Please fast and pray every Thursday for the renewal of the Catholic Church in America. Please note: The Cybersociety will fast on Fridays beginning January 2013, in accordance with ancient custom.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Never we know but in sleet and in snow,
The place where the great fires are,
That the midst of the earth is a raging mirth
And the heart of the earth is a star.
The gods lie dead where the leaves lie red,
For the flame of the sun is flown,
The gods lie cold where the leaves lie gold,
And a Child comes forth alone.

--"A Child of the Snows" by G.K. Chesterton

Friday, December 20, 2013

O Key of David

"The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens. 'I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut; I know you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.'" --Rev. 3:7-8
In my arms I still carry flowers from the wilderness, the dew on my hair is from the valleys of the dawn of mankind,

I have prayers that the meadows lend an ear to, I know how storms are tempered, water is blest;

I carry in my womb the secrets of the desert, on my head the noble web of ancient thought,

For I am mother to all Earth's children: why do you scorn me, world, when my heavenly Father makes me so great?

--Gertrude Von Le Fort, Hymns to the Church

Friday, December 13, 2013

He is Near

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.
--Wm. Chalmers Smith (1824-1908)

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Immaculate Conception

St. Ann with the Blessed Virgin
The feast of the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated on December 9th this year. All around us, holiday "madness" has begun. Don't fret; rather, keep a quiet Advent in your heart.

"With the Immaculate Conception the story of the human race is begun again; all is clear once more. It is from that perfectly pure and docile matter that the new Adam will be fashioned. So, too, will it be with us if we allow ourselves to be born again....Open your eyes, then, and your heart, in an undisturbed solitude with God alone. Be still, and see what he is offering you, what he is to you. Our courage, like our patience, can only be unshakeable when it proceeds from a deep joy." (The Prayer of Love and Silence by "A Carthusian," 1951)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Blessings

Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labor, when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain.
--Alexander Pope
They shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the new wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more.
I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
(Jeremiah 31:12-13)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Feast of Christ the King

"We see then Our Lord Jesus Christ crowned with many crowns--King, because of His nature, true God from true God; King necessarily of all creation, since in Him all things were made....King, further, in His mission, since through Him...are all things to be 'recapitulated,' brought to a head, receive their explanation....The crowded scroll of the world's history remains ever sealed with its seven seals [till] the Lamb be sent forth from God's throne, Who looses the seals and reads the book, Solver and Solution...the Omega no less than the Alpha of the book that contains all words.

...And lo, having his head thus crowned with many crowns, He lays them, as far as He may, aside. Being rich, he becomes poor. Master of all, He comes among one who serves....For the sake of that uncrowning, we love Him: the little son of Mary, the working lad, the labouring man of Nazareth. The man who walked hungry amid the waving corn, who sank exhausted in the patch of shade beside the ancient well, who slept in the cabin of the little boat, 'His head upon a pillow.' Terrified, heart-sick, in Gethsemane; heart-broken on the Cross; sending Magdalen to be His messenger; known, at Emmaus, when He broke bread. And the vast duty of our subjecthood almost narrows itself to this: try, when you can remember, to do some action of your day simply that it may please Him, for no other reason than that." (C.C. Martindale, S.J., Christ the King)

Friday, November 15, 2013

End of Ordinary Time

                  Thou hast set all the borders of earth; thou hast made summer and winter--Ps.74

Since our post for Corpus Christi, I ran across another term for Ordinary Time, one I like much better: "ordered time." We do not live in darkness, but in the age of the Church: a time for preaching, study, and understanding; for patience, fortitude, and quiet confidence. Graced time.

Here at headquarters, we've been graced by a priest at Sunday Mass who uses Eucharistic Prayer I, the ancient Roman canon. How elegant and stately it is, a legacy of the Church often overlooked. Appropriate to our theme, Raymond Moloney, S.J. says: "The first Eucharistic Prayer invites us to a renewed emphasis on the goodness of created things and a return to the natural rhythms of existence, of which the giving of gifts to the Creator is one."  (Our Eucharistic Prayers, 1985)

Friday, November 8, 2013


No, not just hands drooping with the hammer's weight,
not the taut torso, muscles shaping their own style,
but thought informing the work,
deep, knotted wrinkles on his brow,
and, over his head, joined in a sharp arc, shoulders
and veins vaulted;

So for a moment he is a Gothic cathedral,
cut by a vertical thought born in the eyes.
("The Quarry," Karol Wotyla, Easter Vigil & Other Poems, translated by J. Peterkiewicz.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Chanting at the Crystal Sea

Hark! the sound of holy voices,
Chanting at the crystal sea,
'Alleluia, alleluia,
 alleluia,' Lord, to Thee;
Multitude, which none can number,
Like the stars in glory stands,
Clothed in white apparel, holding
Palms of victory in their hands.

