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The Synod of Bishops of the UGCC in Ukraine gathered in Zarvanytsia to unite with His Holiness, Pope Francis, in consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

[video:yahoo]
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Griego Amigo,

Sad to say, but my eparchy completely mishandled this to the point of embarassment . . .

However, our Roman Catholic parishes (God bless them) led the way!

RC churches were filled with people and in one, the parish priest gave such a resounding sermon during their penitential service that brought tears to my eyes. He suggested that World War III has already begun by proxy and that "bombs could fall here too."

May I ask you - could you explain the Penitential Service that our Latin brothers and sisters hold on Fridays of Lent? What is its structure, was it always a part of the Latin Church's Lenten practice?

It is very beautiful and meaningful!

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Christ is in our midst!!

Alex,

The Penitential Service is a new thing in the past years since the Vatican Council. It brings people together with a large group of priests from a number of different parishes We are having one this afternoon at my parish.

The idea is to bring people in who might not go to confession for any number of reasons. It allows parishioners to confess to a priest from another parish in the event one is not comfortable with one's pastor. It also helps priests because they do not have long lines to attend to by themselves, nor do they sit in the confessional waiting for no one to come. The priests in our deanery move from parish to parish during the Sundays and week days (when necessary) and many people attend.

We have an Examination of Conscience read slowly before individual confessions are heard. We say an Act of Contrition together. It usually begins with a reading from Sacred Scripture with a penitential theme and a short homily exhorting us to repentance.

In my parish we usually have eight to ten priests spread out around the church--both in and out of the confessional, but far enough away that one one can hear another's confession. usually in an hour we can have up to 200 people receive the sacrament.

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I'd also add that a lot of parishes have extremely limited time windows for Confession. Offering Confession during a single 30 minute window on Saturday only is the norm in my area, which makes it impossible to actually get to go unless you're the first or second person in line. The Penitential Service is a way for people to actually get a chance to go to confession due to the extended time and number of priests available.

My local RC parish recently got a new administrator and he immediately implemented daily Confession, and twice daily on Tuesdays and Thursdays (morning and evening). I am incredibly grateful for this. When I thanked him for that (and essentially repeated my complaint above), he agreed and said that they were already seeing how overdue and necessary it was, as the lines are packed the whole time, every time.

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The Latin parish I have been attending offers Confession before every Mass, but many people wait for the Penitential Service. Because it is *special*.

I usually go by appointment, but wish the lines were longer. Often, I go to church and see the confessional empty.

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With respect, I thought this consecration occurred decades ago?

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Some of the extremists would argue that a comma or an exclamation point was left out of the consecration done by Pope john Paul II, or something equally silly. I have met some who were not willing to accept that consecration. Go figure. Pope Francis doing it again certainly did no harm, but did it make any difference? I don't know.

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Christ is in our midst!!

Don't they (the extremists) make you weary?

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I mean, how long does it take for the effects of this consecration to take hold?

Respectfully, I am extremely cautious about Fatima.

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Actually, the fact is that no pope before Pope Francis fulfilled the revelation of the Mother of God of Fatima as she recounted. The consecrations by previous popes did not overtly mention "Russia" and were done in the name of the bishops only. Pope Francis invited the Catholic bishops of the world to join him in specifically consecrating RUSSIA. And the bishops responded as one body to the pope and said they would join him. Pope Francis then explicitly mentioned RUSSIA twice during the prayer, including Ukraine and the world.

As a life-long devotee of Our Lady of Fatima spanning half a century now, my many colleagues and I are very happy that the full letter of Our Lady's request for Russia's consecration was at last fulfilled.

Other popes balked at mentioning Russia overtly as part of the Vatican's illusory, eschatological dream that its contacts with Moscow would one day bear "fruit" in a church union.

That was always a silly idea. Throughout my own relationships with Orthodox Christians and clergy, I came to learn that they only saw me as a potential Orthodox convert which is why they entertained my interest in all things Eastern Orthodox. That is not ecumenical respect and it is not Christian in the least. What we have seen coming out of the mouth of the current and formal head of the Moscow patriarchate is despicable and not Christian in the least. With all the heavy incense smoke, lovely chanting and beautiful icons - there is a big emptiness where there should be the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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I agree with the illustrious hymnographer on this point of the Consecration, that this one fits the bill of what was asked for. Presvytaja Bohoroditsa, spasi nas!

