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, February 06, 2010

Oh, now this is news: Catholic higher ed enhances Catholic identity.


U.S. Catholic colleges and universities produce more committed and practicing adult Catholics than do non-Catholic institutions of higher learning across the country, said two reports at the annual national meeting in Washington of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

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Richard A Yanikoski, outgoing ACCU president and CEO, sharply challenged contrary reports in his presidential address Feb. 1 at the close of the association's gathering.
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"Certain well-funded organizations external to the USCCB [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] and to Catholic higher education have made it their purpose to convince bishops, priests and the lay faithful that most of Catholic higher education is going astray," he said
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"These critics' perceptions are skewed by limited observation and a pre-ordained agenda," he said. He added that their criticisms, often widely publicized in the media, "infect how Catholic higher education is viewed by all who have a stake in the enterprise."
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The Jan. 30-Feb. 1 gathering of the ACCU also featured a report by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate on a three-year sociological study comparing religious belief and practice changes among Catholic students in Catholic higher education with those same changes among Catholic students in non-Catholic institutions.
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The researchers said the results challenge a recent Cardinal Newman Society claim that Catholic colleges and universities are failing in their mission because their students become less Catholic over their years in a Catholic university environment. - Source
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Very timely indeed.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.


Online snipers.
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"I have plenty of enemies, but at age 76, I don’t care, because I’m checking out of here anyway." - Fr. Benedict Groeschel
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A couple of bloggers are writing about the errors of Fr. Benedict Groeschel - he had a 'bad' guest on his EWTN Sunday Night live show, who evidently recommended a bad book or author - Benedict knew nothing about either of them.  Apparently Father also made a mistake in responding to a question - I understand he corrected himself the next week.  EWTN is also suspect of being a bad network, because of this and that and the other thing.  Don't waste your time trying to figure it out - read the Remnant - the Wanderer's cousin - to get the dirt.
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Just like their political counterparts, Catholic conservatives work their search fingers to the bone looking for dirt on people they disagree with, and before thinking - and sometimes after thinking - they post about it.  Now everyone knows I do not like Sarah Palin as a politician - I'm sure she is a nice lady, being pro-life and all.  (I'll bet she uses lots of politically incorrect terms too - except for retarded and bastard, of course.)  If I wanted to, I could raise all sorts of questions about her character in order to justify my dislike of her - former Catholic, smokin' dope, feminist when convenient, etc..  I could do the same with other people, and sadly I have.  I'm ashamed.  Discredit your opponent with name-calling, by digging up dirt, raising suspicions - works all of the time.  I've done it - I know.
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Fr. Benedict Groeschel is one of the best Catholic priests ever ordained for the Catholic Church in the United States.  If people have a problem with him or what he said, he can be reached at EWTN or contacted personally - he is one of the most accessible people in the world.  He is so humble he would correct publicly any mis-perception taken by his viewers and readers.  Catholics must get over this guerrilla warfare mentality and all the snipping.  Fr. Benedict is a good man, a holy priest.
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"I have to tell you that the more traditional people did not win the battle; it was a standoff, but things nonetheless started to change. You find in this country that the mainstream Protestant churches are dying off; nobody goes to them. It’s the evangelical Protestant churches that are doing well. Also, many young Jews who had no actual religious training are becoming orthodox Jews. And even among young Catholics who are not particularly observant, there is at least an interest in the faith. God himself, through the Holy Spirit, is calling to souls, and I’m absolutely delighted with the changes that are taking place. The pendulum has swung." - National Catholic Register Interview  
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Photo:  Fr. Benedict on the day of his ordination 51 years ago.

And other really dumb things educated people say.

