Friday, October 28, 2016

October 28, AD 312 ~ Constantine defeats Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge

Detail from Romano's Battle of the Milvian Bridge, showing Constantine,
on horseback, victorious over Maxentius who is shown drowning in the
Tiber River, lower right. (Click to enlarge)
October 28 marks the anniversary of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (AD 312) at which Constantine the Great defeated the usurper Maxentius who had set himself up as emperor in Rome. Son of the emperor Maximian Herculius, Maxentius claimed the same right to the throne that Constantine had claimed from his own father, the emperor Constantius I Chlorus. The difference was that Constantius conferred the imperial power upon his son Constantine on his deathbed, whereas Maxentius took his father's authority by force and drove the old man from Rome.

After several failed attempts of the eastern emperors to end the usurpation of Maxentius by military force, it was left to Constantine to settle the affair from his base in Britain. Here is the contemporary account of Lactantius, written less than 10 years after the battle:
And now a civil war broke out between Constantine and Maxentius. Although Maxentius kept himself within Rome, because the soothsayers had foretold that if he went out of it he should perish, yet he conducted the military operations by able generals. In forces he exceeded his adversary; for he had not only his father's army, which deserted from Severus, but also his own, which he had lately drawn together out of Mauritania and Italy. They fought, and the troops of Maxentius prevailed.
At length Constantine, with steady courage and a mind prepared for every event, led his whole forces to the neighbourhood of Rome, and encamped them opposite to the Milvian bridge. The anniversary of the reign of Maxentius approached, that is, the sixth of the kalends of November, and the fifth year of his reign was drawing to an end. Constantine was directed in a dream to cause the heavenly sign to be delineated on the shields of his soldiers, and so to proceed to battle. He did as he had been commanded, and he marked on their shields the letter X, with a perpendicular line drawn through it and turned round thus at the top, being the cipher of CHRIST (XP). Having this sign, his troops stood to arms.
Triumph of Constantine over Maxentius from a tapestry by Peter Paul Reubens, ca. 1622.
The enemies advanced, but without their emperor, and they crossed the bridge. The armies met, and fought with the utmost exertions of valour, and firmly maintained their ground. In the meantime a sedition arose at Rome, and Maxentius was reviled as one who had abandoned all concern for the safety of the commonweal; and suddenly, while he exhibited the Circensian games on the anniversary of his reign, the people cried with one voice, "Constantine cannot be overcome!" Dismayed at this, Maxentius burst from the assembly, and having called some senators together, ordered the Sibylline books to be searched. In them it was found that:
"On the same day the enemy of the Romans should perish."
Led by this response to the hopes of victory, he went to the field. The bridge in his rear was broken down. At sight of that the battle grew hotter. The hand of the Lord prevailed, and the forces of Maxentius were routed. He fled towards the broken bridge; but the multitude pressing on him, he was driven headlong into the Tiber.
This destructive war being ended, Constantine was acknowledged as emperor, with great rejoicings, by the senate and people of Rome. And now he came to know the perfidy of [Maximinus] Daia; for he found the letters written to Maxentius, and saw the statues and portraits of the two associates which had been set up together. The senate, in reward of the valour of Constantine, decreed to him the title of Maximus (the Greatest), a title which Daia had always arrogated to himself. Daia, when he heard that Constantine was victorious and Rome freed, expressed as much sorrow as if he himself had been vanquished; but afterwards, when he heard of the decree of the senate, he grew outrageous, avowed enmity towards Constantine, and made his title of the Greatest a theme of abuse and raillery.
Read the full account here.

See also the early accounts of Constantine's miraculous vision of a cross in the sky, here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Halloween is the vigil of the Catholic feast of All Saints

Remember, Halloween is the vigil of the Catholic holy days of  All Saints (November 1) and All Souls (November 2) which follow immediately after. These feasts are remembrances of our beloved dead—those who are among the saints in heaven and those who remain in the cleansing fire, awaiting admittance to paradise.

These are purely Catholic holidays with no connection to ancient pagan practices, as many ill-informed modern folks like to claim. Read more about the Catholic origins of Halloween here, and about the ancient origins of the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, Part I: "I knew my brother was suffering", here and Part II: "I beseech you to pray unto the Lord for me, here.