They have come from tribulation,
And have washed their robes in blood,
Washed them in the blood of Jesus,
Tried they were, and firm they stood;
Mocked, imprisoned, stoned, tormented,
Sawn asunder, slain with sword,
They have conquered Death and Satan,
By the might of Christ the Lord.

Now they reign in heavenly glory,
Now they walk in golden light,
Now they drink, as from a river,
Holy bliss, and infinite;
Love and peace they taste forever,
And all truth and knowledge see
In the beatific vision
Of the blessed Trinity.

(Christopher Wordsworth, 1862)

Friday, October 25, 2013


Speculator astat desuper / qui nos diebus omnibus / actusque nostros prospicit / a luce prima in vesperum.

There is One who from above /
Watches how the still hours move.

(Latin hymn from the Liturgy of the Hours translated by Bl. John Henry Newman)

Friday, October 18, 2013

More About St. Pius V

He was a Dominican--no wonder he turned to his Blessed Mother in times of danger. His papacy was marked by manifold crises. To the east, the enemy was Islam; to the north, Protestantism; at home, decadence, nepotism, and corruption. He gathered the Catholic nations together to defeat the Turk. With the aid of St. Charles Borremeo, he vigorously implemented the reforms of the Council of Trent. With the aid of St. Philip Neri and the example of his own holiness, he reformed the clergy of Rome.

He seems to have had a wry sense of humor. On his accession to the papacy, he remarked, "In our Dominican convent, living solely to God, and occupied with our salvation, we firmly hoped to be saved; elected bishop and cardinal, we began to fear; now that we are elected pontiff, we despair of our salvation." He reigned effectively for seven years (1565-1572). He was canonized in 1712.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Monday was the feast of the Holy Rosary. On Sunday, October 7, 1571, as the population of Rome processed in honor of the Virgin and prayed the Rosary in the streets, a combined Christian fleet sailed to meet the Ottoman Turks, late conquerors of Cyprus, in the Gulf of Lepanto. With undaunted courage amidst horrific slaughter, they won an overwhelming victory, checking the Islamic advance into the Mediterranean. In gratitude, Pope St. Pius V, a Dominican, added the title "Mary, Help of Christians" to Our Lady's Litany. 

"Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself....Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and Resurrection....the tragedy of redemption is completely absent. For this reason not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity." (Pope St. John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope.)

They said to themselves, 'We will utterly subdue them'....Remember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs, and an impious people reviles your name. Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild animals....Do not forget the clamor of your foes, the uproar of your adversaries. (Psalm 74)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

"Thus the Friars Minor, unable to accept in full Francis's Testament, were caught up in the more complex and more rigid network of disciplinary and constitutional regulations. Yet the new life that Francis himself had lived and shown to others remained and remains in the the model for a type of sanctity which all recognize as Franciscan. It has enriched the spirit of all a new manifestation of the brotherhood of all men and of the share of all creatures in the beauty and benevolence of God; as a showing forth of the Gospel lived in its fullness with a detail and clarity rare to equal in any age; and as a revelation of the imitation of Christ crucified, in love and suffering, which, though present in all Christian sanctity, appeared in Francis in a new form." (David Knowles, Saints and Scholars, 1962).

Friday, September 27, 2013

Angels' Week

 The feast day of St. Michael the Archangel is September 29th, a Sunday this year, and the feast of the Guardian Angels is October 2nd.

Bless the lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength,that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.(Psalm 103:20)

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray! And do thou, prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl about the world, seeking the destruction of souls. Amen.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Thou hast made the earth to tremble, thou hast broken it; heal the breaches thereof, for it shaketh….Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. (Ps. 60:2,11)

Friday, September 13, 2013

"How precious to Him is the oversight of his flock!...Wherefore did God not spare His only begotten Son, but yield him? That He might reconcile us even when we were enemies to Himself, and make us his peculiar people. Wherefore did He pour out His blood? Surely that He might gain those very sheep which He committed to Peter....I know the magnitude of the ministerial office, and the great difficulties which attend it. More are the tempests that assail the soul of a bishop, than those storms which agitate the ocean."--St. John Chrysostom, On the Priesthood.

