Sunday, June 25, 2017

U.S. Bishop: No funerals, Communion for people in same-sex ‘marriages’

U.S. Bishop: No funerals, Communion for people in same-sex ‘marriages’

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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, June 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Those in same-sex "marriages" shouldn't present themselves to or be admitted to Holy Communion, nor may they receive a Catholic funeral if they died without showing signs of repentence, Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki says.

Paprocki is the Catholic bishop of Springfield, Illinois and well-known to the pro-life and pro-family movements for his defense of Catholic orthodoxy and morality.
On June 12, Paprocki signed a "Decree Regarding Same-Sex 'Marriage' and Related Pastoral Issues." It was sent to priests and diocesan staff last week and subsequently leaked to media sympathetic with the homosexual cause. 
"The Church has not only the authority, but the serious obligation, to affirm its authentic teaching on marriage and to preserve and foster the sacred value of the married state," Paprocki explained after reminding his flock of "the clear and consistent teaching of the Catholic Church since her founding by Our Lord Jesus Christ."

Paprocki wrote that he has a "responsibility as diocesan bishop to guide the people of God entrusted to me with charity but without compromising the truth." Because of this, he outlined diocesan policy on issues related to same-sex "marriage," citing the Code of Canon Law throughout.

Paprocki holds a licentiate and doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, in addition to a civil law degree from DePaul University and theology degrees. (Paprocki co-founded the South Chicago Legal Clinic to offer legal services to the poor when he was a parish priest.)

No diocesan facilities – such as parishes, schools, or "dedicated, consecrated or used for Catholic worship" – are to be "used for solemnization or blessing of same-sex marriages or hosting of receptions for these events," Paprocki instructed. Priests and diocesan employees are not to assist at or solemnize same-sex "weddings." Doing so could result in "just punishment" for them.

Citing Canon 915 and 916, Paprocki wrote, "Given the objectively immoral nature of the relationship created by same-sex marriages, persons in such unions should not present themselves for Holy Communion, nor should they be admitted to Holy Communion."

Canon 915 says that those "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."
Canon 916 instructs Catholics conscious of grave sin not to "receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession."

Paprocki instructed his priests to privately meet with people living in such situations, "calling them to conversion." They can receive Holy Communion after they have been "restored to Communion with the Church through the Sacrament of Reconciliation."

In the case of someone in a same-sex "marriage" in danger of death, he or she may be given Holy Communion as part of Viaticum (the Last Rites) provided he or she "expresses repentence for his or her sins."

Paprocki's instructions also outlined how to deal with the reception of the sacraments for children whose parent or guardians are living in a same-sex relationship. If there is "well-founded hope that he or she will be brought up in the Catholic faith," it's okay to baptize him or her. Pastors should "use due discretion in determining the appropriateness of the public celebration of the baptism."
Children living with same-sex couples may receive First Holy Communion and Confirmation provided they are "otherwise qualified and properly disposed."
They won't be denied admission to Catholic schools or catechetical programs, Paprocki said, but the children will be taught "according to the Church's teachings on marriage and sexuality." So "parents or those who legally take the place of parents" should be aware of this if they choose to enroll their children in diocesan schools. They must agree to follow the Family School Agreement.

Those who have publicly entered same-sex "marriages" may not be Baptism or Confirmation sponsors. They are not to receive the sacrament of Confirmation unless they have "withdrawn from the objectively immoral relationship." They are also not to serve in "public liturgical ministry," like being a reader at Mass or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

The risk of 'pubic scandal'

"Unless they have given some signs of repentence before their death, deceased persons who had lived openly in a same-sex marriage giving public scandal to the faithful are to be deprived of ecclesiastical funeral rites," the letter continues. "In case of doubt, the proper pastor or parochial administrator is to consult the local ordinary, whose judgment is to be followed (cf. c. 1184)."

It was this section in particular to which the liberal media drew attention. 
The Code of Canon Law states in Canon 1184:
Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals:
1/ notorious apostates, heretics, and schismatics;
2/ those who chose the cremation of their bodies for reasons contrary to Christian faith;
3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines scandal as "an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil" (CCC 2284).

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued similar guidelines last summer.
"Two persons in an active, public same-sex relationship, no matter how sincere, offer a serious counter-witness to Catholic belief, which can only produce moral confusion in the community," wrote Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. "
Such a relationship cannot be accepted into the life of the parish without undermining the faith of the community, most notably the children…those living openly same-sex lifestyles should not hold positions of responsibility in a parish, nor should they carry out any liturgical ministry or function."

Chaput's guidelines also instructed priests that those actively participating in adultery – another sexual union the Church labels immoral – are not to receive Holy Communion.

Pro-gay Jesuit Father James Martin seemed to accidentally explain consistent Catholic teaching on marriage and public scandal with the following tweet:

If bishops ban members of same-sex couples from funeral rites, they must also ban divorced and remarried Catholics without annulments....
"And?" asked TradStrips, a Facebook page that posts traditional Catholic memes.
"When you're so liberal that you accidentally wrap around to being conservative again," one commenter posted. 
"Brilliant deduction," wrote another. 

