Friday, December 31, 2010

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Happy New Year!

The Cleaning Lady.



An adoration story.
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Several weeks ago, I entered my parish church for my afternoon of adoration.  After doing this for so long I'm afraid I sometimes approach my scheduled time rather routinely.  That day I noticed an older woman parishioner polishing the black marble communion rail.  While the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.  Two other women I know were just finishing up their hour and I called one of the ladies over to ask her about the cleaning lady.
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Actually, she wasn't a cleaning lady at all, but a long time parishioner.  An elderly lady who dressed very young; capri pants with an un-tucked shirt and rolled-up sleeves over a modest t-shirt, nicely cut and colored hair, light make-up - she could pass for a much younger woman.  I'd noticed her before, sometimes during Mass, moving about the church, and I wondered if she had some sort of mental problem.  I asked my adoration friend that very question - "Is she nuts?  I don't think it is appropriate to be cleaning during adoration, passing back and forth before the Blessed Sacrament like that."
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"Oh no!"  My friend laughed.  "She's just fine - why would you think she is crazy?  Anyway, she's been here for better part of an hour and we just let her do it.  I suppose it isn't the right thing to do, but I'm sure she'll be finished soon."
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Nevertheless I felt rather indignant and considered saying something to the woman.  I tried to pray but was distracted watching everything she was doing.  She applied polish, and then buffed it to a bright shine, leaving a section and moving on to repeat the same procedure.  At times she would step back and admire her work.  Each time she crossed in front of the monstrance she bowed reverently and proceeded with her job.  I was slightly relieved after she left for a bit, imagining she was finished - although I noticed she hadn't returned some things she had moved back to their proper place.
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I tried to pray but remained distracted, and of course, that particular day, the thought of spending an afternoon in adoration felt burdensome, and I was already cranky anyway.  The lady returned with her buffing equipment and really threw herself into finishing the job, and so I decided to join my prayer to her work and began offering what she was doing to our Lord, thanking him for her devotion - I suddenly regained my peace!  It seemed that in very little time she was finally finished, returning everything to its proper place as well.  After the equipment was put away, she knelt on the bare floor for what seemed to be a very long time, in devout, attentive prayer before the Eucharist. 
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I was so edified, my hair sort of stood on end and I was suddenly deeply humbled at the sight of this woman praying, oblivious to anything around her.  I somehow understood how pleasing she was to Our Lord.  She came in and anointed his feet as it were... she did what she did out of love and with great faith.  I on the other hand - the only other person in the church at the time - had wanted to rebuke her.  In my heart I had condemned her and scoffed at her.  I came to adoration without charity...  only doing my duty... and did it begrudgingly, routinely.  Yet the 'cleaning lady' gave everything she had - and with great love.
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Love is repaid by love alone.
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Art:  Jesus Anointed at Bethany, Donald D. Krause




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(Later it occurred to me that the woman may have been unable to sit still for very long due to some physical disability.  Regardless, it wasn't any of my business.)

"Dissent is opposed to ecclesial communinon."



"Opposition to the teaching of the Church's Pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit's gifts."
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113. Teaching moral doctrine involves the conscious acceptance of these intellectual, spiritual and pastoral responsibilities. Moral theologians, who have accepted the charge of teaching the Church's doctrine, thus have a grave duty to train the faithful to make this moral discernment, to be committed to the true good and to have confident recourse to God's grace.

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While exchanges and conflicts of opinion may constitute normal expressions of public life in a representative democracy, moral teaching certainly cannot depend simply upon respect for a process: indeed, it is in no way established by following the rules and deliberative procedures typical of a democracy.  Dissent, in the form of carefully orchestrated protests and polemics carried on in the media, is opposed to ecclesial communion and to a correct understanding of the hierarchical constitution of the People of God. Opposition to the teaching of the Church's Pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit's gifts. When this happens, the Church's Pastors have the duty to act in conformity with their apostolic mission, insisting that the right of the faithful to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity must always be respected. "Never forgetting that he too is a member of the People of God, the theologian must be respectful of them, and be committed to offering them a teaching which in no way does harm to the doctrine of the faith".177 - Veritatis Splendor

Seventh Day of Christmas.


This year the Seventh Day of Christmas falls on New Years Eve.
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To be completely frank, I'm not sure why Christians even observe New Years.  However, I'm sure some of my readers can provide an adequate explanation for the adults who read this blog.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fr. John Hardon, S.J. - 10th anniversary of his death.


Servant of God
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This morning at prayer Fr. Hardon came to mind.  Only later, while checking Te Deum Laudamus blog did I discover today is actually the tenth anniversary of Fr. Hardon's death.  Diane has details here.  I'm always delighted when I experience Divine Providence and the intercession of the saints in this way - I never attribute such graces to coincidence.
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Mortal sin
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I was thinking of something Fr. Hardon once said regarding his caution of people in mortal sin - a quote I have never found by the way - but I once read something to the effect that he said about how much harm such unfortunate souls can cause.  Fr. Hardon was a great champion of the Sacrament of Penance, and keenly grasped the gravity of sin - especially the prevalence of grave sin in our culture.  The Fr. Hardon Archives contain many conferences and excellent instruction on the subject - as well as a conference on the benefit of frequent confession.
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I noted elsewhere on the blogosphere today that Bishop Slatterly of Tulsa is scheduling a conference for priests on exorcism, a topic very much in the news of late.  After searching the Fr. Hardon site on sin and the Sacrament of Penance, I wonder if the pressing need for exorcists these days would be as critical if proper catechesis on the sacrament and the necessity of frequent confession had been consistently taught in the last forty years?  Instead, as Fr. Hardon noted:
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Judging by the drastic drop in confessions in countries like the United States, the false opinion is gaining ground that Confession is not to be received, or made, frequently.
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No doubt, one reason for this sad state of affairs is the prevalence of some wild theories about mortal sin. For example, the Fundamental Option theory claims that no mortal sin is committed unless a person totally rejects God. Who but the devil hates God? One adultery or one abortion is not a mortal sin. On these grounds, there are parishes in which almost no one goes to Confession. - The Spiritual and Psychological Value of Frequent Confession
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"There is no hatred more cruel, no treachery more demonic than that of an unrepentant sinner."
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My thoughts went in this direction this morning as I reflected upon my sins and their consequences - examining their source, I couldn't avoid recalling how I was raised.  I was sent to Catholic schools but I lived in a home which was less than ideal - family members lived in mortal sin whilst attempting to justify their predicament.  Thus I wondered if parents living in mortal sin leads to other more grave offences within the family?  The alcoholism, the abuse, the lying, the stealing, the fraud, and on and on - such was the atmosphere wherein I grew up.  In turn I considered what it must be like today when many people no longer have any faith, and children are raised in single parent households exposed to adultery, drugs and alchohol and all sorts of abuse.  These are all mortal sins and outright rejection, if not hatred, for God.
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There is no hatred more cruel, no treachery more demonic than that of an unrepentant sinner. Thirty-seven years in the priesthood have taught me many things none more clearly than that.  - Fr. Hardon

