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Boston Catholic Journal - Critical Catholic Commentary in the Twilight of Reason

Boston Catholic Journal

Martyrology for Today


in the Twilight of Reason

Monday April 8th, 2024

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary, Conceived without Sin, Pray for us who have Recourse to Thee


Mary, Conceived without Sin,

pray for us who have recourse to Thee


A Reflection From Good Friday

The Sin of Judas

On The Sin of Judas


What did Judas plan to do with the thirty pieces of silver for which he betrayed Jesus?

Think on it.

There appear to be only two explanations, although others have been offered in attempts to comprehend the magnitude of Judas’s betrayal, such as greed, power, or political aspirations, but all these pale before a consciousness of the spiritual, ontological, and sheer metaphysical scale of what Judas had one.

No other crime in the annals of history, from the first sibilation of the Serpent in the Garden of Paradise, to that last shrieking malediction of Satan when he is hurled into the crescendo of Hell forever at the end of time — neither of these, nor all the unspeakable atrocities in between that have fouled the course of human existence, equals the crime of Judas.

Judas sinned against perfect, infinite, divine, Innocence!

We do not know that Innocence, although we guess at it, and even glimpse it in the eyes of babies, of children (yes, God is so intent on our glimpsing this, that we even behold its gleam in the eyes of all little and harmless things!)

His crime was not just against innocence,” but against Innocence Himself: Iesus Innocens Patris! The Sinless One! He in virtue of Whom all that possesses innocence is innocent! He against Whom all else are guilty, because none else are perfectly innocent! Spiritually. Morally. Ontologically. Metaphysically!

And yet in Whom all guilt is acquitted. He, the Spotless One against Whom all are blemished, and yet in Whom every blemish is removed!

Can we begin now to see the enormity of Judas’s sin? His crime against Christ, in Christ is his crime — infinitely less, so infinitely less — nevertheless a crime against us! Against our children. And our children’s children!

And yet, so devastating a swath of such incomprehensible malice cannot be of man alone, so utterly malevolent was, is, its issue. No! Whatever Judas planned to do with thirty pieces of silver we can never know. What Satan planned to do with Judas we do know!

For such a paltry sum “Satan entered into Judas” (St. Luke 22.3, St. John 13.27)

And yet, for the Demon and the man, so poised for so certain a victory, did that bright thunder fall when in their evil mutuality they unwittingly cooperated in the final extinction of evil beginning on the Cross the next day, and culminating at the end of time in the Redemption of the World that the Dragon had long sought to destroy in the raging Lake of Fire awaiting him in the Second Death. (Apoc. 20.9-10)

Evil recoiled upon itself this day — and in so doing wrought its own destruction in the Blood of Christ shed for men on the Cross — and in the Cup of Salvation (Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei) from which we will quaff this blessed Easter Sunday!

Oh, yes. The two possible explanations: Judas had hoped that, having delivered Jesus to the Sanhedrin, Christ would be given the opportunity to speak without prejudice before the entire council, among whom, he very likely knew, Christ had sympathizers, at least in Nicodemus (St. John 3.4; 7.50-52) and Joseph of Arimathea (St. Luke 23.50-51, St. Matthew 27.57), and so exonerate Himself of their constant accusations.

The problem with this explanation is that it attributes to Judas the virtues of both justice and good will, virtues that we do not find predicated of him in Holy Scripture where he is, as we have seen, described as a thief 1 and a devil. 2

This explanation, however, does not explain Judas’s complicity with the Jewish religious leaders much earlier in the account where we find him conspiring to deliver Jesus at the opportune time. This, of course, occurred well before the passage cited immediately above. Judas's betrayal was of his own doing, and for an already determined amount of silver (to what end we can never know). On that unimaginably dark night of darkness, Satan found not just one willing accomplice, did he? He found many! How very many! Even among the highest religious authorities!

... just as he still finds among us  —  from the least to the highest echelons of office!