Martin went on to release a storm of tweets suggesting Paprocki's guidelines should ban from Catholic funerals women who have given birth out of wedlock, people who haven't been "forgiving," and people who don't respect the environment. He did not appear to make a distinction between a person committing, and then repenting, of a sin like fornication versus continually and publicly living in defiance of Church teaching on homosexual activty. 
He also tweeted links to statements from New Ways Ministry and Dignity USA, two groups that reject Catholic teaching on sexuality. The New Ways Ministry post went as far as to suggest that Catholics who "deny climate change" ought to be denied funerals under Paprocki's reasoning. It also said that Paprocki's upholding of Church teaching was telling employees not to "adhere to a most fundamental church teaching and follow their properly formed consciences."
"Channeling Fr. James Martin’s outrageous claim that 'Pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful', [New Ways Ministry's] Shine apparently thinks that, because it is manifest that everyone sins, everyone’s sins must be 'manifest,'" observed canon lawyer Dr. Ed Peters. "But Paprocki, having actually studied canon law, knows what canon law means by the phrase 'manifest sinners'."
"Paprocki’s decree is not aimed at a category of persons (homosexuals, lesbians, LGBT, etc., words that do not even appear in his document) but rather, it is concerned with an act, a public act, an act that creates a civilly-recognized status, namely, the act of entering into a 'same-sex marriage,'" Peters explained. "That public act most certainly has public consequences, some civil and some canonical."


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Monsignor Bux: We Are in a Full Crisis of Faith

Monsignor Bux: We Are in a Full Crisis of Faith

Theologian and former consulter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith calls on the Pope to make a declaration of faith, warning that unless the Pope safeguards doctrine, he cannot impose discipline.
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To resolve the current crisis in the Church over papal teaching and authority, the Pope must make a declaration of faith, affirming what is Catholic and correcting his own “ambiguous and erroneous” words and actions that have been interpreted in a non-Catholic manner.

This is according to Monsignor Nicola Bux, a respected theologian and former consulter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during Benedict XVI’s pontificate.

In the following interview with the Register, Msgr. Bux explains that the Church is in a “full crisis of faith” and that the storms of division the Church is currently experiencing are due to apostasy — the “abandonment of Catholic thought.”

Msgr. Bux’s comments come after news that the four dubia cardinals, seeking papal clarification of his exhortation Amoris Laetitiawrote to the Pope April 25 asking him for an audience but have yet to receive a reply.

The cardinals expressed concern over the “grave situation” of episcopal conferences and individual bishops offering widely differing interpretations of the document, some of which they say break with the Church's teaching. They are particularly concerned about the deep confusion this has caused, especially for priests.

“For many Catholics, it is incredible that the Pope is asking bishops to dialogue with those who think differently [i.e. non-Catholic Christians], but does not want first to face the cardinals who are his chief advisors,” Msgr. Bux says.
“If the Pope does not safeguard doctrine,” he adds, “he cannot impose discipline.”

Monsignor Bux, what are the implications of the ‘doctrinal anarchy’ that people see happening for the Church, the souls of the faithful and priests?

The first implication of doctrinal anarchy for the Church is division, caused by apostasy, which is the abandonment of Catholic thought, as defined by St. Vincent of Lerins: quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditur (what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all). Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, who calls Jesus Christ the “Master of unity,” had pointed out to heretics that everyone professes the same things, but not everyone means the same thing. This is the role of the Magisterium, founded on the truth of Christ: to bring everyone back to Catholic unity.

St. Paul exhorted Christians to be in agreement and to speak with unanimity. What would he say today? When cardinals are silent or accuse their confreres; when bishops who had thought, spoken and written — scripta manent! [written words remain]— in a Catholic way, but then say the opposite for whatever reason; when priests contest the liturgical tradition of the Church, then apostasy is established, the detachment from Catholic thought. Paul VI had foreseen that “this non-Catholic thought within Catholicism will tomorrow become the strongest [force]. But it will never represent the Church's thinking. A small flock must remain, no matter how small it is.” (Conversation with J. Guitton, 9.IX.1977).

What implications, then, does doctrinal anarchy have for the souls of the faithful and ecclesiastics?

The Apostle exhorts us to be faithful to sure, sound and pure doctrine: that founded on Jesus Christ and not on worldly opinions (cf. Titus 1:7-11; 2:1-8). Perseverance in teaching and obedience to doctrine leads souls to eternal salvation. The Church cannot change the faith and at the same time ask believers to remain faithful to it. She is instead intimately obliged to be oriented toward the Word of God and toward Tradition.

Therefore, the Church remembers the Lord’s judgment: “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (John 9:39). Do not forget that, when one is applauded by the world, it means one belongs to it. In fact, the world loves its own and hates what does not belong to it (cf. John 15:19). 
May the Catholic Church always remember that she is made up of only those who have converted to Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; all human beings are ordained to her (cf. Lumen gentium 13), but they are not part of her until they are converted.

How can this problem best be resolved?

The point is: what idea does the Pope have of the Petrine ministry, as described in Lumen gentium 18 and codified in canon law? Faced with confusion and apostasy, the Pope should make the distinction — as Benedict XVI did — between what he thinks and says as a private, learned person, and what he must say as Pope of the Catholic Church. To be clear: the Pope can express his ideas as a private learned person on disputable matters which are not defined by the Church, but he cannot make heretical claims, even privately. Otherwise it would be equally heretical.
I believe that the Pope knows that every believer — who knows the regula fidei [the rule of faith] or dogma, which provides everyone with the criterion to know what the faith of the Church is, what everyone has to believe and who one has to listen to — can see if he is speaking and operating in a Catholic way, or has gone against the Church’s sensus fidei [sense of the faith]. Even one believer can hold him to account. So whoever thinks that presenting doubts [dubia] to the Pope is not a sign of obedience, hasn’t understood, 50 years after Vatican II, the relationship between him [the Pope] and the whole Church. Obedience to the Pope depends solely on the fact that he is bound by Catholic doctrine, to the faith that he must continually profess before the Church.

