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, January 01, 2011

New Year Resolution #1



#1)  To be more charitable.

So.  The blogger people who annoy me the most - I will no longer read them or link to them.

Dottie Henkel



Drunk again!

Solemnity of the Mother of God


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The miracle that Moses witnessed on Sinai in the burning bush



Foretold your virgin childbearing, O pure Mother.

We the faithful cry to you:

Rejoice, O truly living bush!

Rejoice, O holy mountain!

Rejoice, O sanctified expanse and most holy Theotokos!

+


Art:  Icon of the Unburnt Bush



Friday, December 31, 2010

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Happy New Year!

The Cleaning Lady.



An adoration story.
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Several weeks ago, I entered my parish church for my afternoon of adoration.  After doing this for so long I'm afraid I sometimes approach my scheduled time rather routinely.  That day I noticed an older woman parishioner polishing the black marble communion rail.  While the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.  Two other women I know were just finishing up their hour and I called one of the ladies over to ask her about the cleaning lady.
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Actually, she wasn't a cleaning lady at all, but a long time parishioner.  An elderly lady who dressed very young; capri pants with an un-tucked shirt and rolled-up sleeves over a modest t-shirt, nicely cut and colored hair, light make-up - she could pass for a much younger woman.  I'd noticed her before, sometimes during Mass, moving about the church, and I wondered if she had some sort of mental problem.  I asked my adoration friend that very question - "Is she nuts?  I don't think it is appropriate to be cleaning during adoration, passing back and forth before the Blessed Sacrament like that."
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"Oh no!"  My friend laughed.  "She's just fine - why would you think she is crazy?  Anyway, she's been here for better part of an hour and we just let her do it.  I suppose it isn't the right thing to do, but I'm sure she'll be finished soon."
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Nevertheless I felt rather indignant and considered saying something to the woman.  I tried to pray but was distracted watching everything she was doing.  She applied polish, and then buffed it to a bright shine, leaving a section and moving on to repeat the same procedure.  At times she would step back and admire her work.  Each time she crossed in front of the monstrance she bowed reverently and proceeded with her job.  I was slightly relieved after she left for a bit, imagining she was finished - although I noticed she hadn't returned some things she had moved back to their proper place.
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I tried to pray but remained distracted, and of course, that particular day, the thought of spending an afternoon in adoration felt burdensome, and I was already cranky anyway.  The lady returned with her buffing equipment and really threw herself into finishing the job, and so I decided to join my prayer to her work and began offering what she was doing to our Lord, thanking him for her devotion - I suddenly regained my peace!  It seemed that in very little time she was finally finished, returning everything to its proper place as well.  After the equipment was put away, she knelt on the bare floor for what seemed to be a very long time, in devout, attentive prayer before the Eucharist. 
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I was so edified, my hair sort of stood on end and I was suddenly deeply humbled at the sight of this woman praying, oblivious to anything around her.  I somehow understood how pleasing she was to Our Lord.  She came in and anointed his feet as it were... she did what she did out of love and with great faith.  I on the other hand - the only other person in the church at the time - had wanted to rebuke her.  In my heart I had condemned her and scoffed at her.  I came to adoration without charity...  only doing my duty... and did it begrudgingly, routinely.  Yet the 'cleaning lady' gave everything she had - and with great love.
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Love is repaid by love alone.
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Art:  Jesus Anointed at Bethany, Donald D. Krause




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(Later it occurred to me that the woman may have been unable to sit still for very long due to some physical disability.  Regardless, it wasn't any of my business.)

"Dissent is opposed to ecclesial communinon."



"Opposition to the teaching of the Church's Pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit's gifts."
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113. Teaching moral doctrine involves the conscious acceptance of these intellectual, spiritual and pastoral responsibilities. Moral theologians, who have accepted the charge of teaching the Church's doctrine, thus have a grave duty to train the faithful to make this moral discernment, to be committed to the true good and to have confident recourse to God's grace.

