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, December 18, 2010

Sometimes when I write Christmas cards...



I like to write stuff that makes me laugh...
.
Case in point.
.
I received a funny Christmas card from an old, old, old, old friend who wrote: 
.
"Retirement is wonderful!  We closed up the beach house and spent a few months in Europe - we came back to the cities for a visit and stayed at our condo but didn't have time to call.  We returned to Long Beach and the weather is fabulous.  Perhaps we can get together next time we're in town.  Love, Clay and Dick!  'Ho! Ho! Ho!'"
.
These are the types of friends I like to exchange funny holiday cards with - Dick's card depicted a silly Santa cartoon, and so for my return card I chose a lovely little 1960's snap-shot card with a little kid and his doggie on it.  Anyway, this is what my note said:

"Dear Dickie and Clark!   My, my, my, my, my!  How retirement suits you both!  How wonderful you two -  galavanting arouind the world like Mr. and Mrs. Howe from Gilligan's Island!  How is Lovey these days?  Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk!  I myself vacationed in Afghanastan this past summer, what a lovely time!  I'm in the process of adopting a monkey from South America - I'm learning Portugeuse so there won't be any language barrier.  I'll be out West this New Years!  I'm spending it with Gayle and Oprah and Stedman, and we'll be at the Striesand's for the 'ball drop' - I'll try to give a ring while I'm there.  Happy holidays!  Hugs for everyone darlings!  Terry"

Now what is more charming than to personalize your photo cards with a little cheery note or something?

Happy Holidays!
.
Photo title:  "She's still standing!"  Cathy's house last year.

Tired of Complaints about Commercial Christmas?

.
Here are some real Christmas treasures...
.
Secular stores too commercial for you?  They don't mention Christmas enough you say?   
.
That's odd.  I can find real Christmas in just about any fine quality store - even religious Christmas gifts - better than one might find in a Catholic retail setting selling Chinese resin devotional kitsch.  Here are a few examples of good devotional art from Neiman-Marcus...
.


.
Paintings available from Neiman-Marcus Home - Spiritual Gifts
.
.
.
At Christmas, one ought always to try and give gifts that last, not fashion and trend or electronics that are obsolete within a year or two.

Day Three of the Novena for Christmas


Prayer of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the Infant Jesus
.
.
O my Lord Jesus,

we gaze on you as a baby

and believe that you are the Son of God,

who became man

in the womb of the Virgin Mary,

through the working of the Holy Spirit.



Just as at Bethlehem,

we too, with Mary, Joseph,

the angels and the shepherds,

adore you and acknowledge you

as our only Savior.



You became poor

to enrich us with your poverty.

Grant that we may never forget the poor

and all those who suffer.



Protect our families,

bless all the children of the world,

and grant that the love you brought us

may always reign amongst us

and lead us to a happier life.



Grant, O Jesus, that all

may recognize the truth of your birth,

so that they may know

that you came to bring

to the whole human family

light, joy and peace.



You who live and reign

with God the Father

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.  Amen.
.
.
(Prayer of the Holy Father before the Infant Jesus of Prague)

Christmas card messages.



The kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women... - 2 Timothy 3:6

I received a Christmas greeting from a friend and former colleague today.  She is perhaps in her 70's now, but she remains a very young soul.  In her day she grew to be quite important in her field and gained much respect.  She is Catholic - and was almost always a daily communicant throughout her life.  She had some moral issues at one point which obviously did not destroy her marriage - and that is a great grace.  Many people called her a phony - but I always knew she was a good phony.  If you'd ever seen the film Breakfast At Tiffany's you would know what I mean by that.
.
Anyway - my friend noted in her card that she has been visiting a local 'shrine' begun by followers of Christina Gallagher, the so-called Irish mystic.  (Knowing my friend, she noted it hoping I would be either full of admiration for her piety or terribly curious about these messages from Heaven.  She was looking for a reaction either way.)  My friend has always been quite convinced of her own 'devout Catholic' status, therefore I was surprised she would follow such dubious mystics.  She is very much like another woman I got to know briefly.  She too appears to be a woman very careful of her reputation and status, and quite possibly a bit presumptuous as regards her 'orthodoxy' in everything - while foolishly susceptible to unapproved private revelations and/or those who promote them.
.
I know it is not my place to interfere in another person's spiritual life, but I did send my friend the 'notice' on Christina Gallagher written by Gallagher's local ordinary - I printed it off from EWTN.  There is always the chance these folks do not know that some of these locutionists are also phonies.  That said, I will not be surprised if my friend dismisses my concern and offers some grand excuse to continue 'following' the group, or she might just blow me off as my other acquaintance had and follow her own instinct. 
.
To each his own - it is no longer my concern.  Souvent femme varie, bien fol qui s'y fie.
.
Photo:  Gallagher's 'stigmata'.
.
 "To lead astray even the elect if that were possible..." - Mark 13:22

