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The Large Family – Pope Pius XII

An Address to the Directors of the Associations for Large Families of Rome and of Italy
January 20, 1958

Beloved sons and daughters, Officers and Representatives of the Associations for Large Families of Rome and of Italy, this visit of yours has to be listed among those that bring deepest pleasure to Our heart. You are well aware of the lively interest We have in family life, of how We never miss an opportunity to point out its many-sided dignity, to reassert its rights and defend them, to inculcate the duties it involves — in a word, We make it a key-point of Our pastoral teaching.

It is this same anxious interest in families that makes Us agree so readily to spend at least a few moments with family groups that come to Our home (whenever the duties of Our office do not make this impossible), and this is why, on occasion, We consent to be photographed in the midst of them, so as to leave some kind of lasting record of Our joy and theirs.

Father of the human family

The Pope in the midst of a family! Isn’t that right where he belongs? Isn’t he (in the loftiest spiritual sense of the word) the Father of the whole human family that has been reborn in Christ and in the Church? Is it not through him, the Vicar of Christ on earth, that the wonderful plan of creative Wisdom is put into effect — a plan that has conferred on all human fatherhood the destiny of preparing a chosen family for heaven, where the love of the One and Triune God will enfold them in a single eternal embrace and give them Himself as the inheritance that will make them perfectly happy?

A triple testimony

But you do not represent just any families at all; you are and represent large families, those most blessed by God and specially loved and prized by the Church as its most precious treasures. For these families offer particularly clear testimony to three things that serve to assure the world of the truth of the Church’s doctrine and the soundness of its practice, and that redound, through good example, to the great benefit of all other families and of civil society itself.

Wherever you find large families in great numbers, they point to: the physical and moral health of a Christian people; a living faith in God and trust in His Providence; the fruitful and joyful holiness of Catholic marriage.

We would like to say a few words about each of these points.

Surely, one of the most harmful aberrations that has appeared in modern society with its pagan tendencies is the opinion of those who are eager to classify fruitfulness in marriage as a “social malady,” and who maintain that any nation that finds itself thus afflicted must exert every effort and use every means to cure the disease. This is the basis for the propaganda that goes under the name of “planned parenthood”; at times it is promoted by persons and organizations who command respect because of their positions in other fields, but who, unfortunately, have taken a stand in this matter which must be condemned.

Birth control

Sad as it is to realize how widespread doctrines and practices of this kind have become, even among the traditionally healthy classes, it is comforting to see indications and proofs of a healthy reaction in your country, both in the legal and in the medical fields. As you know, article 31 of the current Constitution of the Italian Republic, to cite just one source, pays “special attention to large families,” and the prevailing teaching among Italian doctors is along a line of opposition ever more strongly against birth-control practices.

This does not mean that the danger has passed and that we have destroyed the prejudices which tend to make marriage and its wise norms submit to the aims of reprehensible pride and selfishness on the part of society or of individuals. We particularly deplore that section of the press that every so often takes up the question once again with the obvious intention of confusing good people and drawing them into error with misleading evidence, questionable polls, and even falsified statements from some cleric or other.

Obedience to nature’s laws

On the part of Catholics, We must urge the wide dissemination of the principle, firmly founded on truth, that the only way to protect the physical and moral health of the family and of society is through whole-hearted obedience to the laws of nature, or rather of the Creator, and most of all by fostering a sacred, heart-felt respect for them.

In this matter, everything depends on the intention. You can multiply laws and make the penalties heavier; you can give irrefutable proofs of the stupidity of birth-control theories and of the harm that comes from putting them into practice; but as long as there is no sincere determination to let the Creator carry on His work as He chooses, then human selfishness will always find new sophistries and excuses to still the voice of conscience (to the extent it can), and to carry on abuses.

Now the value of the testimony offered by the parents of large families lies not only in their unequivocal and forceful rejection of any deliberate compromise between the law of God and human selfishness, but also in their readiness to accept joyfully and gratefully these priceless gifts of God — their children — in whatever number it may please Him to send them.

This kind of attitude frees married couples from oppressive anxieties and remorse, and, in the opinion of outstanding doctors, creates the ideal psychological conditions for the healthy development of children born of the marriage. For, right at the beginning of these new lives, it eliminates all those worries and disturbances that can so easily leave physical or psychological scars on the mother or child.

Apart from exceptional cases and We have had occasion to speak of these before — nature’s law is basically one of harmony, and it leads to discord and contradictions only in cases where its normal operation is upset by particular circumstances which are for the most part abnormal, or by deliberate opposition from a human will. There is no eugenics that can improve upon nature: it is good as a science only so long as it aims at gaining a profound knowledge of nature’s laws and respects these laws — although in some cases it may be wise to dissuade people who suffer from serious defects from getting married (cfr. Enc. Casti connubii, Dec. 31, 1930: A.A.S. 22 (1930) p. 565).

Physical and moral health

Again, good common sense has always and everywhere looked upon large families as a sign, a proof, and a source of physical health, and history makes no mistake when it points to violation and abuse of the laws governing marriage and procreation as the primary cause of the decay of peoples.