Yesterday on The View (I did not watch it!) - a friend told me Sarah Silverman was on with her new shtick about selling the Vatican.  Evidently she believes the Pope should sell off all the art and treasures of the Catholic Church and give the money to the poor.  How do you even respond to that?  I'm always surprised educated people still say such dumb stuff.  That is such a stupid old yarn - makes no sense - it's just a load of kool-aid stand economics.
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Later in the day I read that Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson, responding to a question posed by CNSNews.com  at the National Press Club on Tuesday, regarding St. Paul's letter to the Romans wherein he condemns homosexual acts, explained:
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"St. Paul was talking about people that he understood to be heterosexual engaging in same-sex acts," said Bishop Robinson. "It never occurred to anyone in ancient times that a certain minority of us would be born being affectionally oriented to people of the same sex. So it did seem like against their nature to be doing so.”
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“The other thing about St. Paul,” Robinson said, “is that he was also speaking out against a practice known to him and both the Roman and the Greek world, and would have been known in the Palestinian culture there of an older man taking a younger boy under his wing, using him sexually, and so on. No one’s—that’s child abuse. No one is arguing for that today. We would all be against that. We would all agree with St. Paul on that.” - Source
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I'm always surprised educated people still say such dumb stuff.  Makes no sense - it's just a load of amyl-nitrite-revisionist exegesis.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

If only I had Vincenzo's skills.

What?

Liking English in the Liturgy.


Is that bad?
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Helen Hull Hitchcock of Adoremus was on EWTN last evening with Fr. Pacwa.  It was an interesting discussion about the coming changes to the Roman Missal.  I liked how they traced the history of the liturgical movement/changes back before Vatican II.  The movement appeared to be in the works during the reign of Pius X, who apparently coined the term, "active participation".  If the program is aired again, try to watch it.  (Tell me if you think Hitchcock had a cocktail or two before airing - just to settle her nerves or something.  I know.)
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Anyway, leaving adoration yesterday evening, the 'ladies' were discussing the coming changes to the Missal - one had just found out about it and was telling the others about it.  Now I never, ever get involved in church talk, especially at church and about liturgical stuff - if I can avoid it I should say.  But they asked me if I knew about it and I said I had heard some rumblings.  LOL!  These women obviously do not read Catholic blogs.  For instance...
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Mary I:  "Well did you know they want more Latin back?  What are they doing, going back before the Vatican Council?"
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Mary II:  "Whatya mean Latin - who understands that?  Gosh - I used to get so bored when Mass was in Latin."
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Mary III:  "Oh I kind of liked it - we had to learn it in school - remember the Gregorian chant books?  I wouldn't mind it if just a few parts were in Latin - once in awhile - it's pretty.  We could use Missals again."
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Terry:  "And wear doilies on your head."  Everyone laughs.
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So anyway - they asked me:
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Mary II:  "Terry, had you heard about this?"
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Terry:  "A little - they are just correcting the translations and it's been going on forever.  I don't think it will result in anything drastic.  So, all of you prefer English pretty much then, huh?"
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Mary I:  "Heck yes - otherwise you don't know what's going on.  I was so happy when the Mass was in English - even the readings were in Latin before."
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Mary II:  "They were?  I don't remember that."
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Terry:  "Yeah, but the priest rattled them off in English right after.  They zipped through Mass like nothin'"  I said cracking myself up, remembering ol' Shot-gun Kelly... he could get through a Novus Ordo Mass in 10 minutes.
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Mary III:  "Why can't they just leave stuff alone - why'd they ever change it in the first place?  Couldn't they just have said the old Mass in English?"
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Mary II:  "I like the new Mass."
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Terry:  "From what I'm told - and read online - they say young people really like the old Mass and  want it back...."
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All 3 Marys:  "Who?  Who?  Who says?  The kids here don't.  How would they even know - they never grew up with it?  They have never experienced it before."
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Mary II:  "Just kids - they always have to be different - wait until they're old."
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Mary III:  "You are young, do you like Latin Terry?"
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Terry:  (I know - these women think I'm a kid.)  "It's okay - I grew up with the old Mass, as an altar boy I understood the Latin - I knew what I was saying.  The nuns drummed it into us - remember the Gregorian chant classes?  I like English though - and now - at least with the new Missal, Mass has a better chance of being said with greater reverence."
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Mary I:  "Why - what's wrong with the way Father says it now?"
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Terry:  "I don't mean here - but generally - sometimes, elsewhere,  liturgical abuses have crept in..."
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And then the conversation veered off in that direction and I excused myself.
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The End
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Anyway - watch the EWTN interview with Hitchcock - I hope those women did.
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(Obviously every woman at my parish over the age of 79 is named Mary. I know.)
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Photo:  Hitchcock and Cardinal Ratzinger

Consecrated life and me.