1 (St. John 12.6)
2 (St. John 6.71-72)


Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal

March 27, 2024
Feast of
St. John Damascene, confessor and Doctor of the Church

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Refusing to Call a Spade

Fiducia supplicans   spade

Francis Digs in on Fiducia supplicans 

“No one is scandalized if I give a blessing to an entrepreneur who perhaps exploits people: and this is a very serious sin,” the Holy Father said. “Whereas they are scandalized if I give it to a homosexual ...” 1


“Who perhaps ...”

If you are a theologian, you will call this casuistry, and if you are a philosopher, you will call it sophistry. If you are neither, you will call this nonsense.

What is Francis really saying here? It is difficult to establish — and that is precisely the point of his making this confusing and elliptical statement. We are not quite sure what he is saying. That he is attempting to justify blessing homosexual “couples” is unquestionable. No one doubts this.

It is a subtle argument because it contains unstated premises intended to lead to spurious conclusions. If we make these latent premises clear, his argument falls apart because it is false. Let us look at it:


Premise 1: It is not scandalous if I bless an entrepreneur who may exploit people

Premise 2: Exploiting people is a very serious sin

Conclusion: (therefore) It should not be scandalous to bless actively homosexual “unions”

Does anyone fail to see that the conclusion does not follow from the premises? That, in fact, the premises have absolutely nothing to do with the conclusion?

But let us be kind and pretend that premises 1 and 2 are true (which should yield a conclusion that is true, but in this case is not). Let us stay with the conclusion that Francis mysteriously draws.

“It should not be scandalous to bless actively homosexual “unions” because I bless entrepreneurs who may exploit people.”

This is the substance of his argument.

Notice the hypothetical that he inserts with (those capitalist) entrepreneurs: “may.” Even given his well-known animus toward capitalism, he is still careful to avoid a blanket statement calling all entrepreneurs “exploiters” engaging in serious sin.

And so he must, for when men behave as entrepreneurs, they may do so well and justly, or they may do so badly and unjustly. And this is further to say that being an entrepreneur, or engaging in entrepreneurial activities, is not in itself sinful, although the way in which it is conducted may be so. In a word, entrepreneurship, is not inherently sinful, although men can make it so.

When men, on the other hand, engage in homosexual acts, the sinful nature of that act is intrinsic: the sin is in the act itself.  Unlike entrepreneurial activity we cannot say that it “may” be sinful: within a clearly, historically, and specifically Catholic context, we cannot say that they may sin by acting in such a way — but that by acting in such a way they always sin. Without exception. It is contra legem Dei. There is no higher law to which Catholics can appeal. The laws of God certainly supersede the laws of the State or the perverse legislation of society.

In this case the proscription against homosexual acts is much like the proscription against adultery. It is not the case that it “may” be sinful. It is always sinful. Always and everywhere and under all conditions. Except in Amoris Laetitia




Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal

Feast of St. Apollonia
Feb 07, 2024

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Cardinal Victor Fernández:

“The Mystical Passion:

Spirituality and Sensuality”

The Mystical Passion: Spirituality and Sensuality: a Profound Disfiguration of Mystical Theology

(from the back cover of the book)

A Profound Disfiguration

of Mystical Theology

It is embarrassing.

Academically as much as morally.

This is a book by a mature 36-year-old man that should never have been printed; not because it is lascivious (it is) but because it is the product of a mind that had no acquaintance with serious study and no founding in Catholic primary sources — a “cardinal sin,” if you will, of any author, especially a Catholic author who illicitly invokes the names of saints and in so doing pretends to adduce their support for a thesis that is not simply contrary to their writings, but is a caricature of them. This is damnable!

Fernández was not, as he also pretends to be, still a formative young man who later wrote “more serious” treatises on Mystical Theology such The Healing Force of Mysticism and The Transforming Force of Mysticism, neither title of which inspires me to believe that they contain any more mature theological insights than their “less mature” works, including Heal Me with Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing.