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While exchanges and conflicts of opinion may constitute normal expressions of public life in a representative democracy, moral teaching certainly cannot depend simply upon respect for a process: indeed, it is in no way established by following the rules and deliberative procedures typical of a democracy.  Dissent, in the form of carefully orchestrated protests and polemics carried on in the media, is opposed to ecclesial communion and to a correct understanding of the hierarchical constitution of the People of God. Opposition to the teaching of the Church's Pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit's gifts. When this happens, the Church's Pastors have the duty to act in conformity with their apostolic mission, insisting that the right of the faithful to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity must always be respected. "Never forgetting that he too is a member of the People of God, the theologian must be respectful of them, and be committed to offering them a teaching which in no way does harm to the doctrine of the faith".177 - Veritatis Splendor

Seventh Day of Christmas.


This year the Seventh Day of Christmas falls on New Years Eve.
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To be completely frank, I'm not sure why Christians even observe New Years.  However, I'm sure some of my readers can provide an adequate explanation for the adults who read this blog.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fr. John Hardon, S.J. - 10th anniversary of his death.


Servant of God
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This morning at prayer Fr. Hardon came to mind.  Only later, while checking Te Deum Laudamus blog did I discover today is actually the tenth anniversary of Fr. Hardon's death.  Diane has details here.  I'm always delighted when I experience Divine Providence and the intercession of the saints in this way - I never attribute such graces to coincidence.
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Mortal sin
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I was thinking of something Fr. Hardon once said regarding his caution of people in mortal sin - a quote I have never found by the way - but I once read something to the effect that he said about how much harm such unfortunate souls can cause.  Fr. Hardon was a great champion of the Sacrament of Penance, and keenly grasped the gravity of sin - especially the prevalence of grave sin in our culture.  The Fr. Hardon Archives contain many conferences and excellent instruction on the subject - as well as a conference on the benefit of frequent confession.
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I noted elsewhere on the blogosphere today that Bishop Slatterly of Tulsa is scheduling a conference for priests on exorcism, a topic very much in the news of late.  After searching the Fr. Hardon site on sin and the Sacrament of Penance, I wonder if the pressing need for exorcists these days would be as critical if proper catechesis on the sacrament and the necessity of frequent confession had been consistently taught in the last forty years?  Instead, as Fr. Hardon noted:
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Judging by the drastic drop in confessions in countries like the United States, the false opinion is gaining ground that Confession is not to be received, or made, frequently.
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No doubt, one reason for this sad state of affairs is the prevalence of some wild theories about mortal sin. For example, the Fundamental Option theory claims that no mortal sin is committed unless a person totally rejects God. Who but the devil hates God? One adultery or one abortion is not a mortal sin. On these grounds, there are parishes in which almost no one goes to Confession. - The Spiritual and Psychological Value of Frequent Confession
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"There is no hatred more cruel, no treachery more demonic than that of an unrepentant sinner."
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My thoughts went in this direction this morning as I reflected upon my sins and their consequences - examining their source, I couldn't avoid recalling how I was raised.  I was sent to Catholic schools but I lived in a home which was less than ideal - family members lived in mortal sin whilst attempting to justify their predicament.  Thus I wondered if parents living in mortal sin leads to other more grave offences within the family?  The alcoholism, the abuse, the lying, the stealing, the fraud, and on and on - such was the atmosphere wherein I grew up.  In turn I considered what it must be like today when many people no longer have any faith, and children are raised in single parent households exposed to adultery, drugs and alchohol and all sorts of abuse.  These are all mortal sins and outright rejection, if not hatred, for God.
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There is no hatred more cruel, no treachery more demonic than that of an unrepentant sinner. Thirty-seven years in the priesthood have taught me many things none more clearly than that.  - Fr. Hardon

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To be sure, I know I am responsible for the amendment of my own life and I do not look to "blame" my sins on how I was raised or external forces - but one cannot avoid reflecting upon the necessisty of a good, holy, stable family life in order to raise children, while protecting them from the errors of our time.
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+Prayer+

Lord Jesus, you are the loving God Who came into the world to save sinners. But we believe You are also the almighty God. Who, if sinners do not repent, punish even for all eternity those who love themselves more than You. What we most want, Dear Jesus, is the grace to love You more than ourselves even if the price You demand is the sacrifice of what we most love on earth. Jesus, mighty God, have mercy on us sinners.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen - ibid

Before the advent of imposed, early sexualization.



