Friday, December 25, 2009

A Short Reflection on the Feast of Christmas, by St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom, whose Greek epithet means "golden-mouthed," was Patriarch of Constantinople. He died in the year 407.

What shall I say? How shall I describe this birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of Days has become an infant. He who sits upon the sublime and heavenly throne, now lies in a manger. And he who cannot be touched, who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of people. …God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Feast of St. Andrew

November 30 is the Feast of St. Andrew, the first called to be an Apostle and the brother of St. Peter.

From Matins:

The Apostle Andrew was born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, and was the brother of Peter. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and heard him say of Christ, Behold the Lamb of God, whereupon he immediately followed Jesus, bringing his brother also with him. Some while after, they were both fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and the Lord Christ, going by, called them both, before any other of the Apostles, in the words, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. They made no delay, but left their nets, and followed him. After the death and Resurrection of Christ, Andrew was allotted Scythia as the province of his preaching, and, after labouring there, he went through Epirus and Thrace, where he turned vast multitudes to Christ by his teaching and miracles. Finally he went to Patras in Achaia, and there also he brought many to the knowledge of Gospel truth. Aegeas the Proconsul resisted the preaching of the Gospel, and the Apostle freely rebuked him, bidding him know that while he held himself a judge of his fellow men, he was himself hindered by devils from knowing Christ our God, the Judge of all.

Then Aegeas, being angry, answered him, Boast no more of this thy Christ. He spake words even such as thine, but they availed him not, and he was crucified by the Jews. Whereto Andrew boldly answered that Christ had given himself up to die for man's salvation ; but the Proconsul blasphemously interrupted him, and bade him look to himself, and sacrifice to the gods. Then said Andrew, We have an altar, whereon day by day I offer up to God, the Almighty, the One, and the True, not the flesh of bulls nor the blood of goats, but a Lamb without spot : and when all they that believe have eaten of the Flesh thereof, the Lamb that was slain abideth whole and liveth. Then Aegeas being filled with wrath, bound the Apostle in prison. Now, the people would have delivered him, but he himself calmed the multitude, and earnestly besought them not to take away from him the crown of martyrdom, for which he longed and which was now drawing near.

Some short while after, he was brought before the judgment seat, where he extolled the mystery of the cross, and rebuked Aegeas for his ungodliness. Then Aegeas could bear with him no longer, but commanded him to be crucified, in imitation of Christ. Andrew, then, was led to the place of martyrdom, and, as soon as he came in sight of the cross, he cried out : O precious cross, made so fair and goodly by the sweet body of my Lord, how long have I desired thee! how warmly have I loved thee! how constantly have I sought thee! And, now that thou art come to me, how is my soul drawn to thee! Welcome me from amongst men, and join me anew to my Master, that as by thee he redeemed me, so by thee also he may take me unto himself. So he was fastened to the cross, whereon he hung living for two days, during which time he ceased not to preach the faith of Christ, and, finally, passed into the Presence of him the likeness of whose death he had loved so well. All the above particulars of his last sufferings were written by the Priests and Deacons of Achaia, who bear witness to them of their own knowledge. Under the Emperor Constantine the bones of the Apostle were first taken to Constantinople, whence they were afterwards brought to Amalfi. In the Pontificate of Pope Pius II, his head was carried to Rome, where it is kept in the Basilica of St. Peter.

Those are the three readings from Matins about the life of St. Andrew. I will add that you can see an X-shaped cross, the kind on which St. Andrew died, on the flag of Scotland, as he is Scotland's patron saint.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

The last Sunday in October is traditionally the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King.

From Matins:
The Lesson is taken from the Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI

