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

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By SPL Contributor, November 9th, 2012

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

5. The Medal Wards Against

1. To destroy witchcraft and all other diabolical and haunting influences;
2. To impart protection to persons tempted, deluded, or tormented by evil spirits;
3. To obtain the conversion of sinners into the Catholic Church, especially when they are in danger of death;
4. To serve as an armor against temptation;
5. To destroy the effects of poison;
6. To secure a timely and healthy birth for children;
7. To afford protection against storms and lightning;
8. To serve as an efficacious remedy for bodily afflictions and a means of protection against contagious diseases.

 

6. How to use the medal

1. On a chain around the neck;
2. Attached to one’s rosary;
3. Kept in one’s pocket or purse;
4. Placed in one’s car or home;
5. Placed in the foundation of a building;
6. Placed in the center of a cross.

The use of any religious article is intended as a means of reminding one of God and of inspiring a willingness and desire to serve God and neighbor. It is not regarded as a good luck charm or magical device.1

A Historicism of Christians and Muslims of the Crusades Pt. 1 — All Around the Western Front

Read my post on AATWF about the latest research on the Crusades, and why the common narrative of the mainstream is wrong.

During a Prayer Breakfast in 2015, Barack Obama, the President of the United States made the following comment, “During the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”[1] The source I chose to use to cite this comment is the “New Yorker,” a politically left leaning publication. The author of […]

via Historicism of the Christians and Muslims of the Crusades Pt. 1 — All Around the Western Front

The San Damiano Crucifix

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I have a foundational connection to this crucifix from my youth. I was introduced to the remarkable piece of artwork during my years at Catholic school. Our parish priest, as I remember it, had traveled to Rome for some sort of priestly activity and during his time there he found an extraordinary print of this crucifix. I remember the detail of the image to be quite exquisite, like something that truly carried the sanctity of heaven. An image that truly carries the words of St. Augustine as a visible sign of invisible Grace. Our priest had the image custom made into a  processional cross for the altar boys of our parish to carry in and out of Mass. The image was customed framed with a dark wood that bordered the image, but also had the design of the mystical vine that the image carried itself. I remember having the great honor to carry this crucifix as an altar boy it to the altar.

The processional cross was large and weighed a great deal. It wasn’t hard for an altar boy to imagine the weight of Christ’s cross as he carried it to the place of the skull either during Mass or especially for stations of the cross. The honor to be around such an image at such a young age has continued to resonate in my heart that I still carry this crucifix with me every day around my neck, and it hangs on the wall of my office where I now type these words.

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The Church has a historical connection to the crucifix, as according to tradition this is the crucifix that spoke to St. Francis of Assisi at San Damiano. It was through this holy image that Christ spoke to St. Francis to give him the mission to rebuild his church that had fallen into despair. St. Francis would certainly rebuild Christ’s church in San Damiano as well as other areas nearby, but the Franciscans hold that Christ’s message was the foundation of their order.

The Crucifix appears to be odd for the region of San Damiano, Italy, but scholars point to the image to be painted by an unknown Umbrian painter in the 12th century who had been influenced by Syrian monks that were in the region. The artist created within the crucifix the story of the Passion of Christ, the bridge to our salvation. Eastern tradition teaches that the Crucifix Icon is a personal encounter with the living God.

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The central image of the Crucifix is Christ; the image portrays Christ’s humanity and his victory over death. At the top of the Crucifix above Christ’s head is the ascension of Christ into heaven, as well as the hand of God. If you look at the hand, the hand has two fingers extended which are a representation of the Holy Spirit. The two figures under Christ’s right side is Mary and John, who were present at the Cross. Mary is wearing a white veil which is an indication of the purity of Revelation. Both John and Mary look at each other as Christ commanded them to behold their “son” and “mother” respectively. On the other side of Christ is Mary Magdalene, which gives her a special place near Christ. Mary Clopas and the Centurion of Capernaum stands next to her. There are two smaller figures in the portrait which are the Roman with the lance, and the Roman with the sponge. Finally, The image below Christ’s feet is that of unknown Saints, who scholars have debated and speculated who they are in the image.

There is also a rooster by Christ’s left leg, which is a bit difficult to see; of course, this connects to the denial of Christ by Peter during the passion story. It was always a favorite image that the children enjoyed when Father explained the story behind the images on this magnificent piece of artwork. I am so very honored to have such an experience with it.

The Sign of The Cross: Why do Catholics sign themselves?