Today is the feast of St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), Archbishop of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church. Do not read the above, and think how wonderful you are, and how you deserve better priests; rather, pray for the priests you have, and learn from them, for each has something to teach you.

Friday, September 6, 2013

"Beseeching Christ on behalf of one's friend...the attention and affection are all directed to the friend; but suddenly and unawares love changes its object, and being so near touches the sweetness of Christ and begins to taste and feel how sweet he is.Thus rising from that holy love which reaches the friend to that which reaches Christ, he will joyfully pluck the rich spiritual fruit of friendship."--St. Ailred of Rievaulx.

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light."--Matthew 11:28-30

Friday, August 30, 2013

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up....And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him. [And] a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12)  

The Society has been richly blessed this past week by visitors from abroad. We pray for their safe return home today.

"It [is] easy to pass from man's friendship to God's, by reason of the resemblance between them." (St. Ailred of Rievaulx, 1109-1167)

Friday, August 23, 2013

St. Bartholomew

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Bartholomew, one of the Twelve as listed in the Synoptic Gospels, and, in the opinion of most scholars, to be the same person as Nathanael, the "Israelite indeed," in the Gospel of John, Nathanael being a surname.

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!" 
Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?"
 Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
 Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.
 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." (John 1:47-51)

Friday, August 16, 2013

"It was because the saints were absorbed in God that they were truly capable of seeing and appreciating created things and it was because they loved Him alone that they alone loved everybody"--Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Our Lady in Pink

Glorious things are spoken of you, O Mary, who today were exalted above the choirs of angels into eternal triumph with Christ -- Entrance antiphon for Vigil Mass of the Assumption.

"God well deserves to be loved by women, for he did not shun to be born of a woman. Marvelous and precious was the privilege he thus gave to all women; it was not granted to a man to be or to be called father of God, but it was given to a woman to bear God." -- St. Hugh of Lincoln (d. 1200)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Never Satisfied, Are We?

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land.  (Ps 37:3)

-Let us then consider, Glaucon, what will be their way of life, now that we have thus established them. Will they not produce corn, and wine, and clothes, and shoes, and build houses for themselves? And when they are housed, they will work, in summer stripped and barefoot, but in winter substantially clothed and shod. They will feed on barley-meal and flour of wheat, baking and kneading them, making noble cakes and loaves. For dessert we shall give them figs, with acorns and myrtle-berries to roast at fire. And they and their children shall feast, drinking the wine they have made and hymning the praises of the gods, in happy converse with one another. And they will take care that their families do not exceed their means, having an eye to adversity. With such a life, they may be expected to live in peace and health to a good old age, and bequeath a similar life to their children after them.
-Yes, Socrates, if you were providing for a city of pigs.
-But what would you have, Glaucon?
-Why, you should give them the ordinary conveniences of life, in the modern style.
-In my opinion the true and healthy condition of the State is the one I have just described. But if you wish to see a state at fever-heat, very well--we shall be more likely to see how injustice originates.  [Plato, The Republic, paraphrase of the B. Jowett translation]

The lowly shall inherit the earth, and shall delight in abundance of peace. (Ps 37:11)

Friday, July 26, 2013


Haec ergo dona, quaesumus,
        Spìritus tui rore sanctìfica.

Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray,
     by sending down your Spirit like the dewfall.

The Eucharistic Prayer II of the 1969 Paul VI Mass in Latin was either adapted from the prayer of St. Hippolytus, or was inspired by the prayer of St. Hippolytus, or was concocted by a sinister committee at the instigation of Cardinal Bugnini. No one is really sure, as it happened in the mists of the last century. But no matter what you think of it, the word rore ("like the dewfall") was in there all along. The old ICEL chose to ignore it, although, as one wag gently put it, both Caesar and Vergil seemed to like the word just fine. I like the touch of poetry. I also like the more potent phrasing of the new translation: "Make sending down your Spirit," rather than the more passive-sounding "Let your Spirit come upon..." I mean, we're talking God the Father here, right?

