Saturday, July 24, 2010

... there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.


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Knight: "Who are you?"

Death: "I am death."

K: "Are you here to get me?"

D: "I have already long walked at your side."

K: "I know that."

D: "Are you ready?"

K: "My body is scared, but not me."

K: "Wait a minute!"

D: "You all say that, but I leave no postponements."

K: "You play chess, don't you?"

D: "How do you know?"

K: "Ah, I've seen it on paintings and heard it in the ditties."

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Grab your cotta and get out."

Gay priests, no, no, no.
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I just have a few more comments related to the story about the priest scandal in Rome.  Especially after "the Vicar of Rome today called on homosexual clergymen in the Catholic Church to “come out” and leave the priesthood."  That could be a scene, huh?
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Another writer, Bryan Cones claims, "the church's real problem is the closet. I must agree with the Vicar of Rome that it would be helpful if gay priests would come out--so we could thank them for their faithful service, especially as they have been unjustly tarred with "causing" sex abuse..."
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Claiming the naughty priests have given other gay priests a bad name, Cones says:  "This will add further fuel to the claims those, as the Catholic League's Bill Donohue argued on the Washington Post's On Faith blog, that the church doesn't have a pedophilia problem, it has a homosexuality problem."
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But it does.
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Regardless of what one may think about an 'isolated' case of gay Roman clergy out on the town, and laying aside attempts at leveling the playing field with the lame excuse, "there are plenty of priests--straight and gay--who misbehave sexually with other adults" - unless you have been totally lobotomized, the problem really is gay priests.  The gay part is the problem, okay?  Everyone can fall into sexual sin - but the equal sign doesn't work beyond that point.  There are Church documents forbidding the ordination of homosexuals.  Do some get ordained?  Always have.  Do they all act out?  Hopefully not.  Can anyone guarantee that?  Not at all.    
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So anyway, if the good ones do come out, ask them what they did on their trips to NYC, Rome, Washington and other points of study, vacation, or even assignment.  Ask them about their friends in those cities - not that they are in a network - but when they visit one another, or just hang out, what's their favorite bar?  Park?  Gym?  Some of them might even be able to compare notes with the Roman preti.
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I'm just saying.
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Photo:  Suspended Roman priest, Fr. Tommaso Stenico.  His was a similar story:  "Boys in the Vatican".  Stenico once worked for the Congregation of the Clergy.  Kind of like "Lunatics running the asylum"... or "The fox guarding the hen-house."  Whatever.

"Do not give what is holy to dogs."


Woman priests... no, no, no.
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The Anglican Church in Canada is dealing with fallout following a published report that a woman priest in Toronto gave Communion to a dog.  The dog came into to church with a man...  The man and his dog were given communion to make them feel welcome.  - Full story.
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Fine - Anglican eucharist is not the real presence of Christ anyway - although up until now it was considered sacred.  I can imagine this stuff catching on in some very liberal Catholic churches on St. Francis' Day when all the puppies and kitties and bunnies and reptiles are blessed.  Because it's so warm and fuzzy!  Women priests!  Give me a break. 
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Gay priests... no, no, no.
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An Italian magazine has a story about Roman priests by day, rocking out at gay clubs by night.  One guy obliged his trick by donning his cassock for the close encounter:  "In one part of the investigation Panorama said that one priest, named as Carlo, willingly put on his cassock to have sex with the reporter's gay accomplice, adding 'all of which was filmed by the hidden camera'". - Full story
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All rightey then!
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Photo:  Tutti Frutti - Priests in Roma.

Our Lady, Mother of Divine Grace


July 23.  Thus ends the octave of the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
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Image:  Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, T. Nelson.  !980's.  Acrylic and gold leaf on panel.

I can't recall the exact date that I painted this image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel with St.s John and Teresa, but it was sometime in the 1980's.  At one time it was used for the cover of Soul magazine - both Spanish and English editions, and prints were subsequently sold through the World Apostolate of Fatima in New Jersey.  The original is in the possession of a local Carmelite community of men.

Life is beautiful.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Once again: Go ask Alice...