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One of the great histories written on the topic of the Sign of the Cross was written in defense of the ceremony by St. Francis De Sales. St. Francis De Sales took up his pen in defense of Catholicism while he was Bishop of Geneva in Switzerland, which was dominated during his time in the 16th century by Calvinists. Francis De Sales decided to write on the topic of the Sign of the Cross because the Calvinist of his day accused the practice of being a Papist invention that had nothing to do with the early Church.

The translator, Christopher O. Blum, writes in the forward of The Sign of the Cross that “The reader will not fail to be struck by the relevance of this work in our own age. Crucifixes to be sure, but even bare crosses, are conspicuous by their absence in America’s Evangelical churches, and the act of making the Sign of the Cross is regarded by many non-Catholics as superstition at best.”[1]

I am a born and raised Catholic, so the ceremony of the Sign of the Cross has always been  a part of my life. However, I have encountered instances where I have felt self-conscience because of a stare from another member of society–especially when I was younger. I never really knew the history of the Sign of the Cross just that it was done by Catholics, a distinct action of our Latin culture, but St. Francis De Sales book is a beautiful explanation that I wish I had to encountered at a younger age so that I could have been properly informed.

In the first chapter, St. Francis De Sales discusses how “the Sign of the Cross is a Christian ceremony that represents the Passion of our Lord.”[2] When discussing ceremonies that take place within the religions, Francis De Sales explains the importance of religion in the context of these ceremonial actions. He says, “the virtue of religion, having for its proper and natural work to render to God the honor that is His due.”[3] Francis De Sales explains that the action of the Sign of the Cross is an action that outside of religion would have absolutely no meaning and no use. He says, “Indifferent actions would remain useless if religion did not employ them, but once put to work by it, they become noble, useful, and holy.”[4] Of course, we Catholics do other actions when we enter our sanctuaries as we bend our knees to the ground to show a free submission to the will of God in front of him in the Tabernacle, as explained by Bishop Paprocki during the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.

However for the Calvinist of De Sales days–and the Protestant of today– who are not convinced, he has the reader look back into scripture to find where religion requested such action from those in the world since the beginning of humanity. He explains for all to look at the story of Abel and Cain and notice how religion called for them to make offerings, and in regards to Noah, an altar was constructed without delay.[5] Regardless of the rejection from Calvinist in St. Francis De Sales day to Protestants in the modern world, The Old Testament is filled with examples such as the sacrifices and ceremony of Abraham, Melchizedek, Isaac, Jacob et al. Furthermore, look at the accounts of the New Testament where John is baptizing, St. Paul is cutting his hair for a vow, and prays on his knees with the church of Miletus.[6] De Sales reminds us that these action by themselves mean nothing, but when used in the context of religion to praise the glory of God “they become honorable and efficacious ceremonies.”[7]

St. Francis De Sales reminds us that God even works through ceremony when conducting miracles on earth. He has Moses touch the rock with his staff, or a beggar touches the robes of Christ they become healed.[8]

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So the Christian who employs the ceremony of The Sign of the Cross does so to honor God in a manner that is strictly Christian. A sign that was conducted in the early Church to symbolize to others during the height of persecution that they were Christians. A symbol of the Passion made by a simple motion that creates the shape of the crucifixion. It must be made with the right hand with either three fingers representing the trinity or five representing the five wounds of Christ. St. Francis De Sales reminds us to use either three or five fingers as the Jacobites and Armenians employed only one figure to represent their Christological heresies.[9] The sign of the Cross should begin at the forehead while saying, “In the name of the Father,” and move down toward the stomach while saying “and of the Son.” The downward motion illustrates that the Son proceeds from the Father by sending his Son to the womb of the Virgin Mary. The hand then moves to the left shoulder to the right while saying “and of the Holy Spirit.” Catholics do this to illustrate that the third person in the Trinity proceeds from the Father and from the Son.

The beautiful ceremony is the confession of the mysteries of the Trinity, the Passion, and salvation from sin.[10] It is one that is that shows our Catholic culture and one that honors the traditions of Christianity. If your own faith does not practice this beautiful ceremony, I ask that you reflect on the matter.

[1] St. Francis De Sales, The Sign of the Cross (Manchester: Sophia Institute Press, 2013), xiii.

[2] Ibid, 3.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 4.

[5] Ibid, 5.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, 9.

[10] Ibid, 10.

Christian Origins of anti-Semitism: A Historical Lie

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Melissa, a Latin Community writer, is Jewish. So, I would certainly surmise that she probably has a better understanding of this topic written by Rodney Stark from personal experience. I definitely welcome her to challenge any ideas presented by Stark that I examine in his first chapter of his book.

