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, August 14, 2010

Those men in the back of the church.


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I believe it was early spring when I first noticed him at the back of church as I came in for confession.  He had shoulder length dark hair, glasses, a beard, and was dressed in a denim shirt - tails hanging out over his tattered, but clean jeans.  He had on hiking boots and carried a large leather bag.  He was kneeling, hunched over in prayer, oblivious to anyone around him.  Every Saturday afternoon since I have seen him in the same spot, sometimes venturing forward to kneel in prayer at Our Lady's altar.
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Once in awhile I'll nod to him and he nods back.  Early on, one of the adoration ladies called my attention to him, "Did you see that scruffy kid?"  But that was just the way she referred to him - she wasn't being disrespectful.  "He looks really clean," she added.  "I wonder what his story is?"  And sure enough, Dorothy went up to talk to him to make him feel welcomed, and gave him some devotional literature.  The next week she gave him a rosary and taught him how to pray it.  I notice he now goes to Communion.
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He still dresses in the same clothes, jeans and denim shirt, worn boots, although a couple of weeks ago he cut his hair and isn't always carrying his knapsack.  Instead of nodding to him, I now give him a small wave and he waves back in recognition.  I don't know his name.
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There is another guy at the same Mass - he's the one who told me he is a recovering alcoholic.  He wears a Hawaiian shirt, jeans and beat up sports shoes.  He waves to me now and then, just before Mass.  I see him with an old lady whom I assume is his mom.  He goes to confession on a regular basis.  He's very simple and kind.
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Then there is this really fat guy - I think he buys his clothes from a direct mail company like "King Size" - or maybe not.  But he wears huge polo-type shirts that could function as a dress for a plus-sized woman, and though he doesn't wear real jeans, he does wear a sort of jersey-denim, undecorated rumpled sport pant, and again, well worn sports shoes.  He has trouble walking, but that doesn't stop him from doing the collection, panting and gasping for air as he does so.  He's usually unshaven, or badly shaved.   For several years he would ignore me, but then one day he actually smiled and nodded when I said hello.  It made me feel good. 
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Repent.

The scandal of the last place.



Therese to Celine...
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Beloved little sister, let us never seek what appears to be great in the eyes of creatures...  The only thing that is not envied is the last place; it is only there in that last place where one finds no vanity or spiritual affliction. 
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However, 'the way of man is not for him to decide', and at times we catch ourselves desiring things that glitter.  Then let us humbly rank ourselves among the imperfect and esteem ourselves little souls whom the good God sustains at each moment.  As soon as he sees us convinced of our nothingness, he extends his hand to us. - From:  Celine: Sister and Witness to St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

Poor religious and the religious poor...

Original Habit of St. Francis of Assisi.


"Suppose there should come into your assembly a poor man in shabby clothes..." - James 2
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One of the most shocking things to the friends and relatives of St. Francis of Assisi as it concerned his  conversion was his dramatic divestment of clothing before the Bishop of Assisi and the townsfolk who gathered to witness the father's case against his errant son.  As most people know, Francis removed all of his clothing, renouncing the world and his familial inheritance.  The Bishop covered him with his cloak and later clothed him in the garb of a pilgrim, or penitent.  (The original tunic is shown in the photo above.)
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The original habit of the Franciscans and Poor Clares consisted of the poorest material - exactly what the poor and the peasant of the day would wear, albeit designed after the habit of the pilgrim and monastic.  The poor wore what amounted to little better than rags in some cases.  The ordinary folk wore the meanest garments, the fabric rough and course - hence the religious habit of the mendicants reflected that poverty.
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Later Teresa of Avila went to great lengths laying down the regulations concerning the Discalced Carmelite habit, requiring it to be poor fabric, not extravagantly made - in other words, short cowls, tighter tunics and shorter sleeves, etc.  Likewise subsequent reforms of the Franciscan order focused upon genuine poverty of dress.  As the history of religious life demonstrates, decline and relaxation of religious observance has often been marked by refinement of religious garb and lodging. 
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Contemporaneous reforms of the Franciscans have also specified frugality in clothing and life style, thus we have seen the adaptation of denim, normally associated with the work and everyday clothing of ordinary people, being used for the habits of several new foundations of Franciscans.  Interestingly enough, I know of a diocesan group of friars who changed their habit from the less attractive denim to a dressier, darker grey-heather fabric, similar to men's suiting, adding a scapular and pulled together by a white cord.  All nice and neat and respectable looking...  Their apostolate seems to have evolved into a more polished, professional organization these days as well.  Secure in a nice convent, the brothers impress me as being very much like the older institutionalized branches of the Franciscans.  The irony of which is not easily missed, since I believe this group, not unlike many similar ventures elsewhere, were founded to be a more authentic expression of primitive observance and evangelical poverty.  I digress however.

