Friday, December 29, 2006
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Jeff was in Assisi because he loved St. Francis and was spiritually seeking after acting in "Godspell". He was very humble - he told me he was in "Godspell" but I hadn't realized he had a starring role in it. We became friends in that short time. We went to the Carceri together, I stayed for a few days, when I returned, he was gone.
Tonight, as I was looking for a good looking character to post for my profile photo, I came upon Jeff. I was so sad to learn he had died. I know we all die, but it's stunning to find out, no matter when. I'm absolutely stunned.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
"The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.
It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.
He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved.
'I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?' said Scrooge.
The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with its hand.
'You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us,' Scrooge pursued. 'Is that so, Spirit?'
The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an instant in its folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its head. That was the only answer he received.
Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit pauses a moment, as observing his condition, and giving him time to recover.
But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black.
'Ghost of the Future!' he exclaimed, 'I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?'
It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them.
'Lead on!' said Scrooge. 'Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!'" - Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrification of a hearth had never known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages,
mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state upon this couch, there sat Holly Golightly, glorious to see, who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike a long cigarette holder, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door.
'Come in!' exclaimed the Ghost. 'Come in! and know me better, man.'"
Which it certainly was. Admiration was the universal sentiment, though some objected that the reply to 'Is it a bear?' ought to have been 'Yes;' inasmuch as an answer in the negative was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts from Mr Scrooge, supposing they had ever had any tendency that way.
'He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure,' said Keevin, 'and it would be ungrateful not to drink his health. Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our hand at the moment; and I say,"Uncle Scrooge!" '
'Well. Uncle Scrooge!' they cried.
'A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man, whatever he is.' said Scrooge's friend Keevin. 'He wouldn't take it from me, but may he have it, nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge!'
Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart, that he would have pledged the unconscious company in return, and thanked them in an inaudible speech, if the Ghost had given him time. But the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by his nephew; and he and the Spirit were again upon their travels."
Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him." - Dickens, "A Christmas Carol"
'The hour itself,' said Scrooge triumphantly, 'and nothing else!'
He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now did
with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy One. Light flashed up in the room upon the instant, and the curtains of his bed were drawn.
The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to which his face was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow"
'Your lip is trembling,' said the Ghost. 'And what is that upon your cheek?'
Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice, that it was a pimple; and begged the Ghost to lead him where she would.
'You recollect the way?' inquired the Spirit.
'Remember it!' he cried with fervour; ' I could walk it blindfold.'
'Strange to have forgotten it for so many years!' observed the Ghost. 'Let us go on.' "
'I told you these were shadows of the things that have been,' said the Ghost. 'That they are what they are, do not blame me!'
'Remove me!' Scrooge exclaimed, 'I cannot bear it!'
He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon him with a face, in which in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him, wrestled with it.
'Leave me! Take me back! Haunt me no longer!'"
Friday, December 15, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
A Carmelite story for the feast of St. John of the Cross.
Pope Pius XII with the statue of Our Lady of Arabia.
Who knew the statue is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, copied from the image on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel?
Crazy thoughts here - I always return the apparitions at Fatima...try to follow me. The apparitions seem to me to have a great deal to do with our times, times of conflict with Islam - in other words, it's not just an event in the past. Fatima was the name of Mohamed's daughter. In the last apparition at Fatima Our Lady appeared as Mt. Carmel. And Our Lady of Arabia is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
Okay - so I'm getting like Michael Brown. I don't know - it could mean something. Here is a close-up photo of the Virgin, along with the story:
"To represent Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Arabia, Fr. Stella wanted to have a special Statue made in her honour. He decided to use a replica of the Statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, venerated in her basilica on Mount Carmel - the birthplace of the entire Carmelite Order. An Italian firm in Rome, "Rosa and Zanzio Ditta" was requisitioned to make the replica, carved out of a solid block of cedar from Lebanon.
It was not long before the supreme sanction was granted. The Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, himself gave a grand lead to this devotion to Our Lady of Arabia, and on 17th December 1949, on the eve of the Great Jubilee Year, in the Vatican Palace, he personally blessed the new Statue of Our Lady of Arabia, and consented to be photographed in prayer before it.