As far Orthodox, my experience has been a mixed bag, though mostly positive, probably a side effect of being extreme tiny minorities here (Iowa and Missouri). I have only had one priest bash Catholicism (he thought I was Orthdodox, to be sure). Some priests wish we would convert (because we actually show up for feasts, you can see it in their eyes), but there are some that have never indicated or pressured us. Laity have been better. You get converts that are zealous (although i have met plenty that find Greek Catholics fascinating because we challenge the perception of what the Catholic Church is). Cradles tend to be pretty cool with us. One Yiayia even shrugged her shoulders and said, "Eh, Greek is Greek". We were active in a GOA mission two years, and five in a GOA parish (where we still have many life-long friends).

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There was a fellow, Fr. Nicholas Gruner, who made a career out of preaching that previous consecrations were not valid and did not meet what Our Lady required. I found it hard to imagine Fr. Nicholas had a communication line to her and received information not available to the church or its leaders.

I agree on the the Orthodox being wonderful people, at least where I live. They couldn't be any nicer to us eastern Catholics. I have a number of friends who have left eastern Catholicism and have become Orthodox as the only way to get away from Latinizations.

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Dearest Charles,

I actually knew Fr Gruner and an elderly German couple who raised me were among his closest friends. What I know of him is that he was pious to a fault and the people he inspired around him were converted from lives of spiritual indifference to committed, traditional Christian lives. The contemporary Catholic administrators tend to be very hard on traditionalists who push back against the liberalism I agree is rampant in the Latin Catholic Church. It deserves to be opposed. I, for one, have had it up to here with Catholic free-for-all attitudes and undisciplined spirituality bereft of liturgical beauty and mystery. So I'm with Fr Gruner. And, yes, as Akemner (God bless you!) said - only Pope Francis is on record as having made the Consecration in exactly the way our Lady of Fatima asked. If you would like to debate the Fatima point - I'm game.

With respect to Orthodoxy - it has many Latinizations within its varied historical tradition. St Vladimir Seminary published St Dimitri's book of devotions to illustrate that point. The entire Kyivan Baroque era was replete with Orthodox saints who LOVED Western devotions and promoted them within Eastern liturgical frameworks. Everything from venerating Christ's "Body parts" to borrowing from the West St Bonaventure's Psalter of the Virgin Mary (which St Dimitri put to music and which is sung in Orthodox Churches today, to the Passia devotion (the Akathist to the Passion of Christ followed by the reading of two chapters of the Passion from one of the Gospels) to a number of other devotions (including your favourite, the Rosary or Rule of the Theotokos which St Seraphim of Sarov said the Virgin Mary told him was the 'most important prayer, more important than Akathists or Canons).

For me, being in communion with Rome, and why I could never be "Orthodox not in communion with Rome" has to do with having a centre of unity that, ideally, allows for spiritual and liturgical diversity that brings it all into a mutual fellowship where we can learn about each other, and even adopt and borrow what we like from each other. For Ukrainian Catholics who have historically been in between East and West, being pulled in either direction -having Latinizations along with Easternizations is something of an historical survival necessity. I'm just content with all my devotions, wherever they are from and no longer feel the need to justify where I got them from. You are a great man, Sir. Thank you for this conversation!

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I'm not kidding about the number of ECs we have lost to Orthodoxy because of Latinizations. Since our eastern congregations are rather small, I question whether we can sustain such losses. I would rather lose the Latinizations than people.

Fatima consecration: We'll have to see what happens as a result. We have been told the consecration was already settled fact and everything about Fatima is getting a bit old by now. The results will either prove Fatima true, or false.

I never knew Gruner, but did attend a conference with Cardinal Gagnon, who was pretty high up in the Vatican organization at the time. He stated that Gruner was misguided.

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Dear Charles,

I've never known you to kid, sir!

