"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Tracing a lost icon ....

Apparition of the Mother of God
The panel illustrates two parts of the secret, 
the vision of hell and the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 
The background vignettes portray two of the preparatory 
apparitions of the angel which took place 
before the actual apparition of Our Lady on May 13, 1917.

Where is it now?

At top is the icon I did of the Apparition of the Mother of God at Fatima for Fr. Frederick Miller who had been the Director of the Blue Army in New Jersey at the time (1991). It was commissioned by Fr. Miller at that time.  I republish it now since a person inquired if I have any prints available, which I do not, since the Shrine in New Jersey did the original photography for their magazine Soul. I have no idea if the icon remains at the shrine in New Jersey. So much has happened there since Fr. Miller left.

Today after receiving the email I tracked down a comment another person left me about the original work.  To save time I'll post his comment and my reply below:

Were you aware that an iconographer by the name of Patricia Delehanty Moran copied your icon
and claims she painted it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?
This copy was presented to the Russian Orthodox Church during a controversial pilgrimage to Russia in 1992.
I learned of this from a video posted on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLNBEW3kpZs
If you skip to minute 11:35, you'll see a woman by the name of Rosalie Turton holding this copy and describing how it was painted.
There is also a book about this pilgrimage which includes a photo of the icon
(go to page 113):
Prints of this icon are even for sale from 101 Foundation: http://www.101foundation.com/catalog/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=474
I didn't know until now how to bring this to your attention, but I thought you should know considering someone else is being credited as being the original painter of the icon and that prints of it are for sale. - Gustavo
My reply at the time:
Many thanks for letting me know this Gustavo. I have the original magazine cover from World Apostolate of Fatima with the icon I did for the shrine in New jersey on the cover, as well as my narrative contained in that issue. It was commissioned by them for the shrine.
That said - icons are painted after some sort of prototype - so in a way they are all copies of an original. This lady must have seen the one I painted, or had a print of it, and then painted her version which would be different due to her particular style and experience. 
It doesn't matter to me as long as the authentic message of Fatima is communicated and if devotion is enkindled in the hearts of the faithful. 
I have an icon of Matt Talbot floating around somewhere which people have published and distributed and even used as relic cards - I have nothing to do with that stuff.
I also have Carmelite icons and others used in books and as book covers, all without attribution - I'm fine with that. 
I consider the Gospel, "The gift you have received, give as a gift." So I try to do that.
Thanks my friend for alerting me to this - it's fine with me though. - Terry
To help find an answer for today's inquiry, I searched online, checking out the links Gustavo sent me. I was surprised to find 2 sites selling the images - one site sells the copied image, another site sells the original image I did and used the exact same photo I posted on my blog here - under Creative Commons License.  

I'm sincere about not looking for royalties or payment, I'm also sincere that icons are copied from prototypes, but to make claims that something is original to the painter/icon-writer if you will is bogus in this case.  The woman who copied the original work claimed originality by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Her work has been reproduced, as seen in the John Haffert pdf book on the pilgrimage to Russia, here.  God rest his soul, but Haffert had some odd tag-a-longs on that trip, Vassula and Gallagher just to name two of them, so I'm not surprised someone claimed the Holy Spirit inspired her to copy the original icon given to the World Apostolate in 1991.

I'd love to find out what happened to the one Fr. Miller commissioned?

Below are the images now for sale by other entities.

Catholicus Fluminensis
The copy brought to Russia
Video here,
prints for sale here

It's fairly easy to figure out how 'miraculous' stories and histories get circulated by pious people, isn't it.

(I almost think my original was cut down - removing the hollowed-out 'frame' and then over painted.  Pretty much just the figures faces - esp. Our Lady and the Trinity - the faces are 'sweeter' and more naive. Of course the Trinity had to be 'lowered' since it overlapped the frame - which is not uncommon in icons.  Otherwise, the background is nearly identical.  I'd love to know what 'they' did to it.)

I love the Holy Father.

Fernando Botero

Rigidity – which wrecks one’s interior life and even psychic balance – goes hand-in-glove with worldliness: 
“About rigidity and worldliness, it was some time ago that an elderly monsignor of the curia came to me, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus – and he told me that he had gone to buy a couple of shirts at Euroclero [the clerical clothing store] and saw a young fellow - he thinks he had not more than 25 years, or a young priest or about to become a priest - before the mirror, with a cape, large, wide, velvet, with a silver chain. He then took the Saturno [wide-brimmed clerical headgear], he put it on and looked himself over. A rigid and worldly one. And that priest – he is wise, that monsignor, very wise - was able to overcome the pain, with a line of healthy humor and added: ‘And it is said that the Church does not allow women priests!’. Thus, does the work that the priest does when he becomes a functionary ends in the ridiculous, always.” - Pope Francis

Today's homily actually reminds me of a very good priest I know - he's very important in the Church now - although he never wanted to be.  He once said something to me about a very rigid priest, that though it may sound uncharitable, he hoped this young priest would experience a fall, so that he could learn humility.  A few years later he did fall - not into sin - but something happened, causing him to resign his position.  He's still a priest, but inactive.  My friend became a bishop.

Duck and cover.

Juanito, Juan Dieguito!

St. Juan Diego

Our Lady called to him: "Juanito!  Juan Dieguito!"