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gee, what should we write about today? Let's talk incest.



Consensual...
.
My friend sends me salacious articles on sex - almost every day.  LOL!  Just kidding P!  She's been sending some 'good' stuff on incest - not 'good' in any salacious sense - I used the word twice now - but informative as to what is going on behind the headlines and rapid cultural changes.  Very seriously, my friend shares her concerns and often times horror at what is going on in the world.  Case in point - Switzerland considers easing incest laws and the David Epstein case - Professor sleeps with daughter.  The following pull-quote from one of the articles is simply astonishing:
.
"Academically, we are obviously all morally opposed to incest and rightfully so," Galluzzo said. "At the same time, there is an argument to be made in the Swiss case to let go what goes on privately in bedrooms."

.
"It's OK for homosexuals to do whatever they want in their own home," he said. "How is this so different? We have to figure out why some behavior is tolerated and some is not." - Epstein's lawyer, Matthew Galluzzo.
.
Tolerance leads to acceptance... and approval.
.
I'm not really going to discuss these cases here, but the subject reminds me of what it was like growing up - knowing about such things, although no one really talked about it much less did anything about it.  Today unspeakable crimes and misdemeanors and perversions are out front, on TV, online, and spoken about in public.  Of course we live in a permissive age in which it seems the only politically correct and acceptable intolerance permitted is against traditional morality and guilt.  Hence the above argument in favor of incest almost comes off normal in our culture - and I tend to think Galluzzo is willfully deceptive when he says, "Academically, we are obviously all morally opposed to incest..."
.
I grew up on the rough and tough side of town.  I think it only seemed rough to outsiders, as a kid I got along fine.  No, I was not bullied.  I faced challenges and got into fights of course, but I held my own I think.  That may explain why I'm not on board with all the anti-bullying laws and ordinances being proposed.  But I digress.
.
Right to privacy.
.
Growing up 'we' knew which kids were abused and molested and which families were incestuous.  Our parents knew, which is why my dad would tell me things like, "Don't ever go into Jennifer's house."  When I asked why, he just said, "Her dad's a fruit."
.
"What's a fruit?"  I asked.
.
"It means he's creepy."  My sister answered.

Oddly enough, Magnolia St. in those days was a hot bed for molesters and incestuous families.  The girl downstairs was molested by her cousin, her uncle slept with the wives of men who rented from him, the guy across the street tried to sell his older daughter in a bar and was said to have used her for sex himself.  Let's see, his other daughter was used by him as well.  Oh yeah - I was abused in a theater one Saturday during a screening of "North To Alaska".  This all happened before 7th grade.  I knew too much - but tried not to think about it, lest I sin by entertaining impure thoughts and stuff.  Nevertheless - people knew what was going on - all the kids knew - so at least some of the parents knew.  But people minded their own business in those days and no one talked about that kind of stuff openly.  Today we call that kind of minding our own business a perpetrator's right to privacy.
.
How we got to where we are.
.
Jump forward to my days out of school working in a major department store in the display department.  What a moral group that was.  Very gay.  The president of the company was known to have sex with teen boys in the dressing rooms of the Varsity Dept., as well as with stock boys in his office.  The entire store knew about it - the branch people knew about it.  Co-workers and department heads and branch managers were very immoral, promiscuous, and dishonest.
.
Without going into great detail, the president of the company wasn't the only one having sex with teenage boys.  One of my own managers was known to like little boys.  I thought it was a joke until I saw him literally drooling over a little boy being led around the store by the boy's unsuspecting mother.  My point here is that no one ever said anything - they snickered and laughed about it - but nothing was done about it.  It was none of their business, and the other's right to privacy.
.
That's what went on with the bishop/priest scandal as well.  Whisper about it but play dumb, and stay out of other people's business.  That is how we got here. 
.
I think it is telling how behind the scenes kids are actually being taught some of the perversions I came across by chance growing up in a less than perfect family and neighborhood and first job experience - without the protection and guidance of stable parents and role models.  My friend sent me the following reminder:
.
I will end with a quote from a published UNICEF/UN sex education booklet published for So. American students and distributed until outcry forced its removal ....

