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, April 10, 2010

Oh God!

If only you recognized the gift of God.
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I enjoyed the movie "Oh God!" partly because it depicted God as someone totally kind and merciful and human - and full of common sense.  It also demonstrated how men fail to recognise him, or believe in him - just as the people of Israel (and all men) failed to recognize him throughout Salvation history.  Haven't you heard contemporaries say, "If only God world perform some sign, or appear to us as he did to the disciples after the Resurrection."?  Or, "I wish God would do something about this or that - to make the whole world convert - maybe a warning or something?" and so on.  You know what I'm saying - human nature is slow to believe, and in our day especially, nearly unable to trust.
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Our Lord knows us, which is why he compares us to kids at the mall hoping to be entertained, "We piped you a tune but you did not dance.  We sang you a dirge but you did not wail" - [Luke 7: 32]
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In the last 10 years, especially since John Paul II promulgated the devotion and feast of the Divine Mercy, the popularity of the devotion seems to have blossomed.  Although this year it seems to me not that many Catholics are speaking about it online.  I may be wrong of course, and admittedly, many parishes locally will be hosting special devotions this weekend - which is wonderful - but is the message continuing to spread?  That said, despite the fact Catholics are not required to practice this or that devotion, I'm surprised so few blogs mention or promote the Divine Mercy devotion.  Although I'm more surprised so many people seem to think the devotion is out of place, or an intrusion upon Easter Week, especially the celebration of the Second Sunday of Easter as the Feast of Mercy - a request made by Christ himself.  I must admit, I find it sad that many priests do not promote this devotion, while some even criticize it.
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I think these good people fail to understand that the devotion and the message of Divine Mercy emanate from the depths of the Heart of Jesus - opening all the treasures of his merciful love in a prodigious and ineffable manner.  Perhaps it is too simple and ordinary for well educated sophisticated persons to believe.  Or as Christ gently rebuked his audience in the synagogue at Capernaum for their disbelief;  "Let me remind you... the many lepers in Israel in the times of Elisha the prophet, yet not one was cured except Naaman the Syrian." - [Luke 4:27]  In case you forgot, Naaman was only cured after his servants convinced him to do as the prophet instructed - "Wash seven times in the Jordan".  Reasoning with their master they contended; "...If the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it?" - [2 Kings 5:13]
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Our Lord told St. Faustina that on the Feast of Mercy, "...are opened all the floodgates through which graces flow."  It is as if Jesus, "on the last and greatest day of the festival" cries out:  "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me; let him drink who believes in me.  Scripture has it: 'From within him rivers of living water will flow.'" - [John 7: 37-38]
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"If only you recognized the gift of God, and who it is that is asking for a drink... Whoever drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty; no, the water I give shall become a fountain within him, leaping up to provide eternal life." - [Jn 4: 10-14] 
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Can anyone of us ever be satiated and refuse to come to him?
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"Blood and water flowing forth from the side of Christ, I trust in you."
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Divine Mercy links:
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This Sunday Is A Very Special Day
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What is Divine Mercy?
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The Divine Mercy Devotion

It is mercy I desire...

Jesus, I trust in you.
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Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. —Diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, n. 1146

Friday, April 09, 2010

On anger.


Whatever the reason for the passion of anger arising, it blinds the eyes of the mind, and puts a pernicious beam into the faculty of sight like a dangerous cataract, blocking the light of the sun of justice. - Institutes, Chapter 6
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Keeping the uncertain state of man ever before our eyes, let us believe ourselves daily to be on the point of death, and know that we would profit nothing from pure chastity, the renunciation of all our property, the contempt of riches, fasting or vigils, for the Universal Judge has promised eternal punishment simply for wrath and hatred alone. - Institutes, Chapter 22
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Art: Patience of Christ - Buenos Aires

"Indeed, you will be hated by all nations on my account." - Mt. 24:10


"... They will manhandle and persecute you, summoning you to synagogues and prisons, bringing you to trial before kings and govenors, all because of my name." - Luke 21:12
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UN Judge Says Pope Should be Prosecuted at International Criminal Court.
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In London last Friday, a high ranking United Nations (UN) jurist called on the British government to detain Pope Benedict XVI during his upcoming visit to Britain, and send him to trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “crimes against humanity.” - Story here.