We are in a full crisis of faith! Therefore, in order to stop the divisions in progress, the Pope — like Paul VI in 1967, faced with the erroneous theories that were circulating shortly after the conclusion of the Council — should make a Declaration or Profession of Faith, affirming what is Catholic, and correcting those ambiguous and erroneous words and acts — his own and those of bishops — that are interpreted in a non-Catholic manner.

Otherwise, it would be grotesque that, while seeking unity with non-Catholic Christians or even understanding with non-Christians, apostasy and division is being fostered within the Catholic Church. For many Catholics, it is incredible that the Pope is asking bishops to dialogue with those who think differently, but does not want first to face the cardinals who are his chief advisors. If the Pope does not safeguard doctrine, he cannot impose discipline. As John Paul II said, the Pope must always be converted, to be able to strengthen his brothers, according to the words of Christ to Peter: “Et tu autem conversus, confirma fratres tuos [when you are converted, strengthen your brothers].”

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Queen of Angels

Queen of Angels

There is an ongoing dispute among Californian history buffs regarding the original name of the city of Los Angeles. After looking into these squabbles, I’ve concluded that the best answer is from Doyce Nunis, former editor of the Historical Society’s journal, the Southern California Quarterly. Nunis refers to a 1785 California map, in which Los Angeles appears under the title El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Angeles (“The Town of the Queen of the Angels”). Other variations are favored by historians, some mentioning the Rio de Porciuncula (now the Los Angeles River), some mentioning “Our Lady Queen of the Angels,” etc. – but just minor variations on the name.

Los Angeles was my hometown for about twenty-five years. As a young man with an unmanageable variety of interests, I had difficulty, like many others, of settling on a career. Eventually, since philosophy is tailor-made for those with multiple interests, I entered graduate school for philosophy, and as a Latinist one of my initial research interests was Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy of the angels, as expounded in the Summa Theologiae, the De substantiis separatis, the De spiritualibus creaturis, and other works. This research eventually resulted in my first book, and quite a few articles.
But for a Catholic philosopher considering Mariology, the scholastic theories concerning angels pose some problems, in particular with regard to the common honorific of Mary as “Queen of the Angels.”
Madonna and Child with Two Angels by Vittore Crivelli, 1481 [The Met, NYC]
For one thing, there is the problem of angelic numerosity. Thomas Aquinas and other scholastics debated about how angels, if they were pure spirits, could be numbered and “individuated.” Concrete material distinctions seem to be necessary for counting and separating things. Aquinas proposed that angels are not individualized by matter, but by their form or “species.” Thus, unlike the billions of humans who all belong to one species, every angel is a distinct species – one as different from the other as a rose differs from a tiger and from a human being. And there may be an almost infinite “number” of angelic species!
So when we’re talking about Our Lady as “Queen of the Angels,” we are referring to a human being governing an incalculable magnitude of spiritual beings.

How could a human being, even a saint, know and influence such a multitude? Aquinas solved this issue regarding the similar influence of angels such as Seraphim and Cherubim in the highest “orders,” over angels and archangels, etc. in the lower orders. His solution was that angels, unlike humans, do not have temporally advancing “discursive” knowledge, but simple instantaneous intuitions, so that higher angels influence lower angels through simpler and more universal intellectual cognitions. Thus, as pure spirits, they have mental operations like God, who knows and governs everything through one simple all-encompassing act, numbering the very hairs on our head, and keeping track of each sparrow. (Lk. 12:6-7)

Following the reasoning of Aquinas, regarding the “how” question, we would probably conclude that this Woman, Queen of the Angels, perhaps knows and influences these myriads of angelic hosts in a “simpler and more universal” manner, similar to the way that the “choirs” of angels operate. And – more important to us – Mary, designated as our mother by Jesus on the Cross, and designated by Pope Paul VI at Vatican II as “Mother of the Church” – would have knowledge of, and influence on, each and every one of us in the same simple intuitive fashion.

Still, even granting the unfathomable power of God, how could any saint, even in the context of great saints, possess such greatness and such power?
In Mary’s case, of course, part of the explanation has to be related to her Immaculate Conception. Original sin and the obstacles we pose to the grace of God explain why so few attain sanctity. Just consider what would be the case if there were no such obstacles.
Saint Thomas Aquinas by Carlo Crivelli, 1476 [National Gallery, Washington, DC]
The late Fr. Andrew Greeley, with whom I didn’t always agree, in his book Jesus, makes a memorable point about the generosity of God. He portrays God as a desire-crazed suitor who wants to share as much of himself as possible with everyone – “a God who, for some god-forsaken reason, is crazy in love with you.” Jesus (Lk. 6:38 and Jn. 10:10) says as much about his desire to impart overflowing measures of spiritual life, gifts, and graces.
And, perhaps even more important, we must consider the Christian notion of divinization – which is the “other side of the coin” of Jesus’ Incarnation. As some Patristic commentators have put it, Jesus became man so that we could in effect become gods. This is strongly emphasized in Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches and is called theosis.
In John 10:34-35, Jesus responds to critics of his claim to divinity by citing Psalm 81:
Is it not written in your law: “I said you are gods?” If it calls them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be set aside – can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, “I am the Son of God?”
St. Augustine comments on this passage: “If men by partaking of the word of God were made gods, much more is the Word of which they partake, God.”
The ultimate divinization of those who hear the Word of God and keep it is also attested to in 1Jn. 3:2, which speaks about eventually being “like God”; and in Acts 17:28, Paul assures the Athenians that the notion of their poets about being “God’s offspring” is correct, and divinity is not something unattainable.