As a sociologist, I'm naturally suspicious of explaining events like people changing churches based on only one causality, namely, "Latinizations." There must be some other reasons that would be worth studying and delving into. Personally, take it for what it's worth, those EC's who are the loudest about Latinizations, when queried about them, really have little idea as to what they are. If one would give them a book by St Dimitri of Rostov and blot out the name of the author, I'm sure they would feel disgust for the MANY Latinizations to be found there. Wouldn't they be surprised? (Sounds like the beginnings of a religious game show, doesn't it?)

As for Fatima, the recent Papal Consecration has revivified the Fatima devotion, in Eastern Europe and throughout the world. That is because Her message truly does resonate loudly today. The Most Holy Mother of God does make her Presence known as well as felt in quite tangible ways. There is a shrine here where all sorts of "miraculous events" are occurring, miracles of healing, and church authorities seem to be bent on selling the property while the laity oppose this. I told my Catholic pharmacist (yes, she is Latinized . . . but she is ok nevertheless) to take her husband to the shrine. He had been suffering from terrible back pain that no drugs could assist with. He went there and knelt in great pain before the image of the Mother of God and prayed for half an hour. He got up without any pain, no restriction of movement . . . and he danced wildly for the first time in years. My pharmacist tells me he can't stop talking about the Mother of God, just wants to visit the shrine all the time and wears a large rosary on his belt in full view of everyone (more Latinizations!). I told her there are worse things that can happen to a husband . . .

Whether at Fatima or elsewhere, the Most Holy Mother of the Divine Word Incarnate appears to remind us, who are members of the Body of Her Son, to live faithfully as befits Christians, praying and meditating on the Life of Her Son, placing ourselves under the Mantle of her Protection (which the scapular can be a symbol of in any Ritual Church), promotes the Rosary which several Russian saints have urged their spiritual children to recite daily, and which has always been prayed on Mount Athos, with a prostration to the floor at the end of each "Rejoice Theotokos Virgin, Hail Mary" and frequent, well-prepared for Holy Communion. If that is what is on the wane today, I would say thatChristian life as a whole is on the wane and we really do have a crisis in terms of the failure of the Church's evangelization witness.

As for Fr. Gruner, only God can, and will, have the final word about his ministry. There is no use invoking a cleric who is highly placed in the church administration as some sort of arbiter in the matter. I've seen many laity critique Pope Francis when they feel he doesn't mesh with their view of how things should be taught . . . And there have been misguided popes in history, like Pope Honorius I who, until the 12th century, was condemned as an heretic by his successors. St Maximos the Confessor opposed the "union" that pope and all the patriarchs of Christendom at the time agreed to as heretical. As we know, he had his tongue cut out. Yet the Church, in time, exonerated him and also canonized him.

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"There is no use invoking a cleric who is highly placed in the church administration as some sort of arbiter in the matter"

Concerning Gruner, I would invoke this cleric, a friend and confidant of Pope John Paul II, over enthusiastic Fatima supporters on any day. He knew what he was talking about. Cardinal Gagnon also knew what Pope John Paul II thought, as well.

Fatima is more believable in its early phases than what it has become. One can verify events prophesied that actually occurred up until World War II. After that, it gets foggy. There is the whole matter of secrets. I have difficulty believing that Christ sent his mother to earth to reveal things to us which he thought we should know, but when she arrived, she couldn't tell us. It was a secret - or secrets. I have difficulty with an apparition happening in our own day which again, is encumbered with "secrets." Maybe we should stick with revealed truth in tradition and the gospels, and not worry too much about apparitions or secrets.

This situation in Ukraine is horrendous by any standard. If the recent consecration made any difference whatever, we should soon see some results from it. I would hope so, at any rate.

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Good points, sir.

Fr Gruner was deeply pious and traditional. If there was ever anything about the Fatima apparitions and devotions that was not about underlining revealed truth in tradition, I must have obviously missed it after over fifty years of adherence to them. That there are enthusiastic devotees - that happens.

