Canon sung during Matins and composed by St. John Damascene:


First Ode

I will open my mouth, and it will be filled with the Spirit; and I will utter a word for the Queen and Mother: I will be seen keeping glad festival,and rejoicing, I will hymn her falling asleep.

The divine tabernacles of heaven fittingly received you as a living heaven, O Virgin all-pure; and as a blameless bride, you stand radiantly adorned before your King and God. [1]


Third Ode

O marvelous wonder, to see the living heaven of the King universal going down below the hollows of the earth. How wondrous are Your works: glory to Your power, O Lord!

At your Assumption, O Mother of God, the hosts of Angels in fear and joy covered your body with hallowed wings, that had been spacious enough to receive God. 


Fourth Ode

If her Fruit, who is incomprehensible–because of Whom, she was called ‘Heaven, willingly underwent burial as a mortal–how will she refuse burial, who bore him without wedlock? 


Fifth Ode

The universe was amazed at your glory divine: for you, O Virgin who knew not wedlock, have passed over from earth to mansions eternal and to life without end, as you give salvation as the prize to all who sing your praise.

Let the trumpets of the theologians ring out today, and let the mortal tongue now sound praises with many voices. Let the air re-echo, shining with infinite light. Let angels honor with hymns the Dormition of the Virgin.


Sixth Ode

As we celebrate this divine and honored feast of the Mother of God, come O godly-minded people, let us clap our hands as we glorify God Who was born of her.


Seventh Ode

The most sacred Assumption of Your hallowed and undefiled Mother has gathered the celestial ranks of the Powers on high to rejoice together with those on earth who sing to You: ‘O God, blessed are You!’


Eighth Ode

He, when taking flesh made his dwelling marvelously in your immaculate womb, Himself received your all-holy spirit and, as a dutiful Son, gave it rest with Himself. And so, we praise you, O Virgin, and exalt you above all to all the ages.


Ninth Ode

The angelic Powers were amazed as they looked down on Zion, upon their own Master bearing in His hands the soul of a woman; for as befitted a Son, he was saying to the one who gave him birth without stain:

‘Come, O honored Lady: be glorified with your Son and God.’

The choir of the Apostles shrouded your body, which had received God, as they looked with awe and addressed you with clear voice: ‘As you depart into the heavenly bridal chambers to your Son, may you ever save your inheritance.’


[1] All quotes are taken from Ephrem Lash’s copyrighted translation of the Menaion (with slight modifications), unless otherwise noted. Also, the numbering of the odes – with the missing “second ode” – is intentionally and in accordance with the liturgical tradition.

12 Political Cartoons Featuring Pope Francis

12 selected political cartoons featuring Pope Francis.

Memes and More


Francis Cartoon 11

Francis cartoon 1

Francis Cartoon 2

Francis Cartoon 3

Francis Cartoon 5

Francis Cartoon 6

Francis Cartoon 7

Francis Cartoon 7

Francis Cartoon 8

Francis Cartoon 9

a new shepherd sends a signal on environmental protection

Francis Cartoon 4

15 Catholic Quotes in Response to the SCOTUS Rulings on DOMA and Prop 8

“It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.” – Justice Scalia

Recommended Reading



Scalia More hat
Justice Scalia wearing his St. Thomas More replica hat.

“But to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “disparage,” ”injure,” “degrade,” ”demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual.”

“All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence— indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.” – Justice Scalia, U.S. v. Windsor, dissent. [Source]


“Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it…” – Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. [Source]


“Today’s decisions will also undoubtedly contribute to concerted efforts not just to redefine marriage but to dismantle it, efforts which represent a serious threat to religious liberty and conscience rights for countless people of faith. This threat to religious freedom is one of many, locally and nationally, that has prompted our current Fortnight for Freedom, which we hope will inspire people throughout the country to prayer, education, and action to preserve religious liberty.” – Archbishop William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore [Source]


“While today’s decision voids federal law it opens the doors to others: it allows the citizens of each state the opportunity to uphold the true definition of marriage by voting for representatives and legislation that defend the true definition of marriage. I call on all people of good will to make their voices heard through the democratic process by upholding marriage in their home states… This archdiocese remains resolved in the belief that no Catholic priest will ever be compelled to condone- even silently – same-sex “marriages.” – The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA. [Source]


“The response of the Catholic Church is universal and unchanged. Marriage is not a societal construct, but is rather an institution given by God and written in the laws of nature, established at the creation of the world. With this in mind, no government power has the authority or ability to redefine the essence of marriage. Their redefinition only causes them to officially speak incorrectly about marriage.” – From the Office of the Bishop, the Diocese of Tulsa [Source]


“At this time, we as Catholics reaffirm that no court decision can recreate reality or change the truth about marriage, and we mourn for what will likely be lost for many as a result of this decision – the conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman and the freedom that comes from living in that conviction. We will continue to pray for a renewed respect for the complementarity of the sexes and the authentic goods of marriage.” – Archbishop Coakley of the Diocese of Oklahoma City [Source]