So Mary is not alone. All those who attain to the Kingdom of Heaven will be divinized, with godlike knowledge and powers. Thus the Church is perfectly justified in requiring authenticated miracles before the canonization of saints.
And we should therefore not be surprised that the Queen of Heaven, in response to skeptics, should perform the greatest miracle since the Resurrection at Fatima on October 13, 1917.

© 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Forgiveness and Mercy

Forgiveness and Mercy

In the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus tells me that if my brother offends me seven times a day, and seven times comes to me and says he is sorry, then I must forgive him (Luke 17:4).

But in the Gospel of St. Matthew, when Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive his brother seven times when he was offended, the Master answered, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven” (Mt. 18:22).

The first counsel in Luke demands forgiveness as often as forgiveness is asked. The second brings me up to a higher plane and requires me to have mercy of heart even when forgiveness is not asked.

In the Lord’s prayer that Jesus gave me, He requests that I be forgiven by God in the same way I forgive my brother.
It seems then that the matter of forgiveness is clear; God expects me to forgive in my words, in my heart, and in my deeds.

In My Words

This article is from Mother Angelica on Christ and Our Lady. Click image to order.
When I see my brother has acquired a sinful habit, Jesus said I must reprove him and if he is sorry and says so, I must forgive.

There are times when a neighbor may offend me and not know it.
I must have the courage to bring this to his attention, not so much because of the offense done to me but because this fault in him may offend God and make him unChristlike.
When he says he is sorry, I must be very quick to forgive and do so as often as he says he is sorry.
It takes humility to ask forgiveness and I cannot respond with pride by not forgiving.
Humility is the requisite for both asking forgiveness, and accepting repentance.
This is where I need empathy and self-knowledge.
I must put myself in my neighbor’s shoes, take upon myself his personality, understand his dispositions, and know that I would be capable of the same fault were I in his place.

I am very quick to forgive and excuse myself because I know the motives for my actions. Since I do not know my brother’s interior dispositions, I must give him the benefit of the doubt in the same way as I do myself.
Even though I may not be as weak as my brother is in many areas, I must remember I also have my faults and he, too, must forgive me many times.
Since asking forgiveness is a requisite for being forgiven, I must be ready to say I am sorry when I offend my brother.

The account in St. Luke requires that I gently correct, forgive when asked, and seek forgiveness myself by an acknowl­edgement of my offenses.
When my neighbor refuses to admit an offense or ask for­giveness, then I must have recourse to the next counsel and develop the disposition of . . .

Mercy of the Heart

As Jesus hung on the Cross, He asked His Father to forgive His enemies because they did not know what they were doing.
They had not asked forgiveness and neither were many of them conscious they had done anything wrong. The people were deluded by the priests and Pharisees, and the soldiers were following the orders of Pilate. The centurion was enlightened only after he pierced Jesus’ side.
Although Jesus suffered intensely, many of those responsible were sincere and thought they were doing a service to God.
Jesus could and did ask forgiveness for them even though He suffered at their hands.
His forgiveness was from His Heart, prompted by love, mercy, and understanding.
I may not be called upon to exercise mercy in that degree, but there are many times in my life when I can forgive and forget because my offenders have no idea of the cross they have placed on my shoulders.
A brother must be forgiven and treated as a friend because he has given me the opportunity to be like my Father in Heaven who lets His sun rise and shine on the just and the unjust.
God has used my brother’s frailties to give me the oppor­tunity to be like Jesus — merciful and forgiving.
It does not always follow that my brother and I will ever be bosom friends. But it does mean I wish him well, pray for him, and hold no grudge or resentment.
Sometimes personalities clash, and all the good will I can muster does not change the situation. Here I need to pray for the Gift of Counsel to discern the course I should take, and for mercy that I may lovingly forgive.
Then it is that I will have that disposition of soul so necessary to say the Lord’s prayer with sincerity and portray . . .

Forgiveness by My Deeds

It is difficult after forgiving an injury to forget the incident entirely, and yet, this is exactly the kind of forgiveness I expect and hope for from God.
I want my faults and sins to be erased from the Book of Life, and I rely on His Mercy to do so.
He will do exactly that, but He asks in return that I do the same to my brother.
He gave me the parable about the man whose master for­gave him a debt of nine million dollars, and who in turn would not forgive a fellow servant a debt of less than fifteen dollars (Mat. 18:23-35).

I must keep this in mind when my brother offends me — a finite, sinful creature — and when I offend God — Infinite and All-Holy.
This does not mean my brother has a right to offend me, but it does mean that I must not exaggerate that offense out of proportion, be unforgiving and never forget.
I may be deeply hurt and my brother unjust, but I am only asked by God to forgive as He forgives me.
As with love, so with mercy; I am able to render to my neighbor what I cannot render to God — mercy and forgiveness.
When God forgives me He always gives me some token of that forgiveness. It may be a light-hearted feeling or more grace to overcome myself the next time.
His Goodness is so great and His Mercy so infinite that He rejoices over my repentance and treats me as a long-lost son.
Jesus manifested this Attribute of the Father by the parable of the Prodigal Son and said that even the Angels rejoice over my repentance (Lk. 15:11-32).
This forgiving is a trait I too must acquire. I must give my brother some sign that I rejoice in his repentance.
Perhaps a smile, a handshake are sufficient, or some token of my continued confidence in him as a person — making him realize I do not think less of him because of his offense.

Forgiveness and Mercy

I may make my brother something or purchase a gift, but if circumstances prevent me from doing this, I can at least give him the gift of my love, mercy, and kindness.


Just and Holy God, whose mercy is higher than the heavens, grant me the grace to forgive by my words, heart, and deeds. I desire to be like Jesus and to hold no resentments or grudges. I put all my friends and enemies in Your loving hands.


