Saturday, August 27, 2011

The reforms of Pius XII



Did you know...
.
I think it's mostly only old people who know this, but several reforms that were realized after Vatican II were actually initiated during the the reign of Pope Pius XII.  I was reminded of this after reading a comment elsewhere that Pius XII more or less began the movement towards allowing women to act as altar servers and lectors when he permitted women to participate in church choirs - as the author noted, 'something that was already happening anyway.'
.
Likewise, I distinctly remember that Pius XII permitted women religious to modify their habits to accommodate the demands of modern times.  This meant nursing nuns didn't have to be impeded by over sized bonnets and veils pinned into their coifs, and sleeves catching on things while attending a patient or assisting in an operating room, as well as allowing extern sisters to be able to drive and look both ways at intersections without getting out of the car to do so.  Of course some congregations of women religious took the habit modification thing to extremes, and in the end they may have to account for the harm they caused to the environment by their over dependence upon petroleum products such as polyester, and so on.  [e.g. pantsuits: yards and yards of polyester not to mention all the thread that goes into the top stitching.]
.
The Liturgical Movement
By the 1940s the movement had made an impression on Pope Pius XII, and he explored their work informally. In 1948 he convened the Commission for the Reform of the Liturgy with the intention of using the new scholarship to investigate a reformation of the liturgy. Its first true accomplishment was a reformation of the Holy Week liturgy, which was im­ple­mented in 1955. Contrary to the claims of radical traditionalists, this was not a mere evolutionary development. As Giampietro makes clear, the commission recognized that the Easter vigil as practiced at that time occurred during the daytime on Holy Saturday when many of the faithful had to work. To increase the laity’s ability to attend, the vigil was moved to the evening. The commission also thought that the lighting of the new fire was more symbolic when done in a darkened church at midnight than in a daytime ritual. These were actually restorations of the patristic practices that had been defunct for nearly a millennium. They also restructured the ceremony to make it more accessible and relevant to twentieth-century Catholics and permitted reception of Communion on Good Friday, which until that time had not been permitted.
.
In short, the pre-Vatican II reforms were no mere organic development but a carefully constructed reform that tried to create a relevant modern liturgy and consciously used elements of the Church’s past practices. Giampietro makes clear that serious liturgical reform did not start with Vatican II, but long before it. It is also clear that Pope Pius XII took the Liturgical Movement very seriously and clearly understood that the liturgy of the Catholic Church, as beautiful as it was, needed reformation in certain respects to meet the changing needs and lifestyles of the faithful. So radical traditionalists’ portrayal of Pius XII as a defender of the liturgical status quo is inaccurate. He was much more forward-thinking and open to change, albeit a more deliberate and slow-paced change than what would happen in the decades following his death. - New Oxford Review

It was during reign of Pope Pius XII that seminary reforms took place as well - making the seminary 'less cloistered' as it were.  Pius XII also favored the reform of the curia and the establishment of national bishop's conferences.  Sadly, Traditionalists view these facts with disdain, as one Traditionalist author wrote:  "One could cite numerous other examples, including the ill-fated "updating" of religious orders, to document the unhappy fact that the current Revolution sweeping the Roman Catholic Church today began, in earnest, at the top, with Pope Pius XII."
.
Habemus papum.  Be very grateful we Roman Catholics have a pope, and pray very much for him.
.
Photo source 


Even the dogs...



I love this photo of the fallen soldier's dog.  Story here.

Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors.


