Martyrology for Today
CRITICAL CATHOLIC COMMENTARY
the Twilight of Reason
Mary, Conceived without Sin,
pray for us who have
recourse to Thee
Legacy of Vatican II:
Renewal that Became a Requiem
The Death of Two Monasteries in Andover, MA
A Pictorial History ... and a Sober Reminder
The Franciscan Seraphic Seminary
Poor Clare Monastery
blankly face each other on a single street in
click on any image
below to expand it
all this ...
reduced to this ...
repair My house
as you can see, has fallen into ruin”
(the words of Jesus Christ to St. Francis of Assisi)
magnificent Franciscan Seraphic Seminary and Monastery,
and the Poor Clare Monastery,
faced each other across a quiet street in Andover, Massachusetts
for more than 60 fruitful years.
The Franciscan Seminary was built around 1940, and the
Poor Clare Monastery in 1959 — the same year that Pope
John XXIII (on January 25, 1959) called for a general
council of the Church; specifically, an “Aggiornamento”ť
or “updating” of the Church in an effort to align it
more closely with the “contemporary” cultural
and social milieu of the 1960s. A more toxic decade
could not possibly have been chosen.
The following brief pictorial history of two erstwhile
thriving institutions once filled with vocations
is a silent testimony that needs little comment.
The enormous Seraphic Seminary is now a “Retreat
and Conference Center”ť for a variety of programs,
virtually all of which are inter-denominational or altogether
non-religious. A handful of people, almost all lay,
staff the largely empty building. Not one Franciscan
habit is seen by a visitor.
Across the street, the expansive and once lovely Poor
Clare Monastery built in 1959 is in a state of complete
abandonment and ruin. It is unoccupied. Not one Nun.
A private investor has acquired the property for a commercial
enterprise (which, as we see above, culminated in its
being razed to the ground.)
It is a deeply disturbing pictorial, for on the plaque
on the statue in the picture above, one sees a list
of the names of benefactors (most of modest means) who
had ultimately made a very poor investment in the very
best of faith. We cannot avoid seeing a reflection of
our own faltering faith and the catastrophic failure
to authentically implement it in a world that the Conciliar
Church embraced to such an extent that in many ways
the two became virtually indistinguishable. The long
conflict that historically characterized the tension
between the spiritual demands of God and His Church
and the competing demands of secular society became
so attenuated following Vatican II that the distinction
was largely meaningless in the way that men lived their
lives. The sacred became an impediment to rapprochement
with the world and was soon the most notable casualty
in the conflict.
In less than two generations what was long held to be
lofty, noble, and set apart for God (which is the very
meaning of holiness) became ultimately mundane and tiresomely
as the Church had understood it, and “‘the
as the world understood it — long mutually adversarial
— had become comfortably reconciled — but only through
the largess of the newly emergent “Church of the New
Advent”ť which paid tribute to Caesar by refusing tribute
Sacred places like the Seraphic Seminary and the Poor
Clare Monastery once abounded. These sacred places were
built, and thrived, on “the Faith of our fathers” but
soon fell into ruin and emptiness through the futile
attempt to articulate that faith on the terms of the
world, in the mistaken belief that if we become like
the world, the world will become like us. It calls us
to question many things, troubling things, from a vision
to the reality of vacancy; of the tremendous hemorrhage
of vocations, and renounced vows following a terrible
miscalculation, an astonishing misunderstanding in the
breathless pursuit of contemporaneity, of accommodating
the Church to the world, and finding, in the end, that
not only have the seminaries and monasteries been emptied,
but the pews as well.
The pictures speak for themselves.
We can only stand back in astonishment and ask —
Who will rebuild the
Church that St. Francis rebuilt ... and which we have
let fall once again into ruin?
If we do not, no one will.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
Printable PDF Version
Comments? Write us:
What Constitutes a “Synod
has one occurred before in the history of the Church.
Think about that for a moment. While it is called a General
Assembly of the Synod of Bishops — like
convened before it — its membership is far broader, including
homosexual advocate Fr. James Martin, Sr. Jeannine Gramick,
the co-founder of the Homosexual advocacy group New Ways
Ministry (and three staff members, all of whom personally
met with Francis for nearly an hour) homosexual advocates
and Cardinals Cupich, Robert McElroy, Joseph
Tobin, Mario Grech of Malta, Luis Antonio
Tagle (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples),
Kevin Farrell (Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.)
and Leonardo Ulrich Steiner of Brazil.
