Springtime in the Smokies

Follow Sunlit Uplands by E-Mail

Saturday, April 20, 2019

THE EASTER SERMON OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM


Bishop of Constantinople (c. A.D. 400)
   Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!
   Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; if any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
   For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
   Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
   You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!
   Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of Our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.
   He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, “You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”
   Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
   O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?
   Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
   To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Father Rutler: The Cause of Our Joy

Father George W. Rutler
Thirty-five years ago I admired the neo-Gothic buildings of a Catholic college in Westchester County. But I was surprised to find that the confessional in the beautiful chapel was being used as a broom closet. There had been some misunderstanding about aggiornamento, or bringing the practice of the Faith up to date. That was the College of New Rochelle, begun in 1904 by the Ursuline sisters whose Religious institute was founded by Saint Angela Merici and who have graced the Church since 1535 with hospitals and schools and missionary work. They have not been unique in their numerical decline. In the United States since 1965, when the Second Vatican Council ended with sentiments of a “New Springtime” of the Church, Religious sisters have declined from 181,421 to 47,160, and most of those left are aged. This year the College of New Rochelle will close.
While various factors for all this may be cited, many Religious orders, trained in obedience, accepted bad advice from misguided and misguiding theologians and leaders. Bishops often have been at fault, timorous about correcting error, cheerily giving out diplomas while the spiritual foundations of the schools sank. It took a courage usually lacking to point out that serious mistakes were being made, and many Religious dug into their errors, abandoning community life and even Religious habits, and replacing doctrine with secular dogmas about “Peace and Justice” and “climate change”—all witness to the dictum, attributed to various sources, that ”Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”

Such need not be the case, given a dose of humility and sanity. Those who stubbornly will not admit mistakes are easily annoyed when shown new Religious orders, faithful to classical doctrine and religious practice, that are rapidly growing. Something similar is happening in education. Take just two examples: Thomas Aquinas College has emphasized quality over size since its founding in 1971 and has become one of the best regarded colleges in California. This year, it is opening a beautiful additional campus on an historic site in Massachusetts. Its California chapel, built in the Spanish Mission style, is a magnificent witness to Catholic heritage, as is the new chapel planned for Christendom College in Virginia, which was founded just a few years after Thomas Aquinas College. In the few years of their existence, although primarily lay institutions, Thomas Aquinas has produced 60 priests, 44 consecrated Religious women and men, and 26 seminarians; Christendom boasts so far 80 priests, 55 Religious, and 22 seminarians. Those colleges have not turned their confessionals into broom closets.
Any individual or institution that seeks happiness on its own terms will not find it. Chesterton asks, “Do you have joy without a cause…?” On Laetare Sunday, the Church rejoices in the true cause of joy, which is God Himself. The failings evident in practical experience testify to what happens when vanity tries to usurp Him.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Father Rutler: Saint Patrick

Father George W. Rutler
The holy patron of our archdiocese was a contemporary of Saint Augustine. While Augustine of north Africa became one of the greatest Doctors of the church, Patrick of Roman Britain humbly called himself uneducated, even though he was schooled in France by Saint Germaine of Auxerre and possibly Saint Martin of Tours, and was given books by Pope Saint Celestine I.
Patrick, after six youthful years as a slave captured by Irish pirates, embarked upon the conversion of the Druid tribes. He did not chase the snakes out of Ireland because there were none, nor did he explain the Holy Trinity using a shamrock, for that would have been a Partialist error inconsistent with the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed formulated just a few years before his birth. But he sparked a fire that shed the Gospel light on many parts of the world. The largest number of people who claim Patrick for their patron are Nigerians, converted by heroic Irish missionaries. The number of baptized Catholics in Nigeria has soared from 19 million in 2005 to 53 million today. There are two thousand priests and nearly 4,000 Religious, along with a boom in vocations.
By contrast, despite many worthy witnesses, the majority of Irish people failed to heed the warnings of Saint John Paul II when he became the first pontiff to set foot on the soil of Eire in 1979. He preached to 1.25 million faithful at a Mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Last year, Pope Francis offered Holy Mass in the same place, and fewer than 130,000 showed up. Four months later, the Druids returned and defiantly danced in the streets when abortion was legalized. The Taoiseach (Prime Minister), was elected while publicly living in perverse contempt of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The chief seminary of Maynooth has the lowest numbers of students since its foundation in 1795. Its rector of fifteen years abandoned the Faith and now conducts an esoteric cult in Arizona. An Irish commentator and playwright recently called Ireland “The Most Anti-Catholic Country on Planet Earth.” This would seem to be hyperbolic, given persecution in Muslim lands, China and North Korea, but it bespeaks the adolescent rebellion of a population moved by an anger unlike the cool detachment of calculating governments.
This is a warning to Catholics in the United States, because such is what happens when religion is only a political and ethnic sentiment. The Saint Patrick’s Day parade in New York City has become a bibulous charade of Saint Patrick. While contingents advertise their contempt for his Gospel, Nigerians honor Saint Patrick in a different way. A few weeks ago, Nigerian soldiers under attack by the Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram did not masquerade as leprechauns drinking green beer. In a Zambiza forest, they knelt and chanted as their chaplain raised aloft for adoration the same Blessed Sacrament with which Patrick had faced the Druids.