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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mass in Front Royal on St. Cyril's Feast Day

I attended Mass at St. John the Baptist in Front Royal this morning which is always an edifying experience. As I walked into the church, the congregation, led by the pastor, Fr. Jerome Fasano, was praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. As Father processed in from the sacristy we prayed the Angelus. Mass, as is the norm at St. John's, was said ad orientem (Novus Ordo) with the Greek Kyrie and some of the responses in Latin. Oh, and of course the bells and the reverent silence (except for the chirping of the baby birds in the congregation) and the many veiled women all contributed to an atmosphere of of awe and holiness. So many people attend morning Mass that distribution of Communion (at the altar rail where congregants can kneel or stand) takes about ten minutes. How I love attending daily Mass there!

Being St. Cyril's feast day, Father's homily focused on the Council of Ephesus which declared Mary the Mother of God (Theotokos). Early Church councils always addressed heresies and the Council of Ephesus was no exception. The Bishop Nestorius of Constantinople, a major see in the Church, was teaching that Jesus was two persons, one divine and one human. Mary, he said, was mother only of the human Jesus, not the divine. Of course, this heresy flew in the face of both Church doctrine and common sense, making Jesus the ultimate schizophrenic with His body separate from his spirit. St. Cyril, a doctor of the Church, opposed Nestorius and it is to him we owe the second half of the Hail Mary which declares her "Holy Mary, Mother of God."

Father also compared the bishop's antagonism to the faith to our own sad times where so many clerics are preaching a gospel different from the one taught by Christ. And he lamented the indifference and silence of so many, both clerical and laity, who put up with it. He referenced yesterday's Supreme Court decisions saying Justice Anthony Kennedy was a former parishioner who came to Mass weekly and received Communion. And he discussed the many other Catholic politicians who can get away with saying they are in "good standing" in the Church because no bishops will excommunicate them. Ah, yes, how many heretical and apostate politicians there are here in Arlington and Washington who claim to be Catholic and never a word of correction to protect Jesus from sacrilege or call them to repentance for  "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin." (Canon Law 915)

But the good news is the laity sometimes act when their bishops won't. Father described an incident where Nestorius spoke from the pulpit of his cathedral against Mary's divine maternity. Outraged, the congregation physically dragged the bishop from the pulpit, threw him from the church, and booted him out of town. Oh for the days when men were men and women urged them to act like it! Frankly, I can think of a few bishops who deserve the same treatment!

Nestorius ended his days with cancer of the tongue that removed his ability to speak any more blasphemies against the Mother of God. The people considered it divine retribution. One hopes he repented in his silent suffering.

We owe St. Cyril a great debt of gratitude and I hope you will honor him today with prayers of thanksgiving and begging for his intercession for our many milquetoast bishops who coddle dissent and persecute the faithful who, as Dietrich von Hildebrand says, should be their pride and joy.

St. Cyril, pray for us!

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