Speaking to him in Nahuatl, his native language, she said to him, "Juanito, my son, where are you going?"—"Noble Lady, my Queen, I am going to the Mass in Mexico City to hear the divine things that the priest teaches us there."—"I want you to know for certain, my dear son, that I am the perfect and always Virgin MARY, Mother of the True God from Whom all life comes, the Lord of all things, Creator of Heaven and Earth. I greatly desire that a church be built in my honor, in which I will show my love, compassion, and protection. I am your Mother full of mercy and love for you and all those who love Me, trust in Me, and have recourse to Me. I will hear their complaints and I will comfort their affliction and their sufferings. So that I might show all My love, go now to the bishop in Mexico City and tell him that I am sending you to make known to him the great desire I have to see a church dedicated to me built here." - More here.

At one point in their conversations, Juan Diego called her "Nina" and "Muchachita mia" - it's so intimate and humble!

Le dijo: —"Escucha, hijo mío el menor, Juanito. ¿A dónde te diriges?"
Y él le contestó: —"Mi Señora, Reina, Muchachita mía, allá llegaré, a tu casita de México Tlatelolco, a seguir las cosas de Dios que nos dan, que nos enseñan quienes son las imágenes de Nuestro Señor: nuestros Sacerdotes". - Source

Will Our Lady, Our Mother, the Refuge of Sinners ever abandon us or stop praying for us?  I think not.
Listen, put it into your heart, most little of my sons:
Let nothing frighten or grieve you,
let not your heart be disturbed,
do not fear any sickness or anguish.
Am I not here, who am your Mother?
Are you not under my protection?
Am I not your health?
Are you not happily within the folds of my mantle?
Do you need anything more?
Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.

St. Juan Diego, pray for us! 

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Trad Christmas Gift Ideas: For your Pastor, Church Militant staff, or home-school-detention students.

Sack cloth Hair Shirt , stitched and hemmed around the edges to stop fraying and loops for the Cincture cord and Rosary

A traditional sack-cloth hairshirt with belt and metal buckle

Regular Price: $100.00

Special Price $69.00

Hemp and Manilla rope discipline with seven tails

One for each of the deadly sins

Traditional lightweight Rope discipline

Traditional style discipline with Capuchin knots

I like the Capuchin one. I also like the sack-cloth hair shirts.  Something tells me they aren't available in fleece or Big and Tall sizes.

I know some people who have been looking for such things.  I had no idea they were available to purchase.  Check it out here

Instruments of penance are still used by devout people, guided by a confessor or spiritual director of course.  Some religious orders continue to use the discipline as well as hairshirts, it is said Pope St. John Paul used a hairshirt, and members of Opus Dei may do so as well.  I do not want to mock such pious practices.  I believe ordinary people have many opportunities for penance in the performance of the duties  of their state in life, hence the use of these extraordinary instruments of penance would be for them an unnecessary burden and temptation to pride, as well as making daily life more difficult than it already is.  Signs of that would be a lack of patience, charity, and compassion for the faults of others.

Here's one penance any one can do:

As John of the Cross said, 
"Controlling the tongue is better than fasting on bread and water."

Snowflakes in Minneapolis

Christmas Gift Ideas: Talking Doll Records Kid's Conversations

The talking doll “My Friend Cayla” is doing way more than just entertaining children — it’s also recording their conversations. - Story here.  I bet they got the idea from Seinfeld.

My Friend Estelle.

George and Susan and My Friend Estelle.

Mr Costanza didn't like it.

My mother would have bought something like this.  She was deaf in one ear and couldn't always hear what we were saying - under our breath.  She listened in on our phone conversations, read anything we wrote - I used to keep a journal which she found hidden in the basement.  She went through our pockets, our drawers and searched under our mattresses and so on.  My dad didn't like it either.  She was a very suspicious woman.  Although it was fun to get her going sometimes ... she could be very dramatic - it was like living in a soap opera.

I heard that!

No homos in the priesthood ... Toldja. Pope Francis is faithful.

Vocation screening.
Fr. Rector:  Now we come to the word association test:
When I say scantily clad, what do you think of?
Candidate:  Towels. Wet towels.
Fr. Rector:  Next!

New document on priestly formation: The Gift of the Priestly Vocation

I actually skimmed through it last night.  I think it's good, but what do I know?  I think Pope Francis loves his priesthood, THE priesthood, and his priests and seminarians ... yet some seem to think otherwise.

Anyway - Crux has a report, and it should make the Francis critics who claim he swept open the closet doors and welcomes gay priests, reconsider their exaggerated claims.

Just like the previous document was approved by Benedict XVI, the one released this week was approved by Pope Francis. However, in neither case were the documents signed by the pontiff, but by the heads of the Vatican department behind it.
In this case, that means Italian Cardinal Benamino Stella, prefect of the congregation, Archbishop Joel Mercier, Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patron Wong, and Monsignor Antonio Neri.
The document says when it comes to gay men who want to enter the seminary, or discover they have “homosexual tendencies” during the formation years, the Church, “while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”
It also says that the Church can’t overlook the “negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”
The document, again, taking much of its content from the one issued in 2005, makes an exception for the cases in which the “homosexual tendencies” are only “the expression of a transitory problem - for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded.
In any case, however, the norms indicate that such tendencies have to be overcome at least three years before the ordination to the diaconate. - Crux

Works for me.

