Thursday, September 23, 2010
Summer begins on my calendar after our May Procession. In meteorological time, it begins June 1. What this means is that the season of summer extends through the warmest months of the year, which in the Northern Hemisphere are June, July, and August. I only discovered today, while beginning this article, that in Great Britain and Ireland (and other northern countries) summer follows weather, or meteorological time. In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream the play takes place during the shortest night of the year, June 21, although this is not, in meteorological time, mid summer. That would be mid July.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Editor: The following edited extract is taken from one of Brother Francis’ Sunday talks. We are grateful again to Sister Anna Maria, from the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary community in Vienna, Ohio, for transcribing the lecture.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
After coming up with four different ideas for this Convent Corner article, I have decided to publish a personal letter I wrote to a young lady who had expressed interest in religious life several years ago. I have since sent it to a number of other young ladies. Even if you are not personally eligible to become a sister, you may be interested in this letter.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Pentecost is the anniversary of the Holy Ghost’s mission on earth. Because that mission is largely neglected, sorely misunderstood, and vitally important for the life of the Church and individuals, we should do our best to understand it so that we can profit by it.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
In "Christology for Joe," an article that answers questions from a thoughtful young man, I made some observations about the way the English language has been Protestantized. In this number of the Ad Rem, I excerpt from that article the part explaining the words used to distinguish the "cult" of the Blessed Virgin and the saints from the "cult" of the Blessed Trinity. This knowledge may prove useful in helping readers to think through, and deal with, certain objections that come to our religion from its critics.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Perusing through some old files of mine I came across a list of Catholic twelves, and there are many: Twelve Apostles; twelve articles of the Apostles Creed; twelve days of Christmas; twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost; twelve patriarchs from Adam to Noah; twelve tribes of Israel; twelve loaves of proposition in the temple sanctuary; twelve chiefs of Ismael; Jesus was twelve-years-old when He was first teaching in the temple; twelve baskets of fragments left over after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes; the Woman of the Apocalypse had a crown of twelve stars; the tree of life in the vision of the Apocalypse bore twelve fruits; and, in the natural order, we have twelve months of the year.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
In any war there must be a battle plan to win. I reveal no secret to you when I say we are in a war. The war, in our case, harkens back to the word “crusade.” The Crusades were holy wars that were undertaken by Catholic powers to free the Christian Holy Land from its Mohammedan conquerors. The crusade of Saint Benedict Center is a spiritual one. As you know it has two ends: 1) to defend all the dogmas of the Catholic Faith, especially extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the Church there is no salvation) and 2) to convert America to the one true Faith. Ours is a holy war in that we are “fighting” to free our non-Catholic brothers and sisters and bring them to the liberating light of the Catholic religion. This is a work to which the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have been particularly devoted for sixty years. The goal is good and true, but the laborers are few.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
As I write this, it is still Christmas season, which I find a perfect time to pause, between bites of chocolate torte and sips of sparkling wine, to consider if we have learned to feast appropriately. Mind you, the observations that follow relate to the entirety of the Church’s year, so it’s OK if you happen to pick this up during Lent.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
between Saint Veronica and Saint Benedict.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Thanks to the largesse of some benefactors who funded our plane fare, Brother Maximilian Maria and I recently spent two weeks in Rome. The trip, like my last year’s solo pilgrimage, was part “business,” and part “pleasure.” For that reason, I referred to it as a “working pilgrimage.”
I regret to say that I was unable to make regular reports to our web site from Rome. This was partly do to our activity-rich schedule, and partly due to logistical problems that precluded it; it’s simply too hard to get an Internet connection in Rome, at least we found it so.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Please join us in praying for the repose of Abbot Gabriel’s soul, and for the Abbey’s Prior, Father Xavier Connelly, O.S.B., and the community, as they mourn their monastic father and prepare to elect his successor.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
After Christmas, with the days getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere, one would expect that the temperatures would start rising. Instead, the days actually grow colder in January and February than they do in December. One reason for this is because of water. Three quarters of the earth is water.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Step back into the past with a one-of-a-kind, old-fashioned family festival: the eighth annual Blueberry Fiddle Festival, organized by Richmond’s Immaculate Heart of Mary School. Enjoy live music and delicious food, browse the craft vendors, participate in an original New England melodrama, and join us for a family contra dance.
Friday, March 12, 2010
But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife. And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. (Mark 10:6-8)
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
"Civil rights" — arbitrarily defined — has become the new theocracy that supplants the much-lauded democracy. Behold what contradictions result when the pretended rights of man displace the real rights of God, the natural law, the traditional laws of these United States and their antecedents in Christian Europe, and, as David Berman said last night, "6,000 years of history"!
Details from the Sentinel:
Monday, March 8, 2010
There is also the continued dissemination of the false and libelous claims of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
To dispel this misinformation, we draw our neighbors' attention to two letters we have published:
Thursday, March 4, 2010
December 31, 2009
Coming to Saint Benedict Center has been, for Chris and me, a long-term stop on a difficult journey. Hopefully, in the end we will see a situation in which any Catholic in America will be able to go to any parish and find the Traditional Latin Mass along with solid teachings on every aspect of the Faith. My selfish prayer is that my wonderful wife and I will live to see and participate in this restoration. In the meantime, Saint Benedict Center is a good place for us to be.
