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The Truth about Saint Benedict Center and the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Richmond, New Hampshire

Updated: 2017-03-13T20:09:08.996-07:00


About Immaculate Heart of Mary School at Saint Benedict Center


Immaculate Heart of Mary School is a traditional primary and secondary school (K-12) in the Catholic tradition, run by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Richmond, New Hampshire. This is in the Keene area, part of the Monadnock Region.

For students from grades K through twelve, Immaculate Heart of Mary School offers an integrated curriculum, laying a solid foundation in the liberal arts, Latin, music, history and the highest scholastic arts.

Go to the Immaculate Heart of Mary School website.


SBC Triumphs, Chapel Moves Forward


The following is excerpted from "Victory! And a Building Project" at SBC's main site. We here at SBC Watch are overjoyed!


A Major Legal Victory
We have fought six years for our right to build. In a landmark civil and religious rights case in New Hampshire, a Cheshire County Superior Court judge ruled that our right of free exercise was violated by the Town of Richmond. This was the judge’s decision in a motion for summary judgment. (You can read a PDF of that order.) It took a long time, but rather than allow the case to go to trial, the Town elected to settle out of court. The settlement included a cash payment from the Town’s insurance carrier.

We invested most of that settlement money, after paying our attorneys, on needed building repairs and maintenance of our present physical plant, which is now more functional and beautiful than ever. Even with the cash settlement in hand, we could not build the chapel, because the litigation was not yet over (keep reading to see why).

The Town also agreed, almost a year later, to drop the outlandish thirty plus conditions the Planning Board imposed on us. It was these conditions — some impossible, some illegal, all expensive — that brought us to the courts in the first place. The litigation was complicated by a group of “interveners,” Richmond residents hostile to the Center, who became a third party to the case. They dragged things out and made the proceedings more costly for both the Town and the Center.

But now it’s finally over, appeals and all — after two agonizing years of site plan review and four years of litigation — and we have prevailed! Or, rather, Our Lady has prevailed through us. Deo Gratias!

SBC Will Have a Papal Knight at Their Conference!


From Brother André Marie's Blog...

The theme of this year’s conference will be Right and Freedom: Catholic Considerations on Misused Concepts.

Included in the list of speakers is author, papal historian, and lecturer, Charles A. Coulombe, K.C.S.S. By order of Pope John Paul II, Mr. Coulombe was created a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Sylvester for his services rendered to the Holy See. Author of the chart-climbing The Pope’s Legion, and Puritan’s Empire: A Catholic Perspective on American History, Coulombe is recognized internationally for his in-depth knowledge of Vatican politics and the influence of Catholicism in America and Europe. His audiences regularly range from graduate students at Oxford University, England to the New Mexico Military Institute, from which he graduated. His international articles have appeared in the New Oxford Review, National Catholic Register, American Thinker, Los Angeles Catholic Mission, Monarchy Canada, and The Irish Democrat.

Read the full press release here. Learn more about the conference here.

About Father Leonard Feeney, M.I.C.M.


Leonard Feeney was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on February 15, 1897. On the eve of Our Lady's Nativity, September 7, 1914, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate of Saint Andrew in upstate New York. During his 14 year formation as a Jesuit, he studied in England, Wales, Belgium, France, and the U.S.A. At the end of a brilliant scholasticate and theologate, he took religious vows as a son of Saint Ignatius, and was ordained a priest on June 20, 1928.Father Feeney then embarked on what would become one of the most celebrated careers any priest could enjoy as a writer, lecturer and editor. During the 1930's he was literary editor of America, the Jesuit-run Catholic monthly. At the same time, his books, published by some of the major publishers of that time, were becoming standards in Catholic schools and homes all across the country. They include Riddle and Reverie (MacMillan, 1936), Song for a Listener (MacMillan, 1936), You'd Better Come Quietly (Sheed and Ward, 1939), The Leonard Feeney Omnibus (Sheed and Ward, 1943), Your Second Childhood (Bruce Publishing Company, 1945) Mother Seton, an American Woman (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1948), Survival Till Seventeen (Sheed and Ward, 1948).Father's genius as a writer, speaker and theologian, was attested to by some of the most prominent Catholic figures of his day. Bishop Fulton Sheen once said that the only substitute he would allow on his radio show was Father Feeney. Frank Sheed, of Sheed and Ward said, "For Father Feeney, dogma is not only true; it is breathlessly exciting. That is his special vocation. . . to make his readers feel the thrill." During Father's days at Oxford, Lord Cecil, the famous Oxford don admitted, "I am getting more out of my association with Leonard Feeney than he could possibly get from me." Of the Jesuit's writing, Cecil said, "it shines with a pure, clear light."In 1942, during the height of his literary fame, Father Feeney was transferred by his Jesuit superiors to Saint Benedict Center, a Catholic student center which had been founded two years earlier by Catherine Goddard Clarke. Mrs. Clarke had sought the permission of the then-Archbishop of Boston, William Cardinal O'Connell, to establish an educational oasis of Catholic truth close to the renowned secular universities in that area. The Cardinal readily agreed to the project, admonishing Mrs. Clarke to "teach the Faith without compromise." So it was that Saint Benedict Center quietly came into existence that year at the intersection of Bow and Arrow Streets in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts.The Center's initial purpose was to provide religious instruction for the Catholic students of the universities and, in keeping with the instructions of Cardinal O'Connell, its policy was to teach the authentic doctrines of the Church through the study of Holy Scripture, and the writings of the Fathers, Doctors, and Saints of the Church. This program of studies achieved immediate success, filling the spiritual vacuum created by an obvious deficiency in the neighboring academic institutions. The Center was attended in large and growing numbers.With Father Feeney's transfer to Saint Benedict Center, a whole new era in his life — and in the lives of countless others — was to commence. Within three years, he came to see clearly that the Church was headed down a dangerous path of compromise and accommodation, leading to what is now universally recognized as a "crisis in the Church." Not only did Father see the problem before anybody else, he also saw the primary cause: the obscuring of the Catholic Church's teaching "outside the Church, there is no salvation" (extra ecclesiam nulla salus).In 1949, with the loyal support of those who had become his spiritual children, Father Feeney founded the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. From the foundation of the Congregation until his death in 1978, Father Feeney continued to teach his disciples and form them into a community [...]

About Brother Francis Maluf, M.I.C.M.