It will be interesting to see reactions to this - especially now days when some Catholic schools and teachers pretty much affirm lgbtq values and identity.  In secular culture this is already considered a civil right.  My point is that kids now growing up will have this mindset, they will have been indoctrinated into accepting homosexuality as a normal variant, or equal to heterosexuality.  I'm not using the PC terminology, but you know what I'm saying.

We must begin a new investigation. 

As one online priest might say, 'no snowflakes - the priesthood is no place for snowflakes.'

So.  The following may seem 'off-topic', but I think it fits in with the 'ain't no place for snowflakes' attitude.
Complaining and griping, about others and about things in one’s own life, is harmful “because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.” - Pope Francis
Good advice.  Perhaps even much kinder than the following maxim from St. John of the Cross:
"He who complains isn't even a good Christian." 
What?  I didn't say anything.

Yet complaining and feeling victimized has been seen, more or less, as a 'gay' trait.  A couple of excerpts from older posts on this subject may help the reader understand my point, as well as the problems associated with ordaining gay men.

"...an especially common view of self (for the homosexual) is that of the wronged, rejected, 'poor me'. Homosexuals are therefore easily insulted; they 'collect injustice', as psychiatrist Berger has so well put it, and are liable to see themselves as victims. This explains the overt self-dramatization of the militants, who adroitly exploit their neurosis to gain public support. Attached to self-pity, they are inner (or manifest) complainers, often chronic complainers. Self pity and protest are not far apart. A certain inner (or overt) rebelliousness and hostility to others who do them wrong and to 'society' and a determinate cynicism, are typical of many homosexuals." - The Battle For Normality

Why are so many attracted to priesthood?

"Why are so many Protestant and Catholic homosexuals, male and female alike, interested in theology, and why do they not infrequently want to be ministers or priests? Part of the answer lies in their infantile need for sympathy and contact. They view church professions as soft and sentimentally caring and imagined themselves in them as being honored and revered, elevated above common human beings. They see the Church as a noncompetitive, friendly world where they may enjoy high status and be protected at the same time. For male homosexuals, there is the additional incentive of a rather closed men's community where they need not prove themselves as men."
"These interests stem for the most part then from an infantile, self centered imagination and have precious little to do with the objective contents of Christian belief. What some homosexuals see as their calling to the priesthood is an attraction to an emotionally rewarding, though self-centered way of life. These are self imagined or 'false' vocations. Needles to say these ministers and priests are inclined to preach a soft, humanistic reinvention of traditional beliefs, especially of moral principals, and a distorted concept of 'love'. Moreover, they tend to create a homosexual subculture within their churches. There they undoubtedly pose a suitable threat for the orthodoxy and undermine church unity by their habit of forming subversive coteries that do not feel responsible to the official church community (the reader may recall the homosexual complex of 'not belonging'.) Otherwise, they lack the balance and strength of character necessary for giving fatherly advice." - Battle For Normalcy

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Who is the Immaculate Conception?

Mystical Vision of the Immaculata
with St. John and Ven. Mary of Agreda

Glorious things are said of you, O City of God.
Who is the Immaculate? Who can understand that perfectly? Mary, the Mother of God, Immaculate, or rather the “Immaculate Conception” itself, as she deigned to call herself at Lourdes. 
We know what “mother” means. But we cannot grasp with our minds and our limited brains what “Mother of God” means. Only God comprehends perfectly what the “Immaculate” means. 
One can understand a little what “immaculately conceived” means. But the “Immaculate Conception” is full of consoling mysteries. If the Immaculate permits, we will establish a Marian Academy where we will study, teach and publish for the whole world who the Immaculate is. It may be an Academy with a doctorate in Mariology. This field is not much known, yet it is so necessary for practical living, and for converting and sanctifying souls… 
We belong to her, to the Immaculate. We are hers without limits, most perfectly hers; we are, as it were, herself. Through our mediation she loves the good God. With our poor heart she loves her divine Son. We become the mediators through whom the Immaculate loves Jesus. And Jesus, considering us her property and, as it were, a part of his beloved Mother, loves her in us and through us. What a lovely mystery!
We have heard of persons who are obsessed, possessed by the devil, through whom the devil thought, spoke, and acted. We want to be possessed in this way, and even more, without limits, by her: may she herself think, speak, and act through us. We want to belong to such an extent to the Immaculate that not only nothing else remains in us that isn’t hers, but that we become, as it were, annihilated in her, changed into her, transubstantiated into her, that she alone remains, so that we may be as much hers as she is God’s. She belongs to God, having become his Mother. And we want to become the mother who would give the life of the Immaculate to every heart that exists and to those who will still come into existence. That is the M.I.—to bring her into every heart, to give her life to every heart. Thus entering these hearts and taking full possession of them, she may give birth to sweet Jesus, who is God, that he might grow in them in age and perfection. What a magnificent mission! True?… Divinizing man to the God-Man through the Mother of the God-Man. - St. Maximilian Kolbe

Let us disappear in her! 
May she alone remain, 
and we in her, a part of her.
- S. Maxmillian


I am the mother of fair love, 
and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. 
In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, 
in me is all hope of life and of virtue. 
Come over to me, all you that desire me, 
and be filled with my fruits. - Sirach 24

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The 'repentance' of Judas ... wait until that one is picked up by the Blogisterium ...