Frankly, I lost faith in the post-Vatican II "contemporary" church. It was a failed experiment from the get-go that emphasized social action, politics and ecclesial geopolitical ecumenism, often at the expense of conviction, dedication to, yes, revealed truth in Tradition and tried and true good old fashioned Catholic devotion. By their fruits you will know them. Give me the traditional, Tridentine-style Catholic Church any day. Give me Fr. Gruner over the contemporary Vatican officialdom as well. The elderly couple that helped raise me who supported Fr Gruner all his life are characteristic of the type of Christian that was attracted to him. This couple have rosaries decorating their home, and pray it daily, while attending the Tridentine Liturgy regularly, fasting weekly and showing tremendous charity toward others. When I see them, and they are precious to me, I kiss their hands kneeling.

Keep your Vatican officialdom if they inspire you. They fall flat with me. The most recent example is the entire conversation about a patriarchate for the largest EC Church - the UGCC - that was always denied by your Vatican officialdom on the grounds that such would "offend"the Moscow patriarchate.

Well, now who is it who even cares what the Moscow patriarchate thinks or is or isn't offended? This was the kind of state-run church that the Vatican had always wanted to keep on good terms with? Again, sir, keep your Vatican officialdom. I'm with Catholic traditionalism, Fatima and, yes, Fr. Gruner (+memory eternal).

And I would suggest, sir, that those EC's who have gone over to Orthodoxy (leaving aside the question of whether they really understand the existential differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy so as to make a truly informed decision in that regard) have done so largely not because of their being repulsed by "Latinizations" (which I believe is a canard) but because of their being repulsed by a certain lack of moral clarity and true Catholic identity that affects many Catholics of other Ritual Churches - thanks to theconfusion sewn by Vatican officialdom yesterday and today. Cheers, Alex

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Alex,

How are you dear friend? Long time since I’ve seen you post.

I think both the Trads and the mainstream Church as well as the Orthodox Church have failed both God and the people since Vatican II, but I don’t think Vatican II was the cause. Massive cultural shift and upheaval that is still ongoing is the culprit I think.

As to Fr Gruner, he contradicted Sr Lucia, made anti-Semitic remarks in the Fatima Crusader and refused to obey his bishop and return to his diocese of incardination for which he was suspended. As a deacon, I can’t hold somebody up as an example who broke his vow of obedience and ignored the hierarchy. The saints always submitted to lawful authority even when it was unjust. The “we resist you to your face” crowd is something I can’t support.

Pray for me a sinner.


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Bless, Reverend Father Deacon!

it is very nice to connect with you after so long a time!

I agree with your assessment of failure, but I intended to point to the interpretations of Vatican II and administrators who have a tendency to give a liberal spin on that Council's teachings, I was lamenting to Charles that I had had enough of liberalism in the Church!

No one is going to begin a process to canonize Fr Gruner, of course. Yes, he did what you recount. It is just that I admire the spiritual devotion of individuals who were connected to him, for better or for worse. They are also members of the SSPX - which I also don't subscribe to and never will. That doesn't mean I cannot be inspired by certain aspects of their spiritual lives. Historically, the lives of anti-popes (as Fr F. Holweck recounts in his hagiographical sketches) were read for edification, despite their having been on the wrong side of ecclesial conflicts. I don't have to, and don't, swallow up everything they were and are about. As for anti-semitism, Christians have yet to come to a final reckoning of this aspect of Church history for a full and meaningful reconciliation with the Jewish people.

I am well, thank you for asking, having overcome a number of health issues - have never felt better. I had a "near-death" experience in hospital where I felt I was floating above my body looking down at myself as doctors and nurses tried to revive me. What I experienced in those moments has completely taken the fear of death away from me. A real blessing to me to be sure. The contents of that experience I keep to myself because no one would believe me. Suffice it to say that "eye has not seen, nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who love Him!!!"

Reverencing your right hand, I again implore your blessing, Father Deacon,

Alex

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Alex, that near-death experience could give you enough material for a very interesting book.

A big problem with liberalism - I don't like it either - is that it is difficult to tell where liberalism ends and secularism begins. The two seem to overlap and blend together.

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Dear Charles,

You are right on the money - liberalism and secularism go hand in hand. The blind leading the blind into a pit . . .