We are both fifty-nine years old and are cradle Catholics, born twelve years before Vatican II. I went to Catholic school K through 12 and Chris went to Catholic school until third grade. Even with the faults of the Baltimore Catechism, we were pretty well formed in the Faith.
The liberalism that hit the Church in the wake of Vatican II came at a bad time for people our age. Imagine being in your mid-teens and all of a sudden being told that much of what you were taught about faith and morality was not important. It caused me pretty much to leave the Church around 1972 or so. I mean, why bother practicing when you’re told by your “teachers” in a Catholic school, and by priests, that going to Mass is not necessary to save your soul? I would go to Mass on occasion, but I didn’t care much.
I was married in 1972 and ended up divorced in 1982. My former wife cared less about the Faith than I did. Our two children, David and Amy, were being brought up nominally Catholic, but I failed as a parent when it came to teaching my children the Faith.
My divorce was not particularly contentious, but it was difficult for me, as I did intend to stay married permanently. In this situation, however, I had no choice; I just had to make the best of it.. I was away from the Church at that time, so I wasn’t thinking of Catholic teaching regarding dating or anything. (I now know that I should have waited for the Church’s annulment before dating.) In any event, I used to go to a nightclub where an early thirties crowd went to dance and drink. I didn’t drink, so I went to dance and, hopefully, meet the woman of my dreams.
On March 17, 1984, I was at this nightclub on a Saturday night and I looked up and saw a stunning redhead whom I had never seen there before. Little did I know Our Lord had just blessed me greatly. I asked her to dance, and the rest is history.
We were married on September 8, 1985 in a Congregational Church. At the time I wasn’t sure if I even believed in God, but I liked the idea of there being a God. Chris did believe in God, but she didn’t try to force it on me. Looking back it appears that she was just waiting for me to wake-up to reality some day.
In 1986, we bought an old farm house with a barn and twelve acres in Chester, Massachusetts. This was a dream come true for me. We could now grow our own food and we had access to good areas for hunting and fishing. At first, poor Chris came along kicking and screaming but, in time, she ended up loving her new lifestyle. At the time I was not attending any church, Chris, however, would sometimes go to the Novus Ordo at the local parish.
The summer of 1987 was to become extremely important to us. I started praying to God that if He was really there to somehow show me. Shortly after that, which would be the end of May 1987, I became very sick. At first we thought it was the flu, but after three then four weeks we became concerned.
During that summer the doctors ran many tests but found nothing wrong. I worried that I was dying, maybe of AIDS or something, but I wasn’t in any risk group for AIDS. I was getting worried, so I started praying, mostly to Our Lady and St. Jude. Then I started reading about miraculous healings at Lourdes and, with my appreciation of science, I was impressed by the documented evidence. One night, while reading more of these documented miracles from Lourdes, it dawned on me that the Faith I was born into was real.
In late August, 1987, I learned that, back in May, I had picked up a parasite while shoveling manure for our garden. I finally recovered about two months later and started attending the Novus Ordo with my wife. In early 1988 we made Cursillo and I got involved with the Medjugorje movement. We had been away from the Church for so long and just wanted to “do Catholic stuff.” Little did we know at the time how dangerous to the Faith both of these movements are.
In 1992, I received an annulment of my first marriage. Due to certain circumstances I probably would have been granted one even in more Catholic times. That same year Chris and I were married in the Catholic Church.
After learning what had happened to our beloved Church since Vatican II, we slowly started moving toward tradition. Our first exposure was the 1993 Easter Triduum at Saint Benedict Center in Still River, Massachusetts. We started going there as regularly as possible, even though it was a two hour ride from home. Brother Thomas Augustine and especially Brother Joseph (God rest his soul) were a great help to us.
By 1997, Massachusetts was becoming more and more hostile to hunters, gun owners, and anyone who wanted to live reasonably free. We decided it was time to move to New Hampshire, the last state in the Northeast that seemed to respect the rights of its citizens.
We visited Saint Benedict Center in Richmond in January 1998 and had a long chat with Brother Francis and the other religious. Soon afterwards we started attending Mass there and night classes. We moved to Richmond in August 1999 and joined one of the study circles. It’s been ten years now and, yes, they sure have gone by in a flash. Most of our friends are connected with SBC and they, along with the religious, have helped us to grow in and keep the Faith. We try to help out at the monastery whenever we can as it is a very active place, very hospitable, and the brothers and sisters can always use helping hands. SBC has become a home for us — more than that, a family. Hopefully, we can become less unworthy of such a gift from God.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Renaissance Painter, Hans Memling (ca. 1435-1494)
Sunday, February 28, 2010
A displaced Dixie-dweller living in the frozen wilds of New England, I was, until recently, quite unaware of the history of my adopted state’s motto. New Hampshire’s license plate sports the catchy slogan, “Live Free or Die.” The phrase was the personal proverb of New Hampshire’s hero of the War for Independence, General John Stark.
Could there be a Catholic angle to this motto? Perhaps, but let’s first explore it at face value.