Let's give St. Hippolytus himself a say: "Certainly it is not necessary for [the bishop] to recite the exact words we have set down....Rather, let each one pray according to his ability. Indeed, if he is able to pray in an accomplished manner and with a lofty style of prayer, it is well. But even if he has only a moderate ability in praying and in giving praise, let no one forbid it, so long as his prayer is of sound faith."

Hath the rain a father?...
                                                                                          Who hath begotten the dew?--Job 38:28

Friday, July 19, 2013


...and the seed should sprout and grow without his knowing it. For of itself the earth bears the crop, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the fruit is ripe, immediately he puts in the sickle because the harvest has come. (Mark 4:27-29)

Friday, July 12, 2013



Introibo ad altare Dei./Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.

I go unto the altar of God/To God Who gives joy to my youth.
                                                                 --Opening of the traditional Latin Mass.

"...the torrent of pleasure, the richness of the house of God..."
                 --Prayer of Saint Bonaventure. His feast day is July 15th.

Friday, July 5, 2013


If while you twist upon your bed of pain
   you recall no flower blooms on mountaintop
   that is not seen by God within its rocky nook,

Nor sawgrass blade bent by salted wind can mark
    the sand without the eye of heaven's notice,

Perhaps you too will find surcease,
   and feel the bands of time withdraw,

As purgatory--the Poet says--does shake
    the very threshold of eternity with joyous spasm
    at just one soul's release...
                                                --r. scssrs

Friday, June 28, 2013

Seamless Liberty

"There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost and religious liberty preserved entirely. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage."

"We appeal to that God who searcheth the hearts of men for the rectitude of our intentions: and in his holy presence declare...through every possible change of fortune, we will adhere to this our determination."

--Rev. John Witherspoon of New Jersey, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, president of Princeton University (then the College of New Jersey), and teacher of statesmen (James Madison among them).

Friday, June 21, 2013

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Today is the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a saint who makes us uneasy. He's a little too pure and a little too scrupulous for our tastes. In the fifties, he was held up to youth as the great exemplar of chastity, almost alone out of all his manifold virtues. Depictions of him usually wound up looking like the androgynous "good boy" so beloved by pious women of the times.

So what’s a red-blooded American male to do? What can we learn from him? I suggest we emulate his determination, his devotion to the cause of his own salvation. He maintained a deep prayer life (and that famous chastity) in the midst of all the intrigues of a ducal court of Italy (he was born only about fifty years after Machiavelli described such courts in The Prince). All the perquisites of a young noble were his for the taking; he chose to become a Jesuit instead, in the face of fierce opposition. He could have fled Rome like all the rest; he stayed to care for the plague-stricken. He stood over and against the times—something we need very much to do today. 

St. Aloysius, pray for us!

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Candle

Some administrative matters today. The Executive Board has reviewed
the Friday fast policy and has decided to continue fasting on Fridays instead of Thursdays. The Board also considered the case of certain weak-kneed members who have reverted to abstinence from meats and sweets on Fridays, as opposed to a full fast. This is perfectly acceptable; all members should do what they can, with prayer, not severity for severity's sake, as the first priority. The Board has also allowed a little wine with dinner. As is stated in the Rule of St. Benedict, "We think one hemina of wine a day is sufficient for each [monk]. But to whom God granteth the endurance of abstinence, let them know that they will have their special reward." Amen.

The meeting adjourned with a little inspiration, from the late Cardinal Foley, as quoted by Fr. L. "A Christian's life should be like a candle on the altar: bringing light, providing warmth, and extinguished in service to the Lord."

Friday, June 7, 2013

Corpus Christi and Ordinary Time

Some people don't like it, but I love celebrating Ordinary Time. Yes, Christ is risen, the world is new, it's the Eighth Day of Creation-- true, all amazingly true! But all the same, I love Ordinary Time. The very term suggests moderation, order, grace, and peace. In one of his sermons on the Sunday Eucharist, Pope Benedict XVI said, "This gift is the Lord himself: the Risen one, whom Christians need to have close and accessible to them, if they are to be themselves. Yet this accessibility is not merely something spiritual, inward and subjective: the encounter with the Lord is inscribed in time on a specific day. And so it is inscribed in our everyday, corporal and communal existence, in temporality. It gives a focus, an inner order to our time and thus to the whole of our lives." 