Growing up not even knowing the definition of 'gay'.
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I found this gem of a comment on California Catholic Daily in response to their obituary for Fr. John Harvey:
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2010 12:12 AM By charlio

In an age before total sexual saturation, young people with same sex attraction were free to go through the process of forming confident adult sexuality without the menace of traumatic early sexualization. (Recall the relaxed treatment of kids' w/same sex "crushes" on teachers and other elders in the long-ago age when the latency period was assumed by all.) If just left alone, a majority of those approximately 10% of adolescent males with SSA self-report spontaneous growth out to heterosexuality. A common homosexual seduction strategy is to first bring up heterosexual prurience, then to switch to the homosexual. This is the first fact of the "gay youth" phenomenon: Risks posed as rights. - CCD
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Don't accuse or expose the innocent before their time.
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I've always wondered what would have happened to some of those kids if they hadn't been told by parents or authority figures they were 'different' or 'queer' - or even condemned as 'dirty little homosexuals', and then abandoned to the inevitable predators who would show up to convince them of it? 
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Parents beware.

Sixth Day of Christmas: Ornament of the Christmas Octave - St. Barbara Cho Chung-i


"We must train ourselves by mortification in order to glorify God and save our souls."
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From Catholic Church in Korea:

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Cho Chŭng-i Barbara was the wife of Nam I-gwan Sebastian. She was born in 1781 to a renowned noble family. She was married to Nam Sebastian when she was 16 years old and gave birth to a son who died soon after birth.

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During the persecution of 1801, many of her relatives were martyred, and her husband was sent into exile. Barbara lived with her younger brother, but he made her very unhappy. She could not practice her religion faithfully, because there were no priests in Korea at that time, and she lived far away from other Catholics. When she was about 30, she came up to Seoul and lived with a very devout Catholic family. Barbara then had a chance to practice her religion faithfully.
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She was a cousin of Chŏng Ha-sang Paul, and helped him to prepare for his trip to Peking to introduce foreign missionaries into Korea. After Father Yu Pacificus came to Korea, Barbara's husband was released from exile in 1832, and she was able to help the Chinese priest. After Father Yu returned to China, Barbara bought a small house in which she had Fathers Maubant and Chastan and Bishop Imbert stay. The Catholics used to come to her home for prayers, confessions and Masses. She used to say: "If a persecution breaks out, we all must die. We must train ourselves by mortification in order to glorify God and save our souls."
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Barbara was arrested in July of 1839. She continued to refuse the demands of the police chief to deny her faith and to reveal where her husband was hiding. She said: "Even if I have to die ten thousand times, I cannot commit a sin." Consequently, she was severely tortured. Her legs were twisted, and she was beaten with a cudgel 180 times. Even after she was sent to the higher court, she was beaten more severely. Her husband, after his arrest, was also severely tortured. Both of them showed courage and a desire to die for their faith.
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Barbara was kind to the other inmates and consoled them. She said goodbye to them, and then fell asleep. She woke up just before she was taken out for execution.
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Barbara was taken outside the Small West Gate and was beheaded on December 29, 1839 with six other Catholics. She was 58 years old when she was martyred. - Source
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May St. Barbara and her Companions pray for us and obtain for us the courage to stand fast throughout the tribulations of our time.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chastity, Continence, and Celibacy: Kind of a Primer.


