Saturday, January 06, 2007
An additional problem with retreat centers is that they often promote universalism (everyone is saved). In a short article by Fr. James Behrens, a universalist and Trappist at Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia (where centering prayer and yoga retreats are offered), he asserts his belief in universal salvation by saying: "Salvation is a given...no one is left out... all the Bibles could be destroyed tomorrow and it would not make a difference."
What is the connection between Centering Prayer and universalism? At the root of Centering Prayer is the belief that we are all already saved and because of this belief, we do not need to pray to God for salvation. New Agers believe that we are God and God is everything, so we do not need to pray to God in a relational way (as someone apart from ourselves), but rather to the god within. " Spero News Forum
Thursday, January 04, 2007
He thought she was inspired by the devil. He made her explain herself to him. A flood of visions. He struggled to write these down, in Italian, in Latin. She speaks of Christ as the God-man, stressing the paradox of Divinity and Humanity. Brother Arnaldo describes the stages of her spiritual journey, sometimes of God's presence and joy, sometimes of the deepest desolation and temptations of the devil." - A Circle of Angels
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
There is a distinction.
The Apparition of the Madonna to St. Bernard wherein he nurses at her breast. It is a mystical moment in the life of the saint, rarely represented in art.
Presented is the history of the iconography shown here:
" The imagery of Bernard's miracle of lactation is founded on the words purported to have been spoken by Bernard in prayer before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "Monstra te esse matrem." (show thyself my mother!) With this request the statue is said to have come alive and have 'expressed' a stream of milk to the mouth of Bernard. Louis Réau traces the iconography of the lactation miracle of Bernard back to the 14th century, finding three paintings from that period, six in the 15th century, eight in the 16th, seven in the 17th, and ends with three in the 18th century.165 14th century "Legend of St. Bernard" Majorcan;166 The Virgin Mary stands holding Jesus in right arm, pressing her right breast with her left hand using the p/z gesture; shooting a stream of milk to the kneeling Bernard in a praying attitude as three saints look on (fig. 10). > 15th century "La légende de la lactation" Flemish;167 p/z gesture to breast and holding the Christ child; Bernard holding book and pen; no milk.
ca. 1475 "Maria erscheint dem heilegen Bernhard" flemish;168 breast cupped with left hand, holding Jesus with right hand; Bernard kneels and prays; no milk. ca. 1540? "Aparición de la Virgen a San Bernardo" by Juan Correa,169 Spanish; Virgin in a mandorla cloud presses her right breast with her right hand to shoot a stream of milk to Bernard using the p/z gesture, holding Jesus in her left arm; Bernard kneels as he receives her milk. 15th century "The lactation miracle of St. Bernard,"170 detail of a retablo by the Valencian Master of Burgo de Osma; the Virgin appears to Bernard alone in a mandorla above an altar, pressing her breast between her thumb and second finger to shoot a stream of milk to the lips of Bernard; Bernard holds his hands in prayer and receives the milk drawn in a straight line from the Virgin's nipples to his closed lips. 1659 "La légende de la "lactation" mystique de saint Bernard" Bruxelles;171 The Virgin standing, with the baby Jesus in her left arm, and Bernard kneeling, elevated above the earth on clouds, overlooking Clairvaux, Bernard's newly established monastery; the Virgin squirts a stream of milk into Bernard's waiting mouth; no gesture visible 1665-75 "La visión de San Bernardo" by Bartolomé Murillo,172 Bernard kneeling with his hand on his chest in the pseudo-zygodactylous gesture receiving milk from the Virgin Mary; the Virgin appears in a cloudy mandorla and presses her right breast with her right hand to shoot a stream of milk to the saint, her nipple between her thumb and second finger, while she holds Jesus in her left arm.
