The inspiring illustrations are the work of award-winning artist Sister Mary Grace Thul, O.P. Whether or not you pray the Rosary, something new is unveiled about the life of Christ in each of these 20 brief studies that will enrich your faith.

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September 17: Feast Day of St. Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard pic

St. Hildegard (1098-1179) was born into a noble family and who, because of her visionary gift, was given as a child to be raised by the Church and eventually became an abbess. She is not only a confirmed saint but a Doctor of the Church. Her writing is prolific, covering her extraordinary visions of salvation history, medicine, and even music composition. We also have hundreds of her letters; she corresponded with kings, queens, popes, abbots, nuns, etc.

Hildegard was left out of the history books and it is not clear why. She fell into obscurity shortly after her death. She was rediscovered in the late twentieth century by Latin scholars looking for new material for their students; her Latin works were first translated into English in the late 1980s. This led to her elevation to Doctor of the Church in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. It is as though she came back after 800 years of obscurity to continue her service to the Church in the very world she had described for us in her vision of five beasts, which she explained were symbols of the last days (vision 11 from her book, Scivias, Latin, “Know the Ways“)

In her letters one thing stands out as an urgent priority, the call to holiness and purity. They clearly show that for Hildegard a spiritual battle was raging in the twelfth century, particularly with regard to corruption and immorality among the clergy. She writes with impressive authority:

“The Spirit of God says earnestly: ‘Oh shepherds, wail and mourn over the present time, because you do not know what you are doing when you sweep aside the duties established by God in favor of opportunities for money and the foolishness of wicked men who do not fear God.’  And so your malicious curses and threatening words are not to be obeyed. You have raised up your rods of punishment arrogantly, not to serve God but to gratify your own perverted will.” [Letter to Heinrich, Archbishop of Mainz.Baird, Joseph L. The Personal Correspondence of Hildegard of Bingen. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, p.42.]

The correspondence on the whole gives evidence of her personal saintliness and tireless commitment to the reform of the Church.

Another reason to study the early writings of Hildegard is that we have access to a copy of an original manuscript of Scivias, the book within which the prophetic vision of five beasts is recorded by her and her scribe, Volmar. It was not second hand information or subject to transmission errors. It was also examined and approved by a committee of theologians commissioned by Pope Eugenius III. 

The timing of St. Hildegard’s rediscovery by the Church, (thanks to secular academia), suggests divine intervention, though perhaps it was not. Nevertheless, she brings to our generation a new and impressive corpus of Christian literature that has been formally raised to the level of that of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and her close friend, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in time, she becomes just as familiar as they are.


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The Chosen Race and the Eclipse of Diversity

diversity2In the second chapter of his first epistle, the apostle Peter wants his early Christian readers (mostly gentiles) to understand who they are and how they should now identify themselves, giving them no less than six different titles:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light:

“Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy” [Hosea 2:25].

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul (vss. 9-11).

Continue reading “The Chosen Race and the Eclipse of Diversity”

The Demise of the USSR: Four American Parallels

1. Afghanistan

One classic sign of the demise of the USSR was its failed military occupation of Afghanistan, a last-ditch effort to expand the empire and further threaten the West. This train wreck has now been repeated by the U.S. in a far more costly and consequential manner. afghan1The return of the Taliban to power and the last minute resending of American troops to airlift U.S. citizens out of Kabul reflects the complete incompetency of the Biden administration and recalls images of Saigon and the scenes of desperate attempts to flee the falling city. The weaponry that was foolishly handed over to the Taliban defies belief. Continue reading “The Demise of the USSR: Four American Parallels”

Three Momentous Feasts of the Assumption

The First:

surrender2Historians generally agree that the modern American era began on August 15, 1945, the day that Emperor Hirohito unconditionally surrendered Japan, formally ending World War II. The U.S. victory allowed it to established itself as the war’s main economic beneficiary. This was the intended outcome of the Bretton Woods agreement according to one economist: Continue reading “Three Momentous Feasts of the Assumption”

Bernard Antony’s Open Letter to Pope Francis

Antony is a well-known conservative French author, former politician, and traditional Catholic. This letter is abridged and translated but its directness and sarcasm reflects what many of us are thinking.

Pape François,

Everything indicates that with your Motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, you have undoubtedly just perpetrated the most decisive act to date of your pontificate.

It must have been nothing for you, the reigning Pope, to decide to cancel the essential measure promulgated in 2007 by your predecessor: the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, while the latter, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, so admired in the Church and beyond for his luminous intelligence and faith, is still alive, living not far from you in the Vatican itself, retired in prayer and meditation on behalf of the Church.