I came across the following on Jimmy Akin's blog.  I have rarely read a more practical definition of the Catholic observance of chastity, continence, and celibacy.
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First, let’s be clear about what celibacy is: It’s the property of not being married. Anyone who is not married is, by definition, celibate. People often confuse this with two other concepts—continence (which in a sexual context means not having sex) and chastity (which means behaving in an appropriate manner sexually, based on your state of life). If a person is celibate (unmarried) and they wish to be chaste (act in a moral manner, sexually) then they will be continent (not have sex), because sex outside of marriage is immoral. By contrast, if you are not celibate (i.e., you are married) then you can be chaste (act in a sexually moral manner) even though you presumably are not continent (i.e., are having sex)." - Jimmy Akin

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Coincidently, Akin goes on to discuss priestly celibacy - something I was also thinking about after prayer this morning - in relation to chastity and continence... 
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"Second, the requirement of celibacy is neither a “doctrine” (teaching) nor a “dogma” (infallibly proclaimed teaching taught or implied by Christ and the apostles) of the Catholic Church. It is a “discipline,” a practice that has been adopted for prudential reasons but that can, and does, admit of exceptions..." ibid

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I was wondering what some readers would think if I said I wouldn't be totally opposed to married priests.  I prefer things as they are, but observing how some Anglican turned Catholic priests are married and how well the married permanent diaconate is working, I no longer see it as such a big problem.  Jimmy Akin correctly notes that "a Catholic can hold the opinion that it would be pastorally prudent to make such a change. You are not being disloyal or a bad Catholic by holding such a view."  Although he's also realistic about any change happening soon - if at all - in the discipline;  "Suffice it to say that it would be pastorally inadvisable in the extreme for the Church to make a sudden, unprepared shift in its discipline on this point. Translating the Mass into the vernacular would be peanuts compared to this. Thus, even if one felt that the Church should move toward such a solution in the long-term, that does not in the least mean that it should be done precipitously. Or at all, because . . ."
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Be assured that I accept the teaching of the Church on this matter.
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Art:  Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Fr. John Harvey, osfs: Some thoughts.



Courageous witness.
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Yesterday I read an offensive comment on another blog condemning the late Fr. John Harvey's view that in certain circumstances men with same sex attraction could be ordained or admitted to religious life - but only if all things were well ordered in their life, of course.  Fortunately the negative comment has been removed this morning.  Without much ado, I present a brief look at the Fr. Harvey view below - which coincides with the Vatican Instruction BTW.  From a Zenit interview on the same document:
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Father John Harvey, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, is director of Courage International, a support group for men and women with same-sex attractions who wish to live chastely according to Church teachings.

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Q: What is your impression of the new Vatican document on seminaries and those with homosexual tendencies?

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Father Harvey: I think it is very good because it does not try to answer every question -- it tells you from the beginning that it will not. I think it is refreshing. It simply sets down norms for bishops, rectors and people in seminary work.
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I think it is wise to put the responsibility on bishops and rectors to understand this issue and to make decisions about individual seminarians. I think this is a good thing instead of answering every question.
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It is clear of two types they do not want: those are actively engaged in a homosexual lifestyle and those who push the gay agenda, that "gay is good." People with that view should not be in seminary.
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The document rightly mentions that some distinctions should be made between people with deep-seated homosexual tendencies and people with transitory same-sex attractions. It is correct in that some homosexual tendencies may be a symptom of a problem of delayed adolescence.
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I was hoping the document would not be a big universal statement like "Anyone with same-sex attractions is automatically eliminated." It does not say that and allows that there are a lot of distinctions to be made. - Zenit, November 2005
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Clarification.
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Please understand that whenever I write my private opinion and say something like, "gay men should not be ordained" I am writing about active homosexuals, men without self control who do not practice celibate chastity and continence, as well as ssa men who remain sexually open-ended, as it were: "if the right situation or guy comes along".  Men who continue to harbor inordinate affections or preferential options for the same sex.  As well as those who Fr. Harvey referred to in the following statement:  "For years within the Church we have had people pushing the gay agenda - groups such as Dignity, New Ways Ministry, and gay and lesbian ministries."  Needless to say, I am also writing about those same sex attracted men who identify as gay, and or approve of or promote the gay lifestyle.  As Fr. Harvey noted in the 2005 interview, "There is a distinction between transitory same-sex attractions and permanent and destructive homosexual tendencies."  Is there ever!
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A fitting tribute.
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I also came across the following tribute to Fr. Harvey on that same blog which carried the negative comment.  This is a beautiful and fitting tribute to the holy priest who ministered to persons with same-sex attraction with such dedication and charity for the better part of his life.
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Thank you for all your work in promoting disinterested friendship and helping all of those afflicted with homosexuality overcome their deep-seated tendencies. You showed nothing but acceptance with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. You avoided every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard. You helped many to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they be Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. You showed that homosexual persons are called to chastity. You taught that the virtues of self-mastery lead to inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace that they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. - Andy Milam


