See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Madly in love...

For Our Lady



A Little Litany (to Our Lady)



When God turned back eternity and was young,

Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth

(As under the low arch the land is bright)

Peered through you, gate of heaven--and saw the earth.



Or shutting out his shining skies awhile

Built you about him for a house of gold

To see in pictured walls his storied world

Return upon him as a tale is told.



Or found his mirror there; the only glass

That would not break with that unbearable light

Till in a corner of the high dark house

God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.



Star of his morning; that unfallen star

In that strange starry overturn of space

When earth and sky changed places for an hour

And heaven looked upwards in a human face.



Or young on your strong knees and lifted up

Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,

And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim

Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.



Or risen from play at your pale raiment's hem

God, grown adventurous from all time's repose,

Or your tall body climbed the ivory tower

And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.



GK Chesterton


(Big thanks to Susan.)
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Art:  Reference

Our Lady of Guadalupe


"The iconography of Heaven."
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Fr. Angelo Mary has written some things regarding the image of the Virgin as she appeared to St. Juan Diego.
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"... the heavenly iconography of Guadalupe passes from the prophecy of Genesis and the vision of St. John right into the history that it was intended to address. The image itself is a miracle that manifests and perpetuates the Virgin’s presence. We see what Juan Diego saw. Once Our Lady’s command to build a temple was obeyed the image came to rest on Tepeyac Hill, where formerly, before the conquest of Mexico by Cortes, there had been a shrine to the Aztec goddess Coatlicue." - MaryVictrix
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As Father said, the image itself is a miracle, not only that a tilma made of cactus fiber survives for 500 years supporting pigments of unknown origin, but the eyes themselves reflect the persons in the room when the apparition left its impression upon the cloth... and some have claimed they appear alive today.
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Just think, Our Lady appeared as the Great Sign in the Americas  -  what does it mean for our times?

Chanukkah


"O Mommie, mommie, can we play dreidel?  Can we?  Can we?"
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"Shelley - shut up darling, your mother is watching Wheel of Fortune!"
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Jews may observe Hanukkah - but it isn't Advent or Christmas to them - just to Goy.  In fact, many Jewish people love the holidays - yeah - Christmas already!   Some (Joan Rivers) even put up a tree and lights and exchange gifts.  Really.  Every single Jewish friend I ever sent a Hanukkah card to explained to me, "We don't really do Hanukkah - gentiles just think it's like Christmas for us - it's not."
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So what is it?
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Chanukkah, the Jewish festival of re-dedication, also known as the festival of lights, is an eight day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.  It commemorates the rededication of the Temple after it was defiled by the Greeks.
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Chanukkah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and even many assimilated Jews!) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. It is bitterly ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar.
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The story of Chanukkah begins in the reign of Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered Syria, Egypt and Palestine, but allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy. Under this relatively benevolent rule, many Jews assimilated much of Hellenistic culture, adopting the language, the customs and the dress of the Greeks, in much the same way that Jews in America today blend into the secular American society.
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More than a century later, a successor of Alexander, Antiochus IV was in control of the region. He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the altar. Two groups opposed Antiochus: a basically nationalistic group led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee, and a religious traditionalist group known as the Chasidim, the forerunners of the Pharisees (no direct connection to the modern movement known as Chasidism). They joined forces in a revolt against both the assimilation of the Hellenistic Jews and oppression by the Seleucid Greek government. The revolution succeeded and the Temple was rededicated.
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According to tradition as recorded in the Talmud, at the time of the rededication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks. Oil was needed for the menorah (candelabrum) in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle. - Judaism 101

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Okay, okay!  I suppose this is like telling a kid there is no Santa.  So yes - Jewish people really do observe Hanukkah - but it isn't like Christmas at all, and it's not that big a deal:  "Chanukkah is not a very important religious holiday. The holiday's religious significance is far less than that of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavu'ot. It is roughly equivalent to Purim in significance, and you won't find many non-Jews who have even heard of Purim! Chanukkah is not mentioned in Jewish scripture; the story is related in the book of Maccabees, which Jews do not accept as scripture."
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So there you go Shelley.  In fact, historically, I'm not sure Jews ever felt "left out" by Christmas.
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Photo Source

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Pope to write a pastoral letter to the Irish people.