St. Clare's Habit.
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My point is that eventually the concern for outward appearance and conventional clothing can infect religious life just as much as it does secular life.  I think some of the few groups who have not yet mitigated their observance of poverty would be the Missionaries of Charity and The Franciscans of the Immaculate, as well as a few other communities, not to forget the very 'little ones' of course.  (I know for sure the Missionaries of Charity do not have suits or dress up clothes, nor do they wear western, secular clothes under their habit - I never got that with other groups BTW.)  This may be good news for the poorly dressed individuals, including those who wear denim to Mass.
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Others may disagree with me on this, but I think there are far more important matters to be concerned with while in church or at Mass than what other people are wearing.  Immodest clothing is another matter all together and ought to be addressed by the priest.
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Remember, the mendicants and monastics dressed poorly, imitating the poor Christ while "associating themselves with the lowly" or poor - their clothing was made of the same fabric as the poor they professed to belong to.  So when you see a man dressed poorly in church, maybe he really is poor.  He's obviously religious if he is in church. 
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Photo credit.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Practical advice regarding the perfect monastery.


"Narcissistic and micro-targeted society."

I have really grown to admire Br. Steven, a Cistercian monk from Our Lady of Spring Bank, who writes Sub Tuum blog.  I'm impressed with his maturity and understanding of monastic life in so short a time - he has been in the monastery for only two years and is just now home from studies.  In his post, Maureen Dowd, Vocations Director?  Steven applies Dowd's commentary on the latest trend of college students to shop online for a roommate that suits their personality as opposed to taking their chances with a random selection who may not be to their liking.  Dowd is quoted: "Choosing roommates who are mirror images may fit with our narcissistic and micro-targeted society, but it retards creativity and social growth."
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Br. Steven then launches into what I consider very good advice for anyone searching for just the right monastery, just the right rule, just the right habit, and just the right observance...
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"I’ve written before about the parallels that remain between the cloister and its child the university. I think that the idea of community is another of those places where the two still share something. Obviously, those who are thinking about religious life share a bit more than random freshmen entering a college, but even the most traditional religious are less alike than those with stars in their eyes usually guess.

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It is two years today since I arrived at Spring Bank. I find myself sharing the Abbey with a group of men who are all very different than one another. Certainly, we dress alike and do almost everything together, but we come from different life experiences, have different interests, and often see the world and our vocations differently. These can all be sources of tension, but they are also things that call us out of ourselves and keep us from creating monasticism, the Church, and God in our own image.  [...]  The tension across our difference is the sand that produces the pearl and grist for the mill that smooths our personalities over time. More than once I have heard it said, “Don’t ask for extra trials and penances, God has given you your brothers who will arrange them for you.”

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For me, this is the gem of Br. Steven's piece:
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I worry when those looking at the religious life look for a community that matches all of their thoughts, whether it is about theology, worship, or the world. The most traditional habit, the most detailed horarium, and the most conservative reading of the magisterium, still leave the day full of differing thoughts and opinions and require more walking by faith than by sight. The history of the church is littered with stillborn communities that were a collection of a would-be founder’s pet peeves and projects that left no room for others or even for the Holy Spirit. The rise of the great heresies and the proliferation of sects have their root in the same defensive narcissism. Likewise, many of those who leave the religious life after only a short while do so because they find that they still have to share their lives with other people, who turn out not to be perfectly like them after all. And, more terrifyingly, after a few weeks the postulant discovers that many hours are left between the community exercises of the horarium when he must confront all of the the unfinished business and ugliness within himself. - Br. Steven, O. Cist.
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Read Br. Steven's entire post, especially if you are considering entering religious life, or thinking about leaving - and for that matter, even thinking about leaving a less than ideal job - in the middle of the depression.  Perhaps what Br. Steven failed to note is that many times, the gyrovague who goes from convent to convent, job to job, always looking for the perfect fit finds out that he keeps running into the same difficulties, the same problems - until he realizes that he was the problem all along.
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In conclusion...
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In the end, living the religious life is to join a motley band of pilgrims setting out together to find our true home. We must accept that we travel with others who have their own thoughts on the route and, in the same way, accept the presence of a God whom we cannot contain in any road map or rule of life, but whom instead we must allow to engulf and lead us if the journey is to be fruitful.  - Br. Steven, O. Cist.
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I think a true monk is a realist - not a romantic.  Br. Steven is beginning well.  Prayers and best wishes for his perseverance.