The church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini is famous for its ossuary crypt which displays the remains of over 4,000 Capuchin monks who went to their eternal reward between AD 1500 and 1870. Among the remains is a plaque which reads: “What you are now, we used to be; what we are now, you will be.” This is a reminder to the faithful of their mortality and the capricious nature of death, recalling the words of Christ in the parable: “Thou fool! This very night your life shall be required of you.”

The Man Fully Alive blog offers a brief but poignant description of a visit to the crypt of Santa Maria Concezione dei Cappuccini.

An excellent summary of the origins of All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve may be found at The Catholic Home and Garden site.

Wishing you a blessed and contemplative All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

*Note, this image isn't anything officially sent out from the church or from the Capuchins. I created it myself.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Do not murder a child by abortion..." -- the ancient teaching of the Church

"Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant." 

Thus says The Didache: The Teaching of the 12 Apostles, which was written down in the 1st century AD, not long after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Didache (which means, literally "The Teaching") is one of the most ancient early Church documents outside of canon of Sacred Scripture and constitutes the earliest catechism of the Christian Church. In the 4th century AD, St. Athanasius specifically called out this most ancient work as one that should be "read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness."

Here is the above quote placed in greater context:
"And the second commandment of the Teaching is: 
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not corrupt boys; thou shalt not commit fornication. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not use witchcraft; thou shalt not practice sorcery. Thou shalt not procure abortion, nor shalt thou kill the new-born child. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods. 
Thou shalt not forswear thyself (swear falsely). Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not speak evil; thou shalt not bear malice. 
Thou shalt not be double-minded nor double-tongued; for duplicity of tongue is a snare of death. 
Thy speech shall not be false, nor vain, but fulfilled by deed. 
Thou shalt not be covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor malignant, nor haughty. Thou shalt not take evil counsel against thy neighbor. 
Thou shalt not hate any one, but some thou shalt rebuke and for some thou shalt pray, and some thou shalt love above thine own soul (or, life)."
Read the entire text here:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Abp Chaput calls for Clinton to repudiate Podesta's anti-Catholic statements

Further to the recent leak of internal documents from Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, John Podesta, containing information about the attempts of the political left in the US to infiltrate and influence the Catholic Church, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia has issued a memo entitled, About Those Unthinking Backwards Catholics. It is a solid rebuke of the Podesta emails, as well as a call-to-action to his flock to be aware of this grotesquely Machiavellian attempt to hijack Church teaching for purely political gain. God bless him for taking a swift and strong stand on this emerging scandal.

In his essay, the archbishop recounts an anecdote of how, as Archbishop of Denver, he was solicited by Democrat activists in 2008 who attempted to convince him to shift the Church's focus away from pro-life issues toward other "social justice" questions. Though he was able to sniff out their intentions, it seems many American bishops fell for the sophistry and became tools of the Democrat machine. Chaput recounts the grim results of such activism:
"...These two young men not only equaled but surpassed their Republican cousins in the talents of servile partisan hustling. Thanks to their work, and activists like them, American Catholics helped to elect an administration that has been the most stubbornly unfriendly to religious believers, institutions, concerns and liberty in generations."
Now, it has been revealed that such efforts were not simply appeals to conscience, but nakedly partisan efforts generated from central planning where an amazingly bigoted view of Catholics prevails. Archbishop Chaput closed with the following mildly snarky demand:
"Of course it would be wonderful for the Clinton campaign to repudiate the content of these ugly WikiLeaks emails. All of us backward-thinking Catholics who actually believe what Scripture and the Church teach would be so very grateful."
Given that the news media has issued a virtual black-out on this story, it is necessary for all American bishops to take a strong stand here and force coverage. Will they? I guess we're about to find out how successful the infiltration has been.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Contact named by Podesta in leaked email is on the board at NCR

Further to the previous post, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend who was called out by John Podesta in the leaked "revolution in the Church" email is a member of the Kennedy family, former Democratic lieutenant governor of Maryland, and is on the board at the dissident newspaper, The National Catholic Reporter.

The connections here are fascinating. One wonders how many other names will shake out here before all is said and done.