Sátira del suicidio romántico - Leonardo Alenza

The Pope of surprises.

I was wondering what the Pope would have to say about Today's Gospel - I wasn't disappointed.

Speaking of the lost sheep Francis explained that it did not get lost because it didn’t have a compass but because it "had a sick heart" and was running away “to be distant from the Lord and was satiating an inner darkness”.
And pointing out that the Lord knows these things and never neglects to go out and look for the lost sheep, the Pope said the Lord’s attitude towards Judas is so symbolic:
“Judas is the most perfect lost sheep in the Gospel: a man with a bitter heart, someone who always had something to criticize in others, he was always ‘detached’. He did not know the sweetness that comes of living without second ends with others. He was an unsatisfied man!” he said.
The Pope said that because of the darkness in his heart Judas was separated from the herd. He said – more in general - that darkness can lead to living a double life: “a double life that, perhaps painfully, many Christians, even priests and bishops lead...”
Pointing out that Judas himself was one of the first bishops, the Pope recalled a beautiful sermon given by Father Mazzolari in which he described Judas as a lost sheep: “Brother Judas, he said, what was happening in your heart?” Francis said we need to understand lost sheep: each and every one of us has something in us of the lost sheep. - Vatican Radio
According to the narrative from Vatican Radio,  the reporter interpreted what the Pope said explaining, or suggesting the 'repentance of Judas' ... it's an interesting consideration.
The Repentance of Judas
The Pope went on to explain that is not so much a mistake but a disease of the heart that makes a sheep wander and he said it is something the devil exploits.
Just as it was with Judas whose heart was ‘divided’. And finally when Judas saw what harm his double life had wreaked in the community, when he saw the evil he had sown because of the darkness in his heart that caused him to run away, looking for a light that was not the light of the Lord, but artificial lights like Christmas decorations, he was thrown into despair:
The Pope said that the Bible tells us that “the Lord is good, he never stops looking for the lost sheep” and it tells us that when Judas hanged himself he had repented.
“I believe that the Lord will take that word [repentance] and bring it with Him” he said. And it tells us that right until the end God’s love was working in that soul.

He said that this is the message, the good news that Christmas brings asking us to rejoice with a sincerity that brings with it a change of heart that leads us to take comfort in the Lord, and not in other ‘escapist’ consolations. - Vatican Radio

Many times I think that when the Holy Father discusses priests and bishops, and a double life, he is speaking from personal experience, of men he knew, likewise, I'm convinced he has in mind the scandals of the last couple decades, involving bishops and priests.  I do not think the Holy Father bashes his priests.  When the fine points of what he says are dissected, and examined for 'orthodoxy', the message gets lost.  I read what he says like a child, I think.  Though it may be over my head, I just don't see his precautions as a general condemnation or mean-spirited criticism.

The meditation on Judas is provocative - and considerable.  Especially when despair is a frequent temptation in the lives of many - surely not the righteous - but those whose lives have fallen apart, those who wandered away, who separated themselves from others and are bitter and critical and therefore separate themselves from the 'fold'.  Sometimes this separation can be to such an extent, they can see no way to return, to be reconciled ...

That said, what the Holy Father suggests reminds me of what St. Paul wrote, "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love."  I don't know about anyone else, but when the he speaks like this, he moves me to an even deeper repentance - and confidence and love - trusting in God's merciful love.
“May the Lord give us the grace to sincerely recognize our sins as we await Christmas, as we wait for the power of God who comes to console us." - Pope Francis

The suicides ...

The Holy Father's consideration on Judas, reminds me of the Fr. Ryan Erickson story - a Wisconsin priest who killed two innocent men, who were most likely initiating an investigation upon him for sexual abuse of adolescent boys.  The two men most likely knew about his sexual attraction to young boys and one of them may have confronted him.  Ryan shot them - later, under investigation, he hanged himself.  The case is closed now.  I did an ex-voto style painting in his memory, and I'll reprint an excerpt from that narrative - it might help in understanding what the Holy Father said.

What kind of priest was he?
The man was a good priest. Perhaps a bit doctrinaire, dogmatic and therefore rigid in his pastoral approach however. He loved being a priest. He loved the cassock, wore it everywhere, and in the winter, he wore a cloak with golden frogs clasping it. He loved traditional trappings: The hats and beanies and cape-lets and elaborate baroque vestments and man-lace. He was orthodox in his spirituality, deeply devoted to Our Lady, and scrupulously faithful to the Roman rite - he was a Novus Ordo priest to be sure, yet totally traditional. Father also happened to be an impassioned homilist as well as moralist. I suspect he would have loved Savonarola. None of that is bad or wrong of course, although his zeal tended to alienate many - he came on pretty strong.
When I first met him, he was wearing his winter cape, I thought he was kind of a fruitcake. After I got to know him, I still held that opinion, although I could see he was sincere and wanted to be a holy priest, and eventually I found him rather like-able. He had a good sense of humor, but there was something there that told me he craved affirmation, respect, and deep down, he just wanted to be liked. Human respect was very important to him - despite the fact he had so many critics among his congregation. Could it be that human respect became motive enough to murder someone who might have exposed his secret life, revelations which would ruin his orthodox facade? Maybe. Father also loved guns and hunting, and he tended to be rather militant when it came to heretics and liberals - but was he capable of murder? Personally, I think he could have been found guilty on all counts - but not necessarily damned.

