Friday, October 15, 2010

Cat... at four o'clock... redux


"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly..."

Sometimes I think the Infant Jesus leaves stuff up to us in order to help us understand that we are responsible for the things we tame - makes me think of the Little Prince and what the fox taught him about his rose.  Anyway, the Infant Jesus appears to be letting me know that I am responsible for Cat...  At 4 PM little kitty will return...
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"What is essential is invisible to the eye."

I am never bothered by the questions and theology concerning animal immortality - do they have a soul, etc..  Little kids and simple people don't understand such important stuff like that.  At times I try to gather my thoughts however, so I can explain it to others - the more cerebral and jaded.  Little kids are capable of great faith and confidence and love.  That is why they sleep with cats and dogs and teddy bears and rabbits and stuff.  Their pets teach them things too - I think that is one reason why God made them for people.  Pets teach them about loyalty and affection and love and being.  They teach them especially that they are responsible for them and that makes them understand charity - love for other people - but always God first, the giver of life.
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"You become responsible - forever - for what you have tamed."

It seems to me pets think of us as angels or gods - which makes us even more responsible for them.  As we experience how respectfully they treat us and depend upon us - we can come to understand better how we must be with God - how easy it is then for us to abandon ourselves to Him in every situation.  Celine did that today.  She patiently waited to go to see the doctor.  She was very quiet - once in awhile she made a little squeak of a meow.  She watched me pray and even purred a little.  She kept trying to get comfortable but she couldn't.  It's often like that when we are getting ready to go - my mother died this day in 1982 - the jubilee year of St. Teresa's death, and my mom was really restless that day as well.  Her restlessness indicated to me she was suffering - so I figure Xena-Celine - Xenie - was suffering too.  Yep - I do believe animals suffer.  I think it is better to believe that lest our hearts grow cold and insensitive.
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"You are responsible for your cat..."

So anyway, since I am responsible for Xena, I accepted the fact I must take care of things for her - she can hardly walk now anyway... I made the appointment for 3:45 PM so that by 4PM - which is really 3PM since we are still on daylight time - she could go back...
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"I cannot carry this body with me.  It is too heavy."
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If you have never read it, sometime read Psalm 104 (103 in the Grail).  There are different translations and therefore I feel free - privately and devoutly - to combine or use the different terms together in prayer.  Yesterday at Adoration when we were talking about where pets go, Psalm 104 (103 in the Grail) came to mind...
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"It will be like an old abandoned shell..."

Oh!  Oh!  But before that, a very deep understanding 'enveloped' me - as it were.  Nothing out of the ordinary really - just the flash of a deep thought:  How the animals were created... and what a gift of God they are.  Simple-minded, I know - but I realized their value first and foremost is as a gift from God, a radiant glimpse of... well I don't know.  But, gift/grace - same thing - everything is a grace you know - a gift.  God is free to take back His gift and sometimes He asks us to sacrifice that which He has given - not the state of grace of course - but the lesser gifts. (I'm unable to put these thoughts in words - so don't trust my version here - it may not be doctrinally sound.)  Anyway - I think Job would understand what I'm trying to say, and Abraham - he almost euthanized his son - remember?  He would get it.  John of the Cross would get it too - it's about detachment from God's gifts...  But I'm taking this too far for the subject at hand.
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"There is nothing sad about old shells..."

