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August 2, 2004

The Richness of Tradition

by Thomas A. Droleskey

The traditional liturgical calendar is resplendent with the richness of the authentic patrimony of Holy Mother Church. One of the signs of the inauthentic and radical nature of the liturgical revolution of the past forty years has been the "simplification" of the liturgical calendar by the removal of saints about whom "little" is known "for certain." Catholics who assist at the Novus Ordo Missae are thus deprived of the richness of the Church's tradition, never being challenged to meditate on the lives of the saints of centuries past who are still capable of teaching us by their holy example of perfect love for Our Lord and of interceding for our needs in times quite similar to those in which they found themselves in the early part of the Church's history. For example, every single day in the month of August, which is devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, commemorates at least one saint in the traditional calendar or marks a great feast of Our Lord or His Most Blessed Mother. Every single day. What a great opportunity, therefore, is given to us to celebrate the feast days of tradition and to receive Holy Communion in the Immemorial Mass of Tradition as we attempt to imitate the virtues of the saints thus commemorated.

What I would like to do in this brief reflection is to review some of the feast days of the last few weeks and of the first two weeks of August, making a few comments here and there for prayerful reflection. Each of us should be in the habit of reading about the lives of the saints on their feast days. Those of us with families should develop the habit of reading about them aloud to our children, no matter how young they are, from good Catholic sources such as Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year. If Dom Prosper Gueranger's magnificent treatment of the liturgical year was good enough for Louis and Zelie Martin, it should be good enough for each one of us.

July 26: Saint Anne. Good Saint Anne, as she is called, is the mother of the Immaculate Conception and the grandmother of the Word Who was made Flesh in her daughter's virginal and immaculate womb. Saint Anne was privileged to carry within her own womb the woman who would make possible the salvation of us all by her perfect fiat at the Annunciation. She was privileged to hold within her loving arms her Divine Grandson, thus making her the model not only for good Catholic mothers but also the model of all Catholic grandmothers. Saint Anne teaches parents to train their children for eternity. Although Our Lady, who was born some fifteen years before Our Lord, was conceived without stain of Original Sin and was unspotted by the stain of actual sin, she still had to learn from Saint Anne and from her father, Saint Joachim, about the things of God, starting with the Scriptures. Saint Anne lovingly prepared her daughter, Mary of Nazareth, to know the Scriptures when she heard them read in the synagogue and thus to be ready to respond to the Father's will when she was asked by Saint Gabriel the Archangel to enflesh their Author by the power of the Holy Ghost. Saint Anne and Saint Joachim presented Our Lady in the Temple when she was three years of age, giving her entirely to God. This should inspire those of us with daughters to do everything we can to foster a simplicity of life that is founded in a detachment from the things of this world and a love of the things of eternity so that our daughters will choose to espouse themselves to Mary's Divine Son, Saint Anne's Grandson, in some traditional community of religious women.

July 29: Saint Martha: Tradition refers to Saint Martha as the sister of Saint Mary Magdalene, something that drives contemporary Scripture scholars more than a little batty. The image of Saint Martha busying herself about the tasks of hospitality while her sister listened to Our Lord is considered by the Church to be a simile for for the active and contemplative branches of the interior life. There are times when we must attend to the mundane tasks of ordinary living and to see in the fulfillment of them the path to glorifying God and to sanctifying our souls. Our work must not cause us anxiety or to think that we can somehow forgot about prayer as we do the duties that befit our states-in-life. We must take the path of Saint Martha's sister, Saint Mary Magdalene, to spend time in prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament and to the Mother of God as slaves consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. Although one aspect or another is emphasized in the constitutions of various religious communities of men and women, those of us in the lay life are called to base our work in prayer and to offer up our daily work as a prayer, never neglecting the necessity of formal, structured mental prayer and to pray the Mass with the priest as we assist at Mass every day. Saint Martha's belief in the Our Lord as "the Son of the living God, who art come into the world" led her to trust that her brother, Saint Lazarus, would be raised from the dead by Him even though Lazarus had been dead for four days. We must have Saint Martha's total faith in Our Lord, never presuming our salvation while never despairing of it as we attempt to work it out in fear and in trembling as members of His true Church