Since the Holy Year hath provided more than one opportunity to enhance the glory of the kingdom of Christ, we deem it to be in the highest degree in keeping with our Apostolic office to accede to the prayers of many Cardinals, Bishops, and faithful, made known to us both individually and collectively, by closing this very Year with the insertion into the ecclesiastical liturgy of a special feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King. It is a long-standing and common custom to apply, in a symbolic sense, the title of King to Christ. That is to say, to refer to him as King because he hath surpassed and excelled every created being by virtue of his sublime perfection in all things. In this sense he is said to reign in the minds of men. By which is meant, not only that the keenness of his mind and the extent of his knowledge surpasseth the rest of mankind, but that he is himself the Truth ; and hence that from him the truth is to be discovered, and also obédiently received, by all mankind. Likewise he is said to reign in the wills of men. For in him not only is the human will in exact and precise accord with the holiness of the divine will, but also from him doth come to us the grace and inspiration to conform our own preferences to the divine will, whereby we are moved to the noblest kind of actions. Again, Christ is acknowledged to be the King of human hearts, on account of his love which passeth human understanding, and of his mercy and kindness, whereby he draweth all men unto him. For never hath anyone been loved so much at any time as Jesus Christ is loved, and that by so many different races. Neither will it happen in time to come that anyone shall be so loved. But although all this is true, Christ is also King in the proper and strict sense of the word. For if we ponder this matter more deeply we cannot but see that this title, as well as true kingly power, is rightly claimed for Christ as Man. As the Word of God he is of the same substance as the Father, and hath all things in common with the Father, and therefore in his divine nature he hath the highest and most absolute dominion over all created things. Hence it is only as Man that he can be said to have received from the Father the kingdom and the power and the glory.

As to the source of our Lord's kingly dignity, it is fittingly indicated by Cyril of Alexandria who saith : He doth possess dominion, if I may use the word, over all creatures ; a dominion not seized by violence, nor usurped from anyone, but possessed by virtue of his very being and nature. In him there is a marvellous union of the divine and human natures which is known as the hypostatic union, and this very union is a glorious manifestation of his dominion. That is to say, as a consequence of this hypostatic union, Angels and men do not only adore Christ as God, but are subject to his dominion as Man, and do obey him as such. For by reason of this hypostatic union, if for no other reason, Christ hath power over all created beings. And now, to explain the import and nature of this headship of his, let us say briefly that it consisteth in a three-fold power, namely, that of Law-giver, Judge, and Ruler. For if this power were lacking, we could scarcely discern wherein he hath any such headship. And, moreover the witness to our Redeemer's universal dominion, which same is not only implied but announced by Holy Scripture, is more than clear, so that it is an article of the Catholic Faith, proceeding from the truth that Christ Jesus was given to mankind as the Saviour of all those who put their faith in him. But this being so, it is clear that he is also to be the Law-giver for those who obey him. Thus, the Gospels not only relate that he made laws, but they also shew him in the act of promulgating them. In several different passages the divine Master is described as announcing in various ways that whosoever keepeth his commandments, doth thereby shew love for him, and the desire to persevere in loving him. As to his júdiciary power, Jesus himself hath told us that the Father hath conferred this upon him ; for at the time when the Jews accused him of having broken the law of Sabbath-rest by his miraculous cure of a sick man, he said : The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. Thus he hath authority to confer rewards or punishment upon the living, for authority so to do cannot be separated from his authority as Judge. From all this, his executive power (that is, his right to govern) is made clear, since all men must needs obey his rule, and those who disobey are subject to penalties from which there is no escape.

But, nevertheless, a kingdom such as this hath a special character, namely, that it is a spiritual kingdom, for it hath spiritual ends and purposes. The words quoted above from the Bible clearly indicate this, and the Lord Christ hath confirmed the same by his actions. On more than one occasion when the Jewsyea, when even the Apostles themselves―falsely imagined that the Messiah would presently free his people from Roman domination, and restore the Kingdom of Israel, he both dispelled and destroyed that fond hope. For he disclaimed the title of King when it was pressed upon him by the admiring multitude which thronged him ; he refused both the name and the honour by fleeing from them and concealing himself ; and he declared in the presence of the Roman Governour : My kingdom is not of this world. According to the Gospels it is a kingdom whose citizenship is prepared for by repentance, and bestowed by Baptism through faith. Although the latter is an outward rite, it doth both signify and produce an inward regeneration. Furthermore, this kingdom hath been raised up in direct opposition to the kingdom of Satan and the powers of darkness. Citizenship therein demandeth detachment from riches and worldly affairs, discipline of character, and hunger and thirst after righteousness ; and even more than this, that every citizen thereof is to deny himself, and take up his Cross. But since Christ as Redeemer hath purchased the Church with his own blood, and as Priest hath offered himself as a sacrifice for sin, which offering abideth forever, is it not evident that as King he is both our Redeemer and Priest? On the other hand, it is a wicked error to deny to Christ as Man the authority over civil affairs, since he hath from the Father such complete jurisdiction over created things that he could say : All power is given unto me in heaven and earth. Therefore, by our apostolic authority, we appoint the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, which same is to be observed annually throughout the entire world, on the last Lord's day in the month of October, that is to say, on the Sunday next before All Saints Day ; and likewise we enjoin, that the dedication of the human race to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be annually renewed upon that selfsame day.

