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, July 17, 2010

Faithless priests..


And the decline of the Church.
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I was reading a post on Bishop Fellay of the SSPX (The Pope seems to like him) at The Eponymous Flower blog, wherein the Bishop, speaking of the decline of the Church since Vatican II pointed out three evidential examples.  If accurate, this is the one I found most disturbing:  Citing "a chancellor of the Diocese of Trier. He has made known that 80% of the priests in the diocese deny the real presence of Christ in the Host." - Bishop Fellay
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I have no way of knowing for certain if the 80% stat is correct, but it seems to me it well could be considering the manner Mass is celebrated these days (Dutch World Cup Mass) and the total lack of reverence for the Eucharist one continues to witness in many churches today.
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I just read an article about a lesbian woman who converted to Evangelical Christianity, renouncing her gay lifestyle.  Nothing wrong with that, huh?  The story was on Spirit Daily and was picked up from The 700 Club website.   But get this,  before her final conversion, the woman and her girlfriend decided to get married:  "'We went to see a priest,' Janet said. 'The priest told us that what we were doing was okay, that we would still go to heaven. And so we went out and got engagement rings because we thought, ‘we’re going to get married.' he said it was OK. I wanted both. I wanted God, and I wanted to live a homosexual life. I wanted to find a way to have both.'"
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This tells me that the priests who don't believe in the Real Presence most likely no longer believe in sin either.  (Switch it around if you like, one begets the other.)

"Oh, you mean that one?"


"Why she's nothing but a bitch."
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The Obama's Are On Vacation AGAIN!


I know!
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Friday, July 16, 2010

And Now, A Song From My Heart For Cathy of Alexandria, Minnesota


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Hi Cath!  How's it goin'?

Wind beneath their wings...