Far from being a “social malady,” large families are a guarantee of the moral and physical health of a people. Virtues flourish spontaneously in homes where a baby’s cries always echo from the crib, and vice is put to flight, as if it has been chased away by the childhood that is renewed there like the fresh and invigorating breath of spring.

So let the weak and selfish take their example from you; let the nation continue to be loving and grateful toward you for all the sacrifices you have taken upon yourselves to raise and educate its citizens; just as the Church is pleased with you for enabling her to offer, along with you, ever healthier and larger groups of souls to the sanctifying activity of the divine Spirit.

In the modern civil world a large family is usually, with good reason, looked upon as evidence of the fact that the Christian faith is being lived up to, for the selfishness that We just pointed out as the principal obstacle to an increase in the size of a family group cannot be successfully overcome without recourse to ethical and religious principles.

In recent times we have seen how so-called “demographic politics” have failed to achieve any noteworthy results; it is easy to see why, for the individual interest will almost always win out over the collective pride and selfishness which this idea so often expresses, and the aims and methods of this policy debase the dignity of the family and the person by placing them on the same level as lower species.

The Light of Christianity

Only the divine and eternal light of Christianity gives full life and meaning to the family and this is so true that right from the beginning and through the whole course of its history, large families have often been considered as synonymous with Christian families.

Respect for divine laws has made them abound with life; faith in God gives parents the strength and vigor they need to face the sacrifice and self-denial demanded for the raising of their children; Christian principles guide them and help them in the hard work of education; the Christian spirit of love watches over their peace and good order, and seems to draw forth from nature and bestow the deepest family joys that belong to parents, to children, to brothers and sisters.

Even externally, a large, well-ordered family is a kind of visible shrine: the sacrament of Baptism is not an exceptional event for them but something constantly renewing the joy and grace of the Lord. The series of happy pilgrimages to the Baptismal font is not yet finished when a new one to Confirmation and first Communion begins, aglow with the same innocence. The youngest of the children will scarcely have put away his little white suit among the dearest memories of life, when the first wedding veil appears to bring parents, children, and new relatives together at the foot of the altar. More marriages, more Baptisms, more first Communions follow each other like ever-new springtimes that, in a sense, make the visits of God and of His grace to the home unending.

Trust in God

But God also visits large families with His Providence, and parents, especially those who are poor, give clear testimony to this by resting all their trust in Him when human efforts are not enough. A trust that has a solid foundation and is not in vain! Providence — to put it in human words and ideas — is not a sum total of exceptional acts of divine pity; it is the ordinary result of harmonious activity on the part of the infinite wisdom, goodness and omnipotence of the Creator. God will never refuse a means of living to those He calls into being.

The Divine Master has explicitly taught that “life is worth more than food, and the body more than clothing” (cf. Matt. 6, 25). If single incidents, whether small or great, seem to contradict this, it is a sign that man has placed some obstacle in the way of divine order, or else, in exceptional cases, that God has higher plans for good; but Providence is something real, something necessary since God is the Creator.

Overpopulation

The so-called problem of overpopulation of the earth is partly real and partly unreasonably feared as an imminent catastrophe for modern society; but undoubtedly the rise of this problem and the continued failure to arrive at a solution of it is not due to some mixup or inertia on the part of divine Providence, but rather to disorder on man’s part — especially to his selfishness and avarice.

With the progress that has been made in technology, with the ease of transportation, and with the new sources of energy that are just beginning to be tapped, the earth can promise prosperity to all those who will dwell on it for a long time to come.

As for the future, who can foresee what new and unsuspected resources may be found on our planet, and what surprises may be uncovered outside of it by the wonderful scientific achievements that have just barely begun? And who can be sure that the natural rhythm of procreation will be the same in the future as it is now? Is it not possible that some law that will moderate the rhythm of expansion from within may come into play? Providence has reserved the future destiny of the world to itself.

It is strange to find that the fears of some individuals are able to change well-founded hopes for prosperity into catastrophic spectre at the very moment when science is changing what used to be considered the dreams of wild imaginations into useful realities.

So overpopulation is not a valid reason for spreading illicit birth control practices. It is simply a pretext used by those who would justify avarice and selfishness — by those nations, for instance, who fear that the expansion of others will pose a danger to their own political position and cause a lowering of the general standard of living, or by individuals, especially those who are better off, who prefer the greatest possible enjoyment of earthly goods to the praise and merit of bringing new lives into existence. The final result is that they break the fixed and certain laws of the Creator under the pretext of correcting supposed errors on the part of His Providence.

It would be more reasonable and useful if modern society would make a more determined, universal effort to correct its own conduct, by removing the causes of hunger in the overpopulated or “depressed areas,” through a more active use of modern discoveries for peaceful aims, a more open political policy of collaboration and exchange, a more far-seeing and less nationalistic economy; above all, by reacting to all suggestions of selfishness with charity, to those of avarice with a more concrete application of justice.

God is not going to ask men for an accounting of the general destiny of mankind; that is His business; but He will demand an accounting of the single acts that they have deliberately performed in accordance with or against the dictates of conscience.

As for you, parents and children of large families, keep on giving a serene and firm testimony of your trust in divine Providence, and be assured that He will not fail to repay you with the testimony of His daily help and, whenever necessary, with those extraordinary helps that many of you have been happy to experience already.