In Rodney Stark’s new book, Bearing False Witness, he sets out on a tour de force by examining the history of Anti-Catholicism that has existed in world history. Stark dismisses one of the largest historical lies against the Church; the Crusades were the first example of unprovoked colonialism, which Thomas F. Madden in his work properly shows that the Crusades are to be more properly interpreted as a defense of Christendom. He challenges the atheist supposition that the Church plunged the world into the Dark Ages only to be brought out by Enlightenment thinkers who put their faith in empiricism. Stark, among other events, finally sets the record straight on what really happened during the Spanish Inquisition.[1]

Stark’s book doesn’t shy away from challenging some of the towering scholars of history; the mainstays in university bookstores. In Stark’s introduction, the first scholar he calls out is the university standout Edward Gibbon, who he calls “one of the very first distinguished bigots.”[2] Stark writes, “Edward Gibbon would surely have been in deep trouble had the bitterly anti-religious views he expressed in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire not been incorrectly seen as applying only to Roman Catholicism…Gibbon’s readers assumed his attacks were specific to Catholicism and not aimed at religion at all.”[3]

Stark reminds us that we will meet a great many of these “distinguished bigots” who many are in recent years “alienated Catholics, many of whom are seminary dropouts (one of my former college professors), former priests, or ex-nuns, such as John Cornwell, James Carroll, and Karen Armstrong.”[4]

In the first chapter, Stark dismisses what is likely the first incorrect recording of Catholic history that many secular scholars promote, which is that the Church is the originator of anti-Semitism in the world. The author explains how he fell very early in his career for this historical lie and even quotes his own book to prove it. He explains that as a graduate student that he was requested to research anti-Semitism which did show a link between American Christians prejudice against Jews. Stark explains that prior to Vatican II he was asked to prepare a brief on his findings.[5]

So how did we get to that point in the lie? It’s explained that the invention of the Church creating anti-Semitism rests on academic scholars who ignore that the fact that it existed in history prior to Christianity. Stark writes, “All of the scholars who believe that the Christians invented anti-Semitism know that deep hostility toward Jews existed long before the birth of Jesus.”[6] Stark goes to the primary Roman sources to prove this assertion. He quotes Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Cicero, and Tacitus who each had written remarks that possess strong discriminatory opinions against Jews.

Stark examines in his book a litany of examples of pagans discriminating Jews, the question that arises is why do modern historians ignore this? I would certainly assert that if any have stepped foot on a public college campus in the past ten years, the religious are not only a minority but an endangered species. In fact, I remember I made an effort to present my arguments for moral absolutism in the Enlightenment language of Locke, Burke, Rousseau et al. simply because if I mentioned either religion or God, I would have been laughed out of the room or even mocked. I am not even exaggerating this point.

So what do the Gospels say? Of course, Stark examines the Gospel of Matthew, which is written for Jews, which these irreligious scholars continue to cite over and over due to the language of Mt. 27:24-26. Stark asserts that these passages are explained out of context by the irreligious, which I remember when studying the Gospel of Matthew in theology class makes perfect sense. The Gospel was written for Jews who were concerned with not being loyal to Judaism by worshiping Christ. In this respect, one can see that the Gospel is calling them to progress from what happened in Jerusalem to faith in Christ. Of course, when the text is read by an audience that it is not intended for then the proper historicism and message are lost.

There are other passages in the entirety of the Bible and writings of Early Christians that are not interpreted with proper historicism by modern scholars. Stark reminds readers that in the year 100 A.D. there were only approximately 8,000 Christians and a century later only 200,000. In comparison to Jews during the period, which stood at 7 million, the goal of Christian writings during the period where to largely convert Jews to their religion.[7] Modern scholars apply modern prejudices to text written by 2nd  and 3rd century Christians attempting to convert Jews to their religion. Of course, if Christians were a minority to Jews during the period, isn’t it more likely that they were victims of discrimination from the majority? Doesn’t St. Paul admit this in Acts 22:4-5?:

I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brethren, and I journeyed to Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.[8]

 I could go on about the evidence asserted by Rodney Stark; however, I suggest just buying his book to read his full account on this matter. Stark goes on to explain how in the middles ages the accounts of anti-Semitism by the Church have also been over-exaggerated, but to serve the purpose of this post; I wanted to illustrate how the origins of anti-Semitism did not originate from Christianity. It was unlikely due to it already existing in Pagan Rome, and Christians being a minority religion, and wanting to convert Jews to their religion wrote in the context of that sentiment.