Forgive your neighbor the hurt he does you, and when you pray your sins will be forgiven. If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord? Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins?
Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins?
Remember the last things and stop hating, remember dissolution and death, and live by the Commandments.
Remember the Commandments, and do not bear your neighbor ill will;
Remember the Covenant of the Most High, and overlook the offense. (Sir. 28: 2-7)
Editor’s note: This article is from a chapter in Mother Angelica on Christ and Our Lady, which is available through Sophia Institute Press. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Most classical music lovers will have heard of "The Mozart Effect."
Don Campbell, author of this book, explains that music can help transform health, education, and well-being. Music was found to reduce stress, depression, or anxiety and improve memory. Mozart was seen to drastically lessen epileptic fits in a comatose state, help direct rats out of a maze, and make cows yield more milk. The tastiest results occurred when Japanese yeast listened (!) to Mozart. The discoverer of the Mozart effect comes from overseas. He has many reasons to be given the title which we give him here of Doctor Mozart.

Alfred Tomatis grew up in a musical family in France. His father was an opera singer, and he spent much of his childhood traveling with him and watching his opera performances from the wings. At an early age, however, he and his parents decided he was not fit for the stage. He thus went into medicine and eventually became an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor.
Soon after he began his practice, his father began sending him opera colleagues with voice problems. Alfred soon discovered that traditional treatments did not work; further, there had been very little research on the voice. Many of the voice problems he diagnosed were really hearing problems. He expressed his theory, now called, after him, the "Tomatis Effect," in three laws:

1) The voice does not produce what the ear does not hear.

2) If the hearing is modified, the voice is immediately and unconsciously modified.

3) Vocalization can be transformed permanently when auditive stimulation is maintained over a certain time.

He developed these theories by studying patients at hand when he found out that the voices of opera singers had damaged their own ears. While the ear can be damaged with sounds of 80 or 90 decibels, a male opera singer often produced 150 decibels. With damaged hearing, they were forcing their voices to produce sounds in registers they could no longer hear. In his attempt to retrain the singers, he developed his device, the Electronic Ear, which used earphones and sound filters to enhance the missing frequencies. The goal was to sensitize them to the missing frequencies. Tomatis began treating a number of other problems with the same methods, including reading problems, dyslexia, depression, severe schizophrenia, and even autism. He was convinced that many of these problems result from a failure of communication, which has to do with
listening and the ear. The emerging knowledge of the physiology of the ear showed that the ear starts forming a few days after conception and that the ear is fully developed by the fourth month of pregnancy.  Our doctor theorized that information coming from the fetal ear stimulates and guides the development of the brain.

He believed that autism is a communication problem that begins in pregnancy, with the fetus not properly responding to the voice of the mother. His most controversial method attempts to lead autistic children to recognize and respond to their mother's voice. He devised an apparatus to simulate the sound of the mother's voice as heard in the uterus, and to lead the child gradually to accept and respond to her real unfiltered voice. He reported that this method often brought startling results, with children crying with joy as they recognized their mother's voice for the first time.
In his autobiography, the doctor recounts the many conflicts he had with the medical establishment in both France and Canada, where he later worked. He finally gave up and turned in his medical license, admitting that he was practicing very little medicine. He named his new field "audio-psycho-phonology".

He believed that many speech problems were caused by some trauma resulting from broken relationships and poor communication. He found that treatment of these maladies requires the cooperation of the parents. One of his best-known patients was Gerard Depardieu, the French actor. Many moviegoers have heard Depardieu speak with a mellifluous voice, but in the mid-1960s, he was a tongue-tied young man still struggling to become an actor. Coming from a background of family difficulties, educational failures, and personal sorrows, Depardieu could not express himself. He could hardly speak. And the more he tried, the worse his stammering became. Tomatis diagnosed the cause of Depardieu's voice and memory problems as deeper emotional problems underlying his physiological difficulties and told him that he could help him. Depardieu asked what the treatment would involve--surgery, medication, or speech therapy. The doctor's response astounded him:
"For the next several weeks, I want you to come here every day for two hours and listen to Mozart."
The next day Depardieu returned to the "Tomatis Center" to don headphones and listen to Mozart. After only a few sessions, he began to experience positive changes in his daily routine. His appetite improved, he slept better, and he found himself with more energy. And soon he was speaking more clearly. After several months, Depardieu returned to acting school with new poise and confidence, and went on to become one of the consummate actors of his generation. "Before Tomatis," Depardieu says, looking back, "I could not complete any of my sentences. He helped give continuity to my thoughts, and he gave me the power to synthesize and understand what I was thinking." This is one example out of thousands. But the constant law seemed to be that audition could be affected by emotion, and he even suggested it could have been the case of Beethoven's strange deafness. "It is not excluded that the fragility of Beethoven's audition could be explained by psychological mechanisms. It is today an accepted idea that audition can be widely influenced by the psyche, as more than 90% of the fibers of the auditory nerve proceed from the brain in the direction of the ear. In other words, this means that the ear perceives only what it wants to hear. For that reason, when interpersonal relationships are characterized by unbearable, intolerable tensions, there is a way to avoid those difficult encounters. To put an end to any verbal contact, one just has to learn how not to listen. There is therefore a psychological deafness. And this deafness can be selective.
For example, a child, at loggerheads with a father who treats him harshly, who scares him with a very big voice and exercises over him a very restricting authority, finds a refuge by suppressing the frequency band corresponding to his father. He may lose totally any desire to communicate with him.
Unfortunately, he will lose by the same token any desire to communicate with other adults. He will have difficulties with language, writing and reading. Furthermore, as he loses faith in his father, he will lose faith in his future as well, as fathers symbolize the future. We can observe this day after day during psychological consultations, and the results are without exception the same. They reveal all the distortions that modify the communication, suppress the dialogue, and disturb the behavior."