Thoughts on praying for Christopher Hitchens and Mel Gibson and Muriel Puce.
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Fr. Groeschl has always repeated how he prays for Madonna - that's nice.  He usually includes this information within the context of speaking about praying for the conversion of sinners and one's enemies.  Since she is recognized as a fallen away Catholic at best, or a public sinner at worst, announcing publicly that one is praying for her seems reasonable.  Therefore it isn't unreasonable for Fr. Barron to reveal he's praying for a famous atheist, neither is it a bad thing that fans of Mel Gibson are praying for him in his custody battle of bad behavior with his former mistress.  After all, at Fatima and Lourdes Our Lady specifically requested that we pray for the conversion of sinners, and it is worthy of note that St. Maximilian Kolbe even added to the Miraculous Medal prayer, asking Our Lady not only to "pray for us who have recourse to thee", but "for those who do not have recourse to thee, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to you."  That is all good.
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Something is off  however...  Sometimes...  With some people...  Especially when they go overboard with their celebrity intentions.  When a famous person's problems or news of their demise is broadcast all over media, their situation cries out for comment I suppose - and it works out especially well for bloggers to post their unsolicited commentary.  Nothing is wrong with that, I know!  Nevertheless, it seems to me there is something a tad disingenuous about the sudden outburst of compassion and support for the bad boys...
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Joshua of Western Confucian, writing about the request for prayers for Hitchens expresses his misgivings this way:
First, it all seems very evangelical. I can almost hear "the call to mobilize prayer warriors" or some such silly phrase. Such calls to mass prayer also say more about the callers than the recipient of the prayer, as if to say, "Look at what nice people we are, even praying for someone who doesn't like us." What's more, I very much doubt the sick man in question welcomes these initiatives. Rather, they probably just make him feel all the sicker. "Pitiful, these irrational mammals!" I can almost hear him scoffing. - No Prayer Requests for Christopher Hitchens Here
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Perhaps that sounds cold, but I think I know what he means.  I do think that in the case of Hitchens it does at times come off as a way of rubbing his nose in Christianity - as well as the intention being a little forced.  Of course there is nothing wrong with praying for him, but I wonder why it has to be a big public cause?  If God brought the man to a fantastic and wonderful public conversion, would we all say it was our prayers or God's mercy that made it happen?  Would the good guys congratulate themselves somehow?  On the other hand, if Hitchens shows no sign of repentance or faith, does that mean the pray-ers lost and that Hitchens is lost too?  Do people really care, I mean deeply and profoundly care?  I know several people who hate the Catholic Church, who claim to be atheist - no one else knows them - do they get prayed for?  Atheists are bashed all the time on blogs, along with apostate Catholics - do we suggest praying for them?  Oh perhaps as a matter of course - after we trashed the hell out of them, then we add, "Of course we must pray for them".
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See, we'll bash other people to bits and pieces, just about condemning them to hell - and then when they get sick or in trouble, all the holier than thou people call out for prayer campaigns.  I get it - but do the other folks in the world who think all religious people are a bunch of hypocrites anyway, get it?  We end up looking pretty inconsistent.  Pious platitudes today, condemning the reprobates tomorrow.
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As for Mel Gibson and his personal demons and low-life behavior - ever since his film The Passion of the Christ many people seem to have canonized the poor son of a bitch.  He's just a working class guy with a fundamentalist nut job for a dad.  He's like millions of guys who screw up daily.  Say anything critical of what Gibson says or does, Catholics come out of the wood work and bend over backwards to defend the guy while trying to shame those who recognize he's just a jerk like the rest of us.  People are blinded by celebrity and try to jump on that bandwagon hoping to be somehow acknowledged in their shadow.  There is something unreal, or at least surreal about the whole thing.
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I'm not saying praying for famous people is wrong - heaven's no.  We should pray as Our Lady requested - for the conversion of sinners - and we are all sinners - remember that.  Nothing is wrong with  prayer for others - we are commanded to do so out of charity.  I just think it's odd when it goes global, because it comes off as just another spotlight on their celebrity.  I can't help but wonder if we really knew these people, if they were our hostile or disgusting next door neighbors and personally harrassed us as they do others, would we be so charitable?  Do we pray for the the obnoxious drunk on the street insulting the hell out of us because we wouldn't give him money for a bottle of booze?  Do we feel really bad for celebrities like George Michael who gets high and cruises the bushes for oral sex?
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Anyway - that's my take on the subject.

Queen, Beauty of Carmel


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Flower of Carmel Mother of our King,

Blossoming Vine, Peerless and fair,

Splendor of Heaven, To your children of Carmel,

Mother Divine, Favors grant ever,

None like to you. Star of the Sea.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I don't care - I like this...

The majesty of the cappa magna.

My secret...
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I really only make fun of lace and satin and watered silk and jeweled crosiers and cappa magna just to goad some of the more pompous, ostentatious and affected who seem to prize external extravagance above authentic worship in spirit and truth.  (There really are those who go to High Mass more for the chamber music and costuming than to worship.)  I know, who am I to judge, uncouth and uncultured as I am?  Yet truth be told, I really do appreciate such magnificence in liturgical vestments and decorum.  In the Church there is no 'fashion' and therefore these elegant vestments ought never to have been considered out of fashion in the first place.  Indeed, what to wear with what is equally important, hence if a prelate is to wear lace and baroque embroidered silk and gold vestments, proper shoes and gloves are necessary.  It is equivalent to court dress - except this is for the King of kings.
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It seems to my peasant understanding that such majesty in vestment reflects the majesty and dignity of the Presence of God.  A notion pretty much lost since the Council, wouldn't you agree?  Therefore many of us  no longer understand or conceive of our churches to be "the house of God and the gate of heaven" - which in turn may partly explain why the Dutch can play soccer at Mass, in a church, or why dancing and other forms of entertainment takes place during the liturgy elsewhere.
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Losing an authentic sense of the dignity and majesty of God, we easily disregard the proper decorum and dignity and protocol (ritual) in His Presence - which is due to His Majesty.  We have vulgarized worship; overstepping our bounds, and we have made ourselves too familiar within the Holy of Holies.  Therefore, the restoration of reverent liturgy, along with the revival of traditional liturgical vestments and decorum, can seem foreign and strange, even excessive to many of us steeped in contemporary culture, where the degenerate and profane has become commonplace and the comfort and ease of our casual lifestyle discourages any type of formalism.
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Nevertheless, whenever we are in church, and especially during the liturgy, we ought to be aware that we have "drawn near to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, to myriads of angels in festal gathering, to the assembly of the first born enrolled in heaven, to God, the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks more eloquently than that of Abel." [Heb. 12: 22-24]
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Therefore I believe it is only appropriate that the ordained celebrants ministering in the Sacred Presence be "clothed in holy attire" - as the Scripture says.
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Photo credit.

