“Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor..." - Evangelii Gaudium

Saturday, August 13, 2011

La, La, La ...

Poverty of spirit.



St. Therese and the practice of poverty...
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"She was very attentive to the practice of poverty.  The ordinary poverty of Carmel was not enough for her; she was glad to do without the things we have in Carmel, even the things she needed.  If, for instance, someone forgot to serve her in the refectory, she was quite content and would not draw attention to the fact.  'I'm like the real poor,' she would say,; 'it's not worth making a vow of poverty if you don't have to suffer for it.'  Sometimes a sister might steal an idea or a saying of hers.  She found this quite natural, and said that because of her poverty she had no claim to these any more than she had to anything else." - Testimony of M. Agnes of Jesus, O.C.D. - St. Therese By Those Who Knew Her.
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Has religious poverty changed?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Oversexualizing Theology of the Body.




“When dealing with a subject as fraught with distortions and sensitivities as sexuality there are surely going to be differences between people of good will.” - Dr. Janet Smith

Remember some Catholics thought the Chris West version of TOB was a little too hot to handle?
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Janet didn't - and neither did Rigali - but Bishop Lafitte just might think so...
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The secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family is cautioning Catholics against making an oversexualized interpretation of Blessed John Paul II’s theology of the body--a series of catechetical addresses delivered at Wednesday general audiences between 1979 and 1984.  
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The problem is that if you focus only on sexuality, you cannot develop beyond that level, that such beauty is a gift, something given to mankind by the Creator but within a much broader context. Attraction to the beauty of human sexuality and the human body is normal because it is true and real. What can become a problem, however, would be to regard human sexuality in a kind of mystical way. Pope John Paul II embraced no form of mystic sexuality. What the Blessed Pontiff did in fact say is that sexuality has a mystical perspective and dimension ...
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There is a danger of vulgarizing here a crucial truth of our Faith that needs rather to be contemplated. It requires a silence. Sometimes in reading Blessed John Paul II’s Catecheses, you read only half of a page and then have to stop … you cannot continue … because it provokes within you a kind of loving meditation of what God has made. You enter into the mystery … 
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The problem involves not the formulation, but rather the respect for the mystery with which we are dealing. It is essential to present these teachings with reverence, with meditation, with silence. We’re dealing here with an endeavor in genuine education, not merely a strict transmission of knowledge. - Source
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“We are convinced that John Paul II's Theology of the Body is a treasure for the Church, indeed a gift of the Holy Spirit for our time.  Yet, its scholarly language needs to be 'translated' into more accessible categories if the average person is to benefit from it,” they continued. "To do this is the specific mission of the Theology of the Body Institute, and we believe that Christopher West, the Institute's popular lecturer and spokesman, has been given a particular charism to carry out this mission." - Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Rhoades

Fr. Angelo Mary has a more dignified post on the same here

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ordinary life.




Normal is good.
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Reading Catholic blogs and engaging in discussions at online Catholic forums, not a few people go away scratching their heads thinking - "Wow!  I must be a really bad Catholic!" Or, "I give up - I can't do all of that stuff!"  Some get discouraged - or pissed - and decide to stop trying, or fall for someone's over-zealous version of tradition.  In fact, I think a couple of people I know have even stopped going to Mass because of it. 
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I keep saying on this blog that there are many, many people online who talk a good game, but they are not playing with a full deck, and some don't even play by the rules.  There are others who like to preach but don't practice.  There are many more who seem to expect everyone else to carry the heavy burdens they think the Church demands, without lifting a finger of concession for other's weakness or the stage they happen to be at in their spiritual journey. 

Let me stress this point: it is in the simplicity of your ordinary work, in the monotonous details of each day, that you have to find the secret, which is hidden from so many, of something great and new: Love. Furrow, 489 JoseMaria Escriva

Ordinary, normal life is the basis for sanctity - Christ lived most of his ordinary life in normal circumstances - so unremarkable there wasn't even anything to write about.  The Roman Catholic Church does NOT place heavy demands upon the faithful.  We are simply expected to keep the commandments, including the precepts of the Church: Go to Mass on Sunday, fulfill what used to be called our Easter duty - communion (confession recommended) at least once a year, say our morning and evening prayers, observe the rules of fast and abstinence - there aren't many, support the Church and her mission, love one another, give alms, and so on.  You don't have to know or follow every utterance the Pope makes at a Wednesday audience, or put into practice every ideal he recommends in an interview.  You don't have to believe in or follow what mystics and apparitions tell you to do.  You don't have to wear chapel veils or walk around town staring at the street lest you see some bag of flesh wiggling itself in your face.  You don't have to know or even like Latin.
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If you're married - stay married.  If you're single - stay chaste.  If your right hand causes you to sin, then stop using it for that.  If you like to drink and get drunk - either don't drink so much or don't drink at all.  In other words, use common sense.
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If you aren't attracted to Eucharistic adoration, then pray at home with the scriptures or something.  If you don't go to daily Mass, it's not a sin.  If you have a hard time praying the Rosary, then pray the Angelus or pray the Little Office or some Marian prayer you do find you are able to pray.