Quelle suprise! Non-Catholics influenced Vatican II liberalization of Catholic church, new study says.


Who could have imagined?
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Melissa Wilde, an associate professor of sociology in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, led a team of researchers that investigated data from the Vatican Secret Archive to determine the critical factors influencing how bishops voted at the Second Vatican Council.
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The researchers found that the relationship between the church and state as well as changes in the institution's situation in relation to other institutions, particularly a loss of dominance and the presence of and relationship with other religious institutions, were crucial factors in predicting whether religious leaders would be open to change and also what kinds of change they would prioritize.
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In addition to her research on Vatican II, Wilde has examined the demographic factors that explain why American Protestantism has gone from being majority Mainline to majority conservative and the role of religious competition in the rise in marital annulments in the Catholic Church. - Source
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That's really something, huh.
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Vassula's miracle - I know!

Wearing jeans and t-shirts to Mass... Man! Where is the respect?!

I came across the following from the com-box at Fr. Z's:
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I am constantly amazed at the lack of respectful clothing during Mass… even among good and faithful Catholics! And this is not passing judgment on anyone … but do parents realize the message they’re sending their kids when they wear dress clothes to work, but go to Mass in jeans? Come on people … the Creator of existence has made Himself FOOD for you… put on a tie!  -  Comment by SuzieQ — 12 August 2010 @ 11:34 am
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Very good point SuzieQ!  I also thought SuzieQ's comment worked well with this photo I found on Angela's blog.
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The Creator also made animal-hide clothing for Adam and Eve - why not dress like that?

The 'rights of the laity'.


I didn't know the laity had rights.
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Call me old fashioned or call me traditional, but I have to admit I am not happy about women on the altar - not as servers or lectors or EMHCs.  I know!  But I have no say in the matter and so I take what I get - no use arguing with priests and bishops and women.  That said, factions in the blog-o-sphere are pretty happy with the Archbishop clarifying an issue concerning female altar servers for the extraordinary form of Mass.  (Yep - I think it should apply for the ordinary form as well, but like I said, my opinions mean zilch.) 
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Archbishop Burke on altar girls and women assisting at the altar.
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American archbishop went on to point out that certain elements may need to be clarified in this regard. For example, he wrote, among the "rights" of the baptized, assistance by "persons of the feminine sex" at the altar is not included. Additionally, serving as a lector or as an extraordinary distribution of communion is not a right of the laity, he noted.
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As such, out of respect for the integrity of the liturgical discipline within the Roman Missal of 1962, these more modern modifications are not observed in the extraordinary form.
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This clarification comes just a week after L'Osservatore Romano writer Lucetta Scaraffia published an article on the altar server pilgrimage to the Vatican which drew thousands of boys and girls alike. She drew some attention as she proposed that the introduction of girls into the position of serving at the altar "meant the end of every attribution of impurity to their sex ... it meant a different attention to the liturgy and an approach to the faith in bringing it near to their very hearts."
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Archbishop Burke clarified, however, that the reality of the matter is that neither the presence of girls at the altar, nor the participation of lay faithful "belong to the fundamental rights of the baptized." - CNA
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Just thinking out loud here, but I wonder what the Archbishop thinks about transsexuals and homosexuals in religious life?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Writing helps me think.


"To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself." - Anne Rice (via Enbrethiliel)

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I know Pope Benedict XVI said something like "writing helps me to think" but I can't find the quote.  (Ms. Rice's quote does not refer to the Pope of course.)  I liked the Holy Father's quote so much because here is a brilliant mind expressing one aspect of what it means to write - for the academic as well as for the simpleton.  For me, painting functions much in the same way - it is a way for me to document 'things' - thoughts, events, and so on.  In many cases, I think blogging and and other social network systems work this way as well - at least that is the only real sense I can make of it for myself.
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My friend Enbrethiliel has a wonderful post on the subject, expressing this idea much better than I could - because she is a better writer.  In the post she comes to the defense of Anne Rice.  As you know, in the no-place of the blogosphere, people and thoughts are trashed, vilified, anathematized forever and ever by just about anyone who doesn't like what you write - as if you were speaking ex-cathedra on a matter of faith and morals.  Yet sometimes - oftentimes you are simply working through a problem - sorting things out as it were - not unlike a sort of examination of 'social' conscience.  In the meantime, some zealot for the inquisition happens by, reports his suspicions to his comrades, puts your writings  on his watch list and monitors everything you say - even in the com-boxes of blogs you may occasionally visit.  (Obviously they visit the same blogs.)  But I digress... let's read what Ms. Enbrethiliel has to say:
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Thinking out loud, online.
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The difference between autobiographical writing and blogging is that one of them has an ending and that the other has only a time stamp.