And now a few words on your third testimony — words that may give new strength to those who are fearful and bring you a little comfort.

Large families are the most splendid flower-beds in the garden of the Church; happiness flowers in them and sanctity ripens in favorable soil. Every family group, even the smallest, was meant by God to be an oasis of spiritual peace. But there is a tremendous difference: where the number of children is not much more than one, that serene intimacy that gives value to life has a touch of melancholy or of pallor about it; it does not last as long, it may be more uncertain, it is often clouded by secret fears and remorse.

Happiness in a Large Family

It is very different from the serenity of spirit to be found in parents who are surrounded by a rich abundance of young lives. The joy that comes from the plentiful blessings of God breaks out in a thousand different ways and there is no fear that it will end. The brows of these fathers and mothers may be burdened with cares, but there is never a trace of that inner shadow that betrays anxiety of conscience or fear of an irreparable return to loneliness, Their youth never seems to fade away, as long as the sweet fragrance of a crib remains in the home, as long as the walls of the house echo to the silvery voices of children and grandchildren.

Their heavy labors multiplied many times over, their redoubled sacrifices and their renunciation of costly amusements are generously rewarded even here below by the inexhaustible treasury of affection and tender hopes that dwell in their hearts without ever tiring them or bothering them.

The hopes soon become a reality when the eldest daughter begins to help her mother take care of the baby and on the day the oldest son comes home with his face beaming with the first salary he has earned himself. That day will be a particularly happy one for parents, for it will make the spectre of an old age spent in misery disappear, and they will feel assured of a reward for their sacrifices.

When there are many children, the youngsters are spared the boredom of loneliness and the discomfort of having to live in the midst of adults all the time. It is true that they may sometimes become so lively as to get on your nerves, and their disagreements may seem like small riots; but even their arguments play an effective role in the formation of character, as long as they are brief and superficial. Children in large families learn almost automatically to be careful of what they do and to assume responsibility for it, to have a respect for each other and help each other, to be open-hearted and generous. For them, the family is a little proving ground, before they move into the world outside, which will be harder on them and more demanding.

Vocations

All of these precious benefits will be more solid and permanent, more intense and more fruitful if the large family takes the supernatural spirit of the Gospel, which spiritualizes everything and makes it eternal, as its own particular guiding rule and basis. Experience shows that in these cases, God often goes beyond the ordinary gifts of Providence, such as joy and peace, to bestow on it a special call — a vocation to the priesthood, to the religious life, to the highest sanctity.

With good reason, it has often been pointed out that large families have been in the forefront as the cradles of saints. We might cite, among others, the family of St. Louis, the King of France, made up of ten children, that of St. Catherine of Siena who came from a family of twenty-five, St. Robert Bellarmine from a family of twelve, and St. Pius X from a family of ten.

Every vocation is a secret of Providence; but these cases prove that a large number of children does not prevent parents from giving them an outstanding and perfect upbringing; and they show that the number does not work out to the disadvantage of their quality, with regard to either physical or spiritual values.

Vigilance and Action

One last word to you, Directors and Representatives of the Associations for Large Families of Rome and of Italy.

Be careful to imprint the seal of an ever more vigilant and fruitful dynamism on the action that you intend to carry out in behalf of the dignity of large families and for their economic protection.

With regard to the first of these aims, keep in line with the directives of the Church; with regard to the second, you have to shake out of its lethargy that part of society that is not yet aware of its social responsibilities. Providence is a divine truth and reality, but it chooses to make use of human cooperators. Ordinarily it moves into action and comes to our aid when it has been summoned and practically led by the hand by man; it loves to lie hidden behind human activity. While it is only right to acknowledge that Italian legislation can legitimately boast of being most advanced in this area of affording protection to families and especially to large families, We should not close our eyes to the fact that there are still a considerable number of them who are tossed back and forth between discomfort and real privation, through no fault of their own. Your action must aim at bringing these people the protection of the laws, and in more urgent cases the help of charity. Every positive achievement in this field is like a solid stone set into the structure of the nation and of the church; it is the very best thing you can do as Catholics and as citizens.

Calling down the divine protection upon your families and those of all Italy, placing them once again under the heavenly protection of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, We impart to you with all Our heart Our paternal Apostolic Blessing.

Teaching Prayer to Children During Formative Years

First, here is the Baltimore Catechism on prayer and it’s importance. Once we understand the significance of prayer, then we know how important it is to instruct children and teens why and how to pray.

Found on the CMRI website, and sourced from Chapter 5, Joseph J. Baierl, S.T.D., Rudolph G. Bandas, Ph.D.,S.T.D. and Joseph Collins, S.S., S.T.D.; NYC: Joseph F. Wagner, Inc., 1938, Here is this excellent resource regarding children’s prayer life.


 

Prayer is the raising of the heart and mind to God.

With this thought clearly before him, the religion teacher will realize that there is a great difference between teaching a child to pray and teaching a child its prayers. In the first instance we lead the child to raise his mind and heart to God to speak to God as one would speak intimately, lovingly, and confidently to one’s own father. In the second instance we place before the child definite forms which the Church has approved and which people have used through the ages to address God in a more formal manner.