July 31: Saint Ignatius of Loyola: The founder of the Society of Jesus formed a spiritual army to defend the Pope and the Catholic Church during the attacks of the Protestant Revolt. Forsaking the life of military combat and the perquisites of the court, Saint Ignatius became a master of the interior life as well as a general in charge of troops that were meant to be quite active on the front lines of defending Catholic doctrine against the various heresies spawned by the different strains of Protestantism. Not content to do battle for the Church in Europe, Saint Ignatius sent his priests to do missionary work around the world, careful to form his priests in a rigorous program of education and spiritual exercises that would serve the Society of Jesus well until many of its members became infected with Modernism in the last century. Saint Francis Xavier, a direct disciple of Saint Ignatius, took the Gospel of Christ to India and to Japan. The North American Martyrs shed their blood so that the Social Reign of Christ the King would take root in the northern part of North America. Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro courageously went about the business of administering the sacraments to Catholics in Our Lady's country, Mexico, at a time when the Masonic revolutionaries there were persecuting Catholics fiercely, crying out "Viva Cristo Rey!" as the bullets pierced his flesh on November 23, 1927. Although many of Saint Ignatius's contemporary sons have been in the vanguard of the liturgical and doctrinal revolutions of the past decades, he has more than a handful of sons who have remained steadfast in the Faith and who are actually committed to the Tradition of the Church. Chief among these one can call to mind the late Father Vincent Miceli, the late Father Frederick Schell, and Father Raymond Dunn, each of whom suffered mightily once they made their decision to defend Tradition without compromise by rejecting entirely all of the novelties of the Second Vatican Council and thereafter as inimical to the Catholic Faith. We need to invoke the intercession of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who was so very devoted to Our Lady, so that his Society will once again be a bulwark of the Faith to such an extent that one of its sons who is committed to Tradition might one day help a pope to recover our Catholic past and the sure path it contains for the salvation and sanctification of souls.

August 1: Saint Peter's Chains: The first Pope, Saint Peter, was hated by the Jews for his bold and fearless proclamation of the Gospel of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Acts of the Apostles records numerous instances of the plots that were hatched against the Apostles as they set out for the business of trying to convert the whole world to the Cross of the Divine Redeemer following the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them (and on our dear Blessed Mother) on Pentecost Sunday. Believing that the death of the messenger would stop the message, the Jews were ceaseless in their efforts to track down the Apostles and the first Catholics who followed them in the infant Church. It was thus shortly after the martyrdom of Saint James the Greater, the brother of Saint John the Evangelist, that Saint Peter was arrested by King Herod Agrippa with the intention of doing unto him what had been done to Saint James. As Saint Peter still had work to do in the vineyard of the Divine Master he had denied three times during His Passion, angels came to break the chains that had bound him in prison. This actually happened. It is also symbolic, however, of the chains of sin and selfishness that tie us down so much in this vale of tears and can be broken only with the strength Our Lord gives us through the sacraments, aided in no small measure by Our Lady's maternal intercession and by the efforts of our angels to keep us truly free as baptized and confirmed members of the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation and only slavery and misery. In a special way, we must pray that the particular chains of the regime of novelty that have bound the recent popes, including Pope John Paul II, will be broken by angelic forces so that the pope and his bishops will be truly free to recover the sure path of salvation and sanctification that is provided only by Tradition.

August 2: Saint Alphonsus de Liguori: The founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, the Redemptorist Fathers, Saint Alphonsus de Liguori was one of the longest-lived saints in the history of the Church, dying in his ninety-first year of life in the year 1787. Saint Alphonsus, a lawyer, laid down his sword at the age of twenty-seven, offering it on a altar consecrated to Our Lady. The Patron of Moral Theologians, Saint Alphonsus de Liguori wrote eloquently on many topics, including Purgatory, but was especially poignant in his total and unmatched love for Our Lady. His Redemptorist sons became noted for their preaching of sound and orthodox parish missions before the onslaught of the Modernist infection. He is to be invoked particularly in our own day, a time in which there is such confusion and heresy in the field of moral theology and such denigration of total devotion to the Mother of God.

August 4: Saint Dominic: Born Dominic de Guzman, the founder of the Order of Preachers lived to be only fifty-one years of age. His mother, Blessed Jane of Aza, gave three sons, including himself to the Church as priests. Dedicated to the preaching of the truths of the Faith in a systematic way, Saint Dominic relied tenderly upon Our Lady, who gave him the Rosary while he was in Toulouse, France. He fought with valor against the Albigensian heretics, bringing back thousands of them into the Church. His work, along with that of the mendicant friar who Tradition tells us that he had a close and collaborative friendship, Saint Francis of Assisi, helped to bring about the flowering of the apogee of Christendom in the Thirteenth Century. Within a short period of time, the Dominican Fathers had produced Saint Albert the Great and his student, the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas. Two of the great saints of the Americans, Saint Rose of Lima and Saint Martin de Porres, were Dominicans. Saint Vincent Ferrer, a Dominican, shows us that there are great saints and learned priests who take the wrong sides in the midst of controversies: Saint Vincent followed an anti-pope for a time during the Great Western Schism, whose end he helped to effect. As is the case with most of the other, older religious communities of men and women, the Dominicans have suffered the results of the infections of Modernism, manifested as they have been in recent decades under the mask of conciliarism. A devotion to Saint Dominic, however, and a reliance on the holy instrument, the Rosary, given to him by Our Lady will help us in our own days, full of the same sorts of errors that plagued the Church nearly eight hundred years ago.

