Saturday, April 21, 2018

You know, I love this ...

I love this Archbishop.

I love everything about the Holy Faith.

"Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me." - St. John of the Cross

Friday, April 20, 2018

Former Monk now makes Moonshine: Mayberry Spirits | NC Weekend | UNC-TV

The real McCoy.

If you're curious about what happened to Fr. Bernard McCoy from Our Lady of Springbank ... 

A follow up to 'What happened to Laser Monks?' here.

And Tour of Mayberry.


Ed. Note:  A few years ago I posted about the sudden dissolution of Springbank along with a couple of discussions as to what happened, but I removed most of them simply because they were speculative and bordered on detraction.  It was an amazingly quiet dissolution for a traditional Cistercian abbey with a successful business and having recently relocated to a newly built cloister.  I wish Michael Voris could go down to Mayberry to interview Mr. McCoy.  What's that Granny?


Thursday, April 19, 2018

The 'Papal Posse' and Catholic Vigilantism.

Putting out - or starting fires ... it's a matter of opinion ...
and that's all.

I had what I thought was a really good post on the subject, citing specific commentators and articles, with links and my own commentary, and as I was trying to post a photo, I lost the entire post.

How providential, huh?  A very desert-father-ish experience, I must say.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ordinary prayer ... or common, mystic prayer

The prayer of recollection can become habitual, and like the sheep pastured by the Good Shepherd, the soul "will come in and go out and find pasture" - all the while remaining in his presence, before his watchful gaze. The prayer of recollection becomes the pasture, as it were. As Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection said, "That it was a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times."

It is very simple to accustom ourselves to the prayer of recollection - a habit which prepares us for the habitual prayer of recollection.
As St. Teresa taught: “For this is not a supernatural state, but depends upon our own action and by God’s favor, we can enter it of our own accord” -Way of Perfection

Westboro Catholics object to Pope Francis' consoling words. What they would have said...

Your dad is in hell.

That's not exactly what the feedback online has been - but it's pretty close.  Many Catholics wanted a by the book, strict catechetical-theological answer for the young boy.  The little boy who asked the Pope about the eternal salvation of his father who died an atheist, has riled the enemies of the Holy Father once again.  You see it expressed in com-boxes on social media and in the snarky headlines on at least one Catholic 'news' aggregate.  Avoid those who are always judging and condemning.

"In the light of eternity the soul sees things as they really are." - S. Elizabeth of the Trinity.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pope Francis consoles a boy who asked if his non-believing father is in ...

This was so consoling for me to see and read about.  Just as this little boy, I was worried about a couple of friends who died recently ... and I trust God.

Contemplatives in the streets - S. Benedict Joseph Labre

Sharing the shame.

Today is the feast day of the mendicant/pilgrim saint, Benedict Joseph Labre. It is also Pope Benedict XVI's birthday. St. Benedict Joseph must be a very special patron to the Holy Father - as he is for me.

St. Benedict Joseph Labre was a single layman. God called him to such a life. Some people like to say there is no such thing as a vocation to single life - one is either called to priesthood, religious life, or the married state. The single life is not a vocation of course, it is a state in life. In this state a person is called to work out his or her salvation, to accomplish the will of God - which is our salvation. Hence, one must be prudent when telling others there is no vocation to the single life, lest they discourage them from seeking God according to their state in life - which happens to be the single life.

St. Benedict tried his vocation with the Carthusians and Trappists, although he was subsequently rejected due to a disorder or defect in his temperament. Some believe he may have suffered from a form of mental illness. Whatever the case, the Saint lived a devout life as a layman. Inspired by an interior impulse, Benedict Joseph followed the pattern of life set by St. Alexis, the Roman noble who left his wife on their wedding night and lived the rest of his life as an ascetic - a pilgrim and mendicant.

The Orthodox have saints like Benedict Joseph, the 'fools for Christ'.  They are 'failure saints, who share the lives of ordinary people of the streets, and sometimes those most rejected and shamed by society.  Pope Francis talks about these things and frequently mentions priests who smell of their sheep.  St. Benedict Joseph smelled and had fleas, like a dog.  He is considered a great contemplative saint - but he never had a place to call his hermitage or monastery, and never was clothed in a habit, save for the Cord of St. Francis.