Generally speaking, all Catholics have been taught formal prayers: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Creed, etc. How many have formed the habit of speaking to God from the heart in language all their own, expressing in their own words their personal needs and desires? Strange, is it not, that we know very well what to say to those we love on earth, and that we have so often to resort to printed words when we wish to speak to God? True, Christ Himself has given us the most perfect prayer in the Our Father; but often, too, a cry burst from His lips that expressed from the very depths of His Sacred Heart a great plea for the need of the moment: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Long before the children can pronounce the more difficult words of the ordinary prayers, they should be taught to speak to God, His Blessed Mother, their guardian angel, St. Joseph, and perhaps one or two other saints in their own words; and this practice of spontaneous prayer should be kept up through life.

Let us consider in detail some practical suggestions for the teaching of prayer on the various grade levels.

I. Prayers for the Preschool Child

Whenever and wherever possible, parents should be reminded that they cannot begin too early to teach the child about God. Naturally, this knowledge must be based on the child’s own experiences. God loves us as father and mother love us, God watches over us and gives us all we have. We can talk to Him as we talk to others. Parents teach the little ones more by their own attitude towards God and holy things than by their words. In fact, their attitude of reverence, love and humility is impressed upon the child’s mind long before words have any meaning for him. A good mother’s love for God and Our Lady will shine out of her eyes as she looks at the crucifix or a sacred picture while her lips move in prayer. As one person expressed it: “I appreciated Mass ever since I remember. My mother always took me with her to Mass, and I wanted to love everything she loved.”

As soon as baby lips learn to say the names of father and mother, they can also learn to say the Holy Names and to associate them with all that is good and beautiful. Little hands should be folded in prayer at least for a few moments; and there might be a good night kiss for Jesus and His Blessed Mother at bedtime.

The next step is the short informal prayer that the child can easily understand, such as: “God bless father and mother. God bless baby brother. God bless me and make me a good child.” Or: “Dear God, I have been a naughty boy today. Please forgive me. I will not be naughty again.”

The Sign of the Cross may be made with the help of the parents at a very early age, as part of the regular prayers. A little later, simple rhymed prayers may be added, such as: “Dear Angel, ever at my side.”

Good pictures — preferably such as tell a story, like Plockhorst’s “Christ Blessing the Children” — are a great aid in teaching the little ones about God and His great love for mankind. The children in that picture were talking to Christ? What were they saying?

If children learn readily, they can be taught the Our Father and Hail Mary before they reach school age. These prayers should be taught phrase by phrase, however, a little at a time. Pictures, stories, and rhymes illustrating and explaining these prayers can be easily obtained, and are splendid aids in making prayer more intelligible to the child.

II. Primary Grades

A good many children when they first enter school or come to instruction class not only cannot make the Sign of the Cross or say even the simplest prayer, but frequently know nothing whatever about God. In such cases — and they are not so rare as we ordinarily suppose — it will be necessary to begin by teaching them first about God and His love for us, His greatness, goodness, and majesty. Once that idea is established, informal prayer should be introduced side by side with doctrinal truths. For example, we teach that God can do all things. We speak of the wonderful things He has done. We look around us for some of the more striking manifestations of God’s love: a flower, a beautiful bird, a glorious rainbow, and then and there pause to praise and thank God for His goodness and love. At first the teacher from the fullness of his heart may make the prayer himself, while the children reverently “think” along: “Dear Lord, how good you are to give us these beautiful flowers. I thank you, dear Lord.” Gradually the children themselves should be encouraged to say such little prayers aloud.

Especially at opportune moments should the children be taught to raise their hearts to God quite simply and naturally. A little girl comes with beaming eyes to say that father has obtained a new and better position. Just as a pious mother at home, with the children gathered around her, would thank God for the favor, so the instructor, making up for the deficiency of the parents, might call upon all the children to help the little girl express her thanks for God’s blessing.

In the meantime formal prayers are not to be neglected. The teacher should lead up to them gradually by means of stories, pictures, and informal talks, so that, when he is ready to teach a certain prayer, the child’s mind has already grasped the meaning. Let us take, for example, the act of contrition, which may be taken first in a simplified form and expressed in a number of different ways. By means of questions such as: “Why are you sorry? How do children prove that they are really sorry?” By means of cases taken from their own experiences, the prayer is gradually formulated. Difficult words such as “heartily sorry,” “detest my sins,” are placed in their proper position only after the simpler terms have made the thought familiar.

Then, and only then, should memorization of the prayer begin.

The prayers usually taught are:

1. the Sign of the Cross;
2. the Hail Mary;
3. the Our Father;
4. prayer to the guardian angel;
5. act of contrition;
6. acts of faith, hope and charity;
7. the Angelus;
8. grace at meals;
9. the Creed.

The order in which these prayers are to be taught and the time at which they are taught will depend on the preparation, age, intelligence and attitude of the children.

Through the informal prayer in particular the teacher will have opportunity to show without long explanations how prayer is used sometimes to adore and praise God, at other times to ask or thank Him for something, and again to tell Him how we feel about things, especially when we are sorry for having offended Him. When possible, prayers should be taught as a result of a natural situation, as has already been stated. Let us take another example. The teacher may say to the class: “John tells me this morning that his mother is very sick. Would you like to say a little prayer for her? Dear God, please make John’s mother well again. Dear Mother Mary, help her.” A formal prayer such as the Hail Mary may be added as soon as the children can say it. Later John reports that his mother is better. A prayer of thanks follows: “Dear God, how good you are! Thank you for making John’s mother better. Thank you, dear Mary.”