This book, "Pourquoi Mozart ?- Why Mozart?" which has had little impact in the English world,3 echoes the endless questions of his 100,000 patients worldwide. He answers them as all children have always done and will always do: "Paree que" -- because---that is the way it is!  In other words, his choice was Mozart because where all other composers fail, he alone succeeds. The author goes to great pains through 70 pages of endless epithets and exclamation points to tell us that Mozart was a precocious genius who had already enjoyed a broad intra-uterine life of music, and had no real problems with the world. Thus, he brings us back to the stateof pure innocence, which was the state of his soul, childlike, spontaneous, worriless and free from human burdens. 

Because his music was the language by which he could best express himself, he had to secrete it through and through. He was, moreover, the only composer ever to know he was the best in the world, having traveled extensively to all the courts of Europe as a child prodigy.
But, on a more profound "note," Doctor Mozart explains that man is an antenna, a ceaseless receptor of the waves and rhythms in the universe.

"Through our body, we resonate to the natural rhythms of the Cosmos, captured by the nervous system. Ideally, the biological and neuro-physiological rhythms are attuned to and in balance with the cosmic rhythms that are beyond human auditory perception. There are musical rhythms that are felt as if they are blocking the rhythms of the body that are preventing them from beating at their own pace, and thus interfere with human automatisms and endanger the processes of creativity."

So ideally, we need someone who acts as "a revealer" and can awaken the fundamental rhythms existing in each of us. In this case, the rhythm of the music and the rhythms of the body coincide. Music is not felt as imposed upon us. Cardiac and respiratory rhythms are freed. Movements are in harmony with the totality of the deeper rhythms. There is therefore a spontaneous consent that can only be induced by a music that is equally "free," a music that does not try to impose its own rhythms to the detriment of the vital rhythms of human beings.

"Mozart is the only one I know who reached that level or, more exactly, who never left it....He knew how to put man in musical resonance with the universe. This is the Mozart miracle. 
He knew how to adapt the eternal rhythms to our neurons. So, if the music of Mozart awakens in ourselves the musician, it is because it puts the rhythms of the cosmos and the rhythms of the body-instrument in resonance, in tune, so we can start to experience what Plato described as the music of the spheres or the music of Heaven. His genius is to make us aware of that universal harmony which is already in us in a latent stage."

Tomatis is alert to the questions of other composers. His choice proceeds by elimination. We shall only follow him with two of the most likely and likable composers. "Beethoven requires that we know already how to listen. Beethoven is for the music lover. Mozart allows the listener to pass from hearing
to listening. Mozart leads the listener to discover music....In this sense, he transforms him into a musician, that is, someone who is able to perceive, to discover music, including the music underlying any linguistic structure. Mozart's music invites the non-initiate to enter into an unknown sphere. It encourages the nervous system to integrate the music. In short, the listener's ears are opened to listening and are enabled to discriminate frequencies."

"Bach is a born composer who shapes all the elements brought by his inspiration in a quasi-mathematical form. Mozart escapes the rigidity of any dogmatic structure. He allows the inspiration to flow through him in its purest form. He is always a child that benefits of what he finds and perceives. He translates everything that goes through him and integrates it into a unique language. He won't have to learn, like Bach, the rules of composition. He behaves like a child who does not care for grammar before he starts to talk. Bach provides us with a fantastic ladder to reach the heights; Mozart is literally parachuted from above. The work of Bach is the perfect model of a composition built by a human being. It is very difficult to hope for better music in terms of the architectural construction of the sonic cathedrals that he designed. He carried on this task with an extraordinary diligence and stubbornness, knowing how to shape the music to a point of perfection. Mozart, on the other hand, is totally different."

What, then, defines properly the Mozartian music? It is the tempo, structure, melodic and harmonic consonance and predictability.
Tomatis explains that:
"There is in Mozart an ineffable something that makes him different from others. He has in himself, in his phrasing, in the search of his rhythms, in his sequences, both a plenitude and a liberty that allows us to breathe and think at ease. He brings out in us the musician as if we were the authors of what he writes. It seems as if the musical phrases flow in us in a way that they could not be different."

And, analyzing the spectrograms of different composers, the author defines thus the specific characteristics of Mozartian music:
"Firstly, the loose aspect of the music phrase offers a fluid flow, with no monotony, and this, in whichever work you examine. Then, the great mobility of the sonorous bundles contributes to secure this specifically vivid and joyful side of the Mozartian compositions. Finally, the remarkable rhythmic base is inscribed in a permanent tempo, truly a downbeat of 120 pulsations per minute. This modulation can be identified systematically and is found again in any composition."

Alfred Tomatis was by trade an ear doctor, and could not but be very interested in the three functions of the ear:
1) The function of BALANCE. The vestibule is a part of the inner ear which informs the brain of the slightest body movement; it intervenes therefore in the control of posture and the maintenance of balance-our vestibular system.

2) The function of Revitalization or CORTICAL CHARGE. The ear is very necessary in causing the cortex to be stimulated and recharged.

3) The function of HEARING. When this function is disrupted, difficulties in analysis, accommodation, spatialization or auditive lateralization are caused. The person experiences an influx of information, but perceives it in a distorted manner affecting comprehension, as well as impacting verbal expression. The person becomes fatigued, irritable and finally withdraws.