Anyway - these thoughts led me to Psalm 104 (103 in the Grail - but you knew that.)  The thought, "God takes back His breath" was the explicit understanding I had about pets going to heaven.  I gently remonstrated;  "But it doesn't really matter and it is not for me to know if they go to heaven or not because such knowledge is too great for me."  Yet I reasoned - "Since God sent forth His spirit and the animals were created, how lovely it is that he has only to take back his spirit - his life breath - and they die... returning to their dust."  So you see by this reasoning, that what the Little Prince said is true, "The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen...  What is essential is invisible to the eye."  Who in this life can see spirit or breath?  Who knows the mind of God?  Therefore I'm convinced, when God takes back His spirit, He takes his breath back - a little kid might say he takes it back in or inhales it as it were.  Deep breath.  It's a metaphor.  Hence the life, the spirit, the breath of that little kitty returns to God - and God is in heaven...  Yep - so I'm convinced that is how we can say little kitties and dogs and rabbits and mouses go to heaven.  (Now remember this is not dogma or doctrine and no one has to believe it at all.)
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And please understand, I'm just working thing thing out, sharing some thoughts here - not teaching catechism.
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What follows is verse from Psalm 104 (103 in the Grail):
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The trees of the Lord drink their fill,
the cedars he planted on Lebanon;
there the birds build their nests:
on the tree top the stork has her home...
the goats find a home on the mountains
and rabbits hide in the rocks.
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There is the sea vast and wide,
with living things great and small
and the monsters you made to play with.
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All of these look to you
to give them food in due season.
You give it, they gsyjer it up:
you open your hand, they have their fill.
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You hide your face, they are dismayed;
you take back your spirit (their breath), they die
returning to the dust from which they came..." (Ps. 103)
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Header quotes:  The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Many, many thanks to each of you for your thoughtfulness, kind words and prayers.  God bless each of you.  Xena died at 4PM.
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Art: Information not available.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cat...


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My very best friend is dying...
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"Never love a wild thing.... He was always lugging home wild things. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full-grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can't give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they're strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That's how you'll end up.... If you let yourself love a wild thing. You'll end up looking at the sky." ~Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1958, spoken by the character Holly Golightly

Married priests... there is always a way.



Yes but no... err, no but yes... well maybe.
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While reading a news item regarding the possibility of permitting married priests in North American Eastern rite Churches, (discussed at the Middle East Synod currently in Rome), I was surprised to learn there had been a prohibition against the practice.  I was surprised because I know of Melkite priests who are married right here in River City.  And of course I remember the famous case of the Baroness's husband, Eddie Doherty - I'll get to him in a minute, but first the story from Rome:
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Speaking from Rome, where they are participating in the Middle East Synod, the archbishops of Detroit and Toronto said that they would not object if the Eastern Catholic churches chose to ordain married men in North America.
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Although the Eastern Catholic churches allow for married priests, they have generally adhered to a longstanding agreement not to ordain married men in North America, in order to avoid conflicts with their Roman Catholic neighbors. Archbishops Allen Vigneron of Detroit and Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto agreed that the ordination of married men for the Eastern churches would not cause such conflicts today. However, the two North American prelates reported that their colleagues from the Eastern churches were divided on the advisability of ordaining married men in America. - Catholic Culture   Full story here: NCR
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Where there's a will, there's a way.
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Obviously exceptions (dispensations) have been made to the rule over the years, and the bishops are correct - there should be no conflict today either.  That said, I do think where there is a will there is always a way.  A married man could find a way to be ordained if he set his mind to it, by becoming bi-ritual.  It works the same for ordaining men with homosexual attraction, find the right archbishop or bishop who will sponsor you through seminary.  Or just find the right seminary.  Works exactly the same with monasteries... enter, get ordained, get ex-claustrated.  As they like to repeat, 'nothing is impossible with God".
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Fr. Eddie.
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I know I'm risking being called a heretic here, but Catherine de Hueck and Eddie Doherty and Madonna House always impressed me as being rather weird - not quite a cult - but weird.  Fundamentally the spirituality and apostolate was quite good - I have no idea how that is going these days, and please remember this is just my personal opinion.  I believe the Baroness is actually a 'servant of God' now - the first step in the beatification process.  Her clinging to the title of baroness always seemed a bit ostentatious to me, but she was Russian and I think somewhat eccentric.  She was also in the Catholic avante garde in her day - along with Merton, Dorothy Day, and so on.  I think Henri Nouwen came along later as well.
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Both Catherine and Eddie had been married before - Eddie more times than Catherine.  The original community at Friendship House in Harlem felt Catherine departed from the rules by getting married again.  Celibacy was a discipline observed by the lay community, therefore the marriage became an issue.  The Doherty's subsequently moved to Canada to found a new house - you may have noted such accommodations happen frequently today with new communities.
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Anyway - to make a long story short, Eddie got himself ordained in 1969 as a priest in the Byzantine Melkite Greek Catholic Church - at the age of seventy eight.  No big deal.
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Today we accept married Anglican priests, married Eastern rite priests; and the Latin rite remains celibates only... but you can switch rites.  People say, "not so fast, it isn't that easy" and, "that's not how it's done".  I know.  And they do not ordain homosexuals either.
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Just saying - it happens.
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Photo credit