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To be sure, I know I am responsible for the amendment of my own life and I do not look to "blame" my sins on how I was raised or external forces - but one cannot avoid reflecting upon the necessisty of a good, holy, stable family life in order to raise children, while protecting them from the errors of our time.
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+Prayer+

Lord Jesus, you are the loving God Who came into the world to save sinners. But we believe You are also the almighty God. Who, if sinners do not repent, punish even for all eternity those who love themselves more than You. What we most want, Dear Jesus, is the grace to love You more than ourselves even if the price You demand is the sacrifice of what we most love on earth. Jesus, mighty God, have mercy on us sinners.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen - ibid

Before the advent of imposed, early sexualization.



Growing up not even knowing the definition of 'gay'.
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I found this gem of a comment on California Catholic Daily in response to their obituary for Fr. John Harvey:
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2010 12:12 AM By charlio

In an age before total sexual saturation, young people with same sex attraction were free to go through the process of forming confident adult sexuality without the menace of traumatic early sexualization. (Recall the relaxed treatment of kids' w/same sex "crushes" on teachers and other elders in the long-ago age when the latency period was assumed by all.) If just left alone, a majority of those approximately 10% of adolescent males with SSA self-report spontaneous growth out to heterosexuality. A common homosexual seduction strategy is to first bring up heterosexual prurience, then to switch to the homosexual. This is the first fact of the "gay youth" phenomenon: Risks posed as rights. - CCD
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Don't accuse or expose the innocent before their time.
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I've always wondered what would have happened to some of those kids if they hadn't been told by parents or authority figures they were 'different' or 'queer' - or even condemned as 'dirty little homosexuals', and then abandoned to the inevitable predators who would show up to convince them of it? 
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Parents beware.

Sixth Day of Christmas: Ornament of the Christmas Octave - St. Barbara Cho Chung-i


"We must train ourselves by mortification in order to glorify God and save our souls."
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From Catholic Church in Korea:

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Cho Chŭng-i Barbara was the wife of Nam I-gwan Sebastian. She was born in 1781 to a renowned noble family. She was married to Nam Sebastian when she was 16 years old and gave birth to a son who died soon after birth.

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During the persecution of 1801, many of her relatives were martyred, and her husband was sent into exile. Barbara lived with her younger brother, but he made her very unhappy. She could not practice her religion faithfully, because there were no priests in Korea at that time, and she lived far away from other Catholics. When she was about 30, she came up to Seoul and lived with a very devout Catholic family. Barbara then had a chance to practice her religion faithfully.
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She was a cousin of Chŏng Ha-sang Paul, and helped him to prepare for his trip to Peking to introduce foreign missionaries into Korea. After Father Yu Pacificus came to Korea, Barbara's husband was released from exile in 1832, and she was able to help the Chinese priest. After Father Yu returned to China, Barbara bought a small house in which she had Fathers Maubant and Chastan and Bishop Imbert stay. The Catholics used to come to her home for prayers, confessions and Masses. She used to say: "If a persecution breaks out, we all must die. We must train ourselves by mortification in order to glorify God and save our souls."
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Barbara was arrested in July of 1839. She continued to refuse the demands of the police chief to deny her faith and to reveal where her husband was hiding. She said: "Even if I have to die ten thousand times, I cannot commit a sin." Consequently, she was severely tortured. Her legs were twisted, and she was beaten with a cudgel 180 times. Even after she was sent to the higher court, she was beaten more severely. Her husband, after his arrest, was also severely tortured. Both of them showed courage and a desire to die for their faith.
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Barbara was kind to the other inmates and consoled them. She said goodbye to them, and then fell asleep. She woke up just before she was taken out for execution.
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Barbara was taken outside the Small West Gate and was beheaded on December 29, 1839 with six other Catholics. She was 58 years old when she was martyred. - Source
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May St. Barbara and her Companions pray for us and obtain for us the courage to stand fast throughout the tribulations of our time.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chastity, Continence, and Celibacy: Kind of a Primer.


I came across the following on Jimmy Akin's blog.  I have rarely read a more practical definition of the Catholic observance of chastity, continence, and celibacy.
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First, let’s be clear about what celibacy is: It’s the property of not being married. Anyone who is not married is, by definition, celibate. People often confuse this with two other concepts—continence (which in a sexual context means not having sex) and chastity (which means behaving in an appropriate manner sexually, based on your state of life). If a person is celibate (unmarried) and they wish to be chaste (act in a moral manner, sexually) then they will be continent (not have sex), because sex outside of marriage is immoral. By contrast, if you are not celibate (i.e., you are married) then you can be chaste (act in a sexually moral manner) even though you presumably are not continent (i.e., are having sex)." - Jimmy Akin

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Coincidently, Akin goes on to discuss priestly celibacy - something I was also thinking about after prayer this morning - in relation to chastity and continence... 
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"Second, the requirement of celibacy is neither a “doctrine” (teaching) nor a “dogma” (infallibly proclaimed teaching taught or implied by Christ and the apostles) of the Catholic Church. It is a “discipline,” a practice that has been adopted for prudential reasons but that can, and does, admit of exceptions..." ibid

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I was wondering what some readers would think if I said I wouldn't be totally opposed to married priests.  I prefer things as they are, but observing how some Anglican turned Catholic priests are married and how well the married permanent diaconate is working, I no longer see it as such a big problem.  Jimmy Akin correctly notes that "a Catholic can hold the opinion that it would be pastorally prudent to make such a change. You are not being disloyal or a bad Catholic by holding such a view."  Although he's also realistic about any change happening soon - if at all - in the discipline;  "Suffice it to say that it would be pastorally inadvisable in the extreme for the Church to make a sudden, unprepared shift in its discipline on this point. Translating the Mass into the vernacular would be peanuts compared to this. Thus, even if one felt that the Church should move toward such a solution in the long-term, that does not in the least mean that it should be done precipitously. Or at all, because . . ."
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Be assured that I accept the teaching of the Church on this matter.
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Art:  Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Fr. John Harvey, osfs: Some thoughts.