"Let us go to him outside the camp, bearing the insult which he bore.  For here we have no lasting city; we are seeking one which is to come.  Through him let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which acknowledge his name." - Hebrews 13: 13-15

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Friday, April 13, 2018

Rejoice and be glad ...

The cloister of St. Camillus.

Picking it apart.

Not me, but many others seem to be.  Especially the contemplatives online.  Some complain the Holy Father dismisses centuries of monastic-contemplative tradition, objecting that the Pope "demeans the silence of monastic retreat, taking little digs at Cardinal Sarah."  These writers seem to be predisposed to read everything the Pope says as an attack upon tradition.  Albeit the exhortation is prefaced by the following provision:
What follows is not meant to be a treatise on holiness, containing definitions and distinctions helpful for understanding this important subject, or a discussion of the various means of sanctification. My modest goal is to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities. For the Lord has chosen each one of us “to be holy and blameless before him in love” (Eph 1:4). - Guadete
It's an extremely pastoral document not intended to be a profound treatise on prayer and spirituality.  I receive it as a sort of 'little way' of holiness, for ordinary people.  The Pope specifically references ordinary saints, as well as the prayer of the Russian peasant-pilgrim on his way through villages and country, monasteries and cities.  While reading the document I thought of contemplatives who lived among men, ordinary people of the streets such as Madeleine Dubrel, Benedict Joseph Labre, Dorothy Day, and so on.  These holy people and many, many other saints would never feel their prayer life, their spirituality, or their devotion at Mass was threatened or compromised by the Holy Father's exhortation.  My goodness, the Holy Father is esteemed by contemplative monks and nuns in enclosed monastic life - his closest allies, as it were, are the Discalced Carmelites of Argentina.

If a good man reproves me, it is kindness.

The psalm celebrates the joy of being corrected, of being taught, of being reprimanded, yet many Catholics complain that the Holy Father takes 'swipes' at this or that person.  They seem to consider him as a sort of tyrant, or a bitchy, mean-spirited dictator.  They are convinced he's an abusive father.  I have never understood that.  I have to wonder if their spiritual directors and the formation they received was always complimentary, or maybe they see themselves already perfect?  When I get like that I always go back to John of the Cross in the section he writes about the faults of beginners, or Garrigou-Lagrange and his counsels regarding retarded souls.  Something is always wrong when we refuse correction and reprimands.

It is fine to have one's own opinion and to express it - but it is better not to be too attached to it, to become stuck in it.  To try and persuade others with one's personal opinion or bias, especially in an attempt to convince others that the Pope is so dysfunctional that he speaks in code and passive-aggressively disparages those he dislikes strikes me as a a problem a bit like transference neurosis.  People tend to project their bias and fears onto the other.

St. Catherine of Genoa

On silence.

I doubt the Holy Father was taking a swipe at Cardinal Sarah, much less denigrating contemplative monastic silence.  As a Jesuit schooled in the Exercises he surely knows and values silence.  What an astonishing claim that he is promoting the active life over the contemplative.  He is speaking to us about combining the two, the integration of the two - which is precisely why he cites ordinary people, sharing homely anecdotes to illustrate his point.  The intellectuals criticize it as banal, yet what was the hidden life of Jesus of Nazareth?  How very ordinary and mundane was the holy family-community life in Nazareth, which prompted even the disciples to ask, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?"

How do critics miss the point of what the Holy Father is saying?  To whom he is speaking?  He is speaking to you and me.  Ordinary people:
To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. - Guadete

Integrating the spiritual life.

Since silence is so important for the holy ones who teach in seminaries, preside over digital parishes and write spiritual books and blogs, why do they listen to talk radio as they drive to and from the airport, the mall or the office?  Why do they have ipods playing hours of music, or listening to some web-authority's pod-cast on how bad the Novus Ordo is, or how Humanae Vitae is being undermined?  How early do these lay-contemplatives arrive for Mass?  How long do they stay in Thanksgiving after Mass?  How many hours a day do they set aside for prayer and meditation?  Just wondering.