Read Brother Francis' Books.Listen to His Lectures. Brother Francis was born, in the town of Mashrah, Lebanon, about thirty miles from Beirut, in 1913. His given name was Fakhri Boutros Maluf. The Maluf family is descended from the ancient Ghassanids, Christian and Catholic Arabs who courageously kept the Faith in the face of Moslem aggression.Though poor, Fakhri’s family saw to his education, which was provided at home, in a small school that his father operated. In 1934, Fakhri graduated from the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics. From 1934 to 1939, he taught physics at that same University. In 1939, he moved to the United States to attend the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he received first an M.A. and, in 1942, a Ph.D. in philosophy. After receiving his Ph.D., he continued post-graduate studies at Harvard University and Saint Bonaventure University.From 1942 to 1945, Dr. Maluf taught mathematics and science at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. From 1945 to 1949, he taught philosophy, theology, and mathematics at Boston College.In addition to his academic career, Dr. Maluf's first decade in America was filled with great religious activity. On the Feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30) in 1940, he became a Catholic. (Although he came from an historic Catholic family, his father had become a Mason and raised the children with no religion.) Two years later, he met Father Leonard Feeney, chaplain of Saint Benedict Center. In 1949, Dr. Maluf and two other professors at Boston College were dismissed from the faculty after charging the College, in a letter to Pope Pius XII and the Superior General of the Jesuit Order, with promoting the liberal doctrine of salvation outside the Church. That same year, Dr. Maluf became one of the pioneer members of Father Feeney’s religious Order, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, eventually taking the vows of religion and the name Brother Francis, after Saint Francis Xavier.Since that time, Brother Francis continued to teach Sacred Scripture, philosophy, theology, science and mathematics at various levels. For many years he was the Superior of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary monastery in Richmond, New Hampshire. While in his 90s, he continued to give weekly lectures on various topics, teach high school, head the Saint Augustine Institute of Catholic Studies, and oversee the publishing apostolate of Saint Benedict Center.On July 19, 2009, Brother Francis marked his 96th birthday. On September 5 of that year — a first Saturday — Brother went to his reward.Although our Order is of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, Brother Francis was a Melkite Rite (Byzantine) Catholic. Please read Brother Francis’ Obituary and the Ad Rem, The Funeral of Brother Francis, in Thoughts and Pictures.He gave numerous lectures and courses that are available on our online store in books or on audio.[...]

About Brother Andre Marie, M.I.C.M.


A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Brother Andre Marie graduated from that city's Holy Cross School in 1988. He went on to study at Louisiana State University's (LSU) main campus in Baton Rouge, on full scholarship as a music major. After three years at LSU, he transferred to Holy Apostles College and Seminary, in Cromwell, Connecticut, where he took a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spring of 1993 (major in Humanities with a minor in Philosophy). In September of 2007, he received the degree of Master of Arts in Theology, Summa cum Laude, also from Holy Apostles.

He entered as a postulant for the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in May of 1993, and went on to the novitiate on Christmas of that year. He made profession of vows on Epiphany of 1996.
Since 1993, he was mentored in philosophy and theology by Brother Francis Maluf, M.I.C.M., Ph.D., a published philosopher of note.

His apostolic work has included various facets of the publishing apostolate of the congregation. For ten years, he was also part of the community's small "mission band" of brothers who traveled to different cities distributing literature to interested persons in an effort to spread the Catholic Faith and bring wayward Catholics back to a sacramental life. He oversaw that apostolate for four years.
He has edited three of the Order's books, published dozens of articles, and presented numerous lectures in apologetics, the history of doctrine, the Church's ecumenical councils, ecclesiology, and devotional topics. He is currently giving lectures on making America Catholic as part of the "Catholic America Tour."

Since 2002, he has been Prior of St. Benedict Center, an apostolate of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Richmond, New Hampshire.

Past memberships include the Knights of Columbus, the Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Brother maintains a weblog called Brother André Marie’s Theology Blog.

Battle over Richmond project isn’t over yet


St. Benedict’s and neighbors ask judge for help

By Kyle Jarvis
Sentinel Staff
Sunday, January 23, 2011 8:47 AM EST
Though the town of Richmond and the St. Benedict Center settled a religious discrimination lawsuit last year, the legal battle rages on.

The center is asking the court to approve an agreement previously negotiated with the town on conditions of approval for a proposed construction project, while a group of residents, including abutters to the center’s property, is asking the court to send the matter back to the town’s planning and zoning boards. Residents say they’d then have a chance to be heard.

At a hearing in Cheshire County Superior Court Thursday, the center and the group of residents each argued that town officials have not followed the proper process on a previous court order.

The discrimination lawsuit stemmed from the center’s plans to build a 10,000-square-foot school and chapel on its Fay Martin Road property.

Following several hearings, the project received approval from the town’s planning and zoning boards, but with that approval came a list of 30 conditions.

The center argued it could never meet all 30 conditions, which amounted to a violation of its constitutional rights under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and Judge Philip P. Mangones agreed.

Rather than go to trial, the town settled for $1.15 million. It was hailed as one of the largest settlements of its kind.

In April, officials from the center met several times with some members of the planning board and board of selectmen to revisit the conditions, said Michael J. Tierney, the center’s attorney. The result was a revised list of 23 conditions.

In June, the center and the town asked Mangones to approve the conditions. The judge Mangones declined the request, instead ordering the town to seek “meaningful input” from the planning board and zoning board.

“It is not clear ... that the planning board and zoning board of adjustment, as the entities with the power to make decisions with respect to land use issues, had authorized counsel to enter this settlement,” Mangones said in the order from June.

Then, things changed when some planning board members made 21 changes to the new revisions, “which I argued are more onerous than the 23 conditions agreed upon in April,” Tierney said.

But the full planning board never gave the okay for going ahead with the changes, according to two planning board members, which didn’t sit well with Tierney and the residents.

At least two planning board members claim a selectman told them their input wasn’t needed.

Mangones took the matter under advisement and will be issuing a ruling.

Richmond attorney Daniel J. Mullen could not be reached for comment on the town’s position.

Kyle Jarvis can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1433, or

Letter to the Editor: Jesus Insulted at Christmas


Spotlight photo was insulting to all Christians

Published: Friday, December 31, 2010
“ ’tis the season,” right?

It seems as though ’tis the season to insult and revile Christ and Christianity!

I refer to the photograph in your Spotlight section of Thursday, Dec. 9, “celebrating” holiday concerts and shows in the region.

This offensive photograph purports to publicize a show called “Jewmongous” which “pokes fun at the producer’s Jewish heritage and modern Jewish life.”

So I ask, why in heaven’s name does one of the figures in the picture obviously represent Jesus Christ? Is he a part of modern Jewish life? I don’t think so. Too bad the makeup man did not include the blood streaming from his head and face as a result of that crown of thorns and a torn bloody cloak from the terrible scourging he received.

This is funny? It is an outright mockery of Christ and every Christian, no matter what his or her affiliation, should be outraged at the newspaper’s selection of this particular photograph from the show.

Would you print such a depiction of Mohammad? I seriously doubt it, as it would call upon your heads a fatwah (sentence of death for blasphemy).

Remember the cartoonist in the Netherlands? He still fears for his life long after the incident and is under 24-hour guard.

Shame on you!


22 Fatima Way


Edited for style.