Tomatis analyzes also the diverse parts of the internal ear, the "vestibule" (in charge of the body movements and space) and the"cochlea." The "vestibule" presumably deals with the ordering bodily movements and spatial activity, the cochlea with the organization and analysis. Be that as it may, it is clear that the "vestibule"plays an important role in the static posture and dynamic activity of the different members of the body. No muscle moves without its regulative activity. It also favors the body verticality and reacts to the law ofgravity by sending stimuli to the nervous system. Hence, the more one is in vertical posture the more he is dynamized. Likewise, the more one is in good shape, the more he reaches verticality.

Certainly the most striking function of the ear, and yet the most neglected, is the dynamo-genetic power of the brain, the generative principle of the nervous energy. The ear insures the cortical recharge. It generates energy. "For us, this notion is essential since it leads us to understanding the musical phenomena registered today in the world of sound technology. Among the energizing effects, we can define those related to the recharging sounds and those to the discharging ones. Here we need to discriminate between the bass and the treble sounds. Let us recall that, on the "Corti" element of the internal ear, the sensory cells are distributed unevenly according as they are in the zones of the bass sounds, of the medium or the treble. Rare in the zone of the bass sounds (100), they are more numerous among the middle range (500) and much more numerous in the region of the treble (24,000). Hence, the bass sounds are more easily integrated among the zones of
discharge, esp. the tam-tams. We all know that their fastidious repetition leads the listeners to exhaustion. This state could be called 'hypnotic' in that the body image is lost as the vestibule is solicited but not its counterpart, the cochlea, which gives the cortical projection. On the other hand, the sharp sounds, in the proper zones and rhythms and intensities, become perfect generators of energy. In this case, the cortical charge surpasses greatly the body energy loss and becomes positively recharging."

One could wonder why Tomatis evokes, in a book dedicated to Mozart and therapy, the virtues of Gregorian chant. What relation can there be between such different styles of music? And yet, they are
intimately connected by their neuro-physiological results. This is why the Chant is an integral part of the therapy method.

"Woe to us if we wish to present Church singing as a therapeutic material. Yet, few works, besides Mozart's, have such a radical impact on the human being. Does it raise the listener to a second state? Is it only music? No, and that is why it would be abusive to use it as a mere cure. In fact, the Gregorian chant does not cure, it saves. We can cure thanks to some therapeutic methods, but to save requires the concourse of an inspiration directly given by the creation. A soul attuned to the chant starts to vibrate to the first and essential rhythms. Gregorian chant allows us to perceive this vibration of the soul when it reaches the register of serenity. Then, man is involved in a timeless communication and regains his natural breathing, that is, unstressed and without gasping. Through the Gregorian modulations, he discovers a privileged space where his being momentarily can rest, aloof from the daily trials.

To tell the truth, Gregorian chant gives a glimpse of paradise to those who wish it. Man is reintegrated into the creation and sings the glory of the Creator. The Gregorian muse is certainly a jewel which centuries have slowly elaborated. In matters of religious singing, it is assuredly the summit of what man can do in search of God. Obviously, there are here and there some variations due to the temperament of the composer or the requirement of the liturgy at a certain period. But regardless of those variations, the Gregorian pieces are universal in their musical and vibratory content."

Are all Gregorian melodies apt to be used in this sort of educational process? For decades now, the Tomatis Center has selected Gregorian chant from Solesmes for the same reason that, where others fail, Solesmes works.
"For the masters of "Solesmes," Gregorian chant is the very expression of the movements of the soul. It is permanently sustained and controlled by a specific attitude. In fact, every cadence, every rhythm is the translation of a response corresponding to the capabilities of the entire nervous system. A chant of such quality can only translate the physiological rhythms that sustain life. But these are not always perceived and are often disturbed by emotional factors. For instance, changes in the way we breathe have an immediate effect on the cardiac rhythm, just to mention two of the major rhythms that can easily lose their own quiet cadence. Under stress, for example, the breathing becomes panting, and the diastole-systole cardiac cycle loses its regular ticking. This type of irregularity rapidly changes the functional balance of the body and has important neuro-physiological repercussions."
Not only are breathing and the heart beat controlled by the proper performance of the sacred Chant, but so are the body position and the timbre of the voice, which acquires the fullness of emission.
"Singing requires excellent listening skills, or to say it better, an exceptional self-control. These requirements are even more stringent for Gregorian chant. The ear must therefore be able to listen perfectly to sing Gregorian chants well. In fact, in order to be reproduced and controlled,· Gregorian chant requires verticality.
Those who sing are perfectly erect. In this position of true elongation, the vocal emission takes immediately a specific color that is in fact quite characteristic of the "bony voice." It has a rich timbre, is surprisingly light and endowed with a versatility that can only be compared with the softness of emission. By this process, one achieves the maximum vocal production with the least effort. That bony sound is produced without any muscular tension, just playing on the normal relations of tension of the antagonists, that is, the flexor and extensor muscles of the entire body. It creates an impression of great relaxation. That dynamic relaxation that so many people are looking for goes hand in hand with the type of breathing described above, which also brings about a peaceful cardiac rhythm. And so, thanks to that posture and to that type of vocal emission, the resonance of the voice is amplified while the muscles relax and psychological stress fades away."