First off, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am an ordinary Christian, consecrated by baptism yes, but I am not a consecrated religious or a member of a secular institute.  Yes, I am a secular Franciscan by 'profession', but that is the extent of it.  I am simply a single Catholic layman - no initials after my name - no vows other than baptism, no clubs, associations or knighthood.  I mention this because I think people have heretofore misread me.
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As St. JoseMaria Escriva consistently pointed out, ordinary life is a great grace...
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Let me stress this point: it is in the simplicity of your ordinary work, in the monotonous details of each day, that you have to find the secret, which is hidden from so many, of something great and new: Love.  Furrow, 489
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Anything done out of love is important, however small it might appear. God has come to us, even though we are miserable creatures, and he has told us that he loves us: “My delight is to be among the sons of men.” Our Lord tells us that everything is valuable — those actions which from a human point of view we regard as extraordinary and those which seem unimportant. Nothing is wasted. No man is worthless to God. All of us are called to share the kingdom of heaven — each with his own vocation: in his home, his work, his civic duties and the exercise of his rights.  Christ Is Passing By, 44
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This is why Marcel Van and the spirituality of St. Therese is so important for me.

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For those interested in consecrated life, I recommend two sites:
"Message of the Holy Father to Consecrated people."
"Pope's Homily on Day Of Consecrated Life"
"How do I become a consecrated lay-person?"

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

"Well it was amusing."

Down the road, I hope to be posting about the highly educated, occasionally amusing, and ever so correct Catholic bloggers amongst us... Hopefully before Upsom's leave.

"Nuts?"

Down with legalism. Or: Why was clerical abuse never dealt with?


The wolves roamed freely.
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Catholic World Report has a revealing look by Michael Kelly at the judicial commission report focusing on the findings about sexual abuse and cover-up in the Irish Church.  It seems to me the blame lies not so much on the changing cultural/sexual mores since the 1960's, but is directly related to the "Spirit of Vatican II".  As most people know, during the council and the years following, reformers bent over backwards to eliminate any sense of Catholic triumphalism which included the restraints of legalism, (rubrics, Canon Law, religious discipline, etc.), and for that matter authoritarianism as it pertained to a patriarchal hierarchy centralized in Rome. 
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Failure to implement Canon Law.
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The recently published reports of two separate judicial commissions have shone a light on a deep rot and corruption at the heart of Irish Catholicism. The report of the Child Abuse Commission, chaired by Justice Seán Ryan, found that sexual abuse was “endemic” in Church-run care homes and juvenile institutions. The Dublin Report, chaired by Justice Yvonne Murphy, revealed that Church leaders had put the avoidance of scandal and the reputation of the Church ahead of the needs of victims of abuse.
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...  The report also notes that in Dublin “the Church authorities failed to implement most of their own canon law rules on dealing with clerical child sexual abuse.” In a vindication of the law of the universal Church, the report notes: “The commission is satisfied that Church law demanded serious penalties for clerics who abused children. In Dublin, from the 1970s onwards, this was ignored.”

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The report goes on: “Canon law provides the Church authorities with a means not only of dealing with offending clergy, but also with a means of doing justice to victims, including paying compensation to them.”
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Ignored, abandoned, rejected.
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For David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, the reports’ findings about canon law are crucial. “What we see in the report is a rejection of canon law by more liberal elements within the Church,” he said. “From the 1960s onwards the Church’s penal process is virtually abandoned in Dublin and a purely therapeutic approach to the issue of sexual abuse by priests is adopted.”

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According to Quinn, “within liberal elements canon law began to be discredited and this has wreaked the most terrible havoc.”
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His contention is backed up by the report itself. Judge Murphy notes, “Canon law, as an instrument of Church governance, declined hugely during Vatican II and in the decades immediately after it.”

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“What’s clear is that an attempt to correct an excessive legalism in the Church pre-Vatican II led to an opposite extreme where the laws of the Church became so disrespected in some circles that it was impossible to enforce them,” Quinn added. - The Wolves Roamed Freely
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There also was/is a strong tendency to reject anything that smacked of ultramontanism - being governed by Rome. 
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Oh, now this is news: New Study Confirms Crisis in Catholic Higher Education

"Catholics should be alarmed by the significant decline in Catholic practice and fidelity at many of America’s Catholic institutions." - Report
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Very timely indeed.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

When squirrels talk.