It also included
laywomen, laymen, as well as non-practicing Catholics and
dissident Catholics — and each of their votes had
exactly the same weight as that of cardinals. This is
particularly worrisome given the systematic absence of catechesis
in America and elsewhere since Vatican II. Lay Catholics
who are even minimally aware of Church teaching,
let alone knowledgeable
about it, are few and far between. And
in this Synod, they have an equal vote concerning things
Catholic. This is worrisome. A uniformed vote
is worse than no vote at all. Think about that, too.
What are we left with?
a deep breath …
“A gathering of largely disaffected
and poorly catechized Catholics — including bishops
and cardinals — to discuss how the “oppressive structures”
of the Catholic Church have been getting it all wrong
for 2000 years, “lording it over” (wo)-man and environment;
and how a good and loving God has kept us in darkness
for two millennia until the epiphany of Francis dawned
upon the aboriginal Amazonian awakening in 2013, leading
an outdated, wayward, despotic, and totalitarian Church
into the liberating and autoerotic ways of modern man,
emancipating us, at long last, from our sinful, male-dominated,
clerical and patriarchal ways to at last
discern the hidden ways of God that He has lovingly
and benevolently concealed from us from the creation
of Adam, the proto-dominator of Eve and our Mother Earth
— for two millennia — to the 266th papacy
who, with real machismo, finally wrenched the
truth out of a reluctant God Whom he routinely confuses
with a once-upon-a-time-pagan female deity, Pachamama,
who inhabits the inaccessible margins of correct aboriginal
this novel concept meaning anything and therefore nothing,
we must brazenly delve into its absurdities without fear
of contradiction (since the absence of reason and logic
precludes any possibility of contradiction) — the
better to explore this newest iteration of the
of the groovy 1960s in which its adherents were first schooled
(Jorge was in his 20s then.)
we can understand the thoroughly novel concept of a “Synod
on Synodality” — a kind of neologism that Francis made up
and not to be confused with similar conferences such
of which, of course, are blatantly absurd — and any
of which no conscious individual would actually attend);
in other words, before we can come to grips with this embarrassing
symposium, we must first familiarize ourselves with its
And how shall we acquire this?
to ‘the people of God’”
(i.e. absolutely everyone) explains this as a two-fold process:
it is by:
“Using the Conversation in the Spirit Method”
and being attentive
watchful sentinel of the Spirit’s call”
No, we are
not making this up
of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
to the People of God”
What do either/both of these mean? We are not certain at
all that they mean anything! But we will attempt
to plumb these mysterious depths nonetheless as we
continue to explore this madness unfolding in Rome.
Some of the “Buzz Words” around which this “Synodal Process”
is framed! It’s a lot to unpack, but here goes:
Spirit” without the Holy
of the earth”
When you encounter any of these words, especially in
a sentence including two or more, you have entered
Ecclesiastical Wonderland and the person in white who
is uttering them is not a Rabbit, but a madman.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
Vigil of All Saints
Martyrology for Today
Semen est sanguis Christianorum (The blood of Christians
is the seed of the Church) Tertullian, Apologeticum, 50
in the Year of Grace 2023
This Day, the Fifth Day of December
At Mutala, in Cappadocia, St. Sabas,
abbot, who was renowned in Palestine for admirable
examples of sanctity. He labored courageously in defending
the Catholic faith against those who attacked the holy Council
At Thebesta, in Africa, during the time of Diocletian and
Maximian, St. Chrispina, a woman of
the highest nobility, who refused to sacrifice to
idols, and was beheaded by order of the proconsul Anolinus.
Her praises are often celebrated by St. Augustine.
At Thagura, in Africa, the holy martyrs
Julius, Potamia, Crispinus, Felix, Gratus, and seven others.
At Nicaea, near the river Var, St.
Bassus, bishop. In the persecution of Decius and
Valerian, he was tortured by the governor Perennius for
the faith of Christ, burned with hot plates of metal, beaten
with rods and whips garnished with pieces of iron, and thrown
into the fire. Having come out of it unhurt, he was transfixed
with two spikes, and thus terminated an illustrious martyrdom.
At Pavia, St. Dalmatius, bishop and
martyr, who suffered in the persecution of Maximian.
At Pelino, in Abruzzo, St. Pelinus,
bishop of Brindisi. Under Julian the Apostate, because
by his prayers he caused a temple of Mars to fall to the
ground, he was most severely scourged by the idolatrous
priests, and being pierced with eighty-five wounds, merited
the crown of martyrdom.