An essay from Dr. Alice von Hildebrand.
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Rightly so, two prominent Catholic women have taken Christopher West to task for his interpretation of JPII'S Theology of the Body:  Dawn Eden and Dr. Alice von Hildebrand.  I discovered Dr. von Hildebrand's gracious essay this morning on CNA.
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From the land of Entheo - (enthusiasm).
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I very much appreciate the fact that Dr. von Hildebrand refers to West as a 'modern enthusiast' - ah - how well that characterizes so many in pop-Catholic culture these days.   Anyway, I'll let the Dr. talk...
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It is a joy to praise a great book or author; it is a grief and duty to criticize a bad one. But it is especially difficult to criticize someone who has many talents, whose work has positive sides, but which also suffers from certain faults, calling for correction. Such is the case with Christopher West, with his popular presentation of John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.”
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As gifted as he is—and as much as I appreciate all the good he has done for the Church—West’s work continues to fall short in many respects. He has sometimes misunderstood the authentic Catholic tradition; overlooked or disregarded essential aspects of it; and promoted a new form of religious “enthusiasm” which can best be described as wayward. Monsignor Ronald Knox, who critiqued this attitude so well in his book Enthusiasm, was a prophet, recognizing such outbursts as recurring phenomena in the history of the Church, characteristic of easily misguided movements for which we should always be on the watch.
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Key to my concerns is West’s hyper-sexualized approach... ("Can I get an Amen!"  Sorry - couldn't resist!)  Key to my concerns is West’s hyper-sexualized approach to the Theology of the Body. The French have a wonderful word to capture the veiling of one’s intimate feelings, out of a proper sense of shame—pudeur, a “holy bashfulness,” so to speak. Seized as he is by what he regards as his calling to evangelize a new generation with this theology in “modern” ways they can supposedly better understand, West practically ignores the importance of pudeur, and, by his imprudence, winds up undermining his own message. - Read more here.

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Anyway - Christopher West is a pig.  ("I know!" - My body language: quick shoulder hunch and cute mischeveous smile. - "Naw!  Just kidding - or am I?")   (I am really just kidding.)

If I had been married...

The Magdalen


July 22 is the memorial of St. Mary Magdalen.
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Saint Mary Magdalene – One of the first women mystics and ascetics of the Church.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You've got to have friends...


The teaching magisterium of the blogosphere writes about friendship...
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In the past couple of weeks I have noticed a few bloggers have taken it upon themselves to dissect the meaning of friendship for all of us to educate ourselves on just exactly what it all means and more precisely - what is permitted regarding: levels of friendship, lasting friendship, intimate friendship, breaking up friendship, and so much more.  On some level it is a welcome discussion these days when many people imagine they have hundreds of BFF's on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, to whom we reveal very intimate detail of our lives - or not.  The measure of popularity being the number of followers and friends one has - right?  Not so much.  But that isn't my topic for this post anyway.
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Same-sex friendship.
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As I have often repeated, it can be rather annoying that in these days two men or two women who are friends - close friends, best buddies, inseparable, live together, what have you - must be defined as same-sex friends.  Subsequently, same-sex friends are today looked upon with suspicion... are they gay?  If they are single and they live together they are even said to be a source of scandal - because people do not know for sure what goes on in that house...  Seriously.  Perhaps because of sexual scandal, or more importantly the homosexual movement, same-sex friendship has become an object of suspicion.  You can't get too close and you have to be careful who you hang out with lest you are pegged as a homosexual.  Actually, I think people tend to be overly analytical about these things, don't you?
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Anyway - Jack Valero of the Guardian U.K. wrote a related piece on the situation as it applies to the friendship of Ven. Cardinal Newman and his dearest friend, Fr. Ambrose St. John.  The two friends were buried in the same grave, sparking modern sensualists to insist the two men were gay.  Perhaps the upcoming beatification of Newman may help men and women understand and esteem the notion of celibate love in same-sex as well as opposite sex friendship.  Don't hold your breath.
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The sad demise of celibate love...
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In our times controversy has swirled around Newman's close friendship with St. John, especially since religious activists in the gay rights movement have searched Martyrologies looking for saints who showed signs of homosexuality.  Trouble is - in just about every epoch homosexual behavior has always been considered a very perverted, disgraceful act - and in Newman's time it was a vice never even to be mentioned.  Therefore it is very difficult for contemporary notions of same-sex, homoerotic, romantic love to be imposed upon earlier 'couple saints' - try as they might.  (Jonathan and David, Sergius and Bacchus, and so on.)  Nevertheless, such distortions have gained a foothold in contemporary culture.