And other thoughts.
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Most people do not know this, although they think they do, but when squirrels speak, they do so much faster than most backyard animals.  Many people assume gophers and mice speak the fastest, but squirrels have them beat.  Rabbits on the other hand engage in conversation at about the same rate as mature adult humans on Vicodin.  Cats are closest to humans when they talk - their range.  For instance they will talk really fast when they are excited, or slowly when they are resting, and really loud when they are disturbed - just like people.  Dogs always talk like they are nuts, which is why they chase everyone - especially squirrels; dogs say squirrels are nuts and talk way too fast and so they must chase them.  Dogs are obsessive compulsive and other-directed - that is not a bad thing however - for a dog.   But I'm getting off point here.
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Squirrels talk really, really fast, and the only thing they have in common with the way mice and gophers talk is their high pitch.  Squirrels are high talkers and fast talkers, which is why I can never understand them.  Sometimes they are low, growl talkers - but I doubt they're really saying much of anything when they do that.
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Photo:  Squirrels sharing a confidence.

This is funny.

I have to lighten up...


Palin wants potty-mouth Rahm fired.
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Meanwhile, an interesting new poll of Republicans finds that a majority think Palin is more qualified than Barack Obama to be president. - Source

'Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.'" - Mark 5: 1-20

"He didn't tell him to preach, teach, instruct, judge, condemn, or try to change anyone."

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This is extraordinary and maybe providential, but the story of Marcel Van expresses what I was trying to say in yesterday's post much better than I was able to do.  I will just highlight a couple of statements from the Zenit interview with the author of the book by French Dominican Father Gilles Berceville, "Marcel Van ou l’infini pauvreté de l’Amour" (Marcel Van or the Infinite Poverty of Love).
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St. Thérèse's message that sanctity is for everyone resounded in a special way in the life of a Vietnamese Redemptorist who died in a Communist forced labor camp at age 31.  Marcel Van is considered a "spiritual little brother" to St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Like her, he strove to be an apostle of love, approaching God with the trust of a little child.
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Van was born in 1928 and died at age 31. From St. Thérèse, he learned that he would not reach priestly ordination and that instead, his life would be dedicated to making God present precisely where He seemed most absent.
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With Thérèse he discovered that his desire of sanctity could be fulfilled because it is also God's desire.  God is "condescending": He is not a God that one would think punishes us with rigor, demanding what we cannot do, but a God who thinks how to help us, and in a certain way adapts himself to what we are so that we will adapt ourselves to what he is. 
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In Thérèse's school, he also learned a new way of praying: as a son speaks to his father. All that a child experiences is of interest to a father like God.

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Thérèse also revealed his vocation to him: He would not be a priest. Hence, he had to give up the plan of life he had had up to that point.
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"God is "condescending": He is not a God that one would think punishes us with rigor, demanding what we cannot do, but a God who thinks how to help us, and in a certain way adapts himself to what we are so that we will adapt ourselves to what he is."

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He sees the ideal of being an apostle of love in a life hidden from the eyes of the world: a life of prayer, of intercession for priests and sinners, for children and for the Church.  According to his expression, he then shared with God "the infinite poverty of Love."
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Marcel Van had the great desire to make God present where he was absent. This was a strong intuition.

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During his novitiate, his brothers asked him jokingly if he would like to live with the Communists. He assented. His friends made fun of him.
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But he was not joking: He really wanted to love God with the Communists so that at least there would be one person who loved God with those who were "without God."  He united himself in faith to Christ's redemptive work, often experiencing great loneliness. - Zenit
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Marcel Van died in a Communist forced labor camp at age 31.
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Image source.

Our Lady of Good Success.

A feast for Candlemas - or the Presentation of the Lord.
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The story of Our Lady of Good Success is a most fascinating one... read more here.

Monday, February 01, 2010

How can you be certain you did not have a religious vocation?