Anything done out of love is important, however small it might appear. God has come to us, even though we are miserable creatures, and he has told us that he loves us: “My delight is to be among the sons of men.” Our Lord tells us that everything is valuable — those actions which from a human point of view we regard as extraordinary and those which seem unimportant. Nothing is wasted. No man is worthless to God. All of us are called to share the kingdom of heaven — each with his own vocation: in his home, his work, his civic duties and the exercise of his rights.
Christ Is Passing By, 44, - JoseMaria Escriva

Don't be a crazy fanatic - the Catholic Church is a big place - there are numerous approved devotions and paths to holiness.  Not everyone is called to be a priest or religious or church worker.  The average, normal, ordinary person does not spend endless hours of their time thinking, reading or debating religious stuff; the dos and the don'ts and how-tos the very, very pious always insist upon.  It is sufficient for salvation that the normal person live his life the best he can in fidelity to Church teaching, while trying to earn a living, raise a family, care for aged parents, what have you.  Fidelity to one's state in life is the ordinary path to sanctity.  Don't let anyone tell you you are a bad Catholic if you are just trying to be faithful to your daily duty while accepting and observing the fundamentals of the faith.  Grace builds upon nature, and grace flows, grace upon grace.
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"Let persons in the world sanctify themselves in their own houses, for neither the court, professions, or labour, are any hindrance to the service of God". - St. Philip Neri
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Not everyone follows the same path, not everyone is at the same stage, and many are just beginning to examine or live their faith more generously.  Extremists can spook vulnerable souls - and frequently they just turn them off and these good people end up abandoning the pursuit.
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Let the holy ones and the holier than thou types exalt in their perfection and their blogmas.
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Christ came to call and save sinners...  ordinary people.    

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Deacon St Lawrence



Lay-down comics.
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Today is the feast of St. Laurence of course, and he is often regarded as something of a comedian, although levity is more a vice than a virtue, a good sense of humor is admirable.  Larry proves that with his choice post of what St. Lawrence might have said - I used one of his quips for my post today.  Larry is very clever.
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Saints who were Deacons.
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I love the saints who were deacons - it doesn't appear they were transitional deacons on their way to priesthood either.  St. Francis was a deacon and he never aspired to priesthood.  The order of deacon is a holy order - as those saints who were simply deacons attest.  St. Victor, St. Ephraim, and the proto-martyr, St. Stephen are all good examples.
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Today our permanent deacons are generally married, and in my experience, the deacons and their wives are virtuous, devout, well formed faithful Catholic couples whose ministry to the Church is very much needed.  There have been those who insist that married deacons and their wives should observe continence after the husband is ordained - they argue this point from canon law - but the Church doesn't impose such a restriction upon them, and I do not see why it should.  As a married couple they seem to me to set the example of good family life balanced with faithful, generous ministry.
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Elsewhere, I've read headlines that some believe deacons should not preach as often as they do.  Nevertheless, they are permitted to preach.  Again, in my experience they do a better job of preaching than most transitional deacons do.
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I admit I don't know all the ins and outs about being a deacon, but I hope the permanent diaconate  continues to blossom and bear rich fruit, as it so obviously did in the early days of the Church. 
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Prayers today for deacons and their wives and families.  My parish has a particularly good deacon, we are blessed to have he and his wife in our midst.  

Just a Comment on the Global Conflagration...



I foresee...

So if Medjugorje is to be believed, and the so-called secrets supposedly spell out all the bad stuff that will go down - don't you think someone maybe should have warned us that all this was going to happen?  And yet, to this day, no secrets have ever been revealed.
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I know.  We can figure these things out on our own... no need for locutions and visions to know we are headed for trouble.
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BTW - Nothing else to blog about.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

What a dump!



This really is the home of crack pot bloggers. 
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(Not any of you reading this of course.)

What's going on in London?