The current controversy surrounding Newman and St. John 'in the same bed' so to speak,
"turned on the curious fact that Newman was not alone in his tomb, having asked to be buried in the same plot as another priest he was very close to. "He loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable," Newman wrote after the death of Father Ambrose St John, 15 years before his own.
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Yet there is no evidence that Newman's attractions were homoerotic, and they were certainly not detached. He had an extraordinary capacity for deep friendship with many people, both men and women, as his 20,000 letters collected in 32 volumes attest. He often wrote to his friends as carissimi – "dearest ones" – but his was a more innocent age, far less suspicious of strong expressions of love between persons of the same sex.
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And he was not afraid to be very close indeed to a few people. "The best preparation for loving the world at large, and loving it duly and wisely," he wrote in a letter, "is to cultivate an intimate friendship and affection for those who are immediately about." Hence his deep friendships with those "immediately about" him: John Bowden as a student, Richard Hurrell Froude and Frederic Rogers while a don at Oxford, and Ambrose St John as a Catholic priest.
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St John had been in Oxford with Newman; they became Catholics together, and were ordained priests in Rome at the same time. When Newman founded the Oratory in 1848, St John was one of the first members. Being 15 years Newman's junior, when he died suddenly aged 60, Newman was devastated. "I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's," he wrote, "but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one's sorrow greater, than mine." Some 15 centuries earlier, St Augustine in his Confessions wrote in the same way about the death not of his mistress, but of his best friend. "My eyes sought him everywhere, but they did not see him; and I hated all places because he was not in them, because they could not say to me, 'Look, he is coming,' as they did when he was alive and absent." Jack Valero
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Perhaps the beatification of Cardinal Newman may correct such modern distortions of friendship, and that he may become a model for authentic chaste, celibate love and friendship.  Today we must recognize more than ever the Word of God, "It is not  good for man to be alone."  Regardless of sexual orientation, a man needs his male friend(s).

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Photo:  Top: St. John and Newman tomb-partners.
            Bottom:  Joey and Ross nap-partners, "Friends".
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Link:
Fr. Blake on the Valero article.

Oh how they complain about baby-boomers...


Perpetuation of the status quo.
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In every age, the younger generation always tries to assassinate the older generation - and yet they expend great effort to  curry the favor of those in power - whenever opportune of course, as well as to profit from their monetary resources whenever possible, don't they Barbie and Ken?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More Completely Stupid...


Checking email, twitter-feed, facebook, blog comments - how many times a day?  Writing and reading posts - how many hours a day?  Talking on the cell phone at all times... Like someone said recently - how do they find time to pray?  How do they keep a job?  No wonder they are always _____, _____, _____, fill in the blanks.

Oh who cares?

Completely Stupid.


I have to get offline.
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But not without comment.  I'm convinced the biggest service the Internet provides is to show how damnable stupid human beings are.  I just saw a piece about some Russian entrepreneurs dumping a donkey out of a plane with a parachute as an advertising stunt, scaring beach goers in the process.  Talk about inhumane!
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Stupid-assed news stories fill Spirit Daily, Drudge, Pewsitters, and blogs today.  Who cares if an elephant was possessed?  Stupid people.  Who wants dead relatives at their bed side as they are dying?  If you knew mine you'd know how terrifying that would be.  Who cares if the Pope says the traditional Mass in private?  Such trivial pursuit!  "Academic bias against Catholics" - oh that's news - no effing kidding!  And don't forget Pewsitter's 8 year old headline from Newsweek.  I also noted the headline that the USCCB urge extension of unemployment benefits... Where the hell do they think the money is going to come from?  As they get permission to close stable parishes and sell off assets?  Who's in Obama's back pocket?
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Then there is the never ending saga of Mel, Lindsay, and the rest of the worthless.  Completely stupid.
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I've got to start making better use of my time.