Merry, Marian Christmas!


This is from the main SBC site:

To all our tertiaries, friends, benefactors, and regular readers, I express the heartfelt wishes of all the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brothers and Sisters: May the tender Virgin and St. Joseph bring Jesus into your homes, and may the grace of God the Father, the wisdom of His eternal Child, and the charity of Their Holy Ghost be with you all this Christmas.

Please feel free to read our Christmas selections on this site, as well as my Christmas Letter.

Welcome to the New SBC Watch!


SBC Watch is back. We're under new management.

The Fire of Pentecost


By Brian KellySummer begins on my calendar after our May Procession. In meteorological time, it begins June 1. What this means is that the season of summer extends through the warmest months of the year, which in the Northern Hemisphere are June, July, and August. I only discovered today, while beginning this article, that in Great Britain and Ireland (and other northern countries) summer follows weather, or meteorological time. In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream the play takes place during the shortest night of the year, June 21, although this is not, in meteorological time, mid summer. That would be mid July.  However, in North America we start our summer with the summer solstice, June 21, which, I think, makes more sense because it marks the longest day of the year, and even though the days begin to slowly grow shorter after the summer solstice, June, July, and August are the months with the longest days of the year overall. School time, of course, summer begins when school gets out, or, on the average, Memorial Day, the last Monday in May. In the Southern Hemisphere our summer is their winter; so June 21 for them is the winter solstice.PentecostLiturgically, in the summer, the Church lives in the season of Pentecost. On Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the Birthday of the Church, the Day the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, descended on the fearful Apostles and changed hesitant men into roaring lions for Christ.“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak” (Acts 2:2).The Holy Spirit, who is everywhere, made His presence known in this place, in this city of Jerusalem, in this house of the family of Saint Mark, in this Upper Room of the house where the Holy Eucharist was instituted, by way of a “mighty wind” and “fire.”FireThe sun in the summer is high in the sky and gives off its greatest light and heat during the season of Pentecost. The sun is fire, and without fire there is no light and no heat. There is a trinity in all created things. Light proceeds from the fire, as the Son from the Father, and heat proceeds from the fire and light, as the Holy Spirit proceeds from Father and Son as Love.Why did the Third Person of the Trinity appear as tongues of fire upon the heads of the Apostles? What is it about this material element, or rather, its manifestation as light and heat, which makes it so spiritual that indeed, although invisible itself, all material things must be seen by means of it and, although unfelt itself, makes all things warm that are touched by it. Fire, by its nature, is material, but it is the closest of all material things to immaterial realities. The Greek Philosophers on Change and the Causes of ChangeHeraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher, who lived around the fifth century B.C., was convinced that fire was cause of everything in the cosmos. He was one of many philosophers of that time who studied at Ionia (Miletus, in today’s western coast of Turkey) at the school founded by Thales, the father of western philosophy. The thinkers of that Eleatic school, as it was called, were looking for the ultimate causes of the material universe, and they were stuck in the material realm until Anaxagoras came along. He came up with the idea that nous, or mind, was the ultimate reality that formed all things, and that purpose (telos) was behind the order in the cosmos. However, Plato said that he fell short of attributing design, and, therefore, knowledge[...]

Third Order Formation and the Saint Augustine Institute


So much has happened since I last wrote you that I hardly know where to begin. Over the past few months I have spoken on the phone with many of you — tertiaries and non-tertiaries alike. I have explained the Saint Augustine Institute of Catholic Studies (SAI) and what it means to be a tertiary of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Your response has been inspiring. I have been getting several requests to help individuals start Circles of Study throughout the country. Our Membership Director, Brother Michael Maria, M.I.C.M., Tert. (Brad Grinstead), and I have also been talking with seven people who wish to join us as third order members; while several others have expressed sincere interest. Tertiaries are, generally speaking, lay people. In these conversations I have had an opportunity to tell many people about Saint Benedict Center. This is a short summary of what I have told them and what their response has been.Firstly, I explained that SAI is an easy adult-oriented method of studying the Catholic Faith. It is a tried-and-true method devised by our late superior, Brother Francis Maluf. There is no tuition. One does need, of course, to pay to obtain the books. Some required books, however, can be downloaded at no cost from our website. The Syllabus, which outlines the course of studies, is free at You can go through the Syllabus at your own pace. You may study on your own, if necessary. If you need any help, please let me know. The required book reports are easy to do and, don’t worry, I do not grade them. If your Catholic education has stopped since you left Catholic school, here is a chance to pick up where you left off. (I promised a friend one more thing. For those in the Chicago area, there is a circle forming right now. Contact me and I will put you in touch with the right people if you are interested in joining that group.)Secondly, I talked about the Center at large and how it came to be. You would be surprised at the number of people who are just hearing about us for the first time. I took as long as was necessary to explain our double-charism as a crusade: (1) to defend all the dogmas of the Faith, but especially extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the Church there is no salvation), and (2) our commitment to work for the conversion of America to the one, true, Catholic religion. How could we do otherwise? We wish to share our Faith with our fellow Americans, and help them to know Our Lord in the only Church He founded.Thirdly, I spelled out what the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are all about. I explained that Third Order members practice both the contemplative and the active life; i.e., they work in the world, but they are not of the world. Learning the Faith in the proper manner is essential for our crusade. Without this knowledge we cannot be effective instruments in the active work of converting our relatively pagan country to the one, true Faith. Brother Francis used to say that one couldn’t be an aqueduct until he was first a reservoir. In other words: Nemo dat quod non habet (No man can give what he does not have). I stressed the importance of the proven method we use in the proper formation for our Order’s tertiaries today. We have a special mentoring program that nurtures the tertiary-novice so that he is not left to fend for himself. I also talked about the great fruits to be found on our websites, as well as in our monthly mailings, our bookstore, our weekly lectures here at the Center, and our annual conference.Finally, but certainly not the last or least thing, I discussed our great love and devotion to our Holy Mother Mary. It is she who guides our apostolate. We love her so much that, in the spirit of[...]