Global revolution?
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Remember the riots in Greece?  Now the riots in the UK.
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The Famine in Somalia.
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Hints of racial unrest in Philadelphia and Milwaukee.
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Prayer and fasting is needed.

The Jewess


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"In aridity and emptiness the soul becomes humble. Former pride disappears when a man no longer finds in himself anything that might cause him to look down on others." - St. Edith Stein, Science of the Cross
Today is the memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD, a Catholic Jew.  She died with her people, executed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942.
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"For I could wish that I myself was accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh." - Romans 9:1-5

How very dare you...



So what's so bad about asking questions regarding the status of a conservative priest who happens to be something of a public personality on his own right?  On the other hand, why is it perfectly fine to ask questions, criticize, and even condemn liberal priests and bishops?  Both categories of men are ordained - the "anointed of the Lord" - so why the double standard?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Everything you always wanted to know about Fr. Z but didn't know who to ask?



Ask Father.
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Apparently, someone is digging for dirt on Fr. Z - a woman, Phyllis Zagano*, who writes for the National Catholic Reporter.  Father helps her out by posting an overview of his status, he titles it Priests 101 - it answers just about every question regarding him anyone ever wanted to know - or needs to know.
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Everything he reveals adds up - so his enemies are clearly wasting their time. 
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Prayers for Fr. Zuhlsdorf - he really is a good, faithful priest who works generously for the Church and the salvation of souls.
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*Who is Phyllis Zagano?

The Present Moment.



The presence of God.
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Yesterday I caught myself saying, "I can't believe how fast the summer has gone by!"  I explained that I had spent so much time and effort getting things ready for new windows to be installed in my house that it seemed as if I missed the entire month of July.  Later I reminded myself that my prep work had been my summer - only I missed it because I had been anticipating last week's installation - I was worried that it wouldn't go well, or that another big expense might have arisen if the workmen found rot in the walls, or something like that.  Nothing of the sort happened, and much of my prep work was over-kill. 
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Worry about what could have happened, I neglected to experience what was happening in the present moment.  Likewise, this week I'm anticipating a doctor's visit and tests.  Gratefully I am able to not worry about it, and to set aside any concerns as they arise, and focus upon the present - sufficient for the day is the evil thereof - as the scripture says.  Yet the temptation to step outside the present moment seems to be always there.
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I used to pray a lot of novenas, asking for special favors, or to prepare for a particular feast day.  Novenas are good and part of Catholic tradition, however I don't 'make' as many as I used to, and when I do, I don't really ask for much except spiritual graces for myself or others.  Over the years I understood that sometimes my intentions were perhaps restricting God to conform to my will, rather than me surrendering myself to his will. 
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Ironically, I think the monthly novena - nine days of prayer to honor the infancy and holy childhood of Jesus, taught me something in that regard.  That first and foremost we must live in the present moment and that we must pray according to the will of God - at least I understood that is what I needed to do.  I've grown to understand and accept that the will of God is to be found in the present moment.  Thus, for me at least, a novena is not so much anticipating the end of it, nor even the special day one is preparing for, nor is it the particular grace one anticipates, rather its efficacy is in the process as it were - that is, the present moment of the mystery we anticipate.  At times, novenas seemed to me to be a way of marking time, as one marks off days on a calendar, looking forward to the end, and often, some kind of reward.
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I suppose in a sense, that is the Christian life, since as we are told by, I think it is St. Peter, to "look forward to the Day of the Lord and try to hasten it."  While elsewhere scripture also tells us that we are pilgrims and strangers in this life and that we are to look forward to the world to come, our homeland.  So in light of these admonitions how does one do that and remain grounded in the present moment?
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I don't know.
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I just know that it is important to live in the present moment - that is where life happens - it is where we experience God's presence, it is where we find ourselves enfolded in his holy will, his divine providence.

The feast of St. Dominic


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Even Peter faltered.



"Sometimes it happens that despite their best efforts, some souls remain imperfect because it would be to their spiritual detriment to believe they are virtuous or to have others agree that they are." - My Sister, St. Therese

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"You must never believe when you do not practice virtue that it is due to some natural cause such as illness, time, or grief. You must draw a great lesson in humility from it and take your place among the little souls, since you are able to practice virtue only in such a feeble manner. What is necessary for you now is not to practice heroic virtues but to acquire humility. For that, your victories must of necessity always be mixed with failures, so that you cannot take any pleasure in thinking of them." - Celine, Sister and Witness to St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
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Art:  St. Peter Walking on Water, Lluis Borrassa, 1411-13