“Anthony McLeod Kennedy, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, authored today’s majority opinion striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. This was his third sodomy case at the Supreme Court where he authored the pro-sodomy opinion. He also authored a 1996 opinion overriding Colorado’s constitution, where Kennedy invented a federal right for practicing homosexuals to have special discrimination claim rights. And he authored the infamous 2003 decision inventing a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy, overriding state laws… The bishop, the Most Reverend Paul Stephen Loverde, has stood firm in a position of Communion-on-Demand, no matter who presents himself at the altar rail (or missing rail, as the bishop has also banned the construction of altar rails). We shall see if Bishop Loverde is content with a three-time author of pro-sodomy decisions receiving Communion in his diocese this Sunday, or if the time is finally now to exert some nominal discipline. Sodomy is a sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance, even in the Diocese of Arlington, right?”  Adfero, Justice Anthony Kennedy: “full communion,” Rorate Caeli. [Source]


“Justice Kennedy wrote, ‘The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.’ This is only slightly less outrageously self-contradictory than his famous ‘mystery” utterance: ‘At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.'”That statement was written by Justice Kennedy (along with Justices Souter and O’Connor) in his opinion on the 1992 case, “Planned Parenthood v. Casey.”  Father Fessio, S.J. [Source]


“Catholic teaching protects the dignity of every human person, all deserving love and respect, including those who experience same-sex attraction. This is a reality that calls for compassion, sensitivity, and pastoral care. But no one –especially a child, is served by marriage redefinition.” – Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta [Source]


“While civil law establishes societal standards of conduct, we must also consider the natural law, moral law and divine revelation,” Bishop Wester said. “It is from these fonts of wisdom and grace that we Catholics understand that marriage between one man and one woman is a gift to humanity. The blessings of such a marriage cannot be legislated, litigated or changed by civil authorities.” – The Most Reverend John C. Wester, Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake City [Source]


“The well-being of our society, our nation, and our families is intimately linked to the institution of marriage. These decisions by the United States Supreme Court will make significantly more difficult our work of upholding the truth that marriage is a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman. Such decisions, made by any civic authority, do not serve the common good.” – Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron [Source]


“The truth is that marriage is between a man and a woman… Court decisions may change, but the truth does not… The Catholic Church will be faithful to this truth whether it is convenient or not.” – Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Mobile [Source]


Updated 6-27-13

“As in the case of Roe v. Wade striking down abortion laws forty years ago, the United States Supreme Court has again usurped its legitimate prerogative through a raw exercise of judicial power by giving legal protection to an intrinsic evil… These hollow decisions are absolutely devoid of moral authority. It is becoming increasingly and abundantly clear that what secular law now calls “marriage” has no semblance to the sacred institution of Holy Matrimony. People of faith are called to reject the redefinition of marriage and bear witness to the truth of Holy Matrimony as a lasting, loving and life-giving union between one man and one woman.” – Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois [Source]


“The Bishops of Massachusetts are extremely disappointed that the Court has struck down DOMA. The Church continues to stand for the traditional definition of marriage, an institution which unites one man and one woman with any children who may come from that union. Marriage, as a natural institution, predates both religion and government and is grounded in the nature of the human person. Protecting the traditional definition of marriage affirms the basic rights and dignity of women and men while safeguarding the basic rights of children.” – Massachusetts Catholic Conference Statement on DOMA Ruling [Source]

Updated 7-1-13

How serious a threat to marriage and society is the Supreme Court decision on DOMA?

Without being able to go into the actual text of the decision, what the decision represents, sadly, for our society, is a loss of the sense of nature, and specifically human nature, and the continuation in the highest judicial decisions of the pretence to define, for instance, the meaning of human life, define marriage in a way other than nature herself defines marriage. So this is one more step down a path which is destructive. So it’s a very serious matter, and we have to, as citizens of the United States, reawaken and insist on the respect for human life and also for the integrity of the marital union.

Do you see it being reversed in any way?

I certainly hope so — I hope people of good will fight for the sake of saving marriage, because marriage and the family are the first cell of the whole life of society. This is not a particularly Catholic issue, and that should be made clear. Surely, the Catholic Church teaches the moral law, but this has to do with the moral law written on every human heart, and you can’t tell me the founders of the United States of America didn’t have a respect for nature and a profound sense of it. In any case, we must have it.

How should the Church best respond to this?

The Church should teach very effectively and also encourage her members to be active in politics, in education and every aspect of society to promote a sound understanding of marriage and the family.

– Interview with His Eminence Cardinal Burke, National Catholic Register [Source]


Listers, if you have a recommended quote share it in the comment box. We’ll be updating this list as this historical event unfolds. Keep Calm and Catholic On.