There are Granite Staters today, Catholics and non, who say that “Live Free or Die” is more than a motto, and they cite the fact that the stark sentiment behind Stark’s words are still enshrined in Article 10 of New Hampshire’s State Constitution:
Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
The possibilities of open revolution or secession put aside for the moment — these options appear fairly limited, to say the least — the average law-abiding, concerned citizen in rural New England has another option to secure his “benefit, protection, and security” this March: Town Meeting.
New England town meetings generally take place during Lent, which seems particularly apt for some reason. Catholics of the Granite State can use this penitential occasion in a penitential season to recall, in keeping with our State’s motto, our obligation to free ourselves from the bondage of sin. Sin is a sort of slavery, as Saint Paul assures us, and we can revolt against that slavery by giving a supernatural meaning to General Stark’s motto.
A seven-year-old Saint Dominic Savio did it quite well in Italian: La morte ma non peccati, which is usually translated, “Death Rather Than Sin!”
Thursday, February 25, 2010
[ Gate of Heaven Note: These words were written in 1951]
It gives me happiness to write, for those who have wanted to know, of what has become of us since October 28, 1949, the date at which our story ends in The Loyolas and the Cabots. I am happy to tell you this further story, even though briefly, because it is a recounting of the bounty and the protection of us by the Blessed Mother of God.
We who took part in the so-called Boston Heresy Case are, thanks to Our Lady, still together and intact. “Heresy,” by the way, was an accusation made by us, not of us. Our accusation was substantiated by Father William Kelleher’s reply in the newspapers to the charge of the four professors.
We have lost of our number only six. Two dropped out, and four were dismissed, because, though we are not strict without reason, we do have our rules and decorum, which must be lived up to.
At this point a reader may ask, “But are you a religious group?” The answer to that question reveals our secret. Yes, we are a religious community. We are indeed a religious order – perhaps more technically a religious congregation. Each of us has, by vow, dedicated his life to the preservation of the truths of his Holy Faith under the title of Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We took our vows and became Slaves of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart on the first of January, 1949, three months before we were disciplined by our Archbishop for continuing to profess the defined doctrines of the Church on salvation. It was while Father Feeney was in correspondence with Father Vincent A. McCormick, S.J., the American Assistant to the General of the Jesuits, and while Father was pleading for a doctrinal hearing before his superiors. It was while three of the professors were under severe pressure by Boston College to give up both the Church’s doctrine on salvation and their support of Father Feeney in upholding it.
We were beginning to realize the character of the battle before us, not only for the preservation of the sacred dogmas of our Church, but actually for their restoration. It was to prepare ourselves by prayer and discipline, and to secure graces enough to enable us to face such a battle, that we became a religious order.
It will be asked of us, “Who are you that you should take responsibility for the Church’s doctrine?” Our answer to that, I hope I have brought out in this book. The answer is, as I wrote in the second chapter, that the sacred doctrine of our Holy Church is the responsibility of each Catholic, be he powerful or lowly, learned or unlearned, clergy or laity, rich or poor. Each of us is the Catholic Church. God’s Truth belongs to each of us, and we are each responsible for it.
We live a community life, as Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with hours of prayer, hours of study, and hours of work. Father Feeney and the young men who someday hope to be ordained priests live in one of the houses known to us as Sacred Heart Hall. Our girls, who have dedicated their lives in singleness to Our Lord and Our Lady, live in a house which we call, among ourselves, Immaculate Heart Hall. Our families live in houses just below Sacred Heart Hall.
We are, during this interval, under fire, waiting for the time when we can present our order to the Holy See, as all other orders must eventually be presented. We know that many of the orders in the Church whose work was most lasting and fruitful began under circumstances similar to ours. We know that many men and women who were later placed upon the rolls of the saints were at some time in their lives under the ban of interdict, and even excommunication. St. Joan of Arc died excommunicated; St. Ignatius of Constantinople died under threat of excommunication. [Editor’s Note: Blessed Mary McKillop (soon to be canonized Australia’s first saint) was also excommunicated by her bishop.] We are not saints – though we pray we may be – and we are not excommunicated. We have offered our lives to God, and have consented to die, if need be, for our Holy Faith, in the saddest way (to our minds) that it is possible to die – under the ban even of excommunication.
We are waiting then, to present our order to the Holy See, to secure the blessing of our Holy Father, and to ask the Holy Father to foundation us as a permanent and abiding battalion in the army of our Holy Faith.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Remember that candidates night is March 4. (You can do a Google search to find out who the candidates are.)
Here is some additional information from the Town's official Web site:
150 Old Homestead Highway
March 9th 2010
11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Town Meeting to follow at 7:30 PMRegarding their civic duties, Catholics are reminded of the following:
- We ought to pray for the welfare of our Town, its residents, and its government.
- We should vote according to an informed conscience. The Popes have taught us that, where a society is governed according to free elections, Christians are to discharge their duties as citizens for the greater good of society.