The Virtue of Patriotism


By Brother Francis Maluf, M.I.C.M. Editor: The following edited extract is taken from one of Brother Francis’ Sunday talks. We are grateful again to Sister Anna Maria, from the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary community in Vienna, Ohio, for transcribing the lecture. Patriotism ― We love this country. We are grateful for being in this country. Some of us were born here; some of us are glad to have been brought here. No matter how we got here, as far as being able to work for the Faith, I don’t know any country more favorable. As far as having people with good will that could at least be talked to about the Faith, I don’t know where in the world you could find better folk than you do in this country. I used to say to Father Leonard and to Sister Catherine, and they always agreed with me, that I don’t know any other country in the world where we could have done what we did here. Of course, we had corrupt courts. Of course, occasionally, we had to deal with tyrannical men in power. Of course, we had lots of persecutions and injustices done to us, but substantially, tell me any other country where we could have gone on for forty years, affirming a most unpopular doctrine ― and still be able to go on. [Editor’s Note: Today, as the political climate descends further and further in its commitment to exalt secularism and moral degeneracy, and the freedom to preach the truth in America seems about to be legally extinguished, I fear Voltaire’s proscription for the ultimate utopian Masonic state, as outlined in his Social Contract, may soon come to pass: “Let him who says that there is no salvation outside the Church be cast out of the state.” The political situation in America (as in Europe) has gotten a lot worse since Brother Francis said these things.]Now don’t take these liberties for granted. They are ours because there was some goodness, let it be just natural goodness, in some of the men who founded this country and gave it its ideals and its Constitution. We ought to thank God for that. That’s true patriotism, and patriotism is part of the virtue of religion. The virtue of patriotism includes an active participation in whatever good we can support in the large society in which we live. We should support those running for office who are committed to protecting the just ideals found in the Constitution and to defending the country against subversion and betrayal and treason. These are all social duties, and they are essential for the promotion of the principles of the natural law. They are not the complete picture, of course, but they are a very essential part of that complete picture. And they can never be ignored with impunity.Americanism — The fact that Pope Leo XIII, in the 1890s, called the prominent liberal heresies of separation of Church and State, religious individualism, and religious egalitarianism, Americanism (Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, 1898) ought to be a little challenge to us. We ought to face the fact — and learn a lesson from it as good Catholics — that the Church in America, in some very serious way, has been responsible for this liberal defection from the challenge of the unadulterated Faith, a defection that we see all around us. Americanismus is a very correct way to name it. You cannot call it French; you cannot call it English; you cannot call it Chinese. It is American ― this whole idea of one religion being as good as another. “The things on which we agree are vastly more important than the things on which we differ.” The principles that Archbishop Cushing and other Americanist clergy gave in the 1940s, and even more stridently in the 1950s and 60s, became the only dogma for ambitious Catholic politicians: “We cannot inflict ou[...]

Divine Love — Requited


By Sister Marie ThérèseAfter coming up with four different ideas for this Convent Corner article, I have decided to publish a personal letter I wrote to a young lady who had expressed interest in religious life several years ago. I have since sent it to a number of other young ladies. Even if you are not personally eligible to become a sister, you may be interested in this letter.You see, Our Lord may be thinking of some young lady whom you know. If you can in any way help Him to obtain a lovely bride, the desire of His Sacred Heart, He will be eternally indebted to you. (Unrequited love is not only a theme on earth!) May we know and do God’s Holy Will with all of our hearts, and become the saints that the Sacred Heart intends us to be!Dear Mary,Laudetur Jesus Christus!A vocation to be a sister is one of the most wonderful gifts God can give a girl. If you are interested in giving up all of your time and talents to serve God and man through the holy vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, you very well may be called by the Sacred Heart. You are doing well to look into it.Our Order is very active, so good health (mental and physical) is essential. We accept candidates between the ages of sixteen and thirty-five. A young lady must have a high school diploma, a driver’s license, and a clean bill of health. She must also have received the Sacrament of Confirmation.We accept visits for a week or two from young ladies who are interested in the religious life. If she still wishes to pursue religious life after the visit, and the sisters are in agreement, she may come back as an aspirant for several months, or even up to a year. During this time, she will stay with the Sisters, working, praying, eating, and recreating with them. She will probably be given a duty as an assistant in a classroom or in the kitchen.If, at the end of the aspirancy, both the young lady and the sisters are assured that this may indeed be God’s Will, the superior will set a date for the young lady to enter, who will then return home for a short while.A very important part of our lives is the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Are you familiar with this great devotion? Have you made your consecration yet?Another aspect of our work is that we are part of a doctrinal crusade. This means that we teach all of the doctrines of the Faith (even the unpopular ones) clearly and without compromise. Our Order and especially our founder, Father Leonard Feeney, are particularly known for their defense and propagation of the dogma that states, “outside the Catholic Church, no one is saved.” The weakening and denial of this dogma is behind every abuse, heresy, and other problem in the Church — and further, in the world — today. “Baptism of desire” (understood as a speculation about how a justified believer in Christ might get to Heaven without receiving the sacrament of baptism) is not our issue. The necessity of the Church for salvation — with her authority, Faith, and Sacraments — is.Both our consecration and our defense of the Faith are linked inextricably to the message given by Our Lady at Fatima. You may summarize our work as striving to bring about the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart. Is there anything better we could be doing?In conclusion, I want to encourage you to do God’s Holy Will every day, in little things. Try to get closer to Him through your daily duty and devotion to His Mother. Your present vocation is to be an excellent student, friend, daughter, and communicant. Pray your Rosary, with meditation on the mysteries, daily. By so doing, you will draw down God’s favor upon you. He will see your true interest in His will, and His plan for your vowed state in life will b[...]

The Mission of the Holy Ghost


By Brother André Marie Pentecost is the anniversary of the Holy Ghost’s mission on earth. Because that mission is largely neglected, sorely misunderstood, and vitally important for the life of the Church and individuals, we should do our best to understand it so that we can profit by it.The Promise Fulfilled. We get a description of the Pentecost event today in the lesson from the Book of Acts. We’ve been expecting it since the Ascension. It comes to us, much as it came to the Apostles, by way of a promise fulfilled. Remember that Our Lord called the Holy Ghost “the Promise of the Father,” as St. Luke relates in both his Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles.The List. By way of summarizing who and what the Holy Ghost is, I would like to speak on three important truths about the Holy Ghost. First, the Holy Ghost proceeds in eternity from the Father and the Son, who also together send Him on His temporal mission. Second, that mission of the Holy Ghost is to build up the Church. Third, the Holy Ghost sanctifies each of the faithful. There is an order to these three truths, going from general to specific, the abstract to the concrete, the eternal to the now, the universal to particular, or the big-grand-and-cosmic to the little-you-and-me.I. The Eternal Procession. First, the Holy Ghost proceeds in eternity from the Father and the Son and He is sent in time by the Father and the Son. In the one substance of the Godhead, there are three Persons. The First Person is the Principle without principle, the Origin without origin. In knowing Himself perfectly, He utters a Word, which we can call His perfect and adequate self-knowledge. This Word is not a creature, but is of the very substance of the same Godhead: it is God from God, light from light, true God from true God. The utterance is also a generation or a begetting. For this reason, we call the Word, in strictest literal truth, God’s Son. This Word, this Son, is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. The Father beholds His Son and loves him. The Son, in turn, loves His Father. This Love of Father for Son and Son for Father is, like the Father’s self-knowledge, of the very substance of the Godhead. It is the Third Person, the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from the Father and the Son by way of a breath of love — a breath, an aspiration, a Spirit.Temporal Mission. The missions in time follow the order of the processions in eternity. The Father is the Principle without principle. He is sent by no one, therefore he has no “mission.” The Son is generated by the Father. He is sent in time by the Father to do the work the Father has commanded Him to do. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son in eternity and is sent in time by both the Father and the Son, which is why His mission in time had to come after the Ascension. “It is expedient for you that I go,” Our Lord said, “for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).Our Lord told His Apostles that the Holy Ghost would “teach [them] all things and bring all things to [their] mind whatsoever I have said to you.” In another place, He said: “He shall glorify me: because he shall receive of mine and shall shew it to you.” And again: “he shall not speak of himself: but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak.” In other words, just as Our Lord said, “my doctrine is not mine but his who sent me,” so, too, can the Holy Ghost say the same thing, but with one difference: “My doctrine is not mine, but theirs who sent me — they, from whom I proceed.”II. The Soul of the Church. The Holy Ghost’s mi[...]