An Icon of St. Benedict


Wonderfully made.
I just want to share this photo of a magnificent icon of St. Benedict with my readers who appreciate real icons. It was presented to Fr. Mark and his monastic community for their chapel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The icon was commissioned by a close friend of the monastery, and a Benedictine Oblate himself. For more photos and information go to Fr. Mark's post, A Gift: The Icon of Our Father Saint Benedict
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I think Mel Gibson is nuts.

Or maybe possessed.  (Don't listen to the tapes.)
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That's all.

Okay! Now this is exactly why I think Fr. Z is so funny!

Annotating another crazy column by Richard McBrien, Fr. Z notes:
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[And now the wheels come off McBrien’s walker.]
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Now that is funny!  I laughed out loud.
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Read the article here - it is a good one - and the animation at the end is LOL funny.
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See people - I like Fr. Z.

Kateri - First Nation Saint

Today is the memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. 
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I read someplace that before her conversion Blessed Kateri was not always pleasant to be around - she had a very hard life, due in part to having been disfigured by small pox, I believe.  After her conversion and baptism at the age of twenty, her disposition became more gentle.  This despite the fact that her own people disowned her for accepting the faith.  Kateri devoted her life to prayer and penance and caring for the aged and infirm in a settlement for native Americans who had become Christian.
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I am attracted to this saint because she represents those on the fringe; the lame and disfigured, the rejected and outcast - yes.  But even more so because she is native American, or as the Canadians say, first nation person - which sounds much more dignified than aboriginal person.  Because of this, the Church refers to her in the votive prayer for her feast as a light "shinning among the native American people".
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Indeed she is a light shinning for all of us to look with love and gratitude upon the original peoples who inhabited our lands before our ancestors arrived from Europe.  Those who were marginalized and segregated from Anglo society even before the great influx of immigrants during the 19th and 20th centuries up until now, as non-white immigrants from east and far east and south and deepest south immigrate to our country...  while first nation peoples continue to stand apart, still segregated and marginalized, frequently rejected because they look Indian and sometimes carry the stereo-typical pock marks of poverty and abuse.
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Blessed Kateri is a great saint, not unlike St. Rose of Lima, St. Marianne of Quito, or even St. Catherine of Siena and St. Catherine of Genoa.  She devoted her life to Christ through prayer and penance and humble service to the aged, the sick, and infirm - outcasts just like herself.

May Blessed Kateri obtain for us a deep love and reverence for the traditions and the dignity of native Americans and may the Catholic Church in North America always offer the authentic and true faith to all - just as it was given to Blessed Kateri in 1676.
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Link:
First Nation iconography.
A Litany to My Cousin

