Killington, Vermont

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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Father Rutler: Boldness for Holy Religion


Father George W. Rutler
Most of our Founding Fathers were not deeply informed about Catholicism, but they appreciated moral integrity when they saw it. When Albert Dubois, eventually the first resident Bishop of New York, fled the French Revolution, he lived for a while in the home of James Monroe. Patrick Henry taught him English, and Thomas Jefferson arranged for him to say Mass in the courtroom of the newly built State House of Virginia.
On July 13, 1804, Jefferson wrote to the Superior and Sisters of the Ursuline order in New Orleans: “I have received, holy sisters, the letter you have written me wherein you express anxiety for the property vested in your institution by the former governments of Louisiana; the principles of the constitution and government of the United States are a sure guarantee to you that it will be preserved to you sacred and inviolate, and that your institution will be permitted to govern itself according to its own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority.”
Happily, at the end of October, the present Administration redressed restrictions on freedom of religion imposed in prior years. Previously, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had refused federal aid to the foster-care and adoption agencies of Catholic and evangelical Protestant foundations that oppose abortion and the redefinition of marriage. Moreover, the government will no longer enforce a provision in federal law that bars religious organizations from providing federally funded educational services to private schools. Ironically, some of our church leaders, to maintain government funding for pre-kindergarten programs and the like, already agreed to remove crucifixes and religious symbols from parochial school classrooms.
George Washington, who made a significant donation to the Augustinian order, took John Adams to a Catholic Mass in Philadelphia. For Adams, who lapsed into Unitarianism, the chapel might have seemed at first like a Hindu temple, but he found everything so awe-inspiring that he wrote to Abigail: “I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell.” What most impressed him was the straightforward “moral” preaching of the priest.  When Adams was only 21, he wrote: "… This World was not designed for a lasting and a happy State, but rather for a State of moral Discipline, that we might have a fair Opportunity and continual Excitement to labour after a cheerful Resignation to all the Events of Providence, after Habits of Virtue, Self Government, and Piety. And this Temper of mind is in our Power to acquire, and this alone can secure us against all the Adversities of Fortune, against all the Malice of men, against all the Operations of Nature.”
Perhaps Providence has saved our nation from the downward spiral of hostility to God. Whatever the future holds, Catholics should pray that their ecclesiastical leaders—and they themselves—will match the fortitude of strong voices now heard in the civic order with boldness for holy religion. 
Faithfully yours in Christ, Father George W. Rutler

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Elgar's Tribute to the Future Queen


This is one of the very last works of the great English composer, Sir Edward Elgar.  It was written and dedicated to Their Royal Highness' Princess Elizabeth and Margaret long before it was known that Princess Elizabeth would become the United Kingdom's greatest and longest-serving monarch.  The first performance in 1931 was a private recording session for which the London Symphony Orchestra was engaged under the direction of the composer. The Duke and Duchess of York were in attendance on this occasion and were so enchanted by 'The Wagon Passes' - (5th movement) that it was played again. This is the final 7th movement, a lovely tender, reflective mood and violin solo with images reminding us of those nursery days.  The images are of dolls and their world of toys gazing through the nursery window contemplating life beyond the nursery confines.

It is performed here by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Father Rutler: “Catholic-Lite” Does Not Make Saints

Father George W. Rutler
Last week’s canonization of Saint John Henry Newman will have universal influences that I trust will include our own parish. It should be remembered that his achievements, for the most part, hardly seemed successful at the time. He might even be called a patron saint of the disappointed.
   Newman was so nervous in his university examinations that he got a “Lower Second Class” degree. He played the violin to relax, but the chords of his mind were taut, and he later suffered a nervous breakdown. He failed to attain a professorship of Moral Philosophy. Many Oxford dons derided his views, and eventually he resigned.
   When Newman became a Catholic, former friends thought he had wasted his talents, and some Catholics questioned his free spirit and innovative genius. Not least among these were bishops. In Ireland, Archbishop Cullen impeded his foundation of a Catholic University there and opposed making Newman a bishop. In England, Cardinal Manning, a great man in some ways but not innocent of envy, regularly thwarted numerous projects. The English-language secretary of Pope Pius IX prejudiced the pope’s opinion of Newman, and with no little subtlety, Manning tried to prevent the new Pope Leo XIII from vindicating him with a Cardinal’s red hat.
   Newman left a legacy of 32 volumes of letters, and in some of them he confided his frustrations. But his amiability and patience won over many. In old age, Newman’s Oxford college made him an honorary Fellow, and at Newman’s death Manning himself said, “The history of our land will hereafter record the name of John Henry Newman among the greatest of our people, as a confessor for the faith, a great teacher of men, a preacher of justice, of piety, and of compassion.”
   Neman kept his balance by a steady faith in the uncompromising truth of Christ. This boldly defied the pastiche of true Christianity that was spreading in his time and which he prophesied would become endemic in our own age:
   "What is the world's religion now? It has taken the brighter side of the gospel, its tidings of comfort, its precepts of love; all darker, deeper views of man's condition and prospects being comparatively forgotten. This is the religion natural to a civilized age and well has Satan dressed and completed it into an idol of the Truth. . . . Our manners are courteous; we avoid giving pain or offence . . . religion is pleasant and easy; benevolence is the chief virtue; intolerance, bigotry, excess of zeal are the first of sins. . . . [I]t includes no true fear of God, no fervent zeal for His honour, no deep hatred of sin, no horror at the sight of sinners, no indignation and compassion at the blasphemy of heretics, no jealous adherence to doctrinal truth . . .—and therefore is neither hot nor cold, but (in Scripture language) lukewarm.” (Sermon 24. Religion of the Day)
   That sort of “Catholic-Lite” does not make saints, and Newman proved that.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Father George W. Rutler