The Pope Speaks: On Angela of Foligno



My favorite female mystic...
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Aside from Teresa and Therese of course - oh, and Margaret of Cortona and Catherine of Genoa too.  The Holy Father spoke about the Blessed Angela at the Wednesday audience yesterday.  Angela was a laywoman - and a Franciscan penitent.
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Wednesday audience:
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Continuing his series of teachings on holy women in the Church’s history, the Pope turned to the 13th-century mystic, Blessed Angela of Foligno in his weekly general audience.
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Blessed Angela’s life has much to teach people today, many of whom are “living as if God did not exist,” the Pope said.
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The Holy Father quoted Blessed Angela's words: “However much more you pray, ever more greatly will you be illuminated; however much more you are illuminated, so much more profoundly and intensely will you see the Supreme Good, the supremely good Being; how much more profoundly and intensely you see it, much more will you love it ... Successively you will arrive to the fullness of light, because you will understand not being able to comprehend." - CNA
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Me and Angela.
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In the monastery (novitiate) I was forbidden to read any female mystic - with the exception of Angela of Foligno.  The novice master wanted to detach me from any dependence I may have developed upon female mystical writers, along with accounts of private revelations.  The prohibition included Carmelite spirituality/mysticism.  Father was wisely seeking to ground me according to Cistercian spirituality - although  female Cistercian mystics were likewise prohibited.  After I left the monastery, Father explained to me he believed my friendship with a Carmelite prioress was unhealthy and that the type of piety she was feeding me was unsuitable for a monk, not to mention how inappropriate it was for a prioress of another community to interfere in a novice's formation.  It turned out he was quite right, and I'm grateful for the good formation Father gave me. 
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I'm not sure why Blessed Angela became the exception to his rule - although I think her treatise was probably deemed  'recreational' reading for me at the time.
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Art:  Angela of Foligno in ecstasy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Film: 13th Day


The apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima.
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Providentially, my copy of the film 13th Day arrived today, on October 13, the day Our Lady revealed herself as Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima in 1917 - as well as the anniversary of the great miracle of the sun.  No, it is not a feast day - simply an anniversary.
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The film is not bad, special effects are quite good - especially as they portray the "secret" of Fatima, which was revealed in three parts.  That perhaps is the most impressive sequence in the film, and if I would have seen it before I painted my panel of 'The Secret', I may have changed my composition.  The jailed children sequence I found to be excessively long, although wonderfully updated for our times with the skinhead character.  The final scene of the miracle was rather well done - wonderful drama - but if memory serves me, the Warner Bros. scene may have been just as good without the CGI.  Although I did like the magical, mystical cinematography which just about overlaid every scene in the13th Day, it gave an art-film quality to the production.  Interestingly, some of the wooded scenes reminded me of Garabandahl when I visited there in the 1970's.
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Anyway - it was a pretty good film - nicely done.  The message of Fatima was conveyed quite well.  Like my own private experience at Fatima, I personally found the film rather dark and sober - and Our Lady's message was indeed very much on that order - although the film felt a little too strained and joyless.

An Ode To Falling Leaves: For Catherine


for catherine

tripping on the leaves...

oh! oh! the colors...


blowing in the wind...

the whirlwind!

everything is just blowing in the wind...

I am the wind...

you are the leaf...

with trails of leaves

chasing you...

encircling you...


in the whirlwind. - Terry Nelson

Can anything good come from California?



Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento.
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Bishop Soto is a very courageous bishop - remember when he 'crashed' the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries Conference back in 2008?  He gave the keynote address - which flipped out several traditional Catholics who felt he should have ignored the conference all together.  I agree with Soto's tactic - don't send spies or just issue press statements and letters - meet the problem head on - face to face.  He did.  He told the gathering: 
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"Sexual relations between people of the same sex can be alluring for homosexuals," Bishop Soto told the conference, "but it deviates from the true meaning of the act and distracts them from the true nature of love to which God has called us all. For this reason, it is sinful." Bishop Soto also urged Catholics to support Proposition 8, a ballot measure to protect marriage as a sacred covenant between a man and a woman. 
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Bishop Soto began his speech with a meditation on Jesus as he is frequently portrayed in modernity - the compassionate, lenient benefactor found in the Gospel miracle accounts.  "This can oftentimes lead us to the conclusion that Jesus always said 'yes.' He always gave people what they wanted. He was an agreeable person," said the bishop. This, however, is not the complete Gospel picture of Jesus, he warned. - Finish reading. 
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You have to be a man about it and step out of your paradigm - tell the truth.
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Bishop Soto is also one of the very few bishops or priests to actually address the issue of contraception - the 'original sin' of the 'sexual revolution'.  Nobody talks about this, just as most have been preaching watered down catechetics for the past 40 years.  Soto grabs the bull by the horns and gets to the root of the problems society is experiencing today:  Contraception.
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Writing in the Catholic Herald, the diocese’s new bimonthly magazine, Bishop Soto said that building a culture of life is “more than a political agenda.” The gospel of life has the power to “transform hearts and habits as well as laws.”
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“One habit that has taken hold of many marriages is the use of artificial means of contraception,” Bishop Soto wrote. “The prevalence of the practice in and outside of the Catholic community has made contraception the unquestioned default mode of marriage. As a consequence, sexuality and relationships are misunderstood and misused; and their true purpose is misplaced.”
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“The habit has shaped the hearts and minds of many, especially the young,” he continued. “Marriage is no longer understood as the covenant of love between a man and a woman that creates life, because procreation is no longer associated with sexual intercourse,” Bishop Soto continued.
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He said that in this situation, many people cannot understand why a sexual relationship between any two people who care for each other cannot be called a marriage. - Finish reading.
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How many bishops and priests do we ever hear this stuff from?  How many actually go out and face the dissenters head on?  God bless Bishop Soto.
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Image:  The personal coat of arms of Bishop Soto.  "To the upper left (to chief dexter) is a blue seven pointed star taken from the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe to reflect the Bishop’s deep devotion to the Virgin Mary, in this title, but also that all that he does as a bishop will be under her watchful protection. "