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Note:  Spirit Daily incorrectly referred to Fr. Harvey as the founder of the group that healed homosexuals - Courage International never makes such claims.
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Link to Fr. Harvey's Memorial.

I've been sitting on this news for days....


My apologies to all who have been praying for Michael R - he came through surgery and is doing well...  I'll let him tell it:
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Hi Terry,

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My surgery went very well on Tuesday and I was basically ready to leave the hospital an hour after I woke up. I had to remain in ICU for a couple days, and then only because I have a bleeding risk(Von Willebrand's Disease), I had to stay in hospital to have blood products infused every morning. I am finished now and released. I am back in my home for a brief nap, and my sister will return and take me to their house to stay for a few days. They did bring my laptop to the hospital yesterday. And I was overwhelmed when I read of all of the prayers that your readers have offered for me. I went to a place that is very special to me, the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in the Cincinnati Cathedral. I said the sorrowful mysteries for you and your readers, knowing that you guys would be praying for me. I hadn't been able to type any response until now because my left hand was hooked up with too many tubes and I couldn't hit the keys properly. I can tell I'm not doing much better right now, but hopefully things will come back to me.  I have a follow-up on January 5.  All of the doctors and nursing staff are always in amazement that I have beaten such long odds in the past. And apparently some must think I am an inspiration. Yesterday they had one lady who came in on the anniversary date of her tumor surgery, and she distributed gifts. It had us in tears. They nabbed the staff of the local university medical community magazine and took photos of me and her. If I get a photo, or print copy I will foward to you. I have been anxious to reconnect to you. If you get a chance please let you readers know that you have heard from me. and I recovered from the surgery very quickly.
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Thanks for all of your prayers and love. I hope to be able to return to some kiind of normal routine shortly, and catch up with you and your pals online sometime soon.
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Kind regards, Michael
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Dear Michael, you are an inspiration - continued prayers for you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My creche for this year.


Merry Christmas!

Posted by Picasa

Spiritual metaphor.


I live yet no true life I know...
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This morning while praying for Fr. Harvey, I found myself reminiscing over the days that led to my meeting with him in NYC at St. Michael's rectory back in the 1980's.  Fr. Harvey had very good insight into the psychology of same sex attraction and the addictive elements frequently associated with the behavior.  I think he was delighted to discover I understood as much as I did.  As I am now, at the time I was very much into John of the Cross, and appreciated the Saint's analogy of Samson to the soul enslaved by sin; his eyes gouged out, blindly grinding at the grist in his bondage.  The allusion John of the Cross makes to Samson relates very well to the Catholic view of addiction.
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That said, I couldn't avoid recalling how deeply difficult the struggle against sin has been at times - just as it is for millions of others of course - I know I'm not so special in that regard.  Samson has remained quite a good metaphor nevertheless.  Today I reflected on how even in his last stance, situated between the two support columns of the temple, mustering all of his strength and with the grace of God, he brought the entire edifice down upon the assembly.   It seemed to me that even in this aspect, Samson's actions can be somewhat analogous to one's personal conversion process.   Sometimes our struggle may become so intense, our unwillingness to compromise so resolute, we bring the whole house down upon ourselves and even those around us - perhaps even our companions and friends...
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Ah - how many times I have done that.  How many times all of my structures and supports have collapsed around me and in the apparent chaos, even upon those closest to me, not excluding myself of course...  and if anyone could have survived, they in turn have fled.  "My friends avoid me like a leper; those closest to me stand afar off."
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Ah...  I die because I do not die.
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(I closed comments for this one because only a few may understand it - and I expect even fewer would receive it well.)

