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St. Felicitas and her seven sons by Neri di Bicci, Florence, 1464Sailko / Wikimedia Commons

July 6, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — In the traditional Roman Catholic calendar, July 10 is the feast of the Seven Holy Brothers, Martyrs, and Sts. Rufina and Secunda, Virgin Martyrs. The seven brothers, sons of St. Felicitas, were killed in Rome and buried in four tombs:

  • Saints Alexander, Vitalis, and Martial(is): Cemetery of the Jordani, on the Via Salaria

  • Saint Januarius: Cemetery of Praetextatus, on the Via Appia

  • Saints Felix and Philip: Cemetery of Priscilla, on the Via Salaria)

  • Saint Sylvanus (or Silvanus): Cemetery of Maximus, on the Via Salaria)

Here we have the Christian counterpart to the seven Jewish brothers of the Maccabees, whose martyrdom is also featured in the traditional calendar on August 1 (with a commemoration of St. Peter’s chains). They are the only Old Testament saints on the general Roman calendar for Mass.

Both of these feasts were removed by the liturgical reformers (among the more than 300 saints they removed). This is unfortunate for many reasons. I will just mention three.

1. These saints have been celebrated since time immemorial, not only by the Roman church but also by most of the Eastern churches. They form a bond with the worship of the early Church in its unbroken catholicity, the “undivided Church” of the first millennium.

2. The Jewish brothers in particular remind us that the Church of Christ, the Israel of God, has existed from the beginning of time, even if it was not fully formed until the coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. The pious Israelites were, as St. Augustine clearly teaches, already members of the Church by anticipation, by their faith in the future redemption of Israel and in the Messiah. This is a needful corrective to the false idea that the Old Testament and the New Testament pertain to two different religions: the Jews and the Christians. As a matter of fact, the whole Bible belongs to the Church because it all points to Christ, as one who is to come or who has already come and will come again in glory.

3. Most importantly for our times, these two feasts celebrate large families. Seven sons are martyred, but they probably had sisters as well who go unmentioned in the records. The new liturgical calendar, as far as I know, celebrates no large families as groups of saints.

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PETITION UPDATE (6/29/2021):

The Pope has written a note to Fr. James Martin, SJ, praising his fellow Jesuit’s controversial pro-LGBT ministry, saying it "reflects the closeness of God" and is in the "style of God."

The Pope’s note was written in response to a communication that Martin had sent Francis earlier, informing him of an upcoming LGBT conference organized by renegade New Ways Ministry (NWM), which has been denounced as non-Catholic ministry by the U.S. bishops and whose leaders defied the Vatican’s order to cease their affiliation with NWM decades ago.

In spite of the fact that Francis has done this, the Church still teaches that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered," and "under no circumstances can they be approved." (Catechism of the Catholic Church Para. 2357)

Therefore, when a priest, like James Martin, SJ - and, New Ways Ministry - adovcate for the normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism, without calling for chastity and repentence, we know that this style is most certainly not in the style of God.

Please continue to SIGN and share this petition asking the bishops of the United States to stop Martin's LGBT advocacy.

'On eve of LGBT Catholic conference, Pope Francis praised Fr. James Martin, SJ’s pro-LGBT ministry' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/on-eve-of-lgbt-catholic-conference-pope-francis-praised-fr-james-martin-sjs-pro-lgbt-ministry

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PETITION UPDATE (2/4/2020):

Fr. James Martin, SJ, can't resist telling bishops how to run their dioceses.

He recently opined that dioceses should stop firing homosexuals who are "married" by the state, saying that this is tantamount to discrimination.

But, of course, when it comes to such relationships, Bishops must discriminate between what is authentically Catholic and Christian, both under the natural law and in Revelation.

And, such people, who enter into a homosexual relationship and then have it publicly recognized by the state as something which nature and religion know can never be fruitful -- but, which conversely, can cause grave scandal to children -- cannot expect to hold positions in Catholic schools.

The two positions are contradictory, and not just in the way that other things are contradictory.

Homosexual "marriage" is a contradiction in terms, and is not only unnatural, but also confusing to young minds. And, not just about human nature, but also about the way that God has designed man and woman to be together, in marriage, in a lifelong, monogamous bond.

What Fr. Martin suggests is that bishops are free to take a sledge hammer to God's design...which, of course, is totally, totally wrong.

Bishops, please continue assert your right to protect the innocence of children as well as defend the institution of marriage.

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Fr. James Martin, SJ recently issued a tweet questioning the Bible's condemnation of homosexual acts.