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When I was still writing on my old blog, I could write about the same things over and over again for months. I'd look at them from different angles . . . see how they handled new writing styles . . . try to figure out what it was I really thought about them. And whenever I believed my mind had finally been made up, a new insight would come to me--via a comment or another blog I had been reading--and this process of thinking out loud (or thinking online) would begin anew.

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I've been doing my thinking "on paper" since I started keeping a journal as a teenager. Until I graduated to HTML, I filled up almost twenty notebooks with just my ramblings. Hundreds upon hundreds of pages. I still have those old journals; now and then I remind myself that I want to burn them. They are like so many old newspapers to me: the headlines, the editorials, the birth and death announcements, and the funnies of my life. Like old newspapers, they lose their relevance once the next day's news arrives.
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Yes, the latest news is always hatched from the old news--or at least it is when I get to do journalism. I insist on continuity--and on context. And I wonder why, when the new contains the old, it is necessary to keep the shells.

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Blogging was a new medium that completely changed the way I covered my own life. It used to be that my thoughts were not published until they had been thoroughly worked out--beaten into sharp swords or aged into a perfect vintage in the smithies and wine cellars of my mind. Nobody ever read anything before it was as perfect as it could be. I might have an editorial fit six months later and want to rewrite the whole thing, but it would have had all the integrity of the moment, in its own moment. But what blogging does is give everything I write--even the half forged weapons and the newly pressed grapes--the same integrity. That can be, as Anne Rice must know, a very risky way to be a writer. - Finish reading.
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Something important that will never be finished.
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I think I know what Enbrethiliel is saying...  if not she can correct me.  I suppose I could add more to her thoughts, but I think what she wrote is enough for now.  Sometimes I just want to stop writing, painting, expressing my thoughts, documenting my experience, but there is a need within me - perhaps like stones crying out.  In and through this occupation, my hardened heart seems to return to flesh - exhibiting signs of life... albeit like a bruised reed, a smoldering wick. 
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I think we all have to be very careful in writing about other people's sins - sometimes ours may be worse.
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Photo:  Argument of the Month Club Dinner.  (Oh I'm just kidding!)  It's a Chris West demo video for a TOB presentation on acceptable foreplay in marriage.  (I'm kidding!)

Little Stevie Wonder.

I think Steven Slater just might be a phony.  He is no Norma Ray or Karen Silkwood, that's for sure.
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Why is he smiling all the time?  America's got talent... he wants to be famous and he loves drama.  Is there a reality show in the offing?  A film?  At least a stint on The View?  Book 'em Dano! - More on the Story
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Obviously Cathy never really supported Stevie, and now I withdraw my support as well.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cathy of Alex and I totally support Steven Slater...

How to leave a job in style!
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"I think he just had a very small meltdown, and I think he deserved to be able to have that meltdown." - Steve's mom.
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"I lost patience after a female passenger had an argument with another passenger and then opened the bin door, hitting me on the head without apologizing," Steve said.
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In his announcement to passengers on the flight out of Pittsburgh, Slater referred to the woman as "the f-----g a--hole that told me to f--k off."
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He then declared, "I've had it. That's it," witnesses said.
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"He was trying to do his best in providing safety and you have rudeness and lack of courtesy among the traveling public," Steve's attorney said.
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And then!  And then!  One flew over the cuckoo's nest.  - Story
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Now what is more normal than that?
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And who hasn't gotten fed up and left a job like that, right Cath?  (I actually did once - biggest regret of my life.  Anyway...) 
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Free Steven Slater!  Free Steven Slater!  Free Steven Slater!  Free Steven Slater!  Free Steven Slater!  Free Steven Slater!




Oh - he got out of jail.  Well drop the charges and give him disability then.  
Steve's boyfriend.  Of all times to be boasting!  Sheesh!