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"All will hate you because of me, yet not a hair on your head will be harmed.  By patient endurance you will save your souls." - Luke 21: 17-19

St. Gianna's Husband


And a question I raised.
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Pietro Molla, aged 98, husband of St. Gianna died in his house at Mesero, near Milano. He was surrounded by his children. He died on Holy Saturday this year. - Idle Speculations
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I expect most Catholics are aware of his death by now.  However, his death led me to pose a question concerning the death of a husband and wife, on a memorial post for Mr. Molla at Angela's Angels blog.  I'm sure she thought my comment was facetious, but I was serious when I asked:
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Since one is married until "death do you part" is the couple still married in heaven after they are both dead? Remember how Christ answered the Sadducees who were testing him about the woman who had seven husbands, asking whose wife she would be in heaven?  Jesus explained, "You are badly misled because you fail to understand the Scriptures and the power of God.  When people rise from the dead, they neither marry or are given in marriage but live like angels in heaven." - Matt. 22: 23-33
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I'm not trying to be clever here, nor am I trying to 'test' anyone.  I suppose it is like the popular question that everyone with a cat or a dog wants answered in the affirmative, "Do pets go to heaven?"  In other words, we can't really say for sure.  Although we do know that a priest will still be a priest in heaven, because the sacrament confers a character - Holy Matrimony doesn't... so will the couple be married in Heaven? 
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Oh!  Oh!
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Bonus question:  Do you have to be with your family in Heaven?
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Bonus answer:  It wouldn't be Heaven then, would it.
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(Just making light here.)
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Photo:  Pietro and Gianna Molla.  Source.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Warning!

Block your com boxes, I'm really, really in a bad mood.
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I just returned from the framers and they obviously hired new people since I was last there.  All I want to say to anyone working in retail and/or/especially in a frame shop: never, ever keep telling the customer - "No, you don't want this... you want this."  "No, that is not right - this is better." 
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No.  No.  No. NO!  Amy Winehouse!
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Never tell the customer what they are supposed to want - especially if the customer is the painter.  Today I explained that to the frame people very clearly, and politely. 
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I'm very much in a mood to make very clear, albeit polite statements to anyone I run over today.

The Easter appearances...


"My lover put his hand through the opening;
my heart trembled within me,
and I grew faint when he spoke..." - Songs 5:4
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I wish everyone could experience the presence of the risen Christ in a tangible way this Easter.  I'm convinced this is what the devotion to the Divine Mercy accomplishes in a marvelous manner, either through the image, the prayers - especially the chaplet, or confession, culminating of course in the Holy Eucharist, the reception of which plunges us into the most intimate union with Jesus.  Just as with the disciples, the risen Christ opens our minds to understand the Scriptures which speak of him, and the work of Divine Mercy - which has been at work in the Church since the beginning.  He penetrates through every boundary and obstacle we set up, just as he entered through the locked doors of the room where the disciples were assembled.
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Art: Ethiopian Icons Through the Centuries
Top left: Anastasis (Resurrection), Top right: Crucifixion, Lower left: Joachim and Anna (?) 
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Editor's note:  The attribution of Joachim and Anna is a mistake - not uncommon amongst antiquarian, museum, or collector sites - many today do not know the works they exhibit.  Rather than Joachim and Anna, the image clearly shows the Risen Christ appearing to his Mother, Our Lady Regina Coeli.  This is obvious by the clothing of Our Lady - which matches that of her depiction in the Crucifixion scene, as well as by the cruciform nimbus of the Lord, his resplendant robes, and evidence of his wounds on the hand that grasps Our Lady's... "My lover put his hand through the opening..."

Painting something every day.