(Pictured at left, an image I lifted from "Sacred Weblog of the Universal Inquisition")
Rubens (1577-1640) "Saint Augustin en moine."173 In the painting the figure of the risen Christ holding a cross looks down upon the saint from the left side, while the Virgin on the right presses her right breast with her right hand, presumably to gift Augustine, on whom she gazes, with her milk. Augustine himself kneels between the mother and son looking up into the heavens with his arms crossed. Directly associated with Murillo's painting of the lactation vision of Augustine is the painting by Murillo, "The vision of Saint Augustine" ca. 1678174 in which the bearded Augustine kneels with his hands low and outstretched, with the image of Christ crucified on the viewer's left, gazing upwards towards Mary, to the viewer's right, who is pressing her breast to squirt a stream of milk to his lips; putti fill the upper realms of the painting. ? "Saint Bernard et la Vierge," by the Master of the life of the Virgin, Cologne, the Virgin and Bernard stand in a mundane scene behind a low wall on which the baby Jesus sits; Bernard gazes at the child as Mary, with eyes lowered towards the saint, bares her left breast and holds it with the pseudo-zygodactylous gesture; Jesus touches her p/z hand, as Bernard touches the leg of Jesus with one hand while holding a book with the other; no milk. " Breast Feeding
The Puritan and Calvinist influences in our culture do indeed remain intact in the American psyche, even in an atmosphere of so much depravity and overt sexuality, while elements of Jansenism seem to be entering a new renaissance amongst some ultra-traditionalists. These provocative (provocative to a sexualized culture) images of St. Bernard will of course be shocking to some people. I post them because another blogger was recently criticized for a painting he posted on his blog, with a couple of commentators warning him that he was presenting an occasion of sin to those who would visit his site. It all happened on Roman Catholic Blog . (I myself had used the image he uses for his current post once before - borrowed from his earlier use of it.)
At the hospital today I was looking through People magazine - now that is soft porn - and definitely not art. "Brittney - put some underwear on!"
(Don Marco - where are you when I need you!)
Can you get by this?
Rainbow Ick -thys
"Early Christians recognized each other by the sign of the fish.
See in the fish pin a sign of recognition of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers.
See in the fish pin a sign of recognition of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers. The pin signals solidarity with all people of faith who promote justice and inclusivity for every person in their faith communities." -Los Angeles Archdiocese MLGC
"In 2006 we celebrated our 20th anniversary of this ministry. The Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Catholics was founded by Cardinal Roger Mahony on February 4, 1986 and is supported throughout the Archdiocese at parish level a an active outreach ministry with gay and lesbian Catholics, their parents, families and friends." -LA MLGC
Significance of the Rainbow
"Because almost every society has considered the rainbow its private preserve, not surprisingly the bow has assumed many guises. The optimism that we associate with the rainbow is hardly universal. For example, the ancient Greeks named the rainbow Iris, and she became the bearer of the gods' often dread messages of war and retribution. Some societies see the rainbow as an ominous serpent arching across the sky, while others imagine it to be a tangible bridge between the gods and humanity. In Judeo-Christian culture...the rainbow is a symbolic bridge to the divine, a sign of God's covenant.
And Now, A Very Special History of the Rainbow Flag
"Use of the rainbow flag by the gay community began in 1978 when it first appeared in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. Borrowing symbolism from the hippie movement and black civil rights groups, San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag in response to a need for a symbol that could be used year after year. Baker and thirty volunteers hand-stitched and hand-dyed two huge prototype flags for the parade.
The flags had eight stripes, each color representing a component of the community:
1. Hot Pink for Sex 2. Red for Life 3. Orange for Healing 4. Yellow for Sun
5. Green for Nature 6. Turquoise for Art 7. Indigo for Harmony 8. Violet for Spirit." -Rainbow Flag History
In Nazi Germany homosexuals had to wear a pink triangle. If everyone would have worn it, no one would have known who was gay.
So you can take a negative and make it positive - "Queer" once a negative and demeaning term for homosexuals has been taken back by them as a badge of honor; Queer Nation, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queers without Borders, etc.
There is reverse psychology going on here marketed by homosexual activists, with the Cardinal and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in collusion.