Santa Chiara d'Assisi


August 11 is the feast of St. Clare of Assisi.

I'm trying to remember something too important to forget...


Seeking a homeland... (Hebrews 11)
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A day before my mother died she told the nurse, "I keep trying to die but I don't know how."  The state of abandonment can be much like that I think.  "I keep trying to abandon myself to Divine Providence, but I don't know how."  Or, "I keep trying to pray but I don't know how."  And, "I keep trying to live in the presence of God but I don't know how."  I'll stop with the analogies there.  Simple - even crass souls will know what I mean.  The desire for prayer is a prayer, the practice of the presence of God is a prayer, the prayer of abandonment to God is an act of the will and I think, a state of prayer.  I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here, except that it is something too important to forget...  From Fr. de Caussade:
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Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen... (Hebrews 11)
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"Poor souls who are so scorned by others despise themselves just as much as the others do.  All they do, all they suffer seems as trifling and despicable to them as it does to others.  There is nothing impressive about them.  Everything is very ordinary.  They are spiritually and mentally troubled, and their everyday lives are full of disappointments.  They are often unwell and need many attentions and comforts, the very opposite of the austere poverty so much admired in the saints.  In them we can see no burning zeal, no achievement of great enterprises, no overwhelming charity and no heroic austerity.  Though united by faith and love to God, they find nothing but confusion in themselves. [...]
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It seems to me that it is obvious from all of this that these souls, who have abandoned themselves to God, cannot as others do, become attached to people or concern themselves with normal aspirations, normal pursuits and activities.  If they did, it would imply they were still free to run their lives as they wished, and that would be a denial of of their self-abandonment. [...]
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We must not become upset and worried by the humiliations which come from the aspect we present to the world.  Let us shelter behind this outer husk and enjoy God, who is all in all to us.  Let us benefit by our weaknesses and failures, our fears and doubts; let us draw good from our infirmities which cause us to need special food and care, and from the contempt we are shown.  Let us find all our happiness in God, who by these means gives himself to us as our only good.  He wants the dwelling we offer him to be poverty-stricken and without any of those manifestations of holiness which win such admiration for other souls.  [...]
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In God's sight there can be nothing great in us, so that all that comes from us is very little.  In God's sight there can be nothing great in us - with one exception: our total receptivity to his will.  God knows how to make us holy, so let us leave the business to him and think no more about it.  All depends on the vigilant care and action of providence.  We are usually unaware of them and they often work in ways that are both unexpected and unpleasant to us.  Let us tranquilly perform all of our little duties and not look for great ones, for God does not give himself to us because of our efforts.  We shall become saints through his grace and by his providence.  He knows to what eminence he wishes to raise us.  
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Let us leave it to him.  Let us cease hankering after pointless systems of spirituality.  Let us be satisfied to love him ceaselessly and to walk with docility along the path he has marked out for us, where everything seems so trivial to us and to the world." - Abandonment to Divine Providence
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 Photo:  Moscow smog 2010.

Dawn Eden

CNA just announced that Dawn Eden has generously made her thesis, TOWARDS A “CLIMATE OF CHASTITY”: BRINGING CATECHESIS ON THE THEOLOGY OF THE BODY INTO THE HERMENEUTIC OF CONTINUITY available through their website.  I've had the honor of reading the thesis, and I highly recommend it to everyone interested in the topic, especially as it concerns the popularization of TOB by Christopher West.

Congratulations to Dawn Eden, as well as thanks for making her thesis available, along with prayers for her continued success.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Study!


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Personality set for life by 1st grade...
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Our personalities stay pretty much the same throughout our lives, from our early childhood years to after we're over the hill, according to a new study. - Rest of the story.
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Yes but...
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These studies never account for God's grace.

Fr. Z: Calling for Eucharistic Reparation.


Fr. Zuhlsdorf calls attention to a recent church break-in wherein the only thing stolen was a ciborium containing consecrated hosts. 
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From the the times-tribune.com

The theft rendered the building desecrated under Catholicism, in which practitioners believe the hosts change into the body of Jesus Christ. On Wednesday afternoon, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera led a ritual ceremony and celebrated Mass to rededicate and bless St. Rose.
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Monsignor David L. Tressler, the church’s pastor, described the Catholic community as stunned and hurt. There is a "real sense of violation," and it is all the more disheartening because the thief targeted the hosts, which are at the heart of the religion’s identity, he said. - News story.