The ghost.

As I finished adding the details to the painting, I considered adding some things to suggest his sexuality near the rosary in the snow, as if they had fallen from his pockets. Just as I began to paint the items in I felt a hand grasp my shoulder, as if to hold me back from proceeding. A chill ran down my back and I sensed an interior warning to stop. I turned quickly to see if anyone was behind me, but I was completely alone.
The next day at work I told a co-worker what had happened. This man had great respect for the priest and could hardly believe the accusations against him, much less his suicide. In fact, not a day or two after his death, my friend's mother had a dream of a priest coming towards her in church with a message for her son, "Tell him I'm okay." It turns out my friend's mother had never met the priest nor had she heard of his suicide at that point - but when she described him, her description fit that of Fr. Erickson.
I no longer know what to think regarding the case, but I will continue to pray for the priest and the murder victims just the same. - Let the dead bury their dead

The suicide of Ryan Erickson

In Thanksgiving for the Patronage and Protection of St. Nicholas

O champion wonderworker and splendid servant of Christ, 
thou who pourest out for all the world 
the most precious myrrh of mercy 
and who art an inexhaustible sea of miracles, 
we praise thee with love, Saint Nicholas. 
Since thou art one having boldness toward the Lord, 
from all dangers do thou deliver us, 
so that we may cry unto thee:
Rejoice, Saint Nicholas, Great Wonderworker.
Truly, Father Nicholas, a song should be sung unto thee from Heaven, and not from earth. How can mere men proclaim the greatness of thy holiness? Wholly conquered by thy love, we cry unto thee:
Rejoice, model of lambs and shepherds.
Rejoice, holy purification of mortals.
Rejoice, container of great virtues.
Rejoice, pure and honourable abode of holiness.
Rejoice, all-luminous lamp, beloved by all.
Rejoice, light golden-rayed and blameless.
Rejoice, worthy converser with angels.
Rejoice, good guide of men.
Rejoice, treasury of spiritual fortunes.
Rejoice, seeker of those in need.
Rejoice, through thee we are delivered from bodily passions.
Rejoice, through thee we are filled with spiritual delights.
Rejoice, Saint Nicholas, Great Wonderworker. - Akathist to S. Nicholas

Happy feast day to all.

Thank you dear St. Nicholas for your great mercy and kindness and unceasing protection! Thank you for the joy amidst sorrow, the light in the darkest night!  

Monday, December 05, 2016

Life is like a Bergman film ...

”I often visited churches with my father. In a church in Uppland, 
somewhere on the nave vaults, 
is a work by Albertus Pictor, the famous ecclesiastical painter. 
The painting depicts Death playing chess with a knight. ”
 - Ingmar Bergman


I was thinking of that this morning.

Gathered around the deathbed
 of a family...
 broken by cries
and whispers.

Are you prepared?


After a stumble.
  After the fall.
Winter light
  so dark.

When the map you have leads you to doubt ...

The silence.

When no counsel leads to comfort...
  when they forage in a land
    they know not ...

No more useless information ...

"What ought I to do?" I thought. "Where shall I find someone to explain it to me?"

"Listening to sermons failed to give me what I wanted, and having had my fill of
them without gaining understanding, I gave up going to hear public sermons. I settled
on another plan—by God's help to look for that teaching about unceasing prayer which drew me so urgently. For a long time I wandered through many places. I read my Bible always, and everywhere I asked whether there was not in the neighborhood a spiritual teacher, a devout and experienced guide, to be found." - The Pilgrim continues his way.

And your eyes turn towards the window pane
To the lights upon the hill
The distance seems so strange to you now...

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Rave in Oakland

Prayers for the victims and survivors - prayers for those who lost loved ones ... prayers.  

I'm so sorry.

Guess who died today .... Jacques Duèze


On December 4, 1334 Pope John XXII died.

I know!  How very providential and funny you should bring that up, and stuff.

But I can't say anything about it.  You know ....

Except Pope John XXII - the longest living Avignon Pope who had his own issues with the Franciscans BTW, and was corrected from serious error by cardinals and theologians who were dubious about his orthodoxy.  He kept silent for awhile, but then retracted.

Another factoid - he confirmed the rule of the Carmelites in Europe.

I might mention those Franciscans he had problems with were the extreme penitent, we love absolute poverty, types.  (L'épineuse question des franciscains.)  John XXII didn't like that.  You know, total poverty and barefoot stuff.  He didn't think it was necessary.  In fact one of the heretics was declared pope - an anti-Pope of course.  He was a member of the Franciscan group condemned, the Fraticelli, and he was named Nicholas V.  There was a schism going on and everything.  Nicholas was deposed and run out of Rome after three months.

"So anyway," asked my Valley girl neighbor, "if like the Pope errs in one thing, like how do we know if he's right about whatever, then?"

I could answer that but I won't.  You know ... just because.

John XXII died a Pope in good standing at the age of 85.

All the people under his reign probably died without knowing what was going on.

The moral of the story is they all died and found out what happens immediately after death... like right away.

"Pope John XXII (1316-34) confirms the decisions of previous Popes, 
shown above him among the angels with bulls in their hands, 
recognizing the Carmelites as an approved religious order." - NLM

This gives me hope ...