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[1] Rodney Stark, Bearing False Witness (West Conshohocken: Templeton Press, 2016), 4.

[2] Ibid, 3.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 4.

[5] Ibid, 9.

[6] Ibid, 11.

[7] Ibid, 15.

[8] Acts 22: 4-5 RSV

Anglicans are not Catholics.

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Many in the Charity of Christ, Connor here at The Latin Community, long for a day when the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches will be in full communion with each other. There does seem to be theological differences that are so ancient (The Filioque) that would make it appear that this division would never heal. Of course, the natural position for the Charity of Christ is to look at other Christian communities who are not in union with the one true Catholic and Apostolic Church. The first Protestant division was Lutheranism; however, Lutherans have split into so many different ‘Lutheran’ denominations that the Charity of Christ must address their faithful in pieces. If one continues through their historical timeline, it is most likely that the next most viable option is the Church of England—also known as the Anglican Church.

Although Martin Luther’s reformation altered the course of European history, Luther’s reformation was a theological dispute. The Church of England took a more aggressive route by deciding to rape the Catholic monasteries across the English countryside. Furthermore, it is difficult for even members of the Anglican faithful to understand how much their sense of Anglo culture is tied to their faith. Thomas Merton, having lived in England for a good amount of time, wrote about The Church of England saying, “It is a class religion, the cult of special society and group, not even of a whole nation, but of the ruling minority in a nation…There is certainly not much doctrinal unity, much less a mystical bond between people many of whom have even ceased to believe in grace or Sacraments. The things that hold them together is the powerful attraction of their own social traditions, and the stubborn tenacity with which they cling to certain social standards and customs…The Church of England depends, for its existence, almost entirely on the solidarity and conservatism of the English ruling class.”[1]

After observing how Anglicans think, I can certainly begin to understand what Merton means in his own observations. The Church of England may have a world presence but they’re certainly not unified under the Archbishop of Canterbury like the Roman Catholic Church is under the Pope of Rome. Furthermore, Merton explains several key points about the temperament of the Anglican faithful. Although, as it appears unaware, the English are so connected with faith culturally that elements of English culture like enlightenment thinking, empiricism, and liberalism drive many wings of the Church of England.
In regards to Anglicanism’s theology, the Church of England has 3 prominent wings or as Fr. Dwight Longenecker asks, “Or is it 300?”[2] Fr. Dwight on Catholic Answers has a fantastic explanation about the state of confusion that is exists in the foundations of the Church of England, he writes, “I attended an Anglican seminary of the Evangelical persuasion called Wycliffe Hall, and down the road was the Anglo-Catholic seminary called St. Stephen’s House. The two were totally opposed in theology, liturgical practice, culture, and ethos. In Oxford was an Anglican seminary which was “broad church,” or liberal. This third strand of Anglicanism has always been a kind of worldly, established, urbane type of religion that is at home with the powers that be and always adapts to the culture in which it finds itself.

These three forces co-exist in the Anglican church—united by nothing more than a shared baptism, a patriotic allegiance to the national church, and the need to tolerate each other.”[3]

So what occurs when a Church that is only really connected due to a patriotic allegiance? Mass theological confusion. You have members of the Anglican faith calling themselves Catholic when they are separated from Rome, and at the same time paving the way for women to be ordained in their faith, soiling the sanctity of marriage, and disgracing the theology of the Eucharist and the Body of Christ. The Church of England is so connected to its English culture that naturally it must be beholden to England’s adoption of both Liberalism and Socialism. Of course, as Father Dwight reminds us that many Anglicans will claim there is much division in the Roman Catholic Church, but to respond by saying, “”That may be, but we do not claim it as a virtue. We have one authority on earth. We have one clear teaching. We may not all obey it. We may not all unite around it, but it is there. It is one. It is holy. It is Catholic. It is apostolic. It is a rock on which to build, and the rock is Peter and his successor.”[4] Furthermore, our Church was indeed founded by Christ who gave the keys to St. Peter, it was not founded by a King who wanted to soil the honor of the bride of Christ by staining all his country’s churches with the sin of adultery.

[1] Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain ( New York: Harvest Books, 1999), 72.

[2] http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/what-catholics-must-understand-about-anglicanism

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

Let’s Learn Latin: What You Will Need.

  
One of the goals of this blog is to create a community where we can learn Latin, the official language of Our Church, together to promote our Catholic culture throughout the world. 

I took Latin in college and my strongest skill is an understanding of the grammar. If there are any stronger Latin scholars out there please contact me through the comment section, and I will allow you to run this portion of the community. 