The Statue was received in Kuwait and formally enthroned on 6th January 1950, amidst triumphal rejoicing at her Shrine in Ahmadi. It is with great nostalgia that the first parishioners might recall the sunny, Friday afternoon, the Statue was transported in a jubilant procession from the Shuwaikh Port to reside in the 'mini' Chapel, and to be venerated as Patroness and Protector of the Oilman." - Our Lady of Arabia
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Commemorating the miraculous translation - by angels - of the Holy Family's house in Nazareth, this feast honors the transfer, first to Croatia and then to the hilltop of what is now known as Loreto, Italy.
Since a little boy, I have never had the least problem with this story. In fact, I went to live as a pilgrim in Italy, in imitation of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, with the intent of visiting Loreto, where I stayed for a while.
I stood praying within the Holy House, which is enclosed within the basilica, ornamented by marble architecture, as a sort of tabernacle or aedicule. I stood at the back of the interior, in a corner, so as not to be disturbed by pilgrims. I would only step out to pray Our Lady's office from time to time, seated on a bench outside the House, since the light was easier to read by. My experience there, convinced me the Holy House is authentic. (I also thought it would be a beautiful place for newlyweds to honeymoon - not the House, but the beautiful hill town of Loreto.)
My friends, Alberto Marvelli (pictured), and Pina Suriano were beatified there by John Paul II shortly before he died.
It was there I prayed most especially for my family. Years later, my brother Skip died on this day, a personal tragedy far worse than the loss of my parents.
It was the year when the feast of the Immaculate Conception was observed on the 9th of December. I stayed by his bedside, hoping Our Lady would come for him on the 8th. On the 9th, the observance of the solemnity, I asked Skip, who was in a coma, "When is Our Lady coming?"
He lifted his head from his pillow and opening his eyes, looking directly at me, responded clearly like a little boy, "I don't know?" Then he fell back into his coma.
Skip had had a vision of Our Lady several years before his death. She just suddenly appeared as Our Lady of Grace - for a few seconds - it was just a glimpse. He began to pray again, wondering what it meant. I always believed it was Our Lady, that was why I asked him when she was coming for him as he lay in that coma.
Towards the end, he struggled with alcoholism and depression. His marriage had failed in divorce, and he was haunted by his own sense of failure - something our parents predicted for us, as a sort of curse. Skip had already been in and out of treatment. Being the little brother, I tried to help him, but couldn't. He got mad at me when I would send black-humor greeting cards, or serious notes - intervention style - to try and coerce him into going back into treatment. He finally asked me to stay out of his life.
So that's my Loreto story - Our Lady finally came to get my brother on this feast. It's pretty sappy, but "Wind Beneath My Wings" always makes me think of him, especially the lines, "Did you ever know that you were my hero? You're everything I wished I could be?" He never knew that. Sometimes brothers compete, and fight, and hide their true feelings. If he was still alive, I doubt I'd let him know how I truly felt - now that he is dead, it's okay - he can't turn on me any longer.
Here is a brief history on the Holy House.
"According to Catholic tradition, the Holy House came under threat during the turmoil of the Crusades, so in 1291, angels miraculously translated the house from its original location to a site in modern-day Croatia. An empty space was left in Nazareth, while a small house suddenly appeared in a field. The bewildered parish priest, brought to the scene by shepherds who discovered it, had a vision in which the Virgin Mary revealed it was her former house.
On December 10, 1294, the house was again moved by angels because of the Muslim invasion of Albania. It landed first in Recanti, Italy, but was shortly thereafter moved for a third time to its present location in Loreto.
The Holy House of Loreto, or Santa Casa di Loreto in Italian, has been venerated by pilgrims great and small, including many popes and saints, and numerous miracles and healings have been reported. Scientists are said to have confirmed the materials to be the same as those found in Nazareth and the house lacks any foundations."
Saturday, December 09, 2006
We had a real saint this year. Deacon Tom Stiles from the Church of St. Columba in St. Paul played St. Nick. (He is a big guy - yet so gentle and kind, and almost shy - he looked exactly like Bishop Campbell - another nice bishop. It was funny, many customers really thought it was Bishop Campbell.) Being a Deacon, he was able to bless the religious articles people purchased. We had a stipend for him - which he refused - although was forced to take - insisting he will give it to our Franciscan brothers! And then, when he left he thanked me for letting him do this. (Another tear! It really, really was St. Nick who was with us!)