Courageous witness.
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Yesterday I read an offensive comment on another blog condemning the late Fr. John Harvey's view that in certain circumstances men with same sex attraction could be ordained or admitted to religious life - but only if all things were well ordered in their life, of course.  Fortunately the negative comment has been removed this morning.  Without much ado, I present a brief look at the Fr. Harvey view below - which coincides with the Vatican Instruction BTW.  From a Zenit interview on the same document:
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Father John Harvey, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, is director of Courage International, a support group for men and women with same-sex attractions who wish to live chastely according to Church teachings.

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Q: What is your impression of the new Vatican document on seminaries and those with homosexual tendencies?

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Father Harvey: I think it is very good because it does not try to answer every question -- it tells you from the beginning that it will not. I think it is refreshing. It simply sets down norms for bishops, rectors and people in seminary work.
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I think it is wise to put the responsibility on bishops and rectors to understand this issue and to make decisions about individual seminarians. I think this is a good thing instead of answering every question.
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It is clear of two types they do not want: those are actively engaged in a homosexual lifestyle and those who push the gay agenda, that "gay is good." People with that view should not be in seminary.
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The document rightly mentions that some distinctions should be made between people with deep-seated homosexual tendencies and people with transitory same-sex attractions. It is correct in that some homosexual tendencies may be a symptom of a problem of delayed adolescence.
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I was hoping the document would not be a big universal statement like "Anyone with same-sex attractions is automatically eliminated." It does not say that and allows that there are a lot of distinctions to be made. - Zenit, November 2005
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Clarification.
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Please understand that whenever I write my private opinion and say something like, "gay men should not be ordained" I am writing about active homosexuals, men without self control who do not practice celibate chastity and continence, as well as ssa men who remain sexually open-ended, as it were: "if the right situation or guy comes along".  Men who continue to harbor inordinate affections or preferential options for the same sex.  As well as those who Fr. Harvey referred to in the following statement:  "For years within the Church we have had people pushing the gay agenda - groups such as Dignity, New Ways Ministry, and gay and lesbian ministries."  Needless to say, I am also writing about those same sex attracted men who identify as gay, and or approve of or promote the gay lifestyle.  As Fr. Harvey noted in the 2005 interview, "There is a distinction between transitory same-sex attractions and permanent and destructive homosexual tendencies."  Is there ever!
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A fitting tribute.
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I also came across the following tribute to Fr. Harvey on that same blog which carried the negative comment.  This is a beautiful and fitting tribute to the holy priest who ministered to persons with same-sex attraction with such dedication and charity for the better part of his life.
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Thank you for all your work in promoting disinterested friendship and helping all of those afflicted with homosexuality overcome their deep-seated tendencies. You showed nothing but acceptance with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. You avoided every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard. You helped many to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they be Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. You showed that homosexual persons are called to chastity. You taught that the virtues of self-mastery lead to inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace that they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. - Andy Milam


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Note:  Spirit Daily incorrectly referred to Fr. Harvey as the founder of the group that healed homosexuals - Courage International never makes such claims.
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Link to Fr. Harvey's Memorial.

I've been sitting on this news for days....


My apologies to all who have been praying for Michael R - he came through surgery and is doing well...  I'll let him tell it:
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Hi Terry,

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My surgery went very well on Tuesday and I was basically ready to leave the hospital an hour after I woke up. I had to remain in ICU for a couple days, and then only because I have a bleeding risk(Von Willebrand's Disease), I had to stay in hospital to have blood products infused every morning. I am finished now and released. I am back in my home for a brief nap, and my sister will return and take me to their house to stay for a few days. They did bring my laptop to the hospital yesterday. And I was overwhelmed when I read of all of the prayers that your readers have offered for me. I went to a place that is very special to me, the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in the Cincinnati Cathedral. I said the sorrowful mysteries for you and your readers, knowing that you guys would be praying for me. I hadn't been able to type any response until now because my left hand was hooked up with too many tubes and I couldn't hit the keys properly. I can tell I'm not doing much better right now, but hopefully things will come back to me.  I have a follow-up on January 5.  All of the doctors and nursing staff are always in amazement that I have beaten such long odds in the past. And apparently some must think I am an inspiration. Yesterday they had one lady who came in on the anniversary date of her tumor surgery, and she distributed gifts. It had us in tears. They nabbed the staff of the local university medical community magazine and took photos of me and her. If I get a photo, or print copy I will foward to you. I have been anxious to reconnect to you. If you get a chance please let you readers know that you have heard from me. and I recovered from the surgery very quickly.
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Thanks for all of your prayers and love. I hope to be able to return to some kiind of normal routine shortly, and catch up with you and your pals online sometime soon.
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Kind regards, Michael
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Dear Michael, you are an inspiration - continued prayers for you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My creche for this year.


Merry Christmas!

Posted by Picasa

Spiritual metaphor.