“Where do you look for your life? Forward or behind? May the Lord grant you the grace to leave things behind, even those which you consider precious in this life, and may he allow you to look ahead, where Christ is waiting for you, for a glorious meeting that will open the gates of eternity.” - Gus Encina, pilot on the flight carrying the Brazilian Soccer team.  More here.
Gus was the father of three children.  He carried along an image of the Child Jesus as a remembrance of the baptism of his youngest child.

The Holidays are the time to give and share ...

Okay then.  Gotta go out and shovel snow.

December 4 and Advent

Today is the feast of St. Barbara, which reminds me it's my mother's birthday.  She's been dead since 1982.  If Gregorian Masses are efficacious, and I see no reason why they shouldn't be, I'm sure she is in heaven.  I still pray for her of course, but her birthday always brings back memories - not always good.  Evidently it does for my sister as well, since she called me last night in a nostalgic mood.  I didn't answer - but I'll call her back at some point.

I try to escape memories - but it doesn't always work.  I pretend I'm fine - but I'm not.  That may explain my 'critical spirit'.  I hate it when that happens.  I always say the wrong thing and things get worse.  I wish I could disappear sometimes - but that doesn't work.

St. Barbara, Virgin Martyr:

Since early times St. Barbara is invoked as the patroness against lightning and explosions, and is called upon by those who desire the Sacraments of the dying in their last illness, and many are the instances of the efficacy of her intercession.

St. Barbara, at my last end
Obtain for me the Sacrament;
Assist me in that direst need
When I and my God and Judge must meet:
That robed in sanctifying grace
My soul may stand before His face.

I ask that grace for myself and my family.  Barbara definitely arranged that for my mom, my dad, and my brother.  I hope and pray she does the same for the rest of my family.

It's pretty much all I ask for as well.

St. Barbara brought communion to St. Stanislaus when he was very ill and unable to receive ... I've always liked that story.
"Kneel down, kneel down!" Stanislaus said, in a clear but low voice. "Two angels of God are bringing the Blessed Sacrament, and with them comes Saint Barbara!" 
Then, worn out though he was by his long sickness, Stanislaus raised himself, knelt on the bed, and struck his breast as he three times repeated: 
"Lord, I am not worthy!" 
Then he raised his face, and opening his lips received his sacramental Lord. Bilinski looked on with awe and almost terror, unable to say a word. Stanislaus, when he had received the Blessed Sacrament, lay down again in bed and began his thanksgiving. - Source

Isn't that charming?  Stanislaus was only sixteen at the time.  Our Lady later appeared to him and directed him to the Jesuits, and he died shortly after, he was only eighteen.

St. Stanislaus Kostka, S.J.

Stanislaus and Barbara were sanctified by their sufferings,
through which they bore witness to Christ.
I'm grateful for the difficulties I've had in life,
I regret that I squandered them and sought 
my consolation in selfish satisfactions
and seeking the approval of men.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Worried about the end of Catholic marriage?

I didn't even bother reading that.

It's a great hook for my post though.

I also came across another piece proclaiming, "I changed my mind about Pope Francis" and I think that one could be subtitled, 'and not in a good way.'  So.  What.

I've heard of people going into the wilderness to escape the chastisement or to pray and do penance for the apostasy.  Nothing wrong with that of course.  Prayer is good.  If they are really truly praying and avoiding the constant breaking news reports on every little bit of gossip and detraction which comes out, they just might experience God's presence in the midst of chaos.  The alarmists seem to think that by calling out every possible error and ambiguity, one is somehow going to save innumerable souls in danger of being lost because they will now no longer have to get married to go to communion.  They are wasting their time.  Of course I'm being facetious in the way I stated that, but you get my point.

Truly, if you quiet down and turn off all the drama, you'll experience such a peace that 'all will be well'.  If you really pray - not mouth words, not spin off intentions, but just shut up and pray, you will find that peace... an interior peace and joy that no one can take from you.  Even as you don't understand, even while all is collapsing around you ... so long as you do not turn back to look at those people and their concerns which are perishing, you will encounter Christ in your soul.

Really listen to the prayer of the Church these days.

Don't trivialize the prayer, 'Stir up your power' ... it is the prayer of the Church, praying God's protection that 'we might find rescue - from the pressing dangers of our sins' ...  Our sins.  Not their sins, 'our' sins.  If we are worried about many things and many issues and many sayings and claims online, we neglect our own souls.  Especially when these concerns are beyond our domain, or responsibility.  What is even worse, is that we neglect God's presence, in our soul, in the Church and in the world.  We miss what he is doing in our midst.  We stop to look and we freeze into a pillar of salt - like Lot's wife.

If you really pray, quiet your soul and seek God alone, you will certainly understand - no matter your state ...

From Today's first reading:

You shall have nothing to be ashamed of ...
you shall see the work of God's hands in your midst ...
Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding,
and those who find fault shall receive instruction. - Isaiah 29:24

'We should not be concerned about such matters at all. It is true that I would be of your opinion and act perhaps in the same way had I any responsibility in the matter. But I have no obligation whatsoever. Moreover, our only duty is to become united to God. Even if we were members of those communities which are being publicly criticized for their defections, we would be greatly at fault in becoming disquieted on that account.'" - "My Sister, St. Therese" - Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face

Don't listen to me though - I'm just as much in need of understanding and correction as the next guy - perhaps the only difference is that I have confidence in God who is at work in our midst, even now.  When Christ walked the earth, many people ignored him then as well.  Those who recognized him found peace... they acquired understanding, they stopped find fault with others.