- Small town politics can become very animated. No matter what, the Gospel imperative to love one's enemies must always be observed.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
As you can see from the picture, we are delighted to have our new wood stove at our convent. Besides the stove being donated, the beautiful hearth was built with some of the funds that you provided by your generous donations to the convent. A large portion of the wood was gathered by our brothers from the trees that had been damaged in the ice storm of last year. The rest of the wood for our winter supply was donated by a generous family; so it is not costing us anything to run our wood stove. Finally, we have met the challenge of being able to heat our entire convent with the wood stove and the aid by a few fans. So our furnace room has cooled off and we are now saving many hundreds of dollars per month in heating bills. Deo gratias!
The wood stove has benefits beyond just heating our convent. As one of the brothers said after he finished stacking our woodpile, “You’ll have many meditations with your new wood stove.” He was right. You’ll have to excuse me, Dear Reader, for sharing my Christmas meditations with you during this post-Christmas time, but I promise to lead you into Lent and Passiontide with them. The following is a poem in which I found an eloquent exposition of all the aspects of a hot fire, and it is what I have been using for my meditations in preparation for Christmas and for the twelve days of the feast. It was written by an English martyr, Saint Robert Southwell, S.J. (1560-1595).
The Burning Babe
As I in hoary winter’s night
Stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat,
Which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye
To view what fire was near,
A pretty babe, all burning bright,
Did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat,
Such floods of tears did shed,
As though His floods should quench His flames
Which with His tears were bred:
“Alas!” quoth He, “but newly born,
In fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts
Or feel My fire, but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is,
The fuel wounding thorns;
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke,
The ashes shame and scorn;
The fuel Justice layeth on,
And Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
Are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am,
To work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath
To wash them in My blood!”
With this He vanished out of sight,
And swiftly shrank away;
And straight I called unto mind
That it was Christmas-day.
Because the wood stove needs frequent attention, I find myself drawn to it in my thoughts and then in my steps. It needs to be checked and fueled, and perhaps the heat generated is so great that it needs help to be dissipated throughout the house. I can’t help but think that there are two fire boxes in our house, not counting the obsolete oil furnace. One warms our bodies and the other warms our hearts. Of course, that “other” fire box is the tabernacle. So I have told the sisters that if they get up in the night they should put another piece or two of wood on the fire and also make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.
It is unlikely, Dear Reader, that you have a tabernacle and a wood stove in your home, but the burning fire box that you should have can be found right in your own heart. Yes, it needs attention and fuel. Many of the saints felt that fire physically in their breasts. Saint Philip Neri, for example, would wear his cassock unbuttoned at the top to try to cool himself, and once, overcome by the excessive heat, he jumped into an icy pond which immediately began to boil.
Lent is coming, if it isn’t already here when you read this. This is an excellent time to clean out the furnace in your heart and, with Our Lady’s help, light a fire using the flames in Her own Immaculate Heart and fed by the acts of love and sacrifices you will make during Lent. As Our Lord said, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?” A blessed Lent to you, Dear Reader. Thank you for helping to make these special meditations possible by your generous donations.
Email Sister Marie Thérèse at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Around here, the news of December 19 was received with great joy. I refer to the publication of the decree, approved by His Holiness, Benedict XVI, clearing the way for the canonization of Blessed Brother André. Because this news is so recent, and because his feast day is coming up this week (January 6, which is also the Epiphany), I would like to invite our readers to share our happiness and consider with us the virtues of this little man.
That this popular Canadian Beatus happens to be my own patron has something to do with our joy, but this is only part of it. Given our longing for the conversion of America, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are always happy to invoke another American (albeit not a “Unitedstatesian”) as a saint. But beyond these personal and “religio-patriotic” reasons for rejoicing, there is also a certain timeliness to the canonization. In honor of the eight-day observance of the Epiphany, I will offer a perfect octave of reasons for this claim.
1. Miracles. Like Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Frère André is a modern miracle worker, who shows a cynical, and empiricist age that the true religion still manifests itself by the wondrous divine interventions we call miracles. Not that any wonder-working saint’s essential sanctity consists in the miraculous, but to read the life of “Saint Joseph’s little dog” (as he styled himself) is to read a litany of miraculous deeds. As Moses showed that the God of Israel was the living God, Frère André showed that the God of the Catholics, and the religion of the Catholics, are uniquely true. And he did this with meekness, humility, and a great joy that lent a certain seal of authenticity to his prodigies.
2. Love of the Cross. We live in an effeminate age. By this, I do not refer principally to the moral degeneracy of homosexuality and the turpitude of those who, while not practicing it, sanction this vice. No, I refer to the general softness and hedonism of the age; that is, to the implicit but nonetheless real conviction in our decrepit culture that pleasure is the only real good and pain is the only real evil. Human suffering makes sense and becomes profitable only in the light of grace and under the shadow of the Cross. Frère André belonged to a religious institute dedicated to the saving Rood: the Congregation of the Holy Cross, founded by Blessed Basile Antoine Marie Moreau, whose own life was marked by superhuman sufferings borne with heroic patience. While it is generally known that Saint Joseph is the patron of this Congregation, relatively few are aware that their principal devotion is to the Passion of Our Lord. Their motto: Crux Spes Unica (the Cross, our only hope), indicates this. Our holy man exemplified the “crucified” spirituality of his great religious family: lifelong physical infirmities, inability to eat anything but a type of mush made from flower, frequent stomach infirmities, deprivation of sleep, scandalous false accusations, persecution from his own religious superior. These are just a few of the crosses he carried with admirable courage and forgetfulness of self.