Anniversary of the Miracle at Fatima



Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima.
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I'm convinced the message of Fatima remains especially relevant in our day.  Despite the fact it seems as if many of the prophecies have been fulfilled.  Look around the world - you can sense it.  I'm not getting into the disputation regarding the consecration of Russia - I'm just saying aspects of the message could still come to pass. 
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Anyway, our Holy Father Pope Benedict, like his predecessor John Paul II, is one of the few modern Popes to explicitly direct our attention upon the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation as it may relate to our times.  The Pope spoke on Monday, October 11, which is the day that the Second Vatican Council began in 1962, and was observed at that time as the Feast of the Divine Maternity of Mary.
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An exhortation to martyrdom?
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[T]he transformation of the world, the knowledge of the true God, the weakening of the forces that dominate the earth, is a process of suffering. In the history of Israel, we see how this liberation from polytheism, this recognition -- "only he is God" -- takes place amid much suffering, beginning with the journey of Abraham, the exile, the Maccabees, up until Christ. And it continues in history, this process of weakening spoken of in chapter 12 of Revelation; this speaks of the fall of the angels that are not angels, are not divinities on the earth. And it is truly realized precisely in the time of the emerging Church, where we see how with the blood of the martyrs there is a weakening of the divinities, all these divinities, beginning with the divine emperor. It is the blood of the martyrs, the suffering, the cry of the Mother Church that knocks them down and so transforms the world.
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This downfall is not only the knowledge that these are not God. It is the process of the transformation of the world, which costs blood, costs the suffering of the witnesses to Christ. And, if we look closely, we see that this process is never finished. Even today, in this moment, in which Christ, the only Son of God, must be born for the world with the downfall of the gods, with suffering, the martyrdom of the witnesses.
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We think of the great powers of today's history, we think of the anonymous capitals [note: here, as I said above, the translation seems inadequate; it would be better as "anonymous financial interests" or something similar] that enslave man, that are no longer something belonging to man, but are an anonymous power that men serve, and by which men are tormented and even slaughtered. They are a destructive power that threatens the world. And then the power of the terrorist ideologies. Violence is done apparently in the name of God, but this is not God: these are false divinities that must be unmasked, that are not God. And then drugs, this power that, like a ravenous beast, stretches its hands over all parts of the earth and destroys: it is a divinity, but a false divinity, which must fall. Or even the way of life promoted by public opinion: today it's done this way, marriage doesn't matter anymore, chastity is no longer a virtue, and so on.
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These ideologies that are so dominant that they impose themselves by force are divinities. And in the suffering of the saints, in the suffering of believers, of the Mother Church of which we are part, these divinities must fall, what is written in the letters to the Colossians and Ephesians must come true: the dominations and powers fall and become subjects of the one Lord Jesus Christ.
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This fight in which we find ourselves, this weakening of the gods, this fall of the false gods, who fall because they are not divinities but are powers that destroy the world, are spoken of in chapter 12 of Revelation, and with a mysterious image for which, it seems to me, there are nonetheless different fine interpretations. It is said that the dragon directs a great stream of water against the fleeing woman, to sweep her away. And it seems inevitable that the woman will drown in this river. But the good earth absorbs this river, and it can do no harm. I think that it is easy to interpret what the river stands for: it is these currents that dominate everyone, and want to eliminate the faith of the Church, which seems to have nowhere to stand before the power of these currents that impose themselves as the only way of thinking, the only way of life. And the earth that absorbs these currents is the faith of the simple, which does not allow itself to be swept away by these rivers and saves the mother and saves the son. This is why the psalm says, the first psalm of the midday hour: "The faith of the simple is true wisdom" (cf. Psalm 118:130). This true wisdom of simple faith, which does not let itself be devoured by the waters, is the power of the Church. And we have come back to the Marian mystery.  - REFLECTION OF THE HOLY FATHER IN THE COURSE OF THE FIRST GENERAL CONGREGATION OF THE SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR THE MIDDLE EAST OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
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H/T Spirit Daily

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why women must wear the veil...


Spirit Daily excerpts from The Unveiled Woman:
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It is an honor to wear the veil. But by publicly repudiating it, a woman dishonors her feminine dignity, her sign of female subjection, just as the military officer is dishonored when he is stripped of his decorations.
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In summary, the reasons that St. Paul advises women to cover their heads in the church are:

  • Our Lord commanded it;
  • It is a visible sign of an invisible order established by God;
  • The Angels at mass are offended if women don’t use it;
  • It is a ceremonial vestment;
  • It is our heritage.
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Wow - another set of rules.
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I wonder... with this type of thinking, can women even be saved?
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From today's first reading at Mass:  "Brothers and sisters:  For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery." - Galatians 5:1
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FYI:  Before Jackie Kennedy, very few American women of Northern European ancestry ever wore mantillas, much less a veil - unless it was netting that was attached to a hat.  WRONG!  I was just informed Catholic school girls in St. Paul wore chap-caps and veils back in 1945!  Oh!  My!  Gosh!

Did Our Lady Really Give the Rosary to St. Dominic?

Yes she did.

Alternatives to the mantilla: Scarves and hats!







Mantillie-lace: Mantilla fashion ideas!