.
Flashback - 2002
.
NEW YORK — A UNICEF-funded book being passed out at the United Nations Child Summit encourages children to engage in sexual activities with other minors and with homosexuals and animals. ...
.
An accompanying workshop book produced by the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) tells Latin American mothers and teens: "Situations in which you can obtain sexual pleasure: 1. Masturbation. 2. Sexual relations with a partner — whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. 3. A sexual response that is directed toward inanimate objects, animals, minors, non-consenting persons." ...
.
I recall an actress on Oprah once talking about her work for the U.N. in India and the sense of accomplishment she felt after teaching the women and girls the joy of self pleasuring themselves.
.
And yet we worry about telling our children there is a Santa Claus...
.
Thanks P for the lead.
.

Christmas Novena - Day Two


Why the little animals followed the Holy Family to Bethlehem.
.
Very few people know this, but dogs and cats and rabbits and other little animals - I think even a fox, followed Our Lady and St. Joseph as they travelled to Bethlehem for the census.  St. Joseph told Our Lady that they were following because they wanted food, but Our Lady simply nodded and smiled.
.
Once settled in the crude stable, built over a small outcrop of rock at Bethlehem, Our Lady explained to St. Joseph that the little animals had accompanied them to help keep the Holy Child warm after his birth.  St. Joseph simply nodded and smiled.
.
+Prayer+
.
Divino Bambino,
.
In my difficulties: help me

From the enemies of my soul: save me

In my errors: enlighten me

In my doubts and pains: comfort me

In my solitudes: be with me

In my infirmities: invigorate me

When others despise me: encourage me

In temptations: defend me

In difficult hours: strengthen me

With your Sacred Heart: love me

With your immense power: protect me

And, into your arms,

when I die: receive me.  Amen

Pre-Christmas Celebrations.



The Christmas Market, Father Christmas, Christmas Lights and joyful expectation...

Yeah - but watch out for the "Reverend Fr.s" Scrooge and "Bishops" Cromwell amongst us... those who despise Christmas traditions and preach to their flocks, "Christmas can wait!"  "There is no Santa!"  "Don't celebrate or decorate before Christmas Eve!"  Yet Christmas prep goes on without them.  No presents for you!
.
In Europe, there have been pre-Christmas Christmas Markets ever since Medieval times.  Holiday merchants selling treats and finery in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ.  The markets were festive and joyous.  And yet modern Puritans decry pre-Christmas traditions as the commercialization of Christmas, deriding it as a wicked, modern innovation, bent on throwing Christ out of Christmas.  Ah!  Such Protestants!  History reminds us that medieval churchmen themselves once sold positions of honor and even special liturgical privileges and celebrations to the highest bidder;  and yet their descendants would deprive simple elder folks of a little bit of joy for themselves and their poor crippled children during the holiday season.  Tiny-Tim still suffers!
.
.
Photo:  Dresden Christmas Market
.