Speaking from 'experience' of such things, Fr. Zuhlsdorf's commentary sheds some light on the possible motivation behind the theft, as well as calling us to make reparation for sins committed against the Blessed Sacrament.
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Some years ago I had to stop reserving the Blessed Sacrament at the church I had in Italy because of break ins. The area is a well-known zone of satanic activity. There are also many drug users. These two groups will overlap: people break into church and then sell the Blessed Sacrament to satanists.

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The story is about a church break in during which only a ciborium with Hosts was taken from a tabernacle. The fact that this was the only thing taken points to some satanic cult, rather than a prank or mere desire for something to sell.

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This certainly would fall into the category of graviora delicta if the person who did this was not in some way mentally impaired. Generally these thefts occur because the Hosts are desired for filthy and diabolical reasons.
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I ask the readers to make some act of reparation today, perhaps through fasting and or almsgiving, as well as prayer for the thief who – if acting in such malice – risks roasting for eternity in the deep cinders of hell. - WDTPRS
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My thoughts:
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As Father points out, this is a serious crime and I think only by meditating upon the sacred passion of Christ can we get some sense of the gravity of the offense to Almighty God - especially as regards the hidden tortures and humiliations which took place during the Lord's imprisonment, the scourging and crowning with thorns - terrible reenactment of which may take place in and through the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament.  Our Lord is not only offended by such disgusting sacrilege, but also by so many unworthy and disrespectful communions, not to mention our indifference to His Real Presence in the tabernacle...  ending in such great abuse of the Blessed Sacrament.
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Growing up, I was edified by true stories of heroism involving the Blessed Sacrament, during wars and revolutions priests consuming the consecrated hosts before enemy soldiers could desecrate them, firemen risking their lives rescuing the Blessed Sacrament from being consumed in fire, and so on.  Martyrs such as those in Gorkum, Holland were tortured and martyred simply because of their faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
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Fr. Zuhlsdorf is very good to call for prayers of reparation. 
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Art:  Martyrs of Gorkum

Monday, August 09, 2010

From my hidden sins acquit me. Psalm 18: 13


I thought of Psalm 18 last night as I was trying to get to sleep...
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But who can detect all of his errors?
From hidden faults acquit me.

From presumption restrain your servant
and let it not rule me.
Then shall I be blameless,
clean from grave sin.

May the spoken words of my mouth,
the thoughts of my heart,
win favor in your sight, O Lord,
my resuer, my rock!

Some days I want to go away to the end of the world and stand on a tall rock, like a Russian ascetic, and stand there and stand there and stand there.  Through wind, rain, cold, heat - as the stylites of old, repeating the prayers of the rosary, over and over and over, until I wither from the sun.

From my hidden sins acquit me O Lord!

Michelle Obama is no Marie Antoinette.

Although she may have eaten the cake...
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Michelle Obama's extravagant vacation in Spain hob-nobbing with royalty and celebs, while the rest of the country sweats out the depression and her husband plays basketball, has earned the First Lady a comparison with Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.  A comparrison hardly accurate and very much an insult to the French Queen.  Author Elena Vidal, of Tea at Trianon comes to the Queen's defense, while graciously sparing the First Lady as well: 
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When I first saw the frail comparison of Mrs. Obama to Queen Marie-Antoinette, I thought it too silly to take seriously. However, the silliness seems to have taken over the internet, even sites that I used to respect. Anyone who has ever studied Marie-Antoinette or read even one of the reputable biographies about her will see that there are no similarities between the two women at all, other than being wives of heads of state. Since the comparison is meant to insult the Queen as well as the First Lady, it might be helpful to look at some basic facts.
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Marie-Antoinette is once again being portrayed as the Queen who was indifferent to the suffering of the people. However, Marie-Antoinette never said "Let them eat cake." It is not a mere allegation, it is not a matter of speculation. She said nothing of the kind. It was not even a rumor spread about her in her lifetime, but did not start circulating until the nineteenth century. What the Queen did say was: "It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness."
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[...] I fail to see the connection between the First Lady's trip to Spain with anything that Marie-Antoinette ever did. [...]
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As for Mrs. Obama having a European holiday while America is struggling financially, it might not be the most prudent of choices. Nevertheless, the pictures I saw of Michelle and Sasha relaxing on the beach and lunching with the King and Queen of Spain do not seem to me to be examples of extreme decadence. There are plenty of serious issues for which one might critique the Obamas but comparing Michelle to Marie-Antoinette is foolish to say the least. - Michelle Obama is Marie-Antoinette?

