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, March 20, 2010

You've got mail...


The Holy Father's Pastoral Letter to Ireland.
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"Penance, penance, penance!"  That is what the angel said in the last secret of Fatima as he waved the flaming sword of chastisement over the world - gratefully, the Virgin's hand restrained him.  Of course, that was the vision to the three seers, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco in 1917.  Perhaps if the warning had been heeded when the secret was first read in 1960 we wouldn't have been facing the great crises in the Church we find ourselves in today...
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Towards the conclusion of the Holy Father's pastoral letter, the Pope offers some 'concrete initiatives' to effect reconciliation within the Irish Church.  In effect he is suggesting, or calling the the Irish Church to penance and reparation as well as recommending a sort of new catechesis through visitations and a mission:
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At the conclusion of my meeting with the Irish bishops, I asked that Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country. I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.
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Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose...  Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm...
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Furthermore, having consulted and prayed about the matter, I intend to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations.
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I also propose that a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious. It is my hope that, by drawing on the expertise of experienced preachers and retreat-givers from Ireland and from elsewhere, and by exploring anew the conciliar documents, the liturgical rites of ordination and profession, and recent pontifical teaching, you will come to a more profound appreciation of your respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of your faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers you through his Church. - 14. I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the situation.
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Betrayed the trust...
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I read the entire letter, though I haven't studied it.  My first impression, in light of the recent news of sexual abuse emerging from the rest of Europe, particularly Germany, the letter left me feeling rather heavy hearted, though the Holy Father ought to be praised for addressing the problem so publicly, frankly and with such devotion.  For me, the Holy Father's sorrow is palpable.  I don't know a lot about Church documents, but I dare say I've never read anything by a Pope quite so forceful since reading a snippet of Pius V's condemnation of homosexuality amongst the clergy in his day.  Pope Benedict XVI admits:
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4. In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected. Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations.
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Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found. Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life; insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates; a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person. - You must answer for it before God

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My thoughts:
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For me personally, my initial feelings after reading the letter is that the situation(s) that necessitated it have left me feeling so entirely let down and scandalized by Catholic churchmen, it is difficult not to feel somewhat despondent.  I never would have thought that the Church could be left so ruined and utterly desolated by those who purport to serve her, the image which comes to mind is a smouldering wick on the world's stage.  Nevertheless, with the psalmist I pray; "I would rather lie abject upon the threshold of the House of God than dwell in the tents of the wicked." [Ps. 83]  And, "If I forget you Jerusalem, may my right hand wither.  Let my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I prize not Jerusalem above all my joys..." [Ps. 138] 
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That said - I think the letter is too late.  It will have its effect, but the damage is devastating.
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"Come, all you who pass by the way, look and see whether there is any suffering like my suffering..." - [Lamentations 1:12]
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I found quite a good evaluation of the Holy Father's letter on Aprehendite disciplinam blog.

This is so sad!

With all that's going on these days...  Now this:
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A US federal appeals court ruled Friday that Anna Nicole Smith's heirs will not receive a penny of the more than 300 million dollars she claimed from her billionaire husband's inheritance.

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The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled in favor of E. Pierce Marshall, the son of Texas oil tycoon Howard Marshall, whom the late Playboy centerfold married in 1994 after meeting him while working at a strip club. Anna was just 26 at the time and he was 89 when Marshall swept her off her feet and they fell madly in love.  Anna gave up a lucrative exotic dancing/modelling career to be a housewife to the man she adored.  Sadly, Marshall died unexpectedly in 1995 when he was only 90, and after a short 14-months of married bliss, breaking the poor widow's heart with grief, forcing Anna to seek relief through medically supervised prescription drug and alcohol therapy.  Marshall's son contested the inheritance, sparking a prolonged legal battle over the 1.6-billion-dollar estate. - Read the rest of the story here.
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Poor Dannielynn.  (That's the daughter.  The daughter she had with her boyfriend, although she thought it was her 90 year old husband's - oh wait, she thought it was her attorney's child?  No, Zsa Zsa had something to do with it - I think she wanted the daughter in Catholic school.  Wait!  That's another story, isn't it!)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pelosi: Today We Pray To St. Joseph The Worker For This "Life-Affirming Legislation"

Isn't she somethin' though.

Feast of St. Joseph

In thanksgiving to St. Joseph for favors received...
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Many favors received!  With St. Teresa of Avila I can affirm:  "I know by experience that the glorious St. Joseph assists us in all necessities.  I have never asked him for anything which he did not obtain for me." - Teresa of Avila
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Thank you St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God.
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Happy feast day every one.

How transparent.

File under "bad habits".
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Thanks DJ and JP.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thinking out loud...