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sheep


And shepherds who don't love animals.
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A couple of weeks ago some parishioners organized a celebration for priests marking the conclusion of the Year of the Priest at my parish.  It was the only event scheduled for the year long commemoration, and it occurred a week or two after the Holy Year officially closed.  I mention the timing since any concern or interest in the plenary indulgence attached to such observances seems to have been overlooked. 
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The organizers invited former pastors and priests who grew up in the parish to concelebrate Mass and treated to a formal dinner afterwards.  Ten active priests showed up to concelebrate.  It seemed to me that what I saw on the altar was ten representations of priest - ten versions of post-Vatican II Catholic priests.  One priest in particular, a rather progressive former pastor - who happened to be the reason I stopped going to Mass in the parish in the first place - stood out amongst the group.  He seemed especially obvious as the Eucharistic prayer began, as he watched the congregation kneel in unison.  (When he had been pastor, the assembly stood throughout the Eucharistic prayer and the consecration - at daily Mass, they gathered around the altar.)  Father's eyes widened in mock surprise, tilted his head back somewhat, and laughed - silently of course, but demonstrably, kind of heaving his chest slightly as he did so, emulating a sort of belly laugh.  As pastor he literally frowned upon those who wished to kneel, pushing for a more democratic celebration of the communal banquet instead, in fact he was always the last person to receive communion, and then from the hands of a layman.  (Yes, that is a liturgical abuse.)
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This particular former pastor had a reputation for being arrogant and pompous, despite his liberal ideas, which probably should have caused him to be ever so approachable and amenable to the spiritual needs of his flock.  However, giving him the benefit of the doubt, considering what appeared to be pomposity more as an acquired sense of dignity and decorum, I put aside my prejudice for this event.  Until he reacted to the congregation kneeling at the Eucharistic prayer.  He appeared once again as his old, condescending self. 
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I interpreted his laugh to be one of scorn... in essence mocking the sheep.

I suppose she had to say something...




In her speech, the first lady focused on the issue of childhood obesity and her "Let's Move" initiative...
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"When African American communities are still hit harder than just about anywhere by this economic downturn, and so many families are just barely scraping by, I think the founders would tell us that now is not the time to rest on our laurels. When stubborn inequalities still persist -- in education and health, in income and wealth, I think those founders would urge us to increase our intensity, and to increase our discipline and our focus and keep fighting for a better future for our children and our grandchildren,"  - Michelle Obama said to the NAACP.
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Really?
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I know the US isn't perfect but what is she talking about?  Is she and her husband really in touch with the American people?  Stubborn inequalities exist for most US citizens hit by the depression, no matter what their race.  And Mrs. Obama's big job is childhood obesity?  BFD - no one is forcing poor fat kids to eat junk food and roost on a couch all day, playing with their blackberries, cell phones, iPad, and/or iPhone while watching TV.
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The Obama's and the NAACP are playing the race card to effect their idea of social change.
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Monday, July 12, 2010

In thanksgiving to Our Lady.


For prayers answered.
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This past Saturday I asked people for prayers for a very special and rather urgent intention, and within a very short time that same day Our Lady indicated that the prayer had been granted - not that she said anything, but a matter associated with my intention was immediately resolved.  So once again, thank you to everyone who prayed.
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Many, many years ago I had asked the Carmelites to pray for a special intention and when it appeared my request had been granted I spoke to one of the sisters at the turn, informing her of the graces received.  Mother answered, "We will pray in thanksgiving to Our Lady for having granted you this grace."  I reflected on what she said afterwards and understood that as Mediatrix of all graces, Our Lady surely would have obtained the grace I sought in prayer, even though I wasn't necessarily directing my prayers to her.  I delighted in the understanding of Our Lady's special role of intercession for the children of God.  My Carmelite sister didn't need to explain things to me since it seemed I understood everything simply by her announcement of the fact.
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From Garrigou-Lagrange, The Influence of Mary Mediatrix:
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Is not Mary in her quality as Mother of God completely designated to be the universal mediatrix? Is she not truly the intermediary between God and men? She is, indeed, much below God and Christ because she is a creature, but much above all men by the grace of her divine maternity, "which makes her attain the very frontiers of the divinity," (7) and by the plenitude of grace received at the moment of her immaculate conception; a plentitude which did not cease to grow until her death. Not only was Mary thus designated by her divine maternity for this function of mediatrix, but she received it in truth and exercised it. This is shown by tradition,(8) which has given her the title of universal mediatrix in the proper sense of the word,(9) although in a manner subordinated to Christ. This title is consecrated by the special feast which is celebrated in the universal Church. To have a clear understanding of the meaning and import of this title, we shall consider how it is becoming to Mary for two principal reasons: because she cooperated by satisfaction and merit in the sacrifice of the cross; and because she does not cease to intercede for us, to obtain for us, and to distribute to us all the graces that we receive. Such is the double mediation, ascending and descending, which we ought to ponder in order daily to draw greater profit from it.