Concerning the sexual abuse scandal.
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Reports today describe the Holy Father's reaction to the sexual abuse report from Ireland as: "The Holy Father shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the Church," the Vatican statement said.  Adding: "the Vatican also said he would write a pastoral letter to the Irish people about sexual abuse in Ireland and the Vatican's response to the crisis.  It will be the first time a pope has written a document exclusively devoted to sexual abuse of children by clergy." - Source
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A few days ago I mentioned in a post how it now seems necessary for the Holy Father to issue some sort of Apostolic letter affirming Church teaching regarding homosexuality; hopefully the proposed pastoral letter to the Irish people may do that while carefully explaining the seriousness of these crimes of abuse, as well as their effects - specifically, loss of faith.  Having known a few Irish priests in my day, I can assure you I understand the don't ask don't tell code of ethics that was followed in Ireland.  Sometimes abusing priests were sent abroad - some were even sent right here. 
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That said - I realized a definitive document has already been issued by the Pope - who at the time was better known as Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  The document was published at the request of John Paul II and is titled, On The Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person.  The document contains concise and clear teaching regarding Church teaching on homosexuality.
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Of course the sex abuse reported in Ireland, our country, and elsewhere is not limited to homosexual perpetrators - especially as it is legally and politically defined as pedophilia.  Yet by and large many, if not most cases involved the sexual abuse of adolescent males - by males - who themselves identify as same sex attracted.  Naturally the Holy Father's document will probably not focus entirely on homosexual influences, but I would imagine such a document cannot be intelligible without addressing that problem at least indirectly - if only by affirming  the 1986 CDF letter on the subject.
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The Ratzinger letter.
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That letter is more relevant today than ever, and ought to be read by those concerned with the growing acceptance of homosexual behavior as normal, and equal to heterosexual sex and marriage.  Perhaps deviating from the original subject, I want to print a couple of excerpts from the CDF letter:
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Nevertheless, increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity. Those within the Church who argue in this fashion often have close ties with those with similar views outside it. These latter groups are guided by a vision opposed to the truth about the human person, which is fully disclosed in the mystery of Christ. They reflect, even if not entirely consciously, a materialistic ideology which denies the transcendent nature of the human person as well as the supernatural vocation of every individual.
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The Church's ministers must ensure that homosexual persons in their care will not be misled by this point of view, so profoundly opposed to the teaching of the Church. But the risk is great and there are many who seek to create confusion regarding the Church's position, and then to use that confusion to their own advantage.
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9. The movement within the Church, which takes the form of pressure groups of various names and sizes, attempts to give the impression that it represents all homosexual persons who are Catholics. As a matter of fact, its membership is by and large restricted to those who either ignore the teaching of the Church or seek somehow to undermine it. It brings together under the aegis of Catholicism homosexual persons who have no intention of abandoning their homosexual behaviour. One tactic used is to protest that any and all criticism of or reservations about homosexual people, their activity and lifestyle, are simply diverse forms of unjust discrimination. - On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons
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Photo: Source

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our Lady of Loreto


Today is the feast of Our Lady of Loreto, or the miraculous translation of the Holy House of Our lady from the Holy Land to Italy.  People don't believe it happened though.  I do, and several saints and popes did too.  I'm not bragging - indeed I lost that grace long ago - but while I was in Loreto, I stayed in the Holy House for hours, and outside it, for hours, every day - with no concept of the passage of time until one day a Capuchin priest grabbed me by the hair, shook my head, and said in Italian, "God has grasped you!"  I left the shrine shortly after, and the next day I returned to Assisi, never to return to that little paradise.  But I knew the house was the House of the Virgin, the Gate of Heaven, the House of God.  I knew it.
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My brother died on this date.  One day he confided to me, just before his illness was diagnosed terminal, that Our Lady had recently appeared to him in a "flash of a second" - while he was trying to exercise.  I asked what she looked like and he described how Our Lady is depicted upon the Miraculous Medal - the Immaculate Conception.
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"Did she say anything?"  I asked.
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"No, she just smiled."
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"What did you think?"  I inquired further.
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"I don't know.  I felt good... I felt at peace...  I felt as if everything was going to be okay," he stammered, asking, "do you think it was her?"
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"Yeah.  Skip.  I really do.  She does that - that's just how she does it sometimes, and you know it's her."  I assured him.
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My brother made his confession and received the sacraments shortly before he died on the feast of Loreto, 1990.
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O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee and for those who do not have recourse to thee, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to thee.
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Anyway - I'll be offline today.  This stuff is all passing you know... it...  never mind.
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Oops!