Concerning the calumnies and detraction suffered by St. John Vianney...
.
"When verbal insults failed to get him to leave Ars or at least stop his crusade to convert the populace, Vianney's denigrators began to resort to violence. One day a man approached and savagely slapped him in the face. Stung, the Curé took a moment to gain his composure. He then turned to the man, smiled, and said, "My friend, the other cheek is jealous."
.
Most difficult to endure were the calumny and character assassination. Some young men, disappointed that their former dance partners had been converted by the priest, began to spread rumors that the reason behind his emaciation and pallor was because he had a sexually transmitted disease caught through a hidden life of sordid debauchery. As ludicrous as the accusation was, they thought that if they repeated it enough it would eventually stick. They composed beer songs mocking him for these supposed sins, plastered posters around town and even on the rectory door labeling him a pervert, and wrote anonymous letters to the bishop accusing him of almost every degeneracy possible.
.
When a young woman living in a house close to the rectory became pregnant, these young men started the rumor that the pastor himself was the father. His front door was splashed repeatedly with filth and many of the people of the village began to treat him as a guilty hypocrite. His new bishop, having received so many anonymous letters and not knowing the Curé well at the time, felt obliged to send a priest to investigate the charges. The allegations were unsurprisingly determined to be total fabrications.
.
St. John Vianney's response to all of this suffering was to abandon himself into God's hands. He did not care in particular that his own good name was being besmirched — if God didn't need his reputation, who was he to think he did? — but he was sickened by the attacks on the honor of the priesthood. In a weak moment, he considered leaving Ars for the spiritual health of the people who were being scandalized, until he was convinced that by doing so, he would be give plausibility to the notorious rumors.
.
The mayor, who knew him to be innocent, pressed him to make a defense and expose the slanderers. Vianney responded, rather, "We must pray for them." He forgave his accusers and never revealed their names, even though he knew who they were. When one of the calumniators hit hard times, Vianney brought the family money. Eventually, the force of the evidence of his holiness and confidence in God began to bring sanity and truth back to Ars." - Dealing with Detractors, Fr. Roger Landry

+ + +

"... Open your hearts to the light of the Lord, to see if this path which demands courage and authenticity is for you.  Approach the priesthood only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church’s precepts." - Pope Benedict to seminarians at WYD Madrid

Friday, August 26, 2011

A saint is a sinner who keeps trying.



Another brother asked Abba Sisoes, 'I have fallen, Abba; what shall I do?' The old main said to him, 'Get up again.' The brother said, 'I have gotten up again, but again have I fallen.' The old man said, 'Get up again and again.' So the brother asked, 'How many times?' The old man replied, 'Until you are taken up either in virtue or in sin. For a man presents himself to judgment in that state in which he is found.'  - Sayings of the Desert Fathers

+ + +

My God, I’m so persuaded that You watch over all who hope in You and nothing can be lacking to those who await from You all things, that I have determined to live from now on without any concern, letting go and giving You all of my anxieties. I will sleep and rest in peace because You, O Lord, and only You, have secured my hope.

Men can deprive me of possessions and reputation; illnesses can take away my strength and means to serve You; I myself can lose Your grace because of sin; but I will not lose my hope; I will conserve it until the last instant of my life and all the efforts from demons trying to take it away from me will be useless. I will sleep and rest in peace.

May others expect happiness in their richness and talents; some may lean on the innocence of their lives, or the rigor of their penitence, or above all on the amount of their good works, or the fervor of their prayers. As for myself Lord, all my confidence is my confidence itself. Because You Lord, only You have secured my hope.
- Saint Claude de la Colombiere

Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified


Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified died on the 26 of August 1878, which happens to be the feast of the Transverberation of the heart of St. Teresa of Avila, which in turn explains why Blessed Mary's feast day is celebrated on the 25 of August.  Bl. Mary is a wondrous saint - many mystical graces marked her life, reminiscent of the marvelous accounts of the saints as told in The Golden Legend.  Bl. Mary's extraordinary charismata took place in modern times and are well documented by eye witnesses.  I reprint one of her famous prayers here: 

“Holy Spirit, inspire me.
Love of God consume me.
Along the true road, lead me.
Mary, my good mother, look down upon me.
With Jesus, bless me.
From all evil, all illusion, all danger, preserve me.”

- Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, OCD
+
Oh!  And happy anniversary to my dear friends David and Stephanie!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What am I doing here?