III. Intermediate Grades

Regardless of the grade placement, when children know little or nothing about God, the procedure in teaching prayer should be much the same as in the primary grades, except that the process may go on more rapidly.

Presuming, however, that the children of this group already know more common prayers, the teacher must assure himself of two things: (1) that the pupils can say the prayers correctly; (2) that they know what they are talking about.

To make sure of the first point, the teacher should request the children to write the prayers from memory; not too many at a time, however, or the task of reading and correcting them, and more particularly, the revelations they may contain, might easily become overwhelming.

Skillful questions will bring to light how well children understand prayers they are saying. Most probably repetition of some of the work for the Primary Grades will be necessary. It must be remembered that it is far more difficult to root out bad habits of prayer and replace them with good ones, than it is to form altogether new habits. It will take much patience, instruction, and repetition to change habits of mechanical repetition of prayers to those of heartfelt, sincere communion with God. Yet, it must be done if we are to prepare the children to lead intelligent Catholic lives.

It is hardly possible that boys and girls who have learned the true meaning of prayer, who have tasted the nearness of God in the soul and have poured out their joys and griefs in intimate union with Him — it is hardly possible that they should go permanently astray. On the other hand, it can be readily seen how those who have rattled off prayers mechanically for half a lifetime could easily be convinced that all of religion is mere mummery just as their prayers have been.

By means of repetition of the prayers commonly used in the earlier grades, the children’s understanding and knowledge should be largely enriched. The Our Father, for example, should now take on a deeper meaning by reason of their wider experience in life. “Thy kingdom come” will include now a desire to aid the missions in both a spiritual and a material sense. Similarly, “to atone for my sins” in the act of contrition should make the child aware of his obligation to perform a little penance, particularly during the penitential seasons.

The aim of the teacher in the intermediate grades, then, should be more to give the children a better understanding and appreciation of the prayers ordinarily said and approved by the Church than to add a multiplicity of devotions. In general children in this group should have well-balanced ideas of the following:

  1. what prayer is and how it should be used;
  2. the difference between formal and informal prayer and the special value of each;
  3. an understanding of the more commonly used formal prayers, including the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross and the Litanies;
  4. some knowledge of the value of the Mass and the best way of participating in the Mass. A simple book of Mass prayers possessed by every child would be of great assistance for occasional group instruction in the Mass; by now, the children should also be able to recognize the distinction between the outstanding prayers and devotions approved by the Church and so-called “pet devotions.”

IV. Upper Grades

Again the teacher must assure himself, as in the earlier grades, that the pupils can say the ordinary prayers correctly, and that they know what the prayers mean. If their knowledge of these essentials is deficient, it is far better to give them a good general foundation and send them away with a thorough understanding of a limited number of formal prayers than to try to accomplish too much without a good foundation.

In addition to the requirements already stated for younger groups, the children of the upper grades should be more particularly instructed in the following:

  1. a more intimate knowledge of the ordinary prayers, particularly of the Creed, this knowledge to be acquired largely in correlation with the doctrinal instruction;
  2. the use of the Missal and with it an understanding of the liturgical year;
  3. the use of the Psalms or parts of Psalms as a desirable form of prayer for various occasions;
  4. an introduction to the practice of meditation in the shortest and simplest form;
  5. an introduction to spiritual reading as a part of one’s spiritual life, and in particular an appreciation of the New Testament. Many of the texts, read slowly and thoughtfully, would be a nucleus for the simple form of meditation suggested above.

V. Senior High School

Provided that the senior high school students have the necessary foundation, special stress should be laid with this group on the intimate relationship between their spiritual life and their conduct, between their life of prayer and their life of activity. In other words, the teacher should employ every possible means to cultivate in the pupils a childlike simplicity and absolute sincerity in their intercourse with God. Nowhere is this attitude better reflected than in the story of the Pharisee and the Publican, hand in hand with which Richard Crashaw’s “Two Went into the Temple to Pray” could also be studied. In this connection the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer — “Our Father,” “forgive us our trespasses,” etc. — will help the pupils to a clearer insight into their relationship with their fellow-men. There must be no discrepancy between their words and their deeds. Also, there should now be a better understanding of the difference between genuine prayerfulness and mere sentimentality. Their prayer, as their Catholicity, should become more and more virile as they increase in knowledge and age.

Other points to be taken into consideration at this stage are:

  1. the great necessity of prayer, especially at the time of temptation;
  2. the need of perseverance in prayer, especially when one is tempted to say: “I cannot pray”;
  3. the cultivation of a great personal friendship for Christ, particularly through a life of prayer;
  4. the realization that prayer does not necessarily need to be expressed in so many words, but that all our actions can be made a prayer by one good intention;
  5. an explanation of the prayer of praise and adoration as the highest and most acceptable form of prayer. Use of the Gloria Patri, Gloria in Excelsis Deo, Te Deum, etc., with that intention in mind;
  6. a more complete understanding of the liturgy, particularly the use of the Missal as the best means of keeping up one’s Christian life in accordance with the spirit of the Church;
  7. the practice of simple meditation more as a thoughtful reading pondering of Scriptural selections than as any particular form of mental activity;
  8. informal discussions on prayer in the Christian home and an attempt to inculcate high Christian ideals into the minds of the students as future homemakers.