Please boycott anti-pre-Christmas sites and Scrooges with this symbol on their blogs.
.
.
What?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

O God, do not rebuke me in your anger. - Ps. 6


Rebukes and reproaches - they are good for the soul.
.
I like to repeat "O God do not rebuke me in your anger" whenever I'm conscious of deliberate sin or willful neglects.  However, sometimes our conscience must be pricked in order for us to be made aware of our obstinancy and pride.  If we ignore these unsettling reminders, our Lord oftentimes intervenes - with something we read, something we hear, and as a priest told me the other day - sometimes even by a reproach  by our 'enemies'.  If our conscience is closed, sealed off, sometimes a rebuke from another awakens us to recognize our faults - if we are able to accept humiliation of course.
.
On the other hand, sometimes we suffer reproach for doing what is right - that is a special grace.  The other day someone reproached me for my fidelity to a Church which, as he said, 'doesn't care for people like you...' - let us call them, single people.  Today single people are told by marketing and pop culture that they can do anything - they can have sex with any one, any time, according to their preferences.  They no longer have to marry - unless they want to - and then they can marry just about any thing they want.  Chastity no longer means what it used to for secularized christians - celibacy no longer means living chastely, and so on.  Despite this liberality, single people who strive to live according to traditional Catholic moral teaching frequently suffer reproach and endure rebuke - not from God, but from others, sometimes even those who claim to speak for God. 
.
The spouse of souls.
.
Today's first reading at Mass from Isaiah seems to offer consolation for those who await the Lord's coming,  like the wise virgins, their lamps lighted with the oil of charity... their hope undaunted, their faith piercing the night:
.
"Raise a glad cry you barren one who did not bear, break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor.  For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife than the children of her who has a husband, says the Lord.
.
Fear not, you shall not be put to shame; you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced.  The shame of your youth you shall forget, the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember.
.
The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, a wife married in youth and then cast off, says your God...  with enduring love I take pity on you, says the Lord your redeemer.
.
Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you." - Isaiah 54: 1-10
.
+Prayer+
.
Jesus, you decided to become a child, and I'm coming to you full of trust. I believe that your attentive love forestalls all my needs. Even for the intercession of your Holy Mother, you can meet my necessities, spiritual as well as material, if I pray according to your holy will. I love you with all my heart, all my strength.

.
I beg your pardon, if my weakness makes me sin. I repeat with the Gospel "Lord, if you want you can heal me." I leave you to decide how and when. I am ready to accept suffering, if this is your will, but help me not to become hardened to it, rather to bear fruit. Help me to be a faithful servant and for your sake, holy Child, to love my neighbour as myself. Almighty Child, unceasingly I pray you to support me in my necessities of the present moment.
.
Grant me the grace to remain in you, to be possessed and possess you entirely, with your parents, Mary and Joseph, in the eternal praise of your heavenly servants.  Amen - (Fr. Cyril of the Mother of God, OCD)
.
Image:  Infant Jesus of Cebu.

I don't hate Protestants.


Here comes Santa!

I'm concerned that a post I wrote on my blog about Protestant influences in Catholicism and its affect on the Santa story - stupid topic, I know - but it comes off anti-Protestant, and I fear I offended some converts - which wasn't really my intention at all. I'm unable to explain myself very well sometimes, so a little background might help:  I grew up with a Lutheran dad in a hostle household; in one of her marriages his mother was wedded to a Pentecostal tent preacher, and another of his siblings belonged to another denomination that hated Catholics and Catholic devotion.  I only mention this to explain part of the root of my prejudice, and perhaps why I tend to be a skeptic regarding church-people so often.  (I know, who cares.)
.
Be that as it may - I feel I owe converts an apology. I very much admire that they left everything, sometimes family, and in some cases ordained ministry, to come back home to the Church. Yes, I believe Protestant converts have enriched the Church immensely. That said, I also believe many Catholics, especially in the United States, have been adversely affected by fundamentalism and Pentecostalism - not to mention indifferentism. In other words, Christians who have rejected traditional piety, and very often dogma, and to be sure - anything papist or hierarchical. 
.
Of course Santa is not dogma or a required belief - he is not even necessary for salvation - especially the mythical image.  (So deprive your children of joy and religious celebrations of the saints.  Be a bad parent.  Just kidding!)  I like to exaggerate the tradition more or less to demonstrate just how much has been lost as regards devotion to the saints, and tradition.  I notice it especially amongst younger cradle Catholics - who nevertheless on their own embrace a version of the prosperity gospel at Christmas.  (Lots of presents, brand names, latest gadgets, designer wear, etc..  What is more Protestant than that Tammy Faye?)
.
To each his own.  I happen to one who continues to believe myth is important for children and adults to some extent - it is creative and captures or reflects elements of truth and beauty.
.
I'm not sure I explain myself very well here - it isn't really an important topic to begin with - my real concern is that I may have made some converts feel unwelcome. There is so much real error out there however, therefore I cannot blame some for clinging to a sort of puritanical rigidity.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, "after reading a few blog posts elsewhere, and listening to some friends, a great many people seem to be misled these days... even the 'elect' if that were possible."
.
So anyway - I'm just a sentimental guy who loves traditional Christmas and I went too far in my post on Santa.  I'm sorry.  "Pay no attention to that man behind the green curtain."