The "Bob":  For the athletic girl on the go.  No fuss, no frills - ever.

The "Taylor Swift":  Get that 'angel' band-line across the forehead look - looks especially nice with longer hair styles sticking out all over, or just layer it with black netting 'veil over the shoulders' for that 'jus-pretendin' to be a nun' look!

The "Always a Bridesmaid":  Perfectly suited for the single-no-frills, mature gal. 

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NEW!
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Mantilla Craft Corner

Make your own Mantillas from stuff around the house!

Old fly-fishing nets from dad's closet...  if he hasn't tried it first!  Take the netting off the frame, run a bit of elastic around the opening, add a bit of lace tatting and voila!  An unique look no one else will be wearing at donuts and coffee Sunday morning!  Be creative - make it a real veil by cutting it into a v-shape - add the tatting and you are ready to Flamenco!  (Add glitter for High Masses.) 

For poor people:  The onion sack - let your imagination run wild! 
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There really is no limit to female ingenuity and creativity. 
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What not to wear with anything.

Crochet.
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Why would some Catholic women in the United States want to wear something like this?  A veil is a veil is a veil - nothing wrong with veils, is there Ms. Fatima Burqa-stein?  Obviously a good mantilla is hard to find outside of Spain or Italy.  Please, please, please wear a scarf or a hat if you think you are obliged to cover your head - but not some Little House On the Prairie home-made doilie-thing like this.  A well intentioned blogger is actually giving this away and a priest is actually encouraging women to wear it...  They know not what they do. 
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Picture this:  I was at a church in St. Paul for Mass one evening this past winter and noticed a somewhat stout woman I know, wearing what looked like a WWII flight jacket, a long denim skirt, white men's socks and brogues, sporting a cheap black chapel veil similar to the one in the photo.  She looked like a mental patient.  
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Anyway, the woman with the cottage industry who makes these things does lovely work, and she is obviously very well intentioned and devout, so go ahead and buy her stuff, but maybe use the pieces as doilies someplace in your home instead of wearing them.  Please do not make Tim Gunn weep. 
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Really - consider a scarf instead... even if you end up looking like a refugee...
Ralph Lauren
Louis Vuitton
Hermes

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Lady of the Rosary


From the first John Paul:
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"They say it is a childish prayer, superstitious, not good enough for adult Christians. Or, it is an automatic prayer, a mere monotonous and boring repetition of the Hail Mary. Or again : it is not for our day, today we can do better: read the Bible for example which compared to the rosary is like good flour compared to bran !
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When we speak of "adult Christians" in prayer, at times we exaggerate. Personally when I speak tête-à-tête with God or with the Blessed Virgin Mary, more than an adult I prefer to think of myself as a child.
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The mitre, skullcap and ring disappear; I give a holiday to the adult and the bishop and also to heavy burdens, sober and pondered, and let myself go with the spontaneous tenderness of a child in front of his papá or mamma. To be – at least for half an hour – before God as I truly am with my wretchedness and also with the best of myself: to feel rising from the depths of my being the child of other days who wants to talk and chat with the Lord and love him and who sometimes feels the need to cry that he may be granted mercy, all this helps me to pray."  - Pope John Paul I
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Thanks to Idle Speculations, one of the better Catholic blogs online.
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Art:  Our Lady of the Rosary, by Miguel Cabrera

The power of myth and creating new mythologies.