"...teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." --Psalm 90

Friday, May 31, 2013

Mystical Rose

Virgin Mother, daughter of thy Son, humble, yet exalted
more than any creature, fixed goal of eternal counsel,
thou art she who didst so ennoble human nature
that its Maker did not disdain to become its creature.
In thy womb was rekindled the Love under whose warmth
this flower in eternal peace has thus unfolded.
Here thou art for us the noonday torch of charity,
and below, among mortals,
thou art the living fount of hope.
(Dante, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day

A Prayer for the Navy

Eternal Lord God, Who alone spreadest out the heavens, and rulest the raging of the sea: vouchsafe to take into thy almighty and most gracious protection our country's Navy, and all who serve therein. Preserve them from the dangers of the sea, and from the violence of the enemy, that they may be a safeguard unto the United States of America, and a security unto such as pass upon the sea on their lawful occasions: that the inhabitants of our land may in peace and quietness serve Thee our God, to the glory of thy Name. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for the Army

Lord God of Hosts, whose power is from everlasting to everlasting, and whose Name is above every name in heaven and earth: keep, we pray Thee, under thy protecting care the Army of our country and all who serve therein. Defend them amid violence on land or sea or in the heavens, and grant that they may be a sure defense and a safeguard for the people of the United States and a security for such as come and go in peaceful and lawful pursuit. In time of peace keep them from evil, and in the day of conflict suffer not their courage to fail: that they may guard the American heritage against those who would destroy or straiten the liberties of government by the people, and to the end that the blessings of religion and law may be preserved to posterity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

[from The Hymnal: Army and Navy, 1942]

                                       "Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle..." (Psalm 140)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mater Amabilis

"God is the Author...of all beauty. He has made the world so beautiful with its starry sky, its enchanting landscapes, lovely mountains and valleys, rivers and lakes, its flowers and birds. Surely He must have made her beautiful who was to be the Queen of all creation....Physical beauty is surpassed by the beauty of the soul....This divine beauty shines through man's mortal frame and explains why saints are so attractive, even though they may be of homely features. Yet among all angels and saints there is none that can compare in grace and holiness with the Blessed Mother of God." --Rev. A. Biskupek, S.V.D., Our Lady's Litany (1954)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mater Amabilis

Lord Jesus, Thou hast known / A mother's tender love and tender care / And thou wilt hear while for my own mother most dear / I make this Sabbath prayer.

Protect her life, I pray / Who gave the gift of life to me / And may she know from day to day the deepening glow / Of joy that comes from Thee.

I cannot pay my debt / For all the love that she has given / But thou, love's Lord, wilt not forget her due reward / Bless her in earth and heaven. / Amen.

(Prayer: "Before You Leave the Chapel" from The Hymnal: Army and Navy, 1942)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Holy Oils

"For you go down into the water, bearing your sins, but the invocation of grace, having sealed your come up quickened to righteousness....And to you, after you had come up from the pool of the sacred streams, was given an unction...[T]his holy ointment is no more simple ointment...but is Christ's gift of grace and, by the advent of the Holy Spirit, made fit to impart his divine nature." --St. Cyril of Jerusalem, d. 386.   

"Wherefore we are called Christians, because we are anointed with the oil of God."--St. Theophilus of Antioch, second century A.D.
Olive tree.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Living Stones

The baptized have become 'living stones' to be 'built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.' [1268] Having become a member of the Church, the person baptized belongs no longer to himself, but to him who died and rose for us. [1269] 'Reborn as sons of God, the baptized must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church' and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God. [1270]--Cathechism of the Catholic Church.

          "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness..." (Psalm 132)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Living Waters

 We thank you, Almighty God, for the
gift of water.Over it the Holy Spirit moved
in the beginning of creation.Through it
you led the children of Israel out of their
bondage in Egypt into the land of promise.
In it your Son Jesus received the baptism 
of John and was anointed by the Holy
Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead

us, through his death and resurrection, 
from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.
   --Rite of Baptism, Book of Common Prayer

Friday, April 12, 2013


"Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

"The Risen One cannot be seen like a piece of wood or stone. He can be seen only by the person to whom he reveals himself....He does not reveal himself to curiosity but to love; love is the indispensable agent if we are to see and apprehend him." (Pope Benedict XVI)