Even in monastic life there is activity.  Yet I believe the Holy Father is speaking directly to ordinary people here.  Lay people, consecrated religious whose work can sap their strength, priests who smell like their sheep, or even the nursing home patient sharing a room with a talkative roommate, who needs the television on for most of the day or night.   Contemplative life is very practical and the Pope recognizes the need for silence and solitude.

29. This does not mean ignoring the need for moments of quiet, solitude and silence before God. Quite the contrary. The presence of constantly new gadgets, the excitement of travel and an endless array of consumer goods at times leave no room for God’s voice to be heard. We are overwhelmed by words, by superficial pleasures and by an increasing din, filled not by joy but rather by the discontent of those whose lives have lost meaning. How can we fail to realize the need to stop this rat race and to recover the personal space needed to carry on a heartfelt dialogue with God? Finding that space may prove painful but it is always fruitful. Sooner or later, we have to face our true selves and let the Lord enter. This may not happen unless “we see ourselves staring into the abyss of a frightful temptation, or have the dizzying sensation of standing on the precipice of utter despair, or find ourselves completely alone and abandoned”.[28] In such situations, we find the deepest motivation for living fully our commitment to our work.
30. The same distractions that are omnipresent in today’s world also make us tend to absolutize our free time, so that we can give ourselves over completely to the devices that provide us with entertainment or ephemeral pleasures.[29] As a result, we come to resent our mission, our commitment grows slack, and our generous and ready spirit of service begins to flag. This denatures our spiritual experience. Can any spiritual fervour be sound when it dwells alongside sloth in evangelization or in service to others?
31. We need a spirit of holiness capable of filling both our solitude and our service, our personal life and our evangelizing efforts, so that every moment can be an expression of self-sacrificing love in the Lord’s eyes. In this way, every minute of our lives can be a step along the path to growth in holiness. - Gaudete
St. Xenia

The hermitage within.

There is a prayer one can practice incessantly - it is the prayer of recollection, the practice of the Presence of God.  Even in the midst of much noise after Mass, one can be silently in communion with God whom they have just received - imitating the silent, loving action of Jesus in the Eucharist.  JPII knew that.  Benedict XVI knew that.  Pope Francis knows that.  It seems to me, Pope Francis is telling us to try it.

Read and listen with an open heart.  Allow yourself to be taught.  The Carmelite Doctors of the Church tell us that.

St. Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero
Smelled of his sheep.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Some new paintings ...

Blessed Miguel Pro
T. Nelson
8" x 10"
Acrylic on canvas.

S. Aloysius Gonzaga
T. Nelson
5" x 7"
Acrylic on board.

Wood Crucifix w/Juniperro Serra medal.
T. Nelson
7" x 5"
Acrylic on wood.

St. Sebastian
T. Nelson
8" x 10"
Acrylic on wood.

T. Nelson
5" x 9.5"
Acrylic on wood.

St. Francis
T. Nelson
5" x 9"

Our Lady of Light
T. Nelson
8" x 11"
Acrylic on wood.
Lapis lazuli and crystal.

I scanned the images and some of the panels have raised ornament which blurs the painted image somewhat.  These are a sample of the collection I've been working on since Christmas.  Nothing is for sale at this time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

And now, for something completely different ... Pope Francis admits he was wrong.

And asks for forgiveness.