The power of myth.
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In the late 1980's Bill Moyers did a six hour long documentary on PBS interviewing Joseph Campbell titled The Power of Myth.  I enjoyed the series very much since I have always been attracted to myth - from an early age I was intrigued by Greek myth, Germanic folk tales based in myth, and of course legends associated with the saints which may have been partly based in myth.  Such interests are not uncommon for visual artists.  I like myth and allegory.
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In response to a question posed by Moyers, Campbell said what we need today are new myths and rituals to give meaning to our existence in a society spiritually alienated by materialism and technology.  (Not a few nuns obviously took him up on that.)  Interestingly their discussion included a new definition or purpose for marriage as well.  Campbell was raised Catholic but appeared to have lost his faith through his comparative religion scholarship.  I can't help but think of the  Muggeridge quote in my sidebar:  “Accumulating knowledge is a form of avarice and lends itself to another version of the Midas story. Man is so avid for knowledge that everything he touches turns to facts; his faith becomes theology, his love becomes lechery, his wisdom becomes science. Pursuing meaning, he ignores truth.”  All in all, I enjoyed the series back then and found it useful.
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New mythologies.
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Campbell need not have worried about creating new mythologies however, that process is ongoing, and he most likely contributed to it.  Moyers and Campbell discussed a new mythology for marriage - as a romantic arrangement/relationship no longer tending towards reproduction.  I've written about the new mythology as it concerns the new 'gay' legends associated with the lives of the saints.  Likewise we have seen how new age occult beliefs have infiltrated church, school, and business.
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I think we see it subtly inserted into new theological thought and ritual as well.  Most notably these days as it concerns popular interpretations of TOB or Theology of the Body.  The Paschal candle as phallic symbol immediately comes to mind.  It is an erroneous concept promulgated by Chris West, Fr. Loya and others - albeit evidently endorsed by such authorities as Cardinal Rigali.  Similar to the gay-saint myths, this stuff embeds itself into the popular culture - religious or otherwise.  Myth has a way of burying itself in our consciousness - or rather the unconscious mind - and is a highly effective tool in changing moral and cultural values and attitudes.
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Needless to say, it is the power behind the Vampire films and Harry Potter series as well.
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Myth always seems to flourish in the 'dark ages' - I'm surprised Campbell and Moyers didn't notice that.

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Well said...



"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch." - Jack Nicholson

Sunday, October 10, 2010

If there ever was a "gay" saint, it might as well be St. Aelred...



St. Aelred of Rievaulx.
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An English Cistercian abbot and contemporary of St. Bernard, Aelred wrote much on English history and spirituality.  The saint is especially known today for his treatises on charity and spiritual friendship.  The writings on spiritual friendship form the basis for the claim Aelred was "gay" - a novel theory postulated in the mid-20th century.  Again, those who make the claim are looking at this from our 19th-21st century perspective and contemporary understanding of same-sex sexual relations as posited by gay culture today.  The contemporary phenomenon of open, public homosexuality has been unheard of in Western culture since ancient pagan, pre-CE civilizations in Greece and further east to Persia.  That said, even in those times it remains highly doubtful that it was generally practiced, or across the board accepted, as we see and understand promotion of the practice today.
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It is not surprising that in monasteries the vice of homosexuality would present itself as a temptation to sin, which is why we read in the desert father's admonitions against admitting boys to the life, or looking long upon a boy, etc..  The vice was reported in some monasteries or hermitages, and the brothers were dismissed.  Cassian also writes about these things and even condemns such things as involuntary nocturnal emissions.  Hence St. Aelred would have been very familiar with the writings of the Fathers and first monks regarding chastity, as well as understanding the writings of St. Paul and other scriptural condemnations of homosexuality, just as orthodox Christians do today.  To suggest he lived a homosexual life, or permitted same-sex familiarity and romantic love within the monastic community is certainly a distortion of authentic monastic observance, spirituality, and Catholic teaching.  In other words - it is absurd.
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Perhaps a better patron for those struggling with homosexuality.
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Did Aelred experience homosexual temptations?  We do not know - in the lives of every saint, a great variety of temptation enters to purify and sanctify the soul - even as we get older, our concupiscence and the devil suggests unheard of horrible sins - therefore no one should be surprised if this was the case with St. Aelred.  Nevertheless he could not be a saint if he had condoned a lifestyle so clearly contrary to natural law and God's will - or plan for creation.
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What St. Aelred does offer however, is sound teaching on wholesome and holy friendship.  It is said he was strongly attracted to a monk named Simon - on account of the other's perfect observance and spiritual demeanor.  As I always say - men and women are naturally attracted by beauty and grace and goodness, but it doesn't mean that the attraction is carnal or sensual.  And this is where Aelred departs from contemporary dangerous innuendo, and praises chaste friendship - even when such friendships appear 'particular' - favoring one person above others as it were.
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"It is no small consolation in this life to have someone you can unite with you in an intimate affection and the embrace of a holy love, someone in whom your spirit can rest, to whom you can pour out your soul, to whose pleasant exchanges, as to soothing songs, you can fly in sorrow... with whose spiritual kisses, as with remedial salves, you may draw out all the weariness of your restless anxieties. A man who can shed tears with you in your worries, be happy with you when things go well, search out with you the answers to your problems, whom with the ties of charity you can lead into the depths of your heart; ... where the sweetness of the Spirit flows between you, where you so join yourself and cleave to him that soul mingles with soul and two become one." - St. Aelred, Spiritual Friendship
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I apologize that I cannot vouch for this translation, but it seems to me to be correct.  I haven't read the saint for years, and just because I have read him doesn't mean I possess any expertise about his life or teaching.  I am basing my comments on common sense and ordinary Catholic spirituality.  Nevertheless, taking into consideration Aelred's orthodoxy and observance of chastity regarding spiritual friendship, the experience he describes here seems to me to be adaptable to chaste, celibate same-sex friendship, or as one blogger might phrase it, disinterested same-sex friendship.  Especially in situations wherein two persons have lived together for a long time, and after a deeper conversion perhaps, returned to Church teaching on sexuality and marriage.  Friendship centered upon Christ with the purpose of living in fidelity to Church teaching and mutual sanctification is certainly not forbidden by the Church.  However, living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is not a morally acceptable option. - CDF
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More from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 
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It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally.  To chose someone of the same sex for one's sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator's sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent..
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As in every conversion from evil, the abandonment of homosexual activity will require a profound collaboration of the individual with God's liberating grace.
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Christians who are homosexual are called, as all of us are, to a chaste life. As they dedicate their lives to understanding the nature of God's personal call to them, they will be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance more faithfully and receive the Lord's grace so freely offered there in order to convert their lives more fully to his Way. - CDF