3. French Canada needs him. An Anglophone American speaking of French Canada’s sad spiritual condition may not be well received in those parts, but it is nonetheless true that after the 1960’s “Quiet Revolutio , Quebec and its environs jettisoned their former Catholicity with a precipitous recklessness. Nobody knows this sad truth better than faithful Catholics from these regions. The sainting of a very public figure — whose miracles were, after all, performed among the grandparents of our contemporaries — might kindle the still glowing embers of French Canada’s Faith to a brighter flame. (For more on French Canada’s former Catholicity, I recommend Gary Potter’s Québec and French America: What Might Have Been.)
4. Love of the Gospel. Brother André died in the year 1937, long before Dei Verbum supposedly revived Catholic devotion to Holy Scripture. Yet, he memorized the Sermon on the Mount (every Holy Cross novice had to), and, later, the account of the Passion recorded in each of the four Gospels. These were no mere memory exercises; he meditated on the Scriptures. Now, while it is a terrible injustice to say that the Church in those days did not appreciate the Bible, it is also true that spiritual reading for religious in those days was primarily from devotional books that offered a highly mechanized approach to the spiritual life. The ancient and medieval forms of religious life, on the other hand, laid great emphasis on reading the Holy Scripture, especially in the form of lectio divina. Our saint soon-to-be belonged to a teaching congregation founded in the nineteenth century, but showing a clear continuity with traditional spirituality, as can be seen in his going to the primary sources of the spiritual life: the Gospels. (Our own Founder, Father Leonard Feeney, had a great predilection for the Holy Gospels as the first and last word in spiritual reading, teaching his disciples to love and cherish them and all the Scriptures.)
5. He was “just a lay brother.” Many practicing Catholics just don’t get religious life. And for them, the most useless appendage in the anatomy of religion is the lay brother. (Many years ago, a lay brother penned a humorous article called, “So, You’re a Brother, Father?” seeking to explain to the perplexed just what men like us are.) The idea of living the counsels of evangelical perfection by vow, without the admittedly “useful” addition of Holy Orders, seems to some the waste of a life. The priesthood and the religious life are radically distinct vocations, even though they can coexist in the same man. Saint Benedict was not a priest. Neither were the vast majority of his early disciples, nor the desert fathers, nor the Irish monks, nor the male religious of Saint Francis (who himself was in Holy Orders, but went no further than the diaconate, having been compelled to do so). To canonize a man popularly known as “Frère” or “Brother” will add a much needed luster to our vocation.
6. Defender of the Social Order. The humble little porter opposed the various anti-Christian -isms that made the twentieth century the most sanguinary in man’s history. Good Catholic common sense made him despise communism, which seriously menaced Canada in his day. He made his feelings known in the most innocent of ways. When his arm suffered from paralysis, he told friends, “My arm is acting like a communist.” On his deathbed, he prayed for Catholic Spain, then in the convulsions of war, as General Franco strove to defeat both communists and anarchists. Let us not forget that in French America, just as in Mediterranean Europe and Latin America, liberalism, socialism, and Freemasonry show themselves in much more explicitly anti-Catholic dress than in the Anglo world. “, with his miracles and his calls to conversion and prayer, was a standing rebuke to their snide ideologies. While the little porter does not rank among the well known defenders of the social reign of Our Lord, his whole long life was a very public affirmation of the primacy of God’s rights. Christ the King is most honored by such little ones.
7. Strongly Roman, Papal. When he was on his deathbed, Frère André was encouraged to ask St. Joseph to spare him because he was “needed.” To this, he responded, “There is one who is far more necessary than Brother André in this world: that is the Pope. If the Holy Father passed away, it would be a disaster; he still has much to accomplish.” Brother André did not survive this illness, but Pope Pius XI, who lay sick and dying at the same time, recovered. It is known that the porter prayed for Pius, and we may believe the Pope’s two more years of life were an answer to those prayers. That such a simple, provincial, supremely not cosmopolitan man should concern himself with the well being of the ailing Italian — Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, who lived 4,000 miles away in Rome — is an eloquent testimony to the universality of the Church, and the doctrine that the Roman Pontiff “is father and teacher of all Christians,” possessing “full power to rule, feed, and govern the universal Church” (Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, III). In these days, when a neo-conciliarist notion of collegiality has well established itself in theological circles, trickling down to the masses as frank disregard for the Supreme Pontiff, such an edifying example of intense devotion to the Holy Father is much needed. Included, by the way, among the deeds accomplished by Pius XI in the time “purchased” for him by Frère André were some that seem especially apt. For one, on March 19, 1937 — the Feast of Saint Joseph — Pius published Divini Redemptoris, an encyclical letter condemning Communism. As if in gratitude for his own recovery and with great confidence in Mary’s spouse, towards the end of the encyclical Pius wrote, “We place the vast campaign of the Church against world Communism under the standard of Saint Joseph, her mighty Protector.”