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That Mary obtains for us and distributes to us all graces is a certain doctrine, according to what we have just said about the mother of all men. As mother, she is interested in their salvation, prays for them, and obtains for them the graces they receive. In the Ave Maris Stella we read:

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Break the captive's fetters,
To the blind give day,
Ward all evils from us,
For all blessings pray.

In an encyclical on the Rosary, Leo XIII says: "According to the will of God, nothing is granted to us except through Mary; and, as no one can go to the Father except through the Son, so generally no one can draw near to Christ except through Mary." (24)
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The Church, in fact, turns to Mary to obtain graces of all kinds, both temporal and spiritual; among these last, from the grace of conversion up to that of final perseverance, to say nothing of those needed by virgins to preserve virginity, by apostles to exercise their apostolate, by martyrs to remain firm in the faith. In the Litany of Loreto, which has been universally recited in the Church for many centuries, Mary is for this reason called: "Health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comforter of the afflicted, help of Christians, queen of apostles, of martyrs, of confessors, of virgins." Thus all kinds of graces are distributed by her, even, in a sense, those of the sacraments; for she merited them for us in union with Christ on Calvary. In addition, she disposes us, by her prayer, to approach the sacraments and to receive them well. At times she even sends us a priest, without whom this sacramental help would not be given to us. - Three Ages of the Interior Life 

At times she even sends us a priest, without whom this sacramental help would not be given to us.
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That happened to me once.  I had fallen into serious sin and was unable to get to confession.  It was a time when I struggled with very severe temptations - sometimes almost violent temptations.  I had constant recourse to Our Lady, praying her rosary almost without interruption - even in the occasions of sin I found myself in.  I was particularly downcast and full of sorrow and so I decided to spend the evening in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, hoping to persevere until morning when confessions would be heard before Mass.  On my way to the church I prayed, asking Our Lady to intervene and by some miracle, let there be a priest there whom I could ask to hear my confession.
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As I walked into the Church I noticed the light was on above the retired Monsignor's confessional.  It was late, around 10:30 PM on a Wednesday night - so no confessions would have been scheduled.  I thanked Our Lady and immediately went over and made my confession; afterwards, I spent the remainder of the night in adoration.  Sometime later, speaking to the pastor long after the death of the Monsignor, I told him about it, and he laughed and said, "He had Alzheimer's you know, he probably thought it was Thursday night before First Friday and that he was supposed to be hearing confessions at that time." 
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I smiled and said nothing, knowing Our Lady had granted my request.
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Art: Virgen de los Desamparados, Our Lady of the most abandoned.

What?


Rebuild my Church

Living stones.
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

I wish I was at the Portiuncula.

When I was little I used to go to what I called a little park - it was a small grassy patch attached to a small office building for the brewery in my neighborhood, bordered on two sides by a hedge, just above a ravine, with two oak trees in the center, landscaped with a small distance in between them:  'Perfect for a hermitage', I thought.  I often sat there some Sundays on my way home from Mass and imagined that a replica of the little chapel St. Francis restored had been translated miraculously from Assisi and sat in the center of the park.  I'd pray my rosary or just sit quietly, all alone.  I pretended I was with St. Francis and the first friars as they prayed, while I thought about Our Lady of the Angels.