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Saints are sinners who keep trying.
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If we hope to bring others back to the Church, we must acknowledge that there will be amongst those persons returning some who have been in long-term relationships and partnerships or commitments.  The Church says living out of this (homosexual) orientation in homosexual activity is not a morally acceptable option.  But the Church does not forbid chaste friendship and mutual support. 
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If there is anything good about gay people claiming particular saints as their patron - if indeed they have devotion to them, which also means seeking to follow their example - then the Holy Spirit may have greater access to their conscience as it were, and perhaps better able to correct it.  The saints are powerful intercessors and God always draws good out of evil.
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Disclaimer:
I declare that I have no intent to acknowledge, distribute or encourage anything contrary to Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the Apostolic See. I submit myself and all the contents of this blog to the judgment of the Church.

Mass Chat: Nothing to say.


Nothing to report really.
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Except maybe my report for the clothing police:  It was unseasonably warm so I wore clean jeans - kind of tight - with a new leather belt and a charcoal t-shirt beneath a khaki shirt - I also wore black shoes and black socks.   
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What else?
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I waved to a friend of mine across the church at the sign of peace. 
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Oh!  I received Communion in the hand while standing - bowing first of course, and then I received the Precious Blood as well.  I don't always drink from the cup, but I wasn't totally aware of myself at the moment and just gravitated towards the EMHC.  I made my confession about an hour and a half before Mass, and spent the rest of the time keeping Our Lady company in the little Lady chapel.  I prayed the rosary.  I 'learned' that from St. Charbel who always prayed the rosary before Mass.  I think the rosary is especially efficacious to recollect the soul before Mass - I like it best when I can pray it quietly and privately.
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We had a visiting priest who offered the Mass very prayerfully.  The thanksgiving silence after Communion seemed especially generous.  I left the church secretly by the side door after Mass hoping to remain recollected as long as possible.
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That's about it.