Fr. Martin’s tweet quotes an article from the Center for Action and Contemplation in which Fr. Richard Rohr, a priest with a long record of dissenting from established Church teachings, favorably shares a pro-homosexuality missive from his “dear friend,” Methodist minister Walter Wink. In June of 2018, Fr. Rohr declared in a speech that “historically, scientifically, culturally,” the Bible is “a mass of contradictions from beginning to end.”

This is decidedly NOT what the Catholic Church teaches.

Thankfully, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, and Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa, have both responded to Fr. James Martin’s tweet highlighting an article that questions the “biblical judgment” of “same-sex sexual behavior.”

Bishop Strickland issued a response yesterday evening on his own Twitter account:

“Thank you for acknowledging that you question scripture. If we go down that road where do we stop? I know you have lots of support but you are challenging the Deposit of Faith that I promised to defend. As a bishop I’ll keep defending it.”

This morning, Cardinal Napier also took to the popular social media platform to give his response to Fr. Martin’s tweet.

“How convenient to use slavery to justify support for homosexuality, totally overlooking the fact that the Bible is overwhelmingly the story of God freeing His People from all slavery — physical & political but also slavery to idols & false gods, to moral & spiritual aberrations!”

We give thanks to God for these examples of strong leadership from the episcopate!

But, we need more Shepherds to come out against Fr. Martin's LGBT advocacy, which is a stain on the Church's teaching and on Christ's admonition to, "Go, and sin no more!"

Thank you for SIGNING!

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Fr. James Martin is perhaps the most notorious pro-LGBT priest in the Catholic Church today. His public statements are opposed to the Church’s perennial teachings on sexuality, marriage, homosexuality, and transgenderism. They blind souls to the truth about human nature and the harsh reality of sin.

And, in spite of meeting with the Pope recently, which gave the veneer of respectability to his morally dangerous positions on the Church's teaching on sexuality, no-one has the authority to declare morally good or neutral, something which is actually intrinsically disordered -- not even the Pope.

Thankfully, however, there are some pastors of the Catholic Church who continue to place the constant teaching of the Church on faith and morals, and on sexuality, above human respect.

This petition, therefore, asks the Bishops of the Catholic Church to stop bowing to human respect, and ban Fr. James Martin from spreading his spiritual poison in their dioceses..."spiritual poison", because encouraging someone to continue in mortal sin is like giving poison to someone's soul, no matter how well-intentioned one may be.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia released a statement noting that Fr. Martin’s “statements and activities” have caused confusion.

  • “A pattern of ambiguity in his teachings tends to undermine his stated aims, alienating people from the very support they need for authentic human flourishing,” Chaput wrote. “Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims.”

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois quickly issued a statement supporting Chaput, saying that aspects of Martin’s teachings are “deeply scandalous,” and his “messages create confusion among the faithful and disrupt the unity of the Church.”

Bishop Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee has also opposed some of Martin’s statements.

And, in the Fall of 2018, Texas Bishop Joseph Strickland asked his fellow bishops to discern whether or not fraternal correction demands they ban from their dioceses Fr. James Martin and his pro-gay "marriage" message.

  • Strickland said of Martin: “There’s a priest that travels around now basically saying that he doesn’t [believe the doctrine of the Church on marriage], and he seems to be very well promoted in various places.”
  • “Brothers, I think part of the fraternal correction...we offer each other is to say, 'Can that be presented in our diocese? That same-sex ‘marriage’ is just fine, and the Church will one day grow to understand that.'”
  • “That’s not what we teach,” he stated. “And I think we really have to ask those serious questions.”

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has called Fr. Martin “one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality.”

And, Cardinal Raymond Burke has called Martin’s teaching “not coherent with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.”

Over the years, Fr. Martin has made numerous remarks that indicate open hostility towards and deep opposition to unchangeable doctrine on matters related to men, women, and sexuality. Bishops need to stop allowing him to spread his un-Christ-like message in their dioceses. Below is an extensive list of things he has said or done. For instance, Fr. Martin...