Clinton cronies plot to foment a "Catholic spring"

Click the image at right to see a newly released leaked email wherein Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign chair, John Podesta, entertains a conversation on how to "plant the seeds of revolution", create a "Catholic Spring" to end the "middle ages dictatorship." His interlocutor is Sandy Newman, President of Voices for Progress who says, to wit:
"There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church....I don’t qualify to be involved and I have not thought at all about how one would 'plant the seeds of the revolution,' or who would plant them."
Podesta's response is also telling:
"We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this. But I think it lacks the leadership to do so now."
For those Catholics who have thought about supporting Mrs. Clinton to this point, here is what you are voting for--a cadre of radicals who plot to foment revolution within the Catholic Church for their own political gains.

Where are the US Catholic bishops on this? Will they be MIA as usual?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The tough love of St. Francis of Assisi

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"Those who refuse to do penance and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are blind....They indulge their vices and sins and follow their evil longings and desires, without a thought for the promises they made."
~Saint Francis of Assisi, in his Letter to All the Faithful 
In our day, Saint Francis of Assisi is commonly portrayed as a nice, happy-go-lucky friar who traveled around Italy preaching about being helpful, friendly and blessing animals. The real Saint Francis was very far from this distorted caricature. He was a loyal follower of even the hardest teachings of Jesus Christ and a true son and soldier of the Catholic Church. He was not averse to preaching directly to the faithful in terms that would grate the soft sensibilities of many modern religious leaders.

Considering the easy road preached by many today, it is well to reflect upon the words written by St. Francis in his Letter to All the Faithful. Here is the above quote in context:
“Every creature in heaven and on earth and in the depths of the sea should give God praise and glory and honor and blessing (cf. Ap. 5: 13); he has borne so much for us and has done and will do so much good to us; he is our power and our strength, and he alone is good (cf. Lk. 18:19), he alone most high, he alone all-powerful, wonderful, and glorious; he alone is holy and worthy of all praise and blessing for endless ages and ages. Amen.

All those who refuse to do penance and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are blind, because they cannot see the light, our Lord Jesus Christ. They indulge their vices and sins and follow their evil longings and desires, without a thought for the promises they made. In body they are slaves of the world and of the desires of their lower nature, with all the cares and anxieties of this life; in spirit they are slaves of the devil. They have been led astray by him and have made themselves his children, dedicated to doing his work. They lack spiritual insight because the Son of God does not dwell in them, and it is he who is the true wisdom of the Father. It is of such men as these that Scripture says, their skill was swallowed up (Ps. 106: 27). They can see clearly and are well aware what they are doing; they are fully conscious of the fact that they are doing evil, and knowingly lose their souls.”
See, then you who are blind, deceived by your enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, our fallen nature loves to commit sin and hates to serve God; this is because vice and sin come from the heart of man, as the Gospel says. You have no good in this world and nothing to look forward to in the next. You imagine that you will enjoy the worthless pleasures of this life indefinitely, but you are wrong. The day and the hour will come, the day and the hour for which you have no thought and of which you have no knowledge whatever. First sickness, then death, draws near; friends and relatives come and advise the dying man, "Put your affairs in order". Wife and children, friends and relatives, all pretend to mourn. Looking about, he sees them weeping. An evil inspiration comes to him. Thinking to himself, he says, "Look, I am putting my body and soul and all that I have in your hands". Certainly a man who would do a thing like that is under a curse, trusting and leaving his body and his soul and all that he has defenseless in such hands. God tells us by his Prophet, Cursed shall he be that puts his trust in man (Jer. 17:5).
There and then, they call a priest; he says to the sick man, "Do you want to be absolved from all your sins?"

And the dying man replies, "I do."
"Are you ready then to make restitution as best you can out of your property for all that you have done, all the fraud and deceit you practiced towards your fellow men?" the priest asks him.
"No", he replies.
And the priest asks, "Why not?"
"Because I have left everything in the hands of my relatives and friends," is the answer. Then his speech begins to fail and so the unfortunate man dies an unhappy death."
The complete "Letter to All the Faithful" may be found here.

The image accompanying this post shows Saint Francis pointing to death, taken from a fresco painted in 1320 by Giotto which appears on the North transept, Lower Church, San Francesco in Assisi, Italy. Click here to see a higher resolution image of this fresco.