8. Devotion to the Holy Family. Brother André’s Congregation was part of a larger religious family founded by Canon Moreau, consisting of three parts, each one of which corresponded to a member of the Holy Family. The Holy Cross Fathers, whose members were conformed to Christ’s priesthood by virtue of Holy Orders, corresponded to the Holy Infant. Mary was represented by the sisters, called the Marianites of Holy Cross. The Holy Cross Brothers stood in the place of St. Joseph in this family. They were, in fact, originally a congregation of lay brothers founded by Father Jacques François Dujarie and called “The Brothers of St. Joseph.” Father Dujarie entrusted his foundation to Canon Moreau, who merged them into his already existing religious family. All the members of all these three congregations were imbued with devotion to the Holy Family. In these days when family life is so terribly assailed on so many fronts, devotion to the mystery and the persons of the Holy Family is of great value. And the fact that Brother André acquired his solid piety in childhood is an incentive to Catholic parents to imitate the Bessette’s own “holy family.”
As a closing point, I note out that people have been using the comments boxes in our online article on Brother André for posting their prayer intentions. Please feel free to post your own intentions there, too. You may also report there any favors you have received through the prayers of our American saint.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Brother Francis Maluf, M.I.C.M. (July 19, 1913 – September 05, 2009), founding member of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, superior of Saint Benedict Center in Richmond, New Hampshire, philosopher, college professor, and published author died on Saturday, September 5, at the age of ninety-six.
Fakhri Boutros Maluf (his name before entering religion) was born in the town of Mashrah, Lebanon, about thirty miles from Beirut, in 1913. His father, Boutros Maluf, was an educational pioneer in Lebanon, and young Fakhri was educated at a school for poor children run out of the Maluf home. He would later teach there.
Fakhri graduated from the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics. From 1934 to 1939, he taught physics at that same university. In addition to his academic career, Fakhri was also involved in Lebanese statecraft, being the philosopher, and later, president of the Syrian National Party. He was, during this time, a friend, disciple, and associate of Dr. Charles Malik, the noted Lebanese philosopher and diplomat.
In 1939, he moved to the United States to attend the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he received first an M.A. and, in 1942, a Ph.D. in philosophy. He then undertook post-doctoral studies at Harvard University and Saint Bonaventure University.
From 1942 to 1945, Dr. Maluf taught mathematics and science at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. From 1945 to 1949, he taught philosophy, theology, and mathematics at Boston College. In 1942, the young professor met Father Leonard Feeney, S.J., and soon became involved in the activities of Saint Benedict Center, a Catholic center operating in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Dr. Maluf married Mary Healy, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1943.
In 1949, Dr. Maluf became one of the pioneer members of Father Leonard Feeney’s religious order, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As has happened in rare cases in the Church’s history, by mutual consent, both Dr. Maluf and Mrs. Maluf took religious vows and lived separately in the monastery and convent, where they were known respectively as Brother Francis and Sister Mary Bernadette. Both participated in the publishing and missionary work of the fledgling congregation.
For the rest of his life, until overtaken by illness while in his nineties, Brother Francis taught Sacred Scripture, philosophy, theology, science, and mathematics at various levels. For almost twenty years he was the Superior of Saint Benedict Center in Richmond, New Hampshire, teaching in the Center’s high school, overseeing the Saint Augustine Institute of Catholic Studies, and the Center’s publishing apostolate. He authored four published books of poetry and philosophy, published scores of articles on various Catholic subjects, and gave thousands of lectures, many of which were taped and professionally produced. He has also left to posterity many notes for future volumes.
Besides his philosophical and poetical wisdom, Brother Francis was well known for his memory. He memorized all four Gospels, being able to recite the entirety of Matthew, Luke, and John each in Latin, and Saint Mark in Greek. He could name all the popes from Saint Peter to the present, and had numerous other lists of persons, dates, and facts equally at his command. But he was best known as a teacher.
On July 19, 2009, Brother Francis marked his ninety-sixth birthday. Although his order is of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, Brother Francis was a Melkite Rite (Byzantine) Catholic.
Brother Francis is survived by Sister Mary Bernadette Maluf, M.I.C.M., of Richmond, N.H.; by his children, Mariam Maluf of Leominster, MA., Peter Maluf, of Worcester, MA., Leonard Maluf, of Leominster, MA., Sister Anna Maria Maluf, M.I.C.M., of Vienna, OH, and Agnes Malouf-Hood of Halifax, Nova Scotia; and by one granddaughter, July Anne O’Brien, of Los Angeles, CA. The religious brothers and sisters at Saint Benedict Center also regard him as their father in God, and will mourn him accordingly.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
December 3, 1981
It is certainly my pleasure to be a part of this tribute to our wonderful teacher. I’m sure I speak for all in saying that we know the one, true Faith better because of him. And for that we are all deeply grateful.
You may wonder why it is that I am up here speaking on this wonderful occasion. Well, I’ve been wondering about that too. I’ve come up with a possible answer. It is that I was chosen because I’m the only person in this room — other than Brother himself — who has ever been to Lebanon.