Thoughts on Blogging.


"He that is well disposed and orderly in his interior heeds not the strange and perverse ways of men." - Imitation
.
"We cannot trust too much in ourselves, because we often want grace and understanding.

There is but little light in us and this we quickly lose through negligence.

Many times we come to realize we are even blind interiorly.

We often do ill and do worse in excusing it.

We sometimes are moved with passion and we mistake it for seal.

We blame little things in others and pass over great things in ourselves.

We are quick enough at perceiving and weighing what we suffer from others, but we mind not what others suffer from us.

He that would well and duly weigh his own deeds would have no room to judge harshly of others. - Imitation of Christ

God grant I may take these words to heart, but I must tell you, after reading a few blog posts elsewhere, and listening to some friends, a great many people seem to be misled these days... even the 'elect' if that were possible.  And many bloggers who think they are righteous are down right mean and nasty - and very much without charity.  I'm not just talking about the usual subjects either.  The facade of niceness on the more liberal blogs seems to be wearing rather thin these days as well.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Come to the Stable...


.
The novena for Christmas begins tomorrow.

Heterophobia



A tutorial.
.
This morning I opened an email from a good friend saying she was tired of heterophobic people - that was all - I knew I wasn't afraid of women, normal people, or heterosexuality - so what was she talking about?  I later found out she was referring to the DADT controversy and those advocates recasting the matter as a civil right - in other words, activists continuing in their battle to redefine morality.  Now that scares me.
.
I've used the heterophobe word before - I like to think I invented it, but I'm sure someone else thought of it before I did.  Most likely at the exact same time when he realized that he was afraid of sexual relations with a woman, afraid of the responsibility of providing for a wife and children, or not feeling adequate as a man, or facing serious feelings of inferiority amongst same-sex peers, and so on.  There are millions of reasons for SSA and I could never count them all here - that's not my point in this post anyway.  All that I am saying is that many men really and truly can trace their SSA issues to heterophopia.  Amongst them, perhaps even a few Catholic SSA men whose exaggerated fear of sexual relations with a woman may have been reinforced by a complex I call 'Virgin Martyr Syndrome'.  (Nothing Our Lady and the prayers of the rosary can't fix BTW.)
.
Homosexual disorientation.
.
Calm down - it is most likely not a big deal these days when devotion and religious fervor has gone cold, but I have heard a story or two about how some Catholic boys of days gone by were so afraid to sin against chastity and/or were so in awe of their dominatrix natural mother, as well as intimidated by the exalted preference given to virgin saints over married saints in religion class, the very idea of heterosexual sex was repellent to them.  Of course that is deeply disordered, indeed, a perverted orientation; although if true, it remains only one factor which contributes to make the greater disorder stick.  In other words it is quite simply, a disorientation, possibly peculiar to devout Catholic boys/men.  (Please note - it is just a theory.)  Good spiritual direction, prayer, the sacraments, and healthy friendships can reverse these problems - if the subject wants to do the work of course.
.
Contraception, sodomy, and usury.
.
But I digress.  I actually intended to post about something I came across on Western Confucian, who links to a piece Mark Shea published for the National Catholic Register on Dante's linking the sin of sodomy with the sin of usury.  (So many links to something written by someone else.)     Anyway, as usual, Mark Shea makes sense to me:
.
Dante’s thinking is this: He regards human activity as oriented toward fruitfulness that must spring from only two sources: Nature and Art. So, for Dante, a man is legitimately wealthy if he, say, grows a crop and sells it or makes a hat (or a poem) and sells them. Likewise, in the sexual realm, he is simply an ordinary orthodox Catholic who thinks that sex has the natural ends of union between husband and wife and the getting of children. That’s what it is for, just as eating is for the twin ends of nutrition and conviviality. So sexual acts, whether contraceptive or homosexual are “dead” acts that lead to no fruitfulness.