At this juncture the first part of the chapter dealing with prayers for preschool children may be discussed with the students.

In conclusion, let us recall once more that in every case the teacher must begin with his class at the spiritual level at which he finds it, and start to build from that level. A high school group that has had little or no instruction in prayers, for example, will gain more by a simple explanation of the Our Father and by learning to pray with humility, sincerity, perseverance and confidence, than by an attempt to impose the prayers of the Missal upon them before they are ready to appreciate such prayers. Above all, let the instructor keep firmly in mind his duty not only to teach the children their prayers but also and principally to teach them how to pray.

Come Back To The Catholic Church? Ecclesiastical Materialism

Coming back to the Catholic Church? The following addresses a situation in which one asked Bishop Sanborn to come back “to Rome — and the true Church — outside of which there is no salvation.” However, the questioner, while well intentioned, errs on what exactly the Catholic Church is and where exactly it resides. Here is the post Ecclesiastical Materialism in it’s entirety.

Bishop Sanborn: Ecclesiastical Materialism

Introduction. From the title, one might expect that I would be writing about avarice among the clergy. I am not addressing that at all, however.

Recently I received from an old friend, who is a Novus Ordo conservative, a note in which he invited me to come back “to Rome — and the true Church — outside of which there is no salvation.”

His invitation, although made with all good intentions, nevertheless prompted me to write this response. What he means is that I should give up my repudiation of Vatican II and its subsequent reforms, submit to the local bishop, and be somehow “regularized” within the structures of the Novus Ordo.

First response to Come Back to the Catholic Church

My first response is the following.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that there is one true Church of Christ, and only one, which is the Roman Catholic Church. The Novus Ordo teaches that the Church of Christ merely “subsists in” the Catholic Church. (Lumen Gentium) The Roman Catholic Church teaches that outside of the Roman Catholic Church there is no salvation. The Novus Ordo teaches that outside the Roman Catholic Church there is salvation, namely that non-Catholic religions are means of salvation. (Decree on Ecumenism, Catechesi Tradendæ of John Paul II) The Roman Catholic Church condemns religious liberty. The Novus Ordo teaches religious liberty. (Decree on Religious Liberty) The Roman Catholic Church condemns the idea that the college of bishops has supreme jurisdiction over the whole Church. The Novus Ordo teaches this condemned doctrine, known as collegiality. (Lumen Gentium) The Roman Catholic Church condemns adultery and fornication in all cases. The Novus Ordo teaches that these are morally acceptable in certain cases. (Amoris Lætitia) The Roman Catholic Church condemns as a mortal sin of sacrilege the giving the Holy Eucharist to non- Catholics. The Novus Ordo approves of it. (1983 Code of Canon Law) The Roman Catholic Church condemns the use of birth control devices as mortally sinful and intrinsically evil. The Novus Ordo permits birth control devices for prostitutes. (Ratzinger, “Benedict XVI,” in a published interview)

What I have responded above is only a smattering of the myriad dogmatic, moral, liturgical, and disciplinary contradictions between the Roman Catholic Church and what we call the Novus Ordo. We could provide the endless list of heresies and blasphemies of Bergoglio. But these things are well known.

The Four Marks of the Catholic Church

I will add to this first response the four marks of the Church. (1) The Roman Catholic Church is one in faith, that is, in order to be Catholic all must profess the same dogmatic and moral teachings which are taught by the Roman Catholic Church. The Novus Ordo has no unity of faith, and as we have seen, has no continuity with the Catholic past in any of the essential aspects of the Church’s unity. (2) The Roman Catholic Church is catholic, that is, universal, since it preaches a single doctrine to the whole world. Since the Novus Ordo lacks unity in doctrine, and lacks continuity with the Church’s past in matters of doctrine, it cannot have the mark of catholicity. For catholicity presupposes unity. (3) The Roman Catholic Church is holy. The Novus Ordo is unholy, because it condones evil disciplines, preaches condemned doctrines and heresies, leads people into error and sin, and promotes the evil New Mass, promotes abominable ecumenical acts with non-Catholic religions, and condones sacrilegious liturgical practices. (4) The Roman Catholic Church is apostolic. The Novus Ordo has abandoned apostolic doctrine and discipline, and teaches and does what is contrary to this sacred apostolic deposit.

Come back to what?

My friend’s invitation makes it sound as if the Catholic religion is intact in the institutions he wants me to embrace. It is as if it is the year 1950, and that I have wandered off into schism because of my pride. If this were true, I would return immediately. But there is an elephant in the room. The elephant is this: The Novus Ordo is innovation, is heresy, is alien to the religion revealed by God and taught by the Roman Catholic Church. It is as much a break with the past as the heresy of Martin Luther was. What is different, however, between Martin Luther and the Novus Ordo? There is this significant difference: Martin Luther was excommunicated and subsequently founded his own church. The Novus Ordites have never been excommunicated, and have never founded their own church. This difference is the key to understanding the present problems in the Catholic Church.

