"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.

Monday, October 16, 2006

St. Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is the feast of St Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom Our Lord revealed the modern devotion to His Sacred Heart.

It is the refuge of sinners.

I stole this picture from Don Marco's blog because I like it so very much.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you.

Don Marco has a beautiful Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart on Vultus Christi. While the Penitent Blogger has some of St. Margaret Mary's words on the vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A question about the tilma of Guadalupe.

From Ray: I've been waiting for you to set up this Q&A program because I have asked this question several times of others on the Internet and have not yet got a definitive satisfactory answer. And I'm not that fussy.

The question is about the Tilma of St Juan Diego with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on it. If you look at images of the one in the Shrine in Mexico City and most copies, you will note that the "halo" around the image of Our Lady appears to be cut off at the top.

Was the Tilma desecrated at some time in the past? My most recent answer said that Tilma was folded over because the frame wasn't big enough for it. I find that very hard to believe. If you are building a basilica that will hold 30,000 people (or whatever), I suspect the cost of a larger frame for the Tilma would have fit into the budget.

Second of all, now that I am thinking about it is, "how tall is the Tilma?" I doubt that St Juan Diego could have been taller than 5' 5". If he wore the Tilma with the "tall" side being up, the Bishop might not even have recognized that there was an image on the Tilma. Did he wear it "horizontally", wrapped around him? Like a cope? That makes more sense, I guess.

Dear Ray: You have not been waiting for me to do this!

But here is my best shot: The tilma is about 4'.6" tall or 1.43 meters. It would not have been trimmed to fit a frame or any other reason. I believe the aurora, sun, glory, what have you, surrounding the Virgin ends abruptly with the cloth. In reproductions it is interpreted as light coming from heaven, so this also may be an explanation, although I'm sure it ends abruptly as it is shown, probably due to how it was held by Juan Diego - meaning - it's the top of the cloth.

The image on the tilma appeared as the roses fell out onto the floor - it was itself an 'apparition' before the Bishop's eyes and it was miraculously documented upon the tilma as a photograph would be imprinted upon paper. The fact that the image was 'live' is documented in magnified studies of the eyes that reflect the people in the room at the time. (For Juan Diego, the castilian roses in December is what he thought would be the miraculous sign the Bishop requested.)

The tilma was the target of a bomb once, while everything else was damaged, the image remained unharmed. Once in cleaning the frame, nitric acid seeped under the glass onto the tilma, which should have burnt it. Only a yellow stain remained that has since vanished. The preservation of the tilma itself is considered a miracle, since the agave fibers should have long ago disintegrated.

(Did you know "Wishbone" played the part of Juan Diego in an episode of his series on PBS?)

Is the fire of purgatory real?

Just Me asks: The question for the "Ask Terry" column: "Is the fire of Purgatory real or is it just an allegory to describe the intense longing of the soul to reach Heaven?"

Terry says: As Jean-Paul Sartre demonstrated in his play, "No Exit" 'hell is other people' - just so purgatory must be, since it exists in the same precincts. NOT! No one really knows for certain, do they? Another John Paul referred to it as a 'state' of being as opposed to a place.

The mystics speak about God's purifying fire inflaming the soul in love in the stages of prayer and mystical graces. St. Paul speaks of God as a "Consuming fire" while Elizabeth of the Trinity discusses that aspect in terms of contemplative prayer, as does John of the Cross in the "Living Flame of Love". In the image of the burning bush seen by Moses, it was aflame yet not consumed. Is the fire physical? Our bodies are not in purgatory, so it must be a spiritual fire - not allegorical - nevertheless, a spiritual reality.

The pain and suffering is intense and unimaginable for us who live in the physical world. Teresa of Avila writes that spiritual sufferings of the souls in hell, as well as those in purgatory, are much greater than the physical pains one can endure upon earth, of which burning alive would seem to be the worst. Because of her experience of the excruciating pain, albeit delightful, endured in the various stages of prayer and the union of the soul with God, she deduces the suffering of the soul in purgatory is beyond our comprehension. I recommend a serious reading of the writings of John of the Cross and Teresa of Jesus on the purifications and the Divine touches of God in prayer that may help one to understand the nature of the purgatorial fire somewhat better.

Catherine of Genoa is another saint whose treatise on purgatory is very revealing. Just as the soul upon the way of perfection, suffers at the thought of one's sins with the weight of worldly attachments, thus causing the resultant distance from God - although consoled in the knowledge one's sins are forgiven - just so the soul in purgatory. Except the soul in purgatory, I would think would know even more clearly the reason it suffers, emerging from the darkness of earthly life into the knowledge and love of God - albeit obscure, while it's suffering with longing for the Beatific vision may be said to increase as the soul is purified. Whatever the case, the soul would seem to be obliged to accept with peace, that God's mercy and justice have intersected within the soul. Just so, I think the soul understands that it's sufferings are deserved because of it's sins and impurity, while, it seems to me, increasing with longing to see God, remaining steadfast in charity throughout it's ordeal.

It can be consoling to think the fire of purgatory is simply an allegory for the longing of the soul for God - It somehow makes it seem palatable for our nature. Nevertheless, the knowledge of one's sins and attachments, their nature and the offense caused to the Divine Majesty, as well as the natural order, is an immense suffering for the soul, which would cause it to desire to die again, if that were possible, in the most complete, all-consuming holocaust. Again, in purgatory, the fire of Divine Love at the same time must encompass the soul and in in a sense "consoles" it (or better put, "sustains" it) within that unimaginable pain, by having granted it the knowledge that he can no longer sin and therefore the conviction of it's salvation.

Whatever the case may be, it is so important to pray for the souls in purgatory since they can no longer merit nor help themselves, as the Church teaches.

Anyway - that's my thought on it - read your catechism - I'm so not a theologian or a mystic - so I don't want to be brought before the Inquisition - except to be corrected if my thoughts do not accord with Church teaching. We'll know the true nature of purgatory when we get there however. (Someone once said the demons can torment you there as well...)

St. Teresa had a sense of humor.

Pictured, Bea Arthur in the role of Teresa of Avila.

Mystical Doctor of the Church that she is, she had a very homely manner of writing, a wit that shows through even in her loftiest works. The digressions she indulges in as she wrote her autobiography dramatize her personal style while lending us ever new and revealing insight into her personality, that some have described as vivacious. Curious term for a contemplative nun.

Recently there has been discussion concerning a new movie in the works exploring her sexuality, which I find disturbing. Not knowing much about it, there is little I can say about it, except - NOT!

Nevertheless it got my creative juices flowing and I came up with an idea of a sit-com based upon her life. I immediately thought of Bea Arthur ("Maud", "Golden Girls") in the role of Teresa, with Christine Baranski ("Cybil Shepard Show", "The Birdcage") as the Princess of Eboli. They could spar over her writings as they did in real life - only make it funnier - wasn't it the Princess who had an eye-patch - or am I getting my nobility mixed up? Actually, the sit-com could focus on the Princess, after the death of her husband, when she entered the monastery of Pastrana, and became the source of so much grief - now that's a show.)

In one scene, Teresa could be traveling to make another foundation, the coach falling in the river, Bea Arthur, with her dead pan humor, looking up to heaven, as in the photo here, saying, "No wonder you have so few friends when you treat them like this." Then guffaws of canned laughter. The entire production could be done similarly to the British sit-com, "Absolutely Fabulous!"

I think it could work. Maybe I should contact "Act One" in Hollywood to see if they'd be interested. I better write a script first.

What did Lovitz have to say when I pitched the idea to him?
"Oooooo! EDGY!"

:) :) :)