Do you need any resources? 

Yes, and no, but mostly yes.

  
I will provide a few examples through post; however, I encourage everyone to go to Amazon, or wherever you buy books, and purchase Getting Started with Latin by William E. Linney. The book I used in college was created for that specific class and it resembled Wheelock’s Latin textbook which its primary function is to teach Classical Latin. Linney’s book, although it teaches Classical Latin, has great function with starting Ecclesiastical Latin for adult learners. The author breaks down each lesson into small lessons which allows one to memorize easier at a slower pace. The book doesn’t assume that you know advance grammar terminology, and in fact, doesn’t assume you know basic terms like what is a direct object. The best part about the book is that the author provides a website where you can download the pronunciations for Ecclesiastical Latin! 

Tips for Learning: 

When learning Latin you have to do more than just translate the language, remember you want to functionally use this language everyday. So when you translate the Latin into English on a separate sheet of paper, remember to read the Latin out loud, which makes the pronunciation MP3s invaluable and a key to your success. After you complete the translation into English set the paper aside for a few hours or a day. After some time has passed go back and write your translation back into Latin. 

Hopefully we can get enough grounding to work up to text like A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin By John F. Collins and a work on a few translation from St. Augustine’s Confessions 

Picture Jesus: What do you see?

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When I close my eyes and focus on Jesus, my mind often reveals the Christ Pantocrator icon at St. Catherine’s monastery. I encourage anyone who has never seen the icon to take a closer look at the image that I provided here. The image carries the two faces of Christ–both man and God–as it’s not a symmetrical image. The image that I see in my head feels like a contradiction, but at the same time, it does not, it feels peaceful. I see both the salvation of mankind, and also it’s judgment. I truly see man and God.

The icon, as a Catholic, is honestly one of the few pieces of art that I feel a pull towards when viewing it. It’s one of the few pieces of art that I feel I could look at for days and never tire of it. Perhaps, it’s true spiritualism, as I feel that it’s truly the face of God. I’ve heard that Icons are written to be windows into heaven., I feel when I look at this Icon, I am looking at an accurate representation of the Incarnate Christ.

Where did this image of Christ of mine get shaped? I would say a lot of it is foundational to my faith. The mass and the sacrifice of the Christ has always been fundamental to my faith. When the priest prays the words of consecration, he prays with Christ. The bread becomes Jesus, the incarnation of Christ, and It’s a beautiful miracle. I’ve often debated my Protestant friends over the theology of Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation only to conclude with them if it’s not truly Christ and the Catholics don’t have it right, then in the spirit of Flannery O’Connor, I say, “to hell with it.” A lot of this has been shaped by taking a ‘History of Christmas’ class in college, which introduced me to the sermons of Augustine on the topic of the two nativities and reading Pope Benedict’s fanatic book series Jesus of Nazareth.

I see the miracle of the Incarnation in that image of Christ; I see the miracle of the discourse of the bread of life in that image—the miracle of the mass.

Lately, I’ve been taking theology courses to become a certified Catechist, which is why the post on my blog have been few and far between. However, I am greatly concerned with what is being taught. In my first reading, my image of Christ was directly attacked. The author, who I found to have involvement with “A  Call to Action” ‘Catholicism,’ made claims that the stress on High Christology was the way of the old Church prior to Vatican II and now the Church’s true direction is Low Christology, which its weaknesses are its strengths. I believe I can speak directly to this viewpoint existing in nothing more than a Vatican II Catholic era, and when I read such text, it worries me to the core.

In the post-Vatican II era of the Catholic Church, In my view, there’s actually too much of a focus on low Christology. The author that I read discusses in their thesis how it’s the opposite; however, they grew up before Vatican II, which would have stressed more of the High Christology. Notwithstanding, I think it’s important to keep low Christology in our hearts and see Christ as the servant washing the feets of his disciples, the humble man, the man around all the different children. I’m thirty, so all I have ever known is the post-Vatican II low Christological Jesus. I think that’s why the Christ Pantocrator icon at St. Catherine’s monastery gains so much of my focus. The judge is present–the law, the Christ that warns of sin, judgment, and says the word hell. The Jesus that commands us to repent our sins.

I feel that image of Jesus has been lost, the image that is often represented is one that the post-modern world will agree with instead of the actual Jesus. We, the faithful, I think need to understand that the twenty generations have helped led to the development of the Church’s image of Christ. The Holy Spirit has worked through the Church, and we shouldn’t strip away the revelations of the Church for a new modern exegesis.

So, when you close your eyes and picture Jesus, what do you see?