I went there with the U.S. Marine Corps in 1958, and what I remember most about his native land is being shot at — twice. I’m delighted to report that Lebanese are poor marksmen. I even learned a few words in Arabic, like “Yankee, go home!” and “Coca Cola, $1.00.” I even encountered one very enterprising Lebanese who spoke English. He offered me $50.00 for my pistol!
One of my fondest memories of being in Lebanon was serving Mass on a hot August Sunday in 1958. The chaplain created a makeshift outdoor chapel on the hood of a jeep. The Gospel was about Jesus passing through Tyre and Sidon, two cities which are in Lebanon. It was quite a thrill to realize I was in a country that Christ Himself had once visited, the only country outside of the Holy Land where he travelled as an adult.
But that was in 1958 and our good friend had already been gone from his homeland for about two decades. I can be absolutely certain that it was not he who shot at me.
After graduating from the American University in Beirut and then teaching physics there for five years, he left Lebanon to accept a scholarship at the University of Michigan. And it wasn’t a football scholarship! On his way to America, he stopped in Paris to meet a friend named Gabriel Malik, a convert to the Faith who was studying to become a Jesuit priest. This man’s brother, Charles Malik, later became a high official at the United Nations. Charles seems to have discovered the truth about the UN in later years. We hope that he will also discover the truth about the Faith.
Gabriel Malik took our Fakhri Maluf to Notre Dame Cathedral and other religious sites in Paris. We have to remember that Fakhri was not yet a Catholic. Gabriel Malik was concerned about his friend’s eternal destiny and made Fakhri promise that no matter where he was, he would seek out and become friendly with a Catholic priest.
On the boat to America, Fakhri found a Mexican priest with whom he spent some profitable hours discussing the Faith. Once at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Fakhri became friendly with a priest named Father Barry and then Msgr. Babcock who later became the bishop of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also benefited from some of his students who were urging him toward the Faith. It was in 1941 that Fakhri embraced the Faith on a day that he said was the happiest day of his life. Becoming a Catholic was a big event for him, as it certainly should be for anyone.
The year 1941 saw him receive his Master’s Degree in Philosophy. In 1942, he earned a doctorate with a dissertation on the Philosophy of Science. With his work finished in Michigan, he accepted a fellowship at Harvard University in the fall of 1942. A Harvard student named Father Vincent Flynn brought Fakhri to St. Benedict Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts on a Thursday evening shortly after he arrived at Harvard. After listening to Father Leonard Feeney, Fakhri remarked, “Father Feeney is exactly the priest I have been looking for. It is simply amazing.”
Some of us have heard Brother recount the story of Father Feeney seeking this young man out of that audience. Obviously, Father felt that Fakhri was also what he was looking for. That first encounter almost 40 years ago began a bond of friendship that was broken only by Father Leonard’s death a few years ago. Fakhri lectured every Tuesday at the Center; Father Leonard gave a talk every Thursday.
Within a short time, Fakhri was teaching at Holy Cross College in Worcester, a 45-mile trip. But he lived in Cambridge so as to be near St. Benedict Center where he taught, studied, counseled, and grew in the Faith. When the war ended in 1945 and there was more need for navigation instructors at the Holy Cross V-12 program (soon to become the NROTC), Fakhri began to teach philosophy at Jesuit-run Boston College.
In 1946, the Center began a publishing venture called “From The Housetops.” It was an instant success. In September 1947, the magazine published Fakhri’s “Sentimental Theology” which stirred up a fuss that has yet to die. Father Leonard has put his finger on the root cause of the liberalism in the Church, its denial of the dogma “Outside the Church, there is no salvation.” Fakhri’s article caused the Center to become the eye of a storm that raged furiously for a few years, and promises to rage even more furiously in the future.
In the years ahead, Dr. Maluf and three companions from St. Benedict Center were dismissed from their teaching positions at Boston College and Boston College High School for defending the dogma. Father Feeney was tossed out of the Jesuit order. The whole world was made to think about salvation, a persecution of anyone holding the dogma about salvation was begun by the Church’s authorities, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary came into being, the Center relocated to Still River, Massachusetts, and a courageous few held fast to the foundational teaching of the Church.
Throughout those years, the Center and the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary had Father Leonard as the leader, with Catherine Goddard Clarke and Fakhri Maluf as co-founders. As you know of those founders, only Brother Francis still lives. There are a great many details about those years, many of which are personal in nature, that could be added here. But it is not my intention to dwell any further on the historical side of this story. I would rather take a few moments to paint a small picture of this man’s character.
Were ten or twenty of the people in this room to stand before this gathering and, in turn, each pay tribute to Brother Francis, we might hear ten or twenty different views of this man. It is possible, of course, that all would focus attention on the same element in his character. We will never know about that, of course, because it appears to be my privilege alone to pay public tribute to our wonderful friend. I do not exercise this privilege lightly. And I truly hope that the words I choose will suit all of you, for I know how highly regarded by each of you he surely is.
We all know that life is a test. If we pass the test, we spend eternity with God in heaven. If we fail, we shall languish in hell — and there’s no second chance. Part of the test amounts to God asking us to seek His kingdom, not the praises and material pleasures of this world. When someone learns that lesson and understands this part of the test, he or she becomes different. Now, instead of idle pleasures and small talk, the person who truly understands the Christian message becomes a zealot for Christ. He or she decides that true friendship is the kind that steers a friend toward heaven by steering him or her to the Church.