.
[F]or Dante, since fruitfulness can only proceed from Nature or Art (or, as we would say today, “raw natural resources and manufacture of goods and services”), it follows that mere chicanery by which dead gold or silver are made to “breed” by manipulation of interest rates by those who lend at interest is another form of perversion. So he links the sins of sodomy and usury. Both ignore Nature and both are forms of fruitfulness perverted to sterility and the attempt to “breed” something unnaturally. - NCR

.
I'll bet very few people realized there is such a sin of usury.  Just like many do not consider contraception a sin, nor how closely related it is to sodomy.  Of course, many people no longer consider sodomy a sin these days, either.
.
Well - I gotta run - it is Wednesday and I have a lot to do, and no time to start controversies!  Have a wonderful day.
.
Editor's note:  Warning - there are some women who are just naturally scary, so guys, don't think there is anything wrong with you if you try to avoid them.  Many women can tell you they are scared of these types as well - they are often found working in offices and know absolutely everything there is to know about anything.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Protestant Hangups About Christmas: A hard thing for converts to Catholicism to shake.


Despite their denials, there really is a Santa Clause.
.
Converts from Protestantism are not the only ones who have trouble with traditional, non-liturgical, popular-pious customs that have come down to us from a variety of European traditions:  Many Catholics who have been deeply influenced by American Evangelical Protestant prejudice, are often just as narrow-minded and rigid.  Especially when it comes to devotions to the saints and the Blessed Virgin -and/or holiday celebrations connected to such.  It always gets worse during the holiday season.  For your instruction, I composed a few Bible-banger rules that smack of Protestantism, Calvinism, Amish/Hutteriteism, Pentecostalism, Steubenvilleism, and so on.  I'm sorry - I can't stand Protestant stuff and the contaminating effects it has had on Catholicism.  Anyway. 
.
Bible banger rules:

  • Don't celebrate anything in Advent.
  • Do not put up Christmas decor or lights before Christmas eve.
  • You don't have to fast or abstain on Christmas Eve - even if it falls on a Friday.
  • Never say, Happy Holidays - ever!  In Advent wish someone a holy Advent.
  • No Christmas before Christmas.
  • Santa is evil - he's a witch.
  • St. Nicholas is not Santa.
  • Our Lady gave birth to the Infant Jesus just like every other woman gives birth.
  • You must be able to put up Nativity scenes in public places such as the front lawn of the White House.
  • Secular businesses and government agencies must wish everyone a Merry Christmas - even during Advent.
  • Oh! Oh!  If you must have a Santa he can only be adoring the Infant Jesus in the manger.

Art:  Miracle of St. Nicholas.  The saint is depicted rescuing sailors at sea.  Such iconography of the saint contributed to the legend that Santa (saint) flies through the air.  It's a very Catholic theme, connected with mystical charismata (gifts) such as levitation, bilocation, and so on.  Similarly, in the Acts of the Apostles, the apostle Philip was caught up by the Spirit and carried to the Ethiopian to instruct and give him baptism.  One might explain to children how nothing is impossible for God, and that St. Nicholas is a wonderworker who obtains graces (gifts) from God.   Be creative - have a drink - be totally Catholic.
.
Happy Holidays!

Feast of St. John of the Cross

From "The Minor Works".

"To lose always and let everyone else win is the trait of valiant souls..." (58)
.
"Take neither great nor little notice of who is with you or against you and try always to please God.  Ask that His will be done in you an.  Love Him intensely, as He deserves to be loved." (76)
.
Image: One of the very best images of St. John I have ever seen.  Francisco Antonio Gijón (1653–c. 1721) and unknown painter (possibly Domingo Mejías)