August 5: Our Lady of the Snows: Snow in Rome? Well, yes, it snowed in Rome on the night of August 4, 355. More precisely, the snows fell on Esquiline Hill in Rome. The outline of the great basilica that was to be built in honor of Our Lady, which is called today the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, was to be found in the snows on Esquiline Hill. In this great basilica, where a Solemn High Pontifical Mass was offered in the Traditional Roman Rite on May 24, 2003, can be found the crib in which the Newborn Christ-Child was placed upon His birth in Bethlehem, the body of Saint Jerome and the relics of Saint Matthias. The ceiling of its nave is covered with the first gold that was brought back by the Spaniards from the Americas. This great feast reminds us that it is God's will for us to give public honor to His Most Blessed Mother, who has been sent to us by Him on numerous occasions through the centuries to teach us that there is no other path to Heaven except that which runs through her Immaculate Heart.

August 6: The Feast of the Transfiguration: The Gospel of the Transfiguration is read twice a year. The first time is on the Second Sunday in Lent. The second time is on this great feast, which falls this year on the First Friday in August. Our Lord took three of His Apostles, Saints Peter, James and John, up to the top of Mount Tabor, where He was transfigured before them in glory, showing them the same glory He had from all eternity with the Father, Who said, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him." Appearing with Our Lord were Moses and Elias. The three Apostles were permitted to experience the image of Our Lord's transfiguration in order to provide them with a bit of consolation during His Passion and Death, that they might call to mind the vision of His radiant glory as all appeared in human terms to be have been lost with His Death on the wood of the Holy Cross. It is that very same transfigured glory that Our Lord showed forth as He manifested His Easter Victory over sin and death in the Resurrection. And it is no accident that Our Lord took the same three Apostles with Him as He suffered His Agony in the Garden of Gethsamane. Just as Saints Peter, James and John fell down on the ground when they saw the image of Our Lord's transfigured glory on Mount Tabor, so would they fall fast asleep as the Divine Master demonstrated the depths of the horror afflicting His soul as He sweated droplets of His Most Precious Blood while contemplating all of the sins of all men until the end of time that would cause Him to undergo His fearful Passion and Death. This incomparable feast day reminds us that Our Lord wants us to remember that there an empty tomb in Jerusalem because He got up and walked out of it, promising us that our own bodies will be transfigured in glory at the end of time if our souls persevere in states of sanctifying grace until the point of our dying breaths. And Our Lord wants us to remember that He will provide us a bit of consolation every now and then as we walk the rocky road that leads to the narrow gate of Life. We must not look for the consolation. However, He will send us a bit of consolation in order to encourage us as we keep our hands on the plough in order to furrow the ground so as to bring forth a rich harvest of souls for the Catholic Church. Our daily crosses are ever with us. They are the means of our sanctification and salvation, given freely to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart. If some bit of transfiguring joy comes our way now and then, thank God for it, but be ever ready to look at the Cross, without which it is impossible to know the glory of an unending Easter Sunday of joy in Paradise.