How did I get involved?  And why?
.
Yesterday I got another email from a concerned parishioner to a priest who isn't her pastor - somehow I got on her email list.  It was the second such email in a matter of weeks, so I promptly replied asking to be removed from her mailing list.  At one point in her life, the lady was some sort of whistle blower in the pro-life movement.  Evidently today she remains an activist-watchdog member of what I loosely term the Catholic Lay Inquisition, which includes the amateur liturgy police, vice squad, and ghost-buster style exorcists of cathedrals and basilicas.  I noticed on the lady's email list at least one other parish volunteer's name I recognized.  It confirmed for me that these folks are all inter-connected to one another to some degree, in addition to their alliances with many of the more legitimate organizations serving the archdiocese.  These folks are undoubtedly well intentioned, but sometimes the independent actors on the fringe can become a little over-zealous.  Meet the lady who emailed me.
.
I first became acquainted with several of these types after working as a manager in a Catholic bookstore.  Before then I was able to avoid getting involved with most of the 'more Catholic than the pope' types and other Catholic special interest groups - something very difficult to do when one works in a Catholic environment.  This is one reason why I avoid joining groups - call me a snob - but it has nothing to do with imagining myself better or more stable than anyone else.  Much to the contrary - evidence suggests I am all too easily sucked into that mindset and get myself embroiled in issues completely out of my control or responsibility.  The passive effects of a toxic culture.  I cringe at some of the judgements I've made in the past - even before I began the blog.
.
Recently, simply through my involvement in the adoration program at my parish, I've been introduced to a couple of rather eccentric spiritual people, one of whom tells me about his revelations and the evils of the age and how they have infiltrated into the surrounding parishes, and so on.  I have to say I find all of that a complete distraction and a senseless agitation - especially when discussed in sanctuary of the church.  Likewise I found myself on this lady's email list because of other conspiracy theorists I've encountered who have interacted with her.  Small world.  But I digress.
.
Often these types remind me of Paul's Letter to the Thessalonians regarding the idle:
We command you , brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to avoid any brother who wanders from the straight path and does not follow the tradition you received from us.  You know how you ought to imitate us.  we did not live lives of disorder when we were among you, nor depend on anyone for food.  Rather we worked night and day, laboring to the point of exhaustion so as not to impose on any of you.

We hear that some of you are unruly, not keeping busy but acting like busy bodies. -2 Thes 3:6-12
I'm not disparaging those who actually do have church related jobs, or work and volunteer in parishes, join third orders and confraternities,  nor am I making fun of faithful people striving to live a devout life who are perplexed by the troubles afflicting the Church as well as the moral and ethical problems of our age.  I'm just saying I try to stay out of the fray and the infighting that takes place - remembering Lot's wife and all.
.
And yet I blog.  I know!
.
My very wise friend from far, far away is right - I bring it all upon myself.  Yet now you know what I think of that, and perhaps that is excuse enough for why I blog?  Not just to work through stuff - but to find out what I think of it all.   "Writing helps me think."  Pope Benedict actually said that once.   

Online pamphleteers.



Henry Karlson has a very good post on some of the same issues I am wrestling with regarding the blogosphere-ium.  The Bully Pulpit
The internet, therefore, has become a bully pulpit. It is not the first bully pulpit nor will it be the last. During the Reformation, the Church ignored the bully pulpit of its day, the pamphleteers, allowing a voice to be had which was not met with a sufficient answer in return. When the Church recognized the problem it had before them, it was too late, the damage was done, and the hostile forces had carved out a significant portion of Christendom from the Church, using all that was negative and in need of reform to justify theological views which were and are unworthy of the Christian. - Henry Karlson
Self-criticism and review- it's a good thing.

.

BTW:  This blog will come to an end sometime in 2012 as foretold by the Mayan calendar.  Although that could be mitigated...

Thinking about the Holy Father and the Extraordinary Form of Mass...



I'm no expert to be sure, but it seems to me that the Holy Father is just fine with the Ordinary Form of Mass.  It is my understanding that he celebrates the so called Novus Ordo every day.  We know he celebrates all of his public Masses using the Ordinary Form with great reverence and solemnity.  Obviously the Holy Father loves the Mass, which explains in part why he issued the Summorum Pontificum.  Nevertheless, I think it noteworthy that the Holy Father always celebrates Mass according to the Ordinary Form - the Novus Ordo of Paul VI.
.
I don't think it is ever a good idea for anyone to try and think for the Pope, or to put words into his mouth, or to interpret what he is really saying and doing to suit one's agenda.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Light rail transit in Minneapolis...

Negative culture in the blogosphere.