Festal levity... and random thoughts.
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Geeze!  I missed doing a post for St. Patrick's day.
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Anyway, I was reading a post last night by a prolific author who kinda sorta posted a long spiel nailing people who either don't get what the posts are saying, or disagree with the author's POV.  So I ask, why blog at all you silly little narcissist?
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I keep thinking of Colorado - such a pretty state.  I love the Western U.S. anyway.  Didn't St. Katharine Drexel go west?  I believe she founded mission schools or something for colored people and Indians.  Although I'm fairly certain the schools were just for those Indian and colored kids whose parents supported the Catholic mission of the school and did not offer a serious counter-witness to that mission in their lifestyles.  No droppin' the peyote, no wampum, no shaman cross-dressers, no wonton black women in the family, and stuff like that.  (Those nuns were strict!)
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Nun of the above...
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After adoration yesterday the little nun administrator who was rude to a parishioner whose mother just died walked into the sanctuary.  I got the feeling she thought the pious people who believe in the Real Presence were gone.  She walks in, dressed in her best green St. Patrick's day sweat shirt and crisp poly-jeans, sees us across the nave, halts, meekly waves, and answers a question about tonight's sloppy joe dinner (yuck!) and then proceeds into the sanctuary and into the sacristy, never reverencing anything, not the altar, not the Blessed Sacrament - nada.  I know, maybe she forgot - but she never seems to do it.  I'm not judging here, but from her witness, I get the feeling she thinks no one is there.  I mention it because my parish can barely get anyone except old women to come to adoration once a week.  Since I started going on a regular basis, 3 have dropped out due to age and infirmity - and I think another died.  Soon there will be no one, and adoration will cease.  At least Sister has her peace and justice group though.  They are currently studying climate change.
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Speaking of catholic nuns, some 60 leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns Wednesday sent law makers a letter urging them to pass the Senate health care bill.  I wonder if they will get kicked out of school?  Just imagine, 60 leaders of 59,000 nuns.  Maybe the rest of the nuns should be booted out too since their leaders - the 'mothers' - have offered a 'serious counter-witness' to what the Bishop's conference has stated.  Perhaps off-topic, but I kinda have to wonder how that Apostolic Visitation of Women Religious is coming along?  Man, I wonder what we'll find out about nuns in the U.S. that we didn't know already?
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Hey!  What about that earthquake in Hawaii, huh?
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UPDATE
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3/18/10 5:23PM:  Statement By CMSWR, which represents 10,000 women religious, affirms Bishops' Opposition to Obamacare:
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March 18, 2010 - In a March 15th statement, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke on behalf of the United States Bishops in opposition to the Senate's version of the health care legislation under consideration because of its expansion of abortion funding and its lack of adequate provision for conscience protection. Recent statements from groups like Network, the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) directly oppose the Catholic Church's position on critical issues of health care reform.

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The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the second conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious in the United States, believes the Bishops' position is the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church.
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Protection of life and freedom of conscience are central to morally responsible judgment. We join the bishops in seeking ethically sound legislation.
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Mother Mary Quentin Sheridan, R.S.M.
President
On behalf of the Membership of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious
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H/T Pewsitters, David, and Paula.

The day before a Solemnity.

Aa if abstaining from meat is such a harsh penance.
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If memory serves me, in times past the day before a Solemnity or major feast day was observed as a day of fast and abstinence - I believe members of religious third orders continue the custom for patronal feasts and so on.
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This Thursday is the vigil of the feast of St. Joseph, a Solemnity falling on a Friday Lent.  As noted on other more authoritative websites, the discipline of fast and abstinence is therefore suspended - in other words, Catholics may eat meat this Friday.
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I don't care either way, but obviously some of the more pious amongst us really enjoy their meat dishes.
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Do you suppose the people eagerly looking forward to eating meat this Friday would fast and abstain from meat in preparation for St. Joseph's day anyway?
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Just wondering.

Are some of us just pawns in one big ecclesiastical chess game?

Sometimes it can seem that way.
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Currently 'they' are saying the current Vatican inquiry casts doubts on Bishop Peric's position on Medjugorje.
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Supposedly Vatican spokesman Fr. Lombardi has stated Bishop Peric is no longer the authority in the final decision regarding the authenticity of the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje, and that his former position was simply personal opinion. - Source 
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I have to question that type of spin.
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I found a more accurate report at CNA: Holy See confirms creation of Medjugorje Commission.
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My advice - wait for the final 'official' report to come out. 
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In the meantime check and re-check your news sources and watch how writers spin the information.  I came across a subtle bit of editorializing regarding the Boulder, CO, Sacred Heart School situation on another more credible blog, claiming the lesbian couple "tried to force a (their) child into a Catholic school" - there is absolutely no evidence that was the case, or the intention of the two mothers involved in that particular situation.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"My Father is at work until now, so I am at work." - Jn. 5