Fernandez's grasp of Mystical Theology is shockingly inadequate. Consider the following:

“[in] a kind of fulfilling orgasm in our relationship with God … God manages to touch the soul-corporeal centre of pleasure.”


“The mystical experience God touches the most intimate centre of love and pleasure…” [emphases added]


These are but two absolutely fundamental misconceptions, or complete distortions, of the very nature and possibility of mystical experience articulated by the sources he appeals to.

I have argued elsewhere, with clear and indisputable citations to primary sources that:

  • Sensuous negation, or what St. John of the Cross, [the First Doctor of Mystical Theology in the Catholic Church], calls the “Night of the Senses.” is therefore absolutely necessary to that union in which the soul becomes one with God.”

  • “In the opening sequences of Book One of the Ascent, St. John discussed the night of the senses relative to the will. There we found that the disparity between God and created nature emphasized the lack of proportion, of commensurability, between God and the soul in its relation to God through created nature, and in so doing demonstrated the inherent impossibility of a sensuous apprehension of God. And the conclusion, of course, was that if God is to be apprehended at all, he must be apprehended extra-naturally; not through a sensuous manifold accessible to the will — nor, as St. John will now argue, through any conceptualization available through ordinary understanding.” 

  • the contemplative must not defer to the senses; however credible their reports may appear. Moreover, St. John argues, in their tangible dimensions, these sensuous communications cannot, in reality, bear any proportion to, and are in fact the ontological opposite of, the spiritual reality which they purport to convey.”  *

What is more, absolutely fundamental to Western Christian Mysticism is the the notion of apophasis, the understanding of God by a negation of what He is not, commonly called the Via Negativa, or the Negative Way. Because of the ontological disparity between man and God inasmuch as God is eternal where man is temporal, infinite where man in finite, God is absolute where man is contingent, God is Uncreated Spirit and man created spirit and flesh who was created in imago Dei (the image of God) in time and not eternity, and we cannot predicate of God anything corporeal” for everything sensible and corporeal is eo ipso not God nor predicable of God since it is material, temporal and finite.

The absolutely contradictory and utterly incoherent notion of something that is “soul-corporeal is nothing less than an absurdity, and to argue that it can be radicated in some imaginary “centre of pleasure is beyond absurd. To understand, in any measure, God reflected, however analogically, in the completely sensual act of sexual climax is not simply bizarre, it is an utter failure to grasp even the most fundamental elements in Christian theology and philosophy.

More absurd still is that this less than pedestrian mind is directing the very office  — the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith — where the most mature and incisive intellect is required in making determinations concerning the very Doctrine of the Faith itself. That it should have been given by Francis to a man of such questionable character and limited intellectual ability is astounding! It is the highest office in the Church next to the papacy and should not have been given as a reward for loyalty, or as a favor to a friend and fellow-countryman with the same horizontal and anthropocentric agendum. The Church is far beyond the narrow and calculated reach of any individual who would fashion what is divine into the marred image of a man.

That Fernández has chosen to articulate this most superlative love of God for the soul and the reciprocal love of the soul for God, not just in sensuous terms, but in what is tantamount to the pornographic terms which he appears to use in characterizing love in any of its manifestations is not just “regrettable”, or even “scandalous” — it is, as I have said earlier and now say with greater vigor still, damnable.


Geoffrey K. Mondello   
Editor of the Boston Catholic Journal
and Author of       
* The Metaphysics of Mysticism  
A Commentary    
on the Mystical Philosophy of  
St. John of the Cross

January 12, 2024
Feast of
the Holy Martyrs Zoticus, Rogatus, Modestus, Castulus, and forty soldiers In Africa


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A Reflection on the Legacy of a Steward

Francis: the unfaithful steward
Francis, Ecumenism,

and the Divisions within us

All are Welcome, Except All the Children ...