The Every kind of people post was accidently deleted while I was checking mail today... it sounded too pretentious anyway.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Eucharistic Adoration


Cancelled because of the weather.
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See, it's mostly women in their 80's and 90's who keep Wednesday adoration going.  I fill in for 2 who are no longer able to walk.  Today they cancelled adoration due to the snow - it is not a lot of snow - but it's dangerous for old people and travel is bad - therefore calling off adoration is very prudent.
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My parish is really focused upon social justice with heavy emphasis on works - volunteer for everything - except prayer.  I know there are people there who do not believe in the Eucharist - they can't when they act so casually in the sanctuary, never genuflecting, or showing any reverence - sometimes even at Mass. 
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Which brings me to this story.
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Instead of the song title "Jesus, take the wheel", this story could be titled, "Jesus, wait in the back seat".  A priest leaves the Eucharist in the back seat of his car and it was stolen - and it wasn't the first time.
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Father Chris Flesoras was presiding over a funeral at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Serbian Orthodox Church in Fair Oaks when the suspect struck, smashing a rear window of his car and a window of a nearby car, scattering glass.
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"Sadly, what was taken from my car was a black bag," Father Flesoras said.

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The bag was his Communion bag, which contains all the tools used by a priest, including the Holy Communion, which believers say symbolizes the body and blood of Christ. The bag also contained his cross, his blessing oil, his scripture book, and a container that was passed down through three generations.
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The items are sacred and won't be easy to replace,  Flesoras said.
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Father Dante Papovich said it's the second time a Communion bag was stolen from the church parking lot. He believes the suspects thought it was a laptop bag; the first one that was stolen was found abandoned with all the items still inside a short time later. - Story
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A few years ago I was visiting a priest friend of mine, when another priest came home from a sick call, threw the little sick call bag - with the sacrament in it - on the counter, along with his wallet and keys and went into the living room to relax.  Way too casual and careless for me.  (There were consecrated hosts in the pix.)
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"The items are sacred and won't be easy to replace,"  Fleoras said.  (Unfortunately, they are.)
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Art: Detail: "Apostolic Visitation"

Humor


Or the lack of it.
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I think I like all the people I link to in my blogroll - as well as many other bloggers I do not link to.  If you were on my blogroll and are not now, it is probably because you dropped me from your links, and so I'm just responding in kind; Thom, Mark, Cindy, and you others out there.  I still like you though.  Gosh - I've lost commenters too - I really, realy like my commenters - and the one's I've lost, I miss a lot.  One priest dropped me just because I noted that some pope used to burn faggots.  Go figure!  But that's not the point of this post.
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Point is:  I often comment on the blogs of persons I like and leave off topic or on topic comments - some serious, but most of which are often very ROFLMAO funny - to me - albeit off the wall and inappropriate or 'dumb'.  On my planet, 'dumb' is really, really funny - like laughing Jerry's from the 20th century medieval period.  Truth be told, I have my laugh and move on - and I rarely return to see if there is a come back.  I always fail to realize many people just do not get my humor and so they sometimes take offense or think that I am an evil, nasty, man - I am - and then they get pissed - and then they drop me.  "What's in your wallet?
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Yeah, so, my apologies for living.
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Anaways...  People with blogs take themselves way too seriously and may not realize how nasty and negative they can be too.  I know.  They may write beautiful spiritual treatises while in the mood (love that song!), and then bash someone to hell 10 minutes later.  Some of us - few of us - admit we are rotten, envious, ass**le sinners to the core and yet we still judge who is Catholic and what level Catholic he, she, or it is:  CINO?  Fervent?  Devout?  Uber?  Ultra?  Man or beast?  We all do it - those who blog do it online - others write letters to the editor or their bishops - or me...  How'd you get my address?  Of course the "normal" people just gossip amongst themselves.  (Let me tell ya, few bloggers can be classified as "normal".) 
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Besides, as Fr. Groeschl always says, "If you ever want to be canonized - don't do a lot of writing." 
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So lighten up people - it's the holidays.  Don't pigeon hole Santa.  (No - that is not a sexual term!  You are thinking of corn.  Sheesh!)
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Art: "Filmhound" Michael Sowa

Uganda and the death penalty for gays.