People have asked me that for years.  So many have told me I must have at least had a religious vocation that I refused or resisted.  When I tell them absolutely not, they ask how I can be so sure? 
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As I tried my vocation in various communities, 'signs' were always there, but I refused to accept them, convinced I had to be a religious - my salvation depended upon it.  Locked up in a monastery I wouldn't be able to sin as much.  I knew marriage wasn't my call, thus celibacy in a monastery must be the only way.  That grace wasn't there however.
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Then one day at Mass twenty five or so years ago, I heard the words of today's Gospel as if spoken directly to me:
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"... As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.  But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead, 'Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.'" - Mark 5: 1-20
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It suddenly made sense to me...  that was God's will for me.  Religious life was not.  Frequently I can refer to the convincing power of the Holy Spirit as 'being convicted' - I often write, "I was convicted" when referring to some spiritual realization or understanding.  I think it must be a common, ordinary grace in the Christian life.  I guess Protestants use the term all of the time - John Paul II did so as well - that is, he frequently spoke on the necessity of the 'convincing power of the Holy Spirit'.
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Despite the fact all of the details of my life had been there to prove I could not be a religious, I continued to wrestle with the idea I might be called, until the Lord finally intervened and everything fell into place.  Even my unanswered prayers as a child, begging the Lord to preserve me from mortal sin - especially sins against chastity.  Yet I was molested several times as a kid and my world turned upside down, my values inside out.  Nevertheless, attracted by grace and through the sacraments, prayer, spiritual training and ascesis, the Lord had pity upon me.  He had mercy upon me - without calling me away from my state in life, if you will.
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Sometimes I think the Lord permits great evils - mortal sin, so that he may be glorified the more by our repentance and even more so in his loving mercy towards us.  Pope John Paul I said something about that - but I can't find the source right now.
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Anyway.  Every one's experience is different of course.  I sometimes imagined the opposite and thought that others should somehow learn from my experience and/or example.  (I know - God forbid!)  That is pride and an illusion of course - and it took me a very long while to figure that out.  But Our Lord had only instructed the man:  'Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.'  He didn't tell him to preach, teach, instruct, judge, condemn, or try to change anyone.
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Art: "Forgiven" - by Thomas Blackshear  (Yep - I really like this piece.)
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Liturgical Art

This image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus was commissioned for a Lutheran Church.  Story here.
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It was made at New Guild Studio in Braddock, Pennsylvania. 
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Davis d'Ambly is another incredible workshop.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The day the music died.

It's here.
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Watching the Grammy's.

For all the iconographers who read this blog...

Ukranian egg mosaic.
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Astonishing isn't it?  The mosaic is comprised of 15,000 individual eggs, painted in the traditional Ukranian style and then assembled by Ukranian artist Oksana Mass to create the icon of the Mother of God.  For more photos and details, go to James Mary Evans' blog: Orate Fratres.

Real Catholic... more Internet precautions.

Henry Karlson says it better than I could...
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"There is something about the internet that people feel as if they get a following, they have become legitimate authorities and their voice is the voice of truth. While the internet does provide some good, because it allows the otherwise disenfranchised to speak, we must also remember why so many of these people are disenfranchised. They speak from their heart, it is true, but it is often a heart founded on ideology. This is true all over the net. Caution is important. I would even be the first to say this is true with what I write as much as what I find elsewhere — one should consider where I am coming from and determine how and why that means my own commentary and opinions are also incomplete and imperfect.
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Of course, I think there are different standards of authority and intellectual acumen; I respect honest disagreement if it is shown to be based upon actual, reasonable engagement with the questions at hand. The problem is that so many who speak for Catholics on the net become virtual authorities; they come from an ideological background which tends to be rejected by the Church. More importantly, they lack the scholarly background, the study of diverse sources, to understand the full range of possible Catholic opinion: they think their “common sense” approach to the faith is the faith, just like Martin Luther did several centuries back. They do not understand what is “common” in the “common sense” tends to be cultural, and in the United States, that culture is of Protestant individualism. That this is the foundation by which many interpret and understand Catholic concerns is readily apparent when these same virtual authorities take on anyone, including the Vatican, with no respect for the real authority possessed by the ones they are criticizing." - Virtual Polemic...
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Thanks Henry - you hit the nail on the head!
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Photo:  The incorrupt body of Bl. John XXIII.