4th Day of Christmas - The Holy Innocents


This is the second feast of martyrdom the Church observes within the Christmas Octave.  In our day, Christians continue to be martyred in the Christmas season...  It helps one understand how vital the liturgy of the Church is to our every day lives, don't you agree?
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I think it is popular now days to compare the first infant martyrs with those unborn infants killed by abortion.  I'm sure the parallel is appropriate, but it seems to  me that since the Holy Innocents were already born and as old as two years, they are very much the patrons of little children who are abused and brutally murdered in so many ways today.  Last night there was a story on the news of a mother's live-in boyfriend who beat her little daughter to death.  Innocents continue to shed their blood today.
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Merry Christmas!
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Random question for the "I Celebrate Christmas" crowd:  Are you still celebrating Christmas?  Still got your tree up?  The lights in the window?  Still sending Christmas greetings?  Still saying, "Merry Christmas"?  For some - still drunk?   LOL!
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Art:  Massacre of the Holy Innocents - Duccio di Buoninsegna

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fr. John Harvey, osfs - Founder of Courage Apostolate - dies.


At 8:33PM a friend sent me the following news:

We just received word from Father John Harvey's niece that he died this morning. He had a fall two days ago, and they took him to the hospital, but he never bounced back. His niece told us that he died very peacefully, and that is family is sure that he is in heaven. Let us all thank God for this wonderful and holy priest who has helped so many. Let us pray for him, and let us ask him to pray for us. - Fr. Knapp
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May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Was Christmas over yesterday?

Christmas season.

I was sitting in the Blessed Virgin's chapel, praying my rosary before Mass yesterday, the first Sunday after Christmas, Feast of the Holy Family, when I heard a jovial usher respond to another man's Merry Christmas greeting with;  "That's all over now - Christmas is over - now it's the New Year!"  (He repeated his catechesis to everyone who came in.)  I recognized the man's voice and was really surprised he was so convinced Christmas was over already - he is a daily Mass goer after all.  Sunday was only the second day of Christmas.

I would never attempt to correct the gentleman, especially since he was so convinced Christmas was over.  One can explain things to religious people over and over, but one is usually unsuccessful in changing their opinion.  I couldn't help being entertained by the irony of it all however.  Throughout Advent we heard the militant demands that secular businesses and newsrooms say "Merry Christmas", while Catholics were told to hold back on the Christmas celebrations until Christmas...  and predictably, the day after Christmas, not a few people think it's over.  (My sister takes her tree down the day after.  I know!)

To be sure marketing and retail proclaim it is over, and since many consumers worship in that temple, I suppose their Christmas is over.  However, if one prays, and especially if one's prayer is based in liturgical prayer, one understands that Christmas is a season traditionally referred to as Christmastide, and the first eight to twelve days are Christmas.  (Albeit with Epiphany transferred to Sunday, the liturgical season appears shortened this year as well.) 

Anyway, religious people who like to wear their religion on buttons and bumper stickers ought to know better.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas: On the Third Day of Christmas...


The vision of St. John the Evangelist. 

December 27 is the feast of the Beloved Disciple.

And the signs of the times: 

“The Church has the right to refuse holy orders to those who do not have the requested attitudes or who, in one way or another, are not in harmony with the teaching it has received from its divine master,” Monsignor Tony Anatrella added, saying that the homosexual tendency was actually a “counterindication to the call to holy orders.” - A Tim Drake quote found on WDTPRS

Don't blame me - I'm just the messenger...
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Although I'm absolutely convinced one must think with the mind of the Church in these matters.





Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas


Feast of the Holy Family.
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Art:  The Holy Family with St. Anne and St. Elizabeth and John the Baptist - by the workshop of Franz Floris, 16th century