I live yet no true life I know...
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This morning while praying for Fr. Harvey, I found myself reminiscing over the days that led to my meeting with him in NYC at St. Michael's rectory back in the 1980's.  Fr. Harvey had very good insight into the psychology of same sex attraction and the addictive elements frequently associated with the behavior.  I think he was delighted to discover I understood as much as I did.  As I am now, at the time I was very much into John of the Cross, and appreciated the Saint's analogy of Samson to the soul enslaved by sin; his eyes gouged out, blindly grinding at the grist in his bondage.  The allusion John of the Cross makes to Samson relates very well to the Catholic view of addiction.
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That said, I couldn't avoid recalling how deeply difficult the struggle against sin has been at times - just as it is for millions of others of course - I know I'm not so special in that regard.  Samson has remained quite a good metaphor nevertheless.  Today I reflected on how even in his last stance, situated between the two support columns of the temple, mustering all of his strength and with the grace of God, he brought the entire edifice down upon the assembly.   It seemed to me that even in this aspect, Samson's actions can be somewhat analogous to one's personal conversion process.   Sometimes our struggle may become so intense, our unwillingness to compromise so resolute, we bring the whole house down upon ourselves and even those around us - perhaps even our companions and friends...
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Ah - how many times I have done that.  How many times all of my structures and supports have collapsed around me and in the apparent chaos, even upon those closest to me, not excluding myself of course...  and if anyone could have survived, they in turn have fled.  "My friends avoid me like a leper; those closest to me stand afar off."
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Ah...  I die because I do not die.
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(I closed comments for this one because only a few may understand it - and I expect even fewer would receive it well.)

4th Day of Christmas - The Holy Innocents


This is the second feast of martyrdom the Church observes within the Christmas Octave.  In our day, Christians continue to be martyred in the Christmas season...  It helps one understand how vital the liturgy of the Church is to our every day lives, don't you agree?
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I think it is popular now days to compare the first infant martyrs with those unborn infants killed by abortion.  I'm sure the parallel is appropriate, but it seems to  me that since the Holy Innocents were already born and as old as two years, they are very much the patrons of little children who are abused and brutally murdered in so many ways today.  Last night there was a story on the news of a mother's live-in boyfriend who beat her little daughter to death.  Innocents continue to shed their blood today.
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Merry Christmas!
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Random question for the "I Celebrate Christmas" crowd:  Are you still celebrating Christmas?  Still got your tree up?  The lights in the window?  Still sending Christmas greetings?  Still saying, "Merry Christmas"?  For some - still drunk?   LOL!
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Art:  Massacre of the Holy Innocents - Duccio di Buoninsegna

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fr. John Harvey, osfs - Founder of Courage Apostolate - dies.


At 8:33PM a friend sent me the following news:

We just received word from Father John Harvey's niece that he died this morning. He had a fall two days ago, and they took him to the hospital, but he never bounced back. His niece told us that he died very peacefully, and that is family is sure that he is in heaven. Let us all thank God for this wonderful and holy priest who has helped so many. Let us pray for him, and let us ask him to pray for us. - Fr. Knapp
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May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Was Christmas over yesterday?

Christmas season.

I was sitting in the Blessed Virgin's chapel, praying my rosary before Mass yesterday, the first Sunday after Christmas, Feast of the Holy Family, when I heard a jovial usher respond to another man's Merry Christmas greeting with;  "That's all over now - Christmas is over - now it's the New Year!"  (He repeated his catechesis to everyone who came in.)  I recognized the man's voice and was really surprised he was so convinced Christmas was over already - he is a daily Mass goer after all.  Sunday was only the second day of Christmas.

I would never attempt to correct the gentleman, especially since he was so convinced Christmas was over.  One can explain things to religious people over and over, but one is usually unsuccessful in changing their opinion.  I couldn't help being entertained by the irony of it all however.  Throughout Advent we heard the militant demands that secular businesses and newsrooms say "Merry Christmas", while Catholics were told to hold back on the Christmas celebrations until Christmas...  and predictably, the day after Christmas, not a few people think it's over.  (My sister takes her tree down the day after.  I know!)

To be sure marketing and retail proclaim it is over, and since many consumers worship in that temple, I suppose their Christmas is over.  However, if one prays, and especially if one's prayer is based in liturgical prayer, one understands that Christmas is a season traditionally referred to as Christmastide, and the first eight to twelve days are Christmas.  (Albeit with Epiphany transferred to Sunday, the liturgical season appears shortened this year as well.) 

Anyway, religious people who like to wear their religion on buttons and bumper stickers ought to know better.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas: On the Third Day of Christmas...


The vision of St. John the Evangelist. 

December 27 is the feast of the Beloved Disciple.

And the signs of the times: 

“The Church has the right to refuse holy orders to those who do not have the requested attitudes or who, in one way or another, are not in harmony with the teaching it has received from its divine master,” Monsignor Tony Anatrella added, saying that the homosexual tendency was actually a “counterindication to the call to holy orders.” - A Tim Drake quote found on WDTPRS

Don't blame me - I'm just the messenger...
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Although I'm absolutely convinced one must think with the mind of the Church in these matters.





Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas


Feast of the Holy Family.
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Art:  The Holy Family with St. Anne and St. Elizabeth and John the Baptist - by the workshop of Franz Floris, 16th century

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

I think of Giotto's Nativity with this song.

What pilgrims do on Christmas Eve morning.

Lively anticipation.
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I'm listening to Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, having finished my own prayers at dawn.  I love the anticipation of Christmas eve - nothing can restrain the Divine, and the Bambino Gesu embraces the soul who longs for him before the actual commemoration of his Nativity takes place.  Much like as some of the Church Father's tell us how Our Lady conceived Jesus in her heart long before the the Annunciation.  Over night new snow has covered everything, and so the nights great silence extends into day...
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"When peaceful stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, Your all-powerful word from heaven's royal throne bounded...  And as he alighted... he still reached to heaven, while he stood upon the earth." - Wisdom 18: 14-16
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Later, the pilgrim will follow the shepherds to the Christ Mass.
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Wishing all of my readers and friends a very blessed Christmas...  happy and merry!  Thank you for all of your kindness and generosity towards me.  I pray the Little Jesus grant you every grace and blessing.

The 9th and Last Day of the Novena for Christmas.


Opening Prayer from Today's Mass.


Come Lord Jesus,
do not delay;
give new courage to your people who trust in your love.
By your coming, raise us to the joy of your kingdom,
where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home for the Holidays!


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8th Day of the Christmas Novena



We are almost there...
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O my Jesus, for many the road to Bethlehem is long, arduous and exhausting, much as it was for Our Lady and St. Joseph.  Though we see in the distance the lights of the little town and hear the festive songs of the marketplace, for many the arrival at our destination is a disappointment.  Enlighten our hearts - for darkness is not dark for you!  Make us understand that it is exactly our poverty and misery which attracts you most and prompted you to come down for our salvation.  You did not despise the poverty and meanness of the stable as the place of your birth; on the margins of respectability, amidst the dumb beasts.  Neither did you reject the poor illiterate shepherds who came to adore you...  O Infant God, help us to be steadfast in our faith, confident you will reject no one who comes to you.  Open our hearts to accept your merciful love... to believe in your love...  "Not pit is so deep, that your love is not deeper still."  Amen.
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+Psalm+
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Your ways O Lord make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.