A Homily by St. Augustine the Bishop

Here was a notable thing, the King of eternity had become the King of mortal men! In what way is it notable? In that Christ did not become the King of Israel to exact tribute, or to arm a body of men, or to conquer visible foes ; but rather that he might rule souls, and counsel them regarding eternity ; and that he might lead to the kingdom of heaven all such as believe in him, hope in him, and love him. In one such as he, it was condescension that he should desire to become the King of Israel. For he was the Son of God, co-equal with the Father, the Word by whom all things were made. To become such a King did not increase his power, but only betokened his mercy. For he who on earth was called the King of the Jews, in heaven was adored as Lord of the Angels. But is Christ King of the Jews only, or of the Gentiles also? Yea, of the Gentiles also. For when it was said of him in the prophetic Psalm : I have set my King upon my holy hill of Sion : lest anyone should say, on account of this word Sion, that he was appointed King of the Jews only, there is straightway added : Desire of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Jesus answered : My kingdom is not of this world ; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews ; but now is my kingdom not from hence. This is what the good Master would have us know. But first he had to shew how vain were the notions, current among men, regarding his kingship. It matters not whence Pilate heard them, whether from Jews or Gentiles. There was the notion that Christ ought to be punished on the grounds that he was a conspirator seeking unlawfully to set himself up as a king. Or the notion that reigning monarchs are wise to be jealous of any who aspire to the throne. Such notions assumed that Christ's kingdom would be set up against the Jews or the Romans. The first question of the Governour was : Art thou the King of the Jews? To which the Lord could have answered : My Kingdom is not of this world. But instead he answered with another question : Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? For he wished to shew from Pilate's answer that the Jews had laid a criminal charge against him on these grounds. In this wise did he lay open to us the thoughts of men, that they are but vain. And after Pilate's reply, he made answer, both to the Jews and the Gentiles, and that fittingly and opportunely : My Kingdom is not of this world.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Feast of St. Michael

September 29th is the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael.

From Matins of September 29th:
The Lesson is taken from the Sermons of St. Gregory the Pope

We say that there are nine orders or choirs of Angels, for, by the witness of the holy Word, we know that there be Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. Nearly every page of the holy Word witnesseth that there be Angels and Archangels. The books of the Prophets, as is well known, do oftentimes make mention of Cherubim and Seraphim. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesians, counteth up the names of four orders, where he saith : Far above all Principality, and Power, and Virtue, and Dominion. And the same, again, writing to the Colossians, saith : Whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers. If, then, we add the Thrones to the four orders of which he spake unto the Ephesians, we have five orders ; and when we add unto them the Angels and the Archangels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim, we find that the orders of Angels are beyond all doubt nine.

But we must know that the word Angel is the designation, not of a nature, but of an office. Those holy spirits in the heavenly fatherland are alway spirits, but they may nowise be alway called Angels. For they are Angels only when they are sent as Messengers. Hence also it is said by the Psalmist : Who makest spirits thine Angels! as if it were : Of them who are alway with him as spirits, he doth somewhiles make use as Messengers. They who go on the lesser messages are called Angels : they who go on the greater Archangels. Hence it is that unto the Virgin Mary was sent no common Angel, but the Archangel Gabriel. For the delivery of this, the highest message, it was meet that there should be sent the highest Angel. Their individual names also are so given as to signify the kind of ministry wherein each is powerful. Michael signifieth Who is like unto God? Gabriel, The Strength of God. And Raphael, The Medicine of God.