The Tarbell Story


Editor’s note: Several months ago, I came upon an article someone had sent me about the amazing story of the Tarbells of Groton, Massachusettts. It was written by Rudy Bixby and was published in the November 14, 1979, issue of The Times Free Press newspaper from East Pepperell. Kate Walsh, Managing Editor for the owners at Nashoba Publishing, has graciously given permission for us to republish the Tarbell Story.I had once written a piece for the “Did You Know” section of From the Housetops about Lydia Longley, who has the distinction of being the “First American Nun.” The Tarbells and the Longleys were contemporaries; both were from Groton; both families had children kidnapped by Indians; and, strangely enough, they were cousins. Lydia Longley was taken captive in 1694 during an Abenaki raid on their homestead in the aftermath of King Philip’s War as it played out on this side of the ocean. Lydia’s family was all killed in the raid and she was taken, eventually, to Canada, ransomed by the French, and given over to the Ursuline nuns in Montreal. While there, she became a Catholic and later joined the order.Before moving on to the story, here are some interesting Catholic trivia concerning “saints” and “firsts” in America:1) Lydia Longley is the first woman, born in colonial America, to become a nun. The story of Lydia Longley was first popularized by Helen A. McCarthy Sawyer of Groton, Massachusetts. She wrote a children’s book called “The First American Nun.”2) Frances Allen, daughter of Ethan Allen, was the first woman, born after 1776 in the United States, to become a nun. She was converted while studying with teaching sisters in Montreal. In 1811, she made a religious profession with the Religious Hospitaliers of St. Joseph, and took care of the worst of the sick and indigent. She died of consumption in 1819.3) Mother Cabrini was the first United States citizen to be canonized, although she was not a native-born American. She died in 1917.4) The first native-born United States citizen to be canonized was Mother Seton. She died in 1821.5) The first United States male citizen to be canonized was John Nepomucene Neumann, although he was not a native-born American.The Tarbell StoryBy Rudy BixbyWednesday, November 14, 1979Times-Free Press – East Pepperell, Mass. 01437Did you ever see a man walking calmly across a steel girder, ten stories up, or doing the same thing on a bridge girder, four or five hundred feet above a river? If you ever have, you probably wondered what sort of a man that he was. Possibly, you may have seen such a man on the ground and have been surprised that he was an Indian. If you happened to hear him called by name, you might have been more surprised to hear the name Tarbell. Well, you might think that it had nothing to do with the Tarbells of Groton and you would be very wrong! The Indian, named Tarbell, would be able to trace his ancestors back to a man named Thomas Tarbell who lived in Groton, almost three hundred years ago.Thomas Tarbell III, was the son and grandson of original proprietors of Groton and once served as Town Clerk. His wife was the daughter of Richard and Isabel Blood and was named Elizabeth. They had ten children, born between the years 1687 and 1707. The family homestead was on Farmers Row, the present site of the James Lawrence estate.In the early Summer of 1707, the inhabitants of Groton were beginning to feel reasonably safe from Indian attacks. The local Indians had been killed off or pacified during King Philip’s War, and King William’s War, between the French and British, which had seen an inv[...]

On Cults and Man Worship, Some Fighting Words


By Brother André Marie, M.I.C.M.In "Christology for Joe," an article that answers questions from a thoughtful young man, I made some observations about the way the English language has been Protestantized. In this number of the Ad Rem, I excerpt from that article the part explaining the words used to distinguish the "cult" of the Blessed Virgin and the saints from the "cult" of the Blessed Trinity. This knowledge may prove useful in helping readers to think through, and deal with, certain objections that come to our religion from its critics.The Germanic language known as English — from the Angles, the Germanic tribe that invaded Celtic Britain — developed substantially under Catholic influence. St. Augustine’s missionary monks were in England in the early seventh century, introducing many Latinisms into the developing language of the British Isles. The Norman invasion in 1066 enriched its vocabulary by the introduction of many French words, and gave it another Catholic influence. Until the Anglican Schism of the sixteenth century, England was a major part of the Catholic world, and its humane letters had a place of dignity in the literature of Christendom. Chaucer was a Catholic; the Arthurian Legends were Catholic; Shakespeare was possibly Catholic himself, and if not, certainly did not “Protestantize” the language. In short, our vocabulary grew and our literature developed while Merry old England was still Mary’s Dowry. Words like lord, lady, worship, adore, and pray had meanings and connotations more deeply rooted in the Catholic culture of England.But Protestants — not so much Anglicans as Calvinist Puritans — gradually altered the usage of these words, if not by direct effort, then by simple use.In these United States (whose early colonists included many Puritans), there was a direct effort to divorce our language from the Mother Tongue. It was the continuation, you might say, of the War for Independence. (Noah Webster compiled his dictionary largely for this politico-ideological purpose.) American English, especially of Noah Webster’s New England variety, was more “democratic” and less “monarchical” a language; and even the aristocrats (lords and ladies) took a beating in the developing language of our Republic. Because of all this, concepts of hierarchy — Catholic concepts — were downplayed. Eventually, a bishop or magistrate was no longer “my Lord”; one did not “pray” to a judge (”prithee, milord!”); and nobody was “your worship” except God Himself. All this had the net effect of abstracting a purely religious use, sanitized of Catholic concepts, for certain words. True, some holdovers still exist in the language, as when we call a property owner who rents to us a “landlord,” or when we read older versions of Scripture, but there is a prevalent Calvinism in much of our language that serves to prejudice the American ear in religious matters. (Orestes Brownson’s provocatively entitled “Mary Worship” and “Saint Worship” may have been so named to challenge this prejudice.)All the foregoing is background to establish that, to our Catholic (and even Anglican) English-speaking forebears, to “pray” to someone other than God, to “worship” a man, and to call upon those in the ecclesiastical and even the civic hierarchy as “lord” did not smell in the slightest of brimstone. Today, however, we have the burden of explaining to a people whose common tongue has been religiously deconstructed what these things mean.Catholic devotion to Our Lady and the Saints never put creatures [...]