The official inquiry into the Chilean Bishop Scandal has concluded and the Holy Father admits he was mistaken in his initial responses.  The Vatican Press Office has posted his letter, which other media outlets are reporting on.  The following is the 'Google translation' of a portion of that letter with a link to the Holy See.
Now, after a slow reading of the minutes of said "special mission", I believe I can affirm that all the testimonies collected in them speak in a stark, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives and I confess that it causes me pain and shame .
Bearing all this in mind, I am writing to you, gathered at the 115th plenary assembly, to humbly request your collaboration and assistance in discerning the short, medium and long term measures to be taken to reestablish ecclesial communion in Chile, with the objective to repair the scandal as much as possible and restore justice. 
I plan to call them to Rome to discuss the conclusions of the aforementioned visit and my conclusions. I have thought of this meeting as a fraternal moment, without prejudices or preconceived ideas, with the sole objective of making the truth shine in our lives. On the date I entrust to the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference to make me reach the possibilities.
As far as I am concerned, I recognize and so I want you to transmit it faithfully, that I have made serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information. From now on I apologize to all those I have offended and I hope to be able to do it personally, in the coming weeks, in the meetings I will have with representatives of the people interviewed. - P. Francis

The secular news report here.

It's all very straightforward.
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28
Prayers for the Holy Father - sharing his shame.  

Jesus the 'fundraiser'? Huh?

St. Lawrence Distributing The Treasures Of The Church 
by Bernardo Strozzi

Seriously, Catholics online are getting nuttier and nuttier ...

If we consider how Jesus started his ministry to proclaim the Kingdom of God, we learn two tips about fundraising. Yes, even Jesus collected funds, and he had a unique approach. [Matthew 23:23, Luke 8:1-3, Luke 10:7]
Before he dove into his mission, which included asking for donations, he did two important first steps that we should replicate. First, he paused to reflect on what he was going to do, and then he checked that his apostles were clear about what the mission was. - Source

This guy has a business, a sort of basic training for successful Catholic fundraising.  It's his job.  Fine - everyone needs to survive.  Jesus was not a 'fundraiser'.  Nor were the disciples.

"The community of believers was of one heart and mind ... "  Acts 4:32-37  It wasn't a business.

As the Holy Father has often said, Churches "cannot be run as a business, with a price list for sacraments. Money is needed for the buildings? Give gratuitousness and God will do the rest” - Read the rest here.

Church people are leaving Facebook for other social media sites, subscription blogs and personal websites - making the announcement to make sure readership and donations continues.  One highly successful blogger-priest has increased his monthly donation app once again to $10.  These businessmen are highly critical of the Pope, the bishops, Vatican II, the Ordinary Form of Mass and so on - and they try to sell readers on their faithful commentary on Catholic teaching.  They are unashamed.  (Which is why I suggest avoiding many in Catholic social media and get your news from approved sources, diocesan news-sites and so on.)

Be careful of fundraising businesses.

I love to repeat how the Missionaries of Charity are adamant about no fundraising.  The Missionaries of Charity never engage in fund-raising. From an interview with Mother Nirmala, M.C.:
Q: What about financial means: food, medicines, material goods?

Sister Nirmala: Absolutely nothing is lacking. God provides-- everywhere in India as well as abroad. You know, that is the promise of God for us. When Mother started the society and Mother was called, she did not start on her own, Jesus called her to start this congregation. He wanted her to be poor and the poorest of the poor. He wanted her to be empty-handed and serve the poorest of the poor free. It is such a paradox, isn't? He said: I will provide. That was Mother did, and that is what we are continuing to do: trusting in God's Providence, serving the poorest of the poor, free. And God does it. His promise is fulfilled every day. All we need to do is to keep being faithful to our commitments, to answer the call of God, everything else follows.

Q: But Sister, what would you tell those people who are so afraid of lacking the "indispensable?
things every day, or those who want to possess more material things?

Sister Nirmala: Trust in the Lord and do your best. Let the kingdom of God in your lives and he will provide everything.

Q: How does the Order cope with all the financial and economical demands?

Sister Nirmala: By trusting in God, and he is providing. We never ask for things. People just come and give. Everywhere they want to carry out fundraising activities, we say: "Please don't
fund-raise; we don't want to use Mother's name. No."
We want people acting on their own. We want their spontaneous collaboration. But if somebody is going around fundraising in Mother's name, we don't accept it. We want to depend on God's providence--only. - Source

Remember, 'there is great gain in religion, provided one is content with a sufficiency.' - 1 Timothy 6:6

St. Lawrence Distributing the Goods of the Church
by Strozzi