August 9: Saint John Marie Vianney: The Cure of Ars was proclaimed by Pope Pius XI to be the patron of all diocesan (secular) priests. What a patron! Saint John Marie Vianney, who was born in 1786, three years before the onset of the French Revolution, persevered in his priestly studies despite the difficulties he experienced in completing them. He knew that it was God's will to be a priest, to minister to the French people in the aftermath of a revolution that had shed so much blood and had desecrated the altars of God as it liquidated many Catholic clerics and lay people. He was ordained, in 1815, at the age of twenty-nine, which is relatively late for a diocesan priest. After a brief time in another village, Saint John Marie Vianney arrived in the farm village of Ars in 1818, where he served for forty-one years until his death at the age of seventy-three, in 1859. Dedicated to the sanctification and salvation of the souls of the flock that had been entrusted to his pastoral care unto eternity, Saint John Marie Vianney was unstinting from the pulpit in his firm condemnation of the evils of French popular culture. He spoke graphically about the horror of sin and the reality of Hell. Far from from discouraging his parishioners, Father Vianney inspired them to scale the heights of personal sanctity. In a day when there was no real means of mass communication, word of his simple eloquence in behalf of the Cross of the Divine Redeemer and devotion to the Mother of God spread far and wide. Over 20,000 people a year would make their way to Ars to assist at Mass offered by Father Vianney, who spent between twelve and eighteen hours every day in the confessional to offer the healing balm of Divine Mercy to the most hardened of sinners. Most of his "free" time was spent before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer. The fact that he lived to be seventy-three with so little sleep and so much arduous work in behalf of souls is a testament to the power of God's grace and Our Lady's maternal intercession. Saint John Marie Vianney helped to popularize the cult of Saint Philomena, whose feast is August 11, two days after his own. Saint John Marie Vianney eschewed comfort and the privileges that many priests sought in the clerical state. He lived a life of holy poverty and simplicity. His sermons still resonate with Catholic truth that can turn around a life or two 145 years after his death. His spirit is exhibited by so many priests that we are privileged to know. Father Patrick Perez. Father Lawrence Smith. Father Stephen Zigrang. Father Phil Wolfe, a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, whom we have heard preach, "I am not here to make you feel good. I am here to make you be good." Father Wolfe spends many hours each day in the confessional. A diocesan pastor in Indiana, Father Timothy Alkire, is known to spend many hours in the confessional each week. Father Robert Mason, the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Massapequa Park, New York, will hear a confession at any time of the day or night without regard to his personal convenience. The examples could go on and on and on, including priests who would not profit from being mentioned by me on this website. Saint John Marie Vianney reminds all diocesan priests that they are ordained to be bothered, that their schedules revolve around being an alter Christus, that there is never a "day off" from doing the work of saving souls, that a life of priestly self-denial and penance will bring forth a bountiful harvest of joy in eternity if they persevere to the point of their dying breaths. Along with the fiery and uncompromising Saint Padre Pio, Saint John Marie Vianney shows the harvest that can be reaped when a priest preaches the reality of Hell and the necessity of rooting out sin from one's life by loving God as He has revealed Himself through His true Church.

August 10: Saint Lawrence the Deacon: Listed in the Roman Canon and thus mentioned during every offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, Saint Lawrence, a Spaniard, is one of the greatest martyrs in the history of the Church. He served as an archdeacon to Pope Saint Sixtus II and was subjected to martyrdom because he would not disclose the location of the goods that were used for the Pope's support of the poor, the priests and the parishes of Rome. He was placed on a gridiron and slowly roasted to death. He had a sense of perfect calm as he was being roasted, trusting completely in Our Lord's providential care for him. He amazed his executors by saying at one point, "You can turn me over now. I'm done on this side." Saint Lawrence prayed ceaselessly during his martyrdom for the conversion of the city of Rome. This has direct application to our own circumstances as Catholics in the United States of America in 2004. Some say that it is not "realistic" to proclaim the Social Reign of Christ the King and to plant seeds for the conversion of the nation to the true Faith. Some say that all we can do is prevent more harm from being done than would otherwise be the case if some other set of bandits exercised the levers of civil power. It is not "possible" nor ever desirable to try to work for the "triumphalist" notion of Christ the King. Saint Lawrence, whose dead body reached out to touch the body of Saint Stephen when it was brought to its final resting place in the church named for him, teaches us that all forms of martyrdom, including white martyrdom, are used by God to effect the conversion of men and their nations. The Faith is ultimate realism. Everything else is nothing other than an illusion. And the Faith that impelled Saint Lawrence to die rather than to betray secrets entrusted to him by the Vicar of Christ is the same Faith that should impel us to trust not in the empty slogans of empty men but only in the Catholic Faith and its supreme triumph as the sole guiding force of nations as the fruit of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

August 11: Saint Philomena: Perhaps the greatest humiliation this saint, whose cult was approved by Pope Gregory XVI and confirmed by Blessed Pius IX, Pope Leo XIII and Pope Saint Pius X, has suffered has been at the hands of those who say she never existed. As insulting as this is to a child-martyr whose relics were recovered in 1802, Saint Philomena continues to work wonders in the lives of those who are devoted to her. As one holy card about her notes, Pope Gregory XVI, who called her the "Wonder Worker of the Nineteenth Century," canonized her based solely on the evidence of the miracles worked by her intercession since nothing was known from the historical record about her life. The mystery surrounding Saint Philomena--and the anonymity in which she languished for about fifteen centuries--teaches us to trust in the signs that God sends us about those who have won a crown of eternal glory and who should be invoke to help us in our spiritual and temporal needs. Either the popes mentioned above were correct in their promotion of the cult of Saint Philomena or they were wrong. If they were correct, if actual miracles occurred as a result of prayers offered to Saint Philomena, then the Vatican was wrong a few years ago to remove her name, albeit quietly, from the Roman martyrology Pope Gregory XVI proclaimed her the Patronness of the Living Rosary. Blessed Pauline Jaricot, the foundress of the Living Rosary, helped to foster devotion to Saint Philomena, as did the Cure of Ars, as mentioned above. Blessed Pius IX proclaimed her to be the Patronness of the Children of Mary. Pope Leo XIII approved the creation of the Confraternity and, later, the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena. Were all of these popes and the Cure of Ars and Blessed Pauline Jaricot wrong? No, they were not. They were correct. We need Saint Philomena's intercession in our lives and in the life of the Church. Saint Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us!