Good and upright is the Lord;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.

All the paths of the Lord are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees,
The friendship of the Lord is with those who fear him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.   Ps. 25


Art:  Arrival in Bethlehem, Luc-Olivier Merson, 1846-1920

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"I have lost my job and am facing eviction."


A very good friend of this blog sent me this news in an email:   "I have lost my job and am facing eviction.  Please pray."
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So I ask all of you to implore the Infant Jesus and St. Joseph - who always finds a place to live and work for those most in need - to intervene and help our friend keep her place and find successful employment.  
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+Prayer+
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Dear St. Joseph, you found lodging and a means to support Our Lady and the Holy Infant Jesus, come to the aid of your daughter M. whose job has been lost and is facing eviction.  For the sake of the love you bear towards Jesus and Mary His mother, hear and grant our prayer.  Amen. 

7th Day of the Christmas Novena


Ransom captive Israel...
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A long time ago, I went on pilgrimage, with very little money and hardly any provisions - just a change of clothes.  I was on my way to a Camaldolese hermitage to be a monk, so I thought.  I had left the world only a few months prior to my trip - all on fire with spiritual fervor.  I left behind friends and family - so I thought - although later I understood that the pilgrimage was not meant to be definitive... 
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Anyway, while on the bus - I had decided not to hitchhike in the southern states and so I rode a Greyhound bus part of the way - I met a guy around my age, seated next to me.  He reminded me of my little brother, although he was kind of hillbilly, or so I thought.  We talked.  He noticed I prayed my rosary and asked me about it.  We talked well into the night about God and Jesus.  Then he fell asleep - his head falling upon my shoulder.  I didn't know what to do at first - then I fell asleep too.  I awoke the next morning and he was gone - he must have got off the bus during the night without waking me.  That was such a lonely feeling.
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+Prayer+
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Oh my Jesus, you came down from the bosom of the Father, homeless, friendless and forsaken, for our salvation.  Our faith embraces you in the disguise of your weakness, your humility and poverty, and we behold with great delight the new light of your glory...  Oh Divine Infant Jesus, open our hearts to the penetrating gaze of your merciful love - grant us your mercy and the healing we seek and need - or if it be your will, leave us as we are - only grant us your salvation, and free us from the power of sin and death.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

6th Day of the Christmas Novena



Jesus Christ, the true light that enlightens everyone.
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1. Called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, "the true light that enlightens everyone" (Jn 1:9), people become "light in the Lord" and "children of light" (Eph 5:8), and are made holy by "obedience to the truth" (1 Pet 1:22). - Veritatis Splendor
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+Prayer+
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O Infant God, all who approach you with simplicity feel the sanctifying influence of your presence and the warmth of your love.  Grant to us through your Holy Mother, a tender remembrance of your infancy so that we may experience more often the joy of your companionship and the strength of your virtues.  Amen.

Looking anew at Veritatis Splendor.



"Today, attention must be focussed anew on this text as a path in the formation of conscience." - Benedict XVI
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If this Encyclical, so long awaited, is being published only now, one of the reasons is that it seemed fitting for it to be preceded by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which contains a complete and systematic exposition of Christian moral teaching. The Catechism presents the moral life of believers in its fundamental elements and in its many aspects as the life of the "children of God": "Recognizing in the faith their new dignity, Christians are called to lead henceforth a life 'worthy of the Gospel of Christ' (Phil 1:27). Through the sacraments and prayer they receive the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit which make them capable of such a life".10 Consequently, while referring back to the Catechism "as a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine",11 the Encyclical will limit itself to dealing with certain fundamental questions regarding the Church's moral teaching, taking the form of a necessary discernment about issues being debated by ethicists and moral theologians. The specific purpose of the present Encyclical is this: to set forth, with regard to the problems being discussed, the principles of a moral teaching based upon Sacred Scripture and the living Apostolic Tradition,12 and at the same time to shed light on the presuppositions and consequences of the dissent which that teaching has met. - John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor
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"[T]he Catechism of the Catholic Church, contains a complete and systematic exposition of Christian moral teaching."
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I'm always astonished when I hear or read of progressives who mock those who rely on the Catechism of the Catholic Church for authentic teaching as regards faith and morals, while they themselves exercise their so-called right to dissent from the truth - denying such things as 'natural law' when it comes to issues related to sexual morality especially. 

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Today, however, it seems necessary to reflect on the whole of the Church's moral teaching, with the precise goal of recalling certain fundamental truths of Catholic doctrine which, in the present circumstances, risk being distorted or denied. In fact, a new situation has come about within the Christian community itself, which has experienced the spread of numerous doubts and objections of a human and psychological, social and cultural, religious and even properly theological nature, with regard to the Church's moral teachings. It is no longer a matter of limited and occasional dissent, but of an overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine, on the basis of certain anthropological and ethical presuppositions. At the root of these presuppositions is the more or less obvious influence of currents of thought which end by detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to truth. Thus the traditional doctrine regarding the natural law, and the universality and the permanent validity of its precepts, is rejected; certain of the Church's moral teachings are found simply unacceptable; and the Magisterium itself is considered capable of intervening in matters of morality only in order to "exhort consciences" and to "propose values", in the light of which each individual will independently make his or her decisions and life choices.
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[...] Also, an opinion is frequently heard which questions the intrinsic and unbreakable bond between faith and morality, as if membership in the Church and her internal unity were to be decided on the basis of faith alone, while in the sphere of morality a pluralism of opinions and of kinds of behaviour could be tolerated, these being left to the judgment of the individual subjective conscience or to the diversity of social and cultural contexts. - ibid

Please pray for Michael


Our BFF Michael R is having brain surgery tomorrow - Tuesday, December 21.  Please remember him in your prayers.

Prayers and best wishes to you Michael - much love, Terry.

Image:  Michael of the Saints

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Pope of Christmas Past: "The Church's Garment is Torn".