Today's Gospel.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Defending Trump ...

Tom Ford blowing bubbles with Richard, 1986

From the 'liberals'?

Does he need anyone to defend him?  He's sort of like Pope Francis - he doesn't need anyone to defend him from his critics, or so I'm told about Francis.  So what is with those who supported Trump rallying to his defense over stupid comments made by a fashion designer?

Tom Ford, along with a few other fashion designers, said he wouldn't dress Melania Trump - she doesn't fit his image.  The new First Lady can dress herself, and has been doing so all along.  The statement by Ford was in response to an interview question posed to several other designers.  Ford has made rather direct comments about his clientele, reportedly telling potential customers they were 'too fat' for his clothes.  Suggesting Melania didn't fit his image may have been a polite way of saying something less cordial - so he maybe was being nice.  (He's a recovered alcoholic and said he's much nicer now that he quit drinking.)

On Facebook I came across a quote from Gerard Nadal, not sure who he is, but he took offense to Ford's remark, and in his defense against 'liberals', he stated:  "What they consistently fail to see is that the poor and lower middle class do not want Donald Trump and his family to live as they do. Quite the opposite. They wish to live as Trump does."

I hope not.  

From what I've read from the so-called 'Rust-belt' out of work people simply want their jobs back - they want to earn a living and raise a family.  I never heard anyone say they wanted to live like Trump - unless they were contestants on American Idol or were out of work actresses looking for a billionaire.

The fashion designer statements are business as usual in a superficial, consumer, ego-driven culture.  Tom Ford is promoting his films and his clothing line.  Others would jump at the chance to have their label on Mrs. Trump's clothes. The discussion of this issue is pretty much vain and foolish and superficial compared to the reality of the working and non-working poor.  It is snob talk - just like the industry these people work in.  It's ad copy for them.

As for the poor and working class desiring to live as the Trumps do, that's not what this is about, and if it is for some, it's misguided and patronizing - and perhaps equally elitist. The Trump lifestyle is no more enviable than the fashionistas and their Hollywood counterparts.  Do you really want to be Miranda Priestly?

If you voted for Trump, if you like him, that's just fine.  We should in fact support our President, but you don't have to like him, much less defend his lifestyle.  There's nothing wrong with being rich and famous, if that is what you aspire to, fine - but the unemployed, the working poor and ordinary people are pretty much content with a sufficiency.  They want a home, an income, food on the table, healthcare, education, and family stability.  I don't believe ordinary people envy the rich and famous any more than I believed Imelda Marcos, who once defended her extravagant wardrobe saying, "Never dress down for the poor, they won't respect you for it."

Tom Ford being nice.

What a relief! Monsignor Pinto didn't say it.

So now they are saying that Msgr. Pinto did NOT say that the Pope could remove the Four Cardinals from the College.  Instead under a different Pope perhaps that might happen. HERE

So.  On second thought, ladies and gentlemen, do follow the locutionists and seers and just avoid the Breaking News Flashes and Acton Alerts from Catholic blogs and news aggregators.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Good advice ...

I found it on Spirit Daily actually.

It's goes along with the stuff I often write about - especially as it concerns Catholic soothsayers, mystics, locutionists, and prophets.
The renowned mystical theologian Father Augustin Poulain, in his classic, The Graces of Interior Prayer, said: 
"When a seer wishes to be believed on his bare word, we can generally get rid of him by saying: 'You assure me that God speaks by your mouth. I have no right to believe you unless you prove it. What sign do you bring?' In his ingenuousness he had not expected this question, and retires abashed." 
Beware, said Poulain, of a seer who tells you that Heaven has mentioned or chosen you (as a spiritual director, in the case of a priest). 
When a seer has had prophecies that did not materialize, this is most certainly a warning signal. The person who mouths a false prediction or posits dates is what Scripture calls "presumptuous." Nor are we to become overly attracted and attached to alleged mystics (and hostile to those who differ). Fanaticism, cult, and rancor are bad fruits for certain (as opposed to heartsease, patience, and joy). 
Imagination? "When people strongly desire a thing, the imagination makes them fancy they see or hear it, just as when one's mind is set on a subject all day, one dreams of it at night," said Teresa of Avila. The evil, she says, is not usually in the vision so much as in the person. 
At the same time (here comes that balance again -- or is it a tightrope?): there are those too disposed toward skepticism and even caustic disregard due to a mechanistic mindset nurtured strongly by the current educational culture. 
If we are humble, said Saint Teresa, a vision, whatever the source, will do us no harm. "The good or the evil is not in the vision," she said, "but in him to whom it is given, and who does not profit by it in humility." - Read the rest here.

When the seer gets mad because you don't believe him, or when he claims as proof that he is right by reminded his critics of what he was right about in the past ... I think that's a fairly certain sign he's self-promoting as well.

St. Nicholas is on his way ....

S. Nicholas Icon Pendant/Ornament
$19- available here.

I didn't make this, and I am not selling it - I'm just suggesting a great gift for St. Nicholas Day.  We should all celebrate St. Nicholas and turn to him in prayer  he is a Wonder-worker and great patron of children and the unfortunate.  