As often as anything very mighty is to be done, we see that Michael is sent, that by that very thing, and by his name, we may remember that none is able to do as God doeth. Hence that old enemy whose pride hath puffed him up to be fain to be like unto God, even he who said : I will ascend unto heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God... I will be like the Most High, this old enemy, when at the end of the world he is about to perish in the last death, having no strength but his own, is shewn unto us a-fighting with Michael the Archangel, even as saith John : There was a war in heaven : Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon ; and the dragon fought and his angels. Unto Mary is sent Gabriel, whose name is interpreted The Strength of God, for he came to herald the appearing of him who was content to appear lowly that he might fight down the powers of the air. Raphael, also, as we have said, signifieth The Medicine of God, and it is the name of him who touched as a physician the eyes of Tobias, and cleared away his blindness.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Disgrace to Catholicism

Ted Kennedy dies, a man who publicly ignored Church teaching, and he gets a grand Catholic funeral Mass, and our president who has a most un-Catholic position on many things gets to speak at the funeral while everybody assumes Ted Kennedy is in heaven. How sad. Remember purgatory exists. So does hell, by the way. God help his soul.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Series on the Mass: Introduction

It's been a while since my last post, but it's time to get to a series on the Traditional Latin Mass, the Mass that was the norm in the Roman Rite until 1970. It was officially codified during the Council of Trent, but had only minimal changes since the days of St. Pope Gregory the Great, and had minimal changes even up to the time of Pope John XXIII.

Father Frederick Faber once referred to the Traditional Mass as "the most beautiful thing this side of heaven." I have found this to be very true. Whether in a small room in a rectory in Fairpoint, Ohio, to a grand cathedral in Wheeling, West Virginia, the Classical Mass is truly the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed, and as many today are not familiar with it at all, I feel it necessary to explain what happens during the Mass.

I will have two series, the first being on what happens in the Mass, as well as before and after, and all things encompassing it. I will divide the Mass into parts, and in each post I will explain what occurs in each part. In the second series, I will take the same divisions, but this time I will give my own personal reflections and insights into each part of the Mass, giving historical reasons for the existence of the part being analyzed as well as its origin. Overall, the first part will mainly be copying and pasting from websites that have the text of the Mass. I will also present all the prayers in Latin and English for the benefit of the reader.

I intend both of these series to be presented as somewhat of a well researched essay, so that people can use them to their advantage when learning about the Classical Mass. I am aware that in the schools people are getting taught to be weary of internet sources, so the better I write these the more they could be used by those who are the product of a high school education.

In case you are wondering, according to the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" of Pope Benedict XVI, any competent priest of the Roman Rite, that is, a priest who knows all the rubrics of the "Extraordinary Form," is allowed to celebrate the Classical Mass according to the Missal of Pope John XXIII for the people of a parish, except during the Paschal Triduum, and is to acknowledge the people's request for the Classical Mass to be celebrated at the parish.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Filler post for the 4th of July weekend

I don't want to abandon the blog ever but the 4th of July, among other things, is for
-blowing stuff up
-ESPN's coverage of the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
-celebration of these United States (as it used to be called, because it appeared the nature of the "unity" of the States wasn't understood as one country as it is now, hence the Confederate States' logic)

I will talk later about the state of "democracy" in America today, (really it is "republicanism"), as it the antithesis of monarchism, called "the best of all governments" by Pope Pius VI.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A photograph of the Catholicity of the Church

I cannot think of a better photograph to show the catholicity of the Church.

Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

The Church's long standing belief is that on June 29, the year usually given as A.D. 67, St. Peter was crucified in Rome on an inverted cross, as he believed that he was not worthy to die the exact same way as Christ. On the exact same day, St. Paul was beheaded for the same faith that St. Pope Peter professed.

This feast in my opinion is a hallmark of the Church's catholicity. But what exactly does the word "catholic" mean?


1. broad or wide-ranging in tastes, interests, or the like; having sympathies with all; broad-minded; liberal

2. universal in extent; involving all; of interest to all

3. pertaining to the whole Christian body or church

The word "liberal" here has a different meaning than it is used to mean today, that is, open to various things. That is exactly what the word is implying, and let me explain why the Church is called such.

The old God-revealed religion was Judaism. It was a very ethnic religion. It was a religion of a people, of a race. On the feast of Shavuot, what the Greeks called Pentecost, the Jewish nation was officially established at Mt Sinai. (I will point out it was originally a harvest festival. It is this background that the Eastern Churches use green on Pentecost, with plenty of greenery.)