Now it is really getting nuts...
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I didn't realize Nigeria already has the death penalty for homosexuals, although I knew Uganda is seriously considering it, and other African nations could follow suit.  Horrible stories are emerging from the continent.   
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The Ugandan legislation in its current form would mandate a death sentence for active homosexuals living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. "Serial offenders" also could face capital punishment, but the legislation does not define the term. Anyone convicted of a homosexual act faces life imprisonment.
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Anyone who "aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage of acts of homosexuality" faces seven years in prison if convicted. Landlords who rent rooms or homes to homosexuals also could get seven years and anyone with "religious, political, economic or social authority" who fails to report anyone violating the act faces three years. - Source
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Such legislation is inhumane and intolerable, and it signals that these  issues have gotten way out of hand - on every side - politically and religious.  On one hand we have gay activists using religion to force changes in doctrine, theology, faith and morals, while decrying traditional teaching, pushing for same sex marriage and educating children in schools through "safe schools programs" and so on.  On the other hand there are gay activists who actively promote hatred of religion and laws which deny same sex couples the right to adopt or marry, and in some cases, practice public sex.  When such trends impinge upon foreign societies and culture - such as those in African and Islamic nations - the backlash will often be repressive in the extreme, and often violent.
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Push comes to shove.
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I am completely against this type of legislation and punishment - as well as any type of violence against homosexual persons - and so is the Catholic Church.  As stated in the letter, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed at the time by Cardinal Ratzinger:
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10. It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.
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But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase. - Letter to Bishops
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The cultural assault on Africa seems to be very real, as expressed by the concern voiced by African Bishops during their Rome Synod in October of this year:
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"One of the major themes of the Synod has been the denunciation of Western anti-life and anti-family programs as a new form of colonialism and "cultural imperialism" from the West, which is trying to impose a set of alien values onto African society." - Archbishop Sarah,  Source 
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In no way were the African Bishops suggesting, approving, much less promoting capital punishment for persons who engage in or promote homosexual activity, nevertheless they did note the cultural and spiritual threat it poses, especially by foreigners.  I suspect the Bishops might have predicted the reactionary legislation as proposed in Uganda as an inevitable outcome.
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Links:

Out of Africa
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Feast of the Immaculate Conception


Holy Day of Obligation.
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So often we hear liturgists and teachers of the law playing down the aspect of obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days - I just received the current issue of a local Basilica's magazine with an article on the subject.  These guys do not like the word 'obligation' - instead they contend people should have a strong enough faith, a fervent enough devotion, and such an overwhelming sense of gratitude that they would not want to miss Mass - you can't keep them away - or something like that.  That's a nice thought, huh? 
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I will tell you this, on a cold winter morning - when I did not have to get out of bed and could have slept in, that Holy Day of Obligation rule made all the difference in the world - I had to get up and go to Mass.  I wanted to go, sure.  But if I didn't have to go - I would have stayed in bed.
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So don't play down the rules - they are there for a reason - better and holier Catholics than I know what I mean.
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Happy feast day.
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Art:  St. Bernard before the Immaculate Conception, Girolam Pesci

Monday, December 07, 2009

John Lennon

Lennon was killed on December 8, 1980.

Divine intimacy...