The Twelve Apparitions Between 
the Resurrection and Ascension


By Brian Kelly Perusing through some old files of mine I came across a list of Catholic twelves, and there are many: Twelve Apostles; twelve articles of the Apostles Creed; twelve days of Christmas; twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost; twelve patriarchs from Adam to Noah; twelve tribes of Israel; twelve loaves of proposition in the temple sanctuary; twelve chiefs of Ismael; Jesus was twelve-years-old when He was first teaching in the temple; twelve baskets of fragments left over after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes; the Woman of the Apocalypse had a crown of twelve stars; the tree of life in the vision of the Apocalypse bore twelve fruits; and, in the natural order, we have twelve months of the year.There was another twelve on the list that I had totally forgotten about. Our Lord appeared to His Apostles and disciples twelve times during the forty days between His resurrection and His ascension. Two of the dozen apparitions are known from tradition; the other ten are recorded in Holy Scripture.The first apparition: Although it is not recorded in the New Testament we know from tradition (and common sense) that Jesus first appeared to His Blessed Mother alone, immediately after He rose from the dead. In fact, it was this first apparition that inspired Saint Ignatius of Loyola in writing his Spiritual Exercises. For one of his meditations in the fourth week of exercises he posits this composition of place:“First Prelude. The first Prelude is the narrative, which is here, how, after Christ expired on the Cross, and the Body, always united with the Divinity, remained separated from the Soul, the blessed Soul, likewise united with the Divinity, went down to Hell, and taking from there the just souls, and coming to the Sepulchre, and being risen, He appeared to His Blessed Mother in Body and in Soul. “Second Prelude. The second, a composition, seeing the place; which will be here to see the arrangement of the Holy Sepulchre and the place or house of Our Lady, looking at its parts in particular; likewise the room, the oratory, etc.” In his Spiritual Exercises Saint Ignatius also includes a list of these twelve apparitions of Christ from His resurrection to His ascension. Regarding this, Paul Debuchy relates an interesting tradition in his article on the Spiritual Exercises for the Catholic Encyclopedia: “Another tradition concerns the part taken by the Blessed Virgin in the composing of the ‘Exercises’ at Manresa. It is not based on any written testimony of the contemporaries of St. Ignatius, though it became universal in the seventeenth century. Possibly it is founded upon earlier oral testimony, and upon a revelation made in 1600 to the Venerable Marina de Escobar and related in the ‘Life of Father Balthazar Alvarez.’ This tradition has often been symbolized by painters, who represent Ignatius writing from the Blessed Virgin’s dictation.”That Our Lord first appeared to His mother after His resurrection is a long-established tradition and is also the subject of many great works of art. Saint Ambrose may have been the first western doctor to affirm the belief explicitly, but many others did so as well. “Mary therefore saw the Resurrection of the Lord” he writes, “She was the first who saw it and believed.” Saint Augustine taught that the only one who held firm the Faith in the resurrection of Christ during the three days from Good Friday to Easter Sunday was Mary. She was the only believing member of the Church during that triduum. Other saints that explicitly taught the same were Saints Eadmer (disciple of Saint Anselm[...]

How to Join the Catholic Battle


Brother John Marie Vianney, M.I.C.M., (Tert.)In any war there must be a battle plan to win. I reveal no secret to you when I say we are in a war. The war, in our case, harkens back to the word “crusade.” The Crusades were holy wars that were undertaken by Catholic powers to free the Christian Holy Land from its Mohammedan conquerors. The crusade of Saint Benedict Center is a spiritual one. As you know it has two ends: 1) to defend all the dogmas of the Catholic Faith, especially extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the Church there is no salvation) and 2) to convert America to the one true Faith. Ours is a holy war in that we are “fighting” to free our non-Catholic brothers and sisters and bring them to the liberating light of the Catholic religion. This is a work to which the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have been particularly devoted for sixty years. The goal is good and true, but the laborers are few.St. Paul encourages us to use spiritual weapons in order to fight the enemies of our souls (Eph. 6:11-17). “Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day… having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”. One of these spiritual weapons is Catholic knowledge; we must have plenty of it if we are to teach our countrymen. “That in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge” (1 Cor. 1:5). And what will we teach? The Faith, without compromise.The crusade was launched by Father Leonard Feeney who sought to save the salvation dogma of the Church from obscurity and, in so doing, rescue all Catholic dogmas from the “dictatorship of relativism” — to borrow a term of Pope Benedict’s. That effort began in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with, as Sister Catherine writes in The Loyolas and Cabots, the consideration of the “authentic doctrines of the Church through the study of Holy Scripture, and the writings of the Fathers, doctors, and saints of the Church. This program of studies achieved immediate success, filling the spiritual vacuum created by an obvious deficiency in the neighboring academic institutions. The Center was attended in large and growing numbers.”Father Feeney chose Brother Francis Maluf, our recently deceased superior, to help him establish a strategy for the doctrinal crusade. When Brother Francis received his assignment in the 1940s he knew he had to prepare by prayer and study. And that is just what he did. He did not activate his dream to initiate a school of studies nationwide until the 1970s when he saw the time was right. It was only then that he launched the Saint Augustine Institute of Catholic Studies (SAI), announcing the program to friends of the Center across America. Brother’s assignment is now our assignment. One of the best ways to re-ignite our enthusiasm for the conversion of America is to listen to the words of the man who so deeply desired the personal sanctification of his students and religious disciples and their education in the Faith. Brother Francis had a charism when he spoke. Anyone who heard him was instantly cognizant of it. And, thanks be to God and Brother’s loyal students, we still have his words recorded on tapes and CDs. Although his knowledge was immense in the breadth of its extension, wisdom was his greatest gift. As a true philosopher, he always sought for the causes of things, going from the immediate to the first causes. Yes, he was deep, but he also had the gift of communicating his [...]