On the Pentecost after the Resurrection, the Holy Ghost came upon the Apostles and the Church was established, like the Judaism of old was. As the Church grew, we have this quote from St. Ignatius of Antioch: "Where the bishop is, let the multitude of believers be; even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church." That was written in the first century.

So why that description? Because it is a direct antithesis to the Judaism of old: what was a very exclusive religion became religion inclusive of all people, so that all people could be saved, not just Jews. The traditional translation of "catholic" was "universal": the Church was open to all, not just Jews.

When Sts. Peter and Paul when to Rome, two ethnic Jews, they established the faith there that became the faith of what was once a pagan Empire. These people were not Jews. St. Peter became bishop of a people that owned the land his race lived on.

In like manner, St. Paul, the greatest preacher ever seen, went to various places preaching the Gospel to people who were not Jewish. We have Churches with every name, besides Jewish:
Coptic Church, Byzantine Church, Melkite Church, Maronite Church, Roman Church, Romanian Church, Armenian Church, Syro-Malabar Church, Syro-Malankara Church, etc.

So that is my "sermon" for today's feast. I don't think it is too hard to believe that these two great saints died on the same day. Perhaps that's just what the Romans wanted: to kill all teh major Christian leaders in Rome at the same time. But we know the saying: the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Welcome to my first and what I expect to be my only blog ever. The question on everybody's mind is: who are you and what are you blogging about?

I am Joseph Smith, and that's all I'll reveal at this time. I will say I live in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Steubenville, close enough to Wheeling, West Virginia to have easy access to there.

So what am I blogging about? I will blog mostly on things that interest me, which are my religion and politics. But what kind of religion and politics?

You know I am a Catholic by now, and I consider myself a "traditionalist". I consider this to mean that I prefer the older- or, "traditional"- rites of the Church, as I believe they are very beneficial spiritually to the Church, and I would almost go as far to say they are better than the new rites, because I honestly feel that way, but that would offend people (which I feel I will be doing a lot of on this blog, because people can get offended easily), and that is only one man's opinion. By "traditional rites" I mean the Traditional Latin Mass, the Traditional Breviary, Latin in the liturgy, etc.

I also am a monarchist. This means I support monarchy as a workable form of government. I do not mind small-scale democracy, like in a city or smaller political area but I prefer a Catholic confessional state with a Catholic king as the proper form of government, and when I learn more about it, I'll probably endorse distributism in public a lot more as well.

I plan on writing a series on the Traditional Mass, what happens during it and another of my own reflections on the Mass, and another series on why I endorse monarchy, but I'll also blog about things involving these two topics as well as other things that interest me, like orthodox (Greek for "correct belief") Catholicism and liturgics in general, which interest me greatly.

So for now, welcome. Pax et bonum. Peace and the good.

P.S. I take the name of this blog from the story of St. Athanasius. I'll let the Fish Eaters website tell the story.

Athanasius contra mundum

"Athanasius against the world." This phrase refers to St. Athanasius' brave stand against the Arian heresy of the 4th c. when the vast majority of Bishops -- even Pope Liberius himself -- succumbed to heresy. St. Athanasius was even excommunicated for his orthodoxy, but was later exonerated and canonized. The full phrase is, "If the world goes against Truth, then Athanasius goes against the world." The story of St. Athanasius is a good "check" on papolatry and the errors of false obedience. His words to the faithful are good solace for traditional Catholics today who watch Novus Ordo-ites destroy church buildings, trash the liturgy, and preach lies:
"May God console you!... What saddens you ... is the fact that others [Arian heretics] have occupied the churches by violence, while during this time you are on the outside. It is a fact that they have the premises -- but you have the apostolic Faith. They can occupy our churches, but they are outside the true Faith. You remain outside the places of worship, but the faith dwells within you. Let us consider: what is more important, the place or the Faith? The true Faith, obviously."
So if St. Athanasius can be "against the world," I fell I should to if I feel I believe what is right, that is, with my views of Catholicism, traditionalism, conservatism, monarchy, and whatever else I believe to be true.
Hence the name.