St. Elijah the Prophet

Today is the memorial of the Prophet of Carmel, St. Elijah.  As usual, Elena who writes Fountain of Elias has a nice post for his feast day, check it out here.
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I haven't much to say today, so I thought I would just post one of my earlier icons of St. Elijah and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel imaging Kings 18:44 "Behold a little cloud rising from the sea."  It is not a 'real' icon since it is painted and not 'written'.  I painted it in 1986 for the Carmelite nuns in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  The panel is small, approximately 18" x 12".  It is one of 4 icons I've painted of the prophet Elijah.
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A few notes:
- I depended more upon 'hatching' than washes back then.
- I used composition gold leaf for the backgound, except for in the mandorla of Our Lady.
- I've never been any good at caligraphy.

Do priests get jealous of one another?


Like if I said I really like Fr. X, Y, or Z's blog better than Monsignor Ganswein's - does that bother priests?  Are some priests competitive?  What if I really thought that the priest who wears a long cape is much more Catholic than one who doesn't wear any cape at all?  What if I praised the devotion of one priest and recommended his blog to everyone, but then never ever directed people to Fr. Idlephonse's blog?  What if I said one priest wasn't...
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Oh who cares?
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Photo: Chicago priest.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What American Actress Should Portray Ayn Rand?

Winona Ryder of course.  Quick - someone write a screenplay.
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Photo Credit

8 Year Old Banner Headline: Half of All Seminarians Gay!



Get out!

What is it, sweeps week?
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Checking out Pewsitters this evening I came across their tabloid-style lead headline with the Newsweek logo discussing gays in the seminary - as if it is 'breaking news' or the results of a recent study. Being a slow blogging day, I checked out the article, only to find the piece is dated May 20, 2002.  C'mon.  The report was not even accurate in the first instance.  Anyway - since the Vatican Visitation, applicants for the seminary are rigorously screened - no Ken dolls allowed! 
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So anyway - watch your 'Catholic' news sources.

That in order to form a habit of conversing with GOD continually...


The Prayer of Recollection.
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Love the motive of all. Once in fear, now in joy. Diligence and love. Simplicity the key to Divine assistance. Business abroad as at home. Times of prayer and self-mortification not essential for the practice. All scruples brought to God.
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That he had always been governed by love, without selfish views; and that having resolved to make the love of GOD the end of all his actions, he had found reasons to be well satisfied with his method.  (Recollection)  That he was pleased when he could take up a straw from the ground for the love of GOD, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even His gifts.
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That he had been long troubled in mind from a certain belief that he should be damned; that all the men in the world could not have persuaded him to the contrary; but that he had thus reasoned with himself about it: I did not engage in a religious life but for the love of GOD, and I have endeavored to act only for Him; whatever becomes of me,  whether I be lost or saved, I will always continue to act purely for the love of GOD. I shall have this good at least, that till death I shall have done all that is in me to love Him. That this trouble of mind had lasted four years; during which time he had suffered much.
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That since that time he had passed his life in perfect liberty and continual joy. That he placed his sins betwixt him and GOD, as it were, to tell Him that he did not deserve His favors, but that GOD still continued to bestow them in abundance.
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That in order to form a habit of conversing with GOD continually, and referring all we do to Him; we must at first apply to Him with some diligence: but that after a little care we should find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty.
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That he expected after the pleasant days GOD had given him, he should have his turn of pain and suffering; but that he was not uneasy about it, knowing very well, that as he could do nothing of himself, GOD would not fail to give him the strength to bear them.
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That when an occasion of practicing some virtue offered, he addressed himself to GOD, saying, LORD, I cannot do this unless You enable me; and that then he received strength more than sufficient.
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That when he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to GOD, I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself; "tis You must hinder my falling, and mend what is amiss. That after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.
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That we ought to act with GOD in the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly, and imploring His assistance in our affairs, just as they happen. That GOD never failed to grant it, as he had often experienced.  - The Practice of the Presence of God, Br. Lawrence of the Ressurection

Photo: Carmelite friar with Christ On The Cross by Juan Martínez Montañés, 1617.  National Gallery exhibition: The Sacred Made Real.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday morning reflections...