If I am not working outside in the garden, I try to paint something every day.  For awhile in winter I was trying to complete a painting each day - small panels of course.  A friend asked me if I'm selling them online, to which I answered "not yet".  At first I told people I was trying to have enough pieces for a show.  Now that I have enough for that, I say I'm amassing a collection for after my death... I have no idea why or what difference that would make, except to explain why I'm not trying to sell (or show) my stuff.  Seriously, I just paint for the work, it's the process that is important to me.  (Of course I will be entering a piece or two in a juried show this month, but I still just paint for the work.)  Providentially last night, I came across a story I knew from the Desert Father's which I had been looking for, but couldn't find; hopefully to better explain my point.  It is from Cassian's Institutes.
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"A worthy Father, Abba Paul, who lived in a vast solitude called Porphyrium, sustained himself on palm fruits and a small garden which gave him enough to support and feed himself; he had no other possibility of performing useful work, since his desert dwelling lay distant from towns or inhabited country, and the cost of transporting any goods he had made would be more than they could possibly be worth.  He used to collect palm fronds and carefully make a daily amount of work as if he were to support himself thus.  When his cave was quite blocked up with the products of a whole year's careful work, every year he would put all of it on the fire and burn it.  By doing this he showed that a monk cannot remain happily in one place without manual labor, nor ever rise to perfect virtue, so that even when the necessities of life do not demand it, he should perform it simply for the purification of his heart, the control of his thoughts, perseverance in the cell and the defeat and overthrow of acedia itself." - Chapter 24 - Abba Paul, who every year used to burn what he had made with his hands.
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No - I am not going to burn my paintings.
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Art: "It is a question of discipline," the little prince said to me later on.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

URGENT: N. Korean Fashion Update!

Little Kim Jong-Il rules the fashion world.
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Strike the pose!
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The trademark suit sported by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is now in fashion worldwide thanks to his greatness, Pyongyang's official website said Wednesday.
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Uriminzokkiri, quoting an article in communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, said the modest-looking suits have gripped people's imagination and become a global vogue.
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The article quoted an unidentified French fashion expert as saying world fashion follows Kim Jong-Il's style.  "Kim Jong-Il mode which is now spreading expeditiously worldwide is something unprecedented in the world's history," the stylist was quoted as saying. - Full report here.
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Vogue! Vogue! Vogue! Vogue! Vogue! Vogue! Vogue! Vogue! Vogue! Vogue! Vogue!
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Photo:  Kim workin' the runway.

A week of Sundays

This is what Easter week is.
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Today is my regular day of recollection so I'll be at adoration... like the disciples at Emmaus - my heart is already burning within me...
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Consider this if you will, how Jesus gently reminded the two disciples on the way to Emmaus of what the prophets said in his regard.  The disciples were obviously scandalized by Christ's passion and death, and Jesus, still unrecognized by them, said to them, "Oh how foolish you are!  How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" - Luke 24: 13-35
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"Do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring in your midst.  It is a test for you, but it should not catch you off guard.  Rejoice instead, in the measure that you share Christ's sufferings." - 1 Peter 4:12-13
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Call to arms... Call to prayer.
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Art: Velasquez: The Supper at Emmaus - c. 1620; Oil on canvas; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
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Praying for all of you. :)

Man kills the man who sexually abused him.