"I often touch His feet, which are between the chalice and the canon when He is standing upright on the altar during the Mass. I touch His side, and I feel the wound in His side and His ribs through His cloak, when I raise the Host. I stay and rest It against His side...  through His mantle I could feel the shape of His ribs." - Pere Lamy
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I've been reading with particular interest the story of Pere Lamy - an incredibly simple priest-mystic from France in the early part of the 20th century.  His intimacy with Our Lord and Our Lady is so consoling, it lightens the heart. 
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In light of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor today, I found the following quote particularly interesting:
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“Our Lord told me that the War had three causes; Blasphemy, Sunday labour, and the desecration of marriage. When a young man or a young girl falls into sin, it is nothing in comparison. It is a grave sin, but after all it is human weakness."
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Pere Lamy also casts light upon the darkness and trials the Lord permits in our lives at times, reminding us we cannot always remain in a state of consolation...
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“You must pay dearly for spiritual graces. Better not to have any; you are in total darkness afterwards. If the Blessed Virgin was behind that door, I would not ask Her to come in. All that is to be paid for… more by tears of the heart, than tears of the body." -Pere Lamy
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A very good Carmelite Mother once reprimanded me after I had gone on a bit, lamenting some spiritual trials I was going through, "How can you complain when Our Lord shows you such things?"  She then laughed at me.  To be sure, Mother would have agreed with Pere Lamy on the following point as well:  "One should never order one's life according to visions, especially according to the visions of others. In material things we must use common sense, too. We must be careful of mysticism. The devil stands behind the Mother of God: If you let her pass by you will find the devil." - Pere Lamy
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That said, sometimes the darkness is so deep, we can forget in an instant that it is never dark for Him - even when the darkness can be the result of our infidelity... giving up to discouragement. 
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Thanks for your prayers.
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On being asked for advice on how to obtain the grace of an answered prayer, Father Lamy replied- “First and foremost, you must be in a state of grace. Before praying, you have to kneel in the Confessional. Then, pray with confidence, and then finally with perseverance.”


H/T Mystics of the Church, Spirit Daily.

Pearl Harbor


May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.
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O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee, and for those who do not have recourse to thee, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to thee.  Amen.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Remembering

A lot of people I know died during the holiday season... my brother Skip died this week in 1990... on the feast of OL of Loretto - he was buried on the feast of OL Guadalupe.

St. Nicholas




The feast of St. Nicholas.
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The Holy Bishop of Myra is especially venerated as the patron of children.  Devotion to him ought to be increased these days as children are abducted and exploited through human trafficking and slavery - victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation.  While others are killed in the womb, and in some cases after live birth... yet many more endure intolerable and abusive childhoods without proper parenting, without faith or hope.  Never forget the children of divorce, or same sex couples, as well as children of benign neglect - often left alone by a single parent or grandparent, struggling to make ends meet.  Of course there are children suffering from poverty and hunger throughout the world, yet there is that deeper poverty of living in an immoral household, be it prostitution, substance abuse, or illegal activity - again, without faith or hope.
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St. Nicholas, pray for us.
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Art: St. Nicholas Center
Link:  Church celebrates St. Nicholas Day.

Just Matters...



Some observations from Mass last night...
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There is a perky high school girl who does the readings at the Saturday evening vigil Mass.  She walks and talks with a bounce and reads really, really fast like, you know.  So last night the girl read the second reading twice, skipping the first from Baruch - yet no one seemed to notice because there are no missals or missalettes - not even the Celebrant seemed to notice.  (I know, I know, these things happen.)  Talk about active participation - which in local parish terms amounts to having some sort of function at Sunday Masses - greeting, collecting, reading, distributing, straightening pews,  etc..  Or getting involved on some sort of revenue raising committee, or discussion group on peace and justice issues.  As in the case of my neighborhood parishes - yes, two are joining together - global climate change.
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The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change and Catholic Bishops' Environmental Justice Program appear to be the  resources for the newest social justice program coming to the parish.  That's fine - it is something I wouldn't participate in or contribute towards - especially now in light of the discovery that some of the science has been manipulated, and is suspected as being part of a complicated hoax.  That story has been in the news, albeit curiously ignored by mainstream media.
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The eight week program will include action items for stopping further global warming and what will be needed to help the poor of the world who will be most impacted by climate change.  The 2 1/2 hour sessions will cover:
  • Catholic theology on the environment...voices on the theology of ecology and the implications for future generations.
  • The Science of Climate Change.  In the face of the consensus of the scientific community about climate change, how do we deal with fear, dread, and feelings of powerlessness?
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Wait a minute!  Wait a minute!  Snap out of it, Cherilyn Sarkasian LaPier!  Stop right there!  Don't these people know about Climategate?  So church people can scare little kids and old people to death about doomsday scenarios of global warming, but a Cardinal can't be judgemental and tell homosexuals they are going to hell if they persist in their unnatural sexcapades?  Come on!
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Oh well, I guess it gives the Deacon something to do.
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