So parents! DO NOT lie to your kids! There really is a Santa - he is St. Nicholaus of Myra! Santa not only brings gifts, but obtains many, many graces - pouring out charity into our hearts! When he was in the Store he hugged a little girl and told her how important she is! And she hugged him! She was a chubby little black girl, and she really experienced the love of this big white Bishop - and she hugged him back, thrilled to be so close to him. I don't think she will ever forget such an affirming gesture. I wish I would have hugged him too! (A tear!)
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
"I am Changin'!" - Another Jennifer Holiday song.
Pictured, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, transgender nun of the Episcopal Church - someplace in the U.S.
Gerald of The Cafeteria Is Closed has a post on an Anglican priest who became a woman priest. What is so interesting in the post isn't the novelty of the transition, but what the Catholic Church has to say about such things. In short, they do not recognize sex change.
From Closed Cafeteria:
"After years of study, the Vatican's doctrinal congregation has sent church leaders a confidential document concluding that "sex-change" procedures do not change a person's gender in the eyes of the church.
Pictured, the British priest who is the subject of Gerald's post. I apologize that I think it's funny to see a man dressed as a woman. I realize such people have serious issues and I ought to be more compassionate.
Consequently, the document instructs bishops never to alter the sex listed in parish baptismal records and says Catholics who have undergone "sex-change" procedures are not eligible to marry, be ordained to the priesthood or enter religious life, according to a source familiar with the text....
"The key point is that the (transsexual) surgical operation is so superficial and external that it does not change the personality. If the person was male, he remains male. If she was female, she remains female," said the source.
"The altered condition of a member of the faithful under civil law does not change one's canonical condition, which is male or female as determined at the moment of birth," Bishop Gregory wrote.
The Vatican text defines transsexualism as a psychic disorder of those whose genetic makeup and physical characteristics are unambiguously of one sex but who feel that they belong to the opposite sex. In some cases, the urge is so strong that the person undergoes a "sex-change" operation to acquire the opposite sex's external sexual organs. The new organs have no reproductive function." - Closed Cafeteria - "Sex Change and Clergy"
Not at all related -Pictured, Minneapolis' embattled lesbian Fire Chief - she's not a sex change, believe it or not.
What is interesting to me is that there has actually been a policy in place for Bishops to deal with this sort of thing. While it is somewhat well known locally that a Bishop, now the head of a large Archdiocese in the mid-west permitted a transgender person to become a nun in Wisconsin a few years back.
When members of the faithful discovered this, they wrote to the Vatican and got the transgender nun removed. No penalties were imposed upon the Bishop however, nor was any explanation forthcoming as to why he permitted this.
I expect there is a pastoral loophole for just about everything though. Bishops can make mistakes too.
[Interesting side note, looking for transgender photos I came across a German do it yourself nip and tuck procedure - the site is called "Tucking" - view it at your own risk - contains clinical nudity, and don't go there if you have problems with chastity - I don't want mean comments. It is so not titillating however - no pun intended.]
Monday, December 04, 2006
It seems as if the SSPX may be more sinister than imagined - if it is true. One ought not to fool around with the Byzantine rite, which has equal status with the Roman rite - then and now. This is a point of contention the separated Orthodox have misgivings about, that Rome could impose Vatican II type "renewal" in their liturgies as has been done in the Roman rite - if they ever consent to union, that is. Of course, the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholics are in union with Rome, and autonomous as far as liturgical rites, nevertheless, the insurgence of SSPX and the Traditional Roman rite poses some serious problems.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Ist Vespers In St. Peters
It reads like a review of an opera or a play. Critical analysis, checking out who was there and what they wore, etc. (That's what I don't like about St. Agnes sometimes. I often think many people are there just for the music and the liturgical costumes.)
(Sorry, still no ability to upload photos.)
Friday, December 01, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Coat of arms that is.
That would be Pope Benedict XVI of course and he is getting ready to visit Turkey.
A fine priest said I shouldn't even discuss such things as the possibility of as@%*^nation. Yet there is that novel written about it, and lots of protest in Turkey over his impending visit, as well as 'unprecedented security' - as they always say - covering the visit. In the land of intrigue known for cloak and dagger politics, populated by radical Islamics, I'm not comfortable with this visit. Today the Holy Father asked for our prayers to accompany him on his pilgrimage of reconciliation. He has mine.