Pleads no contest to manslaughter...
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A California man pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter with the use of a gun Tuesday in the shooting death of a man who he claimed sexually abused him as a teen, a prosecutor said.
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The plea comes less than a week before Aaron Vargas' first-degree murder trial was supposed to start for the slaying of Darrell McNeill, a neighbor from his childhood and a family friend whom Vargas claims began molesting him when he was 11 years old.
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Under the terms of a plea deal, Vargas, now 32, faces anywhere from probation to 10 years in prison for shooting the former Boy Scout leader and local businessman last year in his home in the Northern California community of Fort Bragg.  - Story
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One might editorialize this story on so many different levels.  Pointing out that the perpetrator wasn't a priest or a bishop, but a neighbor, a husband,  a Boy Scout leader and a community business man, a friend of the family.  The victim is now an adult married man with a child.  The secret was kept for years, and the perpetrator remained a family friend, making regular visits to the family, etc., etc..
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No one has the right to murder another person or take the law into their own hands, yet even the murdered man's wife believes the shooter should be shown some clemency:  "I cannot condone what Aaron has done, but I do understand it. I believe he took the wrong avenue by taking the law into his own hands. Like most of this community, I do not feel he deserves 50 years in prison. Unlike most of this community, I feel he should serve some time, but not much."
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That is an incredible position to take by this widow who just lost her husband.  Everyone else seems to believe the shooter needs therapy rather than a jail sentence.  In these cases, the best therapy can accomplish is for the victim to learn how to cope with life - the harm has already been done - the wounds never go away.
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I know from experience how disgusting it is to live with the fact the perpetrator continues to visit the victim's family... that happened to me as well.  I never killed the guy - I moved far away from my family instead.  For me, the worst part of it was that everyone knew what happened, and yet he was still welcome in the house.
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Sexual abuse kills.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Please pray for the coal miners in West Virginia.

MONTCOAL, W.Va. -- Rescuers at the site of the worst U.S. coal-mining disaster in more than two decades likely won't be able to resume the search for four missing miners until at least Wednesday evening, officials said this afternoon.
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"I just don't think there is much hope held out at all [with the families]," McGraw said. "They made it clear to the families that it is not a good situation in there and probably not survivable." - Source

The Novena

"By this novena I will grant every possible grace to souls." - Words of Our Lord
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I haven't noticed any Catholic blogs posting on the Novena to the Divine Mercy, which began on Good Friday and ends on the Feast of Mercy, the Second Sunday of Easter.  Of course I don't read that many blogs, so maybe it's just me, or maybe everyone knows enough about it already.  That can't be of course, since the Divine Mercy is inexhaustible - right?  :)
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No doubt about it, the Divine Mercy is a very important devotion for our times.  As I mentioned, the novena began on Good Friday.  Most people use the prayers Jesus dictated to St. Faustina combined with the chaplet.  The novena of chaplets is the one by which Jesus promises his greatest graces to "anyone who prays it", while the prayers of Faustina may be substituted with our own.  Jesus told the Saint:
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"On each day you will bring to my Heart a different group of souls; you will immerse them in this ocean of my Mercy; on each day you will beg my Father on the strength of my bitter Passion for graces for these souls."  Words of Our Lord
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If you haven't started the novena, begin now, having confidence in the Divine Mercy.  Remember the parable of the laborers in the vineyard [Matt. 20:1-16]; those who were hired late received the same compensation as those who were hired early in the day.  Confidence - trust - is the essence of this devotion.
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And most especially, go to confession, and on the Feast of Divine Mercy receive Holy Communion since the Lord promises:
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"The soul that will go to confession, and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment... Let no soul fear to draw near to me, even though its sins be as scarlet." - Words of Our Lord
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Links:
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The Divine Mercy - Marians of the Immaculate Conception
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Divine Mercy Devotion - EWTN
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Cathedral of St. Paul, Minnesota:  Continue your Easter celebration by participating in the Cathedral’s Divine Mercy Sunday activities. Following the noon Mass on Sunday, April 11, we will have Eucharistic Adoration with music, meditations from Pope John Paul II & Saint Faustina, the Rosary, and confessions. At 3 p.m., the hour of Divine Mercy, we will sing the Divine Mercy Chaplet and have Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Happy Birthday Blessed Pier Giorgio!


Forever young.
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If Frassati was still living on earth he would be 109 years old.
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Pray for us Blessed Pier Giorgio that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.  Amen.
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Links:
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A short biography.
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Frassati USA
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Photo:  Pier Giorgio is wearing the party hat.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Bunch of boobs.