Francis will diealthough we do not wish his death, nor the death of any man — but it is, withal, the temporal end of every man, pontiff or layman, commoner or king. Reflecting on this as Francis recently celebrated his 87th birthday, we are moved to observe something very simple about his stewardship over the House that the Lord has entrusted to him.

For 10 years now, Francis has attempted to renovate a House that is not his, but only placed in his care as a steward. The majestic facades, the incense-imbued silence within, dimly colored with the stained-glass light of a late afternoon; the soaring spires that proclaimed the great Triumph of the Cross abroad for all to see — these were not his to depredate: they belonged to God and to His simple servants who raised them to His glory through the coppers they gave and through the rough, calloused, hands that engraved every niche in stone by dint of a devotion every bit as indestructible as the tip of the chisel the stone yielded to.

Some of these Francis and his bishops simply tore down; others they emptied by consolidating them with other Catholic parishes who were equally bleeding parishioners and sold them to Muslims whose adherents grew as exponentially as ours diminished. Some were sold to Evangelical Protestants (especially Hispanic), others to developers who gutted them and turned them into trendy condominiums. And others are left simply abandoned and ruined. This was part of the growth spurred by the innovations of Vatican II that was supposed to bring the Church into the World but brought, instead, the World into the Church.

And the faithful fled, seeing little difference between the two.


A far more destructive renovation is much closer to the heart of Francis, however, than the mere obliteration of what was symbolically holy in the external presentation of the Church. And it concerns the very heart of the Church: its Mass and its Liturgy. These were the two  greatest impediments to the holy grail of Vatican II: Ecumenism. And inextricably bound up with them were the Sacred Deposit of Faith, and Sacred Tradition. They had been quietly but indelibly preserved in Latin despite nearly 70 years of experimentation in the Vernacular Mass that somehow had promised, but could not deliver upon, an organic evolution of worship into something ecumenically acceptable to all men in all religions.

Perhaps the New Order of the Mass, the Novus Ordo constructed by Bishop Luca Brandolini and Anabile Bugnini,1 could still lend itself as the vehicle to a universal worship of God under the auspices of Ecumenism: each religion to its own god to be worshipped as the one, true god in Catholicism — but not in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism, each of whom keep their respective gods without conflating them with any other god, especially the Catholic God. To use Francis’s dismissive term for Traditional Catholics,“indietrists2 are much too caught up in trifles like logic to enter emotionally into the “spirit” of Ecumenism where, apparently, the Law of Non-Contradiction 3 is not admissible and contradictory affirmations are compulsory.

All are Welcome ... Except All the Children ...

Certainly, this New Order of Mass, the Novus Ordo of Paul VI — unlike the Latin Mass — has proven itself to be extremely versatile and spontaneously creative, possessing nothing of that loathsome “ridigity” so detested by Francis in the “Old Latin Mass.” We have witnessed this spontaneity, this tossing off of the shackles of customary ritual in nearly every Mass; so much so, in fact, that we never quite know what to expect at a Mass the next town over if a Catholic Church still remains there. It could be a “Charismatic Mass” that could vie with, or even surpass in excess, any uninhibited Protestant Revival Meeting. It could be a “Healing Mass,” or a “Children’s Mass.” It may not even be in your language. It could even be an “Ecumenical Service” with your local Protestant Minister, Jewish Rabbi, or Muslim Imam. So many Masses we now have! Except Latin Masses.