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Sometimes I pretend I'm back in Italy, in the valley below Assisi, in the Portiuncula once again - no one around me however.  As if I'm there after the basilica which encloses the little portion is closed, the tourists and friars have all gone away.  Or sometimes I just pretend I'm alone with St. Francis when the chapel stood by itself in the plain, and we are there together.  He sees me and I see him.  I, like Brother Leo watch him praying, as in the tableau above the entry - Francis praying to Our Lord and Our Lady, asking for the Great Pardon of Assisi.

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Today I have a replica of the Portiuncula in my heart, and St. Francis is there with Our Lady and Christ and all the angels.

July 11 is the feast of St. Benedict

Fr. Mark of Vultus Christi has a beautiful reflection on the life and spirituality of St. Benedict.  Father bases his meditation upon an address to the monks of Subiaco by Cardinal Ratzinger:
On April 1, 2005, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger gave a conference at Subiaco, the cradle of Benedictine life. Nineteen days later, as bishop of Rome, he assumed the name of Saint Benedict. Pope Benedict's message at Subiaco identifies what the world needs above all else. "We need," he said, "men who hold their gaze directly towards God." - Men Who Hold Their Gaze Directly Towards God
Fr. Mark's monastery in Tulsa is especially marked with this charism "of adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Christ, [...] for my brother priests, and especially for those whose gaze has, for one reason or another, been distracted -- literally, pulled away from -- the One Thing Necessary." 
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Fr. Mark has been specially called to 'this vocation within a vocation', as his profile explains: "His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma has given Father Mark a special mandate to live under the Rule of Saint Benedict in adoration before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, offering thanksgiving, intercession, and reparation for all his brothers in Holy Orders."
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Contemplatives the world over pray for the Church and in particular for priests, in the case of Discalced Carmelite nuns - I believe that intention is specified in their professed purpose for seeking entrance to the monastery.  Unlike women's monasteries, Fr. Mark's monastery is also intended as a place of refuge or repose for diocesan priests especially.  Fr. Mark is "available to the priests and deacons of the Diocese for spiritual and sacramental support in their pursuit of holiness."  Hence the monastery is a place of hospitality and retreat for otherwise busy parish priests.
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Fr. Mark has one novice and is expecting more in the fall. 
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I especially like this reflection from Father's post:  "Saint Benedict of the Sacro Speco, the sacred grotto of Subiaco, is the model of all who, by choice or circumstances, live alone. His solitude was by no means absolute; he related to the rustic shepherds of the locality and, by his teaching, restored their human dignity. Saint Gregory says that many, having known Benedict, passed from a life that was beastly to the life of grace. By offering a spiritual hospitality, the solitary Benedict refreshed all who sought him out with nourishment drawn from his heart."
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Art: The panel illustrates this paragraph from Father's meditation:  "The third period of Saint Benedict's life took place on the heights of Monte Cassino. There, he reached a fullness of maturity in Christ that was revealed when, lifted out of himself, he saw the entire world gathered into a single ray of light before his eyes (cf. Life XXXV). This signifies, of course, that Saint Benedict had come to see all things as God sees them; he had passed into the light of God while yet in the shadows of this world."

Arise O Lord and let your enemies be scattered, let those that hate you flee before your Holy Face.


The devil uses civil authority, call it the State to war against the followers of Christ. It is surely not coincidental that Pontius Pilate, the civil governor of Palestine, condemned Jesus to a shameful death on the Cross. Over the centuries, the enemies of Christ have used the power of the State to undermine the moral teachings of the Savior. The legalized murder, under State authority, in most of the countries of the world, is surely the work of the devil. He uses State power. As I heard from a man just recently, “I have spent the last four years of my life in prison for praying the rosary before abortuaries.” As I said before, the State is the organized battalion which is being used by the devil to destroy the mystical body of Christ. - Fr. Hardon, The Strategy of the Devil in Demonic Temptations