Father Feeney was always solicitous of souls. But even Sister Catherine said of him that, for all of his early years of writing, speaking and glad-handing, “he had delighted all and challenged none.” When he perceived what was happening to the Church, and why, he started challenging everyone.
So, too, did our brother Francis begin challenging everyone. Christ once said, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled.” Brother Francis has been lighting Christ’s fires ever since he became a Catholic. The price he has paid for doing so, in material terms, has been very high.
What has this cost him? Well, if you look at the picture through worldly eyes, you would consider him a failure. He certainly isn’t wealthy. He hasn’t won the favor of TIME, NBC or the New York Times. The most prestigious position he ever held saw him fired from it. If he ran for public office, he wouldn’t get elected. And he has spent lifetime seeing friends betray him. But is all of this the way he should be measured? Isn’t there a better way to judge the worth of him and his years?
We who are Catholics know the answer, don’t we! We know that it is impossible to tell the truth and not offend those don’t want truth. There is a story about St. Ignatius who, when he heard that there was no controversy in an area where he had sent some priests, wrote to them to say: “What is the matter? You can’t be telling the truth of Jesus Christ and be getting along so well. You must be compromising!”
But our dear friend has never compromised. Instead, he has challenged here, challenged there, and challenged everyone whom he has ever met. He wants everyone he meets to save his own soul. And the good Lord knows that there are too few issuing that challenge today.
So he isn’t rich; he isn’t famous; he once lost a job; he has lost many friends; and his worldly popularity is virtually non-existent. But he does have other friends. And he can rest assured that the challenge he offers to us has not fallen on deaf ears, or on ears too busy to listen. And, over the past several decades, there are others amongst the tens of thousands he has met while travelling through America who have benefited from the challenge he has given them. Even more, the effect he has caused in us has led to others being challenged by us.
Every age produces its scholars, even its learned churchmen. Even today, there are churchmen who can answer all the questions, quote all the Scripture passages, and recount all the significant events in history. But who among them lives what they know? Who among these scholars issues challenges to one and all to save their soul? Who spends his life kindling the fire that Christ said he came to bring to the earth? It is one thing to have knowledge; it is another to believe what you know and to act accordingly.
Of all the praiseworthy attributes of this man that could be mentioned — and there are many — I find myself most in admiration of his perseverance. He has a willingness to stand alone if need be. That is unique, and it should serve as an inspiration to all of us. He is not alone, of course. But don’t we all know that if every one of us would fade from the scene, he would keep going and keep challenging others.
No amount of false friends, determined enemies, or great multitudes who don’t care one way or the other can change his course. He will keep defending truth and challenging the human race to do God’s will.
The occasion for this special event is the feast day on December 3rd of the great saint who is his patron, St. Francis Xavier. They surely are alike in their zeal and unshakable constancy. St. Francis Xavier issued challenges in his missionary work and he baptized three million pagans. He destroyed 40,000 idols and built over 100 churches.
Our friend can claim no similar accomplishments. But I have often wished to liken him to another saint, one whom I feel he resembles even more than his patron. That saint’s name is Athanasius. What I find remarkable is that the condition of the world in the time of Athanasius is quite similar to what we find today.
Athanasius was a bishop in the fourth century. He lived at a time when the Arian heresy took hold of most of the Church. Later historians would note that 95 percent of the hierarchy was infected with the heresy during that period. But the Arians were wrong and Athanasius knew them to be wrong. His contemporaries repeatedly told him that everyone disagreed with him and he was too stubborn. His response: “If the whole world is wrong and Athanasius knows it to be wrong, then Athanasius stands against the world.” That sentiment has been memorialized as “Athanasius Contra Mundum!” (Athanasius against the world!).
His enemies sought to destroy Athanasius. They forced him to flee and they falsely excommunicated him. Five times he was exiled from his native Egypt. He was hunted like an animal but he kept ahead of his pursuers so that he could fight them on another day. He could have quit. He could have decided that no one would listen, or that evil had triumphed. He could have said that he had done his part and now it was time for others to do theirs.
But he fought on because refusal to defend God’s truth was unthinkable. In the end, he saw his cause vindicated and his enemies routed. He persevered. We are fortunate to have met and to have known a modern Athanasius. We all hope that his example will make each of us another Athanasius.
We thank God for sending Brother Francis to us, and us to Brother Francis. So much of our beloved Church is wandering around aimlessly today. Its roots have been damaged; its sons and daughters have been befogged; and it seems at times to have become determined to commit suicide.
But there has always been refuge in orthodoxy in this storm-tossed world. Just a few who stood firm, against — it seems — the whole world. For that we thank you, Brother Francis and, in thanking you, we also thank Father Leonard, Sister Catherine and Brother Hugh who have departed, as well as the brothers and sisters who are still part of this crusade.
We wish you, Brother Francis, many more years of good health because there are many more who need to be challenged to save their souls. We plan to help you issue those challenges. I ask now that all of you join me in saluting our teacher, our friend, our inspiration — Brother Francis.