Enraged over male voyeurism.
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About two dozen women marched topless in Portland, Maine Saturday to protest the inequality of male/female nudity - after all, men can run around with shirts off.  No - that's not it - they were actually protesting the  double standard which exists over male/female nudity.  Historically, men have paid money to see women topless.  No - I'm sure that's wrong too.  Anyway...
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"The women, preceded and followed by several hundred boisterous and mostly male onlookers, many of them carrying cameras, stayed on the sidewalk because they hadn't obtained a demonstration permit to walk in the street. About a thousand people gathered as the march passed through Monument Square, a mix of demonstrators, supporters, onlookers and those just out enjoying a warm and sunny early-spring day.
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Ty McDowell, who organized the march, said she was "enraged" by the turnout of men attracted to the demonstration. The purpose, she said, was for society to have the same reaction to a woman walking around topless as it does to men without shirts on.
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However, McDowell said she plans to organize similar demonstrations in the future and said she would be more "aggressive" in discouraging oglers." - Story
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What the hell did she expect?

Anyway - no arrests were made for sexual harassment or bare-breasts; nudity is illegal in Maine only if genitals are exposed.
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Oh, that's good.
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Photo:  Ad for male bra.  This might placate things.

Easter memories...


Easter photo:  Me and my brother with Dad all dressed up.  (I'm the littlest one looking into my brother Skip's basket.)

Cardinal Sodano's pep talk: Yeah, I thought it was weird too.


Defending the Pope 'to his face'.
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Cardinal Sodano addressed the Holy Father at the beginning of Mass yesterday...
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It was not clear whether this greeting was actually part of the liturgy, as it seemed, coming after the entrance hymn, or was simply a preface to the liturgy, like an announcement at the beginning of Mass -- though such an announcement still ought to come before the entrance hymn.
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If news is something that happens that is "new," this was news.
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And when this cardinal (Sodano) rose to his feet and took the microphone to speak, every newsman within hearing pricked up his ears, thinking, "This is something new."
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What did Sodano say?
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Essentially, that Catholics around the world love and support Pope Benedict XVI, and will continue to do so no matter how fiercely he his attacked by the media.
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Sodano, clearly referring to recent attacks on the Pope from the New York Times and other media outlets which allege that he did not do enough during his many years as an administrator in the Church to halt and punish priests accused of sexually abusing children, said the "people of God" would not be influenced by "petty gossip." - Inside the Vatican
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Evidently, such a gesture is unprecedented - Moynihan says even the Pope looked surprised.  I watched it on the news and I think it was inappropriate and unnecessary to interrupt the Mass for such a display for the person of the Holy Father.
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Don't get me wrong - I love the Pope, particularly this Pope - I pray for him and support him as best I can.  That said, I love the Papacy more, if you will.  Which means, when a Pope dies, I know another will be elected.  The Pope is Peter, he is Christ's Vicar on earth.  I wonder how much Catholics really appreciate that however?  With John Paul II we oftentimes witnessed over the top displays of affection and adulation by the crowds.  Sometimes his 'fans'  seemed to be more animated by the cult of personality which developed around him, rather than devotion for the Vicar of Christ.  I too loved John Paul II, but I wasn't so sad when he finally died after much incapacitating suffering, as I knew we would have a new Pope.  Just as when I was little and Pius XII died, I was thrilled we would have a new Pope.
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I may be off in this, but it seems to me being off about things isn't all that uncommon these days - especially amongst the 'good' Catholics.  Consider how everyone got on Cantalamessa's case on Good Friday, as he attempted to compare the current media assault upon the Pope and the Church to the anti-semitism of Nazi Germany.  After which, self-appointed uber-Catholic bloggers rushed to judgement, along with secular media and the JDL, and criticized the hell out of the guy.  Right or wrong, one wonders just how devoutly some of these more Catholic than the Papal Theologian observed their Triduum, shooting their mouths off online.  Talk about "petty gossip".
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Wanna buy a "Pray for the Pope" water bottle?  Golfshirt?

The most necessary 'call to arms' of all...