I like his coat of arms. (I like bears.) Who is the Moor however?
He is the Moor of Freising:
"The Moor's head is an heraldic charge associated with Freising, Germany. The origins of the Moor's head or caput ethiopicum in Freising is not entirely known. Typically facing left it appeared on the coat of arms of the old principality of Freising as early as 1316. Some theories of its reference include:
Balthasar, one of the Magi, by some legends a Moor
Saint Maurice, a Roman-Egyptian martyr
Saint Zeno, frequently shown as a Moor
Saint Sigismund, often confused historically with Saint Maurice
Saint Corbinian, founder of the Diocese of Freising, mistakenly thought to have been a Moor" - Wikipedia - I like that place.
A recent book has been published about the third secret of Fatima, (and Rocky says, "Again"?) claiming the entire secret has not been revealed, just the visuals - sans text. Fatima conspiracy theorists love this stuff. Here is a snip from Catholic World News:
"A new book entitled The Fourth Secret of Fatima, by Italian writer Antonio Socci, questions whether a part of the message delivered by the Virgin Mary to the children at Fatima have been hidden by Church leaders for diplomatic reasons.
Socci claims that the famous "third secret," which was revealed in 1995 to describe an attack on a “bishop dressed in white,” is only a fragment of the full message. Socci bases his claim primarily on an analysis of the books Faith Report by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and Crossing the Threshold of Hope, by Pope John Paul II. To a lesser extent he analyzes homilies, discourses, and public documents by the two Pontiffs.
Rumors and theories about the "third secret" had circulated for years, until in May 2000 the content of the secret was disclosed by Pope John Paul II. The secret detailed a vision of the "bishop dressed in white" who was caught up in a battle against an atheistic system that oppresses the Church. That bishop "falls to the ground, as if dead, after a volley of gunfire." The vision apparently predicted the assassination attempt against John Paul II. Sister Lucia, who at the time was the sole surviving Fatima seer, confirmed in 2000 that the "bishop dressed in white" was the Pope. (Sister Lucia died in February 2005.)" - Catholic World News
I personally believe we have gotten enough of the third secret, and it was interpreted quite well by Cardinal Ratzinger, who admittedly said, "It seems as if these events may have been in the past" - which leaves open the question, was JPII really "the bishop in white who collapsed as if dead amidst a hail of bullets"? Or could it be another future pope? See, visions and prophecies are hard to figure out, and if there is a missing text of Our Lady's words, we probably just don't fit the description of those having "a need to know".
But what if the blackamoor is a prophetic symbol and there really is a missing text to the third secret? Now that's the stuff I shouldn't even mention.
Regardless, the Holy Father is snugly in the hand of God, albeit he is embarking on a very dangerous journey. He asked for our prayers, and like I said, he has mine.
Viva il papa!
The Knights of Columbus are urging Catholics to accompany the Holy Father with prayer as a spiritual pilgrimage as he visits Turkey. Here is the prayer:
Prayer for the Pope
"Heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, we humbly ask that you sustain, inspire, and protect your servant, Pope Benedict XVI, as he goes on pilgrimage to Turkey – a land to which St. Paul brought the Gospel of your Son; a land where once the Mother of your Son, the Seat of Wisdom, dwelt; a land where faith in your Son’s true divinity was definitively professed. Bless our Holy Father, who comes as a messenger of truth and love to all people of faith and good will dwelling in this land so rich in history. In the power of the Holy Spirit, may this visit of the Holy Father bring about deeper ties of understanding, cooperation, and peace among Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and those who profess Islam. May the prayers and events of these historic days greatly contribute both to greater accord among those who worship you, the living and true God, and also to peace in our world so often torn apart by war and sectarian violence.
We also ask, O Heavenly Father, that you watch over and protect Pope Benedict and entrust him to the loving care of Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, a title cherished both by Catholics and Muslims. Through her prayers and maternal love, may Pope Benedict be kept safe from all harm as he prays, bears witness to the Gospel, and invites all peoples to a dialogue of faith, reason, and love. We make our prayer through Christ, our Lord. Amen." - Knights of Columbus