"I am a kind of paranoid in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy." - J. D. Salinger
.
The discussions on this blog and a few others concerning negativity in the com boxes is a very good one I think.  Although I'd hate to see things becoming too polite, resulting in a greater passive aggressive tone, where it takes several days for dunces such as myself to figure out I've been bitch-slapped.  My negative comments here are mainly passive aggressive jabs, with a few spit in your face style jolts thrown in.  After I turned off anonymous comments, I realized I was censoring important pieces of criticism I would otherwise not hear.  Today I was called a snob - that is good - it helped me to hear that.
.
I think some blogs cultivate a negative culture.  I recall a novice in a monastery telling me I sometimes write very passive aggressive posts.  He helped me with that criticism - unfortunately, I don't think I've improved much.  It is always easier to see the speck in another's eye, missing the log in my own - and there lies the struggle.  Stepping out on that limb/log a bit, I also want to point out that the culture we create on our blogs and in our little world, is the barometer of how readers respond.  Hence, on blogs that create a negative culture, negative - even mean spirited commenters - will respond.  The more negative the content, and by negative I mean content that is often mocking, sneering, scoffing, argumentative, suspicious, retaliatory, vengeful, vindictive, triumphalist, elitist, and so on - the more zealous the commenters.  Like generates like - or something like that. 
.
"Your verdict on others will be the verdict passed on you."
.
I may be wrong, but it seems likely that negative commenters frequently take their cues from negative bloggers - especially the authors who present as some sort of authority figure, who indirectly affirm and give permission to advance their crusade to other com boxes.  The same goes for so-called passive aggressive bloggers like myself - I in turn get the passive aggressive critics turning on me, along with the occasional mean-spirited types who take their cues from the former.  I'm not claiming those commenters of mine who respond with passive-aggressive contempt are themselves on any crusade they picked up from me however - I'm not part of any crusade or agenda.  Which may be another disappointment that inspires the ire of others.  Anyhow - I don't know any of this for sure - I'm just speculating again.
.
However, the upshot of all of this is that many of us are so utterly convinced of our own self-righteousness, that we are beginning to imagine ourselves as being constantly persecuted for the faith.  Perhaps a few bloggers are persecuted to some extent for speaking the truth - but I doubt any of us are going to be arrested or shot any time soon.
.
Out to get you...
.
If 'they' are right, then we have to learn how to behave better in a hostile society.  It's hard for me to imagine Christians under Nazi persecution or under Communist rule, gathering in enclaves to mock and scoff triumphantly at their oppressors and opponents, rather than concentrate upon sustaining and deepening their own faith, humbly yet courageously resisting compromise in their moral resolve to persevere and build up the body of Christ - and in charity, disseminate the truth of Catholic teaching.  I have a lot of reforming to do. 
.
Keep in mind, real martyrs are characterized by heroic virtue, especially charity, which moves them to pardon those who persecute them.
.
I'll be at adoration today 'praying for forgiveness'...   The rest of you can go to ______!  
.
What?  Lighten up! - I'm just kidding!
.
Gosh, was that passive aggressive?
.
Am I being passive aggressive now?
.
Holy crap - I just don't know anymore.

* * *
Update:  Wait a minute!  Wait a minute!  Mark Shea tells it better!  I wish I had written it.  Check it out: In Criticism of ______ ___.  It is excellent.

Can't buy me grace...



Pay someone to pray?
.
I guess some Catholics think that may be a good idea - at least that was my understanding after reading about a doctor who hired a couple of people to pray for his patients and his practice.  To each his own, but I wonder if intercessory prayer should be viewed as a commodity to be purchased, a work to be compensated for in this life?  Isn't the foundation of intercessory prayer charity?  As such, isn't such prayer a practical expression of the commanment to love God and our neighbor as ourself?  Just the thought of accepting monetary compensation for prayer strikes me a little strange.  I understand that traditionally, mendicants and questors for religious communities  begged, or asked for donations and promised prayers in return, but I've always considered that to be a charitable exchange.   
.
I know some may feel that by giving a big donation to a monastery or church, they get 'more graces'.  On some level that may be true - depending upon their intention and the love for God by which they make their sacrifice.  The example of the widow's mite in the Gospel comes to mind here.  The poor widow in the Temple gave all she had in the collection box - all she had - yet she neither tallied her gift, nor was she seeking any notice for it.
.
Alms, donations - gifts.
.
It is clear from scripture and Church law that Christians are to contribute to the support of the Church and her ministers.  Likewise, alms-giving is more than a recommendation, not only to help the poor and those who ask, but to lend support to institutions which provide services to the needy and disadvantaged and who perform apostolic work.  Likewise, religious houses, especially those vowed to poverty, are the recipients of alms or gifts donated by generous benefactors, who in turn hope to be included in the prayers and good works of the recipients. 
.
Nonetheless, the religious communities are not 'paid' to pray, neither can the individual religious be considered as being 'paid' for simply being religious.  The support given is not the same thing as the salary provided to professionals and laborers who are actually compensated for their work.  If that were the case, how would it differ from a person paying a medium or a fortune teller for their services?  Or if it came down to asking a woman in church, or a nun at a monastery turn, 'What do you charge for saying a rosary or making a novena?'  One cannot 'buy' grace anymore than one can buy good luck.  In the new age medicine, studies have been done on the efficacy of prayer/meditation as it relates to medicine and healing, and perhaps that is the type of prayer a physician might pay for - but I don't think it can be confused with the practice of prayer in the Roman Catholic sense.  As Catholics we know intercessory prayer is efficacious and of intrinsic value - but it seems to me totally inappropriate that a person would seek payment for performing it.  (Even saying 'performing it' makes it sound like a trick.)
.
Offerings and sacrifice.