The spiritual combat.
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"For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." - Ephesians 6:12  (So do not grow slack in your Easter celebration and relaxation.  The devil prowls like a roaring lion.)
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I don't know about you, but it seems to me the real spiritual battle only now begins.  I'm so grateful to my friend who returned my book yesterday.  The title?  Cassian's, Monastic Institutes.  All I can think of is that he reads my blog and realizes how badly I need this instruction.  I opened to the chapter on vainglory, noting in particular the following counsels...
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Of the Spirit of Conceit (or vainglory)
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Chapter 9 - How conceit is more perilous when mingled with virtue.
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Other disorders when they are opposed by their opposite virtues, are engaged in the open like battle in the light of day, and can easily be overcome or avoided: this alone when it is entwined with virtues is far more dangerously deceptive to the unwary warrior, as if battle were joined in confusion, fighting in the thick of night.
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Chapter 14 - How conceit suggests they might rise in the hierarchy.
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Often it instills an ambition for Holy Orders and the priesthood or diaconate.  If a monk has been chosen for ordination, it makes him imagine himself ministering with such piety and correctness that he can give an example of holiness to other priests, and winning many souls not only by his manner of life but also in his teaching and preaching.  Even one dwelling in the desert or in a cell is made to imagine himself travelling round different houses and monasteries, and converting many by the eloquence of his fantasy discourses.
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Chapter 18 - How a monk should avoid women and bishops.
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The consistent and still current teaching of the old Fathers (which I am embarrassed to repeat, I who failed to escape from my girl cousin, or elude the hands of the bishop) is that in all ways a monk should flee women and bishops.  Neither would allow him, once entangled in their company, either to apply himself to peaceful work in his cell, or to cleave to divine contemplation, in the consideration of holy things with undistracted eye. - The Monastic Institutes, John Cassian
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Art: The Holy Communion of Mary of Egypt from the hands of the monk Zosimus.  St. Mary of Egypt's feast is observed on different dates at the beginning of April - I always observe it April 2.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Stalking the Great Easter Fire


Funny thing is, Father Erik never even noticed me there...  Oh - I have more photos - I have more!  Insane laughter...
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Chocolate thoughts after Easter Mass...

BREAKfast - at last.
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I can give up smoking, dope, and booze - but not chocolate.  Seriously - I'm letting a piece of Organic and fairly traded VERY DARK chocolate from "small-scale co-ops in Latin America" melt in my mouth as I write this...  Thank God for chocolate!  In moderation of course.
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So anyway - I went to first Mass at St. Agnes this morning - ah!  How I miss attending Mass there.  The church is beautiful as usual, and I will say right now, I don't care how big the statues are - they fit!  The pastor, Fr. Ubel is pretty much the perfect parish priest as far as I'm concerned.  His homilies are excellent and lively, his decorum gentlemanly and elegant, his celebration of Mass ad orientem is faithful and reverent - without ostentation.  He's a wonderful priest and pastor - St. Agnes is fortunate to have such a fine, well-balanced priest.
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I must say a special thanks to Lee, who returned a book - obviously waiting to do so for over a year, since that is how long it's been since I've been to Mass there - and a big thanks and promise of my prayers for his gift of Bishop Van Thuan's book which he included.
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This morning I left the church feeling everything is okay.  How can I say that, what with everything going on in the world, in the Church?  I don't know... but I felt great peace.  There was something reassuring in Father's homily - he was reassuring.  He wasn't railing from the pulpit, condemning anti-Catholics - he spoke of Our Lady, Regina Coeli, of joy and peace... and I don't know what else right now - but his homily seemed to me to have been formulated in prayer, and spoken from his heart.  And his smile was real...  I sensed a wonderful freedom of spirit at St. Agnes today.  It remains the same church, however it felt fresh if you will, or perhaps renewed is a better word.
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I think the cult effect is gone... Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam.
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Photo: Juliette Binoche, Chocolat

Happy Easter!



Art: Lavinia Fontana "Noli me Tangere"