Ghost of Christmas Past.

Pope Benedict in his Christmas address to the Roman Curia might be compared to the Dickens' Christmas Carol character, the "ghost of Christmas past".  In his extensive greeting, the Holy Father laments that amongst the great tribulations of the past year the worst seems to have been when the priestly sexual abuse scandal went global - right in the middle of the Year of the Priest. 
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Under the mantle of the sacred.
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"We were all the more dismayed, then, when in this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime."
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The torn garment.
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The Holy Father likens the Church to a vision of St. Hildegarde, wherein she saw the garment of the Church torn and her feet all muddied by the crimes of her ministers.  Pope Benedict asks where these sins came from, and what must be done to avoid them.  He cites the decadence of culture saying:
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We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again.

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"In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again.
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... trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities...
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We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity.
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The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.
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Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist.
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In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a "better than" and a "worse than". Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today." - Source
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One of the miseries of the Church.
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So what about those priests who didn't get caught, didn't get sued?  What about those who comprise that segment in the Church the Holy Father refers to in Light of the World, as "one of those miseries of the Church"?    
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h/t to Whispers in the Loggia

Quick Shots: Santa is the anti-Christ, the Feds are taking over the Internet, and zero tolerance in the Catholic Church - Oh! And my big fat Greek surprise comment!



Disney is evil.
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As thousands of my readers and followers know, I am all about Santa, St. Nick, St Nicholas - even when he is mythically represented in those relatively corrupted forms, such as Father Christmas, or one of those fat burgermeisters in a red pantsuit.  But last night I caught a glimpse of the Disney - Tim Allen version of Santa and it was heresy - new world order crap.  Santa was NEVER married - he didn't work in an office - EVER!  He didn't have kids.  NO! NO! NO!  He did not have to get married.  Disney is the anti-Christ and Tim Allen's Santa is it's prophet.  No wonder kids are so screwed up.
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The Feds are taking over the Internet - we are all going to be sent to concentration camps.  You knew it was coming:
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Tomorrow morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking an unprecedented step to expand government's reach into the Internet by attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling. - WSJ 

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The Pope is asking what led to the global sexual abuse crisis in the Church.
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Pope Benedict said Monday the Catholic Church must reflect on what is wrong with its message and Christian life in general that allowed for the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests.
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"The psychological devastation of children, in which human beings are reduced to a marketplace article, is a terrifying sign of the times," Benedict said.

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He said the underlying ideology of such rampant excesses stemmed from the 1970s, when "pedophilia was theorized as something that was in keeping with man and even the child," where nothing was considered good or evil in and of itself but only relative to the circumstances.
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"The effects of such theories are evident today," he said.  He called for a renewed sense of morality, stressing absolute good and evil, to guide the faithful. - Source
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N.B. - Stressing absolute good and evil - I think the trads and fundies have that one all taken care of.  What?
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Oh!  Oh!  The end of civilized warfare - look what happened in ancient Greece - and the Greek army still wears skirts to this day!
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The debate over gays in the military has been settled with a historic decision to allow them to serve openly, but big questions lie ahead about how and when the change will take place, how troops will accept it and whether it will hamper the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan and Iraq. - Source
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5th Day of the Christmas Novena



Prayer to the Santo Bambino

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Divine Bambino,

In my difficulties: help me

From the enemies of my soul: save me

In my errors: enlighten me

In my doubts and pains: comfort me

In my solitudes: be with me

In my infirmities: invigorate me

When others despise me: encourage me

In temptations: defend me

In difficult hours: strengthen me

With your Sacred Heart: love me

With your immense power: protect me

And, into your arms,

when I die: receive me.

Amen

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day Four of the Novena: Las Posadas


The novena Mexican style...
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A posada varies according to the place, region, and community hosting the celebration. In church-sponsored posadas, a procession is held that is oftentimes led by older children or adolescents portraying Joseph and Mary. Sometimes they are accompanied by children dressed as angels and shepherds, who accompany them during their search for lodging and who lead a procession of parishioners. Often, peregrinos (pilgrims, represented by carved figures depicting Mary mounted on a donkey led by Joseph) are placed on a decorated and candlelit litter that is carried at the head of the procession. Participants join in prayer and song as they make their way to the first home, where the first verses of the posada, requesting shelter, are sung.
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The homes that are visited are preselected, and members of that family as well as other parishioners wait indoors to respond in verse and song that there is no place for the travelers in their home. The same occurs on repeated visits to other homes, usually three or four. The tradition is that on the last visit the pilgrims are granted lodging. At the last site, usually the parish church, parishioners inside the church, who have been anticipating the arrival of the pilgrims, joyfully grant them lodging, singing a different chorus than in the prior visits.
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The procession enters and gathers around the nativity scene, where all join and celebrate Christ's birth through prayer and song. After this, the community gathers, usually in the church hall, for traditional Christmas Mexican meal, tamales, and champurrado (a Mexican corn-based hot chocolate), and the children gather around for the breaking of the piñata. - Taken from:  Las Posadas
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+Prayer+
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To you, O Blessed Joseph, we come in our trials, and having asked the help of your most holy spouse, we confidently ask your patronage also. Through that sacred bond of charity which united you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the fatherly love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you to look graciously upon the beloved inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by his blood, and to aid us in our necessities with your power and strength.

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O most provident guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ. Most beloved father, dispel the evil of falsehood and sin. Our most mighty protector, graciously assist us from heaven in our struggle with the powers of darkness. And just as you once saved the Child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend God's Holy Church from the snares of her enemies and from all adversity. Shield each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your help, we may be able to live a virtuous life, to die a holy death, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen. - Leo XIII
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Today the Holy Father suggests that we prepare for Christmas by looking to St. Joseph.  Read what the Pope said here.


The dinner party...

I went out last night.
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I went to my friends' house across town last night for a small dinner party.  It was very fun and the food delicious.  I stayed up much too late however.
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Art:  Jonathan Walker, UK artist.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sometimes when I write Christmas cards...