“All are welcome!” ... except Latin rite Catholics. ... the unwelcome step-children of Vatican II ... the only children not allowed to “walk in accompaniment” with Francis & Friends; a “privilege” reserved to “other” Catholics, non-Catholics, and atheists alike. Francis's own rigid insistence on the Novus Ordo Mass to the exclusion of any Mass preceding Vatican II is, in fact, completely understandable in light of his determination to fulfill  the Ecumenical pledge of Vatican II: not just the unification of all Christians in spite of doctrinal, ecclesiological, and Confessional differences, but more ambitiously, the unification of all believers in some form of transcendental reality. This is a very, very, broad category comprising nearly everything beyond sensibility, and even sensibility is not categorically excluded. So understood, the term becomes so broad as to become almost meaningless. It is much like claiming to achieve an ultimate Hegelian synthesis that claims to reconcile all contradictions but cannot explain how, and so becomes unintelligible and therefore worthless.

This is becoming too dense for the casual reader so I will not pursue it. Nor should the casual reader regret the omission. Really, it is hardly worth it.

For Francis to scornfully dismiss those who are not persuaded that his ecumenical agendum is the principal reason behind his effectively abolishing and outlawing the Latin Mass (although he disingenuously — really, quite dishonestly — states that it is to preserve unity in the Church) is a failure in charity to acknowledge real and legitimate issues among the faithful concerning the very unity he pretends to seek while actively striking discord within it. For Francis to claim that he is trying to preserve unity through this autocratic move is both shamefully and manifestly untruthful. That the Latin Mass, together with the theology upon which it has been articulated, has been so forcefully repudiated by Francis is an indication of how desperate a measure he is willing to resort to in order to implement, or better yet, to force, an increasingly brittle ecumenical paradigm on clergy and laity alike. Pieces of that ecumenical puzzle that are not of Bergoglio's making either will not fit, or refuse to fit, however much force he applies to them.

A Happy Failure

It will be a happy failure that Francis could not, for all his intrigue and ill-designs, bring to an end what faithless princes and kings, heretics and apostates through 20 centuries had been unable to achieve: the destruction, and the utter removal from living memory, of the inextinguishable sanctity of the Latin Mass of All Times and All Places. .

It will be a sad epitaph for Francis in many ways, and history will not look kindly upon his persecution of the faithful in the very house given them and entrusted to him to keep them. It is all the more sad, not that he failed to keep them, or even that he refused to keep them, but that he sought to drive them out. Seeking to please men, he drove out the children. It is a tragedy of great depth. It is also one that calls for deep, even the most profound, prayer; prayer that must extend to the hand that strikes, as well as to the stricken, for none of us is without sin.

Listening to Christ, let us put aside all contention, and remember not so much what has been done to us, but rather what remains for us to do:

Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you.” (St. Matthew 5.44)


Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
January 10, 2024
Feast of Pope St. Agatho

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1 “I can’t fight back the tears. This is the saddest moment in my life as a man, priest and bishop”, Luca Brandolini, a member of the liturgy commission of the Italian bishops’ conference, told Rome daily La Repubblica in an interview on Sunday. “It’s a day of mourning, not just for me but for the many people who worked for the Second Vatican Council. A reform for which many people worked, with great sacrifice and only inspired by the desire to renew the Church, has now been cancelled.” — Bishop Luca Brandolini (principal architect of the Novus Ordo Missae, or the Vernacular Mass)

2 Franciss Italian neologism meaning: backwardists.

3 Contradictory propositions cannot, at one and the same time, and in the same sense, be both true and not true, e.g.
   “It is true that the god worshipped by Muslims is not the same God worshipped by Catholics.
   “It is true that the God worshipped by Catholics is same the god worshipped by Muslims.
   “It is true that the God worshipped by Catholics is not the same god worshipped by Muslims.
   “It is true that the god worshipped by Muslims is the same God worshipped by Catholics.



The Queer and Impulsive God of

The Recreant Steward and the Captain of the Tower Guard

Fiducia supplicans


This “declaration on Catholic doctrine,” which is more properly an aberration of it — is Francis’s latest effort to appease a coterie of his most ardent supporters by attempting to legitimize “irregular” — which is to say, “sinful”— “unions” of actively-engaged homosexuals by invoking “blessings” upon them. It is effectively summarized in paragraph (31)

FS 31. “These forms of blessing express a supplication that God may grant those aids that come from the impulses of his Spirit—what classical theology calls “actual grace”—so that human relationships may mature and grow in fidelity to the Gospel, that they may be freed from their imperfections and frailties, and that they may express themselves in the ever-increasing dimension of the divine love.”