Of all the sacred songs, the chant of the monks is the one most deprived of any bodily expression, since it does not make any reference to the feelings that occur in life. It is directly plugged into creation, facing its Creator, whose praises it sings.  Gregorian chant remains that celestial hymn and dance closely linked to listening, and listening to the Most High.  Mozart too leads us towards that same ultimate point.
"His child's heart vibrated with a fast and lively rhythm, quite different from the rhythm of Gregorian chant. We could even say that the Chant of Solesmes is rhythmically Mozart's rhythm divided by two."
In fact, Mozart was not insensitive to this timeless music that seems to carry to us the quiet modulations of eternity. He did say at the end of his life that he would have gladly renounced his entire work for the joy of composing the Introit of the Mass of the Dead. This confession is extraordinarily humble, but it would have been a great loss for humanity if it had been carried out. What this shows is that Mozart discovered in Gregorian chant the language of plenitude of the adult man, which is fully reached in the heavens.

To finish, Tomatis does not leave the field of music with the optimistic mood of the great music composers of all times. He is wise enough to sound the alarm bell confronted as he is by the modern musical jungle around him. May I be allowed to address a wish to those responsible for the youth and who, too often, handle the sound technique with utter carelessness. one does not play on the nervous system of children with impunity, when one is won't to educate them and turn them into mature adults.  Music is certainly the privileged path to instill language and the whole process of communication.  It is the basis of singing, which intones the liberation of our being, too often a prey to the anguish of life. Hence, music holds a universal character at the service of all. If we have insisted on the ordering power of the Mozartian music, it is because we have been able to diagnose its exceptional and quasi unique work. Every musical artist must keep in mind that he does not compose only for himself or the few, but he is meant to dispense this musical gift which he has generously received.
By his action, his care, his combats, he must remain attuned to the musical laws whose universality is the first criterion. Of course, I am alluding to these absurd compositions, veritable sound drugs, which are destined to enslave generations of youth by destroying, definitively perhaps, their nervous system."

The above article is by Fr. Dominique Bourmaud -
From "The Angelus" -- August 2010
Sincerely in Christ,
Our Lady of the Rosary Library
"Pray and work for souls"

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A mystic from Poland,Alicia Lenczewska and her conversations with Jesus

A mystic from Poland and her conversations with Jesus

Alicja Lenczewska received an unusual gift from Jesus — she spoke with him not in the usual way of prayer, but in mystical conversations. Now, the bishop of Szczecin, Poland, has authorised the publication of the notes from these conversations.

Such an account, and from Poland, might bring to mind the great saint of Divine Mercy, St Faustina. But Lenczewska was born only on Dec. 5, 1934, in Warsaw and died less than 15 years ago.

Raised in suffering

Alicja’s father passed away in 1939 and so, along with her elder brother, Alicja was raised by her mother. When the Nazis invaded Poland and took control of Warsaw, the family moved in with relatives near the city of Rzeszów.

With the War ended in 1946, they moved to Szczecin, where Alicja completed primary and high school. Despite the hard times, her mother ensured the religious upbringing of the children, making sure they always attended Sunday Mass and prayed together daily.

When Alicja graduated from high school, she started to work as a teacher in the village of Bana. Before long, she was promoted to the position of school inspector in Gryfino. Around this time, she became a member of the Communist party. As she later admitted, at that time her life was at variance with the teaching of the Church. 

Lenczewska earned an MA in Pedagogy in Gdańsk and between 1966 and 1975 she worked as a high school teacher of Home Economics and Mechanics in Szczecin.

When Alicja’s mother fell ill, she became her caretaker, attending to her until her death in 1984. Losing her mother was traumatic for Alicja, but her sorrow led her, along with her brother, to become involved with the Renewal in the Holy Spirit. She began to discover Jesus and soon realized she wished to dedicate herself to Him. 

A retreat in Gostyń in 1985 marked the beginning of an astonishing series of graces: During Communion, she was granted the gift of conversations and mystical meetings with Jesus. This gift continued from 1985 to 2012, until her death.

She recorded the spiritual advice received and the contents of her conversations with Jesus in two texts, Testimony [Świadectwo] and A Word of Instruction [Słowo pouczenia]. 

She wrote of the “magnitude of the great, unique love” of God, which could only make one “cry over one’s ingratitude. She spoke to Jesus about the role of a confessor in the sacrament; Jesus replied that he is: “My lips, my hands and my heart beating amongst you.”

“Everything you have and everything you are is my gift of Love,” Jesus told Alicja. He stressed the significance of the Eucharist, reminding her that He wants to be invited to every person’s life. Moreover, He warned against abusive reception of Holy Communion and its desecration.

Alicja’s relationship with Our Lord came to define her whole life. Nothing but his presence and love mattered to her any more; her money and time were spent in service. A spiritual director supported and guided her during these years. 

Journal entries provide the words of Jesus asking people to pray and have trust. He taught her to work on patience and compassion, so as to react with love to others. As she wrote down in her notebook, “The greatest love is to accept part of My suffering by participating in it.”

The conversations with Jesus, as accounted for in the notes, are marked by the simplicity of the message and love.
Alicja dedicated herself completely to Jesus and to helping other people. She did voluntary work in the office of the Corpus Christi Parish and was a member of the Family of the Heart of Crucified Love, where in 2005 she took perpetual vows. Gradually, her “meetings” with Jesus became less and less frequent, and eventually ended completely. On Dec. 7, 2011, Alicja learned that she had cancer and was admitted to a hospice. She died in Szczecin on Jan. 5, 2012.

In her notes, Lenczewska continuously urges conversion. Each person is called to sanctity, she explains, in recounting Christ’s teachings, yet one needs love and trust in order to walk in holiness. “We should love Jesus in other people, as He wants to be loved there. We should not seek love in abstractions …. The fullness of evil will come, as it happened to Me two millennia ago … This will be followed by the miracle of the resurrection of faith and love …”

[This article was originally published by Aleteia’s Polish edition]