Ecclesiastical Materialism

Now I will explain ecclesiastical materialism. The Roman Catholic Church has a visible aspect and an invisible aspect. What is visible is the external profession of faith, the administration of the sacraments, and the visible government. What is invisible is the grace and assistance of the Holy Ghost which infuses the virtues of faith, hope, and charity, the authority to govern, and the indelible character on the soul in Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. The Holy Ghost, furthermore, assists the Church by an invisible influence in its promulgation of doctrine, morals, liturgy, and discipline, in such a way that these things are free from error. It is this invisible assistance which guarantees the infallibility and indefectibility of the Church.

All of these qualities are invisible, but are nonetheless what make the Catholic Church the one, true Church of Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation. These invisible qualities have made the Catholic Church for two thousand years the unchanging, permanent, always consistent and coherent institution of divine truth in a sinful, ignorant, and ever-fluctuating world.

Even the administration of the sacraments has an external and internal aspect. The external aspect is the visible rite itself. The internal aspect is the validity of the sacrament, whereby it confers the grace it signifies. It is therefore possible that the external rite be observed and administered, even though, through some internal and invisible defect, the sacrament is not valid.

In our discussion here, we are saying that what is left of the authority of the Church in the Novus Ordo is merely the material or visible aspect of authority, that is, persons designated to receive authority. What is lacking to them is the divine authority, and the divine assistance which necessarily accompanies it.

Body and Soul

Just as the soul is the life of the body, so it is authority which gives life, so to speak, to the person who is designated to be pope or bishop. It is to say that a mere election or appointment is not sufficient. The authority must come to him from Christ, the Invisible Head of the Church, in order that he be a true pope or a true bishop. This authority is transferred only on condition that the designated person have the intention of promoting the objective and proper ends of the institution over which he is placed. It is for this reason that the president-elect of the United States does not obtain power in November when he is merely elected, but in January when he is inaugurated, and only on condition of swearing to uphold the Constitution of the United States. He must swear that he intends to lead the country to its objective and proper ends. Were he to fail to so swear, he would fail to obtain the power, and would remain a president-elect, a president only materially, until such time as the Congress removed the election from him.

What has happened to ‘the Church’ since 1958

What we are facing in the Novus Ordo is this: Modernists, by remaining secretive for decades, managed to obtain by the normal and legal process of appointment and designation, a position in the Church to which authority is normally connected. So John XXIII was elected pope in 1958. By a defect, however, the authority, which is invisible and which is given by Christ the Head of the Church, was never transferred to John XXIII and his successors. What was this defect? It is that they intended to pervert the Church, and to lead it in a direction contrary to its nature and purpose given to it by God. In a word, they wanted to transform the structures and institutions of the Roman Catholic Church into a huge vehicle of their Modernism. This evil intention is what has blocked the flow of authority from Christ into them. Without this authority they remain non-popes, false popes. The bishops who have embraced this perversion of Catholicism are also false bishops for the same reason.

That the authority of Christ and the assistance of the Holy Ghost are lacking can be seen from the Hiroshima effect of Vatican II. The Novus Ordo religion — essentially Modernism — has wrecked all of the institutions of the Catholic Church. What is left is only a lifeless shell of these institutions. There are the same physical buildings. There are the same institutions of government. There is still a functioning Vatican. There is still a diocesan bishop. There is still a chancery. There are pastors appointed. There are functioning parishes. There are rectors of seminaries, the few that are left.

What we are seeing here, however, is merely a carcass of the Church’s authority. It is something like a dead whale which has washed up on the shore. These institutions, both the buildings and the government, constitute, from a purely material and visible point a view, a continuity with the past. Internally and invisibly, however, they are full of doctrinal, moral, liturgical, and disciplinary corruption. The stench of death rises from them, that is, the stench of heresy and all of its effects. Everything is infected with gangrene: the Mass, the rites of the sacraments, the catechism, doctrine, morals, attitudes. We see the effects of this infection, as well, in the emptying of the seminaries, convents and religious houses of all kinds, in the breathtaking decline of religious belief and practice, especially among the young, in the nauseating and disgusting conduct of the clergy, even to the point of sodomitic orgies in the Vatican, enhanced with both drugs and liquor, which recently took place, and was reported in the major newspapers, e.g., the London Times.

The Novus Ordo popes, consequently, are mere “cadavers” of real popes, inasmuch as they sit in the chair of Peter, wear the uniform of a pope, but have no power from Christ to teach, rule and sanctify in His name.

Second Response to Come Back to the Catholic Church

My second response, therefore, is that the Novus Ordo conservatives are ecclesiastical materialists. They can see only the continuity of lifeless institutions from pre- to post- Vatican II, and from that they conclude that salvation consists in adhering to these lifeless institutions. They see only the material side of the Church, its visible side, and turn a blind eye to the absence of the invisibles of the Church, especially the assistance of the Holy Ghost in keeping the Church free from error and defection.

The Novus Ordo religion is one big error and defection. The fact that error and defection can be found in it is an infallible sign that the invisible assistance of the Holy Ghost is not with the Modernist “popes” and “bishops.” They have no authority to rule, no matter if they are maintaining the buildings and governmental institutions of the Church.