August 12: Saint Clare of Assisi: The final feast day I wish to offer a reflection on in this essay is that of Saint Clare, the foundress of the Poor Clares. Saint Clare received her veil from Saint Francis of Assisi, living a life of aristocratic wealth and and privilege to found the Convent of San Damiano in Assisi to foster Franciscan spirituality, characterized especially deep devotion to Our Lord's Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament. So joyful was her demeanor that prominent churchmen, including popes, cardinals and bishops, all made pilgrimages to seek out her advice and counsel. Saint Clare's devotion to Our Lord's Real Presence became the characteristic of the Poor Clares. So much so that the Poor Clares are one of the few older orders of religious women that have, by and large, retained their original charism of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in spite of the revolutions that have rocked the Church in the past forty to fifty years. Saint Clare herself was so devoted to the Blessed Sacrament that she repelled a pending attack of Saracens on the Convent of San Damiano by taking a monstrance containing Our Lord in His Real Presence and showing it to the infidels, who fled in utter fright. The demons and their human minions are terrified in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament, which is why there are such terrible shrieks of horror let out by those who support child killing under cover of law in this nation whenever a priest or a bishop processes solemnly in front of killing center with a monstrance containing the Real Presence of the God-Man, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Saint Clare's holy simplicity and embrace of Franciscan poverty teach us to reject the ways of American consumerism and self-seeking, striving to live as simply and poorly as possible so as to store up riches in Heaven.

Well, these are just a few reflections on some recent and upcoming feasts commemorated on their proper days in the calendar of Tradition. This is by no means an exhaustive listing of all of the saints commemorated in late July or early August. My point in reviewing these well known facts is to demonstrate that there is much spiritual profit for us to take the liturgical life of the Church very seriously. And it is only the calendar of Tradition that provides us with the full richness of that liturgical life. As one who grew up in pretty thoroughly secular household in the 1950s and 1960s, I know that I would have been far better off earlier in life had the Faith I learned at Saint Aloysius School in Great Neck, New York, been reinforced at home by the assiduous observance and commemoration of the liturgical feasts of the Church. God is so merciful to us erring sinners. He gives us just enough years so that we might be able to begin to get things right, if for no other reason than to help our children reject the ways of cultural pluralism, religious indifferentism, and hedonistic individualism and to embrace instead nothing other than the examples of the saints who have been given to us in the great calendar of Tradition to imitate and to rely upon to help us get to Heaven.

Indeed, as an upcoming article of mine on the Seattle Catholic website will indicate, we have to spend more time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and to the Mother of God rather than being constantly agitated by all of the particular problems that beset the Church and the world. Yes, we should be concerned about the state of the Church and the world. However, we should not be agitated. Agitation comes from the devil. We know that the Church has survived despite all of the warfare waged against her by various potentates from the very beginning of her missionary activity. We know that the Church has survived despite the best efforts of her members, including us, to tear her apart by means of our sins and bad example. We know that she has survived despite apostasy from within and despite the revolutions that have racked her in the last forty to forty-six years or so. She will survive until the end of time. We must thus be aware of our circumstances, flee from the Novus Ordo and the conciliarist religion, seek out the Immemorial Mass of Tradition wherever it is offered by a validly ordained priest who is not a sedevacantist, protect our children from the rot of this horrible culture, and foster deep devotion to Our Lady and all of the saints and angels in order to be prepared for the red martyrdom that may very well becoming our way sooner rather than later. A regular habit of meditating upon the lives of the saints, especially as they are commemorated in the calendar of Tradition, will help us transcend the problems of the moment and focus more fully on getting ourselves home to Heaven as Mary's consecrated slaves who give everything at all times and in all circumstances to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

Our Lady, Queen of All Saints, pray for us to aspire to the highest level of sanctity possible so that we may be as close to you in Heaven as is possible.


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