UPDATE: Roman Catholic Blog had the first post yesterday regarding this issue and he provides an index of sorts of the blogs with in-depth background on the issue; Curt Jester, Cafeteria Is Closed, etc. Thanks, as usual, for the leading the way guys!
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Monday, January 01, 2007
Or the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord.
As well as the naming of Jesus. Some people think that it was a rite akin to Baptism, to purify the Jew from original sin - some fundamentalists think this. NOT. Here is a description for those who never watched the episode on "The Nanny" with Fran Drescher:
The Origin of Bris Milah (Circumcision)
Times change. Styles change. But some things never change: Bris Milah is one of them. It is a bond between God and the Jewish nation for all time. It is a bond that can never be broken.
When our forefather Abraham reached the ripe old age of 99 years (Genesis 17) the Almighty promised him that his descendants would have a special relationship with their Creator. This would forever be symbolized by the Bris Milah (Covenant of Circumcision). "This will be a sign of the covenant between Me and you".
Abraham circumcised himself as well as all the men of his household. When his son Isaac was born, he too, underwent Bris Milah on the eighth day, as Divinely specified. (As did Jesus today.)
Heroism Throughout the Ages
Throughout the generations the Jewish people have been unyielding in performing this mitzvah. Bris Milah was often performed in secret, defying innumerable despots and hostile regimes.
Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, and ancient Greece and Rome all tried to ban Bris Milah. They understood correctly that this distinctive rite is the cornerstone of the Jewish faith, and that proscribing it would be the first step towards eliminating our nation.
The Jewish people, non-observant as well as observant, are uncompromising on this issue. They recognize that in order for their children to survive as Jews, they must induct them into the Divine covenant of Bris Milah. (The Child Jesus was no exception.)
The Mohel (pronounced, moiyh-el)
A Mohel performs the circumcision with spiritual intent. A Bris by a Mohel is more than a simple medical procedure; it is a connection with the Divine. At a Bris Milah blessings are said and prayers are recited as the child takes his place as a member of the Jewish people. Carried out according to Jewish tradition, Bris Milah is a profoundly moving experience for all in attendance. - Bris, Jewish Circumcision
Thus with my male health problems, the Divine Infant Jesus is most assuredly the focus of my prayer in this first of His sufferings and shedding of blood.
"Jesus, sweetest Child, circumcised on the eighth day, called by the glorious name of Jesus, and by your name and your blood, revealed as the Savior of the world; have mercy on us!" - Carmelite novena to the Infant Jesus.
Another favorite movie of mine...it's too bad there wasn't a "Monk's Story" that I could have gotten photos from.
Pretend this is Dr. Fortunati (it's actually the Director) saying good bye to Sr. Luke as she leaves the Congo and returns to the Motherhouse. Then pretend Sr. Luke is a monk...
Don Marco is leaving in two days to return to his Abbey, Santa Croce in Rome.
I hope the Abbot realizes how important Don Marco's blog is to the thousands of readers he has, and that he will continue writing! Pray for Don Marco - he isn't in the best of health either.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
What's a kvetch? It's yiddish for a complainer - or a bitch. This is Helen Thomas - not that she's a kvetch - I just like her smile.
Anyway - I got an email from Ray who obviously has nothing better to do on New Year's Eve than surf the net and read parish bulletins. It was about SJA! St. Joan of Arc parish in Minneapolis. The pastor had shared some kvetching he hears from his parishioners when he dares try to adjust the SOP of his parish.
There is just no accounting for church people, is there. When I grew up one would never dare question the pastor - he was in charge of the parish like a little pope. So it's not just the more Catholic-than-the-pope parishes that kvetch if something is tweaked a bit, it's the progressivist faith communities as well. And not just parishes, religious communities can be the same way.
The Church As Police State
(I'll post a snip from Fr. Debruycker's pastors page at the end of my anecdotes. God bless our priests who endure such criticisms.)