Also, St. Anastasius, martyr,
who, thirsting for martyrdom, voluntarily offered himself
to the persecutors.
At Treves, St. Nicetius, bishop,
a man of great sanctity.
At Polybotum, in Asia, St. John, bishop,
And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs,
confessors, and holy virgins.
sancti Mártyres, oráte pro
nobis. (“All ye Holy Martyrs, pray for us”, from the
Litaniae Sanctorum, the Litany of the Saints)
Response: Thanks be
Why the Martyrs Matter
Each day we bring you a calendar, a
list really, of the holy Martyrs who had suffered and died for Christ,
for His Bride the Church, and for our holy Catholic Faith; men and
women for whom — and well they knew — their Profession of Faith
would cost them their lives.
They could have repudiated all three (Christ, Church, and Catholic
Faith) and kept their lives for a short time longer (even the
lapsi only postponed their death — and at so great a cost!)
What would motivate men, women, even children and entire families
to willingly undergo the most evil and painfully devised tortures;
to suffer death rather than denial?
Why did they not renounce their Catholic Faith when the first flame
licked at their feet, after the first eye was plucked out, or after
they were “baptized” in mockery by boiling water or molten lead
poured over their heads? Why did they not flee to offer incense
to the pagan gods since such a ritual concession would be merely
perfunctory, having been done, after all, under duress, exacted
by the compulsion of the state? What is a little burned incense
and a few words uttered without conviction, compared to your own
life and the lives of those you love? Surely God knows that you
are merely placating the state with empty gestures …
Did they love their wives, husbands, children — their mothers, fathers
and friends less than we do? Did they value their own lives less?
Were they less sensitive to pain than we are? In a word, what did
they possess that we do not?
Nothing. They possessed what we ourselves are given in the Sacrament
of Confirmation — but cleaved to it in far greater measure than
we do: Faith and faithfulness; fortitude and valor, uncompromising
belief in the invincible reality of God, of life eternal in Him
for the faithful, of damnation everlasting apart from Him for the
unfaithful; of the ephemerality of this passing world and all within
it, and lives lived in total accord with that adamant belief.
We are the Martyrs to come! What made them so will make us so.
What they suffered we will suffer. What they died for, we will die
for. If only we will! For most us, life will be a bloodless
martyrdom, a suffering for Christ, for the sake of Christ, for the
sake of the Church in a thousand ways outside the arena. The road
to Heaven is lined on both sides with Crosses, and upon the Crosses
people, people who suffered unknown to the world, but known to God.
Catholics living in partibus infidelium, under the scourge
of Islam. Loveless marriages. Injustices on all sides. Poverty.
Illness. Old age. Dependency. They are the cruciform! Those whose
lives became Crosses because they would not flee God, the
Church, the call to, the demand for, holiness in the most ordinary
things of life made extraordinary through the grace of God. The
Martyrology we celebrate each day is just a vignette, a small, immeasurably
small, sampling of the martyrdom that has been the lives of countless
men and women whom Christ and the Angels know, but whom the world
does not know.
“Exemplum enim dedi vobis”, Christ
said to His Apostles: “I have given you an example.” And His Martyrs
give one to us — and that is why the Martyrs matter.
A Martyr is one who suffers
tortures and a violent death for the sake of Christ and
the Catholic Faith.
A Confessor is one who confesses
Christ publicly in times of persecution and who suffers torture,
or severe punishment by secular authorities as a consequence.
It is a title given only given to those who suffered
for the Faith — but was not killed
for it — and who had persevered
in the Faith until the end.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
Note: We suggest that you explore our
newly edited and revised
SS. Martyrum Cruciatibus — The Torments and Tortures of the Christian
for an in-depth historical account of the sufferings of the Martyrs.
Totally Faithful to the Sacred Deposit of
Faith entrusted to the Holy See in Rome
opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti
verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum”
know your works ... that you have but little power,
and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My
Copyright © 2004 - 2023 Boston Catholic
Journal. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise stated,
permission is granted by the Boston Catholic Journal
for the copying and distribution of the articles and
audio files under the following conditions: No
additions, deletions, or changes are to be made to the
text or audio files in any way, and the copies may not
be sold for a profit. In the reproduction, in any format
of any image, graphic, text, or audio file, attribution
must be given to the Boston Catholic Journal.