I like to write stuff that makes me laugh...
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Case in point.
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I received a funny Christmas card from an old, old, old, old friend who wrote: 
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"Retirement is wonderful!  We closed up the beach house and spent a few months in Europe - we came back to the cities for a visit and stayed at our condo but didn't have time to call.  We returned to Long Beach and the weather is fabulous.  Perhaps we can get together next time we're in town.  Love, Clay and Dick!  'Ho! Ho! Ho!'"
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These are the types of friends I like to exchange funny holiday cards with - Dick's card depicted a silly Santa cartoon, and so for my return card I chose a lovely little 1960's snap-shot card with a little kid and his doggie on it.  Anyway, this is what my note said:

"Dear Dickie and Clark!   My, my, my, my, my!  How retirement suits you both!  How wonderful you two -  galavanting arouind the world like Mr. and Mrs. Howe from Gilligan's Island!  How is Lovey these days?  Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk!  I myself vacationed in Afghanastan this past summer, what a lovely time!  I'm in the process of adopting a monkey from South America - I'm learning Portugeuse so there won't be any language barrier.  I'll be out West this New Years!  I'm spending it with Gayle and Oprah and Stedman, and we'll be at the Striesand's for the 'ball drop' - I'll try to give a ring while I'm there.  Happy holidays!  Hugs for everyone darlings!  Terry"

Now what is more charming than to personalize your photo cards with a little cheery note or something?

Happy Holidays!
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Photo title:  "She's still standing!"  Cathy's house last year.

Tired of Complaints about Commercial Christmas?

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Here are some real Christmas treasures...
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Secular stores too commercial for you?  They don't mention Christmas enough you say?   
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That's odd.  I can find real Christmas in just about any fine quality store - even religious Christmas gifts - better than one might find in a Catholic retail setting selling Chinese resin devotional kitsch.  Here are a few examples of good devotional art from Neiman-Marcus...
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Paintings available from Neiman-Marcus Home - Spiritual Gifts
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At Christmas, one ought always to try and give gifts that last, not fashion and trend or electronics that are obsolete within a year or two.

Day Three of the Novena for Christmas


Prayer of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the Infant Jesus
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O my Lord Jesus,

we gaze on you as a baby

and believe that you are the Son of God,

who became man

in the womb of the Virgin Mary,

through the working of the Holy Spirit.



Just as at Bethlehem,

we too, with Mary, Joseph,

the angels and the shepherds,

adore you and acknowledge you

as our only Savior.



You became poor

to enrich us with your poverty.

Grant that we may never forget the poor

and all those who suffer.



Protect our families,

bless all the children of the world,

and grant that the love you brought us

may always reign amongst us

and lead us to a happier life.



Grant, O Jesus, that all

may recognize the truth of your birth,

so that they may know

that you came to bring

to the whole human family

light, joy and peace.



You who live and reign

with God the Father

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.  Amen.
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(Prayer of the Holy Father before the Infant Jesus of Prague)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gee, what should we write about today? Let's talk incest.



Consensual...
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My friend sends me salacious articles on sex - almost every day.  LOL!  Just kidding P!  She's been sending some 'good' stuff on incest - not 'good' in any salacious sense - I used the word twice now - but informative as to what is going on behind the headlines and rapid cultural changes.  Very seriously, my friend shares her concerns and often times horror at what is going on in the world.  Case in point - Switzerland considers easing incest laws and the David Epstein case - Professor sleeps with daughter.  The following pull-quote from one of the articles is simply astonishing:
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"Academically, we are obviously all morally opposed to incest and rightfully so," Galluzzo said. "At the same time, there is an argument to be made in the Swiss case to let go what goes on privately in bedrooms."

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"It's OK for homosexuals to do whatever they want in their own home," he said. "How is this so different? We have to figure out why some behavior is tolerated and some is not." - Epstein's lawyer, Matthew Galluzzo.
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Tolerance leads to acceptance... and approval.
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I'm not really going to discuss these cases here, but the subject reminds me of what it was like growing up - knowing about such things, although no one really talked about it much less did anything about it.  Today unspeakable crimes and misdemeanors and perversions are out front, on TV, online, and spoken about in public.  Of course we live in a permissive age in which it seems the only politically correct and acceptable intolerance permitted is against traditional morality and guilt.  Hence the above argument in favor of incest almost comes off normal in our culture - and I tend to think Galluzzo is willfully deceptive when he says, "Academically, we are obviously all morally opposed to incest..."
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I grew up on the rough and tough side of town.  I think it only seemed rough to outsiders, as a kid I got along fine.  No, I was not bullied.  I faced challenges and got into fights of course, but I held my own I think.  That may explain why I'm not on board with all the anti-bullying laws and ordinances being proposed.  But I digress.
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Right to privacy.
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Growing up 'we' knew which kids were abused and molested and which families were incestuous.  Our parents knew, which is why my dad would tell me things like, "Don't ever go into Jennifer's house."  When I asked why, he just said, "Her dad's a fruit."
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"What's a fruit?"  I asked.
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"It means he's creepy."  My sister answered.

Oddly enough, Magnolia St. in those days was a hot bed for molesters and incestuous families.  The girl downstairs was molested by her cousin, her uncle slept with the wives of men who rented from him, the guy across the street tried to sell his older daughter in a bar and was said to have used her for sex himself.  Let's see, his other daughter was used by him as well.  Oh yeah - I was abused in a theater one Saturday during a screening of "North To Alaska".  This all happened before 7th grade.  I knew too much - but tried not to think about it, lest I sin by entertaining impure thoughts and stuff.  Nevertheless - people knew what was going on - all the kids knew - so at least some of the parents knew.  But people minded their own business in those days and no one talked about that kind of stuff openly.  Today we call that kind of minding our own business a perpetrator's right to privacy.
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How we got to where we are.
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Jump forward to my days out of school working in a major department store in the display department.  What a moral group that was.  Very gay.  The president of the company was known to have sex with teen boys in the dressing rooms of the Varsity Dept., as well as with stock boys in his office.  The entire store knew about it - the branch people knew about it.  Co-workers and department heads and branch managers were very immoral, promiscuous, and dishonest.
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Without going into great detail, the president of the company wasn't the only one having sex with teenage boys.  One of my own managers was known to like little boys.  I thought it was a joke until I saw him literally drooling over a little boy being led around the store by the boy's unsuspecting mother.  My point here is that no one ever said anything - they snickered and laughed about it - but nothing was done about it.  It was none of their business, and the other's right to privacy.
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That's what went on with the bishop/priest scandal as well.  Whisper about it but play dumb, and stay out of other people's business.  That is how we got here. 
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I think it is telling how behind the scenes kids are actually being taught some of the perversions I came across by chance growing up in a less than perfect family and neighborhood and first job experience - without the protection and guidance of stable parents and role models.  My friend sent me the following reminder:
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I will end with a quote from a published UNICEF/UN sex education booklet published for So. American students and distributed until outcry forced its removal ....