An analogy. To illustrate my point, I will make an analogy to a hijacked airplane. Imagine a scene in which terrorists, who have come through the ranks of the airline as uniformed, licensed, and authorized pilots, one day show their true colors by announcing that the airplane will be flown into the side of a building. They slit the throats of anyone who tries to stop them.

From the outside, the plane is flying as normal. Inside there is chaos, terror, and horror.

The Novus Ordo conservative could be compared to the passenger who would say: “For as long as we are still flying, and the pilots are authorized and uniformed pilots, and the airline logo is still on the plane, there is nothing to fear.”

The sedevacantists are those who have done something to stop the evil pilots, and who have had the common sense to declare that if the pilots intend the ruination of the aircraft and its passengers, they do not have the authority to pilot the plane. These sedevacantists are considered “extreme” and “misled” by the passengers who are consoled — indeed blinded — by the purely external signs of the normal functioning of the plane. These are the Novus Ordo conservatives.

A carcass of authority. The Novus Ordo conservative looks merely at the carcass of authority and government, which is really the only thing left intact since Vatican II, and from it concludes to the identity of the pre- and post-Vatican II religion. He fails to understand that if the invisible qualities of the Church do not vivify the visible institutions of the Church, then these institutions are dead in the practical order.

The Catholic Church, as the Church founded by Christ and assisted by the Spirit of Truth, always retains these institutions of the papacy and episcopacy and her faithful are always attached to them. Therefore in this present hijacking of these institutions, the Church does not lose her power to teach, to rule, and to sanctify, for these pertain to her divine constitution. Just as the solution to the hijacked airline is to wrest the control of the aircraft from those who would pervert its function and destination, so the solution for the Church is to wrest control of these sacred institutions from the Modernists so that once again the government of the Church may function normally.

In order to wrest control, however, it is first necessary to identify the hijacker and to proclaim what is common sense: that he who intends the destruction of the aircraft and its passengers does not have the authority to pilot the aircraft. Likewise the Modernist, though sitting in a papal or episcopal throne, does not have the authority to pilot the Church.

The worst thing anyone could do in such a case is to reassure Catholics that because we find these Modernists sitting in the papal throne or episcopal throne, then for that reason they must have the authority to rule the Church. It is as absurd as to say that because the hijacking pilots are seated in the cockpit, they have the authority to pilot the plane and we must obey them.

The Novus Ordo conservative, in remaining loyal to the Modernist “authorities,” stymies and paralyzes a proper and efficacious reaction to the problem in the Church. He invites everyone to rally to the Modernists, and to spurn and condemn the sedevacantists as schismatics. If the four Novus Ordo cardinals who presented the Dubia to Francis had the courage to declare him a non-pope, for reason of heresy, the Catholic Church would be on the road to recovery. Instead, they were careful to tell Francis that they were not sedevacantists. Cardinal Burke, one of the Dubia cardinals, stated in an interview in December that if Francis were a public heretic, he would no longer be the pope.

Leave Rome? Who has left Rome?

It is not to leave Rome, the one true Church, to be faithful to Catholic doctrine, liturgy and discipline. It is not to leave Rome to denounce as Modernism, the worst heresy to assail the Church according to Saint Pius X, the aberrations of Vatican II in doctrine, liturgy, and discipline. It is not to leave Rome to declare that those who deviate from the true faith cannot rule the Catholic Church.

It is to leave Rome, however, to embrace the new religion of Vatican II, and to associate with the authority of Christ those who have devastated, in a matter of fifty-nine years, counting from 1958, the magnificent Catholic Church, built up for centuries by true popes and bishops with the assistance of the Spirit of Truth. For Rome is the Church, and the Church is the Faith.

All of these discussions always revert to a single question: Do the reforms of Vatican II constitute a new religion, different from the Catholic religion? If they do, then the position of the sedevacantists is correct. For it is impossible that the Church, assisted by the Holy Ghost, could promulgate to the whole world a false religion. If, on the other hand, they do not constitute a new religion, if indeed there is continuity of true doctrine, liturgy and discipline, then the sedevacantist is wrong and the Novus Ordo conservative is right. So it is pointless to talk about anything else unless this single burning question is answered.

Second Vatican Council Series (audio)

This is a great series on the Second Vatican Council. Bishop Sanborn addresses head on, the inconsistencies and confusion, born out of the Second Vatican Council. This series will contain many answers to the questions you have today.

Substantial vs Accidental Changes?….Fundamental Error of Vatican II

Heresy of Ecumenism….Liturgical Changes of Vatican II

Doctrinal Errors of Vatican II….The Heresy of Lumen Gentium

Errors of the Decree of Ecumenism…. The Errors of Religious Liberty

Error of Collegiality….Evil Disciplines Regarding Ecumenism
False Doctrines & Evil Disciplines regarding Marriage

Bergoglio’s Denial of the Church’s Mission | Sermon (audio) by Bishop Sanborn

Bishop Sanborn has a sermon about Jorge Bergoglio (false pope Francis) and his denial of the Church’s mission.

Saint Pius X and Modernism | Sermon (audio) by Bishop Sanborn

Bishop Sanborn has a sermon about Pope Saint Pius X and his devotion to souls, his purity of doctrine, and his condemnation of Modernism.