Des Hommes et des Dieux



Of Men and of Gods.
.
The movie tells the story of the Trappists of Tibhirine Abbey.  They were beheaded - some now say they were beheaded after their death, to cover up the fact they may have been killed by friendly fire - although taken as hostages by radical Muslims, it was first believed they were martyred.  I accept the later.  They were martyrs.  I have sand from their grave, sent to me by a dear father at New Melleray.  No matter - the monks died for peace.  They were Trappists.  For all of their critics - the Trappists I mean - the ones I know seem to live very much in kinship with the spirit Charles de Foucauld - especially those monks of Tibhirine.  Even though most Trappists live in large monasteries, many seem to carry the desert in their heart.  It seems to me the Trappists in our day retain a special character of authentic monasticism - in their unadorned simplicity, they seem to retain something of the original reform.  They remain true monks.
.
Anyway - I viewed a trailer from the film, Des Hommes des Deux based upon the events leading up to the deaths of the monks of Tibhirine on Idle Speculations - I hope to see the film.  I posted another short from the film above.  I had never heard of the film before today, even though it won a Golden Palm at Cannes.
.
Coincidently, I found an article on New Melleray this morning, check it out here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Holidays! The Pope Inaugurates the Christmas Season...



Except for those people more Catholic than the Pope I guess.
.
The Holy Father launched the holiday season in Rome with his visit to the Colonna dell'Immacolata near the Spanish Steps in Rome, to place a wreath in the Virgin's hands on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  (A fireman usually does it, while the Pope prays.)
.
ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI has inaugurated the Christmas season in Rome with his traditional visit to the posh Spanish Steps neighborhood to pray before a statue of Mary.  Throngs of shoppers, tourists and Romans alike jammed the rain-slicked cobblestones around the piazza to catch a glimpse of Benedict as he marked the Catholic Church's feast of the Immaculate Conception. - Source
.
Don't mention Christmas...
.
I'm sure liturgical purists will say that is not what was going on, but evidently Romans see it another way.  Indeed, the Bavarian-born Pope Benedict has said that immediately after the feast of the Immaculate Conception it has been a firmly rooted tradition that many families set up their crib, "as if to relive with Mary those days full of trepidation that preceded the birth of Jesus."
.
Of course the actual Christmas season begins on Christmas Eve, but until then, many holidays are celebrated throughout Advent - as a friend pointed out in one of his posts.  Hence my personal opinion: until Christmas, it seems fitting to use the greeting, Happy Holidays from Thanksgiving on.  When Christmas arrives, Merry Christmas, or the British Happy Christmas is appropriate through Epiphany... or Candlemas if you are really a Christmas freak.  [BTW - I put out my Christmas lights and decorations on St. Nicholas' Day.  St. Nicholas is the real Santa for those of you not too tarnished by American Evangelical Protestantism, Calvinism, or even Mormonism for that matter.]
.
But some insist Christmas can wait?
.
Interestingly, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City has written his first pastoral letter urging Catholic to avoid Christmas celebrations, decorating, parties, and all the other fun holiday stuff during Advent.
.
Utah’s Catholic bishop is putting the brakes on Christmas.

.
In his first pastoral letter to Utah’s 300,000 Catholics since becoming their shepherd in 2007, Bishop John C. Wester asks that members hold off celebrating Christmas until the season actually begins Dec. 24.
.
Catholics, Wester says, ought not have early parties in their homes or churches, light up their trees or decorate their schools with more than simple wreaths and boughs of green.
.
Instead, the bishop writes, Catholics should remain faithful to Advent, a four-week season that began Sunday and focuses on prayer, reflection and the joyful expectation both of Christ’s birth and his return at the end of time.
.
“I know it is an enormous challenge,” Wester writes, “to remain faithful to the Advent season when we are surrounded by a society which, while claiming to be Christian, does not take the time to reflect and prepare as the church calls us to do.” - Source
.
Isn't that something?
.
Happy Holidays!
.
Photo:  The Christmas tree is up in St. Peter's Square already.  I know!

Fat Kids: A National Security Threat.


 
That's what Shelly said...
.
“Military leaders … tell us that when more than one in four young people are unqualified for military service because of their weight,” the first lady says in the prepared remarks, “childhood obesity isn’t just a public health threat, it’s not just an economic threat, it’s a national security threat as well."
.
The first lady and President Barack Obama are making a rare joint speaking appearance on Monday, at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Northwest D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, as he signs into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. - Read more
.
The growing list of kids Americans no longer want:

  • Fat kids of course.
  • Physically or mentally disabled chidren.
  • Children with any special needs whatsoever.
  • Sick kids.
  • Ugly kids.
  • Gay kids.
  • Bully kids.
  • Dumb kids.
  • Needy kids.