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Flashback - 2002
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NEW YORK — A UNICEF-funded book being passed out at the United Nations Child Summit encourages children to engage in sexual activities with other minors and with homosexuals and animals. ...
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An accompanying workshop book produced by the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) tells Latin American mothers and teens: "Situations in which you can obtain sexual pleasure: 1. Masturbation. 2. Sexual relations with a partner — whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. 3. A sexual response that is directed toward inanimate objects, animals, minors, non-consenting persons." ...
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I recall an actress on Oprah once talking about her work for the U.N. in India and the sense of accomplishment she felt after teaching the women and girls the joy of self pleasuring themselves.
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And yet we worry about telling our children there is a Santa Claus...
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Thanks P for the lead.
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Christmas Novena - Day Two


Why the little animals followed the Holy Family to Bethlehem.
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Very few people know this, but dogs and cats and rabbits and other little animals - I think even a fox, followed Our Lady and St. Joseph as they travelled to Bethlehem for the census.  St. Joseph told Our Lady that they were following because they wanted food, but Our Lady simply nodded and smiled.
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Once settled in the crude stable, built over a small outcrop of rock at Bethlehem, Our Lady explained to St. Joseph that the little animals had accompanied them to help keep the Holy Child warm after his birth.  St. Joseph simply nodded and smiled.
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+Prayer+
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Divino Bambino,
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In my difficulties: help me

From the enemies of my soul: save me

In my errors: enlighten me

In my doubts and pains: comfort me

In my solitudes: be with me

In my infirmities: invigorate me

When others despise me: encourage me

In temptations: defend me

In difficult hours: strengthen me

With your Sacred Heart: love me

With your immense power: protect me

And, into your arms,

when I die: receive me.  Amen

Pre-Christmas Celebrations.



The Christmas Market, Father Christmas, Christmas Lights and joyful expectation...

Yeah - but watch out for the "Reverend Fr.s" Scrooge and "Bishops" Cromwell amongst us... those who despise Christmas traditions and preach to their flocks, "Christmas can wait!"  "There is no Santa!"  "Don't celebrate or decorate before Christmas Eve!"  Yet Christmas prep goes on without them.  No presents for you!
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In Europe, there have been pre-Christmas Christmas Markets ever since Medieval times.  Holiday merchants selling treats and finery in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ.  The markets were festive and joyous.  And yet modern Puritans decry pre-Christmas traditions as the commercialization of Christmas, deriding it as a wicked, modern innovation, bent on throwing Christ out of Christmas.  Ah!  Such Protestants!  History reminds us that medieval churchmen themselves once sold positions of honor and even special liturgical privileges and celebrations to the highest bidder;  and yet their descendants would deprive simple elder folks of a little bit of joy for themselves and their poor crippled children during the holiday season.  Tiny-Tim still suffers!
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Photo:  Dresden Christmas Market
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Please boycott anti-pre-Christmas sites and Scrooges with this symbol on their blogs.
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What?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

O God, do not rebuke me in your anger. - Ps. 6


Rebukes and reproaches - they are good for the soul.
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I like to repeat "O God do not rebuke me in your anger" whenever I'm conscious of deliberate sin or willful neglects.  However, sometimes our conscience must be pricked in order for us to be made aware of our obstinancy and pride.  If we ignore these unsettling reminders, our Lord oftentimes intervenes - with something we read, something we hear, and as a priest told me the other day - sometimes even by a reproach  by our 'enemies'.  If our conscience is closed, sealed off, sometimes a rebuke from another awakens us to recognize our faults - if we are able to accept humiliation of course.
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On the other hand, sometimes we suffer reproach for doing what is right - that is a special grace.  The other day someone reproached me for my fidelity to a Church which, as he said, 'doesn't care for people like you...' - let us call them, single people.  Today single people are told by marketing and pop culture that they can do anything - they can have sex with any one, any time, according to their preferences.  They no longer have to marry - unless they want to - and then they can marry just about any thing they want.  Chastity no longer means what it used to for secularized christians - celibacy no longer means living chastely, and so on.  Despite this liberality, single people who strive to live according to traditional Catholic moral teaching frequently suffer reproach and endure rebuke - not from God, but from others, sometimes even those who claim to speak for God. 
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The spouse of souls.
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Today's first reading at Mass from Isaiah seems to offer consolation for those who await the Lord's coming,  like the wise virgins, their lamps lighted with the oil of charity... their hope undaunted, their faith piercing the night:
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"Raise a glad cry you barren one who did not bear, break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor.  For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife than the children of her who has a husband, says the Lord.
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Fear not, you shall not be put to shame; you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced.  The shame of your youth you shall forget, the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember.
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The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, a wife married in youth and then cast off, says your God...  with enduring love I take pity on you, says the Lord your redeemer.
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Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you." - Isaiah 54: 1-10
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+Prayer+
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Jesus, you decided to become a child, and I'm coming to you full of trust. I believe that your attentive love forestalls all my needs. Even for the intercession of your Holy Mother, you can meet my necessities, spiritual as well as material, if I pray according to your holy will. I love you with all my heart, all my strength.

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I beg your pardon, if my weakness makes me sin. I repeat with the Gospel "Lord, if you want you can heal me." I leave you to decide how and when. I am ready to accept suffering, if this is your will, but help me not to become hardened to it, rather to bear fruit. Help me to be a faithful servant and for your sake, holy Child, to love my neighbour as myself. Almighty Child, unceasingly I pray you to support me in my necessities of the present moment.
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Grant me the grace to remain in you, to be possessed and possess you entirely, with your parents, Mary and Joseph, in the eternal praise of your heavenly servants.  Amen - (Fr. Cyril of the Mother of God, OCD)
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Image:  Infant Jesus of Cebu.