We need him now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Immaculate Conception ... Days of preparation.

The novena begins.

The Immaculate Conception is the Patroness of the United States.  Our Lady of Guadalupe is Empress of the Americas.  They are the same Person.  The Church conveyed these titles.

I like to enter into this novena without any specific intention or request - if that makes sense.  For me it is similar to Pentecost - the nine days of prayer become days of preparation.  The Immaculata encompasses and fills our souls, as it were.  She, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit fills our soul, I think.  She forms our soul.  She unites our soul to Christ most chastely and devoutly, somehow.  I don't know how to express myself on the subject ... but I'm convinced these days of preparation inform those who seek her.

That said, it occurred to me that when Our Lady appeared at Rue du Bac, she indicated we should indeed ask for favors and graces.  There were jewels of light on her fingers, as well as jewels which radiated no light, and St. Catherine asked Our Lady about them.  Our Lady said they signified the graces people do not ask for.  God is glorified when we ask for favors and graces, and the Blessed Virgin is too - she delights in obtaining and pouring out grace upon grace - especially for our sanctification.

So now I will ask for grace upon grace every day in preparation for this glorious feast.

I like to use prayers such as these ...

Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, 
fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary,you alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world. - Little Office
Thou art all fair O Mary
and the original stain is not in thee,
O Mary!
O Mary, by thy holy and Immaculate Conception
make my body pure and my spirit holy.

HAIL, Virgin, most wise!
Hail, DEITY’S shrine!
with seven fair pillars,
and table divine!

Preserved from the guilt
which hath come upon us all!
Exempt, in the womb,
from the taint of the fall!

O new Star of Jacob,
of angels the Queen!
O Gate of the saints!
O Mother of men!

To Zabulon fearful
as the embattled array!
Be thou of the faithful
the refuge and stay.

The Dean of the Roman Rota Archbishop Pio Vito Pinto warned that the Four Cardinals could be stripped of their cardinalate!


I wonder if they get to keep the clothes?

I saw the story on Badger's blog.  It's from EWTN UK - which seems to be more candid with this type of story than the US EWTN World Over Live entertainment news, with Raymundo Arroyo.  Here's an excerpt of the UK piece.  From the Dean of the Roman Rota:
Archbishop Pio Vito Pinto, Dean of the Roman Rota, told a conference in Spain that Cardinal Burke and the three cardinals who submitted the dubia to Pope Francis "could lose their Cardinalate" for causing "grave scandal" by making the dubia public. The Dean of the Roman Rota went on to accuse Cardinals Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner of questioning the Holy Spirit. Archbishop Pio Vito Pinto made his astounding accusations during a conference to religious in Spain.
Archbishop Pio Vito's indictment against the four cardinals, and other people who question Pope Francis and Amoris Laetitia, was that they not only questioned one synod of bishops on marriage and the family, but two synods, about which, "The action of the Holy Spirit can not be doubted." - Read more here.
Quite honestly, I am scandalized, I just don't know who to blame.

Shirley not the Pope.

Part of my resistance to these stories has to do with the fact I don't want the crackpots online to be right.  They keep writing these stories, laying charges upon charges.  It's one thing to read eccentrics like Ann Barnhardt and her Canadian Kickers polka-band followers, but it's a bit more disturbing as qualified writers express doubts and concerns and even harshly criticize the Pope.

The stories are disturbing and distracting and worst of all, it harms the spirit of devotion and prayer.  I'm serious about that, even though I make fun of the stories as a sort of release, I suppose.  No one really knows how the Pope will respond and what will happen - hence the speculation is indeed vain - and in not a few cases, gravely presumptuous.  That is where the scandal is.

I just do not want the pearl-clutching crackpots to be right.  It's like the Charlie Johnston Steppers - I'm hoping Charlie is wrong about the election just because I do not like all this trust people place in locutions and so-called mystics - it seems contrary to the virtue of faith.  I'm hoping all the fringe is wrong about all their fears and survivalist plans - this too seems contrary to faith in some respects.  Prudence is one thing, but self-sufficiency can lead to presumption.  Most especially, I hope all the anti-Vatican II big 'T' Traditionalists are wrong - because that means the Church is wrong - and that is protestant and contradicts the promises of Christ.

I love the papacy - it is in part why I am Catholic.  I like all the popes since the Council - including Francis.  If people need more clarity, I hope he will provide it.  In the meantime, his enemies are indeed searching for stories to condemn him.  One site has a story that JPII was warned about Bergoglio as being unstable and unreliable.  Others are claiming Francis' election was illegitimate - orchestrated by a group of anti-Benedict cardinals who lobbied for Bergoglio.  That is gossip as well as detraction, if not calumny, it serves no purpose but to discredit and foment mistrust.  It's evil.

In some really strange way, it just maybe all about clothes ... after Francis was elected and he refused the traditional vestments, specifically the ermine-trimmed red velvet mozzetta, allegedly saying, 'Carnival is over.'  The extraordinary dressers were very much disturbed.  And now, Cardinal Burke may be ordered to turn in his 'flair'.  Kidding - kinda.

+ + +

Bonus:  And now, for your edification, a new video from Fr. Pavone ...