Converted by the Resurrection


By Brother Francis, M.I.C.M. We are indebted to Sister Anna Maria, M.I.C.M., of the Vienna, Ohio community, for transcribing the following from one of Brother Francis’ recorded lectures.Difficilius est id quod non sit incipere quam id quod fuerit iterare. And it’s translated, “It’s more difficult for that which had never been to start to begin, than that which had been, to be brought back.” In other words, the fact that we were created is more surprising than the fact that we are going to be resurrected from the dead. That’s the point Minucius Felix, a pagan Roman, was making when he used this quote from Octavius, a Christian of the age of the catacombs, the first Latin apologist. In his work, Felix was recounting a dialogue between the Christian, Octavius Januarius, and the pagan, Caecilius Natalis, at the seashore in Ostia on a Roman holiday in the time of vintage. The argument proceeded. The first one to speak was Caecilius (a pagan of the second century) and in a very suave, clever way, he presented the argument against the Christian religion from the point of view of a Roman. He insisted that man has a duty to uphold the religion of his ancestors. A false principle, but an attractive one. There are an awful lot of people today who go on living in the wrong religion, just because they think they have the duty to be loyal to “the religion of my grandparents, of my father, or my mother, or my good aunt, or good uncle.” Now, is loyalty to father and mother and aunt, and relatives, and country a bad thing? No, it isn’t. As a matter of fact, this kind of loyalty is the greatest thing in the natural order, and the only thing it has to yield to, is God.That same issue that arose among these early Romans of the second century, would arise in the eighteenth century, the century in which the anti-Catholic Masonic conspiracy arose, the century of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot, the century of Adam Weishaupt, and Jacob Frank. It was also the century of Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.In that century a very respectable theologian established a false principle in a catechism that was going to be taught in Italian schools. He was trying to placate the Masons, the Carbonari, who had their hand in public education throughout Italy at that time. Italian Masons didn’t become atheists and they certainly didn’t become Protestants. They claimed to be Catholic, even though they were bad Catholics.So, according to this theologian and his catechism, the principle was that “one has to be true to the religion of his fathers.” Therefore, “one has to be true to the Catholic Faith.” Saint Alphonsus Maria, when he saw that sentence, was absolutely furious! He said, “That is a false principle; Catholics do not talk like that. If this statement could be true in Italy, it must be true in Turkey! So, are you saying that the Turks have the duty to go on being Moslems? Are you saying that the Chinese have a duty to go on being Buddhists?”So, Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, God bless him, blasted this theologian and raised quite a crusade against him. He said, “That’s wrong! You can’t say that!”Now here, in the Dialogue, we find Caecilius saying that it’s patriotic to worship the gods approved by the Roman senate. As a matter of fact, Rome was so generous and so broad-minded in apostolic times that the biggest problem that Saint Peter and Saint Paul and the Christians had when they came to Rome, most of them to shed their blood, was not the bigo[...]

A Letter of Inspiration


I would like to share with you a letter from a Jesuit missionary in the New World to the first apostle of devotion to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, Saint John Eudes. This is actually an excerpt from an old book by Daniel Sargent (an early Center friend) on Saint John Eudes, entitled Their Hearts Be Praised. How did I come upon this passage? One of our sisters was ill for over a month (we call this a “Slave vacation”) and so she was able to do a bit more reading. When she shared this passage with me, I knew that I had to share it with you! May it make you love Our Lady more and live your total consecration more fully. The passage begins with a brief biography of the writer of our letter:Our Lady did not make the year 1662 anything but a series of failures for Saint John Eudes, but She did console him. She arranged to have letters come to him from afar, from hands of men from whom he did not expect to hear. One was a Jesuit in Canada, Father Pierre Joseph Chaumonot. Since Our Lady chose this Jesuit to write to him, we will do well to examine Her choice. Father Chaumonot, when asked by his Superior to write an account of his life, began as follows: “Since your Reverence has ordered me for the greater glory of God to write you at least in summary all my life, I begin by declaring the baseness and the miseries from which Our Lord has had the goodness to draw me, and set me in the Holy Society of Jesus.”This beginning was an exaggeration. The Society of Jesus was holy, and Our Lord had drawn him into it, but Pierre had not been base. As a lad he had merely been irregular. He had borrowed some money without due permission from an uncle, but it had been in order to study Latin under the Oratorians at Beaune.  He simply did not always think. And then, when the money, which was only a hundred sous, was expended before he reached Beaune, what was there for him to do but to wander and beg his way? He begged his way to Rome. Then, later, he had prayed at the Holy House at Loreto, and had asked to become a priest. To his astonishment the Jesuits had accepted him. He was always being astonished, for everything that happened seemed to him a favor, and he could not see why he of all people should receive any favors.One of those favors brought him to Québec, where he arrived in 1639, when Eudes was still an Oratorian. He went immediately among the Hurons with Father de Brébeuf, and found that he could learn the Indian tongues better than any other Jesuit.  He did not become a martyr as Brébeuf did, and that did not surprise him; he did not think he merited it. One day, it is true, an Indian struck him over the head with a hatchet, and he did not have his hat on, yet he survived. In telling the story he so related it that it seems as if he were congratulating himself that his hat was not hurt, and that only his head had been marred. He has not been canonized as was Brébeuf. He was never during his life given any great position of leadership. Yet he is one of the most fascinating Jesuits that ever came to the New World. He could not grow old. He built a chapel near Québec, modeled on the Holy House of Loreto, which still exists, Indian Lorette. He had his Hurons compose a letter, which he wrote down in Huron, to Our Lady in the Crypt at Chartres, vowing their fealty to Her. He organized in Canada, among the French and the Indians, the Confraternity of the Holy Family, to which Catherine Tekakwitha came to belong. He was in his devotions a child, most childlike, of the Mo[...]

Philosophy in Our School of Thought


I would like to share with our readers a brief gem that we hope to publish soon as part of a larger work. But before doing that, I will recall something more fundamental. In so doing, I will reveal the “setting” of this gem.  Speaking of the work of Saint Benedict Center and the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brother Francis often said, “We are three things at once: a crusade, a religious order, and a school of thought.”   Usually, he would embellish this utterance with little summaries of each of the three. By crusade, he meant our two-fold apostolate for the conversion of America and the restoration of doctrinal sanity, beginning with that very fundamental dogma, extra ecclesiam nulla salus. (We put the definite article and a capital “C” here: The Crusade.) By religious order, he meant our Congregation’s First and Second Orders — brothers and sisters vowed to the life of the evangelical counsels. Our religious live under the same Rule, with duly appointed superiors, embracing the mixed life of contemplation and action, having hours dedicated to prayer, work, and study. By school of thought, Brother Francis meant the common wisdom of the Center, its approach to learning, its shared convictions and opinions in theology, philosophy, and mission, as well as the arts and sciences in general, inasmuch as they touch upon man’s ultimate quest for wisdom — salvation.  Brother believed strongly that without a school of thought, the Congregation would falter and the crusade wither. Contrariwise, he had the conviction that a flourishing school of thought will make the crusade and the Order to thrive. With God’s grace leading, accompanying, and following, may we prove Brother Francis to be visionary in this second sense — by making our apostolate “bring forth very much fruit” (John 15:8).Those familiar with Brother Francis’ lectures may remember the six reasons he gave to answer the question, “Why philosophy?” I am presenting these reasons below, from an edited transcript of Brother Francis’ first lecture on Logic. These thoughts form part of the bedrock of our school of thought.Philosophy is hardly a popular subject in our universities today. In fact, true philosophy, perennial philosophy, is non-existent as a particular curriculum of study. Whatever substitutes colleges give for philosophy today ought rather to be called “sophistry.” They are distractions for the mind, having nothing to do with wisdom. Instead of elevating the mind and making it more habituated to deeper realizations of the spiritual realm, modern sophistries are doing the exact opposite.Why is the study of true philosophy so important?First: It is natural to man to raise ultimate questions and to try to answer them. The questions raised throughout all the courses of philosophy are the most natural questions every man must raise. We raise them even as children, because they proceed from man’s essence as a rational being.Second: All of man’s activities and achievements — in the arts, in the sciences, in government, or in any field of civilized work — proceed from thought as from their proper principle. Therefore, these activities can be ennobled by good thinking about fundamental matters; conversely, they can be subverted by bad thinking. The art of thinking well is precisely the province of philosophy.Third: There is a historical tradition of true philosophy. (In Latin, that tradition is called philosophia perennis.) By uniting o[...]