When Catholics make offerings it usually signifies a sacrifice, in our culture offerings commonly take the form of monetary donations - a donation is a gift - not a payment.  Such gifts or offerings differ from the stewardship programs developed in most parishes.  Likewise, the offerings or stipends made for Masses and the sacraments are over and above the ordinary contributions one makes to the support of the Church through the Sunday collection and so on.  Such stipends contribute to the support of the priest or deacon administering the sacrament.  Stipends are set by the local ordinary and vary from a minimum established offering to greater amounts depending upon the ability and generosity of the donor.  Nevertheless, it is my understanding that the poor cannot be refused if they are unable to meet the expense of the stipend. 
.
Donations and alms-giving is often attached to the spirit of penance and self denial, contributing to the support of those less fortunate or dependent upon the charity of others for their existence.  The beneficiaries in turn express their gratitude by praying for the benefactors and their intentions, in that way they are incorporated as it were, into their mission, their contemplative vocation of intercessory prayer and penance, as well as in the liturgical prayer of the Church, to which they are bound to offer God.  If I remember correctly, Teresa of Avila wrote some things about monasteries supporting themselves by alms - and to my knowledge, nowhere did she claim such support as just payment for services rendered.
.
"When I was with you..."
.
When the early monks went into the desert, they determined to earn their living by the work of their hands, frequently citing the words of St. Paul from his epistles, where he actually boasts of supporting himself by the work of his hands.  Perhaps if he lived today he could get by rather well by making videos and tapes, writing books, and working the lecture circuit - I wonder?  I'm being facetious of course.  Although getting paid for book deals and speaking engagements is certainly a valid source of income - nothing wrong with that. 
.
We Americans seem to have become accustomed to entitlements and compensation just because we exist.  We place a monetary value on just about everything we do.  I wonder if this attitude hasn't permeated the religious mentality to some degree.  Interestingly, I found another article posted a few years ago, discussing the practice of paying for prayers - which seems to have caught on in the Philippines.  From CBSNews:
For a fee, "prayer ladies" will pray to God and ask him/her/it to grant you the things you would have asked for if you weren't too busy. One of these piety purveyors pointed out how grateful her clients are: "They often come back to thank me, especially if they pass the bar or medical school exam." It's weird enough that people feel it's appropriate to pray for a passing grade on an exam, but these future lawyers and doctors actually have someone else do the praying for them. If they pass their tests, are they going to have someone else plead in court for them? Will they give a few bucks to an old woman to perform surgery for them on days when they're "too busy?"

If there were ever an idea that is guaranteed to catch on in the United States and other Western countries, the "You Pay, We Pray" business is it. - CBSNews