There are two very serious problems with this statement. Once concerns the manipulation of language, and one concerns a calculated misrepresentation of the notion of Actual Grace. Both are intended to mislead the casual reader, and to promote an agendum (specifically, homosexuality as acceptable to God and the Catholic Church — other supposed “irregular unions” implied are simply intentional distractions) that is not simply contrary to Catholic Teaching, but is militantly hostile to it.

Let us look at the first:

   “These [so-called “pastoral”] forms of blessing express a supplication that God
may grant those aids that come from the impulses of his Spirit …”

This is a very queer notion. First, God does not have “impulses.” Consider the definition of “impulse” from four respectable sources:

  • “a sudden spontaneous inclination or incitement to some usually unpremeditated action” 1

  • “a sudden strong wish to do something” 2

  • “a sudden desire to do something” 3

  • “a sudden wish or urge that prompts an unpremeditated act or feeling; an abrupt inclination4

Italicized above are all the words in each definition that do not, and cannot, possibly pertain to God.

What God is Not

  • God is never “spontaneous” [happening or done in a natural, often sudden way, without any planning or without being forced”]. He does not act with “out of the blue” spontaneity. Spontaneity implies a sudden change in God, but God does not change.

  • Neither is God ever “motivated:” He is His own cause: nothing “other” than Himself motivates Him.

  • Nor is God ever “inclined” to do something or anything, for this would imply a change within Him from potentiality (or as the Schoolmen called it, “potency”) to act; as it were, from His possessing something potentially but not choosing to actualize it, or cause it to be. But that would mean that the Being of God is not a pure Act, but has the potential to be more than it is — and this is not what we understand by “God”: that is to say, we do not understand by God one who can be more than He is and chooses not to be, for such a being, capable of being more than He is, cannot be God, for He would be less than He could be, and such a being we do not understand to be God.

  • Neither is God susceptible to “incitement” for the same reasons outlined above — still less to “unpremeditated action” (an omniscient, all-knowing, God cannot possibly possess anything “unpremeditated”, i.e. something He did not know or purpose).

  • Nor is God susceptible to “desires,” since He possesses all that could be desired in the possession of Himself.

  • For the same reasons He does not “wish” for anything, nor is He “inclined” toward anything, or have “urges” for anything. Even anthropologically understood, they cannot be predicated of God or in any way pertain to Him.

All these things pertain to the notion of “impulses.”

No Blessings Can Come from What is Not God

There are no blessings, then, that can possibly come from the fiction called “the impulses of his (sic, presumably God’s) Spirit,” for God the Holy Spirit, as we have gone to pains to demonstrate, does not have, and cannot have, “impulses.”

Furthermore, to conflate this illegitimate and meaningless notion of God behaving “impulsively” with the legitimate theological concept of Actual Grace is nothing less than an attempt at theological legerdemain (trickery). In a word, the connection between the two is spurious.

Perhaps the most succinct description of Actual Grace is along these lines: It is the grace given to the achievement of, and not enduring beyond, a salutary action that itself, as inherently good (for God will not and cannot give us grace to do something evil), and which is granted through the merits of Jesus Christ.

More to the point, it is an irreconcilable contradiction to claim that people living in objectively sinful relationships — or the sins that Francis, Fernández & Friends prefer to verbally sanitize as “irregular unions” — are, in fact, capable of receiving an actual blessing that will assist them in achieving an action that is neither spiritually nor naturally salutary or good, for the action (active homosexuality) is intrinsically sinful, and as sinful, eo ipso evil.