Our Catholic Duty of Feasting Well


By Christine BryanAs I write this, it is still Christmas season, which I find a perfect time to pause, between bites of chocolate torte and sips of sparkling wine, to consider if we have learned to feast appropriately. Mind you, the observations that follow relate to the entirety of the Church’s year, so it’s OK if you happen to pick this up during Lent. The whole matter is less of a financial issue than one of leisure and union with the liturgical year. And it also involves a serious look at how we receive us this day our daily bread and embrace the times of fasting. It is only by the contrasts of these three that we can know if we are connected with hundreds of years of Catholic practice. Our society is rapidly blurring lines of distinction. We see this not only in perpetual gastronomic celebrations but also in attire: as a nation we  seem to have forgotten about Sunday clothes and evening dress. I remember (way back in my youth) changing out of play clothes to "go to town." There's a crisis in other areas as well: manners (why wouldn't I text my friends while sitting at your dinner table?) and correspondence (what's a thank-you letter or a pen pal?). But this is not to be a lamentation: rather an encouragement to take a look around the kitchen and decide to feast well, by understanding what it means to eat simply on a regular basis.Our meals should nourish us body and soul by being wholesome and satisfying. Our bodies are made of what we eat. As one brief example (given while wiping away a chocolate smear), every cell in our bodies regularly recycles — drawing from available nutrients to rebuild. If each cell membrane isn't healthy, the cell itself is limited in its ability to function. Therefore, it seems reasonable that our normal fare should be composed of simple, wholesome foods that promote health, produce satiety and comfort, and are affordable. Research into options needn't be tedious. There's an abundance of good reading about dietary traditions, such as the wealth of information in the second volume of Fatima in Lucia's Own Words. With wise and faithful management, the Portuguese family ate quite well, albeit simply, in the days before the apparitions changed their lives forever. The Weston A. Price Foundation ( is a reliable source regarding traditional diets. And countless times, in reading Catholic biographies, I have come across references to the Sunday dinner being a miniature feast in contrast to the weekly fare. I feel a warning here is necessary. In our time, there is a mistaken  perception that choosing to purchase cheap food is virtuous. Modern, inexpensive, processed products, available in abundance, create a situation where, for the last one hundred years, many people aren't eating quality, or even real, foods. A look at the American populace indicates that we are paying a heavy (ha!) price because of it. We are not a nation of healthy people. It takes concentrated focus to find or make quality food on a tight budget — but I believe it's a vital aspect of the vocation to parenthood.To fast well means to pare down the regular diet to one that is less comforting but still nutritious. It is the keenest way to wake up a sluggish spirituality. The liturgical year is full of opportunities to experiment in this area. It may take consulting an older missal or calendar and looking at something a bit stricter than the current regulations of only two fast days during the entire li[...]

Just Over a Year Ago: Brother Francis and the Richmond 250 Cane


Only last March, the Richmond town cane was presented to Brother Francis. This cane was given to the town on the two hundred fiftieth anniversary of the town’s founding, thus the name: “The Richmond 250 Cane.” It is passed on from year to year at the town meeting and is presented to the oldest citizen. Brother Francis, at 95 years of age, received it last year. (Brother died at 96.) The certificate bears his Lebanese name, Fakhri Maluf.

Brother Francis, the town cane, and the letter that Brother received at the town meeting.

 The cane and letter, when they were on display in our Priory,
between Saint Veronica and Saint Benedict.

Promising Signs in Rome


By Brother André Marie, M.I.C.M. Thanks to the largesse of some benefactors who funded our plane fare, Brother Maximilian Maria and I recently spent two weeks in Rome. The trip, like my last year’s solo pilgrimage, was part “business,” and part “pleasure.” For that reason, I referred to it as a “working pilgrimage.”I regret to say that I was unable to make regular reports to our web site from Rome. This was partly do to our activity-rich schedule, and partly due to logistical problems that precluded it; it’s simply too hard to get an Internet connection in Rome, at least we found it so.I’ve decided that, poco a poco, I will post some columns on the site showcasing some of the wonderful Roman churches we saw. First though, I would like to give one little snapshot among hundreds of mental photographs from our fortnight in the Eternal City. It is a picture of the encouragement we felt in the presence of young clerics and a few seminarians.But it would be precipitous to portray this image without first supplying a background.Part of our routine was daily Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, at 7:00 AM, just after the Basilica opens to the  relatively small groups of people waiting outside (among whom are many religious sisters). Just before that hour, when the security guards and other Basilica staff allow pilgrims to enter the Church, there is another line forming — a much more competitive one — in a certain wing of St. Peter’s. Here, clerical Vatican employees — who, with their Vatican credentials, can pass the Swiss Guards and other security beyond them — are lining up for the mad dash into the sacristy (specifically, here). The little crowd is composed of priests, bishops, and a few others, who enter with them under the rubric of servers. There must be some thirty of them awaiting the 6:55 or so opening of the sacristy doors. Everyone rushes in to vest, grab an acolyte and Mass provisions, and race for an altar while altars are still available. One Monsignor described it to me as a “rat race.” More than once, Brother Maximilian and I were part of that “rat race,” as we entered the sacristy entrance to serve the Mass of a priest friend of ours, who works for the Holy See. Nearly daily for two weeks, we assisted at his Mass at the altar of the Transfiguration. One day, when that altar wasn’t available (it’s first-come-first-serve), Father offered Mass at the Altar of Our Lady of Succor, which is underneath a twelfth-century icon of the Mother of God, and atop the relics of Saint Gregory of Nazianzen. This particular Mass was a Requiem, offered for a deceased friend of ours, under his Tertiary name, Brother Malachi Mary.Of course, the Masses were in the traditional rite. And here’s the thing: Now, post Summorum Pontificum, a full half or more of the morning Masses in St. Peter’s are in the classical Roman rite! When our curial priest-friend was out of town for a couple of days, we “tried our luck” one morning and went from one altar to another in search of the traditional rite. Soon, we were at the Mass of a young Czech priest who works for the Secretariat of State’s Office. He had no server, so, not being shy, I jumped in and served. And it was an honor to serve Mass being offered over the body of Pope Saint Leo the Great at this magnificent altar, where one may observe in the altarpi[...]