 "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." - John 6:29
.
Prayer is necessary for all Christians, although it isn't a job one seeks compensation (payment) for doing - "the gift you have received, give as a gift" as Christ told his disciples.  When St. Benedict urged his monks to dedicated themselves to the 'work of God' or 'opus Dei' the 'work' did not carry the same meaning as the Benedictine 'ora et labora' - there is a difference in terms.  It seems to me the rule of life based upon the motto, 'prayer and work' - 'ora et labora'  is actually the external expression of the 'opus dei' - 'work of God'.   I'm laboring over this and admittedly I'm no expert - but it sure seems to me something is wrong when one considers his prayer a work that deserves monetary compensation.  The liturgy and liturgical prayer - and all prayer flows from the liturgy - is the work of God, but I don't think it can be understood in the same sense as labor that can be monetized.  But I digress beyond my
abilities here.
* * *
Can. 222 ß1 Christ's faithful have the obligation to provide for the needs of the Church, so that the Church has available to it those things which are necessary for divine worship, for apostolic and charitable work and for the worthy support of its ministers.
ß2 They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the Lord's precept, to help the poor from their own resources.
Of course, it goes without question that the ordained have a right to receive support from the Church and the liberality of the faithful, and I know there are canons to back that up, as well as scripture and tradition.  The priest can and does receive compensation for services rendered - I'm not disputing that at all.  These matters are rightly regulated and overseen by the proper episcopal authorities.  That is not my dispute however.  Rather my concern revolves around the idea that selling prayers and praying for pay can be misconstrued and sound a little too much like buying and selling indulgences.  It seems to me, as Catholics, we must be careful to avoid any hint of simony when asking for donations, alms, and just offerings in return for spiritual services rendered. 

* * *

Can. 281 ß1 Since clerics dedicate themselves to the ecclesiastical ministry, they deserve the remuneration that befits their condition, taking into account both the nature of their office and the conditions of time and place. It is to be such that it provides for the necessities of their life and for the just remuneration of those whose services they need. - Source
.
As I said, I'm no expert, so don't take my word for it - I'm just saying.
.
My apologies for such a long post.

The com-box settled down.



DID it...
.
I think it was just one person making most of the comments.
.
Yay!  Back to being unpopular! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake Along the East Coast!


Bernie and Virgil shaken in Washington.

Try this.



Eyes wide shut.
.
When you are sitting quietly with someone, anyone you care about - even your pet if you like, look at them for a awhile- it's best if they are not looking at you.  Look intently, as if you want to remember them exactly that way.  Take in the surroundings, what they are doing, how they look, how they are dressed; take in the room, the furniture, the accessories, and so on.  Then close your eyes for a second.  Look again - quickly.  Just as quickly, close your eyes again - look again, repeat.  Finally, close your eyes and imagine the scene without the person or the pet - visualize the space as if your eyes are open and you are seeing it without them.  At the same time try to imagine they will not be there when you open your eyes.  Open your eyes.  I think death is a little bit like that.
.
Maybe not.
.
Art: Right click image for information - I'm not sure it's a good site however. 
.
Disclaimer:  Do not attempt this while driving, walking or falling from the sky.  No priests were harmed by this post. 

St. Rose of Lima




Feast day poem for Rose.

I once
knew
a girl
named
Rose.

Monday, August 22, 2011

TV stuff



They used this song as background on Nightline tonite - the spot was about the sexualization of young girls.  Even Madonna is concerned.

I still love this song.

Falling from the sky?



Or ascending?
.
Yesterday I made my afternoon prayer outside in the yard - Sundays are so quiet.  While praying the rosary I laid my head back as far as I could and looked straight up into the clouds and blue sky.  I imagined myself flying, swooping down upon the ocean, since on a bright day, the ocean seen through clouds looks much the same as the sky seen through clouds - then I flew back up, way into the clouds.
.
I like that - I'm often reminded of Betsy Ten Boom in the concentration camp - she did the same thing - she left the misery of the camps like that, and soared above, into the immensity of God. 

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz



I once knew a little bit about this Mexican nun - but I forgot...
.
I didn't really read much more about Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz after I happened across something that suggested that her spirituality was controversial and that she was something of an early academic/feminist, that coupled with the fact she wasn't venerable or beatified or canonized, I decided to mortify my intellectual curiosity in her life and writings and just admire her figure in art.
.
Loving Spanish Colonial art as I do, Sor Juana's portraits intriqued me, since they relate somewhat to a genre of painting which might be termed memorial portraits - images of nuns from wealthy and prestigious families - the portraits of this genre are known as 'crowned nuns'.  I'm not sure this was the case with the Sor Juana portraits however.  Sor Juana is shown (above) uncrowned, but with a rather large escudo de mojas, or relicarios containg a painting depicting her particular patrons and religious title. 
.
As noted, my understanding has been that such portraits were intended for the families to decorate their home in a sort of homage to their daughters who left the world and enclosed themselves in monasteries.  However, historians believe the portraits were done for the monasteries themselves - which strikes me as a rather vain indulgence even for lax houses.  (If I have this wrong, anyone who knows more about the practice is most welcome to correct me.  I don't pretend to be an authority on the subject.)
.