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Photo credit.  King Juan Carlos of Spain, Queen Sofia (in pants monarchists and traddies!) and Shelly and Sasha.  (There's a bright side to everything, isn't there.)

Nagasaki

I'm always stunned how suddenly this anniversary appears, so soon after Hiroshima.  As Joshua of Western Confucian  noted:

"At 11:02 AM, two-thirds of Japan's Catholics were annihilated; ... more Japanese Christians were slaughtered than had been martyred in four centuries of brutal persecution" - The Holy City Nagasaki

I need to do penance.

Memorial of St. Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

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"In aridity and emptiness the soul becomes humble. Former pride disappears when a man no longer finds in himself anything that might cause him to look down on others." - Science of the Cross

I have had a quiet devotion to Edith Stein for many years - because she is a Jew.  Since her beatification and canonization her cult became a favorite of intellectuals, academics, professional women, and of course Carmelites.  Thus I rarely write about her now days, except for an occasional quote.
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This may be a good time to mention I'm jumping off the Theology of the Body bandwagon as well.  I don't know what I was thinking to have posted about the issue in the first place.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Mass

I now prefer Mass as it is pictured above.
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After all my tweeting about nothing, I forgot to mention how Mass went this weekend.  It included a baptism - two of them actually - with two huge families.  The majority of them processed in with the Celebrant, ascended the altar steps with him, were introduced to the assembly, and the first part of the sacrament was performed.  Applause.  Gloria.  Readings.  Homily.  Conclusion of baptismal rite - the entire congregation invited to gather round the pool in the back of the church.  Rite concluded, more applause, go back to pews.  Prayer of the faithful and the rest of Mass...
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It was a circus.
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Photo credit:  New Liturgical Movement

One reason we are not healed...


Resentment and the rememberance of wrongs.


A profound and hidden mystery is the fall of man.  It is impossible for a person to understand it by his own powers.  This is because one of the consequences of the fall is mental blindness, which prevents the mind from seeing the depths and darkness of the fall.  Our fallen state deceptively appears to be a state of triumph, and the land of exile seems to be an exceptional field of progress and enjoyment.
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What a different picture and how terrible is the sight that meets our gaze when the mystery is disclosed to us.  When by divine guidance the abysses of hell are laid bare in the depth of the heart, how is it possible not to be filled with fear.
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'God is Love.' [1Jn. 4:8,16]  Consequently resentment or rejection of love is rejection of God.  God withdraws from a resentful person, deprives him of his grace, is definitely estranged from him, and gives him up to spiritual death, unless he makes a shift in good time to be healed of that deadly moral poison, resentment." - The Arena, Chapter 40

Resentment is like the worm that does not die, and the fire that never ends...

I'm convinced that this vice is one reason why we constantly fall back  into the same sins, or why we are not healed of this or that affliction - be it moral, mental, or physical.  True - aside from breaking with sin, not all of us are meant to be healed of our infirmities, because sometimes they are meant to sanctify us and those around us (redemptive suffering) - but resentment and rememberance of wrongs may often be the impediment to the spiritual peace and joy needed to bear our trials with patience and equinamity.  I have experienced this so often in my life, it seems to me to be true.  I think it is a process however, an act of the will is needed to forgive and quit accusing one another - since it seems to me that is what we do when we remember how someone wronged us.  It is a struggle against nature of course - something our ego resists, and the world derides.

We so often forget that we cannot say with any efficacy, "Lord, Lord" and continue to hate our brother, or ask for forgiveness without forgiving one another.  It is forbidden by the Lord who commands us, "Do not resist injury.  Pray for those who hate you."  And so on.

I fall everyday, sometimes seven times seven times a day in this way.  Who can heal me?
"When oppressed by difficult and painful circumstances, let us have recourse to God in prayer; for in his complete power are we and our enemies and our circumstances and the circumstances of all men.  He can by his absolute power and supremacy dispose of and arrange everything; he can instantly overcome and annihilate all the greatest difficulties.  Let us pray for our enemies with great care, and by this prayer obliterate the malice from their hearts and replace it with love.  'He who prays for people who offend and wrong him crushes the demons; but he who resists or opposes the former is wounded by the latter,' said St. Mark the Ascetic." - Ibid.
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Photo: Landscape after the Russian fires.
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