  • Wants active homosexuals to be “invited into parish ministries” like eucharistic ministers.
  • Once claimed “some” saints were “probably gay.”
  • Told a gay Catholic journalist that he hopes that during the exchange of peace at mass “you will be able to kiss your partner or soon to be your husband. Why not? What’s the terrible thing?”
  • Tweeted support for transgender bathrooms, claiming that “It doesn't hurt anybody" which bathroom "they" choose to use.
  • Believes God made “LGBTQ people…who they are.”
  • Wants the Catechism’s use of the term “intrinsically disordered” scrapped. He believes it is “needlessly hurtful" to homosexuals and thinks “differently ordered” is preferable because it is more “pastoral.”
  • Has said a Catholic attending a same-sex “wedding” is just as acceptable as a Catholic attending a Jewish wedding.
  • Claims to have discovered a "very high correlation between people who are against [same-sex marriage] and people who are in fact homophobic."
  • Received an award from a pro-homosexual group for his “lasting contributions to the safety and/or equality of people who are LGBTQ, their families, and allies.”
  • Thinks the Church should recognize the “special gifts” homosexuals bring to the Church because of their sexual attractions.
  • Claims the Bible has been taken out of "context” in its condemnation of homosexual acts.
  • Urged homosexual priests to “come out” as “LGBT” in order to facilitate “dialogue” with bishops.
  • Praised the “fidelity” of a “married” transgender couple and wondered what the Church can “learn” from them.
  • Retweeted a liberal journalist who complained priests can’t bless “committed gay couples.”
  • Was given the “Bridge Building Award” at the 2016 gathering of the pro-gay New Ways Ministry, a dissident group censure by the Vatican and the U.S. Bishops Conference.
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As a friend pointed out to me, it should be noted for the sake of accuracy that there are many historical questions about who exactly the seven brothers were and whether or not they were blood brothers and all sons of one Felicity. The so-called Leonine Sacramentary contains seven different Masses for them, only one of which says in the Preface that they were brothers. The Gellone Sacramentary (ca. 780) does call them brothers in the title of their Mass, but the Mass prayers, which are older (the same as in the Missal of St Pius V), do not refer to them as such, and St. Felicity is not mentioned. They were killed in different ways and buried in different places, which adds an additional layer of mystery. On the other hand, as a different friend countered, the tradition that they were brothers seems already to have existed in the fourth century, given an inscription found in 1966 in the cemetery of the Giordani: SEPTIMO EX NUMERO FRATRUM … / HIC VOLVIT SANCTUS MARTYR SUA CON(dere membra) / ATRI(a quod) CAELI SCIRET SIBI LONG(a parata). And St. Gregory the Great did not think it was out of the question that the seven were brothers, despite being buried separately.

In other words, the history is messy and we don’t know for sure. That is the way it is with very ancient records: We don’t expect to have all the proofs we would need for historical certainty. But skepticism is not the right response to legends of the saints that have been received and celebrated by the Church for untold centuries. It runs helpfully against modern rationalism to keep doing what the Church gives us in her tradition, in spite of the fact that scholars may not be satisfied. As important as the work of scholars may be, it can never be allowed to get the upper hand. That is what happened in the liturgical reform, and the utter desolation that resulted will haunt the Church’s memory until the end of time.

Obviously, the point of July 10’s and August 1’s commemorations of seven brothers is to venerate these martyrs, rejoice in their victory, beg their intercession, and imitate their example — the size of the family is somewhat incidental. However, it is still a reality present to the minds of the faithful: Here are seven blood brothers, which can’t help but subtly form worshipers to think that a family with (at least) seven children is a perfectly normal thing. This would be one more way in which the Latin Mass is an antithesis to modern anti-family propaganda.

A final note: The additional pair of saints on July 10, Rufina and Secunda, are virgin martyrs of the third century whose relics were translated on this day in the 12th century. Their legend states that they were daughters of a Roman senator named Asterius. Their fiancés, Armentarius and Verinus, were Christians, but renounced their faith when Valerian began his persecutions. Again: What perfect models for modern young people today who may find themselves forced to choose between fidelity and apostasy!

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Peter Kwasniewski, Thomistic theologian, liturgical scholar, and choral composer, is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California (B.A. Liberal Arts) and The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy). He taught at the International Theological Institute in Austria and the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austria Program, then helped establish Wyoming Catholic College in 2006. There he taught theology, philosophy, music, and art history and directed the choirs until leaving in 2018 to devote himself full-time to writing and lecturing.

Today he contributes regularly to many websites and publications, including New Liturgical Movement, OnePeterFive, LifeSiteNews, Rorate Caeli, The Remnant, and Catholic Family News, and has published thirteen books, including four on traditional Catholicism: Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (Angelico, 2014, also available in Czech, Polish, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Belarusian), Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017), Tradition and Sanity (Angelico, 2018), and Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright: The Genius and Timeliness of the Traditional Latin Mass (Angelico, 2020). His work has been translated into at least eighteen languages.

Kwasniewski is a scholar of The Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, a Fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, and a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center. He has published over a thousand articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church.

For news, information, article links, sacred music, and the home of Os Justi Press, visit his personal website, www.peterkwasniewski.com.

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