"The Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what He sees the Father doing..." - Jn. 5
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It is difficult to read today's gospel and form any word whatsoever, it is enough to stand in awe of this revelation of the union of the Father and the Son - Ah!  See right there - words cannot express it, only silence... only listening.
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Today, it seems to me that all the turmoil and confusion in the Church and the world is nothing before the works of God.
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This morning I read a short article on Zenit; an Archbishop stating that the Pope is ridding the Church of filth, completing the work begun when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of The Faith.  Elsewhere I read that the Holy Father's pastoral letter on the paedophilia scandals will be released in a matter of days.  Thus it seems to me the Holy Father, in imitation of Our Lord, works in peace in the midst of the world's clamour.  Like Christ, he can say, "My Father is at work until now, so I am at work... the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what He sees the Father doing." - Jn. 5
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The Pope goes about his work, while the world revolts.
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"Take warning from the example of Lot's wife who, because she was disturbed at the destruction of Sodom, turned back to look at it. God punished her for this, and she was 'turned into a pillar of salt' (Genesis 19.26). This teaches you that it is the will of God, even if you were living among devils, you should so live as not to turn back in thought to consider what they are doing, but forget them utterly. You are to keep your soul wholly to God, and not to suffer the thought of this or that to disturb you." - John of the Cross
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I have lived much of my life in shame - more or less - and indeed I have much to be ashamed of, but I will never be ashamed of the Cross, nor my obedience to the Holy Father and those Bishops and priests in union with him.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Holy Child in Lent

Following Carmelite tradition (in some monasteries), today initiates the novena to the Infant Jesus.  I continue this tradition of the monthly novena as part of my private prayer, and it remains my one contact with the Carmelite nuns since my sister died.
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During Lent the character of the devotion is more somber for me, recalling that Jesus knew from the moment of his conception what was to befall him - that he came to give his life for our salvation, as the prayer from the fourth day reminds us, "O Jesus, your Holy Name proclaimed, even from the moment of your conception, your mission as Savior."
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As usual I pray for all of you who read me, and for those I promised to pray for, as well as those I'm obliged to pray for.  In addition, this month I pray especially for children who suffer and or are abused, children who are ill (little Philip), the poor and homeless.  Children deprived of the faith.  Children living in irregular families, children held captive, and so on.
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Photo: Santo Nino Cautivo.  Protector of the kidnapped or abducted, especially those children of any age who have been similarly caught up in vice, drugs, slavery, difficult circumstance and life problems.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Parable of the prodigal son from the film Jesus of Nazareth

This is such a powerful scene/homily. At my parish Father talked about "the journey" - to where? I didn't get it.
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I get this.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Interior Castle allegory is up.


Detail: Interior Castle I: Toad - T. Nelson
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My very unprofessional photo of my most recent painting is on display at Up Your Street.
Posted by Picasa

Collapsing at the feet of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

I can't do any more.
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Fr. Mark has an incredible meditation on Adoration entitled, "Where our paths cross".
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"Trust in the path that Christ has opened before you and be faithful to it. Allow His love to direct all things. Remain little and humble. Allow Him to direct and determine the course of events and the growth of His works."
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Art:  St. Pascal Baylon.

So anyway, a priest and a Samaritan ran into one another on their way to...


Sometimes I get a little tired of being nice and making excuses for these people.
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So here's the latest deal at my parish.  Remember a couple of weeks ago they slammed the door in the face of a neighbor woman who was looking for some assistance with the death of her mother, and when she left, she actually looked back to make sure there was still a cross above the church?  Yeah - well it really did go like that, but then later, I had to wonder if maybe both parties were at fault - kids from abusive households always make excuses for the abusive parents.  After the vigil Mass last evening - I have come to believe the woman's side of the story once again.
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Here's the deal.  Two weeks ago a woman collapsed during the 5PM Saturday Mass and an ambulance was called.  The lady was taken to the hospital - it all happened at the back of church and no one save a few people even noticed.  The woman is the elderly Lutheran sister of an elderly woman who happens to be Catholic, and an active participant in the parish:  she takes care of the collection, makes sure the pews are all neat and tidy for Mass, she puts out the bulletins, and welcomes people as they come in for Mass.  When she is well, her Lutheran sister helps her with all of that.
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Last evening Father asked elderly Ms. D. how her sister was doing.  Ms. D. responded,  "not too well, but at least she's up and about."  Ms. D. then revealed her sister, "wanted to come to Mass so badly"...
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Father replied something like this,  "Good to hear.  But I don't want her back here, that was the 3rd time an ambulance has been called for her - I don't want her interrupting things like that.  When the ambulance shows up the lights flash right in my eyes and distract me from my homily."
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Ms. D. didn't know what to say.  While telling me the story she choked up, "I just don't know what to tell A."  She then went on to explain how she became Catholic and always hoped her sister would some day become Catholic as well.  "This is the 2nd time Father has warned me - the last time I told A. and she said maybe she'd just stop going to church all together.  I felt so bad."
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"It's not your fault the church put glass doors on the front entrance," I told Ms. D.  "Just don't say anything to A. and if she wants to come to Mass, bring her.  Father doesn't pay for the ambulance."  (Then it occurred to me - he's worried about liability.  It's about money again.  I didn't say anything however.)
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"Thanks, I thought that same thing to myself when he told me that.  Imagine trying to keep someone her age from going to Mass."
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Last week, in the bulletin, Father put a notice for people not to give alms to beggars who pass by or come into the church - send them to the rectory.  The rectory doesn't give money either but directs these people to the appropriate agencies for help.  These agencies, as well as the rectory, are usually not open on the weekends or holidays.
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I think we can do better than this.
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