.
However, I tend to relate these customs to many of the details Teresa of Avila discussed concerning the relative decadence/laxity and vanities she encountered at the monastery of the Incarnation at Avila, which contributed to her desire to launch her reform of Carmel.  Perhaps such laxity, and or freedoms, not to mention vanities and concern to retain one's former status even in conventual life, crossed the Atlantic from Spain?  Again - I may be wrong, the elaborate costumes and portraits may simply be  part of the solemnity of religious profession, similar to the practice more traditional orders continue today - dressing as brides, wearing a crown of roses over the veil, and so on.  Obviously I am not a historian, nor have I done a careful study on the curious life of nuns in Spanish Colonial times, or in our own day, so I'm simply speculating from a cursory knowledge of the subject.
.

.
That said, I was pleased to find a beautiful prayer composed by Sor Juana in honor of the Queenship of Our Lady, the feast we celebrate this day.  I took the prayer from the Meditation of the Day for this feast in the August Magnificat.
.
"O Queen of Wisdom, more learned and wise than the queen of Sheba, since you enjoyed the instruction of the true Solomon, from his Majesty acquire for us true wisdom, which is virtue, and the intelligence of heavenly things in order to inflame us with love of you and your Son.  Illumine our souls, most gracious teacher, and liberate us from all error, the deceptions of the devil, and the cunning of his sophistical arguments.  Grant us knowledge of your Son, our Lord, and of your merits, so that we may become truly devoted to you, serving you here on earth as we ought, and hoping through divine mercy and your intercession to enjoy your presence in heaven..."
.
Happy feast day!
.
Art: Top: Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
        Middle: Monja coronada
        Lower: Indigenous crowned Clarissa nun

What can man do to me?



"Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world.”

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More Mass Chat: More things I don't get.



American Imperialism:
 I can not understand how or why the United States Government believes it has the authority to oust the leaders of other sovereign nations?  One by one we are picking off leaders we don't like or want - Saddam Hussein is one debate, but now it is Lybia's Gadhafi, Syria's Assad, who's next? 
.
Comment found at Fr. Z's Litany against Internet Trolls:
  • From my inability to grasp that the Novus Ordo Mass is harmful to souls, deliver me O Lord!
  • From my inability to accept that Vatican II is in discontinuity with Tradition, deliver me O Lord!
  • From my inability to admit that Pope Benedict’s ecumenism goes a bit too far, deliver me O Lord.
The commenter left a smiley face, but is it a joke - or is that what people are being told?  I think it is the latter.

.
The Irish bishop saying 'children of divorce are born losers' - or something like that:
Actually - when I read the whole thing - I understood what the bishop meant - nevertheless, it is the headline statement that will be remembered.  Another like it is the American bishop's statement regarding unrepentant pro-abortion politicians and public dissenters from Catholic teaching; 'treat them like tax collectors'.  Again - reading the entire statement one understands what the bishop is saying - however, the headline is what sticks and is repeated and is promulgated.
Those attitudes correspond to similar attitudes I experienced as a kid in Catholic grade school.  My mother was divorced and remarried to my dad.  I had 2 older siblings.  My parents were drinkers and brawlers and poor.  Some of the nuns, indeed, some of the priests and fellow Catholics, treated us that way - born losers and tax collectors.  I'm not complaining - just stating a fact.  Fortunately Christ welcomed sinners and ate with tax-collectors and born losers.
.
That's all.  I thought I had more but I guess not.
  

Mass Chat: Where the Pope is...


There is the Church.
.
From today's Gospel:  "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." - Matthew 16: 13-20
.
The blogosphere is NOT the Church.  To see the Church, look to what is going on at WYD in Madrid and there you have a very good image of the Church:  Where the Pope is, and the bishops and priests in communion with him are - there are the faithful - and that is the Church.  Where the body is, there the eagles gather.
.
Anyway - that's how see it.