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 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.”
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.