Pope Francis, there is no one today to seriously believes that it is really for the sake of liturgical unity that you have unloaded on the Church your motu proprio Traditionis Custodes. On the contrary, we remember your actions in favor of all the different cults of pagan religions, dedications to the Pachamama of the Amazon and the Grand Manitou of North America.

No, certainly, it was not a passion for liturgical unity that could have motivated your decision to pronounce a major ban against the freedom of the traditional liturgy of the Catholic Church, that is to say against the Mass of Saint Pius V, to which an ever-increasing number of faithful of the Latin Church are attached around the world. For them it is the most luminously expressive of renewal on the altar of the Sacrifice of Christ.

No really, Pope Francis, we believe that it is not just for the reason of liturgical unification that you have fulminated this truly violent prohibition of the freedom of traditional worship restored by your predecessor. No, your ban, your dictum, is the result of a mainly political decision, carefully considered, and your aversion so often written on your face towards those who do not follow your policy, those who are also attached to the preservation of dogmas and to that of the civilizational heritage of the Catholic Church.

Remember when you said to journalists on a plane taking you back to Rome, “But who am I to judge?”

But who are you to judge today as you do, according to this report of the inquisitorial Chekist [Soviet secret police] bishops, the faithful of traditional masses? Are they despicable because it is at [their] home that we meet the largest families? Is it because in them that more and more vocations arise? Is it because these families, most of the time impoverished, that sacrifice themselves so that children are raised in Catholic schools? Is it because in their parishes Africans are so often welcomed in search of a good Christian education for their children? Is it because these parishes do not reject, but love the heroic converts of Islam?

Pope Francis, truly it is for Muslim migrants that you have ostensibly demonstrated your preferential charity.

Pope Francis, from your dismaying Motu proprio we draw the sad confirmation that you are an ideologue and a dialectician, a great divider. And to put it bluntly an evil [méchant] man. But certainly you are the Pope and the faithful have only the choice to wait until Divine Providence decides to make your successor better.

Bernard Antony

Consecration, Communion, and the Nativity

consecration5Through a visionary experience, St. Hildegard was given insight into what happens to the bread and the wine at the point of consecration, and it includes a connection to the birth of Christ. The following are descriptions of the vision from her first book, Scivias (abbreviation of Scito Vias Domini, “Know the Ways of God”). It is important to note that this work had received formal approval by the Church, including that of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the reigning pope, Blessed Eugenius III, (1145-1153):

Continue reading “Consecration, Communion, and the Nativity”

Taking Sides: ‘There is No Fence to Walk or Sit on’

In the gospels, the word “kingdom” occurs no less than 126 times; it was a concept that was central to Jesus’ message. The disciples pictured the Messiah’s kingdom as the triumphant expulsion of the Romans and a restoration of the Davidic throne. But the kingdom that Jesus spoke of was neither political nor had a singular meaning. It was two-fold: a kingdom that would be a spiritual reality in the present (the Church), and the promise of God’s eternal kingdom in the future.

The Other Kingdom

But there is a third kingdom, the one controlled by Satan. We are told that the world we live in still belongs to him. In his first epistle, John explains,

Continue reading “Taking Sides: ‘There is No Fence to Walk or Sit on’”

The 5 Dispositions of those Who Receive Communion According to St. Hildegard

food of life1
Scivias, Plate 16

In Part II, Vision 6 of Scivias, (abbreviated Latin for “Know the Ways of God”) the Doctor of the Church explains in detail her vision of the Sacrifice of the Eucharist. This includes a description of what happens at the moment of consecration (see here). She also describes the five states that “those who communicate” (those about to receive communion) might find themselves in (Chapters 52-56). The five groups are depicted in the illumination on the left.

Note that here and much of the text of Scivias is written in the first person voice of God, not uncommon among the Old Testament prophets as well as many Catholic saints.

Continue reading “The 5 Dispositions of those Who Receive Communion According to St. Hildegard”

Preparing for the Consequences of More Food Inflation

A report released this month by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N., which tracks changes in the prices of globally traded food commodities, celebrated the first monthly drop in a year:

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 124.6 points in June 2021, down 2.5 percent from May, but still 33.9 percent higher than its level in the same period last year. The decline in June marked the first drop in the Index following twelve consecutive monthly increases. [Emphasis added]

Continue reading “Preparing for the Consequences of More Food Inflation”

Fishing for Excuses

fishing1In revoking Summorum Pontificum the Pope apparently had to make an effort to find reasons. One was the charge that those preferring the Latin Mass felt so superior to the Novus Ordo that they rejected the Church altogether. This claim supposedly originated from the outcome of a survey of bishops, the results of which are not public. Francis’ letter accompanying the motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, is clear:

[E]ver more plain in the words and attitudes of many is the choice of celebrations according to the liturgical books prior to Vatican Council II and the rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the “true Church” (Link).

Continue reading “Fishing for Excuses”