Clearly, designer babies and sex selection can help avoid these 'mistakes', but if all else fails, abortion, infantacide can solve the inevitable freaks of nature which might sneak by.  No one wants to be 'punished' with an unwanted kid - especially if they are fat. 

Stepping out of your paradigm...


"Step out of your paradigm" 
.
That was the buzz word years ago in corporations - perhaps church-people and parish workers have picked it up along the way:  Nevertheless, the steps are predictable and always taken within parameters.  But life - faith - is not like that...  No, no, no. 
.
From Alfred Delp:
.
The One Who Cries in the Wilderness. Woe to an age when the voices of those who cry in the wilderness have fallen silent, outshouted by the noise of the day or outlawed or swallowed up in the intoxication of progress, or growing smothered and fainter for fear and cowardice. The devastation will soon be so terrifying and universal that the word "wilderness" will again strike our hearts and minds. I think we know that.
.
But still there are no crying voices to raise their plaint and accusation. Not for an hour can life dispense with these John-the-Baptist characters, these original individuals, struck by the lightning of mission and vocation. Their heart goes before them, and that is why their eye is so clear-sighted, their judgment so incorruptible. They do not cry for the sake of crying or for the sake of the voice. Or because they begrudge earth's pleasant hours, exiled as they themselves are from the small warm companionships of the foreground. Theirs is the great comfort known only to those who have paced out the inmost and furthermost boundaries of existence. - Alfred Delp on Advent

.
"What did you go out to the desert to see?"  What did you study theology to do?  What did you enter religious life for?  Why were you ordained?  Why were you baptized... confirmed?  "What did you go out to the desert to see?  A reed swayed by the wind?" - Mt. 11: 2-11

Kate of Bologna


Terry of Idle Speculations has a nice post about St. Catherine of Bologna, another patron-designate of artists.  Check it out here.  I just wanted to post the photo of the saint's relics because it is one of the creepiest incorruptible examples in the Catholic Church - although St. Clare of Assisi is a close second - she's pretty mummy-like weird as well.  I think this type of  incorruptible saint ought to be named the patron of cosmetic surgeons and their patients - since the patients end up looking like mummies anyway.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pink or Rose?


Whatever.

These are ugly vestments - no matter what color.

Who really 'painted' the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Juan Diego's tilma?


The First Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Father, of course.
.
"From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so loved her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.


Supreme Reason for the Privilege: The Divine Maternity

And indeed it was wholly fitting that so wonderful a mother should be ever resplendent with the glory of most sublime holiness and so completely free from all taint of original sin that she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent. To her did the Father will to give his only-begotten Son -- the Son whom, equal to the Father and begotten by him, the Father loves from his heart -- and to give this Son in such a way that he would be the one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was she whom the Son himself chose to make his Mother and it was from her that the Holy Spirit willed and brought it about that he should be conceived and born from whom he himself proceeds.[1] - Ineffabilis Deus 

The color rose... the color of the dawn... and Our Lady.


Gaudete Sunday.
.
The liturgical colors for today are rose vestments - the same color most men usually refer to as pink.  Only women, priests, and artsy people know the difference.  I always think it is funny when priests bend over backwards to make excuses, attempting to explain that the color is rose and signals rejoicing...
.
In reality, it can be a masculine color in Spain - matadors wear rose/pink tights, images of the boy Jesus show him dressed in pink - I believe it is mostly Americans who object to the color.  That said, it is also a color of the Blessed Virgin... "coming forth as the dawn".  Sometime watch the horizon as dawn nears and notice the pink, rose colors, turning peach and soft yellow against the white, changing to various stages of blue, sky.  I believe Catherine of Laboure described Our Lady's gown something like that.  And of course, these were the colors worn by Our Lady of Guadalupe as well.  Therefore, what a perfect color for Gaudete - just two weeks before Christmas.
.
Mary, the dawn.

.