The Hospitality of God.
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It seems to me that the prayer of Abraham in today's first reading has been perfectly fulfilled only through the fiat of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Abraham expresses mankind's longing to "abide in the shade of the Almighty" when he prays, "Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant..." [Gen. 18]  Yet God, at that time had not yet made his dwelling among men, as it were.  It was only through Our Lady's consent that Emmanuel, God with us, made his dwelling amongst us:  "The Word became flesh and dwells among us."  Thus Martha's sister Mary, recognizing the presence of God, remained in adoration with him, at his feet.  Later in the Gospels we see the disciples at Emmaus echoing Abraham's prayer, imploring him, "Stay with us Lord for it is nearly evening, and the day far spent."  Only after they had recognized him in the breaking of the bread did they come to understand this mystery hidden from ages and generations past, which has now been manifested:  it is Christ in you.
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The Presence of God.
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In today's Gospel, I don't think Christ was scolding Martha as we understand scolding.  I think he was teaching her something about living in the presence of God - but I'm not sure how to explain it without referring to Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection, whose simple spirituality was the practical expression of this teaching:  The practice of the Presence of God.  To be busy about many things doesn't mean one is distracted from the presence of God.  We can accustom ourselves to an awareness of God's presence through the prayer of recollection - which means nothing more than being aware of God's presence within ourselves.  It is a very simple prayer.  Making use of short prayers, frequent spiritual communions, or using holy reminders, helps us accustom ourselves to this practice - in this sense, the prayer can be 'acquired'.  Coupled with these practices, daily prayer, spiritual reading - lectio - Mass and Communion when able, grounds us in the Presence of God.
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"Happy the man watching daily at my gates,
waiting at my doorposts;
For he who find me finds life,
and wins favor from the Lord."
Proverbs 8:34-35

The Mother of God.
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Again Our Lady is the perfect example of the union of prayer and activity, specifically in the mystery of her visitation to St. Elizabeth, for the sanctification of St. John the Baptist while still in his mother's womb no less.  What a great mystery to ponder!  Two unborn, interacting in their mother's womb, all through the mediation of Mary, the Mother of God.  Ponder this mystery and you can perhaps better understand the prayer of recollection - as well as the evils of abortion.
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Our efforts towards the practice of the prayer of recollection, or 'acquired' recollection, actually can prepare us for the grace of 'infused' recollection.  (I'll give an example of that in a bit.)  Sort of like how the prayer we make in preparation for Mass and the reception of Holy Communion prepares us to receive with deeper recollection and devotion the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.  St. Teresa writes about these things, and I've also known lay people who have experienced such things.  Nevertheless, the favors of God are inscrutable and he bestows them upon whom he wishes - whenever he wishes.   
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For instance, my one friend, a really on again, off again kind of guy - as regards the spiritual life, told me how he once experienced, for nearly a week, an intense awareness of the presence of God.  (I think that may be what is called infused recollection, or the prayer of quiet.)
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He told me how he had been out grocery shopping one afternoon when suddenly a very sensible awareness of God seemed to envelope him and he was filled with joy and deep peace, somehow understanding that God was with him and in him.  He told me that no matter what he was doing, working, even watching TV, this recollection would not dissipate.  At first he wondered what he had done to merit the grace, although he quickly realized he had done nothing and became embarrassed and confused for having imagined he was even able to merit such a grace - yet even then the prayer did not cease.  He told me he had not prayed for any favor, and to his mind, much less properly prepared himself for it, telling me that it was sheer, undeserved grace obtained for him from the Blessed Virgin.  However, it occurred to him it was lasting much too long and he was afraid of becoming too attached, and suddenly it was gone. 
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Like I said - my friend is an on again, off again sort of guy, but it seems to me what he experienced was real since he told me later that he seems to be recollected all of the time now, albeit through faith, without any sensible consolation.  That is best of course.
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Anyway - these are just some thoughts on today's readings from Mass - I'm not sure it all ties together very well though.  For myself I just try to draw very near to Our Lady through the prayers of the Rosary and hope she will obtain for me the forgiveness of my sins and the grace to remain in the presence of God.
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On The Mystical City of God


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I always found the Mystical City of God to be nearly impossible to read, but I think it was because I approached the work of Ven. Mary of Agreda more out of curiosity than devotion.  It seems to me that I need a special grace to be able to read the work attentively.  I'm only now beginning to read a few sections corresponding to the mysteries of the Rosary, and I sense Our Lady has granted me the grace to do so - perhaps through the intercession of Ven. Solanus Casey, who used to read the book while kneeling.