I will think about the book idea. Rather than doing it for sensationalism, it just might give some peace and calm to others.

Will think it through.

Cheers,Sir!

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There seems to be so much discussion, and blame, placed on Vatican II by conservative Catholics. Vatican II took place when I was in elementary school, so I thought I would revisit some of its history. I ran across a statement made by Pope John XX111 at the beginning of Vatican II. The Pope said it's " ....time to open the windows [of the Church] and let in the fresh air....."

I know Pope John was speaking symbolically. But, as a former student of Art History,  the metaphor reminded me so much of the the transition between the Romanesqe and Gothic eras of Achitecture that occurred around the 12th and 13th centuries.  The dark, sturdy fortress-like churches  of the Romanesque gave way to light- filled and soaring Gothic cathedrals. The change, of course, took place in theological outlook too. The Franciscans arose, giving a  new appreciation and gratitude for nature. Church scholars and theologians found a new inspiration for the writings of antiquity. The ensuing change in the Church laid the foundations for the Renaissance.

The fact is, Church history, like its architecture, reinvigorates itself from time to time. It seems to me that, in light of the Industrial Age, two World Wars and the rise of Communism, the Church felt it necessary to rephrase its message and re-represent itself to the modern world.  The famous Cathilic theologian and Biblical scholar, John McKenzie once said ........"The Church can survive the disorder of development better than She can stand the living death of organized immobility."

I see no premeditated attempt at "liberalism" in Vatican II. What I see is an attempt to help the Letter of the Law conform a bit more to the Spirit of the Law, and to help people understand practice doctrine better.

Having said all that, I still respect the " traditionalists" and feel that they too are an important facet to the jewel that is the Church.

But.........I am betting that, in the 12th century.......there were Church traditionalists who objected to liberals letting secular light into those beautiful rose windows.

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XPUCTOC BOCKPEC!

I, for one, never equated the issues of secularism and liberalism in the Church with Vatican II. Only in the interpretation of Vatican II later on. Vatican II laid the groundwork for a better appreciation of Eastern tradition and ecclesial identity that did not exist in the Catholic church (and when we say that, we do mean the Latin Church).

I am not young and I lived through the worst excesses of moral and religious confusion in the aftermath of Vatican II. That is a separate topic. But I found myself in the paradigm of Eastern Christianity.

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"With all the heavy incense smoke, lovely chanting and beautiful icons - there is a big emptiness where there should be the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

This single sentence was the revelation I have been in such desperate need of having, to dispel my illusions of Eastern Orthodoxy. For years I've struggled, being torn between the Eastern Orthodox Church and our Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church. I would always get drawn into the Orthodox side via online interactions. The people were so certain they were the fullness of truth and they'd point out the latinized state of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and I'd find myself having difficulty arguing against their logic. I actually spent a couple months away and tried going back to the Orthodox, despite all my reservations about where they are coming down in the war in Ukraine (this is an Antiochian Church and the Patriarchate of Antioch has vested political and self serving reasons to remain loyal to the MP, regardless of morality).

But spending time with the Orthodox again finally tore the veil that was placed over my eyes. These people were all in for Russia, even buying into all the conspiracy theories (about Ukranian soldiers dressing as Russians and killing Ukranian civilians to spur hatred toward Russia on the global stage). That single perspective alone helped me truly look at the Eastern Orthodox Churches with an objective lens, and not continue to see it as I "wanted" to see it. As they "wanted" me to see it. And I say Eastern Orthodox Church"es", because it's a myth that there's a single Eastern Orthodox "Church". They are as fragmented as Protestantism, always finding political or cultural reasons to rupture from one another and break communal ties. This is the natural consequence of their rejecting the papacy. Without the role of the Pope in Rome to serve the unity of the universal Church, all you end up with is bickering and disunity. This is also why the Orthodox have been adrift and rudderless for the last 1000 years, unable to progress forward with one mind and one body.

The emptiness I felt was not satiated by the Orthodox. It was made more sharp. But by returning to our Byzantine Catholic Church, by going to confession, by receiving our Lord in Holy Communion alongside my family, I now know. I am where God wants me to be. I am at peace, for I have found the Lord God.

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