 Few appear willing to state this inescapable conclusion for fear of being “socially incorrect” or “hurting the feelings of others.” However, “hurting the feelings” of others so that their immortal souls may avoid Hell and attain to Heaven is an inestimably good act. It is an act of love, for love ever wills the good of the other and no evil.

Not on Merit

Since Francis is keen to discourage piety in Catholics (dismissing reverence toward the Holy Eucharist as an attitude of regarding it as “a prize for the perfect” 5 — as though any Catholic deems himself perfect) or filial adherence to long established Church teaching as “rigidity,” “backwardness,” and more 6,  we must hasten to add that the objection to a “blessing” of the sort proposed is not based on a matter of “merit,” since no one — absolutely no one — “merits” the grace of God in any form, Sanctifying, Habitual, or Actual. Francis cannot implicitly argue (as he did, concerning the Eucharist) that heterosexual couples (“proudly”) deem themselves meritorious of blessings (and are therefore unworthy of them), while (“humble”) homosexual “couples” recognize they are not worthy of them (and are therefore worthy of them). Why? We had just stated it: No one is deserving or worthy of them.

But for this reason, are we to understand that the notion of sin no longer applies to human actions? For this reason is murder, or adultery, or active homosexuality not a sin? How did we even arrive at the semblance such ridiculous argumentum ad absudum?

It is simple: the proposition — Fiducia supplicans — itself is absurd: that God can and will bless what is sinful and abhorrent to Him.


Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal

December 29, 2023
Feast of St. Thomas Becket

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5 Evangelium Gaudium 5.47

6 Fundamentalists [who] keep God away from accompanying his people, they divert their minds from him and transform him into an ideology. So, in the name of this ideological god, they kill, they attack, destroy, slander”, “narcissists,” idolaters”, “rebels”, “legalists”, “inflexible”, cf.


Martyrology for Today

Semen est sanguis Christianorum (The blood of Christians is the seed of the Church) Tertullian, Apologeticum, 50



Friday April 12th in the Year of Grace 2024

Paschal Tide

This Day, the Twelfth Day of April

At Verona, the martyrdom of the bishop St. Zeno, who governed that Church with great fortitude amidst the storms of persecution, and was crowned with martyrdom in the days of Gallienus.

In Cappadocia, in the reign of the emperor Valens, in the persecution raised against Christians by Athanaric, king of the Goths, St. Sabas, a Goth, who was cast into a river after undergoing cruel torments. According to St. Augustine, many other Christian Goths were at that time adorned with the crown of martyrdom.

At Braga, in Portugal, St. Victor, martyr, who although only a catechumen, refused to adore an idol, and confessed Jesus Christ with great constancy. After suffering many tortures, he was beheaded, and thus merited to be baptized in his own blood.

At Fermo, in the Marches, St.Vissia, virgin and martyr.

At Rome, on the Aurelian road, the birthday of Pope St. Julius, who combated vigorously for the Catholic faith against the Arians. After a life of brilliant deeds and great sanctity, he rested in peace.

At Gap, St. Constantine, bishop and confessor.

At Pavia, St. Damian, bishop.

And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

Omnes sancti Mártyres, oráte pro nobis. (All ye Holy Martyrs, pray for us, from the Litaniae Sanctorum, the Litany of the Saints)

Response: Thanks be to God.


Roman Martyrology by Month

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 De SS. Martyrum Cruciatibus — The Torments and Tortures of the Christian Martyrs for an in-depth historical account of the sufferings of the Martyrs.

* Those early Christians who renounced their Catholic Faith in times of persecution. When confronted with the prospect of torture and death if they held fast to their faith in Christ, they denied Him and their Faith through an act of sacrificing (often incense) to the pagan Roman gods and in so doing kept their lives and/or their freedom and property.


Boston Catholic Journal

Totally Faithful to the Sacred Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy See in Rome

Scio opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum 
I know your works ... that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name.
(Apocalypse 3.8)

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