- One local Church pastor has received complaints and criticism because he went with a different parish calendar this year. I hear it is more modern, I don't know if it's the art or there are no fish symbols on Fridays in Lent.
- Another new pastor was criticised because he had to limit the daily Mass schedule due to fewer priests available.
- In another instance, a pastor received objections for placing the new Advent wreath in the sanctuary.
- I know of a chaplain who decided to celebrate Mass ad orientem - facing the tabernacle - instead of facing the people, to the objections of many.
- I was once close to a group of nuns where some bitterly complained their chaplain never used the word "sins" at the penitential rite when beginning Mass.
- I also heard of a pastor who limited the wearing of the cassock for Sunday liturgies only - and didn't take the objections well. The rule remains however.
- Another nun complained that the same priest did not pray the ritual prayers or use holy water when he blessed a sacramental, or when he heard confession without a stole.
- A priest I know who had been invited to a wedding, danced with another guest. A member of the wedding party asked him to stop since it was scandalous for a priest to dance.
These are just petty annoyances - but I know many priests get a lot of critical email, oftentimes scathing and mean spirited. Priests have a tough enough job as it is, I think they deserve more respect and better treatment - no matter how liberal or traditional they may be - but don't overdo it with the pompous ones.
So here is Debruycker's kvetch - not his - but a few he received in the mail:
Pastor's 2 Cents: Fr. Jim DeBruycker:
"I thought it time to catch up on some e-mail responses. (Of course I will answer them from my point of view and sound like a martyr.)
1) Why don’t you lose some weight; you are so heavy you make me feel uncomfortable?
2) Why do you have to say Body of Christ so loud; can you turn down the mike?
I have been preaching for the last 20 years in Churches with a poor or non-existent sound system. I’ve developed a booming voice; friends kick me under the table at restaurants and shush me all the time. Also, our family starts to go deaf at my age. I’ll try and turn it down.
3) Why do you have to talk so fast?
Blame Miss Lentz in grade school. She was my speech therapist. I used to lisp and stutter. After years of work she got me past that, but the speed is an ongoing problem. I’ll work on it.
4) I bless you in the name of the Creator, Son and Holy Spirit. It’s in the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. For God’s sake get a script!
Actually, that blessing is a less than adequate gender compromise which was made up by God knows who, so I made up my own which at least allows for some kind of a personal God. I did write my own script.
5) Where did the seating arrangement come from? Is it being imposed by the chancery?
When I arrived at St. Joan’s I had a couple of concerns. The mike in the middle of the altar was so clumsy you said mass around it. I was told it had to be that way because of the guest speakers’ and lectors’ needs. I suggested a separate pulpit which was ignored. After Fr. Egan’s funeral the Archbishop requested we have a separate place for the liturgy of the word. This request was brought to the Liturgy Committee whose response was, “We will do it, but not until we can theologically justify it.”
My other concern was that the Eucharist was part of a show-mass at the ‘uptown bar.’ The music is great, but it would be nice to have a separate area for the Eucharist where we could put more emphasis on it, while still being true to St. Joan’s communal spirit. In early fall Vicky Klima, the Archdiocese Liturgy Director, made a pastoral visit. We discussed different Church arrangements to heighten communal involvement while maintaining the integrity of the different liturgies taking place, as well as the music accompanying these liturgies. What you see in the gym is a result of that brainstorming: the different pods for the liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the people engaging each other by facing each other in their seats. However, the building fights against this arrangement for a variety of reasons, including sight lines, sound, etc. It is a work in progress. I believe we had over 100 comments, out of 10,000 parishioners, mostly against the present arrangement, neck cramp being the most mentioned problem." - St. Joan of Arc
Pray especially for priests engaged in the "reform of the reform" - there are many starting gates in this race. Fr. Jim is doing the best he can, given his starting gate position.
"What comparison can I use for the men of today? What are they like?
They are like children squatting in the city squares and calling to their playmates,
'We piped you a tune but you did not dance,
We sang you a dirge but you did not wail.'" - Luke 7: 31